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Couples urged to respect life at Humanae Vitae symposium

HONG KONG (SE): To mark the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), the encyclical of Pope St. Paul VI issued on 25 July 1968, the Diocesan Commission for Marriage and the Family organised a symposium at the Caritas Institute of Higher Education, Tiu Keng Leng, to look at the challenges facing the protection of life today and urged people to respect it.
 
The encyclical addressed such issues as birth control and abortion and laid out the Church’s moral teaching on the sanctity of life. 
 
Peter Ho Man-hong, assistant executive secretary of the commission, said that such birth control methods as the pill, the birth control patch, or the vaginal ring, are against these teachings.
 
Ho explained that preventing pregnancy is preventing life from being the fruit of married love, but that procreation is the innate vocation of married couples. He said preventing pregnancy, however, showed a resistance to life created a disconnect between conjugal love and the pleasure of sex.
 
He encouraged couples to consolidate their marriages by praying more often, deepening their spiritual life, as well as receiving the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation.
 
Chung Ling-wai, senior social work supervisor of Caritas Family Service, said it is hard for newly-married couples to fully understand Natural Family Planning, the method promoted by the Church which observes the ovulation cycle of a woman. 
 
She said one reason is that around 90 per cent of new marriages in Hong Kong are mixed in which only one spouse is Catholic. Moreover, many couples do not consider having children until their wedding is close.
 
She believes that Catholic communities, in cooperation with parishes, should share the knowledge about Natural Family Planning by the secondary school stage. 
 
Joyce Ching Tak-kwan, a recognised medical practitioner of Natural Procreative Technology, said women can use the method to deal with infertility and gynecological problems and the treatment normally took around two years. 
 
She said many couples have benefited from it. While the long period of treatment made some couples hesitate, those who gradually accepted it believed that changes can happen.
She said patients might need to make a daily record of their physical conditions and receive treatments. 
 
She said the treatment could bring the couples closer to God, as some patients told her that their husbands were more willing to pray during the treatment period, as they believed that God would give his blessings. 
 
While natural family planning can be a method of birth control, Cheung Hiu-yan, natural family planning supervisor of the Hong Kong Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, said that most people who seek its help actually want to have a baby and only a small percentage used the technique to prevent pregnancy.
 
According to her, the housing problem in Hong Kong causes couples think twice before deciding to have a baby. She said some young people believe that poor parents will only bring disaster to the next generation. On the other hand, materialism and the wrong concept of money has distorted their outlook on marriage.
 
Father Stephen Joseph Tham, a professor of Bioethics of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, spoke during an earlier session about how Humanae Vitae offered guidance on living a moral and ethical life.
 
A Mass was celebrated by Father Lawrence Lee Len at the institute’s the chapel. In his homily, he urged people to protect life and promote marriage as well as family life. He also encouraged couples to make good use of Natural Family Planning.

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