Thursday, October 14, 2010

Keep Your Head (in Family Planning)

The unpopularity of the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on the moral superiority of natural family planning over the use of artificial contraceptives will not be enough to persuade the hierarchy, especially the bishops, to stop making public pronouncements about the issue.
Church leaders have been taught: “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Indeed when a Church teaching is unpopular, inopportune, or "out of season," this in itself is not enough reason to stop stating and clarifying it.
Unfortunately, some Church officials have not been careful with their public statements such as the premature announcement (or veiled threat) of “civil disobedience” as a right that Church members may exercise in case the State enacts a reproductive health law that will endanger the right to life of the unborn child and will weaken the right of couples to decide the number of their children.
“Keep your head in all situations” (2 Tim 4:5) is a wise reminder to Church leaders on the need for sobriety as they engage in public debate, within a constitutional democratic society, about a complex issue such as the proper ways to help couples to practice responsible parenthood and plan their families. Sobriety is part of the essential discipline of "a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2:3). Sobriety implies restraining oneself from saying things that generate more heat than light.
To keep one's head, or to remain level-headed, in the contemporary debate on family planning and reproductive health entails opening one's ears to other voices especially voices from relevant disciplines like sociology, development economics, medicine and public health.
As it actively engages in the public debate, hopefully with greater intelligence and sobriety, the hierarchy can show better the depth of its convictions by investing more time, personnel, resources, and research in order dramatically to expand and upgrade its own educational programs and efforts, whether parish-based or not, to promote natural family planning especially among couples in urban and rural poor communities in our country.

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