The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has issued a veiled threat that it might not support Noynoy Aquino’s presidential bid. The Church is pressuring Noynoy to withdraw withdraws co-authorship of the Senate version of the reproductive health bill in exchange for its support.
In current reports, The Auxiliary Bishop of Cotabato said that Catholic bishops know of Noynoy’s support for the bill and that his support could be bad for his campaign.The Cotabato bishop said, however, that Noynoy could win the support of Catholic bishops if he drops support for the bill. Everyone knows the backward and ultra conservative stand of the Catholic hierarchy on the RH bill which, the Church says, indirectly promotes abortion by institutionalizing artificial contraceptives.
Another official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and the executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life said that they’re even looking at the possibility of “bloc voting” in support of those who are opposed to the bill. Yet another “pro-life” advocate said that they will ask Noynoy to toe the line of the Catholic Church on the issue.
What can I say to this but AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!
This is the same Church that has made the most minimal, almost token protest against the corruption of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration; the same Church that has said almost nothing against the extrajudicial killings and abduction of human rights activists; the same Church that does not even raise it voice or its fist against the massacre of civilians accused of being sympathizers of the the New People’s Army or the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; the same Church that cannot categorically give an opposing position to issues like Charter Change; the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the continuing presence of US troops in the country; the miniscule budget allocations for public health, housing, and education. Now it’s making a big stink of Noynoy Aquino’s membership in the Senate health committee and his support for the RH bill!
Why can’t the Church pay more attention to the quality of life of the living instead of only looking out for the yet unborn and even as yet unthought of? Why can’t it be less conservative and dogmatic and utterly, frustratingly backward?!!
Is it a wonder that I am a lapsed Catholic?!
Would the CBCP and the Church support a candidate, say, Jovito Palparan if he declares himself to be stringently against the RH bill and pro -Catholic? Would it support the platform of government of a militarist like, say, Gilbert Teodoro if he says that he’s against artificial birth control methods?!
What are they thinking?! Are they thinking at all?! They’re threatening to boycott Noynoy if he doesn’t toe the Catholic line on reproductive health?!
Ni hindi nga nagsalita ang Simbahan to condemn the likes of Chavit Singson who beat his partner black and blue to teach her a lesson. Wala. I was waiting for a statement, wala.
Sen. Aquino, please don’t fold; please don’t take back your support for the RH Bill. Women have a right to their own bodies and their health; and children need healthy mothers. Also, what good is it for children to be born if their parents cannot take care of them, cannot give them not only what they need to survive, but for them to grow up into good, healthy, upstanding citizens? The growing Philippine population is of no real and good use to the country or the people — no economy to support it, and it, in turn, cannot support the economy because there are no real industries, no agrarian reform, no subsidies, no programs to create and utilize a strong and productive citizenry.
And if you buckle and give in to the threat of the Church, what does it say about you and the kind of politics you espouse, the kind of government you seek to build?
Yesterday on the long ride to work, I happened to sit next to a female lay preacher.
When I first got on I didn’t know that she was a preacher; she looked like any ordinary early middle age-woman in slim jeans and a dark grey blouse. Her hair showed signs of once having been under the care of a stylist, but has since reverted to its natural wavy state. She wore big wraparound sunglasses with a smoky tint, and in her arms she carried a mailman bag and a transparent envelop.
Some 15 minutes into the trip, I felt the woman tense, and at first I thought she was going to get off; but she just exhaled and began what turned out to be an hour’s worth of non-stop preaching. It was not the usual holly roller’s hollering exhortations peppered with quotes from various parts of the Bible.
She began by greeting people a good morning, and then asked them what sort of thoughts they had upon waking. Were they positive thoughts filled with hope and gratitude, or were they thoughts filled with anger and negativity, tainted with the poison of envy or malice against others? She reminded us of our mortality and the often sudden and random nature of death and dying: who could foresee accidents? Cars crash all the time, planes fall from the sky, and ships sink to the bottom of the ocean. Are we prepared to die, are we willing to meet our Maker when without warning we are called to stand at His feet and account for the lives we’ve had and how we lived them?
She didn’t sound like she wanted to scare us; it was not even a warning of a grim and terrible nature; she sounded, in fact, concerned. She was reminding us. She said that it was always best to be prepared, to be always ready to speak to God when we meet Him of a life well lived and meaningful. A life given to godliness and kindness; a life lived for the sake of others as a tribute to God to whom we owe everything good and beautiful.
I know I’m making her sound like those manic street preachers I sometimes get annoyed at because they sound so self-righteous; but she didn’t and she wasn’t. She sounded kindly, although her voice rang loud and clear and rose above the noises of early morning traffic.
Most of the passengers looked away, out the window, or at their cellphones, probably pretending to be sending or reading text messages. Many looked embarrassed, some annoyed. I was neither.
I looked at her and listened, studying her breathing, the involuntary way her hands made gestures of supplication and appeal. I felt her to be sincere, and I found nothing essentially wrong about her message that we fight against all this is evil in ourselves and go out of our way to emulate what is good in others. She called on all of us in the vehicle — some yawning, some barely awake– to awaken and see God and goodness in everything and everyone and to work against all that sought to bring evil and blight to the world. She said we must not tolerate corruption in government; to not stand idly by or merely mutter in disagreement as officials whether in the barangay level or the presidency stole, cheated or lie. She said we must not let ourselves be instruments of indifference and apathy as the world around fell and disintegrated because of cruelty, selfishness and violence.
She said we must find what is good in ourselves and live in a way that is worthy of God.
But it wasn’t good to be merely religious, oh not at all. Religiosity was not enough.
What good is it, she asked, to be religious in word if in thoughts and actions as evil as the kontrabidas on television and the corrupt officials in government? It improved no one’s chances of going to Heaven if one went to church everyday and said mile-long mouthfuls of prayers but ignored the plight of the poor, the needy, the oppressed and the weak. She said that God would rather (well, here she was editorializing, I think; because previously she was quoting the Bible, but not in a pedantic way) that we didn’t go to church, but did good for other people and did no harm by doing evil deeds to further our own self-interests and in protection of evil.
It was a long drive, but she didn’t stop even to take a drink out of the water bottle she carried with her, its gray and frayed rubber handle curled around her wrist. Neither did she take off her sunglasses or wipe her forehead as beads of sweat formed on it in reaction to the increasing heat of the morning sunlight.
So I listened to her, and looked at her, and sometimes at the others. I nodded at some points she made and became thoughtful over others, but there was never a time when I felt disagreeing or contesting her. She was making one single argument: we must all start with ourselves, to change for the better if we want goodness to win and for evil to fail. She pleaded for us to be prayerful; but more importantly, to live selflessly and not always look out for Number One at the expense of others and their welfare. She asked that we seek comfort in the Bible and trust in God, in His word and not in the promises of Man who always, always errs. She didn’t sound very hopeful, though — sometimes there was even a despairing tone to her voice; but all the time too she sounded very convinced that what she was saying was right.
She rounded up her sermon. She thanked everyone who listened. She began to sit back, and to relax her previously rigid pose.
I couldn’t help it, I turned to her and offered my hand in gratitude. Surprised, she smiled and took it.
I got off . A different start to a usual day.