MANILA, Philippines, DEC. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of a statement sent Wednesday to lawmakers by the president of the bishops’ conference of the Philippines, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu. The archbishop makes his final appeal to reject the controversial reproductive health bill. Hours later, lawmakers passed it by a margin of nine votes.
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My brothers and sisters in Christ:
As you resume your deliberations on the Reproductive Health Bill, I pray that through the gracious intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast-day we celebrate today, you may be bountifully guided by the Holy Spirit.
Recalling Our Lady’s words when she first spoke to the Indian peasant St. Juan Diego on that cold December day on Tepeyac hill in Mexico 481 years ago, I am confident she will grant us the fruit of her affection and protection if we ask for it. In these difficult and trying days, we humbly ask for it.
Our society needs law to unite rather than divide. We need law to affirm and protect the truth about the dignity of the human person, who has been created in the very image of God; the sanctity of the family, the basic social unit which even our Constitution recognizes as the foundation of the nation; and the inviolability of the social institution of marriage, which the Constitution likewise recognizes as the foundation of the family.
As politics allows free men and women to participate in the divine governance of the universe, governments must enact laws whose reason and justice emanate from God. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “it is the specific task of politics to subordinate power to the criterion of law, thereby regulating the meaningful use of power. It is not the law of the strongest that must prevail, but rather the strength of the law…
“This makes it vital for every society to remove everything that could cast suspicion on the law and its ordinances, because it is only in this way that arbitrary conduct on the part of the state can be eliminated and freedom can be experienced as something genuinely shared by all…The law will come under suspicion, and people will revolt against the law, whenever it is perceived, no longer as the expression of a justice that is at the service of all, but rather as a product of despotism, of an arrogance that is clothed in the garments of a law by those who have the power to do so.”
Because of the enormous challenges facing you and the rest of the nation on the RH bill, I wish to commend to you these words of the Holy Father as my own, especially when he speaks of how parliamentary majorities should act on certain important questions.
“Let us suppose,” the Pope writes, “that an overwhelming majority oppresses a religious or ethnic minority by means of harsh legislation—would we then speak of ‘justice’ or even ‘the rule of law’? The majority principle always leaves open the question of the ethical foundation of law: Are there some things that can never be legalized, some things that always remain wrong? On the other hand, are there some things that absolutely always remain legally binding, things that precede every majority decision, things that majority decisions must respect?” 
These involve such things as the right to life, the right of married couples to found a family according to their religious beliefs and moral convictions, and to be the primary educators of their children. Here as elsewhere, the truth must be the basis of the law, rather than the result of legislation.
Amidst the many voices trying to influence the outcome of your deliberations, I call upon you in the words our Lord first said to Abraham, “Do not be afraid!” Listen to what God is saying; “obey God rather than men” (cf Ac 5:29). For “unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Ps 127), and the Lord himself has assured us, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20).
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
St. Thomas More, pray for us!
San Pedro Calungsod, pray for us!
MOST REV. JOSE S. PALMA, DD
Archbishop of Cebu
President, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
12 December 2012