The Catholic Church in the Philippines has agreed with the government on the idea of launching a full information drive on various family-planning methods, including artificial, but this did not mean it had softened its stand against the use of contraceptives, a Church official said.
Monsignor Juanito Figura, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said in an interview on the Church-run Radio Veritas that the inclusion of the use of contraceptives in the campaign was one of three points reached in a dialogue last week.
Malacanang (presidential palace) agreed to “expose” not only the benefits of the use of contraceptives but also its disadvantages, said Figura.
“We agreed with Malacanang that there will be a full information drive on the various methods of family planning that includes natural and artificial methods,” said Figura.
Both the two sides agreed to form a technical working group that would determine the content of the information material.
“It does not mean that the Church has softened its position against contraceptives…. It does not mean that we already allow the use of artificial means,” Figura said. “No, the stand of the Church still remains: no to contraceptives and definitely no to abortion.”
The Church has taken a hardline stance against the pending Reproductive Health Bill, but the controversial family-planning measure recently gained momentum with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s support.
The Church considers artificial contraception as a form of abortion, which it considers a sin and which is banned by the Constitution. It favours the natural rhythm method and abstinence.
During a dialogue last week, the government gave assurances that it would not allow itself to be used as an instrument to impose “or to violate the rights of the conscience of the people or their religious exercise,” according to Figura. “It means that the government would not force what it wants on the people,” Figura said of what was agreed upon during the meeting.
Both parties also agreed that the ongoing dialogue would not in any way influence the procedures of legislation in Congress, he said.