Choosing Life, Rejecting the RH Bill: A pastoral letter by CBCP

This is a Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on the Responsible Parenthood/Reproductive Health Bill

Our Filipino Brothers and Sisters:

The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights (Art. II, Section 11). The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception (Art. II, Section 12).

Background

We begin by citing the Philippine Constitution. We do so because we intend to write you on the basis of the fundamental ideals and aspirations of the Filipino people and not on the basis of specifically Catholic religious teachings.

We are at a crossroads as a nation. Before us are several versions of a proposed bill, the Reproductive Health bill or sanitized as a Responsible Parenthood bill. This proposed bill in all its versions calls us to make a moral choice: to choose life or to choose death.

At the outset we thank the government for affording us an opportunity to express our views in friendly dialogue. Sadly our dialogue has simply revealed how far apart our respective positions are. Therefore, instead of building false hopes, we wish at the present time to draw up clearly what we object to and what we stand for.

Moral Choices at the Crossroads — at EDSA I and Now

Twenty five years ago in 1986 we Catholic Bishops made a prophetic moral judgment on political leadership. With this prophetic declaration we believe that we somehow significantly helped open the door for EDSA I and a window of political integrity.

Today we come to a new national crossroads and we now have to make a similar moral choice. Our President rallied the country with the election cry, “Kung walang corrupt walang mahirap.” As religious leaders we believe that there is a greater form of corruption, namely, moral corruption which s really the root of all corruption. On the present issue, it would be morally corrupt to disregard the moral implications of the RH bill.

This is our unanimous collective moral judgment: We strongly reject the RH bill.

Commonly Shared Human and Cultural Values – Two Fundamental Principles

Far from being simply a Catholic issue, the RH bill is a major attack on authentic human values and on Filipino cultural values regarding human life that all of us have cherished since time immemorial.

Simply stated the RH Bill does not respect moral sense that is central to Filipino cultures. It is the product of the spirit of this world, a secularist, materialistic spirit that considers morality as a set of teachings from which one can choose, according to the spirit of the age. Some it accepts, others it does not accept. Unfortunately, we see the subtle spread of this post-modern spirit in our own Filipino society.

Our position stands firmly on two of the core principles commonly shared by all who believe in God:

(1) Human life is the most sacred physical gift with which God, the author of life, endows a human being. Placing artificial obstacles to prevent human life from being formed and being born most certainly contradicts this fundamental truth of human life. In the light of the widespread influence of the post-modern spirit in our world, we consider this position as nothing less than prophetic. As religious leaders we must proclaim this truth fearlessly in season and out of season.

(2) It is parents, cooperating with God, who bring children into the world. It is also they who have the primary inalienable right and responsibility to nurture them, care for them, and educate them that they might grow as mature persons according to the will of the Creator.

What We Specifically Object to in the RH Bill

Advocates contend that the RH bill promotes reproductive health. The RH Bill certainly does not. It does not protect the health of the sacred human life that is being formed or born. The very name “contraceptive” already reveals the anti-life nature of the means that the RH bill promotes. These artificial means are fatal to human life, either preventing it from fruition or actually destroying it. Moreover, scientists have known for a long time that contraceptives may cause cancer. Contraceptives are hazardous to a woman’s health.

Advocates also say that the RH bill will reduce abortion rates. But many scientific analysts themselves wonder why prevalent contraceptive use sometimes raises the abortion rate. In truth, contraceptives provide a false sense of security that takes away the inhibition to sexual activity. Scientists have noted numerous cases of contraceptive failure. Abortion is resorted to, an act that all religious traditions would judge as sinful. “Safe sex” to diminish abortion rate is false propaganda.

Advocates moreover say that the RH bill will prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. This goes against the grain of many available scientific data. In some countries where condom use is prevalent, HIV/ AIDS continues to spread. Condoms provide a false security that strongly entices individuals towards increased sexual activity, increasing likewise the incidence of HIV/AIDS. “Safe sex” to prevent HIV /AIDS is false propaganda.

Advocates also assert that the RH Bill empowers women with ownership of their own bodies. This is in line with the post-modern spirit declaring that women have power over their own bodies without the dictation of any religion. How misguided this so-called “new truth” is! For, indeed, as created by God our bodies are given to us to keep and nourish. We are stewards of our own bodies and we must follow God’s will on this matter according to an informed and right conscience. Such a conscience must certainly be enlightened and guided by religious and moral teachings provided by various religious and cultural traditions regarding the fundamental dignity and worth of human life.

