Starting September 8, 2012, anonymous comments -- whether for or against the RH bill -- will no longer be permitted on this blog.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On the 14 Ateneo Professors -- an essay in two parts

On the 14 Ateneo Professors (originally a two-part essay) by Wilfredo Jose. This is a continuation of On the 14 Ateneo professors, Conscience, Reality and the Truth.
I think there are many ways that the 14 professors could have expressed their personal opinions without dragging the Ateneo name with it. In the light of Fr Nebres assertion on point #5 — It is also the responsibility of the Ateneo de Manila as a Jesuit and Catholic university to ensure that, in our classes and other fora, we teach Catholic faith and morals in their integrity., these professors must realize that they find themselves in an odd situation (specially the Theology professor) where they may be required to teach something in class that do not conform to their "well-formed conscience". Their position is simply not compatible with the institution they work for. As they search their "well-formed conscience" on how to act in this tricky situation that poses a dilemma to their professional integrity, it certainly must lead them to seriously think of teaching elsewhere, where they won’t cause an embarrassment to themselves and to the school officials.
Put yourself in the shoes of the theology professor. Just look at a likely situation where you are directed by the University to read and explain to your class an official statement that upholds the Church’s opposition to the bill. Refer to item #5 above in Fr Nebres’ statement again. The statement you are supposed to explain and uphold happens to run counter to your "well-formed conscience". Your class is aware about your contrary position. If you read and explain the official position, you compromise your moral and professional integrity. On the other hand if you refuse, you open yourself to a reasonable charge of insubordination, as you realize that you are being paid by the University to teach according to its standards. And before you invoke academic freedom, it must be made clear here that a professor is also an employee. There is a substantial difference between a secular university and a Catholic university. A theology professor in a Catholic school cannot take a position in faith or ethics that is contrary to the magisterial teaching any more than you could espouse as fact in a secular university that one and one is three. Check out Fr Charles Curran’s celebrated case here. Either way, it is embarrassing for the dissenting professors, not because of the opinions they took, but because of the tight fix they put themselves into.
Actually the title of this post should have read: On the 69 Ateneo professors, as it was reported here that 55 Ateneo professors have joined the fray. This post contains the comments of reader TE in the last thread. Here goes...
I was finally able to read the whole paper by the professors. The paper contains a statistic-heavy discussion on the women who had abortions. My understanding of the discussion was that the major cause was economic. Not knowing how to plan pregnancies seems to be a small contributing cause but the major reason is economic. They simply could not afford more children. However, the professors chose to make the conclusion that:
"Thus, for these women, abortion has become a family planning method, in the absence of information on and access to any reliable means to prevent an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. The fact is, our women are having more children than they desire, as seen in the gap between desired fertility (2.5 children) and actual fertility (3.5 children), implying a significant unmet need for reproductive health services (NSO and ORC Macro 2004, 2003 NDHS)."
It seems to me that the conclusion is not consistent with the discussion that went before it. It also seems to me that if we look at this whole thing as a process, abortion comes at the end of the process with pregnancy right before it. The implied solutions seems to focus on the results of the process rather than on the causes of it. The statistics they presented do not bear out the conclusion - they point to a cause much earlier in the process: economics and the faulty decision-making that allowed couples to choose to have sex in the first place. I can't help thinking that if families were economically well off, having more children than the national average would not be a problem, regardless of whether they have access to information and the means to do effective family planning. In later pages, the professors repeat this in the following: "The inability of women in the poorest quintile to achieve the number of children they want stems from their high unmet need for family planning, which, at 26.7 percent, is more than twice as high as the unmet need of women in the richest quintile, at 12.3 percent (ibid.)." And again several pages later "In summary, poor households typically have more children than they aspired to have, as a result of a high unmet need for family planning."
I believe there is a danger here to simplify the problem and jump to an erroneous conclusion. It is all too easy to think that the problem is one of providing information and the know-how to planning. I believe a more fundamental issue lies in the individual value system and the way people make their decisions. You can't teach an old dog new tricks as the Americans would say. You can bombard people with family planning techniques and provide them with tons of information but if their value system, how they set priorities and how they make decisions are still the same, they will still make the same choices they did before. As Socrates said: "If you do what you always did, you get what always got." And the definition of insanity is when you do what always did, over and over, but expect different results.
Statistics-wise the program would look good - hospitals for every 500,000 people, mobile vans to spread the news, thousands of training programs. But the key to behavioural change remains the same: the internal value systems and decision makig process in people. How does the RH bill propose to legislate this? Punishing conscientious objectors will not do it.
A few pages later the professors came up with this: "the right to choose is meaningful only if women have real power to choose." They present a very good case for choice. And indeed, the right to choose is meaningful only when one has the power to do it. But does this mean the professors do not consider the unborn child to have any such rights because they obviously cannot voice their choice? In fact, the whole paper does not have a single sentence anywhere on the rights of the unborn.
This next one struck me as a bit weird. I have highlighted the "offending phrase" below. "Poverty is a multi-faceted phenomenon caused by inter-related factors: the weak and boom-and-bust cycle of economic growth; inequities in the distribution of income and assets and in the access to social services; bad governance and corruption; the lack of priority accorded to agriculture including agrarian reform; the limited coverage of safety nets and targeted poverty reduction programs; and armed conflict." How does unequal access to social services cause poverty?
The professors proclaim their stand thus: "We therefore support the RH Bill because we believe that it will help the poor develop and expand their capabilities, so as to lead more worthwhile lives befitting their dignity and destiny as human beings...To recapitulate, the RH Bill does not only safeguard life by seeking to avert abortions and maternal and infant deaths. It also promotes quality of life, by enabling couples, especially the poor, to bring into the world only the number of children they believe they can care for and nurture to become healthy and productive members of our society." The highighting is mine. I do not discount the possibility that the thread of logic has completely escaped me but how does the bill DO all that? It seems to me that the capabilities to lead a more worthwhile life means more than just being able to plan families, use contraceptives and know a hell of a lot about sex, STIs and reproductive hygiene. It takes more than hospitals and vans and adult education. It also takes the cultivation of life-affirming values, discipline and a spiritually guided belief system. Or do they know something I don't?
Will the bill really enable couples to limit their children? My read of the whole thing is that the most the bill can do is help to create the conditions for couples to make an informed choice. The enablement comes from an internal change in priorities and values. It seems to me the sentences above claim benefits of the bill that MAY result IF the bill is effective. Given the government's record, I have grave doubts on how effective the bill will be implemented.
Serious professors they may be but I found a bit of humor in this one: "Comparatively, protection was higher among the males (27.5%) than the females (14.8%), rendering the latter extremely vulnerable to unplanned pregnancy (Raymundo and Cruz 2003, citing the 2002 YAFSS 3)." Do you any idea what kind of males they're talking about?
To be fair, I think parts of the bill are beneficial. I think the Church opposes only certain provisions of the bill NOT ALL of it. Problem is you can't pass some parts and not pass others. I also believe the bill proposes solutions that address the results while making only provisions to address the causes. It does not address at all the economic causes. It does not address the fundamental problem of values formation and the correction of internal process such as decision making and priority setting. I personally know some poor people, former tenant farmers, who did not go beyond the 3rd grade but were able to keep their family small. They didn't know whit what family planning is and haven't encountered the word contraceptive their entire lives. But they have good heads on their shoulders and exhibit a probably higher discipline. I suspect the method they used is simple abstinence and are now in their sixties with 2 grown children.On the whole the professors did not convince me that as a Catholic I can support the bill in GOOD CONSCIENCE. There are open issues which still impinge on the conscience such the rights of the unborn, the curtailment of freedom and the discriminatory provisions regarding conscientious objectors. By giving their support the professors are saying they are accepting these limits on our freedoms. Given the track record of the government, they will probably be more effective in enforcing these limits than in implementing the "benificial" provisions of the bill. Values are ignored. The bill would rather train a couple how to avoid a pregnancy than to instill in them the values of discipline and responsibility. Its like closing the barn when all the horses have gone. This impinge on my conscience because I can see that the bill proposes for us to pay with our freedoms a solution that addresses an effect, a result while the causes are ignored. Would you sacrifice your freedom to pay for alleviating a symptom?
My postscript: Ever wonder how much its going to cost us taxpayers? TE does the math here.

Cardinal Arinze: On the Church speaking out versus the culture of death, and on the role of the Catholic university

Last May 10, 2009, Francis Cardinal Arinze gave a powerful address on the Contribution of a Catholic University to the Life and Mission of the Church . This lecture ought to be disseminated to all Philippine Catholic colleges and universities, some of which are being tempted to compromise on their Catholic identity.
Some quotes:
The human being who explores the frontiers of science and technology is the same human being who is spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, citizen, ruler, company director, bank official, medical doctor, merchant, or otherwise. Relationship with one's neighbour is an important dimension to be considered in human action.

