Vol. 13 No. 19
September 14 - 27, 2009
VATICAN CITY, Sept. 9, 2009─In a letter to bishops' conferences
around the world, the Vatican said true religious education inschools is at risk of being replaced with a more "neutral" teachingabout religious ethics and culture.The result is confusion and indifference among students, whosefaith can sometimes be put in danger, said the letter, issued by theCongregation for Catholic Education."A form of education that ignores or marginalizes the moral andreligious dimension of the person is a hindrance to full education,"it said.Dated May 5, the letter was posted on the congregation's Web siteSept. 9, just as most schools in Europe prepared to reopen. The textimmediately ignited a debate in Italy over the proper balance be-tween religious content and the secular nature of public schools.The letter addressed the issue of the Catholic identity of church-run schools, but much of its attention was focused on religionclasses in public schools. It said the nature and role of religiouseducation in schools has become the object of debate."In some cases, it is now the object of new civil regulations,which tend to replace religious education with teaching about thereligious phenomenon in a multidenominational sense, or about
religious ethics and culture ─ even in a way that contrasts with the
choices and educational aims that parents and the church intendfor the formation of young people," it said.The letter warned that religious content in such classes can bedowngraded to the point that students are led into error."Moreover, if religious education is limited to a presentation of thedifferent religions, in a comparative and 'neutral' way, it creates con-fusion or generates religious relativism or indifferentism," it said.The letter quoted from a 1984 speech of Pope John Paul II, whostrongly defended the rights of Catholics to religious education inall schools, whether Catholic or state-run."The families of believers have the right to such education; they
must have the guarantee that the state school ─ precisely becauseit is open to all ─ not only will not put their children's faith in peril,
Vatican encourages strong contentin religious education classes
but will rather complete their integral formation with appropriatereligious education," the late pope said.The letter said it was the church's role to "establish the authenticcontents of Catholic religious education in schools," regardless ofthe nature of the schools, in order to guarantee that the educationpresented as Catholic is indeed authentic."The Catholic religious instruction and education which are impart-ed in any school are subject to the authority of the church," it said.It insisted that religious instruction have an equal place in thescholastic programs of schools."It must present the Christian message and the Christian eventwith the same seriousness and the same depth with which otherdisciplines present their knowledge. It should not be an accessoryalongside of these disciplines," it said.
The letter said religious education ts into the evangelizing mis
-sion of the church, although it is different from and complementaryto catechesis on a parish or personal level.The text did not explain in detail how, in a pluralistic society,public schools could satisfy its vision of authentic religious instruc-tion. One informed Vatican source told Catholic News Servicethat the faith identity of teachers was an important aspect of thecongregation's concern."To be authentic, religious instruction on any faith needs to betaught by someone who lives it. It is true that the teacher in thissituation does not aim to lead people to the faith, but in order topresent the faith in its fullness he needs to be in harmony withwhat he is teaching," he said.
"Content specic to the Catholic faith, such as a dogma like the
Resurrection, must be explained by a believer; otherwise it couldbe presented as a myth," he said.In the United States, public schools can teach about religion aslong as they do not provide religious training. A U.S. SupremeCourt ruling in 1963 distinguished between teaching about reli-gion, which it said was permissible, and state-sponsored religiousindoctrination, which it prohibited.
Take time out dailyfor silent prayer tohear God's voice,says pope
VATICAN CITY, Sept. 9, 2009─People need to carve time out of
their busy day to dedicate to silent prayer or meditation in order tohear what God has to say, said Pope Benedict XVI.The faithful also have to remember not to become completelycaught up in their daily activities and concerns, forgetting that Je-sus should be the focus of their lives, he said at his weekly generalaudience Sept. 9.
Continuing a series of audience talks about inuential Christian
writers from the Middle Ages, the pope focused his catechesis onthe life of St. Peter Damian, an 11th-century monk, cardinal anddoctor of the church.Living an austere, secluded life in a cloister, St. Peter Damiandetermined that "the hermetic life was the apex of Christian life"because it allowed one to be free from the ego and from worldlyconcerns, said the pope.
Monastic life offers an important lesson to all Christians ─ that
it is important to learn how to achieve an inner silence in order tolisten to God's voice, he said.The faithful must take time out of their day to seek out a quiet place,"a sort of sitting parlor, where God can speak to us," he said.One can learn God's word and the right path to take in life throughquiet prayer and meditation, he said.St. Peter Damian taught that Christ must be at the center of mo-nastic life; Christ must be heard in one's voice, be served in one'slife and felt in one's heart, said the pope.All Christians, not just contemplative religious, must cultivate thisintimate union with Christ, Pope Benedict said."We shouldn't let ourselves be completely absorbed by our dailyactivities, problems and worries, forgetting that Jesus must truly beat the center of our lives," he said.
