The Pontiff of Love
My Holy Father Benedict XVI recently acknowledged that the use of condoms is permissible in some instances to prevent the spread of HIV; a statement widely regarded as a step forward.
Pope Paul VI in the encyclical Humanae Vitae (14) acknowledged that it is sometimes lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or to promote a greater good. It is in this context and only in this context that the statement should be viewed in my opinion.
Indeed, my fellow Filipino compatriots, the debate thickens. A lot of people are eager to make progress in this issue but one thing it is not - simple.
Now, if we can all agree on that, that the issue of contraception, sexually transmissible diseases, and population control is not simple, may I also propose to you, in fact, that stepping forward might be the last thing we need right now.
Perhaps, what we need to do is to step out of the issue and try to perceive it from a vantage point that allows us to grasp at the enormity of the question at hand and understand that there will be no easy answers.
Now, the world-at-large may say many things about the Pope but in my eyes, Holy Father Benedict XVI is the Pontiff of Love.
He is for my Holy Mother Church and for all people of good will, the right person at the right time - our time, my fellow Filipino compatriots. And let me tell you why -
His first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), is an exposition of God being Love Itself and Love which is intimately involved in the life of our humanity and that this Love is consummated in Christ; that this God is not someone or something that dwells from across vast open distances of space and time for God is found nearer to Man than we can ever possibly imagine; that Man need not look outward to find Him but only inward into the soul of his being where from the Sanctuary of the Heart, the LORD dwells to fill the universe entire with Light.
For if Love is not present in the heart of Man, God shall nowhere be found in the galaxy or in the universe entire.
This Love is also synonymous with Goodness, Beauty, and Simplicity.
All of this means to say to me that the Holy Father draws from those first principle truths, an understanding of the sheer complexities of human living, and seeks to proceed from it to arrive also at answers to the problems that trouble our age - and there are many.
I can only imagine the angst of the Holy Father - we must continue to always pray for him.
Because when one dwells upon the magnificence of God as Goodness; of God as Love and Beauty Itself, one becomes necessarily confronted with the mystery of evil and the human condition.
Consequently, one arrives at the virtue of Hope which is the subject of his second encyclical - Spe Salve (Salvific Hope). His apostolic exhoration Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Charity) means to strengthen and renew the Church in the Sacrament of Love, the Eucharist, and his latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth) is one that proceeds to courageously address and engage the nascent problems of our age.
Truly, Holy Father Benedict XVI is the Pontiff of Love.
What he says and does I take seriously for he is with us, brothers and sisters, so let us banish the thought, first of all, that the Pope is in any way or form against any of us who are seeking for intelligent answers to this debate. What can be derived from all of this confusion is that we must indeed proceed with caution for this question of the RH Bill concerns the highest of causes - that of Sacred Life - the Cause of God.
Hence, we must be more eager to step out of the issue than to move forward and not misplace our zeal for progress in the fight for the betterment of our nation.
I also completely understand that it means a lot to our Filipino nation, being a majority Catholic nation, to meaningfully understand what confronts us here - on a moral level, viewed from the heart of Mother Church. And so I am particularly engaged in the striving for answers with you, my fellow Filipino compatriots, both as a citizen and a Roman Catholic Christian.
Let me begin this with the culture of death that pervades the times. For this culture of death is the universal background against which the problems of contraception, sexually transmissible diseases, and population control (among other evils) merge together to confront our collective moral understanding as a people.
It would do us well in the interim to try to get a better understanding of what the culture of death presents to us not in terms of what it promises to our eyes but of what it does not and can not promise to our generations; that our conviction for a culture of life may become more and more deeply and profoundly established.
Concerning the RH Bill in particular, this culture of death shall be the next topic of discussion in this blog.
Truly, we have to individually reflect and pray about what decision to make in the forums of the Republic before our Congress acts on the RH Bill next year.
In the meantime, my fellow Filipino compatriots, even as we reflect and pray, let us temper the public debate with much patience, nobility, and reason, knowing in the end to place our greater trust in the greater purposes of greater things.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! God bless us all.