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The Transfiguration shows that Jesus alone guides us, Pope Benedict teaches
‘The Priest’s Mission is to be a Mediator, a Bridge that Connects’
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
Filipinos turn to God to pray for rain
TEMPERATURE is high. The rains are still to come. More and more Filipinos are turning to God to solve the nation’s water crisis. Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales has summoned his flocks to a prayer starting last Feb. 26 to ask for rain to come and help ease the impending water and power crisis. The church leader has also come up with an Oratio Imperata Ad Petendam Pluviam (Obligatory Prayer to Request for Rain) to be inserted into the daily and Sunday Prayers of the Faithful of the Mass.
Rain / A6
2 bishops endorse ‘JC’ for president
SEEMINGLY setting the stage for collision of religion and politics, some Catholic bishops will use their pulpits to deliver political sermons or endorse candidates—defying the church’s long-time non-partisan stance. At least two senior prelates came out in the open Thursday expressing their full support for Ang Kapatiran’s standard bearer John Carlos “JC” De Los Reyes. Bacolod Bishop Vicente Navarra and Lipa Archbishop said they will firmly stand for what they believe is “right” and “necessary”.
‘JC’ / A7
March 1 - 14, 2010
Vol. 14 No. 5
Cardinal hits ‘narrowminded’ response to AIDS
By Roy Lagarde
THE head of Manila’s Catholic Church said condoms are not the answer to the country’s fight against HIV and described as “narrow-minded” the government’s response to it.
Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales said condoms will never solve the AIDS epidemic and could make the problem even worse. Rosales assailed the Department of Health (DOH), saying they are being instrumental to the deterioration of the morals of the society, especially the youth. “The DOH is teaching something wrong. Such mentality is pitiful,” he said. The cardinal said providing accurate information and respecting moral values will AIDS be effectively controlled. He added that a responsible and moral attitude toward sex would help fight the dreaded disease. Meanwhile, the Catholic bishops’ leadership called on the government to make more funding on the basic needs of the people instead of buying contraceptives. Another senior prelate urged the authorities to look into widespread and covert prostitution as one of the HIV “transmission realities”. The DOH reported that it has recorded 3,515 HIV/AIDS cases since 1984 or an 84 percent increase since that year. Moral issue Rosales said it is just unfortunate for today’s generation that they have experienced having such types of government leaders. “If we have leaders like in the DOH, I pity the Philippines for having leaders like them,” said the Cardinal.
“I have the feeling that it has something to do with that big private construction company cornering the CDF (countrywide development fund) projects,” Archbishop Oscar Cruz told the media after the CBCPNews/CMN forum where he disclosed that Wilfredo “Boy” Mayor visited him four days before he was ambushed—to seek his help on a forthcoming exposé of about a construction business scam. Mayor was one of the whistle-blowers in the 2005 Senate inquiry on jueteng where Cruz figured as an anti-gambling crusader.
Fidelity, abstinence This is the first time that Cardinal Rosales made a strong attack on the government’s continuing promotion of condom use, but his position is not new.
AIDS / A6
‘Zombie voters’ just tip of iceberg—PPCRV
THE multiple registrants found in the voters’ lists in Davao province is just the tip of the iceberg, a Catholic Church-backed poll watchdog has warned. The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said they are expecting more similar problems in other provinces in the coming days. PPCRV lawyer Atty. Howard Calleja said they also uncovered similar problem in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), touted as the country’s cheating capital during elections. “Davao is just one case and there are other areas with similar problem,” he said. “What we’ve found in Davao City and Davao del Sur is only the tip of the iceberg.” He said that they will report all the areas with questionable voters’ list once their volunteers from various provinces submit their report. “We have information of similar problem in the Visayas and even in Luzon. So we are going to look at it,” the lawyer said. Calleja filed a manifestation at the Commission on Elections urging the poll body to fix all the voters’ list in the country, with only two months to go before the local and national elections. This after poll watchdog found some 40,000 “double and multiple registrants” in the said two areas. The hefty number also includes “zombie voters” or deceased people still listed as active voters in the posted computerized voters’ list (PCVL) in Davao. At the Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila, PPCRV lawyer called on the Comelec to come out with a “clean and true” list of active voters. “The irregularities of poll cheating starts in the voters’ list and if they will not fix it, how can we have a clean and honest election,” said Calleja. According to him, the poll body still has an ample time to clean the voters’ list if they will only be serious about it. “At this stage, we still have few weeks more to go until March 26 wherein they will close the book of voters. There’s still enough time to fix it,” Calleja said. (CBCPNews)
Atty. Howard Calleja (right) and PPCRV chair Henrietta De Villa (center) during a demonstration on how to use the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine that will be used for the May 10 automated elections.
Bishops opt power summit over emergency rule
SOME Catholic bishops resorted to favoring the holding of a ‘power summit’ than providing emergency powers to President Arroyo in order to address the energy crisis. Kalookan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said the situation will reach a critical state if the government and the people will not act fast and find solutions to the power crisis. Archbishop Oscar Cruz “A power summit is necessary to deal with the power crisis,” said Iñiguez who also chairs the Committee on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez added: “I’m in favor of the power summit provided that the government will implement the decisions.” Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, for his part, questioned the motive behind the proposal to grant emergency powers to the President months before the elections in May. be used as a basis for declaring emergency rule. “It is not reasonable to give emergency powers to someone who precisely has already too much power,” Cruz also said. Last week, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez asked Congress to authorize Arroyo to resort to emergency powers to address an “actual” power shortage in
New DENR head alarms environmental groups
INDIGENOUS People and Environmental advocates have expressed concern over President Arroyo’s appointment of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau director as acting secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Arroyo appointed MGB head Horacio Ramos after the resignation last December of former DENR Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza Jr. in preparation for his campaign as mayoral candidate in the city of Manila.
Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez
Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez
He said it would be a bad idea to grant such massive power to someone already perceived to be overstaying in power but is still wanting for more. “The easy granting of emergency powers to the incumbent president could make her used to it such that it would be easy for her to claim it and declare it whenever it is convenient,” Cruz said. “It could be a bad precedent as she could just create a situation in the future where she can claim such emergency powers,” he said. According to Cruz, the power crisis should not
the country. To recall, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) had already said that the El Niño phenomenon is expected to cause an energy shortage of some 144 megawatts resulting to two to three hours of rotating brownouts in Mindanao. The NGCP noted that Luzon already has enough powers to supply the region and has the capability to export some to Visayas, which was also threatened earlier of a rotating brownout. (CBCPNews)
AMRSP says ‘EDSA 1 dreams remained dreams’
DESPITE all the commemorative programs and y e l l o w buntings and ribbons across the country in time for the 24th Anniversary of EDSA People Power I, the Association of Major Reli-
gious Superiors of the Philippines believe “the people are facing the very same enemy that they toppled in EDSA during those great days of February 1986.” In a statement, the ARMSP said the dreams that EDSA promised never materialized “for the atrocities that the people of 1986 denounced, happened again and in fact are gaining greater momentum now compared to what was happening then.” The joint statement, signed by Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB and Fr. Jesus Malit, SSS said the struggles and victories of EDSA were all short lived. Looking back, the ARMSP said
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
EDSA gave the people the opportunity to look back that led people to rise against the dominant powers of the 1980s. The factors that brought people together were the curtailment of freedom and democracy and the oppression committed by the conjugal dictatorship. “The abuses brought about by the long arms of the dictator reached that point where the country could no longer bear it and so the people raised their voices in discontent and swore that never again would evil prevail in our land,” they said. The association said the Catholic Church was greatly instrumental in the fall of the dictatorship, and have
Dreams / A6
A militant flashes a thumb down sign during a protest rally against the appointment of Horacio Ramos as the new DENR secretary.
The SOCSKARGEN CAN (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani Province and General Santos—Climate Action Network) fears that Ramos’ appointment could lead to more issuances of environmental permits on large-scale mining and agro-industrial plantations in the said areas. “We fear that under his administration, environmental impact assessments (EIA) and issuance of environmental clearance certificates (ECC) will be done in haste, undermining community and
DENR / A6
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Pontiff praying for quakestricken Chile
VATICAN CITY, Feb. 28, 2010—Benedict XVI is praying for Chile, which was hit Saturday with a 8.8magnitude earthquake. “My thought goes out to Chile and the populations affected by the earthquake, which caused numerous losses of human life and much damage,” the Pope said today after praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The latest death toll climbed to 708, and authorities said some 1.5 million Chileans were affected and 500,000 homes severely damaged. “I pray for the victims and am spiritually near to the persons tried by so grave a calamity; for them I implore from God relief from suffering and courage in these adversities,” the Holy Father said. “I am certain that they will not lack the solidarity of many, especially of ecclesial organizations.” (Zenit)
Pope Benedict calls for end to anti-Christian violence in Iraq
VATICAN CITY, Feb. 28, 2010—After the Angelus on Sunday, the Holy Father exhorted the international community to do “everything possible” to give Iraqis a future of “reconciliation and justice." His words against anti-Christian violence in Iraq were well received by Iraqi demonstrators in St. Peter's Square. Pope Benedict XVI related the "profound sadness" he felt upon learning of the killings of Christians in Mosul last week. He added that he has followed the violent events perpetrated against unarmed victims with "great preoccupation." The pontiff said that during the "intense meditation" of the spiritual exercises of the last week he prayed often for the victims. "Today, I wish to unite myself spiritually to the prayer for peace and for the restoration of security, promoted by the Council of Bishops of Nineveh," he added. The bishops of the Syro-Catholic, Syro-Orthodox and Chaldean Churches in Mosul made a plea for government protection for Christians and religious minorities in a letter to the Iraqi Prime Minister this week. The Holy Father said that he is "affectionately close" to the Christian community in Iraq and urged them to continue to be a positive force "for the nation to which, for centuries, you rightfully belong." While calling for Iraqi civil authorities to make “every effort to return security to the population and, in particular, to the most vulnerable religious minorities," he also expressed his hope that the authorities would not give in to the temptation "to make the temporary interests of a few prevail over the safety and fundamental rights of every citizen." He closed by greeting a group of Iraqis demonstrating in St. Peter's Square, saying: "I exhort the international community to do everything possible to give the Iraqis a future of reconciliation and justice, while I invoke with trust in God omnipotent the precious gift of peace." CNA spoke with Bishop Philip Najim, representative of the Chaldean Patriarchate to the Holy See, who joined the formidable group of Iraqis who advocated their cause in the presence of the Pope on Sunday. He said that the purpose of the Iraqi presence in St. Peter’s Square today was to provide "another call to the conscience of the international community to be able to intervene, to protect and really defend the rights of man that... has a right to life which is a gift from God." "We want to put an end, through the international community to these discriminations, these persecutions against the Christian communities in Iraq and the Middle East, especially the Middle East, and we want a peaceful life," Bishop Najim added. Iraqi priests studying and working in Rome turned out for the Angelus with flags and banners in hand. "Liberty, Equality, Peace" read one of their banners, black letters on a white background. "Iraqi Christians need an urgent International Intervention" read another. Peaceful protests were held in Christian-populated cities across the Plain of Nineveh on Sunday. These cities and villages have received a number of refugees in recent days, fleeing the violence in Mosul. Another protest has been organized for Monday by the Iraqi community of Paris. (CNA)
Two years after World Youth Day, Sydney sees Nuncio in Haiti reports needs of country's seminarians upsurge in vocations and ordinations
SYDNEY, Australia, Feb. 28, 2010—A record number of men are entering seminary for the Archdiocese of Sydney and up to six men will be ordained to the priesthood this coming June, a rise that observers partly attribute to the influence of World Youth Day 2008. On June 11, between four and six men will be ordained priests by the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell. This is the largest number of men ordained into the Archdiocese of Sydney since 1988, the archdiocese reports. Two Uganda-born men who studied at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush, Australia will be ordained in their home country and will return to serve in Australian parishes. “While Australia has been battling against a shortage of priests since the late 1980s, it now looks as if interest in the priesthood and men seeking priestly vocations is once more on the rise,” the archdiocese said on Friday. In February, 10 men were accepted as candidates for the priesthood by the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, and they have since begun their first year of study. "There is no doubt there has been an upsurge in interest in a priestly vocation," said seminary rector Fr. Anthony Percy. Fr. Percy attributed the trend to World Youth Day 2008 but also to past World Youth Day Events and to the Year for Priests, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2009. Another sign of vigor in Catholic Australia is Sydney’s Theology on Tap program, which attracts between seven and eight hundred people to P.J. Gallagher’s Irish Pub in Parramatta on the first Monday of each month. They drink, socialize and hear speakers on theology, faith, the Church and life in general. "Today many young people are seeking deeper meaning to their lives and not just looking for a career but for a vocation which can answer the big questions of life," Fr. Percy added. "In this post modern culture there are no values, no standards and no foundations on which to build minds. But young people really want these things and in a world of dysfunctional families and society generally, they are looking to the Church for stability." (CNA)
Youths reach out to poor children during Lent
JAKARTA, Indonesia, March 1, 2010—Young Catholic workers yesterday [Feb. 28] distributed school and household necessities to children from poor families in northern Jakarta, inspired by a Church Lenten message. Members of the Young Catholic Workers Group (KKMK) of St. Jacob Parish of Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta, together with youths from other parishes in the Jakarta archdiocese, visited 30 poor children at Rumah Kerang (House of Scallops). The facility is managed by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in the coastal district of Cilincing. Most of the poor children there eke out a living shelling scallops for less than US$1 a day. During the four-hour visit, the Catholic youths distributed books and schoolbags as well as rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt, milk, instant noodles, soap and secondhand clothes. They also made a cash donation to Sister Fransiska Hermin, head of the convent. “This … is in response to the archdiocese of Jakarta’s Lenten message on poverty. This is what inspired us,” Ermelinda Tara, KKMK’s coordinator, told UCA News. Young Catholics should be called upon to care for those in need, she said. “We chose this place because we wanted to help children from poor families. We wanted to give them something which they really needed,” she said. Tara said the group sent out emails, contacted people on Internet social networking sites and made an announcement in the parish’s weekly bulletin. She wants to see young Catholic workers providing “a ‘hook’ instead of a ‘fish’ in order to encourage people to help themselves.” Sister Hermin thanked the youths for the visit and their contributions. “It is good that young people have such a spirit. It helps them understand the lives of poor children here,” she told UCA News. Faisal, a 9-year-old Muslim boy, expressed his gratitude. “I am happy to get a new schoolbag. It was also good to play with the young Catholics here in the nuns’ house,” he told UCA News. (UCAN)
ROME, Italy, Feb. 26, 2010—The Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, sent a report to the Pontifical Mission Societies this week describing the situation facing seminarians in the devastated country. He explained that the Archbishop Bernardito Auza seminarians have “lost everything," adding that "putting them back to ‘normal’ life is a priority.” According to the Fides News Agency, the archbishop said that, “The greatest needs of the seminarians are clothing, toiletries, [and] tents to sleep in. Many of the seminarians have been sent back to their dioceses, but their dioceses are also extremely poor and in great need of assistance. The archbishop went on to note that although some books from the library were saved, “We need to purchase Bibles and fundamental texts (Vatican II, Catechism of the Catholic Church etc.) The ones they had were all lost in the rubble.” “The easiest, most flexible and fastest way to help these unfortunate seminarians is through financial aid that we can use according to the most urgent needs of the moment,” he added. “Thank you also for your efforts in favor of our traumatized seminarians. We believe that putting the seminarians back to 'normal' life is a priority." Fides reports that 15 seminarians, one professor and some staff members were killed by the January 12 earthquake. (CNA)
German bishops set up office to deal with abuse cases
FREIBURG, Germany, Feb. 26, 2010—The German Catholic Bishops' Conference has chosen one of its own to lead investigations into the cases of abuse in the German Church in the 70s and 80s. The news was announced at the conclusion of the plenary assembly of German bishops on Thursday by conference president Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. Vatican Radio reported that the bishops' statement read, "We German bishops accept our responsibility and condemn the crimes committed by religious, priests and lay collaborators in our dioceses." "Mortified and shocked," they asked the pardon and forgiveness of "all victims of these horrible acts." Vatican Radio also reported that the secretary of the episcopal conference has opened an office in Bonn to coordinate activities and collaborate in legal proceedings. They are planning a "phonea-friend" program that will soon be in place to provide further assistance to victims. Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier is now in charge of the operation. He is also the President of the episcopal conference's Commission for Justice and Peace. About 120 victims have come forward to date. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that, in the first legal action since news of the abuses came to light, prosecutors have now begun investigations into allegations at two German Catholic schools. The Washington Post also reported that Abbot Barnabas Boegle, head of the Ettal Monastery which oversees one of the two schools, stepped down Wednesday after eight former students alleged abuses there by priests. By August, Church guidelines governing cases of child sex abuse will be revised and updated. "We want everything to be clarified loyally, without false restraints," said Archbishop Zollitsch. "The victims have a right to that." The current norms have been in place since 2002. To work towards "full prevention," the archbishop also mentioned the need for a more attentive culture within schools and pastoral ministries, as well as proper formation for future priests. (CNA)
Indian bishops respond to image of Jesus smoking and drinking
GUWAHATI, India, Feb. 26, 2010—Bishops in India have responded to the publication of an image of Christ in a children’s textbook that shows Jesus holding a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and the word “Idol” beneath. Although “deeply offended,” the bishops said they are against seeking an “anti-blasphemy law” in the country. A statement from the Indian bishops, who are holding a bishops’ conference meeting in Guwahiti until March 3, was issued on Thursday. “We are deeply offended by the blasphemous image of Christ used on school books and on posters,” they said in the statement published by Fides. “We feel sad and indignant for this act of sacrilege. We support the legal actions taken by the government in the states of Meghalaya and Punjab, towards the perpetrators. “ The image was originally found in textbooks in the city of Shillong, which is located in the state of Meghalaya. Protests and unrest resulted from the posting of enlarged images in the streets of several Punjabi cities. The state of Meghalaya is preparing a lawsuit against the publisher, Skyline Publications, while the state of Punjab looks to prosecute the groups responsible for the printing and distribution of posters. In their statement the bishops took their appeal to a higher level, asking the central government to “promote, protect, and defend respect for religious symbols of all communities of believers throughout India.” An apology issued last week by the publisher claimed that the photo was included in textbooks due to “human error.” The bishops acknowledged the apology and said they hope such an error would never repeat itself in any publication in India. Commenting on the
possibility of an “antiblasphemy law” in Meghalaya, the Indian Church stated its opposition. Such an article already exists in the country’s penal code which establishes penalties for those who “hurt the religious sentiments of people,” they noted. The bishops added that a new anti-blasphemy law could possibly be exploited by fundamentalists against Christians, as has occurred in neighboring Pakistan. (CNA)
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
The Transfiguration shows that Jesus alone guides us, Pope Benedict teaches
VATICAN CITY, Feb. 28, 2010—Before the Angelus on the second Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father spoke about the Transfiguration. He explained that through the lessons in Sunday's readings we are taught that Jesus alone guides us. Speaking from his apartment window high above St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that while Luke does not refer to the occasion specifically as a "transfiguration," he describes the events and notes the changes in Jesus and the radiance of his garments. At the event, Moses and Elijah accompanied Jesus as symbols of the Law and the Prophets. Peter, James and John fought off sleep during the event, which the pontiff said exhibited their lack of comprehension. But when they woke, Moses and Elijah parted from Jesus' side and were covered by a cloud while Peter spoke. This cloud "reveals the glory of God," said the Holy Father, adding this had also happened to the Hebrew pilgrims in the desert. "The eyes can no longer see, but the ears can hear the voice that comes from the cloud: 'This is my beloved son. Listen to him!'" At this point in the Gospel, noted the Holy Father, everything returned to normal and the three apostles found themselves before Jesus alone. "Jesus is alone before his Father, while he prays, but, at the same time, 'Jesus alone' is everything that is given to the disciples and to the Church of all time: and that which must be enough on the path," said Pope Benedict. "He is the only voice to listen to, the only one to follow," said the Pope, "he that, going up towards Jerusalem, will give his life and one day 'will transfigure our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.'" The pontiff explained that in Peter's words, "Master, it is good that we are here," is seen a similarity to our own desire for consolation from the Lord. But, he added, "the Transfiguration reminds us that the joys spread by God through our lives are not starting points, but lights that He gives us in the earthly pilgrimage, so that 'Jesus alone' might be our Law and his Word might be the criterion that guides our existence." The Holy Father closed his words before the Angelus inviting all people to meditate on the Gospel. He also expressed his wish that all "in this Year for Priests Pastors are truly penetrated by the Word of God," knowing it and
Migrants’ Sunday observance highlights Church’s concern for OFW’s
MANILA, Feb. 19, 2010─The Catholic Church paid tribute to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on Feb. 21, the national celebration of Migrants Sunday, in an effort to make society understand and appreciate more the sacrifices OFWs endured to provide their families a decent life. The 24th National Migrants Sunday (NMS) celebration which carried the theme “Sustainable Economic Development: Key to an Effective Migrant Family Reunification” was also an occasion for people to realize how the Church responds to the growing concern of labor migration. Poor economic policy promotes migration According to the Episcopal Commission on Migrant and Itinerant People (ECMI) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the decline of socio-economic and political environment at home had encouraged Filipinos to leave the country and seek better paying jobs abroad. Many Filipinos, especially the poor are quick to consider migration as the only option to combat economic poverty and social injustice. But the government, even after four decades of labor migration, has shown insufficient economic development for its own people. Many OFWs observed that a lot depends on good governance to create a sustainable economic environment that would entice investments. “Job creation that would not only afford their basic daily needs but offers hope to upgrade the ordinary people’s economic and social standards are key elements that would discourage them to abandon the homeland,” an accountant who had been working in the Middle East has opined. Election The migrants sector regards the upcoming election as a critical time to assess the stance of political candidates on the issue of migration. According to ECMI, the OFWs have expressed their opinions that the next set of political leaders should seriously address the plight of migrants. Both Church and migrants’ sector believe that a strong political will is needed for good governance to take effect in the country’s leadership. NMS celebration in Dioceses Several dioceses that have active migrants’ ministry honored the unsung heroes in their areas with program of activities during the migrants’ celebration. Seven parishes at the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City joined the first diocesan celebration of NMS with a Eucharistic celebration presided by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ. He was assisted by Msgr. Tex Legitimas, according to Sr. Alice Arreglo, DC of the Apostleship of the Sea-CDO. In Davao, Archbishop Fernando Capalla led the migrants and their families in a mass and fellowship in Davao City, together with his newly-appointed diocesan minister for migrants. The Diocese of Tagbilaran hosted the major celebration of NMS in the Visayas. Bishop Leonardo Medroso led about 1,500 migrants and their families at the Eucharistic celebration celebrated at Wisdom School Gym, according to Gerry Gonzales, ECMI-Visayas Coordinator. Similar activities were also held in the diocese of Maasin, Jaro and Bacolod. Bayombong diocese hosted the biggest celebration of the NMS in Luzon at the Nueva Viscaya State University (NVSU). Bishop Ramon Villena presided a mass to be attended by a large number of vacationing OFWs and their families. At St. William Cathedral in San Fernando, La Union, Bishop Artemio Rillera held a fellowship for OFW families after the Eucharistic celebration where members of La Union Inter-Agency for Migrants Council (LUIMCO) participated. In Pampanga, Archbishop Paciano Aniceto and Bishop Pablo David will led the Kapampangans in celebrating the Eucharist at the Holy Rosary Parish in Angeles City. In Southern Luzon, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles also led the mass and fellowship with OFW families at St. Francis Major Seminary in Lipa City. At St. Gregory Academy in Indang, Cavite, Bishop Antonio Tagle presided over the Eucharist, followed by the Sons and Daughters of Overseas Filipinos (SDO) assembly. In Manila, Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francis de Leon led the celebration of the mass at 9:00 a.m. at the Nuestra Señora de Guia in Ermita organized by the archdiocesan migrant minister Fr. Tem Fabros. Meanwhile, Bishop Gabriel Reyes also presided a 9:00 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Our
Migrants’ Sunday / A6
Family unity essential to child formation, says Cardinal Antonelli
VATICAN CITY, Feb. 26, 2010—Speaking to a group of Catholic business people from Italy in Rome this week, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, highlighted the importance of a united family for raising children. He also touched on issues that affect the family today. Under the theme of "Family and Business, Vital Cells of Society," Cardinal Antonelli spoke about the effects of the composition of the family on the future of children. The Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano reported that Cardinal Antonelli put particular emphasis on the effects of a missing father figure on children. The president of the Council for the Family cited statistics from the U.S., which he said illustrate a trend in many parts of the Western world. Ninety percent of homeless people, 72 percent of adolescent suicides, 60 percent of rapists and 85 percent of youth in jail grew up without a father present, he said. The cardinal also listed a number of other negative effects on children whose parents don't remain together. These children are particularly susceptible, he stated, citing statistics that show these kids suffer from double the average number of pyschological, scholastic, social and work problems. Among the major causes of this situation is the fact that both parents work outside of the home, he observed. "The self-realization sought by the woman in a job, in a career, in social success has as a cost the renouncement of the marriage and children." Cardinal Antonelli expressed his concern for additional complications
loving it so it might guide their lives and form their thought. After the Angelus the Holy Father remembered the victims of violence in Iraq and called for authorities to protect religious minorities in the country. He also prayed for "relief from suffering” and courage for those hit by an earthquake in Chile on Saturday. (CNA)
brought on by the ideology that says one can personally choose his or her gender, regardless of their biological sex. He also warned that the assertion of a "right" to gay marriage and the adoption of children by homosexual couples would lead to complications. The traditional family, he said, is even being considered oppressive injustice, and matrimony and maternity are viewed as things from which a woman must liberate herself. The population debate was also touched on by Cardinal Antonelli, who called for market reform and demographic equilibrium through responsible procreation as alternatives to methods such as abortion and contraception that are meant to decrease fertility, reduce population and increase economic wealth. In countries that are deemed to be overpopulated, he offered that ethically honest and natural methods can be used to limit the birth rate. But, in countries where population is aging due to a lack of fertility, he said that there must be a reevaluation of paternity and maternity, assisted by economic support. To start a family, he stated, "you need reasonable economic security," and this climate should be provided for through "mechanisms of protection." (CNA)
© Pinky Barrientos, FSP / CBCP Media
International convention Sibuyan island communities marking Year for Priests decry midnight mine deal open to all faithful
VATICAN CITY, Feb. 23, 2010—To mark the end of the Year for Priests in June of this year an international convention will be held in Rome. Events are open to priests and anyone else who feels called to "prayer for the spiritual support and sanctification of Clergy." The convention, titled "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priest," will take place from June 9 - 11, 2010. Four major events at various sites around the Eternal City are planned to mark the occasion. On the first day, the theme of "Conversion and Mission" will be developed at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-walls, where the remains of St. Paul lie entombed under the altar. Archbishop Joachim Meisner of Cologne will lead the reflection and Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, will preside at Mass. The next day, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec, will give a conference on "The Cenacle: the invocation of the Holy Spirit in union with Mary and in fraternal communion” at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Cardinal Ouellet's presentation will be followed by a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. On the evening of the same day, June 10, a vigil will take place in St. Peter's Square, featuring testimonies, musical interludes, dialogue with the Holy Father Benedict XVI, Adoration and the Eucharistic blessing. Benedict will preside over Mass at St. Peter Basilica in the Vatican. According to a communique from the Congregation for Clergy announcing the events, the convention is meant to be a "true and real 'spiritual itinerary.'" The schedule will guide participants from the "the conversion of St. Paul and his missionary zeal" to "the experience of divine intimacy, root and foundation of every apostulate, in the Cenacle with the Blessed Virgin Mary and invoking the Spirit." The conclusion of the event offers an occasion for "renewal of the faith and the priestly promises, around the Successor of Peter" in the encounter with the Pope for Mass at the Vatican. According to the Congregation, the occasion is "obviously" open to "all faithful who, sincerely and with authentic evangelical spirit, perceive the particular importance of prayer for the spiritual support and sanctification of the Clergy, as well as the consecrated souls that live the dimension of spiritual maternity, in communion and under the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary." (CNA) MANILA, Feb. 19, 2010—Communities of Sibuyan Island in Romblon province have criticized the government for granting a license to a Canada-based firm to mine in the island. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has granted the Canadabased Altai Resources through its Philippine subsidiary Altai Philippines Mining Corporation (APMC) a permit to mine nickel on 1,822 hectares in the island. DENR secretary Lito Atienza signed the accord last December 23, 2009, five days before he quit the post on December 28. Anti-mining groups censured the government’s deal with the mining companies saying the agreement will destroy the island’s diverse ecosystem. “Sibuyan folks are disgusted and annoyed with this kind of development. We were not even informed about the approval and no news whatsoever. We just knew about it when a statement was published on the internet,” said Domingo Marin, president of Sibuyanons Against Mining (SAM) a Sibuyan-based advocacy group. Sibuyan communities got hold of news of the mining agreement
January 8 this year, when it was announced in Australia by Pelican Resources Ltd., parent company of Sunshine Gold Pty., Ltd, which has a stake at Sibuyan Nickel Properties Development Corporation (SNPDC), a company owned by
APMC. The agreement between the government and mining company was confirmed in a letter sent by Engr. Roland de Jesus of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region IV-B to the Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE). “This is a clear disrespect to Sibuyanons, the government through the DENR has proven again itself as an agent of destruction,” said Rodne Galicha, Sibuyan ISLE executive director. Galicha lamented that the island’s environment is already being endangered because of destruction brought by natural and man-made calamities.
