On Team Life and of clarity

In a better world (or even just a better country), people will say what they mean or believe in. To be more specific, a Filipino can actually say by simple yes or no whether he or she agrees with the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception or not. Surely, with all the apparent learning being shown all around, such is possible. 

And surely everyone could benefit by knowing what Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ really wants to say. Because, no matter how many times I read his articles relating to RH, I simply can't get his point. And so far, none of my friends can too. And I'm pretty certain nobody else does.

In articles (see here and here) and tweets, he has written passionately (some would say agitatedly) on what seems to be his thoughts on the RH Law and the participation of Catholics in public life. Unfortunately, one can't understand Fr. Tabora because he seems to be not in agreement even with himself on what he wants to say. He says he agrees that Catholic teaching on contraception is sound theologically and in accordance with reason. Yet he ignores the fact that his colleagues keep teaching otherwise. And he strangely declares the RH Law in keeping with the Catholic faith, in complete disregard of his bishops' position. Then he absolves Pro-RH advocates for acting like spoiled teenagers (more on that later), ignoring facts and reason for the sake of pure stubbornness, while castigating Catholics for being "unthinking". Then he suggests people adopt Fr. Bernas' sense of humor. What was the joke? If there was one, it wasn't very funny because it's at the Filipino's expense. 

Instead, what is "unconscionable" (to use Fr. Tabora's word) is that Fr. Tabora  also seems to want the Church (of which he is a priest of and beholden to teach its doctrines) to be deprived of its constitutional right to participate in the public square of ideas (which the Diocese of Bacolod correctly did, when it exercised its right to free speech - see here).

But in the same way that that he sees it fit to imply that those who adhere to Church doctrine as 'unthinking' for rhetorical or political argumentation purposes, then so should Catholics be free to express their views of certain politicians as they feel appropriate (within reasonable bounds).

In this regard and as an aside, the term "cafeteria catholics" is not denigrating for simply being a statement of fact, a term referring to those who pick and choose teachings that they like from those they don't. It's not on the same level as calling people as "fundamentalists" or "unthinking" (as Fr. Tabora tacitly did of his fellow Catholics), or "medieval".

Which leads me to think on how hard it is to understand how cafeteria catholics can think and act like spoiled teenagers. They feel free in saying the Church is wrong and yet wants the Church to say they're alright. And then, when the Church, logically, comes and says 'sorry, you're wrong', they throw tantrums and heap abuse on the Church, and ask that the Church be silenced. Which makes no sense. 

If they think they're correct, then what does it matter anymore what the Church's opinion of them is? And if they don't agree with the Church, then why remain in the Church? There are thousands of religions that I'm sure will accommodate their 'spirituality'. Or better yet, why not create their own religion, which is what they're doing right now anyway. 

As for Fr. Tabora, I believe there is a need to proceed from a proper understanding of the true meaning of Church/State separation (an intricate concept first brought up fully by the Catholic Church through St. Augustine and, before him, Jesus). Furthermore, Fr. Tabora should again reconsider that the Church believes that there is indeed truth, that humans are capable by their reason to know that truth, and that an objective moral standard, contrary to the disguising through the use of the words 'plurality' or 'secular' when one actually means "relativism", is there showing us what it means to be truly human. 

The pluralism of society must be based on reason and coherence.  While indeed we should all respect other’s beliefs, it has to be accepted that to do so would not make those beliefs necessarily correct. To those saying that "nobody has the right to impose one's morality on others," they have to recognize that every law imposes a morality. The only question is which one to impose. Any law that purports to be free of morals is still a law imposing its own kind of morals. 

Interestingly enough, a substantial number of Philippine academicians seem to have been entranced with John Rawls idea of “plurality” and “public reason”. However, the response here is that Rawls concept of plurality is so constructed ("unreasonably narrow" in fact, according to George) as to exclude religious arguments and heavily favor liberal advocacies such as abortion and same sex marriage. Furthermore, while Rawls' plurality does make a pitch for public reason, his concept of "public reason" (see Rachael Patterson's critique, as an example) is so, well, "unreasonable" or ambiguous, as such that it becomes impracticable. In any event, we must not also confuse plurality, as well as the need for tolerance and respect for others' belief into actually thinking that it will magically transform all of our individual beliefs to be all correct. To tolerate and respect the belief of others will not necessitate us agreeing to such others' belief. 

A short word on “tolerance”: “The root meaning of the word [tolerance] suggests what the virtue involves. The Latin tol- is related to a group of words having to do with carrying a burden: German dulden, to be patient, to endure; Old English tholian, to suffer; Latin tuli, I have borne. When we tolerate we bear with someone or something; we bear the existence of a wrong. We do so because, given the circumstances, to protest would invite a greater wrong. There is a time for public correction, and a time for quiet endurance and, if the opportunity arises, private correction.” (see Tolerance and reciprocity, Professor Anthony Esolen, Public Discourse).

If indeed one has that truth, then it's one's duty to share that truth. Pluralism, secularism, the demand for individualistic freedom will not make us arrive at that truth. Instead, as Jesus taught us, it is truth that will set us free. 

To be clear: we all have the right to disagree. But I believe that one must put one's foot done when pro-RH advocates insist in thinking incoherently and inconsistently, and then demand we all think the same way. Because whether they agree or not, the fact remains that centuries and centuries of philosophical and theological thought, constitutional law, and even scientific facts form the wellspring of the Catholic Church's position. 

On the other hand, what do pro-RH advocates have as basis for their position? Simply put, because they just want it to be so.