At the end of Mass on March 31 at the Bayanihan Center in Kennedy Town, a Filipino priest urged about 200 parishioners to support in the upcoming 2013 mid-term senatorial elections candidates who belong to the so-called “Team Buhay”.
The Philippine Catholic church’s support for “Team Buhay” or pro-life senatorial candidates started in Bacolod city in Negros Occidental, and senior Catholic leaders have since endorsed the campaign, a key aspect of which is non-support for “Team Patay” senatorial candidates.
Team Buhay or Life Team refers to senators who opposed the Reproductive Health (RH) bill (which was subsequently passed into law) and who are seeking reelection in May of this year. Catholic leaders have dubbed as members of Team Patay or Death Team reelectionist senators, including Loren Legarda and Peter Cayetano, who strongly supported the enactment of the RH Law.
Questions: Why is the Catholic church mobilizing en masse for the very first time the so-called “Catholic vote” in a clear bid to thwart the bid of pro-RH Law to get reelected to the Senate?
Is the RH Law so evil that Catholic church clearly wishes to take revenge on pro-RH Law by openly campaigning against Team Patay senatorial candidates and openly asking for support for Team Buhay or anti-RH Law senatorial candidates?
Is the passage of the RH Law — despite the Catholic church’s vehement objections — reason enough for Catholic church leaders to get directly involved in Philippine politics?
In my mind, I can’t help but liken Catholic leaders to a spoiled brat who is throwing an irresponsible and illogical tantrum just because he wasn’t given a piece of candy that he’s craving for.
Why this view?
Because the RH Law is already there. It’s now a law, passed by a majority of the country’s lawmakers after more than 10 years of often bitter debates.
The majority of the country’s population has clearly spoken through their elected representatives at the House of Representatives and the Senate. Why can’t the Catholic church respect the decision and aspiration of the majority of the people?
Of course, there are attempts before the Supreme Court to delay the implementation of the RH Law. But in the absence of strong arguments against the implementation of this new law, it will be a matter of time before it starts to take effect.
And what is the RH Law all about?
Put simply, it seeks to help couples plan the number of children that they wish to have by providing them with different family planning options aside from the natural or rhythm method that is the only manner that is acceptable to the Catholic church.
The Catholic church’s primary objection to the RH Law is its advocacy of artificial methods of contraception or avoiding unwanted pregnancies. It argues that any artificial form of contraception is anti-life and is tantamount to killing an unborn being.
It stubbornly clings to this dogma while turning a blind eye to massive poverty that afflict slums in various parts of metropolitan Manila where the poorest of the poor have little knowledge how to plan the size of their families. As a result of poor family planning, it is not uncommon to see poor families having three or more children, but without any adequate and consistent means to feed and provide them with proper education and upbringing. All over metro Manila, street children beg for alms while scores resort to petty and even serious crimes due to extreme poverty.
This story is repeated many times over in different provinces outside Manila. Scores of the poorest of the poor continuing to have children, without regard how they will feed, clothe and provide them with proper education and other necessities in life.
Does the Catholic church and anti-RH lawmakers care about these harsh realities? Are they doing anything effective to help poor couples do proper planning of the size of their families so they stop having any more children whom they may be unable to care for very well?
If not, the Catholic church should channel its focus and resources to more productive endeavors rather than attempting to take revenge on pro-RH reelectionist senators.
For instance, the church can reinforce their outreach programs and projects to help poor families undertake family planning using the natural method of contraception. They can also consider strengthening and expanding their support — religious and material — to the poorest of the poor.
Catholic leaders can perhaps employ experts and teach livelihood programs to the poorest of the poor inside church premises. In this way, the church can help alleviate poverty and win over many Catholics many of whom no longer see the relevance of the church, especially amid their struggles to eke out a living.
Instead of dabbling in politics, Catholic leaders should instead direct their focus, energy and resources to the reforms being espoused by the new pope, like addressing sexual abuses committed by deviant priests, bishops and other members of the church.
Shouldn’t Phlippine Catholic leaders be asking themselves why there’s hardly any sex predator within their ranks that gets punished adequately? How can they expect to retain the continuing respect and allegiance of Catholics if they can’t police their own ranks?
And why on earth can’t they consider discussing the possibility of allowing divorce in the Philippines when Spain — which introduced Christianity in our country — doesn’t see any problem with this.
Will the political adve