Six Catholic Bishops now back J. C. de los Reyes and Ang Kapatiran Party: Arguelles, Bacani, Nacua, Navarra, Palang, and Tobias

MANILA, March 6, 2010— What is with Ang Kapatiran (The Brotherhood) party that other political parties don’t have? Four more Catholic bishops came out in the open endorsing the Ang Kapatiran party of presidential aspirant John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes, breaking with the tradition of offering commentary on election-related moral issues without endorsing candidates. The influential prelates now include Bishops Antonio Tobias of Novaliches, Joseph Nacua of Ilagan, Antonio Palang of San Jose de Mindoro and retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani.

According to Bacani, the platform of the said party which, according to its founders, was formed based on Christian precepts is “worth supporting” by “any intelligent Catholic.” He said a “peculiar feature” of the party is that all its candidates are committed to the entire platform and principles of the party without any mental reservations. “I hope that it will catch fire in the imagination and hearts of our formation of this political party. I hope people would join it in great numbers and promote it among fellow Filipinos,” said Bacani.

Tobias affirmed, for his part, “Of course I am with you for the Ang Kapatiran as the conscience vote for the 2010 election.

Nacua said a political party with platform based on clear principles has a roadmap for genuine integral human development. Leadership without vision, governance without morals, cannot lead to true liberation, he said. “The Kapatiran stands on principles for the common good not on personalities. That is the way of genuine representation in government,” said Nacua, the country’s first Capuchin missionary to be appointed as bishop.

Source: CBCP News

Archbishops Ramon Arguelles and Vicente Navarra support Ang Kapatiran Party’s presidential candidate J. C. de los Reyes

At least two senior prelates came out in the open Thursday expressing their full support for Ang Kapatiran’s standard bearer John Carlos “JC” De Los Reyes.  Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra and Lipa Archbishop said they will firmly stand for what they believe is “right” and “necessary”.

“I guess it’s time for us to come out,” Navarra said. “It’s really a matter of conscience this time. That is what my conscience is telling me so I will stand for what I believe is right.”  The prelate said he is endorsing De Los Reyes and other Ang Kapatiran bets because of their commitment to the Catholic Church’s social teachings.  Navarra said he is engaging in partisan politics this time to be “consistent” with his advocacy for good governance and eradication of graft and corruption.  “They’re the ones with clear sincerity in bringing political change to our country. They also stood up to the principles supported by the Church,” he said.

Arguelles, however, admitted that De Los Reyes’ winnability in the presidential race, as surveys show, is “slim” but said he would still support him.  “There’s no vote that is wasted on a candidate you believe could bring real change, whether he wins or not,” he said.

Source: CBCP News

De los Reyes, Ang Kapatiran’s standard bearer, has expressed elation Thursday after two Catholic bishops endorsed his candidacy.  “In behalf of the party, I am humbled, happy and highly encouraged. This is the best incentive for all of us in Kapatiran to work harder to evangelize and reform politics,” he told the CBCPNews.   De los Reyes said the rare endorsements by the bishops will spur them to work harder in a bid to win the top government posts.  “The bishops’ affirmation of what we in Ang Kapatiran are doing to introduce a prophetic politics of personal and social transformation in our country, in a holistic and integral manner, gives us encouragement to continue fighting the good fight,” he added.

Ang Kapatiran had claimed that their formation was in response to the call of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) for the lay faithful “to participate actively and lead in the renewing of politics in accordance with values of the Good News of Jesus”. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on the 2010 Elections: A Call for Vigilance and Involvement

A CALL FOR VIGILANCE AND INVOLVEMENT

A Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the occasion of its 100th General Assembly held at Pius XII Center, Manila

“Seek good and not evil that you may live.” (Amos 5,14)

Beloved People of God:

God is calling us to participate in transforming our society, to “seek good and not evil” (Amos 5,14). This is part of our mission as People of God (cf. Justice in the World, 1971). In 1991 the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) called the lay people to fulfill their responsibility in renewing the political order. In 2001 the National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal (NPCCR) made this task one of the nine major pastoral priorities of the Church. The same call is echoed by the pastoral letter last year on the Year of the Two Hearts for Peace Building and Lay Participation in Social Change.

I. Our Situation

To transform our political order—how imperative this task is today! The election fever is on us! Campaign advertisements, presidential debates, and sadly, political killings, fill our media. Outrageous political violence has awakened us to the reality that if we do not keep watch together as a nation our electoral processes can drag us down. The existence of private armies, the proliferation of loose fire arms, and political dynasties are obstacles to the growth of a genuine democratic system.

II. Calls

A. Discernment
In this situation we urge once more all Filipinos to form circles of discernment so that they can see, judge, and act together on issues of public concern according to moral values. Moreover, we remind once again the Catholic laity that it is their right and duty to support candidates that are qualified and have a record of striving for the common good. They should not hesitate to engage in principled partisan politics. We are asked to first articulate the key values and principles by which we can evaluate individual candidates across political parties. This is the kind of politics in which Gospel values form the bases of our choice of candidates and not party or family loyalties.

B. On Automated Elections
We have always hoped for a modernized, better, and faster form of voting and counting, imbued with transparency and integrity. Automated election has been in use for some time in many countries. For the first time in our history we are adopting one example of poll automation called Automated Election System (AES). But at this late hour there are still many questions regarding the AES that revolve around the readiness of personnel and equipment as well as the readiness of the electorate in the use of the system. Even more important, many serious questions about the reliability and integrity of the equipment and the personnel involved have not been satisfactorily answered. To be sure those who are responsible for the AES are striving to make the system work.

