Yesterday, the pro-divorce movement won the referendum on divorce with a majority of 54%, ending a battle that has delayed the much-needed measure for decades. The victory came despite the constant political meddling and religious blackmail of the Catholic Church.
Sound familiar? Aside from the happy ending, which left the Philippines the only country without divorce1, the story of Malta’s divorce referendum shares similarities with our own reproductive health (RH) debates:
- both countries are last bastions of Catholicism: Malta in Europe, the Philippines in Asia;
- both countries are predominantly Catholic: 95% in Malta, 80% in the Philippines; and
- both battles are primarily between progressive Catholics and conservative bishops.
And in both cases, the conservative bishops use fear mongering to keep their flock in line. In Malta, the religious blackmail came to a climax during a homily by
Bishop Mario Grech.
In the sermon, he warned of “brigands” who want to “lead the flock astray” and “are going after marriage.” He said that members of the pro-divorce movement were lying about being Catholic:
Beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. And the wolf is now saying he is Catholic. This is a falsity, this is deceit. I am ready to dialogue with everyone but do not be false, do not lie. You cannot not be loyal to Christ and say you are a Christian or a Catholic. If you are not in communion with Christ’s teachings, you are not in communion with the Church and you cannot receive communion… we cannot pretend to be in communion with the Eucharist…2
The message is consistent with a nation-wide campaign the Church had launched, in which billboards featuring Jesus’ image said “Christ Yes, Divorce No.” Anti-divorce advocates also brought Mary into the picture:
Opponents of reform have invoked the Blessed Virgin and raised the spectre of Maltese society falling apart. Tonio Fenech, the finance minister and a Nationalist Party MP, wrote on a local news website recently: “I am sure Our Lady is very sorrowful that Malta is considering divorce.”
The anti-divorce campaign was denounced by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, an MP with the ruling Nationalist Party:
“The ‘no’ campaign has been disgusting,” said Mr Orlando, who set the referendum ball rolling. “Old ladies who said they would vote for divorce have been barred from taking Communion. An old electoral roll has been used, which means that 2,800 youngsters who are entitled to vote will not be able to. Lay Catholic organisations and 5,000 priests and nuns have also gone door-to-door campaigning. Limitless funds have been offered to the ‘no’ side.” Voting “yes” has been declared a mortal sin from the pulpit.”
To their credit, the bishops did say they were sorry if anyone was hurt by their anti-divorce campaign. Pro-divorce advocates, however, found this hard to believe:
In a reply, pro-divorce group StandUp Malta said the bishops’ statement was an apology which they found difficult to accept.
It was very hard to believe that the apology was genuine, especially since the Church’s campaign continued blatantly even on reflection day yesterday and voting day today.
The apology, they said, should have been made during the campaign when a lot of people were hurt by extreme declarations such as when those who were voting yes were called wolves in sheeps’ clothing.
The fact that the bishops wanted their apology broadcast once voting closed was Machiavellian and dirty.
Regardless of the bishops’ sincerity, I understand why they’re on the defensive. Winning the divorce debate is already Malta’s second secular victory in only six months. Last November, after a decade of opposition from the Catholic Church, they finally launched a long-awaited national sexual health policy — the counterpart of our RH Bill.
That’s two out of five D-E-A-T-H bills in half a year!3 How can a country that’s even more Catholic than the Philippines say “yes” to divorce and RH?
I believe the answer is secularism. While bishops fight to impose their convictions, progressive Catholics in Malta defend separation of church and state and respect the religious freedom of others — even those who have convictions different from theirs:
The Catholic pro-divorce group reiterated yesterday that although they held Christ’s teachings on marriage in high esteem they could not impose their beliefs on the rest of the people.
“Irrespective of how strongly we believe that divorce is bad for the country, we can never sideline the principle taught by Christ and expect others who do not share our faith to submit to our beliefs,” a group spokesman said.
The group said it was every Catholic’s duty to vote yes in the referendum because the issue at stake was whether what Catholics believed was right and wrong should be imposed by the state on everybody else. “We believe there should never be imposition…”
No imposition. Now — other than the bishops — who won’t say “yes” to that?
 No, I don’t consider the Vatican a country.
 Actually, you can be pro-divorce and still remain Catholic. But you could be excluded from Holy Communion for doing so. I wrote about these sanctions here.
 Divorce and Total Reproductive Health are down; Euthanasia, Abortion, and Homosexual Marriage remain.
