Manila archbishop says church hasn't done enough to teach family planning

Posted: Friday, October 15, 2004

MANILA, Philippines (AP) The Roman Catholic Church, which is opposed to artificial birth control, hasn't done enough to promote responsible family planning in the fast-growing Philippines, the archbishop of Manila said Monday.

''We have the impression that the church is against family planning. Wrong. The church believes that you could rear the children you can afford to raise,'' Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales said. ''That people do not understand, I'm sorry, the church is at fault. We have not taught enough.''

He said the church believes people should plan their families the natural way and exercise personal discipline to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

The population of the predominantly Catholic country, estimated at 84 million, is expected to double in 29 years despite international commitments to curb the birth rate, according to recent joint government-United Nations report.

Non-governmental organizations involved in family planning blame the high growth rate on opposition to artificial birth control from religious conservatives and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Political leaders often steer clear of the religiously sensitive issue.

The Philippines has committed to lowering its birth rate from 2.34 percent to 2.1 percent by 2020.

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