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CBCP Statement on Population and Poverty

AFTER almost 38 years of population control from the massive machinery of the bureaucracy, the unfortunate plight of poor families and their difficulties in providing for their basic needs continues to hound the country. Even as the Church and private initiatives of its laity attempt to narrow the gap between “the haves” and “the have nots,” many Filipinos continue to suffer. The government has been claiming that this continuing poverty is caused by our robust population growth. The Church cannot accept this postulate, proceeding as it does from a flawed view of the human person as merely “a mouth to feed”. Everyone knows how our young and educated population has provided the primary force behind the robust performance of the Philippine economy. This makes us the envy of more developed countries that have contracepted and aborted themselves into the demographic winter.

It is his rational nature that makes every person capable of work, of aspiration to improve his lot. He uses this gift to transform his aspirations into reality. The wholesome upbringing and educational opportunities from generous parents provide the environment that allows him to grow and flourish in his human development to become a productive citizen. Good governance, just structures, a level playing field, solid family ties, wholesome upbringing, quality education, opportunities provide the social mobility to allow the children of the poor to get out of poverty and move to the ranks of the middle class.

The Church is not unmindful of certain realities. For instance, many families continue to be deprived from the right to earn a just living wage that will provide beyond the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, the wherewithal to send their children to school. This is a grave social imbalance for no one dismisses the chance at acquiring knowledge and skills, and the possibility of a bright future for himself and his children. The Church insists that the government should take a closer look at these marginalizing factors. Formidable as they are, they are not insurmountable if government channels the rightful funds to the rightful needs.

The Church also desires to point out that though contraception seemingly solves the problem it merely mitigates the strain that additional children would pose on an already large family; it does not add to the material wherewithal for the family’s survival. Moreover, it fails to consider the long run impact of small families. The smaller families by a contracepting generation may reduce the economic burden of child rearing but they will face an uncertain economic future in the old age with very few children sharing the heavier burden of health and medical care when they become elderly.