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Why the RH law can never be catholic

Rev. Fr. Russell Bantiles


PARDON my insistence on this issue. But there’s an erroneous thought that goes around today insisting on the compatibility of the RH law with Catholic doctrines. While I admit that the RH law issue is already irritating to tackle about, what is more irritating is the fact that RH law advocates, who could not make Catholics pro-RH, are now trying to make the RH law catholic.

            In clarifying this question, I am simply doing my ministry as a priest, that is, to “proclaim the message, in season and out of season” (Cfr. 2 Tim 4:2). It is because, today, as in the time of St. Paul, some “people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths” (2 Tim 4: 3-4).

            I don’t think the RH law only provides for “choice according to religious conviction”, as one intellectual claims, for two reasons: first, I don’t think laws only provide options or choices. The helmet law which took effect in Davao City recently does not only provide for a choice on whether or not a motorist would use standard helmets. The law prescribes it under penalty. Do you think the RH law only provides for a choice on whether an adult married Filipino couple would use condom or rhythm method? Tell it to the marines! If the law only provides for a choice, why the need to make it a law? Don’t couples already have a choice before the RH law?

            Secondly, I don’t think the RH law guarantees religious conviction when all it prescribes and promotes is the contraceptive mentality which is contrary to the religious conviction of the majority of Filipinos. By promoting the use of contraceptives, the law is insensitive to the religious conviction of the Catholic majority. Besides, it endangers the conscience of all Catholics who are striving to be good Catholics through obedience to the Magisterium. Is that the way the law guarantees the free exercise of religious freedom and conviction?

            Moreover, the argument of those who hold that the RH law is compatible with the Catholic doctrines simply because the law “provides for choice according to religious conviction” is seriously flawed and is completely missing the point. The point at issue here is not whether Catholics have or don’t have choices. The central point is that the RH law promotes contraception, something that Catholic teaching cannot tolerate.

While it is important to emphasize that people should have choices, it is equally important to analyze what kind of choices people should have. Freedom does not consist merely in having choices. True freedom is choosing the good. Evil choice is not freedom; it is slavery. If married couples are given the choice to use contraception, this is an evil choice. Hence, it does not make them free: it enslaves them.

Therefore, something in the RH law is intrinsically evil: the promotion of contraception. That alone makes it incompatible with the Catholic doctrine. Even non-Catholics with good will and who are lovers of life will surely reject the RH law. How much more a Catholic priest like me?

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2 Responses to Why the RH law can never be catholic

  1. Hi Father.

    I just wanted to add what the Catechism says about this.

    “The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful information, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children.162 In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law.” (CCC 2372)

    I am assuming that all religions uphold the obligation of couples to practice family planning. Our constitution prohibits the government to deny its citizens the exercise of religion which may include practices that are deemed moral for them. The government uses this to justify their promotion of artificial contraceptives because some religions do not see it as an immoral means of family planning. However some religions including the Catholic faithful do see it as immoral so using the same argument, they should at least set limits in their promotion of responsible parenthood.

    The government is then impelled to make a choice. Should it promote family planning or not? The constitution mandates that they should and the Church also teaches that they should. The next question should be is that how can they promote responsible parenthood without violating religious freedom of all. The government’s answer to this is to facilitate access to information and to family planning methods, “without bias” between modern and natural methods, and leaves it up to the people whether or not they will avail of these newly made available services. The rest are just implementing provisions.

    Therefore given this circumstance and despite the promotion of the government use of modern methods of family planning, I think the RH law can actually be compatible with our faith and even uphold it as long as it is “done by means of objective and respectful information”, without coercion and without using “means contrary to the moral law” to implement it. I think Catholics should take part in pushing for our interests in the implementation of the provisions of the RH law and we should remain vigilant from illicit practices in its implementation.

    One issue that immediately comes to mind that we should be concerned about is the non-prohibition of the FDA of some abortifacient contraceptives which allows them to be used by individuals and, given the RH law, to be procured and made available by the government.

    Of course, I am open to be corrected if I have missed out on something. Moreover as a Catholic, I shall consider the RH law as a challenge to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church regarding our vocation to chastity and as well as helping others to make the same choice.

    April 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm

  2. “If married couples are given the choice to use contraception, this is an evil choice. Hence, it does not make them free: it enslaves them.”

    Isn’t it God gave us the “FREE WILL” to choose good or evil? Then according to above article, this logic means “free will” enslaves us because it gives us evil choice! How ironic that free enslaves us!

    April 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm

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