Does the RH law force Catholics to use contraceptives?

Atty. Jemy Gatdula wrote in his blog that the religious freedom argument would not work because religious freedom works via exemption:

Religious freedom arguments are by nature working on the idea of exemption. Take for example the Flag salute case of Ebranilag or the live-in arrangement in Estrada, what is sought is not to render the laws subject of those cases unconstitutional but to ask that an exemption from its application be made with regard to those religions adversely affected by it.

Hence, what a petitioner in a religious freedom argument is saying is not that the law is unjust but only in that the law is unjust insofar as it hinders in the free exercise of their religion.
Furthermore, it also leads to other, even more complicated, questions. Because, if for example an exemption is indeed granted, how then would such exemption be applied? In the Ebranilag and Estrada cases, detailed conditions were laid out by the Supreme Court that must be complied with. However, in the case of the RH Law, how can such exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives. And this within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives. If the religious freedom argument were used only in relation to government health workers, then the same could easily be cured by the use of the separability clause.
Pope Paul VI

Pope Paul VI

Response:

I am not a lawyer, so I have no expertise regarding the constitution and its interpretation.  Atty. Gatdula may have a point here regarding the constitutional weakness of the religious freedom argument.  But I shall only comment on two of his statements from a religious point of view:
1.  How can exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives?
2.  And this is within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives.
I shall discuss these issues individually.
1.  How can exemptions be given when the law itself does not force Catholics to use contraceptives?

An object, such as a rock, may be pushed in two ways.  One way is to push it with your bare hands.  The other way is to use a lever such as a stick.  Both have the same results: the rock is moved.

The RH law does not indeed force Catholics to use contraceptives.  But since the RH law uses the taxation power of the State to fund the law, and taxes are paid by Catholics who constitute more than 80 percent of the population, then Catholics effectively pay for the use of contraceptives by other people, even if these would be freely given by the State.

Now, the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is sinful.  This is an unchanging teaching of the Church.  Pope Paul VI wrote:

Unlawful Birth Control Methods

14. Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. (14) Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary. (15)

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. (16)

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. Consequently, 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. (Humanae Vitae)

Pope Pius XI

Pope Pius XI

And before this, Pope Pius XI wrote:

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.

57. We admonish, therefore, priests who hear confessions and others who have the care of souls, in virtue of Our supreme authority and in Our solicitude for the salvation of souls, not to allow the faithful entrusted to them to err regarding this most grave law of God; much more, that they keep themselves immune from such false opinions, in no way conniving in them. If any confessor or pastor of souls, which may God forbid, lead the faithful entrusted to him into these errors or should at least confirm them by approval or by guilty silence, let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust, and let him take to himself the words of Christ: “They are blind and leaders of the blind: and if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit.[46] (Casti Connubii)

Thus, if the State, through the RH Law, taxes Catholics to pay for purchase of contraceptives whose use is a grave sin, then the State forces Catholics to sin by being accomplice to sin.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines four ways in which a person becomes an accomplice to sin:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

– by participating directly and voluntarily in them;

– by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

– by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;

– by protecting evil-doers.

Participating directly in the procurement of contraceptives by paying taxes that will fund the RH law is to be an accomplice to sin.  This is the first way, though our sin may be lessened or we may be dispensed from this if we are unwilling accomplices, because amortal sin requires three things: grave matter, full knowledge, and complete consent.

The third way is also relevant: if we Catholics do not disclose or hinder the passage of the RH Law when we have the obligation to do so, then we are guilty of being accomplices to the RH Law, and by doing so we sin.  This is the sin of omission.  “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” (attributed to Edmund Burke).  But if we lose the fight and the RH Law gets passed, then our conscience is clear even if we pay our taxes to the State who shall fund the RH Law: because we tried with all our might to hinder its passage, but was defeated.  As stated in the Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

2.  And this is within the context that a substantial majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives.

Individual Catholics do not define Church doctrine: it is the hierarchical Church who does so headed by the Pope.  Even if majority of Catholics are in favor of contraceptives, this does not change the fact that the use of contraceptives is a grave sin.  Thus, it is the duty of the Bishops of the Philippines to make sure that the RH Law would not be passed, in order to spare ordinary Catholics from sinning by being accomplices to sin.

Thus, it is impossible for the State to exempt Catholics from using contraceptives yet at the same time force Catholics to pay taxes that would be used to purchase contraceptives.  The better option is not to ratify the RH Law and make the State buy contraceptives in behalf of the people; rather, the State should only at most make the contraceptives available in the market as what we have now, and let individuals who need them buy them as their consciences allow.

UPDATE 7/21/2013

From Atty Jemy Gatdula:

hi dr. sugon. just to let you know i agree with both your points. the article was just to let law students, laymen see the difficulties in translating such points into a cohesive argument for the court. and, by the way, i belong to the only group of petitioners that actually used the tax argument and addressed all (hopefully) the concerns regarding such argument.

