The opinion of Fr Joaquin Bernas seems reasonable enough. But I have 3 basic objections to it.
One, knowing how critical this fight is, knowing that the Vatican has already spoken against the RH bill, knowing that the other side continues to give half-truths and even outright falsehoods, knowing how the fate of the RH bill hangs in the balance (and thus the fate of our nation), why is Fr Bernas in effect lawyering for the other side? Why is he giving aid and comfort to the enemy? He says “I must also put on my hat as a priest of the Catholic Church. I accept the teachings of the Catholic Church …..” If you are a Catholic priest and you accept the teachings, then do so fully and without reservation. A line in the sand has been drawn, then be on the side of your Church.
Two, he says his opinion is “in the context of our constitutionally mandated pluralistic society. Not all citizens of the Philippines are Catholics.” You are right, Fr Bernas. But YOU are Catholic, and a priest at that. People look up to you. In fact, the anti-lifers find solace in your opinion, using it to buttress their position. Pro-RH Catholics use it to claim that their conscience is clear. Look at this whole thing not as “a lawyer and teacher and student of Constitutional Law,” but as a Catholic priest who is accountable to God, submitted to the Magisterium, and responsible for the pastoral care of God’s people. You say “The teaching of my Church is that I must respect the belief of other religions ….” Well, the teaching of Christ is that if you cause the little ones to sin (the innocent Catholic who will favor the RH bill because of you), you should have a millstone placed around your neck and be thrown in the sea.
Three, his ending is totally uncalled for. He says “The alternative which, God forbid, is the restoration of the Inquisition.” You sound just like the anti-lifers who openly attack the Church, calling our clergy “Padre Damaso.” You are reinforcing their overused sound bites. Is that how low you think about our anti-RH bishops and clergy? Why can’t the alternative be truth, justice, peace and unity? These are all those virtues being sacrificed at the altar of the RH bill.
Fr Bernas is helping open the gates to the passage of the RH bill, which, since he is intelligent enough to know what has happened to the other countries of the world, he should know to be the gateway to abortion, and to other abominations such as divorce and same-sex marriage.
Fr Bernas says “Yet one might say that through this article I am in fact approving artificial contraception. I am not doing such a thing.” At least he has an inkling of how his opinion might be taken. What he in fact is saying is that he knows he sounds as if he is approving artificial contraception. That, Fr Bernas, is precisely the problem. You claim orthodoxy in your Catholic belief, but your words reflect something else. You claim to be “a Catholic priest in good standing,” but both pro-lifers and anti-lifers see you as aligned on the side of the pro-RH forces. No, Fr Bernas, you are not approving artificial contraception. But yes, you are, wittingly or unwittingly, supporting those who are pushing the RH bill.