Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'When life begins' and the RH Bill

“...That is not to say that the scientific facts lend equal support to any and all views of when human life begins. While people are free to formulate their opinion on when human life begins in any manner they choose (including belief and politics), not all opinions are equally consistent with factual reality. Those who choose to ignore the facts cannot expect their opinions to garner as much respect or to be given as much credibility as those who base their opinions in sound scientific observation and analysis.

The opinions of members of the flat-Earth society should not carry as much weight as those of astrophysicists in formulating national aerospace policy. The opinions of those who reject the scientific evidence concerning when life begins should not be the basis of public policy on embryo-related topics, either.”

-Maureen Condic
I have a very strong hunch that the fate of the RH Bill will rest on this single, potent issue. It does not only concern our faith, it also concerns a state principle which is enshrined in the Constitution. We note that Lagman et. al have already staked their bets: conception is equal to implantation. Without a doubt, it is an obvious though publicly unstated admission of an incontrovertible fact: Chemical contraceptives undoubtedly inhibits implantation, and there is no wiggle room to deny it. The only recourse therefore is to redefine what conception means, however they have a formidable roadblock in that the records of the Constitutional proceedings clearly equate conception with fertilization. Bernie Villegas, the author of that specific provision has come out with the the rock-hard evidence. Fr Bernas likewise, is on record supporting those proceedings. The pro-RH bloc have painted themselves into a corner. This is a testament to the fact that you cannot suppress the truth forever- it will emerge sooner or later. We must pound on this single issue until it explodes all over their faces. The only way the pro-RH legislators can overcome this formidable obstacle is through treachery, yet we must never underestimate that too.
“it is when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm that there is human life. Just to repeat: first, there is obviously life because it starts to nourish itself, it starts to grow as any living being, and it is human because at the moment of fertilization, the chromosomes that combined in the fertilized ovum are the chromosomes that are uniquely found in human beings and are not found in any other living being”

(Record of the Constitutional Commission, Volume 4, p. 668).

"The intention is to protect life from its beginning, and the assumption is that human life begins at conception, that conception takes place at fertilization"

(Record of the Constitutional Commission 799, cited in Bernas, J., The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Manila: 1996 ed., p. 78)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The First Temptation and being pro-RH Bill

I was rereading the book "Jesus of Nazareth" and I got to a post last year which quotes the Pope partially, as he writes about the first temptation of Jesus.

"At the heart of all temptations is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives. Constructing a world by our own lights, without reference to God, building on our own foundations, refusing to acknowledge the reality of anything beyond the political and material, while setting God aside as an illusion - that is the temptation that threatens us in many varied forms. Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil, no - that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place. What is real is what is right there in front of us: power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs."

I will devote the rest of this post to a comment (insightful as usual) by TE. It seems a fitting follow-up to the previous post. Pro-RH bill Catholycs would do well to read it.

The Pope's absolutely right. That's exactly what's happening. It's time we all open our eyes and see what really is at stake here.

The pro-condom crowd is trying to sell their side by painting it all in rosy optimistic colors. They have tons of statistics and are brazen enough to promise great benefits including families becoming financially better off. But what are they really selling? Uncertainty. All the rosy promises are just that - possibilities. They cannot really prove that all of their rosy predictions will come to pass. They are asking people to take a gamble. Of course they won't say it that way - they'll call it taking an intelligent stand based on irrefutable medical statistics.

As the Pope said, "it pretends to show us a better way,..."

The contras try hard to disprove the pro's arguments and refute their statistics by presenting their own set of counter statistics. Those passionate enough will paint a tough pessimistic picture to counter the rosy ones. They have fallen into the same trap as the pros - they are arguing for another set of uncertainties and are asking people to bet on another horse.

The contras have to open their eyes. The Church has already ruled on these issues so why engage in debate over it? To a Catholic the issue is closed. The Church's stand is clear and you might even say it's become part of the repository of truth. The Church's position is guided by the Holy Spirit. There is no uncertainty in this. The Holy Spirit is not an ambigious thing susceptible to statistical measures. The Holy Spirit is sure and its guidance is truth.

As Catholics, why should we opt for betting on uncertainties when we are already gifted with something certain? Why exchange something sure for something that isn't?

From a certain perspective Monsod's article is perhaps even more dangerous. It reads logical, balanced and fair. But it also re-opens the issue. This we have to guard against. If you take it seriously you would find yourself weighing the pros and cons of the issue. When that happens you would have opened again what the Church had closed. And that position raises a bunch of uncomfortable secondary questions like "Would I still be a good Catholic if I don't readily accept the Church's position and engage in debate over this?" Let us not be faithless - not just in the sense of not being true to our commitment to Christ but also in the sense of being lacking in faith.

