Tag Archive | "Vatican"

Sin, Smallpox, and Sympathy: Why the Church Will Continue to Let Mothers Die


11 deaths a day. From a mere statistic it has become a mantra of the reproductive health (RH) movement. No matter how often it is repeated, 11 deaths a day still moves many to action and some to tears.

Yet the anti-RH — led by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and anti-choice Catholic organizations — doesn’t seem to care about 11 deaths a day. Some, such as Senator Sotto and his supporters, have more disparaging reactions, ranging from mere denial to outright ridicule.

Invariably, the anti-RH believe they are never responsible for 11 deaths a day. Yet even if they eventually realize that their anti-contraceptive position is indirectly responsible for thousands of maternal deaths — and even more due to AIDS and hunger, casualties that can also be minimized by effective contraception and sexual education — the realization wouldn’t make much of a difference.

Because for these anti-RH conservative Catholics, protecting human lives is not as important as respecting God. The act of disrespecting God — and the Church that claims to represent him — is called blasphemy:

Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God – inwardly or outwardly – words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one’s speech; in misusing God’s name… The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ’s Church, the saints, and sacred things.
Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Gravity of Blasphemy

St. Thomas Aquinas, whose teachings also form the basis for opposing the RH bill, taught that blasphemy is a mortal sin punishable by death. For Aquinas, there’s no contradiction in killing someone for blasphemy, because he believed that blasphemy was even worse than murder:

If we compare murder and blasphemy as regards the objects of those sins, it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one’s neighbor. On the other hand, if we compare them in respect of the harm wrought by them, murder is the graver sin, for murder does more harm to one’s neighbor, than blasphemy does to God. Since, however, the gravity of a sin depends on the intention of the evil will, rather than on the effect of the deed, as was shown above, it follows that, as the blasphemer intends to do harm to God’s honor, absolutely speaking, he sins more grievously that the murderer.

— St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

If blasphemy is worse than murder itself, it is surely worse than merely letting mortals die. So it doesn’t matter if maternal deaths — or deaths due to poverty and AIDS — do infinitely more damage to people and the families they leave behind; no damage can be dealt to an immortal deity. What matters to Aquinas is the intention, not the effect; the gravity of the sin, not its actual consequences. Blasphemy must be avoided at all costs — even if the cost is suffering and death.

The Speckled Monster in Montreal

In 1885, one of the most horrible examples of avoiding blasphemy at the cost of human lives happened during the smallpox epidemic in Montreal, Canada. Smallpox was also called the “red death” and the “speckled monster” because of how it stained and ultimately killed its victims:

No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal –the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

— Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death

Although he wrote one of the most poetic descriptions of the disease, Poe was wrong about one thing: It was not fear of their appearance that kept the diseased from the aid and sympathy of their neighbors. It was dogma — the fear of blasphemy.

If the Catholic Church hadn’t used dogma to meddle with the government trying to contain the disease, many lives would have been saved. As James H. Marsh, editor in chief of The Canadian Encyclopedia, wrote, this is the real tragedy:

Smallpox is one of the most contagious and loathsome diseases ever to menace humanity. But the real tragedy of the smallpox epidemic in Montreal was that it was preventable. The practice of vaccination, developed by Edward Jenner in England in 1796, was so widespread and so successful that it was widely believed that the disease had been eradicated.

Deaths that can be prevented. By a scientific solution. That has already become so widespread and successful. Sound familiar?

Red Death and Reproductive Health

When it comes to the Catholic Church, history often repeats itself. Contraception is not the first scientific solution to a serious problem that bishops have blocked because they considered it blasphemous. Many examples of this meddling are recorded in Andrew Dickson White’s History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. The book chronicles how the Church prevented progress in several sciences — geography, astronomy, geology, archeology, anthropology, biology, meteorology, chemistry, physics, medicine, and many others.

In each instance, the story would be the same:

  1. Someone proposes a theory that is contrary to Church teaching — dogma, doctrine, or tradition.
  2. The Church does everything in its power — blackmail, torture, murder — to oppose inquiry into and development of the theory.
  3. Accepting or even considering the theory becomes difficult — especially when reputations and lives are at stake.
  4. After unnecessary delay, the scientific community — and then society in general — accepts the theory and develops it further.
  5. After even more delay, from years to centuries, the Church finally accepts the theory.

This pattern is especially pernicious when the Church hinders progress in Medicine. When it comes to medical progress, delay is measured not only in time wasted but in lives lost. The smallpox epidemic in Montreal struck me especially because it’s so similar to our RH experience. Below is White’s account interspersed with my comments, comparing Montreal’s experience with ours:

In that year [1885] the smallpox broke out with great virulence in Montreal. The Protestant population escaped almost entirely by vaccination; but multitudes of their Catholic fellow-citizens, under some vague survival of the old orthodox ideas [1 paste below the early protestant theological basis of the old orthodox ideas], refused vaccination; and suffered fearfully.

Many who have escaped Catholic brainwashing already use contraception effectively. More than their conservative counterparts, contraception users are capable of reaching their desired family size, avoiding HIV and AIDS, avoiding induced abortions, and preventing infant and maternal deaths.

When at last the plague became so serious that travel and trade fell off greatly and quarantine began to be established in neighboring cities, an effort was made to enforce compulsory vaccination. The result was, that large numbers of the Catholic working population resisted and even threatened bloodshed.

11 maternal deaths a day, 500,000 induced abortions a year, and 7 new HIV cases a day should be enough to convince us: the RH bill is badly needed. And unlike vaccination, contraception will not even be compulsory. Yet the resistance was just as intense: from misinformation and fear mongering to threats of revolution and civil disobedience.

The clergy at first tolerated and even encouraged this conduct [threatening bloodshed]: the Abbe Filiatrault, priest of St. James’s Church, declared in a sermon that, “if we are afflicted with smallpox, it is because we had a carnival last winter, feasting the flesh, which has offended the Lord; … it is to punish our pride that God has sent us smallpox.”

This is no different from religious leaders saying that HIV and AIDS are god’s punishment for promiscuity, homosexuality, and even contraception. This also reminds me of an anti-RH lecture, wherein the lecturer said that the disaster in Japan was sent by God to punish them for having population control.

The clerical press went further: the _Etendard_ exhorted the faithful to take up arms rather than submit to vaccination, and at least one of the secular papers was forced to pander to the same sentiment.

Rather than cooperate, the anti-RH threatened to react with revolution, civil disobedience, or by not paying taxes. And instead of just one secular paper pandering to the anti-RH, I’ve read several columnists and cartoonists whose opinion seems to be based on nothing but Catholic bias.

The Board of Health struggled against this superstition, and addressed a circular to the Catholic clergy, imploring them to recommend vaccination; but, though two or three complied with this request, the great majority were either silent or openly hostile.

Instead of helping the DOH educate those at risk, the CBCP and anti-choice organizations instead give out misinformation about contraceptives: they don’t work, they all cause cancer, they are abortifacients. They even said the RH Bill is worse than corruption.

The Oblate Fathers, whose church was situated in the very heart of the infected district, continued to denounce vaccination; the faithful were exhorted to rely on devotional exercises of various sorts; under the sanction of the hierarchy a great procession was ordered with a solemn appeal to the Virgin [2], and the use of the rosary was carefully specified.

By the time rosary was recommended, prayer had already been shown to be ineffective in other parts of the world. Inoculation and vaccination, on the other hand, had already saved countless lives. [3]

Maternal deaths, abortions, HIV, poverty — what does the Church recommend to solve today’s problems? Prayer. Faith, abstinence, natural family planning — we’ve tried these solutions and they’ve been shown to be inadequate at best, and outright failures at worst. And instead of just praying for solutions, the Catholic Church is even asking its flock to pray against the RH Bill, the most valid solution in sight.

Meantime, the disease, which had nearly died out among the Protestants, raged with ever-increasing virulence among the Catholics; and, the truth becoming more and more clear, even to the most devout, proper measures were at last enforced and the plague was stayed, though not until there had been a fearful waste of life among these simple-hearted believers, and germs of skepticism planted in the hearts of their children which will bear fruit for generations to come.

Like the other stories in White’s book, there was a happy ending for Montreal. But not before they paid the price. Smallpox is considered by many to be the most devastating disease known to man, killing more people than all other infectious diseases combined. The Catholic Church may not have known the extent of the devastation and the effects of their dogmatism then. But history and hindsight are now on their side.

True Blasphemy

They have a chance to learn from the smallpox tragedy for which they were indirectly responsible. But it seems they are content to continue committing the same mistakes. How much suffering and death must humanity pay before the Catholic Church finally learns that protecting human lives is more important than respecting an immortal God? And if there were a God, and if that God were good, I’m sure she’d agree.

If there were a good God, she’d take more offense at the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy: claiming to have the Truth while they continue to lie about contraception; claiming to be against corruption while they’re in cahoots with corrupt officials; claiming to be against poverty while they have billions they choose not to use for the poor; claiming to be experts on morality while they cover up and coddle clerical child abusers.

