Monday, January 31, 2011
A summary by Jose Sison of this pastoral letter can be found here.
A video-summary of the pastoral letter can be found here
A plan of action on the basis of this letter can be found here.
A video-summary of the pastoral letter can be found here
A plan of action on the basis of this letter can be found here.
CHOOSING LIFE, REJECTING THE RH BILL
(A Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the
Our Filipino Brothers and Sisters:
The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights (Art. II, Section 11). The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception (Art. II, Section 12).
We begin by citing the Philippine Constitution. We do so because we intend to write you on the basis of the fundamental ideals and aspirations of the Filipino people and not on the basis of specifically Catholic religious teachings.
We are at a crossroads as a nation. Before us are several versions of a proposed bill, the Reproductive Health bill or sanitized as a Responsible Parenthood bill. This proposed bill in all its versions calls us to make a moral choice: to choose life or to choose death.
At the outset we thank the government for affording us an opportunity to express our views in friendly dialogue. Sadly our dialogue has simply revealed how far apart our respective positions are. Therefore, instead of building false hopes, we wish at the present time to draw up clearly what we object to and what we stand for.
Moral Choices at the Crossroads -- at EDSA I and Now
Twenty five years ago in 1986 we Catholic Bishops made a prophetic moral judgment on political leadership. With this prophetic declaration we believe that we somehow significantly helped open the door for EDSA I and a window of political integrity.
Today we come to a new national crossroads and we now have to make a similar moral choice. Our President rallied the country with the election cry, “Kung walang corrupt walang mahirap.” As religious leaders we believe that there is a greater form of corruption, namely, moral corruption which s really the root of all corruption. On the present issue, it would be morally corrupt to disregard the moral implications of the RH bill.
This is our unanimous collective moral judgment: We strongly reject the RH bill.
Commonly Shared Human and Cultural Values – Two Fundamental Principles
Far from being simply a Catholic issue, the RH bill is a major attack on authentic human values and on Filipino cultural values regarding human life that all of us have cherished since time immemorial.
Simply stated the RH Bill does not respect moral sense that is central to Filipino cultures. It is the product of the spirit of this world, a secularist, materialistic spirit that considers morality as a set of teachings from which one can choose, according to the spirit of the age. Some it accepts, others it does not accept. Unfortunately, we see the subtle spread of this post-modern spirit in our own Filipino society.
Our position stands firmly on two of the core principles commonly shared by all who believe in God:
(1) Human life is the most sacred physical gift with which God, the author of life, endows a human being. Placing artificial obstacles to prevent human life from being formed and being born most certainly contradicts this fundamental truth of human life. In the light of the widespread influence of the post-modern spirit in our world, we consider this position as nothing less than prophetic. As religious leaders we must proclaim this truth fearlessly in season and out of season.
(2) It is parents, cooperating with God, who bring children into the world. It is also they who have the primary inalienable right and responsibility to nurture them, care for them, and educate them that they might grow as mature persons according to the will of the Creator.
What We Specifically Object to in the RH Bill
Advocates contend that the RH bill promotes reproductive health. The RH Bill certainly does not. It does not protect the health of the sacred human life that is being formed or born. The very name “contraceptive” already reveals the anti-life nature of the means that the RH bill promotes. These artificial means are fatal to human life, either preventing it from fruition or actually destroying it. Moreover, scientists have known for a long time that contraceptives may cause cancer. Contraceptives are hazardous to a woman’s health.
Advocates also say that the RH bill will reduce abortion rates. But many scientific analysts themselves wonder why prevalent contraceptive use sometimes raises the abortion rate. In truth, contraceptives provide a false sense of security that takes away the inhibition to sexual activity. Scientists have noted numerous cases of contraceptive failure. Abortion is resorted to, an act that all religious traditions would judge as sinful. “Safe sex” to diminish abortion rate is false propaganda.
Advocates moreover say that the RH bill will prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. This goes against the grain of many available scientific data. In some countries where condom use is prevalent, HIV/ AIDS continues to spread. Condoms provide a false security that strongly entices individuals towards increased sexual activity, increasing likewise the incidence of HIV/AIDS. “Safe sex” to prevent HIV /AIDS is false propaganda.
Advocates also assert that the RH Bill empowers women with ownership of their own bodies. This is in line with the post-modern spirit declaring that women have power over their own bodies without the dictation of any religion. How misguided this so-called “new truth” is! For, indeed, as created by God our bodies are given to us to keep and nourish. We are stewards of our own bodies and we must follow God’s will on this matter according to an informed and right conscience. Such a conscience must certainly be enlightened and guided by religious and moral teachings provided by various religious and cultural traditions regarding the fundamental dignity and worth of human life.
Advocates also say that the RH bill is necessary to stop overpopulation and to escape from poverty. Our own government statistical office has concluded that there is no overpopulation in the
but only the over-concentration of population in a number of urban centers. Despite other findings to the contrary, we must also consider the findings of a significant group of renowned economic scholars, including economic Nobel laureates, who have found no direct correlation between population and poverty. In fact, many Filipino scholars have concluded that population is not the cause of our poverty. The causes of our poverty are: flawed philosophies of development, misguided economic policies, greed, corruption, social inequities, lack of access to education, poor economic and social services, poor infrastructures, etc. World organizations estimate that in our country more than P400 billion pesos are lost yearly to corruption. The conclusion is unavoidable: for our country to escape from poverty, we have to address the real causes of poverty and not population. Philippines
In the light of the above, we express our clear objections:
- We object to the non-consideration of moral principles, the bedrock of law, in legislative discussions of bills that are intended for the good of individuals and for the common good.
