Don't ask me why.
My Stand on the RH Bill
by: Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ
I HAVE been following the debates on the RH Bill not just in the recent House sessions but practically since its start. [He is reminding everyone that he knows what is going on.] In the process, because of what I have said and written (where I have not joined the attack dogs against the RH Bill), [but with what you have been writing, he almost looks like a double agent, or worse!] I have been called a Judas by a high-ranking cleric, [quite frankly I agree...with the high-ranking cleric.] I am considered a heretic [he is for openly dissenting against the magisterial teaching of Humanae Vitae.] in a wealthy barangay where some members have urged that I should leave the Church (which is insane), and one of those who regularly hears my Mass in the Ateneo Chapel in Rockwell came to me disturbed by my position. I feel therefore that I owe some explanation to those who listen to me or read my writings. [I hope he clears things up.]
First, let me start by saying that I adhere to the teaching of the Church on artificial contraception [good!] even if [what?!] I am aware that the teaching on the subject is not considered infallible doctrine [It is as stated in the Responsum ad dubium by a cardinal named Joseph Ratzinger.] by those who know more theology than I do. [And there is a good chance that they know more dissent than you do, or do they?] Moreover, I am still considered a Catholic and Jesuit in good standing by my superiors, critics notwithstanding! [With your fellow Jesuits? Uhmmm....ask Fr. James Reuter. And with your superiors, including the bishops, hehehehe.]
Second (very important for me as a student of the Constitution and of church-state relations), I am very much aware of the fact that we live in a pluralist society where various religious groups have differing beliefs about the morality of artificial contraception. [No debate there.] But freedom of religion means more than just the freedom to believe. [Wow! Nice segue that leads you to relativism!] It also means the freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes. [See?] Hence, the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious belief nor may churchmen compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief. [Then why do you not get what the pro-life Catholics are cryin' out loud?] As the “Compendium on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church” says, “Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” and “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.”
Third, I am dismayed by preachers telling parishioners that support for the RH Bill ipso facto is a serious sin or merits excommunication! I find this to be irresponsible. [If you publicly go up against Church teaching, what do you call these people? I think playing politics is more irresponsible for a man who is ordained a priest of the Catholic Church, for someone who is seen as an intellectual heavyweight only to end up playing the "Obama card" of finding common ground. There are simply no common ground on contraceptives in the Church. None whatsoever!]
Fourth, I have never held that the RH Bill is perfect. [Who says you did?] But if we have to have an RH law, I intend to contribute to its improvement as much as I can. [And how is that gonna be?] Because of this, I and a number of my colleagues [dissenters?] have offered ways of improving it and specifying areas that can be the subject of intelligent discussion. (Yes, there are intelligent people in our country.) [Jesuits have a knack of looking themselves as the only intellectual being in the world. As the Tagalog saying goes "Nagsabog ng katalinuhan..." You don't have the kind of Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier like you used to. The Jesuits we have today like to tell the whole world that they always stand up against the Pope, the bishops and the established norm. Just to make them look, uhm,...intelligent. "What does it profit a man if he gains the knowledge of the whole world but loses his soul in return...."] For that purpose we jointly prepared and I published in my column what we called “talking points” on the bill. [Which are complete baloney!]
Fifth, specifically I advocate removal of the provision on mandatory sexual education in public schools without the consent of parents. (I assume that those who send their children to Catholic schools accept the program of Catholic schools on the subject.) My reason for requiring the consent of parents is, among others, the constitutional provision which recognizes the sanctity of the human family and “the natural and primary right of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character.” (Article II, Section 12) [He did not even bother mentioning about what the Catholic Church teaches because either he knows and he does not care or he simply does not care.]
Sixth, I am pleased that the bill reiterates the prohibition of abortion as an assault against the right to life. Abortifacient pills and devices, if there are any in the market, [and you thought he is an intellectual!] should be banned by the Food and Drug Administration. But whether or not there are such is a question of scientific fact of which I am no judge. [Huh?! Why the intellectual shyness all of a sudden? Is it a way of dodging the bullet?]
Seventh, I hold that there already is abortion any time a fertilized ovum is expelled. The Constitution commands that the life of the unborn be protected “from conception.” For me this means that sacred life begins at fertilization and not at implantation. [Ohh what a breather! I thought he'd never mention that! And I hope Angsioco, the Wiccans and FreeDumbers like Tani are reading this. But, hang on...Great Scott! He wrote in the previous paragraph there are no abortifacients in the market, yet the pills sold today are exactly doing what abortifacients do: kill the fertilized ovum! Then, why, oh why, I pray tell, did Fr. Bernas not see this fact?!?! Was it consciously done? Or he simply does not know it? But, hey, he's a Jesuit. SURE HE KNOWS IT!]
Eighth, it has already been pointed out that the obligation of employers with regard to the sexual and reproductive health of employees is already dealt with in the Labor Code. If the provision needs improvement or nuancing, let it be done through an examination of the Labor Code provision. [Uhmmm... I prefer giving me the money to buy me food, medicine and education for my kids than for the latex. No thanks!]
Ninth, there are many valuable points in the bill’s Declaration of Policy and Guiding Principles which can serve the welfare of the nation and especially of poor women who cannot afford the cost of medical service. [It does not even provide medical service for women! It only advocates contraception and gives medical help for botched abortion! For goodness sake, why not start improving our over-all health care services! Holistic health care is not constrained in the organs between your legs!] There are specific provisions which give substance to these good points. They should be saved. [Uhm, no they do not.]
Tenth, I hold that public money may be spent for the promotion of reproductive health in ways that do not violate the Constitution. [He is not speaking as a Catholic and as a priest. But can he do that? Yes he did. But is he supposed to do that? No, he should not. He is both a citizen of this country, a civil lawyer, a Catholic, a Jesuit priest and a public figure. He should have thought of this first before he opened his mouth!] Public money is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Muslim or what have you and may be appropriated by Congress for the public good without violating the Constitution.
Eleventh, I leave the debate on population control to sociologists.
Finally, I am happy that the CBCP has disowned the self-destructive views of some clerics. [Well, I am not happy that you did not disown your dissent!]
After reading this, I won't be surprised if during the Gospel reading, Fr. Bernas begins it by saying:
"A reading from the Holy Constitution according to me!"
It seems all he cares about is the Constitution.
You are a priest for cryin' out loud!
What does the Church have to say about this?
He gave his comments about what the civil law says, but he gave a limp (no pun intended) defense of what the Church stands for in this RH debate. He did not bother to comment on issues about population control and he left it to sociologist.
He is a priest right? Why did he not comment on the moral and ethical side of the bill? Remember that we turn to the Church on issues of faith and morals. His statement about support of the Church's teaching about contraception while calling into question the infallibility of the teaching is almost like telling you to tell your kids:
"Hey, I am against pre-marital sex, but as long as you use a condom..."
Bernas says something to the effect of "I follow it even I am not required by law to do so."
If you have Catholic priests like that, who needs Martin Luther?!?!
I you want to hear what ordinary folks have to comment about this "learned" discourse from the "learned" Jesuit, click here and here.