Sibuyan / A6
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Moral Reflection on AIDS
IT is clear that the situation demands the pastoral care of the Church. For the Church must continue the mission of Jesus. In announcing the Good News of salvation, in healing the sick, in forgiving sinners, in being compassionate with the multitudes, Jesus showed what the Church must do. God’s people must be at the side of those who suffer. Especially for the needy and the suffering of today, the Church must be the compassion of Jesus. Our ministry of compassion for the afflicted must overcome fears and prejudices. Jesus has shown us the way, through the manner in which he dealt with lepers, the ostracized and “untouchables” of his time. “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean” (Mk. 1:41). For us, an encounter with people infected with HIV-AIDS should be a moment of grace—an opportunity for us to be Christ’s compassionate presence to them as well as to experience His presence in them. 1. Our first attitude must be to serve and minister. Those who contract HIV-AIDS, whether by accident or by consequence of their own actions, carry with them a heavy burden: social stigmatization, ostracism, and condemnation. Let us reach out to them, welcome them, serve them, as Jesus did the sick of his time. To attend to their pain is to attend to the whole Mystical Body, to attend to Christ Himself who is the Head. If there has been any moral responsibility, we must be ready to say, as Jesus to the sinner: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, from now on do not sin anymore” (Jn. 8:11). 2. To help stem the spread of this dread disease, we as a Church must collaborate with other social agencies in providing factual education about HIV-AIDS. So extensive is the popular ignorance about the disease as to encourage an irresponsible, cavalier and casual attitude to sexual relationships. And too many are the myths surrounding it as to prevent effective pastoral care for those afflicted. 3. Most of all, we need to recognize the moral dimension of the disease. Though medically the cause of the disease can be identified as a virus, our faith tells us that its cause and solution go beyond the physical. We cannot ignore the possibility that through this pandemic the loving Lord may be calling us, his children, to profound renewal and conversion: “for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges” (Heb. 12:6; cf. 1 Cor. 11:32; Prov. 3:11-12). HIV-AIDS and other calamities that visit us are not necessarily the punishment of a loving and forgiving God for our personal or collective sins. But we know that Nature itself has often its own unremitting laws of reward and retribution with regard to actions we take, freely or not. 4. The moral dimension of the problem of HIV-AIDS urges us to take a sharply negative view of the condom-distribution approach to the problem. We believe that this approach is simplistic and evasive. It leads to a false sense of complacency on the part of the State, creating an impression that an adequate solution has been arrived at. On the contrary, it simply evades and neglects the heart of the solution, namely, the formation of authentic sexual values. 5. Moreover, it seeks to escape the consequences of immoral behavior without intending to change the questionable behavior itself. The “safe-sex” proposal would be tantamount to condoning promiscuity and sexual permissiveness and to fostering indifference to the moral demand as long as negative social and pathological consequences can be avoided. Furthermore, given the trend of the government’s family planning program, we have a well-founded anxiety that the drive to promote the acceptability of condom use for the prevention of HIV-AIDS infection is part of the drive to promote the acceptability of condom use for the contraception. For the above reasons we strongly reprobate media advertisements that lure people with the idea of so-called safe-sex, through condom-use. As in contraception, so also in preventing HIV-AIDS infection condom use is not a failsafe approach. 6. We cannot emphasize enough the necessity of holding on to our moral beliefs regarding love and human sexuality and faithfully putting them into practice. All these, in order to prevent the spread of the disease and to provide the foundations for effective and compassionate pastoral care for those afflicted. Among these moral beliefs is the beauty, mystery and sacredness of God’s gift of human love. It reflects the very love of God, faithful, and life-giving. This marvelous gift is also a tremendous responsibility. For sexual love must be faithful, not promiscuous. It must be committed, open to life, life-long and not casual. This is why the full sexual expression of human love is reserved to husband and wife within marriage. Monogamous fidelity and chastity within marriage—these are ethical demands, flowing from human love as gift and responsibility for the married. As for all those who are not married, we will not cease enjoining fidelity to the same moral beliefs. Our secularistic era may scoff at them as old-fashioned. But modernity and its worldly values do not abolish the continuing validity of St. Paul’s words—”Your life is hidden with Christ in God... Put to death then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry” (Col. 3:3-5). When one lives by faith, as all followers of Christ must, one is convinced that chastity and the refusal to engage in extra-marital sexual activity are the best protection against HIV-AIDS. To our beloved Priests, Religious and other Faithful who have committed themselves to a life of celibacy, we say: You are a sign for others that chastity lived for the Kingdom of God and a well integrated and ordered sexualities are not only possible but are actually being lived. 7. In the face of the rapidly spreading scourge of HIV-AIDS, we cannot overstate the need for a profound moral renewal of our people. This was the call of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines for the transformation of our society (PCP-II Acts and Decrees, e.g. no. 32). This, too, is our call for the radical prevention of the HIV-AIDS disease. Nothing short of this can effectively respond to the deep-rooted moral cause of the problem. It is at depth a moral issue. We must not, therefore, forget the absolute imperative of moral renewal, while continuing to search for the medical solution. In the Compassion of Jesus, A CBCP Pastoral Letter on AIDS, 1993
Oscar V. Cruz, DD
Views and Points
IT is both funny and strange when the standard battle cry of “Separation of Church and State” is fervently and loudly invoked when certain individuals in tenure of a public office feel frustrated in their ethically questionable options or meet rejection of their morally bankrupt projects. This is exactly the sentiment and the counter-offensive of someone who should know better what the Philippine Constitution really provides and means. The real problem of such government officials is their futile wish for the bishops, priests and religious to act as if they know nothing, see nothing, and say nothing even when said public officials engage in unethical and/or immoral plans, programs and projects. There appears to be the vivid desire to be exempted from the Commandments in the order of nature, to be over and above solid ethical norms and sound moral principles. Recently, there was the loud and public lamentation made by the head of a government agency concerned, that sounded something like this: The CBCP has the blame in the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases in the Philippines when its free condom gimmick during the last Valentine’s Day was censured by some bishops. Perhaps, just perhaps, the otherwise illustrious public official, does not know that condoms are not only supposedly anti-aids and contra-population items—but also, and specially so, gadgets that are pro-promiscuity, pro-infidelity, pro-immorality, pro-irresponsibility and other unsound value systems. Incidentally, the same personality appears curiously blind and silent about the following AIDS/HIV highly effective transmission
‘Separation of Church and State’
realities: The continuous operation of many prostitution houses all over the country—catering to people of different socio-economic standings. The rising number of motels famous for their “short-time” rates—sprouting out specially in urban areas. The blatant exhibition of gross sexual materials through the internet nationwide—with proper instructions where to go for the “real thing”. The official local porno IT sites—“by the way” buying and selling downright raw sex. The hiring of women and young girls found roaming around many streets—as “pick-up” businesses. “Escort” services. Sex “tours”. “Adult only” Sex clubs. And other means for truly efficacious dissemination of sexual diseases. By the way, the constitutional provision invoked does not even say such an esoteric and arcane phrase “separation of church and state”. Instead, the Fundamental Law of the Land rightly provides that the State shall not have an official religion, viz., shall not adopt any Church as its official faith. This basic law of the land is not only right and just, but also proper and prudent. Reason: There are so many “Churches”, creeds and sects in practically all the corners of the streets in the country that for the State to choose anyone of them as its official religion, ultimately means interminable religious squabbles—not to mention the possibility of scandalous and dangerous “religious wars”. Hence, when a priest himself is a governor, when no less than a religious leader is campaigning for the Office of the President, when bishops become members of government commissions and the like, the so called “Separation of Church and State” is not even invoked.
Candle-light for the unborn
ON March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation and Incarnation of Jesus in the womb of Mary, we will be celebrating once again the National Day of the Unborn Babies. In 2005, pro-life groups were able to secure from President Gloria M. Arroyo the Executive Order declaring March 25 as the National Day of the Unborn, just as this is being celebrated in many other countries around the world. A reminder has been sent to all Dioceses to encourage their parishes to hold the Eucharistic Celebration followed by a Candlelighting Ceremony on March 25. A special feature this year is for the organizers to invite political candidates who have declared themselves to be pro-life to join the activity. The ceremony will have a three-fold purpose: to make the public aware of the thousands of innocent lives lost in abortion, to pray for the babies in the womb who are in danger of abortion because their moms are not ready for that pregnancy, and to strengthen the commitment of the political
Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, RGS
the consequences of their poor choice, while the men involved, the parents, friends, and abortion providers seem to get away with the burden of their sin. While we use the Memorials to call attention to the humanity of the unborn and to stop abortion, much has to be done to prevent abortions in the first place: value-oriented human sexuality and fertility education programs, responsible parenthood and parenting, and maternal and infant health services. Condom and contraceptive pills promotion has intensified lately, on the excuse of stopping HIV-AIDS. Instead of confronting those campaigns with our own pro-life rallies, we believe that prayer and fasting during this time of Lent will be more effective in accomplishing the will of God in our promotion of the value and respect for Life. Do join our mission. Call Pro-life office at 733-7027/ 0919-233-7783 or email at life@ prolife.org.ph for more information and materials for your own campaign.
candidates to pursue their pro-life stand. Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, D.D., Chair of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, endorsed the activity and instructed that it should be a “Silent Prayer” for Life. The political candidates then will not be asked to speak but will just join the silent lighting of the candles. Since many parishes have a memorial or monument of the unborn in their church yard, lighting the candles in front of those memorials will make the activity more significant. I feel bad whenever I visit parishes and I see some memorials neglected and ignored. Those monuments could be very good educational tools to promote the value of life and stop abortion. Post-aborted women could be led to those memorials to offer candles or flowers in order to finish their grief over the loss of their baby and help in their healing. I have much compassion for women who had abortion because of fear, abandoned, given the wrong advice, then left alone to suffer
Fr. Melvin P. Castro
Speaking of Mary
LAST February 12, though already a little bit late in the evening, we took some time off to visit the Carmelite nuns gathered together at the Mater Carmeli Monastery in Sta. Ignacia (Tarlac). They represented the nine Carmelite monasteries belonging to the Federation of Stella Maris— contemplative nuns belonging to the ancient Order of Carmel. It was a sight to behold the happy, and I should say, angelic faces of the Carmelite nuns. I feel extremely happy that there are still young women willing to sacrifice all and be a part of a contemplative congregation. I always recall with sentimentality that during the dying days of my mother, she asked me to write a letter to her Carmelite friend in the Carmel of the Holy Family in Guiguinto (Bulacan) to ask her for prayers. We did not receive any letter-response then. But a decade letter, I would just be surprised by the Lord and by Our Lady, that a Carmelite Monastery would be built in our Diocese in Tarlac and the Foundress-Prioress turned out to be my mother’s friend to whom we wrote a decade ago. A solace and a refuge, that is how I will describe Carmel. When the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima came over in 2003/04, we were able to visit a number of Carmelite Monasteries both belonging to the Order of Carmel (O.Carm.) and to the Order of Carmelite Discalced (OCD). We went as far as Laoag Carmel, Baguio Carmel, Burgos Carmel, Sta. Ignacia (Tarlac) Carmel, Subic Carmel, Lipa Carmel, Zamboanga Carmel. And I was personally able to visit Jaro Carmel and Guiguinto Carmel.
And both my retreats in preparation for the diaconal and presbyteral ordinations were done in the Tertiary House of Carmel in New Manila. I have yet to see a Carmelite Monastery in which there is no one silently kneeling and praying or someone offering a votive candle. I have come to equate Carmel to peace and tranquility, no, not a place to run away from the world and seek a momentary peace. It is a place to encounter God and Our Lady, to find strength to face and confront, and change, the world. It is not fuga mundi, to run away from the world, but to face the world with the strength of God and the joy of Our Lady. This is Carmel. For some, perhaps, monasteries are vestiges of the past, relics of the medieval times, artifacts of history. I just wish that somewhere, sometime in their life, they would try to sit or kneel or just be silent in monastery, and there in that silence, to encounter God and to know their true selves. For sure, within the monastery walls, there will be struggles as well. No one is exempted from that. Yet the prayer and silence of Carmel or of any other monastery assures us we are not alone in struggling for sanctity. It has been often said that monasteries are like the powerhouses of the Church. That the silent prayers and sacrifices of the contemplatives sustain the Church and all her apostolates. And this is very, very true.
Mary / A5
Pedro C. Quitorio
Pinky Barrientos, FSP
Kris P. Bayos
Melo M. Acuña
Managing Editor News Editor
Roy Q. Lagarde
Ernani M. Ramos
Circulation Manager Comptroller
Laurence John R. Morales Marcelita Dominguez
Layout Artist and Online Editor
The CBCP Monitor is published fortnightly by the CBCP Communications Development Foundation, Inc., with editorial and business offices at 470 Gen. Luna St., Intramuros, Manila. P.O. Box 3601, 1076 MCPO. Editorial: (063) 404-2182. Business: (063)404-1612. ISSN 1908-2940
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Jose B. Lugay
Laiko Lampstand On local governance and social transformation
THE headlines, now that the campaign period for the May 2010 elections has started, are replete with the ranking of presidential candidates—changing in favor of those who sponsored the surveys. Whether the results are credible or not, they are newsworthy and influences future voters’ selection process for president and vice president. Another decision-making tool for selecting a presidential candidate is the holding of the presidential forum. The first salvo to educate the electorate about the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates for the position of president was the forum of eight invited presidentiables sponsored by ANC conducted at the University of Santo Tomas auditorium. This gave the university students and TV audiences a chance to look at the candidates microscopically using whatever rating scheme they choose to employ. This first exposure led to more groups inviting the candidates for President, including business groups like the Makati Business Club, the Foreign Correspondents of the Philippines and others. In addition, this presidential campaign now uses the internet extensively. It has exploded into a new phenomena—personal campaigning by means of e-mail, facebook, twitter, blogs and all types of social communication. Filipinos, who monitored the American campaign and the subsequent victory of Barrack Obama as the first U.S. black president, hope that using social communication technology will give the same results, that is, election of the favorite candidate of the technically proficient crowd, as President. Whether it is the candidate of the Liberal Party, the LakasKampi-CMD, or the Nacionalita Party who will eventually win, people will demand much from the winning candidates, especially the President-elect. In a short time, within a period of one year, at the most, complaints will be heard especially from the poor segment of the population and the party-list representatives of Congress representing the minority interests that the newly elected president has failed in his promises of change for the better. The disappointment is expected if one believes that social transformation can be effected at once with electing a new President and his ruling party. This is far from reality. The fact is that it is effective local governance represented by the mayors and governors of each province, guided by the policies of the new administration, which is the direct critical success factor for effective social transformation. While the political exercise of campaigning is necessary for a democracy like the Philippines, what differentiates us from other countries is that most of the voters are Catholics. Social transformation starts with the person’s conversion to do good. Hence the burden of blame if social transformation is not attained rests on the Church—the People of God—the clergy, the religious and the 99% laity. To achieve social transformation in local governance, the political administration of municipalities and provinces must be manned by people of moral integrity with concern for the common good. The major success factors that must be developed are: Understanding the culture of the people including the one who governs and the governed—their values , beliefs and practices ; Eliciting from the community its vision and mission and supporting these with goals, objectives and action plans. There can be no measurable achievement if there are no clear goals and directions from the start. Establishing a working system within the local government— methods, procedures and processes to guide workers to do their tasks within the constitutional and legal framework. Providing the means and resources- the allocation of funds, facilities and manpower to approved local government projects. Archbishop Oscar Cruz during a National Conference on Social Transformation held by the Sangguninang Laiko ng Pilipinas, made this comment to the frustration of advocates on the slow change towards Christian Social Transformation: “This must be due to the fact that Christian Social Transformation is a sociospiritual reality based on socio-temporal elements.” In short, he concludes, “In addition to spiritual renewal, there must also be renewal in the temporal world.” This means that the advocates of social transformation should first know and understand the Role of the Laity. This specific role—doing the specific social-temporal element—relate to the third of the three missions of Jesus Christ: the kingly mission/ministry. While the priestly role relates to participation in the celebration of the sacraments and the prophetic role relates to the spreading of the Word of God through evangelization with action in the world, the kingly role is the role to govern. This is the greatest challenge to the laity because one must not only be practicing Christian virtues leading to holiness but he must at the same time be able to practice situational leadership as well as implementing management systems and methods. In short, the leader-disciple must move straddling between the realm of the spiritual and the corporate world. With this in view, we realize now that the challenge to local governance is balancing between two worlds—the world of the spirit and the temporal world. The first move of the lay person in his progress towards Christian social transformation is his “witnessing” in his specific field of endeavor. The second move is for him to be together with like-minded individuals to form a small community, learning from each other and working together as a team on a specific project. Then comes the critical move—the choice of a leader for local governance. In short, there is a real need to institutionalize the selection process for community leaders whether they be for the barangay tanod, the local councilor, the mayor and governor. This is an activity which local lay leaders involved in church work find to be a dangerous ground to tread. This is reflected in our spiritual formation exercises where examples cited for sin and greed are the politicians which have very high visibility. The word politics has become mud to the devoted laity’s ears! But if the Catholic Church wants to improve local governance for eventual social transformation, we must start with the selection of the right people to run for local positions during the 2010 election. If one has not heard of it yet, the process for selection of worthy candidates for this coming election, the CiDE process, has been given to diocesan representatives in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao by Dilaab Foundation. For those interested and want further details, please contact Fr. Carmelo Diola, Dilaab Foundation, Archdiocese of Cebu.
Fr. Roy Cimagala
YOU would know summer is here when all of a sudden you see the bougainvilleas around bloom in exploding profusion and color. Seeing them makes you forget the inconveniences of summer. It tells you summer has its own blessings, its own fun and beauty. You just have to know how to make use of them. I was reminded of this bougainvillea-in-summer image as I reviewed all this issue about the new Secretary of Health distributing condoms to the public last Valentine´s Day and, as latest news would have it, up to when she ends her term. Her act offers a precious opportunity—to clarify things. Like the bougainvillea, this task of clarifying may have thorns, but it also has those beautiful flowers. Frankly, I was amused by all the antics surrounding the controversy. No, I was not irritated or disturbed. Just that, amused. As a doctor, she is free to prescribe anything she thinks is good for the patient. Of course, that is not infallible. Many doctors have given wrong prescriptions after making wrong diagnoses too. Besides, I still have to convince myself that human fertility is a disease to be cured by some drug or gadget. But as a public official with zeal to serve the people, she must have felt she has to go beyond simply prescribing. She has to go out to the streets, walk her talk, and give away condoms. That´s where she starts to get some reactions. Some bishops called for her resignation, an understandable reaction given our democratic system. She answered by calling the Church ¨vicious,¨ lectured professorially on the standard bull about Church-state separation, and instantly attracted the usual following who praised her to high heavens for having balls. I hope she’ll have the bigger balls to admit that in all this condom business, she also has to input the indispensable moral elements. Morality is not optional. It is not a religious peculiarity. It is a universal, natural need. Its nature is not defined only by practicality. It’s by the very dignity of a human person. Her first excuse was that she has to do something to curb the rise of HIV-AIDS, and what better way than to spread prophylactics. Children got hold of them too and promptly made them into balloons. Talking about scandals nowadays has already
Dra. Cabral´s condoms
been considered passé. She said she´s for the ABC method—abstinence, be faithful, and if these fail, then condoms. So you see it´s really not that bad. She´s just being practical. If the moral fails, then why not the immoral, that is still short of aborting and killing. She has a point. Right or wrong, we´ll see. Anyway, who cares about morality nowadays? That’s really our problem today. Then she also said she has to distribute condoms because our population is just too much or too many. We cannot cope with the people´s needs. In her calculus, condoms will solve the problem or at least give some significant relief. And by the way, powerful groups like the EU, the US, and others are giving generous grants in Euros and dollars to promote the condoms. We do not know anymore if this open season against morality is driven by conviction or by economic considerations. Knowing our politicians, we have basis to wonder. What can give a window of hope is that these interfering blocs, already morally bankrupt for some time, are starting to bankrupt themselves financially with the current global economic crisis. Let’s wait a little for how this development unfolds. In the meantime, other relevant elements spring up. Robin Padilla—I pray for him—obviously paid, is now going around promoting Godless family planning. In the blogosphere—you have to be extremely careful and game there—an orgy of pro-immoralfamily-planning sentiments explodes, dripping with mockery, insults and name-calling. Imagine, Church and spiritual leaders who appeal for a moral sense in this issue are now called Talibans, holdouts of the dark ages, rigid, dense, detached from reality, etc. The only consolation is that that kind of reaction will just fizzle out shortly. It’s like a showy firework only. It cannot stand the test of reason. It cannot cope with the demands of truth and justice. We are still in Lent. Perhaps, this thorny issue is meant to purify us further. We need to see this whole affair within the context of our faith and beliefs, using it to nourish our ascetical life and sharpen our sense of duty to evangelize forcefully but always in truth and charity.
