A Woman’s Letter to the Bishops
A Response to the Pastoral Letter of the CBCP on the Reproductive Health Bill
Dear Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar,
I will not respond to all the points raised in the Pastoral Letter of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which you sent us, your Filipino brothers and sisters, last 30 January. Most of them are old points that have been raised and clarified repeatedly in so many debates and too few dialogues in the past decade, though it drives me almost to tears that it seems the good Bishops have not been listening intently or understanding with empathy.
I would like to respond to just two points.
In the section, Moral Choices at the Crossroads – at EDSA I and Now, you wrote that “Twenty five years ago in 1986 we Catholic Bishops made a prophetic and moral judgement on political leadership…. Today we come to a new national crossroads and we now have to make a similar moral choice.”
As one of the young people then who went in our multitudes to EDSA when Minister Enrile and General Ramos admitted that Marcos had stolen the election from Cory Aquino and when Cardinal Sin rallied us to protect them from Marcos’s forces, I will always remember how our hearts were made even braver and our feet swifter by the CBCP’s Pastoral Letter. Then, you were with us in pulling down the pillars of dictatorship, you were with us in advancing democracy.
But your Pastoral Letter of last month cannot be placed on the same plane because it is not of the same prophetic and moral fiber. By misrepresenting the Reproductive Health bill as promotive of abortion and of adolescent promiscuity – with all due respect – you have not only been intellectually dishonest and ignored the good faith of RH advocates, but also failed to proclaim the life-saving and values-formation character of this public health measure, which many of us in your own flock, in conscience, desire to be passed into law. In 1986, you were advancing democracy; now, you are impeding democracy.
In the section, What We Specifically Object to in the RH Bill, you wrote that “Advocates also assert that the RH Bill empowers women with ownership of their own bodies… without the dictation of any religion.”
We do not own our bodies, but our spirits inhabit them, therefore they are our kingdom, and just as we struggle for the self-determination of Inangbayan and the sustainability of Inang Kalikasan, by the same feminine principle, we freely, in an informed manner, responsibly and joyfully, decide about our bodies. No one else can or should do that for us.
Whatever gave you the idea that we decide about our bodies or anything else in life without anchoring in our deepest inspirations, whether faith or humanism or the sheer sense of being a woman? I kneel only to God, sometimes with the princes of my church, but always from the innermost voice of conscience which I strive humbly to discern in silence or in the marketplace.
As a Conference of men located outside women’s experience, good Bishop, could you not show a little more respect for us?
We choose life, we embrace its every cycle, from birth and girlhood to the childbearing years to menopause or climacterium and then death. We want each and every sister to have a chance at that fullness of life. It is a shame that we do not have the Bishops marching beside us this time around. But, without you or even against you, we will win this new revolution, too.
(sgd.) Risa Hontiveros
Spokesperson, Akbayan Party
Here are some reactions in Twitter and Facebook on the Pastoral letter read at church
Noemi Lardizabal-Dado is a Content Strategist with over 16 years experience in blogging, content management, citizen advocacy and media literacy and over 26 years in web development. Otherwise known as @MomBlogger on social media, she believes in making a difference in the lives of her children by advocating social change for social good.
She is a co-founder and a member of the editorial board of Blog Watch . She is a resource speaker on media literacy, social media , blogging, digital citizenship, good governance, transparency, parenting, women’s rights and wellness, and cyber safety.
Her personal blogs such as aboutmyrecovery.com (parenting) , pinoyfoodblog.com (recipes), techiegadgets.com (gadgets) and benguetarabica.coffee keep her busy outside of Blog Watch.
I am an advocate. I am NOT neutral. I will NOT give social media mileage to members of political clans, epal, a previous candidate for the same position and those I believe are a waste of taxpayers' money.
I do not support or belong to any political party. I was part of accredited media covering the Office of the Vice President and Leni Robredo as she ran as a presidential aspirant in the 2022 National and local elections.
On August 5, 2021, YouTube announced that I was selected as one of 50 Program participants of its Creator Program for Independent Journalists
She was a Senior Consultant for ALL media engagements for the PCOO-led Committee on Media Affairs & Strategic Communications (CMASC) under the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council from January 4 -July 5, 2017. Having been an ASEAN advocate since 2011, she has written extensively about the benefits of the ASEAN community and as a region of opportunities on Blog Watch and aboutmyrecovery.com.
Organization affiliation includes Consortium on Democracy and Disinformation
Updated June 6, 2022