Tuesday, August 2, 2011

An Initial Critique of Sen. Santiago's Pro-RH Speech

An Initial Critique of Sen. Santiago’s Pro-RH Speech
1. The speech rests its arguments on the “authority” of specific theologians and historians. The words of these few teachers are used to critique the Catholic Church and its hierarchy.
a. Here is a short backgrounder on some of these teachers:
• McBrien: his book quoted by Sen. Santiago was called “inaccurate” and “misleading” by the U.S. National Council of Catholic Bishops. Also: ““The problem is that this [book’s] embrace of modernity is so enthusiastic as to imply a certain naive denigration of premodern thought.”[1]
• Bokentotter: his book was reviewed and said to be "tendentious Modernist ideology masquerading as history" by Professor Toner.[2]
• Wilhelm: his book was called a “theological deception” at Catholic Culture. [3]
• Dwyer: A chapter in this book was critiqued as having “strong roots in a Marxist sociology of knowledge.” [4]
b. Modernism and Marxism form part of the doctrinal confusion and the flight from truth that characterized what is now called the Post-Vatican Crisis, a period of misinterpreting the actual documents of the Vatican II. The Church has also taught that in some aspects of liberation theology, there are “deviations… damaging to the faith.”[5]
2. On the poor and Liberation Theology. One of the latest notifications or admonishments of the Vatican to a liberation theologian stated that it issued the document as a service "to the people of God, and particularly to the simple and poorest members of the Church." They emphasized the people's "right to know the truth...about Christ," and therefore their corresponding duty to intervene. The notification was premised on Benedict XVI's teaching that "the first poverty among people is not to know Christ."
The Catholic Church it should be noted is one of the largest pro-poor organizations --if not the largest-- in the world.
3. On the Primacy of Conscience.
Sen. Santiago quoted the Popes and put in bold certain things. It is enlightening if we put in bold the words she did not.
In all this they must follow the demands of their own conscience enlightened by God’s law authentically interpreted
The authority of the Church, when she pronounces on moral questions, in no way undermines the freedom of conscience of Christians. This is so not only because freedom of conscience is never freedom “from” the truth, but always and only freedom “in” the truth, but also because the Magisterium does not bring to the Christian conscience truths which are extraneous to it; rather, it brings to light the truths which it ought already to possess, developing them from the starting point of the primordial act of faith.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Conscience and Truth has several points that can clarify the issues raised by Sen. Santiago:
• judgments of conscience can contradict each other
• the identification of conscience with superficial consciousness, the reduction of man to his subjectivity, does not liberate but enslaves. It makes us totally dependent on the prevailing opinions and debases these with every passing day. …Conscience's reduction to subjective certitude signifies at the same time a retreat from truth.
• Nazi SS would be justified and we should seek them in heaven since they carried out all their atrocities with fanatic conviction and complete certainty of conscience.
• It is never wrong to follow the convictions one has arrived at—in fact, one must do so. But it can very well be wrong to have come to such askew convictions in the first place…. The guilt lies then in a different place, much deeper—not in the present act, not in the present judgment of conscience but in the neglect of my being which made me deaf to the internal promptings of truth. For this reason, criminals of conviction like Hitler and Stalin are guilty.
• the really critical issue of the modern age. The concept of truth has been virtually given up and replaced by the concept of progress. Progress itself "is" truth. But through this seeming exaltation, progress loses its direction and becomes nullified. For if no direction exists, everything can just as well be regress as progress.
On the truths established by science regarding contraceptives and RH, one can find a summary in what I put together at Science Facts on the RH Bill. For example, the world's leading scientific journals have established that the pill and the IUD are abortifacient, causes cancer, stroke and heart attacks. The wide use of condoms promote the spread of AIDs, according to Edward Green, Harvard Director for AIDS prevention, and leads to the more premarital sex, fatherless children, single mothers, abortion, poverty, decline of marriage and social pathology, says Nobel Prize Winner George Akerlof. Also the RAND Corporation, associated with 30 Nobel prize winners, has shown that there is little evidence that population growth affects economic growth.
Furthermore, there is no national law that restrains the choice of people to buy contraceptives, nor has the Church put up a police force to enforce its teaching, which is essentially a moral prophetic teaching rather an political directive. On the other hand, the RH Bill is the one that will violate consciences when it forces government employees and Catholic hospitals to contribute to the distribution of these birth control devices.
4. On the alleged shift from Pre-Vatican authority to Vatican II democratic system
Here is what the main document of Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, actually states:
This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Savior, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth". This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. (italics added)
It should be pointed out against modernist theologians that the enduring authority of the Roman Pontiffs to teach the truth is based on the revolutionary fact of the Incarnation of God. If it is true that God became man, then what he said and did are true:
• promised that he will be with the Church until the end of the world,[6] and that “the powers of death shall not prevail against it”.[7]
• appointed apostles and gave them sacred power not just to “baptize all nations” but also “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” [8]
• told the apostles, and through them the bishops of his Church: “he who hears you, hears me”,[9]
• gave Peter (Rock) the power to bind and lose, and it is on him as Rock that Jesus built his Church,[10] with Peter’s successors at the head of the Church.[11]
On the so-called majority report versus the minority report, history has shown that democratic votes can be mistaken, and that whole cultures and peoples can be miseducated, e.g. human sacrifices, cannibalism, drunkenness, abortion, divorce.
The scientific findings on the damaging effects of contraception I mentioned earlier confirm the prophetic quality of the teachings of the Church hierarchy. Prophetic here refers to the reception of divine truths and their communication to the faithful.
5. Sen. Santiago said: "In 1986, the Vatican made a positive critique of liberation theology by issuing the document entitled Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation."
The document itself states: “For this reason the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has considered it necessary to draw attention to 'deviations, or risks of deviation, damaging to the faith and to Christian living'. Far from being outmoded, these warnings appear ever more timely and relevant.”
6. On so-called changes in Catholic doctrine, for example usury, we must take into account that "The teaching concerning usury was based on malleable economic conditions; the teaching concerning contraception is based on unchanging human nature." (C. Kaczor)
7. There are other things that have to be pointed out and can be further discussed. For example:
• The use of statistics from surveys commissioned by pro-RH groups and which Prof. Mangahas, who is pro-RH, admitted as not having included any mention of penalties: http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20091120-237447/Business-groups-work-for-RH-compromise
• The Moslems’ Imam Council, which is like its authoritative organ of government, is against birth control pills, because they “underestimate God”. http://www.gmanews.tv/story/202450/muslim-group-joins-protest-vs-artificial-contraception
• The tens, and even hundreds, of thousands of people, many of them Catholics, who have risen up against the bill in inter-faith rallies, as compared to a few thousands who have rallied in favor of it. If one adds up reports from newspaper accounts, the pro-life rallies have a total of around 200,000 to almost 400,000 participants while the pro-RH rallies have a total of less than 10,000: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reproductive_Health_Bill_%28Philippines%29#Rallies_and_TV_Debate


[1] NSCCB (1996).

[2] http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2006/09/bokenkotters_hi.html

[3] http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8273

[4] http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=7383

[5] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1984). Instructions on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”. Rome.

[6] Mt 28:20

[7] Mt 16:18

[8] Mt 28:20

[9] Luke 10:16

[10] Mt 16:18-19: I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven

[11] On biblical basis of Papal succession: http://www.catholic-pages.com/pope/hahn.asp

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