- We are against the anti-life, anti-natal and contraceptive mentality that is reflected in media and in some proposed legislative bills.
- We object strongly to efforts at railroading the passage of the RH bill.
- We denounce the over-all trajectory of the RH bill towards population control.
- We denounce the use of public funds for contraceptives and sterilization.
- We condemn compulsory sex education that would effectively let parents abdicate their primary role of educating their own children, especially in an area of life – sexuality – which is a sacred gift of God.
What We Stand For
On this matter of proposed RH bills, these are our firm convictions:
- We are deeply concerned about the plight of the many poor, especially of suffering women, who are struggling for a better life and who must seek it outside of our country, or have recourse to a livelihood less than decent.
- We are pro-life. We must defend human life from the moment of conception or fertilization up to its natural end.
- We believe in the responsible and natural regulation of births through Natural Family Planning for which character building is necessary which involves sacrifice, discipline and respect for the dignity of the spouse.
- We believe that we are only stewards of our own bodies. Responsibility over our own bodies must follow the will of God who speaks to us through conscience.
- We hold that on the choices related to the RH bill, conscience must not only be informed but most of all rightly guided through the teachings of one’s faith.
- We believe in the freedom of religion and the right of conscientious objection in matters that are contrary to one’s faith. The sanctions and penalties embodied in the proposed RH bill are one more reason for us to denounce it.
As religious leaders we have deeply and prayerfully reflected on this burning issue. We have unanimously made the moral judgment – to reject the RH agenda and to choose life.
1. We call for a fundamental transformation of our attitudes and behavior towards all human life especially the most defenseless, namely, human life being formed or being conceived. The cheapness with which many seem to consider human life is a great bane to our religious-oriented nation.
2. We call upon our legislators to consider the RH bill in the light of the God-given dignity and worth of human life and, therefore, to shelve it completely as contrary to our ideals and aspirations as a people. We thank our legislators who have filed bills to defend human life from the moment of conception and call upon all other legislators to join their ranks.
3. We thank the great multitude of lay people all over the country, and particularly the dedicated groups who made their presence felt in the halls of Congress, to defend and promote our position. We call upon other lay people and adherents of other religions to join the advocacy to defend and promote our commonly shared ideals and aspirations.
4. We call on our government to address effectively the real causes of poverty such as corruption, lack of social and economic services, lack of access to education and the benefits of development, social inequities.
5. We call for the establishment of more hospitals and clinics in the rural areas, the deployment of more health personnel to provide more access to health services, the building of more schools, the provision of more aid to the poor for education, and the building of more and better infrastructures necessary for development.
6. We echo the challenge we prophetically uttered 25 years ago at EDSA I and call upon all people of good will who share our conviction: “…let us pray together, reason together, decide together, act together, always to the end that the truth prevail” over the many threats to human life and to our shared human and cultural values.
We commend our efforts against the RH bill (or the Responsible Parenthood bill – its new name) to the blessing of our almighty and loving God, from whom all life comes and for whom it is destined.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the
+Nereo P. Odchimar, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
January 30, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
"It really looks like the Congressional locomotive is now being used to speed up (the RH Bill's) passage."
A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away)
By Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)
Updated January 17, 2011 12:00 AM
Like it or not, most of the members of Congress do not observe regular office hours. Nor do they report for work regularly every working day. Only their lowly staff members punch time cards and report for work regularly. It is accepted and common knowledge that plenary sessions or committee hearings are often delayed or postponed for failure to muster a quorum. Hence it comes as something odd and a big surprise to learn that the Congressional Committee hearing the RH bill is working and meeting even on a Sunday!
I tried to contain my surprise by thinking that maybe we just have a more conscientious and dedicated bunch of legislators now. But when I further learned that those attending the hearing are mostly pro-RH bill advocates, my surprise turned into suspicion and alarm. At the risk of being branded a paranoid, I really cannot help but conclude that there is an attempt to pass off this Sunday gathering as part of the required number of public hearings before the bill is endorsed to the entire House for deliberation. It really looks like the Congressional locomotive is now being used to speed up its passage.
The bill is becoming more controversial precisely because its sponsors apparently have no intention to consider and remove its objectionable portions by using all sorts of tactics to insure its passage. Lately, they have even used (or plagiarized?) the phrase “responsible parenthood” as part of its title. Hence it is now also known as the “responsible parenthood” bill. Obviously this is an attempt to appease Church people.
Indeed “responsible parenthood” is a phrase that has long been used by the Church in her apostolate on family life. The meaning of this phrase as part of the Church teaching has already been clearly set forth by the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) citing the Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, as follows:
“The profound link between the conjugal union and the gift of life gives married couples a vocation to give life, as long as they can responsibly care for the children they beget. Hence responsible parenthood calls for an understanding of the reproductive processes of the spouses’ bodies, including the women’s fertility cycle. And as with any passion (anger, fear, love for food, desire for more etc.), the sexual drive should be placed under control of the intellect and the will, through the very exercise of virtues rendering the sexual faculties truly and exclusively expressive of conjugal love and the self-giving of persons.
