Thursday, May 26, 2011

Voice of the Church and the RH Bill

The voice of the teaching Church, strongly opposing the RH Bill and warning the people of its effects to morality, can be heard loud and clear in the issuance of the January 2011 Pastoral Letter of CBCP entitled: "Choosing Life; Rejecting RH Bill.” In so doing it passed a definitive judgment on the Reproductive Health Bill and its subsequent amended versions. The main reason for its rejection is: it is morally unacceptable.

The Church speaks from the standpoint of morality. This is after all where her competence lies. It is part of the Church’s mission “to pass moral judgments even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it. The means, the only means, she may use are those which are in accord with the Gospel and the welfare of all men according to the diversity of times and circumstances” (CCC 2245). The Church, in order to be the genuine expert of humanity and authoritative in its assessment of man, has to listen and contemplate on the Words of God out of whom man exists, acts, and has his being – the be-all and end-all of humanity. Aside from the Bible and the Sacred Tradition, the Church has to dig deep into the study of philosophy to know man's nature and life through and through from the standpoint of natural knowledge. When, therefore, the Church made its stand against the RH Bill it was not meant to be disrespectful to the State. It was rather to state that she has to be listened to, for she has much to say about man and God given authority to talk about his integral welfare; to declare its stand and state the reasons for its posture. Hence, the pronouncements that it made regarding the RH Bill should be understood on this context.

The State has a legitimate existence of its own. The Church is aware of this reality. It acknowledges autonomy of the State to pursue its temporal purposes; it respects the sovereignty of the nation in the ordering of the temporal goods and services in the just and equitable distribution to each individual citizen and family; it collaborates in the noble task of the State government in putting up an environment of peace and justice so that the complex interactions of the different rights of the citizens may be harmonious and peaceful; it supports the State in its pursuit for developmental goals and economic growth. Hence the Church accepts the autonomy of the State to legislate laws that are according to the requirements of the common good, provisions that would respect and protect the fundamental rights of the human person, legislations that would dispense human services that are in consonance with the dignity of the persons and the natural law. Dispensation of justice to all is the legitimate ambit of the State. In fact it is its duty to promote public order, a modicum of peace and justice, a humane environment, in which individuals, families, and small communities can interact with one another, and thereby wholesomely flourish and grow.

If that is so, then why does the Church now oppose the attempt to make the RH Bill or its amended version into a law of the land?

The answer is the content of the RH Bill which is perceived by the Church as morally wrong. It is on this ground that the Church made its verdict. It states: “ 1) We object to the non-consideration of moral principles, the bedrock of law, in legislative discussions of bills that are intended for the good of individuals and for the common good; 2) We are against the anti-life, anti-natal and contraceptive mentality that is reflected in media and in some proposed legislative bills; 3) We object strongly to efforts at railroading the passage of the RH Bill; 4) We denounce the over-all trajectory of the RH Bill towards population control; 5) We denounce the use of public funds for contraceptives and sterilization; 6) We condemn compulsory sex education that would effectively let parents abdicate their primary role of educating their own children, especially in an area of life – sexuality – which is a sacred gift of God.”

Meantime it is worth noting that the world has become globalized and society of man into a fluid entity. At its wake it has developed citizens of variegated and heterogeneous perceptions of things, different ways of appraising issues at hand. It is in this kind of environment that pluralistic mentality thrives, freedom of choice is nurtured. Eventually ethical pluralism evolves, a belief that sanctions the decadence of the principles of natural moral law. It teaches citizens to claim complete autonomy with regards to moral choices that they make. It also facilitates the lawmakers to enact laws that are oftentimes unethical and even immoral in the pretext that they are just respecting the freedom of choices of the citizens. Soon the basis of Democracy, which is, true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles will be dismissed. It is along this line that The “Doctrinal Note” of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith put this warning: “If Christians must recognize the legitimacy of differing points of view about the organization of worldly affairs, they are also called to reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism. Democracy must be based on the true and solid foundation of non-negotiable ethical principles, which are the underpinning of life in society” (cf. “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Nov. 24, 2002, n. 2).

It is within this context that the voice of the Shepherds of the Church is heard in the Philippines.