Pope says “ideological colonisation” threatens traditional family

Pope Francis warns of ideological colonisation of the family during a rally where he meets with Filipino families, including relatives of migrant workers.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (JANUARY 16, 2015) (HOST BROADCASTER)- Pope Francis on Friday (January 16) warned against an “ideological colonisation of the family,” a reference to gay marriage around the world and to a heated debate in the Philippines about a government population control plan.

The Pope made his impromptu comments at rally for families in Manila on a day that began with an appeal to the government to tackle corruption and hear the cries of the poor suffering from “scandalous social inequalities” in Asia’s most Catholic country.

Addressing an evening rally of families, he spoke of an “ideological colonisation that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family”. He said it was coming from “outside” and had to be resisted.

While the Pope has said before that marriage must be between a man and a woman, his use of the phrase “ideological colonisation” appeared to be an appeal to developing countries not to follow the lead of nations where gay unions are already legal.

Speaking in Spanish through a translator, he also heaped praise on Pope Paul VI, who enshrined the Catholic Church’s opposition to artificial birth control in the controversial 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life).

Francis said Paul “had the strength to defend openness to life” at a time when the Church was under pressure to change its position against contraception because of population growth.

“I think of Paul VI, blessed Paul VI, in a moment of that challenge of a growth of populations, he had the strength to defend openness to life,” he said.

The Philippines Church is opposed to a government decision to introduce a family planning law – allowing public health centres to hand out contraceptives, such as condoms and pills, and teach sex education in schools.

In a country where more than 80 percent of the 100 million population is Roman Catholic, the Church opposed the law, effectively blocking its passage for 13 years, for fear it would lead to a spike in abortions. The Philippines has one of the highest birth rates in Asia.

Local media estimated that the crowd in an indoor arena reached 16,000 people while another 18,000 flocked to the venue grounds, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Pope.

Before Pope Francis spoke, families gave their testimonies and messages to Francis in Filipino, English and Sign Language.

Ediza Pumarada, wife of a migrant worker, said economic difficulties and the lack of good jobs in the Philippines pushed her husband to find employment in Singapore, three years after they were married.

Through her work she said she saw the effect of migration of the family unit.

“We witness family disintegration and abandonment of children even among our closest relatives. Migration continues to challenge the structure, roles and functions of the family, communities and the larger society. Children went astray in life because of the lack of presence and proper guidance of their parents,” she said.

Francis closed saying that, “every threat to the family is a threat to society itself.”

Earlier on Friday, Francis, a champion of the poor, pulled no punches when addressing Philippine officials in calling for a more just and caring society in the Philippines, which is about 80 percent Catholic.

Aquino took office in 2010 on the promise of transparency, good governance and battling corruption to lift the Philippines from poverty.

However, he has struggled to shed the country’s image as one of the most corrupt in Asia as he continues to defend his allies, while at the same time chasing down politicians, bureaucrats and generals associated with the past administration.

The Pope urged government officials “to reject every form of corruption, which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child”.

The Philippines has laid on the largest security operation in its history, with about 50,000 police and soldiers on hand.

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