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Pope calls faithful to pray, participate actively in politics
‘Hate evil and love good and let justice prevail…’
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Freed Fr. Ufana urges release of other hostages
A CATHOLIC priest, freed from captivity in Zamboanga City, called for the immediate release of other hostages. The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) freed Fr. Michael Ufana on Sept. 13 as the crisis in the city dragged on. Msgr. Crisologo Manongas, current archdiocesan administrator, said he already talked with Ufana over the phone immediately after his release and assured that the priest is in “good spirit.” “He is still worried about his father and
Release / A6
CBCP: It’s ‘immoral’ to continue pork barrel
By Roy Lagarde
In an unprecedented move, the Catholic bishops took a collective position against the Presidential Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and unleashed criticisms against it. In a pastoral statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the present pork barrel practice in government “is fertile ground for graft and corruption.” (See page B1) “Promoting the politics of patronage, it is contrary to the principles of stewardship, transparency and accountability. It is immoral to continue this practice,” the bishops said. “Government corruption is an act of terrorism against our poor and our children,” they said. Titled “Hate evil and love good and let justice prevail,” the statement was issued on Sept. 5, following a closed-door meeting of the CBCP Permanent Council at their headquarters in
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
Mindanao bishops appeal for dialogue, peace
CATHOLIC bishops in Mindanao called on the government and the Muslim rebels to step up efforts in dialogue, to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict. In a statement, the 18 archbishops and bishops of the island said the government and the Moro National Liberation Front must sit down, talk and find a solution by dialogue. (See page B5) “We appeal to them to discuss the deeper issues regarding the ongoing MILF-GPH (Moro Islamic Liberation Front – Government of the Philippines) peace negotiations that the armed groups wanted to raise by their action,” part of the statement read. Ever since the siege began, the church leaders said Zamboanga is “virtually paralyzed” and in a “state of fear.” Government authorities said that the death toll from hostilities was already at 53 and 70 others were wounded as of Saturday noon. The number of displaced people has also reached around 62,000 on the sixth day of the siege. “We are deeply saddened and disturbed by this terrible tragedy to human life and property. We express our solidarity with all those affected Muslims and Christians alike,” the bishops said. “We condemn the terror that has been inflicted on an entire city. We condemn the inhumane act of using hostages as human shields,” they added. The bishops also appeal to the government, non-government organizations and civil society to provide assistance to evacuees. The church leaders called on the MNLF and the government to negotiate “for the release of hostages.” “As leaders of our Catholic communities, we join hands with other religious leaders—Muslims, Christians, and Lumads— in praying and working for peace. Peace, yes; war, never,” they also said. (CBCPNews)
THIS time, they did not mince words in calling for the abolition of the now notorious pork barrel system.
Pork Barrel / A6
Various Church groups marched to Luneta to call for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the third major protest against the pork barrel system, on Sept. 13, 2013. An estimated 15,000 demonstrators, mostly students, joined the rally to also push for the ferreting out of the truth in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.
More rallies seen if Aquino ignores ‘pork’ abolition calls
PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has the whole month of September to abolish totally the pork barrel system or face more protests, an influential religious group has warned. An official of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) said Aquino should decide “the soonest” as Congress deliberates on the proposed P2.268 trillion national budget. “While the Congress deliberates on the budget, we must remain vigilant because that’s where the hokus pokus are happening,” said Fr. Marlon Lacal, AMRSP executive secretary. “He (Aquino) should decide at the soonest possible time,” he said. “We are giving the President until the end of this month to finally decide (for the abolition of pork barrel).” The AMRSP official said that their campaign will continue until all forms of pork barrel are abolished, principally the priority development assistance fund which is lump sum and discretionary. He said the people should put pressure on the government against corruption and abuse of power by some public leaders. “Our prophetic responsibility compels all of us to make our voice be heard by all concerns. We cannot be idle with what are happening around us,” he said. The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines’ member schools participated in the rally dubbed “Forward March to #abolishpork” held at Luneta from 3pm to 6pm last September 13. The gathering was a multi-sectoral initiative that began with an interfaith service and also featured a cultural presentation that discussed issues of corruption in the pork barrel system. The CEAP said the event served as an education venue for participants that come from the youth sector. (CBCPNews)
An estimated 15,000 demonstrators, mostly college students, raise their fists in the air to protest the now notorious pork barrel system at a rally in Manila last September 13.
Marriage before sex Churches band together to Organizers open registration for CSMS version 2 strengthens bond of couples, fight human trafficking WITH just 2 months and a few days Catholic speaker says left to the 2nd
IN an attempt to erase the common misconceptions perceived by young individuals on the virtue of chastity, renowned Catholic speaker Jason Evert stressed the importance of living a chaste life through abstaining from sexual acts outside the sacrament of marriage. “The world today has many misunderstandings when it comes to intimacy and that’s largely because they do not think about sex, especially the young people…They talk about it, they joke about it, but they rarely stop and think—what is really God’s plan for human love, sexuality, and relationship?” Evert said, speaking before thousands of individuals during the Real Love Revolution 2013 held at the Philippine International Convention Center, Sept. 7. “Chastity is not about repressing our sexual desires. What it does is it frees us not only to love, but frees us to know that we are (being loved),” he added. Noting that love is oftentimes masked by lust, Evert said people are being led to the misconception that chastity is merely a religious convention that has to be followed by pious individuals. “A lot of people think that the Catholic Church’s (view on sexuality) is all just a list of prohibitions or things we are not allowed to do,” he said. “Do you love (your partner) or do you love the pleasure you get at (their) expense?…That’s what we think about sexuality. If it is pleasurable, then it is probably immoral. That is all we know, and we actually miss the beauty of God’s plan,” he added. Citing research findings published in the weekly newsmagaBond / A6
Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, CBCP-Nassa chairman, with International Justice Mission (IJM) national director Andrey Sawchenko at the sidelines of the Freedom Forum, a multisectoral gathering against human trafficking, at the CCF Center in Pasig City, September 5, 2013.
CHURCH leaders banded together to push for a crackdown on human trafficking in the country, a trade that even victimized aboriginal girls and women. Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and other Christian churches joined forces to fight the problem as well as help the government address its “interlocking” causes with an
“integrated response.” The Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking aims to coordinate existing programs and the sharing of resources to intensify the campaign particularly in the grassroots level. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo who chairs the CBCP’s National for SecreHuman Trafficking / A6
Catholic Social Media Summit (CSMS), organizers opened to interested participants the registration for the muchawaited event. With its early b i r d promo, the first 500 registrants from yesterday until September 30 will pay the fee of P1,000.00, instead of the regular fee of P1,200.00. Early bird registration is applicable only to participants registering from the Philippines. The regular registration rate for international participants is USD 30.00 per person exclu-
Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
sive of bank charges. Regular, online registration may be made through the event’s official website, www. catholicsocialmediasummit. com, until October 30, 2013. Walk-in registration rate for local participants is P1,500.00, while foreign delegates may register onsite for USD 40.00 per person. The registration fee includes
CSMS / A6
German diocese promises ‘transparency’ after claims of extravagance
OXFORD, England, Sept. 13, 2013—Germany's Limburg Diocese pledged "dialogue and transparency" after a former Vatican nuncio was sent to defuse complaints of extravagance against Bishop FranzPeter Tebartz-van Elst. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo continued meeting with Bishop Tebartz-van Elst, cathedral staff, local clergy and religious order representatives Sept. 13. A diocesan spokesman, Stephan Schnelle, acknowledged that media reports about the prelate's firstclass flights and his luxuriously appointed new residence "has led to difficulties among priests and people here. The bishop is aware of their concerns and wants to be in dialogue. He knows the importance of transparency in appeasing anxieties." In a Sept. 12 interview with Catholic News Service, Schnelle said Cardinal Lajolo arrived Sept. 9 in the diocese in the small western German town to seek a "solution in peace for all parties," but added that local Catholics were "generally supporting" Bishop Tebartz-van Elst. The 53-year bishop attracted media attention after his November 2008 appointment for criticizing Islam and dismissing a local priest for blessing a samesex union. (CNS)
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Vol. 17 No. 19
UK Bishop laments decision to ignore sex-selective abortions
LONDON, Sept. 11, 2013— Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark joined his voice to those expressing concern that the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute two doctors who agreed to perform abortions based on sex selection. In a statement Tuesday, the vice president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales responded to the CPS decision, handed down last week. “Many people are rightly very concerned about the CPS decision not to prosecute in the case of the doctors who were willing to conduct abortion as a means of gender selection, and I welcome the intervention of the Health Secretary,” he said. The archbishop added that abortion “is always an injustice to the child who is unwanted, and sex selection through abortion is just one expression of that injustice.” It is illegal in Britain to perform abortions for sex selection. The Daily Telegraph last February published results of an investigation they did, which included film of two doctors agreeing to do abortions even though the mothers said their reason for seeking the procedure was because of the sex of their children. The CPS said it found sufficient evidence to prosecute but that a “public interest test” had not been met. Archbishop Smith called for more than just protecting British law: “The existing law should be enforced, but what is needed above all is a soul searching and honest debate about how our culture and society needs to change if the rights of unborn children are to be protected.” (CNA)
Texas-Mexico border bishops plan pastoral letter on family immigration
WASHINGTON DC, Sept. 13, 2013—After a gut-wrenching visit with young children in the El Paso, Texas, area who are in immigration detention, the bishops of the border region of Texas and Mexico have decided to write a joint pastoral letter on how families are harmed by the current immigration system. San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller told Catholic News Service in a Sept. 12 phone interview that after visiting the children who were brought to meet the bishops at an El Paso parish and learning their stories, the bishops wanted to draw attention to the family effects of the broken immigration system. He told about meeting a girl of 6 who has been in detention since her parents were deported four years ago. Apparently both her mother and father were killed soon after they were returned to Mexico and their daughter has been a ward of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency ever since, as official systems of two countries have slowly churned to place the girl with another member of her family. That girl and the other children in ICE custody intensely long to be with their families, he said. “Here in this country are 11 million undocumented people. How many of their children risk losing a parent because they lack documents” and could be deported, he asked. The pastoral letter to be issued in the next month is intended to “bring some sane, rational understanding” of the many ways families are broken apart by the current immigration system, Archbishop Garcia-Siller said. (CNS)
Archbishop Peter Smith
Youth call education key in solving Israel-Palestine conflict
WASHINGTON D.C., Sept. 12, 2013—Education and interpersonal interaction offer the best hope for change in the situation between Israel and Palestine despite challenges facing those in the region, young students said at a recent panel. “When you live under occupation, you come to accept things you shouldn’t accept,” Lubna Alzaroo, a Muslim graduate of Bethlehem University and Fulbright scholar studying at the University of Washington, said Sept. 9 at the D.C. event. “Education is our best way for liberation,” Alzaroo added, echoing her father’s parting words to her when she left to go to the United States. She noted, however, that even this hope is threatened by the current political situation. Peace talks between Palestine and Israel were put on hold in 2010 over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law. Dialogue resumed in late July of this year in D.C., but with signs of tension beginning to emerge over discussions involving decades-old border lines. Also speaking on the recent student panel were Nagib Kasbary, a Christian and 2013 graduate of Bethlehem University, and Naor Bitton, a Jewish Israeli graduate of Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Minnesota. Bethlehem University is the first university founded in Palestine’s West Bank. The college is run by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, serving both Christian and Muslim Students. The panelists spoke at a conference titled “Religious Freedom & Human Rights: Path to Peace in the Holy Land—That All May Be Free,” hosted by the Catholic University of America. The event was co-sponsored by Kasbary agreed with Alzaroo’s take, saying that the Palestinian people “don’t want to put up with this anymore,” and that “those who can leave do leave.” He posited that the conflict is not a religious one, but a political one, pointing to interreligious cooperation throughout the West Bank, particularly in Bethlehem University. Kasbary said that “we are less than one percent, but that doesn’t mean that we are a minority” among the Muslim-majority territory, though he noted that it was “very important for the Catholic Church to keep supporting” Christians in the Holy Land. Instead, he pointed to checkpoints, laws restricting access to holy sites, even for Holy Days, and the expansion of settlements into Palestine as the root of the problem. Bitton agreed that settlements “are the biggest obstacle to peace,” saying that they promote “religion as extreme,” and encourage extreme responses. Still, even with these difficulties, Bitton encouraged Palestinians to use official avenues to gain access, because he said it would help moderate the perception of Palestinians among Israeli citizens. He also encouraged Israeli and Palestinian young leaders to reach out to one another to enact change. “I wish the Imam and the Cheif Rabbi of Jerusalem met when they were 25—not the first time they saw an Israeli soldier.” He explained that if people met younger, they would understand and work with each other more efficiently. Interpersonal change and interaction “can lead to a push” for political action. “This is the future: think about who has the most interest to change things where they live—the people who are going to stick around for another 60 years.” (CNA)
(L-R) Nagib Kasbary, Naor Bitton, and Lubna Alzaroo take part in the panel on Religious Freedom and Human Rights at CUA on Sept 9, 2013.
Pope praises newly beatified Argentine ‘cowboy priest’
On the occasion of the beatification of Fr. José Gabriel Brochero of Cordoba, Argentina, known to locals as the “cowboy priest,” Pope Francis praised him for his open heart. “Brochero was a normal man, fragile, like any of us,” said Pope Francis. But his greatness came from the fact that, “he knew the love of Jesus. He let his heart be touched by the mercy of God.” Born in 1840 and ordained to the priesthood at age 26, Fr. Brochero was known for traversing his mountainous parish by mule to bring the gospel and sacraments to the people of Cordoba. (CNA)
Vatican willing to hand over accused nuncio to civil authorities
A Vatican spokesman has said that the Holy See is willing to hand over a former nuncio accused of sexual misconduct to civil authorities in the Dominican Republic if requested to do so. Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said that the Holy See continues to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations into Archbishop Józef Wesolowski, former apostolic nuncio to the Dominican Republic. Because there is no extradition treaty between the Vatican and the Dominican Republic, the Holy See is not required to return the nuncio to Dominican officials. In addition, the Vatican has a legal right to invoke diplomatic immunity in protection of the nuncio. (CNA)
Italian pastor donates used car to Pope Francis
the university as well as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services. Alzaroo explained that her education in Palestine was “uncertain,” because it was at the mercy of violence and political situations: she had to pass through checkpoints to make it to and from class. Passing through these checkpoints was a process dictated by security threats, and included anything from simply walking through to full-body searches. She explained that she nearly missed entrance exams at the university because of a closed checkpoint. “We don’t have the freedom to move about as we want,” she explained, adding that “a lot of people had to let go of their dreams” because of the difficulty of pursuing an education. In addition, “teachers go on strike every year because they aren’t paid enough – or, in some cases, they aren’t paid at all,” Alzaroo said. Because of the difficult situation facing education in Palestine, “we can’t get our own graduates to come back and teach,” she said.
Archbishop urges prayers for victims of widespread flooding in Colorado
DENVER, Sept. 12, 2013— Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila said he is praying for all those affected by extensive flooding in northern Colorado and urged all people of good will "to join me in prayer." "This morning I heard with concern about the flooding that is hitting the Front Range and impacting people within the Archdiocese of Denver," he said in a Sept. 12 statement. "According to the latest reports, three people have already died in the flooding. I am praying for the souls of those victims, for their families and all people who are being affected by the flooding." Archbishop Aquila said the archdiocesan Catholic Charities agency was prepared to help storm victims. Heavy rains caused severe traffic delays during the morning rush hour, with the cities of Boulder, Aurora and Thornton declaring accident alerts. The widespread flooding destroyed many homes and stalled cars throughout the Colorado's northern counties, including Boulder and Denver counties. Public officials closed schools, including the University of Colorado in Boulder, because of the flooding, and ordered evacuations from a number of communities. Rushing water made roads throughout the region impassable. Law enforcement officials confirmed at least three people died in the flood waters. More rain—from 6 to 10 inches—was expected to fall through the weekend, according to a forecast by the National Weather Service. Residents of canyons in the foothills west of Denver were being warned about the risk of more flash floods. According to a USA Today story, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle described the situation as no "ordinary disaster," saying that "all the preparation in the world" could not get rescue workers into mountain canyons to help flood victims "while these walls of water are coming down." (CNS)
An Italian pastor has donated a used Renault 4 with 186,000 miles to Pope Francis, in response to the exhortation he made to priests and seminarians in July to live simply and humbly. Father Renzo Roca, 69, who is pastor of St. Lucy Parish in Pescantina, wrote to the Holy Father offering to donate his car, according to news reports out of the Vatican. The car was delivered to the Pontiff on Sept. 7 at St. Martha’s Residence, shortly before the beginning of the Vigil for Peace, which the Holy Father led in St. Peter’s Square that evening. (CNA)
Pope Francis continues peace appeals on Twitter
After a global day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and throughout the world, Pope Francis is continuing his calls for peace, hope and negotiations through messages on social media. “Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!” he exclaimed on Twitter Sept. 9. “I ask each party to follow decisively and courageously the path of encounter and negotiation,” he said, referring to potential strikes on Syria by Western nations. Both of these tweets were followed by the hashtag “#prayforpeace,” which the Holy Father has repeatedly used throughout the month. (CNA)
Pope hears officials’ input on reforming Vatican bureaucracy
Vietnamese government and State TV launch fresh attacks on Bishop of Vinh
VINH, Vietnam, Sept. 16, 2013—Vietnamese authorities, with the support of the media, have launched a new , violent attack against the Vinh diocese and Msgr . Paul Nguyen Thai Hop, “guilty” of asking for the release of two parishioners imprisoned for months without motive. In a 10-minute report broadcast last night by state television harsh accusations were made against the prelate , guilty of “lying , breaking the law on purpose and inciting to revolt “ against Hanoi. The Catholics are accused of having “artfully fabricated” a legal issue—this is what the authorities say—to transform it into a case of “religious persecution.” And the smear campaign was followed by threats against the Catholic community of My Yen and Nghe An, with the promise of “new arrests” if the protests continued. “In an interview with foreign journalists— claimed the state television broadcast service in Hanoi yesterday—Bishop Nguyen Thai Hop manipulated the truth, made false accusations against the government of Vietnam in order to transform what is a normal procedure into a case of persecution against the Church. “The prelate also apparently “took advantage” of Catholics and their good faith to “foment riots.” The report ended with a warning, which sounded more like a threat: “no one is above the law” and there will be “more arrests” if the rebellion continues. Along with the bishop, the Vietnamese authe parish in My yen, which is seeking the release of two parishioners who have been in jail since last June without even a formal accusation being made against them. The diocese of Vinh and its bishop intervened in defense of the imprisoned parishioners, requesting the release, and the entire community, legitimizing the protests. The support of the diocesan Catholic leadership has sparked the reaction of the local and central authorities, who have launched a smear campaign against Msgr. Paul Nguyen Thai Hop and threatened to intervene harshly to quell the protest. For some time now, the Vietnamese government has been involved in a campaign of repression against bloggers, activists and dissidents seeking religious freedom, respect for civil rights, or the end of the one-party state. A petition has been launched for that purpose. In 2013 alone, Hanoi has arrested more than 40 activists for crimes “against the state”, a legal notion human rights groups consider too general and vague. The Catholic Church has also been subjected to constraints and restrictions; its members, victims of persecution. In one case back in January, a Vietnamese court sentenced 14 people, including some Catholics, to prison on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, a ruling criticized forcefully by and human rights activists and movements. (J.B. An Dang / AsiaNews)
Pope Francis met with Vatican officials Sept. 10 to hear their questions and suggestions about his ongoing reform of the Vatican bureaucracy. The Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said the meeting lasted nearly three hours and, except for a brief greeting by the pope, was devoted to remarks by the other participants. About 30 people attended, almost all of them heads of the major Vatican offices, joined by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State, and Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of Rome. Also present was Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary of the College of Cardinals. (CNS)
Pope: Calling folks is no big deal, media reports just tip of iceberg
Picking up the telephone and calling people out of the blue is no big deal for Pope Francis, according to a Vatican official. Msgr. Dario Vigano, director of the Vatican Television Center, said the pope told him that the many calls the journalists have brought to light are just the tip of the iceberg: “Good thing they don’t know about all the ones I have made!” the pope reportedly said. In an interview Sept. 13 with Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian Catholic magazine, Msgr. Vigano said that during a recent meeting with the pope, he asked the pontiff about the media frenzy over reports of papal cold calls. The monsignor said the pope looked at him amazed and said, “Tell the journalists that my calls are not news.” (CNS)
thorities have also targeted the website of the diocese of Vinh. Ngo Ba Hao, vice-president of the Committee for telecommunications, sent an urgent letter to Msgr. Paul sent an urgent letter to the prelate asking him to shut down the Web site of the diocese or face legal actions as the Web site is operated without the government permission. In fact, the government has never granted any such permission to Church institutions. Due to pastoral needs, dioceses in Vietnam run their websites at the risk of being prosecuted at any time. The entire Vietnamese Catholic Church, both domestic and in diaspora, has shown full support to the Diocese of Vinh in its responds to recent defamatory attack by government media, defending the good name of its bishop and community and reiterating the baseless accusations of the authorities. The dispute is really over events linked to
Vol. 17 No. 19
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common good,” he explained. “I cannot wash my hands, eh? We all have to give something!” He noted that it is sometimes common for people to speak only critically of their leaders, to complain about “things that don’t go well.” Instead of simply complaining, we should offer ourselves – our ideas, suggestions, and most of all our prayers, the Holy Father said. Observing that prayer is “the best that we can offer to those who govern,” he pointed to St. Paul’s letter to Timothy inviting prayer for the conversion and strong leadership of those in authority. Even if they believe certain politicians to be “wicked,” Christians should pray “that they can govern well, that they can love their people, that they can serve their people, that they can be humble,” he said. At the same time, the Pope reflected on the role of those who hold political power, stressing the need for humility and love. Reflecting on the Gospel of the centurion who humbly and confidently asked for the healing of his servant, the Holy Father explained that “a leader who doesn’t love, cannot govern – at best they can discipline, they can give a little bit of order, but they can’t govern.” In addition, he emphasized, “You can’t govern without loving the people and without humility!” “And every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?’” “If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good,” Pope Francis continued. “The man or woman who governs – who loves his people is a humble man or woman.” (CNA/EWTN News)
Pope calls faithful to pray, participate actively in politics
VATICAN City, Sept. 16, 2013—Catholics should not be indifferent to politics, Pope Francis said, but should offer their suggestions, as well as prayers that their leaders may serve the common good in humility and love. In his Sept. 16 daily homily at Santa Marta, the Pope rejected the idea that “a good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.” “That’s not true. That is not a good path,” he said, according to Vatican Radio. “A good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern.” “None of us can say, ‘I have nothing to do with this, they govern,’” Pope Francis told those present for the Mass. Rather, citizens are responsible for participating in politics according to their ability, and in this way are responsible for their leadership. “Politics, according to the Social Doctrine of the Church, is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the
Pope Francis gives the homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on July 7, 2013.
Dialogue essential to Christianity, Pope ‘EDSA Tayo’ unites interfaith communities tells non-believing journalist
Catholics and non-believers. Dialogue is not secondary to the Christian life, he said. Citing “Lumen Fidei,” he reflected that faith “grows in coexistence that respects the other.” The certainty Pope Francis greets children as they arrive in Vatican of faith “makes City aboard a train during the Journey of Beauty event possible witness June 23, 2013. and dialogue with everyone.” Pope Francis said his own VATICAN City, Sept. 13, 2013— In a letter to a prominent non- faith is born from the “encounter believing Italian journalist, Pope with Jesus” that “has touched Francis called dialogue a “pro- my heart and given direction found and indispensable expres- and new meaning to my existence.” This was made possible sion” of the Christian life. It “seems to me that it is noth- by “the community of faith in ing other than positive, not only which I have lived,” the Church. “Believe me, without the Church for us individually but also for the society in which we live, to I would not have been able to enpause to dialogue on a reality counter Christ, also in the awareas important as the faith is,” the ness that the immense gift that faith Pope said in a Sept 11 letter to is kept in the fragile earthen vessels Eugenio Scalfari, translated by of our humanity,” he said. The Pope examined the “parathe Catholic news agency Zenit. Scalfari, the 89-year-old jour- dox” of Christianity’s present nalist and founder of the Italian reputation among many nonnewspaper “La Repubblica,” believers. The faith is expressed had posed several questions to through the symbol of light, but the Pope in response to his July has come to be referred to as “the darkness of superstition that is encyclical “Lumen Fidei.” The Pope replied that his lat- opposed to the light of reason.” He lamented the “incomest encyclical was intended not only to confirm the faithful but municability” that has existed also to advance a “sincere and between the Church and the rigorous dialogue” between “modern culture of enlightenwww.catholicnewsagency.com
Laity urged: Strive to build a ‘community of humankind’
Noli Yamsuan / RCAM
ment stamp.” He then took the opportunity of the letter to reflect on the life of Jesus. Pope Francis spoke of the “scandal” that Jesus’ words and action caused, crediting this to his “extraordinary authority.” This authority is “not about something exterior or forced” but is “something that emanates from within.” Jesus’ authority is “not aimed at exercising power over others, but at serving them, at giving them liberty and the fullness of life. Jesus shows this to such an extent that he faces “incomprehension, betrayal, rejection” and ultimately condemnation to death. “But Jesus remains faithful to God, to the end,” the Pope said. Jesus Christ is the “son of a God who is love and who wishes with all His being that man, every man, discover himself and also live as His true son,” Pope Francis explained. He said that Jesus’ Resurrection is not done “to triumph over those who rejected him” but instead “to attest that the love of God is stronger than death, the forgiveness of God is stronger than any sin, and that it is worthwhile to spend one’s life, to the end, witnessing this immense gift.” The originality of the Christian faith rests in its foundation on the Incarnation and its participation in Jesus’ relationship with God the Father, he said.
Jesus’ life means that “we are all called to be children of the one Father and brothers among ourselves.” “The singularity of Jesus is for communication, not for exclusion,” the Pope added. The Christian life means service to all men and to “the whole of man” to keep awake “the sense of hope that drives one to do good despite everything and always looking to the beyond.” Pope Francis’ letter also considered the role of non-Christians. He praised the Jewish people’s persevering faith in God and his remarks about nonbelievers made headlines. In answer to the question of whether God forgives “one who doesn’t believe and doesn’t seek the faith,” the Pope responded that “the mercy of God has no limits if one turns to him with a sincere and contrite heart.” He stressed the non-believer’s need for “obeying one’s conscience.” “Sin, also for those who don’t have faith, exists when one goes against one’s conscience. To listen to and to obey it means, in fact, to decide in face of what is perceived as good or evil. And on this decision pivots the goodness or malice of our action,” the Pope said. Pope Francis characterized his letter to Scalfari as “tentative and provisional” but also a “sincere and confident answer to the invitation to escort you in a segment of the road together.” (CNA/EWTN News)
MANILA, Sept. 9, 2013—With influences of secularism hounding the quality of human relationships throughout the years, a highranking church official urged the faithful to foster stronger ties with each other by gathering as a “community of humankind” that interrelates with the whole of Divine creation. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle noted the growing interdependence among people and urged them not to settle with the establishment of superficial bond with others and instead strive to anchor their relationships to a deep interpersonal level. “The sign of the times shows the growing interdependence among people…It is clear that there is no single person, family, neighborhood, and even country that is detached or separated from the whole of creation,” Tagle said in his talk during the monthly Manila Archdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly (MAGPAS) held at the Cardinal Sin Auditorium of the Paco Catholic School. “We could not claim that we don’t need others for we depend on them, and they, too, also depend on us,” he said in the vernacular. Citing the Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et Spes, Tagle pointed out the trend that dialogue among humans is getting more utilitarian as time passes by— merely settling on the levels of technology and commerce and fostering relationships only for the sake of benefitting something from the other. Tagle said the faithful must fight the flourishing of utilitarian relationships for it merely bases the worth of humans from the benefit one is ought to get from the other. “Nowadays, we base friendship accord-
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urges the faithful to do their best to create a community that cares and promotes the good of all people.
ing to what we will be gaining from the other person. Once we stop benefitting, we begin to deny them. In this trend, we can see that there is no personal relationship being established for we just tend to use each other,” he said. Gift of oneself “God has willed that all people shall constitute one family…He wants us to treat each other in the spirit of true brotherhood,” he said. Once people learn to give themselves fully, the more they will be able to uncover who they truly are, Tagle noted. “This is the mystery of the human person and that this how we must build our respective families,” he added. The prelate also reminded the faithful to allot time for their loved ones despite the busy demands of their day-to-day living. “Brought by our fast-paced living to attend to our work and other duties, do we still have time to give each other the gift of a caring presence?” he said.
