Philippine Archbishop Acknowledges Partial Blame for Rapid Population Growth

In an unusual statement from a high Church official, Philippine Archbishop Guadencio Rosales acknowledged that the Catholic Church must share the blame for the rapid increase in population growth in the midst of widespread poverty in the country. Twenty-seven million people in the Philippines (more than a third of the population) live on a dollar a day and struggle to meet even the basic needs for food and shelter. Rosales rejects all but “natural” family planning methods and totally ignores the importance of empowering women as a solution.

In his statement to foreign press correspondents, Rosales’ suggested that the solution is to motivate people to plan their families the natural way and exercise discipline in the bedroom according to the China Post. Rosales not only rejected artificial family planning, he didn’t even acknowledge any role for women in planning their own families as he said that it is wrong to tell people “here is the solution, take a rubber”É “a person who cannot discipline himself in the bedroom will not properly discipline himself in traffic.”

The Philippines, a primarily Catholic country, has an annual population growth rate of 2.36 percent, resulting in 1.7 million new births a year, making it one of the highest in Asia. The country’s population is expected to double from 84 million to 168 million over the next thirty years reports Agence France-Presse. Bolivia and Kenya, poor counties where the Catholic Church has a great deal of influence, also have extremely high annual population growth rates of 2.2 and 3.2 percent respectively. Yet Italy, even with the Vatican ever present, has the lowest fertility rate in the world.

The Philippines is a signatory of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) that called on all countries to take the necessary steps to meet the family planning needs of their populations and to provide, by 2015, universal access to a full range of safe and reliable family planning methods, according to the UNFPA.

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Manila Times 10/13/04; Agence France-Presse 10/11/04; The China Post 10/12/04

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