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Monday, November 29, 2010

The Pope Says 'Yes' To Condoms!

"If it scares them to realize that they are losing their 'special places in heaven' for not being completely amenable to what the pope has said, then let them be warned."

It's simply unheard of. Unprecedented that hard-core Catholics are reeling from the debacle that is papal 'slip of the tongue' - (read as: his own personal conviction) as opposed to what the church pontificates.  Pope Benedict is still human - he is aware that the world is beset by poverty and diseases. He cannot close his eyes to the glaring anomaly that is overpopulation and the spread of HIV. The Catholic church has long stood firm on their stand against condom - claimed to be the single most potent defense to combat HIV infection. In the Philippines where the Catholic church wields formidable power and influence, any member of the church can be threatened of excommunication if he publicly airs his opposition against any of the church's doctrine and stand, particularly on  contraception. Such is the perceived power that even a sitting president is not immune to the threat.

To many Catholics the pope is infallible. What he says and decrees upon is the ultimate law by which all members are bound to obey. On the issue of condom use, however, the recent interview on him sent shockwaves to the billions of Catholics worldwide. Those progressive Catholics who support condom use to be a deterrent against HIV and overpopulation, have only praises for the pope for his timely but unexpected statement favoring condom to combat a worldwide AIDS epidemic. But for those who have staked their souls on the vilification of the use of contraceptives, the pope's statement was a product of an ambush by a media-savvy infiltrator and interpreted to be differently. They insist his statement to be misused and taken out of context. But, whatever interpretation they want to concoct, it was clearly a papal stand that cannot be retracted. The pope is the head of the church and his belief and conviction represent that of the church's and so its followers ought to follow.

In the Philippines, you don't just raise your voice over the presumed pragmatists insisting your litany of logics. You don't expect sympathy to pour over your sorry bone if they pounced on you. Let's admit it. Those who refuse to open their eyes to the oppressive effect of poverty brought about by overpopulation have their conscience already seared with religiosity. They would fume as hell  if you say they are blinded by their religious fanaticism that you in turn are branded as satan. You will have multitudes of them - politicians, academicians, intellectuals - most notably some middle class and remnants of Spanish colonialism. They have strong and well-funded organizations to name and shame those who are opposed to the Catholic church's doctrine against the use of contraceptives. And they too maintain one common belief that condom kills a life inside a woman's womb. (Oops,don't say it is absurd reasoning, don't forget these are highly intellectual people.)

What has been a week of confusion over the pope's personal stand on condom use has proved to be a problematic one for the church. Even the smartest and most clever minds within the hierarchy are scrambling to find a way out of this unexpected dilemma. Cautions are also being exercised not to wholly contradict the papal statement or they risk losing their moral ascendancy. Now this question is inevitable - if the pope as head of the church approves of condom use to be 'moral' to prevent further spread of HIV, what do the priests and devout members make of it? If they believe that the pope as head of the church is the ordained representative of Christ on earth, why disobey him? Which way is moral - to listen and follow the pope so that more people can be spared from dying, or to stand guard on your habit of vilifying the most honest method of safeguarding lives from incurable disease such as HIV and other sexually-communicable diseases?

Now, some hard-core Catholics dare argue that what the pope probably meant was a selective condom use - appropriately for male prostitutes and transsexuals. So, what could be the reactions of those legal couples and lovers who only want  to share intimate moments without the fear of unwanted pregnancy? Are they not being deprived of their right to basic needs according to Maslow? Let's face it people. Even within the Catholic ranks, they fail to stop pervert priests from sexually abusing boys. If  Ahmadinejad of Iran boastfully announces to the world that in his country there are no gay people, let us understand that he purged his country of gays because they are being shamed and executed in public. But in the Catholic church, gay priests are significant in  number (though you will only find out later as evidenced by the mounting sexual abuse cases filed against them worldwide). So, in effect, you cannot rein in the sexual urges of certain individuals whose degree of 'holiness' and self-control do not at least come close to those of the 'righteous' members of the church.

Look, I suppose this is not just another contentious issue, this is in a sense a real breakthrough. We cannot just watch and allow these fanatics to disempower the moral argument made by the pope. If it scares them to realize that they are losing their 'special places in heaven' for not being completely amenable to what the pope has said, then let them be warned. But behind this snare of which is moral or not, lies the seed of sheer immorality - that our people mired in utter poverty because of children unable to eat and school is not a priority more than an empty stomach. Where has our conscience gone and a shred of tiny logic, to say that condom is evil when everyday dead babies and fetuses are being offered to dumpsters for mice and bugs to feast on? What did the church do to the fortunate ones who have been found on church's doorsteps? True enough, they reacted quickly - quick to condemn the soul-less mother - and quick to call the DSWD. From their end, they have no capacity to care for these babies, when there is the state that 'should'  take the sole responsibility. And so why play the greatest meddler in the history of mankind? If anything, a thinking person would assert that if you do not pay your taxes to the state despite your huge profit-making, you have no right to dictate or interfere with the affairs of the state, whose only aim is to uphold the interest of its citizens. You have no right to play bully to those who are weary of your influence and power.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm no sarcastic unrespectful person especially when we talk about religion. I will tell you. I was born Catholic from a generations of devotees who would mop out the aisle of the church from the doorstep to the altar. Growing up, I had my share of frightening experience being a devout Catholic. When I turned seven, I got bruised by a wooden statue of this certain male saint that the parish aide hurriedly draped on my head. People shoved one another to get to the altar first, some kids crying, arms twisted, as mothers tugged at the base of the statue to lay on their children's foreheads. We were made to believe that, if you missed out on performing your mother's religious vow when you turn seven, you certainly will miss out on the blessings to come for the rest of your life. And those who get to the altar first at the signal of the statue bearer, will get the most blessings all their lives. But not after you have paid  the charge of 30 pesos as donation to the church. What  made the ritual even special was that - it was done only on first Sunday of the month. And we had to get up before dawn as the church is four towns away from our place."

So, in light of this stunning abrupt "change of policy" of the church, which many hard-core Catholics dismiss as one, there is no denying that a confusion amidst this debacle has led many casual Catholics to think that there now exist  two popes. The first, and the familar one is, the stern, conservative and moral theologian. And the second, a  revolutionary one who apparently wants condoms for all. But, whether the pope has thrown overboard the long-standing Catholic ban on the use of condoms, or that his aides could only dispute that he was only speaking in a limited context, for instance to prevent the spread of HIV, it is a fact that the pope had spoken his mind and conscience, with a sense of urgency. There was no "crisis of journalism" committed there, as opposed to the accusation of some Vatican offficials. The message is clear - the pope follows his own conviction. Whatever repercussion or hostility it brings forth within its ranks, be it an unthinkable coup d'état of the papacy, the message had been sent out already - that enough to hypocrisy and doctrines that have enslaved the world - from diseases, illiteracy and poverty. So does this prove that the pope after all is human and not infallible?


Francesca said...

i voted liked to your post. CHURCH and the state should be separate in handling the social issues of the country.The church should teach by examples.

NFB said...

Thank you Francesca for visiting my blog. It's an honor having a great blogger like you approved of my thoughts on this highly-contentious issue. We along with bunch of pragmatists have to have our voices heard for this issue affects each and everyone of us especially poor people in third world countries like ours.

Have a great day in France!

Pepe Cabrera said...

The Catholic church is partly to blame why our country is predominantly poor compared to other Asian countries. We live in a democratic country, and the government should listen to what we have to say, and we say YES to family planning, YES to Comdoms & birth control pills, and YES to RH BILL!

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