ON the first Sunday of Easter, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, through its president, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, issued an Easter Pastoral Instruction on Stewardship of Health titled “Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?”
This was prompted with the passage of the Reproductive Health Law which, according to the bishops, understands health differently. “While we respect and recognize the duty and right of the State to pass laws, we deem it our duty as pastors to teach you about the Christian understanding of health which the present RH law seems to misunderstand,” says the Pastoral Instruction.
This instruction premises the Christian understanding of health on human life itself. “Human life ought to be promoted and defended from the moment of conception to natural death. Our life is in our hands as stewards of the gift of life. And our stewardship of life calls us to be responsible stewards of health. While health may not be the greatest value and good of the person, health is a gift and a task for all of us.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) which reportedly are major supporters of the Reproductive Health Law (RA 10354) seem to bamboozle the understanding of “health” and “reproductive health”. Obviously the use of contraceptive pills which are easily obtainable in Philippine market for some time now (and, of course, even in government clinics and hospitals) does not fit the WHO’s definition of health which is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” One does not have to be a doctor to know that contraceptive pills—even granting that there are no side effects, but in fact there are—work to suppress something in the body from performing its normal function and, therefore, contrary to well-being or health.
It is rather odd why RA 10354 is called a national policy on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health when in fact it neither promotes the responsibility of parenting nor of real health.
The bishops exhort Catholics to take care of their body since it is a spiritual duty to do so as good stewards of health. And that includes the campaign against the Reproductive Health Law that “misunderstands” it.