BY A.G. ROMUALDEZ, M.D.: MORALITY, TRUTH & RATIONAL DISCOURSE ON RH

MANILA, MAY 25, 2011 (MALAYA) A.G ROMUALDEZ JR., M.D (‘This man of the cloth failed in fulfilling his moral obligation to ensure that public statements such as those in a sermon at Holy Mass be as close to the truth as possible.’)

IN his sermon, during last Sunday’s first morning Mass at the Our Lady of Fatima Parish of Philamlife Village Las Piñas, the officiating priest blamed "pervasive selfishness" for much of what he believed to be an apparent disconnection between some members of the Catholic flock and God.

As an example, this priest cited the on-going controversy over the RH Bill as being the result of selfishness on the part of women wanting to have a choice in making an autonomous decision to give birth to the "child in her womb" – insinuating that the RH Bill effectively authorized abortion.

It is not clear whether the priest had actually read the proposed legislation. If he had not read it beforehand, then this priest made an unfounded allegation without due diligence. If he did read it, then the priest intentionally ignored the anti-abortion provisions of the bill to suit his perception that all forms of contraception constituted abortion. In either case, this man of the cloth failed in fulfilling his moral obligation to ensure that public statements such as those in a sermon at Holy Mass be as close to the truth as possible.

This disregard for truth may in fact be one of the symptoms of the Philippine Catholic Church’s failure to convince its flock of the value of morality in both religious and secular life. This in turn is probably at the root of what Professor Ernesto Pernia, in his commencement speech at the Kalayaan College last April 16th, meant when he said, "I submit that it may have to do with the weak link – or lack thereof – between faith (or religion) and practice, or how we actually see and live our faith. …I shall use the expression ‘dysfunctional link between faith and the day-to-day conduct of secular life’, or faith-practice disconnect, for short."

Professor Pernia, a former seminarian and an Outstanding Young Scientist awardee in 1979, went on to expand: "It is possible that the lack of integration of faith into secular life – or religious faith not driving secular behavior – has been encouraged, wittingly or unwittingly, by the emphasis given by our church leaders on rituals rather than on secular morality. Such emphasis appears to start already in grade school catechism. An unintended consequence of what may be called ‘ritualistic religiosity’ detached from secular morality is hypocrisy that appears so common among our leaders, prominent citizens and others, who are supposed to be the role models in society."

Unfortunately this sort of moral drift seems to be deepening as many concerned Catholics identify with what Jesuit sociologist, Father John J. Carroll, calls "an undercurrent of sadness …that the official Church no longer stands with a united people but with one part of a nation divided; and that the struggle is carried on … in an atmosphere of personal animosity and demonizing."

In his paper, published in the Inquirer, Father Carroll further says, "The sadness is made deeper by the sense that in the debate over the RH bill, the Church seems to have backed itself into a no-win situation. If the bill passes over the total opposition of the hierarchy, there will be gloating in some quarters and a sense of ‘Who’s afraid of the big bad Church?’ If it is defeated by the opposition of the Church, I fear a powerful backlash at the Church’s ‘interference in politics and reliance on political power rather than moral suasion’ – the beginnings of an anticlericalism such as has overwhelmed formerly Catholic bastions such as Spain and Ireland."

This observation has been reinforced by the abysmally poor quality of the interpellations on the floor of the House of Representatives thus far. These were highlighted by the unbelievably ignorant comment of Congressman Bagatsing of Manila: "Preventing the union of sperm and egg, isn’t that abortion?" This was in turn followed by the curious query from Congressman Garcia of Cebu as he asserted the relevance of religion in the debate on a health issue: "Don’t you believe that health comes from God?"

As a matter of fact, some congressional commentators observed that the most sensible interpellation was that of boxing champion, Congressman Pacquiao of Sarangani, who simply stated his position that contraceptives were "sinful in the eyes of God."

Unfortunately, there are early indications that the same sort of nonsensical argumentation may spill over to the supposedly more erudite halls of the Philippine Senate. This can be gleaned from anti-RH Senator Sotto’s opening salvo – a privilege speech against unverified and undocumented anomalies in the use of the Department of Health’s funds for family planning during the last administration. Moreover, in his tirade, Senator Sotto completely ignored the fact that delayed releases of family planning funds were the direct result of former President Arroyo’s servile support of the Catholic hierarchy’s uncompromising stand against reproductive health.

