The El Shaddai DWXI Prayer Partners celebrated their 27th anniversary last August 20-21. August 20 was also the birthday of the founder and servant-leader of the group. It was a mammoth celebration, the biggest after the 10th and 11th anniversary celebrations many years ago. The size of the congregation gathered in the Amvel City compound, San Dionisio, Paranaque, showed clearly the resurgence of the El Shaddai Prayer Partners, which in the past were assailed by attacks and political winds.
During my homily, the congregation roared loudly its disapproval of the RH bill. That is why I cannot understand what is often reported: that the majority of our people approve of the bill. Why, if this is true, do the votes cast after the public debates on TV show the votes going against the RH bill? In no public debates have they won after the issues have been clarified for the listeners. In all the public fora I have participated in, I could sense the tide going against the RH bill. Certainly, the El Shaddai Prayer Partners, the biggest charismatic group in the Philippines, are massively against the bill.
That August 21, I was talking to a congressman from a southern Tagalog province. He assured me that the anti-RH congressmen are in the majority, and provided President Aquino does not twist arms, the RH bill would not pass the Lower House. We had with us that evening the new senator, Koko Pimentel, who is also anti-RH. Those who are crowing already of the certain approval of the bill may find themselves in the position of the Texters who found themselves losing to the less favored Petron team in the recent PBA championship game. What we anti-RH people are asking is a free and fair discussion of the issues. We are aware that monetary considerations have been openly dangled before the government by foreign groups. There may be even more baits than those published in the papers or broadcast on radio and TV.
Catholic congressmen and congresswomen should be aware of the teaching of the Pope and of the Church on this matter. The RH bill proponents keep on saying that they are against abortion and will not countenance it. If this is so, I challenge them to include this amendment to the bill: “No abortifacients will be distributed by government hospitals, agencies, and personnel. By ‘abortifacients are meant any and all means, devices or procedures which prevent the implantation of the fertilized ovum or dislodge from the maternal womb the implanted ovum.”
The reason I propose this amendment is because when RH bill proponents speak of abortion, they do not include the prevention of the fertilized ovum from being implanted in the uterus. Abortion for them occurs only if and when the implanted fertilized ovum is expelled from the womb.
Let me cite to you here the teaching of the Church as clearly enunciated by Blessed Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter, “The Gospel of Life” : “ . . . the Church has always taught and continues to teach that the result of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence, must be guaranteed that unconditional respect which is morally due to the human being in his or her totality and unity as body and spirit. ‘The human being is to be respected and treated as a human person from the moment of conception, and, therefore, from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which, in the first place, is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life.’” (no. 60)
The Church’s highest teaching authority has given us here authoritative moral guidance, which should guide Catholics—also legislators—in both their private and public actuations. The issue here is not only responsible parenthood or family planning, against which the Church has no complaint. In fact, the Church is an advocate of responsible parenthood and family planning. But the issue of means is also important. You cannot do wrong in order to achieve a desired good; the end does not justify the means. In the choice of means, we should also heed what the Church tells us: “The human being is to be respected and treated as a human person from the moment of conception” and should not be deprived of life. And by conception here is meant “the result of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence.”
Can one be clearer than that?