But we must make sure that there are prepared fall back positions that can be quickly adopted when there are some glitches in the system and in the logistics. We have to be vigilant and be involved. One example would be to help in educating voters regarding the AES and in using the equipment.

C. To Candidates
We ask the candidates, already at this point, to start serving the nation by being honest and sincere in educating the people on the situation of our country in their campaign. They should not campaign to manipulate the perceptions of the people but to help them to make good choices for the sake of the country. They are to present their platforms and convictions rather than attack others.

D. To Peace-keepers
We call on our soldiers and the police to be extra-vigilant so as to bring about peaceful elections. They should not allow themselves to be used by politicians or ideological groups. Rather, they should be vigorous in disarming illegally armed elements.

E. To Voters
We appeal directly to you, our fellow countrymen and women, as well as to all members of our Basic Ecclesial Communities and religious lay organizations to exercise your right to vote wisely i.e. following the criteria indicated several times in our previous pastoral letters. Automated elections will not give us good public officials. Ultimately the leaders that our country shall have will depend on our wise choice of candidates. Do not be swayed by survey results or political advertisements. Follow the dictates of your conscience after a prayerful and collective period of discernment. “Winnability” is not at all a criterion for voting! The vote you cast will be a vote for the good of your country and your children’s future. Serve the common good with your precious vote!

III. Signs of Hope

In spite of the grim scenario that some may paint that every election is just the same, we feel winds of change for the better. Many of our faithful are now heeding the call of their pastors to be actively engaged in politics. Many are running for public office issuing from the call of faith and service so that people should no longer vote simply for the lesser evil among the candidates. There are now many civil society groups that are concerned and are actively moving to ensure that this election of 2010 will be an honest and credible one. We especially note with encouragement many young people who go out of their way to offer their services for the good of our nation. These signs are fruits of the efforts of many in the past years to educate our people to develop their social conscience and to make their faith the motivation of their political actions. Pope Benedict XVI teaches us: “Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationship with others: it demands a public witness of our faith” (Sacrosanctum Concilium #83)

Let us be ever vigilant for our country. Together let us be involved in the coming automated elections. Let us vote wisely that we may have God-fearing and honest people as our leaders.

May our Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Peace, be our guide and teacher in our hope for a better tomorrow. May our Good Lord receive our offerings of prayers, good intentions and selfless service for the good of our people! To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, DD
Bishop of Tandag
President
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
January 24, 2010

Source: CBCP News

Gilbert Teodoro abandons Reproductive Health Bill: the Government should support a moral choice

by TJ Burgonio Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 18:25:00 01/27/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Gilbert Teodoro offered no apologies on Wednesday for abandoning the reproductive health bill, and even proposed granting conditional cash transfers to poor couples employing the so-called natural methods of birth control.

The administration standard-bearer found himself defending his and his wife’s decision to withdraw support from the controversial measure before doctors and medical students at a forum at the University of the Philippines in Manila.

At the forum “Make Health Count,” Teodoro explained that the debate over the measure in the House of Representatives had become so “acrimonious” that the stakeholders totally forgot about the problem of population.

“The big debate is whether or not the government can shape a moral choice. And that is the argument of the Church. That the government should not actively advocate for making a moral choice. The debate stopped there,” he said.

Teodoro indicated that he agreed with the Church position, and said that the government should be “neutral” but should support the “moral choice” of every individual with resources.

The Church, for its part, should take it upon itself to shape the “moral choice” by acknowledging the problem of a growing population, he added.

“What should the government do? Instead of being involved in debate, we should support a moral choice,” he said in response to former Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez’s question why he and his wife Tarlac Rep. Nikki Prieto-Teodoro withdrew support from the bill. “I’d rather have resources to support a moral choice rather than fight over a bill.”

Teodoro said there was a need to come to a “mutual and common understanding” on addressing population “whereby the government respects the moral choice and provides resources toward supporting that moral choice.”

If they use the rhythm method, we can have some resources to support that by a conditional cash transfer if they do not have a birth within a year or so for the poorest of the poor,” he said, referring to the government’s program of granting cash to poor families with children enrolled in public schools.

“He has caved in to the Church and and agreed with his President, whose position is the reason why we have a big problem in population,” Romualdez said.

Monk’s Hobbit Notes: Gilbert Teodoro is now positioning himself more on the Pro-Life side in the debate regarding the Reproductive Health Bill.  If he solidifies his position against artificial contraception and campaigns against it and contrasts himself against all the other Presidential candidates who support the Reproductive Health Bill such as Noynoy Aquino, the tide of the Teodoro’s campaign may turn in his favor.  I shall offer my prayers for Teodoro and his wife in this battle against artificial contraception.  I shall ask Our Lord, Our Lady, and the entire celestial court to aid Teodoro in this battle, “for our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Eph 6:12).  The supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill may be Legion, but fear not!  Remember the story of Elisha the Prophet:

When the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city. His servant said to him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16He answered, Don’t be afraid; for those who are with us are more than those who are with them. 17Elisha prayed, and said, Yahweh, Please open his eyes, that he may see. Yahweh opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 18When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to Yahweh, and said, Please smite this people with blindness. He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. (2 Kings 6:15-18)

I think I can now in conscience put Gilbert Teodoro’s website in my sidebar together with the Kapatiran Party.

