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Filipino Catholic Laity: Called to be Saints… Sent Forth as Heroes!
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
NASSA, Caritas Int’l map out rehab plans for typhoon-ravaged areas
THE National Secretariat for Social Action Justice and Peace (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) met with members of Caritas Internationalis and local partners to discuss and map out coordinated response for a comprehensive rehabilitation of areas devastated by typhoon Yolanda. The meeting held at the Archbishop’s Residence in Cebu City, tackled a long term
NASSA / A6
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
By Jennifer M. Orillaza
CBCP declares 2014 ‘Year of the Laity’
“It is certainly a shameful proof of our failure to evangelize our country that our churches are filled with people, our religious festivities are fervent, our Catholic schools are many, but our country is mired in poverty and in corruption,” the CBCP said. In its pastoral exhortation “Filipino Catholic Laity: Called to be Saints…Sent Forth as Heroes,” the bishops’ collegial body stressed the need to empower the laity, noting that the political upheavals faced by the country may be caused by the evident disconnection between the faith they profess and the actions they commit. “Many, perhaps the majority of the corrupt people in politics and in business are graduates of our own Catholic schools and are “practicing” Catholics. The majority of those who cheat in elections and those who sell their votes are also baptized Catholics. This is also true of the bribe takers in public offices and the looters of our public coffers,” it added. “The criteria for decisions taken by many in politics do not derive from faith but from other sources inimical to the Christian life. The poison of the greed for power and wealth has already pervaded the political and business systems,” it said. Noting the “systemic” corruption destroying the country’s political and
THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on December 1 declared 2014 as the Year of the Laity to emphasize the role played by the Catholic faithful in the “sanctification and transformation of the world.”
Laity / A7
Bishops, priests and lay workers from in and outside the country attend the planning and logistics coordination meeting of Caritas international network in Cebu City, December 4. The Caritas network, the second largest humanitarian network in the world, mapped out a comprehensive rehabilitation of areas devastated by super Typhoon Yolanda. The agency has been coordinating with the Philippine government, the United Nations and other humanitarian groups, in its emergency response on food relief, shelter and hygiene and household kits.
Rehab of Samar, Leyte top priority of new CBCP officers
LESS than a week after assuming office on Dec. 1, the new set of officers of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) readily targeted the rehabilitation of Samar and Leyte, which were recently struck by super typhoon ‘Yolanda’, as a top priority. “The first immediate concern is helping our suffering countrymen in Leyte and Samar… We must move forward from relief work to rehabilitation work then hopefully to developmental programs,” new CBCP president and Archbishop of LingayenDagupan Socrates Villegas said in a recent interview. Simple lifestyle Villegas, who was particularly moved by the recent disaster and penned a prayer calling on God to spare the Philippines from further disasters, said the urgent need of people in the Visayas demands a certain “simplicity of lifestyle” to make it possible to help “the displaced and grieving typhoon victims.” “It is Jesus who is suffering. We must serve the Lord among our suffering countrymen,” he added. According to a recent report from Caritas Manila, weeks after the disaster, as many as 1.6 million families in Samar and Leyte continue to be in dire need of basic necessities like food and toiletries. The Manila archdiocese’s charity arm calls on the public to donate basic provisions like rice, biscuits, bottled water, coffee,
Pope calls for action against scandal of hunger in a world of plenty
VATICAN City—People must stand united against the scandal of hunger while avoiding food waste and irresponsible use of the world's resources, Pope Francis said. People should "stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger firsthand," he said in a video message Dec. 9, launching a global campaign of prayer and action against hunger. Organized by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, a global "wave of prayer" was to begin at noon Dec. 10 on the South Pacific island of Samoa and head west across the world's time zones. Pope Francis offered his blessing and support for the "One Human Family, Food For All" campaign in a video message released on the eve of the global launch. With about 1 billion people still suffering from hunger today, "we cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist," he said in the message. There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, he said, but only "if there is the will" to respect the "God-given rights of everyone to have access to adequate food." By sharing in Christian charity with those "who face numerous obstacles," the pope said, "we promote an authentic cooperation with the poor so that, through the fruits of their and our work, they can live a dignified life." Pope Francis invited all people to act "as one single human family, to give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world." The Caritas campaign is also a way to invite people to pay attention to their own food choices, "which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us," the pope said. Caritas Internationalis invited its 164 member organizations and local churches to pray for an end to hunger and malnutrition, by acting on a local, national or global level against food waste and in favor of food access and security worldwide. Caritas is urging Catholics to take a few moments at noon Dec. 10 to join the world in praying against hunger, and to engage in long-term action through raising awareness, advocacy, charitable work or other efforts supporting food security. The right to food is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the "Food For All" launch-date of Dec. 10 marks the U.N.'s Human Rights Day. The Caritas campaign is calling on the United Nations to hold a session on the right to food at its 2015 General Assembly and is asking governments to guarantee the right to food in national legislation. People can contact their local Caritas organization for more information or the campaign's main site at food.caritas.org (Carol Glatz / Catholic News Service)
A team of 40 workers-survivor clear access roads from logs and other debris in three zones and elementary school in Palo, Leyte as part of the Cash for Work Program initiated by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) together with NASSA/Caritas Philippines.
canned goods, soap, toothpaste, new underwear, cooking ware, beddings, tool boxes, working/ school clothes, crucifix/rosaries.
The Joy of the Gospel Aside from concerns on the national level, the CBCP sees the
Rehab / A7
Producer bankrolls Calungsod movie Bishop appeals to public, to inspire youth to holiness ‘Help our old, sick priests’
Photo courtesy of Tiongson's Facebook Page
IF the shepherd gets sick, will the flock help? This is a question a young bishop posed to the public recently as he appealed for help in behalf of old, sick and retired priests in his diocese. “It would be a big slap on our face as a Christian community if we hear any word of a priest
that is just left alone to die by himself somewhere, forgotten, uncared for after many years of hard work for God’s kingdom,” newly-installed San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said during a holy mass last November 29 at the EDSA Shrine.
Help / A6
Give up parties but celebrate Christmas—priest
A CATHOLIC priest urged the public to celebrate the spirit of Christmas even if they choose to do without parties in solidarity with the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. “ F o r e g o Christmas party but please, celParties / A6
Movie producer Ida Tiongson and the cast of “Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir” movie answer questions during a press conference.
DESPITE knowing that religious films hardly make it to the blockbuster list, an investment banker has agreed to “throw money away” to bankroll the production of
“Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir” movie, knowing that the film adaptation of the life of the second Filipino saint must be made. While recouping appears a distant
Inspire / A6
Illustration by Brothers Matias
reality, Tiongson said inspiring children to holiness is worth more than recovering their losses or even bagging awards for the movie.
