“I Will Make a Suitable Companion for Him” (Gen. 2:18) –
Pastoral Statement on the Forthcoming Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
The Book of Genesis narrates to us how the first man was created by God (Gen. 1:27) and how the first woman as well came into existence. (Gen. 2:18). In both stories Genesis mentions not only the complementarity of man and woman but also their equality as well, being made in the image and likeness of God. “God created man in his image: male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27). Seeing that man should not be alone, He said, “I will make a suitable companion for him” (Gen. 2:18). When the woman was created, the man exclaimed: “This is at last bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” (Gen. 2:23).
From this perspective, the Holy Father Pope John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem on August 15, 1988 that the great dignity of the woman lies in the fact that “God entrusts the human being to her in a special way” from the moment of conception in the womb. This sublime responsibility is carried on as the child is born and nourished in the home within the context of the family. Evidently, he stresses that in complementarity of, and in cooperation with man, the home and the family are the ordinary place of the woman.
In the context of this year’s celebration of the International Year of Women, the United Nations sponsors the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, on September 4-15, 1995. We commend the concern of this forthcoming conference to look more closely into the dignity of women and to call on governments on issues affecting women, such as poverty, illiteracy, prostitution, violence against women, and their exploitation in mass media.
However, the Draft Document of the Beijing Conference is based on the same ideology as that of the 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development. There is the subtle yet persistent view to devalue life whose source is God. The Conference intends to impose on all governments of the world a secular humanistic philosophy which promotes contraception, abortion and sterilization . This is what the Holy Father in his recent Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, on the value of life calls “the culture of death”. Thanks to the timely and forceful intervention of the Holy See, these issues did not pass through the doors of Cairo. Yet the struggle against those who espouse the “culture of death” is not over. As Beijing now becomes the new arena, the exponents of this philosophy want to enter anew by its windows. Reference to the diversity of “sexual orientation”, and the “plurality of family forms” once again seeks to approve lesbian and homosexual unions as rightful expressions of sexual freedom.
We, Your Bishops, reiterate our unfailing commitment in union with the Holy Father in this fundamental struggle to proclaim the “gospel of life” against the forces that intend to suppress it. We raise our voices anew to resist the enemy and expose the evils expressed or implied in the draft document of the Beijing Conference. And we ask all our Lay Faithful to be one with him and with us in this battle.
In the same way, as an expression of our union with Peter, we call on our Brothers in the Episcopate in the different National Conferences of Bishops all over the world to join our voices together in the promotion of life and the dignity of every human person.
We call particularly on our Government that the Philippine Delegation would truly present the deep faith and traditions of the Filipino people and that women, noted for their Christian witness and firm faith, be sent among our representatives. In particular, we want that the Philippine Delegation to Beijing :
a) be uncompromising in their stand against feticide and abortion, camouflaged in phrases such as “reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” thus opening the road to abortion. Abortion is unacceptable to us Filipinos not only because it is against our Constitution, but more importantly because it is against life, the most basic right of every person;
b) encourage education in natural family planning as this is most in consonance with the dignity of human beings and of women; and guarantee women’s rights to informed choice by assuring their being informed of the dangers of the artificial methods of birth control;
c) fight against all forms of violence against women – physical, psychological and moral – including forced sterilization, forced contraception and forced abortion, which the governments of some countries are exercising;
d) be uncompromising in the definition of the family as a community formed by a man and a woman in marriage, based on mutual love, and for the purpose of procreation and education of children in the exercise of responsible parenthood;
e) highlight the irreplaceable and very positive role of woman as “life-bearer” and mother; and reject statements that imply that a woman’s dedication to one’s family and to the duties of the home is an obstacle to personal fulfillment;
f) combat all forms of poverty which force women to abandon family responsibities in order to seek employment here and abroad, especially in jobs and places where they may easily become victims of economic and sexual exploitation and human rights violation as it sometimes happens to our OCWs (Overseas Contract Workers).
If we have to consistently and continuously raise our voices, it is because of the mandate entrusted to us as heralds of truth and life.
Women and men are equal in dignity in all areas of life, but they are distinct from one another. By harnessing the positive differences in men and women, the society can best achieve its goal of promoting dignity, development and justice. Unfortunately, the western ideology of feminism fails to recognize this and fights for the exaggerated individualism of the woman.
We continue to uphold our own traditional Filipino-Christian values of true femininity that is based on the unique genius proper to women. The true Filipina, cognizant of her God-given mission, is able to successfully combine her role as a mother, wife and co-provider of the family with her own desire for self-fulfillment. Rather than being unjustly influenced by the thoughts of secularized industrialized societies, the Filipina has much to teach on the authentic empowerment of women.
We call on all our Filipino Faithful in the different ecclesiastical jurisdictions to gather together in prayer and sacrifice around the 15th day of August 1995, marked by a triduum of preparation, for A RALLY FOR LIFE, FOR THE FAMILY AND FOR THE WOMAN. As the whole Philippine Church commemorates on this day the 400th year of its creation as an independent ecclesiastical province, let us manifest the growth in our life of faith by this rally of solidarity. In a spirit of thanksgiving, let us praise God for the gift of prophetic voice to proclaim the sublime value of life which our Lord Jesus has come to redeem.
As we the Filipino People, people of life and for life, make our pilgrim way in confidence towards our final destination, we look to Mary, most blessed among all women, as she who accompanied her Son in his earthly life and mission. Through her intercession may we imitate her in building a civilization of truth and love and in transforming our minds and hearts for the greater glory and praise of God, who sent in our midst the “Word of Life”.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,
(Sgd.)+CARMELO D.F. MORELOS, D.D.
Archbishop of Zamboanga
9 July 1995
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
The Official Website of
“I Will Make a Suitable Companion for Him” (Gen. 2:18) – Pastoral Statement on the Forthcoming Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing