Roundup: Are Some Countries Starting to Ignore the Church?

Is the Catholic Church beginning to lose a little of its rigid grasp that it has held over numerous countries when it comes to family planning, birth control, reproductive justice, and even infertility treatments?  For some countries, the answer could be yes.

In the Philippines, the Catholic Church has made the family planning initiatives of the government a battle of epic proportions.  But as the New York Times points out, it may be a battle the Church is losing, as its influence over the country has started to wane.

[A] battle in Manila over a reproductive health bill may produce not just a push for more easily available contraception — which would reduce poverty and often-fatal illegal abortions — but a clash between local bishops and an increasingly secular society.

Opponents of the bill have also argued that claims of runaway population growth in the Philippines have been greatly exaggerated. They have a point — one that indicates the extent to which people are already ignoring the church. The Philippines’ fertility decline started late by Asian standards, but the birthrate has halved since 1980. Some of this is due to the huge numbers of women who have gone to work overseas. But it is quite likely that rapid decline will continue regardless of legislation or the church. As countries as varied as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia have shown, it does not take much to change habits if contraception is easily and cheaply available.

Some argue that it may not matter much whether this bill passes or not because the broader influence of the church hierarchy is fading under the impact of urbanization, migrant workers and a popular culture very open about sex. There is also the example of an elite that often does not practice what it preaches in Congress.

The Philippines is a very religious country but also one where tolerance of priests having relations with women appears high and where marriage breakups and de facto unions are a common and accepted substitute for divorce. Despite five centuries of Catholicism, indigenous practices in which divorce was common and could be initiated by either women or men lurk not far beneath the surface.

Mainstream Catholic influence is also being eroded by the enduring presence of two nationalist Christian denominations, the Iglesia ni Cristo, and the Aglipayans, by the growth of Protestant sects and by the impact of high-profile evangelical and charismatic preachers reaching mass audiences through radio and television.

In short, the Catholic Church may win this round in its battle against contraceptives. But it has probably already lost the war.

The decline of the influence of the Church may also be seen in Costa Rica, where the country is considering loosening its ban on in vitro fertilization (IVF).  From the Tico Times:

Taking the lead from the Catholic Church, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the process violates life and human dignity, as many of the embryos used in the procedure are lost. In drafting their statement, judges adopted the rhetoric of the Catholic Church, saying children should be conceived naturally and that any manipulation of the process is morally unacceptable. 

In 2008, after all options had been exhausted within the Costa Rican judicial system, ten infertile couples brought the case before the Washington D. C.-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

“Nothing is worse than the inability to have a family,” said Andrea Bianchi, who was one of the mothers to testify. “People have sunk into depression, couples have divorced over this. This is the most infuriating thing because you have to wait for someone else to decide (your future).”

In August, the Commission – an entity of the Organization of American States – told Costa Rica that it must take steps to lift the ban, as its signature is on many of the international accords that back the practice.

Sadly, to qualm the complaints from the church, Costa Rica is mandating there be no creation or storage of “extra embryos,” condemning any woman who’s procedure fails the first time to undergo the extensive invasive fertility treatments necessary to create more.

So how can the Church work to woo back people and regain its total influence?  Well, if you believe this article from Business World Online in Manila, with “witty” comebacks to those who question the Church’s stances on sex.

People have the right to their own bodies. True. You also have the right to smell other people’s butts and act like a dog but that wouldn’t be sane. However, for Catholics, the belief is that God owns your bodies and the Church is simply pointing out that there’s a better way to exercise your rights. The Church won’t coerce you to not act stupid (Like how? Pull a gun?).


Mini Roundup: Two totally contrasting views on the “Open Hearts, Open Minds” event makes you wonder whether they were even attending the same conference.

October 22, 2010

October 21, 2010

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  • crowepps

    The Calgary Catholic School District won’t reconsider banning vaccinations against cervical cancer despite new figures showing a fraction of girls in the separate system are receiving the inoculation.

    Only one in five girls attending Catholic or independent schools in the city are accessing the vaccine against the human papilloma virus, according to Alberta Health Services.

    That compares to 70 per cent of girls in grades 5 and 9 who received the series of three injections offered through a provincewide HPV vaccine program at public schools in 2009-10.

    In 2008, the Calgary Catholic district chose not to offer the vaccine in its schools over concerns it would promote premarital sex.

    “When the decision was originally made, Bishop (Fred) Henry indicated he would not support the Gardasil vaccine being offered in Catholic schools. Obviously, we look to the bishop for moral and spiritual guidance,” said Catholic district spokeswoman Janet Corsten.

