How dare the Catholic Church in the Philippines!

Polo Gomez, 43, wore a crown of needles holding what he said was his own HIV-infected blood during a protest against the increasing prices of AIDS treatment, in Mexico City, on June 18, 2008. Mexico City which hosted the International AIDS Conference.
Polo Gomez, 43, wore a crown of needles holding what he said was his own HIV-infected blood during a protest against the increasing prices of AIDS treatment, in Mexico City, on June 18, 2008. Mexico City which hosted the International AIDS Conference.

“He’s only 22, very young, but spends all his remaining time in the government hospital,” my Thai friend told me in halting English.

“If only he had been careful.” I said.

Somebody who is as young, as inexperienced as that friend of a friend doesn’t deserve to die, only if he practiced safe sex or altogether abstained from having sex. But knowing that the latter is difficult, if not impossible to do, he could have opted for protected sex.

He contracted the disease amid Thailand’s rigorous campaign to use condom as protection from AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections .

From 1984 to 2007 in the Philippines, the number of registered cases reported was 3,061, with 2,754 persons still alive. But according to the Department of Health and the World Health Organization, the actual figure could be higher, accounting for unreported cases since the stigma of having AIDS causes those with the disease to die in silence or infect unknowingly their partners. In 2007, these two health agencies estimated that there are around 7,490 people living with HIV in the Philippines, an increase of 1500 from the 6,000 estimate in 2002.

In an article published on the Philippine Daily Inquirer entitled ‘Change in behavior, not condoms, will stem AIDS’. dated August 28, 2008, Pangasinan Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Family and Life, said promoting the use of condoms would be “dangerous and ineffective.”

He was reacting to a statement by Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde, who said last week condom use was one of the most effective ways of preventing the spread of AIDS and HIV.

Also, two senators—Edgardo Angara and Pia Cayetano—have called on the government to strengthen laws on AIDS prevention and control, including more seriously educating the public on how to avoid it by using protection, such as condoms.

But Aniceto relayed the view of the Church in a statement yesterday: “We are constrained to express grave concerns over the press statement attributed to Undersecretary of Health Mario Villaverde that the Department of Health will now promote the nationwide use of condoms, allegedly as a means to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Condom use will not effectively protect one from contracting the virus, the prelate said, adding that a prophylactic is not 100 percent foolproof.

“It is the duty of the DOH never to propose for general public use any prophylactic that could increase the incidence of the disease it is supposed to prevent,” the archbishop said.

“It is, therefore, irresponsible, imprudent and dangerous for the department to declare that the use of the condom, without any change in unhealthy sexual behavior, will prevent seropositive cases from transmitting HIV/AIDS to their seronegative spouses,” he said.

The writing on his chest says "VIH-SIDA EMERGENCIA NACIONAL," or "HIV/AIDS National Emergency."

In this case, we see two public entities, the government health agency and the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines conflicting over the control over the people’s private spheres. The former for reason of public health security as in the disease is difficult to contain once in its more advanced stage so finding ways for its prevention is a more rational approach; the latter, on the other hand, is vehemently against the use of condom on grounds of morality.

I see it as a myopic vision of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The prevalence of sex outside marriage, premarital sex, or other forms of “immoral” sexual activities such as homosexual acts might as well mirror its utter failure to educate Filipino morality, its failure to make its parishioners understand that sodomy will send those who practice the act to hell, its failure to do what it is primarily tasked to do–teach morality (but ended up moralizing).

Now it is embarking on a grander scheme of changing public policies as if these policies are their papal nuncios.

When will we start educating people to be responsible as regards sex when all the parishioners are already dying of AIDS?

It reminded me of a statement made by Friedrich Nietzsche a century ago:

There are people who want to make men’s lives more difficult for no other reason than the chance it provides them afterwards to offer their prescription for alleviating life; their Christianity, for instance.

Does this hold true? Does the opposition of the Catholic Church in the Philippines to legalize the use of artificial contraception to curb population explosion, which is one of the major reasons for the downward spiraling of not only the economy but also the standard of living of the Filipino family, an attempt to make the lives of each Filipino miserable just so the Church can show its charity? Funny. But with things going on now, nothing can be more true.

Does the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines to the use of condom to prevent AIDS a ploy to make the lost sheep find their shepherd, or so that the prodigal son can repent and the goodness of the father be exalted?

If we look at the issue on moral grounds, the Church will always have its way. 80 plus per cent of the voting population are adherents to Catholicism, at least as stated on their baptismal certificates. And the Church can always make use of this fact to pressure the Legislative, for 80 per cent of votes is enough for members of the Philippine legislature to deal with Satan (unintended pun) or the prelates.

