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Catholic bishops threaten to campaign vs pro-RH lawmakers in 2013

August 5, 2012 7:14pm
Anti-RH Bill prayer rally participants at EDSA Shrine
Anti-RH Bill prayer rally participants at EDSA Shrine. Despite intermittent rain, participants to the anti-RH Bill prayer rally crowd in front of the EDSA Shrine in Mandaluyong City Saturday afternoon . YouScooper Analyn Maganda
(Updated 10:17 p.m., 5 August 2012) The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday threatened to campaign against lawmakers who will support the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill currently pending in Congress.

CBCP secretary general Msgr. Joselito Asis said officials of the Catholic hierarchy in the country plan to issue a “catechesis on elections” to serve as checklist for voters in next year’s midterm elections.

He added that bishops may also issue separate pastoral letters endorsing candidates who will oppose the RH bill.

“We will identify the pro-life candidates and convince voters against electing the anti-life ones… For the bishops’ part, they can separately issue pastoral letters, reiterating the Church’s call not to vote supporters of RH bill, especially in Congress,” he added.

The CBCP official’s statement came two days before the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote whether or not to continue debates on the RH bill, formally known as House Bill 4244.

Asis added that the CBCP will be “more aggressive in influencing” voters next year. He, however, acknowledged that the Roman Catholic Church cannot dictate upon its faithful.

“Whether or not the voters heed the Church’s advice, it’s up to them. All we’re asking is for them to stand firm in their pro-life convictions in choosing who to vote [for] in the elections,” he said.

On Saturday, the CBCP spearheaded a prayer rally, attended by at least 10,000 people, to oppose the approval of the RH bill.

Religious groups

The RH bill endorses the use of both natural and artificial modes of family planning. It is being opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which promotes only natural family planning methods.

Other religious groups in the country have also expressed their opinions on the RH bill. The Imam Council of the Philippines, a group of Muslim religious leaders in the country, meanwhile said that it is against artificial contraception, which the RH bill promotes. 

In contrast, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines—the largest alliance of Protestant and non-Roman Catholic churches in the Philippines—late last year released a statement supporting the measure’s passage.

Impact

Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, one of the authors of the RH bill, admitted that the Catholic bishops’ stand on the RH bill will have an impact on Tuesday’s voting.
 
“Siyempre magkakaroon iyan ng epekto lalo na ngayong mag-eeleksyon, pero naniniwala naman ako maraming kongresista na bubusisiin ang mga magagandang punto ng RH bill,” she said in a phone interview.
 
The lawmaker however added that she is confident that most of her colleagues will make an informed choice.
 
“Nasa kanila na talaga kung papakinggan nila kung ano ang gusto ng taumbayan, o magpapatali sila sa opinyon ng iba,” she said.
 
In the Philippines, a country of 96 million people, eight out of 10 Filipinos are Roman Catholics. — BM/DVM, GMA News



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