One fine day in the year of the Lord, faith becomes the sole privilege of sacred religion. Faith has become an independent reality, but lest it is wrongly discerned as a cold detached structure of existence its autonomy must be saved from its undecided appearance. Humans don’t simply want a reality that at the outset they cannot control, though they will settle for something like a metaphysical comfort to govern them before the day is through. To the organized consciousness of religion, whether it is autonomous or co-extensive with persons in its essence, what matters is that faith is understood as a mystery that life continues to offer. No longer inaccessible by any human appropriation as saddened the priests of the bygone ages, faith acquires the recognition that it is a source of awe, inspiration, wonder, and the most banal of all, worship and obedience which by all accounts are the ends for which any religion of the sacred claims faith to be its privileged birthright. With respect to obedience, the practical logic of faith becomes even more suspect than it does for initiating the work of wisdom which it also claims to counter: obedience always implies the handcraft of power.
And here comes Celdran shouting at the top of his lungs in the middle of a mass, decrying the clergy’s stand on contraception. Celdran must have correctly imagined himself representing the only intelligent choice over the right to decide on family reproduction. But, he must not affront faith, so he was told. He must not affront life. No doubt, the handcrafts of anti-reproductive health bill are made synonymous to an enabling attitude toward life, pro-life, so to speak. That is where faith is brandished as an issue of life. Of life—it says that family reproduction is a breach of our covenant with God who is the source of life. It sounds linguistically tricky. ‘Of’, among others, suggests a function word used to indicate a point of reckoning, and to reckon is to determine something by reference to a fixed basis. We need not belabor the point. The idée fixe of the Catholic clergy is that God wants us to multiply.
Proponents of family planning contend otherwise–it must rather be an issue for life, human life in particular. For life—they contend that life is an open region of negotiations where the best possible solutions must be brought in place. ‘For’ is used here to indicate a purpose, an active, inventive and predictive human plan. As a purposive counterplan to arrest the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and population explosion, reproductive health seeks to accord human life a rational purpose. By all means, this is a unique expression of faith in the rational future of humanity. Thrown into the hands of chance and the vagaries of interhuman activity, human life appears without any reason or purpose at all. But it is human life that actually takes control of things which gives life a purpose and a meaning. Life has no purpose beyond what we can offer to it. Life is bare and indefinite, whereas human life is roofed, sheltered, protected, and shielded, definite as far as it proceeds with a direction and goal in mind. But since human life is for the most part just about the opposite of a roofed, sheltered, protected, and shielded condition of existence, thanks, among others, to the immense wealth of the clergy which it doesn’t want to redistribute to the poor and has remained divinely off limits to taxation, it is time to become more purposive, active, inventive, and predictive. We mean ‘more’ as the more of a purpose-driven life which consigns the future of a roof, a home, a school, a community to the infallible fictions of a naturally ordered universe.
We are either for or against life, the preservation of the open region, the contingency it secures for the fallible exercise of human freedom (all the more that discretion is required which is an unmistakable human virtue) or the termination of this region in favor of a lie that we are a helpless bunch of species forever dependent on the vagaries of revealed wisdom in which God chooses to disclose his will and true intentions. The crux of the matter is that some men would have to relinquish the belief in His total mystery in favor of an active interpretation of His will, whether it is His will or not, who knows which is which, before the real work of eternity sets which to all appearances will favor surrendering our future to the vagaries of chance.
It took Celdran and the courage in his chest to jolt the clergy out of its historical complacency. It is a complacency that has defined the long history of clerical interference on the conduct of our governance. It is the complacency, backed up by power and wealth, which has made this bunch of moralists the biggest political mistake we continue to bear as a struggling people since Christianity set foot in Mindanao which is now a major Muslim stronghold.
Celdran’s protest over the CBCP’s stand against reproductive choice was viewed, among others, as an attack on his eminence Archbishop Cardinal Rosales who was then officiating an ecumenical mass at the Manila Cathedral, short of an outrage against the infallibility of the highest and most powerful cleric in the world who is an official resident of Vatican. More than anything, however, it was considered an outrage against faith, an unacceptable slur against life.
Lucky for Celdran, the age of Inquisition is over. He would have risked the stakes for his stunt. But if Celdran was lucky, the Catholic Church is luckier. Thank goodness he pulled a Rizalian stunt. Celdran wanted a condom in place of a full emancipation from the moral and political bankruptcy of established religions. Rizal wanted a change of guards in place of a more desirable change of our historical destiny. Thank goodness it was not Bin Laden who disturbed an infidel’s mass—a religious fanatic (hated by learned, compassionate and true Muslims around the world) who believes he has the most faithful and truthful intention to use the Koran to disturb anything close to making an exception to the rule of his true religion. Unfortunately, we can bet that Bin Laden is also an advocate of pro-life by the common standards of the debate on contraception. To his followers, Bin Laden is the most credible champion of moral conservatism. And what have we in the final analysis?
This makes the Catholic hierarchy the luckiest, safe and secure from the terrorism of condoms, of the milf’s and pov’s in this time of the absence of a real god.