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Pope, On Visit To Philippines, Defends Catholic Ban On

Contraception

Pope Francis holds a Virgin Mary statue as he arrives at the Mall of Asia arena in Manila,
Philippines, on Friday. The pontiff has issued a strong statement supporting the church's teachings
on artificial contraception. Alessandra Tarantino/AP hide caption
itoggle caption Alessandra Tarantino/AP
Pope Francis holds a Virgin Mary statue as he arrives at the Mall of Asia arena in Manila,
Philippines, on Friday. The pontiff has issued a strong statement supporting the church's teachings
on artificial contraception.
Alessandra Tarantino/AP
Speaking to one of Asia's fastest-growing populations, Pope Francis issued what is being described
as his strongest defense yet of the Catholic Church's opposition to artificial contraception, urging
that Philippine families be "sanctuaries of respect for life."
Francis, on the second day of his visit to the region's only predominately Christian (and
overwhelmingly Catholic) country, also denounced the Philippines' endemic corruption and said that
its government needs to clean up its act and address the "scandalous" poverty and social inequity
that pervades the islands nation.

As we reported last year when the 100-millionth Philippine baby was born, those social problems
have forced many average Filipinos to seek employment overseas from where they send money back
home to relatives.
The Pope's remarks critical of the country's leadership come as President Benigno Aquino III has
made statements accusing the church of remaining silent amid what he has said were the "abuses"
of his predecessor's government, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
"In contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to
be true to the faith means finding something to criticize, even to the extent that one prelate
admonished me to do something about my hair, as if it were a mortal sin," Aquino said.
In the Philippines, which is more than 85 percent Catholic, critics were quick to denounce Aquino's
remarks as "inappropriate," according to The New York Times.
But the pope's message on birth control is likely to receive a less enthusiastic response than he

might hope.

Although the Philippines has halved its birth rate since the 1970s (from six children per woman to
three), its rate of population growth remains high compared to most of Asia. Even so, The Wall
Street Journal notes that attitudes about contraception are changing. Surveys, it says, indicate that
85 percent of Filipinos, including Catholics, support a law long opposed by the Church that allows
the government to fund family planning services.
Despite those concerns, a massive gathering of 6 million Filipinos is expected to attend the pope's
Sunday Mass in Manila's Rizal Park.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/16/377686009/pope-on-visit-to-philippines-defends-cat
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