JARO ARCHBISHOP Angel Lagdameo, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president, concelebrates the Mass with other bishops and priests, in commemoration of the 40th year of the Humanae Vitae, last July 25 at the UST Grandstand. Inset photo shows pro-life advocates (from left), former Sen. Francisco Tatad, Ali Atienza, son of Environment Sec. Lito Atienza (partly hidden), boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez on hand for the event. Photos by Paul Allyson R. Quiambao

HUMAN life has a special dignity and sanctity that its rejection through artificial means such as contraception and abortion is tantamount to rejecting Christ, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said in his homily during the Mass and rally to celebrate 40th anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae at the UST Grandstand last July 25.

The Mass, organized to rally the Catholic faithful against proposals in Congress for a reproductive health law that critics say will promote a contraceptive culture and encourage abortion, drew around 15,000 people from Metro Manila and nearby provinces, including the clergy, nuns, students, and “pro-life” politicians.

Lagdameo stressed that human life solely belongs to God and not to politicians who want to make legal abortion and euthanasia, and back state funding for contraceptives.”

“Human life is God-given and God-gifted. Each and every child born is a gift from God given to his parents and to the whole family. The pro-active attitude toward children must not be seen in the light of them being a (hindrance) to (the) economy or a burden to one’s family but in the hope that they are the future’s hope of the nation toward development,” Lagdameo said in Filipino, drawing applause from the crowd.

“Sa makatuwid, ang karangalan at kahalagahan ng buhay pang-tao ay dapat respetuhin at ipagsanggalang sa lahat ng paraan,” he added.

A few days later, President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo reiterated the government’s policy of promoting natural family planning in her State of the Nation Address, citing the program’s success in slowing down population growth — a signal to her congressional allies that she would not support the pending bills on reproductive health.

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Humanae Vitae, the papal encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and promulgated in July 25, 1968, speaks of the Church’s stand concerning abortion, euthanasia, and other issues pertaining to human life.

The archbishop urged the people to bring back the “sense of God” in their lives and society in order to appreciate human life.

“The mission of the Church is to celebrate human life, which has a deeper meaning and beauty inside of what they see that every human being must respect, honor, and love. We must pray and thank God for the gift of life,” Lagdameo said.

He also warned the people of relativism, where a couple could have the wrong sense of freedom to guide them in their choices, and consider the presence of God as a bit more obscure.

“Where is God in relativism? In it, everything can be compromised, talked about, and bargained, including the right to life depending on the recognition of the people to his God. There would be no strong truth and goodness that would bar people from wrong choices in relativism,” Lagdameo said. “This relativism would lead to materialism, individualism, and hedonism.”

Also, the morality of the Filipino couple and respect to women would be overlooked should Filipinos depend on artificial family planning methods and instruments like ligation, vasectomy, and the condom, among others.

Lagdameo refuted the idea of the Philippines being overpopulated, citing data from the United Nations (UN) and the National Statistics Office (NSO).

He added that in 1998, Joseph Chamie of the UN population division said that the world’s problem was not population explosion but population implosion, the unbalanced increase of the older population against the younger ones.

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Lagdameo added that former UN chief Kofi Anan said in 2004 that by 2030, there would be a population rise in people beyond 45 years old compared to people below 44.

The archbishop told the laity that according to NSO figures in 2004, there is only a 1.9 percent population increase, a number that implies that the increase in the younger population won’t be enough to prevent the country from aging.

“The overpopulation scare must be controlled in a moral and right way as what Humanae Vitae calls for,” Lagdameo said.

The celebration had the theme “Humanae Vitae @ 40. Biyaya ng Buhay, Biyaya ng Pamilya.”

Concelebrating the Mass with Lagdameo were Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, and Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL).

This year’s celebration, organized by ECFL of CBCP and the Archdiocese of Manila, speaks of the nearly-hundred pro-life groups’ clear opposition against “DEATH”: divorce, euthanasia, abortion, tyrannical population control, and homosexual unions.

Earlier, Fr. Gregory Gaston of the Archdiocese of Manila, a member of the celebration’s coordinating committee, said preparations for the event began just a month ago.

“Actually, as far as the Church is concerned, organizing this event is just simple. And we would like to send our profound gratitude to UST for hosting the event,” Gaston told the Varsitarian.

The event was originally planned to be staged at the EDSA Shrine but organizers thought twice as the event would create heavy traffic.

The University of Santo Tomas in Manila opened its doors for the event, welcoming different diocesan groups from the cities of Parañaque and Caloocan, Legaspi in Albay, Daet in Camarines Norte, Malolos in Bulacan, Tarlac, Batangas, and Antipolo, Rizal.

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Different religious movements, non-government organizations, missionaries, councils of laity and educational institutions also participated, notably the Prolife Foundation, the Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) Party, El Shaddai, Couples for Christ, and the Knights of Columbus.

Students and teachers from provincial and metropolitan Catholic schools flocked the prayer rally.

Gaston added that the event was in gratitude to Pope Paul VI for crafting the Humanae Vitae that proclaims the value of life and its transmission within a family; to promote and protect the sacredness of family and life in accordance to the encyclical; and to express the Filipino families’ devotion and belief that the reproductive health bill should be opposed for it will weaken the basic unit of the society, the family.

Gaston also said that the laity should take the initiative in opposing the reproductive health bills for they are “the people, who elected the officials to legislate laws. The Church is just here to give spiritual formation concerning the bills but the laity should be foremost in advancing their opposition (against the bills).”

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