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Categorized | Religion

Is “Pro-RH Catholic” an oxymoron?

The answer ultimately lies in what it means to be a Catholic. As a noun, Catholic is defined as “a member of the Catholic Church, especially a Roman Catholic.” And what does it mean to be a member of such church? Does it require one to acknowledge the infallibility of the Church’s teachings including Humanae Vitae, which maintains that sex must always be kept open to procreation? If so, then “pro-RH Catholic” is indeed an oxymoron because the RH Bill not only obliges all accredited health facilities to provide a full range of modern family planning methods but actually seeks government funding for the purchase of contraceptives.

But considering the more than one billion members the Catholic Church claims to have, it is more logical to presume that membership is attained simply through baptism and can possibly end only in excommunication or by actus formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica (a formal act of defection from the Catholic Church). And if that is the case, as it probably is – otherwise the Church would not be boasting of so much members – then “pro-RH Catholic” is not an oxymoron.

Interestingly, catholic, if used as an adjective, means “universal, all-inclusive, broad-minded, and liberal“. Unfortunately, universal and all-inclusive pertain only to membership while broad-minded and liberal seem to have been lost when Catholic was incorporated into the name of the largest Christian church. Nevertheless, as long as one was baptized into Catholicism and hasn’t been excommunicated or formally defected, then he or she is officially a Roman Catholic regardless of personal convictions on contraception and therefore cannot be called an oxymoron for professing to be a pro-RH Catholic.

Now some may find it odd or even hypocritical for a member of Filipino Freethinkers – a group composed mostly of atheists and agnostics – to argue for the inclusion of RH Bill supporters in the membership of the Catholic Church. One would expect me instead to tell the pro-RH Catholics to have themselves excommunicated. However, secularism, which happens to be one of the major advocacies of Filipino Freethinkers, is not necessarily about religious skepticism or indifference but the exclusion of religious considerations from civil affairs and public education. We do have members who call themselves progressive or liberal Christians – and that is not an oxymoron. We respect other people’s right to their beliefs for as long as they don’t try to substitute reason and evidence with their dogmas in public discourse – especially on an issue where 11 women die daily due to childbirth complications. And while it is simplistic and rather unfair to blame these deaths solely on those who seek to prevent the passage of the RH Bill, a real oxymoron comes to mind: “PRO-LIFE/ANTI-RH”.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.