Amid the chorus of anti-Reproductive Health (RH) Bill rhetoric of his fellow clergymen, prominent Jesuit Joaquin Bernas, SJ sings a different tune.
In his column on Inquirer.Net on Monday, Bernas declared, "I have never held that the RH Bill is perfect. But if we have to have an RH law, I intend to contribute to its improvement as much as I can."
He also disagreed with "churchmen (who) compel President Aquino, by whatever means, to prevent people from acting according to their religious belief."
Bernas is a constitutional lawyer, member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission. , and former Ateneo Law School dean, As a priest and a respected intellectual, Bernas has been a thorn in the side of the anti-RH camp by criticizing Church opposition to the RH Bill as a violation of religious freedom.
His most recent column was partly a defense from criticism by conservative Catholics, including a "high-ranking cleric" who called him Judas. But we also went on the offense.,
In the column titled "My Stand on the RH Bill," Bernas branded as "irresponsible" clerics who say that support for the RH Bill is a serious sin and lauded the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for “[disowning] the self-destructive views of some clerics."
He also referred to some critics of the bill as "attack dogs."
Bernas' column is usually a cerebral take on affairs of the state that perhaps fellow academics can best appreciate.
But reflecting the increasingly fevered public interest in the RH issue, his latest column has gone viral, with nearly 5,000 Facebook “recommends" as of Tuesday morning and nearly 1,500 Twitter shares.
‘Freedom of religion’
Bernas put his views in context by pointing out that the Philippines is a pluralist society which should support not only the freedom to believe but the “freedom to act or not to act according to what one believes."
Thus, Bernas argued, neither the government nor the church has the right to stop people from practicing responsible parenthood whichever way they prefer.
Citing the “Compendium on Social Teaching of the Catholic Church," Bernas explained that the state ought to decide based not only on the majority, but the minority as well.
For Bernas, spending public money to promote public health does not violate the Constitution, contrary to the argument of some anti-RH activists.
“Public money is neither Catholic, nor Protestant, nor Muslim or what have you and may be appropriated by Congress for the public good without violating the Constitution," he said.
Reposted From GMA News