Conception and Contraception: Virgin Mary and Margaret Sanger

The Miraculous Medal containing the Image of the Immaculate Conception

The Miraculous Medal containing the Image of the Immaculate Conception

I.  Immaculate Conception

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  As defined by Pope Pius IX last December 8, 1854 in his encyclical,Ineffabilis Deus:

 “We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

Four years after, Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous on March 25, 1858 and proclaimed her title:

“I am the Immaculate Conception” (“que soy era immaculada concepciou”)

But two decades before this, on November 27, 1830, the Virgin Mary already appeared to Catherine Soubirous instructing her to promote the devotion to the Miraculous Medal:

According to an account written by Catherine’s own hand, Mary was clothed in a robe of auroral light and her robe had a high neck and plain sleeves. According to Catherine’s notes, the medal should also have half a globe upon which Mary’s feet rest, hands raised up to her waist, fingers filled with diamond rings of different sizes giving off rays of light, and a frame slightly oval with golden letters saying, “O Mary! conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!” Her fingers each had three rings and the largest stones emitted the most brilliant rays. She added that some of the diamonds did not give off rays.

Mary, the Immaculate Conception, was conceived without sin.

II. Margaret Sanger and Contraception

It is interesting how the modern world has turned this statement upside down by telling each woman around the world: “Mary, to conceive is to sin.”  In 1914, sixty years after the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception in Ineffabilis Deus, Margaret Sanger wrote an 8-page monthly newsletter on contraception with the slogan, “No Gods, No Masters.”  In 1917, she published the monthly periodical, The Birth Control Review.  In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League, with the following guiding principles:

“We hold that children should be (1) Conceived in love; (2) Born of the mother’s conscious desire; (3) And only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health. Therefore we hold that every woman must possess the power and freedom to prevent conception except when these conditions can be satisfied.”

With the support of the Rockefeller family, Sanger created the Clinical Research Bureau, a birth control clinic, which later gave rise to the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1952–a name which Sanger deplored because it is too euphemistic.  Planned Parenthood is the number one abortion provider in the US and is one of the major supporters of the Reproductive Health Law in the Philippines.

The guiding principles of the American Birth Control League has discriminated against babies that were not born in love or the mother’s conscious decision or were simply sickly

As part of her efforts to promote birth control, Sanger found common cause with proponents of eugenics, believing that they both sought to “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.”[73] Sanger was a proponent of negative eugenics, which aims to improve human hereditary traits through social intervention by reducing reproduction by those considered unfit. Sanger’s eugenic policies included an exclusionary immigration policy, free access to birth control methods and full family planning autonomy for the able-minded, and compulsory segregation or sterilization for the profoundly retarded.[74][75] In her book The Pivot of Civilization, she advocated coercion to prevent the “undeniably feeble-minded” from procreating.[76] Although Sanger supported negative eugenics, she asserted that eugenics alone was not sufficient, and that birth control was essential to achieve her goals

Notice the Darwinian undercurrents in Sanger’s pronouncements: “Survival of the fittest, removal of the unfit.”  But it will not be nature who will define who will be the fittest and the unfit; rather, it will be Margaret Sanger or the woman or Planned Parenthood or the State.  This is what Pope Paul VI prophesied in 1968 in his Encyclical, Humanae Vitae:

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

And true enough, Pres. Aquino has fulfilled this prophecy when he signed in December 21, 2012 the  Republic Act No. 10354, An Act Providing for a National Policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health.

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On the miraculous survival of Virgin Mary’s picture amidst the destruction of Bohol’s churches: A reply to Filipino Freethinkers

Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary amidst the destruction of a Bohol Church (photo from Megan Young's Facebook page, dated Oct. 15, 2013)

Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary amidst the destruction of a Bohol Church (photo from Megan Young’s Facebook page, dated Oct. 15, 2013)

The Filipino Freethinkers made a video questioning the sudden focus on the miraculous survival of the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake the destroyed Bohol’s ancient churches.  Because I am afraid of misquoting them, I tried my best to transcribe (though not perfectly) their thoughts based on their video entitled, “FF Podcast 018: Iglesia ni Cristo’s Medical Mission and the Bohol Earthquake“….(transcript)… I shall only focus on their five main comments…

Read more at Monk’s Hobbit: On the miraculous survival of Virgin Mary’s picture amidst the destruction of Bohol’s churches: A reply to Filipino Freethinkers

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.

