MANILA, Philippines - Days after several high-profile incidents of abortion and a newborn baby abandoned in a Gulf Air trash bin, the Archdiocese of Manila promptly issued a pastoral letter reminding its flock about the importance of human life.
In the letter released on Friday, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales condemned abortion as a "moral evil," and said those who get abortions as well as those who help obtain the procedure face excommunication before the Catholic Church.
"Thou shalt not kill! A deliberately procured abortion is a moral evil and the Catholic Church attaches the canonical penalty of Excommunication on those who procure it and on those who help obtain abortion," Rosales said.
He said unwanted pregnancies could be avoided if only people are "less selfish, more disciplined and capable of self control, exercising a strong will, and capable of making sacrifices."
Rosales condemned the incidents of aborted fetuses that were left near churches this week. At least 2 aborted fetuses were dumped outside the Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, and the Church of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo District.
"With possible malicious intent, the ugly part of life is again gaining the limelight in our country as the frequency of aborted fetuses is publicly exposed. The placing and exhibiting of aborted human fetuses in public places are not favored in other cultures, and decent people refuse to do the same," he said.
Rosales said abortion could be a symptom of "grave moral decadence" that is threatening Philippine society.
"If the expositions of discarded human fetuses are not done with evil intent, then the practice alone of rampant abortion is symptomatic of a grave moral decadence and irresponsible behavior that now seriously threaten the country," he said.
"Human lives are always precious to God and any violation of it will be dealt with by Him for He said, 'Vengeance is mine . . . He will avenge the blood of his servants' (Gene 4:15, Deut. 32:43). Abortion is a grave sin against a defenseless life; and for this the severe canonical penalty to perpetuator/s is Excommunication," he added.
Rosales also opposed new bills filed in Congress that would allow abortion in special cases.
"Short cuts to progress even by way of new laws cannot compensate for abandoned values. Human life, created in the image of its Maker, (Gen. 1:27), the very source of the rights and dignity of the human person, must always be respected and defended," he said.
The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights earlier revealed that about 1,000 women die annually in the Philippines after having backstreet abortions. The center said more than 560,000 women terminated their pregnancies each year, despite it being illegal.
Rosales said special prayers and acts of reparation will be made in the churches where fetuses are found.
"In Churches where public exposition of fetuses occurs, special prayers and acts of reparation will be made, for the sins of the perpetrators, at the church’s Prayer and Adoration Chapels. Pray and include also in your prayers the special prayers to ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL, for the perpetrators and instigators of this grievous sin against the life of the innocent," he said.
The pastoral letter was sent out by the Archdiocese of Manila to all parish priests, rectors and chaplains. It will be read in all Masses in the Archdiocese of Manila on Sunday, September 19, after the post communion prayer.
Last Sunday, a newborn baby was left in the trash bin of a Gulf Air flight from Bahrain to Manila by an overseas Filipiino worker. She is now in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation and faces criminal raps of child abandonment and abuse.
The Catholic Church opposes artificial contraception, and efforts by Congress to pass a reproductive health bill promoting contraceptives have not been successful.