Related Articles:

Gibo Teodoro’s presidential campaign: the problem of product positioning

Rep. Nikki Prieto Teodoro, wife of Presidential Candidate Gilbert Teodoro, withdraws support for the Reproductive Health Bill

CBCP’s Catechism on Family and Life for the 2010 Elections

(Note: I got this from the Apologia-ph Yahoo group.  An official page is in Catelect.)

A Catechism on Family and Life

for the 2010 Elections

CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life

December 8, 2009

  1. 1. Why is a Catechism for the 2010 Elections necessary?

We are going to face serious challenges in the 2010 Elections that are not only political but also clearly and profoundly moral. We are a nation that values family and life and yet for years our elected leaders have been attempting to make laws that pose a grave threat to these values. So once again we find the opportune occasion for the Church to exercise its teaching authority to guide us in carrying out their political responsibilities in a faithful citizenship.

The family has always been among the Church’s urgent concerns because it is both the Domestic Church and the Basic Unit of Society. A strong family is the only assurance to having a strong society.

In the 2004 and 2007 elections, the CBCP encouraged the faithful to exercise their Christian responsibility to be involved in politics in the conscientious selection of candidates, among others. We have consistently spoken out in defense of life and family. We do so again at this historic juncture in our national life.

As Catholic voters, we understand that to protect our society from the invasion of anti-life and anti-family values, we have to form our conscience well. This will enable us to use the power of our vote to demand accountability and coherence from our candidates. We would like to ensure that we have a democracy that is firmly founded on a consistent moral framework that will strengthen the foundation of our society and protect its weakest and most vulnerable members.

This Catechism is written primarily for the Family and Life Ministries of the different dioceses in the Philippines, which fall under the care of this Episcopal Commission. This is also intended as a reference for all families. The aim of this Catechism is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth with regards to family, life and responsible parenthood. It will help to make their faith operative when it comes to living their life in the Church and in society. The intention is not to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. The responsibility to make political choices rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.

This Catechism cannot be read with a casuistic mentality, of one searching for a fine line dividing mortal sin from venial sin. Rather, it should be read from a magnanimous perspective of one who strives to ask how to best serve the Filipino, the Filipino family and the country.

  1. 2. Will this Catechism on family and life concerns not violate the separation of Church and State?

The separation of Church and State prohibits the State from interfering in Church matters, and prohibits the State from having a State religion. It does not imply a division between belief and public actions, between moral principles and political choices. In fact, the freedom of religion upheld by our Constitution protects the right of believers and religious groups to practice their faith and act on their values in public life.

The Church has the duty to teach Catholics about the importance of taking their Faith with them in all their endeavors, including voting. Catholics must live their faith in order to integrate God into their lives. For faith to be genuine, it must be evident not only in Church activities, but in all aspects of life, at work, at home, and in politics as well. The Constitution guarantees the right of each citizen to exercise his or her religion. Catholics who bring their moral convictions into public life do not threaten democracy or pluralism but rather enrich the nation and its political life.

Every Catholic is both a faithful of the Church and a citizen of our beloved Philippines. The exercise of this faithful citizenship means that when they go to the polls to vote they should not leave God outside. They should take with them, among others:

  • A renewed understanding of how God views life: “God created male and female, in the divine image He created them” and “found them to be very good.” (Gen 1:27. 31).
  • A remembrance that God created marriage and “that is why man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two of them become one body” (Gen 2:24). It is not a lifestyle choice that the law can remake into something that God never intended it to be.
  • Knowledge of what their beliefs as Catholics are and vote with a well-formed conscience.
  1. 3. Shouldn’t the Church be limited to the spiritual and religious realms alone?

The obligation to participate in shaping the moral character of our society is a basic part of the mission which the Church received from Jesus Christ, who offers a vision of life revealed to us in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. The Second Vatican Council teaches that Christ, the Word made flesh, in showing us the Father’s love, also shows us what it truly means to be human (Gaudium et Spes 22). Christ’s love for us allows us to see our human dignity in full clarity and compels us to love our neighbors as he has loved us. Christ, the Teacher, shows us what is true and good, that is, what is in accord with our human nature as free, intelligent beings created in God’s image and likeness and endowed by the Creator with dignity and rights.

We Catholics share the same respect for the dignity of every person in common with many non-Catholics who accept these truths which are self-evident through the gift of reason. But undeniably what our Catholic faith teaches about the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of human life helps us to see more clearly these same truths because these are at the very core of the Catholic moral and social teaching. Because we are people of both faith and reason, it is appropriate and necessary for us to bring this essential truth about human life and dignity to the public square. Church authorities exercise their teaching function also by reminding Catholic civil leaders of their moral obligations, especially in matters related to family and life.

  1. 4. How do we Catholics enrich the democratic process this way?

Our manner of active involvement in the democratic process means that we will use the power of the vote, as citizens of the Republic, to elect political leaders who will uphold and promote the dignity of human life and the sanctity of family and marriage. Through our active participation in the democratic process, including voting, we contribute to ensuring that our democracy firmly underpins moral and ethical values and standards. In the absence of ethical values and standards democracy will become the totalitarian rule of the rich and the powerful who can trample on the rights of the weak and vulnerable, such as the unborn babies, mothers, the elderly and the poor families.

A law-making process that is based simply on the will of the majority and not on ethical principles can easily lead to unjust laws because the will of the majority can be manipulated by powerful interest groups, leaving the weak and vulnerable unprotected.

  1. 5. On family and life issues, including reproductive health, some Catholics justify their support for positions that are clearly against Church teachings by saying that they “simply follow their conscience.” Should we not follow our conscience?

