Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reckless and irresponsible

By Jo Imbong. She is running for senator.

REP. EDCEL LAGMAN, THE PRINCIPAL AUTHOR OF THE proposed Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2008 asserts, among others, that the bill is neither antilife nor antifamily, that contraceptives are not life-threatening and that the bill does not impose a two-child policy.

Prolife? To value human life is to respect and protect life in all its seasons. “Human life begins at fertilization.” (Records of the Constitutional Commission, Vol. IV, Sept. 18, 1986, pp. 761, 801) hence, “the State shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.” (Constitution, Article II, Section 12). Lagman said in a House hearing that the bill would protect human life “from implantation.”

By that token, the zygote not yet in the mother’s womb is not protected. Pills and the IUD hinder implantation of the embryo in the uterus, thereby precipitating the embryo’s destruction. That is abortion. And yet, “every child ... needs appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).

Not life-threatening? Records are rife of perforation of the uterus and serious pelvic infections in women with IUDs that public midwives have refused to extract. The Mayo Foundation found that oral contraceptives are associated with an increase risk of breast cancer. DepoProvera increases a woman’s risk for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Oral contraceptives containing cyproterone increase risk of deep venous blood clots.

Levonorgestrel is banned in this country as the Bureau of Food and Drugs found it to be abortifacient. Life-threatening ectopic pregnancies occur in mothers long after undergoing tubal ligation, particularly those sterilized before age 30.

Contraceptives as essential medicines? Contraceptives do not treat any medical condition. Fertility is not a disease. It attests to health! The bill targets “the poor, needy and marginalized.” This is most unkind to them whose real needs are jobs, skills, education, lucrative opportunities, nutrition, and essential medicines for anemia, tuberculosis, infections and childhood diseases.

Remember, every citizen has the right to health (Art. II, Sec.15), hence, the State has a duty to protect the citizens against dangerous substances (Constitution, Art. XVI, Sec.9), and protect women in their maternal function (Art. XIII,Sec. 14).

Family friendly? The “encouragement” to have two children is manipulation both brazen and subtle. It can set the stage for a stronger application of the recommendation through legislative amendments. Spouses have a basic, original, intrinsic and inviolable right “to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood” (Art. XV, Sec. 3 [1]). This includes their right to progeny.

The bill mocks parents with fine and imprisonment in refusing to expose their children to mandatory “age-appropriate” reproductive health education starting Grade 5 outside the loving confines of home and family.

Vulnerable and malleable, our children will be taught “adolescent reproductive health” and “the full range of information on family planning methods, services and facilities” for six years. This is child abuse of the highest order. And yet, “every child has the right to be brought up in an atmosphere of morality and rectitude for the enrichment and strengthening of his character.” (Child and Youth Welfare Code)

The ... care and nurtur[ance] of the child reside first in the parents (Article II, Sec. 12, Constitution), whose primary function and freedom include preparation for obligations the state can neither supply nor hinder. (Brantley v. Surles, 718 F. 2d. 1354,1358-59) The State did not create the family, and “the child is not a creature of the State.” (Pierce vs. Society of Sisters, 268, U.S. 510, 535.) That is the law of nature, and no human institution has authority to amend it.

Quality of life? The bill wants to “uplift the quality of life of the people.” Population control started in 1976 “to increase the share of each Filipino in the fruits of economic progress.” In other words -- to eliminate poverty. Has it?

The General Appropriations Act of 2008 earmarks an enormous amount for “family planning and reproductive health services,” including contraceptives. For the Department of Health it is P3.19 billion; for Popcom -- P386.5 million, quite apart from funds for other agencies of government and local government units for the same programs. Add $2.4 million from the United Nations Population Fund for population and development and reproductive health for 2008, plus $2.2 million for 2009.

Today’s average family has three children compared with seven in the ’70s. But the billions of pesos spent have not reduced poverty or benefited the poor.

If Congress passes this bill, it wagers the future of the country. Citizens have a right to resist misplaced and irresponsible exercise of authority because the good of the people is the supreme law. Salus populi est suprema lex.

The path of irresponsible legislation is a dreadful path: If an act is made legal, it will be perceived as moral. If an act is perceived as moral, it will become a norm. If it is observed by all as a norm, then it is too late. By then, you will have changed the culture. That is not simply reckless. It is the ultimate breach of public trust.

No place for the RH bill in our law

By a member of the International Right to Life Federation

THE REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH bill in the House of Representatives is being presented as a health bill and an antipoverty bill at the same time. It is neither. It is not what its authors say it is; it is everything they say it is not. It is an ideological attack on human life, the family, and our social and cultural values.

The bill rests on a flawed premise; it is unnecessary, unconstitutional, oppressive of religious belief and destructive of public morals and family values. Its enactment into law will only deepen the already frightening ignorance about the real issues. It should be rejected.

1. Flawed premise
Our population growth rate (National Statistics Office) is 2.04 percent, total fertility rate (TFR) is 3.02. The CIA World Factbook has lower figures -- growth rate, 1.728 percent; TFR, 3.00.

Our population density is 277 per square km. GDP per capita (PPP) is $3,400. Fifty other countries have a much lower density, yet their per capita is also much lower. Thirty-six countries are more densely populated, yet their GDP per capita is also much higher. Are the few then always richer, the many always poorer? Not at all.

Our median age is 23 years. In 139 other countries it is as high as 45.5 years (Monaco). This means a Filipino has more productive years ahead of him than his counterpart in the rich countries where the graying and dying population is no longer being replaced because of negative birth rates.

Our long-term future is bright, because of a vibrant and dynamic population.

2. Unnecessary
Women who say they should be free to contracept (regardless of what the moral law or science says) are not being prevented from doing so, as witness the 50-percent contraceptive prevalence rate. It is a free market. But as we are not a welfare state, taxpayers have no duty to provide the contraceptives to try and cure pregnancy, which is not a disease.

