Do The Filipino Freethinkers Think?

April 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm (Commentary, My Take)

Since the day the Philippine media made a sensation of the word “excommunication”, advocates of the Reproductive Health Bill did not stop running some propaganda making gullible people believe that the Church is threatening and blackmailing them, and that the bishops are against responsible parenthood and family planning. This deception easily got into the minds of those who do not understand the issue, and that exposed their real attitude regarding the Faith.

The first question is, “Do, and did, any Filipino bishop threaten any proponent of the RH Bill of excommunication?” In a September 2010 interview, Bishop Nereo Odchimar said that there is “a possibility” that the Catholic Church would excommunicate President Benigno Aquino if he continues in his intent to distribute contraceptives. When asked by the interviewer about the possibility, the bishop replied, “That is a possibility, but I don’t see right now that it is a proximate possibility.” Odchimar did not initiate the topic; he just answered the question truthfully according to the conditions laid by the Church. The CBCP is actually reluctant to talk about excommunication, since the Constitution alone is enough to make Noynoy realize the unlawfulness of the provisions of the RH Bill, and the bishops are confident that there will be no need for a religious sanction. The president of the Conference said in the same interview, “We don’t want to be confrontational. We want a dialogue.”

These people who use Bishop Odchimar’s statement against the Church are the ones whom the Apostle Peter warned us about: “Be sober and alert because your enemy the devil prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” Not that they are necessarily evil, but the devil caught them in his trap and uses them to mislead the faithful.

220px-Celdran_advocacyNow, the so-called Filipino Freethinkers have a campaign entitled, “Excommunicate Me”, trying to convince themselves and others that they are patriotic – like Rizal — and that the Church is against love of one’s country. Their intention and their message are flawed, though. Jose Rizal is not an enemy of the Church. What he had fought against are the abusive friars and civil officials of his time, and not the Holy Church or her laws and doctrines. In his novel entitled, “Noli Me Tangere” (The Social Cancer), he even made a character who was wrongly accused of being an enemy of the Church, a heretic. That person is Don Rafael Ibarra, the father of Crisostomo.

Don Rafael represents those people who were punished because of wrong religious and civil accusations, and that include Rizal himself. His character does not imply that to be a good Filipino means to be anti-Church; it is rather the contrary. To love God is to love one’s country, as the interpretation of the Fourth Commandment expressed. Don Rafael portrays a patriot and a faithful in its correct sense.

These Freethinkers, on the other hand, are antagonistic to the Church because they cannot reconcile themselves with its way of thinking. What is strange, though, is the fact that they profess being members of the same Church and yet they do not understand where it is coming from, what its mission is, and who is its Lord. For if they know the mission of the Church, and who it is serving, they will see why it is opposing the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill. But as their name Freethinkers connotes, they really do not believe anything that they cannot comprehend; and they are having difficulty to arrive at truth because of the very same fact that they are professed freethinkers – a status that is incompatible with being a faithful Catholic.

Quoted below is the so-called Manifesto in Support of Choice signed by the Filipino Freethinkers on November 26, 2010 while they were holding their “Excommunication Party”.

Tonight, we advocates of social justice and free and informed choice, come together in an expression of solidarity towards the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill.
Whereas 
the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has repeatedly imposed its agenda upon the government, in clear violation of the principle of the separation of Church and State;
Whereas
 the CBCP has threatened to withdraw its support of politicians and legislators who endorse the Reproductive Health Bill;
Whereas 
the CBCP and its allies consider Catholics who support the Reproductive Health Bill as “oxymorons”, “dissidents”, and “not real Catholics”;
Whereas 
the CBCP and its allies equate the Reproductive Health Bill to abortion, when nothing in its provisions promotes such;
Whereas
 the CBCP and its allies have knowingly and wilfully disseminated misinformation in their attempt to stop the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill by sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt among its constituents;
Whereas
 the Catholic Church has continued to uphold edicts and dogma that result in bigotry, human suffering and loss of life;
And whereas 
legislators who support the Reproductive Health Bill have remained stalwart in their efforts to combat bigotry, human suffering and loss of life, despite the Catholic church’s threat of excommunication;
We hereby declare
 that if supporting the Reproductive Health Bill means excommunication…
Then excommunicate me!

 Now, what about “Excommunicate Me”? That is an absurd and ignorant statement if you will ask me. No thinking being, whether human, angel or demon, can correctly express such a “request”. To be excommunicated means to be excluded from a society. Everyone’s membership to any society is voluntary – at least, the enjoyment of it, and not necessarily the way they entered. The willful intention to leave that fellowship does not need a punishment to be realized. Nobody, in his right mind, will do a grave crime worthy of exile, just because he wants to leave his country. Therefore, for someone to challenge the government to exile him is talking outside the context. He could just leave the country anytime he wants without the need of putting himself to shame.

We hereby declare that if supporting the Reproductive Health Bill means excommunication…
Then excommunicate me!

They should have just said, “Then so be it.” But this group wants something else. They want attention. They want to be identified with Jose Rizal, as if he would think and do the same. They want to give the impression that supporting the RH Bill is being patriotic, and that to be a good Filipino means defending it. Finally, they want to discredit the Church. But would Rizal promote the idea that the government should supply condoms, pills, IUDs, etc. to couples, whether married or not, and to the youth, who have not yet even reached the right age? Would he condone behaviors such us being disrespectful to parents and to the authorities? Would he counsel the parents to give up their rights to teach their children, and would he tell them that it is alright to disregard each other’s decisions? Would he define the word “responsible” as “being able to manipulate the natural consequence of an action so that one would be able to do everything as he wishes, and for the sake of convenience”?

I have three suggestions for these people. First, that they renounce either their identity as freethinkers or their identity as Catholics, instead of confusing the rest of the faithful whether it is really possible to be like them and be a good disciple of Jesus. And if they would say that they are atheists, then again, it is absurd to say, “Excommunicate me.” Second, that they give their campaign a theme that is not ignorant in nature and appearance such as this one I am talking about. Third, if you really want to be heroes of this country, stop supporting a foreign policy that attempts to bring a foreign culture, and wants to enrich some foreign contraceptives and abortion companies and organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Lucile Packard. Of course, corruption is another story.

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