Live with integrity Tagle encouraged the laity to protect the image of the country against destructive issues by letting the virtue of integrity reign in their lives. “Let us lift the honor of the Filipino. I hope that we would be able to establish an orderly political community. Once we are able to establish its dignity and honor, it will push and challenge us to be dignified,” he added. He said the people must promote the common good to give people from all walks of life equal access to basic needs and necessities for them to live comfortably. “There are places wherein people rarely eat three times a day, but in other places, there are also those who have so much food that it just gets wasted. There are those who do not have access to housing, but there are also those who have so many houses that we can’t even count them with our fingers,” he said. “Is this what we consider a family of humankind? While there are those who live in extreme abundance, there are others who are deeply marred in poverty, having literally nothing for themselves,” he added. The prelate urged the people to treat others the way they treat themselves to establish a more equitable situation where everyone benefits from growth that is inclusive of all sectors. “Treat others not just as a brother or a sister. Treat them as another self, as another you. Maybe if we are able to do this, we can act toward successfully building a community of humankind,” he said. “We should not exploit, take advantage, and belittle others. Whatever love we are giving to ourselves, we must also be willing to give others,” Tagle added. (Jennifer Orillaza)
MANILA, Sept. 11, 2013—Hundreds of Filipinos gathered at the historic EDSA shrine on Wednesday to strengthen their clamor for the abolition of lump-sum allocations in government finances. “EDSA Tayo,” an interfaith prayer vigil organized by a group of artists and media practitioners, echoed calls of various religious groups for the abolition of the graft-tainted pork barrel system, demanding transparency and accountability in the government. The statue of the Our Lady stands as a The event followed mute witness to the aspirations of Filipino the citizen-led initiative people for a transparent and accountable Million People March government. that gathered thousands proposed for 2014. of Filipinos in Luneta According to Briones, what last August 26 to express their widespread disgust over the must be done is to abolish the alleged channeling of lawmak- Special Purpose Fund (SPF) ers’ pork barrel to dubious non- which amounts to approximategovernmental organizations ly P310 billion. The pork barrel, amounting to P25 billion in the and foundations. Retired Caloocan Bishop De- incoming budget, is only about ogracias Iñiguez, who joined 8.06 percent of the total SPF. “It is important to look at the the mass gathering, urged the public to continue initiating entirety of all lump sum appromovements that could awaken priations that total to a notably the social consciousness of Fili- bigger amount,” she said in the pinos against corruption in the vernacular. “If we will remove the pork government. He called on the public to barrel, what will we do with unite in probing the appalling the special purpose fund? If we cases of fund misuse and act don’t remove the latter, it might upon the social ill of corruption just give birth to another pork that perennially hounds the barrel bearing a different name. This is the reason why we have country’s political landscape. “I feel glad for it seems that to look closely. This is just the we are slowly being awakened beginning,” Briones said. Briones cited the P7.5 billion with what is happening. But I am hoping that we will continue calamity fund included in the scrutinizing and examining the SPF as an example on why it issue so we would be able to un- is better to distribute the presiderstand and guide our political dential pork barrel to various leaders in moving toward the line agencies. Through the direct distriburight direction,” Iñiguez said in tion of the SPF, there is a higher the vernacular. The prelate said the public possibility for public funds to must be vigilant in monitoring reach Filipinos from all walks the acts done by the government of life, Briones noted. to settle controversies regarding the appalling misuse of public Unity is important Junep Ocampo, one of the funds. “The reason why we continu- organizers of the “EDSA Tayo” ously support movements such movement, said unity among as this is because the pork bar- people is very important in times rel scheme remains intact up to when threats of corruption denow. This has to be changed and stroy the foundation of the state. He urged the people to conwe should closely monitor the steps being done by the govern- tinue the protest through their ment to address this challenge,” own simple means within their respective communities. he said. “We want the people to hold Abolish entire SPF, not just small vigils in their families, churches, and schools, study the pork In a lecture given before pork barrel issue, and reflect on “EDSA Tayo” protesters, for- what this issue means to them. mer National Treasurer and We are all victims affected by Lead Convenor of Social Watch this. We have to participate and Philippines Leonor Briones said not just watch what is happenit is not enough to abolish the ing around us,” he said. “This is a very good start. The pork barrel for it just constitutes a small amount in the entirety of ‘EDSA Tayo’ movement does lump sum appropriations in the not end here,” Ocampo said. P2.268 trillion national budget (Jennifer Orillaza)
Pope calls for ‘war against evil,’ including illegal arms trade
VATICAN City, Sept. 9, 2013— Repeating his recent calls for peace in the Middle East, Pope Francis urged Christians to wage a “deeper war” against evil, including the illegal arms trade that he said drives much of the world’s military conflict. The pope made his remarks Sept. 8, before praying the noon Angelus with a crowd in St. Peter’s Square, where the previous evening he had led a four-hour vigil for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world. “This war against evil means saying no to fratricidal hatred, and to the lies that it uses; saying no to violence in all its forms; saying no to the proliferation of arms and their sale on the black market,” the pope said. “There are so many of them!” he said of black market weapons. “And the doubt always remains: This war over there, this other war over there — because there are wars everywhere— is it really a war over problems, or is it a commercial war, to sell these arms on the black market?” “These are the enemies we must fight, united and coherent, following no other interests but those of peace and the common good,” he said. Following the Angelus, Pope Francis thanked those who had participated in the Sept. 7 vigil, which drew an estimated 100,000 to the square. The pope asked listeners to pray for an end to Syria’s civil war, and for peace in other beleaguered Middle Eastern countries: stability and continued “peaceful coexistence” in Lebanon, an end to “sectarian violence” in Iraq, and progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. “Finally, let us pray for Egypt,” the pope said, “that all Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, may commit themselves to build up together a society dedicated to the good of the whole population.” (CNS)
Lauren Cater / CNA
Helping in politics
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
POPE Francis in his September 16 homily which is given daily at Santa Marta has called the faithful to be actively involved in politics. Of course, there are volumes of Church documents saying so, especially after the Second Vatican Council—and even hereabouts, the Philippines bishops said the same but rather more categorically in their Pastoral Exhortation on Philippines Politics and in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II). But Pope Francis in all simplicity and candor said it seemingly bereft of any theological jargon and rhetoric. He rejected the idea that “a good Catholic doesn’t meddle in politics.” That is not a good path, he said, because “a good Catholic meddles in politics, offering the best of himself, so that those who govern can govern…that they can govern well, that they can love their people, that they can serve their people, that they can be humble.” Citing the Social Doctrine of the Church, he said that politics “is one of the highest forms of charity, because it serves the common good.” Which is why, he said, one cannot just shrug it off since every citizen is responsible for participating in politics according to his/her ability. Reflecting on the Gospel about the centurion (Lk 7:1-10) who humbly and confidently asked for the healing of his servant, the Holy Father talked about the role of those who hold political power, stressing the need for humility and love. “A leader who doesn’t love, cannot govern—at best they can discipline, they can give a little bit of order, but they can’t govern… and every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best paths? If you don’t ask these questions, your governance will not be good… The man or woman who governs—who loves his people is a humble man or woman.” This, indeed, is the best way to look at politics—that it is one of the highest form of charity because its objective is the common good. But hereabouts, this perspective is not in the politician’s dictionary. In the Philippines politics is, to borrow the bishops’ statement, “possibly the biggest bane in our life as a nation and the most pernicious obstacle to our achieving of full human development.” Sadly, it has been culturally debased into the characterizations of the underworld: patronage, racketeering and organized thievery. In this country, this brand of politics has been tolerated and condoned for decades now, perhaps without realizing its catastrophic effect to the nation’s and people’s lives. With the present stench and outrage about the pork barrel anomalies, the time is now for the lay faithful to narrow the gap between politics and faith that has been one of life’s dichotomies for ages now.
AT first, there was some kind of confusion among the simple Filipinos on account of its rather impressive title: “Framework Agreement.” It was both awesome as well as enigmatic. What made it even more magical and soul stirring was the pomp and pageantry that accompanied its ceremonial signing. All those present were in their best and expensive attires. They were all beaming with obvious pride and self-satisfaction. Bright lights and big cameras were on. The ritual was flawless. All those present in the ceremonial singing of the “Agreement in the Framework,” the “Framework” in the agreement—or whatever—looked like the incarnations of immense success, of incredible achievement. There was however one big flaw already noticed and lamented then in the supposedly summit of achievement for peace, order, and development in Mindanao. It is not a secret
Oscar. V. Cruz, DD
Views and Points
occasion. But the MNLF—and other rebel aggregations—were eerily absent. This was in effect saying that the ARMM was either irrelevant or something basically not worth taking into account. And now, such is the basic cause of the Zamboanga siege. What is really pitiful or even disgusting is that it is the people who eventually suffer from the blunders of the administration—an entity that is funded and thus paid by the people, that exists and acts at the expense of the people—yet proves to be the misfortune if not a downright scourge of the people. Please, Mr. Administration: Respond to the needs of the people—your boss as you yourself once proud and loudly proclaimed. Promote their welfare—neither your glory nor the blessings of your allies. You will be gone soon. May people lament your leaving instead of clapping their hands and jumping for joy for your being out of their way!
Apostolic life and mission: passion for justice
TODAY, religious are increasingly interpreting their call to proclaim the Gospel in “preferential option for the poor.” This has led to a reexamination of traditional works in order to better respond to emerging pastoral needs, particularly in the areas of social justice, building Basic Ecclesial Communities animated by communion and participation, and the transformation of society. Religious groups render true service to the world when they show the falsity and futility of the ancient dichotomies between prayer and action, the sacred and the profane, spirituality and active social involvement or personal compassion and social justice. Active religious express their charisms in spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Some exercise an apostolate of service; some teach doctrine; some encourage through exhortation, give retreats and train lay leaders; some give in simplicity, or serve the pastoral work of the Church by educating the young, caring for the sick, and discharging other services. All have been summoned by the Second Vatican Council to renew and to adapt their lives to modern needs. This renewal is necessary. An urgent dimension is for religious to have a passion for justice. People are groping towards an experience of Christ and waiting in hope for His kingdom of love, of justice and of peace. The needs and aspirations of the world are an appeal for the Gospel. It will not be possible to bring Christ to people, or to proclaim His Gospel effectively unless a firm decision is taken to devote ourselves to the tasks of justice. Injustice must be attacked at its roots which are in the human heart by transforming those attitudes and habits which beget injustice and forster the structures of oppression. At the same time, service according to the Gospel cannot dispense with a carefully planned effort to exert influence on those structures. The life and mission today of apostolic communities is to serve the Gospel in apostolates whose aim is to help people become more open toward God and more willing to live according to the demands of the Gospel. This service demands a life in which the justice of the Gospel shines out in a willingness not only to recognize and respect the rights of all, especially the poor and powerless, but also to work actively to secure those rights. This is of course the fruit of the Spirit who transforms our hearts ands fills them with the power of God’s mercy, that mercy whereby He most fully shows forth His justice by drawing us, unjust though we are, to his friendship. (PCP-II Acts of the Council Nos. 478-482) —Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 1991
that there were then and there are still now definitely more than one rebel group in the place. They are all rebels though with different names and symbols. They are all claiming one kind of self-rule or another—with the common denominator of some form of independence from the central government. In other words, said rebel groupings are not exactly friends to one another although all of them want to be on their own for one reason or another—through some form of “independence” of self-rule. Yet notwithstanding all such well-known and duly identified rebel divisions, groupings or clusters, the hallowed and sanctimonious “Framework Agreement” or something was meticulously done and gloriously signed with but one rebel aggregate—with all other groupings conspicuously absent from the grand occasion. In other words, the MILF had a stellar role in the glorious
Fr. James H. Kroeger, MM
“Year of Faith” Reflections
THE three great monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) share many similarities. We share many common figures who are honored as “models of faith.” For example, we honor Abraham [Ibrahim in Islam], Joseph [Yusuf for Muslims], and Job [Ayyub in Islam] for their profound faith. Although admittedly this author writes from a Christian perspective, we can examine these three common models of faith—and draw inspiration from them. Abraham: Our Father in Faith. Abraham’s faith is manifested in his willingness to leave his own country and set out for a land that God would show him (Gen 12). He is asked to believe that his elderly wife Sarah, unable to bear children, would give birth to a son (Gen 18). He is tested by God when asked to sacrifice his beloved son (Gen 22). Abraham is a model of faith (Heb 11:8-12) because he responded to God’s invitation with radical obedience and trust. He, like us, often walked in darkness, having only the light of God’s promise and fidelity, not having complete understanding or clarity. Faith means loving and knowing the God who leads us; it is anchored on the person of the one true God. Joseph: Model of Persistent Faith. The “Joseph story” is narrated in Genesis. Joseph is sold by his own brothers into slavery and is taken to Egypt. Enduring many sufferings, he eventually is given a prominent position by Pharaoh. A severe famine spreads across the area. Even Joseph’s
Appreciating our common ‘Fathers in Faith’
own family needs to turn to Egypt for help. They never realized that God, through their evil designs against Joseph, had sent him ahead to save them. When Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, he says: “Do not be afraid…. Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, to achieve his present end.” Yes, in faith, we believe that God often takes humanity’s misfortune and sinfulness and changes them into opportunities for grace. Can we, like Joseph, pray: Lord, I know you will bring good out of this difficult situation! Job: Trusting God in Hard Times. The experience of Job is a story of endurance, patience, and true faith. All Job’s children were killed when a freak windstorm collapsed their house. His workers were brutally murdered; all his livestock were stolen or destroyed. His own health was taken. He was falsely accused and tormented by his “friends” who asserted that these tribulations were due to Job’s hidden sinfulness. Job’s faith-response is classic. He says: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Scripture adds: “In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God” (Job 1:21-22). Job is a unique example of faith and submission to God’s “truly inscrutable designs.” He never stopped loving and believing in God—even in hard times. Such is authentic faith!
At the impulse of faith
THIS is the ideal situation in our life. It’s when we manage to shape our life according to the behest of our faith that we attain this ideal. Faith is a gift from God that enables us to start living our life with God which is how our life should be. We actually have been made for a life of faith. If we look more closely at how we are, we will see that we are made for believing, more than just for reasoning or, much less, for feeling. We are in need to make of faith, because no matter how much we reason out and feel, we will still realize that the reality goes beyond what reason and feelings can discern. Of course, faith always goes together with hope and charity, all of which assure us that while we still are journeying toward our final destination in this present life of ours, we somehow are already there in that destination. That’s the mysterious beauty of these three theological virtues. They make us be both here and there, in time and in eternity, on earth and in heaven. They make us realize we are never alone, since with them we will feel we are with God and also with
Fr. Roy Cimagala
gravest danger. We have to be wary therefore when we just allow ourselves to be led mainly by our feelings, moods and passions, by social trends, cultural and historical conditionings, or even by mere ideological factors, since these do not bring us to our ideal way of life. Yes, we have to use them—and, in fact, we cannot avoid them—but we have to make sure that they are always infused by faith. Otherwise, they can lead us to some exciting adventures or drift us aimlessly in life, but they, alone without faith, can never bring us to where we should be. Especially in the beginning, we have to make deliberate acts of faith, much like a child learning how to eat and write properly. We should not make a big fuss about this awkwardness or even difficulty. It’s all worth it. The important thing to keep in mind is that these acts of faith will hopefully become second nature to us. We need to trust God, his wisdom and his ways. Especially when things look like impossible to do or accomplish, the more
Candidly Speaking / A7
Pedro C. Quitorio
Ronalyn R. Regino
Pinky Barrientos, FSP
Roy Q. Lagarde
Ernani M. Ramos
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
everybody else. They connect us with God and others. How important therefore to take good care of these divine gifts! And among them, the first one to get our attention should be our faith, since our life with God and others begins with it. Faith somehow acts as the foundation for hope and charity, although the three work together in mutual, vital relationship. While faith is a gift from God, it is also the response and the care we give to that gift. While it is a matter of grace, it is also a human act and responsibility. As the Catechism says, “believing is an authentically human act. Trusting in God and cleaving to the truths he has revealed is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason.” (CCC 154) We ought to feel the need to constantly sharpen and strengthen our life of faith, because many now are the elements and factors that can undermine it. It’s not so much the outright rejection of faith, like when one falls into formal atheism or agnosticism, as the subtle but continuing neglect of our faith that constitutes its
Illustration by Brothers Matias
Vol. 17 No. 19
September 16 - 29, 2013
Let us give peace a chance!
the higher ups are doing, the subordinates will also do. God save the Philippines! *** The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas or Laiko (Council of the Laity of the Philippines), through its National President Atty. Aurora A. Santiago and National Spiritual Director Bishop Jesse Mercado, issued Circular to its members, Archdiocesan/Diocesan Councils of the Laity and National Lay Organizations, on the abolition of pork barrel. “Once again, our nation is undergoing a great crisis brought about by the pork barrel controversy. Considering the gravity of this matter and the consequences that have affected each and every one of us particularly our less fortunate brothers and sisters, and the brazen disregard for the principles of stewardship, transparency and accountability, we cannot just remain complacent and stand idly. x x x “Our history as a nation shows that we want to live in freedom, not under benign dictatorships; we prefer the dignity of work over the manipulation of entitlements. As faithful children of God and patriotic citizens of this country, therefore, let us continue to seek justice, not revenge; healing, not division; truth, not deception. “If my people, who are called by name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (Micah 6:8)” *** The International Image of Fatima will arrive at San Roque Cathedral of our Diocese of
Duc In Altum / A7
Fr. Carmelo O. Diola
Atty. Aurora A. Santiago
Duc in Altum
THE Vatican reports that nearly 100,000 people, including those belonging to nonChristian faiths, prayed with Pope Francis for peace in Syria and the world during the September 7 vigil at St. Peter’s Square. They all condemned the use of violence and prayed for peaceful solution to the conflict. Millions of people all over the world joined in fasting and prayer requested by the Pope. His Excellency Jose Palma, Archbishop of Cebu and President of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (or CBCP) also called on all the faithful in the Philippines to be one and in solidarity with the Pope. The Pope’s vigil for peace brought hope to the faithful. He said during the 4-hours vigil, “This evening I ask the Lord that we as Christians, and our brothers and sisters of other religions, and every man and woman of good will, cry out forcefully: violence and war are never the way to peace.” *** Just 2 days after the prayer vigil for peace by Pope Francis, violence erupted in Zamboanga City. As of press time, Zamboanga is still wrecked with havoc and devastation. Day in and day out, there was exchange of fire between the government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF. Lives are lost, many are severely injured, even Red Cross volunteers were fired at, hundreds are used as human shields, residents are displaced and evacuated from their homes, commercial establishments including banks are closed, homes and establishments are burned, flights to and from the city are cancelled, only military planes can reach the city.
Spaces of Hope To be or not to be
THE Sangguniang Kabataan or the SK is, at least on paper, a good thing. It represents the youth voice in local public governance. Yet reality offers a different reality. To be or not to be—should the SK be continued? Philippine law mandates each of the 42,095 barangays in the country to have its own chapter of the Katipunan ng Kabataan. Each chapter is open to young people, ages 15-17, who are Filipino citizens. This is the local youth program of government and they elect their officers, known as the SK, who serve as the local youth legislature in the barangay. The SK initiates policies, programs and projects for the development of youth in their respective political territories. They approve resolutions for the youth and appropriate money consisting of 10% of the IRA (Internal Revenue Allocation) of the barangay. The SK Chairman automatically becomes an ex-officio member in the Sangguniang Barangay (Village Council). He or she automatically gets chairmanship of the Committee on Youth and Sports. Every SK is then clustered into municipal, city, and then provincial federations. A youth voice in local political affairs is something positive. Human dignity demands active participation of the youth as subjects, not objects, of development. After all, the youth are already part of the present, not just the future. Realities on the ground, however, have led to cycles of decline rather than progress. These have to do with power and its exercise. To start with the IRA allotted to barangays in 2012 amounted to P52 billion. The biggest barangay in the country received P73 million from the IRA in 2012. The SK of this barangay, therefore, got P7.3 million from the IRA alone! This does not yet include locally-generated income. What impact does this power have over the minds and hearts of youth leaders? Are they ready to handle such power? What enticements does this represent to their adult handlers? A little more than two years ago, Dilaab did a piggyback survey with the SWS. We wanted to know about the public’s view of the Sangguniang Kabataan or SK. We had three questions: 1) Overall, in the past few years, how much help has the SK done for the youth in your barangay? 2) Do you agree on the statement? “Officials of the SK learn to be corrupt early on and continue these habits when they run for higher positions”; and 3) Do you agree on the statement? “The present law regarding election of the youth council or Sangguniang Kabataan should be continued.” The results were interesting: first, the respondents were nearly evenly split regarding the SK as having a positive or having little impact in the barangay; second, most view the SK as being a breeding ground for corruption; but third, an overwhelming number also think that the SK should still be continued. Unfortunately no follow through questions enabled us to clarify these responses. Perhaps many people still recognize the continuing importance of the voice of the youth in public affairs and believe that the SK can still be reformed. The question is – how? Research on Millennials (i.e. those born between 1980 and 2000) show much silver lining behind what may otherwise be a generation that tends towards narcissism. As leaders, for instance, “Millennials are more likely to reject hierarchical leadership, and will lead by team motivation, collegiality, and accountability” (Boston College Center for Work & Family, 12 September 2011). Sadly, this tendency towards accountable leadership remains untapped or, worse, deteriorate through adult intervention. Corruptio optimi pessima – the “corruption of the best is the worst kind of corruption.” But it need not be this way. Why can’t we provide organized help to emerge good SK candidates and provide continuing formation and support so youth leaders will do Jose Rizal and Jesse Robredo proud? Why can’t civic and service clubs, neighborhood associations, parish networks, renewal groups, sectoral groups and other organizations help identify potential candidates for the SK and barangay elections? Why can’t these same groups provide support and accompaniment to those who have a vocation in politics? After all, Benedict XVI once said: “I confirm the necessity and urgency of the evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of a new generation of Catholics working in politics, that they be coherent with the professed faith, that they have moral firmness, the capacity of educated judgment, professional competence and passion for service to the common good.” Why not advocate for some structural changes in the SK like removing salaries and giving only minimal allowance to restore the joy of volunteerism? Why not reduce the workload of SK officials so that they remain primarily students rather than full-time public officials? Is the title “Honorable” really helpful for 15-18 year olds? We should help our young people to gradually learn how to handle and control power, not be overwhelmed or dominated by it. Last May 2013 elections, the Dilaab movement called on people to pray, vote, reject vote buying, discern their choices well using the LASER (Lifestyle, Action, Supporters, Election Conduct, Reputation) test, and share their judgments to others. We did a house-to-house campaign with pulong-pulong in three sitios in Metro Cebu to help voters rediscover their God-given dignity. After elections, we assessed the impact of our efforts. The result was both saddening and encouraging. We learned that politicians actually tap into the chapel network to provide them a list of names of people whose votes they will purchase as well as distribute money to voters. Based on our focused group discussion, we found out that many voters, ages 36 and above, who heard about our campaign, continued to sell their votes. We were encouraged, however, to learn that many voters, ages 35 and below and exposed to our campaign, stood their ground against vote buying. Many insisted, against the wishes of their parents, that their names be not included in lists submitted to candidates. Our experiences were recently confirmed by Rep. Leni Robredo who ran and won in the Third District of Camarines Sur. She attributed her victory to the volunteer work and the voting power of those who are 35 and below. And she did not buy votes. We also tried to engage all the candidates of Metro Cebu. This made us trans-partisan rather than partisan. We were inspired by Benedict XVI’s call for “evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment” of politicians. A third of the candidates answered our LASER test. These were circulated to groups and parishes. These experiences convince us that we can and should do more to evangelize politics especially since “Philippine politics—the way it is practiced—(is) the most pernicious
Spaces of Hope / A7
There is already shortage of foods, drinking water and medicine. Evacuees are getting sick and ill. Foods and medicines from outside of Zamboanga cannot be delivered due to closure of airports and roads to the area, even helicopters are fired at. Monetary help cannot reach the city due to closure of banks. The Archdiocese of Zamboanga appealed for financial help which can be sent through remittance centers since banks are closed. It is very difficult for them to access foods, medicines and other basic needs of the people. Sooner, the supplies stocked in the place will diminish and disappear. Let us all pray and hope that the conflict will soon end. Let this battle of Filipinos against Filipinos be stopped. There is never a winner in any armed confrontation. Everyone is a loser. What the government should do is get all the Muslim factions—MNLF, MILF, Bangsa Moro, etc.—to the negotiation table and talk about peace and political order in the area. All of them will be affected by whatever peace process that may be arrived at. The government should not single out or favour one faction over the other. Only then can there be peace. As the song goes, “What we are saying, please give peace a chance.” *** We pray that what is happening now in Zamboanga will not divert our people from their cry and fight for the abolition of the pork barrel, in all its forms, because it is the source of corruption and makes our poor people poorer. Imagine, even the provincial, city and municipal officials up to the barangay levels have their own pork barrel! What
The rosary tattoo
ROSARY bracelets are common, but rosary anklets….? Women have been wearing rosaries as jewelry around their wrists long before pop star Madonna flashed her first crucifix earrings onstage. So what’s new about a rosary around an ankle? Well, this one isn’t a removable piece of jewelry—it’s a tattoo. This email I got recently is furious over a rosary tattooed around actress Solenn Heussaff’s ankle. Here’s her email in full, unedited: Addressing this to everyone in my address book.. Sending you a picture I took of a FULL PAGE AD of BENCH in the PDI, Aug 24, 2013, LifeStyle Section, E3.. I feel really SAD & DEEPLY UPSET that A ONE DECADE ROSARY (LIKE THE 5 DECADE ROSARY) WC MILLIONS OF CATHOLICS HOLD DEAR, espcly HERE IN the PHL IS USED AS AN ANKLE & FOOT ACCESSORY!! This BENCH AD DEMEANS ONE SYMBOL OF THE LOVE & RESPECT MILLIONS OF FILIPINOS HAVE FOR the BLESSED MOTHER. For those of you who FEEL THE SAME AS ME please let BENCH KNOW that we are hurt, displeased & insulted by THIS AD. You can do this by sending a note to the ff BENCH sites that are printed on the ad. AGAIN, if you feel as I do, PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE INCLUSIVE OF PHOTOS TO YOUR FRIENDS. Thank you and GOD bless. PS...I just got a phone call from my daughter to let me know that the one decade rosary shown on ad model SOLENN HEUSSAFF’s ankle and upperr foot is not an accessory BUT A TATTOO. Nonetheless, BENCH AD and other companies which get her as model should have the sensitivity not to prominently display her foot with that insulting tattoo.. to Catholics who love and respect the Blessed Mother..I cant understand why this model has this tattoo placed around her ankles and on top of her foot! Kulang na lang sa takampakan..! SHEEESH !! A much shorter text message from a different source echoes a similar sentiment—seeing the ad as offensive to Catholics and Marian devotees. Both asked to spread their message; I forwarded neither. Looking at the close up of the model’s ankle, I wondered if Heussaff was a rosary devotee. Did she get that tattoo only to look cool? Did she wear it as an anklet in a spirit of defiance? Or is it one of those fun henna tat-
Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
…and that’s the truth
toos that come off in the shower? Tattoos are excruciatingly painful to acquire—imagine sitting for hours cutting your skin and bleeding, not to mention exposing your body to contamination and having terrible “ouch” moments as you wait days for it to heal! You’ve got to be utterly convinced a tattoo is worth the agony. Whether the conviction stems from a need to belong (think tribal tradition and prison gangs OXO and SigueSigue members), to avow love and devotion (names of loved ones and religious symbols), or to satisfy a desire to be uniquely marked, having a tattoo done is entirely the owner’s call. Why Heussaff had a rosary tattooed around her ankle is her decision; why Bench would want her as endorser is its choice. Did either of them deliberately intend to offend Catholics? I don’t think so—unless they are eager to lose fans or be boycotted. In a way, they are even reminding people, (as Pacquiao used to do) that there is such a thing as a rosary. It is up to authentic Catholics and enlightened Marian lovers to see here an opportunity to catechize especially the Generation XY among whom are tattooed celebrities—like David Beckham who has on his left chest the image of Jesus carried by three angels, and Justin Bieber who last July sported a new tattoo on his calf: the face of Jesus, crowned with thorns. Religious tattoos have been around for ages. And now, thank Google, at the click of the mouse we can browse through 52,200,000 results for “cross tattoos”; 37,000,000 under “Mary tattoos”; 32,000,000 under “Christian tattoos”, 15,600,000 under “tattoos in Islam”; 7,990.000 for “Christ tattoos”; and 2,810,000 for “Jesus tattoos”. On the other hand, “Satan tattoos” comes up with 2,800,000 results, while “devil tattoos” yields 2,640,000. Do the math yourself and be awed. Check those Jesus-related images, and cringe at the bodily pain those tattoo lovers endured to make a statement for Jesus and Mary. Whatever statement Heussaff thinks she is making by her rosary anklet does not bother me. Among other things an anklet symbolizes slavery. Unwittingly Heussaff could be saying she is not her own woman, she is a slave, and since her anklet is a
And That’s The Truth / A6
Fr. Francis Ongkingco
RECENTLY, I decided to change the alarm clock application in my android phone. I suspected that it was one of the programs mysteriously locking my phone and making it behave strangely. Once uninstalled, the weird behavior disappeared. At least for now…! Another reason, however, that convinced me to remove it were the options it offered when it rang: to SNOOZE or to DISMISS the bothersome alarm. In my groggier moments I sometimes accidently tapped on the SNOOZE button, and while I showered or brushed my teeth the alarm would start to ‘wake me up again.’ It’s funny, I thought, weren’t alarm clocks designed to wake us up in the first place? Why a snooze option? I began wondering when the concept of ‘snoozing’ an alarm started. It must have an interesting history to it and most likely a ‘natural’ offshoot of the comfort-seeking lifestyle produced by industry and technology which both offer better ways of living. Whatever the history of ‘snoozing’ is, it simply reveals the irony behind wanting to be ‘awakened’ but NOT YET, really NOT YET! It is, however, interesting to know that ‘snoozing’ as an attitude existed even before a snooze feature was invented for the alarm clock. I would dare to say that it goes all the way back even to our Lord’s time. A number of our Lord’s parables amusingly represent this snoozing attitude. For example, the guests invited to a banquet and how they turned it down because they had other more ‘important’ things to attend to. The people our Lord invited dillydallied in responding to the call to become His disciples. The rich young man who was not that
snoozing habits can gradually weaken our spiritual life. St. Josemaría gives the apt image of our struggle to wake up on the dot. He fondly called this a ‘heroic minute,’ because our response to this “unimportant moment” could spell a difference for the rest of the day. He says: “Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a fixed time, without yielding a single minute to laziness. If, with God’s help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish! (The Way, no. 191)” Later on he would further apply this idea to numerous ‘heroic minutes’ lived during work by following our schedule, keeping to our appointments and above all not allowing worldly activism to corrode our spiritual commitments to God and our neighbor. This is also why the founder of Opus Dei would teach: “I have always thought that many mean by ‘tomorrow’ or ‘later,’ a resistance to grace. (The Furrow, no. 155)” As if this were not clear enough, St. Escrivá reveals that a ‘snoozing habit’ will eventually debilitate our spiritual foundations, foment mediocrity and eventually lead to serious sin. “Don’t succumb to that disease of character whose symptoms are inconstancy in everything, thoughtlessness in action and speech scatterbrained ideas: superficiality, in short. Mark this well: unless you react in time—not tomorrow: “now!”—that superficiality which each day leads you to form those empty plans (plans ‘so full of emptiness’) will make of your life a dead and useless puppet. (The Way, no. 17)” It’s time to wake up! Stop snoozing grace… Faith up now (F.U.N.) by waking up for grace, living for grace and sharing grace!
