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INC backs Philippine birth control bill

Powerful church leader says he is in favour of 'modern methods of contraception'

INC backs Philippine birth control bill
A Filipino woman carries artificial flowers and condoms during a pro-bill rally in Manila (photo: Partido ng Manggagawa)
D'Jay Lazaro and Julian Labores, Manila

April 7, 2011

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The influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Church said today it is willing to support bills on reproductive health "as long as there would be no immoral elements in them." In a letter to Representative Rogelio J. Espina, chairman of the population and family relations committee in the House of Representatives, Eduardo Manalo, INC executive minister, said the organisation supports "modern methods of contraception" as long as they do not encourage abortion that, with the use of "abortifacients involve the taking of life, which God explicitly forbids." He said INC does "not support the natural family planning method and all its variants. These so called birth control methods depend upon abstinence on the part of the married couple. These methods are not only unnatural and ineffective but they are also immoral, since they contradict the commandment that God has given to married couples," Manalo said. "Parents today have a moral obligation to plan the number of their children and keep it under control," Manalo added. "We believe that it is a moral imperative for parents to watch over all their children and provide them with food, shelter and clothing as well as proper education and religious and moral training," The INC has been known for its strong political influence, especially during elections when the organization reportedly votes as a bloc. It is also known to maintain a close "friendship" with incumbent administrations while not losing "discreet connection" with the opposition. "We are all well aware of the dire situation of our country caused by overpopulation," said Manalo, adding that many of society's worsening ills "can be traced to families growing so large." But Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales exhorted Filipino Catholics to continue praying for lawmakers to drop support for the reproductive health bill. "We continue to pray for our lawmakers. We also pray that the proposed law - and all other laws that could henceforth come - in our legislature that do not contribute to the building up of the human person to his or her full integral and moral development may be thwarted," he said. He said the Church's battle is "not for votes, but for a change of heart, to build in each person a strong Christian character that is moral and guided by the right conscience." The Catholic Church has been one of the most vocal opponents of the reproductive health bill and allows only natural methods of family planning. PM13893.1648
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