Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Laity In The Phillipines Spoke, And The Government Listened

Maternity ward in Manilla.  Reuters photo taken in 2008.

Philippines to provide birth control despite church ban
MANILA (AFP) - 09/27/2010

The Philippine government will provide contraceptives to poor couples who request it despite strong opposition from the dominant Roman Catholic church, President Benigno Aquino said Monday.

Speaking in a satellite television interview from the United States where he is on a seven-day visit, Aquino stressed that the number of children a couple had was a matter of personal choice.

"The government is obligated to inform everybody of their responsibilities and their choices. At the end of the day, government might provide assistance to those who are without means if they want to employ a particular method," he said.

"I believe the couple will be in the best position to determine what is best for the family, how to space (the births), what methods they can rely on and so forth," said Aquino at a "town hall" style meeting with expatriate Filipinos.

"They face the responsibility for the children that they bring in and government is willing to assist them."

Aquino, a 50-year-old bachelor and a practising Catholic, was responding to questions about how he planned to curb population growth in the face of opposition from the church.

The church wields considerable influence in the Philippines, where more than 80 percent of the population are Catholics, and has used its clout in the past to attack officials who champion artificial methods of birth control.

The church and its allies have also successfully blocked the passage of a proposed law, first introduced in 2008, that would require the state to provide its citizens with "natural and modern family planning" means.

However, a survey conducted by a research group in January found that as many as 68 percent of voters believed that government should provide couples with all legal means of family planning.

In February, then-health secretary Esperanza Cabral incurred the wrath of the Catholic Church when the department handed out free condoms in Manila on Valentine's Day.

Three bishops demanded that she be fired but she remained in her post until a change of administration.

The Philippines estimates its 2010 population at 94.01 million, up from 76.5 million in the 2000 census and making it the 12th most populous nation in the world.


The photo that accompanies this piece says everything there needs to be said as to why President Aquino's position is the only sane and humane position when it comes to the issue of birth control in the Philippines.  Sadly,  it reminds me of Tyson Farms large scale chicken operations. 

How does this situation remotely dignify the humanity of women and their children?  I wish every one of our Catholic media talking heads who waxed so eloquently about Pope Benedict's trip to England and his compassionate defense of the truth of Catholic sexual morality would meditate on this photo.  They should visualize their wives in such circumstances and then decide if they want to uphold or remain silent about traditional Catholic teaching on birth control.  I say meditate on their wives, because there are still very few women whose voices are heard in the Catholic world.

Thank God President Aquino heard the voice of the Catholic laity of the Philippines, because their spiritual leaders heard only the Vatican's voice and there is no maternity ward in Vatican City.


  1. The Philippine government is doing a better job of listening to the citizens than the hierarchy is doing with lay Catholics. The only lay folks the hierarchy seems to hear are the ones with money and that make the hierarchy more important than the rest of us.

  2. It also gives those lay folks with money far more of a voice than their numbers warrant---unless shepherding dollars is more important than shepherding the faithful.

  3. Thank God for condoms! and other artificial contraception. We hardly have any abortions in the US because of them...

    Now people can go around having sex with no reponsibilty! that should be the church's teaching...


  4. Jasper- do you figure that if scientific, responsible sex education was de riguer in the US we would have a lower teen birth rate? That without the constant anti intellectual, fear mongering RW getting in the way of schools and communities setting up this valuable resource, we would be more like our European counterparts in their high health care standards?

    It's definitely time to start respecting the youth of this country by treating them like adults when they have questions about sex, and teach them to be safe. Not talk down to them about their natural urges and dumb down the message by giving them the old anti drug mantra as a substitute for what to do when they like somebody (Remember Kiddies, Just Say NO).


  5. Think the abortion stats in the US are bad, try the Philippines.

    By the way, the Church's actions certainly indicate priests can go around having sex with no responsibility--especially bishops. Perhaps you should email the Pope with your concerns. While you're at it have him raise the age of consent in the Vatican City States to something a little higher than twelve. That sends a really bad message about how much the Vatican cares about responsible Catholic sex.

  6. "Jasper- do you figure that if scientific, responsible sex education was de riguer in the US we would have a lower teen birth rate? That without the constant anti intellectual, fear mongering RW getting in the way of schools and communities"


    All of the public schools is this country are run by your fellow democrats.

    "we would be more like our European counterparts in their high health care standards?"

    LOL, you must be joking...


  7. Jasper, the school boards aren't run by democrats.

    Google teen birth rates in the South, where the school boards are mostly conservative and sex education is all about chastity.

  8. @Jasper,

    Are you male? Have you ever travelled outside the USA? How old are you? I'm trying to understand where you are coming from. Obviously you didn't read a thing I recommended regarding birth control in an earlier exchange on this issue. Are you an indifferent high-schooler who doesn't do their homework? Or are you an adult who let that inattention to detail, lack of rigorous thinking and lack of intellectual curiosity carry over after your school years?

