Thursday October 14, 2010

Philippine Bishop Says Excommunication for President Benigno Aquino ‘a Possibility’

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

MANILA, October 14, 2010 ( – Bishop Nereo Odchimar, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said there is “a possibility” that the Catholic Church could excommunicate President Benigno Aquino if he continues in his intent to distribute contraceptives to couples who request them.

“That is a possibility, but I don’t see right now that it is a proximate possibility,” the bishop said late last month in response to a question.

Speaking in an interview on the Church-run Radio Veritas, Bishop Odchimar noted that the bishops are hoping for dialogue with President Aquino before taking any more drastic steps.

“The CBCP issued an open letter stating our position that there should be a dialogue,” he explained. “We do not have any feelers. We don’t want to be confrontational. We want a dialogue. We are just waiting.”

When asked if the issue of the distribution of contraceptives warranted automatic excommunication, the bishop said, “That is a possibility. We will look into it. We will exhaust all means before coming to a point of confrontation.”

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive director of the Catholic Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, told Philippine media after President Aquino’s announcement late in September that the Philippine government will provide contraceptives to couples who request them, that the government should focus on giving Filipinos means of living instead of promoting a “culture of death.”

“We are not accusing anyone. We respect the leaders of our government, that’s why we pray for them. But what the poor need are jobs and education opportunities, not artificial contraceptives,” Fr. Castro said, adding that artificial contraceptives can act as abortifacients.

“We are not fighting the government. What we are opposed to is a culture, a lifestyle — the culture of death … They (the government) talk about informed choice, but do they inform the public about the side effects of these contraceptives?” Fr. Castro said. “What these contraceptives undermine is the Filipino family and the people’s faith.”

Touching on the moral aspect of contraception, Bishop Odchimar explained that President Aquino must consider the position of the Church, and that, just as in the case of abortion, there are grave moral consequences to ignoring God’s commandments.

“Well, being the President of all you must consider the position of the Catholic Church because we are approaching this issue from the moral aspect, like the unborn,” the bishop said. “Abortion is a grave crime; excommunication is attached to this. That is an issue of gravity, that is violation of God’s commandment.”

See previous LSN coverage:

Philippines President Says Government Will Provide Contraceptives to the Poor

Bishops Urge New Philippine President to Shun ‘Contraceptive Mentality’

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