These hypocrites are the earthly representation of divine truth and righteousness? Now that’s blasphemy.
______________

[1] Theological Opposition to Inoculation and Vaccination

Below are excerpts from History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom showing how dogma made it difficult to accept inoculation and vaccination:

Rev. Edward Massey, who in 1772 preached and published a sermon entitled _The Dangerous and Sinful Practice of Inoculation_. In this he declared that Job’s distemper was probably confluent smallpox; that he had been inoculated doubtless by the devil; that diseases are sent by Providence for the punishment of sin; and that the proposed attempt to prevent them is “a diabolical operation.”

Not less vigorous was the sermon of the Rev. Mr. Delafaye, entitled _Inoculation an Indefensible Practice_.

A large body of ministers joined in denouncing the new practice as “flying in the face of Providence,” and “endeavouring to baffle a Divine judgment.”
Having thus settled his case for this world, they proceeded to settle it for the next, insisting that “for a man to infect a family in the morning with smallpox and to pray to God in the evening against the disease is blasphemy”; that the smallpox is “a judgment of God on the sins of the people,” and that “to avert it is but to provoke him more”; that inoculation is “an encroachment on the prerogatives of Jehovah, whose right it is to wound and smite.”

Among the mass of scriptural texts most remote from any possible bearing on the subject one was employed which was equally cogent against any use of healing means in any disease–the words of Hosea: “He hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”

So bitter was this opposition that Dr. Boylston’s life was in danger; it was considered unsafe for him to be out of his house in the evening; a lighted grenade was even thrown into the house of Cotton Mather, who had favoured the new practice, and had sheltered another clergyman who had submitted himself to it.

“It was good that Satan should be dispossessed of his habitation which he had taken up in men in our Lord’s day, but it was not lawful that the children of the Pharisees should cast him out by the help of Beelzebub. We must always have an eye to the matter of what we do as well as the result, if we intend to keep a good conscience toward God.” But the facts were too strong; the new practice made its way in the New World as in the Old, though bitter opposition continued, and in no small degree on vague scriptural grounds, for more than twenty years longer.

The steady evolution of scientific medicine brings us next to Jenner’s discovery of vaccination. Here, too, sundry vague survivals of theological ideas caused many of the clergy to side with retrograde physicians. Perhaps the most virulent of Jenner’s enemies was one of his professional brethren, Dr. Moseley, who placed on the title-page of his book, _Lues Bovilla_, the motto, referring to Jenner and his followers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”: this book of Dr. Moseley was especially indorsed by the Bishop of Dromore. In 1798 an Anti-vaccination Society was formed by physicians and clergymen, who called on the people of Boston to suppress vaccination, as “bidding defiance to Heaven itself, even to the will of God,” and declared that “the law of God prohibits the practice.” As late as 1803 the Rev. Dr. Ramsden thundered against vaccination in a sermon before the University of Cambridge, mingling texts of Scripture with calumnies against Jenner;

[2] The Church’s Failed Smallpox Solution: Devotion to Mother Mary

At high mass, yesterday, in the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Rev. Father Emard read the Papal decree, which is considered as applying to the smallpox epidemic in Montreal, and which was issued by his Holiness Pope Leo XIII… The decree alludes to the ravages of epidemic and plagues among the faithful throughout the world last year, and impresses upon Roman Catholics the efficiency of prayer in crushing these regrettable calamities.

New York Times Archives

To Mary, therefore, we must fly – to her whom rightly and justly the Church entitles the dispenser of saving, aiding, and protecting gifts – that she, graciously hearkening to our prayers, may grant us the help they besought, and drive far from us the unclean plague.

Leo XIII

[3] The Effectiveness of Vaccination

In Berlin, during the eight years following 1783, over four thousand children died of the smallpox; while during the eight years following 1814, after vaccination had been largely adopted, out of a larger number of deaths there were but five hundred and thirty-five from this disease. In Wurtemberg, during the twenty-four years following 1772, one in thirteen of all the children died of smallpox, while during the eleven years after 1822 there died of it only one in sixteen hundred. In Copenhagen, during twelve years before the introduction of vaccination, fifty-five hundred persons died of smallpox, and during the sixteen years after its introduction only one hundred and fifty-eight persons died of it throughout all Denmark. In Vienna, where the average yearly mortality from this disease had been over eight hundred, it was steadily and rapidly reduced, until in 1803 it had fallen to less than thirty; and in London, formerly so afflicted by this scourge, out of all her inhabitants there died of it in 1890 but one. As to the world at large, the result is summed up by one of the most honoured English physicians of our time, in the declaration that “Jenner has saved, is now saving, and will continue to save in all coming ages, more lives in one generation than were destroyed in all the wars of Napoleon.”

— Andrew Dickson White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom

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Primacy of Conscience in the Prison of the Church


Senator Miriam Santiago’s theological argument for the Reproductive Health Bill relies on the Catholic doctrine called “primacy of conscience.” But some conservative Catholics think her understanding is flawed, one of her many “booboos” intended to “mislead faithful Catholics.”

Is Sen. Santiago misleading Catholics when she argues that primacy of conscience allows Catholics to dissent on the RH Bill? Or are conservative Catholics just defensive because she found a loophole that allows Catholics to be progressive in such issues?

The answer is complicated, so I’ll try to state it simply before expounding. Primacy of conscience means that a Catholic must act consistently with her[1] conscience. However, a Catholic must also have a conscience that’s consistent with the teachings of the Church. Taken by itself, primacy of conscience gives Catholics freedom. Taken in context, it gives Catholics freedom to do what the Church tells them.

Conscience and Contraception

Consider contraception. The Church teaches that contraception is inherently evil. Catholics have an obligation to believe this — to make it part of their conscience. When a Catholic fails to believe this — or hold it as definitive — she is fully responsible for this sin (failure to believe) and is no longer in full communion with the Church[2]. When she uses a condom, she acts according to her conscience. Due to primacy of conscience, the sinful action cannot be fully blamed on her — she’s only fully responsible for the sin of doubt.

Yes, she had freedom to use contraception — she does have free will (another complicated doctrine) — and was even right in doing so according to primacy of conscience. But she did not have freedom to believe that contraception was OK — primacy of conscience only applies to actions, not beliefs.

In a nutshell, it was right to act according to her conscience, but wrong to form her conscience independent of the Church.

Cardinal Pell

Conscience and Confusion

If I failed to explain that simply enough, you can’t blame me — primacy of conscience is one of the most easily misunderstood Catholic doctrines. This is why Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Melbourne, has been fighting against the doctrine for years:

“The doctrine of the primacy of conscience should be quietly ditched . . . because too many Catholic youngsters have concluded that values are personal inventions.” Furthermore, the primacy of conscience is “a dangerous and misleading myth.” In fact, according to Pell, “in the Catholic scheme of things, there’s no such thing as primacy of conscience.”

Cardinal Pell is not alone. Although he doesn’t want to ditch the doctrine, Pope John Paul II understands how misleading this doctrine can be:

There is a tendency to grant to the individual conscience the prerogative of independently determining the criteria of good and evil and then acting accordingly… To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgment is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience.

— Pope John Paul II, Papal Encyclical Veritatis Splendor

The Vatican also acknowledges this confusion by warning of the “mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching [emphasis mine]” which leads to erroneous judgment.

Conscience and Obligation

As Pope John Paul II explained, the confusion comes from extending primacy of conscience from the realm of actions to the realm of beliefs. And because one acts as one believes, Catholics have the obligation to educate their beliefs first:

Although each individual has a right to be respected in his own journey in search of the truth, there exists a prior moral obligation, and a grave one at that, to seek the truth and to adhere to it once it is known. As Cardinal John Henry Newman, that outstanding defender of the rights of conscience, forcefully put it: “Conscience has rights because it has duties”

Here Pope John Paul II explains that Catholics have a right to follow their conscience because they have a duty to follow the Church. And in case you’re wondering why I equated seeking the truth with following the Church, he made it very clear:

The Church’s Magisterium also teaches the faithful specific particular precepts and requires that they consider them in conscience as morally binding… When people ask the Church the questions raised by their consciences, when the faithful in the Church turn to their Bishops and Pastors, the Church’s reply contains the voice of Jesus Christ, the voice of the truth about good and evil.

But what about the current pope? Like many progressive Catholics, Sen. Santiago often uses Pope Benedict’s following statement:

Above the pope as an expression of the binding claim of church authority,” writes Ratzinger, stands one’s own conscience, which has to be obeyed first of all, if need be against the demands of church authority.

But that’s only part of the picture. Taken by itself, it does seem like the pope’s statement allows Catholics to dissent. But taken in context, Pope Benedict’s statement is consistent with those of Pope John Paul II and official Vatican teaching. He explains that although following conscience is a duty and is never wrong, informing conscience is also a duty, and neglecting to do so is always wrong:

It is never wrong to follow the convictions one has arrived at—in fact, one must do so. But it can very well be wrong to have come to such askew convictions in the first place… The guilt lies then in a different place, much deeper—not in the present act, not in the present judgment of conscience but in the neglect of my being which made me deaf to the internal promptings of truth. For this reason, criminals of conviction like Hitler and Stalin are guilty.

