Thursday, September 30, 2010

Philippine Bishops Are Seriously Shaking Their Croziers At President Aquino

President Aquino, who enjoyed Catholic support for his recent election victory, is now being threatened with excommunication over his support for birth control.

CBCP reminds Aquino about excommunication
By Philip Tubeza - Philippine Daily Inquirer - 09/30/2010

MANILA, Philippines—The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Wednesday reminded President Aquino III that providing contraceptives to poor couples who opt for artificial birth control face excommunication from the church.
Speaking on the Church-run Radio Veritas, Bishop Nereo Odchimar of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, the current CBCP president, said that even Mr. Aquino may be covered by excommunication. Mr. Aquino, a practicing Catholic, has stood by his position that Filipino couples who choose to use artificial contraceptives should be allowed to do so.

"Well, being the President of all, you must consider the position of the Catholic Church because we are approaching these issues from the moral aspect like the unborn. Abortion is a grave crime. Excommunication is attached to [it]. That is an issue of gravity, that is a violation of God's commandment," Odchimar said. (President Aquino said nothing about legalizing abortion.)

When asked if Aquino might be excommunicated if he insists that government should distribute artificial contraceptives, Odchimar said: "That is a possibility.... Right now, it is a proximate possibility." (It does seem to be the current strategy of the Hierarchy to conflate birth control with abortion.)

The Church reserves excommunication, its highest punishment for erring members, for those who assault the Pope or are involved in abortion. Catholic groups claim that some artificial contraceptives are abortifacients.

"But right now, we are open for dialogue," Odchimar said.

Unfortunately, according to the CBCP president, there has been no reply from Malacañang to the bishops' call for a dialogue.

"As a matter of fact we opened that already before his (State of the Nation Address). The CBCP issued an open letter stating our position that there should be a dialogue," Odchimar said. "We do not have any feelers. We don’t want to be confrontational. We want a dialogue. We are just waiting,” he said. (Threatening someone with excommunication is an interesting means of opening a 'dialogue'.  Sounds like a monologue to me.)

Odchimar said he has talked to bishops in Mindanao and the Visayas and they were supportive of calls by lay Catholic groups to hold protests against the government’s plan to distribute artificial contraceptives.

When asked if he still trusted Aquino, Odchimar said: "Aahhh... we will exhaust all peaceful means. I mean for means of dialogue. We will be discussing that when I go to Manila."

But the bishop added that the President's rallying call for Filipinos to take the "straight path" should be taken "with a grain of salt" because of his position on the use of artificial contraception.

"Because the position of the Church (is) that human life is conceived at the beginning of the conception, with contraceptive pills that are abortifacient, that is killing of the fertilized ovum," Odchimar said. (Condoms do not kill ovum, nor do many other forms of artificial birth control.)

He reiterated the Church’s opposition to the passage of the reproductive health bill, which has been re-filed in Congress.

"We have been consistent with our position that we are against it. Because if the reason is the population problem connected to poverty alleviation, I don’t (think population increase) is a problem. (That) is not an issue," Odchimar said. (Maybe the reason is because poor people can not responsibility provide for unlimited children.)

"There are also other things to be considered like the migration of people flocking to the cities and they cannot find work. Ours is an agricultural country. Agriculture should be enhanced," he said. "But it is ironic that the (International Rice Research Institute) is in the Philippine but we are importing rice from Vietnam which was ravaged by the Vietnam war. Vietnam is exporting rice to the Philippines."

Odchimar said the bishops were "aware that there is much money (for the) lobby for the passage of the reproductive health bill."

"It's an open secret that the pharmaceuticals and laboratories will be the ones who will benefit, because they are the ones supplying the pills and other contraceptive devices," he said. "We will be planning our next move....We do not have police power, we don’t discount the possibility of mobilizing the lay organizations," he added. (Who benefits from over population and poverty is the better question.)