On the nature of a Catholic University: Land o’ Lakes statement vs Ex Corde Ecclesiae

Don Bosco's Vision of the Two Pillars

Don Bosco’s Vision of the Two Pillars

Last 16 July 2013, the Philippine Supreme Court indefinitely placed the implementation of the Reproductive Health Law on hold until further notice.  The RH Law was supported by many faculty members and students in Ateneo de Manila University with the claim that it is possible to support the RH Law in good conscience.  This claim  was also supported by professors and students from De La Salle University.  The roots of this claim run deep and can be traced back to the Land o’ Lakes Statement of 1967 which was signed by several administrators of US Catholic Universities, headed by Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., who was also the president of University of Notre Dame.  The Land o’ Lakes spread like wildfire and eventually reached the Philippine shores.  In response to the wake of destruction of Catholic Universities caused by the Land o’ Lakes Statement, Pope John Paul II issued an encyclical Ex Corde Ecclesiae in 1990 to stem the tide and provide a pillar of support for for administrators of Catholic Universities who cannot anymore find their sense of direction in the sea of battle. (Note: In Don Bosco’s Vision of the Two Pillars, the weapons of the enemy ships against the Barque of Peter include “books and pamphlets.”)

What’s the connection of the Land o’ Lakes Statement to the RH Law?  In 1960 the pill was invented and dissenting theologians pressed the papacy to reconsider the ban on contraceptives.  In 1963, Pope John XXIII established the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control which proposed in its 1966 official report to Pope Paul VI that artificial contraceptives are not intrinsically evil and that Catholic couples may use them.  However, the Commission’s minority report led by the Jesuit John Ford argued as follows:

“If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches in 1930 [when Casti Connubii was promulgated) and in 1951.

“It should likewise have to be admitted that for a half a century the Spirit failed to protect Pius XI, Pius XII, and a large part of the Catholic hierarchy from a very serious error. This would mean that the leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned. The fact can neither be denied nor ignored that these same acts would now be declared licit on the grounds of principles cited by the Protestants, which Popes and Bishops have either condemned, or at least not approved.”[7]

(You may read Ford’s lengthy biography here which narrates in detail the actions of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control.) These reports were leaked to the press in Spring of 1967.  Pope Paul VI, hearing of the possible press releases, made a preemptive announcement in Oct 29, 1966, saying:

It seems to me, cannot be considered definitive, because they have serious implications with respect to not a few weighty questions—questions of a doctrinal, pastoral and social order—which cannot be isolated and put to the side, but require a logical consideration in the context of the issues under study.

On July 23, 1967 the Land o’ Lakes Statement came out, proclaiming the autonomy of Catholic universities from the Church hierarchy, including the papacy.  Because of the proximity of the events, one can say that the Land o’ Lakes Statement is for the support of the use of the Pill as stated in the Majority report of the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control, but which is contrary to the mind of Pope Paul VI.  A year later, in July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI published his encyclical, “Humanae Vitae” which described contraception as “intrinsically wrong” that cannot be justified in the normal relations in the whole of married life.  In December 2012, the President Noynoy Aquino ratified the RH Law promotes the use of contraceptives.  And now, the Philippine Supreme Court still has to decide on the law’s constitutionality.

In this article, what I propose to do is to present the controversial excerpts in Land o’ Lakes Statement in bold font and comment on them in normal font.  Specifically, I shall show how each statement contradicts with those of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and other Papal Encyclicals.

1.  Land o’ Lakes: “To perform its teaching and research functions effectively the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.”

With this statement, the Catholic University becomes independent of the Church hierarchy, particularly the bishops of the diocese where the university belongs.   This contradicts with Article 5 of Ex Corde Ecclesiae:

Every Catholic University is to maintain communion with the universal Church and the Holy See; it is to be in close communion with the local Church and in particular with the diocesan Bishops of the region or nation in which it is located. In ways consistent with its nature as a University, a Catholic University will contribute to the Church’s work of evangelization.

Each Bishop has a responsibility to promote the welfare of the Catholic Universities in his diocese and has the right and duty to watch over the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic character. If problems should arise conceming this Catholic character, the local Bishop is to take the initiatives necessary to resolve the matter, working with the competent university authorities in accordance with established procedures(52) and, if necessary, with the help of the Holy See.

2. Land o’ Lakes: “The theological faculty must engage directly in exploring the depths of Christian tradition and the total religious heritage of the world, in order to come to the best possible intellectual understanding of religion and revelation, of man in all his varied relationships to God. Particularly important today is the theological exploration of all human relations and the elaboration of a Christian anthropology. Furthermore, theological investigation today must serve the ecumenical goals of collaboration and unity.”

This statement makes Catholic theology just one of the many ways to interpret religion and revelation.  Furthermore, the statement makes ecumenical collaboration with non-Catholic and even non-Christian faith systems the goal of theological investigation, which goes against the primacy of the teaching of Catholic doctrine.  As stated in Article 4 of Ex Corde Ecclesiae:

All teachers and all administrators, at the time of their appointment, are to be informed about the Catholic identity of the Institution and its implications, and about their responsibility to promote, or at least to respect, that identity.