Responsible parenthood further involves the decision either (1) to generously raise a numerous family if the couple is capable of doing so, or (2) if there are more serious reasons (health, economic, social, psychological, etc) not to have another child for the time being or indefinitely.
Thus, responsible parenthood has nothing to do with encouraging individuals to use contraceptives as what reproductive health programs do. The sexual union is appropriate only within the context of marital love, which must always be faithful, permanent, and exclusive between one man and one woman who is open to the gift of new life.
Responsible parenthood also has nothing to do with encouraging or coercing couples, whether directly or indirectly to have only one or two children. It is not a population control program. Neither the government nor the Church may tell couples how many children to have, for the decision to have either a small or a large family rests on the couple themselves”.
Unless it has already been substantially changed, the main features of the RH bill as originally conceived and worded by its authors and advocates particularly the foreign funded Philippine Legislative Council on Population Development (PLCPD), are diametrically opposed to this real concept of “responsible parenthood” as originally conceived by the Church.
The bill appropriates millions or even billions of public funds to finance the purchase of contraceptives and procurement of other artificial devices so that couples can use them to have “safe and satisfying sex”; safe in the sense that one can engage in it without getting pregnant and satisfying in the sense that one can enjoy it because of lack of fear of having a baby. In other words, the real purpose of the bill is to prevent unwanted pregnancies and not to promote responsible parenthood. Responsible parenthood in its true sense does not contemplate the use of artificial contraceptives.
Of course the bill admittedly gives couples the freedom to choose or not to choose these contraceptives and devices. But since they are made available without any cost or inconvenience, hardship and sacrifice, couples will naturally choose them. So what is actually “free” here is not the choice but the artificial contraceptives and devices.
Another deception in the bill is that it is supposedly intended to promote reproductive health; to prevent the increasing death rate of mother and/or child during birth or immediately thereafter. In effect, it considers pregnancy as a disease that should be prevented instead of improving the medical services available to mother and child; instead of simply providing more modern facilities for maternal health and child care. The DOH can do this even without any enabling Act. Indeed the billion peso public funds intended for the purchase of contraceptives and devices can be put to better use for these purposes.
The bill is also inconsistent with the real concept of responsible parenthood because it provides incentives to couples to have only one or two children. This is indirect coercion intended to control our population at a time when our total fertility rate is already declining.
The advocates and sponsors of this bill should therefore refrain from using “responsible parenthood” to describe the bill if its contents are substantially the same. Otherwise it will be a grand deception that will only enrich the manufacturers of these artificial contraceptives and promote the agenda of first world countries to maintain the status quo by keeping us a third world and under-developed country so that they can continue to exploit our human and natural resources. And if our leaders and legislators fall for this grand deception, then it is time…to pray harder that heaven help our country.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I've read, and been told, and seen for myself, that this prayer continues to be IGNORED in a number of Masses in the Archdiocese of Manila and elsewhere. I am therefore posting this prayer and ask that this blog's readers recite it as part of their private prayers. Let us be united with the bishops of our country in spiritual combat against the Reproductive Health Bill.
10 December 2010
TO: ALL THE PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS MEN AND WOMEN IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF MANILA
RE: ORATIO IMPERATA FOR THE RESPECT OF ALL HUMAN LIFE
Dear Monsignori, Father, Brothers and Sisters:
Greetings in the Lord!
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has forwarded the attached Oratio Imperata for the Respect of all Human Life. May we request that the said prayer be recited by your parish community after the Post-Communion Prayer in all Masses starting this Third Sunday of Advent until future notice. We have also provided the Tagalog translation of the oratio.
Thank you very much.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
REV. FR. GENARO O. DIWA
Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, Manila
ORATIO IMPERATA FOR THE RESPECT OF ALL HUMAN LIFE
God, our loving Father,
Creator and lover of all life,
You fashioned in your own image and likeness every human person.
Give us the strength and courage
to defend and protect human life from conception to natural death.
We pray for your divine healing, comfort and peace
for all affected by past abortions.
Help us serve actively in alleviating the sufferings and troubles
of all women with pregnancy problems.
We pray that all our leaders and legislators
may be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit
to act responsibly on this critical present issue.
Mary, our loving Mother, to you we entrust the cause of life.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Saint Rosa of Lima, pray for us.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz, pray for us.
ORATIO IMPERATA PARA SA PAGGALANG SA BUHAY NG TAO
Ama naming mapagmahal,
Ikaw ang lumikha at nagmamahal sa lahat ng buhay.
Nilikha at hinubog mo ang bawat tao na iyong kawangis at kalarawan.
Pagkalooban mo kami ng lakas at tapang
upang ipagtanggol at pangalagaan ang buhay ng tao
mula sa sinapupunan hanggang sa kusang pagpanaw nito.
Nagsusumamo kami sa iyo para sa iyong awa,
lakas at kapayapaan
sa lahat ng nasangkot sa “abortion.”
Tulutan mong maging handa kami
upang tulungan na maibsan ang kapighatian
at hirap ng mga kababaihang dumadanas
ng tindi ng suliranin sanhi ng kanilang pagdadalang-tao.