Even more important are man's relations with God. He is our Creator. We are his creatures. "It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture" (Ps 100:3). Divine Providence keeps everything in existence and in the divinely established order. A human being who dares to deny God theoretical and practical recognition should be considered ridiculous. "Without the Creator", testifies the Second Vatican Council, "the creature would disappear...When God is forgotten the creature itself grows unintelligible" (Gaudium et Spes, 36). Secularism stands condemned because it is an effort to conduct life as if God did not exist, as if God were interfering. Pope Benedict XVI condemns this ideology because it "presents itself in culture as planning of the world and of humanity without reference to Transcendence, invades every aspect of daily life and develops a mentality in which God is in reality absent, totally or in part, from human existence or consciousness" (Address to Plenary Assembly of the Pont. Council for Culture, on 8 March, 2008).

The scientist, therefore, should not regard whatever is physically possible as also morally lawful. Human action has to take into account the natural law, the eternal law of God written into human nature. Pope John Paul II, when he visited Mount Sinai in 2000, said that before God wrote and gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, he already wrote them into the human heart. That is why people of all religions and cultures, when they are not weighed down by ideology or human weakness, can recognize most of the dictates of the Ten Commandments.

A Catholic College or University educates students to appreciate that moral rules of right and wrong apply also to science, technology, politics, trade and commerce, and indeed to all human endeavours.
The Christian must learn to make a synthesis between his duties as a citizen and his religious practices. There must be no divorce between these two dimensions of his life. The Second Vatican Council is rather clear: "The split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age... Therefore, let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other. The Christian who neglects his temporal duties neglects his duties towards his neighbour and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation" (Gaudium et Spes, 43). These are strong words coming from a General Council of the Church.
We can also in this light see the mistake of politicians who regard the Church as interfering in politics when the Pope or the Bishops speak on contraception, abortion, strange new definitions of family, the rights of workers, the education of children or what moral standards should guide the mass media. While the Church has no mandate from Christ to produce recipes for the solution of political or economic questions, the Church has the duty to invoke the light of the Gospel on various areas of human endeavour, on matters of right and wrong and on the morality of human acts in general (cf Benedict XVI: Deus Caritas Est, 28).

In the complicated world of today, where all kinds of ideas are struggling for the right of citizenship, a university student needs a clear and viable orientation on the relationship between religion and life. The Catholic College or University is ideally positioned to help him see the light and equip himself for a significant contribution in society.

Deserving of special mention is education in the use of freedom. Pope Benedict stressed it when he spoke to Catholic educators in the United States on 17 April 2008 in the Catholic University of America. "While we have sought diligendy to engage the intellect of our young, perhaps we have neglected the will. Subsequendy we observe, with distress, the notion of freedom being distorted. Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in — a participation in Being itself. Hence authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God. Such a choice would ultimately disregard the very truth we need in order to understand ourselves".

The Holy Father continues and says that educators owe it in all "intellectual charity" to lead their students to the truth so that they exercise freedom in relation to truth. We can add that this is very necessary in the intellectual world of today where many people deny the objectivity of moral truth and where moral relativism is regarded as the accepted thing. A person who holds that certain actions, like direct abortion, are always objectively wrong, is regarded as "judgmental" , or as imposing his views on others. The exercise of freedom in pursuit of the truth is very much a part of integral education. If a Catholic College or University does not help in this way, should we not say that it has failed in one of its important roles?

If a Catholic College or University answers to its vocation in the ways outlined above, then it will be educating, forming and releasing into society model citizens who will be a credit to their families, their College, the Church and the State. It will prepare for us members of Congress or the Senate who will not say "I am a Catholic, but..."; but rather those who will say "I am a Catholic, and therefore... " They will be coherent both as Catholics and as citizens. Their religion will not be just a matter of an hour or two on Sunday, but will also provide a vital synthesis for their activities on Monday through Saturday, and from January to December.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On the 14 Ateneo professors, Conscience, Reality and the Truth

On the 14 Ateneo professors, Conscience, Reality, and the Truth
By: Wilfredo Jose
October 25, 2008

I once had an argument with my previous boss over a computerized system that we planned on developing. I needed funding for the planned system that will be designed for on-line monitoring of parts shortages. My proposed system will quickly highlight what components are delaying the production lines.
He asked: ”Why do we want to spend our money and energies tracking those shortages? Why not prevent them in the first place?”
He had a very good point there. Be proactive, strike at the root cause, and not at symptoms of problems. My boss had this effective method of asking a succession of “whys” until we got to the root of the problem.
I suddenly remembered this encounter with my old boss as I read the statements of the 14 Ateneo professors who came out with a position paper supporting HB5043. Among other things, they said that giving women access to other “medically safe, legal, affordable and quality” family planning methods would prevent “unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies, which are the root cause of induced abortions.”
So according to the professors, “unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies” are the root cause of induced abortions. But what is the root cause of “unwanted, unplanned and mistimed pregnancies”?
“We are thinking of women who find it impossible to predict their infertile periods...”
Ah, if there is one word that my old boss hates, it is the word “impossible”. Obviously, the professors are referring to NFP and I wonder what are their presumptions by claiming that women find it impossible. I take it that these professors are more steeped than us ordinary mortals in scientific, facts-based analysis that substantiates their statements empirically. Does their studies/references (assuming they cited an NFP study) conclude that it is impossible to predict infertile periods? Is a system designed into nature itself, impossible? A study of NFP in China (check out this link), says otherwise, and in fact concludes: “The BOM (NFP) is simple and easy to comprehend; almost all the women, including the illiterate, can successfully learn the method and identify their own mucus symptoms.”Impossible?
“We are thinking... of couples who see each other on an irregular basis, or women who are trapped in abusive relationships with men who demand sex anytime they want it,”
Please professors, think harder. You are implying that these couples have an irresistible urge to copulate on sight. You said you were speaking for yourselves :-), so please do not make an unfair assumption on all these couples. Furthermore, if women are trapped in abusive relationships, then these women should be counseled and assisted, as no woman deserves to endure those “abusive relationships”, where men “demand sex anytime they want it”. Do you mean we turn a blind eye to the abuse as long as those women are “protected” by contraceptives? You give them contraceptives and the abuse goes on. Is that your idea of women “protection”? Think of the larger abuses of social inequity, of corruption, disrespect for the poor, and general apathy and tolerance of abuses committed at large to society.
“Catholic social teachings recognize the primacy of the well-formed conscience over wooden compliance to directives from political and religious authorities."
The professors seem to imply that their well-formed conscience trumps more than 2,000 years of Church history and teaching tradition. Primacy of conscience does not guarantee rightness and the objective TRUTH in ones subsequent actions. As is usually the case, when one finds himself in conflict with the Church’s teachings, the problem is with the person and not with the teaching, a direct consequence, naturally, of a selective reading(?) of Catholic (social ?) teachings.
While the professors continue to think more along the lines of “well-formed consciences”, they might consider not dragging the Ateneo name the next time they feel an irresistible urge to voice out their personal opinions. It would also do them well to read the Compendium of the Social Doctrines of the Church (all 361 pages, with NOT A SINGLE PAGE of it expounding on the PRIMACY of CONSCIENCE); study NFP first DILIGENTLY, without making “impossible” conclusions; rethink their concept of ROOT CAUSES; ask a succession of “WHYS” on the problems of women at hand; and investigate more deeply the real meaning of “WELL-FORMED CONSCIENCES”.
And if they want a professor to teach them through it all, I will gladly refer my old boss.He also says that some solutions are worse than the problem.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Cost of Implementing HB 5043


