Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Philippine women march for Reproductive Health Law
Protesters converge on bishops' conference office in Manila
Women march outside the office of the Catholic bishops' conference in Manila (photo by Vincent Go)
- Joe Torres, Manila
- March 28, 2014
About a thousand women today marched to the office of the Catholic bishops' conference in Manila to demand that Church leaders drop their opposition to a bill that advocates say would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and maternal deaths.
"Women place their lives and future on the line when they get pregnant,” said former Philippines health secretary and protest leader Esperanza Cabral, who is pushing for the implementation of the Reproductive Health (RH) law.
“They should not be pushed into birth after birth, no matter how much these anti-RH groups believe that their position is moral."
Cabral and movie actress Giselle Toengi led the march, which included pregnant women and those dressed up to look pregnant who belong to the Purple Ribbon for RH Campaign group. They have called on courts in Philippines to "bring justice to women" by declaring the RH Law constitutional.
The crowd sang and shouted "for freedom, for justice, yes to RH Law" as they marched from the old walled city of Manila, where the office of the bishops' conference is located, to the Supreme Court building some three kms away.
The marchers left messages outside the bishops’ office imploring Church leaders to act on a call by Pope Francis to veer away from an "obsession" with contraception and to find a "new balance" in their pastoral ministry.
"We are not asking them to be pro-RH. What we are saying is to give the people options and not dictate how the people should live their lives," Bicbic Chua, executive director of Catholics for Reproductive Health, said in an interview.
The Philippine Supreme Court is set to start its summer session next week and decide on the legality of the RH law.
Government data show that around 1,000 Philippine women give birth every day. Data from the National Statistics Office show that for every 100,000 live births, 221 women die, a figure far from the Millennium Development Goal target of 53, which is hoped to be met by next year.
The RH Law, which was signed into law in December 2012 but suspended by the Supreme Court in March 2013 following petitions from religious groups, created a voluntary family planning program, school-based sex education and services to reduce maternal deaths such as skilled birth attendance and emergency obstetric care.