— Pope Benedict XVI (then Fr. Ratzinger) while serving as Chair of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Tübingen in 1968

Conscience and Clarification

There are two variables at play here. Let’s call them the two duties of conscience:

  1. Educate your conscience.
  2. Obey your conscience.

Chains Church

Primacy of conscience only applies to the second duty, and fulfilling it is not complicated: following your conscience is right, not following it is wrong. But primacy of conscience does not apply to the first duty. For this, primacy of Church is the rule: believing the Church is right, not believing it is wrong. With this, we come up with the duties of conscience according to the Catholic Church:

  1. Believe what the Church says should be in your conscience.
  2. Obey your conscience.

And if your conscience is consistent with what the Church says — and Catholics have a moral obligation to ensure this[2] — then we finally have this:

  1. Obey the Church.

Where did the primacy of conscience go? This is what our investigation has finally revealed. In the words of Cardinal Pell, “in the Catholic scheme of things, there’s no such thing as primacy of conscience.” At least not in any meaningful sense that actually grants Catholics freedom. Because as Rosa Luxemburg said, freedom is always the freedom of dissenters.

In the Catholic scheme of things, Catholics have a duty to obey the Church. But the clergy won’t tell you this. They’d prefer to tell the laity that their only duty is to believe, and I think progressive Catholics would prefer this, too. Why? Because Catholics are proud and even honored to be called believers. What do you call someone who is bound to obey?

_______

[1] I’ll use the female pronoun because it’s RH and also to remind you that we’re celebrating 100 years of International Women’s Day.
[2] The Catholic Church requires all Catholics to accept three kinds of truths:

  1. truths that are divinely revealed or dogmatic teachings
  2. truths that are taught infallibly by the Pope or the authentic ordinary Magisterium (also called the ordinary universal Magisterium) or definitive doctrines; and
  3. truths that are taught fallibly (in a non-definitive way) but authoritatively by the Pope or the authentic ordinary Magisterium or authoritative, non-definitive doctrines.

You must be wondering why truths should even be categorized. Isn’t something either truth or not truth at all? The reason is there are different degrees of acceptance required for each truth — and corresponding punishments for failing to do so:

  1. dogmatic teachings are to be believed; failing to believe is heresy, which warrants automatic excommunication.
  2. definitive doctrines are to be held definitively; failing to hold definitively excludes Catholics from full communion with the Church. I wrote about the implications of this in “The Penalty for Pro-RH Catholics.”
  3. authoritative, non-definitive doctrines are to be accepted at a level that matches the importance of the doctrine; failing to accept warrants punishment of the same level, depending on the importance of the doctrine.

[3] Source of the Satu Mare Chains Church image.

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Who I am Today


This article was originally published in the author’s “Second Wind” column in the Philippine Star, on August 31, 2011. She was kind enough to let us repost it here.

It was 1966, a few weeks after Holy Week. My grandmother was dying of cancer. I decided to go to confession and communion. I was only 22 years old. So I went to church and headed for the confessional. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been eight months since my last confession. You did not do your Easter duty! How could you wait that long without going to confession? The old white priest shouted. I got up and left and never went to confession again. That was 45 years ago. That was when I began to lose my Catholic faith.

Nevertheless…It was 1974 and we were in Rome. We decided to go see the Pope in his auditorium. Our guide got us the cheapest tickets saying he could have us moved up once we got there. I saw him discreetly slip some money into one of the Swiss guards’ hands and we were allowed to move up. Then I still believed — or better yet, I did not question — the infallibility or the greatness of the Pope. I waited patiently studying the audience. Quite a few nuns and little children, tourists and pilgrims. We were told to hold up our rosaries for the Pope’s blessings. Someone behind me said that would increase the price of the rosary.

 

Then the Pope entered, carried in by Swiss guards. He sat on a gilt chair and was carried on the shoulders of men. The nuns began to scream and applaud. This jolted me. I expected some reverence. This was not a Mick Jagger (the rock star then, today Justin Beiber) concert. This was Pope Paul VI, one of the forgettable ones. I would have screamed that way if I saw Elvis Presley gyrate a meter in front of me. But, please, this is the Pope. The nuns, rapture written all over their faces, some of them with tears streaming down their cheeks, continued to scream. Viva il Papa. Viva Il Papa. The only thing that popped into my mind was a quote: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

They set the dais that bore the small Pope near the papal chair at the center of the stage. They helped the Pope out of his carried chair into his stage-center chair. He sat down and lifted his feet. They carried the dais off the stage but the Pope still had his feet sort of lifted in the air. Then a boy came with a red velvet cushion. He set in down at the Pope’s feet. The Pope put his feet down on the cushion. There on the right side, lower than the cushion — my faith crashed and broke into pieces. Jesus Christ, who to me the Pope represented, walked the desert sands either in sandals or barefoot. What is the point of the Pope wearing embroidered shoes and refusing to set down his feet on the red carpet? Why did he need a red cushion? To me, there was no point and it even bordered on — for lack of a better word — something almost sacrilegious.

But never mind. I returned to Manila, still went to Sunday Mass but I was going as a matter of form. I was not ready to admit it, but my heart was not with me. Only my body was at Mass. At some point I had to see one of the monsignors usually in the news now because I was trying to get my marriage annulled. All I remember is he asked for my consent to an appeal to annul the marriage for some apostolic reason. I cannot now remember what he said and it doesn’t matter. What matters is I did not get the annulment so as far as the church is concerned I am still married to my husband who has converted to another faith and married somebody else with my full consent.

Once again, never mind. I was confined in the hospital undergoing a major checkup because I was quite sick. My significant other then, who has since passed away, called to say he was sending over an ecclesiastical lawyer from Rome whom his associate had recommended. This lawyer had gotten her annulment done for her. Please see him, the significant other said, and tell me what you think. Having no other choice, I did see him. He arrived in the middle of the afternoon.

In short he offered to get me a Roman marriage annulment for US$15,000 or about P300,000. This was in 1977. That was a lot of money then. Would I spend that much to buy a church annulment? Thank you, I said, I will call you. I did not call him. That afternoon, watching his back disappear through my hospital room’s doors I wondered —what kind of a church sells its annulments? Whatever the answer, I don’t want to belong to it. It feels as corrupt as the government.

But I have been most respectful. I have relatives who belong to the Catholic Church, I did not tell them that I considered myself out of it. I still believe in a power greater than me. The entity I call God I think is a spirit who lives in me and with me, who keeps me company, fills my home with his presence. He has two rules. He tells me to love myself and to love others, to do good for them. And that’s the way I live.

Furthermore, I realized late in my life that the Catholic Church in the Philippines ordered Jose Rizal executed and never once apologized for it. I think they should apologize for their cruel misdeed. But they never have. Anyway, to me, all religions are man-made, a way for man to discipline himself without taking responsibility, actually an escape from responsibility. I think I am now, if I have to be anything at all, what other people call a freethinker. I think therefore I am and I take full responsibility for myself.

That’s who I am today.

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My Dear Catholic, Stop Being Catholic


My Dear Catholic,

When an adult male has an overwhelming need to put his penis into the mouth, anus or vagina of a child, there is clearly something wrong with his being and he must be considered a danger to society.

Unfortunately, the leaders of your beloved religion — including the Pope — have decided that instead of seeking punishment for people who use children as sex toys, they should instead protect them. In fact, since 2004 the Roman Catholic Church has spent over $2,700,000,000 or P108,000,000,000 to address clergy sex abuse.

That money came from believers like you, dear Catholic. So, in essence, you are actually funding operations that keep people who like playing with little boys’ penises out of jail.

Another project that you might have unintentionally helped fund is a bogus research report that makes up excuses as to why certain members of the clergy were sexually involved with little boys and girls. That report cost $1,200,000. That report claims that certain members of the clergy put their penises in the mouths, anuses, or vaginas of little children because it was common practice in the seventies.

Now, I have often asked myself — what kind of logic would propel a person to protect grown-ups who put their penises into the mouths of children? Better yet, what kind of person would help fund organizations which allow for such practices?

So, my dear Catholic, why do you give money to an organization which uses its resources to keep people who force-fuck children in the mouth out of jail, and funds bogus reports to justify and rationalize force-fucking children in the mouth?

To make things worse, my dear Catholic, the influence of your church is more pronounced in countries like the Philippines, whose majority is composed of Catholics. There, politicians are often manipulated and coerced into making dumb nation-sabotaging decisions because they’re afraid that if they cross your “Mother Church,” they would lose Catholic support.

My dear Catholic, I’m not saying that all of you are stupid or immoral. Some of you are not stupid at all. In fact, many of you, Catholics, are personal friends and family members of mine. Some of you have told me that you, like me, are disgusted about the child-fucking propagated and tolerated by the highest officials of the Roman Catholic clergy.

Because some of your religious leaders seem to have no problem with grown-ups having sex with children, several of you, my dear Catholic, have suggested that maybe it’s time for a new brand of Catholicism to emerge; a type of Catholicism that does not acknowledge the infallibility of the Pope; one that condemns the Vatican’s attempt to cover-up sex scandals; one that doesn’t hate homosexuals; one that respects the secular conditions of our constitution; and one that relies on common sense and not a primitive book to determine proper human conduct.

