MANILA, July 20, 2011?Representatives of lay Catholic organizations gathered for an afternoon of talks, video presentations and sharing of insights that centered on the teachings of Pope Paul VI’s landmark document.

The 43rd anniversary celebration of the encyclical Humanae Vitae at Adamson University on July 19 was an affirmation of truths about married love and of Pope Paul VI’s wisdom, and a continuing boost to the faith of the participants gathered for the celebration.

“It is interesting to note that the problems the Pope mentioned more than four decades ago are exactly the same concerns the RH bill supporters make in support of their position,” stated Fr. Gregg Banaga, president of Adamson University and of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP).

“They mention the problems of massive poverty which the Philippines is facing, the dangers that women face in childbearing, taking care of their children etc. The pope also warned public officials and authorities that they would be tempted to employ harsh measures to avert the danger posed by these problems, such as abortion, the use of contraceptives and other means of birth control. Lo and behold, we are encountering the same solutions nowadays,” he added.

“So, 40 years ago the Pope already talked about these problems and what public officials might resort to. Call him a visionary but I think the late Pope Paul VI was really a visionary in this sense,” Banaga further said.

The celebration commemorated the 43rd year of the 1968 encyclical that delved on married love, responsible parenthood and regulation of birth.

Before turning over the stage to the different speakers invited for the occasion, Banaga said, “As President of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the largest educational association in the country with 1,300 schools, and Adamson University, we support the Church’s stand in upholding the dignity of human life from conception until death. We join you in celebrating the anniversary of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, and we pray with you that our lawmakers and our public authorities heed the teachings of this encyclical.”

Council of the Laity of the Philippines (CLP) national president Edgardo Tirona said that the encyclical acknowledges that some will find it difficult to accept its teachings but that the Church cannot “declare lawful what is in fact unlawful,” which was likewise stated in the late Pope’s writing.

“The encyclical closes with an appeal to public authorities to oppose laws which undermine the natural moral law, an appeal to scientists to further study effective methods of natural [regulation of birth], and appeals to doctors, nurses and priests to promote the method,” Tirona added.

After a short documentary produced by TV Maria on the youth’s take on love and relationships, talks given by Paranaque congressman Roilo Golez and Joseph Duyan of the Lay Campus Ministry, and a fruitful open forum, some members of the audience shared their insights?demonstrating the impact of the afternoon’s activities made on them.

Catechist Edgardo Cabuello, who disclosed that contraceptive use was not always a no-no for him and his wife owing to fears of expenses that a growing family would entail, explained that the concept of freedom and of valuing life became clear to him, thanks to the activities.

“Nakikita ko na kaming mag-asawa, hindi na kami nagiging malaya, nagiging alipin kami sa aming takot. So ito ang sinabi ko, sa araw na ito natutunan ko na ang kalayaan pala ay ang pagsunod sa Diyos, hindi pala sa pagsunod kung ano ang kinatatakutan mo,” he mused.

He also said that the value of life was not only limited to providing for one’s family in the material sense.

“Ito pala ay kabuuan, ang maituro mo sa mga anak mo ang kabutihang asal, at ang pagiging isang mabuting Kristiyano,” he said.

“Napakarami pala natin sa Simbahan… and if we stand for the truth of the faith, kaya nating makumbinse ang sambayanan,” said Nieva Marie Laraya, Catholic Women’s League (CWL) Archdiocese of Manila president.

“Ang usapang ito ay hindi lamang tungkol sa dignity of life, death, divorce, euthanasia. Ito ay laban para sa ating pananampalataya, at napakahalaga na ang pananampalatayang iyan ay nasa puso ng bawat Pilipino.”

The celebration ended with Msgr. Joselito Asis, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) assistant secretary general, leading participants in prayers, a candle-lighting ceremony and a recitation of the rosary right outside the gates of the university.

Organizations that were represented at the event were CWL, CLP, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), Catechetical Formators of the Archdiocese of Manila (CFAM), Ladies of Black Nazarene (LBN), Apostleship of Prayer, Mother Butler Guild, Ladies Auxiliary of Quiapo Church, Bukluran Quiapo Manila, Music Ministry of Quiapo, Knights of Columbus, Minor Basilica of Quiapo, and San Roque Parish. (Diana Uichanco)