By Hilary White
  MANILA, Philippines, October 12, 2007 ( – The Philippines Congress would be better spending money alleviating hunger and poverty and giving free education to extremely poor children than on contraceptives and abortifacient drugs, says the head of the country’s Catholic bishops’ conference.
  Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said in a statement that the church “categorically” objects to a plan by government to invest in artificial population control projects.
  He said, “If it is true that there was such Congress plan, then we categorically object to it and instead strongly recommend that the P1 billion be directly appropriated and/or added for hunger and poverty alleviation projects.”
  The archbishop took pains to point out that the Church does not forbid societies to regulate their birth rates, but insisted that couples must be allowed to act according to their moral convictions.
  The Archbishop’s statement also was careful to clarify that the objection to artificial contraceptives was not merely a matter of Catholic Church teaching, but of the moral law that applies to everyone. “They are wrong,” he said, “not because the Catholic Church forbids them; rather, the Church forbids them because they destroy the fruitfulness of human reproductive capacities given by the Creator and hence are morally wrong.”
  The Archbishop also rejected the claim that population growth, said by the government to be 2.36 per cent, was the cause of poverty, the common doctrine of the international population control organizations that have targeted the Philippines for depopulation.
  Other sources place the Philippine population growth at a much lower rate. The CIA World Fact Book gives the rate as 1.764 per cent as of 2007. According to the same source, women of the Philippines give birth to 3.05 children per year; 2.1 being the rate at which a population remains stable.
  With its birth rate and youthful workforce, the Philippines will likely avoid the economic problems that are starting to be felt in Canada, China and the countries of Western Europe. After decades of contraceptive use and abortion, most western countries of the world are facing a massive demographic implosion from below-replacement birth rates and aging populations. Governments around the world are attempting to come to grips with the potential for significant drops in quality of life as future generations of workers are not born to shore up tax-funded public services.
“We will not join countries with collapsing population growth rates,” Archbishop Lagdameo told the Manila Standard Today.
  The government’s project is intended to fill the gap left by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that will be phasing out donations of artificial contraceptives overseas. San Fernando Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said in a statement that he was grateful that USAID will not be participating in what he called a massive depopulation project initiated by some political leaders.
“Praise the Lord!” Aniceto, who heads the bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said. “You do not eliminate poverty by weakening and killing the poor.”
  USAID is phasing out its condom and contraceptive programmes and said the plan is part of the government’s promotion of natural family planning.
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