In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching. In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition(50).

Those university teachers and administrators who belong to other Churches, ecclesial communities, or religions, as well as those who profess no religious belief, and also all students, are to recognize and respect the distinctive Catholic identity of the University. In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.

Don Bosco's Vision of the Two Columns: The Attack of the Enemy Ships on the Barque of Peter

Don Bosco’s Vision of the Two Columns: The Attack of the Enemy Ships on the Barque of Peter

3.  Land o’ Lakes: “In a Catholic university all recognized university areas of study are frankly and fully accepted and their internal autonomy affirmed and guaranteed. There must be no theological or philosophical imperialism; all scientific and disciplinary methods, and methodologies, must be given due honor and respect. However, there will necessarily result from the interdisciplinary discussions an awareness that there is a philosophical and theological dimension to most intellectual subjects when they are pursued far enough. Hence, in a Catholic university there will be a special interest in interdisciplinary problems and relationships.”

This is similar to the previous point, but this time extended from Theological Disciplines to all areas of study of the university.  So we can use the same response as that in point 2.  We can also add a statement from Article 2 of Ex Corde Ecclesiae:

Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully respected(46). Any official action or commitment of the University is to be in accord with its Catholic identity.

The “theological and philosophical imperialism” alluded to in the Land o’ Lakes statement  may refer to Catholic theology and philosophy in general, and to St. Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae in particular.  As stated in Pope Leo XIII’s Aeterni Patris:

17. Among the Scholastic Doctors, the chief and master of all towers Thomas Aquinas, who, as Cajetan observes, because “he most venerated the ancient doctors of the Church, in a certain way seems to have inherited the intellect of all.”(34) The doctrines of those illustrious men, like the scattered members of a body, Thomas collected together and cemented, distributed in wonderful order, and so increased with important additions that he is rightly and deservedly esteemed the special bulwark and glory of the Catholic faith. With his spirit at once humble and swift, his memory ready and tenacious, his life spotless throughout, a lover of truth for its own sake, richly endowed with human and divine science, like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching. Philosophy has no part which he did not touch finely at once and thoroughly; on the laws of reasoning, on God and incorporeal substances, on man and other sensible things, on human actions and their principles, he reasoned in such a manner that in him there is wanting neither a full array of questions, nor an apt disposal of the various parts, nor the best method of proceeding, nor soundness of principles or strength of argument, nor clearness and elegance of style, nor a facility for explaining what is abstruse.

18. Moreover, the Angelic Doctor pushed his philosophic inquiry into the reasons and principles of things, which because they are most comprehensive and contain in their bosom, so to say, the seeds of almost infinite truths, were to be unfolded in good time by later masters and with a goodly yield. And as he also used this philosophic method in the refutation of error, he won this title to distinction for himself: that, single-handed, he victoriously combated the errors of former times, and supplied invincible arms to put those to rout which might in after-times spring up. Again, clearly distinguishing, as is fitting, reason from faith, while happily associating the one with the other, he both preserved the rights and had regard for the dignity of each; so much so, indeed, that reason, borne on the wings of Thomas to its human height, can scarcely rise higher, while faith could scarcely expect more or stronger aids from reason than those which she has already obtained through Thomas.

31. While, therefore, We hold that every word of wisdom, every useful thing by whomsoever discovered or planned, ought to be received with a willing and grateful mind, We exhort you, venerable brethren, in all earnestness to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas, and to spread it far and wide for the defense and beauty of the Catholic faith, for the good of society, and for the advantage of all the sciences. The wisdom of St. Thomas, We say; for if anything is taken up with too great subtlety by the Scholastic doctors, or too carelessly stated-if there be anything that ill agrees with the discoveries of a later age, or, in a word, improbable in whatever way-it does not enter Our mind to propose that for imitation to Our age. Let carefully selected teachers endeavor to implant the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas in the minds of students, and set forth clearly his solidity and excellence over others. Let the universities already founded or to be founded by you illustrate and defend this doctrine, and use it for the refutation of prevailing errors. But, lest the false for the true or the corrupt for the pure be drunk in, be ye watchful that the doctrine of Thomas be drawn from his own fountains, or at least from those rivulets which, derived from the very fount, have thus far flowed, according to the established agreement of learned men, pure and clear; be careful to guard the minds of youth from those which are said to flow thence, but in reality are gathered from strange and unwholesome streams.

