"Reproductive Health" Plan Raises Fears in Guatemala

Bishops Offer Counterproposal to Government

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GUATEMALA CITY, JAN. 29, 2001 (Zenit.org).-
Guatemala´s bishops expressed their concern over the possible implementation of an unethical “reproductive health” program in the country.

At the end of their plenary assembly held here last week, the bishops published a document expressing their concern over the program, which is being considered under the pretext of sexual education for children.

“We believe that serious, respectful and clean sexual education is a right and primary obligation of parents,” the bishops´ document says. “School programs on this subject must respect this principle and respond to values in keeping with the plan of God, Creator of the human race and source and fountain of life.”

The bishops propose that they become part “of an interdisciplinary commission, which will make possible the writing of a text and educational plan that satisfies the principles of the religious beliefs of our country.”

The bishops´ proposal has been presented to the country´s ministers of public health and education.

The bishops also published their pastoral Global Plan for the next six years, entitled “Toward an Encounter with the Living Jesus Christ.”

It outlines “the master lines of what apostolic work will be like over the next six years, beginning with objective knowledge of the harsh reality of our Guatemala, but also of its dynamism and potential.”

The bishops said that they were very conscious of “the growing poverty that afflicts our people, with its cost in unemployment, violence, insecurity, sickness and hunger; as well as social and political phenomena, such as corruption that destroys any effort to improve matters in Guatemala, the poor administration of justice, the incomprehensible budget cuts in education and health, and also cuts to the Constitutional Court and other bodies of highest importance for the life of Guatemalans.”

In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement formally ending a 36-year guerrilla war, which had led to the death of more than 100,000 people and had created some 1 million refugees.

Guatemala, a country of 12 million inhabitants, has 9.19 million baptized Catholics. The Catholic Church has lost thousands of faithful to other religions and sects, though the trend has reversed somewhat in recent years.

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