Timely message

Published by rudy Date posted on May 2, 2011

As we watched the beatification rites of Pope John Paul II yesterday, memories of his visits in 1981 and 1995 vividly came back. Most memorable in the 1981 visit was our salutation of “Totus Tuos” signifying our complete surrender to God as represented by his Vicar on earth truly personified by Pope John Paul II. In 1995, we could still distinctly remember that record breaking crowd of more than five million assembled at the Luneta said to be the biggest assembly in any part of the world endearingly chorusing “John Paul II, we love you”. In fact, it was reported that the country had a zero crime rate at that time out of respect for him. Undoubtedly, all of us who had a brief glimpse of the Holy Father experienced the aura of holiness enveloping him that somehow conveys the image of a saintly man.

His beatification yesterday thus presents an opportunity for us to recall and reflect on some of his thoughts about the modern secularism besetting nations now including our country, more particularly the introduction of what he termed as the “culture of death”, a phrase that is inevitably associated with the RH bill originally drafted by foreign funded groups out to impose a population policy in our country by the use of methods already proven to cause abortion or lead to abortion.

The late Pope categorically declared that marriage should not be “used to impair the natural capacity to procreate human life”. Clearly he meant here that married couples should not resort to the artificial means of controlling births when they engage in sexual intercourse because they will not be expressing authentic conjugal love that naturally entails the possible transmission of life. Indeed the Pope said that the necessary condition for authentic conjugal love is responsible parenthood. Hence responsible parenthood in the true sense of the phrase does not include the use of artificial means of controlling births.

But more importantly, Pope John Paul II saw that artificial means of controlling births pose a grave threat of to the fundamental right to life of any human being. He was actually referring here to the “legalization of the termination of pregnancy” which he said is “none other than the authorization given to an adult, with the approval of an established law, to take the lives of children yet unborn and thus incapable of defending themselves”. Obviously the RH bill, if passed, is one such “law” alluded to by the Pope. For in said bill, women will be given a free choice to use “artificial family planning methods, specifically oral pills that cause abortion or the killing of a “defenseless and innocent human being”.

To avoid misquoting Pope John Paul II, let me just reproduce what he said in the book entitled “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” (pp. 205-208).

“Often the question is presented as a woman’s right to “free choice” regarding the life already existing inside her, that she carries in her womb; the woman should have the right to choose between giving life or taking it away from the unborn child. Anyone can see that the alternative here is only apparent. It is not possible to speak of the right to choose when a clear moral evil is involved, when what is a stake is the commandment Do not kill.

Might this commandment allow of exception? The answer in and of itself is no, since even the hypothesis of legitimate defense, which never concerns an innocent but always and only an unjust aggressor, must respect the principle that moralists call the principium inculpate tutelae (the principle of non-culpable defense). In order to be legitimate, that “defense” must be carried out in a way that causes the least damage and, if possible, saves the life of the aggressor.

This is not the case with an unborn child. A child conceived in the mother’s womb is never an unjust aggressor; it is a defenseless being that is waiting to be welcomed and helped.

It is necessary to recognize that, in this context, we are witnessing true human tragedies. Often the woman is the victim of male selfishness, in the sense that the man who has contributed to the conception of the new life, does not want to be burdened with it and leaves the responsibility to the woman as if it were “her fault” alone. So precisely when the woman most needs the man’s support, he proves to be a cynical egotist, capable of exploiting her affection or weakness, yet stubbornly resistant to any sense of responsibility for his own action…

Therefore, in firmly rejecting pro-choice it is necessary to become courageously “pro woman,” promoting a choice that is truly in favor of woman. It is precisely the woman, in fact, who pays the highest price for her motherhood, but even more for its destruction, or the suppression of the life of the child who has been conceived. The only honest stance, in these cases, is that of radical solidarity with the woman. It is not right to leave her alone. The experiences of many counseling centers show that the woman does not want to suppress the life of the child she carries within her. If she is supported in this attitude, and I at the same time she is freed from the intimidation of those around her, then she is even capable of heroism…

We find ourselves here before a very delicate situation, both from the point of view of human rights and from a moral and pastoral point of view. All of these aspects are intertwined. I have always observed this to be the case in my own life and in my ministry as a priest, as a diocesan bishop and then as the successor to Peter, with all the responsibility that this office entails.

Therefore I must repeat that I categorically reject every accusation or suspicion concerning the Pope’s alleged obsession with this issue. We are dealing with a problem of tremendous importance, in which all of us must show the utmost responsibility and vigilance. We cannot afford forms of permissiveness that would lead directly to the trampling of human rights and also to the complete destruction of values which are fundamental not only for the lives of individuals and families but for society itself. Isn’t there a sad truth in the powerful expression culture of death?”

Let us therefore pray that Blessed John Paul II help our country and our leaders in resolving the issue before us now. May they realize after all, that the RH bill is not necessary and is not the solution to all the problems it purportedly intends to solve and that it may even lead our country to more unfortunate situations now experienced by countries which adopted such kind of law. –Jose C. Sison (The Philippine Star)

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