MANILA — Catholic bishops expressed willingness to sit down and meet with noted constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas after he announced his position on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill, a Church official said.
Monsignor Juanito Figura, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said the bishops are interested to hear Bernas’s “talking points” on House Bill 4244, which is currently debated in Congress.
In an opinion piece for the Philippine Daily Inquirer last May 23, Bernas said neither the government nor the Church has the right to stop people from practicing responsible parenthood whichever way they prefer.
“Public money is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Muslim or what have you and may be appropriated by Congress for the public good without violating the Constitution,” he said.
The long-time dean of the Ateneo de Manila University Law School also acknowledged that the bill in its present form needs amendment, and he is willing “to contribute to its improvement.”
Consistent to Catholic Church teachings, Bernas expressed his opposition to sex education in public schools “without the consent of parents” and support for the provision that strengthens the illegality of abortion.
Quoting the Compendium on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church, he said that the government’s responsibility is to interpret the good of everyone and “not only according to the guidelines of the majority.”
However, what drew impassioned criticism from many anti-RH bill advocates and even Church officials is Bernas’s dismay at priests who say supporting the measure is a serious sin and called them as “irresponsible.”
“I have been called a Judas by a high-ranking cleric, I am considered a heretic in a wealthy barangay where some members have urged that I should leave the Church (which is insane),” Bernas lamented, whose article spawned 8,335 Facebook “recommends” and 1,729 shares as of press time.
In the end, Figura believes that as a priest, Bernas is still “pro-life and he is towards the anti-RH bill side.”
Meanwhile, a non government organization has called on the voting public to “learn its lesson” in the next elections and withdraw support from politicians who proposed measures that restrict access to contraceptives.
According to EnGende-Rights, these legislators include Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ralph Recto and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., and Reps. Roilo Golez (Paranaque), Pablo Garcia (Cebu), Rufus Rodirguez (Cagayan de Oro) and Amado Bagatsing (Manila).
“Those who believe in respecting, promoting, and upholding the rights of women should use their power as citizens to vote for people who will uphold the rights of women. Women are the ones who bear the brunt of the delayed passage of the RH (reproductive health) law and any restriction on their access to the full range of contraceptive methods,” lawyer Clara Rita Padilla, Executive Director of EnGendeRights, said in a press statement.
On Monday, the Senate bills providing for the safety and protection of the unborn will be heard in the Committees on Youth, Women and Family Relations, Constitutional Amendments, and Revision of Codes and Laws.
Last week, the anti-choice bill of Rep. Bagatsing was heard in the House Committee on Revision of Laws with Golez, Garcia, and Rodriguez supporting it. (Virgil Lopez and Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)
- [In the news] Father Bernas calls some anti-RH clerics ‘irresponsible’ – Nation – GMA News Online – Latest Philippine News (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- Father Bernas: “Some Anti Rh Clerics, Irresponsible” (ricojr2010.wordpress.com)
- [In the news] Don’t downplay debate on RH bill, Palace tells Catholic hierarchy – Interaksyon.com (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- Bernas: My Stand on the RH Bill (jboygonzalessj.wordpress.com)
- [In the news] Aquino explains his RH position to Pacquiao – Interaksyon.com (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- [Statement] Everything in this world has a guardian as the Universe has been appointed custodians, and so does each family – ICAS Phils. (hronlineph.wordpress.com)
- Our Position on RH Bill (jepoygreen.wordpress.com)
- Fvr to Pacman: Know Both Sides of Rh Bill (ricojr2010.wordpress.com)