Fortunately, my dear Catholic, such a belief system no longer needs to be created because it already exists. It already has a name. It’s called common human decency, also known, in academic circles, as basic human ethics.

The wonderful thing about basic human ethics is that you don’t have to do rituals, or go to a church, or give money to a church, or pray. You just have to use your brain to evaluate which behaviors should and should not be done.

Here’s an example of how ethics work. Below is a list of several human behaviors. Together let us select which ones should be done, and which ones should not:

a) Requesting expensive luxury cars from a government organization when 70% of your fellow Filipinos live below the poverty line.
b) Hampering progressive policies that may benefit your nation.
c) Promoting intolerance towards the LGBT community.
d) Raping young children.
e) Protecting people who rape young children.

Regardless of what religion you subscribe to, regardless of the gender you identify with, and regardless of which country you were born in, if you have been using your brain well, you might have realized that the behaviors mentioned above fall into the category of “Things You Should Not Do.” You don’t have to be Catholic to know that. You don’t have to be Catholic to be a good person.

The truth is, you don’t have to be Catholic at all.

No, seriously. You don’t.

Think of it this way, many of the things you are doing right now, as a Catholic, can still be accomplished without being Catholic. If you’re a person who benefits from religious beliefs, there are hundreds of other Christian and non-Christian religions and belief systems that you can adhere to that are far more ethical and progressive than Catholicism.

You can still pray. You can still give to charity. You can still believe in Jesus, if you want to. The only difference is, if you are not Catholic, you are not contributing to the protection of child molesters all over the world. Sounds good, right?

The thing about Catholicism is that its premise, by itself, exists as a false dilemma: “Either you listen to the Pope, or you burn in hell forever.” That’s Catholicism in a nutshell. The premise of that religion is that you have to agree with a man who prioritizes the image of his organization over the safety and well-being of innocent children by protecting child molesters instead of bringing them to justice. Or you will go to hell.

That is one of the main foundations of your Catholic religion — the belief that regardless of how wrong the Pope is, he is right, because he can’t be wrong. Now, if you can’t accept that premise, then why call yourself Catholic at all? That’s like calling yourself a Nazi while saying that you don’t agree with “the Hitler part.”

My dear Catholic, I’m not asking you to be an atheist. Neither am I prescribing a particular religion that you should adopt. All I’m saying is that Catholicism is unethical and that it causes more harm to society than good. So at the very least, I implore you my dear Catholic, to stop being Catholic.

Sincerely,
A Formerly Catholic Non-Catholic

(Image taken from innocentvoicesuk)

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CBCP trademarks the term “Catholic”


Manila, Philippines — In response to the existence of Catholics™ for RH (C4RH), the Catholic™ Bishops Conference of the Philippines have trademarked the term, “Catholic™.”

An official of the CBCP said Monday that the term “Catholic™” is reserved for those who obey the Pope’s teachings and are granted an official license by the Vatican through its newly formed franchising agent in the Philippines, the CBCP Commission on Franchising and Life (COFAL). COFAL recently filed a complaint with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines against C4RH.

“Catholics™ for RH are not authentic,” added Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, COFAL president. “They are not recognized as Catholics™.” Last week, Archbishop Palma refused to meet members of the group unless it changed its name. “Either they change the ‘Catholic™’ part or they change the ‘for RH’ part. As it stands their name is an oxymoron, let alone illegal.”

In accordance with the guidelines of COFAL, Laguna Bishop Leo Drona, COFAL vice-president, issued a “clarificatory note for the guidance of all Catholics™ so that they may not be deceived or misled by C4RH.”

Bishop Drona added that COFAL “does not consider nor recognize this group to be an authentically Catholic™ association or group since it espouses and supports a stand contrary and in direct opposition to the magisterial teachings of the Church. Their group violates not only Canon laws but intellectual property laws as well.”

According to Drona, trademarking the term prevents the formation of other groups such as Catholics™ for Divorce, Catholics™ for Abortion, Catholics™ for Euthanasia, Catholics™ for LGBT rights, and Catholics™ for Choice.

Because of the CBCP’s recent actions, some Catholics™ said that they’d leave the Catholic™ Church and form their own.

COFAL President Palma casually dismissed these threats. “They can do whatever they want in their own church but it is useless,” said Arhbishop Palma. “The sacraments, the prayers, even the bread and wine have no holiness or power unless properly franchised by the Catholic™ Church.”

COFAL have recently filed applications to trademark the terms “moral,” “family,” and “life.”

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Pope updates stance on secularism with new catechism


VATICAN CITY — To adapt to the varying needs of Catholics all over the world, Pope Benedict XVI has revised the Vatican’s position on secularism, releasing his latest catechism, Contextual Secularism in a Changing World.

According to the Pope, Contextual Secularism ensures that “Catholics get the degree of secularism suited to their particular needs.”

In response to the revised guidelines, the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference has already demanded that their country implement absolute secularism, a measure previously considered gravely erroneous by the Catholic Church.

“We support the political process without any armed or religious interference,” the Pakistan Bishops said in a statement issued in Lahore. “It is imperative to separate religion from state matters.”

The Pope also urged the government to repeal theocratic blasphemy laws, which have caused unspeakable fear, suffering, and death to many Catholics in Pakistan, a clear violation of separation of church and state. “Violations of secularism must always be avoided when it harms Catholics,” the Pope added.

The actions of the Pope and the Pakistan Bishops are in line with Contextual Secularism, which mandates “that countries wherein Catholics are persecuted for their religion should implement the strongest form of secularism possible.” The call for secularism automatically applies to all predominantly Muslim countries.

“We must always adapt to the ever-shifting socio-political landscape,” the Pope said. He explained that if a Muslim country such as Pakistan were to become predominantly Catholic, the calls for secularism would stop and be replaced by the appropriate stipulations in Contextual Secularism.

The Pope, however, warns that Catholic countries ban all “aggressive forms of secularism,” such as the brand practiced in Britain, especially when secularism lets society freely criticize Catholics, who are a minority in that country.

“To the extent that secularism threatens Catholicism, it becomes anathema.” the Pope said. “Secularism should only be used to protect and promote the faith — never to diminish it.”

The ban on secularism extends to predominantly Catholic countries. The bishops of Malta and the Philippines have readily embraced Contextual Secularism, which mandates “that countries wherein Catholics are in the majority should defend the government from secularism at all costs.”

The Pope stressed the importance of Contextual Secularism, saying that “although Catholics around the world have a similar need for religious freedom, their social and political contexts differ, and so should their experience of secularism.”

“They have called for reform in varying voices, and as their shepherds, it is upon us to answer in varying ways.”

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Vatican celebrates 30th AIDS anniversary with more bigotry


Did the Pope’s 2010 statement about condom use in exceptional cases show that he’s changed his mind about them? Is the CBCP defying the Vatican by denouncing the Reproductive Health Bill in spite of the Pope’s pronouncement? Between the CBCP and the Vatican, which old boys club is more bigoted? These questions are answered once and for all by the Vatican’s recent efforts at the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS.

But first, some background.

In June 1981, the AIDS epidemic was formally recognized in the US. Since then, medical professionals from all over the world have failed in their search for a cure. Prevention, they discovered, is our best bet.

And out of all prevention technologies invented so far, none have proven more effective than the condom. Medical authorities, including the UNAIDS, UNFPA, and WHO, agree: “the male latex condom is the single, most efficient, available technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.”

But to the Pope, effectiveness alone is not enough. To him, contraception is always evil and should always be banned — even if it saves lives. And of the innumerable lives lost to AIDS, most have been those of Africans. Though they’re only 14.7% of the world’s population, Africa is inhabited by more than 88% of people living with HIV. In 2007, Africa had 92% of all AIDS deaths.

Which makes the Pope’s statements in a 2009 visit to Africa all the more disgusting. He said that “HIV/Aids is a tragedy that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which can even increase the problem.”

To the Pope’s credit, he’s only being consistent. From the start, the Vatican has been lobbying to ban reproductive health programs all over the world, with no sign that they’ll ever change their position.

Then in late 2010, Pope Benedict XVI gave an interview to a German journalist for a book, Light of the World, an appropriate title because it gave a glimmer of hope. Catholics all over the world celebrated the Pope’s statements. “Finally!” they thought, “the Pope has changed his mind about contraception!” UNAIDS even made a press statement welcoming the Pope’s support for HIV prevention.

But most hopes were dashed when the Vatican clarified the Pope’s views, stating that his views on contraception have not shifted. I say “most” because many Catholics still cling to the possibility that the Pope’s statements mean more than they do, that there’s still a chance for change. Even now, some pro-RH Catholics argue that the CBCP is defying the Pope when it continues to denounce contraception. It’s happened more than once that I had to point someone toward the Vatican’s clarification.

If the Vatican’s words aren’t enough proof, their recent actions should be. Yesterday, 30 years into the AIDS epidemic, the 2011 High Level Meeting on AIDS started, serving as another opportunity for the world to “come together to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response.” For the Vatican, it’s another opportunity to take a stand against reproductive health, medical progress, and women’s rights.