Based on the current population levels, implementing the bill would mean at least the following. This does not take into account future growth. This is just to hit par for the course.
1. The birth rate is around 25.3 per 1000 population. With a population of 80 million, this averages around 2.024 million per year. There are around 1610 municipalities in the country. This averages to around 1,257 births per year per municipality or 3.44 births a day.
The [Ateneo] professors' paper, (page 4) says "Section 6 of the bill enjoins every city and municipality to endeavor to employ adequate number of midwives or other skilled attendants to achieve a minimum ratio of one (1) for every hundred fifty (150) deliveries per year."
This averages to 10 midwives or skilled attendants for every municipality. I admit this would help employment levels but can each municipality afford it?
Note that the bill delegates implementation to the municipalities. Because of the differences in how much municipalities can afford, implementation is sure to be uneven. This is exactly what the professors decry in their paper - see page 3. Moreover the wording of the bill using the words "enjoin" and "endeavor" (see quote above) clearly implies that this is not mandatory. The cities and municipalities can opt not to do this at its own discretion. How effective do the lawmakers really want this to be?
BTW, while implementation seems clearly discretionary, the curtailment of freedoms are clearly mandatory. Are we slowly moving towards a police state?
2. As we already calculated, at 5 hospitals per 500,000 (or 10 hospitals per million people), we would need to have a total of 800 hospitals or around 10 hospitals per province. The wording of the bill here, again also implies this is not mandatory - "instructs each province and city to seek to establish! ..."
In other words the bill is telling the provinces to try to come up with the needed hospitals and the municipalities to try to hire the personnel. And how should that work? The hospitals will be run by the provinces and the midwives will be employed by the municipalities. How do you get the health care services to be consistent? What if the provincial government builds the hospitals but the municipalities will not hire the staff?
But by constructing it this way, the complexity the authors of the bill built into it makes it easy for corruption to be practiced. I wonder how many millions the senators and congressmen will make out of this.
3. Playing some more with averages. 1610 municipalities, 81 provinces averages to 20 municipalities per province. At 10 midwives per municipality, that comes to 200 midwives per province. At 10 hospitals per province, that averages to 20 midwives per hospital.
Add doctors, nurses and administrative staff, it looks like the smallest such hospital could theoretically be a 40! -staff hospital. My guess would be around a 20-bed hospital. At 3.44 births a day, the hospitals would have to operate at least 2 shifts a day plus on-call duties. Some of them would be operating 24x7. I'm estimating an operating budget of at least 12 million a year.
To build a hospital this size, I'd estimate around say 25 million to build. Equipment would be probably be another 5 million. These might be low, Willy, but each one of these could take 30 million to build and equip and another 12 million a year to run.
To build 800 hospitals would need around 24 billion pesos and another 9.6 billion a year to operate. If we add a 50% corruption factor it would require an expenditure of 36 billion or roughly 2.5% of GDP just to build the hospitals. According to FDC: "The proposed (2009) P1.415-trillion total budget obligations would be funded by P1.393 trillion worth of revenues thus creatin! g a deficit of P21.66 billion. P302.650 billion will go for interest p ayments of outstanding debts."
However, the budget does not count the principal amortization for outstanding debt, which is pegged at P378.866 billion. In truth, this makes the real deficit to be at P400.53 billion pesos instead of P 21.66 billion, according to FDC. Without this bill, the government is already planning to spend 130% of expected revenues next year!
If this bill passes, does the country really have the money to implement it?Shouldn't the lawmakers be concentrating on creating wealth instead?

A Manifesto of Filipino Families

A Manifesto of Filipino Families
July 25, 2008

We call on all Filipino Families to defend ourselves by defending life.

We have so far succeeded in foiling many of the attempts of our lawmakers to enact reproductive health statutes.

We believe they are being enticed by monetary and other compensations, but we hope that they
will see the grim reality behind reproductive `health`.

But now could be our last chance. Many countries have fallen into the subtle and the blatant attacks against their families. It is time to organize ourselves better and pressure our leaders to come up with pro-family and pro-life legislation and programs.

We call on all men and women of good will, of all creeds, social standing, and political affiliations, to further promote the family.

Let us patronize family-safe establishments, and complain to our civil authorities against those offering drugs, gambling, pornography and prostitution, especially those surrounding our homes and our children`s schools. Let us boycott products and services that degrade sex and women in their advertisements.

Let us review the textbooks used by our children for promiscuous and anti-parental content. Let us make the TV stations know that we want wholesome family entertainment.
Recovering the Family`s True Nature.
We hope that in the end, children may see their parents as role models of family warmth and citizenship, and that parents and grandparents may experience the appreciation and respect of
their children whom they have truly loved and guided.

Humanae Vitae prophetically warned that we could lose our values if we go against God`s design on the responsible transmission of life within the family.

May the Filipino Family, which is the sanctuary of life and love, rediscover and reclaim the peace and joy that rightly belong to us."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Misconceptions and Clarifications on Issues Related to Humanae Vitae and the Reproductive "Health" Bill in Philippine Congress."

(Note: I have no access to a hardcopy of this article, and I'm working from a hastily-typed and unsatisfactory soft copy of Fr. Gaston's article, so I suspect that there might be some typos in this copy. Should anyone see any such errors, please say so in the combox)

"Misconceptions and Clarifications on Issues Related to Humanae Vitae and the Reproductive "Health" Bill in Philippine Congress."

by Rev. Fr. Gregory D. Gaston, STD

(This primer was written for Avenues, the Journal of San Carlos Seminary Graduate School of Theology. Copyright © 2008 by the author, a priest of the Archdiocese of Manila, assigned since January 2008 at the Holy Apostles Senior Seminary, Makati City, Philippines, and was previously an Official of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Vatican, for five years. For consults and resources on related topics, please visit


The world is overpopulated. Global population will soar to 11.9 billion by 2050. "Yet this is not the full story. To the contrary, in fact. Across the globe, people are having fewer and fewer children. Fertility rates have dropped by half since 1972, from six children per woman to 2.9. And demographers say they're still falling, faster than ever. The world's population will continue to grow—from today's 6.4 billion to around 9 billion in 2050. But after that, it will go sharply into decline. Indeed, a phenomenon that we're destined to learn much more about—depopulation—has already begun in a number of countries. Welcome to the New Demography. It will change everything about our world, from the absolute size and power of nations to global economic growth to the quality of our lives." [Michael Meyer, "Birth Dearth," in Newsweek, September 27, 2004, p. 58. Since the 1970's, several demographers, economists, and other experts have been informing the public of these trends.]

Overpopulation is a scientific fact. Not overpopulation, but population ageing and underpopulation, as seen in these sample article titles:

* European Pension Systems Set to Collapse. Low Fertility Blamed, in Friday Fax, May 4, 2000.
* Underpopulation, Not Overpopulation, the Real Global Problem, in Washington Post, March 18, 2001.
* Developed Nations Warned on Aging Crisis Time Bomb, in Manila Bulletin, Aug 30, 2001.
* Have Three Babies to Sustain the Population, in Daily Telegraph, Dec. 12, 2003.
* Asian Economies Desperate for Babies, in Daily News Express, Feb. 2, 2004.
* Have More Babies, Say the Tories, in Daily Mail, September 22, 2003: "Women should have more babies to stave off the looming crisis of an ageing population, the Tories will say today. The call to 'go forth and multiply' comes from work and pensions spokesman David Willetts, who wants couples to send birth rates soaring."
* In address to Estonians, President Calls on Citizens to Make More Babies, in New York Times, January 2, 2003: "Worried about a declining population, Estonia's president has urged the country's 1.4 million residents to make more babies. 'Let us remember that in just a couple of decades the number of Estonians seeing the New Year will be one-fifth less than today,' President Arnold Ruutel said in a speech broadcast live on national television Wednesday.

Our population growth rate of 2.04% is extremely high. The CIA gives a much lower estimate of 1.728% (World Factbook Country Listing of 2008, available on the internet).

We should aim for a Zero Population Growth Rate. Zero Population Growth Rate will make the Filipino race at first extremely old, and then rare, and finally extinct.

Filipino families have too many children. The UN Population Division figures indicate that it is not an exaggeration to say that as early as now the Philippine Total Fertility Rate [children per woman] is already dangerously low. Whereas in the early 1970's the average Filipina had six children, today she has around three, and in another 20 years, only two. Shortly after 2020, or just fifteen years from now, the Philippine TFR will sink below its replacement level of around 2.29." [Rev. Fr. Gregory D. Gaston, STD, World Population Collapse: Lessons for the Philippines, in Familia et Vita, vol. XII (2007) no. 2, pp. 84-113, paragraph no. 22. Henceforth referred to as WPC and paragraph number.]

Having two children should be the ideal family size. SEC. 16. Ideal Family Size. – The State shall assist couples, parents and individuals to achieve their desired family size within the context of responsible parenthood for sustainable development and encourage them to have two children as the ideal family size.

As of now the Philippines' total fertility rate, or children per woman, is projected to go below replacement (2.29 children per woman) by 2025. After that we will experience the population ageing and collapse taking place today in rich countries, and like them, we will also wish to pay parents to have more children--but unlike them, we will have no money to do so.

Pushing for only two children per family will make all this occur even earlier.

(Note that two children per family would give a total fertility rate of much lower than two, since women without children would have to be included in the computation of "children per woman," or total fertility rate.)

Intensified population control programs will slow down population growth, improve the economy soon, and thus solve poverty. The effect desired by population controllers, the slowing of population growth, will not immediately take place, due to population momentum, decreased mortality and longer lifespan. By the time population growth will have slowed down, the Total Fertility Rate will be way below the replacement level, and the average population age will be extremely high. In other words, the solution proposed to solve poverty, that is, population control programs, will just create more economic difficulties in the long run.

