Filipino Catholic groups have rebuked the coalition of dissenting Catholics who published an open letter asking Pope Benedict XVI to change Catholic teaching on birth control in an American and an Italian newspaper.
The Christian Family Movement (CFM) and Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL) have reaffirmed the teachings of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, the Philippine Daily Inquirer says. Both groups attended a prayer vigil last Friday marking the fortieth anniversary of the encyclical.
They spoke in response to the open letter from 50 lay Catholic groups in Europe and the United States, which attacked Humanae Vitae as a “failure” and claimed Catholic teaching against contraception endangers women’s lives and puts millions at risk of HIV infection.
Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Family Life, dismissed the letter as “propaganda.”
“Forty years ago, there were many who opposed Humanae Vitae. Forty years later, it’s still the same,” Father Castro said.
Nonong Contreras, CFC-FFL spokesperson, argued that the open letter’s contention that the prohibition of contraception had contributed to the rise of HIV/AIDS was scientifically unsupported.
“There has been no conclusive empirical data and statistical evidence presented by any group” to support such a statement, Contreras said.
“In Nicaragua,” he noted, “natural family planning efforts in depressed areas were successful at a 98-percent rate.”