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Philippines bishops call on Catholics to diet and exercise

Pastoral letter encourages 'temperance and prudence' reporter, Manila

April 21, 2014

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The Philippines Catholic bishops appealed to Catholics to be "good stewards of health" on Easter Sunday.

The bishops said in a pastoral letter that taking care of the body "is not always an exercise of vanity", describing it instead as " a spiritual duty."

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the bishops' conference, said the pastoral letter was a response to "various challenges” that Catholics face.

The bishops told Catholics to be responsible with their diet by practicing temperance and prudence.

"Temperance teaches us self-control and discipline with regard to our appetites in pursuit of the goal of good health. The virtue of prudence guides our practice of temperance by reminding us not to consume too much or too little," the pastoral letter read.

"One needs to discern the right type and quantity of food and drink that is appropriate to maintain one’s health." 

The bishops also reminded Catholics of the value of exercise.

"While many persons have a positive attitude toward regular exercise, some persons need more encouragement and motivation," the prelates said.

The pastoral letter also stressed that pursuing what is good for one's health means avoiding what is harmful, such as the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine.

"Prudence would remind us that there are substances and activities that should be avoided if we desire to maintain our physical wellbeing for the present and the future," the bishops said.

However, they also warned that doing too much to achieve physical perfection can be harmful.

"Vanity, idealized body images, and excessive competitiveness can lead people to manipulate their bodies in ways that do not respect the human body's health, integrity, dignity, and intrinsic value," they said.

The prelates cited excessive use of cosmetic surgery, unhealthy forms of dieting, and the use of banned substances in sports as harmful to the body.

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