Game Changer

NOW that Pope Benedict XVI had spoken, those who advocate reproductive health system will have something to cheer about.

I am referring to the pontiff’s recent pronouncement that condom is accepted if it is used to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases especially acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) even if the same could result to the prevention of pregnancy.

Notwithstanding the raging debate about whether artificial birth control should be promoted or not, the statement could certainly tilt the balance in favor of those advocating reproductive health in the country.

As everyone knows, House Bill No. 5043 or the Reproduction Health and Population Development Bill, which was primarily authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, has been gathering dust in the House of Representatives because of the strong and vocal opposition from the Catholic Church.

The Church’s opposition to the bill has been the single most effective and biggest stumbling block for the bill to start moving despite the fact that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has already made a commitment and made known his support for the same.

But now that Pope Benedict XVI has made known his stand as far as condom use is concerned, the country’s local Catholic Church leaders would surely have a hard time in defending their hard line stance with regard to the issue.

The Catholic Church has been very consistent in stopping the bill from its tracks by declaring that the same promotes abortion and might encourage unabated sexual activities even among the young and unmarried couples.

But those who support the RH Bill have clarified that it is not designed to promote abortion but rather to give couples and those that are intending to marry an option on how to carefully plan the number of their would- be children.

Rev. James Martin, a prominent Jesuit writer and editor was correct when he described the stand of the Pope as “game-changer”.

Certainly, the Pope has essentially changed the Catholic stand on the issue when he acknowledged that the use of condoms could help prevent the spread of HIV between people in sexual relationships.

It seems the Church would have to engage in massive damage control operations in order to make it appear that the ultra-conservative Pontiff was still within the bounds of their doctrines and beliefs.

Unknown to many, Catholic theologians have already been debating for years whether it could be morally acceptable for people with AIDS to use condoms to avoid infecting their partners.

But with the Pope making comments like that, it showed that unlike most of his subordinates he could have some sort of common sense especially when it comes to protecting the health and welfare of his people.

Now if only the other Catholic Church leaders could grasp and comprehend the meaning of the Pope’s statement which essentially is showing concern to others, then the debate on the RH bill would certainly be settled earlier than we thought.

Let us just hope that the Pope’s wisdom would transcend to his most rabid followers, surely, this would be better world to live in. Bobby Ricohermoso


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