Any dialogue President Aquino arranges with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is bound to be pointless. It is not as if the CBCP could simply change their doctrines. These meetings only serve to echo the discussions the Catholic Church had concerning the existence of limbo. And in both cases, I doubt the Church brought out any evidence supporting their claims.
We must not forget that the CBCP’s policy to interfere with what people do naked is given by divine right. If the Catholic Church is indeed the sole keeper of the truth as it pertains to the mystery of the supernatural, though I contend that they are not, their pronouncements reflect the desires of the creator of the universe himself. From this, we must understand that Catholics and their leaders are simply not allowed the freedom to pick and choose which of God’s commandments to follow, at least in theory. Even if the CBCP suddenly started caring about the consequences of their unsupported claims, abandoning centuries of prudery would unravel the entire enterprise of Catholicism, not to mention thousands of theology dissertations.
Any argument the President makes with regards to the misery of children born to homes that could not possibly support one child, let alone eight, will fall on deaf ears because the axioms of each of the two sides are fundamentally in conflict. And this conflict will never be resolved because the issue that drives the bishops to stick their noses in the problem of consenting adults and what they do with their bodies is this: sin.
It is because Catholicism, as defined by the Roman ecclesiastic establishment, has divorced the experience of human and animal suffering from the bogeyman of sin that we waste so much of our time debating about contraception, embryonic stem cell research, and gay marriage. The beliefs of conservative Catholics concerning the resurrection of the dead and the efficacy of prayer are flagrantly detached from the real world. Why should we expect their morals to be any different? It is this uncoupling of the key concept of Catholicism – sin – from the reality of suffering that is at the root of the disputes concerning moral questions – questions that should be as easy to answer as the matter of slavery.
According to the Catholic Church, the creator of Jupiter and its tiny neighbor, Earth, has deemed the sexual act between consenting human adults, when closed to the possibility of procreation, a damnable offense – one that, at least, deserves cleansing with purgatory fire, if left untreated by the salve of the confessional, if not outright eternal torture. With the moral and scientific progress that humanity has made in the past centuries, we can now see that such views belong to the infancy of mankind, when our brains had not yet evolved to be cognizant of the repercussions of actions as they relate to the flourishing and anguish of our fellow primates.
It does not worry a conservative theologian that euthanasia would lead to a person’s release from the unbearable pain of tumor growth. Euthanasia is a mortal sin according to the faith – the conversation ends there. It does not matter if two men have found within each other a loving partner with whom they would like to spend the rest of their lives. And, it most certainly does not matter that their partnership or, gasp, marriage inflicts no pain on anyone and leads to happiness the couple could not possibly attain should the Philippines become a true, as opposed to a de facto, theocracy. The moral framework of conservative Catholicism does not take into account the individual well-being of those involved. In fact, the Roman pontiff despises morals that allow for modification based on situation. The only thing that is important is that the God of Abraham get his jollies off and is worshiped through the strict adherence to his inclinations by those who declare for themselves that they possess freewill.
The reason why liberal and cafeteria Catholics are capable of understanding the undesirability of the condition that some children grow up in homes that never wanted them is that they have shifted from being troubled by the dogmatic definition of sin to being moved by pain, grief, and sorrow as experienced by their fellow thinking and feeling human beings. For this, the Holy Catholic Church they profess their allegiance to every Sunday disagrees with their moral perspectives in the same way the President’s pro-choice stance on reproductive health conflicts with that of the Church’s universal position against informed decision, which dates back to Adam, Eve, and the book of Genesis.
So, what is the purpose of talking to the Catholic Church regarding their opinions on reproductive health or on any policy, for that matter? Do the bishops hold some sort of information that would suddenly convince skeptics into joining their side? For people who care about intellectual honesty, human and animal suffering, and reason, the answer is a resounding ‘no,’ because for as long as the Church keeps their ideas of sin separate from the reality of human agony, the moral opinions of the Roman Catholic Church are irrelevant to human life.