The pope ew to the Vatican by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo,
south of Rome, to leadthe general audience inthe Paul VI hall beforeabout 8,000 pilgrims fromaround the world.The pope greeted vis-iting bishops and well-wishers with his righthand, showing he wasrecovering greater useof his wrist, which hehad broken in a fall July 17. The cast andwires used to stabilizethe break had been re-moved Aug. 21.At the end of the gen-eral audience, the popeflew back to the papalsummer residence inCastel Gandolfo, wherehe was spending thefinal weeks of his vaca-tion.
ILOILO CITY, Sept. 8,
and Jaro Archbishop An-gel Lagdameo denouncedthe practice of graft andcorruption in governmentagencies, saying it is a“sin that cries to heavenespecially if it is commit-ted against poor people,like poor drivers.”Addressing a congrega-tion of local taxi driversgathered for the Mass onSeptember 3, Lagdameonoted how the evil of graft and corruptionhas embedded its tentacles in “many levelsand areas of life.”The local taxi drivers has asked the arch-bishop for support in protest of a controver-
sial ofcial of the Land Transportation Fran
-chising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) basedin the city who was purportedly extortingmoney from those applying for franchise.The Association of Taxi Operators inPanay (ATOP) led by its president PerfectoYap has earlier asked for the removal of oneAtty. Rommel Duron, chief of the LTFRB’sTechnical and Evaluation Division amidstaccusations of extorting money from taxifranchise applicants. The clamor was alsosupported by the Alliance of Panay TaxiOperators and Drivers Association, accord-ing to earlier news reports.The prelate said that increasing the franchisefee from P810.00 to some P35,000.00, as somepapers reported, “[if true], is an act of cheatingand dishonesty, by whoever it is committedand against whomever it is committed.”
Corruption entrenched in many areas of life: CBCP head
He underscored suchdishonesty is not onlyagainst the government“but also against God,because it offends a fel-low human being.”Lagdameo said thosewho commit graft andcorrupt practices againstthe government and tax-payers are harming thecommon good and thetrust that people shouldhave for them.He then called on theCatholic faithful to continue to pray and callfor their conversion and change of attitude.The prelate assured the congregationof the support of the archdiocese for thecitizens’ advocacy, especially the drivers,for honesty in business.“Our country remains poor because ofprojects that are substandard and becauseof overpricing of collectibles that are due,”he said, adding, that because of such practice
“the common good is sacriced.”
He commended Pavia residents for thetimely posters that promote honesty and
decry corruption: “Help ght grant and cor
-ruption. Be honest. Do not lie. Do not steal.
Do not make promises you cannot fulll.”
Quoting the book of Proverbs, Lagdameosaid, “Be honest… even if others are not,even if others will not, even if others cannot.He who walks honestly, walks securely.”He said the Church-based Brotherhoodof Christian Businessmen and Professionshas this virtue of honesty as their vision andmotto in their business.“Only good and honest business canbe God’s business,” the prelate stressed.
MANILA, Sept. 7,
-ing of concern andsupport from theinternational com-munity has boost-
ed up the ght of
rural poor commu-nities in Mindanaoaffected by aerialspraying of bananaplantations.
At least 200 con-
Opposition vs aerial spraying gains global backing
cerned citizens from44 countries gavetheir all out sup-port against aerialpesticide operationsby petitioning thePhilippine govern-ment to put a stopon the harmful aer-ial spraying of agrochemicals in bananaplantations.In an open let-
tal epidemiologistRico Euripidou ofSouth Africa, andenvironmental jus-tice advocate JefferCastelo Branco ofBrazil.
The grouplauded the ruralcommunities forbanding togetherand asserting theirrights to live in ahealthy and safeenvironment.ter addressed tothe president, theconcerned citizensasked PresidentGloria Macapagal-Arroyo to issue anExecutive Order thatwill protect the ruralcommunities fromthe toxic effects ofaerial spraying.“In the spirit ofglobal citizenship,we state our solidar-ity with the wom-en and men of theMamamayan Ayawsa Aerial Spraying(Citizens AgainstAerial Spraying) andmany other people’sorganizations fromthe various banana-growing provinces insouthern Philippineswho are assertingtheir inherent rightnot to be harmedby aerial pesticideoperations,” the pe-titioners said.
