MANILA, Philippines - The fight against the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill is the biggest challenge the Catholic Church is facing this Christmas season, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said yesterday.
Batangas Archbishop Ramon Arguelles yesterday said that while a 20-year-old gunman killed 20 children in the US, President Aquino would be killing millions of children with a stroke of a pen if he signs the RH bill into law.
“Our President intends to kill 20 million children with a fountain pen…to sign the RH bill into law,” he said.
He said that if this happens, the womb of the mother would no longer be the safest place.
“The RH bill is against life (and) so much young blood (would be) shed. May our leaders not give the Divine Child the same Herodian gift of 2,000 years ago: death of the innocents,” said the Batangas prelate.
CBCP secretary general Monsignor Joselito Asis said that pushing for the passage of the measure at a time when Catholics celebrate the birth of the Savior is a funny thing.
Today, which signals the start of the nine-day Simbang Gabi (dawn Masses), also marks the beginning of the celebration of the Christmas season in the country.
“This is the biggest challenge of the Church today, protecting the life of an unborn which is the very message of Christmas. So it is kind of funny because we will celebrate and say Merry Christmas to Jesus but actually we hate life,” Asis said.
When asked if this would be a bleak Christmas for Catholics, the CBCP official answered “no,” adding that the RH bill has yet to pass third and final reading.
“It is a human law that can be repealed and erased. We hope that this would be a good topic for reflection for the whole Simbang Gabi Masses.”
The Monsignor said that the best way to beat the measure is still through prayers. Church leaders believe that the RH bill would only promote the use of abortifacient drugs.
He also believed that the Christmas season would be a good time for Filipinos to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ, who came to this world to give the true meaning of “life.”
He recalled that a member of the House of Representative once said that at a time when the country celebrates the birth of the Lord, they are discussing birth control.
Asis urged the lawmakers not to compromise their faith.
RH bill ‘heroes’
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago considers President Aquino as her hero for certifying the RH bill as urgent but for the CBCP, the real heroes were the 104 lawmakers who voted against the legislative measure.
The CBCP yesterday issued a pastoral statement titled “Contraception is Corruption” penned by CBCP vice president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.
Villegas issued the pastoral statement in behalf of CBCP president Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who is currently attending the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) in Vietnam.
“In behalf of the president of CBCP, I reiterate the collective discernment of the Philippine bishops that the RH bill, if passed into law, can harm our nation. Contraception corrupts the soul. The RH bill is being gift wrapped to look like a gift for maternal health care. It is not so. It will lead to greater crimes against women,” Villegas said.
The CBCP also praised the 104 members of the House of Representatives who stood firm in their position and voted against the measure during its second reading.
The Church appealed to the 64 congressmen who did not cast their vote on the measure during the second reading to be enlightened and stand up for truth.
Arguelles believes that prayers could do miracles in swaying the minds and hearts of the lawmakers not to support the passage of the measure.
Pangasinan Rep. Gina de Venecia, who voted no against the RH bill, said she wants to see a better life for every Filipino, “but certainly not at the cost of an unborn child.”
De Venecia said the RH bill is an attempt to institute measures to control the country’s population, masquerading as a reproductive health measure, with the end-in-view of diminishing, or alleviating the problem of poverty. – Eva Visperas