MANILA, Jan. 31, 2015 – Boosted by the recent visit of Pope Francis, who issued his strongest defense yet of Church teaching against contraception, a Catholic bishop calls on all the faithful, especially the laity, “to stand for life, and to be champions of the poor, the weak, and the innocent.”

During his visit to the Philippines, Pope Francis stressed the importance of protecting life from conception to natural death. (Photo:Trisha Remigio)

As the nation observes Pro-life Month in February, Daet Bishop Gilbert A. Garcera, ad interim Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-ECFL) said: “We are waging a spiritual war, and our laity should stand at the forefront of our temporal realities that help build the spiritual kingdom of God – frontlines like politics, mass and social media, commerce, and public service should be filled with holy and knowledgeable Catholics in order for the Gospel to be spread to everyone and every place and institution.”

Openness to life

The Pope, in his address before thousands of Filipino families at the Mall of Asia Arena on Jan. 16, was firm in defending “openness to life” and the genuine definition of the family by exhorting Filipino families to “be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.”

In the same vein, Garcera stressed, “The defense of our deeply-held values of life, family, and marriage is a worthwhile reason for us Catholics to step up and make our presence felt.”

The month of February is dedicated to the preservation and respect for human life, and the sanctity of marriage and the Filipino family.

In line with this celebration, Pro-Life Philippines, which has been at the spearheading Pro-life Month for the past 37 years, is holding activities, talks, and seminars that are geared towards educating and training, especially the laity to actively participate in the pro-life advocacy.

Pro-life, pro-poor

This year’s theme is: “Combating Poverty and Saving Lives: Mercy and Compassion in the Year of the Poor.”

Garcera added, “Every effort must be undertaken in order to keep the “throw away culture” (Evangelii Gaudium, 53) away from our nation. As Pope Francis said that the breakdown of the family unit and how this leads to the devaluation of the human person, and as such, the lack of regard we have for our vulnerable.”

“A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise,” Garcera explained, quoting the Holy Father.

To kick-off Pro-life Month, an opening Mass will be held at Mt. Carmel Shrine, Dona Juana Rodriguez Avenue, New Manila, Quezon City, on Feb. 1 at 7:15 a.m.

A closing Mass will be celebrated on Feb. 22 at the Santisimo Rosario Parish at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) at 10:00 a.m. to conclude the month-long celebration.

Pro-Life Philippines is inviting other pro-life and pro-family groups to organize activities to promote the defense and care for all human life, such as prayer rallies, forums, contests and signature campaigns in parishes, schools and communities.

Interested parties may contact Pro-Life Philippines at (02) 665-6202; text 09192337783 or email for better coordination. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas/CBCPNews)