If only we transcend the un-winnable moral grounds and look at the rational side of the issue.

It is easier to convince a man to use condom (that is if it is available and he knows where to get it) whenever he wants to have sex than to convince him to abstain from having sex because his soul will burn in Hades.

It makes more sense to persuade an Overseas Filipino Worker to use condom while having sex in a faraway land than to tell him to be a good Christian and therefore must not have sex outside marriage.

It is more sensible to tell the youth to practice safe sex than to tell them that premarital sex is immoral, for after all they will still do it.

The use of artificial methods to protect one from conceiving, sexually transmitted infection, or AIDS makes more sense than waiting in vain for the people to espouse the kind of morality taught by the church. It’ll never be a good idea to see people not following the Church’s teachings suffer from hunger because the family members are too numerous, from AIDS because he had sex with so many men, or poverty–all because of the absence of a clear-cut law on the production, distribution, and use of contraceptives in general. Hell has its proper place and proper time.

Let’s give them the choice.

My Thai friend emailed me this morning that her gay friend just died because of multiple organ failure last night, the usual result of AIDS.

Very usual.

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23 thoughts on “How dare the Catholic Church in the Philippines!”

  1. very strong arguments..

    i was once in a hospital to have a check up and i overheard medical aids talking about this issue. guess what?..they favor the use of condoms..
    on tv, there are shows that have implied sex like that of magkaribal, what did the church do?
    nothing..what did the government do? nothing..why????
    i don’t know..maybe because they leave us with the freedom of choice but when things get a little more than shaky, they act..they act as though people have no freewill and they say, “there is no way other than this (condom or martyrdom)”

    implied sex ignites fantasies, it is inescapable and no matter how i see it, morality is always at stake..

  2. bwisit talaga ang simbahan, panahon pa ni rizal binibwisit na nila ang pinas!
    bantayan nalang nila sarili nila, ang daming corrupt na pari, imbestigahan nila ang mga collection and donation na nakukuha ng mga ito, 2 out of 3 na naging parish preist samin corrupt, pero ano ginagawa ng catholic church, buti pa yung missionaries, matino.

  3. Fuck the church, fuck the CBCP, fuck all the stupid priests and bishops interfering with political issues. Shit makes me sick. The philippines is the number 1 catholic country in asia and it is also one of the most fucked up country in asia. What does that tell you?? Goddamn church trying to run the country. Just let the government do its job!

  4. medieval thoughts. i wouldn’t be able to tell you the answers to your questions. but what i know is that people like you, who choose to remain cloaked in their own fantasies, are the reasons why this country remain sunken in dark waters that is the catholic church.

  5. Premarital sex and other sexual deviation from the morally right context of sex in the Philippines is in its worst.
    Considering the fact that the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, this is not suppose to be the case.
    Catholics are suppose to be highly moral and God fearing. But, are we?
    Where did we go wrong…..we can blame it on a lot of things…poverty, ignorance…lacking of moral values etc.

    The government,DOH, promoting the use of condoms mainly to prevent contamination and spread of HIV among others, is exercising their duties and responsibilities to deal with clear and present danger.

    Can anybody make the filipinos stop instantaneously from sexual relationship that may cause them to be contaminated with HIV? Has any body came up with the better idea to solve the problem?

    If somebody is to tell me that my solution to the problem is wrong…then that somebody has to come up with a better and productive solution….otherwise we can consider the comments as….politically motivated…..

    Now let us go back to the cause of the problems….immoral sex, pre marital sex. sexual relations among adolescents…etc. Who are to blame…the parents? The Government….the vanguards of righteousness,morality,godliness…..You tell me!!!!

  6. Dear friends, let me quote what paulo coelho had written about the way these arguments are being handled in the first place, “Conversation is useful when people want to convince themselves that what they are saying is right.” That settles it.

    Taken from The Pilgrimage, Paulo Coelho is a devout Catholic.

  7. Point well taken. However, you must also look at the temperament of the Thai people as regards sex. Moreover, this number, the 610,000 HIV infected Thais, if the figure is accurate, covers the time before the Thai government embarked on massive campaign for condom use. It must be noted therefore that the real result of that program will be visible in the next few years so it will not be a wise idea to totally abandon the use of condom to prevent STIs and Aids.

    With more awareness and knowledge about the spread of HIV/Aids, with condom use, which the Church is vehemently against of, this fight against Aids can be won.

  8. “In 2007, these two health agencies estimated that there are around 7,490 people living with HIV in the Philippines”

    The UNAIDS 2008 report estimated that there were 610,000 people living with HIV in Thailand.

    The population of Thailand is approx 65.5 million
    The population of the Philippines is 91 million

    The condoms don’t seem to be solving the problem in Thailand.

