CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS writes in the superb book, God Is Not Great (How Religion Poisons Everything)--
"There still remain four irreducible objections to religious faith:  that it wholly misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos,  that because of this original error it manages to combine the maximum of servility with the maximum of solipsism,  that it is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression, and  that it is ultimately grounded on wish-thinking.Our own José Rizál clearly experienced the same epiphanies about the Spanish Taliban in the Philippines, and exposed the "vulgar and obvious facts" of that dark and oppressive rule in all of his writings, especially the Noli Me Tangere, which the frailocracy correctly interpreted as a kind of Filipino imitation of Martin Luther's postings on the church doors at Wittenberg. Indeed, it had been the constant Spanish colonial policy to withold from the indios the knowledge and practice of the Spanish language in order to forestall the spread of dangerous ideas and scientific knowledge. Thus, his own Jesuit mentors at the Ateneo de Manila murdered him with absolutely no compunction once he had awakened the sleepers of the centuries. For they unerringly knew that the fell hand of their temporal authority had been irreparably destroyed by his devotion to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth--which is the Poetic Justice of the Enlightenment.
I do not think it is arrogant of me to claim that I had already discovered these four objections (as well as noticed  the more vulgar and obvious fact that religion is used by those in temporal charge to invest themselves with authority) before my boyish voice had broken. I am morally certain that millions of other people came to very similar conclusions in very much the same way."
I think it important to bear in mind this essential relationship between political, temporal power, and the ability of the Catholic Church to fool most of the people most of the time with its religious doctrines and allegedly infallible dogmas in the current controversy over "reproductive health" bills and the militant intransigence of the Catholic hierarchy to them.
For it is the only way to actually understand why bishops and priests can LIE with straight faces about the true content of the proposed legislation, why they can proclaim that preventing conception with sex education, pills, condoms and IUDS is equivalent to aborting babies, even as their holy noses seem visibly to lengthen. What they are protecting is NOT the "life of the unborn" or the "sanctity of marriage" -- but their own sanctimonious position of authority and the temporal power to access the vaults of the Philippine Gaming Authority (Pagcor) with conscienceless impunity and the help of a "devout" Catholic president.
They don't care anything about the greater evil of poverty and despair to which they've condemned their flock, at least the poor, ignorant majority, so long as the rich, educated minority (who certainly do secretly use artificial means of birth control contrary to and in direct violation of their own teachings) continues to support their schools, churches and archbishops' palaces and invite them to opulent parties and grant them their share of government power and authority.
They care nothing about the fact that desperate young mothers are throwing babies out of high rises and taxicabs, or that foetuses fathered by parish priests are showing up in Chiz Whiz bottles, or that, as the World Health Organization estimates, between 500,000 and 800,000 illegal abortions occur in the Philippines anyway as a result of their irrational obfuscations and rationalizations.
If, as I believe, the epidemic of abortions now occuring is the moral disease that needs a pound of curing, how in heaven's name can the Catholic Bishops oppose the ounce of prevention that non-abortive birth control methods represent?
In tens of thousands of Catholic churches throughout the land last Sunday, stentorian homilies that Padre Damaso would've been proud of, blared out the brazen lie that these proposed laws encourage or legalize abortions, when a plain reading of them clearly show that they do not, and in fact that they uphold the illegality of aborting viable pregnancies (as I do.)
How then can men of God live with themselves for spreading such lies as will indeed be loudly proclaimed in the upcoming July 25 celebration of the anniversary of Paul VI's Papal Bull, Humanae Vitae?
I believe they can do it because of a well-honed ability and predilection for self-delusion, whose roots lie in subtle but well-exposed FALSE DISTINCTION that is at the heart of the encyclical itself, between what is "artificial" and what is "natural."
John Nery, a senior editor at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and a self-proclaimed devout Catholic trained by the Jesuits, makes a valiant attempt to expose this false distinction in his column today entitled Worrying Humanae Vitae. John detects a "mistake in its reasoning" after being prompted by the "virtual fatwa" of Archbishop Jesus Dosado last week, enjoining his priests to deny the giving of divine crackers to "anti-life politicians" who support "artificial means of birth control" or even "sex education."
John is here referring to the fact that the Church does allow a thing called "natural family planning" (aka Vatican Roulette) and wonders how this is any different in its intention to prevent conception ("the transmission of life") from pills, condoms and IUDs (distinct from abortion after conception.)
Nery: "If, to quote the encyclical’s first sentence, “God has entrusted spouses with the extremely important mission [‘munus’] of transmitting human life,” and if both the unitive and procreative dimensions inhere in the conjugal act, why should spouses perform the act during infertile periods?
The absolute nature of this mission requires an absolute rule. Thus, “each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life.” Why, then, engage in the act at those times when there is no possibility of transmission? Shouldn’t the Church call for abstention from sex during infertile periods?"
Indeed, the false distinction involved between what is artificial and what is natural becomes obvious when one looks at the highly "artificial" technology that is employed in serious implementations of the game of Vatican Roulette.
- Standard Days Method
- Ovulation Method
- Rhythm/Calendar Method
- Sympto-thermal Method
- Basal Body Temperature Charting
- Fertility Computers
But the false distinction that is involved here, "the mistake in its reasoning" as John Nery puts it after re-reading Humanae Vitae, is not sufficient to explain the Catholic Church's irrational and basically immoral stance, which has led to untold miseries for hundreds of of millions of Catholics.
A more satisfactory explanation belongs to John M. Swomley in his tracing of the provenance of the encyclical, of Pope Paul VI's decision to ignore the recommendations of Vatican II to allow modern birth control:
A Roman Catholic historian and theologian, August Bernhard Hasler, tells the story in his 1979 book, How the Pope Became Infallible. He provided the following quotation from that minority report, which actually was the one accepted. It clearly sets forth the basis or reason for the current Catholic crusade against birth control and family planning:The Catholic Church has painted itself into a corner of Hubris and Pride. As a result there is this condemnation from the Catholic theologian, Hans Kung:
“If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches in 1930 (when the encyclical Casti Connubi was promulgated). and in 1951 (Pius XII’s address delivered before the Society of Hematologists in the year the pope died).
“It should likewise have to be admitted that for a hall a century the Spirit failed to protect Pius XI, Pius XII, and a large part of the Catholic hierarchy from a very serious error. This would mean that the leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned. The fact can neither be denied nor ignored that these same acts would now he declared licit on the grounds of principles cited by the Protestants, which popes and bishops have either condemned or at least not approved” (page 170).
Dr. Hasler concluded: “Thus it became only too clear that the core of the problem was not the pill, but the authority. continuity, and infallibility of the Church’s magisterium.”
In conformity with this minority report, Pope Paul VI issued his 1968 encyclical, Humnae Vitae, in which he condemned every form of contraceptive birth control. Hasler wrote: “After the promulgation of the encyclical. . . the Church conducted a massive purge of its key personnel wherever it could” (page 283).
In other words, the problems associated with countries that are overpopulated and the political campaign in the United States to deny reproductive freedom to women are all due to the papal decision to protect the authority and "infallibility" of the papacy.
Hans Kung, arguably the world’s leading Catholic theologian, wrote: “This teaching [against contraceptive birth control] has laid a heavy burden on the conscience of innumerable people, even in industrially developed countries with declining birth rates. But for the people in many under-developed countries, especially in Latin America, it constitutes a source of incalculable harm, a crime in which the Church has implicated itself” (cited in Stephen Mumford, The Life and Death of NSSM 200, page 203).Indeed, a lying Church is a dying church, a fact I sincerely mourn, because infallibility literally means incorrigibility--the surest mark of a Beast destined for extinction.