Colombian Bishops Seek Promotion of Women

Note Abortion-Pressure and Poverty as Obstacles

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BOGOTA, Colombia, JAN. 31, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Colombian bishops' conference wants to promote the dignity of the woman, and two obstacles they see are the "feminization of poverty" and the promotion of abortion.



In his inaugural address at their 84th general assembly, under way in Bogota, Archbishop Luis Castro Quiroga of Tunja, president of the episcopal conference, mentioned these obstacles to women's dignity. The assembly is focused on "The Mission of the Woman in the Church and Society."

Archbishop Castro Quiroga called for the Colombian Ministry of Social Protection to focus on helping women "face pregnancy in a positive way, without sacrificing the new life growing in her womb." Life is a "non-negotiable value," he added, "a value that also includes unborn babies after conception."

The archbishop's address responds to campaigns "promoted by the Colombian Ministry of Social Protection and various nongovernmental organizations who claim to be concerned about the wellbeing of the women, which is important, but who are completely indifferent to the destiny of the unborn child, and this is not good."

He noted the promotion of the so-called morning-after pill, and free contraception in the nation's Obligatory Health Plan.

"It is true that there are answers that seem easy and effective, but that -- though they are legal because they were approved by the constitutional court -- are ethically blameworthy because they take the life of innocent human beings," Archbishop Castro Quiroga added.

He continued, "This attempt to confuse the ethical sense of the woman, to influence through the mass media, a change consciences toward a more lax attitude, owed to the urgency of obtaining and showing better results in the number of abortions, appears to us simply absurd, more so if it leads to the desire to legalizing all types of abortion."

The archbishop said the protection of life in the womb is "the test of all democracy. […] A democratic person has to be the greatest and most enthusiastic defender of those who cannot defend themselves, of the weakest, whether this is the woman in situations of abuse, or the unborn child, but not of one against the other."

Archbishop Castro Quiroga noted statistics detailing the vulnerable situation of women around the world, citing a World Health Organization report that 70% of human beings who live on less than one dollar a day are women. "Between 80% and 90% of poor families of the world are led by women. But women are owners of only 1% of the land of the earth, and make up two-thirds of the illiterate population of international society. All of this is called the feminization of poverty," the 65-year-old prelate said.

"As bishops," he affirmed, "we come to this assembly to listen to the Christian woman, her joys and hopes, frustrations and longings, to understand better the profound changes that have befallen the woman of today and to be in solidarity with all the answers that from the Gospel and from Aparecida, can be offered in fraternal collaboration for the benefit of the Colombian woman who lives and spends herself in favor of life, the Church and society."