As the Pope said, "the act of pushing God aside...we perceive Him as secondary."

The battlefield is not condoms and contraceptives. It's the Truth we hold, our values and beliefs. That is what is at stake. The real issue is not what the debaters are spouting about. They would have you bark up the wrong tree while secretly attacking what you truly hold dear. Let's not be deceived.

It's not about the optimists half-full glass nor the pessimist's half-empty one. The glass is actually full, it's just of a different size. Don't empty it by trading a sure thing for uncertain ones.
To add to that, an excerpt from Humanae Vitae:

No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law. It is in fact indisputable, as Our predecessors have many times declared, (l) that Jesus Christ, when He communicated His divine power to Peter and the other Apostles and sent them to teach all nations His commandments, (2) constituted them as the authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel but also of the natural law. For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men's eternal salvation.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Is the Catholic Church's Teaching on Contraception Infallible?

Is the Catholic Church's Teaching on Contraception Infallible?
By Matthew James Bellisario 2009

(reposted with permission of the author)

Many people today both inside and outside the Catholic Church view her teachings on human sexuality as being outdated. Others view it as something that is not solemnly defined, and a teaching that could possibly be changed in the future. In this essay I will substantiate that the teaching regarding the conjugal act and the prohibition of the use of contraception taught by the Catholic Church is an “infallible, or immutable doctrine” and that it is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church throughout the ages. I will do this by primarily focusing on the Church's official documents and not private theologian's opinions, although for additional emphasis I may include a few here or there.

There are two essential elements that the Catholic Church uses to form her moral teachings. The first is Divine Revelation which is revealed in Tradition and Sacred Scripture, and the Church's ability to observe and interpret the Natural Law as God has revealed it to us in creation. The two of course go hand in hand and often times the Natural Law gives us a deep explanation into morality which is often overlooked by those outside the Church. This is substantiated by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith which wrote in 1975, “But in fact, Divine Revelation and, in its own proper order, philosophical wisdom, emphasize the authentic exigencies of human nature. They thereby necessarily manifest the existence of immutable laws inscribed in the constitutive elements of human nature and which are revealed to be identical in all beings endowed with reason.”

It must also be understood that I am assuming that my readers understand that I assent to the Catholic Church as the pillar and bulwark of truth, and with the assistance of the Holy Spirit preserves and promulgates the truths of the moral order without error. This also is elaborated on in the document Persona Humana which states, “Furthermore, Christ instituted His Church as "the pillar and bulwark of truth."[6] With the Holy Spirit's assistance, she ceaselessly preserves and transmits without error the truths of the moral order, and she authentically interprets not only the revealed positive law but "also . . . those principles of the moral order which have their origin in human nature itself"[7] and which concern man's full development and sanctification. Now in fact the Church throughout her history has always considered a certain number of precepts of the natural law as having an absolute and immutable value, and in their transgression she has seen a contradiction of the teaching and spirit of the Gospel.”

This will be the basic framework that I will work from to prove that the Catholic Church very clearly teaches us that what has been decided in regards to human sexuality has been done so solemnly and infallibly. This means that the Catholic Church will never change her moral teachings on such issues as contraception, homosexuality or masturbation to name a few. The subject of contraception is usually one of the most heated issues of our times so I will write more focused towards that particular issue.

Part I The Basics of Human Sexual Morality

In order to understand such moral issues as the use of contraception we must first understand the Church's view on the conjugal act. It cannot be separated from human life itself or from the dignity of the human person in general. In order to examine sexual moral ethics, we must not only examine church documents on these specific issues, but others that pertain to the human person outside of the boundaries of sexual ethics. The very nature of a person's right to life and their supernatural eschatological end are the very core of human sexuality. Man was created by God so that he may have eternal life. When we arbitrarily overstep our bounds into the realm of creation we upset the Natural Law, and subsequently God's divine plan. As we will see many other moral questions all tie into this such as artificial insemination, sterilization, and masturbation. We must understand that when examining moral questions such as contraception it must be understood in light of the complete person. They are essential not only for human life, but essential for Divine Life. Moral matters that pertain to the conjugal act are of the utmost importance. Persona Humana tells us “In moral matters man cannot make value judgments according to his personal whim: "In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose on himself, but which holds him to obedience. . . . For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged."[3]” It must be understood that we cannot understand moral questions of human sexuality without first understanding the Catholic Church's view of the human person.