When it comes to choosing solutions, the standard for most members is effectiveness in the real world; for the Vatican, it’s adherence to instructions from Heaven. Here are just some of the suggestions made by the Pope’s “all-male team”:

  • stripping all references to sexual and reproductive health and rights from the meeting’s declaration
  • gutting all mentions of education and prevention other than marriage and fidelity
  • insisting that “families” be replaced with “the family”, as though that monolith even exists or that it provides some kind of magic shield against HIV
  • deleting all mention of “female-controlled prevention methods
  • deleting the following sentence: “… by ensuring that women and girls can exercise their right to have control over, and decide freely and responsibly on, matters related to their sexuality in order to increase their ability to protect themselves from HIV infection, including their sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”

We’ll find out in a few days whether these suggestions are integrated into the meeting’s declaration. But I believe it’s not too early to come to the following conclusion:

The Pope, with his bigoted bishops representing the Vatican, are an enemy of progress, not only in dealing with HIV and AIDS, but in promoting reproductive health, informed choice, and women’s rights.

I hope the Vatican’s actions help Filipino Catholics realize that the CBCP is not alone in their bigotry. The CBCP has no mind (of its own). All of their statements and actions are dictated by the Vatican. “You will know them by their fruit.

And I hope the UN ignores the Vatican’s representatives and realizes that inviting them is ultimately counterproductive. On second thought, maybe the Vatican’s objections can serve as useful indications: If the Pope protests, you’re probably onto something good.

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Atty. Jo Imbong on Imperialist, Non-Filipino RH Bill


Pre-colonial Filipino couple

The RH Bill did not come from Filipino legislators but from foreign organizations, Atty. Jo Imbong of the CBCP explained in English.

“It’s really introducing a different culture and replacing our own” — a culture which has been influenced by our Spanish, American, and Japanese colonizers — “with something else,” said Imbong.

“It is a cultural intrusion [in which] you supplant a beautiful thing with something that is alien,” said Imbong, possibly alluding to how our pre-Hispanic indigenous Malayo-Polynesian culture was supplanted with Spanish Catholicism.

Imbong and the CBCP oppose the RH Bill because it violates democratic rights — which originated in Greece — and religious freedom — which originated in Europe. They believe contraceptives are not a valid solution, let alone evil, consistent with the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which was promulgated by an Italian pope from Rome.

Instead of contraceptives, Imbong and the CBCP recommend natural family planning, a birth control method discovered and developed by individuals and institutions in the Netherlands, Japan, Austria, Australia, and the United States.

“It’s quite disturbing because our culture as it is,” said Imbong, “has very wholesome ideals, built on Christian values.” Christianity, a religion that began in Palestine, was influenced by Babylonian, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese traditions, and was institutionalized as Roman Catholicism in Italy. It has evolved significantly thanks to theologians from all over the world, except the Philippines.

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The Penalty for Pro-RH Catholics: Exclusion, Excommunication, and Eternal Damnation


Will pro-RH Catholics go to Hell when they die? If my research on the official teachings of the Catholic Church is correct, then it’s likely. This is not reserved for those who actually use contraceptives. Even Catholics who merely believe it’s OK to use them share the same fate.

I am not making this up. Nor is this based on some fringe fundamentalist position within the Catholic Church. This is based on the official teachings of the Vatican, and almost every statement I’ll cite to prove it came from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Threats and Taunts from the CBCP

Since an RH (reproductive health) bill was proposed over a decade ago, the CBCP and their cohorts have reacted to pro-RH Catholics in several ways, from threats of excommunication to insults such as “oxymoron,” both implying that an anti-RH position is required to remain in good standing in the Roman Catholic Church.

But are any of these threats and taunts valid? Are pro-RH Catholics still Catholic? Can the CBCP excommunicate someone for their pro-RH position? What happens to pro-RH Catholics when they die?

I’ll do my best to answer these questions — and explain how pro-RH Catholics could go to Hell — from the perspective of the Pope, the Vatican, and their version of God. I make this distinction because there are many progressive theologians and even more baptized Catholics who disagree with the Vatican.

As a freethinker, I do not believe in the Vatican’s authority — threats of excommunication and damnation are meaningless to me. And if there were a god — that is, an all-wise, all-loving god — I believe She’d have nothing against using artificial contraception and individual conscience. This is the God pro-RH Catholics believe in, and it goes without saying that She has no punishments reserved for the pro-RH.

Of course, this is all anathema to the Vatican, and whether this dissent is valid is a topic I’ll leave for another day. For now, here’s what the Vatican actually says about pro-RH Catholics.

I want to emphasize that I don’t agree with what the Vatican says. I don’t even think their views are worth anyone’s attention. But Catholics, regardless of their position on RH, should at least be aware of what their leaders think — especially those who claim to be infallible.

***

Are pro-RH Catholics still Catholic?

Yes. When a person is baptized Catholic, he remains Catholic until death.

Once someone is validly baptized, Catholic or otherwise, he is baptized forever (CIC 845). One can never lose baptism or become “unbaptized,” although one might lose the benefits of baptism by personal sin.

Once a Catholic, always a Catholic — even if they get excommunicated, disagree with dogma (heretics), join a different denomination (schismatics), or leave Christianity altogether (apostates). They just become excommunicated Catholics, heretic Catholics, schismatic Catholics, and so on. In other words, although they are not in full communion with the Church — not fully Catholic — they are Catholic nonetheless.

Can the CBCP excommunicate someone for their pro-RH position?

It’s possible, but highly unlikely. Even pro-abortion Catholics are spared from excommunication:

Politicians who vote in favor of abortion should not receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. “Legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist. … Politicians exclude themselves from Communion.”

Next to excommunication — which excludes someone from all sacraments — exclusion from Holy Communion is the worst punishment a Catholic can get. We’ll return to this exclusion shortly.

What is the worst punishment possible for being pro-RH?

Eternal Damnation. Although there is no single statement that explicitly says this, we can follow the implications of several teachings and come to the same conclusion. I’ve elaborated this in 5 steps, each supported by official Vatican documents:

1. The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is inherently evil, and that this teaching is a definitive doctrine 1:

Every action which , whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2370

The Church has always taught the intrinsic evil of contraception, that is, of every marital act intentionally rendered unfruitful. This teaching is to be held as definitive and irreformable. [In other words, infallible.]

Official Guide for Confessors issued by the Vatican Pontifical Council for the Family

2. Catholics who deny definitive doctrines are not in full communion with the Catholic Church:

Every believer, therefore, is required to give firm and definitive assent to these truths, based on faith in the Holy Spirit’s assistance to the Church’s Magisterium, and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the Magisterium in these matters.15 Whoever denies these truths [definitive doctrines] would be in a position of rejecting a truth of Catholic doctrine and would therefore no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

Joseph Ratzinger, “DOCTRINAL COMMENTARY ON THE CONCLUDING FORMULA OF THE PROFESSIO FIDEI

3. Catholics who are not in full communion with the Church must abstain from receiving Holy Communion:

Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgment regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: “Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?” The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected.

– Joseph Ratzinger, Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles

This is the same punishment proposed by the Vatican for pro-abortion Catholics mentioned above.

4. Catholics who do not fulfill their obligation to receive Holy Communion commit a grave sin.

The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 2181

When you freely commit a sin knowing that it is of a grave matter, you commit a mortal sin. Note that receiving Holy Communion when you are unworthy is itself a grave matter (sacrilege), so freely committing it with full knowledge of its graveness is yet another mortal sin.

5. Catholics who die in mortal sin go to Hell:

The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1035

Remember that any contraception, if done freely with the knowledge of its graveness, is by itself a mortal sin. But what I’ve elaborated above shows that even the belief 2 that contraception is not inherently evil already disqualifies Catholics from partaking in Holy Communion. This is the same reason excommunication is a big deal: It excludes Catholics from the sacraments, of which Communion is the most important. And as I’ve shown, the Vatican teaches that without Communion, there’s no salvation.

Pro-RH Catholics and the Pope

So there you have it. According to the Vatican, Pro-RH Catholics, by their denial of a definitive doctrine, are not in full communion with the Church, preventing them from fulfilling their obligation to receive Holy Communion — a mortal sin, which if left unconfessed, means their souls will go to Hell when they die.

This should be more alarming than it is, but I realize this early that this information will be trivial to many. Because if you’re a pro-RH Catholic — someone who uses or promotes contraceptives in good conscience — you probably don’t care what the Pope says anyway.

The easiest way to get excommunicated

Not caring what the Pope says means you probably don’t believe in his infallibility. This, by the way, is a divinely revealed doctrine:

To the truths of the first paragraph [which refers to divinely revealed truths] belong … the doctrine on the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff …

Denying a divinely revealed doctrine, such as papal infallibility, is another mortal sin, one of the few that can get you an automatic excommunication:

These doctrines [divinely revealed truths] require the assent of theological faith by all members of the faithful. Thus, whoever obstinately places them in doubt or denies them falls under the censure of heresy, as indicated by the respective canons of the Codes of Canon Law.