The “scientific, disciplinary, and methodologies” alluded to in the Land o’ Lakes statement that must be given “honor and respect” can apply even to Modernist errors enumerated in Lamentabile Sane of Pope Pius X:

WITH TRULY LAMENTABLE RESULTS, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the principal mysteries of Faith. The fact that many Catholic writers also go beyond the limits determined by the Fathers and the Church herself is extremely regrettable. In the name of higher knowledge and historical research, (they say), they are looking for that progress of dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas.

These errors are being daily spread among the faithful. Lest they captivate the faithful’s minds and corrupt the purity of their faith, His Holiness, Pius X, by Divine Providence, Pope, has decided that the chief errors should be noted and condemned by the Office of this Holy Roman and Universal Congregation.

4. Land o’ Lakes: “Every university, Catholic or not, serves as the critical reflective intelligence of its society. In keeping with this general function, the Catholic university has the added obligation of performing this same service for the Church. Hence, the university should carry on a continual examination of all aspects and all activities of the Church and should objectively evaluate them. The Church would thus have the benefit of continual counsel from Catholic universities. Catholic universities in the recent past have hardly played this role at all. It may well be one of the most important functions of the Catholic university of the future.”

This is a one-sided statement: the university can counsel the Church, but not the other way around.  But Article 5 of Ex Corde Ecclesiae says that it is the Bishop who shall evaluate the Catholic character of Catholic universities.  In fact, Catholic Universities are required to report to the Bishop about their activities:

Each Bishop has a responsibility to promote the welfare of the Catholic Universities in his diocese and has the right and duty to watch over the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic character. If problems should arise conceming this Catholic character, the local Bishop is to take the initiatives necessary to resolve the matter, working with the competent university authorities in accordance with established procedures(52) and, if necessary, with the help of the Holy See.

Periodically, each Catholic University, to which Artide 3, 1 and 2 refers, is to communicate relevant information about the University and its activities to the competent ecclesiastical Authority. Other Catholic Universities are to communicate this information to the Bishop of the diocese in which the principal seat of the Institution is located.

5. Land o’ Lakes: “With regard to the undergraduate — the university should endeavor to present a collegiate education that is truly geared to modern society. The student must come to a basic understanding of the actual world in which he lives today. This means that the intellectual campus of a Catholic university has no boundaries and no barriers. It draws knowledge and understanding from all the traditions of mankind; it explores the insights and achievements of the great men of every age; it looks to the current frontiers of advancing knowledge and brings all the results to bear relevantly on man’s life today. The whole world of knowledge and ideas must be open to the student; there must be no outlawed books or subjects. Thus the student will be able to develop his own capabilities and to fulfill himself by using the intellectual resources presented to him.

“Along with this and integrated into it should be a competent presentation of relevant, living, Catholic thought.”

The last sentence is almost an afterthought, after laying out the idea that all sources of knowledge are equal.  This Land o’ Lakes statement does not say explicitly state the primacy of Catholic doctrine; rather, Catholic doctrine just one of the doctrines that may be integrated into the teaching of the courses if this doctrine is relevant enough.  Otherwise, it can simply tossed away.  In contrast to this Land o’ Lakes statement, this is what the Article 4 of Ex Corde Ecclesiae states:

5. The education of students is to combine academic and professional development with formation in moral and religious principles and the social teachings of the Church; the programme of studies for each of the various professions is to include an appropriate ethical formation in that profession. Courses in Catholic doctrine are to be made available to all students(51).

 6. Land o’ Lakes: “Within the university community the student should be able not simply to study theology and Christianity, but should find himself in a social situation in which he can express his Christianity in a variety of ways and live it experientially and experimentally. The students and faculty can explore together new forms of Christian living, of Christian witness, and of Christian service.

“The students will be able to participate in and contribute to a variety of liturgical functions, at best, creatively contemporary and experimental. They will find the meaning of the sacraments for themselves by joining theoretical understanding to the lived experience of them. Thus the students will find and indeed create extraordinary opportunities for a full, meaningful liturgical and sacramental life.”

Note the following phrases to describe expressions of Christianity: “variety of ways”, “experientially”, and “experimentally”.  Note also the similar phrases used for describing liturgical functions: “variety”, “creatively contemporary”, “experimental”, and something students do not only “participate in” but also “contribute to”.  These are code words for tinkering with the words and rubrics of the Holy Mass and the administration of the Sacraments.  That is why one sometimes if not many times hear masses which require lots of experimental and experiential tinkerings: priests changing the words and gestures, masses held outside of churches in stole over ordinary clothes with people sitting down on the grass, the Body of Christ picked up and eaten like potato chips, and earth liturgies which are more for Mother Earth worship and not for the Triune God.

