Fifty-three (53) of the 99 active bishops and 4 retired bishops met on 14 November 2008 at Pius XII Catholic Center, Manila to deliberate on the Reproductive Health Bill 5043.
A committee of 3 moral theologians headed by Msgr. Gerry Santos, Fr. Bernas, S.J., a constitutional lawyer and Dr. Roberto Vera, Ph.D. in Economics prepared materials for the bishops’ consideration.
Thus, the bishops studied RH Bill 5043 from viewpoints of morality, constitutional law and economics.
Result of deliberation was the unanimous approval of the “Pastoral Statement ‘Standing Up for the Gospel of Life”.
Our mission to protect and promote human life as well as our love for the poor are reasons for this pastoral statement.
RH Bill 5043, according to the bishops, has a number of good points. But it “contains fatal flaws…which make the Bill unacceptable. These flaws concern the sacredness of life from conception, freedom of conscience and heroic parenting.
Sacredness of life from conception. “The current version of the Bill does not define clearly when the protection of life begins.” Human life begins at fertilization – when the ovum is fertilized by the sperm. “Fertilized ovum is already a human life, according to the teaching of the Church (Evangelium Vitae, # 60).
Freedom of conscience. By mandating only one Reproductive Health Education Curriculum for public and private schools, the Bill could violate the conscience of educators who refuse to teach forms of family planning that violate their religious traditions. It could also violate the rights of parents to determine the education of their children. Moreover, it could violate the conscience of employers who do not wish to provide artificial means of contraception to employees for religious reasons. Finally, it could restrict freedom of speech by discouraging legitimate dissent.
Heroic parenting. Family health goes beyond a demographic target because it is principally about health and human rights. Human resource is the principal asset of every country. Birth and care of healthy children, promotion of responsible and heroic parenting are to be promoted and given priority.
The statement calls “for a more widespread dialogue on this Bill.”
Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 510, 18 November 2008)