Manila (AsiaNews) - The reproductive health (RH) bill is a "moral time bomb," said Mgr Socrates Villegas, archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan and vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in a pastoral letter posted on the latter's website after the Filipino Senate approved the law, following last week's decision by the House of Representatives to do the same.
It took the Philippines Congress 14 years and five changes to pass the bill after a year of discussions against the fierce opposition of the Church.
The new law rejects abortion but promotes family planning, urging couples to have no more than two children. The law allows medical staff to opt out on moral grounds in some cases, but also encourages voluntary sterilisation.
The Catholic Church and Catholic associations favour instead the Natural Family Programme (NFP), which aims at encouraging in the population a culture of responsibility and love based on natural values.
By contrast, the law is backed by big international organisations like the United Nations and UNICEF, which associate poverty to high birth rates. Countries that refuse to accept similar laws lose the right to receive humanitarian aid.
The "wide and free accessibility of contraceptives will result in the destruction of family life," the bishop said. "This law will open more doors to abortion and more crimes against women," he added.
"Money for contraceptives can be better used for education and authentic health care," he noted, adding, "It is only a matter of time and then we will see more violations of 'Thou shall not kill'" and 'Thou shall not commit adultery' among our families, our youth and children".
In order to prevent such dangers, the archbishop issued a pastoral letter reiterating the diocese's desire to strengthen the moral and spiritual education and fibre of youth and children. The Church also plans new initiatives to protect expectant mothers and help poor couples get married.
"Let us disseminate through organized pre-wedding seminars the teachings of the Church on natural family planning at the same time warn our people about the hazardous effects of contraceptive pills on the health of women," he added.