Friday, February 26, 2010

The Catholic Pursuit Of A Culture Of Death In The Philippines

I have posted this photo previously. It truly haunts me, as does this topic in this country. Follow the link for the opinion of a more enlightened Catholic opinion, that of Cardinal Cottier.

Church 'has silenced women's rights debate'
Feb. 25, 2010 By UCA News

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — The church's catechism opposing the Reproductive Health Bill, which is now before Congress, has silenced election candidates on women's rights, a leading advocate of the proposed law says.

Politicians seem to have "all meekly acquiesced to the dictates" of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, which issued the "Catechism on Family and Life" for the 2010 elections, former Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez said. National, provincial and local elections will be held nationwide May 10.

The Catholic church teaches that married couples must have as many children as they can support and educate. It allows only for natural family planning methods.
The bill before Congress proposes allotting funds for a population control program to curb poverty. (This is not precisely true. Ultimately the Church teaches couples must allow all pregnancies that happen irrespective of whether they can support or educate them.)

Romualdez urged supporters of the bill not to allow "religious extremists to dominate the discussion or suppress it altogether."

"Reproductive heath advocates should view with concern the deafening silence of presidential candidates and politicians in general on the issue of reproductive health," he said.

Romualdez is the trustee of the Forum for Family Planning and Development. The organization is an association of national, business and other leaders funded by international donors, including United Nations Population Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
At a recent forum on "reproductive health rights of Filipinos and the 2010 national elections," Romualdez and other supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill said the church was interfering in politics.

"Interference by a religious body in civil and political affairs is a violation of our constitution's section on the separation of church and state, and candidates should take a stand on this," Romualdez said.

Ramon San Pascual, executive director of the Philippine Legislators' Committee on Population and Development Foundation, told the forum the church should stay out of the debate.
"Priests and bishops are not allowed to become parents and to have families … and yet they are involved in the issue of taking care of the bodies of women," he said.

The 2008 surveys of the Social Weather Stations, a private research institution, found 71 percent of the nation and 86 percent of Manila City residents want the bill passed into law.

Urban poor group leader Fe Nicodemus reported that on Valentine's Day her group distributed 200,000 condoms while the church gave out rice. "Residents got the rice, then came to us" for the condoms, she said.

In a separate interview on Feb. 19, Archbishop Oscar Cruz, the church's national judicial vicar, said the church is exercising its role of reminding Catholics about right and wrong.

"The real problem of government officials is their futile wish for the bishops, priests and religious to act as if they know nothing, see nothing, say nothing even when said public officials engage in unethical and/or immoral plans, programs and projects," Cruz said.


The situation in the Philippines is truly an all out war between corrupt politicians and the Church on one side, and poor women and their advocates on the other. Only one side is paying any consequences in this war. It's not the celibate males of the Church nor the corrupt politicians. I find it very interesting that the families of those ruling politicians are much smaller than what they themselves advocate for others.

I just finished reading a report on the effects of the NFP mandate issued by Manila Mayor Jose Atienza in 2000. His decree stated this:

“the City promotes responsible parenthood and upholds natural
family planning not just as a method but as a way of self-awareness in promoting the
culture of life while discouraging the use of artificial methods of contraception like
condoms, pills, intrauterine devices, surgical sterilization, and other.”

The result of Executive Order #003, which is still in effect, has been devastating for Manilla's poorer families. Infant and maternal mortality has risen significantly and keeps rising. The number of families who have sunk below the poverty line keeps increasing. One of the top two reasons for admission to local hospitals is complications from botched abortions. HIV/AIDS is steeply rising, the number of infections now doubling in less than a year and the Church officials castigate government officials for distributing free condoms. All of this misery is happening in service to the "Culture of Life".

Although the report I linked is long, I found it interesting because it illustrates the exact same arguments put before the Vatican's Birth Control Commission during Vatican II. Those arguments convinced all but three members of the 57 person commission to vote for a change in the Church's stance on birth control.

One of the arguments which doesn't get enough play, is that NFP assumes an equal voice in the sexual relations with in a couple's marriage. Women have to have the ability to say no and have their husband respect this no. The fact is no such equality exists within the defined gender relationship in Catholic culture. This is certainly true in the vary Catholic Philippines:

As a way of coping with lack of access to family planning, women interviewed would
often try to refuse sex with their partner to avoid pregnancy. Fear of getting pregnant
because of lack of protection during sex is the primary reason why they refuse sex with
their partners. Women described how this puts a strain on their relationships and has led to
heated altercations, temporary separation and even sexual violence. More often than not,
women yield to their partners’ wishes rather than create a shameful situation where the
neighbors learn they fight because of sex.

My husband and I would quarrel when I refused to have sex for fear of getting
pregnant. He suspected me of having an extramarital affair. He would hit me
on the thighs. He left us for the province and didn’t communicate. I went to my
sister’s place with my six children and worked as a laundry woman to support
myself and my children. We were separated for one year.

Some women finally succumb to their husbands to avoid confrontation
and abuse:
We used to fight, shout at each other when I refused to have sex. My
husband would get mad when I refused and grab me. Because of these
problems, we separated for three months during which time I lived with
my mother. I feel embarrassed if people learn that we fight because of sex
so now I just give in to my husband’s sexual needs, all the time. Ako na
lang maghahanap ng paraan para di mabuntis. [I take it upon myself to
look for ways not to get pregnant.]

* * *
Sometimes when there’s no money to buy condoms and I don’t want to have sex
with my husband, he gets angry and forces me. I tell him, “Aren’t you ashamed
of yourself? You’ve got so many kids already and we don’t have privacy.” Our
house is very small; we sleep together with the kids. Only a thin wall separates
us from the neighbors and I don’t want them to hear us arguing so I just give in
to what my husband wants

Another erroneous underlying assumption in Catholic moral theology-as it pertains to women-is that there should be no such thing as an unwanted pregnancy. No matter the source of that pregnancy, they are all gifts from God. I guess this is really easy to say for men who won't ever experience pregnancy, or childbirth or for that matter, parenthood. Under those circumstances it's really easy to believe in a God who gives 'gifts' to others, no matter the causes. God sure is 'gifting' the women of Manila. How dare those women not revel in eight pregnancies in ten years.

And then in the Philippines we have the political interference another of the ubiquitous lay Catholic Evangelical Groups. (cult) This one is called El Shaddai. It's leader is a failed real estate developer cum healer who based his Catholic philosophy on the American Evangelical prosperity Gospel. Needless to say he is now very wealthy again, courtesy of his followers and the Philippine administration of Joseph Estrada. His youngest son is considered one of the richest of all Philippine legislators.

His group may be way out on the Evangelical scale, but it's well with in the Catholic sexual morality scale. The Philippine Church provides it's spiritual direction. It's political choice in the upcoming presidential elections is another Philippine real estate mogul who strongly believes in NFP. Talk about repeating the past. Can anyone say Marcos?

It's easy for American Catholics to get all distracted by American issues, but American women will always enjoy real reproductive freedom. Philippine women are fighting a fight American women won fifty years ago. In this battle the stakes really are life and death. Philippine women and children can be victimized by these Roman Catholic pro life values because Paul VI could not, or would not, place the safety and health of women and children above papal infallibility and tradition.

Nothing has changed in the last fifty years except for the numbers of silenced theologians and the number of corrupt politicians willing to use Church influence to further their personal goals. Oh yea, and the fact that now the Church is willing to sacrifice clerical abuse victims on the same altar of papal infallibility and tradition. Perhaps this is the real culture of death.


  1. Imagine all the children who get trafficked, due to this....

  2. this is an interesting development, colleen. you may want to post it:,_homosexuals_head_to_mass_en_masse

  3. In the bitter cold one can get frost bite and lose a toe or finger. In this bitter cold case of NFP vs FP with compassion for women and entire families, the Church hierarchy has lost its Head.

  4. What a strange blog..certainly doesn't give the correct Catholic teaching at all.

  5. "correct catholic teaching" versus "Good News" - brought to you by Jesus Christ!

  6. Jackie, I've given the correct Catholic teachings and their underlying assumptions. You may not like the real life consequences of those teachings, but facts don't lie.

    Thanks for reading the post, and feel free to correct me.