Priest lauds Pope's commitment to protection of children
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
Pope says caring for sick brings 'the smile of God'
Pope Francis released his message for the World Day of the Sick Dec. 7, emphasizing the important role of hope both for those who suffer and for their caregivers. “When we come together, with tenderness, with those who have need of care, we carry the hope and the smile of God in contradiction to the world,” said the Pope’s message. Because of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection, Pope Francis explained, “we are placed in this world before the mystery of God’s love for us, which fills us with hope and courage: hope, because in the design of God’s love even the night of suffering opens to the Easter light; and courage, to confront every adversity in his company, united to Him.” (CNA)
Vatican finance group signs agreement with German counterpart
The Vatican's financial watchdog, the Financial Information Authority, has signed a memorandum of understanding with its German counterpart, the Federal Criminal Police Office. René Bruelhart, director of the Financial Information Authority, stressed in a Dec. 4 press release “this memorandum strengthens the FIA's international reach and further integrates the Holy See and the Vatican City State with a coordinated global effort to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism.” Bruelhart added that the “signing underlines our fruitful relationship, and will further facilitate our joint efforts.” (CNA)
On Marian feast, Pope Francis prays for holiness
On a day dedicated to celebrating the Mother of God, Pope Francis made a special trip in Rome to pray before a traditional statue of Mary. “Enkindle in all of us a renewed desire for holiness: may our words glow with the splendor of truth, may our works resound with the song of charity, may purity and chastity live in our bodies and in our hearts, may our lives express the presence of all the beauty of the gospel,” he prayed on Dec. 8. Pope Francis had crossed the city to Piazza di Spagna, where on the top of a tall ancient Roman column stands a statue of the Virgin Mary under the title of “Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.” (CNA)
Pope, with Egyptian Catholic leader, prays for Middle East Christians
Catholic leaders recall Mandela’s complicated legacy
WASHINGTON D.C., Dec. 7, 2013—Church leaders in the United States offered prayers for the late Nelson Mandela, remembering both his courageous anti-apartheid leadership and his promotion of one of the world’s most liberal abortion laws. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, called Mandela “a hero to the world.” “His bravery in defending human rights against the great evil of apartheid made him a symbol of courage and dignity, as well as an inspiration to people everywhere.” He noted that Bl. John Paul II, in his visit to South Africa, called Mandela “a silent and suffering ‘witness’” of his people’s “yearning for true liberation.” The Pope had said Mandela had to “shoulder the burden of inspiring and challenging everyone to succeed in the task of national reconciliation and reconstruction.” Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, said the U.S.based international relief agency mourns Mandela’s passing, calling him “a champion in the struggle for justice and equality for all.” “His life inspires all of us to re-dedicate ourselves to helping the oppressed find their voice and their way to lives of meaning and dignity. His personal example of forgiveness and nonviolence will challenge us to work for peace and reconciliation even in the midst of deep conflict.” Mandela, who served as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999, died Dec. 5 at the age of 95 of a lung infection. The former prisoner won world recognition for opposing the oppressive racial segregation of the South African government’s apartheid policy. Mandela had been a campaigner against apartheid since 1952, when he organized protests across South Africa against the policy. He was arrested on treason charges in 1956, and acquitted after a five-year trial. He then secretly sought help from other African nations and in England. After the South African government banned the party in 1960, the movement against apartheid became an armed struggle led by Mandela. In 1962 he was sentenced to five years in jail for inciting a strike and for leaving the country without a passport. Additional charges of sabotage and conspiracy to overthrow the government in 1964 led to a sentence of 27 years behind bars. Mandela’s then-wife Winnie and other campaigners worked to end apartheid and secure his freedom, helping transform him into an icon of human rights. He
Cape Town office, where church leaders and liberation movement leaders were introducing themselves to each other. “I could see Mandela quite clearly from where I was seated, and when the Methodist bishop’s turn came to introduce himself Mandela said, “That’s my bishop.’ He’s the only political leader I’ve known who’s ... allowed himself to be defined in terms of his faith, not just in terms of political allegiance,” the cardinal said. After serving one term in office, Mandela became a highprofile ambassador for South Africa and helped with peace negotiations in other African countries. Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 and, three years later, at the age of 85, retired from public life. He made rare public appearances after that, but helped to secure South Africa’s right to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. On his 80th birthday, he married Graca Machel, the widow of the former president of Mozambique. After his official retirement, his public appearances were primarily connected with the work of the Mandela Foundation, a charitable fund he founded.
Concelebrating Mass with the leader of Egypt's Coptic Catholics, Pope Francis prayed for the safety and religious liberty of Christians in the Middle East. "Let real guarantees of religious liberty be given to all, together with the rights of Christians to live peacefully in the places where they were born, in the native country they love as citizens of more than 2,000 years, in order that they might contribute as always to the good of all," the pope said Dec. 9 during morning Mass in the Vatican guesthouse, where he lives. Pope Francis concelebrated the Mass with Patriarch Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak of Alexandria, Egypt, who had come to make his traditional gesture of "ecclesiastical communion" with the Holy See, following his appointment in January by Pope Benedict XVI. (CNS)
In conversations with parishioners, pope reveals he once was a bouncer
The founder of a new center aiding victims of abuse and their families praised the “courageous” actions of Pope Francis in facing the issue, stressing also the importance of helping victims to heal. Discussing a new commission authorized by Pope Francis which seeks to increase efforts preventing the abuse of minors, Father Fortunato Di Noto stated that “the commission is a proof” of the Pope's “commitment to prevent abuses and take care of the victims.” Fr. Di Noto is originally from Sicily, and is the founder of the new “Meter House” in Rome, which officially opened Dec. 9 and offers psychological, spiritual and legal assistance to both victims of abuse, as well as their families. (CNA)
South African cardinal says iconic Mandela had touch of humanity
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Dec. 6, 2013—Nelson Mandela, who led the struggle to replace South Africa’s apartheid regime with a multiracial democracy, died Dec. 5 at his home in Johannesburg. Mandela, 95, became the country’s first black president in 1994. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. One of the world’s most revered statesmen, Mandela had a touch of humanity rarely seen in political leaders, said Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa in an interview with Catholic News Service earlier this year. Cardinal Napier represented the South African Catholic Church in discussions between Mandela and church leaders beginning in 1990, following Mandela’s release after 27 years in prison, until he retired from public life in 2004. Cardinal Napier said he came to treasure Mandela through regular meetings church leaders had with his African National Congress in the transition from apartheid to democracy. “I always felt we should introduce ourselves to him again, but it was never necessary,” said the cardinal, who was president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference from 1987 to 1994. Mandela “remembered names and faces and always gave us a hearty welcome,” he said. “I came to realize that if he had met someone he had no trouble remembering their names or where they were from. To him, people mattered because of who they were, not the position they held,” he said. “That’s what I really treasure about the man.” Negotiations between Mandela and South Africa’s apartheid regime began in 1989 while he was still imprisoned. The late Archbishop Denis Hurley of Durban told Catholic News Service at the time that he was “astonished” to hear that the notoriously intransigent former President P.W. Botha had approached Mandela to discuss negotiating an end to the armed struggle against apartheid. The negotiations were fraught with difficulties, and Mandela frequently called on the country’s church leaders to help overcome the deadlocks, Cardinal Napier said. “When there was a problem, Mandela would say exactly how he saw the problem,” he said, noting that the South African leader was a “direct man and it was easy to engage with him.” Mandela’s humility and selfdeprecating sense of humor were other qualities Cardinal Napier said he valued. In February 2001, when Cardinal Napier was inducted into the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II, Mandela was in Mozambique. “He tracked me down to St. Peter’s to congratulate me. He said, ‘Archbishop Napier, how wonderful that you’ve been promoted to this esteemed position and you still have time for all of us back home.’ I called him Mr. Mandela and he said, ‘No, it’s Madiba.’ He wished me luck and asked me to pass on his greetings to everyone there.” Mandela, who was born in 1918 into the Xhosa-speaking Thembu people in a village in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, was often called by his clan name ‘Madiba.’ Cardinal Napier recalled a 1991 meeting at retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s On July 18, 2007, his 89th birthday, Mandela formed The Elders, a council that aims to tackle global problems. In honor of Mandela’s birthday in 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama called the South African leader “a beacon for the global community and for all who work for democracy, justice and reconciliation.” Two years earlier, the U.S. and 192 other U.N. member states created Nelson Mandela International Day to honor the African leader through acts of community service. Every July 18, people around the world take up Mandela’s call for citizens to “take responsibility to change the world into a better place” by donating 67 minutes of their time—one minute for each year of Mandela’s struggle against white-minority rule—to helping others. The parishioners of Regina Mundi Church in Soweto are among thousands of South Africans who have heeded the call, said Oblate Father Benedict Mahlangu, a priest at the parish. On July 18, 2011, members of the Catholic Women’s League were at the church at 6 a.m. to prepare a special meal for unemployed and homeless people in and around Soweto, Father Mahlangu said, recalling that Mandela came to a service at the church to celebrate his birthday in 2010. The church, the largest in Soweto, served as a refuge for anti-apartheid activists for decades. Bullet holes in the ceiling and the broken marble altar have been preserved and serve as reminders of the apartheid era. (CNS)
In addition to having worked sweeping floors and running tests in a chemical laboratory as a teenager, Pope Francis revealed he also used to work as a bouncer. No longer kicking troublemakers out of clubs, he has discovered the secret to bringing people back, this time, into the church, according to the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, Dec. 2. The pope spent four hours at a parish visit of the church of San Cirillo Alessandrino in a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Rome Dec. 1. He chatted informally with a large number of parishioners before and after celebrating Mass. He told one group that when he was young, he worked as a bouncer, and that his work later in life, teaching literature and psychology, taught him how to get people back into the church. (CNS)
Pope tells theologians 'sense of the faithful' is not majority opinion
Red February: Pope to hold meeting with cardinals, create new ones
In late February, Pope Francis will be seeing red and a lot of it as he meets with the College of Cardinals and creates new members. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters Dec. 5 that the international Council of Cardinals advising the pope on the reform of the Roman Curia and church governance decided to extend by a day their next meeting. It will be Feb. 17-19. The spokesman also announced that Pope Francis would hold a consistory or consultation with the entire College of Cardinals Feb. 20-21 at the Vatican. (CNS)
Asian bishops' federation's 2013 biblical seminar in Thailand.
