Catholic Church assails attempts to promote family planning

THE PHILIPPINES' dominant Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday assailed attempts by some legislators to promote family planning, saying the clergy would campaign against them for pushing birth control.

Archbishop Oscar Cruz, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) committee on marriage, reiterated the church's opposition to artificial contraception.

Cruz said the bishops would meet with members of Congress to convince them to defeat bills promoting family planning while urging the public not to vote for legislators who are promoting the bill.

"We campaigned against these people who were for (a previous) reproductive health bill and that is what we will do again," said Cruz.

"The fundamental problem with all these quick-fix reactions is that those who propose them have already been born," said Cruz.

More than 70 percent of the country's 84 million population are Catholics and the church wields considerable influence on policy issues. It is known to campaign against officials who promote contraceptives which are disallowed by the church.

However there has been a growing clamor for the government to regulate population growth in the Philippines' which already has one of the highest birth rates in Asia at 2.36 percent annually, or 1.7 million new births every year.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a staunch Catholic, has declined to get directly involved in population control, leaving the matter to local governments, many of whom are vulnerable to church pressure.


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