Friday, May 20, 2011

Voice of Theology and the RH Bill

It is in the midst of doctrinal confusion and uncertainties, like that which has recently been unleashed by the introduction of the RH Bill injecting into the consciousness of our people new belief system and one-dimensional programs of family life, sexuality, and reproductive health, that the voice of theology is badly sought after. The voice of the teaching Church may be there and can be heard distinctly, but in-depth study of theology is needed to clarify issues so that realities can be sifted from perceptions and assumptions.

We are living in a globalized world whose borders are pierced through and through by the technology of modern communications. As people are brought closer to each other, the interaction that it generates, the social behaviour that it spawns, the human and humane values that it shapes and develops, the ethical standard of human actions that it presses on our minds and consciences is mind boggling - it goes beyond the proportion of what we have learned in schools, colleges, and universities. The whirl of the world has become so complicated that we in the Church are dizzily panting to catch up with what we are going to offer to our people in order for them to pursue developmental goals that, in the words of Benedict XVI in his Encyclical “Caritas in Veritate”, ‘possess a more humane and humanizing value’.
Theology is precisely there for the service of this social truth which the Church believes can set man free from the cruel grips of the nihilistic and myopic world view. Commitment, therefore, to the study of theology is not only a noble task, but also a priority in our globalized world.

The RH Bill in its attempt to make a headway to legislation is presenting a document that packages a set of laws, organizational set up, programs of activities that would for its goal set the Philippines in a better shape economically. Its philosophy is: economic prosperity of a nation becomes possible only through control of births and population. To advance this kind of legislation, it makes assumptions that run counter to the teaching of the Catholic Church. For one, it presupposes that there are no other laws, except human laws, that should govern man’s individual and social conduct and behaviour. Natural laws, transcendental laws, Divine laws, do not count. It is on this ground that the Church opposes the Bill.

Meantime, in its fight against the passage of RH Bill, the Church is falsely accused of imposing its faith on other religious denominations. It is true that the Catholic Church has no desire to impose its belief on other religions. But, its insistence in its opposition to the Bill is perceived to be such.

It is precisely here that we need the voice of theology – that is, how does the Church stand up for its right without imposing its religious belief system on others? After all both the Church and politics are not fixed realities. They are living realities in progress and evolution. No wonder the relation between Church and State is a complex issue. The Holy Father himself keenly observed that the Church does not claim to interfere in anyway in the politics of States, nor does it have technical solutions to offer. But it does possess the truth about society and the mission to teach this truth in every time and circumstance. It is this truth that shields our society from an empiricist and sceptical view of life.

Can theology come out to help the teaching Church in its mission to proclaim this truth of the family vis-a-vis the challenge of the RH Bill?