    Read more:



  • crowepps

    Haven’t seen one word about it in any of the news stories, so I’d like to just recognize and honor the bravery of the staffer in the Women’s Clinic in Columbus who ignored the scary guy with a gun in his pocket who was insisting his girlfriend have an abortion and called the cops to rescue her.  I’d also like to point out that the Clinic wasn’t ‘promoting abortion’ in that case but instead recognizing the client’s absolute right to make her OWN decision about her pregnancy.

  • crowepps

    Rape victim asks why me; suspect Timothy West says sorry, then says, ‘Mad at me?’

    Friday, October 22nd 2010, 4:00 AM

    In a chilling tape played for jurors Thursday, a brave Queens waitress demanded to know why her rapist chose her.

    “You just broke into my house, yo. I’ve never seen you before …. You try to rob me, then you rape me,” the woman said to Timothy West, 26, in the March 20, 2009, phone call.

    “Why you did that to me?”

    West, who is accused of slipping into her Ozone Park house through a window and raping her twice at knifepoint just hours earlier, seemed confused at her fury.

    “I do apologize from the bottom of my heart,” he told her.

    And then he had the nerve to ask: “You mad at me?… I can’t call you no more?”

    “What made you want to come in and break into my house? Why out of all the houses, why my house?” she pressed.

    “It was just random,” he replied.

    “Can I come see you?” he asked.

    The 21-year-old waitress agreed to meet him that night at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Corona.

    Instead, cops did.

    The extraordinary phone call was played in Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard Buchter‘s courtroom just before West’s lawyers began a blistering cross-examination of the waitress.

    The defense suggested she willingly had sex with West, who climbed into her house through a kitchen window at 1:30 a.m. on March 20, 2009, while her mother and brother slept upstairs.

    The victim said he raped her twice.

    “At no time did you scream or run down the stairs and call 911?” asked West’s lawyer, Mihea Kim.

    “I was too frightened to know what he was going to do next,” the woman said.

    “Was it because he was your consensual partner and you wanted him to be there with you?” Kim asked.

    “I did not want the knife anywhere near me or anywhere near my family,” the woman said, wearily. “I just wanted to cooperate with him.”

    Assistant District Attorney Frank DeGaetano asked her what she feared would happen if she resisted.

    “He would have stabbed me,” she said.

    “Did you want to die?” DeGaetano asked.

    “No!” she replied.

    At the end of the three-hour early-morning ordeal, the woman gave West her cell phone number, hoping he would contact her so she could tip off the cops.

    A few hours later, she said West texted “What’s up, girl?” – and she left him a message saying, “Call me back please. I need to talk.”

    And talk he did.

    Read more:


     His defense attorney:  “Is it because he was your consensual partner”?


    Victim: “I’ve never seen you before …What made you want to come in and break into my house? Why out of all the houses, why my house?” she pressed.


    Rapist: “It was just random,” he replied.


    When are the Courts going to stop the routine of putting the VICTIM on trial?


    This woman is smart and tough and has incredible guts.  It’s unfortunate that it takes all that to get a win in our Justice system.

  • cmarie

    You don’t need permission from your Bishop or school to get any vaccinations.  You can take your child to the pediatrician.  Let them know what you want. You’ll have to sign a document granting your permission.  This is no different from the Hep A, Hep B, Chickenpox or MMR vaccinationes your child had to get in order to attend school in the first place. And of course the Dr’s office will provide you with additional info on the vaccine to answer any questions you or your daughter might have (just as they did with the other vaccines).

  • ack

    I actually completely agree with your statement on its face. Community health centers often offer the vaccine for free. Often is not always, though, and I do have an issue with denying the HPV vaccine at schools that offer other vaccinations when there isn’t a free option in the community. Additionally, when the vaccine is available as part of the package, parents are probably more likely to just throw it in when they get the others.


    Since I generally don’t agree with the Catholic Church on sex, I’m not surprised that I don’t agree with their reasoning. The vaccination doesn’t promote pre-marital sex, it protects against cervical cancer.


    Considering that a lot of Catholic women marry men who aren’t Catholic (my mom did it when it was still slightly frowned upon, but it’s very common now), a reasonable church would recognize the probability of a congregant marrying someone who has (GASP!) had sex before. Even if they’re delusionally expecting all of their members to be virgins when they marry*, a lot of them will marry outside the Church. So isn’t it inherently better to protect from the “sins” of others than to remain more vulnerable?


    *In practice, of course, even Catholic priests recognize that most of the people they marry have had sex with, at the very least, their fiancees. That’s why so many counsel their parishoners to remain abstinent for a period of time before the wedding instead of becoming outraged and demanding Reconcilliation before they perform the ceremony.