Nor may one say that we should limit population growth now, hope for rapid economic development, and finally try to solve whatever problem might come up in the future. It will simply be too late by then. Countries that were already rich 30 to 40 years ago when their TFR's started to decline, and are now ageing, encounter extreme difficulty in solving their economic problems today. Their efforts to encourage their citizens to produce more children have not yielded acceptable results after a decade. They depend on immigration to maintain their population growth. The Philippines is not a rich country today, and may or may not be rich within 50 years. How will it support its ageing population? Will it also invite workers from other countries to replace its dwindling workforce? How will it attract immigrants if it has no jobs to offer to its people in the first place? Even if it becomes rich by then, it will have to face the same problems rich countries face now, and will have to tell the people to raise more children. We simply cannot afford to fall into the trap rich countries have fallen into 30-40 years ago, and from which they desperately try to escape today. Graphically speaking, we cannot afford to have in the future a population pyramid like theirs now, and then, like them today, wish to regain the population pyramid we have now." [WPC 26]

In ruling out population control as a solution to poverty, the Catholic Church teaches that the people should beget as many children as they can, following God's command, to "go forth and multiply. Ruling out population control' simply means not encouraging people to have few children, which is entirely different from telling them to have all the children they can possibly produce. Parents should instead be guided and supported to attain the number of children they can generously and responsibly raise and educate. For some spouses, this means having one child or two; for others, five, ten, twelve, fifteen or even more. Neither the government nor the Catholic Church may compel, instruct, or encourage spouses to raise a specified number of children, as what population control programs definitely try to do, either through massive propaganda, or through deceptive and coercive policies. Rather, the government and the Catholic Church should form and guide the people to reflect on their actual circumstances, and to freely, generously and responsibly decide whether to have another child now, or not to have another child for the time being or indefinitely. This is one aspect of responsible parenthood, which the Catholic Church has always taught, and which takes into account both the real capacities of individual spouses and the national demographic situation." [WPC 27]

The Catholic Church has always recognized the existence of a "population problem," and the government's intervention in the decision-making of spouses as to the number of children they beget. In recognizing that it is legitimate for the state "to intervene to orient the demography of the population," it immediately adds that, "This can be done by means of objective and respectful information, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children. In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2372).

Humanae Vitae (no. 2) describes some changes taking place in 1968. "In the first place there is the rapid increase in population which has made many fear that world population is going to grow faster than available resources, with the consequence that many families and developing countries would be faced with greater hardships."

Note that while Humanae Vitae in this point observes that there is the rapid increase in world population, it merely expresses the fear of many, without owning that fear, that world population is going to grow faster than available resources. Today, forty years later, we can see for a fact that while population has grown, food production has grown even more.

Since 1965 to 1994 the population of the world has nearly doubled, but food production has kept well ahead... United Nations figures show there has been a rise of over 30% in the period 1951-92 in food production per capita, that is to say the amount of food which would be available to each person in the world if it were divided equally. This has occurred in spite of the fact that Western farmers are paid millions of dollars a year to keep land out of production. If these European and American farmers were to produce to their capacity, food prices would collapse as a result of the glut (Population Facts and Myths, published on the Internet in 1994 by the National Association of Catholic Families in the UK). The problem then is not food production but proper distribution. Hence the solution should not be to reduce the number of consumers, but social justice.

In recent years, Church documents have focused greatly on the fall of fertility, which, "very significant in almost all parts of the world, is irrefutable and evident from the facts published by specialized organizations. It is, nontheless, frequently disregarded" (Pontifical Council for the Family, The Ethical and Pastoral Dimensions of Population Trends, March 25, 1994). Such fall in fertility is the real "population problem" today.

The Catholic Church is not concerned with the plight of the poor in the country. The Catholic Church dedicates a huge part of its efforts at the service of the poor, helping the government: education, microlending, presence in slum areas and garbage, orphanages, feeding programs, social action projects, calamities, opposition to destructive mining and destructive logging, Pondo ng Pinoy, Caritas, environmental ecology concerns, human ecology, family empowerment.

Whenever the Church talks against graft and corruption, she does so also out of concern for the poor. Poverty will be very quickly eradicated if graft and corruption are eradicated, so that taxpayers' money will go to the poor (especially in terms of education, which is the long-term solution to poverty, and livelihood programs) and not to those rich who steal from the poor.

Each time poverty is blamed on the 'population problem,' its real and root causes are conveniently tolerated or covered up: graft and corruption in the public and private sectors, burden of foreign debt servicing, and bad governance, resulting in failed development programs" (A Manifesto of Filipino Families on July 25, 2008).

Contraceptives should be listed as essential drugs. They should not be listed as essential drugs, but as dangerous drugs and devices. Pills have been shown to cause abortion of a 5-day old baby, cancer, premature hypertension, heart disease, etc. IUD's are abortifacient and may cause intrauterine trauma, pelvic infections and ectopic pregnancy. Condoms have high failure rate even against pregnancy and thus do not guarantee protection against AIDS and other STD's. Tubal ligation and vasectomy (especially targeting the poor) leave couples without the chance to have more children (for example, in case of improved economic situation, or death of their present children) and little or no support in their old age.

Hence, it is the right of the citizens to be forewarned of these, even in the form of government warnings, as in the case of cigarette smoking ("is dangerous for your health"), alcohol ("drink moderately"), and infant milk formulae ("mother's milk is best for babies under two years old")—not out of religious concerns, but as part of consumers' rights.Possible warnings could state: "CONDOMS DO NOT GUARANTEE PROTECTION FROM AIDS AND OTHER STD'S", "PILLS HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO CAUSE CANCER AND ABORTION OF 5-DAY OLD BABIES," and, "IUD'S MAY CAUSE TRAUMA OF THE UTERUS AND ABORTION OF 5-DAY OLD BABIES," etc.

(For the medical data on these dangerous drugs and devices, see also John Wilks, A Consumer's Guide to the Pill and Other Drugs, 3rd Ed., National Bookstore, Inc., Manila 2000.)

Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, in denouncing sustematic anti-childbearing campaigns, described posoning the lives of defenseless human beings as similar to a form of "chemical warfare" (Paul VI, Address to the participants of the World Food Conference, Nov. 4, 1974. Pope John Paul II, Centessimus Annus, no. 39).

Condoms have no holes. They provide truly safe sex, as advertised. "'Condom manufacturers in the United States electronically test all condoms for holes and weak spots. In addition, FDA requires manufacturers to use a water test to examine samples from each batch of condoms for leakage. If the test detects a defect rate of more than 4 per 1,000, the entire lot is discarded. The agency also encourages manufacturers to test samples of their products for breakage by using an air burst test in accordance with specifications of the International Standards Organization.' [Mike Kubic, New Ways to Prevent and Treat AIDS, in FDA Consumer, Jan-Feb 1997 (revised May 1997 and Jan 1998; available at]

If four leaking condoms are allowed in every batch of 1,000, there could be hundreds of thousands or even millions of leaking condoms circulating all over the world, either sold or distributed for free, and most probably contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS and STD's. Does the public know this? Does the public know that the risks increase the more often and the more promiscuously one is exposed, considering the cumulative risk factor, as explained earlier?"[from Family Values Versus Safe Sex. A Reflection by His Eminence, Alfonso Cardinal López Trujillo (then President of the Pontifical Council for the Family), December 1, 2003. Note that the first paragraph above came from the US Food and Drug Administration website.]

Condoms are effective in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS in a country. "In Thailand and in the Philippines, the first HIV/AIDS cases were reported in 1984; by 1987, Thailand had 112 cases, while the Philippines had more, with 135 cases. Today, in the year 2003, there are around 750,000 cases in Thailand, where the 100% Condom Use Program had relatively great success. On the other hand, there are only 1,935 cases in the Philippines - and this, considering that the Philippines' population is around 30% greater than Thailand's! Relatively low rates of condom use by the people in general, and staunch opposition from the Church and a good number of government leaders against the condom program and sexual promiscuity, are well-known facts in the Philippines."[from Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo (then President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Vatican), Family Values Versus Safe Sex, December 1, 2003. The quoted text cites the following references: Rene Josef Bullecer (Director of AIDS-Free Philippines), Telling the Truth: AIDS Rates for Thailand and the Philippines; Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, Pastoral Letter on AIDS: In the Compassion of Jesus, January 23, 1993; and Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, Pastoral Letter on Subtle Attacks against Family and Life, July 9, 2001.]

The Catholic Church teaches that contraceptives, including condoms, cause abortion. Abortion is the termination (killing) of life, not simply of pregnancy. Life begins at conception when the sperm and the egg meet. Killing the new life at any moment after this, and before it is born, is considered abortion. The new life develops as it goes down the fallopian tube, and implants onto the mother's womb when the tiny baby is around five days old.

Condoms do not directly cause abortion because they prevent conception—if there is no conception, there is nothing to kill in the first place. But they can lead to abortion if, because of high condom failure a woman gets pregnant, she decides to kill the baby in her womb.