[…] mothers from Catholic schools. They use religious freedom to justify denying even non-Catholics the right to remarry. They use religious freedom to justify denying homosexuals the right to marry and be free from […]
Unless I'm mistaken, Holy Orders, as is Matrimony, is 1 of 7 sacraments that the church holds inviolable. So, how come the church leaders vehemently object to the dissolution of marriage, yet freely allows an ordained priest to leave priesthood for various reasons (i.e., he wants to become a "real" father, was involved in a scandalous relationship that couldn't be swept under the rug, etc.). Another classic example of what's good for the goose not being good for the gander?
[…] Filipino Thinkers has a great digest of how the debate was settled and how the referendum unfolded in Malta. More importantly, it provides a side by side comparison of the issue between the Philippines and Malta: Aside from the happy ending, which left the Philippines the only country without divorce1, the story of Malta’s divorce referendum shares similarities with our own reproductive health (RH) debates: […]
But we're talking about marriages recognized by the state, right? Which means the Church still can choose not to recognize divorces. Which means your second marriage can only be solemnized by a secular authority or a religion that recognizes divorce. Which means you can't get married in Church again and may be forced to sign up with another religion…
Oh I get it now. 🙂
For those wondering how much divorce costs in the UK
costs can go up to: £1,000 or P71,000 – not including settlements
a small fraction of what an annulment will cost (up to or over P300,000) http://www.divorce.co.uk/Divorcewhatsinvolved/FAQ…
and this is a place where coke can cost 500 pesos.
[No imposition. Now — other than the bishops — who won’t say “yes” to that?]
Rep Roilo Golez
a lot more than we'd like to think
ANNULMENT = divorce ng mga hypocrites
Ilang couples na nagpa-annul ang tunay na may sira ang ulo? di dapat ni-require nilang magpa-psychological exam muna bago ikasal para di pwedeng gamiting excuse ito.
Philippines = world capital of the mentally insane ! Talaga ngang ginawa tayong bansa ng mga Sisa dahil sa mga Ipokritang mga Padre Damaso nyan…
Kris Aquino: the ultimate poster-girl for divorce-deniers everywhere.
They say divorce will just make lawyers rich. But right now, its making annulment lawyers richer since its actually more expensive and more complicated to annul a wedding.
Annulment is also the leading cause of insanity in the Philippines. Why? because people are suddenly claiming "mental illness" as an excuse to annul their train-wreck of a marriage.
And what about baby James? if the marriage was annulled and the matrimony was retroactively reversed to never actually have been valid in the first place, doesn't Logic 101 dictate that poor baby James will actually be a bastard child borne out of illicit extra-martial affair?
Won't this development make it even more difficult for the Philippines to make divorce legal since the religious right throughout the globe can now concentrate on our case and channel all their resources and energy on making sure that the Last Bastion won't fall? (The Last Bastion. Sounds bad ass.)
I guess that means a tougher challenge for us secularists here in the Philippines. (And I'm hearing some of you say, "Bring it on!")
Bring it on! *mumble* we're screwed
For a seemingly smart person, I can't believe you got your facts wrong about countries that ban divorce, particularly the Vatican being a non-state.
Please refer to the article's Note #1
Arguing that the Vatican is a state just because it says so on paper is ludicrous. The Vatican by any other name will still smell as putrid.
What people put on paper and what's actually out there are two very different things. A rational person would of course strive to maximize the agreement between reality and legality. As it stands, the UN's recognition of the Vatican's statehood is absurd because it does not fit with reality and is not consistent with other recognized international legal documents. But we cannot make reality agree with what is merely written on paper; it should go the other way around. To make what's written agree with what's actually out there, the Vatican ought to be stripped of its special privileges, because it does not deserve them for reasons Red pointed out in his well written article.
Your opinions on ludicrousness and absurdity are welcome, but it does not change any fact.
Let me end with this note: the Vatican's statehood is inconsistent with the internationally recognized definition of a 'sovereign state' and with the Montevideo Convention. To remove that inconsistency, we either strip the Vatican of its special privileges or we prepare ourselves for Hong Kong Disneyland's demands to be recognized as a sovereign state.
cool idea, I'd immigrate there in a heart-beat.
ahh… as their tagline goes… "the happiest place on earth"
Its passport would have the mickeymouse logo, how cool is that?
Its less of a state and more of a big fat leech feeding off Italy's administration.
Would a sovereign nation be so dependent on another country for even the most basic national facilities?
Good gravy, back then people here were already howling at how the Balikatan military exercises were part of a US imperialist plot to take over the country. But the Vatican is totally dependent on Italian military, judiciary, penal, and consular functions.
