Tour guide and reproductive rights advocate Carlos Celdran was arrested today for interrupting a homily at the Manila Cathedral by supposedly shouting “bakit mahihirap lang pinagbabawalan sa family planning (How come only the poor are prohibited from doing family planning or similar)?”
Supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill,which has been languishing in Congress,and of reproductive rights in general have been praising him for the ballsy move against what many see as a new frailocracy (or the same old theocracy).
Mr. Celdran’s stunt was ballsy indeed and deserves praise. But only on sheer ballsiness.
As a way to open up dialogue with the Catholic Church, and to spread his advocacy, not so much.
That he is in jail, and reportedly charged with an ancient law on offending the religious beliefs, is unfortunate and probably a little silly. But what he did was pretty offensive in a country of secretly-lapsed Catholics (this writer included).
Sure, what he did probably falls under freedom of expression but there is no excuse for barging into a church and interrupting what many people consider a sacred ceremony.
The Catholic Church, for all its faults, is an institution that still means something in this country and his stunt may have done more damage than aid to getting contraceptive use accepted in this country where people still believe children are a gift from God. (They are, but they don’t appear magically.)
Now all the priests need to do is point at him as an example of how people who want the right to determine how many children they’ll have hate God. To be fair, there is no evidence that Mr. Celdran does hate God, but religion sort of requires you to believe without seeing, etc, so.
If the objective was to show how illogical the Church stand on reproductive rights is by showing how reasonable the RH crowd is in contrast, then Mr. Celdran failed miserably.
If the idea was to drum up support for the RH Bill, then it may have alienated more than it brought into the Pro-RH fold. Right now, there are more than a thousand praising him and pushing the passage of the RH Bill.
Thousands, who, even if Mr. Celdran did not interrupt a Catholic mass with his slogans, would probably have pushed for the passage of the RH Bill and gone ahead and gotten their contraceptives at the pharmacy as they always have (this writer included).
But how many thousands will fail to see that birth control just makes sense and instead focus on the sort-of-justified act of one man who interrupted Friday mass?
Mr.Celdran should not go to jail for expressing his beliefs, even if he did so in a manner that was pretty offensive even for incredibly liberal websites like Indolent Indio (we make dick jokes and everything).
What the Church can do is interrupt pro-RH rallies and fora by doing lightning masses and interrupting them by performing random sacraments unannounced. It seems only fair.
(There’s more: Protestant leaders were also at the mass. It was a joint ecumenical service for a project to give Bibles to the poor. I’m surprised he didn’t slap a few children around to show how mistreated and miserable unplanned babies are.)