ready to ‘let go and let God!’ Of course, there were the very apostles who procrastinated in their faith in Jesus. Snoozing, which is sloth’s little brother, is one subtle side-effect of original sin in man. Sin, which is the malicious art of growing in self-centeredness, is often something we strive to immediately reject and avoid. But when sin introduces itself through something less ‘threatening,’ and perhaps, disguised in a seemingly innocent and harmless way, we are less agile to react and easily give in. Instead of harshly saying to Jesus ‘no,’ ‘I don’t want to,’ or ‘go away,’ one would rather ‘cordially’ by say: ‘in a moment’ ‘I’ll be there’ ‘when the right time comes’ and many other ‘sweet expressions’ that are best translated as outright delays, and reluctance to follow Christ because one seeks his own comfort or leisure. St. Augustine described that before his conversion he was like someone being roused from sleep. When he heard the knocks on his door, he replied to God’s invitation saying, “Lord, yes, … but not yet now pleeease...” He heard the knock, but was reluctant to get up. He was ‘snoozing’ our Lord’s call. Snoozing our Lord’s simple but constant promptings in our heart may not be a serious neglect or sin. But it is still a lack of generosity, and we are still depriving ourselves of a divine and necessary opportunity for conversion. We forget that it is these daily, small but significant conversions that really matter if we want to advance in our desires to be holy. A timely example can illustrate how our
THE head of Manila’s Roman Catholic Church is asking the Congress to reconsider and heed the Church and public’s clamor to abolish the pork barrel. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said the bishops’ moral judgment on the issue seeks to help create reforms in the government and for the common good. In an unprecedented move, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines made a collective stand in calling for the abolition of the pork barrel system. The church leaders, in a pastoral statement, believe that the present pork barrel practice in government “is fertile ground for graft and corruption.” The cardinal stressed the role of the church is the “formation of conscience” and to guide the faithful in responding
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
Bishops welcome plunder charges vs Napoles, 3 senators
CATHOLIC bishops on welcomed the filing of plunder charges against those allegedly involved in the P10 billion pork barrel scam. The bishops said that the government should get to the bottom of the scam and prosecute whoever is involved in diverting public funds to fake aid organizations and ghost projects. “I think it’s a start to come to the truth on this pork barrel scam,” said Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez of the CBCP’s Public Affairs Committee. The Office of the Ombudsman received plunder raps on Sept. 17 against businesswoman Janet Napoles, Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, JInggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. Napoles is the alleged mastermind in the pork barrel scam operations. Also included in the plunder complaint are former Masbate 3rd district Rep. Rizalina SeachonLanete and former Apec Rep. Edgar Valdez. “What is just must be done in whose favor it may be,” said Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo. Bishops Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon and Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel, meanwhile, are hoping for a speedy investigation into the case. “I hope that those who will be found guilty will be punished because they committed crimes against the nation,” according to Bastes. “I’m praying for its speedy and just conclusion,” Gutierrez said. (CBCPNews)
Tagle urges Congress to heed people’s call on pork barrel
to the issue from the Christian moral perspective. “We want to share our wisdom. We know that we are not experts in politics, in economy, but what we have is the social teachings of the Church. We hope they’ll listen to us,” Tagle said over Radio Veritas. In the wake of the alleged P10 billion pork barrel scam, the bishops’ collegial body also called on the people to atone for graft and corruption. The bishops urged the faithful to make September 7 as a day of atonement for these “sins against peace” in the country. “Stealing destroys peace. Lying harms our peace. Government corruption is an act of terrorism against our poor and our children,” they said. (CBCPNews)
Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iñiguez
‘Hope in God is true wealth’ – CBCP official reminds faithful
A CATHOLIC Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) official encouraged the faithful to see the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most enigmatic and most misunderstood words from Jesus, as an acknowledgement that hope in God is true wealth. “Blessed are those who hope in no one else but God,” CBCP secretary general Msgr. Joselito Asis said, also explaining how the Filipino translation of ‘Blessed are you who are poor’ took the words a step further by defining true poverty as having no one else but God. During the celebration of the holy Eucharist for CBCP employees this morning, he explained the Gospel of the day, which dwells on contrasts between laughing and weeping; being rich and being poor; and being honored and being despised, challenges believers to trace the true source of their wealth. “I invite us today to look beyond the obvious and see the distinction between the two…A good reflection for us today would reveal our values,” Msgr. Asis
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DOMNET youth group joins international encounter in Colombia
TWO members of the Dominican Network Youth Group in the Philippines participated in a global meeting of International Dominican Youth Movement (IDYM) held in Bogota, Colombia recently. The Filipino delegates were Elijor Benjamin Rodil, the network’s national coordinator, and Venus Ae Kaiel Basa, current treasurer, of the National Coordinating Council of DomNet Youth. Rodil and Basa are graduating students of the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Arts and Letters, respectively. DomNet Youth’s national adviser Fr. Christopher Jeffrey Aytona accompanied the two delegates. He said going to Colombia had been a challenging task, because of long travel that practically took two days from Manila to Bogota. “Travelling that far was tough,” he said. “But once you reached the land known as ‘El Dorado,’ you will discover that what really glitter are not gold nor other precious gems, but a warm welcome from a family that is ready to make you feel at home on this side of the world.” The international encounter featured pilgrimages, workshops on preaching, Muisca concerts, cultural programs, and talks on how to deepen the faith by becoming more active in the works of charity and on the joy of being a famPork Barrel / A1
Two Filipino delegates from Dominican Network Philippines join participants from other countries in an international meeting of Dominican Youth movement held in Colombia.
ily journeying together in the modern times. The meeting also came out with an efficient structure for IDYM, answers to concerns on communication and collaborative formation program, and plans of the Dominican youth for the celebration of the 800th foundation anniversary of
the Order in 2016. Philippines was the only Asian nation among the 25 participating countries, mostly from South and Central America. Dominican Master General Fr. Bruno Cadore, OP spent time with young delegates in a dialogue, where he inspired them to be partners in the preaching task of the Order. Also present in the gathering were Sr. Maria Genevra Rossi, OP, executive secretary of IDYM; Fr. Wojcieck Delik, OP, friar’s representative to IDYM; Sr. Cecil Tonde, OP, Dominican Sisters’ International representative; and the young members of the International Commission Andreas Riveira (Mexico), Kevin Sullivan (USA), and Jorge Lagos (Chile). The encounter concluded with the election of officers: Jose Alberto from Spain was elected International Commissioner, while Rodil was elected as member of the organizing team for the next IDYM International Assembly on the Jubilee of the Order in 2016. The event took place at the Universidad Santo Tomas, San Alberto Magno Campus in Bogota, Colombia last July 8-17. Hosted by the Province of St. Louis Bertrand, the gathering had the theme “It is me in Person!” (Luke 24:39). (CBCPNews)
said, explaining how a person may be materially rich, but spiritually poor if he lives simply. “This is the meaning of the Gospel today, it is our attitude…What is important is we are led to a trust in God,” he said. Asis, who ends his term as secretary general this December, also cautioned against taking the verses literally – that poor people are always good, while rich people are evil. Ultimately, he explained, it means a person is blessed if he experiences hunger, suffering or rejection, yet finds peace in God’s presence. “When you no longer seek anything else but Jesus, we are always at peace… The meaning of peace is simply experiencing the presence of God,” Asis said in closing. He noted how the Pax (‘peace’) sign of a letter ‘P’ with a superimposed ‘X’, which was often used by the early Christians, also symbolized Jesus himself. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)
the rest of the hostages (that were left behind),” Manongas said. Ufana was with his family in Barangay Sta. Catalina when the Muslim rebels infiltrated the area and other villages and held them, along with other civilians, as hostages. However, Manongas said Ufana’s mother and his two siblings were able to escape Sept. 12 while the rebels were fighting with the government troops. The monsignor said they are giving Ufana the freedom to decide what he
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wants to do “to regain his strength after his ordeal.” “We will give him time to decide. If he wants to rest, because he has to be with his family also,” Manongas said. “We are concerned with the well being of Fr. Michael so we will make sure that he is well taken care of and be given due rest that he need,” said Manongas. Ufana is currently the head of St. Joseph Church, a Chinese Community Parish, located within the city. (CBCPNews)
Intramuros, Manila. CBCP president and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and his vice president, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, led the meeting. The church leaders said that corruption in the government is one of the most pressing social ills plaguing the country. As a result, they said, many Filipinos have died without sufficient government health care and several families remain homeless without dignified govern ment housing aid. “Many farmers without seeds and fertilizers remain entrenched in poverty— government stealing has kept them enchained to dehumanizing poverty,” the bishops said. “Many children remain malnourished and stay out of school due to poverty— government stealing robs them of opportunities for the future,” they said.
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As the Senate and other agencies currently investigate the alleged P10 billion scam involving the pork barrel of some senators and congressmen, the CBCP called for the restoration of integrity in government. “Every government official from the rank and file to the highest executive must prove themselves worthy of the title ‘honorable.’” “Positions in the country are public trusts for the service of the common good. As stewards of the people, leaders should be transparent to them and should be open to be held accountable. A crisis is an opportunity,” they added. ‘God is offended’ Saying that the pork barrel is not just a political or constitutional concern, the CBCP said the faithful must not forget that “the commandments of God are being violated.”
According to the bishops, this is “an offense against God who commanded us” not to steal. “Our protests should not just emanate from the bad feeling that we have been personally or communally transgressed, violated or duped. It should come rather from the realization that God has been offended and we have become less holy as a people because of this,” they said. Atonement But the CBCP said all the faithful also contributed to the success of the “worsening social cancer” known as government corruption. It said this happens through the people’s “indifferent silence” and/or cooperation in exchange of the “sweet cake of graft and corruption”. “We call on all Filipinos of goodwill, especially among our Catholic faithful, not to stand idly by in this moment
of truth. Let us be concerned and let this concern be manifested in our assiduous search for the truth in the spirit of prayer and solidarity,” said the CBCP. “Let us not allow this opportunity of graced renewal of our country to pass us by. Be concerned! Be discerning! Be involved!” it furthered. As a start, the bishops’ collegial body is inviting all the faithful to make September 7 a “Day of Atonement” for the sins of stealing and lying in the country. The bishops said that Pope Francis has earlier asked the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to offer prayers in atonement “for our sins against world peace” and in particular pray for the restoration of peace in Syria. The bishops also said they are hoping that the “wheels of law and justice” will roll swiftly and punish those found to be liable of stealing public funds.
zine The Economist, Evert said couples who waited for marriage before engaging in sexual activities possess better communication, more stable marital relationship, and better sex life than those who engaged in premarital intercourse. “(The) report, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, suggests that people who delay having sex do indeed have better relationships, on four different measures. That result applies to both men and women,” the article read. The four different measures used in the study are communication, sexual quality, relationship satisfaction, and perceived stability. Proponents of the study were Dean Busby and his colleagues at the Brigham Young University in Utah. They surveyed 2,035 married people with age ranging from 19 to 71 and length of marriage spanning from less than six months to more than 20 years. Religious affiliations of the respondents varied widely. “(The good thing in this) is that the data is not coming from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This is a secular business journal pointing out that God’s plan works,” Evert said. Plucking out pornography Evert also reminded males in the audience to turn their backs away from temptation, noting that it is a weed that has to be plucked out for a relationship to be successful. “If you are trying to build a guard of love, you have to pick some weeds out and grow something there. And the weeds that guys have to focus on plucking out is the weed of pornography, for when guys get hooked on this stuff, it ends up emasculating them,” Evert said. He said that the continuous patronization of pornography destroys the foundation of marriage as the male’s perception of womanhood gets affected. Instead, love and not lust must reign among couples, Evert noted. “Then they begin to think that (pornography) is not a big deal—I am not a victim, no one is getting hurt, and it feels so good. Neurologists found out though that pornography trains a guy’s brain to (perceive that) all women will live up to
And That’s The Truth / A5
his dirty world fantasy,” he added. “Throw away pornography when you’re married, throw away the love you have for porn because once you look at your wife that way, soon the marriage will be over…The solution is not the absence of porn but the presence of a clean heart that can love like God loves,” he said. Conversion to a clean lifestyle free from vices makes the father an effective head of the family who has the capability to influence members of his family to goodness, he noted. “The redemption of the human heart is possible…If someone is hooked up to (pornography), his capacity to transmit the spiritual life to his family is entirely cut off from him until he conquers his vice. How can he lead another soul to heaven if he can’t even guard himself from the temptations of hell?” Evert said. Women as ‘crescendo of creation’ To guide themselves in shunning pornography from their lives, Evert urged the males to adore and appreciate the beauty of the opposite sex. “Instead of thinking about porn…acknowledge that the beauty comes from God. The woman is the most beautiful thing God put on Earth and it is not a sin to be attracted to them. Nothing is more beautiful than women…nothing gets close to being a woman,” he said, noting a passage in Genesis that dubbed women as the “crescendo of creation.” He also reminded females to be mindful of how they present themselves to others, most especially to the opposite sex who has the tendency to be easily eaten by temptation, adding that they must nurture the virtue of modesty within their hearts to keep their worth and dignity as women intact. “With the great beauty that the women possess comes the great responsibility in how they reveal their beauty to the world,” he said. “Modesty is an expression of love, just have a little sacrifice. I know this might be hard to understand for girls on why it is such a big deal for guys. But trust me… your modesty is an unspoken invitation for us to treat you with the dignity that you deserve,” Evert said. (Jennifer Orillaza)
tariat for Social Action said there is a need to drum up awareness against the illegal activity. “The religious leaders can really help a lot in educating our people and raising their awareness about this problem,” Pabillo said. “Our country now is being burned by this issue which is not that common to the public. It will bring down our morality if we will still remain uneducated on the issue and will not find a solution to it,” he said. According to Bishop Efraim Tendero of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, the coming together of different churches hope to boost the existing fight against such “crime”. “We can be a strong force that can
CSMS / A1
help the government and other organizations to finally put an end to this problem,” Tendero said. The interfaith group also seeks to strengthen human trafficking rehabilitation programs and bring hope to the victims. “There are many groups who are doing this already so we just need to coordinate all these efforts including the prosecution of human traffickers,” Pabillo said. He also claimed that up 300,000 Filipinos, mostly women and children, have been victims of human trafficking in the country. Tendero said that most of the victims are often from the marginalized sectors that even include tribal children
and women. Human rights agency International Justice Mission (IJM) said that human trafficking is a “lucrative business” that is why “lure of this kind of enterprise is quite strong” across the world. “This is a commodity that can be sold for profit and can be sold repeatedly. The profit margin can be quite strikingly high,” said IJM national director Andrey Sawchenko. According to the US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report, human trafficking in the Philippines is caused by “endemic poverty, a high unemployment rate, a cultural propensity toward migration, a weak rule-of-law environment, and sex tourism.” (CBCPNews)
lunch and dinner for November 23 and lunch on November 24 with summit ID and kit. The registration fee does not include accommodations and transportation. CSMS v2.0 will be held
at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros, Manila on November 2324. The summit is open to all Catholic youth who are active in the world of social media, whether
parish or school-based, as a well as social communication ministries based in the dioceses, parishes, organizations, religious congregations and those who do youth ministry in whatever setting and who
are engaged in social media for pastoral ministry. Msgr. Paul Tighe, the Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications will be the keynote speaker of the CSMS v2.0. (Jandel Posion)
tattooed rosary (and not seashells or animal teeth) it could be calling her to be a slave of Jesus and Mary—for life. Let us not be riled up when others don’t believe as we do. Sometimes we also “wear” our rosaries in our cars
but don’t pray them—or pray them but don’t live them. Let us pray for an increase of faith. All the advertising in the world cannot diminish the power in even one rosary bead prayed with an undivided heart. And that’s the truth.
Vol. 17 No. 19
September 16 - 29, 2013
to the predominantly Catholic upbringing of the population. The faith factor This undeniable influence of religion and faith, according to Evert, can be seen, not only in the Philippines, but also in Africa, which is a no man’s island of rampant HIV-AIDS infection. “The countries in Africa that have the highest population of Catholics have the lowest rate of HIV; the countries with the lowest populations of Catholics have the highest rate of HIV. The Church’s teachings on abstinence work and when governments try to push safe sex, it’s a disaster,” he added. According to the Asia-Pacific Population Journal 2008, on average, young Filipinos first start having sex at 18, 18 years for males and 18.3 years for females. By contrast, the median age for Thai youth’s first sexual intercourse is 16 years; for Vietnamese and East Timorese youth, Thailand-Philippines paradox The correlation between HIVAIDS rates and the median age for first sex is something hard to ignore. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) online ranking of HIV-AIDS prevalence rate, the Philippines has one of the lowest figures in the world, currently ranked number 155 out of 166 countries with .10% of the population infected, an updated figure from the Philippines’ official 2012 HIV-AIDS progress report to the United Nations (UN) pegs a lower rate, .036% ; Thailand on the other hand is the 38th most infected country in the world with 1.30% of its population infected with the deadly virus. This is also undeniably compounded by how both countries dealt with the first reported cases of HIV-AIDS back in the 1980s. With its first reported HIV-AIDS case in 1984, Thailand jumped on the ‘safe sex’ bandwagon,
with sex education and accessible condoms even in bathroom stalls; the Philippines—because of a vehement reaction from the Catholic Church against contraceptive measures—promoted abstinence and fidelity to one’s partner instead. Today, HIV-AIDS has infected 1.1 million Thais, while the Philippines’ U.N. progress report projects a figure of between 29,370 to 53,993 people living with HIV-AIDS in the country by 2015. Coming from a country which is ranked the 62nd most HIVAIDS infected place in the world with .60% of living with the virus, Evert cannot help but express admiration for the Philippines. “The Philippines is really, in my opinion, a global leader in terms of the benefits of a virtuous culture,” he said during a recent press conference at the University of Asia and the Pacific. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)
‘High sense of morality, factor in PHL’s low HIV rates’
PASIG City—Despite constant media and government pressure to go all out on ‘safe sex’, an American chastity speaker believes the Philippines continues to have one of the lowest rates of Human immunodeficiency virus—acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV-AIDS) in the world because of a prevailing, high sense of morality. “Scientists in America are puzzled by [the Philippines’ low HIV rates]. They say, ‘Well, Filipinos hardly use condoms, but they hardly have any HIV. [I think it’s] largely because generally speaking, the level of morality here is higher than in a lot of developing countries,” said Jason Evert, who spent a weekend here in the Philippines giving talks on chastity and human relationships with his wife, Crystalina. In measurable terms, according to Evert, the Filipino youth have a “delayed sexual debut” and fewer sexual partners, which can be attributed in large part
The Everts have given talks to over 100,000 young people about human sexuality and chastity. They gave similar session to young Filipinos in Pasig, Makati and Cebu during a recent visit to the country.
the median age was 15 years. In Laos, on average, teens have their first experience of sex between the ages of 12 – 15 years. A 2010 Human Sciences Research Council paper by Karl Peltzer recognized that having
sex at an earlier age made a person more likely to acquire an HIV infection, have a higher tendency to engage in other potentially dangerous sexual habits and more prone to adopt other risky behavior later on in life.
Public lecture to tackle spirituality, sexuality
Gainza Trade fair opens in Naga
NAGA City—The 4th Bishop Francisco Gainza Trade Fair (BFGTF) was launched September 12, at the heart of the seat of the Archdiocese of Caceres, the Pilgrim City of Naga. The trade fair, one of the many civil and religious activities being held in connection with the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, featured the 1st Bicol Aqua Fair in partnership with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). Caceres Social Action Foundation, Inc. (CASAFI) Director Rev. Fr. Jeffrey John Briones said the affiliation with the BFAR is a combined effort to bring something new to the table, to keep on surprising the customers, patrons and eventually, attract those who are just passing by. Advocating for patronization of local products, Briones said, “When you buy you also help the families generate income from the products they made.” The number of exhibitors this year jumped to 85 from 68 last year. The Trade Fair is located along Elias Angeles Street, in downtown Naga, near the Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, beside the Bodega warehouse. (Natalie Hazel Quimlat)
Iloilo forms coalition, holds mass actions against ‘Pork’
ILOILO City—A coalition of various sectors in Iloilo held a series of rallies to demand the immediate abolition of the pork barrel system. Called “Alliance Abolish Pork Barrel Now Na!” the coalition is composed of various individuals, religious organizations and academic institutions, that banded together against the pork barrel. An interfaith multi-sector rally was held on Sept. 13 at the grounds of the Iloilo Capitol to call the attention of the National, provincial and local government officials to act on the pork issue. On Sept. 19, the Youth Act Now will also hold another rally at the same venue emphasizing the effect of pork barrel on Education Budget cuts. The group also staged another mass action on Sept. 21 if the government persists in its inaction on the people’s demands. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas)
Social media seminar for evangelization held
Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona graces the opening of the 4th Bishop Francisco Gainza Trade Fair, September 12. The trade fair is organized by the CASAFI (Caceres Social Action Foundation, Inc.), and one of the activities during the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
Priest’s WYD Rio evaluation learning: ‘Aim to improve’
ANGAT, Bulacan—After a little more than a month since World Youth Day (WYD) Rio, the fruit of the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) – Philippines Delegation Secretariat evaluation of the country’s participation in WYD Rio is a commitment to improvement, a priest said. “It is possible that we create and execute plans that may contain some short-cuts with the belief, ‘Everything is ok, everything is fine’. This is probably one area which needs more effort,” ECY-Philippines Delegation head Fr. Conegundo Garganta said during a mass following the Delegation Secretariat’s overnight evaluation last September 12 to 13. WYD best practices Though the Delegation Secretariat has yet to release a complete report on the specific areas for improvement for the next WYD in Krakow, Poland in 2016, Fr. Garganta admitted, the evaluation was also an opportunity to identify what was particularly commendable about the official Philippine probably be adopted for WYD Krakow is the close collaboration with partners, who are not necessarily part of the ECY or the National Secretariat for Youth Apostolate (NSYA). Valuable collaboration “Help that comes from others is very valuable. Beautiful, relevant and fruitful things happen with cooperation, not with a single movement or moving on our own,” Garganta, who is also the ECY executive secretary, added. Things that are agreed upon bear fruit, he explained, and are even better when these are a result of mutual help. As part of the dynamic for evaluation, Delegation Secretariat looked at the performance of the different teams involved in facilitating the participation of official Philippine pilgrims to the WYD, the Core, Accompaniment, Registration, Finance, Formation, and Documentation Teams. Some 178 official Philippine delegates attended the WYD in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)
ECY Facebook Page
MANILA—An association of Catholic publishers hosted a seminar on social media and how it could be used for evangelization on Sept. 12 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. The Asian Catholic Communications, Inc. (ACCI) said the seminar was primarily intended for school directors, principals, Christian living coordinators and teachers, catechists and lay leaders. With the advent of new communication technologies, the group stressed the need for much learning about the social media as a tool for evangelization. The speakers who talked about “Using Social Media for Evangelization” came from from Communications Foundation for Asia, Jesuits Communication Foundation Inc., Paulines, Shepherds Voice Publication Inc., and Titus Brandsma Media Center. (Jandel Posion)
AMRSP holds ‘Mass for Truth’
MANILA—A Mass was held in Manila on Sept. 13 at the San Agustin Church in Manila to push for the ferreting out of the truth in the multibillion-peso pork barrel fund scam. Organized by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, the Mass was attended by various religious congregations and sectors to attend the gathering with the theme “Raising our Prophetic Voice in the Pursuit for Truth, Accountability and Good Governance.” “In all that is going on, our prophetic responsibility compel all of us to make our voice be heard by all concerns. We cannot be idle with what are happening around us,” the AMRSP said. After the Mass, members of the AMRSP and other churchgoers held a procession to Luneta Park and joined another rally against the pork barrel. (Jandel Posion)
Manila archdiocese celebrates youth month
The Secretariat of ECY-Philippines delegation looks back and discuss on their meaningful experience of WYD 2013 during a group evaluation held recently.