Ipinapananalangin din namin ang aming mga pinuno at mambabatas,
upang sila’y gabayan ng biyaya ng Espiritu Santo
na manindigan ayon sa pananampalataya sa Iyo
sa pagharap nila sa usaping ito.
Mahal na Birhen, aming maibiging Ina,
ipinagkakatiwala naming sa iyo ang mga mithiin naming para sa buhay.
Hinihiling naming ito sa pamamagitan ni Hesu-Kristong aming Panginoon. Amen
Mahal na Birhen ng Guadalupe. Ipanalangin mo kami.
Santa Rosa ng Lima. Ipinalangin mo kami.
San Lorenzo Ruiz. Ipanalangin mo kami.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
By Antonio J. Montalvan II
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:04:00 01/10/2011
WERE THEY on life-or-death tenterhooks? Reports have it that the committee on population of the House of Representatives met by themselves last Jan. 2. Nothing extraordinary there, except when you begin to recall that Jan. 2 was a Sunday and was still within the New Year’s Eve hangover period. Perhaps they were just hardworking. But then we are told that those in attendance were only the pro-RH Bill committee members and their pro-RH Bill NGO counterparts who acted as “citizens’ representatives.” The alleged intent was to put that meeting on record as the third and final “public hearing” on the Reproductive Health Bill, and then railroad it for plenary agenda.
If truth is stranger than fiction, then we are in for an illegal, unconstitutional act. Informed of this development, a vehemently opposing Roilo Golez reportedly vowed to make the railroading impossible. Before the House adjourned for the holidays, Golez was second on a list of 20 interpellators with his interpellation still in progress.
The bill’s supporters have repeatedly claimed, like a broken record, that the RH Bill is not pro-abortion and contraceptives are not abortifacients. With a possible railroading maneuver, the public is now brought to the canyon’s edge. An informed choice from life and death issues emanating from contraceptive use has to be imminent.
As that midnight committee meeting was surreptitiously taking place, the journal Contraception released its January 2011 issue on 2,000 Spanish women aged 15 to 49 who were surveyed every two years from 1997 to 2007. Researchers found that within that period the number of women in contraceptive use increased from 49.1 percent to 79.9 percent. But there was more that truly puzzled the researchers, who paradoxically had aimed to gather information about contraceptive use in order to reduce the number of abortions. Over that period, the country’s abortion rate more than doubled from 5.52 per 1,000 women to 11.49.
That is not odd. Over the years since the 1950s, both scientific studies and abortion advocates themselves (such as Alfred Kinsey, Beckworth Whitehouse and Christopher Tietze) have pointed out the connection between abortion and contraception. In 1979, Malcolm Potts, then medical director of International Planned Parenthood Federation, had admitted that “as people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate.”
Also admitting that connection, the US Supreme Court said in its 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey that “In some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception. For two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail,” the justices wrote.
Documented scientific fact has long recognized that since almost all so-called contraceptives routinely fail at statistically significant rates resulting in “unplanned pregnancies,” abortions have become a social requirement to take care of such “accidents.” Among many studies, the Guttmacher Institute’s report “Contraception Counts” (2006) showed NO correlation between better access to contraception and lower abortion rates. “Seventy-two percent of low-income teens who cohabitate and rely on condoms will become pregnant within a year, and protection rates against STDs are even worse. We have one million unplanned pregnancies in the US every year due to contraceptive failure, half of which result in abortion.”
With sexual activity rising from greater contraceptive use, abortion thus has become part of the “safety” constellation, a contraceptive in itself. Hence the pattern all over the world is to legalize contraception first, then legalize abortion later. When contraception fails tremendously, women start looking for illegal abortion; so then it has to be legalized. We have said in the past that they are Siamese twins.
Is the pill an abortifacient? The common defense is to say that it is not because it only prevents ovulation. That is not even a half-truth, however, for additionally, it has two other actions. It thickens the genital tract’s cervical mucus, rendering it more viscous so as to inhibit sperm penetration. But thirdly, it thins the lining of the uterus known as the endometrium, impairing implantation of the newly fertilized egg, effectively killing the new human being that already has its own set of genetic codes. That is the same action an intra-uterine device (IUD) does. If that is not abortion, what is?
Pills are composed of hormonal steroids and chemicals that have been known to cause deep vein thrombosis in women, a blood clot that forms in the vein which can block the blood supply to the heart or brain, resulting in a heart attack, stroke or death. The clot may also travel to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism or death. It has been estimated that 25,000 lawsuits could take place in the US due to one brand alone of a birth control pill.
Normally the New Year ushers in good tidings. In this case, however, RH Bill proponents have just prescribed us a death sentence, via a reprehensible means of cultural, political and constitutional imposition. The way to the RH Bill is certainly not paved with good intentions.
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Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, January 9, 2011
SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star)
Updated January 08, 2011 12:00 AM
Next week is already the Sinulog Week for Cebu (how time flies, indeed) and I asked Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama to be my special guest on our talk show “Straight from the Sky” so we did the taping in the new mayor’s office in Cebu City, which is now located at the ground floor of the executive building. During the term of then Mayor Tomas Osmeña, his office was at the top floor of this edifice and one can see the stark differences in the management style of the two Cebu City mayors.