Pills and IUD's make the womb's lining unhabitable for the new baby. ; hence, in case they fail in their contraceptive actions, the five-day old baby will be unable to attach to his or her mother's womb. This has to be called "abortion," for the five-day old baby dies in the process, and such action of pills and IUD's is called "abortifacient.

Natural methods are not effective. The modern natural methods (e.g., Billings, Sympto-Thermal, Basal Body Temperature) can be more effective than contraceptives, if they are learned and practiced as a way of life and not as "natural contraceptives." Hence, communication, love, respect, self-discipline, and formation in the values are necessary for the natural methods to work—values that are not exclusively religious, but very human and natural as well, and values that are not necessary in the use of contraceptives.

The obsolete calendar and the rhythm methods, and their modern repackagings, should not be taught (including by the DOH) because of their high failure rates. Withdrawal is not a natural method, and has extremely high failure rates. It is sad that many doctors (including Ob-Gyn's) are not even familiar with many of the facts regarding benefits of the natural methods and the medical ills of contraceptives.

The Catholic Church teaches that in each sexual act, the couple should aim for a new child. No. Rather, the Catholic Church teaches no action, whether before, during or after the sexual act, should close the possibility of new life or kill the new life that arises.

Hence, in the woman's infertile periods, or if one of the spouses is sterile, the couple may still perform the sexual act since they do not do anything to prevent the possibility of, or kill, new life.

The Reproductive Health bill does not promote or pave the way to abortion, since it even states that abortion remains illegal in the Philippines. The bill does not legalize surgical abortion, but it does PROMOTE all types of abortion, and DOES LEGALIZE abortion of 5-day old babies.

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms.h. Reproductive Health Education – is the process of acquiring complete, accurate and relevant information on all matters relating to the reproductive system, its functions and processes and human sexuality; and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, interpersonal relationships, affection, intimacy and gender roles. It also includes developing the necessary skills to be able to distinguish between facts and myths on sex and sexuality; and critically evaluate and discuss the moral, religious, social and cultural dimensions of related sensitive issues such as contraception and abortion.

To "critically evaluate and discuss the moral, religious, social and cultural dimensions of related sensitive issues such as contraception and abortion" paves the way to abortion because it will present abortion as a hypothetical (hypothetical as of now in the Philippines, while practical in other countries) solution to an unplanned pregnancy. The next step will be to push for safe and legal abortion.

This reflects the mentality presented in some sex education modules, which could very well go this way:

"Ang pagkontrol sa kakayahang mag-anak ay isang karapatang makabago para sa kababaihan... May dalawang uri ng batas na nagkakaroon ng impluwensiya sa gawaing ito. Ang una ay may kinalaman sa paggamit ng kontraseptibo, kusang-loob na pag-papa-opera upang hindi magkaanak at paglalaglag ng sanggol. Ang ilegal na paglalaglag ng sanggol ay ipinagbabawal ng batas sapagkat hindi makabubuti sa kalusugan ng ina. Ang pangalawa ay nagbibigay ng karapatan sa kababaihan sa pagpaplano ng pamilya.

Note than in such a formulation, illegal abortion is considered wrong because it is bad for the woman's health. The child being killed is insignificant. The solution insinuated is to legalize abortion so that it could become "safe"--safe for the mother (they claim, though abortion is always traumatic for her), but not for the baby.

Some candidly say that if legislators and teachers insist on asking their student to discuss the pros and cons of abortion, then parents should also insist on discussing the pros and cons of killing legislators and teachers (for example, if they are inefficient, involved in graft and corruption, etc.).

The Reproductive Health bill does not promote sexual promiscuity.

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms
c. Reproductive Health – the state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. This implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so, provided that these are not against the law.

The law will guarantee children and teenagers (since they are "people") the right to have a satisfying and safe sex life with anyone, and to decide if, when and how often to reproduce. Hence children have the right to have information and access to contraceptives, and to learn all possible options in case they get pregnant--including abortion, which "unfortunately" (as they will be made to feel), is still illegal.

Parents who object to this "right" act against the law, a law which of course goes against the parents' inherent right to educate their children.

The Reproductive Health bill will strengthen parental rights in forming and educating their children. SEC. 3. Guiding Principles.L. Respect for, protection and fulfillment of reproductive health rights seek to promote not only the rights and welfare of adult individuals and couples but those of adolescents' and children's as well...

SEC. 4. Definition of Terms

d. Reproductive Health Rights – the rights of individuals and couples to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children; to make other decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence; to have the information and means to carry out their decisions; and to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.

In the Bill, children and adolescents have the right to have a "satisfying and safe sex life," and "to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children." In such a case parents (and teachers, public authorities, priests, etc.) who do not want children to have sex with classmates will be going against the children's rights, and hence they can be considered as "coercing" the children to stay away from sex. Earlier bills have even proposed fines and/or imprisonment for similar acts; this is indicative of their real intentions.

In some countries, school clinics are prohibited from informing parents if their child seeks or has undergone abortion, whereas they are required to do so for treatment of a minor wound.

Reproductive health rights will therefore weaken parental authority and rights over the upbringing of their children. Children are brainwashed into this promiscuous, anti- parent, and anti-authority mentality through Value-free sex education modules.

The Reproductive Health bill is an original idea of Filipino Congressmen. Reproductive Health bills are pushed by the PLCPD (Philippine Legislators' Committee for Population and Development), a foreign funded NGO with offices questionably located in Congress, precisely where our laws are made. This is in complete violation of our national sovereignty and our pro-family and pro-life Constitution. PLCPD has access to formidable financial resources (including the P2 billion budget this year), and is backed by a powerful conglomerate of NGO's (see A Manifesto of Filipino Families on July 25, 2008).

The Reproductive Health bill promotes health. "We would rather call them the 'reproductive death' bills. They are totally silent on the aforementioned ills which will bring DEATH not only to the body, but to the person, family and society as well: D-ivorce E-uthanasia A-bortion T-yrannical population control H-omosexual unions" (A Manifesto of Filipino Families on July 25, 2008).

Filipino families cannot do anything to stop the Reproductive Death bills.

A Call to Defend the Filipino Family against the Reproductive 'Health' Bills

We call on all Filipino Families to defend ourselves by defending life. We have so far succeeded in foiling many of the attempts of our lawmakers to enact reproductive health statutes. We believe they are being enticed by monetary and other compensations, but we hope that they will see the grim reality behind reproductive 'health'. But now could be our last chance. Many countries have fallen into the subtle and the blatant attacks against their families. It is time to organize ourselves better and pressure our leaders to come up with pro-family and pro-life legislation and programs.

We call on all men and women of good will, of all creeds, social standing, and political affiliations, to further promote the family. Let us patronize family-safe establishments, and complain to our civil authorities against those offering drugs, gambling, pornography and prostitution, especially those surrounding our homes and our children's schools. Let us boycott products and services that degrade sex and women in their advertisements. Let us review the textbooks used by our children for promiscuous and anti-parental content. Let us make the TV stations know that we want wholesome family entertainment.

Recovering the Family's True Nature.

We hope that in the end, children may see their parents as role models of family warmth and citizenship, and that parents and grandparents may experience the appreciation and respect of their children whom they have truly loved and guided. Humanae Vitae prophetically warned that we could lose our values if we go against God's design on the responsible transmission of life within the family.

May the Filipino Family, which is the sanctuary of life and love, rediscover and reclaim the peace and joy that rightly belong to us.
(A Manifesto of Filipino Families on July 25, 2008).