Its more like they're playing bahay-bahayan that actually running an independent and autonomous country.
I'm baffled by how folks' opinions and perceptions cloud the fact that The Vatican IS a recognized state.
It's like saying, a person is not a person because that person is feeble, weak, and dependent. You can say he/she is a poor excuse of a person, but still a person.
Terrible analogy right there. We have the Montevideo Convention specifically outlining the requirements for an independent state. Solely because of the political clout of the Roman Catholic Church, the international community must recognize the Holy See regardless of its failure to meet international law. It may be recognized by countries like the US as a sovereign state, but Vatican statehood is at best questionable according to international law. It is arguable, though it has not been tested in international courts, that the Vatican is not a state. Status quo prevails until it is challenged and when it is, there is definitely a case against the Holy See.
"Solely because of the political clout of the Roman Catholic Church, the international community must recognize the Holy See regardless of its failure to meet international law. " – Please don't pass off your perception/opinion as fact.
Then, pray tell, why is it asserted that the Vatican is a state when it has met none of the requirements of international law?
Hate to play devil's advocate: Vatican divorces from Italian law http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7807501.stm http://richarddawkins.net/articles/3483
Apparently the Vatican decided to be completely independent from Italian law. By doing so it establishes its own sovereignty. I wonder what the status is.
Did the Vatican just do a political version of a Henry VIII? that is so hypocritical of them.
oh dont mind us, we're just sourgraping 🙂
Its technical sovereignty isn't in question, but the thing on everyone's mind here is: "why the hell?!!"
Guess if you've got the cash to flash, you can literally buy anything… even your own country. Latest estimates figure the net worth of the Vatican at the trillions range already. Not bad for a "country" which has no discernible export other than faith.
You have to understand, nationhood is not as straightforward as you think.
Take for example the case of Taiwan. China claims that it is merely one of its province while Taiwan would insist on being a sovereign nation. Depending on who you'd ask, some countries recognize the "One-China policy", some do not.
The Philippines, butt-kissing country that it is, supports this policy so instead of sending the 14 Taiwanese nationals back to Taiwan, it instead shipped them off to China to face god-knows-what-sort-of-capital-punishment…
So on one hand, we have a country like Taiwan which has its own fully-developed infrastructure still not being recognized as an indendent country by the Philippines, and on the other hand we have people like you who aren't even questioning why the hell the Vatican, which doesn't even meet the basic infrastructure requirements of nationhood, is being given a free ride.
Good points, but Taiwan is a different matter.
could you elaborate?
Please read Wes' post.
A closer analogy would be the case of San Juan. Its really too small to even be considered a proper city. A few years back, it didn't even have its own courthouse (cases of San Juan were being tried at the Pasig courts). But having the ex-mayor of that tiny little town suddenly becoming president of the whole dang country for a while, they got special dispensation to fast-track cityhood. Now its got a bigger budget off the national treasury and more autonomy when it comes to declaring local policies.
Screw the definitions of what a city or a country is, when you've got power and moolah, you can literally defy the laws of physics and common sense.
For those wondering how much annulment will cost. It may cost up to P50,000 in lawyer fees, not including court and processing fees. Now extend that to a year or more (as is the case here in the Philippines) you may end up spending over P300,000.
Now if you also need legal separation that is another set of fees. (I cant remember do you need legal separation to get an annulment?)
Yep only the rich can afford it. And even for them it is a pain in the arse. Complications include how willing the spouse is to cooperate, pressure from the church, lawyers and family, good luck.
I also find it funny that legal separation needs to be conjugal.
"So you would let a person be stuck with someone they do not love?"
exactly why marriage should be well thought of, why would you marry someone you don't love? money?
and sir, its not about meddling, its about commitment/responsibility on a really big decision..
Someone else's divorce, or marriage for that matter, is none of your business. How about you let other people make their own "really big decisions"?
That's why if people do good and really think it through, they would not need divorce. However being human people make mistakes, alot of people are forced into marriage because of unintended pregnancies, pressure from families etc. and people change and grow out of love, add in the filipino macho complex… fools around.
read sison's philstar articles about marriage: abuse, infidelity and uselessness as a mate/parent are not good reasons for separation/annulment. that is the status quo and that is what these holier-than-though nutjobs want to protect
Eto na lang ang isipin mo: marriage is a contract between two people. It means that failure to meet some of the provisions of said contract can result in dissolution. Heck, when the "minds do not meet" anymore, the two signatories can terminate the contract.
