Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pope Francis' Interview and the RH Law

“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules."

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods."

The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."

I selected the three above statements of Pope Francis under the sub-heading "The Church as Field Hospital" in his recent interview, in light of the small-minded and obsessive imposition of the church (at least in the Philippines) of its doctrine against artificial contraceptive methods vis-a-vis the implementation of the Reproductive Healthcare Law of the Philippines--currently pending in the Supreme Court.

For sure, Pope Francis is not about to endorse artificial contraceptive methods. And I respect that. However, he also says, "The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials."

Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's"--rather like the separation of church and state enshrined in the Philippine Constitution. Even the staunchest opposers of the RH Law concede that the issues pending before the Supreme Court are legal or constitutional in nature--not moral. Yet, why are the Catholic Bishops in the Philippines behaving like a bunch of state prosecutors insisting that the RH Law comply with the moral standards of the church?

Pope Francis offers an alternative approach, "I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost."

And speaking of getting lost, the book entitled "The Alter of Secrets" illustrates just how lost the Philippine Catholic Church is. The horrific disclosures in the book, which have been kept secret from the general public, are not heart-warming, to say the least. I'd say there's plenty of far more critical house-cleaning to be done before the church can claim any moral ground to butt into the affairs of the state, particularly one so innocuous as artificial contraception.

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