When we started the interview, Mayor Rama gave me a pleasant surprise when he publicly declared that he was against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. While the issue of the RH bill is being waged in Congress, some local government officials already intimated which side they are taking. In the case of former Cebu City mayor, now Rep. Tomas Osmeña, he never categorically stated that he was for or against the RH bill, but he clearly said that he would distribute condoms to the poor. So more or less, you have an idea of where his thoughts are on this issue.
In making that public declaration, Mayor Rama joins the ranks of Rep. Pablo “Pabling” Garcia and former Rep. Raul del Mar who were the pillars in this fight against the RH bill. I reckon that the case of Mayor Rama is akin to the case of Rep. Pabling Garcia, who comes from a large family. Mike Rama, too, comes from a large family and he said, “My parents would say that by God’s grace, we were able to raise a good family and obedient children and we all succeeded in life.”
With Cebu celebrating the fiesta of Señor Sto. Niño next week, the declaration of Mayor Rama is quite timely and a great boost to the pro-life movement which is hell-bent on stopping that evil called the RH bill which is being forced upon our unwary people all in the name of following what’s happening in Western countries which are now suffering a serious decline in their respective populations.
For the articles about the RH bill that we’ve written at the start of this new year, we have a lot of comments from our readers. Here are a couple of them:
From Dioscoro Vallejos (atty_vallejos @yahoo.com): “Population control says it all. The more people you have, the more power you wield. That is why foreign governments are pouring money into population control programs in the underdeveloped countries. The Philippines’ growing population is power into the future. That is really it. Even now, by necessity and not by discernment, our OFWs are opening paths to the conquering power of our population.
“England, Japan, China and the US need us. The more Filipinos we deploy to these countries, the more powerful the Philippines will become. Filipinos will be necessary in policy-making and maintaining concerns of these developed countries. So, it is plainly stupid to control our population when our burgeoning population is our sole asset well into the future. We Filipinos will conquer the world economy by necessity. We will be one of the biggest number of people running the world!
“So why control the rapid growth of our greatest asset? Can’t people see? The South Koreans, growing too many in their own country, have been deliberately deployed to the Philippines, for their growing population to survive. Filipinos are most welcome in most developed countries because of our education and affinity to the English language. Why support the RH bill? The reason against it is not moral. The RH bill is the instrument of the foreign governments to subjugate us, making us number less, so we won’t overrun them. This is the real reason.”
From email@example.com: “Yes, Bobit, Thank you for your column. As I told Senator Mechai of Thailand during a Senate hearing last year – our country is not poor! It is rich in both natural and human resources. We are not overpopulated! We are underdeveloped!! We need our children to be educated and become skilled so our vast natural resources can become more productive. According to Senator Mechai in reply to my comment, because their birth rate has been only .5 since 2005, they will welcome Filipinos to their country who will work there and pay taxes so they will be able to support their aging population. See what I mean?
“The RH bill is a misnomer. The lobbyists only want us to buy from pharmaceuticals abroad the contraceptive pills (also abortifacient really), which cannot be sold anymore in their own country. If we wish mothers and babies to be healthy, let us have more public lying-in clinics and skilled midwives and health centers with developmental pediatricians who can advise pregnant women to eat more malunggay and tulya so that their babies can be breastfed as long as possible and not bottle-fed. The RH bill should be called Maternal and Child Care and concern itself with mothers and children, not men who want safe sex with women!” Thanks guys for your very positive comments.
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For e-mail responses to this article, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Avila’s columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.
Friday, January 7, 2011
The following was published on page B4 of CBCP Monitor, Vol. 14 No. 25, December 6 - 31, 2010.
Pastoral Dialogue with Students on ‘Reproductive Health’
Pastoral Dialogue with Students on ‘Reproductive Health’
By: Bishop Ruperto Cruz Santos
“The little children were being to Jesus in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spokes sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, ‘let the children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs’. And he laid his hands on them…” (Mt 19:13-15)
TWICE a month we make pastoral visits to the different public and private High Schools in our Diocese with the Marian Missionaries of the Holy Cross, who are our Diocesan Campus and Youth ministers. Prior to these pastoral visits, the priests of the vicariates, together with the Marian Missionaries where the national High Schools are located make the Sacrament of Confession available to the students.
The pastoral visit of the Bishop includes the following activities: Praying of the Holy Rosary, celebration of the Holy Eucharist, and a Question and Answer with the Bishop. On a pastoral visit the question and answer were on the “Reproductive Health” issue. I share them with you.
Students: We read and hear many things, sometimes conflicting, about the so-called Reproductive Health. Can you please tell us what this is all about?
Bishop: Reproductive Health provides that the use of contraceptive and sterilization means and agents be made available to all. This contraception involves abortifacients, which prevent the initial development of pregnancy even after fertilization. The Reproductive Health Bill authorized artificial birth control, the use of birth control pills and means taken by women. So the objective is population control; to reduce the number of children in a family to only two children.
Students: What does the State say?
Bishop: The State through the Constitution states in Article II, Section 12 that the “State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from contraception.”
Students: What does the Church teach?
