DAMASO

Art by Vincent Go for GMA news

Padre Dámaso is one of the notorious characters in the 1887 novel, Noli Me Tangere. The novel was written by José Rizal, one of the leaders of the Propaganda Movement in the Philippines. Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not or “Social Cancer”) is a controversial and anticlerical novel that exposed the abuses of the Spanish friars (belonging to the Roman Catholic Church) and the Spanish elite in colonial Philippines during the 19th century.

The novel, according to the author, represented the state of Philippine society under Spanish colonial rule. It was intended as a liberal-nationalist wake-up call for the people of the Philippines. While the natives (indios) were trained to become secular clergy, Spanish priests in the powerful religious orders were given preferential treatment in the assignment to parishes.

– from Wikipedia

First of all, I’m not anti-church. I have the utmost respect for the Catholic Church because (1) I am a happy, moderate Catholic, (2) my faith is deeply rooted, and (3) I believe that in spite of the problems that the Vatican is facing these days, it will learn from its mistakes and move on. History has proven that. But I’m also a firm believer in the separation of church and state when it comes to government decisions.

The Philippines is this teeny-tiny country and yet it’s the 12th most populated nation on the planet. The rate of reproduction is appalling, especially if you consider that the ones actively popping out kids are the ones who can no longer afford to have kids, economically and health-wise. And yet the Church is against reproductive health, specifically contraception, because it’s “murder”. Listen, we’re not talking about abortion here. Now that is murder. We’re talking about avoiding pregnancy before anything can even be conceived.

It rains all the time in the Philippines for about 8 months a year. When it’s cold and it’s uncomfortable to stay outdoors, what do people do? Huddle indoors. Preferably on the bed. And nine months later, more kids pop out. Somehow, I think the bishops expect the country’s married couples to be good Catholics and not lay a finger on each other unless the fertility calendar permits it. Give me a break. Be practical! Not everyone can be Mother Teresa or Joan of Arc. The country is getting more populated and poorer each year and something has to be done.

Please, do not repeat the abuse of power the Spanish friars exercised for 300 years. Being a consecrated priest does not make you a senator or a President of a nation. Be who the Church and her flock needs you to be.

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