So according to the Pope, thinking that he could be wrong in a matter of faith and morals — such as his views on the evil of contraception — will get you automatically excommunicated. But then again, if you’re pro-RH, you probably disagree.

***

[1] On questioning the infallibility of the contraception teaching

Some progressive Catholics argue that the teaching on the inherent evil of contraception (let’s call it contraception teaching from here on) is not an infallible one. They make this mistake because they think that the only way for a teaching to be infallible is for it to be pronounced infallible by the Pope.

And officially, no Pope has pronounced the contraception teaching infallible by himself. But when a teaching is taught for a long time by most (if not all) Catholic bishops together with the Pope, the teaching is considered infallible — infallible by the Church’s teaching authority. This teaching authority is also known as the ordinary universal Magisterium. Some examples of teachings considered infallible in this way are the inherent evil of murder, prostitution, fornication, homosexual acts, abortion, euthanasia, ordination of women priests, and finally, contraception.

So although the teaching on contraception was not pronounced ex cathedra (with a solemn declaration of infallibility) by any pope, it is infallible by virtue of the unbroken tradition of bishops and popes collectively teaching its inherent evil.

The infallibility of the contraception teaching was the same conclusion reached by most Catholic theologians, both progressive — such as Hans Kung — and conservative — such as John C. Ford.

Because the teaching on contraception is an infallibly taught truth, it is a definitive doctrine and should therefore be held definitively by all Catholics.

But why must infallible truths be held definitively? When the Pope or the ordinary universal Magisterium teaches something infallibly, it is as if the teaching is made by God himself. This is reflected clearly by the following statements made by Pope John Paul II on the contraception teaching.

In the late 80s, he said that Humanae Vitae was “written by the creative hand of God in the nature of the human person,” and that Catholic theologians could not doubt the ban on contraception because doing so would be like doubting “the very idea of God’s holiness.” If that doesn’t convince you he thinks the contraception teaching is infallible, I don’t know what will.

[2] The difference between a sin of action and a sin of belief.

You may commit a sin, while believing that it is wrong. In this case all you have to do is confess and try your best not to do it again. But if your sin has to do with failing to believe something you’re supposed to believe, you can’t just confess. You have to change your belief as well. If you can’t ever change your belief — or don’t even want to try — then you’ll be in a state of perpetual sin.

Consider contraception. An anti-RH Catholic might out of “weakness” be forced to use a condom while thinking that it is immoral. He will be guilty until his next confession, or probably a few weeks after that. But once he confesses, the mortal sin is forgiven, and he’s back in full communion, worthy to receive the Holy Eucharist.

This success story does not apply to the pro-RH Catholic. If a pro-RH Catholic uses a condom and thinks it’s OK, he can’t just confess the action. Forget that it would be weird for him to confess something he doesn’t think is wrong. But even if he does confess the action, if he doesn’t change the belief, he’ll still be unworthy of the Holy Eucharist. And if he continues believing “immorally,” he never will be.

Of course, some will say you can believe something and at the same time think that the said belief is wrong. I won’t even try to get into that.

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The Future Saint John Paul II


Pope John Paul II was beloved in the Philippines, which he visited twice during his reign, and all over the world. He was seen as the rock star pope, with a papacy that was known for its close ties with the laity. And when his almost 27 year reign as pope ended in 2005, after years of suffering Parkinson’s Disease, the people gathered at St. Peter’s Square shouted “santo subito!” (“sainthood now!”) and called him “John Paul the Great.” With his beatification this past May 1, sainthood is now all but assured.

The Catholic institution of canonization requires a total of two “verified” miracles in order to recognize a Catholic as being a saint who can hear prayers and intercede for those who ask for their help. It is theologically important to note that Christians are not “made” saints by the Church, but, rather, recognized. Before one is confirmed as a saint, however, one must first be beatified. In order to be beatified, a candidate must have one of the two required “verified” miracles under their belt.

The Roman Catholic Church takes miraculous claims seriously—having, until recently, the office of advocatus diaboli, or the Devil’s Advocate, which makes a case against the canonization of a particular candidate. Incidentally, it was John Paul II himself who abolished the office, which expedited hundreds of canonization proceedings. Christopher Hitchens, when he was asked to argue against the beatification of Mother Teresa after the dissolution of the office of the Devil’s Advocate, described his role as representing the devil “pro bono”. The Church investigates miraculous cures and requires that, in order to be attributable to the intercession of a candidate for canonization, the cure be instantaneous, complete, and lasting.

For John Paul II, one of his necessary miracles for canonization came in the form of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who is said to have recovered from the incurable Parkinson’s disease, the same illness suffered by the late pontiff. Sister Simon-Pierre wrote the name of Pope John Paul II after his death on a piece of paper. The next day, she was apparently cured and resumed her duties in her order.

It is, of course, entirely possible that Sister Simon-Pierre was simply afflicted by an illness that had neurodegenerative appearances similar to Parkinson’s, but was curable. A doctor charged with investigating the nun’s condition aired out similar doubts.

But, even if the good Sister Simon-Pierre had Parkinson’s, what the Church is expecting its faithful (and the secular world) to accept is that her recovery was not a natural event. The Church is asking the world to consider that not only have the laws of the universe been suspended (let that sink in for a while: the laws of the universe have been suspended) but that they have been overturned in favor of the Roman Catholic Church and in a manner suspiciously convenient for its politics. With its pastiche of medical investigations that could earn a mid-season replacement spot on NBC, the Catholic Church purports its canonization procedures as scientific: skeptical and rigorous. And what could be more scientific and intellectually honest than concluding from an inexplicable recovery that a person who has died is now watching us from heaven and can help get our prayers to God answered?

With his recent beatification, John Paul II is now just one miracle shy of a confirmed sainthood. A confirmed sainthood would mean that the Roman Catholic Church believes on faith that John Paul II is, in fact, in a place called heaven, in the presence of someone called Jesus Christ. This is the level of pseudoscience, rivaling only ufology and homeopathy, that every believing Catholic has to swallow for each and every saint venerated inside their opulent cathedrals. It’s hard to imagine a bigger waste of human productivity. But for the sole political purpose of establishing John Paul II as a champion of the Roman Catholic Church and what it stands for, the recognition of his sainthood is perfectly appropriate.

Defenders of the current pope, Benedict XVI, cite Darío Cardinal Castríllon Hoyos when pointing the finger at the late John Paul II for the child rape scandal sweeping the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Hoyos served as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and was in charge of priests and deacons who are not in religious orders. In this capacity, he praised a French bishop, Pierre Pican, for not sending the child rapist Rev. Rene Bissey to “civil administration” and congratulated Pican for being “a model of a father who does not hand over his sons.” Cardinal Hoyos revealed that he did so under the approval of Pope John Paul II and was authorized to send his letter of praise to other bishops around the world. Pican served three months in prison for protecting the rapist. Bissey was sentenced to 18 years for the rape of a boy and the sexual assault of ten others.

A good friend of Pope John Paul II, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, “Father Maciel” as he was known, was the founder of the Legion of Christ. The pope described him as an “efficacious guide to youth.” Degollado used the Legion of Christ and his charismatic persona, targeting widows in particular, to funnel millions into Church coffers. The congregation’s assets have been estimated at 25 billion euros. Degollado had political clout with backers including current United States presidential hopeful Rick Santorum and the brother of former president George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, both noted conservatives in the Republican party. Father Maciel was honored by John Paul II in the Vatican in 2004 despite long-standing charges of sex abuse, which involved at least 20 Legion seminarians. As an efficacious guide to the youth, Degollado fathered several children, whom he also reportedly abused. The current pope, Benedict XVI, eventually invited Degollado to lead “a reserved life of prayer and penance”—apparently a punishment suitable for the crime. Degollado never faced any criminal sanctions and died in 2008 as a free man.

It was during Pope John Paul II’s reign when the late Archbishop Luciano Storero, the Holy See’s diplomat to Ireland, told Irish bishops that reporting the rape of innocent children to the proper authorities gave rise to “serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature.” Under John Paul II, Archbishop Storero upheld that canon law was above the secular law of a nation, showing a characteristic Vatican indifference to state sovereignty and cries for justice by their employees’ victims.

Pope John Paul II maintained when the first child rape cases started cropping up in the news that it was entirely an “American problem.” Like many other claims by the Church, this ultimately proved false. The Vatican’s position on the crisis was, and still is, that society, not the Church and its self-preservationist policies, is at fault with its permissiveness and “hyper-inflated” sexuality.

Society’s permissiveness apparently drove John Paul the Great to allow Hans Cardinal Hermann Groer, who molested over 2,000 boys (a number so large that it retains almost no meaning) to hide from police in a nunnery. Cardinal Groer eventually died there without being prosecuted for his crimes. Of course, the Church’s repressive Victorian attitudes towards sex, which were strengthened by Humanae Vitae and Persona Humana and reiterated in the Pope’s own The Splendour of Truth, which put the use of contraceptives on par with genocide, were not to blame for its systemic problem with sins against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue.

