Reply to Daily Tribune’s Frontline: RH Bill, divorce, and separation of Church and State

Below is my reply to the author of the Daily Tribune’s Frontline artile entitled “No Church Issue” published 05/27/2011.

Reply:

You cannot take religion and God out of the RH Bill because religion and God are not present in the RH Bill. In the place of God, you have in the RH bill the idols named “overpopulation”, “safe sex”, “reproductive health”, and “pro-choice”. Ancient Filipinos have fertility rituals–they pray for rain, abundant harvest, and many children. The RH bill, on the other hand, have infertility rituals: condoms, pills, and ligation–and abortion, if all these fail.

Separation of church and state means that churches have no business interfering with state matters, such as how and where to build roads, bridges, and buildings. At the same time, the state has no business interfering with morality which is the domain of the Church. The RH bill is in the domain of morality because it concerns human life and eternal salvation, so the Church has to intervene. As Christ said: “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Mt 22:21)

Italy is distinct from the and the Vatican City State where the Pope resides. So the government affairs of Italy is not the business of the Pope. But regarding condoms and pills, Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical Humanae Vitae (Art. 14) wrote: “it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.” This encyclical is not only for Italy (whose Northern parts were known as the Papal States for more than a thousand years) but for the whole Catholics worldwide, including the Philippines.

There is a distinction between annulment and divorce in the Catholic Church. Divorce is the breaking up of a valid marriage. This is not possible, because Christ said:

“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate. Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, 7 whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” (Mt 19:4-10)

King Henry VIII of England asked the pope to allow him to divorce his wife and marry his mistress. The Pope refused, so King Henry broke from the Catholic Church and declared himself the Head of the Anglican Church. By the way, many Anglican bishops and entire parishes are now converting to the Catholic Church.

On the other hand, annulment in the Catholic Church means that there was no marriage in the first place, so the man and the woman whose marriage was annulled are free to marry.

I am glad that the author recognizes that some contraceptives are abortifacients. Concerning contraception, as I said before, the state has no authority to define what is morally good or not, only the Church does. The Catholic Faith has united the warring tribes of the Philippines into a single nation. So for the sake of the common good and the Filipino religious tradition, the Philippine State should recognize the teaching authority of the Catholic Church in matters of morality. If the state cannot promote good morals, it is better that it desist from promoting bad morals by not passing the RH Bill into a state law.

If the author cannot see that the world has become more promiscuous, she may like to watch a Hollywood films and TV 60 years ago and compare it with the Hollywood films and TV now. She may like to count the average number of times that the following words are mentioned: sex and fuck. She may like to classify the films according to the number of scenes nudity in various levels is shown. This would be a good research paper, and the author would be surprised at her results: “The world indeed has become more promiscuous!”

What the pope is saying regarding condoms is that in conscience darkened by sin, the use of condoms to protect the partner from sexual disease can be a sign of the slow awakening of the moral sense. Here is the quote in full:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

“She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

4 Responses to Reply to Daily Tribune’s Frontline: RH Bill, divorce, and separation of Church and State

  1. pinoyleonardo says:

    They say that the opposition to the RH Bill is just a Catholic thing. Where is our respect for religion and diversity? Sectors of the society has to be heard. Much more a large sector of the society!

  2. cat says:

    Catholic church should have a representative in congress.

  3. Bruce in Iloilo says:

    Since the Philippines Constitution is modeled in so many ways after the American, I paste below the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

    Note the phrase “separation of church and state” is not there or any place else in document. The phrase might be useful shorthand but that is what it is — shorthand for a bigger principle.

    The concern is not that religious leaders might participate in the political process and thereby might influence public policy. Imagine where we would be if religious leaders such as Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cardinal Sin failed to act.

    Instead the concern is about the state using its coercive policing power to forbid private, and even public, religious practice. See Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and Cuba, among others.

    The First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  4. Very nice reply to Daily Tribune’s Frontline.

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