The good news according to the admin
OF late some papers carried Ganito Tayo Noon, Ganito Tayo Ngayon spread in two colored whole-page comparison of how we performed over the years our EconomistPresident Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo led the country. The advertisement obviously came from the administration’s coffers unlike the presidential, vice-presidential and senatorial aspirants whose television and radio commercials and tarpaulins have all been paid for by their friends. There maybe some truth to what has been published but there are certain items that should not have seen print. I see no reason why the government should take pride in the increase in remittances from our overseas Filipino workers because it only goes to show our economy is reliant on Filipinos who ironically have to go abroad because the local economy cannot provide them decent jobs. There must have been an increase in tourist arrivals but government data should have been more specific as to where these tourists came from. There are talks most of these “tourists” were OFWs returning from their
Melo M. Acuña
Issues and Concerns
who among those charged have been convicted. On the other hand, the Asian Development Bank released its book titled Poverty in the Philippines, Causes, Constraints and Opportunities last December 10, 2009. ADB said economic growth did not translate into poverty reduction in recent years. The same article said that though the country experienced moderate economic growth in recent years, poverty reduction has been slow. “Inequality remained high.” Poverty, according to ADB, remains a mainly rural phenomenon, though urban poverty is on the rise. It also confirmed our worst fears that many Filipino households remain vulnerable to shocks and risks. Governance and institutional constraints remain, according to the ADBP study. Our presidential candidates should be able to explain in clear-cut terms what they intend to do to improve the Filipinos’ lot. Noynoy, Manny, Gibo, Erap, Dick, Bro. Eddie, Nicky, JC and Jamby should be able to tell us how they’ll do it.
postings abroad. On peace and order, the government claimed a significant reduction in the CPP/ NPA/NDF manpower strength from 11,260 in 2001 to 5,021 in 2009 along with the reduction of the dreaded Abu Sayyaf Group from 1,269 in 2000 to 407 in May 2009. However, the publication was silent on the expected reduction of private armed groups across the country. Whatever happened to the promise to rid the country of PAGs every election time since 2001? I bet they increased in number and firepower. Has the government “cracked” the known illegal gambling syndicates across the country? What about the proliferation of illegal gambling activities from jueteng to lucky two, suertres and “small town lotteries” owned and operated by known gambling lords? The government advertisement could have featured its successes in its campaign against graft and corruption, including the amount it saved from petty graft and corrupt practices in local and national government offices. It could have reported
Rev. Euly B. Belizar, SThD
By the Roadside
I ONCE had a dream. I found myself having a conversation with Donald Trump the multi-billionaire (who someone I know said “is just outrageously wealthy”), the one with the famous quip: “You’re fired!” I heard myself saying, “Mr. Trump, you have so much wealth. Perhaps you could use some of that not only to build casinos, towers and golf courses but also to put up really great shelters for the homeless and big feeding centers for the hungry around the world.” With eyebrows meeting and eyes squinting he said to me, “Excuse me? What did you say, er-Sir?” I repeated my words. But he shouted, “I’m sorry. I really can’t hear you. It’s so noisy where I am.” With a sigh I said, “In that case, Mr. Trump—” He almost screamed, “In that case what?” I said, “In that case, Mr. Trump, you’re fired!” End of the dream. I couldn’t believe I fired Mr. Trump in a dream (in reality he can be anything but). I rewound that conversation in my mind. I wondered why he said he couldn’t hear me in the noise where he was. Then it occurred to me that our attachment to possessions can dispossess us first of silence and the ability to listen to others and, especially, to God. By possessions I mean not simply hard cash or money in the bank, jewelry, real estate, cars etc. My ideas, my perspectives, my plans, my desires are also my possessions. And they can create as much (if not greater) noise in me as my material possessions can cloud my mind. As loud music shatters a conversation, lack of silence and listening keeps us from the right action. *** The silence that a disciple of Jesus Christ needs is not only external silence but especially inner silence. Jesus himself models this silence for us. “Though he was in the form of God,” says St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians, “he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave coming in human likeness; and found in human appearance,
Mary / A4
Silence, Listening, Action
he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8). Jesus dispossessed himself of his divine glory (inner silence) before he was even born in a manger (external silence). We are told by the gospels that Jesus could spend nights in prayer (cf. Lk 6:13) which required a huge amount of external silence. But that was because, as he says in Jn, “my food is to do the will of him who sent me” (Jn 4:34) which means he had an equally enormous amount of inner silence. From the start he let go of his own plans, perspectives, desires and focused on that of the Father. Because of this inner silence Jesus was able to go through the external humiliation and suffering of the cross. His resurrection is the Father’s proof that both the inner and external silence of Jesus has truly allowed the God of Life to fully reveal himself. This isn’t unlike the inner and external silence of the death of winter giving way to the explosion of life in spring and summer. Indeed April showers bring in May flowers. *** After Jesus there is Mary. For me our Lady is like the moon to Jesus who is like the sun. The moon’s light reflects that of the sun. So does Mary reflect Jesus. This is so true especially in the matter of Mary’s silence. The silence of Mary is first of all inner because from the start she made a decision: “I am the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38), as she said surrendering herself to the Lord’s plan announced to her by the Archangel Gabriel. Because of that inner silence should we wonder why in the pages of the gospel we seldom hear Mary utter a word? In fact, in the whole New Testament it’s only in the first two chapters of St. Luke and the second chapter of St. John that Mary speaks. In Mary inner silence flows right into external silence. Even at the foot of the cross, grieving, Mary stands silent. This reminds me of a woman who said, “I love my mom not only for what she has taught me but especially for the moments in which she simply kept quiet.” Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement has, to my mind, the best way of putting it: “Mary is the silence through which the Word of God speaks”. If the drama of salvation were to be staged Mary would be the backdrop through which the Star breaks into light. By her silence she is able to receive Jesus in her womb as well as in her heart and mind. She pondered the Word in silence, treasuring that Word in her heart. Then she translated what she heard by her obedience. “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it” (Lk 11:28) is really Jesus’ tribute to Mary. No wonder she is the foremost disciple of the Lord. She did not stop at receiving Jesus the Word. She also enabled the Word to be brought to fulfillment and was first to share it with others; thus, in the language of PCP II, Mary, “the first to be evangelized”, was also “the first evangelizer”. After Jesus and Mary could there be you and me?
I often envy the contemplatives, their smiles, their gentle words, their gentle gestures, betray what really is within, it is not superficial non-noisiness, it is the silence of God. Before leaving Mater Carmeli Monastery that evening, we also paid our respects to the prioresses of the Federation, two of whom were Spanish old nuns but with gleaming smiles and shining eyes of young women. The nuns seem not to age. I guess love defies aging. From Mater Carmeli that evening we travelled to Lipa Carmel. That’s another story and another journey. Suffice it to say, we all have to find our own Carmel—where the human and divine meet, where men and women encounter God, the God of love, the God of peace, the God of silence. May this Lenten Season lead you to Carmel. Ave Maria!
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
A MEMBER of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Executive Director Fr. Francis Lucas asked if the general public (CBCP) told electorates not to easily believe on political candidates could go after celebrities who endorsed candidates in the event the being endorsed by celebrities or other prominent personalities. candidates they endorsed failed to deliver as promised. San Jose de Nueva Ecija Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara said that the He said celebrities are free to endorse candidates but they’re also people should think twice about these propaganda materials before “public figures and somehow owned by the public.” choosing those candidates. “They are supported by the public so they have to be careful Vergara added that he still has to know whether the celebrities’ about their actuations, words, deeds and endorsements. They services have been paid for by the candidates themselves or some should not use their airtime in their programs to campaign for sponsoring groups. particular candidates,” the veteran rural broadcaster from the “I don’t know about recent Commission on Elections pronounce- Prelature of Infanta said. ments but as far as I know, the celebrities become responsible for He suggested there should be “some guarantee” from people who marketing a product or a person but the details and quality of the endorse candidates. product (or person) is the responsibility of the company or the spe“Bishops and priests are public figures and that’s why the Catholic cific candidate,” he said. Bishops Conference of the Philippines has He added that the celebrities become part not endorsed anybody,” he concluded. of the campaign commercial strategy. Sto. Niño de Tondo parish priest Fr. Erick However, Vergara said he wouldn’t know Santos finds nothing wrong in celebrities whether the celebrities’ endorsements make endorsing candidates. them partisan to specific candidates they “What is important is they believe in endorse. what the particular candidate stands for or Association of Major Religious Superiors talagang naniniwala sila sa kanilang iniin the Philippines (AMRSP) co-chairperson endorse,” he added. Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB said she is not Asked if these personalities could be held affected by endorsements because she knows liable if and when their candidates fail to whom she’ll vote for. deliver, Santos said the general public can only “blame” them. “Scripted yan and these celebrities do not It is an accepted practice in the Philipnecessarily believe in what they’re saying pines for movie, stage, radio and television because bayad sila at trabaho lang iyon,” the personalities to be tapped to endorse candistreet parliamentarian said. dates for local and national positions. (Melo The CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on M. Acuña) Social Communications and Mass Media Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara
AIDS / A1
Prelate tells electorates never to believe on endorsements
PPCRV urges Comelec to neutralize ‘Garci boys’
THE Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) is urging the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to neutralize the so-called “Garci boys” who were involved in the alleged fraud operations in the past elections. Henrietta de Villa, PPCRV chairperson, decried poll officials who are conniving with some politicians to manipulate the result of the election. The Comelec has recently dismissed former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol and barred him from government service to Henrietta de Villa prevent him from resurfacing in the upcoming May polls. In a 12-page resolution, the poll body said Bedol had failed to perform his duties after refusing to comply with the orders given by the Comelec regarding the all-important election documents in the May 2007 polls in Maguindanao. De Villa is certain there are other field Comelec officials that should be sacked with regards to the controversial 2004 and 2007 national elections. She said many of them remained unpunished and some have even been promoted to higher positions. “I’m sure there are others and we will leave it to the Comelec to act on,” she said, adding that PPCRV is prepared to help by putting the commission’s attention the information they have. The PPCRV has served as poll watchers in the past elections and currently the accredited citizens’ arm of the Comelec in the May 10 polls. Despite being three years in the making, de Villa still welcomed the Comelec ruling against Bedol. “That’s very good news. It has been a long-time coming. It also augurs very well as it shows that the Comelec is now showing that they want to do a straight count in this year’s elections,” she said. Aside from punishing the “Garci boys”, she said she is also looking forward to the announced re-shuffling of Comelec field personnel to other regions in time for this year’s polls. The PPCRV chief said the reshuffle is very necessary in order to avoid having election officers being “too familiar” with the place and its people, including the candidates. (CBCPNews)
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The Church rejects the use of condoms as part of its overall teaching against artificial contraception. It also has advocated fidelity in marriage and abstinence from premarital sex as key weapons in the battle against AIDS. In a statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the funding for contraceptives should rather be used to fight diseases that afflict millions of Filipinos such as diarrhea, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cancer, hypertension and influenza. “Available resources should instead be channeled to provide basic needs such as food, medicines, education and work,” read the statement signed by CBCP President and Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar. “Furthermore, it is unjust that the taxes of the people including Catholics be used for purposes against their moral beliefs,” it added. Outrage The timing of Cardinal Rosales’ remarks, however, outraged health agencies trying to halt the increasing cases of AIDS in the country. DOH Secretary Esperanza Cabral fought back against Rosales as she blamed the Catholic Church for the country’s rising cases of AIDS. “I can say our program to prevent HIVAIDS has failed because the Church is blockDreams / A1
ing the third component of our program, which is to encourage the use of condoms,” said Cabral. She noted that the health department has an “ABC program” to combat HIV/AIDS. The acronym stands for A is for “abstinence from sex”; B for “be faithful to your partner”; and C for “condom use”. The health chief said that while they agree that the only fool-proof strategy versus HIV/ AIDS is to avoid multiple partners, condom use would still lower the risks. “Condoms are not 100 percent foolproof but they help lower the risk,” stressed. Cabral. Ban prostitution For his part, Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan has demanded that prostitution be banned if only to stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and not by pushing condom use. “Condoms are gadgets that are propromiscuity, pro-infidelity, pro-immorality, pro-irresponsibility and other unsound value systems,” he said. Cruz called on the government to tackle the root causes of the health problem instead of merely relying on condom promotion. According to him, Cabral must go deeper and address the root causes of the problem. Incidentally, Cruz said, Cabral appeared “curiously silent” about the “continuous operation of many prostitution houses all
over the country” as one major culprits in the HIV transmission. Instead of blaming the Church, Cruz said the DOH chief must do something in the rising number of motels famous for their “short-time” rates—sprouting out especially in urban areas. The church leader also called on the government to create laws against pornography in the internet, which can adversely affect people’s sexual behavior and attitude about sex. Warning Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles urged the government to set government warning in condoms akin to that of cigarettes. “If cigarettes have a government warning so should the packaging of condoms,” he said. Arguelles thinks this will protect the consumers of condom from the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). In a statement, Arguelles joined those who strongly condemned the Valentine’s Day campaign of the Department of Health (DoH), “Ingat Lagi, My Valentine.” Arguelles also said that the consumers have the right to be informed on the ill-effects of condoms. The prelate said the warning should be noted in this manner, “Condoms may fail to protect you from AIDS.” (With reports from Kate Laceda)
allowed the rise of another power hungry leader that has brought about a situation which they described as “that smacks of martial law.” “Hence, the situation has not changed for the better,” they said. The statement went on to say the country’s and the people’s situation have not changed for the better as the poor remained poor and helpless and have increased as days have gone by. They described the workers’ conditions have remained unjust and have been treated shabbily along with farmers who have remained landless. “Filipinos are forced out of the country in desperation and hopelessness,” they observed. The challenge The ARMSP said the Church and its people are challenged to take on the burden of denouncing the excesses of the present dispensation. They noted that time has come to “make our voices heard” because they have witnessed the blatant disregard of the rule of law. “We simply must not sit idly in one corner looking at another conjugal dictatorship stealing the wealth of our people and continually disregarding the tenets of justice and righteousness which we, as Church, are supposed to protect and defend,” the ARMSP further said.
DENR / A1
They condemned the lack of closure on the NBN-ZTE expose due to the manipulations of people in power. They observed more could have been exposed had the present administration not succeeded in hiding its corrupt practices under the mantle of executive privilege. “But the time of reckoning will come because divine justice shall prevail,” they added. Call to Action The major religious superiors said they are tired of deceit, corruption and betrayal of people’s interest and they cannot allow these to rule and dominate the country’s landscape “especially now that we are again hearing sweet promises of hope coming from those aspiring to be leaders of this country.” They said the people must learn from history and remain vigilant. The religious superiors called on the people to be united in guarding the country’s future and not be swayed by the promises of people who claim to be poor or poor in origin. “Let us be very vigilant never to trust those people wearing a lamb’s mask, yet inside, they are wolves out to devour our people and our children’s future,” they further said. They called on the people to reclaim the hope that EDSA gave to every Filipino. (Melo M. Acuña) for the empowerment of the marginalized indigenous peoples and rural communities. “With the appointment of Horacio Ramos as DENR secretary, the mining companies will have more say than the communities. They will definitely have more rights than the indigenous people,” added Ferraris. Horacio Ramos joined the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences as a mining engineer in May 1969, and has served with the Government since then. He worked his way up until he was promoted to become MGB Director 1996. “It is alarming because few days before his appointment, Ramos made a fearless forecast that mining investments will rise. Definitely it will under his stint being a top mining bureaucrat this government has ever had,” Ferraris said. (CBCPNews)
indigenous peoples’ rights and jeopardizing our environment” said Sr. Susan Bolanio of SOCSKARGEN CAN. Among those major projects that are presently undergoing EIA processes are SMI-Xtrata’s Tampakan Copper and Gold Project in the tri-boundary of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat and coal mining projects in Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. SMI’s TCGP was recently declared by the Regional Development Council (RDC) and Regional Mineral Development Council (RMDC) as the region’s flagship project. “We oppose these projects because they lie within watershed areas and we believe that the proponents should not be given ECCs,” asserted Bolanio, questioning even the ECC issued to Conal Holdings Corporation’s 200MW Coal Fired Power Plant project in Maasim, Sarangani. According to Bolanio the coal fired power project threatens the Sarangani Protected Seascape. Ramos was also being criticized by various environmental rights groups as an architect for the fast tracking of the issuance of mining permits with moves such as reducing the processing time of mining applications, diluting the right to
free prior and informed consent (FPIC) of communities, and processing of mining applications notwithstanding protests or opposition. IP advocates on the other hand said that Ramos is out to fully comply with mining liberalization program to cater to local and foreign corporate interests. “Ramos, a mining aficionado, has been in the mines bureau most of his life, and was in fact at the forefront of the government’s effort to revitalize the mining industry when he became the MGB director in 1996 until his appointment as DENR secretary” said Jean Marie Ferraris of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/ Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK/ FoE-Phils). LRC-KsK/FoE-Phils is a policy and legal research and advocacy institution working
Migrants’ Sunday / A3
“There were typhoons Frank, Nina and Feria coupled with three months of food shortage brought by endosulfan scare. Pending cutting of 70,000 trees, illegal logging, illegal mining, illegal fishing, name it we have it,” he said, adding: “the DENR cannot even address these issues.” “Now, large-scale mining? Whether pro-mining or anti-mining [we] are all victims here, we are being stabbed behind our backs,” he further said. Marin said Atienza’s action was reminiscent of his predecessor former DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes who approved the cutting of 70,000 trees before he was transferred to the Department of Energy. “Is this the kind of justice they want to give to my son, to my fellow Sibuyanons, to our children’s children?” Marin asked. Marin was the father of anti-mining Sibuyan councilor Armin Rios-Marin who was killed by SNPDC security. Anti-mining advocacy group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) also denounced the MPSA approval, saying it will imperil the livelihood and biodiversity on the island. The island, dubbed as Galapagos of Asia by international scientists because of its rich and diverse marine ecosystem is also home to rare species of flora and fauna. “Sibuyan island is an important bird and biodiversity area (IBA), the flora and fauna are so unique and diverse, the fact that the island has been separated from any other islands since ice-age,” said Blas Tabaranza, executive director of HARIBON, an environmental group. Environmentalists furthered argued the island’s geographical make-up, being isolated from other islands, is not ideal for mining activity. Ronald Gregorio, an official of Legal Rights and Natural Resources Centre-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRCKsK/FoE Phils) said Sibuyan is similar to Bicol region’s Rapu-rapu island in geographical landscape. In 2006, Rapu-rapu landed in the news when mine spill from Lafayette Mining Corporation caused massive fish kill and environmental destruction on the island and environs. “This experience shows that small islands cannot hold the pressure of massive earth moving activities like mining,” Gregorio said, adding: “it’s like punching a hole into a floating life raft.” (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)
Rain / A1
Lady of Good Voyage in Antipolo, a favorite destination of OFW pilgrims before going abroad. The mass was immediately followed by a fellowship organized by Fr. Joey Bautista, the diocesan minister for migrants. Kalookan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez will preside over a mass at the Sacred Heart Parish in Malabon for a diocesan post migrants’ celebration on February 28. Other dioceses that also conducted various activities for migrants and their families are Abra, Vigan, Baguio, Ilagan, Cabanatuan, San Jose-Nueva Ecija, Novaliches, Palo, Cebu, Bacolod, and Malaybalay. (CBCPNews)
Government authorities have earlier warned that the country is facing drought and shortage of water because of the El Niño phenomenon. “Our relief will come from nature. And so we implore the Master of all creation, God, our Father, at whose command the winds and the seas obey, to send us rain and ease drought,” Rosales said. “Let us together storm heavens with our supplication, that God’s mercy be upon us and send us the rain we need,” he added. The Oratio Imperata, the cardinal said, is to be prayed after Communion before the Post Communion Prayer. Cardinal Rosales is among the prelates who issued an Oratio Imperata this year, following Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu and Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad. Archbishop Socrates Villegas also released his own obligatory prayer for his flocks to pray for rain. “February 28, 2010 is the Second Sunday of Lent and we start with these prayers on this day, the day of our intensified journey of Lent,” Rosales said. The Manila archdiocese defines Oratio Imperata as a special prayer for a special intention, besides the ones prescribed by rituals, that the Pope or the bishop may require to be recited during Masses. In May last year, Rosales also issued an Oratio Imperata to end the threat posed by the H1N1 virus across the globe. (CBCPNews)
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
ACE holds Friendship Games in Balingao
OZAMIZ CITY—With the theme, “Celebrating Oneness,” the Archdiocese of Ozamiz held the Archdiocesan Commission on Education Friendship Games, Feb. 25-26 in Baliangao, Misamis Occidental. The activity also highlighted the various contributions of Catholic schools throughout the archdiocese. Different games were held and more than 400 athletes from 16 Catholic schools competed in the friendly game. (Wendell Talibong)
Peace group, poll watchdog to hold forum with presidentiables
Bishop cries lack of assistance to farmers
URDANETA, Pangasinan—A Catholic bishop said that achieving food security would continue to be an illusion if the country fails to offer the required financial and technical assistance needed by the small-scale farmers. Urdaneta Bishop Jacinto Jose said small-scale farmers continue to dominate the country’s agricultural sector and providing with systematic assistance could bring the desired increase in food production. The bishop cited the case in eastern Pangasinan wherein the lack of credit facilities have continuously sent farmers to agriculture or farm-based businessmen who extend loans to farmers in need of farm inputs in exchange of rice and vegetables. “While the Diocesan Social Action Center tries to assist farmers and their families through microfinance projects, the amount is not enough,” Jose said. According to him, the Diocese of Urdaneta will have to prepare and organize people for projects that involve loans.
DAVAO CITY—Ending the conflict in Mindanao. This is the gist of the Mindanao Leaders Forum with the 2010 presidential aspirants slated on March 16, here. Organized by the Mindanao Peoples Caucus and the Citizen’s Coalition on ARMM Electoral Reform, the event will bring in multi-sectoral groups, especially the bakwits from Maguindanao and Lanao, face to face with the standard bearers of ten official political parties. (Rick R. Flores)
Caceres clergy, laity move to promote social justice
NAGA CITY—Expect the Archdiocese of Caceres to be more engaged in its prophetic function for social change. Caceres Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi called on the clergy and the laity for active engagement in people empowerment and social justice. He said that building God’s kingdom—the mission of every Christian – is the inspiration and fulfillment of efforts for people empowerment and social justice. (Fr. Louie Occiano)
Palace pushes building of more power plants to solve power crisis
Sinnott back to Pagadian
OZAMIZ CITY—The 80-year old Irish priest Fr. Michael Sinnott has quietly returned and resumed his missionary work under the Hangop Kabataan Foundation, Inc. (HKFI) – an NGO for children with physical disabilities and hearing-challenged minors with learning disabilities that he started some 12 years ago in Pagadian City. In an interview over Ozamis-based DxDDNews recently, Fr. Mick, as called by his closest friends, said he returned to his home, the local church of Pagadian and resumed work with his fellow workers and special children beneficiaries of Hangop Kabataan Foundation. The interview took place at a commercial establishment here while the missionary was on a private visit. “I went home to Ireland shortly after my released in November last year and now I went back to Hangop Kabataan Foundation in Pagadian City,” Fr. Mick said. The Irish priest was kidnapped last Oct. 11, 2009 by still unidentified gunmen who barged into the MSSC compound in Gatas District, Pagadian City while on an afterdinner stroll. He was freed by the kidnappers last Nov. 12 in an isolated village in Zamboanga City and was turned over to government Peace Panel Chairman Rafael Seguis in Barangay Sangali, 25 kilometers east of this city. He and Fr. Patrick O’Donoghue, the Columbans’ Regional Director, left for Ireland last Dec. 2, 2009. Upon arrival in Ireland, Fr. Mick met with government officials and
He noted that farmers are left with no other choice but accept the terms and conditions set forth by “compradors” who release the needed fertilizers and pesticides in exchange for rice and vegetable crops at a much lower price. Jose called on the government to make sure credit is accessible to farmers in need of high-yielding seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from government agencies otherwise the farmers will always be at the mercy of local businessmen. “There are people who believe the assistance we give is similar to what the government gives,” he added. He said farmers in his diocese have begun to think the assistance is a dole out. The prelate said he hopes the Basic Ecclesial Communities would transform itself from an organization into a way of life to create more responsible citizenry. The Diocese of Urdaneta serves the eastern portion of Pangasinan whose residents earn their keep through rice and vegetable farming. (Melo M. Acuna)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Malacanañg has proposed the construction of additional power generating facilities in Mindanao to solve the power crisis now being felt by major cities in the island. Presidential Deputy Spokesman Gary Olivar said the private sector should take the lead in initiating this long-term solution to the power crisis that has hampered business and trade in some parts of the country, especially in the southern Philippines. (Bong D. Fabe)
Bishop: Reject overspending candidates
KALOOKAN CITY—Another Catholic bishop warned the voters against candidates who spend so much on their campaign ads to ensure victory in the elections. Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez said the voters should turn down candidates who are guilty of overspending instead of using their money to help the less privileged. “We should not vote for these candidates because it’s a sign that they are not worthy of the people’s trust,” Iñiguez said. (CBCPNews)
Church leaders cites ‘urgency’ to resume gov’t, NDF talks
DAVAO CITY— Communist rebels and the Arroyo administration must act with a sense of “urgency” and resume peace talks, Christian leaders said. Leaders from various Christian Churches composing the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) met recently here for its first national convention. The religious officials said the government and National Democratic Front must summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped decades of endless cycle of conflict and suffering. (CBCPNews)
‘JC’ / A1
stayed with his family until the New Year. He returned to Manila last Jan. 15, 2010. Meanwhile, Hangop Kabataan Foundation, Inc. (HKFI) received cash donations in the amount of P400,000 from the Pagadian City Government and the Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Government. Governor Aurora Cerilles and Mayor Samuel Co personally handed the financial assistance to HKFI during the welcome program for Fr. Michael “Mick” Sinnott last February 2, 2010 at the grounds of Hangop
Kabataan Foundation. The amount was originally marked for informants who can give sufficient information for the safe release of the Irish missionary. Because Fr. Mick was safely released reportedly through the efforts of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the city government, upon approval of the Crisis Management Committee, opted to donate the reward money to Fr. Mick’s pet projects under the auspices of Hangop Kabataan Foundation, Inc. (Wendell Talibong)
“I guess it’s time for us to come out,” Navarra said. “It’s really a matter of conscience this time. That is what my conscience is telling me so I will stand for what I believe is right.” Church’s teachings The prelate said he is endorsing De Los Reyes and other Ang Kapatiran bets because of their commitment to the Catholic Church’s social teachings. Navarra said he is engaging in partisan politics this time to be “consistent” with his advocacy for good governance and eradication of graft and corruption. “They’re the ones with clear sincerity in bringing political change to our country. They also stood up to the principles supported by the Church,” he said. Arguelles, however, admitted that De Los Reyes’ winnability in the presidential race, as surveys show, is “slim” but said he would still support him. “There’s no vote that is wasted on a candidate you believe could bring real change, whether he wins or not,” he said. Non-partisan The two bishops’ decision to engage in partisan politics is yet to cause reactions from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). There is no particular law that stops bishops and priests from endorsing candidates but the Catholic hierarchy has long maintained a non-partisan position. The general position of the CBCP is that instead of endorsing candidates, the church would rather engage in political education of the people. The choosing of candidates, CBCP officials said, should still be left to the wisdom and conscience of the mature Christian voters. Canon law expert Archbishop Oscar Cruz said the two bishops did not violate any church law “but strictly speaking, it could be pastorally imprudent as of the moment.” It seems, however, that no one could stop Navarra and Arguelles. “We will stand by our position. We really have to do something now and be sincere to what is happening in our country. We will stand by our position,” said Arguelles. (CBCPNews)
Dagupan prelate reflects on ‘hands of the priest’
DAGUPAN CITY—LingayenDagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas gave a reflection on the “mystery of our priesthood” by meditating on the hands of the priests. Villegas said, the priest’s hands touched the floor of the altar as a sign of humility; clasped the Bishop’s hands as a sign of his respect and obedience to his successor and promised rapport between the Bishop and priest. “The beauty of the priest’s hands is a gift of God. All priests have beautiful hands. This is because they have been made beautiful by God,” the prelate said. Meanwhile, Villegas also reminded the priests that “the first duty of a priest is to be a giving-priest.” “Our hands that were made sacred by God are meant to give. Do not just give blessings but give also from your pocket,” he stated. This was the reflection of Villegas during the First Metropolitan Clergy Day which was held at the Stadia, Dagupan City last February 15, 2010. Hundreds of priests from the metropolitan of LingayenDagupan came together for this first-ever clergy day. The participants were from the Archdiocese of LingayenDagupan and its suffragan dioceses of Alaminos, Urdaneta, San Fernando (La Union), San Jose and Cabanatuan (Nueva Ecija). The celebration commenced with the praying of the rosary led by La Union Bishop Artemio Rillera followed by a Eucharistic Adoration presided by Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud. Villegas then gave the reflection during the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Lingayen-Auxiliary Bishop Renato P. Mayugba was the main celebrant of the Eucharistic celebration concelebrated by San Jose (Nueva Ecija) Bishop Mylo Vegara. Alaminos Bishop Marlo Peralta and the Alaminos Bishop Emeritus Jesus Cabrera were also present during the celebration. (Kate Laceda)
Groups lead youth in wading through murky waters that is RP polls
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—The hodgepodge of personal interests, party affiliations and political agenda are blurring Philippine politics as a whole and are stunting the political growth reflected in the festering problems of governance. In order to clarify the role of political parties in the continuing political education and to strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Technical Assistance Centre for the Development of Rural and Urban Poor (TACDRUP) and the Centrist Democratic Movement (CDM) held a conference-workshop in this city February 19-20. Lito Monico C. Lorenzana, TACDRUP president, said that the workshop on the “Centrist Reform Agenda” aimed at exploring the social market economy (SME) as an “important component of the centrist set of principles.” The conference-workshop tackled the principle of subsidiarity with the end in view of the eventual establishment of a truly decentralized system of regional governance. CDM’s Lorenzana, who is also KAS consultant, said that while the May 10, 2010 elections will be an “important exercise of our civic rights,” the electorate is in a quandary because of numerous problems facing them. First among these is the automated election which is casting a very long shadow of doubt about an orderly process as this is the first time that this will be implemented in the country. The failure of numerous testings of the PCOS machines added more to the dilemma of the voters, the candidates and the Comelec. Lorenzana, who is also chairman of the Charter Change Advocacy Commission, said that the electorate is being faced “with a formidable set of presidential candidates whose platforms and pronouncements are lodged in political parties often times alien to the traditional separations in a political spectrum.” “The conventional delineation of political thoughts branding and situating the parties along the spectrum, accepted and practiced in most democratic nations, is blurred within the Philippine context,” the former secretary of the Local Gov-
Run for a Bible
CLOSE to one thousand four hundred (1,400) young people and some family members stretched their muscles and showed their love on Valentine’s Day in a Fun Run in Batangas. The event, dubbed “Run For One” (meaning Run for One Bible) was organized by the Youth for Christ Batangas Chapter, working under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Javod, Most Holy Rosary Parish, Archdiocese of Lipa. The “early bird” runners started off at Rosario town at 5:30am and concluded the race in the next town of Padre Garcia where a half day worship, mass and program was held at the town’s gymnasium. Proceeds of the Fun Run will be used to buy five hundred (500) May They Be One Bibles for distribution. The group aims to double the number of Bibles to distribute by the end of the year to one thousand (1000). The event follows a milestone launch of partnership between the Couples for Christ (YFC’s mother organization), the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) and the Philippine Bible Society at a CFC national leadership seminar held at the Araneta Coliseum in January. ECBA Executive Secretary Fr. Oscar Alunday, one of the keynote speakers at the Fun Run program, told the crowd that six out of ten people in the country do not own a Bible and so he commended
them for doing their part in helping reduce the Bible gap. Fr. Oscar congratulated the Youth for Christ Batangas for being the first ever YFC group to respond to the MTBO Bible challenge. But he also gently reminded the group that Bible distribution is not complete without the accompanying lifestyle of Reading, Studying, Praying and Loving the Bible. He explained that such a Biblical life-style and practice brings a person to the embrace of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Fr. Oscar then led the youthful audience to the declaration of the MTBO prayer. He encouraged them to say the MTBO prayer thrice daily – every 6 a.m., 12 noon and 6 p.m., along with the Angelus. A Gawad Kalinga family, representing the varied groups of MTBO Bible recipients under the YFC Batangas Chapter program, was called onstage to symbolically receive an MTBO Bible in behalf of the program’s recipients. Mr. and Mrs. Rodolfo Manalo, Couples For Christ Provincial Couple Coordinator, Batangas said the Bible beneficiaries will include, among others, the Prison ministry, poor families and Gawad Kalinga itself. Meantime another family drew warm applause from the crowd after being declared winner of the Fun Run contest, family category. The 5-member family contingent of Mr. Fernan Runio was the first family unit to cross the finish line – demonstrating physical fitness, unity as a family and its solid commitment to Run for One so that the Bible will find its home among the poor Filipino family.
