Sex and Religion

Finding Religion and Spirituality in Population, Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health Advocacy in the Philippines.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Speaker Preaches to Archbishop

House Speaker Prospero Nograles is again voicing his opposition to a bishop's proposal not to give Holy Communion to lawmakers supporting the bill that will allegedly legalize abortion.

While expressing his reluctance to support proposals to legalize abortion in the country, Nograles said he does not subscribe to the stand made by a Catholic Archbishop on the issue.

"While I may agree with the Archbishop that we should not legalize abortion, I don't really agree that those who believe otherwise should be denied the right to receive the body of Christ in Holy Communion," Nograles said.

He reminded the Church that though people may vary in their beliefs "but we are all equal in the eyes of God."

"We should not get hasty in condemning others for their beliefs," Nograles said.

Nograles said that with the policy on the separation of church and state, "there must be mutual respect between and among church officials and those in government."

"We are in a democratic state. We must respect separation of church and state, especially political beliefs," Nograles said, adding that the issue of abortion is not only moral but also economic and political.

CBCP Hit Over Family Planning

Advocates of family planning on Tuesday scored the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) after declaring that lawmaker-signatories of the anti-life bills pending in Congress must not be given the Holy Communion.

"If you are dictating a social policy by straining out your expertise which is religion, it is wrong. For me it is not defensible morally and legally," said Dr. Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, director of University of the Philippines'Center for Women Studies and chairperson of non-governmental organization Likhaan.

In a press briefing, Claudio insisted the bishops' act could be considered a "criminal act" since they are using religion "to intimidate elected officials from doing their jobs."

Instead, she advised the bishops to "stop threatening with things that are not even relevant."

"I don't see Jesus in their act of stigmatizing women who want to exercise their rights to inform choice and their rights to plan for their families," she added.

Claudio's statement stemmed from the pronouncement made by Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, head of the CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL), stating that the entire conference or the permanent council would make a unified stand on how to deal with politicians that are against the church's position on contraceptives.

Aniceto had accused proponents of the bills of allegedly using euphemisms to mask their intent, claiming that the term reproductive health actually meant abortion.

But Felipe Medalla, former director of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said he reviewed the bill and there was nothing in it that was "close to abortion."

"There is nothing in the bill - in any form or shape - that will promote abortion. There is nothing in it that is contrary to the Constitution," he assured.

In fact, Medalla noted that if the bill is passed, abortion would be reduced because it would assist couples that want to plan the size of their families.

"There are many unsafe abortions by poor women because they have no access to family planning (methods). The burden of unmet needs falls mostly on the poor couples," he added.

Beth Angsioco, secretary general of the Reproductive Health Alliance Network, underscored the importance of having a national policy on population management especially in the face of the economic crunch presently facing the country.

According to her, 10 Filipino women die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications. Three out of four of these women are aged 15 to 19 years old.

Under the bill, reproductive health products and supplies will be categorized as essential medicines and supplies and become part of the National Drug Formulary. They will be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all hospitals and other government health units.

The Catholic Church remains firm in its stand on asking the legislators to rethink their position.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of CBCP-ECFL, said: "We appeal to our dear legislators to study again and rethink your position regarding this bill."

He particularly appealed to those legislators who were among the signatories in the anti-life bills in Congress such as the Reproductive Health and Population Management bills in Congress.

"Let us not anymore create legislations like this for us to address the poverty of our people because this is not the solution," he said.

Castro, meantime, also appealed to the faithful to join the church in convincing anti-life lawmakers to change their position.

"It's the responsibility of the faithful to convince the unconvinced. Hopefully through this various fora will also talk to their legislators and God willing to be able to convince them to do what is right," he said.

He further revealed that members of the CBCP agreed to individually talk to the lawmakers under their own jurisdictions.

"During their last Plenary (Assembly) they have agreed that they will individually talk to their legislators. To dialogue with them and tell them that this is the church's position," Castro said.

"We pray (that they will listen). There is nothing impossible with God. I'm sure our legislators, who are men and women of good will, will listen to the voice of reason and morality in the end," added the priest.