In threatening President Aquino with excommunication over politically supporting access to birth control, the Philippine bishops are most definitely upping the ante in the Catholic culture wars. Here is an example of Catholic reproductive morality being subject to relativistic interpretation or a slippery slope.
The bishops also appear to be  threatening civil disturbance over the issue:  "We don't want to be confrontational. We will exhaust all peaceful means,".  Demonstrations are one thing, but the recent calls in Mexico City for demonstrations against the gay marriage decision turned very ugly on the part of the demonstrators. 

The Philippine faithful are not buying the Bishop's view on artificial birth control.  62%, or close to two thirds, want access to artificial birth control.  Is President Aquino supposed to use the  power of the State to force Filipino's into adhering to Catholic doctrine? What kind of 'true' doctrine could this be if the secular state is needed to enforce it because the faithful flat reject it?  The Church has a very ugly history of coercing states into enforcing rejected doctrine.  This tendency did much to spur on the Protestant reformation and the Enlightenment.  Does Catholic history have to repeat itself in the Philippines?

There is another important story being developed over on Talk 2 Action By Rachel Tabachnik concerning Bishop Eddie Long.  This one is not about his alleged sexual proclivities, but about the financial and governance structure of his religious empire.  What's fascinating about it is Bishop Eddie seems to be creating a Catholic like hierarchical structure with himself as Pope.  What's more fascinating is there are a whole host of Evangelical Eddie Longs carving out their own 'archdioceses' and anointing themselves as their only accountable authority.  Long himself wrested control of New Birth Ministries from the democratic governance structure it had when he was first hired. What ever Long maybe now, he is no longer a hireling. 

Like the glue that has held the Catholic version of a pyramid scheme together for eons, the major virtue in Long's scheme is the total obedience and trust demanded of his flock.  It's a direct appeal to his "Apostolic Authority".  Where have we all heard that before?  I suspect President Aquino is going to get thoroughly sick of hearing that particular appeal from his own Philippine bishops. 


  1. This is going to be serious evidence to put before the voters if Newt even tries to throw his hat into the ring for US president!

  2. My response is long winded and will try to place it in three responses but it should be read as one.

    Lets look at the science behind contraception in general. To begin with the medical profession defines abortion:
    1) Abortion: In medicine, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus. t is the loss of a pregnancy and does not refer to why that pregnancy was lost. A spontaneous abortion is the same as a miscarriage The miscarriage of 3 or more consecutive pregnancies is termed habitual abortion. (Notice there must be membranes and placenta.)
    Abortion, spontaneous: A miscarriage, that is, any pregnancy that is not viable (the fetus cannot survive) or in which the fetus is born before the 20th week of pregnancy. Spontaneous abortion occurs in at least 15-20% of all recognized pregnancies and usually takes place before the 13th week of pregnancy.
    Therapeutic abortion: An abortion that is brought about intentionally. Also called an artificial or induced abortion. As opposed to a spontaneous abortion. (a miscarriage)

    Science over the past 30 years has shown women not using any hormonal substitutes or additions tend to lose most of their blastocysts, multicellular products of conception that enter the uterus) prior to implantation into the uterus. This can not be considered and abortion or nature (God, Himself) would be the biggest abortionist of them all!
    The facts are that over 60 % of all blastocysts never implant in the uterus.

    The RCC in its attempt to explain why they ruled out the use of BC under Paul’s encyclical after the usage of the pill was recommended by not one but two Vatican II commissions, the Vatican has done at least 2 things.

  3. # 2

    One, through the ages the beginnings of life have been defined at several points by several Popes. The most sensible one seems to be at about the time of Quickening (movement ) of the fetus at 12 weeks. This is the time that the first sensuous neurological ability is formed --- the sense of taste. It seems apparent for their to be a soul, there must be a primordial mind no matter how primitive. In other words for personhood to exist there must be a mind and soul. This makes the most sense, but the Vatican has more recently defined the time that life begins as conception because these cells contain “all the DNA necessary to form a human.” This is apposed to a gamete that they say contain only one half of the DNA necessary. The facts are different. With the cloning of Dolly the sheep, a simple utter cell composed of all the DNA was placed in an evacuated Ovum (an ovum that all the DNA and cellular internal structures had been removed). This shows us that all the cells in the body contain all the DNA necessary for reproduction. It could be a simple skin, liver, neuro, etc cell.
    There fore the idea that personhood or soul begins at conception because all the DNA is present is false. A living skin cell is not a person and does not define the beginnings of a life that could be recognized as a person with a soul.

    Two, The Vatican is trying to redefine abortion as the loss of any products of conception. They say that the Birth Control pills are abortifacient because they cause the failure of implantation. Birth Control pills act first on the ovum to prevent ovulation and there has been a recognized effect in some pills that they cause the uterus to be less likely to implant a blatocyst. They point to the secondary effect a the prime effect rather than as a secondary effect. They also do not understand that many natural conditions cause the uterus less likely to implant. A woman that is an rigorous athlete is also less likely to implant, there are several psychological conditions, depression being a frequent one, that cause lack of implantation of blastocysts, and in fact several drugs and urbs do the same thing, particularly anti cancer drugs and radiation. So many conditions an drugs make it more difficult for the uterus to implant a blastocyst that will later form an embryo.

    Here is the medical definition of Abortifacient: An abortifacient is a substance that induces abortion. Abortifacients for animals that have mated undesirably are known as mismating shots. Common abortifacients used in performing medical abortions include mifepristone, which is typically used in conjunction with misoprostol in a two-step approach.There are also several herbal mixtures with abortifacient claims, though there are no available data on the efficacy of these plants in humans. When used in oral form it may be referred to as the abortion pill. These substances and others are used to destroy an implanted embryo which is an incorrect stretch to apply this work to a BC Pill.

  4. #3

    Coleen pointed out that condoms could in no way cause an abortion. It is interesting that a few years back a Cardinal sent out literature to both the Philippines and several African countries that the pores in the latex condoms were too big to keep the aids virus from not seeping through and thus condoms were no preventative mechanism against this horrible disease. The World Heath Organization had already proven, prior to this literature, that small viral particles such as the aids virus could not penetrate condoms. Again mental reservations that are really tantamount to lying and causing death to many people who trusted the Bishops.

    Finally the original IUD worked by attempting to prevent implantation of the uterus. Now days there are also hormones placed in these devices. These devices tend to be more dangerous in women who are promiscuous or who have promiscuous partners as they promote any induced infections. The IUZD’s action to prevent implantation is no different than what can be caused by rigorous athleticism (maybe something that was an evolutionary advantage when a woman was too busy gathering food and was unable to provide for her children) and/or mental states and/or urbs or medications including radiation.

    It seems to me that the Vatican is going all out to prove to people that the BC pill causes abortion thus the Bishops are considering excommunication of the Philippines President. It is interesting to note that shortly after Paul’s disputed encyclical, there was a full paged add in the NY Times signed by over 80 catholic theologians several of them at Catholic University that explained to people that they could still consider themselves good Catholics if they used the birth control pill. In fact over 90% of Catholic women in countries with the financial resources at some time in their lives use the BC Pill. This is what the Bishops in the Philippines hope to prevent. For what purpose?!

  5. Thank you Dennis,

    I was ready to be just as long winded and not as clear about the points you raised.

    Only recently has the religious right attempted to portray the birth control pill as an abortifacient, against all science. That's a pretty nasty lie.

    The bishops themselves acknowledge about 90% of Catholics do not follow their teachings on contraception. Catholics use birth control at the same rates as the general population. Here's the part that really bothers me, a devout Catholic may be more likely to have an abortion.

    "The Catholic Abortion Paradox: Why are Catholic women in the U.S. more likely to have an abortion than their Protestant counterparts?"