ernment department said. “Adding to the widespread confusion is the “mixture of self-styled leftists running for positions in an ostensible conservative party and professed liberal democrats in a party of unknown political lineage. And we see a phenomenon of elected leaders jumping from one party to another,” he added. The same scenario repeats itself every election season. “This widespread confusion which repeats itself every election season stunts the political growth of both the leaders and the governed. This immaturity is reflected in the festering problems of good governance in our democratic institutions,” he stressed. And successfully wading through the murky water that is the Philippine election is a tough order which the KAS, TACDRUP and CDM are willing to wage a bet on. (Bong D. Fabe)
People, Facts & Places
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Bishop urges Taize pilgrims to keep flame burning
A WEEK after the Taize pilgrimage that gathered thousands of young people across the globe at Don Bosco, Makati ended, Chairman of Episcopal Commission on Youth and Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon called on the youth pilgrims to carry on the spirit of the pilgrimage of trust in their lives. In a letter he wrote to group contact persons of the Philippines, the bishop encouraged the co-pilgrims to keep the flame of love burning in their hearts as they continue “to search for life in fullness” and seek “to transform the world” amid challenges. “One week has almost passed since we have ended our encounter in Makati, but we hope that, together with you, we will keep the flame burning: rooted in and guided by the Gospel, we continue in our search for life in fullness, we hasten to respond to the call to transform the world,” Baylon wrote. He encouraged the young pilgrims to meet in groups and plan some concrete actions to respond effectively to urgent concerns facing Church and society, especially the upcoming May elections. Baylon also exhorted them to keep on “living in the spirit of the pilgrimage: in simplicity, communion, serene joy and trust.” He likewise advised them to pray for the devastated country of Haiti every 12th of the month as requested by a youth from Haiti. On February 27, the Taize brothers met again the young people from the local preparation groups, foster families and other volunteers for sharing, prayers and thanksgiving. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)
2 archdiocesan shrines elevated to national status
TWO well-known shrines in the archdiocese of Manila have recently been elevated as national shrines through a decree of establishment issued by the CBCP President and Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar. The elevation of the status of the Shrines of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Jude Thaddeus into national shrines was unanimously approved by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) during its 100th plenary assembly on January 23. The parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Guadalupe, Makati City was proclaimed Archdiocesan Shrine by Cardinal Jaime Sin in 2001. The increase of devotion to the Lady of Guadalupe especially by Pro-Life groups against the onslaught of anti-life values encouraged the devotees to launch a petition for a national shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe citing the urgency to promote Pro-Life values under the patronage of Our Lady. Meanwhile, St. Jude’s Shrine in San Miguel, Manila is frequented
APPOINTED. Fr. Jose A. Cabantan as new Bishop of Malaybalay, by Pope Benedict XVI, February 18, 2010. The appointment was released by the Vatican on the same date it was announced in Manila by Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines. Born in in Lagonglong town in 1957. Cabantan was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. He is currently pastor of the Miraculous Medal Parish and Social Action Center Director of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro. A Chemical Engineer by profession, Cabantan worked in a mining company in Surigao City prior his entering the priesthood. He took his seminary training at the San Jose De Mindanao Seminary in Cagayan de Oro City. After finishing Philosophy, he became part of the pioneer batch of seminarians at the St. John Vianney Major Seminary. The bishop-elect succeeds Bishop Honesto Pacana, whose resignation was accepted by the pontiff, upon having reached the age limit of 75. ELECTED. Friar Mariel M. Santos, OFMConv as the fifth Provincial Custos during the first part of the sixth Ordinary Custodial Chapter held on February 15-19, 2010 at La Verna House of Prayer, Tagaytay City. The Provincial Custos heads the Philippine Custody of the Immaculate Conception and Blessed Bonaventure of Potenza. A native of Hagonoy, Bulacan, Fra Santos was born on March 24, 1971. He made his first profession of vows on March 19, 1994 and solemn vows on September 17, 1999. He was ordained on October 20, 2001. The Custodial Definitors were also elected during the chapter. Fra Alfonsus was elected Custodial Vicar, Fra Pascual Fidel was elected Custodial Secretary, Fra Dennis and Fra Francis as Definitors. The second part of the sixth Ordinary Custodial Chapter will be held on March 22-24, 2010. ORDAINED. Fr. Wesley Jay Mallillin Taguibao to the sacred order of priesthood, February 6, 2010, at the Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Tuguegarao City. He is the first Rogationist priest from the city. Tuguegarao Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan was the ordaining prelate. Taguibao’s ordination was attended by various Rogationist communities, religious congregations, members of the Union of Prayer for Vocations, family, relatives, benefactors, and friends. CELEBRATED. First Metropolitan Clergy Day of the Archdiocese of LingayenDagupan and suffragan dioceses, Alaminos, Urdaneta, San Fernando (La Union), San Jose and Cabanatuan (Nueva Ecija); February 15, 2010. The day-long celebration started with the praying of the Rosary led by Bishop Artemio Rillera of the Diocese of San Fernando, La Union, followed by a Eucharistic adoration led by Bishop Sofronio Bancud of Cabanatuan diocese. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas gave the reflection during the Holy hour. Main presider during the Eucharistic celebration was Lingayen-Dagupan Auxiliary Bishop Renato Mayugba while San Jose Bishop Mylo Vergara gave the homily.
International Bamboo Organ Festival opens
THE 35th International Bamboo Organ Festival organized by the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc. opened Feb. 18, with a Gala concert at the St. Joseph Church in Las Piñas City highlighting JS Bach’s Cantata no. 130 and John Rutter’s Mass of the Children. The festival aimed to preserve the tradition that has made Las Piñas Bamboo Organ one of the Philippine’s National Treasures. The event has been organized to financially support the parish’s cultural, religious and charitable activities as well as develop and advance the spiritual, educational, social and economic well-being of the people of Las Piñas City. The concert featured local and international artists such as Guy Bovet, an organist from Switzerland; Las Piñas Choir; Alejandro Consolacion II, a Filipino organist, and the UP Singing Ambassadors. Also performed during the concert were the Festival Orchestra headed by conductor Eudenice Palaruan; Soprano Karina Liggayu;
by numerous pilgrims and devotees asking the intercession of the saint for various needs. “Through the years, the Shrine has been providing solace to the destitute, the downtrodden, the marginalized, the desperate, and the lonely,” the petition read. “Even without asking for special favors or after obtaining their answered prayers, they maintain their personal relationship with St. Jude Thaddeus as a source of inspiration, guidance, and strength in their daily lives,” the petition further said. Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales endorsed both petitions to the CBCP giving assurance “that all canonical and liturgical requirements for the elevation to the status of being a National Shrine have been complied with.” Current rector of Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine is Fr. Edwin Mercado, while St. Jude Shrine is under the leadership of Fr. Roland Aquino, SVD. (CBCPNews)
Countertenor Mark Anthony Carpio; Tenor Ervin Lumauag and Bass Noel Azcona. Singing Priests from Aklan, the Morriz Wind Orchestra and Maricris Garcia, GMA 7 Pinoy Pop Superstar Grand Champion showcased their talents on February 20. A duet from Jarek Malanowicz from the Czech Republic and Robert de Pano, a Filipino trumpet player highlighted February 21’s performance. The week-long celebration culminated with a duet from Rutter and Malanowicz on February 24. In 1972, the organ had its thorough restoration by Johannes Klais Orgelbau in Bonn, Germany. The bamboo organ is well in operation and being played again at liturgical celebrations in the Parish of St. Joseph after its restoration on May 5, 1975. To preserve the high standard of quality and dependability, the Bamboo Organ went through another overhaul from September 2003 to November 2004. The work was done locally by the Diego Cera Organbuilders, Inc., Europe-trained organ builders that were also commissioned to restore the Manila Cathedral’s pipe organ few years ago. (CBCPNews)
2 Filipino deacons ordained in Pamplona
TWO new deacons from the Archdiocese of Cebu received the Sacrament of Holy Orders through the imposition of hands by Auxiliary Bishop Julito Cortes of Cebu, last February 13, 2010, at San Andrés Parish Church, here in Pamplona, Navarra. Rev. Jan Thomas Limchua and Rev. Abel Villarojo both received their priestly formation at the BIDASOA International Seminary in Barañain, Navarre and are presently finishing their theological studies at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre. In his homily, Bishop Cortes exDei Vicar, Fr. Jose Manuel Martinez, Rev. Jan Limchua, pressed his gratitude and appreciation, (From left) OpusRev Abel Villarojo and BIDASOA Seminary Rector, Fr. Bishop Cortes, in behalf of His Eminence Ricardo J. Miguel Angel Marco. Cardinal Vidal, the Archbishop of Cebu, to the Prelature of Opus Dei “for having formed a the two deacons, a dozen Filipino priests studying in Pamplona, seminarians and some seminary number of our seminarians” all these years. Stressing on what he calls “the threefold move- benefactors. The BIDASOA International Ecclesiastical ment” of functions of deacons, the auxiliary bishop addressed the ordinandi saying: “Receive the Gos- College, erected by the Holy See in 1988, is an pel of Christ. Read what you receive, preach what International Seminary under the direction of the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei. It you read, and practice what you preach”. Delivering his homily before a jam-packed parish provides seminary formation to candidates for the church, Bishop Cortes said that the core of every vo- priesthood sent by their bishops to prepare themcation is discipleship, and that unless one loves God selves for the service of their respective dioceses. The philosophical and theological studies are above all things, one cannot be a real disciple. “If in your embrace of the ordained ministry, carried out in the Faculties of Ecclesiastical Phiyou still have at the center of your concerns your losophy and Sacred Theology of the University of own self and your own desires, then you may not Navarra, in accordance with the prevailing norms have enough motivation to sustain you through the on priestly formation. On April 24 this year, 17 seminarians of different challenges of the priesthood”, he added. Present in the ordination were Opus Dei’s Vicar nationalities – three of whom are Filipinos – will to Pamplona, Fr. José Manuel Martínez, the Parish be ordained deacons at the San Nicholas Parish Priest of San Andrés, Fr. José Luís Morrás, BIDA- Church here in Pamplona. The ordaining bishop SOA Seminary Rector, Fr. Miguel Angel Marco and will be the Archbishop of Pamplona-Tudela, Msgr. other seminary formators, the priest-professors of Francisco Pérez. (Fr. Russell Bantiles)
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
‘The Priest’s Mission is to be a Mediator, a Bridge that Connects’
(Excerpt of the talk of Pope Benedict XVI on “Lectio Divina” delivered to the parish priests of Rome last February 18, 2010)
IT is always a very joyful as well as an important tradition for me to be able to begin Lent with my Presbyterium, the Priests of Rome. Thus, as the local Church of Rome but also as the universal Church, we can start out on this essential journey with the Lord towards the Passion, towards the Cross, the Easter journey.
Let us meditate this year on the passages from the Letter to the Hebrews that have just been read. The Author of this Letter introduced a new way of understanding the Old Testament as a Book that speaks of Christ. The previous tradition had seen Christ above all, essentially, in the key of the Davidic promise, the promise of the true David, of the true Solomon, of the true King of Israel, the true King since he was both man and God. And the inscription on the Cross truly proclaimed this reality to the world: now there is the true King of Israel, who is King of the world, the King of the Jews hangs on the Cross. It is a proclamation of the kingship of Jesus, of the fulfilment of the messianic expectation of the Old Testament which, at the bottom of their hearts, is shared by all men and women who await the true King who will bring justice, love and brotherhood. However, the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews discovered a citation which until then had gone unnoticed: Psalm 110 : 4 “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek”. This means that not only does Jesus fulfil the Davidic promise, the expectation of the true King of Israel and of the world, but he also makes the promise of the real Priest come true. In a part of the Old Testament and especially in Qumran there are two separate lines of expectation: of the King and of the Priest. In discovering this verse, the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews realized that the two promises are united in Christ: Christ is the true King, the Son of God in accordance with Psalm 2:7, from which he quotes but he is also the true Priest. Thus the whole of the religious world, the whole reality of sacrifices, of the priesthood that is in search of the true priesthood, the true sacrifice, finds in Christ its key, its fulfillment. And with this key it can reinterpret the Old Testament and show precisely that also the religious law abolished after the destruction of the Temple was actually moving towards Christ. Hence it was not really abolished but renewed, transformed, so that in Christ all things might find their meaning. The priesthood thus appears in its purity and in its profound depth. In this way the Letter to the Hebrews presents the theme of the priesthood of Christ, of Christ the priest, at three levels: the priesthood of Aaron, that of the Temple; Melchizedek; and Christ himself as the true priest. Indeed, the priesthood of Aaron, in spite of being different from Christ’s priesthood, in spite of being, so to speak, solely a quest, a journey in the direction of Christ, is nevertheless a “journey” towards Christ and in this priesthood the essential elements are already outlined. Then Melchizedek we shall return to this point who is a pagan. Let us now look at the individual elements concerning the priesthood as best we can. We learn two things from the Law, from the priesthood of Aaron, the Author of the Letter to the Hebrews says: If he is truly to be a mediator between God and man, a priest must be man. This is fundamental and the Son of God was made man precisely in order to be a priest, to be able to fulfill the priest’s mission. He must be man: We shall come back to this point, but he is unable, on his own, to make himself a mediator for God. The priest needs divine authorization, institution, and only by belonging to both spheres the divine and the human can he be a mediator, can he be a “bridge”. This is the priest’s mission: to combine, to link these two realities that appear to be so separate, that is, the world of God far from us, often unknown to the human being and our human world. The priest’s mission is to be a mediator, a bridge that connects, and thereby to bring human beings to God, to his redemption, to his true light, to his true life. As the first point, therefore, the priest must be on God’s side. Only in Christ is this need, this prerequisite of mediation fully brought about. This Mystery was therefore necessary: the Son of God is made man so that he may be the true bridge for us, the true mediation. Others must have at least an authorization from God, or in the Church’s case, the Sacrament, that is they must introduce our being into the being of Christ, into divine being. Only with the Sacrament, this divine act that makes us priests in communion with Christ, can we accomplish our mission. And this seems to me a first point for our meditation: the importance of the Sacrament. No one can become a priest by himself; God alone can attract me, can authorize me, can introduce me into participation in Christ’s mystery; God alone can enter my life and take me by the hand. Let us also make this reality a practical factor in our life: if this is how it is, a priest must really be a man of God, he must know God intimately and know him in communion with Christ and so we must live this communion; and the celebration of Holy Mass, the prayer of the Breviary, all our personal prayers are elements of being with God, of being men of God. Our being, our life and our heart must be fixed in God, in this point from which we must not stir. This is achieved and reinforced day after day with short prayers in which we reconnect with God and become, increasingly, men of God who live in his communion and can thus speak of God and lead people to God. The other element is that the priest must be man, human in all senses. That is, he must live true humanity, true humanism; he must be educated, have a human formation, human virtues; he must develop his intelligence, his will, his sentiments, his affections; he must be a true man, a man according to the will of the Creator, of the Redeemer, for we know that the human being is wounded and the question of “what man is” is obscured by the event of sin that hurt human nature even to the quick. To be man: the Letter to the Hebrews stresses our humanity; we find this surprising for it says: “He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness” (5:2). And then even more forcefully “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear” (5:7). For the Letter to the Hebrews, the essential element of our being human is being compassionate, suffering with others: this is true humanity. It is not sin because sin is never solidarity but always tears solidarity apart, it is living life for oneself instead of giving it. True humanity is real participation in the suffering of human beings. It means being a compassionate person metriopathèin, the Greek text says that is, being at the core of human passion, really bearing with others the burden of their suffering, the temptation of our time: “God, where are you in this world?”. The humanity of the priest does not correspond to the Platonic or Aristotelian ideal which claims that the true man is the one who lives in contemplation of the truth alone and so is blessed happy because he only has friendship with beautiful things, with divine beauty, while “the work” is left to others. This is a hypothesis; whereas here it is implied that the priest enter, like Christ, into human wretchedness, carry it with him, visit those who are suffering and look after them and, not only outwardly but also inwardly, take upon himself, recapitulate in himself the “passion” of his time, of his parish, of the people entrusted to his care. This is how Christ showed his true humanity. Of course, his Heart was always fixed on God, he always saw God, he was always in intimate conversation with him. Yet at the same time he bore the whole being, the whole of human suffering entered the Passion. In speaking, in seeing people who were lowly, who had no pastor, he suffered with them. Moreover, we priests cannot withdraw to an Elysium. Let us rather be immersed in the passion of this world and with Christ’s help and in communion with him, we must seek to transform it, to bring it to God. Jesus weeps with loud cries. We know from the Gospels that Jesus cried out from the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mk 15:34; cf. Mt 27:46) and cried out once again at the end. And this cry responds to a fundamental dimension of the Psalm: in the terrible moments of human life many Psalms are a loud cry to God: “Help us, hear us!” On this very day, in the Breviary, we prayed like this: God, where are you? “You have made us like sheep for slaughter” (Ps 44: 11 [rsv]). A cry of suffering humanity! And Jesus, who is the true subject of the Psalms, truly bears this cry of humanity to God, to God’s ears: “help us and hear us!” He transforms the whole of suffering humanity, taking it to himself in a cry to God to hear him. Thus we see that in this very way he brings about the priesthood, the function of mediator, bearing in himself, taking on in himself the sufferings and passion of the world, transforming it into a cry to God, bringing it before the eyes and to the hands of God and thus truly bringing it to the moment of redemption. We say, rightly, that Jesus did not offer God something. Rather, he offered himself and made this offering of himself with the very compassion that transforms the suffering of the world into prayer and into a cry to the Father. Nor, in this sense, is our own priesthood limited to the religious act of Holy Mass in which everything is placed in Christ’s
Mission / B7
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
By Fr. Jaime B. Achacoso, J.C.D.
WE have a problem in my archdiocese with a priest who said that priests can campaign for the upcoming elections as long as they don’t do it from the pulpit. People are confused because the statement came out in the local papers. Is there anything in Canon Law on this? In a previous issue, we had dedicated this column to the question of Catholic Associations and Partisan Politics. The questioner then had taken for granted that the Hierarchy should not be involved in partisan politics. Now, it seems, this criterion is not very obvious to everyone. The Role of the Priest in Political Life By virtue of the service that he must render to individuals and society, the priest is interested in all those questions relative to public administration, which inevitably entail an ethical dimension. The correct notion of the distinction of Church and State does not mean that the hierarchy and the political community should live oblivious of each other. It means rather that each has its own proper sphere of responsibility: the hierarchy towards the eternal common good, and the government towards the temporal common good. But since the temporal common good necessarily dovetails—since it ends up in the same final destination of the human person—with the eternal common good, the proper role of the hierarchy towards the temporal common good is one of magisterium and guidance: it is the role of the hierarchy in general and of priests in particular to form all men of good will (but especially the lay faithful) to have the right criteria to exercise their political options with freedom and responsibility. The priest, in addition, preserves the right to have a personal political opinion and to exercise his right to vote, according to his conscience. “In those circumstances in which diverse political, social or economic choices legitimately present themselves—pointed out the Synod of Bishops in 1971—priests, like all citizens, have the right to make their own choices.”