House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development” has occasioned intense debate in the Philippines and was recently the subject of a position paper drafted by 14 members of the faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University. In their statement, these faculty members stated their belief that the bill adheres “to core principles of Catholic social teaching: the sanctity of human life, the dignity of the human person, the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, integral human development, human rights, and the primacy of conscience.” They believe these conditions of Catholic social teaching are met in Bill 5043. We, the undersigned Catholic academics, assert, however, that these Ateneo faculty are gravely mistaken in their presentation of the Church’s teaching.
The primary reason for these Ateneo faculty members´ support of the bill seems to stem from their deep commitment to the Church’s long-held “preferential option for the poor.” Their position paper describes, heart-wrenchingly, the situation of the poor in the Philippines. High maternal mortality rates, inadequate and uneven provision of basic health care, lack of birth attendants, and lack of reproductive health information: such situations place an undue burden on the poor, and in particular on women. These women, like all women, desire to determine the number and spacing of their children, and ensure that proper nutrition, health care, and education can be provided for each member of their families. As Catholics, we have a clear obligation to ensure that all persons, particularly the poor, have the ability to exercise these basic freedoms.
As Catholic academics, we agree that we must support civic and governmental initiatives that can aid the poor. Nevertheless, a Catholic cannot support the Reproductive Health and Population Development bill in good conscience, because the primary provisions of the bill not only fail to recognize and support the dignity of the poor, but also stand in direct opposition to Catholic social teaching. The bill focuses primarily on providing services to curb the number of children of the poor, while doing little to remedy their situation, provide necessary health care or establish the grounds for sound economic development.
A few citations will serve to show how clear and unambiguous is the Church’s care for the dignity of the person, and in particular the poor, and how critical it is for us to heed her teachings in addressing the circumstances facing the Philippines today.
Rerum Novarum opens with the powerful reminder that “Man precedes the state” and for that reason should not be subject to the state’s regulation of his private matters. Populorum Progressio reiterates this sentiment, stating: "No solution . . . is acceptable which does violence to man's essential dignity; those who propose such solutions base them on an utterly materialistic conception of man himself and his life. The only possible solution to this question is one which envisages the social and economic progress both of individuals and of the whole of human society, and which respects and promotes true human values."
Perhaps no document speaks more powerfully in opposition to the main ideas in this bill than Humanae Vitae: “Therefore we base our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when we are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the Magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary.”
In reply to the claim that reproductive rights, contraception and sterilization are required in order to help the poor limit their family size and thus aid the poor by reducing the numbers of mouths to feed, Humanae Vitae states: “Others ask on the same point whether it is not reasonable in so many cases to use artificial birth control if by so doing the harmony and peace of a family are better served and more suitable conditions are provided for the education of children already born. To this question we must give a clear reply. The Church is the first to praise and commend the application of human intelligence to an activity in which a rational creature such as man is so closely associated with his Creator. But she affirms that this must be done within the limits of the order of reality established by God.”
Artificial contraception can never be accepted by the Church as an action in conformity with the dignity of the human person because “each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.” Further, it is never valid to argue, “as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, ” as the authors of the position paper seem to suggest. While applauding efforts in the bill to provide information on both artificial and natural forms of family planning, the position paper then asserts that provision of contraceptives as essential medicines and fully covered sterilizations for indigent patients are measures that promote quality of life. This statement directly contradicts Catholic teaching, which recognizes the use and promotion of artificial contraception and sterilization as intrinsically evil. Such actions can never be promoted or justified. “It is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it – in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, or a family or of society in general. Consequently it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong. ”
The Church does not hold these positions to punish the poor, but rather because she recognizes that the poor have the same inviolable dignity and rights that all human persons share. What the poor need is not contraception and sterilization, but to experience authentic solidarity with those who, in responding to their innate dignity, work with the poor to enable them to develop their skills, improve their circumstances and cultivate lives that are marked by both interior and exterior freedom. This places a much more radical demand on those of us to whom much has been given (Luke 12:48); we must live and work with the poor in order to identify and enable the resources they require to live lives of authentic freedom.
Finally, Humanae Vitae warns us that "[c]areful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.”
These statements of the Church and Magisterium have been retained in all subsequent documents and reiterated in documents too numerous to cite here. These few, but clear, passages make it abundantly clear that no Catholic can in good conscience support Bill 5043. This Bill violates the Church’s teachings in the gravest manner.
Maternal and ObGyn health. Finally, it must be emphasized that there are two sections in the bill that should be applauded and expanded. Both Section 6 and Section 7 call for the expansion of midwives and birth attendants, as well as greater access to obstetric care. Such measures are critical to reducing maternal mortality and making progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, particularly MDG 5 (maternal health) and MDG 4 (infant health). Healthy mothers are the critical factor in assuring infant and child health.
Unfortunately, these two sections are the weakest in the bill. Most of the reproductive health proposals of the bill are mandatory and supported through financial means, as well as through the creation of new government agencies to assure implementation. Sections 6 and 7 of the Bill, which provide the only concrete health care and services to prevent or eliminate maternal mortality, are not mandatory, and the bill earmarks neither institutional support systems nor finances for their implementation. The POPCOM, which is established in Section 5 to implement and oversee the commitments outlined in the bill, has nine specific areas related to reproductive health and reproductive health services, yet no explicit mention of any responsibility in the area of maternal and ObGyn care. This most important section of the bill - and the only section actually consistent with Catholic social teaching - has been entirely neglected in the allocation of responsibilities to the agency established to oversee its implementation.
A bill that responds to the situation of the poor requires us to respond to their full range of needs in order to facilitate integral improvement in their quality of life. This necessitates the creation of laws that guarantee the adoption of measures, at the national and local levels, that will lead to improved access to authentic development including the provision of basic health care and access to quality education. It is measures such as these that will enable the poor to develop and thrive, and that will affirm and respect the dignity of each and every human person. This bill stops short of assuring implementation of needed medical care, while emphasizing the adoption of measures that deny the dignity and freedom of the poor. As Catholics we have a moral duty to defend and support the poor; we must demand more from our legislators and from ourselves, placing ourselves at the service of poor, ready to commit to the necessary work, sacrifice and solidarity needed to establish and build societies that will respond to authentic needs while respecting the dignity and freedom of every human person.
Signatories as of Nov 12, 2008

1. Prof Janet E. Smith
Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics
Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI.

2. Robert G Kennedy, PhD
Professor and Chair
Department of Catholic Studies
Co-Director, Terrence J Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy
University of St Thomas
Mail #55-SSt Paul, MN 55105

3. Richard S. Myers
Professor of Law
Ave Maria School of Law
3475 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105-2550

4. Romanus Cessario, O.P.
Professor of Theology
Saint John's Seminary
Boston, Massachusetts

5. Rev. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J.
Department of Philosophy
Fordham University, Bronx, NY 10458 USA

6. Theresa Notare, PhD
Assistant Director
Natural Family Planning Program
Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 3211 4th St., N.E.Washington, DC 20017

7. Fr. Basil Cole, O.P.
Dominican House of Studies
487 Michigan Ave NE Washington DC 20017

8. E. Christian Brugger, D.Phil.
Associate Professor of Moral Theology
Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary
Denver, Colorado 80210, USA

9. S.C. Selner-Wright, PhD
Acting Chair, Philosophy Department
Acting Director, Pre-Theology Cycle
St. John Vianney Theological Seminary
Denver, Colorado USA

10. Dr. Mary Healy
Associate Professor of Sacred Scripture
Sacred Heart Major Seminary 2701 Chicago Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48206

11. Ångela Aparisi Miralles
Philosophy of Law Professor
Directora - Instituto de Derechos Humanos
Universidad de Navarra

12. Michael Rota
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN

13. Michael Scaperlanda
Associate Dean for Research
Edwards Family Chair in Law
University of Oklahoma College of Law

14. Richard Stith J.D.(Yale), Ph.D.(Yale)
Professor of Law
Valparaiso University School of Law
656 South Greenwich St. Valparaiso, IN 46383-4945

15. Patrick Quirk
Associate Professor
Ave Maria School of Law
3475 Plymouth Road Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105-2550

16. Fr. Earl Muller, S.J.
Kevin M. Britt Chair in Theology/Christology
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
Detroit, MI, USA

17. Professor David Paton
Chair of Industrial Economics
Nottingham University Business School
Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road, Nottingham NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

18. Dr. Eduardo J. Echeverria
Professor of Philosophy
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
2701 Chicago Blvd, Detroit, MI 48206

19. Jane Adolphe
Associate Professor of Law
Ave Maria School of Law
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, 48105

20. Teresa S. Collett
Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law
MSL 400, 1000
LaSalle Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403-2015

21. David Braine,
Honorary Research Fellow,
Department of Philosophy,
University of Aberdeen, UK.

22. Dr. Helen Watt
Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics

23. Ligia M. De Jesus
Assistant Professor of Law
Ave Maria School of Law
3475 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105-2550

24. Jacqueline M. Nolan-Haley
Professor of Law
Director, ADR & Conflict Resolution Program
Fordham Law School
140 W. 62nd Street, New York, New York 10023

25. William E.May
Michael J.McGivney Professor of Moral Theology
John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
Washington DC

26. Evelyn (Timmie) Birge Vitz
Professor of French, New York University
Affiliated Professor of Comparative Literature,
Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and Religious Studies
19 University Place, #623,
New York, NY 10003

27. Mary M. Keys
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556 USA

28. Mark E. Ginter, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Moral Theology
Saint Meinrad School of Theology
200 Hill Drive St. Meinrad, IN 47577

29. Father Daniel J. Trapp
Professor of Sacramental Theology
Sacred Heart Major Seminary
2701 Chicago Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48206

30. Maria Fedoryka
Philosophy Department of Ave Maria University
Ave Maria, FL.

31. Dr. Dermot Grenham
Graduate Teaching Assistant
London School of Economics

32. Dr. Michael Pakaluk
Professor of Philosophy
Institute for the Psychological Sciences
Arlington, VA 22101

33. Timothy Flanigan MD
Professor of Medicine
Brown University Medical School

34. Gerard Bradley
School of Law
Notre Dame University

35. Adrian J. Reimers
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy
208 Malloy HallNotre Dame, Indiana 46556574-631-7384