The State’s duty is to protect women from real diseases. At least 80 women die every day from heart diseases, 63 from vascular diseases, 51 from cancer, 45 from pneumonia, 23 from tuberculosis, 22 from diabetes; 16 from lower chronic respiratory diseases. Why are our lawmakers not demanding free medicines and services for all those afflicted?

Indeed, maternal death could be brought down to zero just by providing adequate basic and emergency obstetrics-care facilities and skilled medical services to women. The local officials of Gattaran, Cagayan and Sorsogon City have shown this. Why do our lawmakers insist on stuffing our women with contraceptives and abortifacients instead?

In 2005, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization concluded that oral contraceptives cause breast, liver and cervical cancer. Shouldn’t our lawmakers demand that contraceptives be banned or at least labeled as “cancer-causing,” or “dangerous to women’s health”? Why do they want them classified as “essential medicines” instead?

3. Unconstitutional
a.) The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Yet the bill seems to assume we are a centrally planned economy or a totalitarian State, which controls the private lives of its citizens. Truth is, there are certain activities of man as man where the individual is completely autonomous from the State.

Just as the State may not tell a politician or a journalist how or when to think, write or speak, it may not enter the bedroom and tell married couples how or when to practice marital love.

b.) Article II, Section 12 of the Constitution says: “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. The natural and primary right and duty of parents in the rearing of the youth for civic efficiency and the development of moral character shall receive the support of the Government.”

The use of “sanctity” makes State obedience to God’s laws not only a solemn teaching of the Church, but also an express constitutional mandate. Now, when the State binds itself to “equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception,” it necessarily binds itself not to do anything to prevent even one married woman from conceiving. A state-funded contraceptive program is an abomination.

4. Oppressive of religious belief

The bill seeks to tell the Catholic majority not to listen to the Church and to listen to anti-Catholic politicians instead. It seeks to establish a program which Catholic taxpayers will fund in order to attack a doctrine of their faith. Is there a worse despotism? Would the same people do the same thing to the followers of Islam or some politically active religious pressure group?

The pro-RH lobby claims surveys have shown that most Catholic women want to use contraception, regardless of what the Church says about it. It is a desperate attempt to show that right or wrong can now be reduced to what you like or dislike. The truth is never the result of surveys. Contraception is wrong not because the Church has banned it; the Church has banned it because it is wrong. No amount of surveys can change that.

5. Destructive of public morals

The bill seeks to impose a hedonistic sex-oriented lifestyle that aims to reduce the conjugal act to a mere exchange of physical sensations between two individuals and marriage to a purely contraceptive partnership.

Not only is it hedonistic, it is above all eugenicist. It seeks to eliminate the poor and the “socially unfit.” While it neither mandates a two-child family nor legalizes abortion, it prepares the ground for both.

In 1974, the US National Security Study Memorandum 200, titled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests,” launched the two-child family as a global population policy to be achieved by 2000. But “no country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion,” said that document.

Now you know what’s next, and where it’s all coming from.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Paedophile priests and the Pope

by Marcello Pera. President of the Italian Senate (2001-2006). Marcello Pera is an Italian philosopher and politician. He was the President of the Italian Senate from 2001 to 2006. In the wake of the allegations of priestly sexual abuse and the accusations of inaction on the part of Catholic Church authorities, he sent this article to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In the article published on 19 March 2010, he argues that beneath the fa├žade lies an ongoing battle between secularism and Christianity. The abuses are only an excuse for this war. Pera is an agnostic. .

The recent breaking news in Germany of paedophile or homosexual priests is a direct attack against the Pope. It will be a serious mistake to think that the blame will not stick given the graveness of the matter. It would be an even greater mistake if one thinks that the matter will blow over for good as happened in similar situations in the past. This is different.

There is a war going on. And this war is targeted not against the Pope himself per se, because that is impossible on this matter. This is because Benedict XVI has made himself impregnable thanks to his image, serenity, clarity and to his doctrine. His gentle smile is enough to defeat an entire army of opponents. No, the war is between secularism and Christianity. The secularists know that if mud were splashed on the white robe, it would stain the church, and if the church is stained, so would the Christian religion. That is why the secularists accompany their campaign with questions like, “Who will continue to bring children to the Church?” or “who will continue to send boys to Catholic schools?” or even, “who will cure our little children in a Catholic hospital or clinic?”

A few days ago, one such secularist completely missed the point by writing that “the extent of the spread of sexual abuse of children by priests undermines the very legitimacy of the Catholic Church as the guarantor of the education of minors”. To this writer, it does not seem to matter that this is a judgement that has no foundation in reality, because the so-called “extent of the spread” is a vague term. What percentage of priests are paedophiles? One, Ten percent? All of them? It does not also seem to matter that the statement is devoid of logic. One only need to replace the word “priest” with “teacher”, “politicians”, or “journalists” in order to undermine the legitimacy of public schools, the senate or of the newspaper. What matters to such persons is to make insinuations even at the cost of using coarse arguments. Priests are paedophiles therefore the Church has no moral authority… therefore Catholic education is dangerous… therefore Christianity is a fraud and a danger!

The battle is pitched between secularism and Christianity. To find a simile, one must cast his mind back to Nazism and communism. The medium has changed but the end remains the same. Today, just like yesterday, they ardently desire the destruction of religion. The price Europe paid for this destructive fury was its own freedom. And it is incredible that Germany while still beating its breast in remembrance of the price it inflicted on all of Europe (which today has become democratic) seem today to have forgotten so soon. Germany now does not seem to understand that democracy itself will be lost if Christianity is erased. The destruction of religion leads to the destruction of reason. Nowadays it will not be triumph of secular reason but the introduction of a new barbarism.

