Amid a narrative that is prevailing in the death culture—as evidenced by the birth rate falling below replacement level—the Philippine Catholic Church should persist in advocating for pro-life and pro-family causes.
"Pro-life and pro-family advocacy in the Philippines is weakening." Fr. Shannen Boquet, president of Human Life International (HLI), stated at the conclusion of the 23rd Congress on Faith, Life, and Family (ASPAC) that the "culture of death is making inroads in this country.”
With the theme, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), the goal of the 3-day Congress was to equip pro-lifers with knowledge and update them with trends related to life and family, two institutions that are heavily under attack in the secular world.
The featured speakers came from the USA, Canada, Japan, India, Rome, Europe, Malaysia, India, and the Philippines.
Father Boquet, a leading authority on the international pro-life and family movement, has completed sixteen pro-life initiatives in and out of the Philippines.
In his remarks to the Philippine delegation in Congress, he stated, “When you have a birth rate below replacement level, it tells you the culture of death has won the narrative.”
According to the 2022 National Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the Philippine National Statistics Office, the total fertility rate of Filipino women aged 15 to 49 years declined from 2.7 children per woman in 2017 to 1.9 children per woman in 2022. Hence, the Philippines is already below the replacement fertility level of 2.1 children per woman.
The priest challenged Congress delegates to take up a more active role in the campaign for pro-life and pro-family by reflecting on the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
He stressed that the Gospel message needed to be “reteached in our cultures”. While he admired people in the Philippines and in Africa for being attentive and helpful in general, he said, “Let’s be honest, we’re losing it.”
He said that the mindset of the world today is “utilitarian,” meaning that something is right if it is functional or of use and is fit to be thrown away if it is no longer functional or useful.
“We have to re-orient our minds back to Jesus, for He is the way, the truth, and the life. There is no path away from him,” the priest said.
He challenged attendees to take up pro-life and pro-family advocacy through a five-point strategy: modeling Jesus in one’s life, being an inspiration to others, agitating or challenging people to act with, enabling, educating, or equipping Catholics with knowledge related to pro-life and pro-family advocacy, and encouraging them to spread the Good News.
According to Besalina Pansoy, local chairman of the organizing committee, there were 400 participants from all over the Philippines, including delegates from the Asia-Oceania region like Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India.
The event ended on Sunday, with Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma celebrating mass on the feast of Christ the King. In his homily, he said that pro-lifers are “proclaimers of God’s kingdom."
The next HLI Congress will be held in 2025 in Sibu City, in the Sarawak region of Malaysia.
Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, HLI Philippines Country Director, and Dr. Ligaya Acosta, HLI Executive Director, made this announcement at the end of the Congress.- Malou Guanzon-Apalisok
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