Philippine Protestants, others faiths confront Catholic Bishops re Health Bill
An umbrella group of Christians and other faiths in the Philippines squared off recently against the powerful Catholic Church over a bill that is pending in congress which will allow government hospitals to distribute contraceptives such as birth control pill and condoms, but does not allow abortion nor abortifacients.
Bishop Rodrigo Tano, chairman of the Interfaith Partnership for Promotion of Responsible Parenthood, said in a press conference that debates in congress over the pending Reproductive Health bill are divisive and only delay its passage, ABS-CBN News said.
Tano said, “I think there is too much bad faith, too much condemnation. Hasty generalization. We are tired of that. We are tired of dilatory tactics in Congress,” ABS-CBN News reported.
Tano also assailed the Catholic Church, accusing it of spreading lies and “demonizing” advocates of the R.H. bill, by saying from the pulpit that advocates of the bill are evil, The Manila Standard said.
Tano said, “There has been too much disinformation and advocates of the reproductive health bill have been demonized and called evil from the pulpit,” The Manila Standard reported.
The Catholic Church has asked churchgoers nationwide to double their usual Sunday offerings to help fund the struggle against the passage of the R.H. bill, according to The Manila Standard.
Tano, who is also president of the Philippine Association of Bible and Theological Schools, said the IPPRP supports the R.H. bill because it will help to address the burgeoning population problem in the Philippines, according to ABS-CBN News.
Tano said the Catholic bishops have failed to state the empirical merits of the R.H. bill and have not adequately confronted the issue of overpopulation, according to The Manila Standard.
Tano said, “[A]n average of 11 mothers die due to complications in pregnancy…62 infants out of 100,000 die out of live births and the poor have more kids…there is a relationship between population size and poverty… These should not be a matter of ecclesiastical declarations but a matter of research and science,” ABS-CBN News reported.
The IPPRP is an umbrella organization for religious groups including the locally-grown Iglesia ni Kristo, Muslim groups, indigenous tribes, dissenting Catholics and Protestant churches, The Manila Standard said.
Tano also presented a letter dated Oct. 12, 2010 which was signed by INK head Eduardo Manalo in support of the R.H. bill, The Manila Standard said.
The INK is considered to be a cult which does not recognize the trinity. However, it holds great political sway because of its unified vote during elections which can usually guarantee victory for selected political candidates.
In the letter addressed to Biliran Rep. Robelio Espino, Manalo said, “We are all well aware of the dire situation of our country caused by overpopulation. Many of society’s worsening ills—from homeless families starving in miserable conditions and children not in school but instead begging all day and night in nearly every major street, to the rapidly spreading problems with drug abuse and rising crime rate—can be traced to families growing so large that an increasing number of parents cannot provide the most basic human needs to their families,” The Manila Standard reported.
The INK letter expressed support for contraception except for abortion stating, “We support their use as long as these methods are empirically not abortifacient. Abortion and the use of abortifacients involve the taking of life, which God explicitly forbids,” according to The Manila Standard.
Some of the faith-based organizations in the IPPRP are the Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventist, Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines, Iglesia Filipino Independiente, Philippines for Jesus Movement, United Methodist Church, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, the United Church of Christ of the Philippines, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Catholics for Reproductive Health, and Episcopal Church of the Philippines, among others, GMA News said.