It is also clear that the Catholic Church views human sexuality in conjunction with society in general and man's relation to God in society. Pope John Paul II emphasized that humanity cannot live as if God did not exist. (22 Evangelium vitae) Today's culture of death, as John Paul II denotes it, observes only the fallen nature of sexuality and dismisses God as the primary focus which he has also revealed in his creation. The Church emphasizes not only the consequences of individuals who exercise sexual immorality, but consequences that falls upon culture and society as well.

Natural Law: Absolute and Immutable.

Natural Law is of the utmost importance when addressing the moral actions of humanity. There are certain revealed truths in the Natural Law that cannot be ignored, and cannot be changed since they are an innate part of God's creation. When the Church deduces and defines certain truths revealed in the Natural Law they are never to be changed. As in the earlier passage I quoted the Church has defined certain aspects of the Natural Law to be immutable and absolute. This means that it is defined and unchangeable. I want to look at a few premises that the Catholic Church has defined regarding Natural Law and human sexuality. I believe that this is one of the underpinnings of the Church's teaching when it comes to sexual morality.

Pope Pius XII wrote an allocution to midwives, on October 29, 1951. In it he made it very clear that the Church had previously solemnly defined certain principals of Natural Law and the conjugal act, that can never be abrogated. He wrote, “Our Predecessor, Pius XI, of happy memory, in his Encyclical Casti Connubii, of December 31, 1930, once again solemnly proclaimed the fundamental law of the conjugal act and conjugal relations: that every attempt of either husband or wife in the performance of the conjugal act or in the development of its natural consequences which aims at depriving it of its inherent force and hinders the procreation of new life is immoral; and that no "indication" or need can convert an act which is intrinsically immoral into a moral and lawful one. This precept is in full force today, as it was in the past, and so it will be in the future also, and always, because it is not a simple human whim, but the expression of a natural and divine law.” Just from this basic proclamation regarding Natural Law and the conjugal act, the use of contraception can never be accepted. I will continue to build my case.

Casti Connubii.

Many presume to think that Humane Vitae was the first encyclical to condemn contraception. This is hardly the case. Pope Pius XI penned his encyclical Cast Connubii in 1930 when the Protestants began to revolt against God's Natural Law by succumbing to the use of artificial contraception. Prior to that Protestantism as vast majority rejected any use of it whatsoever. The Catholic Church however not only held to the age old teaching against it, it clarified it further. The Pope writes in reference to the encyclical focused on marriage and human sexuality, “In so doing We follow the footsteps of Our predecessor, Leo XIII, of happy memory, whose Encyclical Arcanum, published fifty years ago, We hereby confirm and make Our own, and while We wish to expound more fully certain points called for by the circumstances of our times, nevertheless We declare that, far from being obsolete, it retains its full force at the present day.” The encyclical covers the sacrament of marriage and it declares that what it is about to present is immutable, or unchangeable. “And to begin with that same Encyclical, which is wholly concerned in vindicating the divine institution of matrimony, its sacramental dignity, and its perpetual stability, let it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves.” I want to look at some of what this encyclical says about marriage and human sexuality. It focuses directly on human sexuality and the conjugal act in marriage.

1.“Thus amongst the blessings of marriage, the child holds the first place.”

2. “But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.”

3.56. Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.

Here we can see that not only has the Church solemnly defined this teaching, but it puts the weight of the entire Church tradition behind it. The encyclical also tells us that those who think it is possible to declare another doctrine that is opposed to it are in gross error. Pope Paul VI 38 years later will merely expound upon this basic, immutable premise. So those who say that Humane Vitae was not an infallible statement by the Church would be correct, because it was determined to be immutable long before it was penned. Both Pope Pius XI and Pius XII tell us so in various documents, two of which I have quoted from thus far. So before we even get to Humane Vitae the Church has already presented this basic principal regarding the conjugal act in conjunction with Natural Law to be immutable or unchangeable.

Humanae Vitae

In 1968 Pope Paul VI released Humane Vitae which pulled together the Church's constant teaching regarding sexual morality. In the opening of the letter the weight of the entire Church is put behind the text and the teachings it declares. The document is not really promulgating any new doctrine or dogma, but rather expounds and builds upon what the Church had already found to be absolute and immutable. The document presents its teaching as is if it is already understood have ben proclaimed before. It also puts the weight of the infallible Church behind it.

“4. This kind of question requires from the teaching authority of the Church a new and deeper reflection on the principles of the moral teaching on marriage—a teaching which is based on the natural law as illuminated and enriched by divine Revelation.