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains to us that “moral conscience, present in the heart of the person, is a judgment of reason which at the appropriate moment enjoins him to do good and to avoid evil… When attentive to moral conscience, the prudent person can hear the voice of God who speaks to him or her” (no. 372). Conscience is thus not the same as one’s opinions or feelings.

One must always follow one’s conscience. But one also has the obligation to form one’s conscience, because of the possibility of having an erroneous conscience. “One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience” (no. 376).

  1. 6. As Catholics, how do we correctly form our conscience?

The same Compendium of the Catechism tells us that “an upright and true moral conscience is formed by education and by assimilating the Word of God and the teaching of the Church. It is supported by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and helped by the advice of wise people. Prayer and an examination of conscience can also greatly assist one’s moral formation” (no. 374).

The Church’s teaching authority, also known as the “Magisterium,” endowed by Christ Himself, assists us Catholics in understanding God’s will in specific issues. The Church, as our Mother and Teacher, takes into account what is happening in society and the data offered by the sciences and other fields of knowledge and offers us clear guidelines on certain specific questions.

Thus, for example, we should not think that “abortion is wrong because the Church says so,” but rather, “abortion is wrong because it kills a human being who is one of us, and the Church reminds us of its wrongness.” Indeed, whether the Church says so or not, abortion is always a most violent, unjust and inhumane act committed against the most harmless, defenseless, and weakest member of our society –the baby– and committed by those who have the greatest duty to care for, love and defend him or her most –the mother, father, doctors and other health care professionals.

Similarly, the intrauterine device (IUD) is not wrong because the Church says so. Rather it is wrong in itself whether the Church says so or not, because the IUD can kill a 5-day old baby by preventing him or her from implanting in the mother’s womb. In fact, it is medical literature and not Church dogma that describes the IUD’s modes of action, and it is from these sources that the Church bases her defense of the 5-day old baby. We were once like this 5-day old human being, and he or she, if not killed, would grow to become like us.

Through prayerful reflection of the Word of God and a careful study of Church teachings on family and life (as in other matters), we strive to live out our faith in the world. A well-formed conscience is always formed according to the mind of the Church, which Christ Himself instituted to guide us.

  1. 7. What does the Church teach regarding “responsible parenthood”?

The profound link between the conjugal union and the gift of life gives married couples a vocation to give life, as long as they can responsibly care for the children they beget. Hence, responsible parenthood calls for an understanding of the reproductive processes of the spouses’ bodies, including the woman’s fertility cycle. And as with any other passion (anger, fear, love for food, desire for more, etc.), the sexual drive should be placed under the control of the intellect and the will, through the exercise of virtues, rendering the sexual faculties truly and exclusively expressive of conjugal love and the self-giving of persons.

Responsible parenthood further involves the decision either (1) to generously raise a numerous family if the couple is capable of doing so, or (2) if there are serious reasons (health, economic, social, psychological, etc.), not to have another child for the time being or indefinitely ( Humanae Vitae 10).

Thus, responsible parenthood has nothing to do with encouraging individuals to use contraceptives as what reproductive health programs do. The sexual union is appropriate only within the context of marital love, which must always be faithful, permanent, and exclusive between one man and one woman that is open to the gift of new life.

Responsible parenthood also has nothing to do with encouraging or coercing couples whether directly or indirectly to have only one or two children. It is not a population control program. Neither the government nor the Church may tell couples how many children to have, for the decision to have either a small or a large family rests on the couple themselves.

  1. 8. What is the difference between procreation and reproduction?

Reproduction is the process by which living things replicate, to assure the continuity of their species. It is necessary for the species, but not for the individual. Reproduction, as in the case of plants and animals, does not require any bond between persons. On the other hand, procreation is the proper term for human generation as it refers to a loving act between spouses which prepares for a possible creation by God of a new person. Procreation points to a collaboration of parents with God as the ultimate source of this new life. None of these characteristics of human procreation may be found in plant and animal reproduction.

The conjugal act is like a language with two meanings: the unitive and the procreative. Through their union in the conjugal act, a man and a woman give themselves totally to each other in and through their bodies. They are telling each other: “I give myself totally to you, and I love and accept you totally; we are one flesh.” That is the unitive meaning.

Furthermore, the structures and functions of the male and female reproductive systems are such that when a sexual act is performed, there is a possibility of new life to be formed. This gives a procreative meaning to the sexual union. Thus, to accept each other totally includes saying, “since I love and accept you totally as you are, including your bodily functions, I also totally accept the possibility of our love bearing fruit, the gift of a new child.” Thus, the unitive and the procreative meanings of the sexual act cannot be separated from each other.

Textbooks consistently using the term “reproduction” instead of “procreation,” even if intended for Catholic schools, should be thoroughly checked for the contraceptive mentality. They may confuse the students on the Church’s clear teaching on family and life. Presenting the views of dissenting theologians as being on equal authority with Church documents would bring about such confusion.

  1. 9. Why is contraception morally wrong?

Contraception is any action taken before, during or after the conjugal act which is aimed at impeding the process or the possible fruit of conception. In contraception, it is like the spouses telling each other, “I love you as long as we do not give birth.” In short, contraception makes the conjugal act a lie. It expresses not a total love, but rather a merely conditional or partial love. Contraception separates the unitive and procreative aspects of the conjugal act.

Since many contraceptives have also been shown by medical science to have various ill effects, their use could signify further contradictions and lies. It endangers then the physical well-being of the wife as well as the spiritual health of the marriage.

