Priests for Life in the Philippines where Reproductive Health Bill Threatens Pro-Life Country
Fr. Pavone dispatched Priests for Life International Director Bob Lalonde to the Philippines this week where Bob is strategizing with pro-life leaders and Church authorities over the proposed Reproductive Health Bill and Population Development Act (House Bill 5043) threatening to erode this strongly pro-life country.
Abortion is a crime in the Philippines where the Constitution equally protects the life of the mother and the life of the unborn baby from the point of conception. The Reproductive Health Bill will legalize abortifacient birth control as well as impose mandatory sex education beginning in the fifth grade, fund promotion of contraception and sterilization, and weaken the right of health care workers to consciously object to providing such services. Ultimately, the goal is to depopulate this Catholic nation.
In response, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (ECFL-CBCP) together with lay leaders has formed a coalition of groups that will vote as a bloc for only those candidates who are really pro-life and pro-family. The Catholic Church has tremendous influence in the country and intensely opposes the bill.
Priests for Life is well suited to support these activities because it continuously links up the clergy and the lay faithful on such critical efforts. In fact, we are rushing copies of PFL’s breakthrough video showing in stunning imagery the development of an unborn baby to the Philippines right now.
More on-the-ground live updates from the Philippines will follow. In the meantime, Fr. Pavone asks all to pray for the defeat of the Reproductive Health Bill and also for the Filipinos who have been devastated recently by deadly tropical storms, landslides and floods.
Manila, The Philippines
After a month long travel delay due to four devastating typhoons and the worst flooding in 40 years, PFL's International Director, Bob Lalonde arrived in Manila on the first Sunday of Advent and began our prolife work by attending Mass at St Francis of Assisi Parish. Fr Pavone wanted Bob to help the Philippines by taking along the latest pro-life weapons with him including his new prayer book 'Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day' and new video 'The Biology of Prenatal Development'. By using embryoscopy, a rare technique involving a tiny camera the size of a pen tip, scientists were able to get breathtaking, real footage of the unborn, which shows how preborn babies have a heartbeat at three weeks, make spontaneous movements at six weeks, and have 90% of the anatomical structures found in adults at eight weeks. What a powerful demonstration of the life of a preborn child.
On the first day Bob met with Frank Padilla, President of the international organization Couples for Christ and a Member of the Pontifical Council for the Family and later with other prolife leaders from Manila concerned with the current attempt by the government to pass a devastating Reproductive Health bill. Among the prolife leaders were Maria Isabel Fara Descallar, Couples for Christ; Fr Melvin Castro, Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life; and Lito and Evalina Atienza, Founders of "Home for the Angels," a child care center for abandoned and abused infants. Lito is also a popular former three time Mayor of Manila (running and winning on a prolife platform) and Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources.
The Philippines is one of the lone countries left in the world where abortion is still illegal and pro-death advocates are desperate for a victory.
On November 30 after getting a good tour of the city by friends of Fr Pavone and PFL, it was time to head out to Antipolo City and the St Michael Retreat House for the start of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life's 2009 National Conference. The theme is "The Family Serving the Church and Society". Over 200 priests, nuns and lay delegates are here from more than forty dioceses and PFL was invited to take part in the proceedings and to make available some of our support materials.
The conference began with Fr Castro quoting Fr Pavone saying "we're not just working for victory, we are working from victory!" to great applause. Fr Pavone is well known to conference participants since they're all fans of EWTN and dutifully watch our Defending Life series.
Tomorrow the important prolife/family training sessions begin.