On the ethical plane, it is the barbarism of those who kill the foetus because its life will be detrimental to the “mental health” of the mother. They are the ones who say that an embryo is a “blob of cells” suitable for experiments. They are those who kill an old person because he no longer has a family to care for him. They are the ones who hasten the death of the child because it is no longer conscious and is incurable; who believe that “parent A” and “parent B” is equivalent to “father” and “mother”; who think that faith is like the tail bone, a body organ that is no longer participating in the evolutionary process because Erect and Independently standing man no longer needs a tail. And so on.

On the other hand, considering the political angle of this secularist war against Christianity, barbarism will lead to the destruction of Europe. This is because once you destroy Christianity, the end result is multi-culturalism, which believes that each group has a right to its own cultures; Relativism, which says that one culture is as good as the other; Pacifism, which denies the existence of evil or maintains that rhetorical and irresponsible Europe does not need to have its own identity, but should rather be a container of all identifies. After all these claim, they go into Strasbourg Cathedral to exclaim: “Now we need the Christian soul of Europe”.

This war against Christianity would not be so dangerous if Christians understood what was going on. Instead a great majority of them live in incomprehension. Theologians are frustrated by the intellectual supremacy of Benedict XVI. There are unsure bishops who believe that compromising with modernity is the best way to update the Christian message. There are cardinals suffering a crisis of faith who are beginning to suggest that priestly celibacy is not a dogma and that it would perhaps be better to reconsider it. There are plush Catholic intellectuals who think that there is a feminine question within the Church and an unresolved problem between Christianity and sexuality. There are Episcopal conferences that being out of touch with daily realities, adopt an “open door” policy with everyone, and yet lack the courage to denounce the aggressions and humiliations which Christians suffer by being continually brought to the dock and forced to defend their cause. Or those senators who show off a beautiful homosexual foreign affairs minister, while at the same time attacking the Pope on every ethical issue; or those born in the west who think that the west must be secular i.e. anti-Christian.

The secularist war will continue. If for nothing else, because a Pope like Benedict XVI who smiles but does not shrink an iota feeds it. If however one understands why he does not yield, one would then take up the battle without sitting back to await the next shot. Whoever limits himself only to showing solidarity with the Pope, is either someone who enters the Garden of Olives at night and secretly or is yet to understand what is going on.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Benedict on Aquinas: "Faith Implies Reason"

By James V. Schall

"According to the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, human reason, to say it as such, 'breathes,' that is, it moves on a wide-open horizon in which it can experience the best of itself. Nonetheless, when man limits himself to think only of material and experimental objects, he closes himself to the questions of life, about himself and about God, impoverishing himself." -- Benedict XVI, Feast of Thomas Aquinas, January 28, 2007

I.

A seminarian friend of mine in Connecticut brought my attention, via e-mail, to the ZENIT copy of the Holy Father's Angelus for Sunday, January 28, entitled, "On the Faith-Reason Synthesis: A Precious Patrimony for Western Civilization." Naturally, I hastened to look it up as I had not yet read it. One good thing about the weekly papal Sunday "Angelus" talks is that they are short, to the point, and seldom designed to say more than one thing to the folks assembled below the papal balcony to receive the papal blessing. As I had been reading both Chesterton's Heretics and John Paul II's Memory and Identity with a class, this brief comment on Aquinas was of particular interest to me.

I have always considered particularly prophetic the conclusion of Chesterton's book, written in 1905. It described, in his own vivid and far-seeing way, what would, more than anything, be the philosophical irony of the then upcoming 20th and 21st centuries, namely, the "self-limitation" of the human mind so that it denied itself the power to get outside of itself into a reality it did not make. In a certain almost verbatim anticipation of the thesis of Fides et Ratio, Chesterton wrote of the coming centuries, "We (those with the faith) shall look on the impossible grass and the skies with a strange courage. We shall be of those who have seen and yet have believed." The fact is that, a hundred years after Chesterton wrote, it is primarily those with the faith who can affirm that their senses and reason report to them a real world that is. They are the ones with the courage to speak of the skies as "heavens" even if blue and of the grass as green.

Chesterton's paradoxical passage, of course, presupposes that we recall the famous conversation of Christ with the apostle Thomas after the Resurrection. Thomas brashly clamed that he would believe it was actually Christ only after he had put his hand in the side of the Lord's risen body. Christ's equally paradoxical reply was "blessed are those, Thomas, who have not seen but have believed." Here, we find Chesterton stating the obvious, that, in our time, it is those with the faith who are most likely to be the ones who use their senses and mind to see and affirm the world that is, who think that there really is a world to know.

The Pope, in his comment on Aquinas, adds that there are things to be known by our reason that are not limited to the material realm, about which latter many philosophers also doubt whether we can know other than through our man-constructed scientific theories about them. Thus, on such a premise, what we see are not things but our theories of things. And when our theories change, we wonder whether we ever see anything at all. We have to "believe" that what we see with our senses is really there.

II.

Benedict, who is often said to be more of an "Augustinian" than a "Thomist" philosopher (neither of which, be it noted, are sins), remarks that Aquinas has the "charism" of both a philosopher and a theologian. Aquinas "offers a valid model of harmony between reason and faith." Both of these "dimensions of the human spirit (reason and faith)" are "fully realized when they meet and dialogue." If we take this statement literally, as I think we should, it means that philosophy is not philosophy if it is only philosophy, and theology is not theology if it is only theology. To be what they are at their best, both need the other, and more, both need in those who hold them the full experience of human living itself. The notion that faith and reason should not meet--absolute "separation" of church and state, complete "autonomy" of faith and reason--is itself a formula for not "fully realizing" the whole, to which both theology and philosophy are to be open by their own proper approaches. Revelation addresses itself to a reason that has its own unanswered philosophical questions. Philosophy, when it knows what it knows, realizes that it is but a "quest." Only the gods are wholly wise.