Pope John Paul II reinforced the old boys’ club of puritans and conservatives in the Catholic Church by having papal nuncios spy on clerics and recommend only for promotion to bishop those who were strongly against contraceptives. John Paul II’s policy of narrow-mindedness was crucial in the assembly of retrograde anachronisms that comprise the CBCP, as well as the other institutions that make up the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy we have today. This is his legacy to the world.

Filipino pilgrims led by Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales watched Pope John Paul II’s beatification ceremony this past May 1. It was their homage to a man who was indeed loved by Filipinos. While Pope John Paul II was undeniably a man who argued for peace and acted to heal religious strife between mutually contradictory faiths, he was also instrumental in the continued suffering of innocent children and the continued impunity enjoyed by child rapists in the Church. And because this moral inconsistency seems to be the spirit that guides the Church he left behind, there really is no one else better suited for sainthood than the Blessed John Paul II.

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African Priests Rape Nuns to Avoid AIDS


As pro-choice and anti-choice advocates continue to debate the morality of contraceptives, some priests have discovered a way of avoiding HIV and AIDS — and it has nothing to do with condoms. Their solution? Raping nuns.

The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries [Philippines included] have been sexually abusing nuns.

Most of the abuse has occurred in Africa, where priests vowed to celibacy, who previously sought out prostitutes, have preyed on nuns to avoid contracting the Aids virus.

Who says priests can’t practice safe sex?

In some African countries, nuns respect priests so absolutely that disobedience is not an option. They readily trade sex for favors such as providing accommodation or tuition, writing theological essays, and giving “certificates of good Catholic practice that were required for them to pursue their vocation.” In other words, sex for education.

According to Sister Marie McDonald, mother superior of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Africa, the clerical sex abuse problem is partly due to the “conspiracy of silence.” Sisters felt that speaking about the issue was disloyal. And for those who did speak up, things didn’t end up well:

Sometimes they were not well received. In some instances they are blamed for what happened. Even when they are listened to sympathetically nothing much seems to be done” One of the most tragic elements that emerges is the fate of the victims. While the offending priests are usually moved or sent away for studies, the women are normally chased out of their religious orders, they are then either to scared to return to their families or are rejected by them. they often finished up as outcasts, or, in a cruel twist of irony, as prostitutes, making a meagre living from an act they had vowed never to do.

But there is a hint of hope hiding in all this hypocrisy. Aside from granting favors for sex, some priests would ask nuns to take birth control pills. Some priests would even encourage the nuns they impregnate to have abortions. They may have been hypocritical rapists, but at least they’re progressive.

As the Pope’s official spokesman has said, we should focus on the bright side:

The problem is known and involves a restricted geographical area. Certain negative situations must not overshadow the often heroic faith of the overwhelming majority of religious nuns and priests.

Too bad not a single nun was spared from sexual abuse by this “heroic faith.” Maybe it’s time to try heroic action instead. Until the “overwhelming majority” speak up against the evils of its own church and demand accountability, all they’ll get are more abuses, excuses, and apologies.

Source

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The Vatican, a Rogue Pseudo-State, Part 2


This discussion of The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse is a continuation of The Vatican, A Rogue Pseudo-State, Part 1.

Even if, however, the Vatican were an actual state, its international trafficking of child molesters and hiding rapists from the law via its secretive Canonical trials within sovereign nations breach the secular laws of those particular nations.

Crimen sollicitationis outlines how these trials must go. Once an accusation against a priest has been made, the accuser is made to sign an official denunciation against the accused. This begins the Canonical proceedings regulated by Canon Law, which is based on what the Vatican perceives as moral and spiritual commandments from the Holy Spirit. Thus, all participants are bound by “pontifical secret” upon pain of excommunication. The trial does not admit forensic evidence and is conducted entirely in writing. Those who run the trial are all colleagues of the defendant and it is a requirement for all those handling the trial to have undergone the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Right off the bat, the odds are in favor of the accused.

Should the allegations be found unsubstantiated, the documents are all destroyed. If the charges are of some merit, but judged to be inconclusive, they are kept in the archives. If evidence of the crime is “grave enough,” several punishments are in order. However, none are more severe than laicization, or the demotion of a priest to the lay state. This is a penalty that is apparently so dreadful that even Pope Benedict would not inflict it on Father Lawrence Murphy who molested over two hundred deaf children at St John’s School for the Deaf in Wisconsin. Even in the case of conviction, there is nothing in Canon Law that compels officials to file a criminal case against the offending priest. The punishment for leaking documents is a lot more grave than what any depraved child rapist like Father Murphy could ever possibly get.

According to the “new norms” sent out in 2001 as Sacramentorum sanctitatus tutela, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the successor to the Inquisition and the former office of Joseph Ratzinger, heads Canonical trials concerning child molestation cases, particularly those that involve the confessional. The CDF is informed of all these proceedings by the local Church, which conducts the trials, under strict confidentiality and subject to the pontifical secret. This was reinforced by Pope Benedict in De delictis gravioribus.

The Roman Catholic Church performs these confidential trials under the noses of the sovereign states within which the specific churches operate. In doing so, an alleged foreign sovereign state (the Vatican) tries foreign nationals on foreign soil. This comes into conflict with the jurisdiction exercised by the host state. What’s more is that, since all relevant documents are kept under pontifical secret, few believing Catholics would dare to blow the whistle or report to proper authorities the crimes that occur within the Church. Let us remember that excommunication carries with it grave consequences that may or may not result in everlasting torture in the fires of hell. Should the police have the opportunity, however, to investigate, the relevant documents are often whisked away into the safety of the Vatican archives where they cannot be subpoenaed due to diplomatic immunity.

While the rape of children is unequivocally disgusting and reprehensible, the true crimes that the Church, the Vatican, and the pope are liable for are their gross negligence, such as in its shuffling of priests to various parishes where they have sinned again, and their operation of a secret international legal jurisdiction that disregards local laws (including the withholding of evidence from proper authorities). To make matters worse, Canonical trials are ineffective and non-punitive.

The scale of the Vatican’s indulgence of its employees’ raping and sexual slavery of children is cause for concern. It might even qualify as a crime against humanity, something not even diplomatic immunity can defend against. Thousands of children all over the world have been tortured and abused by the very ministers and confessors that they had given their complete trust. These men who stand in for Christ at the point of consecration were allowed by the Church’s policies to get away with their crimes and to transgress in some other parish.

The Catholic Church has maintained that the cause of their crisis is not their refusal to cooperate with police or their obsession with controlling and denying the sex lives of its members, particularly its clergy. The pope’s right hand man, Tarcisio Bertone, asserts that homosexuality is the reason for pedophiles in the Church. The pope himself blames secular society, saying that, in the 1970’s, it accepted pedophilia as “fully in conformity with man and even with children.”

The Holy See governs the Vatican as a rogue pseudo-state that seems to be convinced that it is above international law. While the point whether the Catholic Church hierarchy is guilty of crimes against humanity is up to international criminal courts, they should at least be allowed to put the pope on the dock. The Church cannot hide behind its Santa Claus statehood for much longer. Just because many nations officially believe that the Vatican is a state, it doesn’t make it true.

In The Case of the Pope, Geoffrey Robertson QC details an effective examination of the viability of the Vatican’s assertion of statehood and the pope’s declaration of diplomatic immunity as well as the liability of his organization in the revolting sexual abuse of children by the clergy under its employ. Robertson skillfully conveys complicated legalese to lay audiences without oversimplifying the admittedly difficult nature of international law and the politics of foreign relations. It is an articulate analysis of the Vatican and the apparent crusade it is waging against human rights. Even if you are a Catholic, if truly love what you believe your Church stands for, do not give this book a pass.

The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse by Geoffrey Robertson QC is published by Penguin Global.

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The Vatican, a Rogue Pseudo-State, Part 1


A letter written in 1997 by Apostolic Nuncio Luciano Storero has recently surfaced and has elicited outrage against the Vatican regarding its, by now, undeniable complicity in the widespread rape and molestation of children by Catholic priests. The missive, which the Vatican defends as “deeply misunderstood” stated that “mandatory reporting” of cases of child rape by clergy gave rose to “serious reservations of both a moral and a canonical nature.” The mandatory reporting was a recommended solution by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Advisory Committee to the systemic sexual abuse crisis within the Roman Catholic Church. What Storero’s reservations refer to are specific tenets within Canon Law that demand absolute confidentiality.

The fact that mandatory reporting is even being debated among supposedly civilized company is disgraceful. Since when has the rape and torture of children not demanded immediate reporting to the proper authorities? Any other organization that shields its criminals from the law as shamelessly as the Roman Catholic Church has would have had its leaders taken to court by now.

The special treatment that the Catholic Church or, more accurately, the Vatican enjoys stems from its claim to state sovereignty. As the absolute monarch of 108.7 acres in the Italian city of Rome, the successor of Saint Peter boasts immunity from prosecution. This is the same privilege that is bestowed upon foreign ambassadors by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. But as Geoffrey Robertson, member of the Queen’s Counsel, writes in The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse, there is good reason to be skeptical of the Vatican’s claim to statehood.

