Catholics Can Support the RH Bill in Good Conscience

We, individual faculty of the Ateneo de Manila University, call for the immediate passage of House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development” (hereafter RH Bill) in Congress. After examining it in the light of Philippine social realities, and informed by our Christian faith, we have reached the conclusion that our country urgently needs a comprehensive and integrated policy on reproductive health and population development, as provided by the RH Bill. We also believe that the provisions of the bill adhere to core principles of Catholic social teaching: the sanctity of human life, the dignity of the human person, the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable, integral human development, human rights, and the primacy of conscience.

Catholic social theology since Vatican II has evolved, on the one hand, from the emphasis on order, social cohesiveness, the acceptance of some inequality, and obedience to authority?to the recognition, on the other, of the centrality of the human person, and the concomitant need for human freedom, equality, and participation (Pacem in Terris 1963, Octogesima Adveniens 1971). In the same way that Vatican II was a council for aggiornamento (renewal) for the universal Church, so too did the 1991 Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) aim at the renewal of the Church in the Philippines. After a month of collectively studying and praying to discern the “signs of the times,” PCP-II declared: “As we approach the year 2000, Christ bids this community?ourselves, the laity, religious and clergy of the Catholic Church in the Philippines?to be a Church of the Poor” (PCP-II Acts, no. 96).

As Catholics and Filipinos, we share the hope and mission of building a Church of the Poor. We are thus deeply disturbed and saddened by calls made by some members of the Catholic Church to reject a proposed legislation that promises to improve the wellbeing of Filipino families, especially the lives of women, children, adolescents, and the poor. Being a “Church of the Poor” urges us to be with and listen to the poor, so that their “joys and hopes… griefs and anxieties” become ours as well (Gaudium et Spes 1965, no. 1). We therefore ask those who denounce the RH Bill as “pro-abortion,” “anti-life,” “anti-women,” “anti-poor,” and “immoral” to consider the economic and social conditions of our people, as borne out by empirical evidence, and to recognize that the bill is, in fact, “pro-life,” “pro-women,” and “pro-poor.”

See full text of Position Paper (in .pdf).

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