Benedict remarks that Aquinas' thought literally "breathes" on the whole "horizon" of the reality to which it is open. Here the Pope uses the analogy of "breathing" rather than that of "seeing." The Spirit "hovers" over the waters, all waters. It is quite possible for us, however, voluntarily to close ourselves off from things higher than those to which our scientific or theoretical methods will allow us to grasp. What the Pope emphasizes here is that this "closing off" is not a theoretically necessary thing, but a "choice" on our part not to see certain things whose existence would impinge on our own self-made image of the world, on the way we choose to live.

Benedict next refers back both to John Paul II's Fides et Ratio and to his own Regensburg Lecture in which these very issues were discussed in greater detail. The "challenge of faith and reason" has directly to do with the problem of Western culture's understanding itself, itself and other cultures. The Pope never misses an opportunity to praise what in modern technological culture is worthy and even noble. These good results "must always be acknowledged." Yet, there is an Enlightenment problem. The tendency to consider true only "that which can be experienced constitutes a limitation for human reason and produces a terrible schizophrenia, evident to all, because of which rationalism and materialism, and hyper-technology and unbridled instincts, coexist." Because something cannot be "measured" or reproduced by mathematical methods, themselves rightly based on matter, does not mean that everything is material. Mathematical "ideas" are themselves, as Plato said, spiritual. If we insist that only matter exists, we "reduce" our sights so that we only see what is material. We confuse it for everything.

What is needed? We must "rediscover in a new way human rationality open to the light of the divine Logos and to its perfect revelation that is Jesus Christ, Son of God made man." Does this view not "restrict" our range of freedom and knowledge? Quite the opposite. Any closing off of the mind from the full range of things to which it is open is itself a denial both of freedom and reason. "When Christian faith is authentic, it does not mortify freedom or human reason." There is no reason for faith and reason to be "afraid" of one another. This is particularly so because, when faith and reason meet in dialogue, both "can express themselves in the best way." Reason by itself is not full reason. Faith by itself is not full faith.

Benedict puts St. Thomas' famous dictum that "grace builds on nature" in this way: "Faith implies reason and perfects it." When reason is itself "illuminated" by faith, it finds strength "to rise to knowledge of God and of spiritual realities." Does reason somehow "lose" something if it is stimulated by faith to be more reasonable on its own terms? Hardly. Faith or revelation is not in the least interested in a reason that is somehow under compulsion from revelation or anything else. This lack of freedom would corrupt both reason and faith. Faith calls for "free and conscious adherence." What is seen by reason in faith makes sense to it, that is to reason, on its own grounds.

Thomas, Benedict points out, spent much effort, especially in the Summa contra Gentiles, with the thoughts and positions of Jewish and Muslim philosophers. Thomas is always "present" in dialogue with other religions and cultures precisely because of his ability to press the question of reason to any claim to truth, even a truth of revelation. He simply wanted to know if what was held contradicted reason. If it did not, its credibility was naturally much enhanced.

To "introduce this Christian synthesis between reason and faith that represents a precise patrimony for Western civilization," which was the achievement of Aquinas, is the key to dialogue with "the great cultural and religious traditions of East and South of the world." The East and South, of course, include but also go beyond both the Jewish and Muslim worlds. It is significant that Benedict's vision is not a restricted one precisely because of what is at the heart of the Western tradition, a universality of reason addressed to any mind whatever its geographical or cultural or religious background or intellectual component..

III.

The second chapter of John Paul II's last book, Memory and Identity, is entitled "Ideologies of Evil." It is intended to ask about the meaning of the major ideologies of the twentieth century, Nazism and Communism. Why so much evil? Does this not prove that God does not exist? John Paul II, like Benedict in the Regensburg Address, is conscious of the relation of historical events to salvation history. In order to reflect on this issue, John Paul II, himself, like Benedict, no mean philosopher in his own right, endeavors to explain, in theological terms, the meaning of the fact of the evil of these ideologies and their actual record of human devastation. In order to do this, Pope Wojtyla presents a brief history of philosophy that serves to reinforce what Benedict had today of Aquinas.

John Paul II initially recalls his first three encyclicals, on the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Following Augustine's definition of pride, he explains the relation of modern ideology to the claim of man to be able to form his own laws independently of God (modernity in the ideological sense). The temptation of Adam and Eve is precisely to enable us to" decide what is good and what is evil". To overcome this pride, the love of God must replace the love of self. The evil of historic movements can only be overcome by reestablishing the proper order of man to God. Mankind needs something more than himself, a help which is offered in grace. But he may freely refuse it. Out of this "refusal" comes most of the disorder in the world that we know.

Man cannot get back onto his feet unaided: he needs the help of the Holy Spirit. If he refuses this help, he commits what Christ called "the blasphemy against the Spirit," the sin which "will not be forgiven" (Mt. 12:31). Why will it not be forgiven? Because it means there is no desire for pardon. Man refuses the love and the mercy of God, since he believes himself to be God. He believes himself to be capable of self-sufficiency.

John Paul II wants to know: what "limits" evil, the actual experienced evil of our times? To talk of its "limits" implies knowing what evil is, or better, what it is not, that is, the lack of a good that ought to be there in a good being.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Heaps of Empirical Evidence" Vindicate Pope Paul VI's Dire Warnings 40 Years Ago About Contraceptive Culture

A summary of a very good article. Evidence has been provided almost entirely by secular or explicitly anti-Catholic researchers

July 25, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A lengthy article appearing in the most recent edition of First Things, reevaluates Pope Paul VI's controversial encyclical Humanae Vitae (the 40th anniversary of the publication of which takes place today) in terms of the empirical evidence supporting the Pontiff's prophetic predictions about the consequences of the widespread acceptance of artificial contraception.

"To many people," writes author Mary Eberstadt, the idea of opposing the use of contraception, "simply defies understanding. Consenting adults, told not to use birth control? Preposterous. Third World parents deprived access to contraception and abortion? Positively criminal. A ban on condoms when there's a risk of contracting AIDS? Beneath contempt."

