Manila (AsiaNews) - As the Supreme Court in Manila vets the Reproductive
Health law, the Filipino Catholic Church reiterates its opposition, holding a
prayer vigil in capital. The justices will hear 6 interveners in support of the
law as well as 15 against it. If no decision is reached today, the matter will
be examined again on 26 July.
"It is our responsibility to protect the sacred nature of life,"
said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, newly elected president of the Bishops'
Conference of the Philippines. "Catholics will continue to fight against this
bill because it is their duty," he added; "a duty that entails the role of
shepherd, not any behaviour that causes disturbances. We are not social
troublemakers. We are conscience troublemakers."
Reproductive Health legislation has been discussed for almost 14 years. Since
its first draft, it has undergone five changes. Congress has debated its merit
for a year. Last December, it was finally approved.
Under the new law, clinical abortion is banned but couples are urged to
have no more than two children. This plan has the support of big international
NGOs, the UN and UNICEF, who see in a high birth rate one of the main causes of
The Filipino Church, backed by numerous Catholic associations active in
the country, is in favour of natural family planning, which promotes a culture
of responsibility and love based on natural values.
"The Church is not an NGO. The mission of the Church is truly spiritual.
If we get involved in bills like the RH, which is now a law, it's because our
spiritual mission mandates us to do that," said Mgr Villegas, who is set to
take over the CBCP next December.
Before going to Supreme Court, lawyers and petitioners attended a Mass
at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia in Ermita, Manila, at 9 am.
"Our first support for the Supreme Court process will be a Mass and a
prayer vigil," Villegas said. "Our first contribution is to show to the world that
prayer has power to change" it.