Over the weekend, there was talk that the Senate leadership was planning to raise the same type of red herring issues that Representative Roilo Golez attempted to introduce in the lower House of Congress in order to delay discussions on Senator Miriam Santiago’s Senate RH version. These include the scientifically baseless allegations about the mechanisms of action of some contraceptive methods such as Intra-uterine Devices and injectable hormones, exaggerated assertions of the side-effects of commonly used pills, and scientifically unsound findings of ineffectiveness of condoms as barriers to viral transmission.

One would hope that sooner rather than later rational discourse will eventually become the order of the day in the passage of laws to benefit Filipinos, especially the economically disadvantaged majority.

THE CATHOLIC STAND ON THE RH BILL

Letter of Cardinal Rosales for the "Day of the Unborn" Rally Cardinal Rosales calls all Bishops, Priests, and Catholics to unite in a prayer rally on 25 March 2-6 PM at the Luneta. We must respond to the call with a big crowd and bigger prayers against the RH Bill. For those who cannot join, send your prayers wherever you are... God Bless to all of us!

Why P-Noy should go on with his Reproductive Health goals? by Redentor A. de la Rosa

Many Catholic pro-lifers didn’t know that the Catholic teaching of the immorality of artificial contraception allows the use of contraceptives in several cases. Because of that defect on their part, they have made the Church appeared ridiculous before the outsiders and incredible even among many Catholic faithful.

The moral significance of contraceptives is understood within the concept of conjugal love or responsible parenthood. The teaching of the Church only says that contraception is immoral when it is used in the context of conjugal love, that is, married love, because contraception is not compatible with authentic responsible parenthood demanded in every conjugal sexual act.

According to Catholic moral teaching, all people can only use sex morally in the context of conjugal act of love, in other words, sex is only morally right if it is an expression of conjugal love and this can happen only within marriage. Sexual acts which are not conjugal acts of love are therefore sinful. And since not all sexual intercourses happen as conjugal acts, it follows to reason that such acts should not be fruitful.

What is given above, therefore, immediately informs us that outside conjugal love, the moral meaning of contraception is essentially different because non-married couples who engage in sexual acts are not expected to practice responsible parenthood. On the other hand, couples who engage in premarital and extramarital sex commit a graver moral offense when their sexual acts become fruitful. Hence, the use of contraceptives is morally demanded.

All couples who live together but are not married in the eyes of God, do not have the moral right to bear children and, therefore, are morally obliged to make every sexual intercourse not fruitful. (It is possible that those who are only civilly married or are married in other religious rites are married in the eyes of God as long as they vow perpetual union to each other. Only unions without intention to live together unto death are not acceptable to God.)

While prostitution is a grave moral offense, it is graver still if the sex worker gets pregnant by failing to use effective contraceptives. Moreover, the sex worker is morally obliged to protect herself from contracting STD’s or AIDS, hence, she (or her partner) is morally obliged to use effective means to protect her.

We are not saying that for premarital or extramarital sex to be moral, contraceptives must be used. Premarital and extramarital sex are always immoral, nonetheless, those who actually engaged in such acts commit a greater sin if the woman gets pregnant. Thus, the use of contraceptives is morally necessary. It is absurd to tell those who are unwilling to abstain from premarital and or extramarital sex not to use contraceptives when they have intercourse.

For cases of rape and incest, the woman always has the moral right to prevent conception, hence, should be given the best contraceptive assistance available.

Lastly, since domestic sexual violence or domestic rapes among married couples are not uncommon, the woman who is the victim always has the moral right to prevent conception, since any act of sexual violence by the husband cannot be considered as a conjugal love.

In fact, many sexual intercourse between husband and wives are not acts of conjugal love so that in such cases the woman should use contraceptives specifically if to have another child is already against responsible parenthood.

Suppose a catholic woman desired to abstain from sex because life for her and her four children is already very difficult. However, her husband often arrives home drunk and forces her to have intercourse. Such acts therefore by the husband are never acts of conjugal love (but an act of irresponsible lust) and hence the woman should protect herself from conceiving. Since the husband habitually refuses to cooperate, the wife is bound in conscience to resort to effective contraceptives.