Francis’ text and “Verbum Domini,” Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation on the Word of God in the Church’s life and mission, to amplify the role of the biblical apostolate. The seminar was also inspired by the message of the Federation of Asian Bishops’
Over 10,000 youth to send birthday card to Pope Francis
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, Dec. 6, 2013—More than 10,000 young people have signed a giant birthday card for Pope Francis, offering their prayers and wellwishes for the Holy Father’s 77th birthday on Dec. 17. “We wanted to give the Pope a gift he would truly appreciate; something he would be proud of,” said Mark Nelson, founder of Catholic to the Max, the Ohio-based arts and gifts outlet company behind the initiative. The 4-foot-tall card consists of a tri-fold plaque featuring an image and prayer of one of the Holy Father’s favorite Marian devotions, “Mary, Un-doer of Knots.” After collecting both physical and digital signatures, Catholic to the Max intends to send the card to the Pope later this month. Nelson said that the idea to give the Holy Father gifts of prayer and service came from the Pope’s first “Urbi et orbi,” when he asked that the faithful pray for him before he imparted his blessing. “From day one, he has asked all of us to pray for him and to serve the poor. This is our response,” Nelson said. The card traveled to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis last month and acquired signatures from more than 10,000 young people. Now that the card is back in Steubenville, Ohio, it has been gathering signatures at local Catholic parishes and Franciscan University. A website has also been created to allow even more youth to digitally sign the card, which will be sent in time to reach the Holy Father for his birthday. Well-wishers can choose from different spiritual gifts or works of mercy to give the Pontiff on his birthday, such as visiting the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Rosary or serving the poor. Those wishing to sign the card can do so until Dec. 9, when the pages containing physical and digital signatures will be organized and bound together with the Marian image and sent to the Holy Father. To learn more about Catholic
Pope Francis said the church must pay attention to the 'sense of the faithful' ('sensus fidelium') when exercising its teaching authority, but never confuse that sense with popular opinion on matters of faith. The pope made his comments Dec. 6, in an address to members of the International Theological Commission, a Vatican advisory body. "By the gift of the Holy Spirit, the members of the church possess the 'sense of the faith,'" he said. "It is a question of a kind of 'spiritual instinct,' which permits us to 'think with the church' and discern what is consistent with the apostolic faith and the spirit of the Gospel." (CNS)
Asian bishops encourage biblically-based apostolates
PATTAYA, Thailand, Dec. 6, 2013—The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences is hosting a seminar on biblical apostolates and the new evangelization this weekend, drawing clerics, religious, and laity from across the continent. “The main crux is to reawaken the missionary challenge of the Word,” Fr. Jacob Theckanath, executive director of the bishops’ conference, told CNA, explaining “Crossing the Borders: Renewed Biblical Apostolate,” being held Dec. 5-7 in the Thai city of Pattaya, located 90 miles southeast of Bangkok. The seminar marks the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium,” on the new evangelization; Fr. Alberto Rossa, an Argentine missionary, has supplied copies of the document to the participants. The group aims to draw on both Pope
was released in 1990. In 1993, he won the Nobel Peace Prize with white South African president F. W. De Klerk, who also worked to end apartheid. Political violence killed over 4,000 people ahead of the country’s first postapartheid elections in 1994, when South Af rica’s black population voted overwhelmingly for Mandela. Upon his election as president, Mandela worked to help reconcile white and black South Africans. However, pro-life advocates also noted a dark side to Mandela’s legacy, observing the key role he played in pushing for abortion in the country. “In 1996, Mandela signed into law the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which permits abortion on demand,” John Smeaton, director of Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, noted in a Dec. 6 post. He warned against the
temptation to become “swept away by personality cults,” saying that Catholics must “stand up to public figures with anti-life and anti-family records,” to defend these fundamental and foundational rights. Mandela signed the 1996 Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which the New York Times said at the time “replace(d) one of the world’s toughest abortion laws with one of the most liberal.” The law granted state-financed abortion on demand up to the 12th week; abortion on demand to the 20th week; and abortion for “serious medical reasons” until birth. The Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion group, wrote in 2000 that in South Africa, “the liberalization of abortion became possible only after the 1994 elections” which made Mandela president and ended apartheid. (CNA)
Conferences’ tenth plenary assembly, published in December 2012, on “renewed evangelizers” for the new evangelization in Asia. Drawing people from 19 countries across Asia and Oceania, the seminar aims to help participants produce more effective biblical apostolates, using lectio divina and integrating missionary zeal for the new evangelization into all forms of biblical and pastoral ministry, Fr. Theckanath explained. The Christian community should not be “introverted” with their use of the Bible, but rather carry and integrate the Gospel into all walks of life, he stressed. Fr. Theckanath was encouraged by the “tremendous representation of the laity,” making up half of the participants in the seminar, calling it a “positive sign of the interest and hunger for the Word of God.” (CNA)
to the Max’s project, visit popefrancisbirthdaycard.com. (CNA)
Catholic to the Max
Vol. 17 No. 25
December 9 - 30, 2013
life should promote and draw attention to the challenges facing God’s call to consecrated persons. To proclaim a year dedicated to a specific topic, shedding light on an issue deemed to be of particular importance, has recently become a common tool for Popes. Benedict XVI proclaimed a Pauline year in 2008, a Year of the Priesthood in 2010, and the Year of Faith in 2012-2013. Pope Francis met with the superiors general for three hours, holding a wide-ranging question-and-answer session, beginning with the subject of consecrated life’s identity and mission as a witness to the kingdom of God, according to the Vatican. The consecrated are those who “can awaken the world,” he said. “Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding the temptation to ‘domesticate’ them. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord.” The Roman Pontiff added that newer dioceses are bearing much fruit, and gave this as a reason for inculturating the charisms of religious life. He emphasized the importance of good formation for candidates to religious life, saying that it is “not a form of policing, but is “an artisanal craft … its aim is to form religious persons with a tender heart; not acid, not like vinegar.” Continuing that theme, Pope Francis exhorted religious not to “act like managers” when faced with conflict when living in community, but rather to accept conflicts and deal with them firstly as persons. Religious are to be respected for their charisms, he reflected, and not seen merely as “helpers” when a local Church is in need of priests. (CNA/ EWTN News)
Pope to dedicate 2015 to consecrated life
VATICAN City, Dec. 2, 2013—At a meeting with the Union of Superiors General held Nov. 29, Pope Francis mentioned that he would be dedicating 2015 to consecrated life, thanking religious for their witness to Jesus Christ. “Thank you for what you do and for your spirit of faith and your service. Thank you for your witness and also for the humiliations through which you have had to pass,” the Bishop of Rome said to 120 superiors present for the group’s general assembly, held in Rome Nov. 27-29. Pope Francis’ decision follows a conference on “vocational perseverance” held one month ago, at which Archbishop José Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life, maintained that “in five years, 13,123 left religious life.” The dedication of 2015 to religious
Be counter-cultural, Pope encourages university students
VATICAN City, Nov. 30, 2013— During evening prayer with local college students on Nov. 30, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of remaining faithful to the truth in the face of modern ideologies. “If you don’t let yourselves be conditioned by prevailing opinions, but remain faithful to Christian ethical and religious principles, you will find the courage even to go against the current,” he said in his homily at St. Peter’s Basilica. “The fullness of the Christian life that God carries out in man, in fact, is always threatened by the temptation to succumb to the spirit of the world,” he cautioned. “For this reason God gives us his aid by which we can preserve the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the new life in the Spirit that He has given us.” “Dear young university students,” Pope Francis encouraged, “your willpower and your capabilities, united to the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in each one of you from the day of your baptism, permits you to be not spectators, but protagonists in contemporary events.” He then acknowledged the importance of facing life’s many difficulties. “One can’t live without looking at the challenges, without responding to the challenges.” But “God is more powerful than our weaknesses,” he stressed. “God’s faithfulness never disappoints.” “There are several challenges that you university students are called to confront with inner strength and evangelical courage,” he continued. “The socio-cultural context in which you are placed is sometimes weighed down by mediocrity and boredom. We must not resign ourselves to the monotony of everyday life, but cultivate large-scale projects, going beyond the ordinary: don’t let your youthful enthusiasm be stolen!” he urged. Christian youth must find the balance between independent thought and fidelity to the truth, he noted. “The model to follow is not the sphere, in which every protrusion is leveled and every difference disappears; instead, the model is the prism, which includes a multiplicity of elements and respects unity in variety,” explained the Pope. Independent thought becomes fruitful not merely because it stands apart, but rather “when it is an expression of an open mind that discerns, always illuminated by truth, by goodness, and by
