Sunday, July 27, 2008

Exercise self-discipline in bed, archbishop tells couples

Amid the raging debate on artificial methods of birth control, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales’s advice to all married couples is to exercise more “self-discipline” and “self-control” in bed.

In his message to the Catholic flock at Friday’s prayer rally marking the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical on the Regulation of Birth or Humanae Vitae, Rosales said the lack of discipline in the marital bed rebounds on other aspects of life.

Because life should be valued and its creation is a serious matter, “there should be discipline and self-control” between couples, the prelate said in Filipino.

Couples who have the discipline to practice the Church-sanctioned natural family planning methods are “in possession of true values of life” and tend to pass it on to their children. They also tend to be good citizens, he said.

“If there is discipline in the marital bed, then there is discipline in the streets, there is discipline in schools, there is discipline in the government,” he added.

The Catholic community held a massive gathering at the University of Santo Tomas parade grounds on Friday to reaffirm their commitment to Humanae Vitae, which prohibits artificial contraceptives on grounds that they deliberately impeded life, and to denounce a proposal in the House of Representatives to create a national reproductive health policy.

The Catholic Church approves only of natural family planning methods, which entail close observation of a woman's temperature and discharges, to determine her fertile days. Couples who practice natural contraception methods avoid having sex when the woman is fertile.

In his message, the Manila archbishop said the Catholic Church will fight for the “defenseless” fetus.

According to Rosales, anyone who halts the life of an unborn child can be likened to Herod, the king who ordered the massacre of infants after Christ was born.

“Wherever this happens, in the clinics, health centers, or hospitals, ending the life of a child inside a mother’s womb is a repeat of Herod’s massacre of the innocents… and a Herod could be your neighbor,” he said.

Meanwhile, in opposition to the Catholic Church’s hard-line stance against contraceptives, an evangelical group on Saturday said it supported artificial birth control methods because of the “alarming growth of our population.”

While the Bible tells mankind to multiply, it also has specific instructions for humanity to care and protect all of creation, the board of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) said in a statement.

“About 5,800 babies are born daily.… One doesn’t have to be an economist to tally how much more food, water, shelter, medicine, and other resources will be needed for their support. At the [present] growth rate, there will be 100 million Filipinos by 2013,” the group said.

To ignore this problem is a “totally irresponsible” decision, the group said, given the high cost of living in the country.

“The present uncontrolled population growth over these many years has undeniably contributed to, and accelerated the poor getting poorer, and has led to thousands of abortions, unnecessary maternal deaths, thousands of abandoned children, increase of street dwellers, among other ills of society,” the PCEC said.

The PCEC position on population is the exact opposite of the Catholic Church’s stance.

According to Church officials, the idea of a burgeoning population is a myth used to scare the public into supporting artificial contraceptives.

PCEC stressed that it does not support abortion, a crime in the Philippines, because it is tantamount to murder and against the teachings of the Bible.

However, PCEC said it supports various birth control methods to prevent conception. Such action, the group said, is not a sin, because no life is harmed or created yet.

“Unborn babies, at whatever stage of pregnancy should be preserved and protected. Termination of this life is sinful and offensive to God,” PCEC said.

“But preventing pregnancy or conception is not abortion for no life has yet been conceived and there is nothing to be terminated,” it stressed.

As such, the PCEC said they support policies that “will help control the population growth.”

Instead of banning artificial, non-abortive birth control methods from public health centers, the PCEC said couples should be given comprehensive instructions on them, along with information on natural family methods.

PCEC said couples should be given a wide array of birth control methods and the right to decide what is best for them.
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