The state, of course, will step in to make sure that everyone else affected by the dissolution of the contract (e.g. kids) are taken care of.
"No good marriage ends in divorce." — Louis CK
Annulment is a ridiculous system that is based on magical thinking. No wonder the Catholic Church endorses it, in lieu of the mature solution. Annulment says that a marriage was never valid to begin with. Now, with all the social conservatives preaching responsibility, where's the responsibility in that? You made a mistake. You don't have to let that mistake hang over your head until you die. Annulment means that you don't have to own up to your mistake and correct it. It's the grown-up equivalent of "Erase. Erase. Erase."
You shouldn't have to stay in a loveless marriage. You shouldn't have to stay in an abusive marriage. But the social conservatives will have none of that and say, "No, you deserve the suffering until you die."
I see your argument sir, but in your opinion, do you as a Filipino believe that we are responsible enough to handle this sort of freedom?
are we ready to see the possible onset of divorce scandals? (marry rich – divorce for settlement)
IMO if we can't even pass a responsible RH bill, I don't think we are ready to handle this sort of thing.
Filipinos are not one monolithic group. And, besides, divorce scandals? How is that any of my or your business? If you're so worried about some gold digger stealing your money, it's easy: don't get married. Or, get a prenup.
I don't understand this "ready" argument. If people don't like their marriage, they should be allowed to end it. If they're not "ready" then that's their prerogative. How about people not "ready" for marriage? Are you going to argue that marriage shouldn't be allowed because a minority of people will not be "ready" to handle that sort of freedom? Are you going to curtail the rights of everyone for the sake of an imaginary few?
Again, no good marriage ends in divorce.
hmmm… I see..
maybe its that little still conservative Filipino inside me that doesn't want this to happen, or maybe I would just really hate this thing to be a celebrity/pop/media thing.. as you said, its probably none of my business, but it doesn't stop me from dying a little inside every time I see people salivating over the next celebrity divorce.
salamat sa discussion sir, its good to hear the other sides argument. I'll keep your thoughts in mind
[maybe its that little still conservative Filipino inside me that doesn't want this to happen, or maybe I would just really hate this thing to be a celebrity/pop/media thing]
Look at it this way: If you hate divorces getting sensationalized so much, then go after the media that hype them up in the first place.
I do agree with you that the local channels spend way too much time dabbling into celebrities I don't give a shit about.
As for your "little conservative Filipino," well I suggest you pay less attention to it – reality is far bigger than it can handle.
A question sir, just out of curiosity, since we have mentioned broken families and domestic abuses on our discussion.
I'm no psychologist so id like to ask:
what do you think is more damaging to the psychological upbringing for a child?
1. abusive parent (physical)
2. growing up without a father/mother (emotional)
now before you say "of course abusive parent", I didn't grow up in a broken family, but I know what its like growing up without a father(since mine was always out of the country and never was by my side growing up), though I could see the financial benefit, I still hated him for not being there.
my point is, in the child's growing years, I think he would feel very emotionally tortured every time he sees a happy family, and for that he would probably hate his parent for not working it out, and this would probably stay with him until adulthood.
again this is not for arguments sake
I recognize my defeat over the issue, and I probably shouldn't be arguing about this since my emotional attachment blocks my ability to be reasonable
Your ability to recognize emotional attachement and bias shows your rationality.
You sound like you could be a good parent some day (if you not already).
[though I could see the financial benefit, I still hated him for not being there.]
I'm sorry you feel that way about your dad (although, it sounds like he's very hard working and decent).
[what do you think is more damaging to the psychological upbringing for a child?
1. abusive parent (physical)
2. growing up without a father/mother (emotional)]
Since it's hypothetical, do we really have to choose one or the other? can't we choose neither?
You sounded like you wanted the child to grow up in an abusive home. Can't parents be separated and still be good parents?
I answer your question with my own: Isn't it oversimplifying the issue by making it look like that those are the only two factors that can possibly lead to the emotional scarring of a child?
[my point is, in the child's growing years, I think he would feel very emotionally tortured every time he sees a happy family, and for that he would probably hate his parent for not working it out, and this would probably stay with him until adulthood. ]
And who are you to assume how a child thinks? You yourself stated you did not come from a broken family, nor do you have the necessary professional background to make an accurate prediction.
[are we ready to see the possible onset of divorce scandals? (marry rich – divorce for settlement) ]
Are YOU ready to see the results of not making divorce viable for abused spouses? http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/08/14/10/gabrie…
but we already have annulment for cases of abuses among other stuff that could invalidate a marriage?
