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Friday, August 26, 2011

Major Filipino Jesuit theologian speaks out versus the RH Bill

From the website of the Loyola School of Theology:

RH Bill vs. Five Levels of Self-Transcendence
Walter Ysaac, S.J.

The Reproductive Health (RH) bill is “a mindset and a value system” that are “secularist, materialistic, individualistic and hedonistic in the guise of development and modernity.” Thus, according to the CBCP statement during the “dialogue” meeting last May 10, 2011 (Philippine Star, May 11, 2011, pp.1 and 3), even the good provisions of the Responsible Parenthood (alias RH) bill are “inextricably woven” with the “bad provisions.” Example, it would include authorizing the government buying with taxpayers’ money artificial contraceptives that are already doubtful with regard to being abortifacient or dangerous to health of mother and child and father and to good family relationships, and distributing them upon request to anybody until prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration.

But the main defect and danger of the RP (“Responsible” Parenthood) bill is that it is imposed on the people, particularly the poor, by a government without regard for the culture or “world mediated by meanings and motivated by values” of the Filipino people. To really develop and update or “modernize” a people is to make them transcend and sublate themselves from the level of their experience to that of their understanding to that of their judgment to that of their decision up even to the highest level of their unconditional love which is a pure gift of God to us and can only be attained through authentic prayer or truly living relationship with God.

Now, the experience of the people must start from what they are now in their present culture, their presently accepted meanings and values. Anything imposed on them from above will be received according to their own experienced meanings and values which they have understood, affirmed and practiced and unconditionally loved as their own. If the RP bill has, from the start, meanings and values foreign or contrary to theirs, it will be ineffective, (i.e., will not produce the results desired by the bill, namely, reduce population growth), or worse, it will be like an experiment imposed on the throbbing flesh of the Filipino people, causing a lot of suffering and disruption in their lives as a people. Witness what happened to all the other countries who have allowed the imposition of such a mindset and value system to enter into their laws and cultures.

To have authentic development there is no substitute to self-transcendence (being attentive in experience, intelligent in understanding, reasonable in judgment, responsible in decision and unconditional in love) and sublation (the development from one lower level of living to a higher one will not only not result in any loss of what is good in the lower one but would raise and lift the good in the lower one to the richer level of good of the higher one and so will even need that lower-level good to grow into and become the richer higher-level good).

Thus, if reducing population growth is the end of the RP bill, then it should not impose from above a mindset and value system opposed to the culture of the Filipino people but must start by moving within that culture of the people and go hand in hand with them to develop that culture to more and more attentiveness, intelligence, reasonableness, responsibleness, and finally, to an unconditionalness in love that can transform their responsibleness, reasonableness, intelligence and attentiveness to an even higher (divine) level.

Fr. Walter L. Ysaac, S.J. is a Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the Loyola School of Theology.

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