MANILA—Around 200 young people from all over the Archdiocese of Manila attended the opening activity of the Archdiocesan Youth Month last September 7. Organized by the Archdiocesan Commission on Youth of Manila (ACY Manila), the opening celebration focused on Koinonia or Fellowship that helped youth leaders to strengthen the devotion to the teachings of the Church. ACY Manila believed that as leaders and members, young people want to be in a fellowship; devoting themselves in the teachings of the Church, as one Body—in the breaking of Bread and prayer, and coming together in love, faith and encouragement. The month-long celebration will culminate with a youth conference and mission concert on September 28 at the Cardinal Sin Auditorium of Paco Catholic School. (Jandel Posion)
delegation’s WYD participation that will most probably form a WYD best practices of sorts. “In our evaluation, in the analysis that we did, there were a lot of good things and these encourage us. There are also things that call our attention to continue improving,” he added. One of the strategies that will most
Zamboanga clergy wants new archbishop
ZAMBOANGA City—With the Archdiocese of Zamboanga currently in security crisis, its clergy have felt more the need for a new archbishop to lead them. The archdiocese has been without an archbishop for more than a year now and the current armed conflict in the area has put the clergy in a more ‘difficult’ situation. “We can manage, but it’s really difficult. I’m glad the priests are cooperating and helping us,” said Msgr. Crisologo Manongas, the current administrator of the archdiocese. “I’m sort of a security guard, manager and speaker of the archdiocese,” he said. Manongas said they are hoping that Pope Francis will assign their new archbishop soon to help them resolve the various concerns of the archdiocese. “We have been making our request and we have been hoping. All we can do now is simply wait,” he said. The Zamboanga archdiocese had been vacant since last May 2012 after Archbishop Romulo Valles was installed as head of the Archdiocese of Davao, also in Mindanao. (CBCPNews)
Candidly Speaking / A4
we should trust him. We have to be convinced that with God, nothing is impossible. How many episodes in the life of Christ as narrated in the gospel attest to this fact! It’s God, it’s Christ, it’s his Church and the many instrumentalities the Church has made available to us where we can have what is essential, what is ultimate in our life. Let’s go beyond but not discard our tendency to rely on some human and natural sciences and arts alone as means to achieve our ultimate goal in
Spaces of Hope / A5
life. We need to use our faith! Look at the lives of saints. In spite of their human shortcomings, it’s their faith that made them do impossible things, even to accept martyrdom. Besides, as St. Paul said, “the foolish things of the world has God chosen, that he may confound the wise. And the weak things of the world has God chosen, that he may confound the strong.” (1 Cor 1,27) Let’s make our faith burn, making many acts of faith, studying the doctrine, and doing things with magnanimity.
2 Church workers abducted in Basilan
ISABELA City—Suspected al-Qaidalinked gunmen have abducted two Church workers helping the Claretian missionaries in Southern Philippines. Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad identified the victims as Frederick Banot, a community organizer, and Cherben Masong, who is a preschool teacher. Both Banot and Masong have been working with the Claretians in helping Badjaos, an indigenous sea gypsy tribe and one of the most deprived and opDuc In Altum / A5
pressed in the south, largely due to their lack of education. Jumoad said a group of heavily armed men in the remote coastal town of Lantawan, Basilan, abducted the two at around 8pm on September 4. According to the website of the Union of Catholic Asia News (UCANews), Banot and Masong were staying in the Claret Samal Foundation Inc. (CSFI) staff house when the abduction occurred. Police reports also revealed that
the gunmen stormed the house and dragged the two Church workers to a waiting watercraft. Authorities were trying to locate the gunmen and their victims, the bishop added. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping but reports said the gunmen might belong to the Abu Sayyaf, a group notorious for ransom kidnapping and other atrocities. Basilan is a known bailiwick of the terrorist group. (CBCPNews)
obstacle to our achieving of full human development” (CBCP 1997). The October elections offer crucial opportunities to do so since Barangay and SK elections are often overlooked compared to national elections. Yet, as we know, all politics is local and our parishes are part of the local setting. Parishes can really contribute to change, one sitio or capilla area at a time. We can learn from Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent,
and believe in the good news!” Rejecting vote buying and its variations expresses and requires repentance while emerging discerning voters and good candidates manifest faith in the good news. Despite outrageous fortunes, many Filipinos still think that the SK—and our barangays—could still be given a new lease on life. But this raises yet another question: to be or not to be involved? The answer is obvious.
Kalookan at 10am September 29 and will depart at 8am of October 1. Bro. Reynald Andales, President of World Apostolate of Fatima, organizes the nationwide visit of our Lady. *** Laiko spearheads the nationwide annual celebration of the National Laity Week. This year’s theme is “Taon ng Pananampalataya sa Diwa ni San Pedro
Calungsod” (Year of Faith in the Spirit of San Pedro Calungsod). The Opening Ceremony on September 21 in Puerto Princesa will have Bishop Jesse Mercado of CBCP’ Episcopal Commission on the Laity as keynote speaker and Bishop Pedro Arigo of Palawan as main Mass Celebrant. The Closing Ceremony on September 28, Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz, in Batangas Convention Center
will have Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa and Bishop Mercado as guest speakers and His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales as main Mass Celebrant. Bro. Roland Baldonado and Bro. Loreto “Ito” Guinhawa are the President of the Council of the Laity of Puerto Princesa and Lipa, respectively. Dr. Marita Wasan and Bro. Ito are event coordinators. ***
Happy Birthday to my sisters Violeta Santiago-Rosales and son Marc Glenn, Flordeliza Santiago-Imperial and son Roberto Enrico and my nephew Paulo Roberto Santiago, son of our youngest brother Bobby. Also Happy Birthday to my parish priest Fr. Jerome Cruz of San Ildefonso de Navotas and Happy Sacerdotal Anniversary to Fr. Jun Erlano of the Diocese of Kalookan.
Natalie Hazel Quimlat
QUEZON City—Got any questions about spirituality and sexuality? The Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA) is inviting everyone to another public lecture, this time on “Spirituality and Sexuality” at the Titus Brandsma Center in New Manila, Quezon City on September 27. Organizers have invited renowned Carmelite priest Fr. Noel Rosas as the resource speaker. Registration fee is P250, inclusive of snacks and certificate of attendance. Interested participants may contact ISA at (02) 723-30440 or 412-2715, or firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. (Jandel Posion)
People, Facts & Places
THE Philippines’ top churchman said he was praying for peace as fighting between government troops and Muslim rebels escalates in Southern Philippines. In his short prayer, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is asking for an end to the standoff between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and government troops in Zamboanga City. A gun battle between the two warring groups also erupted in Basilan Sept. 12, as the Zamboanga crisis entered its fourth day. Other bishops earlier said the hostilities must stop to avoid further loss of lives, property, economic devastation and the emotional and psychological scars that all wars leave behind. Following is Cardinal Tagle’s short prayer in Tagalog, for peace in Mindanao: “Mapagmahal na Diyos, nilikha mo ang daigdig bilang sagisag ng pag-ibig mo at nilikha mo ang tao bilang katiwala mo sa pangangasiwa sa mundo. Maganap nawa ang maganda
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
‘Pondo’ marks 9th year, continues to transform lives of poor
www.flickr.com | Dories Jupia / Facebook.com
Cardinal Tagle prays for peace in Mindanao
Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
Many dioceses in the country adopted the Pondo ng Pinoy program to provide livelihood means and other social services for impoverished families. Hapag-asa, (right photo) is a feeding program of Pondo ng Pinoy that provides nutritious food to undernourished children nationwide.
WHO would have thought that 25 centavos can change the lives of the country’s poorest of the poor? Such small amount may be of least importance to some, but not for Pondo ng Pinoy donors, who through collated coins and donations of individuals from all walks of life, have succeeded in improving the plight of people who have always been shackled in poverty. Having just celebrated its ninth anniversary, Pondo ng Pinoy has grown from a small church initiative to a big social services movement that has touched the lives of many Filipinos. “Pondo ng Pinoy is not just all about raising funds for the poor. It has become a way of life, a movement that allows us to help our less fortunate brothers and sisters,” said Fr. Vic Apacible, Vicar Forane of the Vicariate of Sts. Peter and Paul, during their Pondo ng Pinoy celebration held at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati on August 31. Founded by Archbishop Emeritus of Manila Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales in 2004, Pondo ng Pinoy has given Filipino individuals the opportunity to be of service to others in simplest ways possible. “This is a way of life that leads
us to heaven by means of fostering cooperation with others. It is not only for those who have most in life, but also even to those who have so little. Everyone is allowed to join the cause of Pondo ng Pinoy,” he said. “The 25 centavos that we give is in reality very small. But when we gather them all together, they can provide great help to those who are in need,” Apacible said. An opportunity to help Audy Reginaldo, Pondo ng Pinoy Program Coordinator, said poverty exists for the Lord to see who will be helping those who are in need. “The poor lead people to heaven, and it is through Pondo ng Pinoy that we are given the chance to achieve this,” he said. Reginaldo noted that unlike other organizations that give special importance to those who are well-off, Pondo ng Pinoy gives equal opportunity to both the rich and poor in extending help to others. “We are all given the equal opportunity to help. Regardless whether you are poor, rich, whatever status you may have in life, you are given a chance by this foundation to take part and be one in this initiative that directly gives help to those who are in need,” he said. “We are only asked to give 25
centavos, but if we scrutinize it, we will realize that the lesson being taught by this initiative is very deep. It allows us to obtain a life dedicated to giving, serving, and loving our poor brothers and sisters—a life that is sensitive to the plight of others,” Reginaldo said. He also noted the simple scheme of fund disbursement in Pondo ng Pinoy, adding that helping others must not require a lot of conditions and complications. “What you give to Pondo ng Pinoy is just a mere symbol of your love for others. Taking part in this initiative should not just be for the benefit of your respective vicariates or dioceses, but for all those who are needy,” he said. According to Reginaldo, Pondo ng Pinoy has 27 member dioceses at present. According to news reports, the program collected a total of P15.8 million for the fiscal year 2012 to 2013. The largest pool of donations came from Metro Manila parishes with P7.9 million. It was followed by parishes in Malolos and Antipolo with P1.2 million and P972,000 respectively. Reginaldo urged the people to offer their talents to the cause, noting that it contributes to their act of living faith through action.
“It is not those who receive that are blessed the most. Rather, it is those who give and help others for their hearts are opened to the act of expressing love and concern for others,” he added. Giving succor to the poor Through donations given to the foundation, hundreds of houses were built for poor families and thousands of malnourished children are being fed every day. Accumulated contributions are also used to provide small entrepreneurs with start-up capital. Among the ventures funded by the foundation are health, housing, and education projects, micro-finance and micro-entrepreneur initiatives, and livelihood enterprises such as bakeries and rice mills. Pondo ng Pinoy, the church initiative that encourages people to drop 25 centavos every day to donation boxes in various churches and schools, continues to prove the compassionate nature of Filipinos in helping others. Carrying the adage, “Anumang maliit, basta malimit ay patungong langit (A good act, no matter how small, if done often, will eventually lead to heaven),” this movement has come a long way in transforming lives of the poor. (Jennifer Orillaza)
mong panukala sa Zamboanga. Padaluyin mo ang pagmamalasakit at pagmamahalan. Hadlangan mo po ang pagkalat ng karahasan, mamayani nawa ang makatao at marangal na hangarin sa puso ng bawat isa. Puksain mo ang mapanirang hangarin. Maghari nawa ang iyong katuwiran at katarungan sa Zamboanga para makamit ang kapayapaan.” Amen. (CBCPNews)
Pope names Alminaza new bishop of San Carlos
With his appointment, Alminaza will become the third bishop of San Carlos after it was erected diocese in March 1987. Alminaza, 54, was born in San Jose, Sipalay, Negros Occidental on August 14, 1959. At 27, he was ordained priest for Bacolod diocese in April 1986 and was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro, Iloilo in June 2008. The bishop-elect took his Philosophy at the Sacred Heart Seminary in Bacolod and completed his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. Alminaza also had post graduate studies at Fordham University in New York and obtained his Doctorate in Educational Management at the University of Negros Occidental in Bacolod City. The bishop is the head convenor of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group. The Diocese of San Carlos is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Jaro and serves around a million Catholics. No date yet has been set for the installation of the new bishop of San Carlos. (CBCPNews)
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza
Youth join other sectors in protest vs ‘pork’
ADDING their voices to the public clamor for the abolition of the pork barrel, Catholic and protestant youth joined the multi-sectoral protest march in Luneta on September 13. Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) said the pork barrel scam has awakened the consciousness of the Filipino people on how entrenched the scourge of corruption is in the country’s political system. “The good thing is, the people, especially the youth have not given up hope. Many of us are still up to finding an answer, to cure the malady that weakens our system and government. We still believe that by coming together and offering dialogue as a way to discover solutions, peace will reign soon,” Garganta added. Meanwhile, the Kalipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan sa Pilipinas (KKKP) has encouraged all Protestant youth to add their voices to the aspiration for greater transparency and accountability. “It has come to a time where the generation of today takes a role of active witnessing in the realization of a society that is just and humane. We will be bearers of good news by denouncing the systems and structures that breed and perpetuate corruption which add up to the misery and desecration of human life and dignity of the poor. We shall be bearers of good news as we take active stand for truth, transparency, accountability and genuine change,” said Ismael Fisco Jr., chairperson of KKKP. CBCP-ECY together with KKKP supported the Forward March on September 13 at Luneta. Youth commissions and ministries of parishes, schools and communities in Metro Manila and nearby provinces also participated in the protest. Member schools of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) also responded to the association’s call to participate in the interfaith service and cultural program.
POPE Francis has appointed current Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza as the new bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos in Negros Occidental. The appointment, announced in Rome at 12:00 noon on Sept. 14, is Francis’ second appointment to the Philippine Catholic hierarchy since he became pope last March. The San Carlos diocese has been in a period of “sede vacante” since January 2012 when Most Rev. Jose Advincula was installed archbishop of Capiz.
Religious groups under the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) and other participants attended a Mass held at San Agustin Church in Intramuros, before proceeding in procession to Luneta for the interfaith service. (Jandel Posion)
The Teen Saint Pedro musical goes to Australia, crossing borders in telling Calungsod's universal story of faith.
Parents have power to scrap sex ed —chastity speaker
CONSIDER it an advice from a country that has “been there and done that”. An American chastity speaker believed that by being sufficiently vocal about their disgust over sex education in schools, parents can actually wield unbelievable civic and social influence. “The [Filipino] parents need to get a hold of the curriculum. They need to read everything from beginning to end and broadcast what is being taught…They need to put up a stink over this,” Jason Evert said in a press conference at the University of Asia and the Pacific before a series of talks on chastity in Manila and Cebu held Sept. 14-15. Power to the parents When asked what Filipino parents can learn from American parents who vehemently opposed ‘comprehensive sex education’ in the public school system, Evert said, he knew of schools in America where parents created such an uproar about lessons on ‘safe sex’ that the school administration decided to simply call off the issue to prevent further conflict. One reason behind a sluggish response from Catholic parents on the issue, according to Evert, is that they simply do not know how bad it is. “A lot of parents kind of turn a blind eye. They don’t get the curriculum; they don’t read it. Very few parents even knew that this junk was being taught to the kids,” he explained. While the Department of Education website has yet to make actual sex ed materials available for “age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education for adolescents”, as referred to in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of R.A. 10354 or whether it will be integrated into all the subjects, as once suggested, it is not hard to conclude, it will probably be a twisted cousin of America’s ‘comprehensive sex education’, similar to other sex ed modules used in the West. ‘You’re going to have sex anyway” According to Evert, the deception of so-called ‘comprehensive sex education’ is subtle. He explained, the main focus of sex ed is to send the message to young people that abstinence is ideal, but impossible – and there are other ‘safe’ ways to be sexually active. “Understand that it will come in all of these nice terms… [They seem to say], ‘Here is abstinence, it’s the best way not to get pregnant, but since you’re going to have sex anyway, let’s spend 8 months talking about how to do it safely,’” Evert added. True enough, in a sex ed module for Canadian middle schools, under ‘assigned readings’ for the topic, abstinence, students were asked to study a chart from the Canadian Youth, Sexual Health and HIVAIDS Study that showed how a third of Grade 9 students and more than half of Grade 11 have had oral sex. Another assigned reading, also for the topic on abstinence, was a news summary of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewsinky sex scandal that described how the most powerful man in America at the time had indeed engaged in oral sex with a female intern. Counter culture of chastity According to Evert, who was in the Philippines with his wife Crystalina to talk to young Filipinos about the benefits of chastity, parents should believe a better alternative is available for their children. “Filipino parents can help promote a counter culture against sex education. The parents really need to speak up. It’s so important for the young people to know that even if the government is pushing [sex ed] down their throats doesn’t mean they need to follow suit,” he added. Crystalina Evert, who was also misled by the mixed message of ‘safe sex’ in her early teens, said, the power of personal testimonies can help convince young Filipinos that abstinence and chastity are not restrictive, but are linked to finding true love. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)
DURING his brief lifetime, St. Pedro Calungsod may not have even heard of Australia, but somehow, his story of faith and martyrdom has found its way into the hearts of people in two major Australian cities through the Teen Saint Pedro musical. According to the musical’s producer, Bob Serrano, the flurry of positive reactions from both their Melbourne and Sydney audiences shows how universal Calungsod’s story is. Apparently, it was so good, one family who watched the musical in Sydney drove 8 hours to see it again in Melbourne. Eyes and ears glued Serrano said several people approached the cast to give comments about the show: “It’s like watching Miss Saigon”; “Thanks for telling us the story of Teen Saint Pedro”; “[Our] eyes and ears were glued to the show, especially during the martyrdom scene”; “Truly inspiring”; “A great miracle.” A mother commented how the scene between San Pedro and his mother touched her, making her remember her own son who is a seminarian in New York. Another was amazed at how “a simple story could be so meaningful and so inspiring.” In general, Serrano noted, the audience, made up of Australians and Filipinos, was quiet and many were in tears. According to Emer Guingon,
who plays Choco, the scheming ship-wrecked pirate in the play, people also noted the interesting mix of both “tragic and comic elements” in the musical, as well as its over-all “world-class” quality. God runs the show Around 800 people came to watch the first run at the Marconi Club Auditorium in Sydney last August 24, while more than a thousand showed up for the next show at the Union Hall, La Trobe University in Melbourne last August 31. Teen Saint Pedro’s first international tour was not without difficulties, as the crew had to brave the fury of typhoon ‘Maring’ and Habagat rains just to make it to Australia with some cast members grappling with flight cancellations, flooded homes and the flu. “We encountered technical challenges left and right, but again all these were miraculously solved. We couldn’t believe our eyes. God was running the whole thing,” Serrano added, saying several production team members could not help but cry during many parts of the show because of the many instances of Divine providence. Serrano said invitations to have the musical in New Zealand, Brisbane, Dubai, Canada, Guam and Singapore are starting to pour in. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)
Thousands of young people add their voices to the public outcry for greater transparency and accountability from government during the “#abolishpork” rally in Luneta, September 13.
Raymond Bandril / CBCPMedia
Australia falls in love with St. Pedro
Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
Vol. 17 No. 19
September 16 - 29, 2013
‘Hate evil and love good and let justice prevail…’(Amos 5,15)
A CBCP Pastoral Statement on the Pork Barrel
an act of terrorism against our poor and our children. Many have died without sufficient government health care— stealing government money has caused the death of the poor. Many remain homeless without dignified government housing aid—unabated government stealing has deprived them of dignified housing. Many farmers without seeds and fertilizers remain entrenched in poverty—government stealing has kept them enchained to dehumanizing poverty. Many children remain malnourished and stay out of school themselves worthy of the title “Honorable”. 2. According to our moral judgment, the present pork barrel practice in government is fertile ground for graft and corruption. Promoting the politics of patronage, it is contrary to the principles of stewardship, transparency and accountability. It is immoral to continue this practice. 3. The wheels of law and justice must roll swiftly so that we can immediately punish the errant, restore what has been stolen and return to moral conduct. “Hate evil and love good and let MY dear brothers and sisters in Christ: Since the news about the pork barrel controversy erupted in the media weeks ago, our brother bishops have come forward in various venues and varied means in order to guide you, our Catholic lay faithful, in responding to the situation with the eyes of faith and from the Christian moral perspective. God is Offended The pork barrel controversy must not just be approached and analyzed from the perspective of democracy and responsible citizenship. This is not just a constitutional issue or a legal concern. Over and above these sociopolitical concerns, we must not forget that the commandments of God are being violated. This is not just an offense of malicious unscrupulous citizens or the betrayal of elected public officials. This is an offense against God who commanded us “Thou shall not steal” and “Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s goods”. Lying is a sin and “we should not bear false witness against our neighbors”. Our protests should not just emanate from the bad feeling that we have been personally or communally transgressed, violated or duped. It should come rather from the realization that God has been offended and we have become less holy as a people because of this. We Must Atone Therefore, our first response to the pork barrel issue must be not protest but contrition. We are not just victims of a corrupt system. We have all, in one way or another, contributed to this worsening social cancer— through our indifferent silence or through our cooperation when we were benefiting from the sweet cake of graft and corruption. I encourage you my dear Catholic faithful to join the Holy Father Pope Francis in offering prayers and sacrifices on September 7, the vigil of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Francis has asked all Catholics worldwide to offer prayers in atonement for our sins against world peace and in particular pray for the restoration of peace in Syria. In union with the Pope, let us also make September 7 our day of atonement for our sins against peace in our country. Stealing destroys peace. Lying harms our peace. Government corruption is ing in our country. Positions in the country are public trusts for the service of the common good. As stewards of the people, leaders should be transparent to them and should be open to be held accountable. A crisis is an opportunity. The political crisis we are facing now is an opportunity for our leaders to show that they are ready to be investigated, to set up radical changes for better governance, and to seek for the good that would benefit all, especially the poor and those who suffer. Our Prayer In the midst of the gravity of
Presidential pork continues under Aquino administration
At least P21.2 billion in dubious Malampaya presidential pork spending
By Ibon News
“THERE are indications of a presidential pork barrel dwarfing the PDAF and continuing under the present Aquino administration,” research group IBON executive director Sonny Africa said, coinciding with Friday’s big rally calling for the abolition of all pork. A study by IBON found that there has been at least Php21.5 billion in questionable spending from the Php173 billion Malampaya Fund over the decade 2002-2011. These include billions of pesos for non-energy-related infrastructure and agriculture projects that in Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) releases have been associated with patronage and corruption. The study showed that the Php21.5 billion includes the following: • Php8.0 billion for Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) roads, highways, bridges, drainage, river and flood control projects in at least 14 regions across the country; • Php5.8 billion for the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Agriculture Guarantee Fund Pool (AGFP); • Php2.1 billion for Philippine National Police (PNP) emergency response; • Php1.6 billion for the Department of National Defense (DND); • Php1.4 billion for national housing by the Department of Finance (DOF); • Php900 million for Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) agrarian reform community support services; • Php746 million for the Department of Health (DOH); • Php450 million for the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)/ Department of Energy (DOE) Pantawid Pasada Program; • Php62 million for the budget secretary, and • Php400,000 for a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) disaster rehabilitation plan, among others. According to IBON, DOE records show that out of the Php 26.5 billion in disbursements, only Php250 million was for explicitly energy-related purposes—covering the electrification of 211 barangays. The largest value of the Special Allotment Release Orders (SARO) from the Fund were made in 2009 in the last year of former president Arroyo’s term and the year before the 2010 elections. All of the DA’s and the DOF’s national housing SAROs from the Malampaya Fund were made in 2009. The research group referred to the Marcos-era Presidential Decree (PD) No. 910 forming the Energy Board (the present-day DOE), which stated that the government share representing royalties, rentals, production shares, etc., will go to the Special Fund to finance government energy resource development and exploitation, and for such other purposes as may hereafter be directed by the President. “The Malampaya Fund of the DOE is the fund created for these proceeds,” said Africa. “Executive Order (EO) No. 848 of October 2009 by Pres. Arroyo in turn specifically authorized the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to release funds for purposes as may be directed by the President,” he added. “However, the Aquino administration has been and remains silent on its vast discretionary control over the Php 173 billion Malampaya Fund,” Africa said.
due to poverty—government stealing robs them of opportunities for the future. We strike our breasts and ask God to pardon us for our sins against peace. Syria needs our prayers. The war in Syria must stop. The terrorism of graft and corruption in the Philippines offends God. We must atone for these sins to the extent that we are responsible. Our Moral Stand As we bow our heads to seek the Lord’s pardon and forgiveness for our sins against peace, we also stand up as your pastors to teach you that it is your Christian duty to transform society and restore all things in Christ. 1. Integrity must be restored in the conduct of public office. Every government official from the rank and file to the highest executive must prove
justice prevail…” (Amos 5,15) 4. We call on our pastors of souls to educate our people in their political duties as good citizens. We cannot be good Christians if we are not good citizens, and good citizenship in a democracy calls for participation and vigilance. This we do not only during elections but all the time. It is but right that citizens demand accountability and transparency. 5. We call on all Filipinos of goodwill, especially among our Catholic faithful, not to stand idly by in this moment of truth. Let us be concerned and let this concern be manifested in our assiduous search for the truth in the spirit of prayer and solidarity. Prayer will make us humble and open; solidarity will make us strong. 6. Stewardship is greatly want-
the present crisis, we remain hopeful because as people of faith deep in our hearts we believe that “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more”(Rom 5,20). This crisis will not frustrate the coming of God’s kingdom. He is working among us. Let us not allow this opportunity of graced renewal of our country to pass us by. Be concerned! Be discerning! Be involved! We invoke the help of Mary, Our Lady of Philippines, to guide, protect and move us on. For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, +JOSE S. PALMA. D.D. Archbishop of Cebu President, CBCP September 5, 2013
© Raymond Bandril / CBCP Media
© Raymond Bandril / CBCP Media
By Fr. Jaime Blanco Achacoso, J.C.D.