36. Daniel Philpott
Associate Professor, Political Science and Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
University of Notre Dame

37. Aneta Gawkowska
Assistant Professor, Sociology
University of Warsaw

38. Tom D’Andrea
Cambridge University

39. Peter Kreeft
Boston College

40. J. Budziszewski
Departments of Government and Philosophy
University of Texas at Austin

41. Habib Malik
Department of History,
Lebanese American University

42. Nicholas Eberstadt
Political Economy
American Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.

(Links) 13 Essays of Francisco Tatad Versus the RH Bill

Regardless of how one views the political career and opinions of former Senator Francisco Tatad, he remains one of Asia's most forceful exponents of orthodox Catholic teaching on human life and sexuality issues. His blog, First Things First, is rich in posts that expose the RH bill for what it is, in the clear and powerful light of the teachings of the Holy Fathers.
Retire the Reproductive Health Bill (On why the RH bill goes against the Philippine constitution.) This essay also has its own post on this blog: link.
The Gospel according to SWS (A response to the pro-RH bill SWS survey.)
A Reading from 14 Ateneo Professors (A response to the Ateneo professors who declared in favor of the RH Bill.)
Second Letter to Sen. Pia Cayetano (Describes some legal and constitutional objections to the RH bill.)
No need to be wrong on contraception (A response on moral and theological grounds to UP Law Dean Raul Pangalangan's broadside against the Catholic Church over the RH Bill.)
The Truths and Half-Truths about Reproductive Health (revised version). This is a comprehensive study of the Reproductive Health Bill and is ESSENTIAL reading for all who want to know why this bill ought to be rejected. Health, demographic, economic, legal-constitutional, Church-State, philosophical and moral arguments for and objections to the RH bill are extensively discussed.
Fated to self-destruct (On the rights of the State and legal / constitutional issues vis-a-vis the RH bill.)
The New Central Economy Planners (More on economic, moral and constitutional issues vis-a-vis the RH bill.)
No Place for the RH Bill in Our Law (A shorter version of "What's Wrong with the Reproductive Health Bill.") This has its own post in this blog: link.

What's Wrong with the Reproductive Health Bill? (Briefly discusses constitutional, moral, health and demographic arguments against the RH Bill.)

Humanae Vitae was truly prophetic (On Humanae Vitae)

GMA is right on the Repro Bill (Church-State and constitutional issues discussed.)

The First Priority in Creating a Culture of Life

(Normally, posts here are directly concerned with the RH Bill. However, these two essays are so important to the pro-life movement that I have decided to post these on the blog. It is necessary that, in going against the RH bill and the contraceptive mindset, we should also capture the minds and hearts of our people by presenting them with a Christian alternative to the secular mindset so prevalent today. For this, the celebration of the sacred liturgy in all its glory is necessary.)

FIRST ESSAY: A quote from Part IV of Steve Jalvesac's "The Broken Windows in the US Catholic Church"

Excerpts from LifeSite News:

November 28, 2008 ( - It is often an overwhelming trial for a faithful ... Catholic bishop to begin the process of undoing the damage of up to 40 or more years of severe lack of leadership or even corruption in his diocese. Nevertheless, it is important for all citizens that Catholics clean up these diocesan problems.
If this were to happen Catholics would once again play a strong positive role in the culture, rather than the current situation in which Catholics are often no different than others on critical issues. Who to trust and where to begin are always the big questions for a reform-minded faithful bishop.
The "broken windows" concept could be a useful strategy for a beginning...
1. THE LITURGY. The first of the "broken windows," or signs of disorder that most often communicates a message that no one is in charge or that authority is weak and rules are made to be broken, are the abuses of the liturgy - the formal, very visible ceremonies or rites of the Church.
Why do we start with this one? Because Pope Benedict, in his wisdom, has declared it to be of the highest priority. He has seen that the sense of awe of God, the wonder of His majesty and the faith of the people have been gutted by theologians, pastors and bishops who have given very liberal, unintended interpretations to the documents of the Second Vatican Council. He commented on one occasion about the original intentions of the Council: "Anyone like myself, who was moved by this perception in the time of the Liturgical Movement on the eve of the Second Vatican Council, can only stand, deeply sorrowing, before the ruins of the very things they were concerned for."
It is no accident that many diocesan liturgists have since been found to be serious dissenters and an unusual percentage to be practicing homosexuals. The liturgy has power to form or to deform, to inspire or to corrupt.
The numerous abuses or broken windows on this topic range from the extreme to the more subtle, such as arbitrarily inserting inclusive language (very commonly done) or an otherwise faithful priest not giving communion at mass so that the women extraordinary ministers are not offended by having less of a role. Liturgy has often become entertainment. Probably by far the most widespread violation of Universal Church norms, by both dissident and normally faithful pastors, has been the vastly excessive use of lay Extraordinary Ministers of Communion, who are often wrongly called Ministers of Communion. Despite repeated instructions on this from Rome, pastors and bishops routinely ignore the rules and in doing so send their flocks an especially visible disorder message, that "we are determined to do things our own way" or, that they are too afraid of the feminists in their parish or diocese to do the right thing. To be fair, a lot of the pastors who try to follow this requirement are frequently not only not supported by their bishops but are often even ordered to disregard the Church discipline.

For the broken window strategy to work, not one abuse or liberty with the universal (versus the often inadequate local diocesan or even national conference) liturgical requirements, can be tolerated. Otherwise it cannot work. The priest, deacon and bishop are the teachers and witnesses of fidelity or infidelity to the people at every mass and other liturgical events. Any contradiction by them to what is clearly indicated in a faithful, Vatican approved missal or other text, sends a corrupting message to the people at that event. The message is that authority is what you decide it should be and that Catholics can ignore the order of love that has been prayerfully developed by the Church for the spiritual nurturing of the flock.
So what is a faithful bishop to do? Well, this is the most obvious of all the broken windows and one that can be manageable.
He can first make certain that in his cathedral and at all events directly arranged by his chancery, every single liturgical event would be conducted in a manner that would be approved by the Pope.
He can also do more than the basic requirements by changing the often man-centered emphasis of much of today's interior church arrangements. He can encourage those who wish to receive communion kneeling and on the tongue, as Benedict has made clear he prefers. He can ensure that the music at all events under his immediate control is truly uplifting and reverent, with many traditional hymns, which Pope Benedict has also emphasized ( And finally, he can ensure that the cathedral building itself truly inspires prayer, is clearly seen and felt as a place of Catholic worship of God and at all appropriate times facilitates silent prayer for those who come to fulfill that need.
After that is well under way the bishop could begin to regularly instruct all his priests on the importance of these changes and begin to have them implemented first by those pastors who he is confident will follow his instructions. Then, parish by parish, school by school, he should cajole and inspire imitation of his faithful example throughout the diocese. What does that have to do with Catholics voting for pro-abortion, pro-homosexual politicians? A lot. It is all about restoring a unity of understanding of what it truly means to worship God. From that eventually follows a tendency to desire to go further and to begin to live and act as Christians in the community with resulting improvement to the culture.
There is far more that could be said on this issue, but the main thing is that repairing the many broken windows in the liturgy in most dioceses is feasible and will likely lead to considerable positive effect on the more overwhelming problems. That is how the broken window strategy works.
2. DIOCESAN LITURGICAL TEXTS AND HYMNALS It is up to the bishop to approve or disapprove liturgical texts and Mass Hymnals used in his diocese. This has been a serious source of problems for many years with rampant use of feminist, gender neutralized, politically correct and ideologically altered texts weakening the faith and fidelity of Catholics...
by Deborah Morlani

