Updated: August 30, 2015 05:50 PM GMT
At a gay pride rally in Manila in June, Filipinos celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Philippine bishops in an Aug. 28 pastoral letter urged opposition to same-sex marriage in their country. (Photo by Mark Saludes)
The Philippine bishops' conference has reiterated a call to Filipino Catholics to reject attempts to legalize same-sex marriage.
"Catholics are called to resist all attempts to normalize homosexual behavior and homosexual unions in their culture," the bishops said in a pastoral letter issued on Aug. 28.
The letter, "A Pastoral Response to the Acceptance of Homosexual Lifestyle and the Legalization of Homosexual Unions" emphasized that "sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage."
The bishops, however, clarified that "sexual attraction toward the same sex is not a sin."
"But it is, in the light of our understanding of marriage, objectively disordered — in the sense that it is not ordered toward the union of male and female in a relationship of natural complementarity," the pastoral letter said.
It added that the Church acknowledges that the number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies "could be more than we think."
"Those who struggle with homosexuality are called to witness to the life-giving nature of virtue-based friendships not ordered to sexual acts," the bishops said.
The letter said that those who find themselves sexually attracted to others of the same sex are called "to develop chaste friendships with both men and women."
The bishops noted that homosexual unions have been granted legal recognition equal to that of marriage in an increasing number of countries.
In the predominantly Catholic Philippines, however, same-sex marriage is unlikely to be legalized in the near future.
Herminio Coloma Jr., spokesman of President Benigno Aquino, said the country's Family Code only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman.
"Our laws are clear," he said in June following the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan has also offered assurances that the Church will not discriminate against people who are gay.
"No bishop, priest, deacon, religious or lay leader actively serving the Church will ever demand to know of a person his or her orientation before serving the person," the archbishop said in a June statement.
In its pastoral letter, the bishops urged the faithful "to be charitable to every single homosexual person they know."
"In particular, families with members who struggle with homosexuality are called to love them unconditionally, thereby outlasting all their other same-sex loves," the bishops said.
The bishops also called on Catholic politicians "to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions in a particularly vigorous way".