corruption that the Napoles Affair has brought to light, I would like to pose a challenge to the whole Catholic educational system in the Philippines to re-examine its identity and its role in reversing this situation. As always, I shall be writing from the prism of Canon Law. Notion of Catholic Education Education includes not only the transmission of different fields of learning, but also the effort to inculcate the virtues that form part of the fully developed human person. Thus, for education to be considered Catholic it must not only transmit religious doctrine in accord with the Magisterium of the Church, but must also strive towards the integral formation of the human person and be oriented to his supernatural last end (cf. c.795). Catholic education and Catholic educational institutions. Education can be called Catholic based on its content and the formation given, independently of whether it is given in educational institutions established by the Catholic hierarchy or by the Catholic faithful of their own initiative. It would be Catholic if it is imbued by the Christian spirit with which, on the other hand, all the faithful should inform their actions. Such Catholic education can be imparted in private—ecclesiastical or otherwise—or public (state) institutions. Canon Law considers the transmission of Catholic values as an integral part of education. Such transmission of values is considered as primarily the work of persons—i.e., parents, the community, pastors, educators, etc. But in the context of Canon Law, it needs institutional expression and support—e.g., parishes and religious institutes, or Catholic educational institutions. Catholic identity. What makes an educational institution Catholic? This topic has been the object of extensive discussion, but for the purposes of this article, I shall limit myself to two dimensions of what Canon Law considers to be the Catholic identity: a) Internal Dimension of Catholic identity. Ex corde Ecclesiae lists four essential characteristics for a university to be Catholic (art.13). Mutatis mutandis, we can assume the same requirements for other Catholic educational institutions: i) Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such; ii) Continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research; iii) Fidelity to the Magisterium— i.e., to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church; iv) Institutional commitment
to the service of the People of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life. In short, the identity of a Catholic University is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine. Even if the document deals specifically with the Catholic University (tertiary education), the principles regarding Catholic identity are applicable to Catholic education in general. b) External Dimension of Catholic Identity. This refers to the institution’s public image as Catholic, and to its formal relationship with the Catholic values in and by a school, or to a public perception that the school is truly Catholic, or to an official commitment of the school to the Roman Catholic Church. a. Rationale for Catholic Schools The establishment of Catholic schools finds its rationalization in the following principles: 1) Right-duty of parents to educate their children: Primary education is tied in with the fundamental right-duty of parents to educate their children in accord with their own religious and moral principles. The Code reflects several consequences of this right-duty: that: The Christian faithful are to foster Catholic schools by supporting their establishment and their maintenance in proportion to their resources (c.800, §2). 2) Freedom of parents to select schools: It is necessary that parents enjoy true freedom in selecting schools; the Christian faithful must therefore be concerned that civil society acknowledges this freedom for parents and also safeguard it with its resources in accord with distributive justice (c.797). The State has the duty to give juridic protection for the effective exercise of this right—e.g., providing the sufficient financial assistance to private schools (Catholic or oth-
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
The crisis of Catholic Education
A YEAR ago, I wrote a series of articles in this column regarding the Catholic University, in the context of the furor raised by the manifesto signed by a group of professors of the Ateneo de Manila University in support of the Reproductive Health Bill and the subsequent apologia written by the President of that Catholic University. The topic is still being debated, this time in the Supreme Court, with illustrious representatives of the aforementioned university still singing the same tune in national broadsheets. To avoid repetition at such proximity—it has just been a year since those articles—I would like to dwell on something related but more fundamental: Catholic Education. This article stems from an intuition, which I present as a hypothesis at this point, expecting verification in the coming months of investigation preparatory to a National Convention of the Canon Law Society of the Philippines in April 2014, which shall focus on the matter with more depth. In brief: The passage of the RH Bill into the RH Law by the Philippine Legislature seems to reflect the conviction of the Filipino educated class—i.e., assuming that the House of Representatives and the Senate represent a cross section of that class. Since Catholic schools—whether parochial schools, minor seminaries or private schools run by religious congregations—represent a big portion of the better primary and secondary educational institutions in the Philippines, presumably a great number of the congressmen and senators would have come from them. The nagging question is: How can products of Catholic schools think positively of the RH Bill? Posed a different way: How can graduates of Catholic schools not see the immorality of contraception—among other things—that is inherent in the RH Law? In fact, the glaring conclusion of that fiasco was expressed in a recent workshop of the aforementioned association of canon lawyers: the failure of Catholic education. However, since hope springs eternal and our Lord did promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail, I prefer to look at this issue more positively as the crisis of Catholic education—crisis here meaning the re-examining of a reality or position that has hitherto been accepted peacefully. In line with the recent pastoral letter of incoming CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, inviting Catholic pastors to self-examination in context of the cancer of
Church, particularly to the Catholic hierarchy. Given a Catholic educational content, an educational institution can formally (officially) use the name Catholic only with the permission of the competent Catholic authority (cf. cc.216 & 803, §3), which is only given when the Hierarchy is in some way committed in such institution. These can be of two different types (cf. c.803, §1): i) Those established and directed by the Hierarchy or by a public ecclesiastical juridic person. This is the case of parochial schools and minor seminaries. ii) Those recognized as Catholic by the competent authority through a written document. This is the case of most Catholic schools run by religious congregations. Catholic schools By Catholic schools we understand those educational institutions in the first (elementary) and secondary (high school) levels, which meet the requirements of Catholic identity. Catholic identity has many aspects. It may refer to the actual transmission of Catholic
a) Right-duty of parents to foster Catholic education in schools: The Christian faithful are to strive so that in civil society the laws which regulate the formation of youth provide also for their religious and moral education in the schools themselves in accord with the conscience of the parents (c.799). b) Right-duty of parents to provide Catholic education to their children: Parents are to entrust their children to those schools in which Catholic education is provided; but if (the schools) are unable to do this, they are bound to provide for their suitable Catholic education outside the schools (c.798). The Code even goes further, typifying the opposite of this as a crime: Parents or those who substitute for parents are to be punished with a censure or another just penalty if they hand their children over to be baptized or educated in a non-Catholic religion (c.1366). c) Right-duty to foster Catholic schools: Among educational means the Christian faithful should greatly value schools, which are of principal assistance to parents in fulfilling their educational task (c.796, §1). The Code goes further stating
erwise) to make it economically feasible for all families to send their children to those schools that they reasonably choose, so that private schools do not become too expensive due to lack of state support for the cost of education. 3) Right-duty of the Church to safeguard the parental right to give their children a Catholic education: If schools imparting an education imbued with the Christian spirit are not available, the diocesan bishop is to see to it that they are established (c.802, §1). b. Canonical regulation of Catholic Schools 1) General regulatory competence of local Ordinary: The diocesan bishop is competent to issue prescriptions dealing with the general regulation of Catholic schools; such prescriptions are also operative for those schools which are directed by religious, with due regard for their autonomy regarding the internal management of their schools (c.806, §1 in fine). 2) Oversight function of the Local Ordinary: The diocesan bishop has the right of vigilance over and visitation of the Catholic schools
located in his territory, even those schools which have been established or are being directed by members of religious institutes (c.806, §1). The Code stipulates the extent of this oversight function to include the following: a) Academic standards: The directors of Catholic schools, under the vigilance of the local ordinary, are to see to it that the instruction given in them is at least as academically distinguished as that given in the other schools of the region (c.806, §2). b) Appointment and tenure of religion teachers: For his own diocese the local Ordinary has the right to name or approve teachers of religion and likewise to remove or to demand that they be removed if it is required for reasons of religion or morals (c.805). He should be concerned that those who are assigned as religion teachers in schools, even in non-Catholic ones, be outstanding for their correct doctrine, their witness of Christian living and their pedagogical skill (c.804, §2). c. Vigilance over Catholic education in non-Catholic schools In public schools and those private schools under the free initiative of the faithful, the oversight function of the ecclesiastical authority is reduced to a desideratum in the Code: The local Ordinary should be concerned that those who are assigned as religion teachers... be outstanding for their correct doctrine, their witness of Christian living and their pedagogical skill (c.804, §2). Among the possible concretizations of this desire could be: 1) Ecclesiastical certificate of aptitude for religious instruction—which the competent ecclesiastical authority could expedite for those who meet the requirements of c.804, §2. 2) Diploma for religion teachers—which could be acquired by taking an ecclesiastically approved course in basic Christian doctrine in an ecclesiastically approved educational institution. 3) Church-State agreements— either at a local level or national level (through concordat between the State and the Holy See)— regulating this matter. Conclusion In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is clear that Catholic schools can be a potent instrument for the education and formation of the Catholic faithful, but only if all the provisions mentioned are in place. Considering that the Philippines has an overwhelming Catholic majority, and that the network of Catholic schools is quite extensive, the reality of widespread corruption (as evinced by the Napoles Affair) and the growing contraceptive mentality (as evinced by the passage of the RH Law) provides a stark challenge to the Catholic educational system.
(Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university, answers the following queries:) Q: I’m a permanent deacon and I was asked by a mother of a child I baptized some time ago, how come her baptism certificate was signed by our previous pastor and not by me, as I was the one to baptize her child. I checked around and it looks like that is a common practice in many churches in our diocese. Is there any regulation about it who signs the original baptism certificate? — D.M., Toronto A: This question is covered above all in Canon 877.1 and 878 of the Code of Canon Law: “Canon 877 §1. The pastor of the place where the baptism is celebrated must carefully and without any delay record in the baptismal register the names of the baptized, with mention made of the minister, parents, sponsors, witnesses, if any, the place and date of the conferral of the baptism, and the date and place of birth …. “Canon 878. If the baptism was not administered by the pastor or in his presence, the minister of baptism, whoever it is, must inform the pastor of the parish in which it was administered of the conferral of the baptism, so that he records the baptism according to the norm of can. 877 §1.” Therefore in accordance with these canons it is incumbent upon the parish priest to make the record of the baptism. He should take note of who is the minister if he himself has not administered the sacrament. It is also his responsibility to maintain the record and add any later facts, such as eventual marriage, religious profession or ordination. The curate or associate pastor usually has habitual faculties to also make the record and sign the register. Another minister does not necessarily sign the register, although in some places there is a space in the register for him to sign also. The reasoning behind this is the Church’s desire that, in general, the proper pastor is the one to baptize. Others who baptize do so in virtue of a delegation from the bishop or the pastor. Thus, for example, Canon 862 places this restriction on who performs a baptism: “Except in a case of necessity, no one is permitted to confer baptism in the territory of another without the required permission, not even upon his own subjects.” Thus, not even a bishop may ordinarily baptize outside his own diocese except in cases of necessity or with permission. This canon may also be seen as an application of Canon 857.2 which gives preference to one’s local parish as the place of baptism: “Canon 857 §1. Apart from a case of necessity, the proper place of baptism is a church or oratory. “§2. As a rule an adult is to be baptized in his or her parish church and an infant in the parish church of the parents unless a just cause suggests otherwise.” While all this might seem to be dry and technical, it is grounded on the fact that one is baptized into the universal Church as a member of a concrete Christian community. The local parish church is normally the place where the faith should be nurtured and where one grows to Christian maturity. It is true that the mobility of many societies means that the connection between a person and his parish is often transitory. Yet, the parish is always called to be the manifestation of the Church as God’s family in each place on earth. Hence it is the natural center for most of the fundamental activities of the spiritual life: birth in baptism, growth through confirmation, nourishing through the Word, the Eucharist and often through service to others, definitive commitment for those called to marriage or consecration to God, healing for those stricken in soul or body, and departure with the comfort of the community’s prayer for those who leave and those who remain.
Signers of a Baptism Certificate
Q: Is it necessary to complete the rites of baptism when someone has received baptism and confirmation in danger of death? — J.Q., Dushanbe, Tajikistan A: The Church’s ritual for baptism has several rites. Among these is a rite of baptism for children in danger of death when no priest or deacon is available. This rite foresees a number of prayers directed by any suitable member of the faithful. This minister may also give the white garment after
baptism, saying: “N., you have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. “See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. May you bring it unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.” If there is no suitable minister to direct the prayers, or if the danger of death is imminent, the minister may baptize after reciting the Apostles’ Creed or even just perform the essential baptismal rite and formula. There is no rite for baptism in danger of death when a priest
Completing the Rites of Baptism
or deacon is available. This is probably because the complete rite is always to be preferred. These ministers, however, can themselves judge with respect to abbreviating the rite in emergencies or when it is impossible to perform all of the rites, for example when baptizing an infant in an incubator. Following the rite for emergency baptisms there is a rite of bringing a baptized child to the church. In this rite the priest greets the parents and godparents: “He praises them for having had the child baptized without delay, and thanks God and congratulates the parents on the Child’s return to health.” This rite, however, is not restricted to the case of danger of death but may follow any difficulty which prevented the celebration of the baptism in church. There follows a dialogue similar to that used when parents bring their child to be baptized, but recognizing that he or she is already a Christian. The priest signs the child on the forehead; the parents and, if appropriate, the godparents, do the same. A brief Liturgy of the Word and homily are followed by the prayer of the faithful, litany of
saints, and a hymn. A period of silence is also recommended during one of these moments. After this, the celebrant performs the explanatory rites after baptism: the anointing after baptism, clothing with the white garment (if not already done) and giving the lighted candle. The rite concludes with a series of other prayers and blessings. With respect to confirmation, the rites are rather scant although, unlike baptism, confirmation necessarily implies the presence of a priest. In the case of danger of death the rubrics say: “In the case of a child who
has not yet reached the age of reason, confirmation is given in accord with the same principles and norms as for baptism.” Nothing is said about receiving into the Church an infant who has been both baptized and confirmed in danger of death. I would suppose that the abovementioned rite of bringing the child into the Church could be followed, although omitting the anointing after baptism as is normal when confirmation immediately follows baptism.
Vol. 17 No. 19
September 16 - 29, 2013
By Lope Coles Robredillo, SThD
TO the perception of many, Aquino’s election slogan “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” so accurately described the state of the nation and its disastrous impact on the Filipinos that in no small amount it catapulted him to the presidency. People had enough of the litany of alleged corruptions under the previous administration; and the immorality and the amount of money involved were mind-boggling: NBNZTE scandal, Hello Garci scandal, P738M fertilizer scam, P532M overprice of Macapagal Blvd, Nani Perez Power Plant deal, P1.3B poll automation contract, Northrail project, Garcia and other AFP Generals scandal, the results of the 2007 Mindanao elections, millions of bribe money to congressmen and governors in 2007, Mindanao massacre, extra-judicial killings, violation of human rights, etc. And more recently, the NFA “legalized smuggling.” These not only further plunged the poverty level of the country; they also robbed the body and soul of the nation. Will Aquino eradicate corruption? To abolish corruption and replace it with “matuwid na landas” and uplift the people from the misery of poverty— what could be much better objective for a leader to pursue than that? If PNoy now sits on the presidency, it is not so much because of what his party has done, but because of the power of the people who have grown tired about the allegations of corruption and fraudulence in the government, and the impunity of their perpetrators. But now that he is the President, they expect him, and rightly so, to walk the talk. But even at this point in time, many seem to be disappointed with his one-year performance. Only recently, the SWS survey conducted between March 4 and 7, 2011 showed that his net satisfaction rating slipped from his +64 in November 2010 to +51. Could this be an indication that in the perception of those surveyed, Aquino has yet to show tangible results? Sen. Francis Pangilinan, himself a ranking official of the Liberal Party, was quoted to have said that the Palace should match campaign promises with concrete accomplishments, particularly with regard to poverty and corruption. But the point is: will he be able to deliver the goods? This question can only be answered if we have to take a good look at the corruption in the Philippines. There is no doubt that the country is among the most corrupt in Asia, and corruption does not spare the highest government posts, obviously to the defraudation of the poor and retardation of development. According to Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PIRC) in 2011, the Philippines ranks third in Asia, after India and Indonesia. For Transparency International (TI), the most corrupt countries are also the poorest. Knowing the state of corruption of the country, it is quite natural for people to look for solutions. Of course, popular wisdom says that to put an end to it, only untarnished candidates should be elected to lead the country, which is why people power preferred Aquino over others by a large margin. For others, however, there should be a shift from Presidential to Parliamentary form of government. Yet, our experience shows that from Quirino to Aquino, the corruption in the government went merrily on, despite the choice of not so corrupt—at least initially—candidates. And as for change of government form, the Parliament (Batasan Pambansa) of Marcos has no records to show that it was less corrupt and more advantageous to the poor. If anything, a parliamentary form in the Philippine experience is simply a different collar of the same rabid dog. The real roots of corruption Structural Root . But why is the country so corrupt? To really understand the anatomy of corruption, we have to analyze it against our socio-economic and politico-cultural structure and history. As is typical of a largely agrarian society, ours is characterized by a majority who live in the countryside, living in real poverty, dependent on agricultural products, and a small percentage that live in luxury in the cities. Estimates place the poor at 80%, the wealthy at 20%. While the latter have power, privilege, and prestige, the former wallow in poverty, and find themselves taking up the burden of supporting the rich and the ruling class. Many of those in the majority do not have the basic necessities of life and power to influence, and have scarcely received honor and privileges. All they do is largely accept the word and explanation of the privileged minority on realities; hardly do they have any real participation on decisions that affect their own life as a class. They are usually the victims in any attempt to question the system, and are practically left to themselves to survive. Needless to state, such a social structure, which has persisted for centuries without any alteration, is a perfect environment for corruption to exist and prosper. The Government: An Instrument of Self-Aggrandizement. But quite apart
Truth is, corruption is not the disease of our society; it is simply a symptom. And it is irresponsible to make population the scapegoat of the disease.
and Figures, records indicate that from 2000 to 2008, former Pres. Arroyo’s declared net worth increased by 114% (from P20M to 180M); in other words, based on a year-on-year average, she added some P10.97M to her net worth every year. Although Malacañang attempted to explain her statement of assets and liabilities by citing conjugal income and dividends, these have been questioned because, according to Ibon, “data from other sources aside from her undetailed SAL have yielded financial transactions, sales and ownership, and even the possible illegality of financial transactions.” Within this frame of understanding of power and privilege, it is not difficult to see how corruption gets in. Political power is really convertible to economic power. Power brings about wealth, and with it, also corruption. In their book, State and Society in the Philippines, Patricio Abinales and Donna Amorsolo, for instance, observe that as far back as the 1920s, our leaders began to use the state as an instrument of primitive is the attitude toward government funds. It seems that for many among the privileged class, the money of the state is their personal possessions. Or, least the distinction between public and private money is blurred. Of course, who among the less privileged would dare to question the legality of the appropriation of money for personal use? Practically, the powerful have enough instrumentalities under their control to stop any attempt to inquire into it. All the poor do is see no evil. According to David Timberman, in his book, A Changeless Land, this is a long-standing element of the political culture in the Philippines, but “it became much more pronounced under Marcos, because of his predilection to control virtually every aspect of society. Thus, the resources of both the government and private sectors were viewed by the Marcoses as being available for their use. The budgets of government ministries were regularly tapped to finance Imelda’s extravagant trips and parties, and businesses were expected to make contributions and/or offer shares of ownership to family members.” While these forms of corruption may have the veneer of legality—and Marcos had a talent for it—a legal source of corruption is the pork barrel. (Notice that the government does not provide an equivalent for those in the peasant class.) Every year, each congressman is entitled to P70M and each senator to P200M. Although projects for which the pork barrel that is given have already a particular government department to take care of them, yet legislators insist in keeping it. Now rebaptized as Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), the pork barrel is perceived to increase the wealth of its beneficiaries. It is claimed that about half of the money appropriated for a government project is lost in the form of kickbacks to legislators, engineers, etc; only about half of the budget is actually used for the project designated. But despite all recommendations to abolish the pork barrel, not a single administration has seriously considered it, simply because of the money involved and its use especially in keeping politicians in power. The PDAF is thus enough proof that corruption will never disappear on the face of this country. Weak Justice System? What exacerbates corruption is the culture of impunity. Why are members of the ruling class able to get away with their misdeeds? Why only the small fry goes to jail? The reason is that not only many government agencies are under the control of the ruling class, but also because the corrupt functionaries are part of the structure that sustains the system and protect the ruling class from deprivation of their privileges. To misquote a saying, “they may be sons of bitches, but they are the oligarchy’s sons of bitches!” It is logical that in a corrupt society like the Philippines, the justice system could be weak, or never perceived to be in defense of the majority who are poor. How would one prosecute the retainers if the trail would lead to the prosecution of a member of the ruling class? Besides, if the leader is corrupt, how can he discipline his men about corruption? No wonder, efforts to go after corrupt officials are perceived not to get anywhere. For instance, despite the fact that Benjamin Abafrom its structural roots, corruption exists and goes on because those at the top and the ruling class have a certain frame of mind that seems not to change. From all indications, they seem to have a mentality that the state apparatus provides not the highest opportunity for service to the majority, but the greatest and highest means to self-aggrandizement, and so the primary aim of the existence of the class is to capture the state. This is logical enough. Those who control the state practically control the means to economic advancement. That is why the political history of the country can be summarized as a history of the struggle among the richest families for the domination of the state apparatus, and not necessarily for the service of the constituents. And one has to note that the struggle itself involves much corruption. Of course, if history has anything to tell us, it is that the privileged class has yet to show that its actions are intended for the common good. On the contrary, the wealthy
los and other Comelec officials were charged with graft and corruption for changing the Comelec bidding rules to favor Mega-Pacific, and despite the fact that in 2004 the Supreme Court declared the poll-automation contract between the Comelec and the Mega-Pacific null and void, the Office of the Ombudsman cleared those involved. One is reminded of an account by David Wurfel in his book, Filipino Politics: Development and Decay. In 1975, Marcos “pointed an accusing finger at those who had violated their ‘sacred trust’ and promptly announced the dismissal of over two thousand officials, including cabinet members, bureau chiefs, scores of judges and prosecutors, and many others. The auditor general and the director of the Bureau of Internal Revenue were among them. Most had no prior warning, and pandemonium broke loose in the bureaucracy. When the dust cleared, however, it was discovered that many who were ‘dismissed’ had already retired or dead. And many charges against the more influential were ‘discovered’ to have been ‘unfounded.’ Acute observers opined that those actually dismissed were those with poor connections. The president’s promise of a purge of corrupt military officers was entirely forgotten.” One gets the impression that all these government crusades against corruption are all for a show; nothing really substantial takes off. After the show— that’s all, folks. How to solve corruption This brief anatomy of corruption is probably enough to show that corruption is not simply about using public money for private use; its causes go back to our history as a nation and to the very structure of our society itself. Against this background, one doubts whether P-Noy’s crusade against corruption will succeed if he simply limits himself to removing officials perceived or proven to be involved in corruption or in protecting the corrupt. Such action may be spectacular, and win for him an increase in ratings of credibility, but without doing something that really involves fundamental changes, nothing could come out of it, no matter how sincere he is. His effort is doomed to fail. Something more fundamental has to happen to the gross inequality in our society. The majority of our people have to be involved in making changes so running the government could be more equitably participative. But this presupposes that the government is able to enhance a fluid social mobility of the majority, and provide access to opportunities largely monopolized by the elite in order to bridge the wide social gulf. One must point out that the elite have long been leading the country since the Spanish times, and the situation has never improved; on the contrary, corruption has gotten all the worse. Truth is, corruption is not the disease of our society; it is simply a symptom. And it is irresponsible to make population the scapegoat of the disease. (This article was the Cover Story of IMPACT of June 2011. We are rerunning it in the face of the pork barrel issue that has provoked a growing outrage of the citizenry—Eds)
endeavor to preserve their privileges and therefore their control of the state. For this reason, elections, while the poor do participate in them, are nothing more than political exercises on who among the privileged families will control the state. Victory in an election brings unprecedented wealth to the victors. Few politicians or their retainers hold or leave their office without increasing their wealth. And the increase in wealth—one has to ask: is this not tainted with corruption? One remembers that when Arnold Clavio and Winnie Monsod interviewed Mikey Arroyo, their report showed that Mikey’s wealth increased from P5M in 2002 to over P70M in 2005, or about 65 million in only three years. At present, it is said that his declared wealth has reached a whopping P100M. Of course, the public wondered how he was able to accumulate such humongous riches in so short a time. In a study made by Ibon Facts
accumulation, and largesse came from two sources: the state itself and the extension of spoil system. “Through the spoil system, Filipino politicians distributed offices (and their corresponding budgetary allocations) to relatives and appointees. Political appointment of kin, allies, and cronies became standard practice. In exchange, an appointee facilitated the business success of his patron and protected other members of his network within the bureaucracy.” In the extension of the spoil system, the vehicles were state corporations. Osmeña, for instance, used appointments to the PNB offices to repay political debts, and it was later revealed that his appointees “authorized extravagant loans to companies in which they were themselves investors…[or] to finance personal consumptions, instead of production and commerce.” Government Coffers as Private Possessions. Coupled with this outlook
© Nirvana Delacruz / CBCP Media
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
World War Womb
By Fr. Luis Supan
THE 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War will be commemorated a year from now. With hindsight, the so-called “Great War” now looks like “The Great Folly” that brought about the death of almost 20 million people. It would not be rash to call it the “Mother of all wars”: all the succeeding wars that scarred the 20th century are all her children. Perhaps the expression “mother of all wars” is not appropriate, because there is nothing more contradictory than the words “mother” and “war” — the former engenders life; the latter destroys it. A typical photograph depicting the role of women in the two world wars shows them merrily sorting out bullets in munitions factories, if not blowing kisses to their sons and husbands packed in trains that would bring them to sure death. The sad truth is that, as the saying goes, “Wars are declared by politicians, planned by generals, fought by foot soldiers and suffered by their mothers”. Have women always remained mere spectators in the great decisions taken by world leaders that deeply affected families and whole nations? Not really. In 1939, as the Air Force Marshal of England was planning to do carpet bombing over Germany’s major cities (i.e., nonmilitary targets) in order to bring down the morale of the people, a nineteen-year old British girl wrote a short essay: “The Justice of the Present War Examined”, making it plain to everyone that bombing cities does not fit in a just war. She was advised to stop distributing the pamphlet (“you’re too young and idealistic”, the elders rebuked her). The girl’s name was Elizabeth Anscombe. In 1970 she would be appointed to the Chair of Philosophy at Cambridge. Anscombe could very well be the poster girl of presentday women’s-rights activists: she was extremely rational, she wore pants (in the 1940’s!), she smoked, she defended sexually-abused girls, and preferred to keep her maiden name (she was married to an Oxford philosopher, Peter Geach). She was a disciple and close collaborator of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the guru of Analytical Philosophy, when he held the same chair of philosophy in Cambridge. A non-conformist in the midst of a male-dominated faculty mired in moral relativism (“there are no moral absolutes”), she opposed Oxford University’s decision in 1956 to grant an honorary degree to Harry Truman. She who was silenced in 1939 was now intellectually prepared to defend her position: that Truman, who, as US President, authorized the dropping of atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, did not deserve such honors. And who among the faculty members supported her essay, “Mr. Truman’s Degree”? Only three—all women. Anscombe wasn’t aware that she had an ally during the war years — a woman, of course, and a philosopher, too: Edith Stein, disciple of Edmund Husserl (the founder of Phenomenology). As she witnessed the Nazis trampling on the basic rights of the ordinary Germans, Edith Stein decided to send a personal letter to Pope Pius XI (who would later on condemn Nazism in an encyclical). But Edith Stein and her sister died in August 1942, victims of the Nazi’s hatred for the Jews— (even if Edith had been baptized Catholic in 1922, when she was 30 years old). If Elizabeth Anscombe liked wearing pants, Edith died as a Carmelite nun, and now known as Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. Why do women more readily intuit the folly of war? It could be because they experience in their own lives the value of human life: a woman’s mission is to give and nourish life— both physical and spiritual (from the womb to the classroom; from the dining table to a church altar; from the playpen to the death bed). Anscombe was an enigma to her fellow philosophers not only because of her great mind, but more so because her womb bore seven children. When Anscombe was pregnant with her seventh child, she saw written on the blackboard of her classroom the words: “Anscombe breeds”. What could have been taken as an insult was turned into a defining statement of her life—she attached two more words to what was written such that her students read: “Anscombe breeds immortal beings”. That was in the early 1960’s, when the euphoria over the contraceptive pill’s “birth” in the open market was high. True to her non-conformist attitude, she argued forcefully against the widespread idea that “the pill” signalled the longed-for liberation of women from the “plague” of pregnancy. The year 1914 will also be the 100th anniversary of the feminist publication “The Woman Rebel” by Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and the person who pushed research towards the formulation of the contraceptive pill. To her is attributed the origin of the term “birth control”. It is open knowledge that Planned Parenthood is now a major provider of abortion. To many contemporary feminists, abortion has long ago shed its mask of being a health issue or a population control measure: it is now defended as a woman’s “right”. A feminist organization’s name—“Our bodies, Our selves”—says it all. Last year in the US, Planned Parenthood provided a total of 333,964 abortions, backed by a federal funding of $540 million. In the USA, from the acceptance of the contraceptive pill to the legalization of abortion, it took only 13 years. We can say that the “Third World War” began in 1960, when contraceptive pills (“the pill”) were manufactured as rapidly as bullets were made in the last world war. But this new world war is unique: it is waged in women’s wombs (“World War Womb”), and the victims are totally helpless and innocent (human zygotes); and the perpetrators are declared innocent because the pill kills imperceptibly. In the past, some war weapons were called “widow-makers” due to their cruel killing capacity; now pills are called “abortifacients” due to their abortive capacity, by preventing the implantation of the fertilized ovum. World War II claimed from 70 to 80 million lives (military and civilian). Since abortion was legalized in the USA in 1973, a total of 55 million “legal” abortions have been done. Worldwide, the total is between 40 and 50 million per year . This figure does not include the victims of abortifacients. In 2014 cries of “No more war” will be heard all over the world; and rightly so. But we have to pray that God would have mercy on the world so that the raging World War Womb would come to an end. Genuine defenders of life and of women (the likes of Anscombe) are urgently needed. Mankind will no doubt receive God’s mercy due to the Pope’s decision to entrust the whole world to “The Woman”— the mother of our Savior—on October 13, 2013, before the image of Our Lady of Fatima. What Our Lady told the three children of Fatima (the last of which was October 13, 1917) deserves our serious and frequent consideration. (The author is the executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Doctrine of the Faith.)