Advocates also say that the RH bill is necessary to stop overpopulation and to escape from poverty. Our own government statistical office has concluded that there is no overpopulation in the Philippines but only the over-concentration of population in a number of urban centers. Despite other findings to the contrary, we must also consider the findings of a significant group of renowned economic scholars, including economic Nobel laureates, who have found no direct correlation between population and poverty. In fact, many Filipino scholars have concluded that population is not the cause of our poverty. The causes of our poverty are: flawed philosophies of development, misguided economic policies, greed, corruption, social inequities, lack of access to education, poor economic and social services, poor infrastructures, etc. World organizations estimate that in our country more than P400 billion pesos are lost yearly to corruption. The conclusion is unavoidable: for our country to escape from poverty, we have to address the real causes of poverty and not population.

In the light of the above, we express our clear objections:

We object to the non-consideration of moral principles, the bedrock of law, in legislative discussions of bills that are intended for the good of individuals and for the common good.

We are against the anti-life, anti-natal and contraceptive mentality that is reflected in media and in some proposed legislative bills.

We object strongly to efforts at railroading the passage of the RH bill.

We denounce the over-all trajectory of the RH bill towards population control.

We denounce the use of public funds for contraceptives and sterilization.

We condemn compulsory sex education that would effectively let parents abdicate their primary role of educating their own children, especially in an area of life – sexuality – which is a sacred gift of God.

What We Stand For

On this matter of proposed RH bills, these are our firm convictions:

We are deeply concerned about the plight of the many poor, especially of suffering women, who are struggling for a better life and who must seek it outside of our country, or have recourse to a livelihood less than decent.

We are pro-life. We must defend human life from the moment of conception or fertilization up to its natural end.

We believe in the responsible and natural regulation of births through Natural Family Planning for which character building is necessary which involves sacrifice, discipline and respect for the dignity of the spouse.

We believe that we are only stewards of our own bodies. Responsibility over our own bodies must follow the will of God who speaks to us through conscience.

We hold that on the choices related to the RH bill, conscience must not only be informed but most of all rightly guided through the teachings of one’s faith.

We believe in the freedom of religion and the right of conscientious objection in matters that are contrary to one’s faith. The sanctions and penalties embodied in the proposed RH bill are one more reason for us to denounce it.

Our Calls

As religious leaders we have deeply and prayerfully reflected on this burning issue. We have unanimously made the moral judgment – to reject the RH agenda and to choose life.

1. We call for a fundamental transformation of our attitudes and behavior towards all human life especially the most defenseless, namely, human life being formed or being conceived. The cheapness with which many seem to consider human life is a great bane to our religious-oriented nation.

2. We call upon our legislators to consider the RH bill in the light of the God-given dignity and worth of human life and, therefore, to shelve it completely as contrary to our ideals and aspirations as a people. We thank our legislators who have filed bills to defend human life from the moment of conception and call upon all other legislators to join their ranks.

3. We thank the great multitude of lay people all over the country, and particularly the dedicated groups who made their presence felt in the halls of Congress, to defend and promote our position. We call upon other lay people and adherents of other religions to join the advocacy to defend and promote our commonly shared ideals and aspirations.

4. We call on our government to address effectively the real causes of poverty such as corruption, lack of social and economic services, lack of access to education and the benefits of development, social inequities.

5. We call for the establishment of more hospitals and clinics in the rural areas, the deployment of more health personnel to provide more access to health services, the building of more schools, the provision of more aid to the poor for education, and the building of more and better infrastructures necessary for development.

6. We echo the challenge we prophetically uttered 25 years ago at EDSA I and call upon all people of good will who share our conviction: “…let us pray together, reason together, decide together, act together, always to the end that the truth prevail” over the many threats to human life and to our shared human and cultural values.

We commend our efforts against the RH bill (or the Responsible Parenthood bill – its new name) to the blessing of our almighty and loving God, from whom all life comes and for whom it is destined.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, D.D.
Bishop of Tandag
President, CBCP
January 30, 2011

source: The Catholic Position on RH BIll

Guest Writer

  • In a press conference on 25.7.11 the CBPC said one can still be a good catholic and support the RH bill.

    When asked if one can be a good catholic Monsignor Juanito Figura said the CBPC won’t judge catholics as good or bad if they support the RH bill effectively saying that catholics can support the RH bill.

    At http://youtu.be/ytmnBh4mBTc at 1 min and 10 sec you can view the CBPC statement by the CBPC.

  • Yaru Mozaro

    This is a fatherly love letter. 🙂
    Thanks to you all, beloved bishops!