Bishop: The Church teaches the Life is sacred. Life is precious. Life is person. And person is good. From the book of Genesis we read, “God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good”. (1-31). Life is good. And life is to be protected and defended.
The Vatican II apostolic constitution ‘Gaudium et Spes’ clearly affirms that “from the moment of its conception, life must be safeguarded with greatest care…abortion and other infanticide are unspeakable crimes” (51). A life in womb should be taken as a blessing. It is God’s mystery of love. It is God’s gift of love. That life has a right to our protection and guidance. We are morally responsible for them. We are accountable to God for whatever will happen to them.
Pope Pius XII, speaking to midwives in 1951, confirmed “each man receives his life directly from God, not from his parents, or from the society or from government. Hence, there is no man or human authority that can show or exercise a valid juridical authority to decide by his will, directly and deliberately on the life of an innocent man.”
Pope Paul VI, addressing the Obstetrical and Gynecological Society of England on October 3, 1964, reiterated this when he said, “innocent human life, in whatever condition it is found, is to be secure from the very first moments of its existence from any deliberate attack. This is a fundamental right of the human person, which is of general value in the Christian concept of life; and hence as valid for the still hidden life within the womb of the mother as for the life of the already born and developing outside her…” Our Church considers human life precious. Human life must be protected. Her basic natural moral rights must be promoted. Remember, for God no one is useless. Everyone is important. All are special to Him.
Student: What should we believe?
Bishop: Life is a gift; much more, life is a grace. God values our life. He wants us to live, to be alive; and not only to live, but God desires us to live humanly and with full dignity. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons described it best when he preached, “God’s greatest glory is man fully alive.” Can you now understand that God wants us to give life, preserve life and protect life, and not to extinguish life or to kill life?
Students: I know from my catechism class about the fifth commandment. It says “you shall not kill” (Exodus 20, 13; Deuteronomy 5, 17). We also know that the abortion is killing. To kill is a sin. And abortion is a sin. How about those who practice or promote abortifacient ways and means?
Bishop: Abortion is not being condemned only now. It has been condemned since apostolic times. Didache, the first book of the early Christian Church, say it very clearly, “you shall not procure abortion. You shall not destroy a newborn child” (II, 2). God values our life. Our Church protects and promotes life. The two early councils of the Church held in Elvira and Ancyra in 314 issued canons on protecting and safeguarding human life. These Canons states that anyone who procures abortion automatically incurs the penalty of excommunication.
Abortion is a moral evil. And with it is a canonical penalty of Excommunication to those who do abortion and who encourage and assist abortion (ref. canon 1398 CIC)
Students: What would be your advice for married couples, especially the mothers?
Bishop: To be a mother is a gracious and responsible option for life. The prophet Isaiah asks, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” (49, 37) Rarely do we see a mother who does not feel unconditional affection and selfless devotion toward her child. Jesus describes His love for Israel in terms of a mother’s feeling for her young: “How many times I yearned to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her young under her wings” (Matthew 23, 37). Yes, being a mother entails sacrifices. It is, in fact, hardly possible to talk about motherhood without mentioning suffering. Motherhood is also synonymous with self-giving. It is in self-sacrifice that a mother finds meaning in her motherhood. Like a mother, let us be ready for self-sacrifice; be more disciplined and have self-control. This is my advice: we should not base our decisions on choice but on what our conscience dictates. Yes, we are free but let us remember that we are also morally bound to act according to our formed conscience. We should always be guided by God’s “way, and truth and the life” (John 14, 6). God should always be a part of any decision we make!
Students: We are grateful to you Bishop for your pastoral visits. We hope to see you again and continue to ask you more questions.
Bishop: Why not visit me in my residence? I will be more than happy to welcome you and we can continue our dialogues. Before we part, let us pray first:
O almighty God, our merciful Father
You are our Creator. You are our author of our life and source of all goodness.
We come to You.
We truly promise to decide and do things: not on the basis of what we want, nor of what others desire, not solely for our personal benefits
Not for our own advantage, not for any profit or prestige but for your greater glory, for the common good of all, and especially for our personal sanctification.
Thank you so much, O almighty God, merciful father for creating us, and for giving us a gracious chance to live.
We sincerely resolve to respect life and to protect life.
We have received Your priceless gift of life,
Your precious gift of life.
We humbly pray we may never cease to cherish all these
(This reflection is a compilation of the questions and answers from different schools in Diocese of Balanga in Bataan, such as Bataan Peninsula State University in Balanga, PUP in Mariveles, National high schools in Luacan (Dinalupihan) in Samal, in Cabcaben and Private schools such as Tomas del Rosario College in Balanga.)
The following was published on page B5 of CBCP Monitor, Vol. 14 No. 25, December 6 - 31, 2010.
A Laiko Position Paper against the RH Bill
The Council of the Laity of the Philippines (Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas), a body of Catholic lay organizations composed of 48 National Lay Organizations (NLO) and 49 Diocesan Councils of the Laity (DCL) do hereby manifest our vehement objection to House Bill 96 otherwise known as the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill because of the following chosen reasons, among several others (for brevity):
1. Reproductive health and services, as defined by the United Nations and to which definitions the Republic of the Philippines has agreed to bind itself, includes the services of abortion which we believed, the RH Bill tacitly approves and which we find unacceptable as inhumane.
