Monday, November 12

On “Family Planning” (Part 2)


Last June 24 on the occasion of the solemnity of the birth of St. John the Baptist, Pope Benedict XVI called on the Church, its bishops, clergy and all Catholic faithful laypeople - - “to witness to the truth without compromise”!

We were exhorted not to be afraid to “denounce transgressions of God's commandments”, in the same manner that John the Baptist bore witness to the truth even at the eventual cost of his life.

Almost two years ago on January 29, 2006 at the start of Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo's accession as President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, all the bishops endorsed a joint Pastoral Statement signed by Archbishop Lagdameo. Among others it said (with my emphasis added):

As bishops, we believe that at the bottom of our political chaos is a crisis of moral values, a crisis of truth and justice....

Its external manifestations are deceit and dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and a deadening preoccupation with narrow political interests, perceived in practically all branches and at all levels of government. Because of the moral dimensions behind such a political and economic morass in our country, the bishops reiterated that “the Church has something to say about specific human situations”. They further quoted Papa Bene's exhortation (Truth, Peace No. 5) that “the problem of truth and untruth is the concern of every man and woman.”

Two Sundays ago, good old Papa Bene again zeroed in on the “modern hypocrisy” of false tolerance nay, even nonchalant acceptance of contemptuous anti-Catholic diatribes against the supposed ”arcane and rigid morality” of Catholicism.

The Pope even called for “martyrdom” in the ordinary lives of Catholics particularly as courageous witnesses against the “secularized societies of our own time.”

Thus I have gone to great lengths in establishing the basic premises of this piece of mine - - that we ordinary Catholic laypeople have the duty and also the explicit marching orders from the Papacy and our own Catholic Hierarchy, TO FIGHT IN DEFENSE of our CHRISTIAN VALUES. Particularly, that should therefore include those contemptuous attacks by politicians and the secular media, such as the Philippine Star editorial of last Saturday November 10.

It is with these basic premises in mind that my series of blog articles on Family Planning are being written and will be shared with my fellow Catholics of goodwill wherever they may be.

On “Planning Families” (Part 1)


I am responding to The Philippine Star editorial last Saturday November 10.

I will not dwell much on the editorial writer's characterization of our lawmakers in Congress and our Catholic women leaders as “the same hypocrites who keep mistresses, but won't pass a divorce law, or women who profess to be decent Catholics but use contraceptives for their personal reproductive health”. As such these two groups where refered to as those who may also oppose congressional budget allocations “specifically meant for birth control”.

As to the accusation of hypocrisy, I have used similarly acerbic pejoratives against wellknown political personalities and top officials of our government, of whom I am quite morally certain as to their habitual “hypocriSHE-ties”.

But certainly the editorial writer had NO BASIS AT ALL to say much less to KNOW WITH MORAL CERTAINTY, that the Catholic women opposed to public funding “specifically meant for birth control are closet hypocrites who secretly use contraceptives for themselves. For I know that these Catholic ladies especially the prominent public figures among them, are mostly nuns or elderly women. And so I suspect that the editorial writer must be a non-Catholic and perhaps a woman too, who has a strongly hostile and contemptuous attitude against the Catholic faith, our Catholic bishops and Catholic women leaders.

If this contemptuous and demeaning (or even if less vitriolic) public accusations were hurled against Islam, their local Imams and prominent Muslim women personalities, the entire Philippine Star editorial staff would be in fear for their lives anywhere in the world, and also face a Muslim boycott of their newspaper.

So much for that and thus as I am prone to say, “verbum sap sat”!

I have much more to say though against the editorial's snide aside that such opposition to contraceptives (which it admits is really “meant for birth control” and NOT for HEALTH reasons whether “reproductive” or unproductive), is “pandering to the Church to an even lower level!

First of all I must stress in fairness to those who will disagree with this article,that DISAGREEMENT with the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church and of sincere Catholics, is their privilege. In fact it is a BASIC human and constitutional right of everyone, and more so of the press and media. And this right of free speech and press freedom I certainly recognize and respect. Nor do I approve of previous Muslim violence against perceived detractors of their Islamic faith.

But for a respectable and decent newspaper to SNEER at and DENIGRATE any of our own Christian fundamental beliefs and doctrines, particularly those of the Catholic faith vis-a-vis respect for the sacredness of human life is SOMETHING ELSE. For by referring to those who cling to these beliefs as panderers and hypocrites, they have certainly descended to the depths of DISRESPECT and thus to a MUCH LOWER LEVEL of ethics in the profession of journalism. They have, by their irresponsibility, also ABUSED the right and privilege of press freedom.

Furthermore, newspaper editors are expert wordsmiths and thus presumed to know that a “pander” is someone who exploits the weaknesses or the vices of others. And “pandering” is to supply or provide illicit or unwholesome gratification or pleasure to others of usually the same ilk.

Where or in what form, in heaven's name, is the weakness, vice or illicitness in the 2000-year old Catholic belief in the sacredness of human life (“Thou shalt NOT KILL!”), with its immortal soul whose intrinsic and supernatural worth is more than the whole world itself ( Matthew 16:26)? The Old Testament itself tells us that for having deliberately spilled his manly seed for the pleasure of it-- seeds with POTENTIAL for the procreation of human life, Onan was struck dead on the spot!

Dear publisher and editor of the Philippine Star, you really owe us Catholics the world over a sincere public apology!



Directly below is a verbatim quotation of the assailed anti-Catholic editorial of the Philippine Star in its entirety.


Planning Families

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Philippine Star

At last, funding for family planning. The House of Representatives is appropriating P2 billion in the 2008 national budget specifically to promote family planning including the use of artificial contraception. Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who heads the House appropriations committee, said the amount, which is higher than the original proposal of P180 million, will be included in next year’s outlay for the Department of Health, which will be increased from P12.1 billion this year to P21 billion.

The big question is whether the rest of Congress will go along with the proposal. Lawmakers have long lacked the intestinal fortitude to go against the Roman Catholic Church, which is the biggest opponent of contraception. The same hypocrites who keep mistresses but won’t pass a divorce law, or women who profess to be devout Catholics but use contraceptives for their personal reproductive health, may also oppose a budget specifically meant for birth control.

The Arroyo administration, constantly buffeted by political typhoons, has taken its pandering to the Church to an even lower level, abandoning any form of family planning program, including even an information campaign. Adam and Eve at least were given a choice and allowed to exercise free will when confronted with temptation. This administration, on the other hand, does not want to risk even showing people the choices open to them. Congress may approve the family planning outlay, but there’s still a presidential veto to hurdle.

Still, if enough lawmakers get on board, President Arroyo may decide to go along with this appropriation. Then the next question is whether the program will be implemented. The secretary of health has already announced that family planning is not a priority of his department. The government can approve the budget but sit on the program.

This would be unfortunate. Lagman cited figures from the National Statistics Office showing that the population is growing at a rate of 2.36 percent – too high for the benefits of the country’s modest economic growth to trickle down to the poor. Any government that is serious about fighting poverty has to give priority to slowing down population growth. The House of Representatives has made the first move.