7.  Conclusion

The Land o’ Lakes statement is a statement against the primacy of Catholic doctrine and worship.  And the errors of this statement has infected many Catholic universities, not only those in the US but also those in the Philippines, such as Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University whose professors have espoused positions in support of the RH Bill (now a law), contrary to explicit teachings of the Catholic Church regarding contraception, as stated in Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and taught by Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.  As stated in Article 4 of Ex Corde Ecclesiae:

 In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching. In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition(50).

Pro-Life Rally in front of Supreme Court on June 18, 9 am

Pro-Life Rally at Supreme Court on June 18, 9 am

Pro-Life Rally at Supreme Court on June 18, 9 am

The Filipinos for Life is organizing a Pro-Life Rally on June 18, 2013 in front of the Philippine Supreme Court along Padre Faura Street. This is the day when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments on the Constitutionality of the RH Law. At present there are currently 12 petitions against the RH Law sent to the Supreme Court. Please join the rally this June 18. Wear red. More updates will be posted soon.

30% ‘sin tax’ for condoms and contraceptive pills?

Here’s the latest data on the Philippine HIV rates from the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health:

The 388 new HIV cases recorded in April were 67 percent higher compared to the 233 recorded during the same month in 2012… the April cases – 368 males and 20 females – have a median age of 28 years, with those in the 20 to 29 age group comprising 61 percent.  Except for 32 drug users who were infected due to needle sharing, all new cases acquired the virus through sexual contact, with male-to-male sex accounting for 81 percent.

The Philippine Reproductive Health Law seeks to prevent HIV rise and other sexually transmitted diseases (Sec IV. Definition of Terms, letter q, no. 5).  So how would the RH law do it? The RH Law would target families, especially the women, by promoting the use of contraceptive pills and condoms.  But nowhere does the RH law talks about homosexuals, and males having sex with males (MSM) account for 80 percent of the new HIV cases!  HIV is a real reproductive health disease and not some fuzzy add-on to the definition of reproductive health such as “”mental and social well-being” and “safe, consensual and satisfying sex life”–things that cannot be measured precisely, unless the government would require women to undergo psychological exams during their menstrual periods and require them also to make a logbook of the times they had intercourse, name of their partners, contraceptives used, and satisfaction rating in a 0 to 100 scale–and these data would be sent to the Office for Safe and Satisfying Sex which would be under either the DOH or the Office of Sen. Pia Cayetano.  Indeed, sex would then be more fun in the Philippines.

That’s why I believe that the RH Law is not really about women’s reproductive health but population control by promotion of promiscuity, with the Philippine government-ensured promise of safe sex.  If the government is intent on stopping HIV rise, the answer is not giving condoms for free to gays and their boy toys, but to educate them on the risks of the homosexual act.  It is ironic that the government increases “sin taxes” on liquor and cigarettes, claiming that these are bad for your health, while on the other hand saying nothing about MSM, fornication, and adultery which are not only bad for the sexual health (you can get HIV or AIDS), but also bad according to the RH Law’s all-encompassing definition of reproductive health:

(p) Reproductive Health (RH) refers to the state of complete 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. This implies that people are able to have a responsible, safe, consensual and satisfying sex life, that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. This further implies that women and men attain equal relationships in matters related to sexual relations and reproduction.

The reason for this is that MSM, fornication, and adultery destroys the family, which is the bedrock of our country. These are mental and social ills–things that should not be promoted with government funding but rather should be discouraged and disapproved through additional taxes and forbidding their advertisements in TVs, radios, train stations, movie houses, billboards, and other public places.  In this task, the government would have a major ally: the Catholic Church.

MSM is bad for the health, just like liquor, cigarettes, and chemical contraceptives. That is why condoms for MSM and contraceptive pills for women should have health warnings, such as the following:

“Condoms do not prevent the spread of HIV and 80% of males having sex with males acquire HIV.  Use this condom at your own risk  Note that a used condom is a medical waste.  These should be placed in sealed plastic bags and given to authorized government health personnel for proper disposal.  Note that each purchase of a condom pack already includes a sin tax of 30 percent.  This is for the proper disposal of your used condoms.  Unauthorized disposal of medical waste will be prosecuted accordingly.”

“This contraceptive pill has many side effects like head-aches and irregular monthly cycles.  At worse, you can’t have a baby again.  Use at your own risk.  Note that a sin tax of 30% was included in your purchase of the contraceptive pill.  This is for the cleaning of the environmental pollution of our creeks and rivers where your chemical-rich urine will go which can potentially make fishes gay and unable to reproduce.”