Limits to the Priest’s Participation in the Political Exercise The aforementioned right— like any other right—is obviously not an unlimited one. The external manifestation of a priest’s political preferences may be reasonably restricted by the demands of his ministry, which seeks to embrace everyone, to fully proclaim the Gospel and to be a valid sign of unity among all people. Thus, c.287, §2 of the Code of Canon Law explicitly limits the
Priests and politics
Gospels completely, adequately or perennially.” John Paul II, following the same line of thought, would add that “a political party can never be identi¬fied with the truth of the Gospel, nor could it ever be, therefore, the object of absolute allegiance, unlike what happens with the Gospel.” John Paul II concludes that the priest should not forget the relative character of political activities “even when citizens of Christian faith create, in a plausible way, parties inspired ex¬pressly in of the laity consists precisely in respecting their rightful autonomy in political choices, without their being unduly coerced—whether intentionally or otherwise—through a false reverential fear of displeasing their pastor who expresses a political preference different from theirs. The problem lies in the fact that when a priest (more so a bishop) speaks of his political preferences, it is difficult for the faithful to distinguish—especially in a country with a tradition of deep
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
of management or direction of such parties, but also to any membership in such parties, the knowledge of which may trigger an alienation of those faithful of a different political leaning—an alienation which the canonical prohibition precisely seeks to avoid. 2. Active participation in the direction of labor unions. The treatment of the participation of clerics in union associations is something very different. What is forbidden in this hypothetical situation is, strictly speaking,
electoral candidate. 4. Possible exception: To defend the rights of the Church and the common good. The canon obviates any danger of laxity in the interpretation of this exception, by precisely stipulating that such an exception must be according to the judgment of the ecclesiastical authority. Thus, no individual priest may determine by himself the existence of sufficient reason to make an exception to the general prohibition, but must rather depend on the judgment of the competent authority—i.e., the Local Ordinary. Conclusion The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, issued by the Congregation for the Clergy on 31.I.1994, summarizes all these in the following terms (ref. n.3): — “The priest, as servant of the universal Church, cannot tie himself to any historical contingency, and therefore must be above any political party. He cannot take an active role in political parties or labor unions, unless according to the judgment of the ecclesiastical authority, the rights of the Church and the defense of common good require it.” — “In fact, even if these [political parties and labor unions] are good things in themselves, they are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state, since they can constitute a grave danger of division in the ecclesial communion.” — “Like Jesus (cf. Jn 6, 15 ff.), the priest ought to refrain from actively engaging himself in politics, as it often happens, in order to be a central point of spiritual fraternity. All the faithful, therefore, must be able to approach the priest without feeling inhibited for any reason.” — “The Priest will remember that it does not fall on the shoulders of the Pastors of the Church to intervene directly in political activities and in social organizations. This task, in fact, forms part of the lay faithful’s vocation, in which they work by their own initiative together with their fellow citizens. Nevertheless, he will not be absent in the effort to form in them an upright conscience.” (Note: This article originally appeared in CBCP Monitor, March 2007.)
participation of clerics in the political exercise in the following terms: Clerics are not to have an active role in political parties and in the direction of labor unions, unless the need to protect the rights of the Church or to promote the common good requires it in the judgment of the competent ecclesiastical authority. The rationale behind this prohibition is as follows: 1) To avoid any semblance of dogmatism. As the Synod of Bishops of 1971 pointed out, “political choices are contingent by nature and do not express the
the Gospels, and he should not cease to strive to make the light of Christ also shine on other parties and social groups” (General Audience, 28.VII.1993). 2) To avoid any semblance clericalism. As John Paul II also pointed out in the aforementioned audience “within the framework of the Christian community, [priestly ministry] should have respect for the maturity of the laity and, what is more, should strive to assist them to achieve this, through the formation of con¬science.” In other words, the correct sense of empowerment
respect for the clergy—when he is proclaiming Gospel truth and when he is merely speaking of his preferences or opinions. In other words, it is difficult for a priest to claim that he is only speaking as a private citizen expressing his political leanings, without the Catholic faithful perceiving it as an authoritative moral determination. Scope of the Prohibition 1. Active participation in political parties. The juridical norm extends the prohibition not only to the exercise of functions
participation on an active basis in maintaining those organiza¬tions—i.e., to have positions of government and direction in such unions. 3. Militancy in favor of a given person or party. As a logical consequence, the same Synod of Bishops of 1971 declares that “the priest, witness of future things, should keep a certain distance from any political position or effort.” It is difficult to argue that this statement does not refer precisely to the priests actively campaigning for a certain political party or
(Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university answers the following query:) Q: Many priests recommend the faithful to have confession at least once year, as in the second precept of the Church (Catechism No. 2042, “You shall confess your sins at least once a year”). But I heard a priest say that this is not necessary unless there are grave sins, as in Canon 989, “All the faithful who have reached the age of discretion are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year.” Theoretically, one consequence of this assertion is that after first confession (before first Communion), there would be no more need to receive this sacrament unless there are grave sins. Practically, some faithful do not receive this sacrament for many years because “they did not commit any grave sins.” Catechism No. 1457 also refers to the above canon (“after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year”). Here, it points out that confession is obligatory only for grave sins. As you know, Canon 989 has a juridical obligation. However, Catechism No. 2041 points out the obligatory character of the five precepts of the Church too. My personal interpretation is that there is no contradiction if we can distinguish a “juridical” obligation of the Canon 989, and a “pastoral” obligation of the second precept. I completely support the urging of regular and frequent confessions. But strictly speaking, is the second precept obligatory only if there are grave sins?—G.M., Hong Kong A: I believe that this conundrum can be resolved by looking at the contexts. First of all, Canon 989 builds directly upon the previous
Need for annual Confession
canon 988: “Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience. “§2. It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins.” Thus, Canon 989 indicates that the maximum time for fulfilling the obligation of 988.1 is a year. For this reason, several expert commentators on canon law hold that, effectively, Canon 989’s strict obligation of confessing once a year regards serious sins. On the supposition that a person has not committed any serious sins, this canon would not apply to them. In this light, Catechism No. 1457 quotes Canon 989 because it is dealing with the need to confess ones serious sins before receiving Communion. Catechism No. 2042, even though it refers to Canon 989 in the footnote, deals with its topic under the title of man’s vocation and his life in the Spirit. As our correspondent points out, the Catechism considers fulfilling the second precept as a minimum requirement of spiritual growth. Because of this, the second precept does not mention “serious or mortal sin” and obliges whether serious sin is present or not. By doing so, Catechism No. 2042 says that the annual confession “ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.” Here, reconciliation is not
seen just as the obligatory means of being shriven of mortal sin but as one of the habitual and even necessary means of spiritual progress. The Compendium to the Catechism also makes no mention of the need for serious sin. Thus, No. 432.2 formulates the precept as: “To confess one’s sins, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation at least once each year.” By doing this, both the Catechism and its Compendium descend from the ethereal spheres of canonical theory to the reality of the Christian life. The idea that the annual canonical obligation to confess obliges only in the case of serious sins is fine on paper, but the experience of many directors of souls is that it is rare for someone to avoid any serious sin over a period of one or more years. Indeed, when serious sin is avoided over the course of years, it almost always occurs in souls who regularly and frequently confess their venial sins and make use of the sacrament of reconciliation in order to grow in their delicacy of conscience and love for God. Such souls are also likely to practice other means of spiritual progress such as regular prayer, frequent Communion, and charitable service. We also need to remember that the obligation does not fall upon those who are unable to fulfill it due to age, infirmity or some other good reason. Perhaps the difficulty stems from having diluted the concept of mortal or serious sin, so that it is no longer perceived. At times, sin is reduced to violations of the Sixth Commandment. We pastors need to remind our faithful, and ourselves, that the deadly sins are seven (pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth) and that each poisons the soul in its own way. Finally, the obligation to annual confession aids us in combating the sin of presumption before God’s judgment.
Courtesy of CFC
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
The Philippine delegation together with the Philippine Embassy charge d’ affaires (7th from right).
The Pakistan Visit of BishopsUlama Conference
By Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla
Background and Objective Sometime in December 2008, Pakistani President Alih Salip Zardari and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were discussing common concerns in the Asian region. One of them is the UN Resolution of December 2007 on the promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace. Our president mentioned the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) which is composed of Catholic and Protestant bishops and Muslim Ulama. President Zardari was interested in the group, which has been in existence for 14 years, and how it helped in the peace process. Both agreed for the visit of the BUC to Pakistan. They both hoped that this visit and future mutual cooperation would help Pakistan’s desire for observer status in the ASEAN and the Philippines’ same desire in the OIC. Philippine Delegation The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the embassy in Islamabad begun to exchange messages with the Pakistan Federal Ministry for Minorities. BUC was informed of the invitation and was requested to reply if a delegation can be formed to share the BUC interreligious experiences in Mindanao. The BUC Tripartite Commission or the governing board composed of four Catholics, four Muslims and four Protestants accepted the invitation and prepared for the visit. It was originally planned for October 2009, then postponed to November, and finally carried out in January 13-17, 2010. The Philippine delegation consisted of 14 persons from the BUC’s Tripartite Commission and three from the government’s Presidential Council on Interfaith Initiatives (PCII), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), and the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Mindanao (OPAMIN). TheBUCgroupconsistedofArchbishop Fernando R. Capalla, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, and Bishop Edwin de la Peña of the Conference’s Catholic sector, Dr. Hamid Barra, Judge Abocali Ali, Prof. Salipada Tamano, Prof. Shariff Mohsin Julabbi, and Alim Elias Macarandas of the Ulama sector, Bishop Emeritus Hilario Gomez, Jr, Bishop Danilo Bustamante, Mark Anthony Gomez, and Pastor Purita Bahande of the Protestant sector. BUC Sister Lou Q. Solijon (Catholic) and Alandoni Pala (Muslim) served as secretaries. Accompanying the BUC were Maria IsabelTobiasofthePCII,RomeoMontenegro of OPAMIN, and Edsel Mijares of OPAPP. Since it was an official delegation from the Philippine Government, the entire group of 17 Filipinos was headed by Maria Isabel Tobias who is the PCII Secretary General. Activities in Islamabad The Philippine delegation arrived in Islamabad, capital City of Pakistan, in early dawn of January 14 after an 8-hour stop-over in Dubai. We were received by officials of government and our embassy people, and billeted at the Islamabad Hotel. We had police escort throughout the visit. Our first activity was a visit to the office of Federal Minister for Minorities, Shabhaz Bhatti who is a Catholic. After posing for a photo with him and his staff, we were brought to a conference room where we watched a powerpoint presentation of the projects and activities of the Ministry. Before the presentation Minister Bhatti introduced himself and his staff, followed by our own individual self introduction. From the presentation we learned that the minorities in Pakistan are the non-Muslims, that is, the Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Bahai, and tribal communities. There are two persons representing them in Parliament and by law they are given 5% of the quota of services from the government. One big difference between them and us is they are not yet organized as a group. We also asked questions and clarifications. When queried about the blasphemy law which has caused death of several Christians, their answer was the law is being reviewed which is the common thinking of many in government because it has greetings on behalf of our delegations and our people. I was interviewed by a media man and was asked about my comment on the issue of the Muslim minority in Switzerland. We posed for photos with many Ulama after dinner. The two Catholic bishops Lobo and Anthony were also present with several Catholic priests and religious sisters. The next day, January 15, was spent for brief visits to different VIP personages in Government. Before the official visits, the three of us Catholic b i s h o p s accepted the invitation of Archbishop Adolfo Yllana, Papal Nuncio to Pakistan, for Mass and breakfast. He gave us some information on the situation of Catholics in the country. First we were r e c e i v e d by Foreign M i n i s t e r Makhdoom ShahMahmood Qureshi and his staff. He The Philippine delegation with Farooq Naek, chairman of Pakistani Parliament. spoke beautiful signed by Minister Bhatti and SecretaryGeneral Ma. Isabel Tobias. (The text is at the end of this report.) After the dialogue with the Ulama and minority leaders we had a press conference. We were asked how we organized and how we were able to promote tolerance and understanding in Mindanao. One media question was our comment on anti-Islamic cartoon in the Netherlands. Dr. Barra said that the anti-Islamic cartoons do not represent in the same building and his assistant. They are two young parliamentarians who explained the representations of the minorities in the Parliament. Our last encounter that morning was a short time visit to the Prime Minister who also confirmed the need for interfaith dialogue and harmony for peace. He was quite in a hurry but we appreciated his giving us some moments. After this we had a late lunch with Minister Bhatti and his staff at the Marriott Hotel. We had a good rest in the late afternoon. It was winter in Pakistan, and the temperature was 4 degree Celsius. In the evening the Philippine officials and personnel treated us to a buffet dinner at the Serena Hotel, a beautiful building made of brown coloured marble. Our last day, January 16, began with a visit to King Faisal Mosque, said to be one of the largest in the Middle East. A guide shared with us the history of the huge edifice, the years it took to build, the cost and the capacity. We had to take off our shoes and it was a sacrifice because of the freezing temperature. But we managed on bare feet. Our last encounter with government officials was with the Ministry for Religious Affairs under Syed Hamid Saeed Kazmi. With him also was the President of the State University of Islamabad. In the course of our dialogue Alim Elias Macarandas asked if help can be extended to Muslim Filipinos in Pakistan who need visa to Mecca. The answer was for Filipinos to get it in the Philippines. Dr. Barra acknowledged the leadership of Pakistan in the intellectual development of Muslims and proposed some kind of mutual collaboration. I asked about the relationship between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the country. Kazmi said the conflict started only 25 years ago but in the beginning there was peace. From here we motored to Rawalpindi, a 45-minute drive out of Islamabad, to visit the Catholic Cathedral and Bishop Lobo. Before lunch with Bishop Anthony and the Daughters of St. Paul, the sisters and a youth group sang for us and showed us a power point presentation of the sisters’ apostolate. After lunch we visited Bishop Lobo who was very sick. After supper and a good rest, we were brought to the airport to prepare for our flight at past midnight to Dubai and Manila. We were asleep when the Emirate aircraft landed at Dubai around 2 a.m. of January 17, 2010. The Joint Declaration We were generally impressed by the interest of the Pakistani government officials in our group and in the promotion of interfaith harmony as expressed in the following declaration which I read for the media: “We, the representatives of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Minorities, have reached the following decisions after a day of long consultation on the issues of interfaith harmony and conditions of Minorities in Pakistan and the Philippines: 1. We will continue to share the ideas of harmonizing the society and inculcating peaceful co-existence in our countries. 2. We will share information to cooperate further for inter-religious inter-active planning. 3. We will also arrange exchange of delegation to know each other’s experiences for creating a tolerant and peaceful society. 4. We will encourage the study and replication of successful programs for inter-religious fraternity and harmonizing the society for peace, love and tolerance, which is the essence of all faiths. 5. We appreciate the efforts of the Government of Pakistan for fighting extremism and terrorism through strengthening the institutions for interfaith harmony”.
been misused by extremist. When proven guilty of defiling the Qurán and blasphemy against Allah and the Prophet one is condemned to death. In the afternoon around two o’çlock, a group of Pakistan ulama and minority g r o u p s including a Catholic coadjutor bishop of Islamabad,
The Philippine delegation with members of Pakistan Parliament representing Minorities.
The Philippine delegation during a dialogue with Minister Bhatti and staff.
Bishop Anthony joined us for another dialogue and exchange of views on harmony and peace. We were told later that several came from all over Pakistan. Some Ulama spoke in Urdu with a translator, others were good in English. We also found out that most of the officials in government have studied in Christian schools. After this we agreed to make a joint declaration which was
the thinking of the majority Christians in Europe just as the anti-Christian sentiments of Muslim do not represent the entire Muslim world. The day was capped by a formal dinner in our honor at the Marriott Hotel tendered by the Ministry. In attendance were more than 200 persons mostly Ulama, minority leaders, and leaders of Parliament. I conveyed the words of
English and shared with us his belief in peace and harmony t h r o u g h dialogue. When asked about a possible return visit of Pakistani Ulama to the Philippines, he enthusiastically agreed and even promised to accompany the delegation. He also confirmed the need of reviewing the blasphemy law. Personally he is against the suicide bombings by extremists. Next stop was at the Office of the Chairman of the Parliament who is a lawyer, Farooq H. Naek. He also confirmed the need of revising the blasphemy law and expressed his conviction on the need for interfaith harmony and dialogue. From the Office of the parliament Chair we were assured with the Office of the Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
The Predicament of the Philippine Media
The Water of Lourdes
(Second of Two Parts)
By Bishop Jose C. Sorra, DD
By Ma. Luisa M. Lacson
LAST year I wrote, “A DAY AT MONTSERRAT” and it is so comforting that some visited the place even through that article. Many among our readers expressed the wish that someday they might reach MONTSERRAT, SPAIN. While a day was spent touring Montserrat, we, in the Lasallian Pilgrimage headed by Bro. Rolando R. Dizon, FSC, then President of DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY, MANILA, who organized the 78-member team of Lasallians from the different La Salle Schools in the Philippines, had a grand time of three days (out of 21 days in Europe) of deep spiritual activities in Lourdes. We experienced healings in many aspects of our lives that we treasure and LIVE as long as we serve the Lord. “COME TO THE SPRING, DRINK AND WASH YOURSELF THERE,” says the big poster at the entrance of the prayerful grounds of Lourdes. The moment we entered the super silent place visited by thousands of pilgrims, we paused for some moments, especially us who were those among first timers. We were aware that NO ONE was talking out loud. There was perfect silence! Our eyes wandered and we began to read signs, our lead to all destinations. You come to the baths at Lourdes to bathe in the water of the Spring that lay under the earth on the left side of the Rock as you face the Grotto, the Spring Mary made known to Bernadette. Remember, it was on the 25th of February 1858, during the 9th Apparition, that Bernadette heard the Lady say: “Would you mind going down on your knees... kissing the ground... eating the grass that is there... FOR SINNERS: GO DRINK AT THE SPRING AND WASH YOURSELF THERE.” Bernadette carried out those actions but with difficulty, for the ground was dirty, the grass bitter and the water repugnant. The onlookers who, up to that day, had been enthusiastic, were now shocked, scandalized and disgusted. Bernadette was slapped, insulted and led before the Public Prosecutor... On that dramatic day, which reminds us of Good Friday, Bernadette calmly explained that she had done all these things FOR SINNERS. And from that day onwards, a prayer full of serious concern and compassion characterized her life. She had discovered this world of “the poor sinners, our brothers” whom the Blessed Virgin had pointed to her, saying: “PENANCE, PRAY FOR THE CONVERSION OF SINNERS.” Mary had been so sad that day that Bernadette wept. The Gospel of the Mass on that particular day carried the story of Jesus crucified, pierced by the soldier’s lance, and from which flowed “BLOOD and WATER.” Hence it is from this perspective that we are given the deeper meaning of the symbolism of the LOURDES’ WATER: * WATER is a sign of the Love of Christ who gives his life “for sinners.” * WATER is a sign of Baptism that has given us life as children of God. * WATER is the sign of the Sacrament of Penance, in which God offers us forgiveness, purification, reconciliation. It is because of our need to be reborn, forgiven, purified, reconciled... that we come to this WATER. We come in memory of what Jesus said: “IF ANYONE IS THIRSTY, LET HIM COME TO ME AND DRINK.” “The water that I shall give you will become a spring welling up to eternal life”. In these words Jesus hinted at the Spirit that those who believed in Him would receive (see Jn 4 and 7). Let us reflect on this in prayer. Good Lord, in calmness, with faith, humility, charity and trust, we will grasp the deeper meaning of the water and will have no need to attribute other powers to it. Oh God, give us your grace freely, out of LOVE. We do not think that performing a great number of religious acts gives us rights over God. He freely offers us peace of heart, and if he judges it to be good for us, the easing of our sufferings. Let us think of others, the seriously ill. If we find the waiting too long, then let us give them priority. At the grounds of Lourdes, we observed this when we allowed the seriously ill ahead of us in the long line, especially at the baths. We had a wonderful pilgrimage by the act of drinking, partaking in the bath and Way of the Cross. We also had the chance to visit NEVERS, where the incorrupt body of Bernadette is found. The deep meaning of THE WATER OF LOURDES is inscribed above the place where the taps are located: “WASH YOUR FACE AND ASK GOD TO PURIFY YOUR HEART.” To complete our Pilgrimage to LOURDES, FRANCE we prayed: God our Father, It is through Mary, the most pure Virgin, that your Son has come to us, the Source of Living Water. Help us to answer His call, in coming to purify ourselves and ask forgiveness at the Source of grace pouring from his heart, and of which this WATER is a sign and reminder, so that there may live in us the new creature, that we became in Baptism. AMEN!
IN the preceding first part of this article, several veteran and responsible journalists of the print media bluntly wrote about the state of the media in our country in the past couple of decades. Their final consensus on whether the Philippine Media was responsible and professional was: “Unfortunately, it was not,” citing several factors showing why it was not. Then, they concluded that the confused atmosphere created by the media breeds and continues to breed creeping chaos in the country.
and act on achieving the good values, concluded the Youth’s Manifesto. Speaking of Ethics in media, Abe Rosenthal, the venerable senior columnist of the New York Times, wrote to advise the media people: Journalists often have to hurt people just by reporting facts. But they do not have to cause unnecessary cruelty. When you finish the story, read it…then substitute your name for the person or subjects in your story. And then ask yourself if it would make you feel miserable, or your wife, or your teenage daughter blush in shame…if so, then you’re violating the foundation of press reporting – fairness. The other side of fairness is gratuitousness, meanness, or just plain disrespect for Truth, the whole truth, and not just the half-truth, or truth colored by political or financial lies or dishonesty. In our Philippine media, there is an “electrical acronym” for irresponsible media practitioners: AC-DC (Attack & Collect, Defend & Collect). You’ll know them when you read them. It becomes worse, though, if and when the editor or publisher is
vested interests. Three, Information & Education. Media is supposed to inform the truth, educate or communicate values, rather than simply cater to what is sensational and excite popular passions on controversial issues. Often, the press caters more to what the readers want rather than what they need. Most often, the values communicated are distorted. In many cases, because of profit-driven objectives or wrongly-premised public policies, paid advertisements or promotional campaigns through media resort to downright deception—like, for instance, the DOH’s aggressive campaign for the use of condom for safe-sex or against the spread of AIDS/HIV; similarly, the pro-choice legislators’ use of the mass media, as pro-lifers say, to idiotize the majority of the uneducated, uninformed and misinformed poor women and families through backdoor-campaign with “envelopmental” pressure, as well as through patronized surveys to show the acceptability of the RH Bill by an alleged “overwhelming number” among the women population.
Media is said to be an invisible government, often referred to as the “Fourth State.” It could become a dictatorial government if the reading public is not vigilant. And it thrives best and lords it over the minds of its readership, particularly in a democracy where no laws can be passed to abridge the freedom of the press. Thus, they freely decide on what to print and say. What they say seems to be final—no ifs and no buts. Accordingly, more often than not, their news or reports reflect their own set of biases. But the most pervasive and most subversive of public morals and decency are the movies and television. In an open Manifesto of the Youth issued at the Don Bosco Technical College, Mandaluyong, on January 23, 1993, among their pleas to the Mass Media, particularly the film industry, were as follows: We believe that your power is Godgiven … but you must use this not only to entertain but to educate as well … We know, however, that you can abuse your power to manipulate us, the young … as villains are made to look like heroes and sex-stripping stars are made to appear like saints, making us feel that there are hardly any role models to respect, admire and imitate. We, however, commit ourselves to sharpen your moral conscience, raise the level of our media education, patronize local but value-oriented movies, and boycott movies that draw young people to idolize sex kittens and violent brats. Responsible media are not only to report and expose the evil but also to extol
in cahoots. There is no gainsaying the fact that some five decades ago or so, the greatest influence on the young people were: first, the family and second, the school. But, today, sad to say, it is the media, meaning the tri-media: TV, radio and the press, plus the super-media up out there in the cyberspace. Thus, the powerful media has now become the most effective and most influential school in itself for all walks of life. What then should be the ethical responsibilities of the Mass Media? I’d love to believe that mostly, if not all, media practitioners know or are aware of their ethical Do’s and Don’ts. To cite at least three basic professional ethics in Journalism: One, the Objective Truth. Responsible media should report fully, truly, accurately and openly objective facts; this implies the people’s right to receiving precise, complete and transparent information. Accordingly, this objectivity imposes upon the media the use of diverse sources of information and the verification of the facts and context in which they occur. Two, Personal and Professional Integrity. The social role and responsibility of the journalist demands high standards of integrity. In all honesty, he or she must write in accordance with his or her well-informed and formed clear conscience. This will enable him/ her to stand the high moral ground in the face of temptations or all forms of direct or indirect illicit remuneration, immoral political pressure, or the promotion of
Media is indeed a most powerful instrument of educating or miseducating entire population, especially the youth. “We must therefore scrupulously avoid power without responsibility,” once wrote Stanly Baldwin, “which is the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.” Pope Benedict XVI, in his Message to the 42nd Communications Day on 4 May 2008, asked whether we should allow the instruments of social communication to be exploited for indiscriminate “self promotion” or to end up in the hands of those who use them to manipulate consciences. He decried that media today seems increasingly to claim not simply to represent reality but to determine it … It has been used not for the proper purpose of disseminating information, but “to create” events. He then appealed to the media not to be the spokesmen for economic materialism and ethical relativism, true scourges of our time. Instead, they can and must contribute to making known the truth about huma-nity, and defending it against those who tend to deny or destroy it. If media is used properly and responsibly with all its vast possibi-lities, wrote Pope John Paul II (of happy memory), it could become a powerful tool or means of evangelization, by which the Christian Message or Good News of Salvation for each man and woman might be more present in the world” ( 29th World Communication Day, 1995).
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
CBCP Statement On the Government’s Revitalized Promotion of Condoms
THE Church, like the Good Shepherd, has always shown love and compassion towards those who suffer any form of affliction. Consistent with the truth and meaning of human sexuality, and God’s plan for the family, the Church reiterates that formation in authentic sexual values, more concretely expressed in premarital chastity and fidelity to spouse, is the only effective way to curb the spread of AIDS. Given its high failure rate, the condom cannot really put a stop to AIDS. Moreover, by creating a false sense of security, it condones and encourages promiscuity outside of marriage, and hence contributes to the further spread of AIDS. Given their medical, social and moral implications, questions related with condom promotion and failure have to be seriously studied by the public, including: a. The funding and effort involved in promoting condoms should rather be used to fight diseases that afflict millions of people in our country each year, such as diarrhea, bronchitis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, cancer, hypertension and influenza. Available resources should instead be channeled to provide basic needs such as food, medicines, education and work. Furthermore, it is unjust that the taxes of the people including Catholics be used for purposes against their moral beliefs. b. The condom business is a multi-million dollar industry that heavily targets the adolescent market, at the expense of morality and family life. Condom advertisements should be banned in television, radio, movies, newspapers, magazines, and public places, as they desensitize the youth’s delicate conscience and weaken their moral fibers as future parents. c. Rich countries with ageing and imminently dwindling populations spend huge amounts to encourage their citizens to have more children. Why should they be allowed to also spend huge amounts to discourage Filipinos capable of having more children from doing so? d. In the same way that the government requires warnings for certain substances (“Cigarette smoking is dangerous for your health” for tobacco, “Drink moderately” for alcoholic beverages, and “No therapeutic claims” for herbal medicines) the Department of Health should also require a Government Warning that states, “CONDOMS MAY FAIL TO PROTECT FROM AIDS AND OTHER SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES.” Consumer groups should insist on the right to know the real characteristics of products they use, and that corresponding labels be conspicuously displayed in packaging. As explained in the CBCP’s document, In the Compassion of Jesus. A Pastoral Letter on AIDS, dated January 23, 1993, the Church spares no effort to help prevent the spread of AIDS. She serves and ministers to AIDS patients, and helps protect them from stigmatization, ostracism and condemnation. She educates the public on the prevention of the disease. We urge parents, professional associations, civil society, youth organizations, the government, and the mass media, to be vigilant and take positive steps in guarding the total health and welfare of our people, and to form families in real loving and responsible relationships. This we should all do not only out of a religious concern, but in obedience to the Constitution as well. Parents in particular should stand for their Constitutional right to rear their children according to their values, and not allow any ideological, commercial, political or international strategic interest to stand in their way. For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines +NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, DD Bishop of Tandag President, CBCP March 2, 2010
A Pastoral Letter of Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi on the Forthcoming Philippine Elections 2010
“…if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance, we wait eagerly for it.” (Rom 8,25)
Introduction As we celebrate the motherhood of Mary, we reflect on her faith and how she cooperated with God’s plan. As the Mother of God, she is our hope and refuge. Ina, Our Lady of Penafrancia, is the hope of every Bikolano and every devotee.
