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Fr. Bernas: More of a Pro-RH Statist than Religionist

August 14, 2012
  • NOTE: This piece was first posted on my Facebook page

    Fr.  Joaquin Bernas

    Fr. Joaquin Bernas

I find this opinion piece by Fr. Bernas utterly disturbing. Actually reading his August 6 piece felt like I was witnessing a gory crime.

Here are some disturbing passages that shocked the hell out of me (take note that Bernas is a self-proclaimed “student of the Constitution”):

He said: “But freedom of religion means more than just the freedom to believe. It also means the freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes. Hence, the state should not prevent people from practicing responsible parenthood according to their religious belief, nor may churchmen pressure President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief.”

Did he ever forget, or did it ever occur to him, that freedom of religion is a limitation on government authority to prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion? Of course it means that every individual is free to act or not to act according to his faith/belief. His concluding remark is even more alarming. What did Bernas say? That the state should not prevent people from responsible parenthood?! Since when did the state ever prevent the people from practicing family planning? Where did he get the idea that the state is preventing parents from being ‘responsible’? Or: is he trying to say that by not funding contraceptives, the state is in effect depriving people of their alleged right to family planning or “responsible parenthood”? What Bernas said is utterly illogical and irrational. Is he trying to say that if the State is not funding people’s access to government services, that is tantamount to depriving the latter of their right to such services? Holy cow!

He said: “Third, the obligation to respect freedom of religion is also applicable to the state. Thus, I advocate careful recasting of the provision on mandatory sexual education in public schools without the consent of parents.”

Even with or without parental consent, the state should have no business telling young people what to do. The only role of teachers and schools is to teach students how to think, not what to think. The best alternative is: LET FREEDOM WORK!!!

If private, non-Catholic schools would like to teach sex education, then let them teach it. Catholic schools or any religious schools should not be coerced by the state to teach things against their faith. The state has to respect the religious schools’ right to practice religion and their PROPERTY RIGHTS. This is why the government should have no business running or managing publicly funded education!!!

He said: “Fourth, the duty to care for sexual and reproductive health of employees should be approached in a balanced way so that both the freedom of religion of employers and the welfare of workers will be attended to.”

Employers should not be coerced to fund their workers’/employees’ services against their will! That’s the very essence of freedom. Let free market competition work! Of course such a state authority is based on the Labor Code. But not all laws and statutes in this country is proper. We should understand that it is our protectionist laws and repressive economic laws that are delivering this country closer to economic disaster. If only we’re a little bit freer economy (without protectionism, too much regulation, corruption, and welfare programs) there would be higher degree of competition among industries that would compel them to provide not only better health benefits, but also competitive compensation packages! Poverty is an economic issue, Fr. Bernas. No amount of alleged constitutional knowledge of yours or even welfare laws could ever defeat poverty without adopting free market reforms or sound economic policies.

He said: “Fifth, I hold that public money may be spent for the promotion of reproductive health in ways that do not violate the Constitution.”

That’s the problem. That merely shows some Jesuits have socialist tendencies. Historically speaking, the Vatican City advocates welfare statism or socialistic reforms to help the poor while rejecting RH programs or pro-contraception policies. What the Vatican City fails to understand is that RH programs and population control policies are just part of the entire Welfare State conception that it strongly advocates. How can the Church reject states’ RH program when this is utterly consistent with its pro-poor, pro-welfare advocacy?

The Church’s pro-welfare policy was formulated by Pope Paul VI in his 1967 Encyclical Populorum Progressio. In the world of Paul’s vision, the primary function of governments would be to carry out the principle that “created goods should flow fairly to all”. But isn’t the Philippine government trying to “create goods” for poor Filipinos and women by passing the RH bill? This is what Bernas is actually trying to defend when he cited the Compendium on the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church that says: “Because of its historical and cultural ties to a nation, a religious community (like the Catholic Church) might be given special recognition on the part of the State. Such recognition must in no way create discrimination within the civil or social order for other religious groups” and “Those responsible for government are required to interpret the common good of their country not only according to the guidelines of the majority but also according to the effective good of all the members of the community, including the minority.”

Of course, I strongly disagree with Bernas’s incoherent arguments defending both our welfare state and the Catholic Church’s doctrines. But yes, he’s right in trying to imply that the Church’s pro-welfare policy is completely compatible with the country’s welfare state politics.

He said: “Sixth, we should be careful not to distort what the RH bill says. The RH bill does not favor abortion. The bill clearly prohibits abortion as an assault against the right to life.”

What the RH bill says? It’s all about state control of the education sector (both public and private), medical sector (both public and private), and businesses or industries. Bernas is smart enough to know that.

He said: “Seventh, in addition, I hold that abortifacient pills and devices should be banned by the Food and Drug Administration.”

This particular line cracked me up! This actually spells some sort of a poetic justice. Bernas should know that that’s what he gets for advocating, supporting the population control bill! Of course I disagree with his proposal to ban abortifacient pills and devices.

He said: “Eighth, I am dismayed by preachers telling parishioners that support for the RH bill ipso facto is a serious sin or merits excommunication! I find this to be irresponsible.”

I am dismayed by Bernas’s pro-RH stand and inability to understand that the RH bill is not the only solution to our poverty or alleged overpopulation and other reasons being peddled by the pro-RH camp. There is a better way to solve those problems. The best solution is to adopt free market reforms or sound economic policies! Since poverty is an economic issue, and since poverty actually causes population growth, it can only be solved by sound economic policies! Indeed, Bernas is more of a welfare statist than religionist.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2012 3:38

    bernas is preaching a distorted version of distributism.. look up the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity.. the first one is pretty libertarian in principle and then the second one is neoliberal in principle.. or maybe bernas is just playing some effed up jesuit end game, they are hounds after all.. and that’s the most charitable thing I can say about him.. I am Catholic and anti-RH bill

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