Tuesday July 13, 2010

Bishops Urge New Philippine President to Shun ‘Contraceptive Mentality’

By James Tillman

MANILLA, July 13, 2010 ( – In a statement issued at the conclusion of their 101st Plenary Assembly, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has urged the new government of President Benigno Aquino III to shun a “contraceptive mentality” and has reiterated the Church’s stand against contraception and abortion.

Immoral educational and medical practices, the bishops told President Aquino, will “not bring about a people that is God-fearing, holding on to the sacredness of sexuality, life and the family.”

Br. Armin Luistro, the previous chancellor of Manila’s De La Salle University and newly-appointed education minister, attended the bishops’ assembly to hear their thoughts on sex education in schools.

The previous Secretary of Education, Mona Valisno, had fought hard against the CBCP to impose a new sex-ed program on schools. The UN-backed program would integrate sex-education not only into classes like health, physical education, and science, but also into math, music, art, English, and others.

Secretary Luistro has promised to review the sex education program.

“My role really is to serve as a bridge … and I’m happy that the bishops are also open to a dialogue,” Luistro told reporters.

Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, chairman of the CBPC Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said bishops are studying the Department of Education’s sex-ed program in order to create alternative possibilities.

The Church, said Aniceto, is “not against sex education as long as it is given by the right person in the right way, the right objective and methodology.”

He continued: “It’s just that the Church has its own principles on how to properly form the mentality of the youth.”

Nevertheless, the CBCP’s new statement also says that “parents have the primary right to educate their children and sex education is properly to be done in the family” – a point the government has often contested.

Although Br. Armin Luistro seems likely to agree with the bishops in many fields, however, new Health Secretary Enrique Ona does not.

In an interview on July 11, the UN’s “World Population Day,” Ona said the Department of Health would make contraceptives available in all of its clinics.

He continued to say that they would teach couples “all of these [contraceptive methods], give them the options and then let them decide.”

The bishops have fought hard against the Health Department’s previous efforts to promote contraceptives. Their new statement rejects the common argument that overpopulation is responsible for poverty in the Philippines.

“Poverty cannot be solved by promoting contraceptive education and programs,” it says. “Education does not merely deal with knowledge and skills; rather it must promote values that are inherent to us as Filipinos.”

Ona has also said he plans to push for universal health care.

The CBCP also said that, although they have addressed issues touching life, family, and sexuality in the past, they would issue a new pastoral statement on them in the near future.

The bishops said that they were greatly encouraged by President Aquino’s inaugural promise to listen to the Philippine people, in which he said to them, “you are my boss.”

“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 said.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ 101st Plenary Assembly was held in Manila from July 10 to 11, with pre-general assembly caucuses on July 8 and 9. It was attended by about 90 Catholic bishops and archbishops.

See related stories on

Philippine Legislators Attempting to Resurrect Controversial Reproductive Health Bill

Philippines Sex Ed Program Revived, but Likely to be Killed Again

UN-Backed Sex-Ed Program in Philippines Put on Hold


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