Manila, Philippines - In their first collective statement since the Aquino administration assumed office, the leaders of the Catholic Church called on President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to drop government programs that promote artificial contraceptives as a means of family planning.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued the statement Monday after it concluded a two-day plenary assembly over the weekend at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.
“We bishops from all over the country call on President Aquino to listen to the call of the Philippine Church that the former program of the government to promote a contraceptive mentality through education and medical practices is immoral and will not bring about a people that is God-fearing, holding on to the sacredness of sexuality, life and the family,” the bishops said through CBCP president, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar who issued the one-page statement.
“With the new government, we bishops join the Filipino people in the hope that there will be changes that will truly bring good governance to the country,” they added.
During the last Congress, the CBCP succeeded in derailing the passage of the so-called reproductive health bill, which proponents say would strengthen programs to promote maternal and child health and responsible parenthood.
But the Catholic Church hierarchy opposed the bill for promoting artificial contraceptives along with “natural” methods, as well as for mandating sex education from Grade 5 up to high school.
In their statement, the bishops said “there are no changes in the stand of the Church” about the reproductive health bill and the sex education modules being pilot-tested in selected elementary and high schools.
“The Church is always concerned with the poor and the many Church institutions and groups that help the poor bear this out,” they said.
“Poverty cannot be solved by promoting contraceptive education and programs. Education does not merely deal with knowledge and skills; rather it must promote values that are inherent to us as Filipinos. Parents have the primary right to educate their children and sex education is properly to be done in the family,” they went on.
Odchimar said the bishops have discussed a wide range of social issues during their plenary assembly such as “climate change, large-scale mining and the reproductive health bills, the situation of education in the country in general and sex and many other issues besides those that strictly concern governance in the Church.”
“We have invited several resource persons to these discussions in order to enlighten the assembly. The discussions have been exhausting but enriching,” he said.