By Fr. Roy Cimagala

I JUST had an interesting if funny chat with a taxi driver the other day. He was young, clearly from the province, what with the accent and the fresh, simple manners he had, and excited to have a priest as a passenger.

He was not listening to the radio nor did he have an Ipod or MP3 stuck into his ears. So I felt lucky, since we had a chance to talk, something rarely done nowadays between drivers and passengers. You know, gadgets tend both to undermine personal dealings and to harden self-absorption.

Perhaps to make me happy, he told me he was glad that Cardinal Vidal launched a signature campaign against the Reproductive Health Bill. I thought, how nice to have a taxi driver having more sense than many of our congressmen and congresswomen!

I soon discovered that he was still single and that he was planning to get married soon. I asked him how many children he would like to have. He said, just about 2 or 3. He gave the usual reasons.

When I asked him how he was going to do it, he said, “Simple, Father, after 2 or 3, I will have a vasectomy.” You could imagine how I reacted at that instant. But I managed to control myself, look at the bigger picture and talk to him calmly without scaring him.

Until we reached my destination, I talked to him about the nature and dynamics of responsible parenthood and conjugal chastity. The nice thing about it was at the end, I really felt that he was sincere when he thanked me and told me he would follow my advice.

“I actually know already what you’ve said, Father,” he said. “Except that these days I don’t hear anything about them, while the wrong view has become the popular position.”

I immediately realized how sadly true his observation was, and how enormous the challenge is of conveying the truth about responsible parenthood and the faith, piety and chastity that accompany it.

I always believe that no matter how wounded and dirtied, the human heart can never forget the natural moral law that is written in it by God. It’s still capable of recognizing what is true and false, what is good and evil.

All this, in spite of the fact that the media is not helping. It seems to go where the money is. Plus, many civic and political leaders, who are supposed to know better, actually give the wrong doctrine often matched by errant behavior.

In the US, for example, we recently heard of how two national political leaders, Catholics both, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden, committed grave mistakes in public.

The woman said that in her long study of the Church position on abortion, she found out that the Church fathers and doctors (theological not medical) did not know when human life actually started.

She was immediately corrected by American bishops who found her misrepresenting the Church teaching on this matter.

The man, more wily, said that while he admitted what the Church teaches on when life begins, he considers such doctrine as a personal affair and religious in nature, and therefore, not to be imposed on others.

Again, the bishops corrected him saying that the claim that life begins at conception is a scientific truth and not just a religious doctrine, and that it has a universal application and not just a personal affair of some individuals.

I was happy to learn about these immediate corrections and direct interventions of the American bishops, and I hope that the same action can be expected of our bishops here in our country.

The impression of many is that our bishops are slow and remiss in correcting our Catholic politicians who deviate in their public pronouncements from Church teachings on faith and morals. They seem to be trigger-happy instead in purely political issues that are open to different valid opinions.

The question is asked: if a taxi driver can be corrected by a priest, and a politician by a bishop, who can correct priests and bishops when they are wrong or at least remiss in their duties especially of proclaiming and defending Church doctrines relevant to public issues?

Actually, the answer is known. But is it followed, is it applied to concrete cases of clear imprudence and neglect? No one seems to hear anything about any such instance.