10. Why are natural methods of birth control not contraception?

The natural methods simply enable the wife to ascertain when she is fertile and when she is infertile. It is scientific information placed at the service of either a procreative decision or a non-procreative decision by the spouses. In this case couples do not do anything to prevent the normal consequences of the marital act from taking place. Rather, they make use of the wife’s God-given cycle in their decision whether to have another child or not for the time being.

11. What is reproductive health?

The UN defines reproductive health as the state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. It states that people have the right to a “satisfying and safe sex life.” The conjugal union is natural and proper in marriage, but in contrast, reproductive health disposes all people, including children and adolescents, to the sexual act and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to reproduce, provided that these are not against the law. (Cairo, Program of Action).

Following this definition, if having a satisfying sex life results in an unwanted pregnancy, the mental anguish this causes will negatively affect the person’s mental and social well-being unless one has access to contraception and abortion. This is the convoluted reasoning behind UN agencies’ insistence that reproductive health necessarily presupposes access to contraception and abortion.

Furthermore, the Reproductive Health bill (House Bill 5043), which carries the same definition of reproductive health, will penalize with one to six months imprisonment, and/or 10-50 thousand pesos fine, parents who for example prevent their grade school and high school children from using contraceptives, and having satisfying and safe sex. This item, along with the fact that certain contraceptives actually cause the abortion of 5-day old babies, is often ignored in supposedly unbiased and scientific surveys on the acceptability of the Reproductive Health bill.

All these are in the name of reproductive health and rights. What about the rights of parents? And the rights of the unborn?

12. What are some experiences in other countries in relation to reproductive health and related to family and life issues?

Family and Life workers and families in the Philippines, to whom this Catechism is primarily directed, could easily and clearly see the probable goals of reproductive health and rights advocates in the country, by looking at what is happening abroad. In some countries, school clinics are required to inform parents if their child has been treated for a minor scratch; on the other hand, the same school clinics are PROHIBITED from informing parents if their child seeks treatment for abdominal pains caused by a recent abortion. In other places, children are required to obtain parental consent for a tattoo, but not for an abortion.

A high-ranking official of a foreign country massively funding reproductive health services in the Philippines categorically stated last April that, “We happen to think that family planning is an important part of women’s health, and reproductive health includes access to abortion.” A local columnist rejoiced in November 2008 that “In Mexico City… the long struggle for reproductive health and rights culminated in the recent passage of a law lifting all restrictions on abortion.” Countries all over the world and the United Nations agencies work for reproductive health and rights until they have fully facilitated access to abortion.

Underlying this concept of reproductive or sexual health and rights is a view that radically separates sexuality, procreation and the complementariness between men and women. It is a view that identifies pleasure as the ultimate goal of sexuality and reduces procreation as a function of the health care systems. It also implies that men and women relate in temporary and modifiable unions that are a far cry from the beauty of conjugal love that is fully human, total, faithful, exclusive and open to life.

Men and women are persons before all else, and for this reason sexual behavior cannot be used only for pleasure. Otherwise it would mean using a person simply as an object.

13. In defending family and life, do we Catholics not impose our beliefs on others and violate the principles of tolerance and dialogue?

Many Protestants, Moslems, believers of other religions, and even non-believers share our belief in the dignity and value of human life. Tolerance means respect for the right of other persons to profess a different opinion and belief. However, tolerance cannot be understood as believing that other peoples’ points of view are equally good as one’s own, since this would blur the lines between good and evil and renounce the judgment of a sound and well-informed conscience.

In fact, publicly proclaiming one’s own beliefs is a service for dialogue, because through this way others can know exactly what and how one thinks. One offers one’s thoughts for reflection to others while respecting their beliefs, but without assuming that all beliefs are equally valid.

Attempts to enact legislation promoting anti-family programs receive huge financial assistance and provide alluring incentives to persuade our politicians to commit themselves to their advocacy. Foreign-funded lobby groups have been operating for more than a decade to openly advocate for the enactment of population control laws, as well as abortion-friendly laws in pursuit of the UN Cairo Conference objective of universal abortion rights. It makes one wonder why countries with below replacement fertility rates, desperate for babies and spending huge sums of money to encourage their own citizens to bear more children, contradict themselves by spending huge sums of money to suppress our population growth.

All these are consistent with the 1974 National Security Study Memorandum 200 entitled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interest” which identified the increase in world population as inimical to the interest of West. This document has been coming out in recent public debates on reproductive health policies, and is available on the internet. Do not reproductive health advocates bow down to their impositions? Is it not more correct to say that they are the ones imposing their policies on our country?

  1. 14. Is it morally acceptable to vote for an anti-family candidate?

With the foregoing considerations, it would not be morally permissible to vote for candidates who support anti-family policies, including reproductive health (in the particular understanding being presented in the recent debates, which includes, among others, promotion of abortifacients, penalties on parents who do not allow their adolescent children to engage in sexual acts, etc.), or any other moral evil such as abortion, divorce, assisted suicide and euthanasia. Otherwise one becomes an accomplice to the moral evil in question.

The gravity of these questions allows for no political maneuvering. They strike at the heart of the human person and the family and are non-negotiable. Supporting them renders a candidate unacceptable regardless of his position on other matters. The right to life is a paramount issue and hence cannot be placed on the same plane of discernment as the candidate’s positions on the environment, unemployment, health care, or others. This is because, as Pope John Paul II says, the right to life is “the first right, on which all the others are based, and which cannot be recuperated once it is lost.” It is also because the family is the basic unit of society. A candidate lays down the ground for refusing solidarity with anyone if he refuses solidarity with the unborn in the first few days or months of life, or with the dying. Why should anyone vote for such a candidate?