This year, the national and local electionssignalnewhope.Theautomation gives us reason to be optimistic that the election will reflect the people’s true will. We are hopeful that through the automation, fraud in the counting of votes will be eliminated. By their vote, the people express their hope for a better future. But this hope needs to be coupled with a commitment to vote for leaders who will promote common good. To vote is not only a duty as citizens but as believers of Christ. Time and again, the Church has called upon the faithful to follow their conscience, so they may cast a meaningful vote. But following one’s conscience requires an enlightened conscience. It must be attended by a pursuit of truth, and a discernment of God’s message in concrete circumstances. It is therefore crucial for every faithful citizen to truly understand the political situation of our country. The Political Landscape in the Philippines In Rerum Novarum issued in 1891, the Church has denounced the concentration of power upon a small number of very rich men who “lay upon the laboring poor a yoke a little better than that of slavery itself.” (RN, 3) Sadly, this situation persists in our country and hinders democracy to mature and permeate in our society. Oligarchy, the rule of elite families, negates democracy. Philippine politics has all the characteristics of an oligarchy. The national and local governments are run by elite families of around 300 in the entire country. According to the latest Social System survey, only 1% of the total Philippine population belong to the ruling class that craft the social, political and economic life of the country. On the other hand, only 9% belong to the middle class while the great majority, 90% of the population belong to the lower class. The ruling class enjoys more than half of the country’s wealth. They rule the country by provinces, congressional districts, cities and municipalities. Behold some features of oligarchic politics in our country: Election Fraud and Violence. Illegal voter registration, intimidation and undue pressure of voters, vote buying and vote rigging (dagdag-bawas) are prevalent. Election-related violence such as killings and kidnappings are widespread. On November 23, 2009, in Maguindanao, the world witnessed the worst election-related violence. Costly Campaigns. Campaigns become more expensive when competition becomes intense, when economic stakes are high and when the electorate continues to expand. Trimedia advertisements are used long before the campaign period. Political Turncoatism. Turncoatism or the switching from one party is commonplace due to the absence of marked differences in ideology, platforms and programs. Shifting allegiances are based on party resources and winnability and not on principles. Quid Pro Quo Politics. What binds or unbinds our political leaders is quid pro quo politics which means “something for something.” Political leaders enter into arrangements with other politicians that benefit both of them. Also called transactional politics, this exchange of favors is self-serving and is detrimental to common good. Extrajudicial Killings. Extrajudicial killings include “disappearances” where people are abducted, never heard from again and a body is never located. The killings’ desired impact is fear, paralysis and the breakdown of organizations that are vocal in its opposition and efficient in mobilizing public protest. Power Hoarding. Many politicians seek to perpetuate themselves in power. Upon reaching term limits, incumbent politicians endorse bench warmers so out that there can only be democracy where the majority comes from the middle class. The wide gap between the rich and the poor obstructs authentic democracy because a master and slave relationship reigns between the leaders and the citizens. With a vast number of Filipinos, generation after generation, living under massive poverty and with the handful elite running the country, we must admit in humility that there is no genuine democracy. There is an urgent need to confront this truth so we can hope for the right kind of change. To hope for democracy is to hope for the creation of a middle class; and the middle class can only be created when there is genuine people empowerment. The middle class, as poetically described by PCP II, “is neither so poor that they have nothing to give nor so rich that they essence of social justice. When we are concerned only about our family’s welfare, when we accumulate material possessions excessively even if through legal means, when our lives are measured by the income and properties we acquire, we create greater inequality between rich and poor. To be socially just, we must break the apathy and indifference, and begin looking at ourselves as members of our community. The founding of the Kapatiran Party is evidence that there are among our lay faithful who are committed to their role as members of the Church in the society. In the Kapatiran Party, we find a deep concern to promote a sense of community among our people and restore integrity in politics. Its participation in the 2010 elections may be an uphill battle but it is a concrete sign that the hope for social justice is alive. be not motivated by patronage and subservience to any political leader in the building of human and personal kingdoms, but must be impelled by the mission to build God’s kingdom on earth. God invites us to His Kingdom, not only as a future reward but as a present reality. All our efforts for people empowerment, all our struggles for social justice find fullness and meaning when they lead us to the kingdom of God. When our sight is not set on seeking the Kingdom of God, all our labours are designed upon our own individual selfcentered will. Thus, the marginalized will continue to be disadvantaged, the poor will only become poorer and the oppressed will never find justice. When we hope for a better future, for a better society, we hope for the kingdom of God. To establish His Kingdom, we must fully engage in investing on moral treasure and not material treasure, in restoring a social order that respects the primacy of human dignity and in building the moral well-being of our country. Conclusion The coming elections can be a fresh start in our hope for a better future. But in order for the election to mark a new beginning, we must accord it with sincerity and understanding that the change of leaders does not mean a change of systems. Electing new leaders does not guarantee an end to the scams and corruption. We must hope for the right change so real transformation can take place. We need to create and strengthen the middle class before we can witness genuine democracy. However, we can only empower the people if we develop the virtue of social justice. And the creation of the middle class finds true motive, inspiration and fulfillment in building God’s kingdom on earth. People empowerment and social justice is not a work of one man, or even one administration. It is the work of one people—the people of God—that are in different human institutions and sectors of society: in the family, the Church, the schools, the business sector, non-government, civic and people’s organizations, and government. By our baptism, we received a prophetic mission: to see, judge and act. We must be vigilant at all times. We need to see and understand the long-standing suffering of our people. We must make judgments, not only opinions. We need to discern and identify the evil that has caused our society to continuously suffer. Lastly, we must make a move. We need to denounce the evil by making the kingdom of God present in our lives and in our institutions. A keen understanding of the causes of our misery and a conviction to rise above it will equip us to bring about the transformation that we truly need and deserve as a Filipino nation. In Mary’s Magnificat, Ina echoes God’s promise of His Kingdom. It is the Kingdom where the poor are no longer powerless. It is the Kingdom where: “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.” (Luke 1:52) Her Magnificat moves us to be a constituency of the kingdom of God and not of the kingdom of man. Upon all I impart my New Year’s blessing. +LEONARDO Z. LEGASPI, O.P. D.D. Archbishop of Caceres January 1, 2010
Hope and wait with perseverance
The coming elections can be a fresh start in our hope for a better future. But in order for the election to mark a new beginning, we must accord it with sincerity and understanding that the change of leaders does not mean a change of systems. Electing new leaders does not guarantee an end to the scams and corruption. We must hope for the right change so real transformation can take place.
they can easily reclaim their posts after three years. Others simply shift from the executive branch to the legislative branch such as from governor to congressman or mayor to congressman and vice-versa. Hope in these troubled times The seemingly insurmountable issues of our political landscape have caused many Filipinos to focus on personal godliness and to distance from communal responsibility. Hopelessness has crept in and has weakened the Filipino spirit. In Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI said that to have faith is to hope. To continue to hope for peace, justice and equality of human dignity is faithfulness to the Father’s will. Hope for People Empowerment. Aristotle, in his book Politics, called democracy as the best form of government. However, he pointed have nothing to need.” But more than income and resources, the middle class is identified by their attitude towards and participation in society. The middle class can be self-reliant and can break away from mendicancy or dependence from the ruling elite. Therefore, I invite you to reflect together as ecclesial communities how you can contribute to people empowerment and the creation of the middle class through education, capital and ownership in the light of the Church’s social teachings. Hope for Social Justice While people empowerment is an essential requisite for democracy, the virtue required to create and nourish democracy is social justice. The equal dignity of human persons requires the effort to reduce excessive social and economic inequalities. Bridging the gap between the rich and poor, the powerful and the marginalized, the elite and the lower class—this is the Social justice as a virtue can be expressed in many ways. When we bring to the public forum the condemnation of prostitution, jueteng, illegal logging and quarrying; when we hold our political leaders accountable for graft and corrupt practices, lavish lifestyles and abuse of power; when we organize ourselves to protect religious rights, the integrity of families and the life of the unborn, every time we exercise our civil and political rights to promote the common good, we practice social justice. Hope for the Kingdom of God When Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King in 1925, he called upon Christians to recognize only one King and one Kingdom: Christ and God’s Kingdom. To mature in our faith, we must clearly distinguish between the kingdom of man and the kingdom of God. The exercise of rights, the lay faithful’s participation in the public square and in politics must
© Dennis Dayao / CBCP Media
4th Sunday of Lent (Lk 15:1-3, 11-32); March 14, 2010
By Fr. Joseph Pellegrino
THE Son repents. The Father forgives. The brother misses the meal. My guess is that most of us could recite the parable of today’s gospel almost word for word. When we think of God’s forgiveness, the picture of the Father looking out across the fields, longing and waiting for his son to return, enters our minds. We see God giving us a hug, embracing us, calling out to the servants to put a ring on our finger and get the finest cloak. We know that God is not concerned with the hurt He feels when we reject Him. He is concerned only about us, how we are hurting ourselves. When we think of our own sinfulness, and picture the son who offended his father, we remember how sin puts us in the mud with the pigs. We remember how we’ve hurt ourselves, as well as others. We know that we can have the courage to get out of the mud, turn back home and say I’m sorry. The Loving Father will forgive us before we even tell our sad story. For years the focus of the parable was on the offending son. In fact, this has always been called the parable of the prodigal son. More recently the focus of the parable has been on the forgiveness of God. The parable is now often referred to as the Parable of the Forgiving Father. Having come from an age when God was hammered into us as the terrible judge, this was a valid and needed insight into the parable. In confession we priests most often emphasize how much God loves the penitent and how forgiveness is an expression of love. There is a third character in the parable for this Sunday, a character that with whom we all tend to identify and with whom we are tempted to agree. That is the elder son. The elder son is angry because even though his brother had committed horrible offences, the ingrate was being given a party on his return. “I’ve struggled for you for years,” the elder son says to the Father, “You never had a party for me.” We all have the inclination to say that this son is right. In his mercy for the prodigal, the Father did not treat the elder son justly. Or did he? Let’s look at the parable closely. The younger son was a real selfish brat. The sons of farmers were expected to work the farm for their fathers until their father’s death. This was ancient social security. The prodigal son wasn’t about to do this. He shirked his responsibility to his father by selling his portion of the property. Furthermore, to the ancient Jews, property was sacred, their family’s portion of the chosen land. “God forbid,” Nabaoth tells King Ahab in 1 Kings 21, “God forbid that I sell the vineyard the Lord has given my family”, Nabaoth is pious. The Prodigal Son couldn’t care about anyone or anything except himself. He has insulted his father, his God, and his whole family. The elder son has cause to be upset. He did the right thing in his life. He worked his portion of the inheritance, his two thirds of the property, for his father. He suffered through his brother’s insulting of the father. There is nothing that gets
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Joining God in forgiveness and celebrating His love
us angrier than when a loved one of ours is offended. The elder son has cause to be angry with his brother. But he himself errs by letting this anger control him. A banquet is thrown, but the elder son refuses to enter. The Father who was offended has forgiven the Prodigal, the elder son refuses to forgive. In scripture a banquet is a way of expressing the intimate sharing of God’s life. God will love his people so much that he will set a banquet for them, bring them into his intimacy, the Old Testament says. The Elder Son separates himself from the intimacy of his Father’s love because he refuses to forgive his brother. We separate ourselves from the intimacy of God’s love when we refuse to forgive others who have sinned. We all have battle stories. We have all had people who have consciously and callously tried to hurt us. I’ve been offended and so have you. But if we don’t forgive those who have hurt us, we will be keeping ourselves out of the banquet of God’s intimacy. If we want to receive God’s forgiveness, we have to give God’s forgiveness. If we don’t, then do you know what we do, we stand outside the banquet griping and grousing, but separating ourselves from God’s love. At the conclusion of the parable, only the Elder Son is excluded from the banquet. And he does this to himself. Today we pray that we might be like the forgiving Father, not like the Elder Son. We pray that we may live the words we pray when we recite the Our Father: Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Fr. Francis Ongkingco
Bishop Pat Alo
Alms and giving
“I REALLY don’t like Lent, Father,” the young fellow manifested distaste as his face wrinkled up like a prune. “Why don’t you?” I tried to be more encouraging. “It’s supposed to prepare us for the most important events of history and our faith. Christ saved us by dying on the Cross and resurrecting on the third day.” “Yeah, I kinda know that stuff,” his facial wrinkles got more pronounced as his eyes disappeared in thin lined squints. “It’s the abstinence and fasting things that I’m not easy with. I don’t like veggies!” It was only after further explaining to him that he gradually got his original face back. A few more minutes managed to make his caterpillar eyebrows shrink back to their normal size. “…so, we don’t suffer for suffering’s sake. We do all these in order to help our body pray since it was also made by God for Heaven.” *** As we enter into the full season of Lent, we shouldn’t be surprised when we too react like this student. Our nature is naturally not inclined to experience pain and suffering. It has, however, mysteriously become a path of purification and holiness when our Lord took it upon Himself –through His magnanimous Passion– to save us. It was only in this way that God converted the trials, pains and burdens of man’s life as a means for conversion: man’s entire body, soul, thoughts and his actions. Thus the Church has always encouraged us not to shun this invitation to pass through the narrow gate of self-surrender and abnegation. Lent is a concrete way, as a preparation for Easter, to follow an itinerary of identification with our Lord’s suffering. The Church focuses on the traditional acts of Lent: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. To these are also intimately linked the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It is through these spiritual acts that Lent occasions for us another chance for conversion. Pope Benedict XVI says: “Therefore, Lent is an opportunity to be Christians again, through a constant process of interior change and of progress in knowledge and love of Christ. Conversion never takes place once and for all, but is a process, an interior journey of our whole life. Certainly this journey of evangelical conversion cannot be limited to a particular period of the year: It is a journey of every day which must embrace our whole existence, every day of our lives.” (God Is Love and His Love Is the Secret of Our Happiness, Gen. Audience 21-II-2007) This conversion, however, has its main effects when we learn through such penitential acts to give the true gift of self to God. In an interview Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) commented on the following statement: Erich Fromm says that the most important sphere of giving is not that of material things. A person is giving most to another when he gives of himself, that is to say, the most precious thing he possesses, his own life. He gives his joy, his interest, his understanding, his knowledge, and of course likewise his humor and his sadness—in short, everything that is in him. To this statement the Pope replies: “Giving can never mean primarily giving money; that goes without saying. Of course money is also often most necessary. But when money is the only thing that is given, that is often hurtful for the other person. (...) You must give more than this. You must come yourselves; you must give of yourselves; and you must help, so that the material gifts you bring are used appropriately, so that they are not just something you pull out of a bag in order to buy your way out of the difficulty we represent, the problem we are for you.” He then illustrates the nature of giving ourselves not only materially to our neighbor’s needs: “There is a lovely story told by Rilke. The poet tells how, in Paris, he used always to pass a woman into whose hat someone had thrown a coin. The beggar woman was always quite unmoved by this, as if she had no feelings at all. One day, Rilke gives her a rose. And in that moment her face glows. He sees for the first time that she does have feelings. She smiles, and then for a week she is no longer there begging, because someone has given her something that is more than money. “I think that is such a lovely little incident, in which you can see that sometimes a rose, a little act of giving, of affection, of acceptance of the other person, can be more than many coins or other material gifts.” (God and the World, Believing and Living in Our Time, A Conversation with Peter Seewald, 2000 DeutscheVerlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart, Munich) *** May these words of the Holy Father inspire us never to be satisfied with simply giving ourselves to God and neighbor materially and mechanically. It is only in this way that we truly “gain ourselves” by “losing ourselves” when we give without conditions, calculations and complications.
The sinful part (RH controversies)
WITHOUT pointing accusing fingers at others, it would be good to be sincere with ourselves in really searching for the truth in the contraceptive issue of the RH Bill which certain legislators are proposing. What is the moral truth behind, seeing that the Catholic Church is opposing it. The Catholic Church teaches that sexual relations outside of legitimate marriage is a grave sin, in fact part of the messages of Fatima were attesting that many souls go into Hell precisely because of sins of impurity. It would be a disgraceful thing if we would come to know why this Bill is being proposed by some legislators because of the money being offered, under the table. As you know, the contraceptives would entice people to sex, without the possibility of bringing in the concomitant responsibilities of unintended pregnancy. Even marital infidelities may be concealed this way, thus providing temptation to worse and continuing sins of the flesh. The anti-life (culture of death) groups argue that no life is being violated by the contraceptives, only the union of sperm and ovum is being blocked. That is a very cunning style of arguing since the natural potential life is being blocked. Moreover, many of these contraceptive devices are abortifacient, thus killing a newly conceived fetus. This is against the first right of man: life, from which proceeds all others. Don’t we understand that proliferating the contraceptive devices is tantamount to blocking future births of humans. Can you imagine the earth almost entirely depopulated? “Perhaps you think that we are again apologizing; but no: we speak in Christ and before God, and I do this for you, dear friends, to build you up. I fear that if I go and see you, I might not find you as I would wish, and you in turn, might not find me to your liking. I might see rivalries, envy, grudges, disputes, slanders, gossip, conceit, disorder. Let it not be that in coming again to you, God humble me because of you and I have to grieve over so many of you who live in sin, on seeing that they have not yet given up an impure way of living, their wicked conduct and the vices they formerly practiced” (2 Cor. 12:19-21). “Nothing unclean will enter it (the holy city Jerusalem), or anyone who does what is evil and false but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Rev. 21:27).
Receive his love in the most unlikely places
I felt the shining and brilliant love of God in a way I’ll never forget. You see, I came here to preach, to teach, to heal, to give love! Well, I was wrong. Overpowering love was going to be given to me. Because one morning, I knock at this tiny shanty the size of a chest freezer. An old woman opens the door. She is totally blind. Behind her are two shy kids, hiding behind her dress, both younger than five. I learn that her only son abandoned his kids to her. I also learn that he visits her once a week to steal her money— whatever little money she gets from begging. Because it is lunch time, she invites me, “Kain tayo.” She opens an old tin can and brings out a tiny bowl of lugao. I survey it and am shocked. The lugao has more water than rice. She also fishes out from the tin can a half piece of bread, wrapped in a napkin. I notice that she holds it reverently, as though she was holding precious gold. I also notice that there is nothing left in the tin can. The two eager kids wait with anticipation. Their grandmother places the lugao before them, and says, “Ito ang sa atin.” Quickly, their tiny dirty hands scoop it up into their hungry mouths. The old woman then gives me the gold in her hand— the most prized possession she has—this halfpiece of bread wrapped in a white napkin. I decline. “Lola, huwag ninyo akong isipin. Kainin ninyo na lang ito.” She gently protests. “Samahan mo kami. Kain ka rin.” I see the happiness in her smile, and I know she will be hurt if I say no. So I take the half piece of old bread. I take a bite. It’s dry. It’s hard. It’s tasteless. But at this moment, there is nothing more delicious. Funny, it’s as though I’m taking communion! Not because it’s holy or consecrated or anything like that. But because like God, the old blind woman is giving everything she has to me. My host is blind. She does not see the tears rolling down my cheeks. She does not see that I will never be the same person again.
BLACKISH water reaches my knees. I smell the putrid stench of stagnant canals burn my nostrils. I walk on creaking planks, many of them rotten with age. I walk carefully, not only to avoid breaking them, but also so that I don’t bump into rats the size of cats, squeaking, darting, running on these same dilapidated boards. I ask myself: Can any place on the planet be worse than this? You see, I’m in a shantytown, or what we call a “squatters” area in the Philippines. In the shack that will be my home for two weeks, there’s no toilet. Instead, I share one muddy toilet with five other families— consisting of 40 plus persons. Are you freaking out? Then freak out some more, because in this dark hole of the universe,
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Defending Ancestral Domain
By Fr. Shay Cullen
IT was a happy day and a happier event for hundreds of the descendants of the original inhabitants of the Philippines. They were gathered in the covered basketball court of Botolan, Zambales, to be recognized as the rightful inhabitants and owners of 15,000 square kilometers of ancestral domain. Many of them had walked thirty or forty kilometers from the edge of their ancestral domain, Mount Pinatubo, the volcanic mountain sacred to these peaceful people who first inhabited these islands thousands of years ago before land bridges from the Asian mainland submerged leaving only the islands. The guests began to arrive, government officials, NGO lawyers and social workers, all who helped made it possible. We took our places behind the long table on the high stage, with huge banner, with a photograph of the mountain and the message
Mission / B1
declaring that it was their right and the rights of all indigenous people to occupy what is rightfully theirs without interference. It stated the obvious of course, but in the Philippines the obvious is not much recognized, not where there is vast mineral wealth beneath the lands. The speeches were made, some long, especially those of the politicians running for office and some were short. My speech was very short, a message to the officials to more or less read the message on the big banner. I said the government was not giving them anything that was not already theirs by natural law and the law of the land. The government was merely recognizing their rights. The indigenous leaders understood it and nodded in understanding but the officials were bowed, as one would think in prayer, not so, they were just busy checking their emails or text messages, but the people applauded and waved. Such declarations of rights are very necessary these days when land grabbers, miners invade, and loggers climb the highest peaks to cut the
remaining trees, defying law and common sense. The people are not ignorant, illiterate tribal dwellers. Nowadays, indigenous people are wise to the ways of the lowlanders, the exploiters, the loggers and the politicians. They have sent their children to school and college. Back in the village, these educated young people can give you an eyeopening presentation with charts on how climate change is destroying their ancestral environment and threatening their lives and lands. Equally outspoken are the leaders and council of elders when it comes to the encroachments of mining corporations on their ancestral lands. On the adjacent mountain in Maporac village, Cabangan, last August 29, 09, a local engineer Alfredo Bartido, an employee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) allegedly entered the ancestral lands of Maporac with a group carrying surveying equipment and began to survey. The people of the village gathered and protested and told the group that they were trespassing in ancestral domain and need to get out.
They kept the surveying equipment as evidence of the alleged illegal activity and trespassing. Previous to this, bulldozers had entered the land and began open pit mining until the people called in the authorities and stopped it. So it was clear to the people that the survey could be used to make a claim on the land and get some kind of official approval for mining to resume. Engineer Alfredo Bartido immediately filed charges of robbery in the provincial capitol in Iba, Zambales against the people. He is claiming almost one thousand dollars in damages to the equipment and a loss of income. The people have counter-charged and the battle goes on. This is just one incident of thousands nationwide that get the people agitated and disturbed. Much more has to be done to support the indigenous people and help them protect the environment and stop the illegal logging and mining. They are the protectors of the remaining forests. It’s all we have left for future generations. [shaycullen@ gmail.com]
hands but all of our compassion to the suffering of this world so remote from God is a priestly act, it is prosphèrein, it is offering up. In this regard, in my opinion, we must understand and learn how to accept more profoundly the sufferings of pastoral life, because priestly action is exactly this, it is mediation, it is entering into the mystery of Christ, it is communication with the mystery of Christ, very real and essential, existential and then sacramental. A second term in this context is important. It is said that by means of this obedience Christ is made perfect, in Greek teleiothèis (cf. Heb 5: 8-9). We know that throughout the Torah, that is, in all religious legislation, the word tèleion, used here, means priestly ordination. In other words the Letter to the Hebrews tells us that precisely by doing this Jesus was made a priest, and his priesthood was fulfilled. Our sacramental priestly ordination should be brought about and achieved existentially but also Christologically, and through precisely this, should bring the world with Christ and to Christ and, with Christ, to God: thus we really become priests, teleiothèis. Therefore the priest is not a thing for a few hours but is fulfilled precisely in pastoral life, in his sufferings and his weaknesses, in his sorrows and also in his joys, of course. In this way we increasingly become priests in communion with Christ. Finally the Letter to the Hebrews sums up all this compassion in the word hypakoèn, obedience: it is all obedience. This is an unpopular word in our day. Obedience appears as an alienation, a servile attitude. One does not enjoy one’s own freedom, one’s freedom is subjected to another’s will, hence one is no longer free but determined by another, whereas self-determination, emancipation, would be true human existence.
Insteadoftheword“obedience”, as an anthropological keyword we would like the term “freedom”. Yet, on considering this problem closely, we see that these two things go together: Christ’s obedience is the conformity of his will with the will of the Father; it is bringing the human will to the divine will, to the conformation of our will with God’s will. In his interpretation of the Mount of Olives, of the anguish expressed precisely in Jesus’ prayer, “not my will but your will”, St. Maximus Confessor described this process that Christ carries in himself as a true man, together with the human nature and will; in this act “not my will
being human in himself and with himself, in conformity with God, in perfect obedience, that is, in the perfect conformation between the two wills, has redeemed us and redemption is always this process of leading the human will to communion with the divine will. Harnack, a liberal theologian, therefore wrote: “Here a not is missing”, it must be written “He was not heard”, and Bultmann accepted this interpretation. Yet this is a solution that is not an exegesis but rather a betrayal of the text. “Not” does not appear in any of the manuscripts but “he was heard”; so we must learn to understand what “being heard”
burden and so he was heard. Yet to me it seems that this answer is not quite enough. Being heard, in the fullest sense Fr. Vanhoye emphasized this would mean “he was redeemed from death”, however not for the moment, for that moment, but for ever, in the Resurrection: God’s true response to the prayer to be saved from death is the Resurrection and humanity is saved from death precisely in the Resurrection which is the true healing of our suffering and of the terrible mystery of death. Already present here is a third level of understanding: Jesus’ Resurrection is not only a personal event. I think it would be helpful
[your name]. And God answers: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (cf. Jn 12: 28). This is the response, it is God hearing him: I will glorify the Cross; it is the presence of divine glory because it is the supreme act of love. On the Cross Jesus is raised above all the earth and attracts the earth to him; on the Cross the “Kabod” now appears, the true divine glory of God who loves even to the Cross and thus transforms death and creates the Resurrection. Jesus’ prayer was heard in the sense that his death truly becomes life, it becomes the place where he redeems the human being, where he attracts the human being to himself.
but your will” Jesus recapitulates the whole process of his life, of leading, that is, natural human life to divine life and thereby transforming the human being. It is the divinization of the human being, hence the redemption of the human being, because God’s will is not a tyrannical will, is not a will outside our being but is the creative will itself; it is the very place where we find our true identity. Indeed, obedience, namely, conformity to God, the truth of our being, is true freedom, because it is divinization. Jesus, in bearing the human being,
means, in spite of the Cross. I see three levels on which to understand these words. At a first level the Greek text may be translated as: “He was redeemed from his anguish”, and in this sense Jesus is heard. This would therefore be a hint of what St Luke tells us: An angel strengthened him (cf. Lk 22: 43), in such a way that after the moment of anguish he was able to go, straight away and fearlessly towards his hour, as the Gospels describe it to us, especially that of John. This would be being heard in the sense that God gives him the strength to bear the whole of this
to keep in mind the brief text in which St John, in chapter 12 of his Gospel, presents and recounts, in a very concise manner, the event on the Mount of Olives. Jesus says: “Now is my soul troubled” (Jn 12: 27) and, in all the anguish of the Mount of Olives, what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour... Father glorify your name” (cf. Jn 12: 27-28). This is the same prayer that we find in the Synoptic Gospels: “all things are possible to you... your will be done (cf. Mt 26: 42; Mk 14: 36; Lk 22: 42) which in Johannine language appears: either as “save me” or “glorify”
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If the divine response in John says: “I will glorify” you, it means that this glory transcends and passes through the whole of history over and over again: from your Cross, present in the Eucharist, it transforms death into glory. This is the great promise that is brought about in the Blessed Eucharist which ever anew opens the heavens. Being a servant of the Eucharist is, therefore, a depth of the priestly mystery. Another brief word, at least about Melchizedek. He is a mysterious figure who enters Sacred History in Genesis 14. After Abraham’s victory over several kings, Melchizedek, King of Salem, of Jerusalem, appears and brings out bread and wine. It is not mentioned here that the High Priest of the Most High God, King of Peace, worships God, Creator of Heaven and earth with bread and wine. The Fathers stressed that he is one of the holy pagans of the Old Testament and this shows that even from paganism there is a path that leads to Christ. The criteria are: worshipping God Most High, the Creator, fostering righteousness and peace and venerating God in a pure way. Thus, with these fundamental elements, paganism too is on its way to Christ, and in a certain way, makes Christ’s light present. In the Roman canon after consecration we have the prayer supra quae that mentions certain prefigurations of Christ, his priesthood and his sacrifice: Abel, the first martyr, with his lamb; Abraham, whose intention is to sacrifice his son Isaac, replaced
by the lamb sent by God; and Melchizedek, High Priest of God Most High who brings out bread and wine. This means that Christ is the absolute newness of God and at the same time is present in the whole of history, through history, and history goes to encounter Christ. And not only the history of the Chosen People, which is the true preparation desired by God, in which is revealed the mystery of Christ, but also in paganism the mystery of Christ is prepared, paths lead from it toward Christ who carries all things within him. This seems to me important in the celebration of the Eucharist: here is gathered together all human prayer, all human desire, all true human devotion, the true search for God that is fulfilled at last in Christ. Lastly. it should be said that the Heavens are now open, worship is no longer enigmatic, in relative signs, but true. For Heaven is open and people do not offer something, rather, the human being becomes one with God and this is true worship. This is what the Letter to the Hebrews says: “Our priest... is seated at the right hand of the throne... in the sanctuary, the true tent which is set up... by the Lord” (cf. 8: 1-2). Let us return to the point that Melchizedek is King of Salem. The whole Davidic tradition refers to this, saying: “Here is the place, Jerusalem is the place of the true worship, the concentration of worship in Jerusalem dates back to the times of Abraham, Jerusalem is the true place for the proper veneration of God”. Let us take another step: the true Jerusalem, God’s Salem, is the Body of Christ, the Eucharist is God’s peace with humankind. We know that in his Prologue, St John calls the humanity of Jesus the tent of God, eskènosen en hemìn (cf. Jn 1: 14). It was here that God himself pitched his tent in the world, and this tent, this new, true Jerusalem is at the same time on earth and in Heaven because this Sacrament, this sacrifice, is ceaselessly brought about among us and always arrives at the throne of Grace, at God’s presence. Here is the true Jerusalem, at the same time heavenly and earthly, the tent which is the Body of God, which as a risen Body always remains a Body and embraces humanity. And, at the same time, since it is a risen Body, it unites us with God. All this is constantly brought about anew in the Eucharist. We, as priests, are called to be ministers of this great Mystery, in the Sacrament and in life. Let us pray the Lord that he grant us to understand this Mystery ever better, that he make us live this mystery ever better and thus to offer our help so that the world may be opened to God, so that the world may be redeemed. Thank you.
