MANILA, Feb. 4, 2013 —A Catholic cleric on Sunday called on Filipinos to treasure life as a gift meant to be valued and protected on a broad perspective, spanning not only oneself, but the entire humanity as a whole.
Fr. Enrique Lacostales of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church) opened the celebration of Pro-Life Month by saying that giving importance to life is among the greatest manifestations of genuine love for Christ and obedience to His words.
“This is what true love is about. The pro-life advocacy teaches us to value not only our lives, but that of humankind as a whole,” he said in Filipino during his homily. “Valuing life is the true essence of love that springs from the Divine.”
Preserving sanctity of life
“We want to open the eyes of our people about the importance of preserving the sanctity of life as this is God’s message to each and every one of us,” he added.
Lacostales said people could effectively express giving importance to life even through simple and ordinary means such as avoiding fights, abstaining from mouthing bad words and lies, and being faithful to loved ones, responsibilities, and obligations.
“In the eyes of humanity, those are just simple things, but in the eyes of God, those are [a great deal] that continuously manifest His love for us,” he said. “Since God loves us in ways we can never measure, I hope each and every one of us would learn how to value the gift of life He has bestowed upon us.”
Life advocates converged at the Quiapo Church to participate in the celebration.
In a statement formally endorsing the celebration of Pro-Life Month, Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes recognized the secularist threats recently faced by the nation. He noted the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) law as a promotion of the “culture of death” among Filipinos.
“The passage of the RH bill sets in motion events that may eventually see the passage of anti-life bills such as the divorce bill, same-sex marriage bill, euthanasia, and abortion,” Reyes, chairman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said.
“People disregard the teachings of the Church and turn to false ideologies that lead to the culture of death. Our youth are slowly led into vice, corruption, and sin,” he added.
He also urged the public to help in Church’s efforts to strengthen Catholic faith and morals among the laity.
“With all these looming in the horizon, we must do our part in order to preach the Gospel of Life…Let us use this opportunity in order to help spread awareness about the prolife advocacy and how we can plant the seeds of a better future for our country by advocating the defense of life,” the prelate stated.
Indicative of political pressure
Pro-Life Philippines executive director Lorna Melegrito said the swift passage of the RH law is “indicative of the deceit and political pressure” forced by its advocates on various entities for the measure to be successfully passed.
“Without the pressure from Malacañang they would not have won and this would not have been a law,” she said.
Quite a number of appeals were filed against the RH law, some of which question the measure’s constitutionality while others express defiance over its secularist provisions. Despite this, the highest tribunal still has not issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to halt its implementation.
Melegrito said life advocates have already done their part by voicing out their opinion and educating the masses, but with the present state of the law, she said they could only hope for the legislators and justices to open their minds and listen to their call.
“At this point, we can only pray for them. Everything we needed to say has already been said. It is a matter for them to listen and have a change of heart,” she said, adding that instead of legislating bills that promote the “culture of death,” legislators must propose bills that promote the common good.
Developments happened over decades
Melegrito also recognized the increasing secularization of the nation, saying that this change in beliefs and morals “has done its dirty work from within the [Catholic] Church in the Philippines.”
“The problem of secularization did not happen overnight. The infiltration happened decades ago and has spawned many Catholic legislators thinking RH is compatible with our religion,” she said.
Melegrito said in their fight against the anti-life propaganda that is spreading like wildfire in the country, educating the masses remains to be the easiest and most effective way to provide them informed decisions about ethics and morality.
“I urge [the public] to fight with us for their welfare and the welfare of their children. We make sure that everybody is educated from the rich ones to the poor ones,” she said. “We strive to prioritize grassroots education.”
With the theme “A Prolife Nation: The Future in our Hands,” a series of events will be held to spread awareness on the pro-life advocacies pushed by the Church and various civic institutions.
International Catholic speaker Michael Voris will be conducting talks in Davao, Cebu, Batangas, Siena College in Taytay, Rizal, and University of Santo Tomas throughout the month of February.
On Valentine’s Day, life advocates will distribute Valentine candies with life-affirming messages in different parts of Manila. This is a joint project of Pro-Life Philippines and Filipinos for Life (F4L). Volunteers will be spread all around Manila to give these candies out.
On February 17, the annual pro-life convention will take place at the Pope Pius XII Center on UN Avenue, Manila with Prolife Philippines president Eric Manalang as keynote speaker.
A healing mass will be held at the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City on February 21, and a mass culminating the month-long celebration will be held at the Redemptorist Church in Baclaran, on February 24. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)