No member of the faithful could possibly deny that the Church is competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law. It is in fact indisputable, as Our predecessors have many times declared, (l) that Jesus Christ, when He communicated His divine power to Peter and the other Apostles and sent them to teach all nations His commandments, (2) constituted them as the authentic guardians and interpreters of the whole moral law, not only, that is, of the law of the Gospel but also of the natural law. For the natural law, too, declares the will of God, and its faithful observance is necessary for men's eternal salvation. (3)

In carrying out this mandate, the Church has always issued appropriate documents on the nature of marriage, the correct use of conjugal rights, and the duties of spouses. These documents have been more copious in recent times. (4)”

The document also has an interesting point in that it sees this adherence to Natural Law as being necessary for salvation. This is another key passage demonstrating that the Church had considered the subject to be infallible since a changeable doctrine cannot be a point that man could lose his soul over and referred to as a necessity. Humane Vitae restates what Pope Pius XI's encyclical stated regarding the conjugal act, and made it even clearer. It said, “Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means." It continued, Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good," it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general.”

The Church in her infinite wisdom did not stop with Humanae Vitae. Pope John Paul II put together a series of addresses referred to now as the Theology of the Body. In it he also restates what has been passed down to him regarding sexual morality. He also made various statements about the infallibility on the use of contraception in private and public statements he made throughout his papacy. For instance in 1987 he made the following two statements at an NFP conference..."What is taught by the Church on contraception does not belong to material freely debatable among theologians." and “Those who argue otherwise "in open contrast with the law of God, authentically taught by the Church, guide couples down a wrong path." (Prairie Messenger, June 15, 1987; Osservatore Romano, June 6, 1987) In 1979 he also addressed the US Bishops with the following statement, “In exalting the beauty of marriage you rightly spoke against both the ideology of contraception and contraceptive acts, as did the encyclical Humanae vitae. And I myself today, with the same conviction of Paul VI, ratify the teaching of this encyclical, which was put forth by my Predecessor by virtue of the mandate entrusted to us by Christ" (AAS, 60, 1968, p.485, Origins, Oct. 18, 1979). We can see a clear picture here developing as we examine these encyclicals and the Pope John Paul II's view of them. In 1980 the Pope addressed the Indonesian Bishops with the following, "In the question of the Church's teaching on the regulation of birth we are called to profess in union with the whole Church the exigent but uplifting teaching recorded in the Encyclical Humanae vitae, which my Predecessor Paul VI put forth 'by virtue of the mandate entrusted to us by Christ' (AAS 60, 1968, p.485). Particularly in this regard we must be conscious of the fact that God's wisdom supercedes human calculation and His grace is powerful in people's lives." "Contraception is to be judged objectively so illicit," said the Pope, "that it can never, for any reason be justified.” It is clear the John Paul II saw this teaching as being an absolute, immutable truth which was not up for discussion.

Ademecum For Confessors concerning some aspects of the morality of conjugal life.

Even though the Church has professed this teaching for ages, and over the past 80 years has clarified and solidified this teaching we still have dissenters in the Catholic church who claim that this teaching is not infallible. Finally in Feb of 1997 the Vatican grew tired of dissenters railing against constant, absolute, immutable truth and released a document to address dissenters in the Church who sought to destroy the image of God in marriage. For this reason the Vademecum for Confessors was penned by the Pontifical Council for the Family. The document opens with the defense of the family and marriage.

“The family, which the Second Vatican Council has defined as the domestic sanctuary of the Church, and as "the primary vital cell of society", constitutes a privileged object of the Church's pastoral attention. "At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it, and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family, the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family"

In it there were several key pronouncements made regarding the conjugal act. Once again we see the church in an official document reaffirming an immutable truth not possessed in one document proclaiming it infallibly, but as an ordinary teaching which has been held constantly by the church as being immutable or infallible.

1.Therefore, among the fundamental moral principles of conjugal life, it is necessary to keep in mind "the inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning".

2.Throughout this century the Supreme Pontiffs have issued various documents expounding the principal moral truths on conjugal chastity. Among these, special mention is due to the Encyclical Casti Connubii (1930) of Pius XI,12 numerous discourses of Pius XII,13 the Encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) of Paul VI,14 the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio15 (1981), the Letter to Families Gratissimam Sane16 and the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (1995) of John Paul II. Together with these, the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes17 (1965) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church18 (1992) deserve special mention.

3.Contraception, directly opposed to the transmission of life, betrays and falsifies the self-sacrificing love proper to marriage, "altering its value of total self-giving"22 and contradicting God's design of love, in which it has been granted to married couples to participate.