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
Moral Assessment Technical Assessment
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Abhorrent Disturbing Acceptable Wholesome Exemplary
Poor Below average Average Above average Excellent Title: I Miss You Like Crazy Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Bea Alonzo, Maricar Reyes, Noel Trinidad, Tirso Cruz III Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina Producer/ Distributor: Star Cinema Running Time: 125 minutes Location: Manila, Malaysia Genre: Drama, Romance
SI Allan (John Lloyd Cruz) ay nagta-trabaho bilang account executive sa isang bangko na pag-aari ng mga magulang ng kasintahan niyang si Daphne (Maricar Reyes). Sa kabila ng pagkakaroon ng halos lahat ng bagay sa buhay, tila may hinahanap-hanap pa rin siya. Magbabago ang lahat nang makilala niya si Mia (Bea Alonzo) sa isang kakatwang eksena sa Pasig Ferry. Sapagkat simple at masayahin si Mia, pawang may kakaiba agad na mararamdaman si Allan dito. Isang araw ay muling magkukrus ang kanilang landas at sila ay magkakausap at magkakasama nang matagal. Lalong mahuhulog ang loob nila sa isa’t-isa. Ngunit mayroong problema sa parte ni Allan, hindi magawang iwan ni Allan si Daphne dahil kaakibat rin nito ang pagtalikod sa magandang buhay na kanyang matagal na pinagsumikapan at pinangarap. Nang hindi piliin ni Allan si Mia, ay bumalik ang huli sa Malaysia kung saan siya nagtatrabaho bilang hotel receptionist. Makalipas ang ilang taon ay hahanapin at susundan ni Allan si Mia sa Malaysia ngunit si Mia ay may iba ng mahal at malapit na ring ikasal sa isang Malay. Magkatuluyan pa kaya silang dalawa? Maganda ang daloy ng kuwento ng Miss You Like Crazy. Kahit pa sabihing alam na ng manonood ang kahahantungan ng
kuwento, nagawa pa rin nitong papaniwaling ilihis sa inaasahan at pahirapan ang dalawang pangunahing tauhan na magkatuluyan. Iyon nga lang, sadyang may mga elemento sa pelikula na nagbibgay-dahilan para asahan na nang manonood ang katapusan nito. Sa kabila pa rin nito’y matagumpay ang pelikula sa pagbibigay ng bagong-bihis sa isang kuwentong pag-ibig ng dalawang taong nagkahiwalay, kapwa nabigo at kapwa nahirapan sa pagpili at sa bandang huli’y tadhana pa rin ang nagpasiya sa kanilang kapalaran. Hindi matatawaran ang husay sa pag-arte nila Cruz at Alonzo. Maging si Reyes ay lutang ang kahusayan kahit pa kung tutuusin, siya’y baguhan sa larangan ng pag-arte. Maganda ang kuha ng kamera na nagpakita at nagdala sa manonood sa ilang magandang lugar sa Malyasia. Marami ring makabuluhang linyang magpapa-isip at magpapakilig sa manonood. Patungkol sa isang wagas na pagmamahalang nagkatagpo sa isang maling panahon ang pelikula. Ipinakita kung paanong ang tunay na pag-ibig ay nahihirapang gumawa ng desisyon dahil sa takot nilang makasakit ng damdamnin ng iba. Ang dalisay na pag-ibig nga naman ay nagsasakripisyo at nagpaparaya. Ipinakita sa kuwento na maaring magmahalan ang dalawang
tao kahit pa hindi pa sila gaanong magkakilala. Hindi ito gaanong makatotohanan at maaring magbigay ng maling pananaw sa manonood ukol sa pag-ibig. Lumutang nang husto ang konsepto ng mabilisang pagmamahalan at pag-asa sa t a dh a n a a n g k u w e n t o. Mga mahika sa pag-ibig na maaring totoo lamang sa iilan. Higit na nakababahala rin ang pagpapakita ng relasyong sekswal ng mga tauhan sa labas ng kasal. Pawang ang mga ito’y katanggap-tanggap na sa lipunan at hindi na pinagtatalunan kung tama o mali. Nakababala ang pelikula sa aspetong ito. Pero ilan sa mga mabubuting aral sa pelikula ay ang pagpapakitang ang tunay na pagmamahal ay matiyagang naghihintay at sa pag-aasawa, ang kinakailangan ay parehas ang pagmamahal at respeto ng dalawang tao sa isa’t-isa. Ipinakita rin sa pelikula ang pagrespeto sa relihiyon at paniniwala ng isang tao. Gayunpaman, dahil sa ilang maseselang tema sa pelikula, nararapat lamang ito sa manonood na may gulang 14 pataas.
MAC en COLET
Ni Bladimer Usi
Title: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief Cast: Logan Lerman, Kevin McKidd, Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, Maria Olsen Director: Chris Columbus Screenplay: Joe Stillman, Rick Riordan Producer/ Distributor: 20th Century Fox Running Time: 125 minutes Location: USA Genre: Fantasy Technical Assessment: Moral Assessment: Rating: For viewers ages 13 and below with parental guidance
Look for the images of Adam and Eve, Chalice and Confessional Booth. (Illustration by Bladimer Usi)
PERCY Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a young man dealing with various issues at home and school. He and his mother (Catherine Keener) live with an abusive stepfather. Percy’s Dyslexia and ADHD make schooling even harder for him. In one field trip to a Greek history museum, Percy is attacked by his substitute teacher (Maria Olsen) who turns into a monstrous winged creature. Shocked and confused, his real identity is then revealed to him – that he is the son of a Greek god Poseidon and is accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt so his uncle Hades (rival of his father), and his mignons are after him. Upon learning this, Percy is sent off to a safe retreat in the woods to meet and train with other children who are also offspring of a Greek god and human parent. While training swordsmanship and other skills for future battle, Percy finds out that his uncle Hades is holding his mother in the underworld. Percy sneaks out of the camp together with Annabeth (Melina Kanakaredes), daughter of Athena and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), his protector, to rescue his mother and at the same time prove his innocence that he did not steal the lightning bolt that must be returned to Zeus to prevent the brewing war among the Olympians which poses imminent threat and danger to both the mortal and immortal worlds. Another film adaptation of a novel, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief reminds the audience of the Harry Potter series. Sadly though, the film pales in comparison in terms of depth and magnitude. Although the film has its strengths that rely heavily on the Greek mythology accent in storytelling, it falls short in terms of cohesiveness and characterization. It will not also help if an audience is not knowledgeable of the Greek history and literature. But then, the visual effects are a spectacle and a real delight especially for young viewers. The script is apparently shallow but perhaps, it is the film’s way of reaching out to its audience. There is drama, humor and youth sensibilities combined that make the feature an effective venue for teen entertainment. Greek gods and goddesses represent people’s aspiration for fame, fortune and power. For the longest time, the Greek mythology is believed to have inspired and influence many in terms of having concrete images and portrayals of God. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is able to provide these images on a positive tone. The offspring of a Greek god and human parent are born good and the voice of conscience they hear are actually the voice of their parent gods. This portrayal metaphorically represents God, whose voice we often hear but most of the time, fail to recognize. The said voice leads the main characters towards the right path and corrects decisions. The world of casino depicted in the film represents the hell of the worldly society. Alluring, enticing and without any trace of suffering, but all these are nothing but superficial traps leading to misery. Hell is seen as the destruction of human kind where despair, hopelessness and sin prevail. The antagonist in the story wants the destruction of Olympians so that he would be heir to the throne and rule the universe. Such hunger and greed for power, and disrespect of authorities never succeed. Ultimately, in the battle between good and evil, the former remains victorious. And this is possible only because, the good took action, recognized his innate power and goodness, and never allowed evil to succeed. There is a certain degree of violence and sexual innuendos in the film, although in context, that makes it appropriate only to audiences 13 years old and below with parental guidance.
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
Singles for Christ: Live!
By Martha Vinzons
The straight-forward call to live is anchored on Colossians 2:6-7 which says, “Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving.” Five thousand single men and women from all over the Philip-
LIVE! That summed up the message of the 17th Singles for Christ International Conference held last February 19 to 21, 2010 at the Riverfront Corporate City, Davao City.
pines, as well as delegates from other countries, trekked to Davao City to experience what a life of fullness in Christ means. The immersion into a full life started on Wednesday, February 18th, during the pre-conference activities consisting of mini-talks and visits to Gawad Kalinga villages and an orphanage, mangrove planting and coastal cleaning, and various nature experiences. The visit to the Gawad Kalinga villages and an orphanage in Samal Island gave us a glimpse of how it is to be content and joyful. The residents and children may be in need of material things, but we did not see deprivation in their faces, only bliss. We did not see frustration or despair but only joy in the genuine smiles that they greeted us with. Our interaction with these families and children equipped us to understand the message of the first session entitled, “The Feast.’ Fulltime pastoral worker Jef Arong explained that God has an open invitation to each one of us to partake of a life that is filled and full regardless of our life situation. The feast that God has prepared is there waiting, with Jesus eager to receive an RSVP from us. This message was further strengthened through the joyful praisefest led by YFC fulltime pastoral worker Philip Aquino, who reminded all of Our Lord’s intense desire to share the feast with us. The second talk, “The Fool and the Full,” given by SFC fulltime pastoral worker MK Guaño, ex-
pounded on how we can often ignore God’s invitation and seek instead the “counter-feasts, ” namely sin, desire for material possessions, power and fame. We mistakenly think that these counterfeasts can satisfy our hunger and longing. The men and women who testified confirmed one thing -- that only a relationship in Christ made them full and no longer wanting. Keeping a relationship at its prime all the time is a challenge all of us deal with. So as not to compromise, even worse to sacrifice, the relationship we’ve built with Jesus, it is important to connect with Him all the time. This was the message from Nestle Jeturian, SFC leader from Makati, during the third session, “Fighting for the Fullness.” He spoke of the concrete steps to take to achieve this fullness of life. This made it clear to all that the path to fullness is not an easy one but one worth fighting for, made possible for us by the power of the Cross. The conference gave us a head start on how it is to stay connected with Jesus. The daily masses that were celebrated reminded us that Jesus is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist. The different workshops we had on Saturday also served as refreshers on how our relationship with Jesus can flourish even more with prayer and service. Priests, nuns and other experts were on hand to conduct several workshops on growing downward (focusing on fullness of life in community) and growing upward (focusing on fullness of mission) and to encourage the SFC members to seek God and be in His presence in whatever we are pursuing. A full life in Christ does not end in one’s personal experience of the Lord. In the final session entitled, “SFC Live!” SFC Council member Bob Lasala reminded us of our vision: “Every single man and woman all over the world experiencing Christ.” Being full of Christ, we are to actively live out this vision so that everyone we interact with will have a feel of God’s love. He also shared the advocacies that the community is taking on this year: One Nation (Patriotism). One Life (Pro-Life). One Earth (Environmental Protection), One Hope (Poverty Alleviation). This was capped by a powerful praisefest led by Dom Apuan, reminding all of the greater things yet to come for SFC as a ministry and for each one as individuals. Fullness of life is not merely a promise, it is available to everyone and can be experienced by anyone. Having been shown what a full life in Jesus can be and how we can share it with others, the Singles for Christ are now back in their respective localities and countries living and loving fully.
ANCOP Gears Up for Massive Work Ahead
ANCOP, Couples for Christ’s expanded work with the poor, has lined up several projects, ranging from the building of homes to livelihood and education. ANCOP, which stands for “Answering the Cry of the Poor,” aims to go beyond the building of structures. The provision of sustainable livelihood and education for the youth hopes to provide a more concrete solution to the plight of our poor people. Last January 27, Couples for Christ signed a Memorandum of Agreement with ANCOP USA and ANCOP Canada for the disposition of funds that will be generated in these two countries. The MOA covers the building of homes for the poor and the implementation of programs on education, health and livelihood. Several areas have already responded to the call to move forward in the work with the poor by implementing various ANCOP projects. Lipa, Batangas CFC in the Archdiocese of Lipa and the local government unit of Lipa City headed by Mayor Oca L. Gozos, have sealed a partnership to build ANCOP homes along the old PNR railways in Lipa City. The project will involve the construction of 1,527 houses in the ten barangays of Lipa City, namely: Brgy. Balintawak, Brgy. Bugtong, Brgy. Inosluban, Brgy. Marawoy, Brgy. San Carlos, Brgy. Banay-banay, Brgy. Mataas na Lupa, Brgy. Pangao, Brgy. Sico, Brgy. Tambo, Lipa City. The groundbreaking ceremonies were held last February 3 at Marawoy Covered Court, and on February 4, 2010 at Banay-Banay Chapel, Lipa City. The ceremonies were attended by local public officials headed by the Provincial Governor, Vilma Santos Recto, Vice-Governor Mark Leviste, Lipa City Mayor Oscar L. Gozos, Vice Mayor Lydio Lopez, the City Council and the barangay captains of the ten barangays. Also in attendance were members of the CFC International Council as well as top leaders of CFC – Archdiocese of Lipa. The groundbreaking ceremonies kicked off with Holy Mass presided by Fr. Eric Arada in Marawoy and Fr. Joseph Mendoza in Banay-Banay. Rudy Lubis, Batangas ANCOP Head, explained the overall view of the ANCOP project while members of the International Council, namely Joe Yamomoto, Lito Tayag, Melo Villaroman, Joey Arguelles and Manny Garcia, expressed the support of the CFC community in the work of ANCOP. Mayor Oca Gozos and Vice Mayor Lydio Lopez Jr., together with the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Lipa, appropriated P5M for the construction of the first 100 houses. The Mayor of Lipa clarified that the project is not the project of the City Government but the program of Couples for Christ with the city government being a partner. The Mayor, the Vice-Mayor and the ten councilors of the city pledged to give one house each. Rudy Lubis also donated two houses. According to Governor Vilma, she and her husband, ex-Senator Ralph Recto, will give two houses for the said project. She also pledged P5M from the provincial fund of Batangas, to be given within this year. A Memorandum of Agreement between CFC and the local government unit was signed prior to the groundbreaking rites in selected sites in the ten barangays. Villa Monique, Las Pinas Last January 23, 2010,Villa Monique Homes was formally launched as a CFC-ANCOP project in Las Pinas City. Villa Monique is a 1,319 sq m. parcel of land situated in Pamplona Dos, Las Pinas City, currently home to 53 families, all of them longing for decent lodgings. Now, with CFC ANCOP, and with the generous sponsorship of CFC Ottawa, Canada, they can finally realize their dream. A ceremonial ground-breaking was held at the site, attended by leaders and members of CFC Las Pinas, particularly South Sector A, Cluster 5 (covering two parishes: Parish of the Last Supper and Parish of Our Lady of Fatima, both in Pamplona, Las Pinas City) under cluster head Dan and Dorie Cayabyab. South A Sector Governance Team (SGT) members Manny and Benny Simon and Ed and Jean Crisostomo welcomed leaders from ANCOP Canada headed by its Chairman Ricky Cuenca and President Temy Pangilinan, CFC National Director for Canada Nick Borja and his wife Norma, International Council member Lito Tayag and wife Linda. Prior to the formal launching and groundbreaking, Rev. Fr. August Pulido from the Parish of the Last Supper celebrated the Holy Mass. After the mass, the guests and the homeowners were treated to a simple breakfast prepared by CFC brethren led by Fidel and Tess Parco.
Batangas governor Vilma Santos-Recto, Lipa City officials and CFC IC members witness the signing of a MOA covering the building of ANCOP homes in Lipa.
CFC Exec. Director Joe Yamamoto leads other officials in the groundbreaking ceremonies.
ANCOP Education As early as 2003, Couples for Christ (CFC) through its social ministry arm, ANCOP Foundation International Inc., has been sponsoring marginalized and disadvantaged children and youth in education. ANCOP USA and ANCOP Canada both continue to sponsor children of poor families ensuring that the poor are provided access to education in order to obtain a better chance for the future. Currently, this is known as the Educational Assistance Program (EAP) under CFC ANCOP Tekton Foundation which provides not only support for education but also health and nutrition care, value formation interventions for assisted children and youth as well as parent involvement/partnership, At least 2,500 children and youth have been sponsored by the ANCOP network of donor partners in various levels from pre- school, elementary, high school, vocational/technical courses up to college. As of December, 2009, there were 1,654 children being sponsored by various donor partners from Canada, USA, Australia, Austria, France and Norway. Most of the sponsored children are from Bagong Silang resettlement in Caloocan, where the work with the poor of ANCOP all started. Performance of children in school is monitored through consultation with and visits to schools by implementing teams. A significant feature of the educational assistance program is the building of relationship between the sponsors
and their beneficiaries – sponsors on visit to the Philippines can personally meet the children and their family. This is aside from the standard communication maintained between sponsored beneficiaries and donor partners. A number of sponsored children in the college level have already graduated and are gainfully employed as teachers, computer science specialists, accountants and employees in private corporations. One of these graduates is a biologist and another one, a police officer. Some are full time workers in CFC’s social ministries. For the school year June 2010 to March 2011, CFC ANCOP envisions to sponsor at least 2,500 poor children and youth in its supported communities and sectors including children of migrant blue collar workers, children of prisoners, children of poor CFC members and some physically challenged children. Applicants will be considered based on the following criteria: at least six (6) years old, coming from a poor family with combined monthly family income of not more than P10,000 and with parents who have two children or more. Solo or only child will be considered if parent is single parent, widowed or separated. Parent/s of qualified children and youth should signify cooperation and compliance to program guidelines in writing. Each qualified family shall be limited to only one sponsored child. (Contributed by Ethel Balenton, Dan Cayabyab, Efren Tompong and Ped Suministrado)
before them, and spoke to them, but they heard God. Remember? He is God made man, and so they’re amazed. And in their amazement, they say, “Who is this man? Isn’t he the son of Joseph? Don’t we know who his family is?” That’s a typical human reaction. And so they challenge him. And they say, “If your words are really powerful, if you’re really gracious, prove it! Prove it right here, where you are. You are from Nazareth, you are a Jew.” I love my own. That’s a typical reaction – I love my own. People tend to be very exclusive. You know what it means to be Catholic? To be Catholic means to be inclusive! To be Catholic is to be open-minded. To be Catholic is to be ready to embrace, not just those we are fond of, not just those we are related to by blood. Let’s continue with the reaction. The Lord was challenging the exclusive mentality of the Israelite people – “I love my own.” They thought of themselves as the chosen people, the clean people. Everybody else is unclean. But they were wrong! And that is why the Lord God our Father sent his Son and when he came to us, he was not seen in the company of the rich and the mighty, and the clean and the beautiful. He was always frequenting the company, he was seen in the company of people in the margins of society. And his message was that “God loves them too.” He went out and invited as many people as possible, including people who were so hard to love. So if we want to enjoy fullness of life in Christ, we have to learn to love like Christ. Do you remember our opening reading? It said, “Lord our God, help us to love you with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as you love them.” Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into two. “Love God above all. And love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s all you need to know, He says. And sometimes even the two are so difficult for some people to remember. And so in the Gospel of John, he summarized the two into one: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus did not just say, “Love one another.” He said “Love one another as I have loved you.” And how does Jesus love us? “How do I love thee?” as Elizabeth Barrett Browning asked. “Let me count the ways.” But how do you love and how can you say that you are already growing in the love of Christ? That is what it means to live in the fullness of life in Christ -- to love like Christ. Teach us to love all people as you, Lord, love them. How do we love? We love like those people who reacted to Jesus in the Gospel. We say, “If you’re going to do miracles, do it right here, right now and for us!” What was Jesus” reply? He spoke of the Old Testament reading during the time of Elijah, when of all the widows in Israel, the one who saw the miracle was the widow of Sarepta, a pagan, a Gentile, she was not even Israelite. And do you remember in the time of Elisha, of all the lepers in Israel, the one who was cured was Naaman the Syrian. He was also pagan! He was not a Jew, he was not an Israelite, and yet they also enjoyed the grace of God. Do not forget, the grace of God is not only for Catholics. It is for all. FOR ALL! Did you know that other sects also have social action? But usually, when they dispense the charity, they ask for an identity card. Are you a cardholder? I’m sorry, if you’re not a cardholder, you will not enjoy our social benefits. That’s not Catholic. To be Catholic is to say, God loves all people. This is what it means to be Catholic and Jesus challenged the exclusivity of Israel, the so-called “Chosen People.” That is why they reacted angrily, vehemently, because they supposedly knew how to love. “I love my own.” And so we move to the response of Jesus to the reaction. Well, his response is: he looks at them, he looks through them and he sees into them and instead of running away from their anger – they were very angry, they were going to kill him – instead of running away, he faced them and walked through them. This is supposed to mean something very profound. He walked THROUGH them. I do not think it was just a physical walking through them so that he could escape them. I think Jesus gradually walked INTO them. They were still reacting and projecting themselves because what they knew was conditional love. That’s our typical way of loving – I love my own. Did you know that in the Gospels, there are
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Fullness of Life in Christ
(Excerpts from the homily of Bishop Pablo Virgilio David during the “Fullness in Christ” weekend of the CFC Mission Core at the Subic Exhibition and Convention Center last January 29-31.) “FULLNESS of life in Christ.” What a beautiful theme you have adopted for this assembly, this coming together, this retreat. How can you not be full of life if you live in Christ? To live in Christ is to enjoy fullness of life. It reminds me of the message of the angel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation – “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you…” How can you not be full of grace if the Lord is with you? To be full of grace is to be with the Lord. It is to live a life in which the Lord is with us. We read from the continuation of that beautiful passage in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 4, which is usually called the programmatic introduction to the Gospel of Luke. This is the continuation of last week’s reading about Jesus standing there in the synagogue of Nazareth and being asked to share his own reflection on the book of the prophet Isaiah. He shares a very short homily, in fact, the shortest homily ever delivered. Jesus read a long passage from Isaiah chapter 61: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, release to prisoners, and a year of favor to the Lord.” Then rolling down the scroll, Jesus looked at them, gave the scroll to the attendant, and then he gave a very, very short homily. He said, “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” I’d like to share basically three things. The first one is about the message, or the homily, the second is about the reaction of the people to the message and the third is the response of Jesus to the reaction of the people to his message. And hopefully, our reflection will lead us more deeply into the meaning of living a full life in Jesus Christ. Let’s start with the message. The message is simple: Today, now, while you’re hearing it, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing. Jesus did not say, “Tomorrow it will be fulfilled.” We’re always looking forward to a fulfillment, the fulfillment of the kingdom of God in the future. But take note of the message of Jesus. He did not say “tomorrow.” He said “Today!” Jesus is a Today person. Jesus is a Now person. He challenges us to take the here and now seriously. Because one of our big problems in this world is when we either develop into Yesterday people or Tomorrow people. Who are the Yesterday people? The yesterday people are people who get stuck in the past. I know that the past is not negative. It should be positive. It is important to look back to the past. It is but unfortunate that some people, because of some blunders or mistakes or failures or traumatic experiences of the past, cannot move on anymore. They’re paralyzed. Those are the yesterday people. It’s like life stopped yesterday. But Jesus challenges the yesterday people to move on “Carpe diem,” as they say in Latin. Seize the moment! Seize the day! Jesus took very seriously the present moment. That’s the summary of his message. Today. Now. Let’s move now to the reaction. The people were impressed. They were amazed because grace was overflowing from him. “All spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” His words were gracious because this human being (he looked every bit a human being to them because he was a real human being), when he opened his mouth, gracious words came out of him because they heard God. A human being was many vocabularies for “love?” The passionate love is called “eros.” The romantic love is called “philia.” But there is a greater kind of love which is called “agape.” Jesus was teaching us to love in the way of agape. We heard that in the Second Reading, in the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 13, and the word that Paul is using is not “eros,” not “philia” but “agape.” What’s the difference? Husbands here present, do you love your wife? Good! Very good! And I know, and I hope, you love your wife in the sense of eros. You love your wife also in the sense of philia. But do you already love your wife in the sense of agape? It can also be asked the other way around. Wives, how do you love your husband? How do you know that your love is moving towards agape and that it is no longer eros or philia? This is the sign… If in spite of his treachery, in spite of his faults and shortcomings, in spite of his mistakes, you still love him,,, that is agape! You know the Latin word for that. The Latin word for that is “caritas.” In English, charity! But kidding aside, it is sad that the word “charity” has taken on a different meaning for us. I do not know how it happened – that the word “charity” has come to mean a token act of generosity to the poor. But believe you me, dear brothers and sisters, if our love must grow into the love of Christ, it must become charity, in the genuine sense of the word, because charity is the capacity to love even those who do not love you back. The Gospel of Luke says “If you love only those who love you, what good is there in that? Even the sinners do as much. And if you can do good only to those who can do good to you, what merit do you get in that? Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute you.” You can choose to love by understanding, you can choose to love by accepting, you can choose to love by forgiving. That is all love. The beginning of humanity is love. The seed of humanity is love. The only reason why we must come into being is love. But love must grow. And this is now the response of Jesus to them. Jesus does not expect us to know how to love like him. He does not expect us to know how to love like God immediately. He knows that much of our love begins from the smallest, the lowest level of loving. But that’s okay. It can grow. And if we want to live in the fullness of life in Christ, we must, day in and day out, day by day, ask ourselves, “Are we growing in love?” And I advise you to take home with you the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians. There you have all the indicators if you are growing indeed in the love of Christ. He said “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous. It is not arrogant. It is not inflated. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not quick-tempered. It does not brood over the wrong; rather it rejoices over the right. Love can bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and do all things.” Do we love like that already? Well, we’re trying. That is what matters most. The important thing is to believe that we can love in Jesus Christ. Let me stress that as my conclusion. If you love only in yourself, you will see that you will keep falling back to eros, falling back to imperfect love, falling back to conditional love, because that is what we are as human beings. But the good news is, as Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “there is now no condemnation for those who live in Christ Jesus because the spirit, the spirit of that new life in Christ Jesus, has already surpassed the old law of sin and death.” Now we can love, but love in Christ. To love in Christ is to love in the way
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Bishop Pablo David takes time to pose for photos with CFC members after the Mass.
