Church Won't Change Stand on EVAT, Family Planning

Manila Bulletin, August 4, 2008 | Go to article overview

Church Won't Change Stand on EVAT, Family Planning


This was the message of Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales in an interview aired over Catholic radio station Veritas 846 on sensitive issues like reproductive health and the Expanded Value- Added Tax (EVAT).

Rosales said the Church will maintain its position on the Reproductive Health Bill and will not condone any measures contrary to its teachings promoting the sanctity of life and family.

"The position of the Church on reproductive health will not change. Meaning to say, it will not change its position on anything that has to do with life," he said. "More so, the Church will not favor any moves to promote destruction of life by any means."

The Church is promoting natural family planning methods among the faithful and has, in recent months, called on the government to have a firmer position on the issue.

The Arroyo administration has so far maintained a firm stand on the topic, saying that the four factors that need to be considered on family planning are respect for life, informed consent, birth spacing, and responsible parenting.

"But that is the beauty of the Church. We are consistent with our teachings. You will never see any changes in its teachings unless there will be a change in the Lord's own teachings," he said.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) of which Rosales is a member, has been very vocal about the Church's opposition to any form of artificial methods of family planning, which lawmakers are seeking to institutionalize through the Reproductive Health Care Act (HB 812).

The bill seeks to establish reproductive health and population management policies, including the use of artificial family planning methods for women and couples, including ligation, vasectomy, and other methods considered by the Church as anti-life and anti-family.

The bill also adheres to the use of hormonal contraceptives, intra-uterine devices, and injectables which had earlier been considered cancer- causing and hazardous to women's health by the World Health Organization (WHO), and proposes the delivery of these articficial methods through Mobile Health Care Service vans, through funding from Catholic taxpayers.

Pro- life groups such as Pro-Life Philippines have also stressed the call of Church leaders in denouncing the pending House bill as a means to sidestep the illegality of abortion as the phrase "reproductive health" in itself, is in favor of the act based on the terms agreed upon in a global conference years ago.

The bill, authored by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and supported by other legislators, has also earned the ire of several bishops who threatened not to give communion to lawmakers supporting the bill in their own dioceses.

On the EVAT, Rosales said that the Church will not meddle in the crafting or adjustment of policies on tax collection as long as the government keeps in mind the welfare of the poor at the forefront.

"What we (fellow bishops) are saying is that if there will be any changes -- whether they will reduce it or raise it --- it should always be done for the common good, in this case, the poor," he said. "In other words, the Church will not force the government to do anything, but remind the government that if there are changes to be made, it must always be for the good of our poor."

"Whatever government policy should be related to, will make a difference, for it will uplift, and help the poor," he stressed. (Angie Chui)

Specialists press okay of reproductive health measure

By JENNY F.

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