Pro-life leaders from across Asia and Oceania will gather in the Philippines this week for the Human Life International 23rd Asia-Pacific Congress on Faith, Life, and Family. The assembly of life advocates is the largest of its kind in the Pacific region, encompassing participants from more than 20 countries and drawing authorities from around the globe.
The 2023 Asia-Pacific Congress on Faith, Life, and Family, held November 24 through 26, will be in the congress’ original locale, Cebu City, where the event debuted in 1991. Through more than two decades of convening at varied locations in Asia, Oceania, and the sub-continent, the congress has been graced by officials from the Vatican and Church leaders at all levels while welcoming prominent international pro-life leaders.
It is organized in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Cebu. This year, Archbishop Jose S. Palma of Cebu will be the keynote speaker. Archbishop Palma is a member of the Dicastery for Culture and Education of the Holy See, as well as a member of the Order of Preachers.
“We live in a global culture that is deeply confused and holds many serious errors about the fundamental truths of human life, sexuality, marriage, and the family,” said Fr. Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, who will speak at the congress. “If we are to authentically cultivate and sustain a culture of life, we must influence those who will impact society at every level, providing formation to groups that have the greatest potential to influence the structures of society. To this end, the Asia-Pacific Congress brings together leaders from across the regions of Asia and Oceania to educate participants on bioethical issues, to discuss strategies in how to address these ethical issues, and to unite the pro-life and family community. By asserting Catholic teaching and principles, we heal the wounds that these ethical dilemmas have created and foster authentic renewal within the institutions of marriage and family, which give shape to our global societies and cultures.”
Convert to culture of life
Dr. Ligaya Acosta, Human Life International, Regional Director of Asia and Oceania, explained that the Congress serves as a training ground for current and future pro-life leaders. The forum is for those on the frontlines of the culture wars to inspire with their successes and collaborate on the challenges of advocating for life throughout the region and around the world. She shared that the theme for the 2023 event is taken from Biblical scripture: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
A native Filipino and former employee of the Philippine government’s Department of Health, Acosta moved from being a promoter of contraception and sterilization services to avidly espousing natural family planning on the global stage, as the healthy, life affirming choice.
“The extensive research I conducted, and the stories told to me by public health midwives, nurses, and doctors, brought me a firm realization that the promotion of contraceptives and population control does great damage to people and society,” she said.
“The Philippines is one of the most Catholic countries on Earth,” commented Dr. Brian Clowes, Human Life International Director of Education and Research. “For this reason, Filipinos enthusiastically celebrate life and faith. And thus, for three decades this island nation has been under heavy attack by the culture of death, which has pushed every aspect of population control from vast distribution of condoms to saturating Manila with huge posters promoting homosexuality. Human Life International exists to fight these evils and to arm the people to do the same.”