Pope to set up advisory commission on sexual abuse
The new body will not take over the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s authority for disciplining abusive priests, and local bishops will remain responsible for the safety of children in their dioceses, the cardinal said; but the “Holy See will try to be helpful and help to identify best practices.” The cardinal said he did not know whether the commission would play any role in disciplining bishops who fail to prevent or punish sex abuse by those under their authority. In 2011, the Vatican instructed the world’s bishops’ conferences to establish formal guidelines on dealing with clerical sex abuse, but reported in February 2013 that about a quarter had failed to comply. Asked whether the new commission was intended to fill a particular gap in the church’s response to the problem, Cardinal O’Malley said the Vatican’s focus so far had been on legal procedures, and that the new body would represent a more pastoral approach. The cardinal said the commission would study a number of areas, including programs to educate pastoral workers in signs of abuse, psychological testing and other ways of screening candidates for the priesthood, and the church’s “cooperation with the civil authorities, the reporting of crimes.” Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., called the pope’s decision to establish the commission “a most welcome initiative.” “Abuse of minors is a sin and a crime, and every step must be taken to eradicate this blight. Such abuse is especially grave when committed by anyone in ministry in our church,” the archbishop said in a statement released in Washington. He is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The problem of sexual abuse of minors exists throughout society and every effort must be made to protect children, particularly within the church,” he added. The commission represents a needed international, broadbased approach to address “this horrific problem,” said Archbishop Kurtz, pledging the “full cooperation” of the U.S. bishops’ with its work. “In the United States, we have learned of the importance of background checks, education of children and adults on child safety, the swift removal of offenders, and the need for the church and civil authorities to work together,” he added. “While these efforts have resulted in a dramatic reduction, much work remains to be done.” (CNS)
Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, a member of Pope Francis’ advisory Council of Cardinals, speaks during a press conference at the Vatican Dec. 5.
Pope Francis stands before a statue of Mary in St. Peter’s Basilica on Nov. 30, 2013.
beauty.” “In fact,” he said, “the plurality of thought and of individuality reflects the multiform wisdom of God when it approaches truth, when it approaches the good, when it approaches beauty, with honesty and intellectual rigor.” “May the task of journeying in the faith and of carrying yourselves in a manner consistent with the gospel accompany you in this time of Advent, in order to live in an authentic way the commemoration of the birth of the Lord,” the Pontiff concluded. The Nov. 30 celebration of Vespers with the university
students of Rome is a papal tradition taking place every year in anticipation of the first Sunday of Advent. An icon of Mary, patroness of university students, stood under the title “Seat of Wisdom” to the side of the altar. At the end of the evening, a group of French students processed out bearing the image on their shoulders. The icon had been kept for the celebration of World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and will now be received in university chaplaincies in France. (CNA/ EWTN News)
Life advocate chides ‘growing immorality in media usage’
MANILA, Dec. 2, 2013—The increasing sexualization in today’s mass media must be given prime attention for leaving its influences unmediated may lead to the corruption of moral and ethical values among the Catholic faithful, a life advocate said. Rolando Delos Reyes, Pro-Life Philippines Board Member and Courage Philippines President, urged the public to be more vigilant in looking after mass media to help lessen the proliferation of sexual themes in various media platforms. “Why do we have to teach the public about sex? … Is there any indication telling that (sex-oriented media) are only for married people? Anybody can pick it up whether you are a single person, a married person, or even a young person,” Delos Reyes said during the Pro-Life Seminar Series on Sex Education and the Media held last Nov. 16 at the Our Lady of Loreto Church in Manila. He noted that the proliferation of sexual themes leads the public to perceive that pre-marital sex and homosexuality, for instance, are normal and acceptable despite the staunch opposition of the Catholic Church. Citing the increase of gay-themed independent films, Delos Reyes urged media practitioners to use mass media for the common good and not to sexually titillate the minds of the public with the use of pornographic materials. “Because here in the Philippines, when we say independent films, we immediately incorporate it with sex. They are giving independent films a bad name. It is unfair for those people doing independent films that are not catering to sexual themes,” he said. Delos Reyes chided sexually-oriented books, movies, songs, and fashion shows, noting that they manifest “glamorized prostitution and pornography.” Need to counter-act In countering the increasing sexualization in today’s media, Delos Reyes called on parents to be aware of current media trends and be more critical in monitoring what their children listen to and watch. “When it comes to gadgets, televisions, and computers, make sure that these are in public places. Meaning to say, don’t allow your kids to have these devices inside their rooms. Let them use it in (the living room) but never inside their rooms to prevent things from happening,” he said. “As much as possible keep these devices away so you can monitor them and they would be afraid to open such (sexual) material,” he added. In conversing with the youth, Delos Reyes said teachers must engage in a meaningful conversation with their students on the proper use and appreciation of the mass media. He also emphasized the need to show a good example to the youth so they may have role models to follow on how to deal with the media influence they encounter every day. “Continually remind about the social and moral teachings of the church in the media. Let us all be good examples to our youth in communicating the proper use of any form of mass media,” he said. Making a statement Delos Reyes urged the people to “express concern over the growing immorality in media usage” primarily through letting their voice be heard with the use of letters, manifestos, signature campaigns, and boycotting brands that promote media sexualization. “If we will not speak up, they will say that everything is okay. We need to work and as we are working, my invitation to you is to pray for the media, for the young people, and for all of us,” he added. “Let us prevent bad media from coming to our homes, schools, and churches,” Delos Reyes noted. (Jennifer Orillaza)
VATICAN City, Dec. 5, 2013— Pope Francis accepted a proposal to set up a special commission on the sexual abuse of children, which will advise him on ways to prevent abuse and provide pastoral care for victims and their families. Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, a member of the pope’s advisory Council of Cardinals, announced the decision at a Vatican briefing for reporters Dec. 5, during a break in the council’s meetings with the pope. The cardinal said the new commission would continue the work of Pope Benedict XVI against clerical sex abuse, and that among its tasks would be to “study the present programs in place for the protection of children, and to come up with suggestions for new initiatives” by the Vatican, in collaboration with national bishops’ conferences and religious orders around the world. According to the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Pope Francis heard the proposal on the afternoon of Dec. 4, during the second of three days of meetings with his eight-member Council of Cardinals, and announced his decision to the council the following morning. The council, which the pope formally established in September to advise him on church governance and reform of the Vatican bureaucracy, was holding its second round of meetings, following an initial three-day session in October. Cardinal O’Malley said the new sex abuse commission would be of international composition, consisting perhaps of 12 members, including lay people, members of religious orders and priests. The members will be persons with “competence in the safety of children, relations with victims, mental health, law enforcement” and other relevant subjects, he said.