In paragraph 4 of the Vademacum the Church explicitly tells us that the Church's teaching once again is definitive and irreformable.

4.The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. Contraception is gravely opposed to marital chastity; it is contrary to the good of the transmission of life (the procreative aspect of matrimony), and to the reciprocal self-giving of the spouses (the unitive aspect of matrimony); it harms true love and denies the sovereign role of God in the transmission of human life.

I could go on with many more documents that also attest to this irreformable doctrine. The Catechism tells us also, “In contrast, "every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" is intrinsically evil:”

I would like to tie this altogether now with the Church's Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Two documents in particular define the conjugal act in regards to natural law as being immutable and certain. The basis on which the use of contraception is rejected also ties into other bioethics issues which the Church addresses. In Donum Vitae the Church again defines the conjugal act very specifically to address artificial fertilization. The document states,

“The Church's teaching on marriage and human procreation affirms the "inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning. Indeed, by its intimate structure, the conjugal act, while most closely uniting husband and wife, makes them capable of the generation of new lives, according to laws inscribed in the very being of man and of woman."[38] This principle, which is based upon the nature of marriage and the intimate connection of the goods of marriage, has well-known consequences on the level of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. "By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination toward man's exalted vocation to parenthood."

So we can see that this basic, immutable truth binds together more than just the issue of contraception. It holds this truth and is able to define other questions regarding sexual morality that also can never be changed. Among these include the condemnation of masturbation, artificial insemination, and homosexual sex. All of these Church teachings will stand until the end of time because they are immutable and absolute in their relation to the way God created us.

Finally I want to quote a portion of Persona Humana penned also by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith concerning masturbation. This is also relevant here because the Church once again uses the same immutable teaching to condemn the action as well.

From Chapter IX

The traditional Catholic doctrine that masturbation constitutes a grave moral disorder is often called into doubt or expressly denied today. It is said that psychology and sociology show that it is a normal phenomenon of sexual development, especially among the young. It is stated that there is real and serious fault only in the measure that the subject deliberately indulges in solitary pleasure closed in on self ("ipsation"), because in this case the act would indeed be radically opposed to the loving communion between persons of different sex which some hold is what is principally sought in the use of the sexual faculty.

This opinion is contradictory to the teaching and pastoral practice of the Catholic Church. Whatever the force of certain arguments of a biological and philosophical nature, which have sometimes been used by theologians, in fact both the Magisterium of the Church - in the course of a constant tradition - and the moral sense of the faithful have declared without hesitation that masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act.[19] The main reason is that, whatever the motive for acting this way, the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes "the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love."[20] All deliberate exercise of sexuality must be reserved to this regular relationship. Even if it cannot be proved that Scripture condemns this sin by name, the tradition of the Church has rightly understood it to be condemned in the New Testament when the latter speaks of "impurity," "unchasteness" and other vices contrary to chastity and continence.

To sum up my essay I would like to quote the late, great theologian Fr. John Hardon on this subject. It may have been more prudent to have entered this quote towards the beginning of this essay, but better late than never.

“It is infallible Catholic doctrine that contraception is a mortal sin? Yes! How do we know? We know this from the twenty centuries of the Catholic Church's teaching. Already in the first century, those who professed the Catholic Faith did not practice either contraception or abortion, which were commonly linked together.

The people of the pagan Roman Empire into which they were born universally practiced

* Abortion
* Contraception
* Infanticide
* Cohabitation of one man with either several legal wives, or with a plurality of concubines

In contrast with this moral promiscuity, Christians practiced monogamy, one man with one woman; they did not use drugs to prevent conception; they did not kill the newborn children whom they did not want to live; they did not practice sodomy or prostitution; and for the Christian, adultery and fornication were grave sins that might require several years of penitential expiation.

What do we call the Church's unbroken tradition in forbidding contraception? We call it her ordinary universal magisterium or teaching authority. This has always been considered a proof of infallibility, or from another perspective, irreversibility.

What do these two terms mean?

* Infallibility means that God protects the Church from error in her 2000 years of teaching that contraception is a grave sin against God.
* Irreversibility means that this teaching will never be reversed. Contraception will remain a grave sin until the end of time.”

How many more documents would the Church need on this subject in order for this teaching to be considered infallible? I believe that if there was any doubt on the subject before the 1930's it has since that time been put to rest with many encyclicals, and documents penned by the Catholic Magisterium. I have not even touched on the vast history of the Church Fathers or other Popes who also attest to this infallible teaching, instead I have taken the Church's official documents at face value. Those bishops and theologians who even today lash out against these teachings as not being infallible are clearly at odds with the infallible Magisterium on the matter and therefore are in serious error. It is quite clear then that the Church's teaching that the use of contraception as being gravely immoral, is indeed an infallible teaching, and not just a certain teaching.