  • The CBCP is really a freaking frog. They don’t really understand the main objections and contents of the Reproductive Health Bill. It doesn’t mean that if you support the RH Bill, you are rejecting life and choosing the culture of death. That’s only a CBCP propaganda. The RCC is the anti-life because it is the one who doesn’t defend the life of a women that is in danger because of pregnancy (50-50).

    • joe bags

      What??? RCC is antii-life because it is against the RH bill.? Have you even read the RH bill? They say ignorance is a bliss. I say, “not in your case or those that support the anti-life measures in the RH bill” You’re supporting it because its proponents are trumpeting it is pro-women? Never mind that it anti-life? WOW… Do you know that your counterpart thinkers and promoters in the States are not only promoting the use of contraceptives but are also practicing abortion?

  • grace

    I’m just so glad Pnoy has made a stand and was not affected by the weirdos dictatorship. They’re now getting into my nerves. Seriously, nakakapikon na sila!!! Hoy mga walang kwentang Wierdo ng simbahang katoliko, MAGBAYAD MUNA KAYO NG BUWIS BAGO KAYO MANGIALAM SA DESISYON NG GOBYERNO. We don’t need you and your hocus-pokus blah blah in our counrty right now. Mga wala kayong kwenta, wla kayong nagagawa kundi i-brain wash ang mga kawawang taong bayan na walang kaalam-alam at huthutan sila ng pera.

  • Red

    they can’t even show the real figures.

    and their stand is too good to be true. wake up! look around. be open! you can say that because you have a good life. unlike these poor people. tsk.

    i also think that not all priests share the same stand. they are just politically controlled by the CBCP. well, politics in the church is very undemocratic. it is very autocratic. if they are really open, then let the priests and church followers be EDUCATED first before they decide on the matter.

    and stop reading your stand every mass. have an open discussion where people can ask and not just dictated upon!

    hypocrite.

    • grace

      wow!! great speech!! love it!! 😉

  • dacs

    These ‘robe-wearing weirdos’ have authority over their own flocks. What is weird is for someone to disparage these ‘weirdos’ who are acting within their authority. Someone does not recognize and is not under their authority ought to re-consider speaking harshly. This here is a democracy. This here is a civilized society.

    • Indeed, the church authorities have a right to be outspoken in the values of the 15th century when the planet was not melting and food prices rising and the ants . . . er, valued people . . . running ariot because they cannot eat. It is a helpful perspective for those of us who wonder how the Church could have been so insane as to undertake the bloodletting of the Crusades whilst living in the name of Jesus.

      You simply detach doctrine from impact on real people, real lives, that are already living, and you toss education and enlightenment onto the burning pyres of the dark ages.

      • joe bags

        im wondering if you are a catholic. if you are, are you questioning the wisdom of your own church’s leaders on matters spiritual?. where does your own wisdom on the issue of the RH bill come from? from the editorial of certain newspapers? instead of yacking on a thing you dont fully comprehend, why dont you find a silent corner in your house or office and pray hard that you might be enlightened.

    • winkydu

      Well since were now suppose to be a democratic and civilized society, I can convey how I feel towards the Taliban Church Club. Sure the “flock” and whatever club they belong to, can do and believe what ever they want. All I’m saying is the status quo remains. The ignorant and poor “flock” will continue to breed like rats. It is interesting to note, that well-off folks tend to limit the amount of children based on how many they can support, using whatever method they want regardless of what the local Mullah says. I guess keeping people poor and ignorant, can be good for some.

    • Yaru Mozaro

      Yes, the country is democratic. But not the Church. Honestly speaking, there is no democracy in the Church. Why? Because Jesus intended it to be a hierarchy. The Church is a manifestation of a Kingdom of God, and a kingdom has its hierarchy as the governing body. The rules of God are different from the human perspective. We cannot understand God, yet He still reveal Himself through the Church. When I recite the “Apostles’ Creed”, one of the articles of faith is: “I believe in the Holy Catholic Church.” It echoes back to the See of Peter, and to the One who gave authority to him, with no exemption, I truly believe.

      If you say the bishops are ‘weirdos’, you may be compared to the same persons who condemned Jesus to die on the cross, to suffer, to be humiliated, because He’s against the worldly views of the people. Thanks, just sharing my ideas. :)) God bless^^,

  • UP nn grad

    A long time ago, really quite many years ago, this speech was made.
    By John F. Kennedy, senator from Massachusetts, candidate for USA president.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2Jr03ADQmk

  • winkydu

    Wow! so the status quo remains. The poor and ignorant masses will continue to breed like rats, thanks to the robe wearing weirdos who can dictate (to those that do not know better) whats moral and immoral. Bravo to the Taliban.