Fouteen “Ateneo professors” argue that the highly controversial reproductive health bill “adheres to Catholic social teaching” and that “Catholics can support it in good conscience.” They ask “our bishops and fellow Catholics” not to block passage of House Bill 5043.
How should a “fellow Catholic” respond?
With profound humility, I suppose, but with a firm resolve not to be misled.
The “professors” identify themselves as “individual faculty” whose opinions “do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Ateneo de Manila University nor the Society of Jesus.”
It is a crafty disclaimer. If they truly wanted to speak as individual Catholics, they could have done so without using the Ateneo label. But they clearly did not mind cashing in on Ateneo’s Catholic reputation.
Opposition to House Bill 5043 arises mainly from the fact that it seeks, among other things, to legalize a State program of contraception and sterilization that will require married couples to contracept or sterilize themselves before engaging in marital sex, and make available contraceptives and sterilization devices as “essential medicines” even to unmarried individuals. It also seeks to impose a “mandatory sex education” on all children, from Grade V up to high school, without parental consent, to prepare them for “a safe and satisfying sex life.”
Church teaching condemns contraception and sterilization as intrinsically evil. It has no room for a State program of contraception and sterilization. Should Catholics accept “in good conscience” State intervention in the most intimate aspect of their married life? The last time I checked, it is still the bishops who exercise the Church’s teaching authority; no university faculty has the authority to pronounce what Catholics may or may not follow in good conscience.
No doubt quite a number of “Catholics” are contracepting and getting sterilized. They probably make up a good part of the country’s 50-% contraceptive prevalence rate. Does it mean the Church teaching is wrong, or is it simply because people are not sufficiently formed or informed? One explanation is that there is an aggressive government program bereft of any valid mandate, which includes monetary incentives for ligation and vasectomy. Foreign-funded NGOs are into it also. And the distribution, sale or use of contraceptives and sterilization devices is not restricted by law.
Thus, as far as HB 5043 is concerned, free access to contraceptives, etc. is no longer in issue. The real issue is whether or not the State should impose contraception and sterilization upon married couples; provide contraceptives and sterilization devices as essential medicines even to unmarried individuals; impose a “mandatory sex education” on all schoolchildren from Grade V until high school, without parental consent; propose a two-child family as “the ideal” family size for all; require couples to obtain a family planning certificate before they could get married; penalize anyone who talks “maliciously” about “reproductive health”; and expand the powers of the Population Commission, whose legal mandate had lapsed upon the promulgation of the pro-life and pro-family Constitution in 1987.
HB 5043 is a penal measure. But it masks itself as a simple proposal “to provide a national policy on reproductive health, responsible parenthood and population development.” However, Article II of the Constitution, “Declaration of Principles and State Policies,” and Article XV, “The Family”, more than abundantly provide such a policy; that renders any proposed new policy superfluous and unconstitutional.
Of course, Congress can “implement” the constitutional policy. And it well should. But HB 5043 cannot do so for the simple reason that almost everything in it contradicts the constitutional policy.
Under Article II, the State recognizes “the sanctity of family life.” Its mandate is to protect and strengthen the family as a basic, autonomous social institution; “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception”; support the primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of their moral character; promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social wellbeing, etc.
Under Article XV, the State recognizes the Filipino family as “the foundation of the nation,” and marriage, “an inviolable social institution,” as “the foundation of the family.” Its mandate is to protect marriage, and to strengthen the solidarity of the family and promote its total development.
All these HB 5043 seeks to override. It seeks to put the State in control of family life, which the Constitution says is autonomous, inviolable and sacred. It seeks to set up State contraception and sterilization side by side with the State’s commitment to “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.”
As we speak, the global financial system is breaking down. The irreparable flaws of a global order that worships material progress at the expense of what is sacred in man have exposed the ruinous follies of the West. Global agendas based on greed have failed. Demographic power has shifted to the East, and with it, economic and social power. We are part of that shift, if only because of our dynamic and vibrant population. Yet at the behest of unreconstructed population controllers, some of our politicians, economists, scientists, and university “professors,”seem determined to follow the old alien agenda that has ultimately failed.
We need the moral and intellectual reserves of the Church, the universities, the intelligentsia, the media and the great masses of our people to make sure we do what is right. It would be quite tragic if instead of guiding young minds into the light, our “professors” were to lead them into the dark.