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Theres The Rub

By Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:05:00 10/04/2010

Filed Under: Churches (organisations), Benigno Aquino III, Legislation, Family planning, Conflicts (general)

BEFORE ANYTHING else, let?s be clear about that excommunication business. The blame there doesn?t lie with the CBCP, it lies with the media. CBCP president Bishop Nereo Odchimar had just finished perorating on the evils of P-Noy?s endorsement of the RH bill in Radio Veritas and was asked by a station reporter if the president could be excommunicated for it. He replied: ?That is a possibility. But right now it is not a proximate possibility.? Then faster than he could say ?devil?s spawn? there he was being depicted in media as threatening P-Noy with hellfire.

It?s another cautionary tale on being careful not to fall into the trap of answering loaded questions. Jojo Binay made that mistake too shortly after the elections, saying ?DILG? when asked what office he would prefer if P-Noy offered it to him. Faster than he could contemplate ?Paseo de Binay,? there he was being depicted as demanding the post from the president.

From the other end, you would think media would be a little more careful, or a little less reckless, in making things out to be after their contribution to the disastrous results of the hostage-taking. A reporter asks, ?What sanctions are you contemplating?? and a bishop answers, ?Excommunication,? that is a threat. A reporter asks if excommunication might be a response to someone defying its teachings and a bishop answers it is a possibility though a remote one, that is not a threat, that is the sound of a bear taking the bait.

Having said that, the Church?s opposition to P-Noy?s championing of the RH bill?the best thing he?s done in quite some time?merely unmasks its medievalism and growing alienation from its flock. I know the social media is more a middle-class phenomenon than a ?masa? one, but if the overwhelming sentiment expressed there is any indication?which ranges from Jobian anguish to irate vituperations against the Church?we are going to have a lot of excommunicants before very long. Indeed if the turning of Carlos Celdran into an overnight hero is any indication, we are going to have a lot of heretics before very long.

The Church?s argument that P-Noy?s support for the RH bill doesn?t really give the faithful free choice because it foists pills and condoms on them is silly. The only reason the poor in particular are not using them is not moral, it is financial. They have no money. It?s not a choice for them. You have no money, easier to withdraw during the act?though tell that to a poor kid in the throes of raging passion, and hormones?than to advance to a drug store to buy condoms. Condoms cost a pretty penny. I know that from, well, rigorous participative research: I do not take my journalistic duties lightly.

While at that, what in God?s name is the difference between withdrawing and using a condom, between pulling the thing out in the nick of time and bailing the thing out in the thick of crime? As artificial methods of birth control go, which one is really the more artificial? And which the more natural?

While at that as well, which form of gambling poses the more devastating social consequences? Betting on jueteng, which, if one loses, as chances are he will, merely impoverishes him some more and causes familial disruptions, or betting one?s partner won?t get pregnant, which, if one loses, as chances are he will, merely adds another mouth to feed and causes social eruptions?

Making contraceptives readily available to the public does offer the real choice. It removes financial constraint from the equation. The faithful can always refuse them on grounds of morality, or the Church teaching that the grim purpose of making whoopee is making babies. A thing cops and priests themselves seem determined to believe, discharging (no pun intended) their Christian obligations by routinely getting their mistresses and lovers pregnant. In fact, priests can always exhort the faithful in pulpits to eschew contraceptives, even if they risk making them more faithless.

I?m glad my favorite president has found, well, the twin globes dangling under the male reproductive organ associated for some reason with daring, to buck the Church on this one. Who knows? Maybe the same God the bishops worship has given P-Noy a second chance to deal with a hostage crisis. A hostage crisis far bigger, far longer and far direr than the one Rolando Mendoza wrought not too long ago.

That is the Church holding the faithful of this country under pain of hellfire hostage to some of the most backward beliefs and practices.

That is the Church holding the public officials of this country under pain of quite literally demonizing them during elections hostage to Opus Dei-type opposition to family planning, divorce and gender equality. P-Noy of course has toed the Church line on divorce by closing the door on it, which is really ridiculous in light of the Church?s own acceptance of annulment. Not unlike its position of fighting jueteng while accepting other forms of gambling.

That is the Church holding this nation under pain of the excoriation, excommunication and damnation since well before Jose Rizal hostage to the propositions that the sun revolves around the earth, that man did not descend from the apes but was made in the image and likeness of his Maker, that women drew from the ribs of Adam and may never be equal to her source.

That is the Church demanding to get back its unchallenged position, particularly on matters of faith and morals, like Rolando Mendoza completely deludedly his old job, despite having been judged by the people?not least for putting a halo over ?Hello Garci??and found wanting.

Maybe the same God the bishops worship had bigger plans for P-Noy all along. Maybe he failed the first hostage crisis only to win a second, and more epic, one.

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