Monday, April 07, 2008
ADDRESSING BIRTH CONTROL IN THE PHILIPPINES
Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino wades into the debate:
Bring up the topic of an unmanageable population, a worrisome rice shortage, and other issues related to demography and soon some voice starts raving against the Catholic Church and its position against artificial means of contraception. We deftly play the blame game in this country. Someone must be blamed; some head must roll! That is of course much easier than taking to the couch to find out for ourselves what the matter might be with our collective psyche.
The popular version of the Church-bashing argument goes this way: Despite the alarming rate of population growth, family planning has not really caught on because of resistance on the part of the Catholic Church. So, for the sake of this blighted republic, the Church must change its moral doctrine or risk obsolescence. Some of the opponents of the Church’s position will even go so far as to announce with unction the demise of its influence in the Philippines. Of course, that is a pathetic claim when it comes from one who urges the Church to allow couples recourse to condoms, diaphragms, injections, pills and other novelties. If the Church is indeed archaic and without influence, why bother about its position?
In the first place, the Catholic Church has always taught parents to be responsible about births and the spacing of births. Let this be clear: The Church is all for family planning. It has relentlessly urged couples to decide under the direction of properly formed consciences how many children they should have and what the gaps should be between them. Given the facts of reproductive physiology, this in effect means that the Church has urged couples to live disciplined lives. The conjugal act should be a matter neither of whim nor of fun—which is not the same thing as the Church forbidding couples from having fun. Animals copulate when they are in heat. The Church expects her sons and daughters to engage in the most intimate of human encounters only when they are fully cognizant of its consequences and ready to accept these with love and responsibility. Is this too much to ask?