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The scion of the country’s democracy icon took power several years after Sin’s death, but it was a different era in which the church was battered by scandals of sexual misconduct of priests and declining family values.

The latest defeat of the church “can further weaken its moral authority at a time when this is most badly needed in many areas, including defense of a whole range of family values,” said the Rev. John J. Carroll, founding chairman of the Jesuit-run John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues.

He said he wonders how many Catholics have been “turned off” by incessant sermons and prayers led by the church against the contraceptives law, and how much it contributed to rising anticlericalism and the erosion of church authority.

“People today are more practical,” said Mrs. Labadan, the street vendor. “In the old days, people feared that if you defy the church, it will be the end of the world.”