Philippine government and church lock horns over abortion row

The head of the 240-member House of Representatives expressed opposition to a Catholic Church directive telling clerics to refuse the sacrament of communion to politicians who abet abortion.

In a statement that marks a rare occasion where perceived liberal politicians openly locked horns with the conservative Roman Catholic clergy, House Speaker Prospero Nograles said he disagrees with the stand of Ozamiz City Archbishop Jesus Dosado on refusing communion to politicians who do not share the same views with the Church on abortion.

“While I agree with the Archbishop that we should not legalise abortion, I don’t really agree that those who believe otherwise should be denied the right to receive the body of Christ in Holy Communion,” Nograles said.

Filipino politicians had typically avoided confrontation with the Catholic Church on certain politically-sensitive social issues, including abortion.

In a pastoral letter released Sunday, Dosado, prelate of the Southern Philippine archdiocese, explicitly said that “pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied Holy Communion until they bring to an end the objective situation of sin.”

The pastoral letter was also apparently aimed at mustering opposition against a bill pending at the House of Representatives, House Bill 00017, which essentially provides access to Filipino families to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning.

The Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development bill seeks to provide the environment for Filipino couples and individuals to enjoy the right to plan their families.

The bill has been co-authored by at least 48 members of the House and was approved by the House Committees on health and population and family relations.

It is expected to be calendared for the second reading by the House Committee on Rules when Congress resumes session on July 28.


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