01/21/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Filipino Church against bill on abandoned children

Santosh Digal
A member of Congress proposes a law to depenalise the abandonment of children if the latter are left at government facilities. For Cardinal Rosales parents must instead take care of their children; he warns against society’s moral decay.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales and the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines have refused to support a government bill that seeks to allow parents of unwanted babies to surrender their children up to two months of age to any health facilities without fear of arrest and prosecution. The bill, filed by the Congressman, Eduardo Zialcita, aims to stop abortion and the abandonment of children.

Cardinal Rosales said that the bill goes against the teachings of the Church on parental responsibility. “In the teachings of the Church, it has to be the parents who should take care of their children because the parents are closest to the child. Not only giving them support or care and food but also the emotional needs of the child like love and caresses. All these start at the home,” he said.

Rosales even argued that not even teachers could take the place of parents because they are “surrogate parents” only for a short amount of time.

Instead of supporting the bill that aims to end abortion, an act strongly condemned by the Church, the prelate has reiterated his appeal to just protect and promote respect for life amid a reportedly rising number of abortions in the country.

“When you have people practicing abortion right and left, you can see that the ordinary citizens including Christians do not give proper respect for life, defence for life. In other words, in the social fabric, there is something there that is beginning to collapse,” the prelate said.

“So we go back to real values. This is not the only responsibility of the Church but everyone—not only Catholics but every religion as well. We must know how to respect, defend and care for life,” Rosales said.

In reaction to the bill, Martin Ferndase, a Catholic from Holy Rosary Parish in Manila, told AsiaNews that he hoped the bill would not pass.

“It is very sad,” he said, “that the morale of our society is going down the drain. Our lawmakers should determine how to lessen unplanned pregnancies instead of applying band-aid solution to the growing problem.” He added that he would rather see Congress “opt for the adoption process.”

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