Sunday, March 13, 2011



“This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

“The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.

“It is in accordance with their dignity as persons-that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility-that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth. However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed.”


  1. Yes, Fr., so will you please write something about how certain provisions of the RH bill, if enacted into law, may curtail the religious freedom of married Catholics who are trying their best to faithfully follow the teachings of the Church on marriage and family life?

  2. hi tim,
    could you pls specify which provisions you're referring to?

  3. Fr., how then does the DIGNITY of the UNBORN LIFE that is threatened by the RH Bill that you are condoning?

  4. Wait a minute. Copy-and-paste? This doesn't seem to be Fr. Bernas' writing style at all.

  5. When does life start, Fr.?

  6. @eabaguioro: I do not understand where you are coming from. The RH bill, from my understanding, gives access to pre-natal care. If you search academic data bases such as CINAHL, EBSCO, and PubMed, you will see the positive correlation between an increase in quality of life and child health to people getting pre-natal care than those who do not (with the exception of the Immigrant Phenomena).

    As a Catholic and a clinician, I am appalled by the ignorance and lack of education of my fellow Catholics. The Philippines is NOT 100% Catholic. If it were, the RH bill would be against the will of the people. As we stand here, however, there are people of Islamic faith, various Christian sects, Buddhism, and other religions (including atheism). As Catholics, we should practice our faith. But the basic tenets of our religion is to love our neighbor as we love God; love our neighbor - regardless of belief. Part of that love is to give them the respect to practice their own beliefs.

    The RH bill does not force Catholics to use condoms or go to pre-natal care (but I do hope, for the sake of their child that they have prenatal check-ups). It gives people who are from a different belief access to services.

    On the contrary, some less educated Catholics, want to deny access to everyone, regardless of faith.

    Let us respect freedom of religion. Let us respect the separation of Church and State. Let us respect the life and dignity of the unborn child. Let us respect and love each other, our brothers and sisters, as God has taught us.


    Post Script: While the RH Bill is not perfect (I am not the biggest fan of IUD's because of the risk of destroying life / zygote), offering education and pre-natal care (i.e. primary prevention) WILL save unborn lives.

  7. Yes, Tim, please do explain this: "certain provisions of the RH bill, if enacted into law, may curtail the religious freedom of married Catholics who are trying their best to faithfully follow the teachings of the Church on marriage and family life".

    What provisions are you talking about? How do these provisions curtail religious freedom of married Catholics? Let's say I'm a married Catholic who, in my personal, private, capacity as a husband who has sex with his wife, chooses NOT to use contraceptives. Is there any provision in the RH bill that curtails my right to do so? Please, enlighten us.

  8. d: absolutely agree with what you said. I think many rabid Catholics who've been commenting here tend to forget that we don't live in a Catholic confessional state. In fact it's surprising how often anti-RH voices result to outright lies to make their point.

  9. Fr. Bernas. Please answer this:

    (1) Are you saying that man is bound to follow his conscience at all times and cannot be forced to act contrary to it?

    (2) Are ypiu saying that Vatican II, through Dignitatis Humanae, teaches the primacy of conscience over the demands of objective truth and the teachings of the Church?

    (3) Are you saying, then,that man has a moral right to be wrong? Really now, is this what the Council meant by freedom from force?

    (4) Are you saying that Vatican II mean that man’s conscience is autonomous and that man is free from the moral obligation to conform to the authority of the magisterium of the Church?

    Fr. Bernas, you're a priest. I'm not. But please try to address my questions head on. You have years of study on theology, something I don't have. Surely, I'm a push over? but please DO answer my questions.

  10. @ Micketymoc. May I please be allowed to butt in?

    I am a Catholic who vigorously opposes contraception. Were 4244 to pass, would I be penalized for writing in my blog AGAINST this government policy?

    Let's say I'm a priest, and I have farmers in remote barangays telling me about how they were offered a sack of 50kg rice each just so they agree to a vasectomy. Would I be penalized wer I to write against this?

    Let's say I'm a Catholic school owner. I refuse to have anything to do with the DepEd sex ed modules. Would I be penalized for doing so?

  11. //The RH bill does not force Catholics to use condoms or go to pre-natal care (but I do hope, for the sake of their child that they have prenatal check-ups). It gives people who are from a different belief access to services. //

    I have something to say about the above.

    Young people will not be forced or even asked to have a joint or two, but wer pot's freely available in campuses, don't you think it's just a matter of time before everone in the campus becomes a pothead?

    Perhaps you don't know it, but health centers routinely and exclusively dish oput only the government line to women who go to health centers. Do you think health center workers wil speak to you about Humanae Vitae?