‘Be good shepherds, not hired workers,’ Tagle tells priests
MANILA, Dec. 8, 2013—Ending the celebration of the Year of Faith with the ordination of new priests, the top churchman of the Manila Archdiocese on Saturday called on the ordained ministers of the church to remain true to their priestly vocation by “fixing their gaze” to the Divine and shunning the allure of power and riches. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle lamented over the worsening commercialization of the world, saying that priests must not be concerned on gaining wealth and must instead be focused on bringing Christ closer to the Catholic faithful. “Learn from Jesus how to be a shepherd rather than a hired person. Jesus laments the false shepherds—those who appear like shepherds, but in their minds and in their hearts they do not care about the sheep because they only care for their pay,” Tagle said in his homily during the Year of Faith closing celebration of the Manila Archdiocese held at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish. “You, priests, are not ordained to become hired workers. Our country is suffering because there are already too many hired people whom you could not trust to become shepherds,” he added. Tagle urged them to become true shepherds by “fixing their gaze on Jesus,” noting that it is only through learning from Him that the allure of wealth and riches can be ignored. “Learn from Him the unity that He had with the Father for it is your unity with the Father that will lead you to unity with the flock,” he said. “It is not a unity born out of sociological or ideological reason. The unity of the shepherd with the flock is born out of the spirituality in communion with the Father and only that school of communion with the Father prepares us adequately to be in communion with the flock,” he added. Tagle reminded church ministers that their ordination to the priesthood is meant to render service to the church and not to enrich themselves and pursue their personal interests. “(We should) not focus on ourselves but to the church and the wider community. The Holy Spirit has appointed you to oversee the faith of this community. Watch over yourself and watch over this community for it was obtained at the cost of the blood of Christ,” he added. Spirit-sensitive followers He stressed that only those who are open to listen to the actions of the spirit can efficiently communicate the message of the good news to others. “We need spirit-sensitive followers of Christ and we need ordained priests who are driven by
the spirit. Not the spirit of the world that is for the flesh, but the spirit of the risen one,” he added. “It is only those who are filled with the spirit of Jesus who could go and bring the good news to the poor, lowly and ignorant …Their need for sanctification Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle lays his hands on one of the candidates for priesthood during the will be the driving ordination held at the San Fernando de Dilao force to wake you Parish, December 7. up every morning. news where the Spirit wants that They will occupy your minds…And you will not good news to be brought,” he go wrong if you bring the good added. (Jennifer Orillaza)
Pinky Barrientos, FSP
A victory of the human spirit
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
THE super typhoon Yolanda was a tale of extreme misery. For several days people looked stunned with barely any food or drink they could scamper from wherever. Bodies of thousands were left in the streets or underneath debris, especially in the city of Tacloban and the neighboring towns, at least during the first six days or so. There were stories of looting in malls, groceries and even in the houses of fellow victims. Opportunists in distant towns that were not as severely hit by the super typhoon jacked up prices of basic commodities and fuel to 300%. Hundreds of thousands of coconut trees that most people depended on for livelihood were felled like matchsticks. Hundreds of houses even those built of better materials were toppled. Infrastructures, especially those built by corrupt leaders were reduced to twisted steels and bared to reveal substandard materials. Churches and rectories were either unroofed or reduced to rubbles like the heritage church in the parish of the Immaculate Conception in Guiuan, Eastern Samar. Several coastal barangays or villages, such as those in Hernani, Eastern Samar, disappeared from the map. To varying degrees, this scenario is true in southern part of Samar, the central areas of Leyte, the northern tip of Cebu, the northern towns of Panay and Palawan. Super typhoon Yolanda battered the Visayas that was still reeling from the effects of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake, with a 350 kilometer per hour howling winds. But it was the “Typhoon surge” that claimed thousands of lives. It was a simple term used by weather forecasters but was alien to the ears of most Filipinos. People thought that it was just some rising of the tides not a “tsunami-like” waves of high seawater that swelled as high as 16 feet or so. With the loss of lives, property and livelihood, the total breakdown of communications, power and land travel made the situation even worse. The president of the Philippines who went on national TV on the eve of the super typhoon, assuring the country of its super preparedness seemed to have buckled down. It was only on the 6th day after the typhoon that the national government seemed to have been able to organize itself, though poorly. The president, the secretaries of local governments, social welfare and defense were present yes, but mostly on the screens of national TV ironically blaming the ineptness of the local government and announcing that relief was coming. Government relief goods, indeed came but meager compared with the heavy relief operations of foreign governments, global humanitarian agencies (most prominently the International Red Cross, UN, CRS, Caritas Germany and many more) and private Filipino groups in the country and abroad that responded immediately to the crisis by sending truckloads after truckloads of relief goods. After days of just talking on TV, the government was accused of incompetence and insensitivity. But super typhoon Yolanda was a tale, too, of victory of the human spirit. Behind the first blush of desperation were the resilience and the heroism of many of the survivors themselves. A young priest, for instance, from the town of Guiuan in Eastern Samar, the first landfall of Yolanda, motor biked for three days just to reach Manila and told the world how this remote town was ravaged by the super typhoon. There is a bagful more of stories to tell and so much faith that refused to be dampened by the super typhoon.
