CBCP asks PNoy: Clarify ‘responsible parenthood’ statement at SONA
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines asked President Benigno Aquino III late Tuesday to clarify the responsible parenthood that he pushed in his State of the Nation Address last Monday.
On SONA day, activists call for passage of RH bill. Proponents of the Reproductive Health bill, which would make artificial contraceptives available in all government health centers, are hoping President Aquino will push their cause in his SONA speech Monday afternoon. Despite Aquino's endorsement of the bill, some legislators see slim chances for its passage in the face of church opposition and influence in the 2013 elections. Audrey Domasian
CBCP secretary general Msgr. Joselito Asis said the Church wants to know if Aquino’s definition of “responsible parenthood” is different from the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.
“What is really the meaning of responsible parenthood according to the mind of the President? Is it tantamount to the RH?” Asis said in an article posted on the CBCP news site Tuesday night.
Asis’ request came as the CBCP said youth groups are preparing rallies against the RH bill following Aquino’s SONA.
He said that if Aquino’s idea of responsible parenthood was according to the Catholic Church’s teachings, “then it’s good.”
“It’s not clear though what’s in his mind... The question is whether Aquino’s definition is the same with that advocated by the Church. The problem is that they don’t submit the draft,” he said.
The Catholic Church has been vocal against the RH bill for its provisions allowing artificial contraception. It instead favors natural means of family planning.
In his SONA Monday, Aquino said that while his administration is ending the backlogs in the education sector, the potential for shortages remains as the student population continues to increase.
“Perhaps Responsible Parenthood can help address this,” Aquino said.
5-point position on responsible parenthood
A link in an article on the Official Gazette website that contained the English translation of Aquino’s SONA redirected visitors to another article featuring Aquino’s five-point position on responsible parenthood.
The five-point position rejects abortion but favors giving couples the right to choose how best to manage their families “so that in the end, their welfare and that of their children are best served.”
It also seeks to present natural family planning and modern methods as “equally available.”
Earlier, Episcopal Commission on Family and Life executive secretary Fr. Melvin Castro said he was saddened over Aquino’s pitch for responsible parenthood in his SONA.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed about it,” Castro said in an article posted late Monday on the CBCP news site.
Castro also chided Aquino for using population control as the solution to the challenges that the education sector is facing.
“We do not see any connection between the education problem and the RH bill or his responsible parenthood because these are about promoting and funding of contraceptive usage,” he said.
But Castro said Aquino’s latest pronouncement affirmed the Church’s concern that the responsible parenthood bill is a population control bill disguised as a health measure.
“They’ve got so many excuses. In the end, it is about population control,” said Castro.
On the other hand, Castro contested reports of a population explosion, citing data from the National Statistics Office and the Population Commission that show a “downtrend” in the population growth rate.
“There’s something wrong with the President’s thinking and his solution to the problem,” he said.
Dinner with bishops
Aquino had dinner with some CBCP officials in Malacañang last Friday but some bishops are already criticizing the Chief Executive after his SONA.
Asis said the dinner had nothing to do with the President’s SONA since the invitation was extended to the bishops even before Holy Week earlier this year.
“This (invitation) was extended to us before Holy Week but (CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose) Palma was not available that time,” said Asis, referring to Palma being hospitalized in April when his gall bladder stones were removed.
When asked if the controversial RH bill and other issues were tackled during the dinner, Asis answered “Practically none.”
“It was just a friendly dinner…we had a tour inside Malacañang,” he said.
The CBCP said the bishops present at the dinner were the members of the CBCP Permanent Council including Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francsico de Leon, Pampanga Auxiliary Bishop Pablo David, Kabankalan Bishop Patricio Buzon, Surigao Bishop Antonieto Cabajog and Palma.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said Aquino’s endorsement of RH bill is a virtual imposition of “death sentence” to Filipinos, especially to the unborn.
“We in the pro-life movements are so disgusted with these vigorous pronouncements in support of responsible parenthood a.k.a. RH bill,” said Arguelles.
Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes also said Aquino’s remark on “population control” is a “bad omen” for what the Church stands for. “PNoy is undermining the moral force of the Catholic Church,” he said.
He added there is a need to call on the Filipino people to remain vigilant and teach more lawmakers about the dangers of the RH bill.
Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros called on lawmakers to listen to the voice of the majority of the Filipino people.
“May I also ask them to vote according to their Catholic conscience and to preserve our traditional Filipino values such as love for children and the family,” he said.
Meanwhile, retired Lingayen Archbishop Oscar Cruz said he supports plans to hold rallies against the RH bill after Aquino’s statement on responsible parenthood in his SONA.
“This is a democratic state and if the president can express his desire for RH bill, anybody else can say otherwise,” he said.
Cruz also said the CBCP definitely act on it as a response but did not elaborate. “The CBCP will not take that and just sit down. What they will do as something concrete, I don’t know,” he said. — LBG, GMA News
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