    All the statistics show that the USA has the highest abortion rates where sex education is suppressed and birth control is discouraged.

    Medical News Today: Canadian Teen Birth And Abortions Rates Drop Significantly


    MacKay said:

    In comparison to the United States, we tend to have a more balanced, sensible approach to adolescent sexual health. Generally speaking what you find is that the more a society has an accepting attitude toward the reality of adolescent sexuality, the lower the teen pregnancy rate is. Canadians tend to have a more relaxed attitude towards adolescent sexuality than people in the United States.

    McKay added that, ironically, the USA's abstinence-only sex education slant generally backfires - resulting in a higher percentage of teenage pregnancies. He suggested that America's lack of universal health care as well as some well-entrenched pockets of poverty also play a role.

    This is how teen birth and abortion rates compare between some countries:
    Canada - 27.9 per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 years
    Sweden - 31.4 per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 years
    England and Wales - 60.3 per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 years
    USA - 61.2 per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 years


  9. Relevant statistics for the Phillipines from gapminder.org

    1. Use of contraceptives rose from 15% in 1968 to 51% in 2008.

    2. Births per 1,000 population dropped from 41 to 25 in the same period.

    3. Total fertility or the number of children per woman dropped from 6.45 to 3.03 in the same period.

    4. Recent statistics show abortion rates in the Philippines were 25 per 1,000 women while American rates were 20 per 1,000 women and Canadian rates were 16.8 per 1,000. (various sources)


  10. Jasper displays the know nothing activity that inspired the Bush administration and currently comes from the American Catholic Bishops (formerly known as the Bushops.) Both groups have lost the respect of the American people because their ill conceived hypotheses about sex and sex education was proven wrong. Yet, they persist in their insistences that they are correct.

    There is a fixed conception amongst these groups that because they believe what they say, they are some how correct---- no matter what the science and statistics say they know The Truth. These are fixed lies or perhaps fixed delusions. dennis

  11. Hello 'Enlightened' ones,

    I'm 43, male, with a wife and kids. I've traveled to more than 10different countries for my line of work, I have a degree in electronic engineering and served in the U.S Army. I'm also in the KofC.

    Now, the science is on the pro-life side; life starts at conception. I could provide many links here.

    Also, I would suggest you Geniuses read 2270->2275 of the Catechism. If you disagree with it, join the UU church or the Earth, Moon and Stars church.

    2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person -- among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.(71)

    Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. (72)

    My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth .(73)

    2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

    You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish .(74)

    God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.(75)

    2272 Formal co-operation in an abortion constitutes a grave offence. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. 'A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae' (76) 'by the very commission of the offence', (77) and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law . (78) The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.


  12. my comments keep getting deleted.

  13. Not all of them get deleted, just the ones that scream "TROLL".

  14. Jasper this last comment was in the SPAM bin and not by my choice.

    Read Aquinas. He had a different take on when infanticide was infanticide and it wasn't at conception.

    One other observation, this quote has serious implications the church is not addressing about the nature of humanity:

    "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you."

    It seems to say our spiritual nature is present before our physical nature and that the body is formed as an extension of that spiritual nature. It says God knew us before our physical incarnation and consecrated us. What does that say about free will and the truth of our eternal nature? If God has consecrated us before birth, does that guarantee a birth?

    1. Read Aquinas? Hahahahahahahaha!!! You appeal to Aquinas about a matter to which the science of conception was unavailable, yet in all other matters where Aquinas shines, you reject his teaching outright!

    2. And how do you know what I think of the rest of Aquinas's work? Do you feel better when you totally exaggerate about that which you know nothing? Do you need to do that to feel more righteous and self justifying?

  15. Colleen, thanks for this post, which I missed when it was first up.

    This has been a running story for months in the Philippines, but has been tragically ignored in the West.

    You are spot on in drawing attention to one side of the issue - the bishops protest that they will "consult the laity", but the laity have already spoken, and it is not to support the bishops.

    The other is the global picture: all around the world, Catholics have demonstrated that the position espoused by "Humanae Vitae" is a dead letter. The pretence that it represents authentic Catholic teaching is a joke.

    It contradicts the recommendations of the Pope's own commission of experts. It is ignored by the vast majority of Catholic couples, often with the support or encouragement of their priests and even bishops.
    There clearly is no evidence that it has the support of the Catholic Church as a whole. Without that support, it cannot be said to represent the Sensus Fidelium - and without the SF, it simply lacks validity as authentic Catholic teaching.

    We must call it out for what it is - no more than misguided Vatican doctrine.