Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hypocrites in Robes

Reproduced here is Likhaan's Statement on the Catholic hierarchy's hypocrisy and selective morality. I especially like their concluding statement.

Deaths and Suffering in the Name of Doctrine: The impact of Catholic bishops' interventions on contraceptive policies

For a woman suffering from ill health, another pregnancy could put her to death. Every year, around 2,000 Filipinas die from unintended pregnancies.[1]

For a poor family suffering from hunger, another child may push them over the edge. The poorest families want four children but end up with six.[2]

Contraception can prevent most of these tragedies. Catholic bishops never have to worry about death or injury from pregnancy. They never have to worry about hunger for themselves or their children.

Yet, as leaders who regularly preached about love and justice, the least we expected was a bit of sympathy.

A truly caring leader once said, "Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do unto me."

To the Catholic bishops we say: women and the poor are among the least in our society. Listen to them. Or at least listen to your mothers, your married aunts and sisters.

Fifty seven percent (57%) of married Filipino women had used a modern contraceptive method. So said a national, scientific survey of 13,633 women aged 15-49, of whom 82% are Catholics.[3]

This suggests that most Catholic bishops and priests have a mother or a sister who had used a contraceptive method.

In another survey, 90% of Catholics said that it is "important" for the government to fund modern family planning methods like the pill, IUD, ligation, condom and vasectomy.[4]

Communions and Church Collections The unreasonableness and unpopularity of forbidding contraceptives explains why Catholic bishops focus their pressure tactics on policymakers and not on Catholics as a whole.

Threatening to withhold communion from millions of Catholic contraceptive users will result in a nightmare scenario for bishops: half-empty pews and a dying church.

The Catholic hierarchy may also have learned its lesson about unilaterally withholding religious rites from its dark colonial past. More than 200 years ago, a Spanish priest refused a person Catholic burial rites. The place was Bohol, the dead man's brother was Francisco Dagohoy, and the event triggered the longest revolt against Spanish occupation.

However, there is a simpler and more principled solution to the bishops' dilemma. If the Catholic bishops truly believe that contraception is evil and users are sinners, they can announce a simple policy: refusal of church collections and contributions from contraceptive users and supporters.

Simpler and more principled. Especially since calling people sinful while profiting from their contributions is nothing but crass hypocrisy.

[1] Nearly half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unintended(Singh S et al. Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion inthe Philippines: Causes and Consequences, New York:Guttmacher Institute, 2006), and around 4600 maternal deaths,from all types of pregnancies, occur annually (Maternal Mortalityin 2005, Estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, andThe World Bank, WHO 2007.)

[2] National Statistics Office and ORC Macro, NationalDemographic and Health Survey 2003. (NDHS 2003)

[3] NDHS 2003.

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