Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pope Francis' Words of (Dis)comfort

It would not  be a surprise that if in nine months, there's a spike in the number of births in the Philippines, thanks to Pope Francis' overall reaffirmation of the Catholic Church's stand against family planning via the use of artificial contraceptives. Although he acknowledged that Catholics "should not breed like rabbits", he advocated that couples use such undependable birth control methods as "natural" family planning,(more popularly  known as Vatican roulette for obvious reasons). The Pope made these pronouncements during and following his just completed visit to this predominantly Roman Catholic country where he is extremely popular and his millions of followers hang on his every word. So those Filipinos who have been using  or considered using reliable artificial contraceptives, which are more reliable for pregnancy prevention, might now cease to do so.

This is despite the fact that the Philippines is poverty ridden and very overpopulated. For example there are over a million street children throughout the country. In Metro-Manila, there are  thousands of these kids some as young as three years old(I have seen them myself) who have been abandoned by their families and left to fend for themselves. There is a government Department of Social Services, but that bureau can only do so much.

So why are there no Catholic orphanages to get these kids off the streets?  In fact at a rally for the Pope, a former street child who was fortunate enough to have been rescued even asked the him directly why God allows such a fate of  homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution to befall theses kids. Francis'  response was one of double-talk and evasion, saying that there is no answer, and by golly the people should know how to feel pity for these children. But he didn't say one word about getting the Church to actively help these unfortunates by utilizing its immense wealth towards this end. For example in the Philippines, the Church owns shares in such companies as a local bank, a mining company,  and major real estate developers. The Archdiocese of Manila itself is also well off, and Cardinal Antonio Tagle who heads this Archdiocese is also a major investor in the above mentioned bank.  So one can only conclude that this institution doesn't really care about homeless children. Otherwise it could build enough shelters to take them all in.   Evidently, the Catholic Church which claims to be pro-life in its opposition to abortion loves fetuses, but once they're born, they're on their own.

To make matters worse, half the population in the Philippines is under age than 23 years of age, and one in 10 women between age 15 through 19 are already mothers or are pregnant with their first child.   Unless the recently passed Reproductive Health Act, which was recently implemented in the Philippines after a 15 year struggle in Congress and vehemently opposed by the local Catholic hierarchy, and by the Pope as well, starts making a dent in these demographics,  imagine how the number of births will explode in a society that already can't  take care of its people.  BTW, while in Manila, it so happened that the Pope was hosted by Cardinal  Tagle, one of the RH measure's fiercest opponents, Well, birds of a feather and all that.

The irony--or the failure to connect on Pope Francis' part--is that he has also expressed concern about the need to protect the environment and about global warming. But one of the biggest causes  or at least a major factors of environmental degradation and climate change is overpopulation.  Natural resources in the Philippines such as forests and rivers are being depleted because conservation which is given lip service is ultimately not a priority here. The main reason for deforestation, for example, is that there are too many people chasing too few means of food and shelter.

The Pope comes across as a compassionate prelate. But at the end of the day, he's just another brick in the wall against rational thinking and family planning in the Philippines. He  is gone now, but the demographic and resulting socioeconomic problems that his words may well have aggravated will remain indefinitely.


Christian said...

My visit to the Philippines certainly agrees with everything you have said. Its sad that the Pope is heralded in the media as this great figure of change when all he does is offer sound bites but never makes change.

Secular Guy said...


Thanks for your support. Pope Francis really did dazzle the crowd here with his fancy footwork. But as you noted, after he left the status in the Philippines remains very quo.