  1. 15. How should we Catholics engage questions related to family and life similar to the ones discussed in this Catechism?

Whenever we explain our desire to further strengthen the Filipino family, we should base our arguments primarily on legal, medical, economic, educational, psychological, sociological and other scientific data rather than on religious teachings alone. This translation of our faith into legitimate inputs to the policy making process helps our elected officials see more clearly the reasonableness of our advocacy.

For example, factual demographic data from the UN Population Division showing rapid ageing and collapse of the world population in 40 years, or the drop of Philippine fertility below replacement rate in 15 years, are reasonable grounds to encourage elected officials to instead opt to file bills banning contraceptive attempts to bring fertility down. The fact that artificial contraceptives are also abortifacient and cancerous reinforces this argument. This way elected officials will see that those who promote family and life (including in their opposition to the Reproductive Health bill) are not only the Bishops, as the mass media frequently portray, but above all parents, whether Catholics or not, who truly understand the issues, not only as taught by the Church, but as supported by data from the different fields of knowledge.

We Catholics should always remember that we are not only members of God’s People, but of Philippine society as well. Hence when it comes to voting in the 2010 Elections and even beyond, and holding dialogues with our political leaders, we should carry out our responsibilities and demand our rights as citizens. When we speak with our Honorable Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Mayors and other officials, let us highlight our place of residence in provinces and barangays rather than our parishes, our membership in civic groups rather than Church organizations, and our occupation as office workers, businessmen, farmers, firsherfolk, bus or tricycle drivers, vendors, youth and women advocates, and others. Let us emphasize to them that we are their constituents –citizens, taxpayers and voters– who have put them into office, and demand that laws protecting the Filipino Family be firmly upheld.

APPENDIX

Excerpts from CBCP documents related to the themes presented in this Catechism, highlighting the value of Family and Life, and the obligations of the faithful

in the exercise of political choices. Full texts may be downloaded from the CBCP website:

http://www.cbcponline.net/documents/

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WE MUST REJECT HOUSE BILL 4110

(A Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines)

May 31, 2003

But in truth the term “reproductive health care” as now used internationally, beginning with the United Nation’s Cairo document, explicitly includes abortion – the most abominable crime.

“Reproductive health care” and “reproductive rights” also include other ambiguous ideas, such as a “satisfying and safe sex life.” In. the context of House Bill 4110, this would include a “constellation of methods, techniques, and services,” the “full range of supplies, facilities, and equipment” that would safeguard “reproductive health.” It is in this way that the bill unreservedly promotes the whole range of contraceptive devices that could be imagined. Unconscionably, House Bill 4110 would even make such devices available to adolescents, by virtue of “reproductive rights” for the sake of “reproductive health.”

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PASTORAL STATEMENT ON THE COMING 2004 ELECTIONS

26 January 2004

In our own dioceses, we shall encourage local groups and communities to participate critically in these discussions. In particular, we reiterate the call to the Catholic laity to exercise their Christian responsibility and noble calling to be involved in politics through education in social responsibility, non-partisan poll-watching, in the conscientious choices of candidates, etc

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NATION-BUILDING THROUGH ELECTIONS

(Pastoral Statement on Elections 2004)

April 21, 2004

At least three basic criteria are to be considered:

First, is the candidate a person of competence, i.e. in terms of leadership experience, professional qualifications, and record of governance? Second, is the candidate a person of conscience, i.e. with personal integrity, transparency, accountability, and respect for human rights? And third, is the candidate a person of commitment to a vision and program of action on key issues such as family and life, environment, illegal drugs and gambling, justice, peace and order, poverty alleviation, education, etc.?

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“HOLD ON TO YOUR PRECIOUS GIFT”

A Pastoral Letter on Population Control Legislation and the “Ligtas Buntis” Program

February 18, 2005

Last February 15th, a committee in Congress approved a bill on population control, “reproductive health”, sexual rights for young people, and mandatory child sex education, among others. The measure imposes fine and imprisonment for parents, spouses, and health professionals who impede “sexual and reproductive rights.” It creates a program for fertility control by encouraging the limitation of family size to two children. It gives incentives to 2-child families. Women—married or single—will be taught “all methods and techniques to prevent pregnancy.” The sponsors have called the proposal “responsible parenthood” and “population management.”

During committee deliberations, the authors have also denied the beginning of human life at fertilization.

What is the underlying agenda? The central idea is to reduce our population purportedly to spur economic growth. This is also saying that in order to eliminate poverty, we must reduce our human resource.

The premises are all wrong. A long line of serious economists and demographers have long discredited the Malthusian myth that positive population growth stunts economic growth. Modern history has also demolished this myth.

Since a population control program was put in place in the country in the 1970s—with billions of public money spent every year to fund it–our population growth has been declining and continues to do so today, and yet, poverty has not been reduced. Official government data attest to this. If this population trend continues—and it will if we remain unmoved—the Philippines, much to its peril, will lose precious human capital.

THE CHURCH CANNOT REMAIN UNMOVED

BY THESE ASSAULTS ON THE FAMILY

1. The legislative proposal to limit the size of the Filipino family in the guise of “reproductive rights” is unjust, arbitrary, and unreasonable legislation. It has no place in public governance.

2. “Responsible Parenthood” goes beyond simply providing for a family’s material needs. While we must preach about providing bread, there is no substitute for first preaching about the higher truth about man.

