MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 March) — One thing I hate listening to during masses is when the priest riles against the Reproductive Health Law. I hate it more when he does so in utter ignorance of the final version of the law by insisting that it promotes abortion.
The intellectual torture doesn’t stop at the pulpit. Catholic lay workers who obviously haven’t read a single section of the RH Law add to the efforts of the priests and bishops to mislead the faithful into thinking that the law is intrinsically evil.
The bishops and their loyal followers who would never tolerate any deviation from Church dogmas on the reproductive sphere of earthly existence are saying in effect that the legislators and every citizen – Catholic or non-Catholic – who favored its passage did so with evil motives in mind. It seems that their medieval mindset could not come to terms with the fact that those who have supported the RH Law have done so with a clear conscience.
Trapped however in the medieval mindset that Church teachings are infallible, the bishops have refused to see the writing on the wall that the law is an idea whose time has come. They have resorted to blackmail and vindictiveness, for example, by issuing threats of excommunication. They forgot this is no longer the era where even Spanish governors-general would shudder at such threat and walk on their knees towards the altar.
Pathetic that the Church’s brand of self-righteousness can only lean on the statistical fact that it is the majority religion in this country. This is the same imaginary weapon that the Diocese of Bacolod is using against senatorial candidates in its “Team Buhay, Team Patay” campaign.
Whether or not the Diocese of Bacolod is having delusions that there is a Catholic vote in this country is not the issue. (I believe the senatorial candidates referred to in the hate campaign will win or lose owing to factors other than what the Catholic Church have to say on them.)
What I find disgusting is the refusal of the Church to acknowledge that their core objections to the law have been addressed in its final version. For one, prohibitions against abortion have been made more specific. In addition, health workers will not be forced to perform functions – for instance, administering contraceptives – if they think such functions are inconsistent with their religious beliefs.
Still, the Church has insisted that the law is unconstitutional even if its arguments are already passé, to say the least. I am inclined to believe that the continuing opposition is nothing more than a desperate assertion of Catholic teachings on contraception, if not an assertion of its dwindling influence on policymaking itself.
But with the growing secularization of Philippine society in general, the bishops may already be waging a losing war. The passage of the RH Law signaled the beginning of the end of Catholic influence on state affairs. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)