Filipino president: ready to risk excommunication over birth-control bill
April 19, 2011
President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines has announced that he is prepared to risk excommunication over an aggressive family-planning bill that the country's bishops have condemned.
"In the end I must listen to my conscience and do what is right," Aquino said in an address to university students. He said that he felt duty-bound to continue pushing for the acceptance of the family-planning legislation even "at risk of excommunication."
The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have repeatedly sought to persuade Aquino that the legislation--which would authorize condom-distribution campaigns, and would seriously damage conscience protection for health-care workers--should be scrapped. The bishops have not threatened excommunication, but have indicated that they would support a campaign of civil disobedience if the bill is enacted.
A spokesman for the Laguna archdiocese said that Aquino suffers from a "false conscience" on the issue. While the president spoke lightly of excommunication, said Father Jerry Oblepias, "I am very sad that he does not know the meaning of it."