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Contraception and Humanae Vitae

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Last July 25, the Catholic Church in the Philippines celebrated the 40th Year of Humanae Vitae with a rally at the University of Sto. Tomas campus.  The rally also had another purpose, that of formally declaring the Church’s opposition to the Reproductive Health Bill that our legislators would like to pass as law.  The Bill is actually a misnomer, even a deliberate ploy to mislead:  since when is bearing children a sickness?  I still remember the Beijing Conference of 1996 and its agenda of women’s health which was nothing but a ploy to promote abortion and artificial contraception.

With last Friday’s rally, many of those associated with the Reproductive Bill have begun to withdraw support for it.  The President of the Philippines declared during her SONA  (Monday, July 28) that her government will support natural family planning: 

Our campaign spreads awareness of responsible parenthood regarding birth spacing … Long years of pushing contraceptives made it synonymous to family planning. Therefore, informed choice should mean letting more couples, mostly Catholics, know about natural family planning. 

 There are still some however who don’t agree with Macapagal-Arroyo thinking it was due to the pressure of clergymen that she said what she said.  One of these is Miriam Defensor-Santiago who was mentioned in a report entitled “Miriam Backs Cabral on Reproductive Health” by Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star, July 31, 2008, p. 7).  Ms. Mendez’ quotes heavily from women (Miriam Santiago and Pia Cayetano), perhaps thinking that by doing so, her article would lend a woman’s perspective to the question.  After all women are the ones who give birth.  It is also for this reason that she highlights remarks that allude to the problem of population in this country.

The argument that there are too many Filipinos that cannot be provided from the resources of this country is an age-old myth perpetrated by people from Manila who are the ones benefitting from the offers of contraceptive manufacturers.  How much, I wonder, are US and European based companies offering our legislators for them to pass the so-called “Health” Bill?  The population explosion is due to people from our countrysides flocking to Manila  and big cities because they cannot find any means of better livelihood in their own places.  There is in fact, right now, the problem of depopulation.

We have a lot of resources, but these are undeveloped!  We lack food because our government hasn’t been helping our farmers do their work.  We cannot give education to our growing number of students because our teachers are going to Singapore and Hongkong to work as domestic helpers.  We have a lot of squatters in our big cities — those coming from the provinces — because our politicians and civil servants have been busy enriching themselves rather than doing their jobs.

Miriam-Santiago was reported to have said that natural family planning is Medieval, and therefore a hindrance to development.  This is how C. Mendez put it:

Santiago said that the Catholic Church’s stand on natural contraception is outdated and archaic.  The “natural-law-mentality” of the Church in the Middle Ages prohibited many advances in medical science, she added.

Santiago should take her hint from alternative medicine, now getting more widespread, and the desire to restore human health by natural means.  Besides, can she name one example by which the “natural-law-mentality” she calls outdated and archaic prohibited an advance in medical science?  The first medical university was founded in Salerno during the Middle Ages.  A lot of herbal remedies were catalogued during the time, many of which we are discovering now.  Our medical books owe their present structure to those which were written in the Middle Ages.  (While medieval medicine would seem to be merely a continuation of the contributions of the ancient Greeks and Romans, it should be mentioned that whatever medical scientific know-how that period owed to ancient times was transmitted to it through the work and diligence of the monks.)  Perhaps Miriam-Santiago feels she can make those kind of pronouncements because she thinks she has figured the Church out with her few years of “theology” at Maryhill.  But whatever smattering of theology she gained from that institution is not enough.

Again C. Mendez writes about Santiago

Santiago said in 1966, a Papal commission reported that the conjugal act must be viewed in the larger context of human love, family life and education.  “This is the principle of totality,” she said.  “Sexuality is not meant only for procreation.”  The final report of the Papal Birth Control Commission and the Vatican 2 (sic) pointed out that the decision to have children must take into account the welfare of the spouses and their children, the material and spiritual conditions of the times, their state in life, the interests of the family group, of society, of the Church, Santiago said.

I am not sure about the report of the Papal Commission mentioned here, but the date — 1966 — reminds of Humanae Vitae. And the “totality” which Santiago mentions is not a principle but one of the traits of spousal love.  If I am correct in thinking that Humanae Vitae is here mentioned, then Santiago should read also the part which says that spousal love must be “fecund”, open to life.  She is correct however in saying that sexuality is not meant only for procreation, every Catholic should know that, but marriage is ordered to the procreation and education of children.

I don’t have much to say about the opinions expressed by Pia Cayetano and Ping Lacson.  Cayetano’s remark making natural family planning into an issue of religious freedom should be seen against the background of a country with 85% being Catholic.  The more should she stop making that kind of remark for the sake of the 85% Catholic whose religion that Reproductive Bill opposes.  Ping Lacson’s incentive-based two-child policy should also be seen in the light of Singapore’s present situation, where even the government’s incentive for spouses to have children is not gaining support.  In that country, you see, people are scared of having children because of the success of “reproductive” health propaganda. 




Originally posted 2008-07-31 03:04:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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