For we know by our Faith what is authentic “responsible parenthood”: It means respect for one’s generative functions. It calls upon married persons to use discernment and generosity in their decisions. It calls for due regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions in deciding “to raise a numerous family.” It includes the spouses’ decision “based on grave motives and with due respect for the moral law, to avoid for the time being or even for an indeterminate period, a new birth.” Responsible parenthood makes parents “free and responsible collaborators of God the Creator.”(Humanae Vitae)

To our leaders and lawmakers: A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit you to write or support measures which contradict the basic rights of families and the fundamental imperatives of faith and morals.” (“On the Participation of Catholics in Political Life”, Vatican, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.) Christian leaders have both a political and moral obligation to safeguard “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Failure in this duty is a betrayal of public trust and an open defiance of your Faith.

To all spouses: Build your family on the rock of Christian generosity and discernment. Your right to found a family is rooted on your Christian responsibility and freedom of religious belief, together with the right to act according to that belief. That freedom may not be breached.

To our Health Workers: You have the right to conscientious objection. It is both a civic right and a Christian duty to insist on it.

To all the faithful—Defend truth. It gives light to our reason, and preserves us from error. Resist the enticements of false “freedoms” and counterfeit “rights.” Defend the privacy of family.

Take heart and stand firm. Be courageous in the Faith. Hold on to that precious gift—that “pearl of great price.” It is the source of unfailing strength. It is your breastplate when you face the storms that besiege conscience.

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Liberating Our Country from “Unfreedoms”

June 12, 2006

We recall what Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est wrote: “The formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason.”

What is the duty of the Church? “The Church has an indirect duty (says Benedict XVI), in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of the moral forces.” What is the duty of the civil society? “The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, the Pope says, “they are called to take part in the public life in a personal capacity in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas for the common good.”

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Working and Praying for Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Elections

A Pastoral Exhortation

April 24, 2007

“The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of the citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility of both electing and holding accountable those who govern them…” (John Paul II, Centessimus Annus, #46).

As we approach once again the critical moment of our national election on May 14, let us meet the new crossroads in our history with our best efforts to make it an Honest, Orderly and Peaceful Election. Being in a democracy, this is the Covenant of HOPE that we are all enjoined to give for our country’s future.

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STANDING UP FOR THE GOSPEL OF LIFE
CBCP Pastoral Statement on Reproductive Health Bill

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

November 14, 2008

Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative power of God (CCC 2258). The Church carries out the mandate of the Lord to go and proclaim to all the nations the Gospel of Life. The protection and preservation of human life and the preservation of the integrity of the procreative act of parents are important elements of our mission from the Lord. It is our fidelity to the Gospel of Life and our pastoral charity for the poor that leads us your pastors to make this moral stand regarding Reproductive Health Bill 5043 that is the object of deliberation in Congress.

The Church has always concerned itself with the poor. It has innumerable institutions and programs meant to help the poor. Our objection to this Bill is precisely due to our concern that in the long run this Bill will not uplift the poor. “The increase or decrease of population growth does not by itself spell development or underdevelopment”. (CBCP Statement, July 10, 1990)

Sacredness of Life from Conception. The current version of the Bill does not define clearly when the protection of life begins. Although it mentions that abortion is a crime it does not state explicitly that human life is to be protected upon conception as stated in the Constitution.

The prevention of implantation of the fertilized ovum is abortion. We cannot prevent overt abortions by doing hidden abortions. It is a fallacy to think that abortions can be prevented by promoting contraception. Contraception is intrinsically evil (CCC 2370, Humanae Vitae, 14).

Freedom of Conscience. By mandating only one Reproductive Health Education Curriculum for public and private schools, the Bill could violate the consciences of educators who refuse to teach forms of family planning that violate their religious traditions. This provision also could violate the rights of parents to determine the education of their children if the proposed curriculum would contradict their religious beliefs.

Heroic Parenting. Family health goes beyond a demographic target because it is principally about health and human rights.

Since human resource is the principal asset of every country, effective family health care services must be given primacy to ensure the birth and care of healthy children and to promote responsible and heroic parenting.

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A CBCP Pastoral Statement on Lay Participation in Politics and Peace

“Love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss” (Ps 85, 11)

July 12, 2009

2. “Direct participation in the political order is the special responsibility of the laity in the Church…. it is their specific task to renew the temporal order according to Gospel principles and values” (CBCP, “Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics,” 1997).

3. Recently our beloved Pope Benedict XVI reminded the lay faithful of their “direct duty to work for a just ordering of society” and “to take part in public life in a personal capacity” (Deus Caritas Est 29).

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REITERATING CBCP POSITION ON FAMILY

Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo

September 16, 2009

With the introduction of the Reproductive Health Bill 5043, a.k.a. Reproductive Health Bill, in Congress, truth and morality, the value and dignity of life, family and marriage are sadly made to depend on human laws. That is what is implied in the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill presently under discussion in Congress.

Gibo Teodoro’s presidential campaign: the problem of product positioning

The Pulse Asia survey for the first week of December 2009 results: Aquino (45%), Villar (23%), Estrada (19%), and Teodoro (5%). (balita.ph)

Estrada and Villar has the same message: they appeal to the poor, the masa.  Thus, we expect that their ratings will roughly be the same: 23% vs 19%.

Aquino and Teodoro has a lopsided discrepancy: 45% vs 5%.  The reason for this that Aquino has positioned himself as a man of character and this character is defined as being anti-Gloria.  It is true that being the son of two Philippine national heroes Ninoy and Cory Aquino helps, but being anti-Gloria takes away the votes of people who would have admired Gibo for his Galing (competence) and Talino (Intelligence), for Gibo would not disown President Gloria who gave him the chance to run for presidency.  If people will not vote for Gibo because of Gloria, and they don’t like the pro-masa message of Villar and Estrada, the only person that they will vote for is Noynoy.