If the government would not buy condoms and pills, then the Church has no problem with the RH Law.  Let those who need them buy them with their own money and at their own risk with an additional 30% tax, instead of taxing Catholics who cannot use condoms and pills in good conscience.  In this way, the RH Law would not need any budget, because it would be able to earn its funding from the 30 % sin taxes for condoms and pills.  And oh, haven’t I yet mentioned about giving another 30% additional importation tarriff for condoms and pills? Thus, let us pass the RH Law and give it a Php 1 budget.

JC de los Reyes and the Ignatian Tradition: Politics as a vocation

JC de los Reyes before the image of the Divine Mercy

JC de los Reyes before the image of the Divine Mercy

Meet John Carlos (JC) de los Reyes, senatorial candidate of Ang Kapatiran Party.

JC studied in Ateneo de Manila Grade School of the Jesuit Fathers and then in De La Salle Santiago Zobel School of the La Salle Brothers. In college, he took up AB in Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  In 1999 he finished his post-graduate studies in Public Administration in University of the Philippines and in 2005 he finished his Law Degree in St. Louis University in Baguio City.

In this article, I shall focus only on JC’s Ignatian roots and his view of politics as a vocation.  (Hopefully, in another article, I shall write on JC’s Lasallian roots and his view on empowerment through entrepreneurship).  I shall frame the article as a response to a series of questions.

Introduction: Jesuit System of Education

Jesuit-run schools are outgrowths of the need to train the next generation of Jesuits.  Since many parents also want their children to receive the same training as the Jesuits, the parents enrolled their children in Jesuit universities, and the Society of Jesus adapted to this new apostolate.  That is why Ateneans in their early years are grounded in the Catechism and the recitation of the Rosary.  Mary is the model and all Ateneans are slowly transformed into soldiers who shall offer their sword–their time, talents, and treasures–to our Lady, as St. Ignatius did at Montserrat in March 1522.  Indeed, the Ateneo’s Alma Mater song is none other but the Song for Mary: “Mary for you!  For your white and blue!  We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, constantly true!  We pray you’ll keep us, Mary, faithful to you!”

But to be a true soldier of Mary and companion of Christ, an Atenean must be intellectually prepared for such a task.  He must study as St. Ignatius studied in University of Paris–Grammar (Latin), Literature, Philosophy, and Theology.  Thus, an Atenean must be able to write lucid prose, dissect a poem, read original philosophical and theological texts, and discuss a thesis statements in oral exams.  It’s the rigor of thought sharpened by years of training.  Jesuit education is a system of education born out of decades of Jesuit experimentation on educational theory–what works and what doesn’t in the actual classroom with data from all Jesuit schools around the world.  The results of this experiments were distilled into the Ratio Studiorum of 1599, also known in full as the Ratio atque Institutio Studiorum Societatis Iesu (“The Official Plan for Jesuit Education”).  It is a guide for how a Jesuit school is run and how teachers should teach different subjects.  It is a guide that remains in force today, albeit with some modifications, in all Jesuit schools, including the Ateneo de Manila University.

Question 1: Is JC de los Reyes a true Atenean?

He is.  His elementary education in Ateneo de Manila Grade School with the Jesuits suffices.  As the Jesuits would say: “Give me the child for seven years, and I will give you the man.”  So even if JC has not undergone college in Ateneo and trained by the Jesuits to read the classics from Aristotle to Aquinas to Kant, JC has studied the works of these authors more than the average Atenean: JC studied them when he took up his AB in Theology in the Franciscan University of Steubenville, one of the most Orthodox Catholic Universities in the US.  That’s Magis.  That’s more.

Question 2: What’s an Atenean like JC de los Reyes doing in a Franciscan University?

Oh, why is our Jesuit Pope named Francis? When St. Ignatius was recuperating after being hit by a cannonball, he read the “Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis and the lives of the saints, which made him wish to imitate the heroic lives of saints such as St. Francis of Assisi.  When St. Ignatius reached the Holy Land, hoping to settle there and convert the Muslims, the Franciscans sent him back to Europe.  And from this setback arose the Jesuit mission of Counter-Reformation and the establishment of Jesuit Schools throughout Europe.  By 1739, there were 669 Jesuit schools throughout the world.  The bond between Jesuits and Franciscans is deep.

JC de los Reyes (right) with his uncle, Cardinal Chito Tagle (left)

JC de los Reyes (right) with his uncle, Cardinal Chito Tagle (left)

Question 3: There is no doubt that JC de los Reyes would be a good philosopher or theologian.  But politics is a different thing.  To be a man and woman for others, you need competence.  Is JC de los Reyes competent to be a senator?  

For Plato, the ideal ruler is the Philosopher-King as stated in his book, The Republic.  Thus, to be a philosopher suffices to be a senator.  As Socrates said in Plato’s Republic:

Inasmuch as philosophers only are able to grasp the eternal and unchangeable, and those who wander in the region of the many and variable are not philosophers, I must ask you which of the two classes should be the rulers of our State?