  12. @nichole: Fr. Bernas has answered your question in his speech here:

  13. I'd just like to point out that the fact that many Catholics may not follow Church teaching on family planning does not mean there are no Filipino Catholics who are faithfully trying to follow Church teaching on marriage and family life that was reiterated in Humanae Vitae. The teaching is not wrong just because a lot of people do not follow it. Similarly, the misguided actions of a supposed majority does not make their actions the basis of moral teaching in the Church.

  14. This is boring, immensely boring. The priest wouldn't engage, he's keeping mum on the questions asked him

  15. Tim - I'm still waiting for your response. Please do explain this: "certain provisions of the RH bill, if enacted into law, may curtail the religious freedom of married Catholics who are trying their best to faithfully follow the teachings of the Church on marriage and family life".

  16. The issue, I think, is moot since any argument which bases its proofs on Dignitatis Humanae as a source for "true" Catholic teaching will necessarily lead to equally flawed conclusions.

    The teachings of Humanae Vitae carry more weight than the airy mush contained in Dignitatis Humanae.

    For the record, religious liberty as described in Dignitatis.. is mere physical/psychological liberty. This is NOT true liberty. The only real liberty, according to true Catholic teaching is moral liberty. One is only truly free when one does what is morally right. I am not free to steal, or kill just because, strictly speaking, I can.

    True freedom does not culminate at being merely able to choose one thing over another- even dogs can do that, but to choose that which is morally right as dictated by natural law.

    See Leo XIII's Libertas praestantissimum for the definition of true Catholic liberty.

  17. Mickey - sorry you had to wait. I am not on the internet all day. One example is the section on sex education. Fr. Bernas himself wrote: "Another issue is sex education. Parents are justifiably concerned about the proper moral training of their children. The approved bill has retained the provision on a common sex education program for public and private schools to be formulated by the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the DSWD, and the DOH. " in

  18. Mickey - Fr. Bernas points out that the latest version of the bill says that materials will be made available to concerned parents but this says nothing about parents' freedom to use materials and conduct the education in sexuality in ways that they feel are appropriate psychologically and morally. Will these be the same as the U.S. materials? Will these be the same as the DepEd has been "testing" for the last 3 years or so? I find these to be quite objectionable. Will parents be jailed if they object to the material prescribed by the government?

  19. d - I have read the bill thoroughly and the RH bill is more than just about prenatal and postnatal care. There are elements that are objectionable and as Fr. Bernas himself pointed-out in his speech written here:

    it is not clear how conscientious objection would be handled.

  20. Mark, very well put. You seem to be the only other person in this whole blog who has any knowledge of anything that is not of Vatican II. Glad to see there are still SOME Catholics left in this world who are aware that the Church actually did exist prior to Vatican II!

    Your comment on the weight of Humanae Vitae is right on. It is much easier to see how it relates to Faith and Morals than Dignitatis Humanae. Especially since most of the Vatican II era documents have had to be interpreted or reinterpretd multiple times already. Not characteristic at all of the teaching Church. What happened?!

  21. @Mickey:

    I thought you would understand the context of the objection cited by Fr. Bernas in his blog post but it seems that you need more specificity.

    If I teach my children that the Catholic faith for a married couple is not only about performing the minimum "required" obligations, but more so a matter of generosity and love of God in following the teachings of the Church such as in Humane Vitae, which specifically states that couples are to be generous first in being open to having children, and then only for very good reasons to use natural family planning methods only for birth regulation, and then I advise them to stay away from artificial contraception also because of Church teaching on artificial contraception, won't I be criminally penalized with a fine or jail time? If I refuse to allow my children to learn about human sexuality through the government-mandated classroom sex-education, won't I also be criminally penalized with a fine or jail time?

    For me, faithfully following the teachings of the Catholic Church is not simply a matter of following only what is proclaimed "ex cathedra" or what are the minimum duties. For me, it involves, among other things, a generous and loving response to God in living all of the teachings of the Church. Maybe this is where we differ in our understanding of faith. I am sure any Catholic theologian will agree with my understanding of fidelity to my vocation as a married Catholic. So please do not insist that your interpretation of Church teaching and faith in terms minimum obligations as the only good interpretation of it.

  22. dear tim,

    with regard to your question pertaining to penalties as a consequence of you exercising your religion, read the case "Ebralinag vs. Division Superintendent of Schools of Cebu, March 1, 1993"

    in brief, it involved students who were jehovah's witnesses. they refused to salute the flag due to religious considerations. the students were punished for it. they brought the issue before the court and the latter ruled in their favor. they were not to be compelled to act against their religious beliefs.

    the constitution will protect you the same way it will defend everyone from any religious flock attempting to impose its beliefs upon people through the binding force of the law.