.- The president of the Catholic Bishopsâ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has said there is âa possibilityâ of excommunication for the Philippines president if he insists that the government distribute contraceptives.
Bishop Nereo Odchimar, in an interview with the Church-run Radio Veritas, responded to President Benigno Aquino IIIâs comment that Filipino couples who decide to use artificial contraceptives should be allowed to do so. The comment came amid a push for âreproductive healthâ legislation as part of a population control program.
âWell, being the President of all, you must consider the position of the Catholic Church because we are approaching these issues from the moral aspect like the unborn,â the bishop told Radio Veritas, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
The prelate noted that abortion is a grave crime which carries the penalty of excommunication.
Asked if the president might be excommunicated if he insists that government should distribute artificial contraceptives, Bishop Odchimar replied: "That is a possibility.... Right now, it is a proximate possibility.â
Some artificial contraceptives are believed to have abortifacient effects, the bishop noted, but the Philippines Daily Enquirer does not report whether he connected this to excommunication.
Bishop Odchimar said the bishops are âopen for dialogueâ with President Aquino but there has been no response from the countryâs president.
âThe CBCP issued an open letter stating our position that there should be a dialogue," he explained. "We do not have any feelers. We donât want to be confrontational. We want a dialogue. We are just waiting.â
The bishop reported that he has spoken with bishops in other areas and they supported lay Catholic groupsâ calls for protests against the plan to distribute artificial contraceptives.
He also repeated the Churchâs opposition to the reproductive health bill, saying that population increase is not a problem in his view. Rather, he blamed the migration of people and suggested that the agriculture industry should be enhanced to provide jobs.
Bishop Odchimar reported that the bishops are aware there is âmuch moneyâ to lobby for the passage of the disputed bill.
"It's an open secret that the pharmaceuticals and laboratories will be the ones who will benefit, because they are the ones supplying the pills and other contraceptive devices," he commented, according to the Enquirer. "We will be planning our next move ... We do not have police power, we donât discount the possibility of mobilizing the lay organizations.â
Update, October 6, 2010
After the publication of the original story, Radio Veritas issued an apology which said that an error was made in the transcription of the interview with Bishop Odchimar. The bishop actually said, "It can be a possibility. I donât see right now na (that) it is a proximate possibility.â