Persona Humana- Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith 1975
Allocution to midwives- Pope Pius XII October 29, 1951
Cast Connubii- Pope Pius XI 1930
Humane Vitae-Pope Paul VI 1968
Ademecum For Confessors-Pontifical Council for the Family 1997
Donum Vitae- Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Contraception: Fatal to the Faith and to Eternal Life- Fr. John Hardon 1998


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


(posted for the FB group FilipinosForLife)

Monday, March 14 · 4:30pm - 6:30pm
Leong Hall Auditorium, Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights
Quezon City

I was able to attend this forum today at the Leong auditorium in Ateneo. My son is a 3rd yr Psych major who knew the organizers so I was able to get in :-). The audience were basically PoliSci and Psych majors. Anyway, while waiting for the forum to begin, I had a small chat with Atty Jo Imbong. I learned from her that Risa Hontiveros backed out (what a shame) but the forum would proceed with her one-on-one with Dr Mary Racelis on the other side. Dr Mary Racelis is a senior professor at the Dept of Anthropology at Ateneo. It also turns out later that she was a part of the (in)famous 14 Ateneo Professors. She was also connected for many years with UNICEF (hmm). Atty Jo Imbong needs no introduction for you folks. I will just cover it with some bullet type information which I jotted out in my notes. Dr Racelis goes first. It started at close to 5pm. Be forewarned that the following is not written as a journalistic report, because I have peppered it liberally with my unjournalistic :-) comments [in brackets] . Here goes.

Dr Mary Racelis:

- RH bill is all about the right of couples to make conscience-driven choices [as if choice is inexistent without the bill]
- Many have not read or understood the bill [you are so right here]
- It is now on the 13th year that this bill or its variants is being pushed in Congress [so what]
- To promote the right to health, especially of the poor and marginalized [as if the anti-RH side is against this]
- The right to plan number of children and spacing using medically safe and legal contraceptives [safe? for whom?]
- Decrease maternal deaths [here we go again. this canard has got to stop]
- Provide maternal health care [redundant, redundant]
- full range of FP "essential medicines" [as if pregnancy is a disease]
- mandatory age-appropriate sex education [age-appropriate says who?]
- so that national budget appropriation would be mandated [congrats to the manufacturers and bukol tongpats]
- Surveys says so [so what]
- 1 in 2 women rely on the government for their source of contraception [Really? 2 in 2 rely on the gov't to provide a level playing field for livelihood]
- Maternal deaths [ho-hum]
- Infant mortality [ho-hum]
- Help couples achieve desired number and spacing [in short spend billions upon billions of taxpayer's money to ensure couples get their sex on demand]
- prevent induced abortions [see maternal and infant morality above]
- provide compassionate and life-saving treatment to women needing care for post-abortion complications [redundant, redundant. how many times do we have to say this]
- blah, blah [basically repeats 'salient provisions']
- comply with local regulations [no it doesn't. you need to enrol in Constitution 101 and Republic Acts 101 to know why]
- comply with international laws [whose laws? WHO? UNDFP? USA? last time I checked, the Philippines is an independent country]

Atty Jo Imbong:

Asks for a show of hand: who among you have read the bill?
- I raise my hand, and I notice only one other hand in a room of about 200 in the audience [ugh!]
Debunks Overpopulation Myth
- Cites charts showing demographic patterns [you know, the inverted pyramid, the evidence of aging populations in industrialized countries]
Exposes NSSM 200
- Yes, that sneaky, scheming foreign policy that was never, repeat, NEVER denied by the US [you all know what it contains. Devious diba?]
Shows trend of decreasing population growths and TFRs [ooorah!]
Side effects of pills [no one can deny this]
Essential Medicines?
- Nowhere in the top 7 mortality causes is childbirth a leading cause of mortality
Condoms ineffective
- Shows historical chart comparing Philippines and Thailand
- Cites that thing about the AIDS virus being smaller than condom pores
Asks for a show of hand: who here is a third child? 4th child? Fifth?....
- Tell me, are you all unwanted? [ooorah!]
Exposes Sex-ed modules [if you have seen Dr Ligaya Acosta's presentation, basically that is the material]
Clarifies that conception is equal to fertilization, as the PMA also confirms officially
- Notes that Lagman in a congressional hearing, stated that the embryo is not a child until it is born [whoah!]
Takes exception to "malicious disinformation"
Cites redundancy of RH bill in many respects
[Bias aside, all in all, I thought Atty Imbong presented the more compelling presentation, and in a very lively and interactive manner at that. Bravo m'am!]