The Philosophers, of course.  And Socrates continued with his proposed definitions on what it is to be a philosopher:

 Let us suppose that philosophical minds always love knowledge of a sort which shows them the eternal nature not varying from generation and corruption….And further, I said, let us agree that they are lovers of all true being; there is no part whether greater or less, or more or less honorable, which they are willing to renounce; as we said before of the lover and the man of ambition…. And if they are to be what we were describing, is there not another quality which they should also possess?… Truthfulness: they will never intentionally receive into their minds falsehood, which is their detestation, and they will love the truth….He whose desires are drawn toward knowledge in every form will be absorbed in the pleasures of the soul, and will hardly feel bodily pleasure–I mean, if he be a true philosopher and not a sham one….Such a one is sure to be temperate and the reverse of covetous; for the motives which make another man desirous of having and spending, have no place in his character….Another criterion of the philosophical nature has also to be considered….Then, besides other qualities, we must try to find a naturally well-proportioned and gracious mind, which will move spontaneously toward the true being of everything…. Well, and do not all these qualities, which we have been enumerating, go together, and are they not, in a manner, necessary to a soul, which is to have a full and perfect participation of being?…And must not that be a blameless study which he only can pursue who has the gift of a good memory, and is quick to learn–noble, gracious, the friend of truth, justice, courage, temperance, who are his kindred?…And to men like him, I said, when perfected by years and education, and to these only you will entrust the State.

That’s JC de los Reyes: the philosopher who aspires to be a senator.  But JC never contented himself with the study of Philosophy or Theology.  He wishes to be a competent public servant.  That is why he studied Bachelor of Laws in the University of the Philippines and did post-graduate studies in Public Administration at St. Louis University in Baguio City.  That’s Magis.  That’s more.

Question 4: Does JC de los Reyes subscribe to Liberation Theology?

Yes, but only within the bounds set by Vatican, as defined by the Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” which was signed by Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) when he was the head of the Congregation for Doctrine and Faith.  The Instruction concludes:

The words of Paul VI in his “Profession of Faith”, express with full clarity the faith of the Church, from which one cannot deviate without provoking, besides spiritual disaster, new miseries and new types of slavery. “We profess our faith that the Kingdom of God, begun here below in the Church of Christ, is not of this world, whose form is passing away, and that its own growth cannot be confused with the progress of civilization, of science, and of human technology, but that it consists in knowing ever more deeply the unfathomable riches of Christ, to hope ever more strongly in things eternal, to respond ever more ardently to the love of God, to spread ever more widely grace and holiness among men. But it is this very same love which makes the Church constantly concerned for the true temporal good of mankind as well. Never ceasing to recall to her children that they have no lasting dwelling here on earth, she urges them also to contribute, each according to his own vocation and means, to the welfare of their earthly city, to promote justice, peace and brotherhood among men, to lavish their assistance on their brothers, especially on the poor and the most dispirited. The intense concern of the Church, the bride of Christ, for the needs of mankind, their joys and their hopes, their pains and their struggles, is nothing other than the great desire to be present to them in order to enlighten them with the light of Christ, and join them all to Him, their only Savior. It can never mean that the Church is conforming to the things of this world, nor that she is lessening the earnestness with which she awaits her Lord and the eternal Kingdom.” (Emphasis mine.)

Ang Kapatiran Senatorial candidates.  From left to right: Marwil Llasos, JC de los Reyes, and Lito Yap David.

Ang Kapatiran Senatorial candidates. From left to right: Marwil Llasos, JC de los Reyes, and Lito Yap David.

Question 5.  Is this passage where Ang Kapatiran Party got its name?

Brotherhood among men.  That’s what the Ang Kapatiran Party is all about: the brotherhood who “lavish their assistance on their brothers, especially on the poor and the most dispirited.”  That’s why JC de los Reyes joined the Ang Kapatiran Party: in order to serve the poor, not within the framework of class struggle as espoused by the Marxist Left–many of whom are now occupying positions of power in Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s administration–but within the framework of Catholic Social Doctrine as expressed in papal documents such as “Mater et Magistra,” “Pacem in Terris,” “Populorum progressio,” “Evangelii nuntiandi,” “Octogesima adveniens”, “Redemptor hominis”, “Dives in misericordia”,  “Laborem exercens,” and Second Vatican Council’s “Gaudium et Spes.”