The plain truth about when a human being begins to exist
By Tony F. Roxas
IT is an axiom in the science of Human Embryology that the existence of a human being begins when sperm and the ovum meet, that is, at fertilization or conception. Embryology asserts this as a fundamental truth inasmuch as, like any other natural science, it has its own criteria for determining when the existence of a human being occurs for the first time. It is taught that the union of sperm and ovum creates a new, distinct and separate living organism as shown by: 1) a new and distinct genetic code in the newly formed organism, 46 XX or 46 XY, making the fertilized ovum a human male or female; and 2) the occurrence of cell division, a conclusive sign of the beginning of a new living organism, in this case human in kind, or, a human being, inasmuch as it is the result of the union between a human male cell (sperm) and a human female cell (ovum). That the newly formed human being exists in a very simple cellular state (zygote/embryo) will not change the fact that it is already human in kind, that is subject, however, to degrees of developmental changes as it passes through the entire continuum of life before and after birth, always retaining and never losing its human nature from the very beginning to the end of its life. Hence, when the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) claimed decades ago that life begins at implantation (usually in the uterus) and not at fertilization, they were overstepping their boundaries and were encroaching in a territory beyond their competence. It is worth noting also that any evidence ACOG presents to show that human life “begins” at implantation will not in any way weaken, much less nullify or invalidate, the criteria or evidence advanced by embryologists in support of the fact that fertilization marks the first moment of a human being’s existence. The embryologists’ criteria for determining the moment when a human being first exists stand valid and unchallenged as they establish clearly that where before fertilization no human being exists, after or upon fertilization a human being begins to exist, as explained in the third
paragraph above. Furthermore, embryologists prove, and common sense dictates, that the resulting union between a human sperm and a human ovum is a living organism that is human in kind, or a human being, or a human person, which, although still in its simplest cellular state, is capable of undergoing degrees of development, as said earlier. Hence, what the ACOG claims to be a human being’s first moment of life is really nothing more than that same human being’s more advanced state of development, retaining its same nature, that of being a human being, as it passes through the entire continuum of life, from fertilization to life before and after birth, as stated above. Also, implantation presupposes that what is implanted
their different but related domains. This is why ACOG grossly errs in concluding that life begins at implantation—simply because the more advanced state of development of the human organism begins in the uterus—while failing or refusing to appreciate the logic of embryologists whose specific object of study and expertise consists in determining precisely the exact moment when a new human life truly begins, where there was none before fertilization took place. This is why it must also be pointed out that ONLY embryologists have the competence to question or challenge the fundamental truth that a human being begins to exist at the moment of fertilization or conception. And if any reputable embryologist
bryology answers definitively the question “WHEN” the first moment of a human being’s existence begins—at fertilization—whether sperm and the ovum unite in the fallopian tube through the natural means via the sexual act between a man and a woman, or in a petri dish via artificially created means as in vitro fertilization. On the other hand, ACOG’s claim answers the question “WHERE” life begins—in the uterus—which obviously presupposes already a living human organism before implantation, an all-important and crucial fact that in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer establish conclusively! Hence, ACOG’s controversial claim that a human being’s first moment of life begins at implantation is completely negated by
was already alive in the first place and that it is the same kind of organism that resulted from fertilization, that is, a living human organism, or human being. It is therefore clear that one root cause of the controversy between embryologists and OB-Gynes of ACOG lies in the failure or refusal of the latter to acknowledge the radical difference between the kind of being and that being’s changing degrees of perfection or development. Another root cause of this controversy is the failure or refusal of ACOG to acknowledge the fact that, just like other natural sciences, the sciences of human embryology and obstetrics and gynecology have their own respective fundamental principles that arm them with their own unique ways of proving their respective claims within
dares to challenge this, he must present his own scientific counterevidence proving that earlier evidence of the science of human embryology was dead wrong, and that in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer are false and deceptive in claiming that cell division takes place when sperm and ovum meet, showing clearly the signs of a new living organism. It is of course doubtful that any embryologist worth his salt would even dare imagine going this far for fear of questioning not only the science of human embryology but the entire in vitro and embryo transfer technology/industry in which so many capitalists have invested billions of dollars, all of whom must first be assured that on petri dishes are produced authentic living human organisms. And to clarify further, em-
in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer, and is, therefore, not only clearly false but utterly impossible. It is, therefore, not only correct but necessary to reaffirm the plain truth that the Science of Human Embryology asserts—that a human being first begins to exist at the moment of fertilization or conception, an axiomatic truth contained in all reputable Embryology text books in all medical schools throughout the world. Consequently, should the Supreme Court declare this truth openly, it will only be stating a scientific fact based on solid rock-hard evidence of the Science of Human Embryology, and not on religion, philosophy, ideology or any other considerations that cannot help justify this universal truth through the light of natural reason alone.
© Addie Mena / CNA
© Addie Mena / CNA
Vol. 17 No. 19
September 16 - 29, 2013
(Statement of the Catholic Bishops of Mindanao 13 September 2013)
ZAMBOANGA is virtually paralyzed and in a state of fear ever since armed groups said to be elements of the MNLF entered the city. The ensuing military skirmishes have displaced thousands of families. A great number of people, including an assistant parish priest, are held as hostages and even serve as human shields. A number of dead and wounded have been reported. Five city barangays have been sealed off. Several fires have destroyed homes and properties. Normal life has been violently disrupted. And today, hostilities have broken out again. We, Catholic Bishops of Mindanao, are deeply saddened and disturbed by this terrible tragedy to human life and property. We express our solidarity with all those affected, Muslims and Christians alike. W e condemn the terror that has been inflicted on an entire city. We condemn the inhumane act of using hostages as human shields. W e appeal to the government, NGO’s, religious groups, and civil society to provide assistance to evacuees. W e appeal to the MNLF and the government to negotiate for the release of hostages. We also appeal to them to discuss the deeper issues regarding the ongoing MILF-GPH peace negotiations that the armed groups wanted to raise by their action. W e are assured by the statements of government officials that the MILF and MNLF peace issues are “complementary,” that the 1996 Peace Agreement has not been terminated, and that “the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its Annexes will build on the Final Peace Agreement (FPA) with the MNLF.” As leaders of our Catholic communities, we join hands with other religious leaders—Muslims, Christians, and Lumad—in praying and working for peace. Peace, yes; war, never. Last Sept. 7, we joined Pope Francis in a Day of Prayer and Penance for World Peace, particularly in the war-torn country of Syria. Now
We want peace, not war
we also offer our prayers for peace in Mindanao. The theme of the coming Mindanao Week of Peace best sums up our aspirations: “Dialogue and Hope are the Key to Peace.” Bp. Guillermo Afable (Digos) Bp. Jose Colin Bagaforo (Cotabato) Bp. Emmanuel Cabajar (Pagadian) Bp. Antonieto Cabajog (Surigao) Bp. Jose Cabantan (Malaybalay) Abp. Fernando Capalla (Davao) Bp. Romulo de la Cruz (Kidapawan) Abp. Jesus Dosado (Ozamis) Bp. Elenito Galido (Iligan) Bp. Dinualdo Gutierrez (Marbel) Bp. Martin Jumoad (Isabela) Abp. Antonio Ledesma (Cagayan de Oro) Msgr. Crisologo Manongas (Zamboanga) Bp. Nereo Odchimar (Tandag) Abp. Orlando Quevedo (Cotabato) Bp. George Rimando (Davao) Bp. Julius Tonel (Ipil) Abp. Romulo Valles (Davao)
Statement of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga on the armed conflict
DEAR Brothers and Sisters, The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zamboanga joins her voice to the many voices echoed crying for peace in our beloved city. We are anguished by the terrible sufferings of many Zamboangeños, especially to the thousands evacuees and their families who are displaced by the crisis of the armed conflict. We earnestly pray for the victims of these atrocities and their families. And we applaud the work done by those bringing food and reliefs to the evacuees affected by this crisis and pray for their efforts to ease the suffering of our brothers and sisters. As your clergy of Zamboanga, we raise our voices to condemn the use of violence and the abductions of innocent people used as human shields in the on-going arm conflict. We wish to remind ourselves the call of the Holy Father in his message of September 01, 2013: “Peace is a precious gift, which must be promoted and protected” and that “all men and women of good will are bound by the task of pursuing peace.” We call on Zamboanga Catholics and all men and women of goodwill to join us in witnessing to the hope that we have in our hearts for peace in our city. May our prayers and advocacy for peace move our city to promote a peaceful resolution of this conflict. And may La Nuestra Señora Virgen del Pillar, Queen of Peace, pray for us. MSGR. CRISOLOGO B. MANONGAS Archdiocesan Administrator 10 September 2013
Statement on the Ten Billion Pork Barrel Plunder
“I, the Lord, love justice and hate robbery and iniquity.”(Isaiah 61:8)
Foreign debt. Big merchant exploitation. Graft and corruption (costing PhP250B/year) in government agencies. And now this, O Juan and Juana de la Cruz of Inang Bayan! Ten billion peso PDAF scam! The tip of a titanic iceberg. A colossal pork barrel rolling merrily from the heights of Congress to the vaults of private mansions. A fat PDAF that should have barreled into our social welfare projects, government health clinics and hospitals, housing for the homeless, construction of schools, purchase of medicines, and so on. Words of the Lord are addressed to all plunderers as they were to the corrupt leaders of Israel: “Listen you rulers of the house of Israel. Should you not know justice, you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones; who eat my people’s flesh; strip off their skin and break their bones in pieces...?” (Micah 3:1-3) The plunder of the PhP10B pork barrel was not by accident. It was with full knowledge and full consent by highly educated talented people without delicadeza, violating the principle of noblesse oblige. To them the Lord says: “Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds. At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.” (Micah 2:1) Listen! We mourn the death of common sense. The Bible reminds us MASS media report that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allotment for senators is PhP200M each, and for congressmen PhP70M each. Allotments were increased by millions of pesos by the 2013 budget. The Commission on Audit special audit of the PDAF states that a considerable number of lawmakers have channeled their PDAF to non-government organizations (NGOs), many of which are non-existent, thus raising reasonable suspicions that funds found their way to the pockets of plunderers in Congress and the private sector. A Janet Lim Napoles is allegedly one of masterminds behind the grand robbery, itself an alleged source of her private wealth. The COA search light pans the entire legislative body. We, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of Ilagan in the Province of Isabela, categorically denounce the plunder of the “pork barrel” and the appropriation of billions of pesos for private self-interests. We demand that the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) as given to senators and congressmen for their disposal be scrapped completely and that this instead be handled justly by the executive department of the Government. We demand that erring politicians and pork barrel pimps be brought to court and if found guilty, punished accordingly. We demand that stolen funds be returned to the people. that the greatness of a nation and its government is in the manner they take care of the poor (Isaiah 58-66). Stealing from the poor, as this pork barrel scam demonstrates, is a crime that cries for God’s intervention who told His servant Moses, “I have seen the suffering of My people...” (Ex 3:7), and under whose judgment He will exact vengeance. Against these there is Law of Justice! Let legal due process proceed without delay and liberating Truth shine in judgment. And let the Lord’s ethics be in command and the common good prevail. We commend the Commission on Audit (COA) under Commissioner Grace PulidoTan for exposing the heinous robbery. Praise to the many whistleblowers for their courage in confirming the findings of COA. They hold an affirming flame of hope for the nation. The people love you. To the loud, clear and distinct prophetic voice of civil society calling for honesty and transparency and an end to all forms of graft and corruption in government, we add our collective voice. +JOSEPH A. NACUA, OFMCap, DD Bishop, Diocese of Ilagan Clergy: 25 Signatories Reference: Rev. Fr. Francisco R. Albano Chair, Commission on Clergy September 11, 2013
(A Statement of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum for the Abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund and the Presidential Pork Barrel)
Abolish Pork Barrel Now!
Statement of the National Clergy Discernment Group on the issue of the Pork Barrel Abuses
WE, the National Clergy Discernment Group (NCDG) composed of priests of the Catholic Church who have committed ourselves to discern our “prophetic role” in the varied signs of the times facing us as a nation and as People of God, hereby cast our lot and stand in solidarity with our people’s denunciation of the corruption-ridden Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). We join the voices of all participants in the “Million People March” in their demands to abolish all forms of pork barrel (congressional and presidential), to punish the main brains and all crooks who stole the money, to open the official books to public scrutiny for the purposes of transparency and accountability, and to re channel pork funds to education, health care, housing and other social services. We raise our voices especially in the name of the poorest of the poor whose subhuman life-conditions have been used, and caused in no small measure, by greed-motivated politicians and their business cohorts in their machinations to amass billions of pesos through ghost projects, fake NGOs and unscrupulous minions. We echo the cries for justice among the marginalized poor, the powerless victims of this massive scam, and we demand that the President of the Philippines apply the full force of the law in the immediate resolution of this raging issue. No effort must be spared, in the remaining years of his term, to prioritize and bring about the full and authentic development of our country’s poor. We strongly urge our national leaders, from the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary branches of the Government, to examine the deeper roots of the pork barrel scam, and to address in particular the culture of political corruption that they as politicians have created and perpetuated to serve their own interest. It is this culture that has bred and nurtured the cancer of political dynasties and patronage in our beloved country. It has spawned and reinforced the “epal” syndrome and the mix up of personal interests and official functions. Indeed, political corruption has invaded the very fiber of our social life. It has divided clans and families: husbands against wives, parents against children, siblings against each other, all in the name of power, wealth and prestige. Moreover, this culture of political corruption has inflicted a high toll on our economy, our self-respect as a people, and is a violation of our basic human rights. We call on all men and women in the Government service to fight this culture of political corruption that they have, unwittingly or not, shaped and are now, hopefully, committed to re-shape. We also address the issue of corruption right in our own backyard, in the way we are pastors to our people, in the way we manage our Local Churches. We, too, have somehow contributed to the culture of moral corruption that has given rise to this scam. We have failed to openly and forcefully speak out and promptly confront the issues of corruption even as they stare us right in our faces. We have failed to listen to our people’s cry for justice when their rights are violated. And we too have failed to instill
Clergy / B7
THE Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) joins the Filipino people in calling for the scrapping of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) which is more popularly called “pork barrel.” The Million People’s March last August 26, a gathering of between 80.000 to 100,000 citizens from all walks of life, and the biggest protest action in more than a decade, expressed in no uncertain terms the sentiments of the people. President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III or P-Noy, was elected overwhelmingly because of his slogan “Kung walang corrupt ay walang mahirap” (If there are no corrupt people, there are no poor people), and promised to eliminate corruption under his administration. He also adopted the “Daang Matuwid” (Straight Path) slogan, and promised to lead the country along that path. But what are we seeing now? Corruption in many agencies—the Armed Forces in the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Customs and others—continue. Lately, the nation was rocked by the “Napoles Pork Barrel Scam” where 10 billion pesos of PDAF of Senators and Congressmen went to personal accounts. This news came while the country was being battered by typhoons. For some people, this scam was worse than typhoons. And so they suggested through the social media
that typhoons be named after the Senators and Congressmen who will be proven guilty. What happened to the campaign against corruption? Where is the straight path? Three years of P-Noy’s rule did not change anything for the better. On the contrary, things became worse! The “pork” is one big source of corruption. It is estimated that 100 billion pesos of people’s money which were earmarked for priority or pet projects of legislators were lost since 2001 to the present. Those funds could have been used to build public schools and equip them with chairs and books, hospitals with sufficient equipments and medicines, and roads and bridges that are not substandard. Those could have been used, too, to improve our agriculture and subsidize our poor farmers. Scrapping the pork from the national budget is but right and timely. The legislators don’t need it. Their job is to make laws. Projects and social services are the domain of the Executive Branch. The funds should be allocated directly to the implementing agencies concerned. But we also refer to the Presidential pork, those billions of lump sum provisions for contingencies which are within the discretion and at the disposal of one person, namely the President. In order for his “walang corrupt, walang mahirap” and “daang
matuwid” slogans to be credible, the change must start from his office. For sure he can cite reasons and rationalizations why the Presidency needs pork. There are unforeseen events such as the natural calamities, and more. But as the Filipino saying goes, “Kung ibig, may paraan; kung ayaw, maraming dahilan” (roughly translated, if one wants it, there are ways to do it; however if he does not want to do it, he will offer many reasons). The people’s calls to which we add our voice are: Abolish pork barrel now! Prosecute and punish the guilty! Allocate the funds to social services! Let us be reminded of the words of the Psalmist: “The wicked plot against the righteous, and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that their day is coming” (Psalms 37:12-13). Issued this 11th day of September, 2013 BISHOP ELMER M. BOLOCON, UCCP Executive Secretary MOST REV. DEOGRACIAS IÑIGUEZ, JR. DD Co-Chairperson BISHOP FELIXBERTO L. CALANG, IFI Co-Chairperson
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
If Christians were only more enterprising about discipleship
An Exegetical Reflection on the Gospel of the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Luke 16:1-13, September 22, 2013
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
IN the latter part of his Communist Manifesto , Karl Marx says that philosophers have hitherto explained the world; the point, however, is to change it. The maxim might well be paraphrased and applied to being Christian. To be Christian, it is not enough to explain the world in terms of Christian faith; it is more important to use that faith in changing the world. It is appalling to note that many people see what is wrong with our world today, but even as Christians, they do not do anything to contribute to the transformation of the world so that it may conform to the Christian vision. They are satisfied with their own lives, living isolated existence untouched by what is happening around them. This, however, is far removed from the teaching of the Church. As Vatican II, in Gaudium et spes, notes, the Christian community is truly and intimately linked with the world and its history. And the 1971 Synod of Bishops, in Justice in the World, even says that participation in the transformation of the world is a constitutive dimension of the Church’s mission. In changing the world, the Christian knows of course that it must begin with the change of attitude of people who maintain the world. After all, economic, cultural and political structures are simply consequences of human outlook and attitudes. In the The 1st Reading (Amos 8:4-7) provides us some examples of the staggering toll when one has such an outlook and makes accumulation of wealth the purpose of his existence. It leads to unscrupulousness and dishonesty: “We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating” (v 5b) (Which reminds us of the trader who keeps his thumbs on the scale!) It brings about injustice against the poor: “We will buy the lowly man for silver, the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sale” (v 6). It virtually results in the thought that religion is an obstacle to making money: “When will the new moon be over and the Sabbath that we may display the wheat?” (v 5a). Today, the effects of such an attitude are even more lamentable. In his Centesimus annus , John Paul II speaks of the radical capitalist ideology which is unconcerned about marginalization and exploitation of the poor. And the Bishops of the Philippines see these words realized in what is happening at present: jobless growth, without new opportunities for employment; ruthless growth, benefiting mainly the wealthy; voiceless growth, without extension of democracy or empowerment; rootless growth that causes cultural identities to wither; futureless growth that destroys the environment (CBCP, Exhortation on the Philippine Economy). For Christians, the message is clear: if we, as individuals and as community, wish to live tranquil lives, we should stick to the Good News: God is One, and One also is the mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ (1 Tim 2:5). At the heart of our lives is thus the One and Only God, and therefore we cannot substitute another god, the money-god. The proper attitude to life is to place God above everything else, and our chief concern is not how to further accumulate wealth, but how to lead a life that is pleasing to God. The pattern of that kind of life is given in the life of Jesus himself—he gave himself as a ransom for all (1 Tim 2:5). Once we make the One and Only God our true God in life, once we make the life of Jesus the pattern for our lives—one that is lived for the sake of others— then salvation and tranquility of life are possible. In such a life, what happens to our wealth? It ceases to be an end; on the contrary, it will be used in a way that is in accord with one who has made the life of Jesus a pattern for his life—that is to say, it will no longer have a special place in our heart. For such a life is diametrically opposed to the one lived for the sake of Mammon, wherein one is fraudulent, treads upon the poor and even goes to war for the sake of it. Deep in our heart, we know that these two concerns of our lives—for God and for Mammon—are so opposed to each other that we cannot give ourselves to God and money at the same time. The reason for this is that “no man can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or be attentive to the one and despise the other” (Luke
Enterprising / B7
Why stark inequality between the rich and the poor among Christians is scandalous
An Exegetical Reflection on the Gospel of the 26th Sunday of Year C, Luke 16:19-31, September 29, 2013
behavior. But if the issues tell us anything, it is that they tend to imply that for those against the exercise of religious practices in schools and offices, religion is merely an private affair, something that transpires only between God and the private individual. And we will not be surprised if, out of consistency in their outlook and position, the same protesters go to court to ask for the removal of the words “In God We Trust” in the American dollar. But to confine religion to the privacy of the individual is to make a caricature out of it. As this Sunday’s readings indicate, our faith in God is intimately linked with matters affecting the society. And one of these matters concerns the question of wealth and poverty. In an unprecedented statement about the situation in the world, the l97l Synod of Bishops questioned “the serious injustices that are building around the world of men a network of domination, oppression and abuses which stifle freedom and which keep the greater part of humanity from sharing the building up and enjoyment of a more just and more fraternal world.” That millions, for example, starve in Somalia and other eastern African countries while those in the West have more than enough of almost everything is simply not morally right. It is unjust. So is the situation in the Philippines in which, in the words of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II), “the poverty and destitution of the great mass of our people are only too evident, contrasting sharply with the wealth and luxury of the relatively few families, the elite top of our social pyramid.” It is against this background that today’s Gospel on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) must be viewed. The story, probably based on an Egyptian tale, adapted in Judaism, and retold by Jesus,
2nd Reading (1 Tim 2:1-8), St Paul speaks of leading “undisturbed and tranquil lives in perfect piety and dignity” (v 2) which, in his own cultural context and time, could be achieved by peaceful relationship with the Emperor and those in authority (vv 1-2); but in our own context, we can lead really peaceful lives if we are able to acquire outlook and values that are not foreign to Christian ones. At present, the world is still far removed from authentic tranquility because many people still think that happiness and undisturbed
life can be secured by making a god out of money. But far from bringing us peaceful lives, such an outlook brings about the opposite. As Paul observes in the same letter, “those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and a trap. They are letting themselves be captured by foolish and harmful desires which drag men down to ruin and destruction. The love of money is the root of all evil. Some men in their passion for it have strayed from the faith, and have come to grief amid great pain (1 Tim 6:9-10).
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
A FEW years ago, the problems of praying in the classroom or at graduations and of placing Christmas trees in government offices were brought to some US Courts. Protesters against such religious practices complained that these violated the principle of separation between Church and State. Hearing the oral arguments in courts, one could not help making a mental note that such questions would not have been raised had the protesters viewed religion as embracing social attitude and
© Pinky Barrientos, FSP / CBCP Media
Inequality / B7
Learning to be clever from business-minded people
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, September 22, 2013
and missionaries have always been in the forefront in the building up of the Kingdom not only in the hearts of the individuals, but also in their own society. Their enterprise, ingenuity, dedication and perseverance have been monumental, amazing, and often heroic. Unfortunately, saints and missionaries have always been far too few. They have been the pinch of leaven which is expected to raise the whole dough. But when we consider that every Christian believer is expected to be “leaven,” “salt of the earth” and “light of the world,” we have to admit that the great majority of them (of us!) have failed to live up to the demands of such a duty. Eternal life and its superior value failed to understand that the Kingdom of God is in the making already now, and that all Christian believers are the laborers sent by God to work in it and make it grow as fast as possible and as best as they can. It is most unfortunate that many Christians, for centuries, have viewed their lives on earth only as a sort of “waiting room” in which all that they did was intended to be for the salvation of “their soul,” as well as for the salvation of the souls of others. The dimension of commitment to the promotion of temporal and human values as part of the earthly stage of God’s Kingdom was mostly neglected. There have been exceptions, of course. Numerous saints of active life was often brought in to justify or compensate for the lack of appreciation and commitment to social justice and the creation of a more human and fair society. God’s help and providence was all too easily called in to make up for one’s lack of vision, foresight, enterprise, determination.... God was expected to straighten up too many crooked lines; to complete too many unfinished projects.... And yet those Christians professed to believe that God has given men intelligence, creativity, strength,... to take care of His creation! They professed that Christ gave his disciples the mission to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom, and to make this Good News a reality. Too much of these wonderful assets were left dormant, for too long a stretch of centuries! Thank God, things are no longer so, after Vatican II and, here in the Philippines, after PCP II. Jesus’ lament, expressed in the form of a proverb, that “the children of this world” are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are “the children of light,” leads to his invitation to his followers to be as clever and enterprising in the pursuit of their wonderful goal of building up God’s Kingdom as the “unbelievers” do their best in pursuing their worldly objectives. This invitation is addressed to us, today. It is an urgent appeal, for there is so much to do, so much negligence of the past that we need to make up for.