  9. hannah! i totally agree.

    another memory came across my mind.

    last summer, i had my PEACE EDUCATION class… there, we discussed something about the separation of the church and the state….

    well… during that time, i was quite absurd with my answer.. they said that the church and the state couldn’t be separated. but i said that the church should focus more on strengthening the morals of the people without giving “prejudice” as to what the state wants to implement. (simply put, each should just mind their own business)

    although my teacher agreed with me… he said that “a country” is like a body. we cannot separate the soul (church) from the physical body (state)… because he said that a body cannot function without the soul and vice versa.

    that only means that a borderline should be drawn between the church and the state. and this is where FREE WILL comes in. i think, its the only dividing line that separates the two. correct me if im wrong, but i think, this is where it all boils down.

    FREE WILL is the only thing that can help us. sad to say, that even FREE WILL in this country is suppressed by both parties as well…

  10. Calling names is definitely offensive.
    And calling someone ‘stupid’ is really not a very nice thing.
    I believe that we should respect an individual’s opinion.
    There are so many “truths” in this world and each viewed in an entirely different aspect.
    A truth may be seen in a different light by each of us.

    one thing more, politics and religion will never be a good mix.

  11. It is not simple as seeing that these contraceptives are available. As long as the church is getting in the way, any policy by these health agencies will have little effect. The use of artificial contraception/family planning methods should be institutionalized. Only then will we see its benefits.

    The government has stopped providing free contraceptives because of the lack of law. Why? The church is opposing for the passage of the bill into law and members of the legislative who are kissing asses just to have the necessary votes do not have the political will to do what should have been done a long time ago.

    And I see myself as a believer in Christ. My critique of the Catholic Church’s stance doesn’t make me less of a believer.

  12. in everything we would like to do we always have reason/s to do it. do good or bad you have your reason to do it. promotion of condom and other contraceptives has a lot of reasons why it should be done. as christians we have all the reasons why we dont like those things to be approved and legalized. at present its not yet approved but we are all aware that condoms and other contraceptives are just available and even given free by the government why still there’s a need for any RH bill? don’t be too judgmental about the church and christianity or catholicity, if you don’t believe in christ, the church and its teachings just believe what you believe and do good on what you believe in. i see that government and the church are thinking about the good of the people. kabunian bless u

  13. Oh yeah. Prove it. Prove to me that I am stupid.

    That’ll be the last adjective I’ll use to describe myself.

    Somebody who couldn’t manage to write a decent comment other than ‘stupid ka’ is nothing but stupid. Stupid!

  14. is Christianity all about JESUS CHRIST? i beg to differ and i think its about doing something good (generally speaking) but it does not tell us to be more like JESUS. no two persons are alike. so no one can ever be the same as JESUS because in the first place, HE WAS THE SON OF GOD. and no one be equal to him, or be like him for that matter.

    and i really don’t know about the history of Jesus… he’s too obscure to me. even if im 21 already, i still know little about him… what about his missing history in the BIBLE? it really makes me think what happened to him for several years without even mentioning “something” as to what he had done during those years of absence.

    and by the way, JESUS was mortal.
    ]
    wait.. im getting off topic. hahahaha!

  15. “I am a Catholic for the past 22 years”

    Well it appears you didn’t learn a helluva lot. Catholicism is about following Jesus, becoming more and more like him each day. When did Jesus ever set moral truth aside in order to be to be pragmatic. He didn’t say “Father, let me be a military Messiah now, as it will be more of a pragmatic help to our people. Then, later, I can do the spiritual Messiah thing.” He knew Jerusalem would be wasted in 70 AD. Wouldn’t the pragmatic thing have been to prevent it?

    We are here to reflect the love of the Trinity to the rest of the world. Marital sexual intercourse is the most sublime way of doing that. It must always be free, total, faithful and fruitful, just as God’s love is for us. Condoms fit nowhere in that scheme…nowhere!!…ever!!

    But then, not everyone has the courage for martyrdom, do they?

  16. hehehe. ever since you posted your opinions about activism, it seems you’ve made yourself some nasty friends, fev.

    i’ve always believed in the separation of the church and state. but spending time with the opus dei had made me realize that most of what the catholic institution fights for, is only for the best interests of the filipino families.

    the laws regarding the state’s um, backing with the use of condoms, hits a nerve on the catholic faith, as chastity and family-centered values seem to be forsaken just so that sexually transmitted disease could be avoided.