Whether Ang Kapatiran Party got its name from this passage of the Instruction is not known.  But the concept of brotherhood of men is as old as Christianity itself.  First, we are all brothers and sisters because our Faith teaches us that we all came from the same parents: Adam and Eve.  Second, all baptized Christians become adopted sons and daughters of God, so that we call Christ as our brother and God as “Abba” or Father.  That is why, during the Mass, we have the courage to pray the “Our Father”.

Question 6. There is a useful concept in Liberation Theology: structures of sin. What for JC de los Reyes and the Ang Kapatiran Party are the structures of sin in Philippine Politics?

As stated in Cardinal Ratzinger’s Instruction:

Structures, whether they are good or bad, are the result of man’s actions and so are consequences more than causes. The root of evil, then, lies in free and responsible persons who have to be converted by the grace of Jesus Christ in order to live and act as new creatures in the love of neighbor and in the effective search for justice, self-control, and the exercise of virtue.

It is the duty of the Church to convert each man to Christ.  For its part, it is the duty of political parties such as the Ang Kapatiran Party to work for the establishment of good structures in government by crafting sound laws and ensure their implementation.  The Ang Kapatiran Party believes that there are many sinful structures that needs to be eradicated: pork barrel system, political dynasties, nontransparency and nonaccountability in governance, proliferation of loose firearms, and the RH law.  Please visit the Ang Kapatiran Party website for more detailed discussions of these issues.

7.  Is not Politics dirty?  How can Politics be a Vocation?

Politics has been perennially associated with the word “dirty,” because it is in politics that one meets  political butterflies, balimbings, rumor-mongers, character assassins, vote-buyers, boot-lickers, mud-slingers, and plastic men.  It is in politics that one crosses paths with druglords, warlords, and church groups crying, “Praise the Lord!”  Politics, indeed, is a dirty world–but a dirty world in need of redemption.  As JC de los Reyes wrote:

Please don’t be too mesmerized with track record and political experience. In Philippine politics, decades in power and experience means political survival, immoral compromise and corruption (jueteng payola). Track record often times is financed by the infamous pork barrel fund. Then they say, “I did this, I did that…” The big question is, what did you do and what will you do to contribute to PRINCIPLED POLITICS, a term that has been gagged side-lined and waylaid by trapos and demagogues.

For JC de los Reyes, politics can be a vocation, a path to holiness, for it is in politics that one can practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy on the scale of the barangay, the city, the province, and the country.  Most of the corporal works of mercy–feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, harbour the harbourless, visit the sick, ransom the captive, bury the dead–are handled by government and institutions such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).  On the other hand, most of the spiritual works of mercy–instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, admonish sinners, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offences willingly, comfort the afflicted, pray for the living and the dead–are primarily the duties of the Catholic Church; the instruction of the ignorant is primarily addressed by Catholic Schools and it was only after the Americans took over the Philippine colony that the State intervened in education through the Public School System and the establishment of state universities such as the University of the Philippines.

JC de los Reyes with a supporter

JC de los Reyes with a supporter

8. What is the end or the ultimate goal of Politics?

The ultimate goal of politics is the salvation of man, because as St. Irenaeus said, “the great glory of God is man fully alive.” And this is not only in the here and now with the Millenium Development Goals and Happiness Index, but also in the life hereafter–heaven.  St. Ignatius tells us in his Spiritual Exercises to always begin with the end in mind.  And for a Catholic politician like JC de los Reyes, the end is the Last Judgment.  This would be terrifying thought for a politician who has not exercised his duties to his neighbors during their lives on earth:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42k For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’44* Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ (Mt 25:41-45)

With this end in mind, a Catholic politician like JC de los Reyes then performs his duties as demanded by his office, and prays the Prayer for Generosity of St. Ignatius:

Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I do your will. Amen

As JC de los Reyes wrote:

The most profound victory not only for the Philippines but for humanity is if Ang Kapatiran Party can produce politicians or more aptly, political missionaries who have the purest of hearts and intentions, who do things not for votes but intensely out of love and compassion. Those who will ‘decrease, so He might increase,’ those who will ‘not let their right hand know what their left hand is doing,’ those who are ‘not lukewarm but cold or hot,’ those ‘who let their yes mean yes, and no mean no,’ and perhaps, those who will assume a faith journey whose victory is ‘now but not yet.’

That is why for JC de los Reyes of Ang Kapatiran Party, politics is a vocation.

(Full disclosure: The author, Dr. Quirino Sugon Jr., is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Physics of Ateneo de Manila University.  He finished his BS Physics (1997), MS Physics (1999), and Ph.D. in Physics (2010)  in Ateneo de Manila University.  Though he is not an official member of the Ang Kapatiran Party, Dr. Sugon campaigns online for the Ang Kapatiran senatorial candidates JC de los Reyes, Lito Yap David, and Marwil Llasos.)