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
IT seems an established fact that (those who concentrate only on earthly values—those we call the “unbelievers”) are cleverer and more enterprising than those who profess to believe in God and in the afterlife. Perhaps this is a pattern as old as mankind, and one wonders why things should be so . . . . The only plausible explanation is that many of the so-called “children of light” (the believers) have failed to appreciate the relationship existing between this world and the world to come; between what they do and the “coming” of the Kingdom. They have
Bishop Pat Alo
ENCOUNTERS There never was a good war or a bad peace
THE expression of our title once coined by the famous Benjamin Franklin contains really much food for thought. It is true we are not supposed to go to war except only for self-defense. Violence is not supposed to be applied for the sake of forcing others to do what we want. Besides in wars there is an irreparable loss of human lives. That’s precisely God’s 5th commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” The more mature and educated societies do not have recourse to war to obtain their goals. Why? Because you cannot pay equitably for the loss of one life. Hence the more educated and mature ways for obtaining peace and progress is through open and peaceful dialogue with honest efforts at obtaining reconciliation and understanding between one another. They used to say in a local dialect: “Way di makuha sa sabot-sabot” (“You can obtain your aims through mutual understanding”). Peace is what Jesus taught us by word and example. Surely that is what we are to do: to aim for peace in all sectors.
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, National Seafarers’ Day / Start of Laity Week, September 29, 2013
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
TODAY’S parable sketches a striking contrast between the situation of the rich man and Lazarus—the former “dressed in purple and linen and feasting splendidly every day,” while the latter, covered with sores, longed in vain to eat “the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” (See Lk 16:19-21.) Such a striking contrast persists even after death. But the situations are reversed. While the poor Lazarus is among “the living,” enjoying the happiness coming from God’s love (meaning of “the bosom of Abraham”), the rich man finds himself in torment in the “netherworld” or hell. (See Lk 16:23.) One can rightly conclude that the rich man deserves that treatment. He asked for it through his life of selfish enjoyment of his riches and callous indifference to the sad plight of the poor beggar rotting at the gate of his palace. There comes a time when people have to account for their behavior and either bear the shame of it or savor the reward they deserve. Since there is a just God, no one should be surprised that the rascals and the exploiters pay dearly for their persistent refusal to be converted. What surprises, however, is to see that after almost twenty centuries since the severe warning coming from this parable (see especially vv. 23-27) , “Lazarus” has become the name of hundreds of millions of human beings. Even in so-called “Christian” societies and communities, we still have so many millions who, like the Lazarus of the parable, “long to eat the scraps that fall from the rich man’s table.” And all this because in the same society there thrives a tiny minority of avid individuals or groups, bent on amassing and jealously keeping for themselves the resources which God has intended for all men. This same pattern is sadly visible among nations. We have the affluent ones which have secured for themselves most of the resources of the earth, while the “beggar nations” (the “Lazarus Nations”!) are left with the crumbs, the dross, the pollution which many companies of industrialized countries leave behind after having plundered most of what was of value in the developing countries . . . . To these rapacious individuals, groups, and nations is directed in a special way the warning coming from today’s parable as well as from the First Reading: no injustice will be left unpunished. God will see to it that the imbalance is properly redressed. But the warning is addressed also to each of us, because the inclination to be avid, insensitive, callous, and selfish is lurking deep in the hearts of all, including those who may not possess much.... Such negative inclinations have to be continually checked since they can bring us eternal disaster; they can lead us to create our own hell...
We create our own hell
© Pinky Barrientos, FSP / CBCP Media
Vol. 17 No. 19
September 16 - 29, 2013
faith, and recognition of God as the source of all Creation. September 1 is designated as Creation Day. Every Sunday in September will deal with one element of creation (forest, soil, water and marine life, and air). It will culminate on October 4, Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the recognized patron of Creation. The Season of Creation was necessitated by the need to specifically focus on God as Creator. While God is recognized throughout the whole liturgical seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time), it has become important, in the light of the present environmental crisis, to evaluate how we have been stewarding God’s great gift of Creation. While to some Creation is political and economical, to those who believe in God, it must be, first and foremost, spiritual. We did not create the world and ourselves. We may have been born through our parents but our first parents were created by a Supreme Being. Thus, we do not own Creation. At most, we are its stewards. We are part of Creation. Thus, if we take good care of it, we take good care of ourselves. We have only one earth. When we take care of the earth, we take care of everything in it, which includes us. At times we forget this. When we only think of ourselves and forget others, we harm ourselves. What happens to this
earth will surely affect us. And our concern must not only come about because of the powers and riches we will lose or gain through it. If we do, we tend to sacrifice everything for riches and powers’ sake, as what is happening to many developed countries today. In the process, developing countries are the first to suffer. But later, developed countries too will suffer. Until we see the issue as moral and spiritual (i.e. the earth is a gift from God and must be used according to the purpose of God) then even God cannot save us from the repercussions of our actions. Christians believe, from the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis, that God will not destroy the world anymore after the experience of Noah. God gave the sign of the bow in the cloud (rainbow) in Genesis 9. As long as we see that sign, we will remember His covenant with us, His people. Up to now, that rainbow can still be seen. God is faithful. But the world is not safe still. God may be faithful to His covenant in not destroying the world, but we may just destroy it because of our greed, misuse, and abuse of Creation. And that is unfortunate! (This article was originally published online at www.manilaspeak.com. Fr. Benny Tuazon heads the Ministry on Ecology of the Archdiocese of Manila.)
Climate Change is also a spiritual concern
By Fr. Benny B. Tuazon
AT the penultimate day of the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) representatives of observer countries and organizations are allowed to speak regarding the issues being discussed. In the UNFCCC meeting in Bali, Indonesia in 2007, the representative of an observer organization based in Spain stood up. Leisurely and silently, he walked to the podium, gazed at all the representatives, paused, and finally spoke with a firm and deliberate voice. By then, the members of UNFCCC were either deadlocked or in disagreement about how to address the climate change crisis. He said, “The issue is not economical.” Pause. “The issue is not political.” Another pause. “The issue is spiritual!” Then, he quickly left the podium, walked to his seat, sat down, and bowed his head. Hands clapped. Immediately, many members went to him and congratulated him for his speech. It is interesting to note that religion is not considered an important factor in the UN. Issues are faced through human capabilities. The speech by that representative surprised and had made many thinking and confused. But many, too, saw its relevance and felt its impact. During one
By Fr. Shay Cullen
Supporting the good, honest NGOs
or similar terms to distinguish them from the honest, dedicated, good organizations helping the poor. Media must take care not to carelessly and inadvertently use the term NGO indiscriminately lest they wrongfully brand every charitable organization as part of a criminal conspiracy. It has been revealed that there are many corrupt politicians who got lump sums of public funds for development projects and allegedly set up fake agencies, charities and non-government organizations through their business cronies. They even used many municipal governments to launder the public money released to them for development and poverty alleviation and hunger relief projects. The crony opened a bank account in the name of the fake organizations, deposited the funds, and then withdrew a big percentage of the money for themselves and gave the bulk of it back to the politician. The most hurtful aspect that has angered millions of Filipinos who marched by their thousands last August 26 in protest, is that the crooks are multi-millionaires already. Their overwhelming greed is like an addiction and it has caused great hunger and poverty. The “March of Millions” in the Luneta Park that began last August 26 was to protest and to stop the “March of Millions of Pesos” into the bank accounts of the politicians and their cronies and demand the lump sums hand-out to the members of Congress be abolished.
of the breaks in the conference, I was approached by one delegate regarding the conclusion by UN scientists that even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the devastating consequences of climate change cannot be halted anymore. Since I was there as a representative of the Vatican (Holy See), a recognized observer of the UN, he asked me what I think of the conclusion as a man of God. My response was, “With man,
it may be impossible. But as a believer of God, there is hope. Because, in the Catholic Faith, we believe that God is the source, and therefore, the ultimate judge and in control of all Creation.” It is in this context that the recently launched Season of Creation by the Archdiocese of Manila is very relevant. It seeks to catechize all Catholic faithful on the importance of caring and nurturing of creation, their relation to salvation and
© Noli Yamsuan / RCAM
THESE days the good name of non-government organizations (NGOs), church charities and people’s organizations in the Philippines have been dragged into the mud and disrepute by the corrupt acts of politicians who used fake NGOs and charities and even government agencies to launder stolen public funds entrusted to them for poverty alleviation and development projects. The generalization of the media in referring to NGOs as being the channel of stolen government funds may give the public a wrong impression as if many of the thousands of civil society organizations were involved when only a small number of fake NGOs and charities were set up specifically to launder the public money into the pockets of the corrupt politicians. We have to take a stand for the good, upright charities, and non-government organizations of civil society and their human rights defenders, social workers, priests and pastors and church workers who have given themselves, risking their lives for the poor and the exploited throughout the Philippines and have not been involved with dirty money offered by politicians. The media must be sure to use the correct vocabulary and name the fake, false and corrupt shell organizations as “fronts for corruption and skullduggery”
Inequality / B6
Preda’s mission of helping the under privileged, especially children and women subjected to abuse and exploitation gets enormous support— both legal and financial—from non-government organizations, here and abroad.
This is the very reason that the Preda Foundation Inc. that I began 38 years ago never took donations from politicians or from big businesses in its long history of serving exploited, impoverished and abused children, indigenous and poor people. Instead, we challenged and demanded accountability from them and were met with hostility, threats, and even closure of our children’s centers and deportation. Instead, this charity is semiself reliant and has partners that conduct strict monitoring and audits every year, the most recent
of which is an “unqualified audit report” wherein everything is accounted for properly. Well managed charities and NGOs in the developing countries will have strict accountability audits and scrutiny by their supporters and partners. They need to have positive and successful “outputs” and narrative reports to justify the funding. Here is one child’s positive victory of the many successful outcomes among the hundreds of children helped by the Preda charity in past years and other genuine charities will have similar positive results. (www.preda.org)
In the case of Diane who was 14 years old when her father, himself a policeman, very likely influenced by the impunity enjoyed by sex tourists began to use her, his own daughter, as his sex slave and subjected her to repeated acts of rape for almost two years. The child ran to relatives but they were unwilling to support her and help her escape from the father. This is a cultural weakness that allows so much child sexual abuse to continue. It’s a culture of fear, shame, and cover up for fear of the abuser. Diane wanted the abuse to
stop and to find justice and in desperation she turned to her teachers and government social workers in Valenzuela, North of Manila and then they called in the Preda Children’s home for legal assistance, shelter and recovery for Diane. If not for them working together with the Preda Foundation, this horrific abuse would have continued that could have driven the child to suicide. It’s just one case of many. Despite the danger from an aggressive and violent abuser, the Preda Foundation social workers helped her escape to freedom in the Preda children’s home in Olongapo City. There she overcame the trauma, shock and depression and she found the courage to file a legal case against her father despite the opposition of her mother and relatives. Judge Nancy Rivas-Palmones of the Valenzuela family Court found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Good things do happen and the many thousands of good NGOs and charitable institutions are saving hundreds of thousands of children from abuse and hunger where the politicians and government agencies despicably fail despite helping to launder stole public money. Let’s keep the truth out front and support the good, honest charities out there, they are not perfect but most are not corrupt. They have dedicated church workers risking themselves to save the children and victims of human rights violations.
concerns two characters: a rich man (erroneously named Dives in some translations) who indulged in a very luxurious life fit for kings and princes, and a poor man called Lazarus was so poor that he could only hope that he could eat his fill of the scraps from the rich man’s table, and so weak that he could not even defend himself from the dogs that licked his sores. But the reversal of fate after the two died is utterly shocking: the rich man went to Hades, while Lazarus rested on Abraham’s bosom—a fortune which would be difficult to accept in a culture that sees God’s blessing in wealth, and his curse in poverty. But why the reversal of fortunes in the next world? Though it is tempting to assume that the rich man must have lived a sinful life, whereas Lazarus was virtuous, the parable does not make even the slight suggestion about it.
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Most likely, it is simply that the rich man wallowed in wealth, whereas Lazarus was in misery, and that the stark inequality in their living conditions was utterly wrong. This could only mean that to enjoy the luxuries of life while millions starve in scandalous poverty is not morally right. Which is why it is not difficult to understand when we hear in the 1st Reading Amos the prophet upbraiding the rich, viewing their extravagance as morally intolerable: “Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall, improvising music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!” (Amos 6:4-6). The Bishops of the Philippines, in their Pastoral Exhortation on the Phil-
ippine Economy, bring home the point raised by Jesus’ parable and Amos’ woes. After enunciating the principles of the universal purpose of the created goods and private property, equitable distribution, the use of productive property for the common good, the duty to preserve the environment and responsibly use the natural resources (nn 47-48), they declared: “In our Philippine situation such principles would certainly reject situations like the continuing concentration of economic power in the hands of a few; particularly oligopolies; the pervading presence of absolute poverty; the flight of financial capital especially in times of national crisis; and legislation that sacrifices the good of the many in order to preserve the vested interests of the few. The same principles would mandate the ethical directions that businesses and investments should take: Create jobs
in the local market, open to the public ownership of corporations, especially those related to our natural resources; and invest in the rural and poor areas for the sake of the poor, even when profits are less.” It is difficult to see how a sharp contrast between wealth and poverty can be reconciled with a community that calls itself Christian. Of course, from a human point of view, it does not befit humanity. As Helder Camara noted, “poverty makes a person subhuman, excess of wealth makes a person inhuman.” But from a Christian point of view, two reasons may be advanced why such stark inequality is morally wrong. First, according to Paul, we form one body (1 Cor 10:17; 12:12), and it is scandalous to celebrate one Eucharist, one bread and one cup, while the contrast between superfluous wealth and grinding poverty remains
Enterprising / B6
unchanged in our situation (1 Cor 11:1822). It is contempt for the Church of God. As Edward Schillebeeckx puts it, “the great scandal is the intercommunion of rich Christians who remain rich and poor Christians who remain poor while celebrating the same Eucharist, taking no notice of the Christian model of sharing possession.” Second, we cannot continue to speak of love if we, as a community, remain divided into the rich who are few and the many who are poor (1 John 3:17). In fact, our faith is without life if we close ourselves and be blind to that division (Jas 2:15-27). We must share because, according to the Second Vatican Council, God destined the earth and all it contains for all humanity and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all humankind under the guidance of justice, and tempered by charity (Gaudium et spes, 69).
honesty and transparency in our management of our material resources. Admittedly, our misdeeds have brought shame and discredit to our fraternity as priests and bishops and have shocked and caused disillusionment among the lay faithful. “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.” We extend our hands to all those involved in this scam and to all who have contributed to the culture of political and moral corruption as we pray for God’s mercy on all of us. May our own humble admittance of our failings and lack of moral leadership as your shepherds invite you to
do the same as our national leaders so that the light of justice and truth may at last shine and heal our land. We express our deep gratitude to the netizens and social media practitioners, to the disenchanted professionals and multi-sectoral participants of the “Million People March” for their fearless vigilance in snowballing the moral revolution against the web of corruption in our Governmental institutions. May they raise their current engagement and vigilance to the next level and assist in the birth of a political culture that guarantees responsible governance, transparency and honesty.
We enjoin our abused farmers and workers, the faceless poor and their families, and all the victims of this despicable scam who might have been the recipients of such political largesse to hold on to their struggle to take the road of human development and free themselves from socio-economic enslavement by shaping a culture of self-reliance and political determination. Finally, we invite our people to join us in prayer: “Merciful God of our restless and lost nation, we confess our sinfulness as individuals and as a nation. We have sullied Your blessed Name as we live
in stark contrast to your Holy Gospel. Forgive us and lift us up out of our degradation. Enable us to undertake a true and lasting program of moral reformation for Your glory, through Christ Jesus, One and Almighty God, forever and ever. O Mary, humble handmaid of the Lord, pray with us and for us, for our conversion. Amen. For the National Clergy Discernment Group MSGR. MANUEL GABRIEL Convenor Signatories: 20 members of the Clergy and 13 Religious sisters
16:13a). This being the case, the right attitude toward wealth is therefore to make good use of it so as to reap eternal reward or, as Luke would have it, to have a “lasting reception” (Luke 16:9). The problem today, however, is that, if the world economy, wars and the poverty of the Third World are any index, those who make a god out of money—and the power that goes with it—seem to be more enterprising than us Christians who ought to make Jesus’ life a pattern for others. Yet we can learn from them. In today’s Gospel (Luke 16:1-7), Jesus told us the parable of the cunning manager who, to solve the crisis he
brought upon himself, reduced the amount his clients owed to his master to the effect that these accepted him after losing his managerial position. In recalling this parable, Luke wanted to bring home this point—if Christians would be more enterprising in proclaiming and living the message about a life patterned after Jesus’ than the sons of darkness in furthering their self-interest, we can certainly change the world, make it a better place to live in, and thereby realize some pockets of the Kingdom of God here on earth. And peace, which assures tranquility of life, will be within our reach.
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
Abhorrent Disturbing Acceptable Wholesome Exemplary
Poor Below average Average Above average E xcellent TITLE: The mule LEAD CAST: Sharon Stone, Billy Zane, Rosenberg Salgado, Miquel Rodarte DIRECTOR: Gabriela Tagliavini SCREENWRITER: Don Fiebiger & Amy Kolquist PRODUCER: Lucas Jarach EDITOR: James Coblentz MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Emilio Kauderer, Sebastian Kauderer, Marco Werba, Ana Barbara CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Strahorn GENRE: Drama RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes DISTRIBUTOR: Wanda Vision S.A. LOCATION: Los Angeles, California, USA Technical assessment: Moral assessment: MTRCB rating: R 13 CINEMA rating: V 18 (For viewers 18 years old and above )
Sofie (Sharon Stone) is a TV news reporter for a conservative television news station. When she calls up her brother Aaron (Billy Zane) one night, she hears gunshots on the other end. Fearing for the life of her brother, Sofie goes all the way to Mexico where her brother works to track him down. She learns that her brother has been involved in some illegal operations that brought in illegal immigrants (who attempt to cross the border from Mexico) into the United States. Her search leads her into joining a group of Mexicans trying to get across the border. In no time, she starts to discover and witness for herself the harsh realities that these immigrants are going through—that these trips are rather dangerous, and much worse, these operations are linked to the region’s most dangerous drug cartels. The Mule could have been an attempt to expose the plight of illegal immigrants in the United States, but it utterly fails in its execution as it merely focuses on the journey of a white American woman in search of her brother. This has put the main core of the issue into the backdrop. The story seems compelling at the start but it does not go beyond the soap operatic conventions of melodrama and thriller. But then, the film’s realistic approach effectively captures the audience’s emotions— making their hearts go for the marginalized characters. However, some unnecessary
plot innuendos distract the film’s central theme. The love angle seems out of place and the villainous portrayal goes beyond believable and borders on the laughable. Sharon Stone’s acting tends to be bigger than what is supposed to be, making the film devoid of any subtlety to put the message across. Still The Mule is able to once again open a seemingly relevant issue of the times and could still be worth the audience’s while. The Mule has this ambition of depicting the realities of illegal immigrants in the most realistic way possible. Thus, the darkness and grit are depicted to the fullest extent way beyond the imagination. The result disturbs both the heart and the mind of the audience as they are exposed to the harsh realities of the link between poverty and migration. However, the film may have gone a little bit too far and CINEMA fears that younger audiences may be desensitized by the images of gore and violence. Although at the core of the story is the fraternal love that propels a woman’s quest for truth, and towards the end, amidst deception, love prevails; still the darkness, vulgar language, and horror in the film is so powerful that it may shake young audiences’ values and faith in the humankind, leading them to question, “If such a violent, heartless world really does exists, where is God amidst all these?” The film subtly depicts the characters as
coming from a deeply religious region, (one character wears a shirt with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe), but God seems to have no place in this world where money and worldly ambitions rule. In the film, humans act and are treated like animals. There is utter disrespect for women and children. Such depictions may be taken into the context of dark realities but such darkness may crush the spirit of the young rather than inspire, so CINEMA deems The Mule as suitable only for mature audiences ages 18 and above.
Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried) is a naïve uncontainable 21 year old girl who is slowly discovering her sexuality. Raised by conservative Catholic parents, she feels the liberation from her uptight mother Dorothy (Sharon Stone) after she falls in love and marries Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), a cunning older man. The first half of the movie delves into Linda’s sexual awakening and rise to porn stardom with the success of Deep Throat—which she, now named Linda Lovelace, seemingly embraces and enjoys every minute. However, the tone completely changes in the second act set 6 years later. Here we see an older, deglamorized Linda taking a polygraph test as requested by her publisher. The test is to authenticate the facts in her book, Ordeal, where she narrates the abuses she underwent with her husband. Then we see the same events in the first act but this time with the complete story. The seemingly uninhibited Linda is actually a survivor of a darker past where she is pimped, raped, beaten, threatened, and forced to do the porn movie by Chuck. The Rashomon-style narrative of Lovelace works smartly but waters down the emotional torture of the protagonist with a simplified glibness of the script. Sarsgaard and Stone are outstanding as the abusive Chuck and the self-righteous Dorothy, respectively. While Seyfried is convincing enough, she would benefit from a few more years of experience in successfully translating the fragility of her role. The movie is tastefully done despite the adult content and themes but the production design is a little over the top. As a biopic film, it succeeds in delivering a simplified version of events but poses a lot of questions as to the veracity of Lovelace’s s u p p o s e d ordeal because it contradicts several accounts about her. (For instance TITLE: Lovelace Deep Throat was neither her CAST: Amanda Seyfried, first nor last porn movie). James Franco, Peter Nonetheless, the premise Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, of the film is timely, given Chris Noth, Hank Azaria the sexual permissiveness Robert Patrick prevalent both in the DIRECTION: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman traditional and new media. The movie shows the GENRE: Drama struggle of Linda not only RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes LOCATION: USA to survive the physical and Technical assessment: sexual abuses but also to rise above the stigma of pornography and empower Moral assessment: other women to do the MTRCB rating: R16 CINEMA rating: V18 same. On this account, Lovelace is an inspirational film about domestic violence and exploitation—it clearly shows that a virtual resurrection from the gutter is not only possible but also desirable as a path to domestic contentment and stability. However, there are two delicate issues that merit deeper thought: first, all the people around Linda, save for film producer Romano (Chris Noth), did nothing to prevent the abuses although they were very well aware and capable of doing so. The movie does not judge their indifference as an accessory to the abuses Linda endured. Secondly, Catholic traditions are presented as misguided beliefs and sanctimonious protection of the status quo. True, marriage for Catholics is sacred and should continuously work towards reconciliation and unity, but while wives are supposed to love, obey and respect the authority of husbands, in no way does the Catholic Church say they should endure violence and abuses. These issues, together with the theme and graphic and implicit sex scenes make Lovelace more suitable for mature adult audiences.
Buhay San Miguel
Ni Bladimer Usi
The second instalment of the Percy Jackson adventures, as based loosely on Rick Riordan’s novels, picks up in Camp Half-Blood, a haven and training ground for demigods. The movie opens with Percy (Logan Lerman), the son of Poseidon, narrating the sacrifice of young Thalia (Paloma Kwiatkowski) and Zeus’ reward for her actions. Apparently, a pine tree that now emits a magical protective shield grew through her body. In the camp, a friendly tournament among the demigods is taking place and ends with Clarisse (Leven Ramblin), daughter of Ares and Percy’s rival, winning once again because Percy had to go all the way back to the start to save a fellow competitor. This leaves Percy silently resentful of not being able to be perceived as a champion or winner. However, he keeps his feelings in check and humbly takes on a cleaning assignment from the Camp Master Dionysus (Stanley Tucci). Percy is introduced to camp newcomer a cyclops, Tyson (Douglas Smith), another son of his father Poseidon, and receives more humiliating moments as camp residents rudely stare at his one-eyed half-brother. Later, Luke Castellan (Jake Abel), Hermes’ son and the antagonist of the series, attacks the camp and poisons Thalia’s magic tree which endangers the existence of the entire camp. Dionysus sends Clarisse on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece to heal the tree. But Percy learns of a prophesy saying a demigod and child of one of the Big Three Gods (Zeus, Poseidon and Hades) will save or destroy Mount Olympus. He assumes the prophesy refers to him, sets off with his friend Annabeth
TITLE: Percy Jackson: Sea of monsters Cast: Logan Lerman, Douglas Smith, Brandon Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Leven Ramblin, Jake Abel, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Paloma Kwiatkowski Director: Thor Freudenthal Genre: Fantasy/Adventure Running Time: 107 minutes; Distributor: 20th Century Fox Location: USA Technical assessment: Moral assessment: MTRCB rating: PG13 CINEMA rating: V14 (For viewers aged 14 and above)
(Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena, his satyr protector Grover Underwood (Brandon T.Jackson) and his half-brother Tyson to find the Fleece, stop Luke from resurrecting the Titan Kronos and destroying Mount Olympus. A mark of a good movie adaptation is its ability to stand on its own merits, whether or not viewers have read the original book. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is somewhat in between. It gives enough highlights from the book but does not confuse the audience with the side stories and character backstories which are not fully developed. Although the fans of Rick Riordan would complain that the movie version is so different from the original novel and in a sense loses its mythological mystique, the first time viewer can appreciate it as it is and find it worthy enough to try to watch the first movie just so the context is
better grasped. As always, Hollywood has perfected the computer generated effects, and even if audiences already expect this kind of magic, the special effects are still powerful and commendable. The greatest value of the movie lies in the seamlessness of the post production works. Performances and the script are a little predictable and shallow but they work nonetheless. Over-all, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters may not belong to the “must watch films” but is enjoyable and worth the effort. There are two lessons to be derived from the film. First, the value of family. Percy did not see Tyson as a worthwhile brother but realized that looks and lineage are of little consequence. He also thought that his father does not listen and later on realized that it was his father guiding him all along. Families stick together, stay together and help each other all the time. Family here does not merely refer to blood relatives because at the end of the day, rivals Clarisse and Percy supported each other to succeed in their quest to save the camp. Second, the value of sacrifice. Thalia bravely fought the monster Cyclops to give her friends a chance to escape at the expense of her life. Percy gave up winning against Clarisse in the tournament because someone needed his help. In the end, despite wanting so much to be recognized for his heroic contribution to the quest, he gave the honors of retrieving the Golden Fleece to Clarisse as it was her original quest. It is never about just winning but doing good and being humble about it—a magnanimity of heart that is the mark of a true hero.
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Vol. 17 No. 19
September 16 - 29, 2013
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
ANCOP Global Walk 2013 A day of miracles!
Snapshots of the ANCOP Global Walk 2013: at left, different groups like Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community, Far Eastern University and the Philippine Airforce one with CFC ANCOP; middle photos shows the dawn Mass crowd, the CFC International Council with Bishop Ongtioko, Msgr. Allen Aganon, Fr. Sonny de Claro, and Fr. Paul Uwemedimo; at right, some photos from the international CFC community.
By the UGNAYAN Docu Team
Several provinces in Luzon, and some parts of the Visayas and Mindanao experienced heavy rains the night of August 24, 2013. In Metro Manila, the logistics team had to stop three times during set up because of the heavy downpour. When Bishop Honesto Ongtioko of the Diocese of Cubao started the celebration of the Mass, he was literally competing with the sound of rain pouring over the
Luneta crowd. Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, the sun was slowly shining. And before the Mass in Luneta was over, the rains had let up. And before 6:00 AM, everyone was just rearing to walk. Aside from Metro Manila, walkers gathered in 80 other points among the 65 Philippine provinces, with only one battle cry: “I will walk for a scholar, walk with me!” The same global walk was likewise held simultaneously in the USA, Canada,
Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and Singapore. The third year of the A NCOP Global Walk may have brought in more walkers, more partner institutions, and more who share in Couples for Christ’s advocacy to build the church of the poor. But more than the numbers, it is the miracle of bringing people from all walks of life and from anywhere in the world together, to share in the call to answer the cry of the poor.
