07/11/2008, 00.00
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Filipino bishops call for family policies that defend the “right to life”

by Santosh Digal
In a meeting with President Arroyo, the prelates reiterate their opposition to initiatives that promote contraception as a solution to overpopulation. They hope instead for socioeconomic policies that would favour the country’s development.
Manila (AsiaNews) – A delegation of Filipino bishops has urged the government to promote “natural family planning” in the country and to oppose draft laws that are anti-life. The request came during a meeting with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Wednesday at the Malacañang Presidential Palace in the presence of various government secretaries, including the health secretary. The delegation from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) was led by the Archbishop of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

The meeting came on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Encyclical Letter on the Regulation of Birth, known as Humanae Vitae, by Pope Paul VI in 1968 which condemns the direct and deliberate prevention of conception as contrary to life.

Based on the principles laid down by Paul VI, the Church rejects contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, condoms and surgical interventions such as ligation and vasectomy, as well as abortion, because they are anti-life. It maintains that curbing the population, especially in the Third World, is not a valid reason for promoting artificial contraceptives.

During the talks, which lasted an hour, President Arroyo expressed her support for the proposal made by Cardinal Vidal to set up a joint group that would include Catholic bishops and government officials to promote the right to life and pro-family policies.

The prelate reiterated the Church’s opposition to current reproductive health bills, saying that not only are they contrary to Church ethics which is to defend life in all its forms, but are also a violation of the country’s constitution which recognises marriage and family as the bases of society.

For the bishops population growth must be closely monitored but does not justify anti-life views; instead, the matter should be addressed with a series of socioeconomic policies geared towards individual development and well-being.

In May the National Statistics Office (NSO) reported that Filipinos numbered 88.57 million, up from “only” 76.5 million in 2000, growing at the rate of 2 per cent every year.

Today is the United Nations’ World Population Day whose theme is “Family Planning is a Right: Let’s Make It Real”.

Like in the rest of the world, initiatives are underway in the Philippines to promote policies that defend the family as the basis of society through health care and education for mothers and their children so as to guarantee them a better quality of life.

Unfortunately, population reduction through contraception is an idea that prevails in the United Nations.

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