Sorry but I'm against divorce simply because it kinda lets people be free to have a not-so-well-thought-off marriage, I'm not saying this because of church stuff, but it just sounds really irresponsible, I mean, how about if they had children? (and no this is not about child support, its about children being with parentS)
my college law professor once told us that "the reason why annulment takes time and costs much is so that it will only be used as a last resort, and the time is there to have to couple really think things out"
So, you're against divorce because you like meddling in other people's lives?
a.) "not-so-well-thought-of" marriage is already happening…philippines has one of the youngest marrying age. countries like taiwan and japan inspite of having a divorce law as you are pointing out have thought about their marriages well enough that they marry in their 30's.
b.) annulment does not protect the aggrieved party (usually the women). how many illegitimate children are not given support by their fathers and just because the fathers can.
c.) annulment is only for the rich… it's a very very expensive process btw.
d.) marriage is a contract. all contracts need to have exit clauses.
So you would let a person be stuck with someone they do not love? I remember this moronic article by that fail-of-a-lawyer Sison in the Inquirer. It was about a woman who wanted separation from a bum of a husband (lazy, no job, didn't lift a finger to help raise the family) and it was passed of as a psychological disorder.
He was proud that lawyers, priests and judges insisted that she cannot just separate from her husband. They are proud they made her stay in the relationship for another 25 years.
"He was proud that lawyers, priests and judges insisted that she cannot just separate from her husband. They are proud they made her stay in the relationship for another 25 years. "
I have a feeling that if the roles were reversed, and it was the husband who was the breadwinner, and the woman was the lazy deadbeat, Sison would probably say it was in the man's best interest to leave her.
Sison. Philstar's token misogynistic windbag.
Sorry Twin_Skies apparently not =/ Man or woman he would rather have you stay in a F'd up marriage. than be happy.
Gyst of the story: Man works abroad and provided for the family. Wife spent all the wealth and has an affair. Sison's conclusion:
"While the RTC annulled their marriage, said decision was reversed by the Court of Appeals (CA) on appeal by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) which claimed that the psychological evaluation of Tita based on the information of Ric and his son was not enough to establish Tita’s incapacity. But Ric still questioned the CA decision and insisted that Tita’s overspending and infidelity constitute adequate grounds for declaring the marriage null and void. Was Ric correct? No."
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=66… i forgot sison is from philstar.
I stand corrected. That doesn't make Sison any less of an asshole though.
and a much bigger asshole than we thought. not that i think its impossible.
[I'm not saying this because of church stuff, but it just sounds really irresponsible, I mean, how about if they had children? (and no this is not about child support, its about children being with parentS) ]
I suggest you visit DPWH or the local police precinct once in a while. They'll be more than happy to share their list of reports of domestic violence cases, as filed by beaten wives and children. I think it'd be more irresponsible not to give them a means to escape from the abuser, because we have to adhere to your narrow-minded concept of marriage.
The OP implied that you can get annulment for being abused, but the law disagrees. You can get legal separation, but you're still married to a monster and you can never marry again.
[because it kinda lets people be free to have a not-so-well-thought-off marriage]
What's wrong with that kind of freedom? Didn't our heroes die for this freedom?
Didn't the Filipino people go to Edsa to protest against a dictator trying to impose on our freedom?
Now you want (just like the Bishops) to impose your belief on our freedom?
This is why I don't like being part of any established religion, they try to take away your freedom to think freely.
Why not just trust us and believe that we aren't as stupid as you think we (this means all Filipinos) are. We won't start killing or f&*king each other because we have the freedom to do so.
the problem isn't that marriages aren't well thought out. it's just that humans can and will make errors in judgement. to not recognize that is just unfair to everyone. people try their best to make marriages work out and last, but the truth is that nobody can foresee the future, especially for something as complex as human relations. the best that we can do is to let people recognize and correct their errors, in this case, through divorce.
We are the last bastion of the true Catholic faith. Now anyone who wants to get married and never be divorced by their partner (even if they are in an abusive relationship) can move here, become a citizen and get married here.
Now I get it…the bishops are basically saying, "you made a mistake, live with it. God will forgive you if you live with it and be miserable for the rest of your life".
anti – RH – Get pregnant and let the children or yourself die from hunger and misery, then go to heaven.
anti – divorce – You're in an abusive relationship, till death do you part, go to heaven.
Ignorance is bliss
"It's okay to suffer and live in abject misery because if you follow all our rules, when you die, you get to go to heaven! Isn't that just wonderful?"
It would really suck though if heaven doesn't exist 😛