What the rains may tell us
Last Monday, the President invited members of Congress for lunch, and in the afternoon session that same day, Congress voted to end the interpolations on the Reproductive Health bill. This should have been done on Tuesday, as earlier announced. Obviously, the President and the proponents of the RH bill wanted to fast-track the passage of the bill. On Tuesday, heavy rains fell on the National Capital Region, continuing for several days and causing chaos and much misery. I wonder if there is some correlation here or just a coincidence!
When we were notified that Congress would pick up the RH bill in its agenda, we organized a prayer rally last Saturday, the first Saturday of the month and traditionally a day dedicated to the Blessed Mother. We were part of a nationwide campaign to pray and fast for God’s guidance on this issue. At the EDSA Shrine in Metro Manila, a huge prayer rally was also being held. We oppose the RH bill (let me sound like a broken record), because we judge it to be detrimental to the family and the common good. The real issue is contraception; all the other health provisions in the bill are just the “icing on the cake.”
Now, let’s be clear about one point. There are people who accept contraception. Using the pill, the condom, the IUD, and having tubal ligation and vasectomy aren’t immoral to their judgment. Contraception to reduce the population, to alleviate poverty, and for health and personal reasons is acceptable to them. Well, I would say that’s their choice! I just hope that they’re following their conscience – and a well-formed one. On my part, while I witness to my Catholic convictions that contraception is immoral, I don’t have the right to enforce them on anyone. The same reasoning should apply for the other side. People who believe in contraception shouldn’t enforce their conviction on those who do not. It’s a moral issue, however one sees it!
In an interview some months ago of the President by a foreign press, the issue on population control and contraception came up. If I recall correctly, the President said contraceptive devices are available in the country and that there is no law prohibiting it and the government even provides these devices to those who cannot afford them. This is true! For those who accept contraception, just go to some drugstore, convenient store or supermarket, and the devices are readily available behind the counters. Different brands are displayed, together with cigarettes and chewing gums. So, why an RH bill that obliges Catholics to promote contraception and penalizes them if they won’t?
There is a similarity between the issue on the RH bill of the Philippines and that of the recent Health and Human Services ruling of the United States enforced by the Obama administration. The latter mandates that all employers, including religious organizations, are to provide and pay for coverage of employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs even when they have moral objections to them. The American Catholic Bishops have cried foul, deeming this law to be a violation of religious liberty! One bishop expressed the Church’s stand succinctly, “We can’t comply, and we won’t comply. It’s a matter of conscience.”
In the Philippines, one senses an undercurrent in the issue on the RH bill. For some people, religion is not their “cup of tea.” They are also “allergic,” in particular, to the Catholic Church. It is not enough then for them to just air a pro-RH bill stance; they go further, slandering and mocking the Church. Just read the comments whenever the issue on the RH bill props up. The secular media are having their field day!
There are Catholics, laypeople and priests, who support the RH bill. Well, the story goes back to Pope Paul VI’s “Humanae Vitae” in 1968. The spirit of those years was that of protest, like the rallies against the Vietnam War. There was also an unclear reading of Vatican II that just ended two years earlier. Many Catholics were caught then in the “culture of dissent.”
Humane Vitae upheld the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching on the immorality of contraception. Pope Paul VI made an unpopular stance, yet a brave and prophetic one! My Morals professor at the seminary mentioned that dissent from the Pope’s teaching was widespread in many countries, led even by bishops, priests, and theologians. Now, he mentioned, like in his native Austria, where the contraceptive mentality has seeped in the culture, these same bishops, priests, and theologians are finding it almost impossible to stem the tide of abortion, euthanasia, and the “culture of death.” They have sadly failed in their prophetic role!
We expect more rain during this season. That’s the weather at this time of the year. And with more rains, come more calamities. We have to be ready then to reach out to our needy fellow Filipinos. In the meantime, the RH bill issue has again caught the nation’s attention. The President, the legislators and their media allies may have their way, but they won’t have the last say. The rain seems to tell us – man proposes, but God disposes!