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  1. 1. Union of Catholic Asian News » News Archive » Church-Government Collaboration On ... Page 1 of 3     Home News Photos Resources UCAN Institute Youth About UCAN News > Daily Service > PHILIPPINES  Print This Post Mail Report PHILIPPINES  Church-Government Collaboration On Family Planning Aborted February 16, 2007 | PM01965.1432 | 766 words Text size   MATI, Philippines (UCAN) -- A southern Philippine archbishop is canceling an agreement he "encouraged" between a Church women's group and government officials on natural family planning, but which other bishops have opposed. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed Dec. 19 by Flor Pabelic, president of the Catholic Women's League (CWL) of Cagayan de Oro archdiocese, and regional heads of the government's Population Commission (POPCOM) and Department of Health (DOH). Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro also signed, as witness and consultant. On Feb. 13, the Jesuit archbishop said he decided to cancel the agreement after some bishops opposed it at the January plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in Manila. He made the announcement in an address at the 34th Annual Convention of the Diocesan Clergy of Mindanao. Nonetheless, he said he would continue to encourage CWL to cooperate with the government in promoting natural family planning (NFP) whenever possible. Archbishop Ledesma told UCA News earlier this year that the MOA was brought to the attention of the Pontifical Council of the Family. He said he received a copy of a letter sent to Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, chairman of the council, questioning the archbishop's advocacy of the Standard Days Method (SDM) and the Church's collaboration with the government on promoting this or other NFP methods. The January CBCP plenary listened to a presentation on SDM and reactions from a panel of family-life volunteers, according to Archbishop Romulo Valles of Zamboanga, who gave the keynote address at the Mindanao clergy convention. He told UCA News the panelists impressed on the bishops that SDM is "no better than other Church-approved methods" and that it is open to failure. The bishops grew concerned that SDM users would combine the method with artificial means, such as condoms or contraceptive pills, instead of abstaining from sexual intercourse on a woman's fertile days. The Church opposes all artificial means of contraception. SDM, developed by the Institute for Reproductive Health of Georgetown University, a Jesuit-run university in Washington, D.C., allows couples to track a woman's fertility period using a necklace of different colored beads. Unlike the Billings Ovulation Method, which is based on an individual's woman's cycle, the Georgetown study standardized the fertility cycle. Archbishop Valles said bishops at the plenary assembly were also wary of the possibility that the government could use the Church to "legitimize" the promotion of various contraceptive methods. The bishops' concerns echoed those that family-life workers in Cagayan de Oro archdiocese expressed in their letter to Cardinal Trujillo. However, Archbishop Ledesma said he decided to cancel the CWL agreement without pressure from any Church official. Last Dec. 29, he issued a response to the letter in his Internet "blog," or web log, at ( He explained that under the terms of the agreement, DOH and POPCOM were to co-fund the government program and the archdiocese would provide training manuals and trainers. He also reported that the MOA contained enough explicit provisions that "Natural Family Planning methods will not be combined in any way with artificial means of birth regulation," and that the SDM promotion would be delivered as a separate program. The archbishop was to help plan the program. The government program would "replicate" the Church's All-NFP program for parishes, Archbishop Ledesma said. All-NFP is a comprehensive program that the archbishop started in Ipil prelature, which he headed as a coadjutor bishop and bishop from mhtml:file://C:Documents%20and%20SettingsFAMILYLIFEMy%20DocumentsMy%2... 8/18/2009
  2. 2. Union of Catholic Asian News » News Archive » Church-Government Collaboration On ... Page 2 of 3 1997 to 2006. It involves six NFP methods recognized by the bishops' conference including SDM. Program components include orienting parish and community leaders, training family-planning service providers and visiting houses to counsel clients. After Archbishop Ledesma was installed in Cagayan de Oro last May 30, he started the program in the archdiocese. It currently operates in five parishes and is set to begin in another seven. The archdiocese drafted the MOA with DOH and POPCOM offices for the Northern Mindanao region, to which Cagayan de Oro belongs. "In deference to the precautions expressed from various quarters, I encouraged the Catholic Women's League as a religious lay organization to be a signatory to the MOA instead of the archdiocese itself," Archbishop Ledesma wrote in his blog. He explained that NFP promoters in the women's league and parishes decided to team up with the government after POPCOM on Dec. 6 launched a new policy to promote only natural methods of family planning. "If the Church is serious in mainstreaming NFP as a pastoral program to reach many more couples ... the offer of working with the support of government resources should not be downplayed," the archbishop asserted. END Rate this article: (1 votes, average: 5 out of 5)  Loading ... Leave a Comment Name (required) Email (required, but will not be published) Country (required) Submit Comment    All comments are subject to approval before appearing. Latest Reports  CHINA Zhengding priests hide, pressured to join patriotic association  THAILAND New Bangkok archbishop calls for social cohesion  INDIA Christians attacked again in Karnataka  BANGLADESH Children’s rights versus ground realities  ASIA ‘Father of Asian Theology’ honors late Korean cardinal Most Viewed mhtml:file://C:Documents%20and%20SettingsFAMILYLIFEMy%20DocumentsMy%2... 8/18/2009
  3. 3. Union of Catholic Asian News » News Archive » Church-Government Collaboration On ... Page 3 of 3  ASIA  ‘Father of Asian Theology’ honors late Korean cardinal  ASIA  Bishops discuss Eucharist's relevance amid war, poverty  INDIA  Christians attacked again in Karnataka  CHINA  Zhengding priests hide, pressured to join patriotic association  THAILAND  New Bangkok archbishop calls for social cohesion Contact for questions on UCAN website. Copyright © UCA News. All rights reserved. mhtml:file://C:Documents%20and%20SettingsFAMILYLIFEMy%20DocumentsMy%2... 8/18/2009