By now, those who have been monitoring the events in the Philippines know that the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional the Reproductive Health Law except for eight provisions. In a nutshell, this means that state-sponsored, state-subsidized contraception remains in place. However, the nullification of certain provisions of the law means, among other things, that private hospitals are no longer required to provide “reproductive health care services”, and conscientious objectors would no longer be penalized for refusing to provide such services and for refusing to refer patients to willing providers.
Both sides of the debate, as well as the media, are not clear on who prevailed. Some consider it a blow to the pro-life movement in the Philippines, while others think that the nullification of the eight provisions render the law toothless.
As for me, while I appreciate the concessions granted to religious liberty, it is clear that one of the last standing fortresses against Western-style secularism has been breached. I foresee major shifts in societal values due to the spread of the contraceptive mentality and the influx of the culture of death.
But the more relevant and pressing question for me is, “How should we live our Catholic faith in a post-Reproductive Health Law society?”
Upon reflecting on this question, I have concluded that nothing changes. Responding to the call to sanctity has always, and always will, demand heroism. Catholics have always had to, and will always have to, be ready to stick out like a sore thumb, be singled out and be persecuted for their beliefs. Catholics always have been called, and always will be called, to be salt and light in society, to preserve the world from corruption and to guide others, through word and example, out of the darkness.
The demands are great, but the means provided are no less effective. Christ has never abandoned His Church on earth and never will. He continues to empower us through His graces which he imparts through the Church, which have produced saints in every era.
I take inspiration from the first Christians. They were a small, hunted, and marginalized group, and yet, by living the Catholic faith in their personal circumstances, succeeded in transforming society. I also take inspiration from all the other saints who, throughout history, remained faithful to Christ and spread His message unceasingly even during the most difficult periods of history.
As for the pro-life movement in the Philippines, the fight goes on. Hopefully, with the lessons learned from this recent skirmish, the movement can regain lost ground.
In the meantime, we ordinary Catholics will continue striving to be saints, proclaiming the Gospel in season and out of season with a lot of hope.