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World Meeting of Families Doesn’t Address Real Family Needs

January 22, 2003

Church positions on health and reproductive issues undermine family, reform Catholics say

Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) has joined efforts with women and health advocacy groups in the Philippines during the Fourth World Meeting of Families, being held in Manila today through Sunday, to denounce the meeting for not adequately addressing the needs of poor families in the Philippines and other countries in Asia.

“The anti-family message this meeting conveys is not helpful to families in the Philippines who are dealing with life-and-death issues such as HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, family violence and poverty,” said Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice.

For example, said Kissling, Archbishop Cardinal Sin recently cited contraception and abortion as attacks on the family. “In reality, the church should be more concerned with protecting family members who are suffering from poverty rather than attempting to force them to have more children. Another church official has denied women using contraception the sacrament of Holy Communion and even threatened them with excommunication. This is an attack on the family in general and on women in particular,” said Kissling.

NGOs gathered to dispel the notion that religion and family planning are incompatible. Reprints of “Reflections on Tolerance,” a religious roundtable on aid for family planning, were distributed during the meeting. The article was printed in the Winter issue of Conscience, a news journal of Catholic opinion published by Catholics for a Free Choice. The roundtable features essays by a variety of religious leaders from around the world who support international family planning programs.

CFFC also distributed information about its successful international campaign Condoms for Life ( The global campaign placed billboards, newspaper advertisements and public transportation ads in the Philippines and nine other countries around the world critical of the Vatican’s ban on condoms, and in particular, the silent acquiescence of Catholic bishops who stand behind the ban while the death toll from AIDS mounts.