Bishop Rodrigo Tano on Human Value and Dignity

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In our effort to encourage discussion in all walks of society, Mulat Pinoy has been requesting messages, articles and commentary on popdev matters from various personalities.

Our contributors are a varied sort: some from NGOs, others from a more corporate background; some are well-known across the board while others lead quieter lives. Regardless of who they are and where they come from, they have something to say about our population, and we should all listen.

The following message is form Bishop Rodrigo Tano of the Interfaith Partnership for the Promotion of Responsible Parenthood:

Bishop Rodrigo Tano at Mulat Pinoy's Phil. Population in Focus forum. Photo from the Black Fedora Blog.

It is my deep conviction that what drives all of us to uplift the weak, the marginalized and the needy is our recognition of the infinite value and transcendent dignity of man and humanity. All religions and societies agree on this. From the Christian standpoint, the value and dignity of man derive from his being created by God and resembles some of the divine qualities–freedom, creativity, moral sense, and his capacity to connect to the transcendent and sublime realm of values.

The sad thing is we do not walk our talk. Allowing 11 Filipina mothers to die daily as they give birth, our inability (or negligence) to help poorer families (they have more children than the rich) overcome their social, economic and personal handicaps invalidate all the talk of those in congress about serving the masang Pilipino–because they have not passed an honest to goodness population and development bill which will embody a positive and humane, rights based national policy. All they care, it seems, is political survival. The dilatory tactics and alibis in not passing a national policy are disgusting. They are controlled more by an absolutist dogma that is static and unresponsive to the changing times and situations, and without due consideration to human need. They say they are prolife–but what kind of life do they want to maintain? The question of the relation between poverty and a run away population is not a question of religious dogma but of research.

The recent pronouncement of Pope Benedict XVI, humanizing the use of the condom to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among male and female prostitutes even when a pregnancy is involved, while not relaxing the prohibition against articificial means of contraception, creates a ‘CRACK” in the moral abolutism of a “rule ethic” that is not versatile enough to deal with human need. For him to talk of a “lesser evil” means that contextual and personal considerations may modify an absolutist, legalistic stance. So, the universal affirmative statement that any articificial means of contraception is intrinsically evil, already allows and exception; hence, no longer universal. Such is the weakness of a fixated moral absolutism. Well, the good news is, the religious leaders have not yet excommunicated President Noynoy.

God bless.

Rodrigo Tano

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