Response:

Hi Jemy,

Thanks for the clarification. It is only now that I read your group’s petition to the Supreme Court regarding the RH Law. In this petition, your group have shown that contraception is against Natural Law and that Natural Law is not just a Christian idea but dates back to the Ancient Greeks and which form the basis of modern jurisprudence. In the second part starting at article 120, you discussed how the government’s promotion of contraceptives is against religious freedom, because contraception is not just a discipline such as fasting, but a grave sin. And you used much more exhaustive references than I have shown in my blog post. You also showed that the implementation of the RH Law makes Catholics accomplices to sin through the payment of taxes. The third part starting at article 200 is more on how the RH Law is against the pro-family character of the Philippine constitution. I shall promote your petition in my blog and FB pages. Thank you very much.

Advertisements

Cyber-crimes, the Confessional, and the Catechism

I have no more energy right now to think about libel in the internet. In the days when there are only few newspapers and books, it is easy to pinpoint the culprit and charge him in court. Now, with the explosion of social media, how would the government police the internet, unless it wants to be like Communist China? I think the solution is not a new civil law but the rediscovery of the law of conscience: no one charges the person with libel except his own conscience. He then goes to the priest in the confessional and tell the priest the sins he committed in the number and kind. Then the sinner awaits the judgement of the priest who will give him his penance–pray the rosary, go to mass, ask forgiveness from his neighbor, etc. Then the sinner says the Act of Contrition and the priest absolve his sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Catholic Church has 2,000 years of experience of thinking about thinking, and She has classified every conceivable sin in its minute detail according to gravity of the matter, fullness of the consent, and fullness of knowledge. What is needed therefore is not a new civil law but ethics education in all public and private schools–an ethics education based on Ten Commandments as taught by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

For example, internet libel falls under the 8th commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Under this commandment are the the following sins listed in the Catechism (articles 2475-2482): false witness and perjury, rash judgment, detraction, calumny, boasting, lying. The use of Social Communications Media is covered articles 2493-2499. Some excerpts:

2497 By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals. They should not stoop to defamation.

2498 “Civil authorities have particular responsibilities in this field because of the common good…. It is for the civil authority… to defend and safeguard a true and just freedom of information.” By promulgating laws and overseeing their application, public authorities should ensure that “public morality and social progress are not gravely endangered” through misuse of the media. Civil authorities should punish any violation of the rights of individuals to their reputation and privacy. They should give timely and reliable reports concerning the general good or respond to the well-founded concerns of the people. Nothing can justify recourse to disinformation for manipulating public opinion through the media. Interventions by public authority should avoid injuring the freedom of individuals or groups.

2499 Moral judgment must condemn the plague of totalitarian states which systematically falsify the truth, exercise political control of opinion through the media, manipulate defendants and witnesses at public trials, and imagine that they secure their tyranny by strangling and repressing everything they consider “thought crimes.”

Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is all there.

Is reincarnation in the Bible?

A friend showed me the following link on the biblical proof of reincarnation.  So I have to explain to him that the Bible never teaches that:

1.  Interpretation of Scriptures.  Many can and did interpret the Scriptures to their own destruction. The best interpreter would be the Catholic Church who compiled both the Old and Testaments. This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “1013 Death is the end of man’s earthly pilgrimage, of the time of grace and mercy which God offers him so as to work out his earthly life in keeping with the divine plan, and to decide his ultimate destiny. When “the single course of our earthly life” is completed,586 we shall not return to other earthly lives: “It is appointed for men to die once.”587 (Heb 9:27) There is no “reincarnation” after death.”

2.  Sin of Man Born Blind.  Regarding the man born blind, Jesus did not confirm reincarnation. What he actually said is this: Jesus answered, ‘Neither has this man sinned, nor his parents, but the works of God were to be made manifest in him.'” This simply means that God, in his infinite wisdom, allows a person to be born blind, so that God will use this infirmity for His greater glory (Jesus shows His power as Son of God by curing a man born blind). Jesus’ silence on reincarnation is obvious because reincarnation is never taught in the Old Testament.

3.  John the Baptist as Elijah.  Regarding John the Baptist, you have to understand the literary device called allusion: http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples/examples-of-allusion.html. If somebody calls you ‘Einstein’ it simply means that you are a genius and not that Einstein reincarnated in you. Similarly, when Jesus calls John the Baptist as Elijah, Christ is making an allusion to Elijah who is the last and greatest prophet of Israel in the Old Testament, in the same way as John the Baptist is the last and greatest prophet of Israel in the New Testament. As Christ said: “I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John” (Lk 7:28). John is the prophet that prepared the coming of Christ. No other prophet has this privilege. As Christ said: “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.17Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” The apostles saw and heard Christ. And so did John.

4.  Resurrection of the Dead.  The resurrection of the dead referred to by St. Paul is at the End Times during the Last Judgment when Christ will judge the living and the dead. There is no reincarnation.

