Bishops say SONA should focus on population policy too

MANILA, July 26, 2008— Reaffirming the government’s stand on the population control issue should be one of the focuses of President Arroyo’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, the Catholic bishops’ leadership said.

CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life chairman Archbishop Paciano Aniceto said Arroyo should uphold her stand on natural family planning.

“I hope the President reaffirm her stand that life is sacred and that the foundation of a strong republic is a strong family…which is also the foundation of the whole civilization,” he said.

Aniceto made the statement to reporters at the sidelines of the prayer rally for the 40th anniversary celebration of the Humanae Vitae at the University of Santo Tomas parade ground in Manila yesterday.

The Pampanga archbishop noted Arroyo assured the bishops many times that she will only be supporting the use of natural birth control methods to curb the country’s growing population.

He said the President also “promised” them that she will be pushing for natural for family planning method in her SONA.

Asked what they will do next in case she goes against her assurances, the prelate said they will just continue to remind her that “she is a Catholic.”

Arroyo had met recently with several bishops to hear their position on the reproductive health bills pending in Congress.

She said she has asked the leaders of the :Lower House to meet with the Catholic Church leaders to discuss the measure.

CBCP head Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said the bishops are hopeful the lawmakers to “rethink” their position of supporting the “anti-life” bills.

“Ang amin lang sinasabi ay sana magkaroon sila ng paghuhunusdili at, tayo, bawat isa meron panahon at meron naman chance na magbago ng kanilang saloobin at magbago ng kanilang kaisipan at damdamin sa kalooban ng Panginoong Diyos,” Lagdameo said.

ECFL executive secretary Fr. Melvin Castro hopes the ongoing debate on the controversial bill will somehow give the public a chance to examine the measure.

“Nakakatuwa kasi maaring merong hindi naga-agree sa Church sa kanyang position pero the mere fact na napagde-debatihan ito ngayon ay magandang way para maging aware yung ating mamamayan sa ganitong partikular isyu,” Castro said.

The prayer rally gathered an estimated 12,000 pro-lifers coming from all walks of life, police officials said.

Aside from Lagdameo and Aniceto, other bishops present in the rally were Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Tarlac Bishop Florentino Cinense, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, Gumaca Bishop Buenaventura Famadico, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arquelles, Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, San Fernando auxiliary Bishop Roberto Mallari , Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco, Manila auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez, Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias and Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud.

Some politicians who also made their presence felt were Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, former Manila mayor Lito Atienza, former senator Francisco Tatad, Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Paranaque Representatives Roilo Golez and Eduardo Zialcita, Manila Representative Tricia Bonoan David and even boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao.

Among the groups that participated in the gathering were the Couples for Christ, Buhay party-list, Human Life International–Asia, Pro-Life Philippines, Christ’s Family Mission Movement, Catholic Women’s League and the Knights of Columbus along with several other representatives of various dioceses. (Roy Lagarde)(CBCPNews)

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