Friday, October 01, 2010

What Does It Mean to be Catholic?

I will begin by saying this post is not an attempt to answer the question raised in my title. The raging discussion on the Reproductive Health bill has made me ask, however, how I will stand up for my faith.

The Church has threatened, although I heard that the statement was later on taken back, of excommunicating President Noynoy Aquino if he does not change his stand about giving artificial contraceptives to the people. As my friend has posted on Facebook, this is not helpful in promoting a productive dialogue between the Church and the government regarding this. Even though the Church can choose to do this, stating it now is not a wise move, for this will just raise more voices of protest, as it indeed has.

The Church is being blamed for going back a hundred years to the days of Jose Rizal, when there was no separation of Church and State, and the Spanish friars meddled in the affairs of the government. This led the famous tour guide Carlos Celdran to don one of his costumes and interrupt an ecumenical service inside the Manila Cathedral by carrying a placard carrying the name of the most notorious friar in Rizal's novels, "Damaso", an obvious, but effective, pro-RH bill publicity stunt, and to allow himself to be incarcerated to elicit sympathy for his cause. He reportedly will post bail this afternoon and has this to say to P.Noy: "Be strong, man. If you will be excommunicated, sabay tayo" ("I'll join you.").

I am one integrated whole, not compartmentalized into 1 part Filipino, 2 parts lawyer, 3 parts woman, and 5 parts Catholic. I am a Catholic Filipino woman lawyer. But my views are personal to me, and I do not want to impose them to those who do not agree with me. C'est la vie.

I believe that sex should be confined within the bounds of a Catholic marriage, that it has a pro-creative purpose and thus, I do not support the use of artificial contraceptives. Abortion is abhorrent to me as it is a form of murder - life begins at the time of conception. There are areas that are within God's jurisdiction - everything, actually, but in some areas His control is more obvious and complete - and creation of life is one of them. I believe in restraint, that there is a time and place for everything.

But, as a lawyer I can see that there might be a question of jurisdiction. What of non-Catholics? What of atheists and agnostics? They do not care what the Church thinks. They do not think they are bound by it, for they deem themselves outside of the Church. Hence, the spate of protests, and the persistence in being given the choice to use artificial means of contraception. Would it be possible to limit the distribution to these non-Catholics alone? Is this an option?

And what of the Catholics who wish to use them? I think this is a personal matter, one between the couple and their God. If they were members of a Catholic community which seeks to make a clear united stand, then they can be corrected. Otherwise, it is up to them if they want to confess or if they want to keep doing it. I cannot judge them, not being married and not having faced the problem yet of not wanting to get pregnant or not being able to support another child.

So many questions, all of which I can get passionate about. I pray for sobriety in resolving this matter. The state governs the whole nation - not 100% of which is Catholic. The Catholic Church, however, intends to make its stand and to stop this now, lest the gates be opened to other evils like intentional abortion. I hope that the Church makes its stand not in the way the world would, though.

No matter what they decide, I know what I personally believe in, and I have jurisdiction of my mind, my body, my thoughts, my decisions. In my life I am a Catholic. A Filipino. A lawyer. A woman. My choices are governed by who I really am.