There were four students who rose up to raise their questions. All of them were directed to Atty Imbong and the tone of the questions were like they were interpellating Jo Imbong [my gosh!]. Atty Imbong answered them gamely and decisively [I thought so] But there was this last student, quite a matured-looking (for a student) lady from Netherlands, who questioned the authenticity of Atty Jo Imbongs's figures. She seemed to imply that Jo was lying! Jo Imbong obliged but I could see the clear irritation in her demeanor. [the nerve of that foreigner!!! gusto kong sabunutan eh]

Anyways, the forum ended at around 6:45pm. btw, one interesting thing is that the emcee called out the numbers of the Pros and Antis in the audience at the start of the program. Everyone registering in would have to state what side he/she is on. The results: 115 PRO-RH, 16 ANTI-RH, 35 UNDECIDED.
Which makes me wonder... this is a Catholic university? Oh...Jesuits.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On Fasting and Abstinence

On Fasting and Abstinence

Bishop Fulton Sheen told of his experience one Lenten season while on a plane to a speaking engagement. When the flight attendant offered him his lunch, he excused himself saying, "I'll just have a sandwich, it's Lent.". The woman beside him also settled for just a sandwich. "So you're also Catholic," Bishop Sheen asked. The woman with a surprised look said, "No, I'm a model."

Here are some key things to consider on fasting and abstinence, from the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

Canon 1250 All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the entire Church.

Canon 1251 Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1252 All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

Canon 1253 It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

And here is some food for thought. Fasting is a form of spiritual discipline where our aim is beatification. The discipline of Lent can never be dissociated with discipleship. Discipline without discipleship is like practicing for a marathon without running it. Discipleship without discipline is running a marathon without practicing.

Finally, here is a nice graphic, courtesy of the Curt Jester.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



5-YEAR OLD: It's my body!
Mother: Stop that nonsense. Take a bath!

10-YEAR OLD: It's my body!
Mother: I'm telling you one last time. Take a bath!

15-YEAR OLD: It's my body!
Father: Sure, but I still won't give you money to buy 3 nose-rings!

20-YEAR OLD: It's my body!
Unborn: Sure, but what about me?

90-YEAR OLD: It's my body!
Grandson: Sure pops. But please take a bath!

Top 10 reasons why I oppose the RH bill

Top 10 reasons why I oppose the RH bill
(to be taken with a grain of salt)

#10. I can't understand, for the life of me, why they call it 'Reproductive Health Bill' in the first place.

#9. The 'right' to free contraceptives sounds like a right to hit oneself over the head.

#8. The 'It's my own body, my choice' seems like an excuse not to take a bath.

#7. The Gabriela folks are making Diego Silang turn in his grave.

#6. These same folks utterly failed in the basic course 'Philippine Constitution 101'

#5. The country is indeed overpopulated. By corrupt people. Eh di sana 'walang mahirap'.

#4. Who says they are the ONLY ones for reducing maternal deaths? Oh come on.

#3. Pope Edsel Lagman is clueless on Humanae Vitae.

#2. Fertilization equals implantation sure sounds like malicious disinformation.


#1. I don't like Janet Garin's dress either.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The major cause of maternal deaths, really

Group to bishops: Deal maternal deaths issue

MANILA, Philippines – A women’s group backing the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill called on the Catholic bishops to deal on the issue of maternal deaths in the wake of their opposition in the hotly-debated bill.

In a statement, the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) hit the Catholic bishops for issuing statements protesting the bill but none on arresting maternal deaths.

“Our group alone have lost quite a number of poor women due to lack of access to reproductive health services,” said DSWP Chairwoman Elizabeth Angsioco.

“The nation loses if we do nothing and allow the death of 11 mothers every day, due to pregnancy and pregnancy-related complications,” she added.

“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) stubborn rejection of the RH bill is a major reason why women die,” she pointed out.

The statement came after the CBCP vowed to relentlessly fight against the passage of the measure, even urging President Benigno Aquino III to veto the bill if it pass in Congress.

“The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) stubborn rejection of the RH bill is a major reason why women die”.

Really?? What a preposterous claim. This kind of sneaky argument has been going around for a quite a while and I guess there must be a law penalizing "malicious disinformation", irony intended.

