LET the church bells ring. Such noise is nothing short of reassuring when reason wavers like a wind-ruffled candle flame.

Even if we’re supposed to have the silence of lambs when we hear Sunday mass, does that mean we need to be as good as deaf and dumb? What we don’t know could kill us. That’s no way to deal with the devil as his twin horns butt into our heads: How to build a nation? How to fight corruption?

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That’s the role of the university, believes Fr. Heinz Kulueke of the Societas Verbi Divini (SVD). After all, the more imposing task—-to house our souls in succor, to overcome our uncertainties—-is best left to the church.

But when righteousness rakes over the coal of politics, such as the matter with House Bill 5043 on “Reproductive Health and Population Development,” what gets in our eyes is mostly smoke. That bill will lead us all to hell.

And don’t we dare overlook that, or so the bishops would have us believe some provisions of the proposed law will lead the young to leap yelling “Eureka!” into the abyss of promiscuity and abortion.

Amen, according to Fr. Ernesto Lagura, Kulueke’s colleague and vice president for administration of the University of San Carlos (USC). Anything less than genuflection to the gospel against House Bill 5043 would be anti-life.

As if we were ghouls in disguise, despite our consistency with the credo of wearing our Sunday best, as long as we stick our necks for this need: A no-nonsense reproductive health policy against the problem of population explosion and its socio-economic slow-burn.

Some of us, after all, adhere in good faith to family planning as an act of responsible parenthood. If God speaks vox populi, the Pulse Asia 2007 survey leaves little doubt as a majority (92 percent) of Filipinos find wisdom in planning one’s family against life-threatening poverty. Most of them (89 percent) say that the government should allocate funding for safe means of contraception such as IUDs, ligation, vasectomy, pills, and condoms.

These are not available to two out of five women in poor provinces where the scarcity of maternal health services is matched only with a surfeit of ignorance, reveals a government survey.

Records show nearly half a million abortions, or one-third of about 1.4 million unplanned pregnancies, in the Philippines every year. A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) revealed that women’s access to effective contraception would avert 30 percent of maternal deaths, 90 percent of abortion-related deaths and disabilities, and 20 percent of child deaths.

Thus, HB 5043 is “pro-life,” preventing abortion by offering couples an array of “medically-safe, legal, affordable and quality” methods of contraception. Such alternative view is echoed by 69 faculty members of the Ateneo de Manila University.

“It is possible for Catholics like ourselves to support HB 5043 in good conscience…We hope our expression of support can help enrich and broaden the discussions and debates on the issue of reproductive health and population development,” they say.

“After all, Catholic social theology teaches us that the principle of human dignity requires us to uphold human rights, which include the right to education and appropriate information (Gaudium et Spes, 1965) and the right to develop one’s intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth (Centesimus Annus, 1991).”

Let there be more education and less sermon, amen.

(geemyko@gmail.com)