Sex and Religion

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

Monday, October 20, 2008


Rafael Triunfante, a married former priest, has come out in favor of the controversial reproductive health bill and criticized the Catholic Church for trying to stop its passage in Congress.

The Rome-educated Triunfante said the Churchs hard-line stance against modern birth control methods and sex education, which the bill would promote, showed a lack of compassion for the problems of married couples and the poor.

The bill, authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, is being debated in the House of Representatives. Influential Catholic bishops are lobbying for its rejection, saying it goes against Church doctrine.

Triunfante was ordained a priest in 1968 but he left the ministry after 11 years. Now 63, he has been married 28 years and has two children.

Both methods
One of the pioneers of the Philippine Federation of Married Priests Inc. (PFMP), Triunfante admitted having used both natural and artificial means of birth control.

He said most people wanted to plan their families but they did not have the resourcesinformatio n, services and money. This is what the bill seeks to address.

He also lamented the lack of reproductive health services for the people.

With its rigid stance against the bill, the Church may have lost a ministry of compassion, he said.

After he left the priesthood, Triunfante said he felt he had climbed down from a pedestal and was better able to feel the pulse of the people.

When youre a priest, people put you on a pedestal. People always want to serve you rather than you serve them. I knew something was wrong with this, he said.

Triunfante said other PFMP members were hoping the Church would at least be open to a dialogue with them on the reproductive health bill.

But the Church would not even want to listen, he said, adding that this was also how the Church treated many priests who still wanted to serve God, even though married.
We were isolated. The Church was not open, he said.
He said the PFMP, which promotes the dignity of marriage and family life, was founded in 1972 and now has a membership of over 500 couples nationwide.

Triunfante said that his open stand on the reproductive health bill was not influenced solely by his married life.
He said he believed in the theology of liberation, which teaches that knowing the issues of the people and living with them makes ministry more effective.

Triunfante said he felt frustrated and isolated from the people.

I felt like my life was not normal anymore, especially my sex life. There were realities that could not be ignored, he said.
Granted a scholarship, he studied Philosophy and Theology in Rome, where he was exposed to the Vatican Councils discourse on the celibacy of priests.

This imbibed in me the spirit of reformation, he said.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 13, 2008


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