Continuing Our ‘Year of Faith’ Journey
THE Church’s Year of Faith has formally concluded, yet we must always renew our commitment to continue our “faith-journey.” The pastoral letter of Cardinal Luis A. Tagle written for the Year of Faith offers genuinely helpful insights for us as “pilgrims in faith.” The Cardinal wrote: “In our time, the Second Vatican Council is the great moment of renewal in faith. Blessed John XXIII desired that through the Council ‘the Church will become greater in spiritual riches, … she will look to the future without fear’.” “In a span of fifty years after Vatican II, the world has seen dramatic changes…. But we also believe that the contemporary world … expresses its search for God in ways that the Church must also discover.” Thus, as an enduring fruit of the Year of Faith, we are continually challenged to “listen to the deep cries and aspirations of the people and societies of our time [when our nation has experienced so many natural calamities] so that we can proclaim Jesus Christ to them with new methods, new expressions and new fervor.” True faith demands continual “listening and mission.” We can also recall that Saint James in his letter forcefully notes that without good works faith is “quite dead” (2:16). In a similar fashion Pope Francis in his message for World Mission Day 2013 demonstrated that genuine faith is necessarily a missionary faith. The pope noted: “Faith is God’s precious gift … that one cannot keep to oneself…. If we want to keep it only to ourselves,
Fr. James H. Kroeger, MM
“Year of Faith” Reflections
we will become isolated, sterile and sick Christians…. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community.” Pope Francis affirmed: “The Second Vatican Council emphasized in a special way how the missionary task, that of broadening the boundaries of faith, belongs to every baptized person and all Christian communities.” Mission is not “a secondary aspect of Christian life, but its essential aspect.” For Pope Francis, an active missionary commitment “is not merely a programmatic dimension in Christian life, but it is also a paradigmatic dimension that affects all aspects of Christian life.” Pope Francis’ powerful words challenge the depth of our “missionary faith.” We can further recall that Pope Benedict XVI had outlined the purpose of this special year; it was “to give fresh impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead human beings out of the wilderness in which they often find themselves to the place of life, friendship with Christ that gives us life in fullness.” Benedict XVI added that the year was to be “a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time.” This conversion is compared to opening the “door of faith” (Acts 14:27). The door faith must always remain open. As Catholics, we are called to walk in faith, to deepen our friendship with Christ and our relationship with the Church. Undoubtedly, every year must be a year of faith!
The Church’s paschal pilgrimage
UP to now we have been envisioning what the Church in the Philippines should be. While we must acknowledge the many wonderful contributions of the Church to the life of its members and to Philippine society, we have nevertheless pointed to avenues of renewal within the Church itself. The Church is not and will never be on this earth the perfect bride whom Christ presents to himself, “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be hold and without blemish.” (Eph 5:27). “Clasping sinners to here bosom, at once holy and always in need of purification, (she) follows constantly the path of penance and renewal,” (Lumen Gentium, 8), a path that she must walk on her paschal pilgrimage. Ours is an imperfect Church living amidst and ministering to a very imperfect society. The Church makes her own the aspirations of this society for development, justice, reconciliation and peace, its aspiration for God who alone can fulfill the longings of the human heart. She wants to continue accompanying the people of this land on their journey towards ideals to which Jesus Christ alone holds the key. In order to be renewed as a Church, we must leave behind many ways of thinking, speaking and acting which no longer effectively serve and perhaps even obstruct our evangelizing mission. This will mean an unsettling pain, a disengagement from what is cherished but is now obsolete or obstructive, a dying to what is sinful, that we may come to newness of life. And even when we do our very best in fidelity to our Lord, the Church is bound to meet with opposition and even persecution. Both in our internal renewal therefore, and in our service to society, the Lord’s community of disciples in the Philippines is destined to share in His passion and death so that she may also share in his risen life. And so, “The Church, ‘like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God.’ (St. Augustine, Civitas Dei) announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes. But by the power of the risen Lord she is given strength to overcome, in patience and in love, her sorrows and her difficulties, both those that are from within and those that are from without, so that she may reveal in the world, faithfully, however darkly, the mystery of her Lord until, in the consummation, it shall be manifested in full light.” (Lumen Gentium, 8). (PCP-II Acts of the Council Nos. 141-144) — Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 1991
Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
…and that’s the truth
IN a few days we will begin the dawn Masses or simbang gabi; our priests can use more prayers from the faithful during this season when their days become more hectic than usual. Indeed, as we have heard some of our priests lament, between dawn and night Masses, there is hardly any time left for deep reflection in order to prepare edifying homilies to feed the Lord’s sheep. So, in gratitude to God and in fulfillment of a Christian’s duty we share their burden by praying and offering sacrifices for them. Since the earliest days of Christianity, the people of God have always been praying for priests. Acts 12:2-5 says, “He put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turn… All the time Peter was under guard the Church of God prayed for him unremittingly.” In Thessalonians 5:25, Paul concludes his inspired letter thus, “Pray for us, my brothers.” The first
Praying for priests
sense of the Eucharist’s importance in the priest’s ministry. Once, I happened to be sharing a meal with a priest and a handful of laypersons. Shortly before the scheduled Mass, one of us said, “Father, we’d better get going; Mass starts in 10 minutes.” The priest, grinning while emptying the wine bottle into some guests’ half-finished glasses, said, “Relax. You’re not going to be late. Mass will not start without me.” Silence followed; we laypersons exchanged meaningful glances. “Mass will not start without me”—uttered with impunity, as if the Mass were all about the priest. I heard this line again from two other priests on separate occasions (one during simbang gabi season), that I began to wonder if this was a standard joke among priests. If it’s a joke, it’s certainly far more damaging than any off colored one. St. Teresa of Avila, the first woman Doctor
And That’s The Truth / A6
pope (Peter) needed prayers then; the present pope needs prayers now. The Apostle to the Gentiles (Paul) asked for prayers; so do priests and religious now, whether in the metropolis or in mission lands. The priests with us in the most densely populated regions where distractions and temptations abound, need our prayers—intensified prayers. This call to prayer might seem to some a mere spurt of piety, but truth to tell, it’s arising from my remembrance of certain homilies at some of the simbang gabi Masses I have heard over the years. Sad to say, ill prepared (albeit well-intentioned) homilies—would make these Holy Masses sound more like entertainment than worship. With all due respect, I say that it is not poor time management that results in mediocre homilies or robs the priest of the vital moments for silent prayer. These are but symptoms; the real malady may be a fading
Our daily patchwork
EVERYDAY we have to deal with all sorts of things, a veritable hodgepodge, a patchwork of matters that often are incongruous to each other. This can lead us to confusion, to bewilderment and then to things like skepticism, cynicism, indifference and the like. If we want to survive, then we should feel the responsibility of blending this mix with meaning and beauty, with a sense of purpose and direction. In that way, our daily patchwork becomes a living thing, not just a dead, inert mess that we are forced to handle. It becomes organic. That’s our daily challenge. Aside from the basic variety in our life, like the spiritual and the material, the natural and the supernatural, the sacred and the mundane, the temporal and the eternal, we have to deal now with the endless finer nuances that this diversity produces. There are things that we like and don’t like, things that we love and we hate, developments that are pleasant and unpleasant. There are successes and failures, moments that are prosaic and also sublime, times when we go into an intellectual mode as well as into a manual mode. We handle both absolute dogmas and relative opinions, old and traditional customs as well as new and innovative practices and trends. We have our highs and lows in our emotional and psychological life. Then we deal with all kinds of people. There are the good, saintly ones, and the openly devious, full of calculations and schemes. You have the rich and the poor, the simple and the sophisticated, the quick-witted and the dimwit. We just have to learn how to
Fr. Roy Cimagala
be sport and flexible before all these possibilities, and versatile as well, so we can be “all things to all men,” as St. Paul once told us. We need to be open in our attitude, and confident and competent so as not to get lost as well as to know how to integrate them together into one meaningful whole. The ideal to reach is to be able to reflect God’s joy at the end of each day of the creation story, where it is said that “God saw that it was good.” In fact, on the seventh day of creation, he rested and entered into communion with his creation. That is how we ought to feel and do at the end of our day and of our life. We, of course, can only do this if we are with God. And that’s precisely the main point we want to make here. We have to work on our unity and identification of God, whose image and likeness we are, whose children we also are. We cannot and should not be left alone, left to our own devices. We need God. Insofar as God is concerned, he is always with us. He intervenes in our life. His presence in us is never passive even if we are not aware of him. If we have faith, then we will realize this truth and would be led to correspond to his designs for us. God’s intervention in our life had led him to send his son to us, the son becoming man himself through the mystery of the incarnation. It’s good that we go through what the Catechism teaches us about the significance of the incarnation so we would know how God and us can live together and can be united. Point 521 says: “Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us.