Among those whosigned the petitionwere noted public in-terest scientists andadvocates, includingprofessor emeritus ofchemistry and zerowaste champion Dr.Paul Connett and cit-izen science advocateDr. Joseph Parrishof USA, 2009 Gold-man EnvironmentalPrize winner YuyunIsmawati of Indone-sia, pesticide activ-ist Sarojeni Rengamof Malaysia, endo-sulfan ban crusader Jayakumar Chela-ton of India, anti-DDT health expertDr. Paul Saoke ofKenya, environmen-
Spraying / A6
Catholic Church must renew itsefforts to evangelize, Pope says
VATICAN CITY, Sept. 7, 2009─Pope Benedict's message for the 83rd
World Mission Day was made public on Saturday, September 5. TheHoly Father reminds Catholics in his message that evangelizationis the essential mission of the Church and that they should do allthat they can to support the missions.World Mission Day will be celebrated this year on Sunday, Oc-tober 18, with the theme: “The nations will walk in its light.” Themessage, published in six languages, bears the date of June 29,Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.Excerpts from the English-language version are given below:"The goal of the Church's mission is to illumine all peoples withthe light of the Gospel as they journey through history towards God,
so that in Him they may reach their full potential and fulllment.
...It is in this perspective that the disciples of Christ throughoutthe world work, struggle and groan under the burden of suffer-ing, even offering up their own lives. I strongly reiterate what was
so frequently afrmed by my venerable predecessors: the Church
works not to extend her power or assert her dominion, but to leadall people to Christ, the salvation of the world. We seek only to placeourselves at the service of all humanity, especially the suffering andthe marginalized, because we believe that 'the effort to proclaim theGospel to the people of today... is a service rendered to the Christiancommunity and also to the whole of humanity.'""In truth, the whole of humanity has the radical vocation to re-
turn to its source, to return to God, since in Him alone can it ndfulllment through the restoration of all things in Christ. ...This new
beginning can already be seen in the resurrection and exaltationof Christ, Who draws all things to Himself, renewing them andenabling them to share in the eternal joy of God. ...The Church's
mission is to spread hope 'contagiously' among all peoples. This is why Christ calls, justies, sancties
and sends His disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God, so that all nations may become the Peopleof God.""The universal Church, which knows neither borders nor frontiers, is aware of her responsibility toproclaim the Gospel to entire peoples. ...The measure of her mission and service is not limited to material
needs, or even to spiritual needs conned to the sphere of temporal existence; rather, it is transcendentsalvation, fullled in the Kingdom of God. This Kingdom, although ultimately eschatological and not
of this world, is also in this world and within its history a force for justice and peace, for true freedomand respect for the dignity of every human person. The Church wishes to transform the world throughthe proclamation of the Gospel of love. ...With this message I renewmy invitation to all the members and institutions of the Church toparticipate in this mission and this service.""It is therefore necessary to renew our commitment to proclaim-ing the Gospel which is a leaven of freedom and progress, brother-
hood, unity and peace. I would 'conrm once more that the task
of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of theChurch', a duty and a mission which the widespread and profoundchanges in present-day society render ever more urgent. At stake
is the eternal salvation of persons, the goal and the fulllment of
human history and the universe.""On this day dedicated to the missions, I recall in prayer thosewho have consecrated their lives exclusively to the work of evan-gelization. I mention especially the local Churches and the mis-sionaries who bear witness to and spread the Kingdom of God insituations of persecution, subjected to forms of oppression rangingfrom social discrimination to prison, torture and death. Even today,many are put to death for the sake of His Name.""The Church walks the same path and suffers the same destinyas Christ, since she acts not on the basis of any human logic orrelying on her own strength, but rather following the way of the
Cross, becoming, in lial obedience to the Father, a witness and a
traveling companion for all humanity."I remind Churches of ancient foundation and those that aremore recent that the Lord has sent them to be the salt of the earthand the light of the world, and He has called them to spread Christ,the Light of the nations, to the far corners of the earth. They mustmake the 'Missio ad gentes' a pastoral priority.
"I am grateful to the Pontical Mission Societies and I encour
-age them in their indispensable service of promoting missionary animation and formation, as well aschanneling material help to young Churches.""Missionary zeal has always been a sign of the vitality of our Churches. ... I therefore ask all Catholicsto pray to the Holy Spirit for an increase in the Church's passion for her mission to spread the Kingdomof God and to support missionaries and Christian communities involved in mission, on the front line,often in situations of hostility and persecution.
"At the same time I ask everyone, as a credible sign of communion among Churches, to offer nancial
assistance, especially in these times of crisis affecting all humanity, to enable the young local Churchesto illuminate the nations with the Gospel of charity."
© g o d z d o g z . o p . o r g © w w w . t o p n e w s . i n
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo