07/16/2008, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Filipino bishops against “anti-life” bill

by Santosh Digal
The promoters of a family planning bill call for discussions with the Church to work out ethical issues. The Bishops’ Conference reiterates its opposition to family planning policies and calls instead for socioeconomic polices that promote development.
Manila (AsiaNews) – Following the warning by Filipino bishops to the country’s political leaders, reproductive health advocates yesterday called on officials of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to discuss the ethical issues raised by a bill that purportedly seeks to meet the reproductive health needs of Filipino families.

Whilst supporters of the bill argue that it is not pro-abortion, the Filipino Catholic Church the CBCP reiterates the role Catholics must play, namely “promote a culture of life”.

At present the two positions appear very distant and irreconcilable, even though reproductive health advocates would like to see an open debate with local Church leaders to guarantee citizens the right and necessary information about family planning methods.

For its part the CBCP has called on members of Congress to reflect upon their position vis-à-vis the bill, putting pressure especially on those who have signed up for the reproductive health and population management bills.

For the CBCP there is no correlation between poverty and population size, insisting instead that inadequate social and economic policies have favoured an uneven distribution of population and wealth over the territory.

Many rural Filipinos have left the countryside for the big cities like Manila, aggravating the socioeconomic crisis.

The bishops did however welcome the offer of talks, each in their respective diocese, with the bills promoters.

At the same Catholic Church leaders reiterated their position that anti-life bill politicians should be denied Holy Communion.

A united front has formed in the country against family planning methods because they are seen as destructive of the values on which life is based.

This has been the case in other industrialised nations of Asia. In China and India population management and the one-child policy have increased the abortion rate.

For this reason the Church believes that only good governance and the equal distribution of opportunities are the necessary elements that would bring the Philippines to genuine progress.

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