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Monday, October 16, 2017

Prepare the Millstones, Part 1



There’s a certain passage in the Bible that is present in 3 out of 4 of the Gospels, and that is Christ’s message for those who drag people into hell with them by causing them to sin. Let me quote:

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Mt.18:6)

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.” (Mark 9:42)

“It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:2)

Three Gospels, one message: causing or leading someone to sin is a grave moral matter. It seems that hell itself has a special place for those who not only managed to lose their soul but also for those who have caused other people to commit sin and be dragged to the fiery pits along with them.

If anything, the RH bill issue has brought into light those who purportedly speak for the Church but actually spew out false teachings and misinformation. There are many of them, but the most public of these ‘false prophets’ are Fr. Joaquin Bernas and Senator Miriam Santiago. In this first of several blogs, we will concentrate on the Constitutionalist first and his take on the RH bill.

Fr. Bernas has been an outspoken critic of the Church for Her opposition to the RH bill. To an ordinary person, this can be dumbfounding. A priest who supports the RH bill? And a respected constitutionalist at that? So who’s right? Who’s wrong? Unfortunately, these days the truth becomes a secondary accessory; rhetoric and sloganeering have become the order of the day,  “Eleven mothers dying daily.” “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.”   “Don’t burn the house to roast the pig.” They indeed sound good and have a certain ring into them. Those who know next to nothing about the issue would notice the rhetoric but not the truth. Perhaps this too is a wake-up call for the Pro Life advocacy to improve its PR, a topic which I intend to cover soon.

Fr. Bernas has written numerous articles about his support for the RH bill. Let’s focus on the more recent one. (, posted on Sept. 24 2012)

Fr. Bernas says:

“Let me illustrate this through the teaching on contraception. The teaching of the Church on contraception is found in various documents. But Church teaching is not accepted by a vast number of people. Persons who adhere to Humanae Vitae,  etc. and act in the sphere of the relation of man to God are expected to plan their family according to the principles of the Church teaching. But these same persons should not be faulted if in the sphere of constitutional law they do not oppose a state plan that is not in accordance with Humanae Vitae, etc. “

The implications here in this paragraph would be:

1. Humanae Vitae may or may not be followed. Opposition to Humanae Vitae is okay and well within the “sphere of constitutional law” (whatever that means).

2. Ergo, the non-acceptance of Church teaching is okay and the persons who do not adhere to the Magisterium “should not be faulted.”

Way to go, Fr. Bernas. You just instructed people that it is perfectly normal to go against official Church teaching. For the record, the Catholic Church has always been clear on its stand versus contraception: that it is intrinsically evil. In fact, up until 1930, all Protestant denominations agreed with the Catholic Church’s teaching condemning contraception as sinful.  Even before Humanae Vitae, the Catholic Church and the rest of the Protestant Churches taught that contraception was evil. At its 1930 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican church, swayed by growing social pressure, announced that contraception would be allowed in some circumstances. (

Fr. Bernas, this is not a matter of adhering to Humanae Vitae or not, because even before its inception, the Church has always been crystal clear about contraception: From the Holy Scriptures to our Church Fathers to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, one thing is very, very clear:

“[E]very action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” (CCC 2370). ”

Fr. Bernas goes on:

“Religious liberty in the constitutional plane does not simply mean freedom to choose what to believe but also freedom to act or not to act according to one’s belief.”

We agree, and this is why we oppose the RH bill. However, it also has to be said that if you claim to be Catholic, it is your obligation to learn about your Catholic faith in order to internalize the Church’s teachings and follow it faithfully. If you go against Her teachings, like in this case the teachings about contraception, you not only hurt your soul by not being totally in communion with the Church, but you hurt the Church as well, most especially if you have influenced someone else to disobey Her.

There is so much to say about Fr. Bernas and his inablity to understand the official stand of the Church on contraception (even to the point of arguing with a bishop over it). In the end we echo the words of Fr. Charles Belmonte Lopez:

“To act according to one’s belief” is usually called “sincerity,” or “authenticity,” or “having personal responsibility and maturity,” or “being coherent with one’s faith.”

On the other hand, “Not to act according to one’s belief” is usually called “duplicity,” or “insincerity,” or “betrayal of one’s faith.”

Faith is not a “hat” that one can take off when one enters the Congress and then put on when one enters the church; that is, properly speaking, having a “double life”… Nakakasuka.

On part two, we will discuss about an mvp who lost the plot and blamed the CBCP for not opening its doors to the poor and opposing the RH bill, and of course the unsinkable senator, Miriam Defensor Santiago, who claims that the conscience is above the teachings of the Church.

Meanwhile, if you want some insights about Fr. Bernas, here’s a related blog. Very insightful.

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2 Responses to “Prepare the Millstones, Part 1”
  1. JIN agUILAR says:

    Please give us a list of pro-RH senators as while as congressmen. For us pro-lifers, lets approach our lawmakers who pro and anti RH) and explain to them courteously our side. The Q & A on HB 4244 (RH BILL) of Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS is very helpful.

  2. Mary Ann says:

    How sad Fr. Bernas is leading every one who’s feet is not rooted deeply in the faith to the sllipery slope.. May the Lord touch his heart…

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