Candidly Speaking / A5
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
Illustration by Brothers Matias
Vol. 17 No. 25
December 9 - 30, 2013
Disaster relief and rehabilitation The role of affected BECs
ning and implementation of housing and livelihood projects. They can also monitor how aid from government, private entities and foreign nations are being spent. This can be a deterrent to corruption. The role of BECs is best summed up in report of the Daughters of Charity Assessment team in San Antonio, Samar: “A strong sense of mutual support and concern pervades. The structures of the Basic Ecclesial Communities in terms of zones and clusters have gone a long way in making more tolerable an already intolerable situation. This confirms that in moments of extreme need and disaster, the bond of relationship and the structures of governance in the BECs provide a solid ground not only for faith but also for mutual support, relief and rehabilitation.” With the climate change, it is realistic to expect more disasters like typhoons Sendong, Pablo and Yolanda in the future. There is a need to come up with protocols on how to prepare communities—including BECs—to effectively respond to these disasters. This will also require that BECs be developed and strengthened. The initiative and support of the bishop, parish priests, diocesan social action center, BEC practitioners and leaders is vital in mobilizing BECs to actively participate in disaster relief and rehabilitation.
Fr. Carmelo O. Diola
Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, SThD
Along The Way
FOR the last three years, three typhoons have devastated parts of Mindanao and the Visayas. Typhoon Yolanda was the latest and most destructive. Thousands have lost their lives and many more lost their houses and means of livelihood. Among those affected were Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). Relief operations continue and the work of rehabilitation is just starting. The response coming various parts of the country and from all over the world has been overwhelming. There were dioceses, parishes and BECs in Luzon and in Mindanao that also sent aid. The spirit of generosity and bayanihan is very evident. The question is what is the role of the victims and survivors? What is the role of the affected communities—especially BECs? The members of affected communities are not just helpless victims or passive recipients of aid. They can actively participate in the immediate relief efforts and long-term rehabilitation. This is not easy or even possible where BECs are weak or non-existent. Where there are BECs that are highly developed and remain intact during disasters, they are able to help in the initial damage assessment and in the orderly distribution of aid. This was the case in Cagayan de Oro after Typhoon Sendong and in Davao Oriental after Typhoon Pablo.
Spaces of Hope
The Dilaab Cyrene Mission
THE sheer destruction and unimaginable scope of relief and rebuilding needs in the aftermath of the recent earthquake and typhoon that visited our country demands a coming together of various individuals, groups, sectors, and regions. When disasters visit they wreck havoc and disrupt lives. They also open up fresh opportunities to change mindsets, rearrange our ways of doing things and of working with one another and of building a new Philippines. But we have choices to make for such shared suffering can either bring out the best or the worst in us. Fear and panic is a contagion but so is faith, hope and love. Shall our sufferings make us a better people, creating more networks of care and compassion—making us more human—or shall they make us less human? Our unbending spirit and faith, in the words of one media personality, teaches the whole world how to live. The spontaneous and organized relief efforts of individuals, families, and groups in the country and from the international community is a feast of hope! Humanity’s heart beats as one as we reach out to victims. Yet, in truth, is it not our own hope that is ignited when we do so? And when foreigners show concern and pour massive help does it not somehow also reflect the world’s appreciation for the work of our OFWs and migrant Filipinos? All these bring out the best in all of us. The worst are not those who scavenged for food for survival, not even the looters, though this is unacceptable behavior. The worst are those who take advantage of people’s sufferings, from leaders who initiate the blaming game to some businessmen who hoard and speculate. The worst are those who exploit people’s misery for political advancement and who bring political colors in the relief effort. The worst are those who may already be thinking of schemes to siphon off resources intended for victims. How about government workers who hinder the outpouring of compassion by ordinary citizens and groups by their unwelcoming stance brought about by the spirit of turfing, compliance-only mentality, bureaucratic red tape that makes them inflexible and even covetous of goods intended for others, and an NIH (not invented here) mentality thinking they have a monopoly of goodness and competence? All these show in faces and action that do not inspire hope. We need to change our mindsets and ways of doing things. We need to move fast in creating new, life-giving cycles. Let us not waste our suffering as we work towards a “new heavens and new earth” (Revelation 21:1). *** One of the most impressive images I have of Yolanda relief work are those of workers from different nations congregating at the Mactan Airforce base with planes of all sizes and shapes. The crumpled uniforms of medical personnel of the Israeli military reminded me that they are not only a superb fighting force but a generous humanitarian presence. Yet we should not forget the beautiful acts of solidarity by local churches in the aftermath of the Yolanda super typhoon. Maasin Diocese, translating the funds channeled through NASSA into relief goods, was the first to respond when security concerns were still uppermost in the minds of relief workers. Southern Leyte became a corridor of hope for a relief convoy. The Archdiocese of CDO followed shortly with medical personnel and relief volunteers. A convoy from Pagadian Diocese, led by no less than its local ordinary, Bishop Manny Cabajar, brought with them construction materials and carpenters. The latter are now fixing the Archbishop's residence, seminaries and other key facilities that serve as relief centers. The dioceses of Tagum and Apayao have also contributed key personnel for the effort while an Iligan team will adopt a parish. In time for Advent and Christmas, the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga has sent 80 Christmas lanterns for parishes with Among Ed, during the turnover, sharing his experiences as social-action director during the Pinatubo crisis. Carpentry and other tools from the same church are also on the way. Other local churches are making their silent contributions. Even individual parish priests from outside the local church are making their presence felt among their fellow priests in the Palo seminary and chancery complex. By such acts of concrete solidarity, they are helping key helpers help the needy. *** “Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community” (Deus Caritas Est 20). Pope Benedict XVI had affirmed a reality that was in the Church right from the start: “All who believed...sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 22:44-45). Pope Benedict continued: “Within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.” Organized charity is also crucial if our Church-initiated efforts towards victims of Yolanda are to be fruitful. All these efforts are rooted in what Pope Francis recently reminded the Church: “What counts above all else is ‘faith working through love’ (Gal 5:6). Works of love directed to one’s neighbour are the most perfect external manifestation of the interior grace of the Spirit...Thomas (Aquinas) thus explains that, as far as external works are concerned, mercy is the greatest of all the virtues...” (Evangelii Gaudium). Yes, the greatest is love! “Can you help start the command center for the relief work of the Archdiocese of Palo?” Archbishop John Du asked my team eight days after Yolanda struck. We said “Yes” after a quick discernment. Soon we found ourselves provide three Cs: companions, connectors, and co-discerners. It has been a plunge into the deep and we are eternally grateful to God and the local ordinary, priests, and faithful of Palo.