2. The Bill makes legal the official funding for the population control measures and devices which has been scientifically evaluated by the World Health Organization as carcinogenic and hazardous to women’s health. By classifying contraceptives as essential medicines, the Bill allows it to be purchased and distributed by all national and local hospitals and other government health units, making pregnancy appear like a disease that must be treated.
3. The mandatory education of Grade 5 students on sexuality and family planning, as recommended among the RH Bill provisions unnecessarily exposes children to it at a very tender age. It violates the constitutional rights of parents to educate their children in accordance with their moral and religious beliefs.
4. Population control by promoting the use of contraceptives, which has been clearly exposed as the underlying reason for the RH Bill, ignores the strong argument against the claims to that our country is overpopulated and that it is the primary caused for the existence of poverty. We believe that the main cause of poverty in our country is corruption, abetted by sub-standard dispensation of justice due to inefficient governance.
5. The Bill violates the right of health workers to decide according to one’s conscience by requiring them to be part of certain procedures, such as those leading to the abortion, thus forcing them to be unwilling accomplices to an act they believe is immoral and unacceptable.
We, the members of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines, have in the foregoing, cited only a few of several other reasons why we are against HB No.96 or the so called “RH” Bill. On the other hand, we strongly recommend that whatever funds proposed for this Bill be allocated instead for the promotion of health care by:
1. Increasing the Budget for more efficient operation of existing Government Hospitals and Health Centers, providing the necessary medicines and medical equipment for the use of indigent patients, free of charge.
2. Constructing more Government Hospitals and Health Centers especially in the rural areas and training a work force in the Barangay level for health care and sanitation services.
3. Increasing the salaries and benefits of government health care workers particularly doctors and nurses including care givers and providing the necessary security of tenure thereof.
We reiterate our objection to the legislation of the RH Bill because we believe it is unnecessary, counter-productive to social development and most all hazardous to health. Thus we implore our legislators to open their minds and listen to the voice of reason putting only the benefit of our people above other interests. Lastly we say: Let life continue in its God-given course. Maraming salamat po at Mabuhay!
For the Council of the Laity of the Philippines,
EDGARDO J.T. TIRONA
December 01, 2010
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
by: AMB. JOSE V. ROMERO JR., PH.D
A must read for population planning enthusiasts is the latest article in the prestigious British magazine the economist entitled “falling fertility – how the population problem is solving itself. The main message of the report is that in developing countries fertility is falling and families are shrinking in places considered overpopulated. Indeed the fertility rate of half the world is now 2.1 % or less, which is associated with “replacement rate of fertility” to use a demographic jargon, referring that elusive number consistent with a stable population. More importantly, this country has now joined this magic circle of countries with falling fertility rates which include Brazil, Indonesia and India. Parenthetically between 2020 and 2050 the world’s fertility rate will fall below the global replacement rate.
What are the implications of this discovery? First and foremost, it means that the neo- Malthusian concern about overcrowded countries or “population explosion” is itself being exploded. In fact the so-called population bomb, a favorite expression among population planning enthusiasts, has been effectively defused by facts.
Demographers and population experts have coined a new phrase –“goldilocks period “-when a generation or two in which fertility is neither too high nor too low and in which there are few dependent children, few dependent grandparents – and a bulge of adults in the middle who, if conditions are right, make the factories hum’ (this are direct quotes from the economist magazine of late which discusses the subject) transition “like ours, the fall to replacement fertility, albeit a bit later than neighboring countries, is a unique and precious opportunity.
As early as 2004 ,the Newsweek magazine writing about the “baby bust” wrote about a problem of having too few people in more and more countries who went whole hog into population control policies without an exit strategy.
This covers most of Western Europe and neighbored like China, Japan and Singapore who are now trying very hard to get back to replacement level fertility. The problem is that when the contraceptive mentality sets in, there is no way, as they are now finding out in many countries like Singapore and France who are trying their level best to make couples reproduce more with generous incentives ,that this mentality cannot be reversed. One will notice that this attitude is permeating the more opulent Filipino couples who find that having children cramps their style in their pursuit of the dolce vita. As a result the world is being threatened by a demographic free-fall as its fertility rates does a nosedive.
The September 2004 article of Newsweek singles out the Philippines as a”country still growing, whose educated workforce looks likely to break out of low-status jobs as nannies and gardeners and move up the global professional ladder” in demographic terms, this bulge in the middle of the population profile, properly managed, can yield even more income to this country than the approximately p800 billion which our overseas workers donate to their families every year. Indeed today the conventional wisdom is that Asians and South Americans are enjoying fertility rates that have been described as “neither too hot nor too cold”. What is even more interesting is that population researchers like David bloom of Harvard’s school of public health has coined a new term –the “demographic dividend” enjoyed by the above which he ascribed as accounting for no less than a third of east Asian growth from 1965-90.it is not difficult to appreciate the fact that plentiful Chinese labor, moderately priced is now threatening the first world economies. Indeed it is the surplus labor in this part of the globe that is attracting direct foreign investments from developed countries which have priced their labor out of the labor market in the world.
The United Nations has reported that some factors have conjoined to produce the demographic tsunami. One factor is rapid urbanization; in the rural areas children are considered assets.