Many Mass-Going Catholics Support the Culture of Death

A recent survey from October 2008, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and completed by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, found that 79% of Catholics who regularly attend Mass are supportive of abortion to some degree, varying from all cases to at least certain cases; this despite the Catholic teaching that the intentional killing of an unborn child by abortion is always evil and that there are no exceptions to this. What these surveys reveal is a fact that many faithful Catholics are already only too aware: that many of their fellow Catholics do not conform to Church teaching and support the culture of death to some degree, be it through contracepting, sterilization, abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, IVF, or so on. In looking at the results of these polls, not to mention years of personal experience, the question that comes to mind is this: how can Catholics who are going to Mass every week be living and thinking in such contrast to God's moral laws, as taught by the magisterium of the Church? The pro-life message is certainly “out there” and not unknown, so where is the deficiency that allows such a situation to exist and what can we do to address it? To answer these questions we need to consider the root of the problem and the font of Catholic life.
The Liturgy Is the Source and Summit From Which All Else Flows
The Church teaches us that the sacred liturgy is the centre, or font, from which all else flows within the Church; it refers to it as her source and summit. (Sacrosanctum Concilium para. 10) It is this tenet which allowed Pope Benedict XVI, while still a Cardinal, to note that “the Church stands and falls with the liturgy” for when one understands and accepts the central place which the liturgy holds within the life of the Church and her faithful, this clearly follows and should hopefully help us to appreciate the foundational place and importance of the liturgy in a variety of questions.
Returning to the question at hand then, it would not seem a stretch to suggest that an implication of this very centrality is that the culture of life itself also stands and falls with the liturgy. Why, we shall look at momentarily, but given our understanding that the liturgy is the summit from whence all else flows, and given the consideration of the impoverished, or "falling", state of the liturgy in so many parishes, it should perhaps come as little surprise that there would be a coinciding “falling” of the culture of life – to use the image of Ratzinger.
Putting Our Own House In Order: A More Serious Look at the Liturgy by the Catholic Pro-life Movement
I would propose, particularly to those actively involved within the pro-life movement (of which all Catholics, clergy, laity, and religious, should consider themselves involved to some extent), that the sacred liturgy needs to be looked at much more seriously as a significant foundation and tool for beginning to build the culture of life among fellow Catholics. Pro-life homilies, pro-life prayer intentions and social activism generally are all important let’s be clear, but they don't address the deeper, foundational problem that lay at the root of this issue; namely, the lack of a sense of God that exists not only within our culture, but even within our parishes. Before we can ever hope to bring about a conversion of the culture to a culture of life – and we are speaking, not merely of the changing of laws, but ultimately of the need for conversion -- we must first put our own house in order. If we understand and accept the teaching of the Church as regards the central importance of the liturgy and its relationship to doctrine, then surely we must neither ignore the fact that deficiencies there will lead to deficiencies elsewhere, nor that it is also an important place to begin to assert the solution.
The Necessity of God-Centred Liturgies: Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi (The law of prayer is the law of belief is the law of living.)
In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II taught that the root cause of the culture of death is a loss of the sense of God and, in the same vein, one will note that Pope Benedict XVI has been working quite intently to bring back the sense of transcendence and God-centredness within our liturgies; in short, to bring back a sense of God. So it is that a consistent theme emerges and also a consistent recognition of a problem within our churches today. The Holy Father knows well that if God is obscured within the sacred liturgy – the very place that is not only the source and summit of the Church, but also the heart, soul and primary point of contact for the faithful -- then it is likely to follow that God will be absent or obscured in the lives of the faithful as well. Consequently, this lack of sense of the Divine can lead to living a humanistic or self-centred existence which further leads to a lost sense of the sacredness of man; without a Creator, man becomes a mere organism in the vast universe of organisms that can be manipulated and used for any kind of fantasy by anyone who is stronger or more powerful.
It is well known that many parishes today have become more centred upon themselves as a community than being clearly centred upon God – what Ratzinger has called the “self-enclosed circle”. Many parishes are not following the authorized liturgical texts and rubrics -- often out of a misguided sense of "pastoral" creativity, or even simply out of ignorance. Nor do they sufficiently consider (let alone express) those elements which lend a sense of transcendence to the worship of God, particularly as expressed through the medium of beauty. To some these might seem rather unimportant surface considerations, but they are not. The sacred liturgy and doctrine are intertwined and the experiential dimension of the liturgy is a profound moment for catechesis and conversion. Accordingly, when there is problematic approach to the liturgy, and when unauthorized innovations are introduced, there can be a deficiency as well as a coinciding distortion of Catholic belief passed on to the faithful, and further a loss in the power of the liturgy to move the human heart and mind towards God.
By contrast, the sacred liturgy, when celebrated well and focused on God, is where the building of the culture of life begins for within the liturgy one experiences and encounters the perfection of the culture of life from the giver of life Himself, God our Creator. It is through this deep encounter with God in the liturgy that we witness and learn a perfect love that is self-giving and self-sacrificing; from that flows the possibility of conversion of heart and the reciprocal love for God in giving of our lives to Him and His Church just as Christ gave His life for us, a sacrificial reality which is perpetuated upon our altars at every Mass. From that love for God and desire to serve Him naturally flows an ability to better move outside of ourselves and love our neighbour, seeing their lives as inherently of value. Therefore, if we are to build a culture of life within our parishes and serve as leaven for our culture, the sacred liturgy must be oriented to God in all things, both interiorly and exteriorly. The liturgy must be celebrated in accord with the authorized texts and rubrics so that we might avoid obscuring Catholic doctrine or falling into a subjectivist mentality. The ceremonies must be reverent and beautiful, speaking to the worship of the Lord and the sacredness of what occurs, moving and focusing us accordingly. Finally, there should be liturgical catechesis for the faithful to help them to understand the greater meaning, focus and sacrificial reality of the Mass, emphasizing its primary end as the worship of God through the sacrifice of the Cross, including through postures and gestures, signs and symbols.
Pope Benedict XVI Leads by Example
The Pope has consistently written of and witnessed to the importance of both interior and exterior dimensions which orient the sacred liturgy toward God. He has led by example in directing how certain exterior forms contribute to a God-centered liturgy, such as through the “Benedictine altar arrangement” with a central Crucifix; his celebration of Mass ad orientem in the Sistine Chapel; the use of beautiful sacred music and vestments within the liturgy; and finally, by re-introducing kneeling for Holy Communion in his own liturgies. Moreover, the Holy Father has emphasized the importance of interiorly directing our minds and hearts toward God through mystagogical catechesis (meaning the teaching of the mysteries of the Faith) so that we can more fully know God through beauty and the sacred mysteries experienced in the liturgy and further be drawn into a more profound encounter with the Divine which can lead to a deeper conversion.
In Conclusion
To conclude, let us recall the teaching of the Church about the centrality of the liturgy and how all flows from it. Let us also follow the example of the Holy Father in addressing any crisis among Catholics first in looking at the liturgy and never neglecting it as a central part of the solution. Indeed, everything that happens within the sacred liturgy matters and all that is done to lead the faithful closer to God will ultimately work toward building the culture of life, which will necessarily come through, not simply legal means, but conversion of heart and mind to God.
Postscript: Addressing Some Common Objections
As a postscript, it would seem important to address a few common objections that arise whenever there is an attempt to assert the central importance of the liturgy in all its forms and aspects.
One objection is summarized by the sentiment that "all that really matters at Mass is that Our Lord is present in the Eucharist. These other matters are ultimately not of significant importance. They are simply nice-to-have’s or just a matter of taste.” This is a common objection that often comes up from many Catholics, and even some priests, when attempting to explain the importance of the sacred liturgy as though validity, sacramentality or Eucharistic piety is all that is of concern. Obviously they are of concern, but this view is not in accord with the Church's teaching and is based on what Ratzinger has called “abstract sacramental theology” and “reductionism”. Everything in the liturgy matters which is why the Church regulates it accordingly. In that regard, our focus cannot merely be upon validity or receiving and adoring the Blessed Sacrament, it must be deeper, and it must take more serious consideration of the Mass in all its aspects and dimensions and the implication of those aspects and dimensions. The teaching of the Church and the teaching of our Holy Father speak contrary to such an assertion.
A second objection is the suggestion that the liturgy really doesn't affect whether or not Catholics follow the Church's teachings on contraception, abortion, and so forth. This also does not follow, for if, as the Church teaches, the sacred liturgy is the source and the summit, the font, from which everything else flows, this clearly has the implication that what flows from the liturgy will also likely be manifest in the Catholic faithful who are present, for good or for ill. How could it have such importance and influence and not have such effects?
Another objection might be the suggestion that doctrinal catechesis through study, preaching and such methods is far more important in the building the culture of life than what goes on in the sacred liturgy, but this fails to consider some basic realities. First, liturgy and doctrine are inseparable; what goes on in the liturgy is catechetical in itself. It is an experiential form of catechesis, and accordingly, very powerful. Second, the liturgy is the first and primary source of catechesis as it is a living experience of the Catholic faith that draws one into an encounter with God. It is there that most Catholics come into the most prolonged and profound contact with their faith and it is through this means that they are most impacted and potentially moved, making them accordingly more disposed to receive more intellectual forms of catechesis. "By its nature, the liturgy can be pedagogically effective in helping the faithful to enter more deeply into the mystery being celebrated. That is why, in the Church's most ancient tradition, the process of Christian formation always had an experiential character."(Sacramentum Caritatis, para. 64)
A final objection might be that good liturgy doesn't guarantee that a Catholic will be pro-life and poor liturgy doesn't mean that a Catholic won't be pro-life. Of course this is true in point of fact, but while it may not be an absolute guarantee, and while exceptions can surely always be found, it does not change the fact of the central importance of the liturgy in Catholic life and faith, nor does it change the teaching of the Church on this matter.