    i think, instead of sponsoring condom use, the state should take a more active role in promoting or instituting policies to avert the real problem of aids, over-population, and personal health care that is, education regarding reproductive health, hygiene and sexual practice. i think it’s about time we shed off moral inhibitions and educate people on how to do “it” rather than let them discover for themselves. and also, it would help if social services can support it. nationwide seminars in barangays about proper contraceptive use and family planning would really help. also, giving incentives like scholarships to marginalized families who have only 1 child would help. I think this was what Angara and Cayetano had in mind. well, back to the church’s thing.

    as a friend tells me, if the state permits the bill to be passed, it becomes a free ticket to promiscuity, something the church is vehemently against. so summing that up, i think the church just over reacted because it felt that it’s moral foundations is being threatened.

    as i read from the article mentioned, it seems that the effectiveness of condoms (prophylactil) is also in question. although it may sound cynical when they said that it wouldn’t work and would instead spread the disease more, the idea deserves some merit.

    it’s because condoms also break(burst), get torn, or slip off. this often happens when little or no natural lubricant exists during sexual intercourse. of course, preventing that from happening would require the use of commercial lubricants which also increases the transmission of the disease, as the liquid can become a carrier of the bodily fluids, and travel to other places where another person’s system could pick it up. transmission could be done through contact, spraying and indirectly. like a fly hatching from a used condom and landing on the open wound of another person. HIV is a virus that leads to aids. its mode of transmission is the same as that of flu.

    yeah, it really seems more practical to tell any juan de la cruz to just buy a condom, than to provoke him by threatening him that he’ll go to hell. but then, even with the best of intentions, you might be responsible for his eventual actions. like if he becomes overconfident that he wont contract aids as long as he uses condoms, which would then propel him to aggressively increase his sexual adventures. and in the end, you’d feel guilty for his contraction of aids.

    i just find the premise that “the filipinos are a lost cause when it comes to morality” in your argument sort of wrong. hehehe. you know, the “they’ll still do it anyway” thing.

    most of the people i’ve discussed this issue with, actually are against the church’s stance. i’ve got a friend who’s a friend of janet garin, one of those who are pro on that issue. the local parish priest banned her (sort-of, parang tinakwil) from the church just because of the issue. hehehe.

    i know it seemed like the church may sound like opportunists. or the state legislators may seem like morally depraved. but in all honesty, both of the sides only want the best for the filipinos. one side, with morality. the other, with practicality. i think we should take the middle path.

  17. i agree with feb.

    the church has NOTHING TO DO WHEN IT COMES TO POLITICS. and it is only in the Philippines that the church is so active when politics is involved.

    the church is, obviously, afraid of losing their parishoners if they will condole with the notion of using CONDOMS and OTHER CONTRACEPTIVES as a form of preventing STIs and overpopulation. IMAGINE THE MONEY THEY COLLECT EVERY MASS! (and i don’t see any point of giving money during mass. GOD NEVER ASKED FOR MONEY. ITS CALLED SERVICE! and giving money is not SERVICE, its BRIBERY actually.)

    imagine the money they could lose if the will approve of the notion. IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO MONEY. MONEY, THE ROOT OF ALL EVILS.

    __________

    i don’t see any point in going against the use of CONTRACEPTIVES to prevent the spread of STIs and overpopulation. it’s just too absurd of the church to see such usage of condoms and other contraceptives as “IMMORAL”. GOD gave men knowledge for them to use, NOW THAT MAN IS USING HIS KNOWLEDGE, GOD’s emirates (the church) are using it against his children. how’s that? its really contradicting.

    morality is indeed out of the argument. what we have at hand is a situation that calls for “PRACTICALITY AND RATIONALITY”. religion should not be a hindrance for anyone who wishes to uplift their quality of life.

    another point i want to share:
    the church itself is a political organization. isn’t it?!?!

  18. The absence of opinion makes one stupid, not the extent of it. We all have our rightful grounds, and we never become stupid because of that choice. What I mean, stop calling John Ryan stupid just because he had his radical thoughts against the “mindset” of the people “featured” in the article. We are always inclined of downgrading someone if we run out of plausible arguments to throw back! this article actually is intellectually stimulating and is conducive for an intellectual discussion, not a ground for the skirmish of unbecoming words. Learn to know your stand, not the art of calling someone stupid.

  19. I am a Catholic for the past 22 years, and let’s not argue on the grounds of religion here. Let’s look at it pragmatically. Contraceptives both for preventing conception and STI/AIDS are what this country need, not that I am dismissing your moral arguments, but the problem is too urgent to wait for moral renewal.

    And stop calling me stupid. Let’s look at it at the merits of our arguments.

  20. Your friends probably don’t know how stupid you really are.
    You obviously know nothing about the teaching of the Church.
    Spend some time listening to Christopher West or Janet Smith.
    You really should know what you’re talking about before mouthing off with false accusations. It makes you look soooo stupid to those of us who know the truth.

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