5.  Christian Family.  They who left brother, sister, and parents for the sake of Christ will have more of these a hundredfold. This does not imply reincarnation as the author thought. This simply means that the Christian family will be widened beyond the blood relations. That is why you have the La Salle brothers, Dominican sisters, and Jesuit fathers. They who enter the religious orders becomes a brother, sister, and father to the whole Christian community, and that is why we address them with such titles: Bro. Vince, Sr. Josephine, Fr. Villarin.

6.  Pre-existence of Christ.  Christ is God. He is the Word of God who made all things. That is why he pre-exists. This does not mean he reincarnates. He only incarnates once: God became man.

7.  Purgatory and the Last Penny.  The other passages that he cites concerning the person who will be jailed until he pays the last penny does not talk about reincarnation, but about Purgatory: after we die, if we don’t have unconfessed mortal sins, and we we still have other sins unconfessed or confessed without doing the corresponding penance (e.g. return what you steal), then we shall suffer the fires of Purgatory, where we shall be purified like gold in fire before we can be allowed to enter heaven. As Scripture says: in heaven, the city of God, “nothing unclean will enter it, nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rv 21:27)

Even Saruman the Wise supports on the RH Bill: Ateneo professors and students endorses the bill

The number of professors who endorsed the RH Bill in their position paper now rose from 160 to 192.  Even after Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ distanced Ateneo from the faculty endorsers of the bill, another declaration of support for the RH Bill was signed by Ateneans for RH with 1465 from Ateneo de Manila University, 79 from Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan University), and 21 from Ateneo de Zamboanga University.  At such news we should rejoice and be glad: the depth and extent of dissent in Ateneo de Manila University on the Catholic teaching on contraception is now laid bare. I hope more students will add their names on the list so that the Catholic Church hierarchy can fully assess whether Ateneo still deserves to be called a Catholic university or not.

What we are seeing is a declaration of open rebellion against the Catholic Church, which began more than 40 years ago when clerics and bishops rebelled against Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae.  What was once whispered in seminary halls became taught in the classrooms.  And what was taught in the classrooms became preached at the rooftops of cyberspace.

The pro-RH camp is now emboldened.  They have Ateneo professors and students supporting their cause–the elite thinkers of the country with more than 150 years of intellectual history.  The Jesuits, the Church’s shock troopers and loyal soldiers in the bygone years, appear weak and helpless in the face of the mounting opposition.  And even they themselves are divided.  There is no more a Padre Pastells who will debate with Rizal on the truth of the Catholic Faith or a Padre Faura who will scold Rizal for his heretical views.  The pro-RH groups are already at the Gate 2 and they demand that  the Church surrender to the modern world by embracing contraception and the RH Bill.

Saruman the Wise says it best:

And listen, Gandalf, my old friend and helper!… I said we, for we it may be, if you will join with me.  A new Power is rising.  Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all.  There is no hope left in Elves or dying Numenor.  This then is one choice before you, before us.  We may join with that Power.  It would be wise, Gandalf.  There is hope that way.  Its victory is at hand; and there will be rich reward for those that aided it.  As the Power grows, its proved friends will also grow; and the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it.  We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends.  There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means. (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 291)

What does the RH Bill promise us?  It is the great Ring of Power: it will reduce poverty, promote responsible parenthood, and lead to good governance–the high and ultimate purpose that our country has striven hard to accomplish only to be derailed by the Catholic Church and the Anti-RH groups.  The RH Bill promises us a “choice”–to order our married life as we will.  We can bide our time until we are financially and emotionally ready to have children.  We can justify to ourselves that we are obeying our conscience whenever we use the condom or the pill, and ignore many things that pester our thoughts, such as the possibility of getting pregnant, because the unwanted child that can easily be disposed by morning-after pills or abortion. Each child should be a child we want to have and not a child by accident.  And as we use the pills more and more through the help of RH Bill, our power over our bodies will also grow, and we shall be like the gods who define what is good and what is evil through three criteria–me, myself, and I.  We can forget about what the Catholic Church says–it’s a Medieval institution out of touch of the modern-day Filipinos.  Mortal sin?  There is no sense of talking about “a sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”  These are scholastic definitions and modern man has no need for such rubbish.  And if the government passes the RH Bill, millions of dollars from UN and US will pour into the Philippines.  The poor shall be no more.  There will be a high quality of life for all.  By embracing the RH Bill, we remain as Pro-Life as ever.  There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means.

Wonderful words befitting of Saruman the Wise. But his voice has already lost its charm: the end does not justify the means.

For my students, friends, and colleagues in Ateneo who support the RH Bill, let me end with the words of Gandalf to Saruman:

What have you to say that you did not say at our last meeting? Or perhaps you have things to unsay? (Two Towers, p. 205)

Sincerely yours,

The Monk’s Hobbit