In discussion of matters regarding population control, it is the Pope and the Bishops alone that give the official, authoritative Catholic moral teaching regarding the principles involved. We set forth in the following paragraphs the guiding principles approved by the CBCP for the guidance of the Catholic faithful in the Philippines.
- Respect should be given to the sacredness of human life in all its stages.
- Marriage and the marital act have two aspects: the unitive and procreative. These two aspects are never to be separated through man’s initiative. Though it is not forbidden for couples to engage in the marital act during infertile periods.
- Directly willed abortion, the use of abortifacients, sterilization and contraception are wrong in themselves. They are wrong not because the Church forbids them; the Church forbids them because they are morally wrong.
- The Church teaches the need for responsible parenthood. This means among other things, that couples should bring into the world generously the children when they can raise up as good human beings, but they should seek to bring into the world only those that they can raise up as good human beings.
- The Church advocates Natural Family Planning as the only morally acceptable way of practising responsible procreation.
- The Church rejects the contraceptive mentality, i.e., the attitude that selfishly avoids the procreation of offspring solely because the couples do not want to bear the responsibility that comes with having a child. It is wrong to use even Natural Family Planning methods in pursuit of such a contraceptive mentality.
- The Church teaches that the decision on the number of children lies solely on the parents . No one can make the decision for them. But the parents are to make their decision responsibly, that is, with a sense of their responsibility to each other, to their children already born, to their children still to be born, to society, and to God.
- Hence the Church is against any coercion exercised on couples to pressure or force them to limit or increase the number of their children. It is also against any coercion exercised on any other person involved in helping in the regulation of birth.
- The increase or decrease of population growth does not by itself spell development or under-development. The Church does not forbid the advocacy of the acceleration or deceleration of our population growth, according to circumstances, provided this is achieved within the parameters of freedom of conscience, the responsible decision of couples, and the principles of sexual and family morality.
It should be kept in mind that injustice in society is a more fundamental cause of poverty in our country.
- Because the Church regards artificial contraception as wrong in itself, the Church will object to their dissemination and use. Further, Church personnel and institutions cannot be expected to cooperate with the dissemination and use of contraceptives.
- The Church acknowledges religious freedom of conscience. But she has the duty to announce and promote the moral law regarding the regulation of population.
In conclusion, “there are no ‘value free’ methods of family planning. Research scientists, medical personnel, government officials and welfare agents should reflect seriously on the consequences of their activities, on the assumptions they hold, and on the goals they pursue in family planning.” (Submission of the Holy See to the WHO-sponsored International Conference on the Ethics and Values of Family Planning held in Bangkok in June 1988.)
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+LEONARDO Z. LEGASPI, OP
Archbishop of Caceres
10 July 1990,
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