Sex and Religion

Finding Religion and Spirituality in Population, Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health Advocacy in the Philippines.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CBCP Hit Over Family Planning

Advocates of family planning on Tuesday scored the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) after declaring that lawmaker-signatories of the anti-life bills pending in Congress must not be given the Holy Communion.

"If you are dictating a social policy by straining out your expertise which is religion, it is wrong. For me it is not defensible morally and legally," said Dr. Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, director of University of the Philippines'Center for Women Studies and chairperson of non-governmental organization Likhaan.

In a press briefing, Claudio insisted the bishops' act could be considered a "criminal act" since they are using religion "to intimidate elected officials from doing their jobs."

Instead, she advised the bishops to "stop threatening with things that are not even relevant."

"I don't see Jesus in their act of stigmatizing women who want to exercise their rights to inform choice and their rights to plan for their families," she added.

Claudio's statement stemmed from the pronouncement made by Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, head of the CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL), stating that the entire conference or the permanent council would make a unified stand on how to deal with politicians that are against the church's position on contraceptives.

Aniceto had accused proponents of the bills of allegedly using euphemisms to mask their intent, claiming that the term reproductive health actually meant abortion.

But Felipe Medalla, former director of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda), said he reviewed the bill and there was nothing in it that was "close to abortion."

"There is nothing in the bill - in any form or shape - that will promote abortion. There is nothing in it that is contrary to the Constitution," he assured.

In fact, Medalla noted that if the bill is passed, abortion would be reduced because it would assist couples that want to plan the size of their families.

"There are many unsafe abortions by poor women because they have no access to family planning (methods). The burden of unmet needs falls mostly on the poor couples," he added.

Beth Angsioco, secretary general of the Reproductive Health Alliance Network, underscored the importance of having a national policy on population management especially in the face of the economic crunch presently facing the country.

According to her, 10 Filipino women die daily due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications. Three out of four of these women are aged 15 to 19 years old.

Under the bill, reproductive health products and supplies will be categorized as essential medicines and supplies and become part of the National Drug Formulary. They will be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines and supplies of all hospitals and other government health units.

The Catholic Church remains firm in its stand on asking the legislators to rethink their position.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of CBCP-ECFL, said: "We appeal to our dear legislators to study again and rethink your position regarding this bill."

He particularly appealed to those legislators who were among the signatories in the anti-life bills in Congress such as the Reproductive Health and Population Management bills in Congress.

"Let us not anymore create legislations like this for us to address the poverty of our people because this is not the solution," he said.

Castro, meantime, also appealed to the faithful to join the church in convincing anti-life lawmakers to change their position.

"It's the responsibility of the faithful to convince the unconvinced. Hopefully through this various fora will also talk to their legislators and God willing to be able to convince them to do what is right," he said.

He further revealed that members of the CBCP agreed to individually talk to the lawmakers under their own jurisdictions.

"During their last Plenary (Assembly) they have agreed that they will individually talk to their legislators. To dialogue with them and tell them that this is the church's position," Castro said.

"We pray (that they will listen). There is nothing impossible with God. I'm sure our legislators, who are men and women of good will, will listen to the voice of reason and morality in the end," added the priest.

Last Sunday, Ozamiz, Misamis Occidental Bishop Jesus Dosado in a pastoral statement said pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion.

"A Catholic politician who consistently campaign and vote for permissive abortion should be instructed on church's teachings and informed by parish priests that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin or otherwise he will be denied the Eucharist," Dosado said. (MSN/Sunnex)


Blogger rmacapobre said...

let's keep church and state separate. i don't get why the catholic chuch is always imposing its belief system to the rest of us who are not catholics via state policies.

12:15 AM  

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