Official DOH figures (here) shows that the leading cause of maternal mortality is post-partum hemorrhage, followed by retained placenta, eclampsia, etc. Nowhere in the top 10 causes does it even remotely say that the CBCP's stubborn rejection of the RH bill is the major reason (!)

Ah, I see. Direct inference. IF contraceptives were freely available, then these mortality deaths WILL BE avoided (GUARANTEED!) because ALL those who suffered maternal deaths, in the first place, had unwanted pregnancies (yes, all of them) AND they sought out absolutely EFFECTIVE and SAFE contraceptives which were inaccessible, AND the root causal and direct culprit being the CBCP's stubborn opposition to the RH bill. It is giving me a migraine just trying to wrap my head around this convoluted cause-and-effect analysis.

A pregnancy happens because two people engage in sex, irresponsible or otherwise. The AFP, NBI, KofC, CWL, and CBCP for that matter, is not a causal that these people decide to engage in sex. Health complications arise out of pregnancy simply because of a lack of professional medical care. The DFA, DOH, AirForce, DSWP, and CBCP for that matter, is not a direct causal if there is a lack of maternal care. Wait...maybe the DOH is. Maternal and Child health is already an existing mandate of the DOH, and it must see to it to the best of its ability that there are accredited medical professionals that provides care to pregnant women.

In relation to this, there is this study made by NCSB-NSO (circa 2002) investigating the "Factors Affecting Maternal Health Utilization in the Philippines". According to NSO statisticians Elaine B. Rogan and Virginia R. OlveƱa:

"The use of professional assistance during delivery is generally low for the Philippines. Only sixty percent of women who delivered in the last five years preceding the survey were assisted by a health professional for their most recent pregnancy while seventy percent of women received postnatal care. Utilization of maternal care is lowest in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) with only eighty-five percent for prenatal care, twenty-one percent received professional delivery assistance and forty-eight percent obtained postnatal care. Meanwhile, the National Capital Region (NCR) accounts for the highest percentage of maternal health utilization with ninety-seven percent for both prenatal and delivery care and seventy-six percent for postnatal services..."

The study concludes in part:

"The quality of health care remains wanting in many areas. Some health facilities have deteriorated and poor quality services exists. Low quality drugs and medicines are present in the market. These have been attributed partly to the weak enforcement of health regulations..."

So it appears there is severe lack of accredited health professionals, and that utilization of maternal health services is very, very low (only at an average of 60%). It means 40% of pregnant women were not attended to during their deliveries, the high figure attributable to the rural areas.

And that, my dear DSWP Chairwoman Elizabeth Angsioco, is what should get your goat when you say "our group alone have lost quite a number of poor women due to lack of access to reproductive health services". Eksakto yun. If there was a law right now which penalizes "Any person who maliciously engages in disinformation...", you could be in trouble...

Odds and Ends 3/2/2011

Singson resigns from Congress

...He said he was quitting “not because I am succumbing to the pressure of the noisy few among my honorable colleagues; rather, my resignation is a fulfillment of my promise to my father who had all the right to make the first and loudest protest because it was his name and honor that was mercilessly dragged into the tempest of my own undoing.”

He thanked his colleagues “who kept their peace” while he was being tried in Hong Kong. He also expressed his gratitude to other people who gave him moral support.

"In like vein, I would also like to thank the noisy minority who demanded my ouster even before my plea of guilt and the final verdict. Let me thank them as the Lord Jesus preached, ‘If they throw you stones, throw them bread’,” he said.

Man, I think there will be a whole lotta bread coming, probably much more than the "noisy minority" can eat.
House suspends RH bill sessions

MANILA, Philippines - The much-awaited plenary debates on the controversial Reproductive
Health (RH) Bill were called off yesterday after the centralized air conditioning units of the plenary hall of the House of Representatives broke down.

...Gonzales said the session was canceled upon the approval of Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and also after consulting House Minority Leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the main
author of the RH bill.

Lagman, for his part, described the suspension as a “fortuitous delay” for the RH bill that is strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and pro-life groups.

Fortuitous delay? I'd call it divine intervention, hehe.
550 Filipinos Out of Libya...

The Filipinos travelled in a convoy of 55 vans and buses headed by Secretary del Rosario towards the Tunisian border. Another set of vehicles will take them from there to Djerba, the first Tunisian city after the border.

Secretary Del Rosario and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos also visited the Philippine School in Tripoli, which has served as a relocation site for 87 Filipinos awaiting transit out of Libya.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of Migrant Workers Affairs DFA-OUMWA) said that 72 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrived Sunday evening from Cairo on board Etihad Air.

Now that is what I call public service.. and LEADERSHIP. God bless you Mr. Secretary.