divorce law

Out of our bedrooms, almost

Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, a staunch opponent of the RH Bill, unwittingly stated what the Church’s position on artificial contraception should have been from the very start, “We will tell Catholics ‘even if you are given free contraceptives, do not use them’.”

That position would have spared the country a decades-long political fight over an issue that is essentially a religious matter. It would have also spared bishops the animosity and contempt for the hysterical and at times downright dishonest arguments they used to rally support against the RH Bill.

A paper by Leslie Woodcock Tentler then a professor of history in the Catholic University of America traced the marginalization of the American Catholic Church in the area of sexual decision-making to its stand on artificial contraception. “A substantial majority of today’s Catholics reject the notion that Church authority alone – i.e. that of the Pope and bishops – should guide lay Catholics in moral decision-making.” He added, “Particularly with regards to sexual ethics, most Catholics appear to believe, the locus of moral authority is properly the conscience of the individual believer.” The native bishops should have learned from the American experience and of many other countries that the official Church position against artificial contraception would undermine rather than further their moral authority over their flock.

The bishops just lost the battle over contraception and already they are raising alarm over an impending divorce bill. That will be another bitter and drawn-out fight on yet another issue where you have a religious group wanting to continue the imposition of the law of its God on a secular republic. “What God has joined together let no man out asunder”. But legal separation and annulment is allowed under certain circumstances.

What is the difference between legal separation and divorce other than one does not allow for remarriage while the other does?

No doubt the bishops will once again manage to create fine distinctions as to why legal separation and annulments are okay but divorce is not, even though the end result of all three actions – the separation of irreconcilable couples and the breaking up of families – is the same.

The divorce bill will be billed like the battle over the RH Bill – a battle between good and evil – when in fact it is merely the never-ending struggle for supremacy between Church and State. Those against divorce will draw heavily on biblical sources and church doctrine and they will raise the specter of moral decline while those on the opposite side will argue that the inhumanity of trapping couples in a bad marriage, its consequences on children and society as a whole are valid reasons enough to end the farce of legal separations and annulments as alternatives to divorce.

The Church must stay out of politics. Bishops must resist the temptation of becoming power players and brokers, a role that has gotten the Church into trouble time after time over its 2000 year history. Instead of using their clout to meddle in politics hoping to create an environment friendly to their belief and teachings, they should focus on forming consciences that will guide their flock into creating a better society. Heck if there is moral decline, promiscuity, corruption and all that everywhere, all I can say is children are not born that way so don’t blame modernity, as the former Archbishop of Manila did, for failing to form good consciences.

The primary role of the Church is to form good consciences not to play politics. That way if a divorce law does happen then all the Church has to do to save the world from eternal damnation is rephrase the unwitting advice of Bishop Reyes, “We will tell Catholics, even if you are given a divorce law, do not use it.”

So both the Church and the government can do their respective jobs without interference from the other. And we ordinary folks can finally enjoy some peace and privacy in our bedrooms.

Continuity reboots

Reboots, paradigm shift are all the rage this year. For instance, DC Comics announced that it was rebooting its entire comic book line, bringing 52 of its comic books to issue as well as publishing all their comics digitally. Then recently in the Philippines, a move is in place to bring divorce back, which Archbishop Oscar Cruz calls a anti-Filipino.

The Philippines went on a sort of reboot. At the very least, we are seeing the reboot ongoing. As Deputy palace spokesperson Abigail Valte pointed out sometime ago, “Democracy is already in the recovery room as of May 2011“.

If you look at the Philippine Development blueprint, you could see the depth, and breathe and shape of what Aquino wants the Philippines to be, when he leaves office.

It explains why the government refuses to spend money it doesn’t have. Without government spending 17 percent, it showed why the economy slowed down to 4.9 percent. In the same quarter in 2010 the economy grew double that, what with election, and election spending driving the growth.

How I read the tea leaves, government doesn’t want to spend what it doesn’t have. The administration intends to institutionalize spending: if the government doesn’t have the money to pay for it, the government doesn’t finance a project.

We can talk about lies and statistics. It is pretty good take, but without Government propping up GDP, who will pickup the slack? A GDP growth of 4.9 percent showed that the private sector as a whole wasn’t able to pickup the slack that government dropped. So the question is: as government intends to spend less, or at the very least manage its spending, what is it doing to get more business into invest?

Is the government making it easy for investors of all stripe to come in? Is the government interested in tapping the OFW market to invest in the Philippines? What is it doing to make investing in the Philippines easier, and more interesting?

The question also comes in that we know that Internet is a game changer, and that the Internet is like roads, and railways and electricity before it: they generate business. There is no clear cut government policy on the Internet. There is no clear cut government policy on science and technology. And yet we have policies like Cybercrime bill that is being debated in Congress that doesn’t actually help, but make Internet worst for Filipinos. Our legislators lack the understanding, and the foresight to take this Internet and make it go zoom. Do you want the government to regulate the Internet?

In the past year, we’ve also seen the push to diminish the power and influence of the Catholic Church. The push for reproductive health for example is one thing. It is meant to institutionalize maternal health and the side effect of course it goes against “church teaching.” Then there is a push to revive the Divorce law in the Philippines. The latter since the Philippines now becomes the only country in the world without any sort of divorce law.

There was once a divorce law according to @nerveending. The Philippines had a divorce law prior to 1947. Then we didn’t. Today, if you want to go get divorced, there is always annulment or legal separation. So you can get separated from your wife or your estranged husband. Relationships are never easy. They’re messy. They’re never black and white. It lives in that gray terrain. Divorce becomes important so we could protect wives and children who are being abused where the only recourse is to separate. Divorce becomes important when to have a better life, a man or a woman must reboot their continuity.

If the Reproductive Health bill becomes law, and it is followed by a divorce bill? That would be one continuity reboot for the Philippines. It signals that the nation is slowly becoming secular and less under the thrall of the Vatican.

As a Catholic, for me, it presents an opportunity for the Church to focus on the spiritual. I want sermons and direction that make me a better person. I don’t need the Church to tell me what is wrong with government. Filipinos everywhere already know what’s wrong with our nation. It is that time in history that we fix it. I need my church to help guide that poor maid who is always beaten up by her husband. I need a Church that guides street children away from the streets, and into education. I need this church to be relevant.

This is how I see continuity reboots. Like all things in life, it would depend a lot on how it is executed.

Image credit: The New Justice League by Jim Lee

Upate: @mannyneps and @jesterinexile points out that if you’re a Muslim in the Philippines then divorce is legal.

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