CFC Urged to Engage in BCOP
By Alma Alvarez
During the MCG last September 1, 2013 at the Ateneo High School, CFC Chairman and BCOP Director Ricky Cuenca rallied the members of the Mission Core to engage in the programs under BCOP, or Building the Church of the Poor. According to Cuenca, as leaders of Couples for Christ, the Mission Core should live out the community’s two-pronged mission statement—to build the Church of the Home and build the Church of the Poor. During the Mass, Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak, Military Ordinariate of the Philippines exhorted the MCG to embrace Jesus in the poor and those who need help. A video titled Buhay CFC (The CFC Life) kicked off Cuenca’s talk. In his discourse, the BCOP Director showcased each program
under BCOP, namely ANCOP Education, ANCOP Shelter, Health, Livelihood, Environment, Migrants Program, Prison (Isaiah 61:1), Men in Uniform, Good Governance (STMA), and the Cooperatives, and how each person can actually be a stakeholder in any of the BCOP programs. Testimonies from those who are actually immersed in the BCOP Programs followed, each one inspiring fellow leaders to find fulfillment in living out the mission of Couples for Christ. Each BCOP Program set up their own booths where the members of the MCG can explore how they can get involved in the various BCOP offerings. Before the BCOP Program Heads were called in front for the prayer for empowerment, some ANCOP scholars encouraged CFC to “Jump In” via an upbeat dance number.
“Behold and Ponder”
Couples for Christ 2014 Theme
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
The Great Mongolian Adventure
The IC Discernment Weekend last September 6-8 was a deeply moving personal encounter for me with our God who has faithfully provided CFC with the guiding spirit that inspired all our themes that moved CFC forward according to His will and plan. The last day of the weekend fell on September 8, the Birthday of our Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother. Together with all the IC members and our respective spouses, we felt that the Lord gave her to us once more as a gift. She is the Lord’s gift to us, but He also wants us to be a gift to His Mother. For the past 2 years, the Holy Spirit gave our Blessed Mother to lead us closer to her Son, Jesus Christ. We were called to “Proclaim the Greatness of the Lord” by embracing ON FIRE Missions in 2012. It was a call to proclaim. Then in 2013, it was a call to discipleship when CFC was challenged to “Obey and Witness” inspired by Mary’s prompting to “do whatever He tells you”. This coming year, 2014, Jesus is entrusting us to His mother. Inspired by John 19:26-27, “When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to her, ‘Woman, behold, your son’. Then He said to the disciple, ‘Son, behold, your Mother’. From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” CFC is being called to a deeper relationship with Jesus and Mary. Mary received her new mission at the foot of Cross – to be the Mother of the Church. From that moment on, she became our own Mother, validating our identity as sons and daughters of God. And for us to embrace our true identity, we are to follow Mary from Cana to the foot of the cross. Significantly, 2014 is CFC’s 33rd year, the same number of years of Jesus’ earthly life to fulfill His mission of salvation. It is the same number of years from the Annunciation, when Mary became the Mother of God, up to His death on the cross when Mary became the Mother of the Church.
33 years for Couples for Christ… Where is CFC? We are called to reflect in silence. We need to ponder on all the things that have transpired for the past 33 years in our beloved community. Luke 2:19, 51 “And Mary kept all these things in her heart… pondered them in her heart.” It is the 3rd year of our journey with Mary and this time, she is leading us to contemplate where the heart of CFC is at this point. In order for us to determine where CFC is we need to examine our spirituality with Christ as our example: • CFC as Christ the Beloved Son – 2014 is the Year of the Laity. God is calling all of us, His faithful, lay people, to reclaim our identity as His sons and daughters. “I am another Christ, the son of the Father.” Col.1:15-16, with Mary as our Mother. CFC as Christ the Loving Spouse – 33rd year as a community and our 3rd year journey with Mary. Christ as the Bridegroom, is the ultimate proof of self-giving love as reflected in the mystery of the crucifixion, while Mary’s fiat teaches us of spousal love between Christ and the Church. CFC as Jesus the Son Sent by the Father – It is the era of New Evangelization. Put into the deep our relationship with God, with our spouse, and with our family. Furthermore, it is responding to the challenge of building the future of CFC.
CFC goes back to Mongolia, clockwise from top: The fruit of the Övörkhangai CFC mission; Raymond Bucu giving a talk while Isabel interprets; the CFC Mongolia Mission Team with the new graduates of Darkhan CLP; with Fr. Ronald (far left, in front of the majestic statue of Genghis Khan, the national hero of the Mongolia people; Anna Bucu with Sr. Lucchia Bartolomaci and Fr. Girogio Marengo.
By Raymond Bucu
“Good luck sa inyo. Hayaan mo, I’m sure pagkatapos nilang marinig ang sharing ninyo, magsimula na rin silang mag-ipon ng pera pamasahe. Maganda ang team ninyo. Di masyadong seryoso at siyempre puro talented pa. Kaya enjoy at smooth ang takbo ng mission niyo. Maraming salamat sa full support ninyo para sa CFC Mission dito sa Mongolia!” Thus wrote Fr. Ronald Magbanua, the tireless parish priest of the Good Shepherd Parish of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in our email exchange following the second CFC Mongolia Mission held last July 25 to August 3, 2013. The mission, which was led by CFC Chairman Ricky Cuenca, was intended as a follow through on the earlier mission trip held last March, 2013 in the same city. That March mission yielded a total of 16 couples for the Lord, yet it was clear that a follow up mission was needed to sustain the community there. On July 25, the second CFC mission team composed of Gabby and Lily Ocampo, MM Central C; Ramon and Rose Cugal, MM West B; Jun Enriquez, MM Central A; and my wife Anna and myself, arrived in Ulaanbaatar. The objective was to conduct three new Christian Life Programs in three different cities, and to conduct the required first year formation teachings among those who became the first CFC graduates last March. As it turned out, while the mission was not without any challenges, it proved to be full of pleasant surprises from the Lord and from each of the missionaries. Upon arrival at the Chinggiss Khan International Airport, Fr. Ronald warmly welcomed us. Upon reaching the parish, our home in Mongolia, fond memories of the earlier mission immediately flooded my mind. Despite our initial misgivings, that first mission showed us that even an alien culture and an unfamiliar language will not be a hindrance for the Lord to choose to pour His Spirit upon His people. For the second time in this strange, wonderful country, Anna and I once again felt the delicious anticipation of experiencing God’s presence in
And so with much awe to our Lord and gratitude to our Mother, we embrace our theme for 2014 “BEHOLD and PONDER”. May it bring us to PONDER our identity, establish a deeper relationship with Christ, a fearlessness to go out into the deep, and to BEHOLD the wonder of God’s plan for CFC!
An Effective Tool for New Evangelization
In the past 10 years, we have seen a big shift and great advances in communications. Today, we have a combination of smart phones, internet sites, social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Face Time, etc that bring us up to the minute news. But do we realize how these devices are changing HOW we communicate? One of the more interesting questions being asked by the Catholic Church and our leaders in Couples for Christ is, “What does the New Evangelization look like in this world of modern communications?” To answer the question, we can break down the answer into two areas in the context of CFC: 1. Sharing our activities/events throughout our global CFC Community; and 2. Building a culture of innovation with digital communications. Sharing our activities/events throughout our global CFC Community We in CFC make it a point to share what is happening in our “neck of the woods” so to speak in order to spread awareness about our CFC Community across the world. We do this by identifying three content areas that answer different audience needs: a) CFC On Fire, b) Spreading God’s Word, and c) Uplifting The Poor. Since we are in a 24/7 nonstop news cycle, we cannot afford to allow critically precious hours or days to slip by without sharing our events/ actions. This also requires us to increase our efforts in social media, as increasingly people no longer look to traditional information gatekeepers as they did in the past, considering the access that everyone has via the worldwide web. CFC USA together with Europe, Middle East and Manila through the Ugnayan are forming an alliance to deploy monthly newsletters, and up to the minute Facebook and Twitter integration that will allow us to share information among ourselves and with the rest of the world. Also, we are taking up the call of the New Evangelization with a renewed focus on resources that offer both solid teachings and tender encouragement that focus on marriage and family life. Building a culture of innovation with digital communications Who knew that our CFC community will adapt to iPads and other gadgets, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social network platforms? Therefore, we cannot just be like sitting ducks, waiting for everyone to adapt to technology. Therefore, we need to think out of the box and embrace a CFC culture of innovation and experimentation in communications. Matthew 28:19 says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” But how do we make disciples of all nations? The evangelization strategy used by the two apostles Paul and Barnabas tells it all: first, address the local Jewish community. Overseas Jewish communities were scattered all over the Roman Empire. They visited and wrote letters to the believers, and taught them as well. And then, they started to evangelize the Gentiles. This method of evangelizing used the Old Testament as the starting point to lead the Jewish audience to accept Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies. “We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” (Acts 13:32-33) With this missionary spirit, “they preached from town to town across the entire island” (Acts 13:6). In today’s world, we make use of digital technology to spread the word of God. Without walking from town to town, we can reach people from around the globe. One way of CFC showing our work of reaching the world is through the use of tools like Facebook and Twitter and via e-mailing newsletters, which has a reach of 1.2 million. For instance, the CFC USA e-newsletter has an RSS feed of the daily Mass readings and Vatican media releases, and highlights the daily work ANCOP. Sharing these to our own networks allow our friends to share the materials in their own social networks, thus reaching more. Conclusion However, much still needs to be done. Our new CFC communication alliances have to increase content available to the community through the help of our members. The upbeat digital communication technology is spreading like wildfire across the globe and in our CFC community. This is our chance to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth, as stated in Mark 16:15-16, “Go into the entire world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” And, just as the Church learned how to use the book and film to proclaim the Good News to the ends of the earth, so today we must teach ourselves to learn these new tools to help people find the faith in their ordinary days and in their times of need. To quote from our Holy Father on the World Day of Communication last January: “Word and silence: learning to communicate is learning to listen and contemplate as well as speak. This is especially important for those engaged in the task of evangelization: both silence and word are essential elements, integral to the Church’s work of communication for the sake of a renewed proclamation of Christ in today’s world.” Roger Santos is a current member of the CFC USA National Council, Executive Director of ANCOP Foundation USA Inc. and Country Coordinator of Greece. He is married to Josie Santos with whom he has three children: Casie, Vons and Paulo.
the work at hand. But unlike the first mission, which was held only in Ulaanbaatar, this second mission required us to travel and conduct the CLP’s in three cities; the first in Ulaanbaatar, then to the province of Övörkhangai, which is about 600 kilometers from the capital, and then to Darkhan which is about 350 kilometers to the west of the capital. After only a few hours of rest, the team, accompanied by Isabel Bayandorj, our interpreter for the entire mission, headed north for an eight-hour trip to Övörkhangai. The venue of the CLP is the Roman Catholic frontier mission outpost manned by Fr. Giorgio Marengo, a young Italian priest from the Congregation of Consolata Missionary in Turin, and Sr. Lucchia Bartolomasi. Upon our arrival, we met up with the first three couples who graduated in March: Paul and Anna, John and Rosa and Jaq and Magdalene. Together, we had a happy, though short reunion, but as the Övörkhangai participants were already present, we immediately got to work. At the end of the first day, the Cugals and the Ocampos had to go back to Ulaanbaatar because a third CLP was scheduled for the Filipino parishioners of the Good Shepherd Parish, leaving Anna, myself and Jun Enriquez to finish the Övörkhangai CLP. After the Övörkhangai mission, we had to go back to the capital for the trip to Darkhan. The next day, all seven of us traveled to Darkhan, where we conducted the next CLP in the Don Bosco Formation Center. The 17 participants were called in by Fr. Paul Leung, a Salesian missionary from Hongkong. Once again, our mission experience was enhanced by the kindness and generosity of these missionary priests and the religious sisters, who had dedicated their lives in the service of our Lord by living among His people, despite the fact that the Faith in that part of the country is a minority and that the cultural and spiritual difference was substantial. Afterwards, we went back to the capital where for the final two nights of our stay, where we held two more teachings as an introduction for future CLP’s among the parishioners of St.
Mary’s Parish led by Fr. Francesco Hu, a Korean missionary of CICM. Just like the first CLP in March, the issue to overcome during these missions was the language barrier. While we had interpreters, it was still a challenge to make the talks come across in the easiest way possible and yet make sure it is clear enough to minimize the chances of anything becoming lost in translation. It was also a challenge as to how to act within the bounds of Mongolian cultural nuances, which were many and quite alien to Filipino sensibilities. Also part of the mission was to establish CFC household groups in the various areas and to instill the first stages of CFC culture among the brethren. This was critical because the dynamism and the highly evangelistic nature of CFC need to be thoroughly explained to both the clergy and the lay. But the most challenging issue is that most of our participants are recent converts to the faith. We became acutely aware that we should come across more as witnesses of God’s goodness rather than speakers, being reminded of what St. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians as he described about those who are being fed with milk and those with solid food. But those who respond to God’s call, He equips. The CLP’s that were held were conducted very smoothly, with both the participants and the CFC missionaries being blessed as the talks proceeded to become sharings of God’s victories in the lives of His servants. At the same time, the participants were suddenly aware that each one of them had a story to tell, and could relate to the experiences that the CFC missionaries had undergone and the way that God has become in charge of their lives. The CFC mission team were simply ordinary CFC couples, whose burning desire to bring the Word of God to the ends of the earth is greater than their limited finances. Yet God, in His goodness, decided to honor the desire of His servants to serve Him by paving the way for us to be part of His great work and to fulfill our part of the mission.
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
George B. Campos
Samantha C. Manuel
Alma M. Alvarez
Deomar P. Oliveria
Claudine T. Itchon
Evangeline C. Mecedilla
The Ugnayan News Supplement is published by the Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation, Inc., with editorial offices at 156 20th Avenue, 1109 Cubao, Quezon City. Editorial trunk line: (+63 2) 709-4868 local 23 Direct line : (+63 2) 709-4856 www.couplesforchristglobal.org email@example.com facebook.com/CFC.Global.Mission
Vol. 17 No. 19
September 16 - 29, 2013
Landbank Gold Cup Raises 1.25M for ANCOP Scholarship
Cornerstone, CSP Visit The Mind Museum
Landbank golfs for CFC ANCOP, from left: CFC Treasurer Jimmy Ilagan, CFC ANCOP COO Eric delos Reyes, CFC Chairman Ricky Cuenca, Landbank EVP Bong Arjonillo, and CFC Excutive Director George Campos.
By Rico Alconcel
As part of celebrating 50 fruitful years in the banking industry, Landbank of the Philippines partnered with CFC ANCOP for the LANDBANK GOLD CUP Benefit Golf Tournament. The benefit golf, which was held last August 29, 2013 at the West Course of the Wack-wack Golf and Country Club. No less than 48 valued clients of Landbank partnered in this noble cause. The event started with a ceremonial teeoff led by Landbank EVP Rab-
boni Francis “Bong” Arjonillo, followed by a shotgun tee-off at 8:00 A.M. All in all, 76 avid golfers representing Landbank, its partners and friends enjoyed playing, at the same time raising funds to send 50 scholars to college starting SY 2014-15. All would-be scholars are encouraged to take courses related to agriculture, fisheries and related fields, in line with Landbank’s priority sectors. ANCOP, through its Child Sponsorship Program (CSP), will screen and qualify the prospective scholars nationwide.
During the awards ceremonies, ANCOP scholars provided the entertainment through Filipiniana dances, afterwhich a recent Fisheries graduate of UP Los Baños and a high school student, both products of CSP, shared their experiences as ANCOP scholars. The event highlight was the symbolic turnover of PHP 1.25 M to ANCOP by Arjonillo, himself a CFC Metro Manila Sector Head. The ANCOP Golf Committee, headed by Rico Alconcel, managed the benefit golf tournament. Last August 31, 2013, 154 Cornerstone children from ODELCO Elementary School, Pasong Tamo Elementary School, San Francisco Elementary School, Masambong High School, San Juan National High School, Jose Fabella High School and Metro Manila East B CSP scholars, together with 15 teachers and 14 volunteers, were given a chance by The Children’s Hour to visit The Mind Museum in Taguig City. The extraordinary educational science experience gave the children an opportunity to discover Science in a fun and creative way. (Sherryl de Leon)
GPSI Regional Finals to be held in Abu Dhabi
Landbank top executives at the forefront of the Landbank Gold Cup, clockwise from top left: with hole sponsors Producers Bank and Harry Queens Commercial; pre-tee off huddle; EVP Bong Arjonillo for the ceremonial tee off.
ABS-CBN’s DZMM Tele-Radyo, in partnership with CFC-ANCOP, is set to bring the World Caravan Global Pinoy Singing Idol (GPSI) 2013 to Abu Dhabi for its Middle East leg. The GPSI is a singing competition for amateur Filipinos living abroad, 18 years old and above. Two winners will be selected and will be flown to Manila for the global finals on December 2013 and
compete against regional winners from America, Asia and Australia. The proceeds of the GPSI Middle East show, which is happening on September 27, 2013 at the Al Jazira Basketball Arena in Abu Dhabi, will be for the benefit of CFC ANCOP. ABS-CBN talents Richard Poon and Rachel Alejandro will be celebrity guests.
AGW 2013 Photo Gallery
Photo credits: AGW Manila - Jerry Tanigue, Ruel Tenerife, Romeo Medina, Eric Urbiztondo, Kathryn Pacheco, Mary Ellen Jade Lebria; provincial and international AGW correspondents.
children, for all offertory collections from the daily Masses were donated by the main celebrating priests, Fr. Rene Esoy SSS (Ireland), Fr. Dondong Estafia (Austria) and Fr. Albert Escoto SVD (Ireland), to the ANCOP Ireland fund. As we continue to ponder in our hearts what was revealed to us at the wedding feast,
September 16 - 29, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 19
Obey & Witness: the 2013 Euro MegaCon
may CFC Europe and its Family Ministries be enlightened that in living out our lives in obedience to Christ we bring the refreshing, life-giving wine of God’s care and love into someone’s life. We look forward to the next European Conference in 2014 when we will again be gathered to see His glory.
All roads led to Dublin, Ireland for the 213 Euro Mega conference, clockwise from top left: one in worship with Joe Yamamoto and Honorary Consul Mark Christopher Congdon and his family; opening worship; CFC UK at the annual food festival.
By Cyndy Reavey
More than 960 CFC brethren, youth and children from the 16 countries, namely Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, The Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, USA and Canada, came to gather at the Royal Dublin Society Hotel in Ireland last August 16 to 18, 2013 for the
CFC European Mega Conference. It was by God’s design that the readings on the first day of the conference reflected that particular gathering. The first reading (Joshua 24:1-13) described that like the tribes of Israel, CFC gathered from all over Europe as well from the Philippines, USA and Canada, and presented ourselves before God. The Psalm response echoed our heart’s
proclamation to our Groom (Psalm 135). And the Lord reaffirmed his love for us, his bride, his church, by his words in the day’s gospel from Matthew 19:3-12. The 3-day wedding feast was filled with games, fun and excitement as each country joyfully competed for the best “titles”. Each family ministry was spiritually filled with God’s word as CFC elders gave the talks at the breakout
sessions. Leaders from the CFC International Council in the Philippines, namely Ricky Cuenca, Manny and Ditas Garcia, the outgoing European Overseer Joe and Mila Yamamoto, and International HOLD Coordinator Didi Galsim, were among those who graced the gathering. Not only those present received God’s grace, but also those whom Jesus loves so much―the underprivileged
By Josie Pangilinan
CFC Australia Turns 25
25 to forever! This was the battle cry of CFC Australia as they celebrated the community’s journey to silver. For 4 weekends of August, CFC Australia rejoiced and expressed their gratitude via four spirit-filled events. Last August 11, Sunday, CFC Sydney joined City2Surf, a huge 14-km marathon in order to raise money for CFC ANCOP. August 17, Saturday saw members of CFC and the Family Ministries at the Sports Fest in Blacktown. August 24 marked the most-awaited staging of Teen Saint Pedro, The Musicale at the Marconi Club in Bossley Park, the first off-shore show where the company performed to a jampacked auditorium. A week later, TSP, The Musicale went to Melbourne. The culmination of the celebrations was on August 25 where CFC Australia and the FamilyMinistries gathered at the Marconi Club for the Eucharistic celebration, fun contests, games, and performances. Over all, the four weeks of celebration was a fitting thanksgiving for using our community
as God’s instrument in this part of the world. Joe Tale’s messages were an encouragement to empower the youth to the works of evangelization and missions as symbolised by the life of St. Pedro Calungsod. He also reminded everyone to hold on tight to their covenant to work on personal holiness in order to truly renew the face of the earth.
Bangkok Bishop Welcomes CFC Elders
CFC Ireland hosts EuroCon, clockwise from top left: CFC Ireland leaders pose with CFC Chairman Ricky Cuenca; the Yamamotos, Garcias and Sescons with Honorary Consul Mark Christopher Congdon; host country CFC Ireland welcomes all delegates.
His Eminence Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovitvanond, Archbishop of Bangkok (center), received some elders of the new National Council of CFC Thailand, in an audience led by Fr. John Tamayo, SDB, national spiritual director (4th from right), and Edgar Dante, country head and national director (5th from left), at
the Bangkok Archdiocese Mission House last August 30, 2013. The Archbishop exhorted the CFC leaders to continue their good work, not only among Filipino and expat communities in Bangkok, but especially in the up-country missions in various regions of Thailand.
Teen Saint Pedro, the Musicale Goes to Sydney, Melbourne
CFC Europe Walks with the World
Couples for Christ Europe celebrated the ANCOP Global Walk last August 25, 2013 in solidarity with the global CFC community. As a strong indication that the CFC mission of Building the Church of the Poor is very much alive in Europe, simultaneous walks were held in the following countries/ cities: Vienna, Austria This year, many people joined the walk as the Filipino chaplaincy endorsed and supported the walk for scholars. All the four priests joined this year’s AGW, which culminated in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist! Everyone looks forward to next year’s walk, which promises to be an even bigger one! Italy (Bassano del Grappa) Nations in front of the United Nations Office. The evening before, brethren prayed for fair weather even as they agreed that the AGW would proceed, rain or shine. True enough, the Lord made sure the Swiss AGW would be bright and sunny. While in Place des Nations, the walkers posed for picture before the “Broken Chair” and proceeded back to the Parc du Pommier for the celebration of the Holy Mass and community lunch. The Netherlands (Amsterdam) United with the global family of Couples for Christ, CFC Netherlands joined the ANCOP Global Walk that happened around the world.Together with Joe and Mila Yamamoto, and Boy and Angging Sescon, the entire CFC Netherlands family purposely walked around Stadspark Osdorp in Amsterdam with the welfare of our needy brethren in the Philippines in mind and heart. Every step taken duringthis walk was a leap towards giving an ANCOP Scholar a brighter future. United Kingdom (Five regions)
Captions: Philippine Ambassador Belen Anota and Consul Marford Angeles with event organisers; (inset) Makisig Morales with cast of the musical (photos courtesy of Nards Purisima)
By Cynthia Purisima Argana
It was already midday of 21 August and all of us here in Sydney were waiting for word from Manila. That day, 21 members of the 29 AD Musicionaries were supposed to fly in to Sydney for Teen Saint Pedro, The Musicale. The night before, the Manila International Airport Authority had put all flights on hold as all roads leading to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were flooded due to heavy rains brought by tropical storm “Maring”. There were countless other setbacks but by God’s grace, all 46 musicionaries all boarded their original flights and made it to Sydney. God’s Hand In February, Lori Estera, a Council member of CFC Australia had a vision of bringing TSP, The Musicale to Sydney in time for CFC’s 25th Anniversary. “We want to celebrate the blessing of another Filipino saint, and one whom particularly the youth can emulate, ” Estera said. St. Pedro Calungsod was only 18 years old when he was martyred in 1872 after he joined the Jesuit missionaries led by Padre Diego de San Vittores to propagate Catholicism in Guam. When opposition from the Chamorro tribes escalated, the teen Pedro had the chance to flee but chose to stay. The words later on attributed to the young Saint goes, “No martyr ever dies in vain.” Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle com-
missioned 29 AD, composed of CFC members, to encapsulate the young saint’s love for God. In less than two months the production was able to stage its debut performance, a month before the Saint’s canonization in October last year. However, the task of bringing the production to Australia seemed like a mammoth task for CFC, especially applying for visas. Members of the 29 AD were not professional entertainers. At the same time, applying for tourist visas had stringent requirements as well. Yet all of the 46 cast and crew applications were approved without difficulty. Budget was also crucial since the musical was not meant for profit but for a mission. God’s hand truly was at work! New Evangelization The staging of TSP, The Musicale in Sydney & Melbourne is CFC’s way of responding to the Church’s call of New Evangelization, to spread the Faith using secular avenues. Thus it was affirming how the Lord provided for cheap flights, how local CFC members opened their homes to provide free accommodations (the blessing of being in a global community), how local talents abound from Kids for Christ, Youth for Christ, Singles for Christ, and how local CFC members sacrificed their time, talent and resources to build the stage props and costumes. TSP the Musicale is truly CFC’s way of thanking God for using the community as His instrument in this part of the world.
Belgium (Brussels) CFC Belgium’s first ANCOP Global walk was held at the majestic Parc du Cinquantenaire. Aside from CFC and the Family Ministries and their work colleagues, representatives from the Philippine Embassy and various organizations like Las Damas De Rizal, Coalition of Filipino Association in Belgium and Ugnayang Pilipino sa Belgium also joined the AGW. The walk started with a prayer led by Romeo Medina, CFC Belgium ANCOP Coordinator, followed by the welcome and thank you message from Cesar Ambrocio, CFC Belgium Country Head. After the walk, CFC sponsored a Mass at the St. Remi Molenbeek Church. Ireland (Belfast) CFC Northern Ireland brethren from Belfast walked the extra mile by going all the way to the Knock Shrine in Mayo and held their walk on the Holy Ground! This AGW site was a pilgrimage site for CFC Europe after the Mega Conference.Brethren from CFC Dublin, will hold the Walk on September 28, 2013. Understandably, they needed more time to organize after coming from the Megacon hosting.
Around 150 walkers from Como, Milan, Padova, Vicenza and host Bassano del Grappa gathered in this historic northern city to join the ANCOP Global Walk. The participants were accompanied three priests―Fr. Mauro Lazzarato (Director of Migrants in Vicenza, based in Scalabrini Missionary), Fr. Paulino Bumanglag of the Filipino Chaplaincy in Vicenza and Fr. Sonny, a visiting priest from Rome. Walkers carried placards with the inscription, “Cammina per poveri!” (Walk for the poor!). This first CFC Italy ANCOP walk signals the start of a beautiful tradition of walking for the poor that has the potential to become even bigger considering that CFC Italy has strong presence in fifteen cities/ provinces. Switzerland (Geneva)
CFC Switzerland brethren walked twice longer in their second ANCOP Global Walk. Around 170 walkers gathered in Parc du Pommier in Geneva and marched towards Place des
CFC UK conducted simultaneous walks in five different regions, namely the Central, South, Yorkshire/Midlands/Isle of Man, Northeast and Scotland. The Filipino Channel (TFC) covered the London event and was aired on Sunday, September 1, 2013 thru its program Balitang Europe.
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