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Santiago resorts to ‘cheap shots’ in attack vs. Church

MANILA, August 27, 2011―As the Senate began tackling the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill, top RH proponent Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago herself was not above making what she had described as “cheap shots.”

In an apparent attempt to undermine Church authority on the moral aspects of family and life, Santiago – a self-proclaimed theologian who studied at an ultra-liberal theology school in Quezon City – resurrected old charges long refuted by Catholic apologetics.

Taking the road already traveled by vicious anti-Catholic groups, Santiago lectured the Church hierarchy to learn the “lesson from the Catholic past” in her sponsorship speech on the RH bill, and proceeded to dig up old hats like those involving the astronomers Copernicus and Galileo.

Ignoring history herself, however, Santiago merely said Copernicus was “denounced” for proposing a “new cosmology,” without noting that Pope Clement VII himself and other ecclesiastics encouraged Copernicus on his heliocentric theory. In fact, Copernicus’ book On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres was dedicated to Pope Paul III.

Moreover, Copernicus’ associates were fearful of backlash from Protestant theologians, who had adopted Martin Luther’s vehement objection to heliocentrism.

Galileo, meanwhile, was never tortured, as writers and historians have long argued. He was tried not because of his belief on heliocentricism but because he had encroached on biblical interpretation and theology.

Galileo, who was buried at a Franciscan basilica in Florence, Italy, was also wrong as he believed the sun was the center of the whole universe.

Pro-life advocates were quick to point out Santiago’s flawed theology and RH stance, now ironically supported by Protestant pastors.

“Miriam classifies theology as either traditional or progressive. That labeling is political. In theology as elsewhere, the errors are many, the truth is but one. Theology is either good or bad; sound or unsound,” said former senator Francisco Tatad.

Addressing Santiago’s criticism of the 1968 landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI which prohibited artificial contraception, Tatad said “Humanae Vitae did not initiate a new teaching.”

“It merely reiterated an old one with greater clarity and depth. In his 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI already condemned contraception as a violation of natural law. Long before that, some Fathers and Doctors of the Church had taught that certain acts preventing procreation are gravely sinful. Among them, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Alphonsus Liguori,” he said.

Tatad also corrected his former colleague on conscience, saying true conscience should not run in conflict with the Church.

“Miriam is right: conscience. But with some qualification. First of all, conscience must be properly formed in the truth; it must be a certain conscience, not an erroneous one. Conscience cannot have its own individual truth, otherwise there will be a riot of consciences, and no one will know what the real truth is,” he said. (Dominic Francisco)