Thursday, March 6, 2008

On Conservatives and the QC Reproductive Health Ordinance

Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. announced Monday that he has approved a controversial ordinance that sets the city’s population and reproductive health policy. Among others, the ordinance seeks to promote artificial birth control methods and “reproductive health” education and training. The bill was passed in spite of vigorous objections from religious groups, but not without the removal of punitive provisions which were initially included in the initial versions of the ordinance. Despite the passage, the removal of the punitive provisions is seen as a concession towards active lobbying against the ordinance.

Meanwhile, Michael Tan in his latest column takes umbrage at religious “conservatives” who lobbied against the passage of the ordinance. Tan takes the tired Malthusian population bomb-scare theme in heavily criticizing the Catholic/religious “conservatives” who opposed the ordinance, even while he praises the “growing number of responsible and courageous local government officials” for passing the measure. This is not the first time I have heard of “conservatism” in a religious context, and more often than not, it is used in a negative connotation, as opposed to say, progressive or liberal. Tan repeats the term “Catholic/ Religious conservatives” numerous times in a derisive manner all throughout his article, and one gets the idea that Catholic “conservatism” is something dreadfully evil, grossly irresponsible, and woefully bereft of decent reasoning – even from a supposedly “Catholic” standpoint.

Anyway, is there really such a thing as Catholic “conservatism”? Or even Catholic “liberalism” for that matter? Or maybe even Catholic “in-between” perhaps? There is NO such thing. Authentic Catholic teaching is ALWAYS consistent with the Church’s Magisterial teaching, and when we pare it down to conservatism, liberalism, whatever – it simply doesn’t make sense – it is either Catholic or it is not, period. One cannot pick cafeteria-style from authentic Catholic teachings based only on private preferences, home-made opinions, or relativist postures and still claim oneself to be a faithful Catholic. Not all Catholic teachings are easy and convenient to abide by, in much the same way that ALL rules by any given authority for that matter are easy and convenient to abide by. With respect to artificial birth control, the Catholic Church has been consistent all throughout its history. The papal encyclicals Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, down to today’s Catechism of the Catholic Church, affirm the intrinsic immorality of artificial birth control and its harmful consequences to society. Thus, labeling Catholic opposition to artificial birth control as “conservative” amounts to either ignorance or plain defiance of the Church Magisterium. This brings to mind my earlier post on Conscience and the Denial of Sin.

Being a faithful Catholic is never intended to be easy and convenient, in much the same way that it is never easy and convenient to love one’s enemy, care for the poor, or turn the other cheek. But that’s the way a Catholic “conservative” goes.

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