They help out in the farm, whether in cutting and loading cane or planting palay or help in the household chores while watching the younger ones while mom and dad are out in the field and at a later date remit earnings derived from employment in the cities .once families move into the city children rapidly become liabilities in overcrowded areas and cramped quarters where people literally live side by side.
Increasing female literacy and enrollment in schools which has facilitated employment plus the worldwide phenomenon of late marriages has definitely encouraged decreasing fertility in the globe.
Philip Longman a population expert at the new America foundation in Washington in his book entitled “the empty cradle: how falling birthrates threaten world prosperity and what to do about it “discusses how population and economic growth are closely correlated.
He concludes thus “there are people who cling to the hope that you have a vibrant economy without a growing population, but mainstream economists are pessimistic”. Perhaps our expert has compared the graveyard atmosphere in the malls in Singapore with the hustle and bustle in our megamalls. Need we say more?
Ergo before our neo-malthusians get carried away with their anti-natalist enthusiasm we offer them some food for thought. in the meantime let us think of population redistribution through spatial planning and rural mobilization to relieve the overburdened megacities. Perhaps an honest to goodness local government empowerment and real decentralization can do the trick!
From Valeriano "Bobit" Avila's column in the Philippine Star for today, January 5, 2010, entitled "Fewer babies for the Asian tiger economies":
One of the first stories to be headlined in this New Year, 2011 was a report from the National Statistics Office (NSO) that the population of the Philippines could reach 95.8 million people, which puts our population rate at 2.04 percent. But someone (obviously pro-RH Bill) always interjects that the ideal growth rate to accelerate economic growth is 1.04 percent. This is what is known as Total Fertility Rate (TFR). What few people know or understand is that, the ideal TFR of 2.1 children per woman is necessary to replace a country’s population, so we’re not so far off from that figure.
Incidentally my good friend, Rev. Fr. Gregory Gaston, SThD came up with his research in a booklet called “World Population Collapse: Lessons for the Philippines” and by using statistics from the United Nations, it shows that there is a general decline in the TFR of many countries, notably in Europe. Fr. Gaston even quotes a Newsweek cover story last Sept. 27, 2004 entitled “Baby Bust. For more and more Countries. The Problem isn’t having too many people, but having too few.”
Just a week ago, European Union (EU) Ambassador Alistair MacDonald was expressing his support for the RH bill, saying publicly that this was good for the Philippines. Excuse me your Excellency, but isn’t your comment a direct foreign interference on what we believe is a purely domestic affair? It makes me wonder why the EU Ambassador would support the RH bill when the French government pays 800 Euros for every child that is born? If you didn’t know, the City of Naples offers 10,000 Euros for each new baby! The same is true in Sweden, where pregnant mothers are paid salaries but asked to stay home to ensure that the baby is born.
There are more reports on this, which has nothing to do with the Catholic Church. Just a day before Christmas, the Agence France-Presse came up with a stunning report entitled “Asia’s Baby shortage sets Demographic time bomb ticking”. This report gave us a glimpse of the world’s lowest birth rates, which is taking a toll on their ballooning health care and pension costs. The article refers to countries like Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea. The article suggests, “East Asia’s booming economies have for years been the envy of the world, but a shortfall in one crucial area — babies — threatens to render yesterday’s tigers toothless!”
As I’ve been saying all along, the best birth control method is a successful economy, where citizens enjoy new found wealth, which they don’t want to be spoiled by having babies. In short, the success of the Tiger economies resulted in fewer babies born in these Asian countries. This is what the Hawaii-based East-West Centre found out when it reported, “Over the past 50 years, economic and social modernization of Asia has been accompanied by a remarkable drop in birth rates.” So logic dictates that the Philippines should not push through with the RH Bill because we have the advantage of seeing what will happen in the future for our people if we pass this bill.
* * *
(Ms. Lorayes is simply arguing in favor of the position that life begins at conception / fertilization, and it is solely for that reason that I've posted her letter to the Inquirer editor. I have no knowledge of her position regarding the RH Bill and other moral controversies regarding human life and sexuality. CAP)
Cases show life begins in fertilization
Cases show life begins in fertilization
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:16:00 01/04/2011
IN HER December 15, 2010 column “A new form of ‘sexting,’” Rina Jimenez-David stated that “scientific opinion has it that a pregnancy is viable only after implantation in the uterus.”
That is true—in general. However, there have been a few, very, very rare cases where ectopic pregnancies, in which the fertilized ovum implants outside the uterus, produced live births. In 1999, there was a case of multiple births in the United Kingdom in which one baby developed in the fallopian tube while twins developed in the uterus. On April 12, 2008, an Englishwoman, Jayne Jones, delivered a live birth at 28 weeks from a pregnancy which developed in the fatty covering of the large bowel. On May 29 of the same year, an Australian, Meera Thanagarajah, delivered a full-term, living baby from an ectopic pregnancy which developed in the ovary.
The controversy, actually, is not over when a pregnancy becomes viable, but over when life begins: at fertilization or at implantation in the uterus? As these unusual ectopic pregnancies show, life begins at fertilization, not at implantation in the uterus. With the advances in in vitro fertilization, human life can even begin in a Petri dish, or whatever container is used in this process.
—ARACELI Z. LORAYES,
112 Guava Drive,
Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City