    Contraceptive use is key to reducing abortion worldwide

    Indeed, in the United States today, the small fraction of women—some 7%—who are sexually active and at risk of unintended pregnancy but do not practice contraception are responsible for almost half of the unintended pregnancies and nearly half of the abortions.


  6. ...continued

    In my comment above the source of the last quote is:


  7. For what purpose? Well I suppose poverty combined with severe overpopulation creates more like hell on earth for more people. Thereby inducing more people to to turn to the RCC to ensure their entry into heaven.

    It also ensures that women remain at the mercy of and totally dependent on the men who impregnate them. The disdain of women as real live human beings with dignity of their very own remains all too real in the RCC. It serves as a method of keeping the lay men in line as well. The lay men can't be looked down upon by the clerical caste without someone to look down upon themselves. Lay women fill this role nicely.

    And my disgust is getting the better of me today.

  8. p2p,

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. In rereading mine, I could have cleared up some grammar problems prior to posting. I guess that is what happens when you do not proof read. I think that your writing style is indeed very clear. It is important to get the lies of the Bishops out. Mental reservations are sometimes believed as truth because they utter them. dennis

  9. Well done Dennis and p2p. Veronica has hit on a very important point and one I will elaborate on. I think the real issue that the Vatican has with reproductive rights and gay marriage has very little to do with sex and a whole lot to do with how they corrode historic gender roles. Our hierarchical system is wedded not to Christ, but to patriarchy and it's assumptions about the 'right' order of gender roles. Destroy that rank ordering in the family unit and you have seriously impacted the same rank ordering in the Church. Chaos, it is assumed, will ensue.

    In the family structure, a really major problem has been that when men no longer have the gender rights of marriage they have bailed on the assigned gender responsibilities of parenthood. Of course we never hear about that except as it pertains to black culture. I find that most interesting in that male roles in black culture were historically shot to hell by slavery. The greater power and the sexual rights that went with the power were held by the slave owners.

    There is a reason Paul said there was no male/female, slave/master, jew/gentile in Christ. These kinds of social ordering are arbitrary and ultimately counter productive. The vast majority of people can not evolve. They can only enable the status quo.

  10. I'm thinking about the issue of power in relationships, Colleen. The example of slavery robbing the male of traditional roles and sexual rights is interesting.

    My first inclination is to think that church teachings on sexuality are based upon a warped sense of what it means to be a sexual being.


  11. The hierarchy has never been able to rid itself of the desire to micromanage the sex lives of the faithful, but a lot of the lay folk are acting according to their consciences.

  12. The sex role has effected all of us! When I was in medical school, I was getting pretty serious with another student, but I was unable to continue the relationship because I was fearful about who would be responsible to take care of the children.

    it took me 5 extra years to understand that I really only wanted a woman that was as equal as possible. it took me a lot longer to understand how to make the house work fair and equal. i was brought up with the idea that certain things were for the woman and others for the man. Although I learned to iron, not well but I got by, during my undergraduate and graduate carriers. It was nice to date some one who would take away that burden. It took me several year to be able to make things more fair after I married my physician wife.

    We men should teach our boys and grandsons as early as possible that a committed relationship is about helping one and other and the division of labor is worked out as we live with and love another. So it all starts in the very early family upbringing. It is necessary to actively ignore and actively oppose the family teachings of the Bishops. They are based not on authority given to them from Jesus, but on AUTHORITARIANISM taught them all their lives. Remember the Church is the Baptized People of God. The Bishops are only the unelected politicians. There positions of authoritarian leaders means nothing if we do not allow them to be the Teachers of our Children in such important matters. dennis

  13. Friends, check out what is currently happening on the University of Michigan Campus.

    This is nearly as sickening as what is happening with the Philippine Bishops. It is a lot closer to home since one of my daughters is a masters graduate of this great public University.

