Homily for 12/13 February 2011
(based on the CBCP Pastoral Letter “Choosing Life, Rejecting the RH Bill”;
to be read in all Sunday Masses)

Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

Before EDSA I in 1986, our Catholic Bishops had to make a “prophetic moral judgment on political leadership” that called for a peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy. During their 102nd Plenary Assembly, they had to make a similar prophetic judgment. The bishops realized that the Reproductive Health Bill will exacerbate the country’s moral corruption (President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III was elected because he said, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap”). Thus our Bishops issued a Pastoral Letter: “Choosing Life, Rejecting the RH Bill” [which I quote extensively today].

You have heard it said that “the RH bill promotes reproductive health”.
The truth, however, is this: the RH bill is about preventing reproduction by unnatural, hazardous means. Some contraceptives cause cancer while others perforate the uterus. Some contraceptives even cause abortion by preventing the implantation of the embryo in the uterus! Why is it that when it comes to the environment, we go out of our way to “respect Mother Nature”; but when it comes to “birth control”, we don’t hesitate to use artificial methods?

You have heard it said that “the RH bill will reduce abortion rates”.
The truth, however, is this: the use of contraceptives leads many to abortion. People who use contraceptives think: “Wala namang sabit!” But no contraceptive is 100% effective. So many people engage in the marital act – whether with their spouse or with someone else – without welcoming the possibility of having children; but when contraceptives “fail” and the woman becomes pregnant, many resort to abortion.

You have heard it said that “the RH bill will prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases”.
The truth, however, is this: condoms provide a false sense of security that tempts people to become more promiscuous. The first HIV/AIDS cases in Thailand and in the Philippines were reported in 1984. With foreign funding, Thailand embarked on 100% condom use. Nonetheless, USAID estimates that there were about 660,000 people with HIV in Thailand in 2007. On the other hand, the same USAID estimates that there were AT MOST 13,000 HIV/AIDS cases in the Philippines in 2009! And we rely only on the “old-fashioned chastity”! The only “safe sex” is sex sanctified in marriage: sex with your spouse only. Ask yourself: how could any faithful couple get sexually transmitted diseases?

You have heard it said that “the RH bill is necessary to stop overpopulation and to escape from poverty”.
The truth, however, is this: “population is not the cause of our poverty… The causes of our poverty are: flawed philosophies of development, misguided economic policies, greed, corruption, social inequities, lack of access to education, poor economic and social services, poor infrastructures, etc. World organizations estimate that in our country more than P400 billion are lost yearly to corruption.” Imagine how many teachers we could have trained with that money… how many houses could we have built for the poor… how many farm-to-market roads! China has the largest population on the planet: 1.3 billion. But why is no one looking down on them as a poor, backward country? Learning their lessons from history, they allowed their naturally hardworking and smart people to engage in free enterprise and move the nation forward. Since they have more people, they have more workers, more scientists, more teachers, more inventors and more entrepreneurs! Population is not the cause of poverty; it is the creator of wealth. “The conclusion is unavoidable: for our country to escape from poverty, we have to address the real causes of poverty and not population”.

Our position stands firmly on two of the core principles commonly shared by all who believe in God:
(1) “Human life is the most sacred physical gift with which God, the author of life, endows a human being. Placing artificial obstacles to prevent human life from being formed and being born most certainly contradicts this fundamental truth of human life… As religious leaders we must proclaim this truth fearlessly in season and out of season.
(2) “It is parents, cooperating with God, who bring children into the world. It is also they who have the primary inalienable right and responsibility to nurture them, care for them, and educate them that they might grow as mature persons according to the will of the Creator”.

Our beloved Bishop urges all priests, parents, young men and women, therefore – all the lay and consecrated persons – in the Diocese of Parañaque to renew our commitment to Christ. Let us examine ourselves and repent of either the complicity or the complacency by which we may have contributed to the anti-life contraceptive mentality that produces the reproductive health bills. Let us build a true culture of life. Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day: don’t reduce love to sex. True love means respecting one other; true love means keeping yourself pure for your girlfriend or boyfriend; true love means being faithful to your spouse.

Our beloved Bishop calls on all our young men and women, their parents and elders to participate in the interfaith prayer rally “Filipinos! Unite for Life!” to be held on the PICC grounds on Sunday, February 13, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. This is but one of the prayer rallies that have been or will be held all over the Philippines. For those who can, we shall march from our assembly point – the Shrine of Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life – at 2:00 p.m. Those who cannot may proceed to the PICC grounds before 4:00 p.m.

Let me end with the timeless exhortation of our First Reading:

If you will, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
He has placed before you fire and water:
stretch out your hand for whichever you wish.
Before a man are life and death,
and whichever he chooses will be given to him. (Sirach 15:15ff)

Would you want to choose death? Let us choose life! Let us reject the RH bill!