MANILA, Jan. 31, 2011â€”With the looming passage of a birth control measure, the Catholic hierarchy called on the people to once again â€œact togetherâ€â€”an appeal they made during the 1986 popular nonviolent revolution.
Like EDSA 1, the Catholic Bishopsâ€™ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said that â€œmoral choicesâ€ today are at the â€œcrossroadsâ€ again which calls for necessary action from the people.
â€œToday, we come to a new political crossroads and we now have to make a similar moral choice,â€ the CBCP said in a new pastoral letter read by four prelates led by its president, Bishop Nereo Ochimar.
The statement was the result of the CBCPâ€™s three-day meeting at the Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila on various issues including the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill.
In EDSA 1, the collegial body of the bishops made a â€œprophetic moral judgmentâ€ on political leadership.
With the declaration, the prelates believe that they somehow significantly â€œhelped open door for EDSA 1 and a window of political integrity.â€
In echoing the challenge they uttered 25 years ago, the bishops urged the faithful to â€œpray together, reason together, act together, always to the end and that the truth prevailâ€ over the many threats to human life.
The appeal was culled from the CBCPâ€™s statement issued after the 1986 snap elections allegedly marred by massive fraud which, in a way, fueled to massive street protests which later led to the downfall of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In doing so, the church officials said, the people must make a â€œmoral choiceâ€ between life and death.
But the bishops did not give any hint on how they want the people to express their opposition against the measure, saying that it would be up the people.
â€œAt this point we cannot predict what would be the peopleâ€™s response or reactions from our pastoral statement,” Odchimar said in a press conference.
â€œThey are looking for moral guidance so we provide the moral guidance and the people would be the one to decide of what would be their reaction and response to our call,â€ he said.
In the 5-page statement entitled â€œChoosing Life, Rejecting the RH bill, the bishops cited President Benigno Aquinoâ€™s popular pronouncement â€œif thereâ€™s no corruption, there would be no poverty.â€
As religious leaders, they said, â€œmoral corruptionâ€ is really the root of all corruption.
â€œOn the present issue it will be morally corrupt to disregard the moral implication of the RH bill. This is our unanimous, collective moral judgment,â€ the statement read.
â€œWe strongly reject the RH bill commonly shared human and cultural values to the fundamental principles,â€ it added.
Not just a Catholic issue
The bishops underscored that its mission of protecting the sanctity of life and the family is far from being simply a Catholic issue.
RH bill, they said, is â€œa major attack on authentic human values and on Filipino cultural values regarding human life that all of us have cherished since time immemorial.â€
The CBCP emphasized that they are deeply concerned about the plight of the poor especially of the suffering women, but on choices related to the RH bill, â€œconscience must not only be informed but most of all rightly guided the teachings of oneâ€™s faith.â€
â€œWe are pro-life. We must defend human life from the moment of conception or fertilization up to each natural end,â€ the CBCP said.
â€œWe believe in responsible and natural regulation of birth through natural family planning through which character-building is necessary which involves sacrifice, discipline and respect for the dignity of the spouse.â€
The controversial bill, which the proponents described as a â€œhealth measureâ€, proposes for a large-scale government funding on artificial contraceptives. (CBCPNews)