Again, suppose we have a couple with five children and the father is jobless while the mother is just a laundrywoman. Suppose the woman wanted to practice natural family planning only that her husband doesn’t care anything about it. Given such situation, for the couple to have another child is already outside or against the species of responsible parenthood; hence every sexual intercourse by this couple is irresponsible and, therefore, sinful except only if they do it during the infertile periods of the woman, that is, if they voluntarily practice natural family planning.

In such situation as this, the only possible sexual acts by couples which can be qualified as authentic conjugal acts are those intercourses they voluntarily perform during the woman’s infertile period. During the woman’s fertile period, intercourse is gravely sinful because responsible parenthood demands that they should not have another child. Nor is it moral for the couple to use contraceptives during this period. Abstinence therefore is the only moral option.

But what if the husband has no care about the fertility and infertility of his wife? If the husband forces his wife to have intercourse, then in this case, the woman has the moral right, nay, she is even morally obliged to use contraceptives, because responsible parenthood demands that she should not have another children.

Because of the irresponsible and aggressive behavior of the husband, and added by the fact that responsible parenthood demands that they should not have another child, each intercourse [during fertile periods] by the couple is not authentic conjugal acts and therefore the woman always has the right and duty to protect herself from conception.

Distributing Condoms? It is not right to indiscriminately encourage the public to use condoms because it gives a different message to the youth [recalling what DOH Sec. Esperanza Cabral did before]. It is wrong all the more to distribute condoms indiscriminately to the public. The prostitutes however are not ignorant about condoms; they may (in fact they should) avail condoms, etc., through their own, but they should not be given contraceptive assistance by the government; otherwise the government will be tolerating such illegal and immoral acts.

It is a fact that today a large number of Filipinos (including teenagers) engage in premarital and extramarital sex. Given such situation, we have the obligation to inform them that it is unjust for the child to be conceived outside true love or outside the authentic conjugal act which can only be done within marriage; hence, that conception must be avoided, is morally demanded. Nonetheless, it is not right for anyone or for the government to distribute condoms or make free contraceptives available for them.

The government should publicly speak of the immorality of premarital and extramarital sex, and should also speak of the health risks of such practices, and may also remind them of the need to use contraceptives but may not distribute condoms for them.

However, for poor families, the government may make available free contraceptive services. This should, however, be done through health centers where the services be given only to married couples on a case to case basis, that is, after due evaluation and after giving sufficient information both about natural family planning and artificial contraceptive methods.

What about the RH Bill? What I have said so far has nothing to do with the RH Bill. There are some points in the RH Bill which are really objectionable from the moral point of view. Hence, a revised bill is in order.

PRESIDENT NOY AQUINO'S STAND ON RH BILL

[EARLIER REPORT] As the debates heat up on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill that is threatening to split President Aquino and the Catholic Church, Aquino said he is standing firm on his position to provide Filipino couples "informed choices" in family planning.

 "The State has an obligation to educate all of its citizens as to their choices. The State is not empowered by any law to dictate upon any couple as to how they should plan their family," Aquino said at the sidelines of the nationwide distribution of Philhealth cards to indigent families held at the President Corazon C. Aquino High School in Baseco Compound, Port Area. Aquino, nevertheless, said he had not seen the RH bill pending in the House of Representatives but added that "my stand has not changed."

After a pro-RH bill rally in which condoms were distributed to pedestrians and to protest the detention of famed tourist guide Carlos Celdran and the Catholic Church's stand against artificial contraception, hundreds of Church-backed pro-life rallyists trooped to Quiapo Church yesterday.

The rally included a Catholic archbishop who urged the government to rethink its position on contraception. The rally included students and parents. Many waved graphic signs with pictures of aborted fetuses. Speaking to reporters at Quiapo Church, San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto called on Aquino to emulate the leadership of his mother ...

VIDEO: (RH BILL) PRES. NOYNOY AQUINO SAYS STATE HAS OBLIGATIONS TO EDUCATE ALL CITIZENS

 


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