Last Sunday, Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental Bishop Jesus Dosado in a pastoral statement said pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion.

"A Catholic politician who consistently campaign and vote for permissive abortion should be instructed on church's teachings and informed by parish priests that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin or otherwise he will be denied the Eucharist," Dosado said. (MSN/Sunnex)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Anglicans await key ruling on women bishops

Agence France-Presse
First Posted 22:15:00 07/07/2008

LONDON -- The Church of England faced a key vote Monday on whether to allow women bishops, with more than 1,000 clergy threatening to quit the Church if its General Synod goes ahead with the move.

A "yes" vote from the Church's ruling body could trigger an irrevocable schism in the worldwide Anglican Communion already embroiled in a divisive row over homosexuality.

Some 1,333 clergy have threatened to leave the Church of England if they are not given legal safeguards to set up a network of parishes that would remain under male leadership.

The General Synod is meeting in York, northern England, the second most important city in the Church after Canterbury.

Members will be asked to back a motion calling for a national code of practice to accommodate parishes which cannot accept women bishops.

John Packer, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, also suggested the creation of three male "super-bishops" to cater for the spiritual needs of followers who do not want pastoral oversight from a woman.

Such a figure would be directly answerable to the archbishop of either Canterbury or York -- the Church of England's two most senior figures.

Packer's ideas come amid calls from a significant number of General Synod members for a delay in pressing ahead with legislation to introduce women bishops.

Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral in London, said: "If they are asking for special treatment, which I think we can supply, then they don't need to ask for it to be written in law because that says that we are not trusted to behave decently."

The archbishops of Canterbury and York, the two most senior figures in the church, are understood to favor a compromise that would avoid an exodus of the most conservative wing, The Times newspaper said.

However, they do not want the consecration of women jettisoned altogether due to the difficulties of appeasing both sides, it added.

In his Sunday sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the leader of the world's Anglicans, said Jesus was with those on both sides of the debate.

The time allocated for the debate on women bishops has been extended to 10:00 pm (2100 GMT) after 14 amendments were received to the original House of Bishops' motion, said a church spokesman.

The Church of England is the officially established Church in the country and the mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has about 77 million followers.

The monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the Church of England's supreme governor and 26 bishops sit in the House of Lords, parliament's unelected upper chamber.

The Church says that 1.7 million people take part in its services each month, with around one million participating every Sunday.

Splits in the worldwide Anglican Communion are not new.

It has been deeply divided since the ordination by the US Episcopal Church of openly gay priest Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

There was also opposition to the ordination of Barbara Harris as the US Church's first female bishop in 1989.

For the conservatives, such practices cast doubt on the interpretation of Christianity's sacred text, the Bible, and the fundamental tenets of faith for followers of Anglicanism.

The English Church broke off from Rome in 1534 under king Henry VIII, over its refusal to grant him a divorce from his first wife.

Solon, 11 pastors sue 7 publications for ‘porn’ content

By Allison Lopez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:05:00 07/07/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- A group of pastors led by Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante filed charges of grave scandal and obscene publication against seven magazines and tabloids for supposed pornographic content.

Abante and 11 other pastors of the Baptist organization Bible Mode sued the publishers of the magazines FHM, Maxim, Playboy Philippines, Playhouse, and tabloids Sagad, Hataw and Baliktaran Toro, in a joint affidavit filed at the City Prosecutor's Office around 10:30 a.m. Monday.

The complaint said the publications, from September 2007 to July 2008, showed "obscene and erotic pictures/poses that show, depict or describe nude or semi-nude bodies, sexual acts, sexual intercourse [and] private parts, with no educational, artistic value, intended to draw lust and arouse prurient interest."

Abante said they hoped to put a stop to the magazines and tabloids for the benefit of minors they said are corrupted by the publications.

The group also charged the publications for violation of Manila’s anti-pornography city ordinance no. 7780, which Abante authored when he was a councilor in 1993.

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