The Vatican State as a Bully Pulpit

The Vatican state was unilaterally declared after a deal by Pope Pius XI with the fascist dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini, in 1929. This deal, the Lateran Treaty, and the Church’s Concordat with the Nazis were unveiled at a lavish ceremony in Rome. The Vatican newspaper announced, “Italy has been given back to God and God to Italy.” Pius XI hailed Mussolini as “a man sent by providence” and promptly told all Italian Catholics to vote for him. Mussolini won 98.33% of the vote. These overtly sinister roots of the seat of the Vicar of Christ are not often taught in Catholic schools.

Since then, the Catholic Church has abused its position as the only world religion that has its own country, officially. As the only non-member state with permanent observer status in the United Nations, the Holy See has consistently led the charge, despite its lack of right to vote, against initiatives towards the equal rights of women and LGBT and the reduction of AIDS cases via the distribution of condoms.

Mirroring the Catholic Church in the Philippines’ current hijacking of the RH Bill proceedings, the Vatican has invariably attempted to derail the UN’s own reproductive health programs. In 1995, during the UN conference on population and development in Cairo, the Holy See said that reproductive health meant ‘abortion,’ which they call a “heinous evil,” as well as ‘tolerance of homosexuality,’ another “heinous evil.” In the Beijing conference on women that same year, the Vatican lobbied its Catholic allies as well as Muslim states to oppose any consensus text that included words and phrases such as “gender equality,” “unwanted pregnancy,” “reproductive rights,” and even “lifestyle.” It also tried to ban the NGO, Catholics for a Free Choice to attend.

Questioning Vatican Statehood

The Vatican has regularly taken advantage of its perceived statehood in order to propound its own fundamentalist dogmas and to bully other majority Catholic nations into enacting the Holy See’s own agenda. This circumvents its inability to vote in the UN. Despite its pretensions to statehood, however, Robertson argues that the Vatican does not satisfy international law regarding official state recognition. The Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States has four requirements in order for states to be recognized in the international community and they are as follows.

1. A Permanent Population

The Vatican has no nationals or residents to call its own. It is mainly home to the bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church. There are no permanent residents and “citizenship” is mainly authorization to remain in the Vatican until their status or employment expires. To cross from Rome into Vatican City, the only requirement is to have one’s baggages checked.

Citizenship may be extended to “the wife [in a sexist presumption that all diplomats will be male], children, parents, brothers, and sisters.” However, sons must leave Vatican City at the age of 25 and daughters must leave when they marry (another sexist provision, as Robertson opines). Unlike any other nation on Earth, citizenship cannot be acquired by birth. There are no “Vaticanians” born and there is no national community to speak of.

2. A Defined Territory

“‘Vatican City’ cannot properly be regarded as a territory at all,” writes Robertson. This is because all that Vatican City contains is a large palace, a few attached buildings, and a vast garden. It is not even a city since it is entirely within another city, Rome.

Real estate within the Vatican cannot be sold unless with papal permission. While, all of the basic services necessary for the upkeep of the Vatican (electricity, water, gas, and sewage) are run by the Italian government and its Italian citizens.

The government of the Vatican, the Holy See, does not even enforce its own supposed territory. With one of the highest crime rates in the world, the Vatican has its criminals apprehended by foreigners, the carabinieri (the Italian police). It is strange how a state can insist on its sovereignty when it cannot even exercise jurisdiction over its plot of land.

3. Government

The Holy See (comprised of the Supreme Pontiff and the Curia) is arguably the government of the Vatican. However, seeing as how it itself does not have territory and the Vatican has no population, this argument is rather tenuous. The Holy See governs the Catholic Church and the Vatican exists not for Vatican nationals but for Catholics all over the world, who are themselves citizens of their respective nations. The Curia operates the Vatican’s international affairs in the Italian city of Rome while defense and policing, as well as medical services, are provided for by the Italian government (which is supposed to be a foreign state). This defies the requirement of the Montevideo Convention for states to have some independence in conducting international affairs.

The Holy See cannot even punish crimes against its own leader. After Mehmet Ali Agca attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II and was arrested by Italian police, he was held in Italian prison and was tried in Italian courts. Agca’s defense tried to argue that he had been unlawfully extradited to a foreign state. This plea was rejected, a fact that flies in the face of Vatican statehood claims.

4. Capacity to Enter into Relations with Other States

In order to be involved in diplomatic relations, consular relations are a necessary implication. Consuls are mainly concerned with the welfare of their nationals in foreign countries. However, if you are ever injured or attacked in Vatican City, do not expect help from your nation’s ambassador to the Vatican because they do not offer consular services. The envoy to Italy will take up this role.

Interactions by states with the Holy See are mostly involved with religious matters, such as arranging audiences with the pope. As the headquarters of a religion and not of a nation-state, the Vatican functions in the international community in a capacity unlike any other state.

Simply put, as both Professor Gillian Triggs of the University of Sydney Law School and Robertson agree on, “Vatican City does not meet the criteria for statehood.”

This discussion of The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse is continued in Part 2.

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‘Contraceptive Mentality’ and the ‘Culture of Death’


In the battle against contraceptives and the RH Bill, the CBCP keeps saying big words like “contraceptive mentality” and the “culture of death”, but do we know what they really mean? For example, let’s take a look at what Jaro archbishop and then CBCP president Angel Lagdameo said in 2007:

Since the Church objects to the use of artificial contraception, the church likewise objects to their dissemination, creating thereby a contraceptive mentality towards a culture of death.

Or what San Fernando, Pampanga archbishop Panciano Aniceto wrote in late 2009:

Textbooks consistently using the term “reproduction” instead of “procreation,” even if intended for Catholic schools, should be thoroughly checked for the contraceptive mentality.

It seems those phrases were popularized if not coined by Pope John Paul II in his 1995 enclyclical Evangelium Vitae, where he wrote:

It may be that many people use contraception with a view to excluding the subsequent temptation of abortion. But the negative values inherent in the “contraceptive mentality”—which is very different from responsible parenthood, lived in respect for the full truth of the conjugal act—are such that they in fact strengthen this temptation when an unwanted life is conceived. Indeed, the pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church’s teaching on contraception is rejected.

That last sentence reminds me of the Christian Courier writer Wayne Jackson’s comment on Human Life International founder Dr. Paul Marx’s argument that “widespread contraception always leads to abortion”:

In reality, his argument is a non-argument. He might as well contend that people who engage in sexual activity are more likely to procure abortions than those who do not! This is a truism. But sexual activity per se does not always lead to abortion.

So even assuming that “the pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church’s teaching on contraception is rejected”, do we now condemn contraception, a lawful act, based on its tendency to increase the probability of acceptance or even desensitization towards abortion, a procedure deemed illegal in our country?

And how do we differentiate between “contraceptive mentality” and “responsible parenthood”? Pope John Paul mentioned “respect for the full truth of the conjugal act” with regards to responsible parenthood, and if by “full truth” he meant the inviolable inclusion of procreation in every sexual act, why does the Church allow natural family planning methods where the act is deliberately timed during the wife’s sterile period, or sex between couples who, because of sickness or age, can no longer bear a child?

Let’s see what else Pope John Paul had to say:

…despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree…in very many other instances such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfillment…

Does the use of contraceptives exemplify a “hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility”, which probably means engaging in sex solely for pleasure without regard for the consequences? Hardly. The mere act of wearing a condom, for instance, shows concern for the woman’s health – at the cost of decreased pleasure. Does that reflect a “self-centered concept of freedom”?

…The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.

Now that sentence is made of two parts existing in different tenses, but taken as a whole it seems to make sense. So let’s try to break it down. The first part talks about a potential (future) pregnancy which should be avoided at all costs, but in the second part that pregnancy has already occurred (present) due to failed contraception, and yet it assumes that the great effort spent to prevent the former automatically dictates a similar degree of proclivity to end the latter. No, being pro-contraception does not necessarily mean pro-abortion.

While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of “the strong” against the weak who have no choice but to submit.

Did Pope John Paul (or Archbishop Lagdameo) just associate contraception with euthanasia on top of abortion? I hope not, because in contraception there is no life “not yet born” or “in its final stages” – there is simply no life at all! So it isn’t really a freedom of the strong against the weak, because in contraception the weak hasn’t existed yet. It’s just personal freedom.

But contraception is not all about freedom. It’s about health, and of using our human intellect to maintain a healthy, happy life without killing the “weak”. As Wayne Jackson said:

Frequently a woman’s health is an issue relative to the number of children she should bear. Shall a woman be forced to jeopardize her physical welfare simply to satisfy the demands of a conclave of bachelors in Rome?

The Catholic clergy makes much ado about the use of “artificial” devices to facilitate birth control. But by what spiritual criterion does one determine that the use of some artificial devices to accommodate physical needs are permissible (e.g., eye glasses, hearing aids, etc.), and yet, the use of other material devices (to assist with physical needs) are prohibited? It is a manifestation of arrogance to set oneself up as a pontificator of such matters.

And that is where the Church is good at, as a self-appointed pontificator, expressing not opinions but judgments – authoritative, arrogant assertions of what is right and wrong – on matters which lifelong bachelors should have no business to begin with.

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