Fr. Joaquin Bernas says Ayala Alabang ordinance on condoms "reminiscent of the Inquisition"

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, dean emeritus of the Ateneo Law School, has compared the Ayala Alabang ordinance requiring prescriptions to buy condoms, among others, to the Spanish Inquisition, reports ABS-CBN News.

In a blog entry posted Saturday, Bernas said, "I see what is happening as an attempt by a sector of the Catholic Church to instrumentalize the power of the state to impose Catholic belief on all others. This is something which gives the Catholic religion a bad name."

He added, "Seeking to impose Catholic belief and practices on non-Catholics and others violates freedom of religion. Freedom of religion does not merely mean freedom to believe. It also means freedom to act or not to act according to one’s belief. And this too is the teaching of Vatican II in its decree Dignitatis Humanae."

According to Bernas, authors of the ordinance released last month "will say that they are not prohibiting the use but merely regulating the sale. But they insult the intelligence of villagers by thinking that the Alabang residents are village idiots who do not have enough brains to see the truth behind the pretense. One does not have to be a genius to understand that the curtailment of sale is intended to prevent the use of what is sold. And therein lies the gross offense."

Under the ordinance, violators will be penalized with a P1,000-to-P5,000 fine for the first offense, and at least P5,000 for the second offense plus jail time. "Only a real court and not a village kangaroo court or vigilante may impose criminal penalty, and only after trial," Bernas said.

Yesterday, Bernas posted another blog entry for "those who may be thinking that (he) is going against the official teaching of the Church." He quoted a key provision of Dignitatis Humanae: "This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom."

For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBN News and Bernas’ blog.

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