  14. Dennis what the link doesn't mention is that Shirvell is a graduate of Ave Maria Law School and a Tom Monaghan disciple. Since he was also the campaign manager for his bosses successful run for Michigan's Attorney General he will not be fired. His boss is also a Catholic Republican right wingnut. Both of them will be looking for work come January.

    Pathological might be a closer word to what is actually happening here. I watched CNN's interview with Shirvell and he fully tripped my gaydar. Me thinks he doth protest way too loud.

  15. Obviously only dolts or fanatics become bishops in the Philippines today; the intelligent priests keep their head down or emigrate.

  16. 1. Shirvell cannot possibly uphold his oath of office while protesting as he does. He should resign or be fired.

    2. Interesting article on HuffPo:

    Catholics face vocal mutiny over teachings on gay marriage.

    3. Here in Canada the law has been decided. Same sex marriage is permitted and has full legal status regarding contracts, inheritance, next of kin etc. It is the result of our federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provincial Human Rights legislation. Most of the laws have been written since the adoption of our new constitution in 1982.

    No church or other religious organization is required to violate their principles. Those authorized to perform marriage, (ships captains, priests, rabbis, other religious ministers, officers of the court etc.) may follow their conscience unless they are agents of the government. (For example: A city hall justice of the peace is required to marry all who are eligible without discrimination.)

    From the outside the US sometimes appears to be a very strange place.


    I had to laugh at the two word verifications for this comment (I took a long time so there were two.)

    explicit and emyxes

    ...that last one is sexy me backwards.

  17. This quote from p2p's link:

    "The role of a priest is to help people understand more deeply the teachings of the church," said Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington, where Palacios works, "not to simply move with the winds of secular culture."

    Hmmm... so the priest is viewed as simply a "mouthpiece" for the Vatican.

    It's interesting how the more lay people protest, the more the hierarchy is lured into showing its cards. It's "marked cards"!!!!

    Now.... we sure need some theology of the priesthood... and it reminds me of Acts when they first ordained the deacons (what we call deacons now) so that the apostles/priests could devote themselves to "prayer and service of the word".

    Now apparently the "word" is no longer the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God in our midst... nope! The "word" has lurched into Vatican "talking points".

    They've gone off the rails. Keep up the pressure. Give em more rope!

    Oooh, word is "mutin" Give it a "Y"!!

  18. Colleen, my opinion is that the bishops are not now and maybe never have been interested in personal relationships and how to live them according to the Gospel. They are more concerned with the 'bigger picture'. Hence the attitude I've seen from the bishop here in Sioux Falls and I know he was quoting somebody else but can't recall who it was. Essentially he was saying that when the secular society realizes that allowing same-sex marriage and all the assorted other rights that go along with it ruins the very fabric of society they will start looking for the 'right way' to do things. And 'The true Catholics' will have it all mapped out for them and ready to go.

    I think that at some point they totally get away from the idea of individual relationships and are ONLY about the continued static, non-evolving social structures that enhance the authority of the RCC. They can't see individual people, they can only see stereotypes.

    People who break out of those stereotypes, or just never fit them to start with, get figuratively [and sometimes literally] burned at the stake. Wasn't one of the charges against St. Joan of Arc that she as a female dared to wear men's clothing?

  19. Yes her choice of dress was one of the key points against her. Her defense was she wore such clothing so as not to attract unwanted attention--to be an occasion of sin.

    I guess it's not surprising that some clergy would relate to stereotypes because a portion of their training was very specific about not engaging in personal relationships. At least it used to be. I still think a large chunk of what teachings they choose to emphasise comes down to whose paying for it. That's what make the Minneapolis case with Neinstedt so fascinating. I wonder if he would be so quick to lend his name and support to a group like Pax Christi who advocate for an end to nuclear weapons and the abolition of the death penalty.

  20. The irony, Veronica. Joan of Arc shouldn't have dressed as a man, but clerics can dress like women!

  21. TheraP: I'm laughing instead of crying! LOL. Thanks!