Monday, August 1, 2011


MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Monday revealed one of her greatest fears when she was still commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration.
Santiago, principal sponsor of the reproductive health (RH) bill in the Senate, said she once told reporters that she was not afraid to die especially after receiving death threats when she was still immigration commissioner.
"I am not afraid to die but I'm afraid that there might be no sex after death. I have thought and thought about the matter and have reached the conclusion that yes,  there's sex after death but you cannot feel anything," she said to laughter.
In her RH Bill sponsorship speech, Santiago noted that the Catholic Church is the "only major religion" in the Philippines that opposes the RH bill.
She said the bill, which promotes all forms of family planning including contraceptives, has been endorsed by religious groups such as the Iglesia ni Cristo, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood and the Assembly of Darul Ifta in Muslim Mindanao.
She also opposed the Church's argument that sex's main purpose is for procreation. "Why am I not persuaded by this argument? During sex, couples should only concentrate on having children. They should not concentrate on anything else. You might as well have sex with your eyes closed," she said.
Santiago said gone are the days when the task of the layman was to simply obey the priests who are treated like they belong to a "special caste." She noted that many medical advances were prohibited for a time because they were opposed by the Church.
The senator said the absolute authority of the Catholic Church has grown weaker over the years since the 1968 Humanae Vitae encyclical, which bans Catholics from using artificial contraceptives.
She said the encyclical "made the ordinary Catholic realize that the Church hierarchy does not have all the answers and forced her to think of the role of individual conscience."
Santiago said the Catholic Church should focus on other issues such as poverty and corruption in government.
"I very humbly appeal to Church authorities to exercise strong leadership on moral issues such as war and peace, poverty, corruption in government instead of a non-issue like the RH Act," she said.

Talk about uttering non sequitur phrases that don’t say much but are said to give the impression that the one who said it said uttered something particularly intelligent (you know that there’s-sex-after-death-but-you-won’t-feel-a-thing kind of thing). As one character in one of my favorite novels once retorted, even fools have moments of shining lucidity. I admire the Lady Miriam for her courage and straightforward manner but I just can’t understand her basically most of the time. She’s a lawmaker that stands her ground, very much opinionated and virtually fearless, who knows how to make her point and states it clearly. What makes me fearful of her however is not her fighting spirit but her sudden swings from one point to another. But wait a minute, on second thought she may not be inconsistent after all. Anyway, with her classes at Maryhill she believes she could express her opinions about how the Church should be and how it should conduct itself in this twenty-first century.
People always think that the Church should always go with the flow in everything. The problem is, the Church wasn’t made to go with the flow in the first place. This wasn’t how she was made to be by her Founder. Yes, she may be in the world, but she’s not of the world. This is one thing which many people would find very hard to understand. To state that the Catholic Church is the only major religious group not in favor of a contentious bill such as the Reproductive Health Bill is inconsequential. So what if it’s all alone? It doesn’t make her claim invalid, nor does it dim her teaching of the moral truth that artificial contraception does not fit into the original and essential plan that God had for human sexuality. I’m beginning to think that though the proponents of the bill say that they don’t count on the support of the Catholic Church on this item they’re going to push for it anyway, somehow it makes me suspicious in thinking that they really are into asking it’s support in order to give it legitimacy in the eyes of Catholics, who comprise the great majority of Filipinos, whether they be practicing or not.
Another matter which is found at the heart of the issue (or at least of Lady Miriam’s speech) concerns itself about the ends of the conjugal act. The lady errs when she singles out procreation as if it were the only end of this intimate act between spouses. Maybe she just chose to ignore the other one just for the sake of argument. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is explicit in mentioning that there are two ends of this act, namely, the unitive and the procreative aspects of the single act of the two spouses. In # 2363 it states that “the spouses' union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life. These two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple's spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family” (emphasis mine).
During the length of the debates the issue of the Church’s power and clout over the people has always been brought up most especially by those who want to present the Church as a power-hungry institution always bent on controlling the people for its own gain. Well, I won’t be surprised if this would come from our politicians who are well-accustomed to their turf, which are the halls of power. But the Church doesn’t function the way Congress or Senate does. The Church doesn’t speak on her own authority nor on the weight of her own words. Priests and bishops have no other authority other than the one given to them from on high. This kind of thinking and explanation would never be understood. I really believe when people begin to talk about the Church through political bifocals one is always at the real risk of misunderstanding the Church as an institution and as a divine and a human reality. And this is what the lady does. And speaking in the same breath, I would like to ask her specifically of what medical advances were prohibited for a time because they were opposed by the Church? I can see lurking behind the shades of Galileo and the Inquisition once again, which always an easy (and cheap) escape and argument to all who have made it their constant career to discredit the Church in the name of science and technology, while ignoring the fact that in the name of science and technology, they have much to be thankful for the Church. Healthcare was a constant concern of the Christian community since its very beginning (to an extent that Julian the Apostate tried to duplicate it in his pagan hospices, to no avail). Medicine continued after the fall of the Roman Empire under the tutelage of the monks who were keen scientists of their day. Mendel and Pasteur are just two among the constellation of the children of the Church who had contributed much to science.
The Lady Miriam continues in stating that the Church does not have all the answers. Well, for one thing, the Church is not a search engine like Google nor an encyclopedia from which one could get easy answers. Or is it perhaps that on would expect the Church to give easy answers to all questions that we have. What the Church does is to interpret all of the realities that we face and that we have in the light of the Gospel of Christ, which is the Word of God that ought to enlighten every individual conscience. When she mentions ‘individual conscience” I bet she understands it in a very haphazard way. The lady obviously has a knack for leaving concepts and ideas hanging or out of focus. The Church has always taught of the importance of an individual conscience, and in addition (a very important one), that it must be enlightened by the Truth. A conscience that is individual that is left on its own is no better than a car in a snowstorm that has lost sight of the road. Perhaps that’s what some people want, because by then it would be very easy to allow all sorts of things, even immoral ones (and most especially immoral ones).
It’s getting late. I’ll answer the rest later.
in the meantime, maybe this may help you in thinking:

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