Tuesday August 17, 2010

Filipino Archbishop: Proposed Divorce Bill ‘Will Destroy Society’

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

PHILIPPINES, August 17, 2010 ( – Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma of Cagyan de Oro City has strongly criticized a proposed bill that would legalize divorce in the Philippines and said that the move would destroy the moral fiber of Philippine society.

“Legalizing something that is immoral will not make it right, but will instead make it worse,” said Archbishop Ledesma. “The sacrament of marriage is something that is meant for a life-long commitment, for the good of the children and the community. It is no longer just an individual kind of freedom because marriage itself is a social contract.”

The archbishop explained that divorce is immoral because it is against the teaching of Christ, who said, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so,” and that marriage is a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman.

Furthermore, Archbishop Ledesma clarified that in Catholic sacramental marriage the couple who commit to each other “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, ’til death do us part,” set aside personal freedom for the good of their spouse, as well as for the good of their children and society.

Legalizing divorce “is another way of saying that the lifelong commitment of marriage is no longer viable,” Archbishop Ledesma said.

The Philippines and Malta are the only two countries in the world where divorce is illegal.

However, a bill (HB 1799-An Act Introducing Divorce in the Philippines) proposing the legalization of divorce was re-filed in the House of Representatives last week by two congresswomen, Luzviminda Ilagan and Emerenciana De Jesus, both members of the feminist Gabriela Women’s Party.

“Reality tells us that there are many failed, unhappy marriages across all Filipino classes,” wrote the two congresswomen in the bill’s explanatory note.

“Couples must have the option to avail of the remedies that will pave the way for the attainment of their full human development and self-fulfillment and have protection of their human rights. Existing laws are not enough to guarantee and protect these rights,” they said.

The reintroduction of the controversial bill has legislators divided, but media reports say most members of the House of Representatives oppose the bill, saying the existing remedies to troubled marriages of legal separation, declaration of nullity, and annulment, are adequate to both allow marital issues to be resolved and to preserve the sanctity of marriage and the family.

The representative for Parañaque Roilo Golez told GMA News that legalizing divorce is like giving a married couple a weapon of mass destruction that they can use against each other even for petty, solvable marital problems.

“Look at what’s happening in other countries with divorce. Half of my classmates at Annapolis ended up divorcing a few years after they got married, many because of flimsy reasons by their own admission,” he said.

“We must continue to work for the preservation of the sanctity of marriage and the family. Legalizing divorce might encourage or promote destruction of families,” said Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga pointed out that the family is the foundation of society and that divorce would weaken the family.

“It would also encourage married couples who have differences to immediately seek divorce, though differences can still be reconciled. Moreover, I anticipate that the various churches in the Philippines would lobby against the bill. I still adhere to the biblical saying that what God had joined together, let no man divide. Therefore, I vehemently object to the bill,” he said.

Other Catholic bishops have added their voices to that of Archbishop Ledesma in drawing attention to the consequences of the acceptance of divorce.

Father Francis Lucas, head of the Episcopal Commission on Social Communication and Mass Media, told UCA News he believes legalizing divorce would be a “Pandora’s Box” that would cause more problems than it was intended to solve, primarily that of the negative effects on children, and the introduction of a lifestyle that does not value commitment.

“The greatest problem is for the children. We may have a generation without parents. Why open the door to a threat to morality?” Fr. Lucas said.

Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of Kalookan, the Bishops’ Conference’s Public Affairs Committee chairman, said, “Absolute divorce is and will remain against the teaching and morality of Catholic Church.”

See related LSN articles:

Even “Good” Divorce Hard on Kids, New Study Confirms

Divorce Damages Health and Remarriage Doesn’t Help, New Study Finds

Study: Divorce Spreads Through Social Networks

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