Abp. Ledesma offers non-confrontational response to RH Bill

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/26 April) – Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma has proposed a non-antagonistic way that the Catholic Church and other opponents of the Reproductive Health Bill may use in campaigning against the controversial measure.

In a pastoral letter dated April 19 and read during the Easter Sunday masses, Ledesma said that the best way to say “no” [to the RH Bill] is to say “yes” to natural family planning.

The church strongly opposes the bill for promoting the use of contraceptives a number of which are allegedly abortifacient.
The pastoral letter also ended speculations that the archbishop was pro-RH bill. The speculations came after the local lay group Conversation called on President Benigno S. Aquino III on March 21 to hold more dialogues on the proposed law.

The group issued the call a few days before the Catholic Church held rallies at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila and other areas across the country to dramatize its strong opposition to the bill.
In the introduction to his pastoral letter, Ledesma said that “the controversy over the Reproductive Health Bill has lately been reduced to a zero-sum proposition where concerned citizens are simply asked to say either ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”

In explaining the natural family planning program of the archdiocese, Ledesma said that 1) all modern scientific NFP methods should be included; 2) NFP method should reach out to all parishes and chapel communities; and 3) NFP is being promoted without backup contraceptives.

He cited the archdiocese’s engagements with local government units in Misamis Oriental, Camiguin and Cagayan de Oro in promoting the NFP.

The archbishop emphasized that they are pushing NFP as an “engagement, not collaboration” since the Church wants it to be independent of the LGU. He added the NFP can only succeed if there is widespread acceptance of it by both the church and LGU.

Ledesma cited that since its inception in 2006, the NFP already has 3,500 “couple-acceptors” and 90 percent of all the parishes and chaplaincies have been oriented and trained on the NFP by more than 2,000 volunteers

He said that as of December last year, 22,000 couples have attended 1,500 chapel-level orientations throughout the archdiocese.

Ledesma reiterated the stand of the church against abortion which he said is also in consonance with the Philippine Constitution.

He further stressed that instead of the government policy drifting towards “reproductive health,” more stress on responsible parenthood should be pushed. He explained that responsible parenthood can be differentiated from reproductive health to mean the “parents’ exalted role in giving birth to another person, body and soul…”

This should not be misconstrued however as abetting the country’s high population growth, he said.
“Christian parents must exercise responsible parenthood. While nurturing a generous attitude towards bringing new human life into the world, they should strive to beget only those children whom they can raise up in a truly human and Christian way,” he said. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)