Manila (AsiaNews) – Filipino Catholics are first in line in backing the Vatican’s commitment to defend human life and the family. For the second time in two years, the country hosted a conference of international experts to discuss the thorny issue of bioethics.
Yesterday Mgr Angel Lagdameo, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which organised the 2007 International Conference on Bioethics and the Family in Mandaluyong City, said in a press briefing that “our strong faith can help in the formation of values and virtues”.
In 2005, the Philippines had also hosted the International Congress on Bioethics at the Catholic University of Santo Tomas, the first event of its kind sponsored by the Vatican's Pontifical Academy for Life to be held in Asia.
Both events show that “we're really being encouraged to continue our [pro-life] advocacy,” Archbishop Lagdameo said.
At present, Lagdameo noted, the country was under threat from what he called “death laws” that included “euthanasia, divorce, abortion, total depopulation and the homosexual agenda.”
“We shouldn't allow ourselves to be pushed by the current and campaigns that have happened and are still happening in other countries,” he added.
Europe and some Asian countries which have restricted population growth have experienced an aging population, whilst the Philippines' current growth rate stands at 1.95 per cent, according to the Commission on Population.
“In Japan, there are too many people living all the way up to 80 and 90, and not enough people have been born,” economist Dr. Bernardo Villegas from the University of Asia and the Pacific said in a 2005 forum. “So there will come a time when there will not be enough young people to take care of the aging population.”
Villegas said China was already going through this crisis owing to its one-child policy. “What's happening is that because of the one-child policy they are already experiencing the problem of a developed country like Japan.
The two-day conference also addressed controversial bioethical issues, such as the beginning of human life, euthanasia, and contraception.
Dr John Wilke, chairman and president of the International Right to Life Federation, talked about the protection of life from the stage of embryo.
In a statement read by Archbishop Lagdameo, the delegates asserted that “the human embryo is a human person, body and soul, from the moment of his/her conception, endowed with all the potentialities, proper identity, individuality, and uniqueness, and hence has an inherent dignity that must be respected and protected throughout his/her entire life”.
The statement went further saying that “[c]reated in the image of God, the human embryo has God-given inviolable rights and is destined to eternal life.”
The statement also warned against the “sharp increases in adultery, pre-marital sex and homosexual activity” and lamented that “the abominable crime of abortion has been condoned and even considered a right”.
“This loss of respect and care for human life at its beginning has led to the loss of respect and care at its natural end, as in the evils of euthanasia and abandonment of the elderly and the handicapped,” they said.
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, chairman of the Pontifical Academy of Life, cited some couples' “tendency for the perfect child” as shown by attempts to “eliminate” the possibility of imperfect babies at the level of prenatal diagnosis.
“It's a very terrible tendency,” he said.