Thus, to win the presidency, Gibo should focus on Noynoy and forget about Villar and Estrada.

It would be fatal for Gibo to be ingratitude to Gloria: he would lose his political machinery.  This is what happened to Escudero when he despised the NPC; he was left out cold.

To defeat Noynoy, Gibo must redefine the meaning of the word “character” from being “anti-Gloria” to something else.  This would  hopefully reposition Gibo vs Noynoy and the tide shall turn.

Noynoy Aquino is not as competent and intelligent as Gibo.  This is how Gibo is currently packaged.  But only 5% will accept this as sufficient to become president.

Noynoy Aquino is supported by diverse pressure groups with their own individual interests.  Noynoy’s ideas and government platform are made not by Noynoy but by these pressure groups.  He is their mouthpiece.  Gibo, on the other hand, has his own ideas and platform of government.  His political party will support him regardless of whatever he thinks is good for the country, because Gibo is perceived to be intelligent and competent.

To defeat Noynoy, Gibo must divide Noynoy’s supporters.

Noynoy’s Achilles’ heel is his support to the Reproductive Health bill.  The Catholic Church is very concerned about this.  The Church tried to talk to Noynoy about this several times, but Noynoy is adamant.

Gibo was also vocal in his support to the Reproductive Health bill.  Then he wavered together with his wife.  He will not anymore support the bill as it is; he wants to have certain punitive restrictions removed.  What is the effect of this decision on his ratings?  None.  Because Gibo is seen as competent and intelligent.  This wavering is only a sign of his intelligence.  Gibo’s political machinery is still intact.

Gibo has the support of the military, because he was once the Secretary of National Defense.  Gibo has the political machinery; he inherited it from Gloria.  If Gibo can win the Catholic Church to his side, the scales may tip in his favor.

The Western Civilization is built on three pillars: Roman administration, Greek philosophy, and Jewish morals as represented by Christianity.  Gibo has the administrative competence and the philosophical intelligence.  But his presidential campaign would not stand without a moral pillar.

To defeat Noynoy, Gibo must, like Constantine, mark the shield of his legions with the sign of Christ and cross the Milvian bridge.  To waver is to fall.  To delay is to lose.  Gibo must give up trying to hold to opposites using nuances: Gibo must abandon the Reproductive Health Bill, not because of its punitive provisions, but because of its contraceptive mentality itself.  Gibo must stop thinking of the new born child as a national liability but as a human resource, a manpower.  The national contraception program espoused by the bill will, as Pope Paul VI prophesied in his Humanae Vitae,  only weaken the family by promoting pre-marital sex and marital infidelity.  Gibo makes it clear that he does not support abortion, but what is abortion but the last recourse when artificial contraception fails?

If Gibo will campaign against the contraceptive mentality itself, he will have the bishops behind his back.  By doing so, Gibo will have redefined the meaning of “character” from being “anti-Gloria” to being “pro-life, pro-family, pro-morality”.  Character is never defined with respect to a person but with respect to unchangeable truths about man.  It is a scandal for the faithful to see a Catholic Presidential candidate receive holy communion when his beliefs on artificial contraception is against the explicit teachings of the Catholic Church as taught by Pope Paul VI in his Humanae Vitae.

When the bishops make the list of candidates not to vote because of their support to the Reproductive Health Bill, Noynoy would top the list: Noynoy is running for the highest position of President and his surname starts with letter A.  The pro-life supporters of Noynoy will then see the folly of supporting a presidential candidate who is not pro-life when there is another one who is: Gibo.  And Gibo is more competent and more intelligent than Noynoy.

By campaigning against contraceptive mentality, Gibo would cut Noynoy’s voter base into two and the presidential campaign would be evenly matched at about 20% rating for each candidate.  When this happens, Gibo can sprint ahead by emphasizing his Galing at Talino, and thereby win the presidency.

Fr. Victor Badillo, S.J. on Presidential Candidates Noynoy Aquino and Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro

Last Monday, five of us from the Manila Observatory visited Fr. Badillo, S.J. in the Jesuit Residence Infirmary.  With me are Nino , Genie, Glen, and Dr. Faye Cruz.  We were not able to visit him last week because of the endless Christmas parties.  We talked for more than 30 minutes.  At 79, his body was weakened by several operations.  Though he cannot anymore return to work, his natural humorous self has come back.

At one point of our conversation, one of us asked Fr. Badillo who is his presidential candidate.

“Gilbert Teodoro, of course,” he replied.  “Is there any body else?”

“Whom are you voting for?” Fr. Badillo asked Genie.

“Noynoy Aquino,” Genie said.

“But Noynoy is not very intelligent.  In fact, he has done nothing.”  Fr. Badillo said.  “Gibo is very intelligent.”

“They said he was trained in Harvard,” Genie said.  “Gibo came to the Manila Observatory months ago, Father.”

“Was he still the NDCC (National Disaster Coordinating Council) Chairman then?” Fr. Badillo asked.

“Yes, Father,” replied Genie.

“I know his father,” Fr. Badillo said.  “He was the head of the SSS before during the time of President Marcos.  Imagine all those money.  But Teodoro never stole money from SSS.  He is an honest man.  And I remember Gibo say: ‘I will not tarnish the name of my father’.”