Facebook Twitter

CATHOLICS MUSTER THOUSANDS TO PROTEST BIRTH CONTROL PLAN

SHARE CATHOLICS MUSTER THOUSANDS TO PROTEST BIRTH CONTROL PLAN

In a show of force, the Roman Catholic Church mustered thousands Sunday to protest the government's birth control program and to demand a boycott of a U.N. conference on population next month.

Police estimated the crowd at nearly 200,000, smaller than the 1 million some church leaders had expected. The protesters included a large number of students from Catholic schools who said teachers had ordered them to attend.Former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Diosdado Macapagal attended the rally. Aquino had said her presence was not a challenge to the government of President Fidel Ramos but an affirmation of "family values."

Churches throughout the city canceled afternoon Masses to encourage a large turnout. Another rally was held in Cebu, the country's second-largest city, about 350 miles southeast of Manila.

During a homily, Cardinal Jaime L. Sin, archbishop of Manila, called on the government to abandon its population program, which is limited to counseling and distribution of free contraceptives.

The cardinal condemned the use of condoms and accused the government of promoting pornography, homosexuality and immorality under the guise of sex education.

He urged Filipinos to reject "the degenerate sexual mores prevalent in so-called developed countries, (which) condition us to accept abortion as a means of family planning."