Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Archbishop fretting...but "not paranoid"

Former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz is a busy man these days.  But he's not busy feeding the poor, visiting the sick, building shelters for homeless Filipinos, or going about other Christ-like works that could be of great help to his nation and his flock.

No, Cruz is busy worrying about and speaking out against women's right to reproductive health, and of course, fretting over the prospect of LGBT Filipinos some day being treated as equals before the law.

The prelate has "warned" that passing the RH bill would lead to bills calling for divorce legalization and same-sex marriage (as if those would be bad things).  He identifies the bill as part of a "tripod of social maladies," which includes abortion, divorce, and same-sex unions.  Funny, but I think the status quo is a tripod of social maladies:  treating sexual minorities like second-class citizens, forcing couples to remain together by the power of the state, and telling women what they can and cannot do with their own bodies.

In March, Malta, a small island nation in the Mediterranean, voted to legalize divorce.  That means that now, in the year 2011, the only country on the planet without a law allowing divorce guessed it, the Philippines.  Now that talk of a divorce bill is stirring in Philippine congress, Cruz and other Catholic leaders are starting to bite their nails over that as well.  They're working overtime to push as many fear buttons in common folk as they possibly can.

Citing slippery slopes and domino effects, they claim that if you allow the RH bill, next will be sex ed, then divorce, the subsequent destruction of every family in the nation, then the opening of drive-thru abortion clinics, and then the end of days for sure with the dreaded "marrying of the gays."

Speaking to Karen Davila, Cruz said "Do I believe the RH bill is the tipping point?  Of course.  I may be many things but I'm not paranoid."  No sir, you actually are paranoid.  Worrying about things that might happen simply because you personally object to them...that's pretty much the exact definition of paranoid.

It must be tough having so much to worry about.  But I suppose that's what's best for the nation:  fretting and spreading fear and misinformation.  After all, that's so much better than doing silly little unimportant things like standing up for equality, treating people with dignity and respect, and helping the nation move out of its third world status.

Cruz also states that he opposes the RH bill because, and I quote, "it promotes freedom of choice."  How, sir, is that a bad thing?  Allowing free people the right to exercise their own free will is not a negative, it is a positive.  It is called democracy; it is liberty.  "How can you be free to do something that is wrong?" he then asks, which shows the disconnect with reality that he has.  Why does he feel it's up to him to decide for everyone else what is right?  He has his beliefs and his convictions, that is fine, but he does not have the right to force those beliefs and convictions upon everyone else.

It is truly scandalous that such religious leaders are able to talk down to the Filipino people as if they are children.

He ended his appeal with this:  "What is the Church doing?  The Church is trying to maintain the values system of the Filipino people.  With the values system gone, look at what is happening to us."  Look at what is happening to you??  The people are starting to awaken, that's what's happening.  The people are wanting to join the rest of the free world and be allowed to live their own lives, that's what's happening.

First of all the values system is not gone -- no laws have changed yet; the people are simply starting to want more freedom of personal choice.  This is what happens in democracies, Mr. Cruz.  Generations change old views and ancient prejudices begin to melt away as knowledge increases.

Secondly, he and the church do not decide what the Filipino value system is.  There are millions of non-Catholics in the Philippines; there are Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, liberal Christians, agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers.  There are straight, gay, bi, and trans Filipinos.  There are conservative, moderate, religious zealot, secular humanist, and progressive Filipinos.  What Mr. Cruz defines as "the values system of the Filipino people" (an anti-RH, anti-women's lib, anti-LGBT rights, anti-marriage equality, anti-divorce, anti-choice value system) is not shared by all Filipinos.  His value system is antiquated and oppressive.  It is a system that envisions a reunification of church and state in the Philippines -- one where the archbishop would have the right to veto bills passed by congress -- and he would do well to put that dream to bed.

What is most sad in all of this, is that the Catholic church has immense wealth with which they could quite easily feed each and every hungry Filipino.  They could build housing projects for those who today must live in squalor in shanty towns.  But instead they busy themselves with spanking Filipinos who struggle to feed their already-large families and who only wish to decide for themselves whether or not to use contraceptives.  They encourage an over-populated nation to multiply even more.  And of course they also spend time obsessing over the bedroom activities of consenting, tax-paying adults.  What a waste.

It's a puzzling panic attack that bears no logic.  Almost all modern, industrialized nations have reproductive health, sex ed, divorce, some form of same-sex partnership recognition or marriage, and even abortion, and they're doing just fine.  In fact, they have lower rates of STDs, lower rates of teen pregnancies, hugely lower levels of poverty, and fewer per capita abortions than the Philippines.

Allowing people the freedom to choose doesn't destroy a nation, it makes it a stronger, better place to live. Cruz, and others like him, are simply afraid of losing the grip on the nation they've always had.  They may be able to stir fear among people and keep their grip a while longer, but that grip is slowly slipping.

Let him fret, I say.  The Philippines is no longer a Spanish colony existing at the whim of an all-powerful state church.  Please, let the country take steps forward to enhance personal freedoms, and step into the modern era with the rest of the world.  It's time for the Filipino people to say to the church what Moses said to pharaoh in the days of old:  Archbishop, let my people go!

Quotes from ANC's Headstart program and ABS-CBN news.



Mae C. said... Best Blogger Tips

hello is the divorce and also abortion legal in your country? advance thank you for your answer!

Erik said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Mae C.! Yes indeed, my country has had divorce for a very long time, since 1536 actually.

In regards to abortion, they were allowed on a case-by-case basis starting in 1964. Our current abortion law was passed in 1978, and it allows for abortion on demand during the first trimester. Abortions during the second trimester are subject to the approval of two separate doctors. Abortions during the third trimester are typically not permitted without a good reason, e.g. health concerns, true hardship, etc.

I hope that helped!

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