By Joe Yamamoto, CFC Director
ONE CFC COMMUNITY, ONE MISSION, ONE ARMY
WHILE going about the business of engaging the leaders and members of Couples for Christ everywhere, the top leadership of the community found the appropriate opportunity - the January Global Leaders summit -- to affirm and reemphasize the Oneness that must characterize the life and mission of CFC. As we await the prospects, opportunities and challenges that the new year has in store for us, there is need to keep the global CFC family abreast and in step with everyone else. In addition to the theme of Fullness of Life in Christ, the summit gave weight to “One CFC, One Mission, One Global Army” declaration. Our beloved Couples for Christ community has been through a lot of difficulties in the past three years. With God’s grace, not only has the community survived but has given indications of resiliency and greater capacity to grow. Likewise, we rejoice because we have seen how we have faced our trials, how we have been guided and protected by the Lord, how we have survived and even triumphed. This is our story. This is our journey of collective victory. The key to celebrating our communal journey is in recognizing and working through the challenges with One United Leadership, A community with One Heart and Mind and responding to a Single Chain of Command. Any deviation from this prevailing realization is to put the community, as well as everything it stands for, at risk. In the midst of it all, the significant factor that clarified a lot of the confusion and disinformation was the members’ understanding of our identity. Our sense of belongingness is not only deepened because of membership in an organization, but above all because of community life that gave each one of us a way of life. As a way of life, this sense of belongingness, this love of community, is not easily dispelled by negative pronouncements or outside events because it has become an inherent part of our day to day existence. We have come through it all because we know who we are. We have come to understand why we are here in community and what we are expected to do. From day one of our household meetings, the breeding ground for future leaders, everyone has repeatedly learned that our belonging to CFC is not by accident but somehow because of God’s plan for each one of us. And from that particular and unique call, we have come to appreciate our roles as disciples who are sent to share the good news. Thus, the proper attitude and response is to evolve into becoming evangelizers, specifically family evangelizers. We evangelize families through families who serve together as families. Our vision and mission have been refined and redefined, and now after a span of three years, our members fully subscribe to it and embrace it. Our CFC members deeply appreciate our unequivocal declaration of being “Moved by the Holy Spirit, One with the Catholic Church, blessed to witness to Christ’s love and service. Couples for Christ is a united, global community of family evangelizers that sets the world on fire with the fullness of God’s transforming love.” The vision helps in strengthening our identity. As leaders, we cannot afford to be fence sitters only. The higher one’s level of service, the more the leader is expected to embrace the fullness of our two-fold mission. One cannot be selective and express preference of one mission over the other. It has to be both. As members belonging to an evangelizing community, it is likewise incumbent upon us to live out our four core values- Pro-God, Pro-Family, Pro-Life and Pro-poor. Appreciation of these core values is an integral part of our way of life. As we face the future, we have also come to realize that the huge task ahead of us can be made manageable as long as we ourselves are individually equipped. The sum total of prepared, equipped and empowered members make the case for an equipped community. We are committed to strengthen the basics of our community life and to continue to strive for personal holiness. The journey toward personal holiness is the very primordial need of everyone because everything stems from it. We need to be prepared for the fight by putting on the armor of God. For a start, the Philippine Mission has embarked on a program of self-evaluation, a soul-searching to determine whether hearts and minds are fully attuned to the vision and mission. On a deeper plane, all CFC members must appreciate the reality that the “heart of the mission is the heart of Jesus.” The recent conflicts from within and outside the community have also shown us the need and the importance of a single chain of leadership. After all, even the statutes, as approved by the Vatican, recognize and emphasize the source of authority and governance. Anyone who insists on another line of authority brings about confusion and encourages divisiveness. The fullness of our mission, the fullness of life that awaits us can happen if we – leader and member – take fully to heart our two-fold mission of Building the Church of the Home and Building the Church of the Poor. The two-fold nature of the mission defines the full scope of the work ahead. As we face 2010, the Lord has given us the wisdom as well as the sense of the directions we are to take. Fullness of life in Him is His promise and the journey of the community must eventually lead to it. As Bishop Pablo David, Auxiliary Bishop of San Fernando, Pampanga, aptly puts it, fullness of life is not something that will be given. It is something that we can attain if, and only if, we learn to work for it through loving and our giving of self. We are called to be one community, one army, one united body moving towards one single goal, focused only on Jesus. To achieve these directions, we need to go out of our comfort zones but mindful that we stay within our zones of strength. Like Peter, we need to get out of the boat, but confident that Jesus will be there to catch us, to keep us afloat. Our tasks are clear: 1. Evangelization and Mission – This is our core competency. We have been raised as a community to draw others to Christ, to give witness to the wonders that the Lord has wrought in our lives, to proclaim God’s mercy and goodness to all. We will continue exploiting our strength in this area, mindful that there are still many areas untapped, many souls unreached. 2. Pastoral Formation – Teachings and formation courses are a major part of our community life. These strengthen us and give us the means to step forward in confidence so we can share our knowledge with others. 3. Family Life Renewal – Our womb-totomb approach has been widely effective. Our focus on renewing family life has set the norm for others and has defined us as a community. Our Family Ministries have become models of
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LAYOUT BY LAURENCE JOHN R. MORALES
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
Raising the Tide of Philippine Politics
By Arnel Santos
MY heart is filled with good expectations for our country,” declared Rev. Fr. Carmelo Diola, SSL, while addressing the Mission Core Group of Couples for Christ in a lecture held at Xavier Gymnasium on February 16, 2010. Fr. Diola noted the growing interest of the people in Church-initiated activities for the forming of practical conscience. It is through this process, he said, that one would realize that patronage politics during elections is “the original sin of graft and corruption.” In the Philippines, most of the candidates are of the perspective that they should “win at all cost, even at the expense of moral and ethical boundaries.” Some even look at the electoral process as a “business investment.” On the part of the electorate, they have been numbed by the “lesser evil mentality,” reducing the elections as a choice of the “lesser evil”. This is wrong, said Fr. Diola, because “there is no moral theology which teaches that we must choose the lesser evil.” As early as 1997, the CBCP had already identified Philippine politics as the “most hurtful to the people, the biggest bane in our life as a nation, and the most pernicious obstacle to our achieving of full human development.” “Fortunately”, said Fr. Diola, “there is a ray of hope, with the formation and rise of “the conscience bloc.” This is evidenced by a 2007 SWS survey in which 79% answered yes to the question, “Will you vote for a candidate if he will benefit most people but will not benefit you?” “Conscience is the most underutilized resource of the Church,” said Fr. Diola, quoting Bishop Arturo M. Bastes, SVD, DD. “Practical conscience,” in turn, urges the people to do “a particular good.” Translated to politics, formation of “practical conscience” starts with asking specific questions and looking for answers in a “deliberate, pro-active, methodical, communal and God-filled manner.” The best examples are the workshops being done by the Circles of Discernment where participants ask: “(1) Ganito na lang ba tayo? (2) Ano ang dapat gawin para makamit ang ating pangarap and (3) Anong uri ng lider ang kailangan natin para makamit ang ating pangarap?” Fr. Diola emphasized that in choosing who to vote for, we must avoid short cuts. “There is no ready-made nation. Nation-building requires a labor of love, brick by brick. It emerges from a politics of patience and hope, which demands love.” They key, according to Fr, Diola, is Pastoral Accompaniment and Evangelical Formation. “We must infuse spirituality, morality and Christian values into our electoral process.” As long as we relegate politics to the realm of “dirty,” we lose by default. It is indeed dirty because it has been made so by individuals, but as Christians we can and should do something about it. We must remember that “politics is not beyond God’s reach.” “We must raise the tide of Philippine politics.” This is done, said Fr. Diola, “when we monitor the standards in selecting the candidates.” The core standard is that of being “God-fearing”. This standard connects to other qualities like that of being serviceoriented, and having proven integrity and competence. The other tests involve inquiring into the candidates’ lifestyle, actions, platform of government, specific advocacies, election conduct, and reputation. Fr. Diola shared the experiences all over the country of the emergence of the conscience bloc through the Circles of Discernment. He cited that in the Sinulog Novena Mass, the final exhortation was: “Go in peace and remember that a good Christian makes for a better citizen,” instead of the usual, “Go in peace and proclaim the Good News.” He also recounted how a priest in Cebu was able to reduce the incidence of vote-buying through a homily, educating the faithful on the evils of vote-buying. He noted how after giving recollection to candidates, they referred to each other no longer as “opponents” but “co-candidates.” At the open forum, Fr Diola was asked: “Why not just tell us who to vote for?” His answer: “We won’t, because first, priests do make mistakes; second, that is too much power being accorded to the Church; and third, we would not go the route of religious institutions openly endorsing their candidates, because the lay people should take up the cudgels for this. That is how much we respect you.”
Working Toward Good Governance
By Emmanuel Catabas
THE St. Thomas More and Associates (STMA), a social ministry of Couples for Christ that advocates political renewal, continues to do its advocacy work, mainly focused on renewing the face of Philippine governance and politics. If the hearts and attitudes of employees and leaders of Quedancor are any indication, then it would seem that STMA is successful in its advocacy. Quedancor is a government- owned and controlled corporation under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture. Its main function is to ensure and guarantee that credit facilities are made available to the agricultural and fisheries sector. As part of STMA’s strategic evangelization effort, Christian Life Programs are held in government offices, effort that is meant not just for the individual employee’s spiritual upliftment but also for the upscaling of moral values and work ethics in the organization. Quedancor is one of the many government organizations where CFC has managed to leave a mark. Manny Patayon, the head of the Quedancor chapter, invited me and Robert Ardiente, country head for Israel and CFC fulltime worker, to their monthly assembly in February. We came away moved by the experience, beginning from the very intense worship and prayer to the First Fruit offering that was the main feature of
their monthly assembly. The First Fruit Offering, a solemn ceremony in CFC at the start of every new year, symbolizes the offering to the Lord of the first harvest of every man’s labor. What was touching was the generosity of the brethren in Quedancor in the face of the uncertainty of their employment future, since their office is about to implement a nationwide rationalization plan, or to put it more simply, the company has to downsize and retrench employees. Federico Espiritu, president and CEO, and himself a member of CFC Servants of the Lord (SOLD), sadly confirmed that about 800 employees nationwide, with about 100 of them CFC members, will lose their jobs once the plan is implemented. It is a testament to the transformation wrought by a renewed spiritual life that the leaders and employees of Quedancor are one in their compassion and love for those who will be affected. This transformation among some of our government workers is solid proof of the work initiated by the STMA ever since they have committed themselves to CFC employees of Quedancor, led by its President and CEO Federico Espiritu, recently visited the female inmates of the Manila City Jail. a covenant of good governance.
COMELEC Visits CFC New International Leaders Named
IN line with the reorganization that is usually done at the beginning of every year, the International Missions Director, Rouquel Ponte, announced the following regional appointments: Lito Tayag as Continental Coordinator for Oceania Bob Uyquiengco as Regional Coordinator for North Asia Bong Bernardo as Regional Coordinator for Polynesia The following brothers were also appointed as country coordinators: Jimmy Santiago (Indonesia) Eric Bostre (Cambodia) Mon Villareal (Bangladesh) Ernie Uson (Lebanon) Noli Manuel (Saudi Arabia) Ricky Cuenca (Sierra Leone) Bal Quiambao (Eritrea) Nick Leyson (Ethiopia) Kidwell Nduku (Zambia) Michael Ariola (South Africa) Nolet Ladrido (Switzerland) Boie Sescon (Turkey)
DIRECTOR Sonia Tiongson of the Commission on Elections recently visited CFC to instruct the fulltime workers and staff on the rationale for automated voting and the mechanics of voting using automation. It was an interesting session, since Director Tiongson had brought with her a sample unit called Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS. The employees had a great time learning how to use the machine and professed themselves thoroughly enlightened not just about the machine but about their moral and social responsibility to use their vote wisely in the coming May national elections.
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The appointments became effective on February 10.
that is described by St. Paul. And you know the word for that love in Christ? In the vocabulary of St. Paul, that love in Christ is the Holy Spirit, the gift of all gifts. We must believe in the power of the gift that we received at Baptism because the Holy Spirit that you received at Baptism is the personal love between the Father and the Son. And that Spirit alone can empower you to love in Christ and to gradually grow in the fullness of life in Christ. The Holy Spirit is the evidence of that growth in love. So don’t despair… because we all start as children. St. Paul concludes that passage with “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I acted like a child
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and I reasoned like a child.” And that is what most of us here were, long time ago, when we were not yet serious about our Christian formation. But as you grow in formation, you also grow in love. Again St. Paul said: “At present we see vaguely, indistinctly, as in a mirror, but soon we shall see face to face.” And the other translations would have, “Soon we shall see as God sees us.” We shall see as we are seen by God Himself. That is the evidence. St. Paul, in summary, said: “These three, these are the greater gifts.” We are all aspiring for gifts, right? That is what is means to be charismatic, by the way. You are aiming for the charisms, the empowerment of the
gifts that the Holy Spirit has bestowed on each of us at Baptism. But you know, all our lesser gifts are insignificant if the greater gifts are not there. And the greater gifts, for St. Paul, are FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE. But the greatest of them all is LOVE. I may lose my faith, you may lose your faith for all I care but just don’t lose love. You may lose hope for all I care, but don’t you lose love because if you lose love, you lose God. Because John says God is love. And the only evidence that we’re Godly people is if we’re capable of loving as Jesus Christ has loved us. There you are – the fullness of life in Jesus Christ. Let us not forget the message. The message is, in
summary: First, Take the here and now seriously. The Scriptures must be fulfilled not tomorrow, not yesterday, NOW. Second, let us not be afraid of reactions. People will not always agree with us. We will meet a lot of resistance. But don’t you worry, love them nevertheless. Love even those who are difficult to love. Love even those who cannot love us back. Love like Jesus. And third, in response, let us accompany each other in growth, because fullness of life in Jesus Christ is about gradually growing in love. It doesn’t happen overnight. Like the parable, it’s like a seed that must fall to the ground and die, and must gradually grow in order to bear much fruit. Amen. the past year, we have begun to nurture a dream – to see rising in the horizon our very own CFC home. We dream of finally being able to say that we have built the Lord a home worthy of Him. But this dream will not come to pass if the entire army is not enrolled, if only a few are dreamers. Let us all look upon this home as our offering to God, as our response to His faithfulness. And since we are on the subject of dreaming, why not dream big? Why not our very own CFC Renewal Center where our weekend retreats, our recollections, can be held? With God, all things are possible. Isn’t this a comfort, knowing that God inhabits even our dreams?
evangelization and have invaded all sectors of society. 4. Work with the Poor – Our work with the poor is now called ANCOP, not exclusively Philippine-centric and even more expansive than before. ANCOP continues to be a work in progress and we are excited about where the Lord will lead us, what heights He will allow us to reach in this work. 5. Governance – As a community of Christ followers, we are called to instruct, to inform, to communicate, to disseminate. Preparing the Global Army Exciting times are ahead for CFC. As we are focused on one mission, and as
we embrace one leadership, we shall see a community ready and equipped to be truly God’s army, going beyond local and cultural contexts, going global. Incumbent also is the need to strengthen and widen our logistics with which to achieve the mission. CFC envisions the establishment of offices or institutes that will train the army. A Pastoral Institute will rise which will take care of bringing down CFC teachings, of training leaders on how to disseminate these teachings. Plans are also afoot to set up a Leadership Training Institute where leadership potential and ability will be honed, refined and enhanced. The logistics for the mission will have
to be built up and fortified. Each and every member has to be conscious of his or her personal responsibility to sustain the mission, to ensure that future generations of leaders are properly trained and equipped for the fight. Facing the Threat The threats to our community are real. We have faced and survived threats to our unity. We continue to face threats to our family life and to the values we hold dear, as the evil one’s plan for the world unfolds. But God’s plan is greater. We face the future with confidence, relying on His strength and wisdom to see us through and on His love and mercy to sustain us.
The CFC leader must therefore lead from the front, leading by example, providing the best witness of His love, being the loudest proclaimer of God’s power and majesty from the proverbial mountaintops. But as leader, he must realize that he cannot do everything himself. He must enroll his troops, enlisting their obedience through firm and loving authority as well as clarity of vision. Most of all, he must lead with truth that leaves the right impression., a truth that is founded on the truth of Christ. A Future Full of Hope By 2011, CFC would be celebrating 30 years of community life. We look forward to this grand celebration. In
Vol. 14 No. 5
March 1 - 14, 2010
By Eric Ylagan
Isabela Medical Mission
CFC Give Kare Foundation and UST Medical Association of the USA spent three days in Cordon, Isabela, from Feb. 11 to 13, on a mission of mercy for the poor and the sick in the area. Led by CFC Executive Director Joe Yamamoto, himself a doctor, the medical mission, most of whom were doctors and medical practitioners from the United States, treated an endless stream of patients at the Jabonillo General Hospital in Cordon. The medical mission, which extended medical and surgical as well as dental services, benefited more than 500 patients. A significant number of the patients underwent major operations. The medical mission was organized by GKare in partnership with Dr. Primo Andres, a successful Fil-Am medical practitioner in the USA, and was a follow-up of the first medical mission sponsored by the same group two years ago. On Friday, February 12, about 200 members of CFC Isabela, including the members of the Isabela Provincial Council, gathered to hear Joe Yamamoto talk about the “Heart of a Leader.” Dr. Yamamoto spelled out the attributes of leaders who are called to follow God’s heart, viz: H humble, happy and honest O obedient P prayerful L loving and loyal I embodies integrity and inspiring T teachable E lives with empathy An open forum ensued, wherein many were clarified about CFC’s work with the poor under ANCOP. There are three GK (CFC managed) sites and one Ancop village in Echague, Isabela.
Bloodletting at North B
By Noe Babilonia, MD
A FEW years ago, Cluster 5 in our sector, North B, had difficulty getting the interest and cooperation of some of our chapters in promoting Voluntary Blood Donation. So we came up with a program which entailed pitting each chapter competitively with each other in registering the most blood donations throughout a year, and giving awards to the deserving chapter at the end of that year. This improved the performance of the whole cluster in this advocacy and we were able to sustain the program with most of our leaders cooperating. In 2009, we tried to adopt the same strategy for the whole sector and so the competition became inter-cluster starting in September of that year. But the enthusiasm of the members, manifested by a good turn-out during the launching, suddenly waned in the second outing in October, when hosting was relegated to the individual clusters. It was then that the idea of selecting a Ms Blood Olympics from among muses of each of the clusters came up, was approved and immediately started in November, also in the same year. This time there was better turn out and in three months, the usual yearly average of the cluster, which was 500 donations, had been surpassed. The search for Ms Blood Olympics has improved the involvement of the previously “anemic” clusters, because they have to support their own muse. And the members who were previously hard to invite during regular bloodletting, now come in droves to watch their cluster perform in the mandatory talent competition. And since they happen to observe the bloodletting process, and seeing that it is basically painless, are now queueing up in the donating
line themselves. The coronation night for Ms. Blood Olympics was supposed to be a purely GKare event that would also serve as fundraising for its programs and services. But it would conflict with a Handmaids of the Lord’s own fundraising activity, so the Sector decided to fuse the two events into one – the coronation night and a Handmaids’ Musical. The highlight of the joint affair was a raffle as well as the performance by the Four Bars, a group of singing lawyers composed of CFC Chairman Joe Tale, Justice Jose Reyes, Nides Respicio, Nonoy Dalman and Art Valdellon. Jane Castillo of North B Cluster 5 was proclaimed Ms. Blood Olympics and crowned on that night. The affair was so successful that it was decided to hold the same program for 2010, with the culmination in September.
Dr. Noe shows the way by donating blood.
Ms. Blood Olympics Jane Castillo with friends from her cluster.
CFC and UST – Partners in Progress
COUPLES for Christ is one of the four major partners of the University of Santo Tomas in its project called Simbahayan 400: Tomasino Para sa Simbahan, Tahanan at Bayan. This is the centerpiece project of UST’s quadricentennial celebrations. Simbahayan is a holistic community development project that is meant to symbolize the university’s activities for the past 400 years, activities geared for the building of the Church, the home and the nation. The prime movers and participants in this project are Thomasian alumni. The project’s objectives are all designed to intensify and crystallize the University’s commitment to follow the call of the Church to serve the poor. Thus, all Thomasian alumni are tasked to contribute their talents for this work of serving the poor, building the Church and building a Philippine society anchored on Christian values. The University has committed to address the following “areas of intervention” in 400 communities and villages all over the country that will be selected as participants in this project: • Karunungan/Pagpapahalaga (education and values formation in the school and at home) • Kanlungan/Kalikasan (housing, site planning and ecological management) • Kalusugan (health care) • Kabuhayan (livelihood) • Kapayapaan (formation for peace) The project depends greatly on the participation of thousands of Thomasian alumni who, depending on their field of specialization or vocation, may suggest a community or village within the country that will receive the intervention of Simbahayan 400. They may also choose the area of intervention where their talents and expertise can be better applied. The University has also issued a call to all Thomasian bishops and priests to help identify communities within their parish or diocese that may be benefited by this project. The other major partners of the University are Gawad Kalinga, ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. and Focolare.
CFC Missionaries Go On Recollection CFC Cambodia’s
By Matthew Vergara
FR. Manoling Francisco, S.J., the renowned composer-priest, conducted the annual recollection of the CFC International Missions. Missionaries assigned to countries such as South Asia, Kenya, Vietnam, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Canada, USA, Middle East, Timor Leste, Seychelles and South Africa attended the recollection held at the Ugnayan Hall of the CFC Home Office. The recollection was a re-tracing of basic truths about our faith and re-discovering of how God loves us. Fr. Manoling expounded on the story of the Prodigal Son, tracing its relationship and relevance to our lives today, particularly to Fr. Manoling Francisco is shown with the international missionaries after the recollection. the wonderful truth that God is ready to his wayward son. the Calf, meaning communal celebration. forgive even before we ever feel guilt. Like Fr. Manoling focused on the significance Today, those four items are still being the Prodigal Son, often times, our motive is of the items asked by the father in the story given to us by Our Father, particularly to not necessarily to seek forgiveness but to fill to be given to his son. According to him, us who were lost and are now found. Our our personal motives. As Fr. Manoling ex- these items connote the realities of our time: wealth, stature, authority as God’s children plained it, our Father knows our true inten- the Robe, referring to wealth and stature, the are given back to us, but most of all He tions but He welcomes us back anyway, just Ring, referring to authority in the household, restores our dignity as His children, as a as the father warmly and lovingly welcomed the Shoes, implying restoration of dignity, and human being, as heirs of eternal life.
By Nahlyn Bandalan
Ex Dono Show A Big Success
Ondoy donations keep coming
COUPLES for Christ has continued to receive donations for the victims of the twin destructive typhoons - Ondoy and Pepeng. The most substantial donation has come from abroad, most particularly from the government of Malta who specified that their donations be coursed to none other than CFC. The Malta donations came in two large containers and contained food, water, infant formula and clothes. The sheer volume of the donations has prompted CFC to hire workers from a CFC-managed GK site to sort, do the inventory, repack and organize the packages according to beneficiary-groups. The International Council has issued memos to all sector and provincial leaders to submit a more detailed list of typhoon victims so that the donations may be distributed more equitably and promptly.
“WHOEVER speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” Saint Peter’s words in 1 Peter 4:11 became a reality once again in Cambodia through the CFC community’s dinner and show last February 6, 2010. This yearly event, a traditional effort in Phnom Penh since 2004 to raise funds for our Khmer brothers and sisters, showcased the talents of the members of the community. The preparation for this event was a concerted effort of several committees and individuals. Spearheaded by the director/choreographer couple, Ray and Carina Kirit, the program consisted of three sets of live music accompanied by group dances. The ANCOP GK Rafaela kids, led by Bong Gonzaga, also did a special number. Makisig Morales, a member of the Kids for Christ and a rising star in the entertainment field in the Philippines, graciously consented to come to Cambodia to participate in the concert. Together with the assistance and support of our dear clergy and the global CFC Family, the show generated more than enough funds to help facilitate the completion of our ANCOP GK Rafaella Village Daycare Center. Indeed, the Lord has once again showed His greatness in Cambodia making Ex Dono: Live a reality and a success.
CFC workers and volunteers preparing the goods for sorting.
Makisig Morales, in white coat, poses with CFC Cambodia members.
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