Indeed, "if there's anything on earth that unites the Church's adversaries…the teaching against contraception is probably it."

And yet, writes Eberstadt, for all of the contempt that is poured upon Humanae Vitae and the Church's continued official defense of Paul VI's teaching, the 40 intervening years since its publication have done nothing if not provided heaps of empirical data validating the Pope's dire warnings about a contraceptive culture.

"Four decades later, not only have the document's signature predictions been ratified in empirical force," says Eberstadt, "but they have been ratified as few predictions ever are: in ways its authors could not possibly have foreseen, including by information that did not exist when the document was written, by scholars and others with no interest whatever in its teaching, and indeed even inadvertently, and in more ways than one, by many proud public adversaries of the Church."

This is the great irony, says Eberstadt - that the evidence marshaled forth in condemnation of a contraceptive culture has been provided almost entirely by secular or explicitly anti-Catholic researchers, men and women who are "honest social scientists willing to follow the data wherever it may lead."

Consider, she suggests, the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist Geroge Akerlof, who, in a well-known 1996 article, "explained in the language of modern economics why the sexual revolution…had led to an increase in both illegitimacy and abortion."

Then there is the work of "maverick sociobiologist" Lionel Tiger, who has in the past described religion as "a toxic issue." And yet, for all of that, Tiger has shown his ability to honestly "follow the data," linking "contraception to the breakdown of families, female impoverishment, trouble in the relationship between the sexes, and single motherhood."

"Tiger has further argued - as Humanae Vitae did not explicitly, though other works of Catholic theology have - for a causal link between contraception and abortion, stating outright that 'with effective contraception controlled by women, there are still more abortions than ever....Contraception causes abortion.'"

And the list goes on. Eberstadt provides numerous examples of secular researchers who have followed the data, vindicating each and every one of Paul VI's four primary predictions about the consequences of contraception: "a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments."

The evidence proving that each of these predictions has come to pass is so obvious as to be common sense. For instance, on the question of the "coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments," one need only consider the well-known forced-abortion and forced-sterilization practices of the Chinese government. Eberstadt also points to lesser-known examples of similar coercion that have taken place in India and Indonesia. And there are many other examples besides.

What about this matter of the deforming of the relations between the sexes, and the "general lowering of moral standards"? "Today," responds Eberstadt, "when advertisements for sex scream from every billboard and webpage, and every teen idol is sooner or later revealed topless or worse online, some might wonder what further proof could possibly be offered."

However Eberstadt searches for and finds even further concrete proof of the devolving of male/female relations right in the heart of the feminist movement, that great champion of contraception as the great liberator. Since 1968, she observes, "feminist literature has been a remarkably consistent and uninterrupted cacophony of grievance, recrimination, and sexual discontent. In that forty-year record, we find, as nowhere else, personal testimony of what the sexual revolution has done to womankind."

"The signature metaphors of feminism say everything we need to know about how happy liberation has been making these women: the suburban home as concentration camp, men as rapists, children as intolerable burdens, fetuses as parasites, and so on. These are the sounds of liberation? Even the vaunted right to abortion, both claimed and exercised at extraordinary rates, did not seem to mitigate the misery of millions of these women after the sexual revolution."

The author then turns her attention to the proliferation of pornography, which one social observer wrote, "is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as 'porn-worthy.''' The fact is, Eberstadt writes, Archbishop Chaput of Denver was correct when he wrote that, rather than freeing women, "Contraception has released males - to a historically unprecedented degree - from responsibility for their sexual aggression."

Perhaps the most damning indictment of contraception in Eberstadt's piece comes when she quotes from philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe, who wrote about the inevitable slippery slope that would follow the acceptance of contraception: "If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery (I should perhaps remark that I am using a legal term here-not indulging in bad language), when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)?"

"It can't be the mere pattern of bodily behavior in which the stimulation is procured that makes all the difference! But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example. I am not saying: if you think contraception all right you will do these other things; not at all. The habit of respectability persists and old prejudices die hard. But I am saying: you will have no solid reason against these things. You will have no answer to someone who proclaims as many do that they are good too. You cannot point to the known fact that Christianity drew people out of the pagan world, always saying no to these things. Because, if you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition."

Eberstadt goes on to make several more observations about the link between contraception, adultery, and prematerital sex. She also observes that the shortage of priests in the Church, and the clergy sex-abuse scandals, are deeply related to the widespread dissent by Catholic faithful and clergy against Humanae Vitae.

The author concludes by once again quoting Archbishop Chaput, who said ten years ago, "If Paul VI was right about so many of the consequences deriving from contraception, it is because he was right about contraception itself."

"This," says Eberstadt, "is exactly the connection few people in 2008 want to make, because contraceptive sex…is the fundamental social fact of our time….Despite an empirical record that is unmistakably on Paul VI's side by now, there is extraordinary resistance to crediting Catholic moral teaching with having been right about anything, no matter how detailed the record."

Yet, for all of that, she concludes, "instead of vindication for the Church, there is demoralization; instead of clarity, mass confusion; instead of more obedience, ever less. Really, the perversity is, well, perverse. In what other area does humanity operate at this level of extreme, daily, constant contradiction?"

To read the original article in First Things, see:
http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6262

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two errors in editorial on contraception

I wrote this letter to the Philippine Daily Inquirer


First Posted 00:09:00 03/13/2010


THE INQUIRER’S EDITORIAL OF March 5, titled “Intolerance,” had two errors, and the first error is glaring.

The editorial stated that the Catholic teaching on contraception is “only” a religious teaching. I’m sorry, but the Catholic hierarchy is not the only one that understands the immorality of contraception; the secular BBC also perceives it. And this provides 15 secular reasons to make the moral case against contraception. BBC’s Ethics Guide (http://www.bbc. co.uk/ethics/contraception/ against_1.shtml), which covers differing angles, argues that contraception prevents potential human beings from being conceived. And people who might benefit humanity will be included among these.

Aside from stressing that contraception leads to widespread immorality, the BBC also argues that contraception is unnatural. It explains that the natural consequence of sexual intercourse is conceiving a child, and contraception interferes with this natural purpose of sexual intercourse. For sure, one can glean from this sampling that there is nothing biblical nor magisterial in these arguments. Nothing religious, really, that a reasonable secular State cannot adopt.

The second error, hidden under the nuanced position taken by the editorial, is the false impression given when it said that Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of contraception “took its present shape over 40 years ago, with ‘Humanae Vitae.’”

Of course, the theologically precise terminology can be dated quite recently, but let’s not forget that language is but the expression of ideas. And the idea on the evil of contraception took shape from the very beginning of the Catholic Church. We just have to read what Clement of Alexandria, an early Church Father, wrote around 191 AD: “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted.” And it is good for everyone to know that all the Christian denominations agreed with this idea—both secularly rational and theologically grounded—until 1930, the era when the dictatorship of relativism was imposing itself on the world.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Contraception in the Bible and in Tradition

From Scripture Catholic

Scripture

Gen 1:28, 9:1,7; 35:11 - from the beginning, the Lord commands us to be fruitful ("fertile") and multiply. A husband and wife fulfill God's plan for marriage in the bringing forth of new life, for God is life itself.

Gen. 28:3 - Isaac's prayer over Jacob shows that fertility and procreation are considered blessings from God.

Gen. 38:8-10 - Onan is killed by God for practicing contraception (in this case, withdrawal) and spilling his semen on the ground.

Gen. 38:11-26 - Judah, like Onan, also rejected God's command to keep up the family lineage, but he was not killed.

Deut. 25:7-10 - the penalty for refusing to keep up a family lineage is not death, like Onan received. Onan was killed for wasting seed.

Gen. 38:9 - also, the author's usage of the graphic word "seed," which is very uncharacteristic for Hebrew writing, further highlights the reason for Onan's death.

Exodus 23:25-26; Deut. 7:13-14 - God promises blessings which include no miscarriages or barrenness. Children are blessings from God, and married couples must always be open to God's plan for new life with every act of marital intimacy.

Lev.18:22-23;20:13 - wasting seed with non-generative sexual acts warrants death. Many Protestant churches, which have all strayed from the Catholic Church, reject this fundamental truth (few Protestants and Catholics realize that contraception was condemned by all of Christianity - and other religions - until the Anglican church permitted it in certain cases at the Lambeth conference in 1930. This opened the floodgates of error).

Lev. 21:17,20 - crushed testicles are called a defect and a blemish before God. God reveals that deliberate sterilization and any other methods which prevent conception are intrinsically evil.

Deut. 23:1 - whoever has crushed testicles or is castrated cannot enter the assembly. Contraception is objectively sinful and contrary, not only to God's Revelation, but the moral and natural law.

Deut. 25:11-12 - there is punishment for potential damage to the testicles, for such damage puts new life at risk. It, of course, follows that vasectomies, which are done with willful consent, are gravely contrary to the natural law.

1 Chron. 25:5 - God exalts His people by blessing them with many children. When married couples contracept, they are declaring "not your will God, but my will be done."

Psalm 127:3-5 - children are a gift of favor from God and blessed is a full quiver. Married couples must always be open to God's precious gift of life. Contraception, which shows a disregard for human life, has lead to the great evils of abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide.

Hosea 9:11; Jer. 18:21 - God punishes Israel by preventing pregnancy. Contraception is a curse, and married couples who use contraception are putting themselves under the same curse.

Mal. 2:14 - marriage is not a contract (which is a mere exchange of property or services). It is a covenant, which means a supernatural exchange of persons. Just as God is three in one, so are a husband and wife, who become one flesh and bring forth new life, three in one. Marital love is a reflection of the Blessed Trinity.

Mal. 2:15 - What does God desire? Godly offspring. What is contraception? A deliberate act against God's will. With contraception, a couple declares, "God may want an eternal being created with our union, but we say no." Contraception is a grave act of selfishness.

Matt. 19:5-6 - Jesus said a husband and wife shall become one. They are no longer two, but one, just as God is three persons, yet one. The expression of authentic marital love reintegrates our bodies and souls to God, and restores us to our original virginal state (perfect integration of body and soul) before God.

Matt. 19:6; Eph. 5:31 - contraception prevents God's ability to "join" together. Just as Christ's love for the Church is selfless and sacrificial, and a husband and wife reflect this union, so a husband and wife's love for each other must also be selfless and sacrificial. This means being open to new life.

Acts 5:1-11 - Ananias and Sapphira were slain because they withheld part of a gift. Fertility is a gift from God and cannot be withheld.

Rom.1:26-27 - sexual acts without the possibility of procreation is sinful. Self-giving love is life-giving love, or the love is a lie. The unitive and procreative elements of marital love can never be divided, or the marital love is also divided, and God is left out of the marriage.

1 Cor. 6:19-20 - the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; thus, we must glorify God in our bodies by being open to His will.

1 Cor. 7:5 - this verse supports the practice of natural family planning ("NFP"). Married couples should not refuse each other except perhaps by agreement for a season, naturally.

Gal. 6:7-8 - God is not mocked for what a man sows. If to the flesh, corruption. If to the Spirit, eternal life.

Eph. 5:25 - Paul instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, by giving his entire body to her and holding nothing back. With contraception, husbands tell their wives, I love you except your fertility, and you can have me except for my fertility. This love is a lie because it is self-centered, and not self-giving and life-giving.

Eph. 5:29-31; Phil. 3:2 - mutilating the flesh (e.g., surgery to prevent conception) is gravely sinful. Many Protestant churches reject this most basic moral truth.

1 Tim. 2:15 - childbearing is considered a "work" through which women may be saved by God's grace.

Deut. 22:13-21 – these verses also show that God condemns pre-marital intercourse. The living expression of God’s creative love is reserved for a sacramental marriage between one man and one woman.

Rev. 9:21; 21:8; 22:15; Gal. 5:20 - these verses mention the word "sorcery." The Greek word is "pharmakeia" which includes abortifacient potions such as birth control pills. These pharmakeia are mortally sinful. Moreover, chemical contraception does not necessarily prevent conception, but may actually kill the child in the womb after conception has occurred (by preventing the baby from attaching to the uterine wall). Contraception is a lie that has deceived millions, but the Church is holding her arms open wide to welcome back her children who have strayed from the truth.

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Tradition / Church Fathers

"Moreover, he [Moses] has rightly detested the weasel [Lev. 11:29]. For he means, ‘Thou shall not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth with the body through uncleanness [orally consummated sex]; nor shall thou be joined to those impure women who commit iniquity with the mouth with the body through uncleanness’" Letter of Barnabas 10:8 (A.D. 74).

"Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted" Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 (A.D. 191).

"To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature." Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor of Children 2:10:95:3 (A.D. 191).

“[Christian women with male concubines], on account of their prominent ancestry and great property, the so-called faithful want no children from slaves or lowborn commoners, [so] they use drugs of sterility or bind themselves tightly in order to expel a fetus which has already been engendered." Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9:12 (A.D. 225).

"[Some] complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife." Lactantius, Divine Institutes 6:20 (A.D. 307).

"God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital [’generating’] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring.” Lactantius, Divine 6:23:18 (A.D. 307).

"[I]f anyone in sound health has castrated himself, it behooves that such a one, if enrolled among the clergy, should cease [from his ministry], and that from henceforth no such person should be promoted. But, as it is evident that this is said of those who willfully do the thing and presume to castrate themselves, so if any have been made eunuchs by barbarians, or by their masters, and should otherwise be found worthy, such men this canon admits to the clergy." Council of Nicaea I, Canon 1 (A.D. 325).

"They [certain Egyptian heretics] exercise genital acts, yet prevent the conceiving of children. Not in order to produce offspring, but to satisfy lust, are they eager for corruption." Epiphanius of Salamis, Medicine Chest Against Heresies 26:5:2 (A.D. 375).

"This proves that you [Manicheans] approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion." Augustine, The Morals of the Manichees 18:65 (A.D. 388).

"Why do you sow where the field is eager to destroy the fruit, where there are medicines of sterility [oral contraceptives], where there is murder before birth? You do not even let a harlot remain only a harlot, but you make her a murderess as well…Indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God and fight with his [natural] laws?…Yet such turpitude…the matter still seems indifferent to many men—even to many men having wives. In this indifference of the married men there is greater evil filth; for then poisons are prepared, not against the womb of a prostitute, but against your injured wife. Against her are these innumerable tricks." John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans 24 (A.D. 391).

"[I]n truth, all men know that they who are under the power of this disease [the sin of covetousness] are wearied even of their father’s old age [wishing him to die so they can inherit]; and that which is sweet, and universally desirable, the having of children, they esteem grievous and unwelcome. Many at least with this view have even paid money to be childless, and have mutilated nature, not only killing the newborn, but even acting to prevent their beginning to live." John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 28:5 (A.D. 391).

"[T]he man who has mutilated himself, in fact, is subject even to a curse, as Paul says, ‘I would that they who trouble you would cut the whole thing off’ [Gal. 5:12]. And very reasonably, for such a person is venturing on the deeds of murderers, and giving occasion to them that slander God’s creation, and opens the mouths of the Manicheans, and is guilty of the same unlawful acts as they that mutilate themselves among the Greeks. For to cut off our members has been from the beginning a work of demonical agency, and satanic device, that they may bring up a bad report upon the works of God, that they may mar this living creature, that imputing all not to the choice, but to the nature of our members, the more part of them may sin in security as being irresponsible, and doubly harm this living creature, both by mutilating the members and by impeding the forwardness of the free choice in behalf of good deeds." John Chrysostom, Homilies on Matthew 62:3 (A.D. 391).

"But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?" Jerome, Against Jovinian 1:19 (A.D. 393).

"Observe how bitterly he [Paul] speaks against their deceivers…‘I would that they which trouble you would cut the whole thing off’ [Gal. 5:12]…On this account he curses them, and his meaning is as follows: ‘For them I have no concern, "A man that is heretical after the first and second admonition refuse" [Titus 3:10]. If they will, let them not only be circumcised but mutilated.’ Where then are those who dare to mutilate themselves, seeing that they draw down the apostolic curse, and accuse the workmanship of God, and take part with the Manichees?" John Chrysostom, Commentary on Galatians 5:12 (A.D. 395).

"You may see a number of women who are widows before they are wives. Others, indeed, will drink sterility and murder a man not yet born, [and some commit abortion]." Jerome, Letters 22:13 (A.D. 396).

"You [Manicheans] make your auditors adulterers of their wives when they take care lest the women with whom they copulate conceive. They take wives according to the laws of matrimony by tablets announcing that the marriage is contracted to procreate children; and then, fearing because of your law [against childbearing]…they copulate in a shameful union only to satisfy lust for their wives. They are unwilling to have children, on whose account alone marriages are made. How is it, then, that you are not those prohibiting marriage, as the apostle predicted of you so long ago [1 Tim. 4:1–4], when you try to take from marriage what marriage is? When this is taken away, husbands are shameful lovers, wives are harlots, bridal chambers are brothels, fathers-in-law are pimps.” Augustine, Against Faustus 15:7 (A.D. 400).

"For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race, permits the delight of mortal flesh to be released from the control of reason in copulation only to propagate progeny." Augustine, Against Faustus 22:30 (A.D. 400).

"For necessary sexual intercourse for begetting [children] is alone worthy of marriage. But that which goes beyond this necessity no longer follows reason but lust. And yet it pertains to the character of marriage…to yield it to the partner lest by fornication the other sin damnably [through adultery]…[T]hey [must] not turn away from them the mercy of God…by changing the natural use into that which is against nature, which is more damnable when it is done in the case of husband or wife. For, whereas that natural use, when it pass beyond the compact of marriage, that is, beyond the necessity of begetting [children], is pardonable in the case of a wife, damnable in the case of a harlot; that which is against nature is execrable when done in the case of a harlot, but more execrable in the case of a wife. Of so great power is the ordinance of the Creator, and the order of creation, that . . . when the man shall wish to use a body part of the wife not allowed for this purpose [orally or anally consummated sex], the wife is more shameful, if she suffer it to take place in her own case, than if in the case of another woman." Augustine, The Good of Marriage 11–12 (A.D. 401).

"I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility…Assuredly if both husband and wife are like this, they are not married, and if they were like this from the beginning they come together not joined in matrimony but in seduction. If both are not like this, I dare to say that either the wife is in a fashion the harlot of her husband or he is an adulterer with his own wife." Augustine, Marriage and Concupiscence 1:15:17 (A.D. 419).

"Who is he who cannot warn that no woman may take a potion so that she is unable to conceive or condemns in herself the nature which God willed to be fecund? As often as she could have conceived or given birth, of that many homicides she will be held guilty, and, unless she undergoes suitable penance, she will be damned by eternal death in hell. If a woman does not wish to have children, let her enter into a religious agreement with her husband; for chastity is the sole sterility of a Christian woman." Caesarius of Arles, Sermons 1:12 (A.D. 522).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The poor can afford condoms

Editorial of Business Mirror
Friday, 05 March 2010 21:15

THE continuing word war between the new health secretary and Catholic bishops over the former’s declared policy of distributing more condoms, as part of a program to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS which has so sharply risen in recent years as to be declared “an epidemic,” is truly unfortunate.

From where we sit, both sides have raised valid concerns that, unfortunately, have been consumed in the angry rhetoric that has been unleashed since, ironically, “Hearts’ Day” or Valentine’s.

Much is now known of what either side has been saying about the other. Stung by the apparently in-your-face state campaign of distributing condoms and the defeatist attitude underlying such an AIDS-containment strategy, several bishops have lashed out at Dr. Esperanza Cabral, the otherwise affable, intelligent health secretary, with one cleric loudly expressing hope she could escape eternal damnation for breaking Church teachings on artificial contraceptives. To this, she has responded quite firmly that she will keep doing it; that she is simply carrying out her duty as a public servant in charge of promoting the overall health of people by, in this case, stemming the spread of the dread disease. News reports quoted the department head as saying the condom-distribution strategy isn’t so much a pitch for the controversial reproductive-health bill that espouses massive distribution, at state expense, of artificial contraceptive devices, but more a public-health strategy to cut the alarming rise in HIV/AIDS.

The Department of Health (DOH) strategy, however, is problematic: one, as more articulate churchmen have stressed, it proceeds from a position of weakness by conceding offhand that people will keep doing risky sex practices and, therefore, at the very least they should be encouraged—nay, not just encouraged but virtually pushed, since the state is giving away condoms for free—to use what is touted as a foolproof safeguard against the dread disease. It’s a cop-out, a virtual “if-you-can’t-lick-’em-just-join-’em” scheme that abandons right from the start the State’s responsibility also to educate people on public health, and help foster good values and practices among them. It reminds one of the controversial practice in certain rich countries to distribute free, clean syringes to addicts who can’t be stopped from their habit—so that, at the very least, they only get “high” and not be infected with HIV/AIDS, syringe-sharing having been established as a major source of AIDS transmission.

The second problem with the DOH’s seeming epiphany in acknowledging HIV/AIDS as now a serious threat because of the alarming rise in incidence is that it dances just about the same time, in the same ballroom, as the controversial reproductive-health bill that got stuck in Congress amid the very loud debates—mostly barely scratching the surface because they were framed so simplistically by both sides—between champions of church doctrine, on one side, and the rabid defenders of artificial contraception, on the other. The debates ground to a halt because the more substantive facets weren’t tackled; not to mention the many misleading provisions ingeniously stitched in by the bill’s authors who seemed bent on splurging huge sums from taxpayers just to revive the stalled business of multinational pharma firms also peddling contraceptive devices and drugs.

Drowned out in the din of the debate was this mercantilist bent of certain powerful forces, who would use one faith, the Catholic Church, as a bogey to preach the gospel of contraception disguised so altruistically as genuine concern for women’s health. Unfortunately, the defenders of natural family planning and the churchmen who joined the fray also didn’t go beyond the trap laid out by the aggressive authors of the bill, i.e., that the Church is just a “bully” trying to meddle in matters of the state. The Church could very well have raised a very brilliant insight by one lawmaker who took the trouble of dissecting each provision to show the hidden motives of framers. In his five-part series “The culling fields” serialized in this paper last year, Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that when the Constitution laid down the clear division between Church and State, the proscription on meddling applied to both. The state should not be allowed to pass a law allowing itself to use people’s money—and huge sums of it—to finance a population program that is so lopsidedly in favor of one strategy (the pill-condom-IUD merchants) and yet invokes a constitutional mandate to allow families the freedom to decide how to plan their families. Clearly, an in-your-face attack on one faith, using money of people who included mostly Catholics, wasn’t contemplated by the Constitution. And Locsin couldn’t help but note, why should the state spend millions to subsidize people’s condoms, when even the poorest citizen can pay hundreds of pesos each month for their cell-phone “load”?

But few were paying heed to that brilliant insight. They were just all scratching the surface then, as they are now, in this redux called DOH vs the Church.