This was also the case in some BECs in Samar in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. Some BECs in San Antonio, Basey worked hand in hand with the barangay officials and relief teams in damage assessment, data gathering and relief operations. Besides assisting in relief efforts, these BECs also respond to the psychologicalspiritual needs of their members. What the survivors need are not just food, shelter and clothing. Besides psychological first-aid or stress debriefing, they also need spiritual solace and inner healing at a time of shock and grief when their faith is shaken. Masses are celebrated and bible-reflections are held in the affected areas and in evacuation centers, which are very helpful. These are opportunities for them to share their stories and strengthen each other’s faith. The BECs have an important role in the recovery and rehabilitation of the affected areas. The reconstruction of houses and chapels are opportunities to build up and strengthen communities. BECs can grow in these new communities. A good example of this is the new housing project in Iligan that emerged after typhoon Sendong and in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley after Typhoon Pablo. In the rehabilitation phase, the BECs can actively participate in the consultation, plan-
How is Christmas for typhoon Yolanda victims?
WE already knew the vast destructions wrought by super typhoon Yolanda. We learned of about the thousands of people who were killed, now more than 5,600 casualties. We saw the catastrophic damage on houses, churches, schools, government buildings, electric posts and all structures that meet the eye of typhoon Yolanda. Despite all these, the survivors are very grateful for the help extended by kind hearted people not only from fellow Filipinos but also from all over the world. Their faith in God is not destroyed; Yolanda is a strong typhoon but their Faith is stronger which Yolanda cannot destroy. In solidarity with Yolanda victims, Christmas parties were cancelled by almost everyone. How can we go partying when we do not even know how our brothers and sisters in Yolanda stricken areas will celebrate Christmas. Some of them are still mourning and searching for their dead, thinking how they can construct again their houses washed out and destroyed by Yolanda. However, do not let the devastations wrought by Typhoon Yolanda prevent us from remembering and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas will always be here, like our birthdays will always be here for us to celebrate. In solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering because of Yolanda, let us avoid the “bonggang bonggang (very lavish) Christmas Parties.” We can have the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, remember in our prayer the Yolanda victims and casualties, our country and the Filipinos. Let us just have simple lunch or dinner. No need for exchange gifts, raffles, programs. *** In behalf of the Officers and Board of Directors of Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Laiko), this columnist as the National President thank all those who donated money and relief goods (old clothes, towels, pillow cases, blankets and footwears) for the victims of typhoon Yolanda. The Laiko Board decided to endorse all the relief goods through Rev. Fr. Anton C.T. Pascual, President of Radio Veritas and Executive Director of Caritas Manila for the joint project of Radio Veritas and Caritas Manila. The money will be donated to the most devastated Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte (which includes Tacloban City, Ormoc City, the town of Palo and several parishes), the Diocese of Borongan in Eastern Samar (which includes Guiuan, Hernani and 16 more heav ily damaged parishes), and the diocese of Calbayog in Samar (which includes Basey and 3 more parishes); and the Diocese of Naval in Biliran. The other beneficiary is the Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay, Palawan where Coron and Culion are equally devastated. There are many things that we cannot understand but with our Father in Heaven and our Mother Mary, whose Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion we are celebrating this month, we know we can hurdle all these problems; there is still hope. *** The Year of the Laity (YOL) started on December 1, the First Sunday of Advent. The theme of the celebration is “Called to be Saints… Sent Forth as Heroes.” The CBCP tasked the Episcopal Commission on the
Atty. Aurora A. Santiago
Duc in Altum
Laity (ECLA), chaired by Most Rev. Jesse Mercado, Bishop of Parañaque, to spearhead the celebration. The celebration has three different components: Formation, Celebration and Legacy. Two sacraments will be highlighted in the YOL celebration, Baptism and Confirmation. Formation is undertaken through partnership with the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE). Seminars are conducted nationwide. Participants will cascade the modules in their respective Archdioceses/Dioceses and Organizations. Due to typhoon Yolanda, formation in Visayas will be held in Cebu in January 2014. Celebration will be highlighted in the Jubilee Months of the Laity for the following sectors: December 2013 - Non-Practicing Catholics; for 2014: January - Young Professionals; February - Broken Families; March - Homeless and Jobless; April – Homebound; May - Farmers, fisher folks and labourers; June Addicted Friends; July - Government Employees; August - Civic Organizations; September - Public School Teachers; October -Indigenous Peoples; November - Lay Saints & Catholic Filipino Heroes. Legacy will be the result of the activities after the Year of the Laity, the undertaking should have been institutionalized even after the celebration. As the CBCP arm, Laiko is assigned as the YOL General Secretariat to coordinate the different activities involving different Episcopal Commissions. Rev. Fr. Rico Ayo, Secretary of Bishop Mercado heads the General Secretariat. Bishop Mercado already met with the Executive Secretaries of different Episcopal Commissions and requested their full support and cooperation by aligning their activities with those of the YOL. The Episcopal Commissions are: ECLA, ECCE, Health Care (ECHC), Indigenous Peoples (ECIP), Prison Pastoral Care (EPPPC), Youth (ECY), Family and Life (ECFL), Pastoral Care for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (ECMI), Social Action, Justice and Peace (ECSA-JP), Office on Women. The call of the time, “I choose to be brave!” is to be courageous, to the point of taking the risk in proclaiming and witnessing the Faith, helping the members of the community without expecting anything in return, and not being afraid to be identified as Christians. To know more about the Year of the Laity activities, you may visit the website at www.choosetobebrave.org. *** Happy Birthday to Most Rev. Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr., D.D., Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Kalookan, on December 10 and Happy 50th Sacerdotal Anniversary on December 23. May our good Lord continue to give you good health and more anniversaries to celebrate. God bless Bishop Deo. *** Happy Birthday to Loida Santuyo, Fr. Larry Frias, Fr. Ofero Balana; Happy Sacerdotal Anniversary to the Fr. Romy Tuazon, Fr. Dennis Salise, Fr. Nestor Estanislao, Fr. Larry Frias and Fr. Patrick Hiwatig of the Diocese of Kalookan. *** Wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous and Peaceful New Year!
Christmas after Yolanda
THE wrath as seen in the aftermath of Haiyan a.k.a. Yolanda are still all over Eastern Samar and Eastern Visayas as a whole. But the media myopia simply gazes at Tacloban and Leyte. I do not mind this at all except when it gets in the way of reaching all victims in Eastern Samar as well as the whole Eastern, Central and Western Visayas, that need help till this very second. I personally do not relish the infighting among our political leaders, although it would help a lot if the national government stops making up excuses and simply makes up for its undeniable failures at timely, steady, organized and continuing response to the victims, considering their real needs and problems, among others. On my first trip to Manila A.Y. (After Yolanda) I must admit to having gone through an I.T.P.D. (Increased Trauma Post Disaster) syndrome (pardon my having just coined the term) as I was seeing again and again the ravaged coconut trees (our main source of livelihood in Eastern Samar), flattened houses, damaged crops and properties from the safe comfort of a van bringing me to Tacloban airport. I thought of how the killer Yolanda winds and waves have somewhat spared the greater part of my parish (only the shoreline houses, cottages and structures
Rev. Eutiquio ‘Euly’ B. Belizar, Jr., SThD
By the Roadside
disasters to happen to wake humankind up to their fellow humans, which is not to say that we do not regret their human toll in lives lost and untold suffering caused. On the other hand, who would deny that crises born of disasters have a way of making human beings look beyond the color of their skin and the other biases of their minds and hearts to our common and basic identity as members of a big, big human family? Does this not in itself raise the question of why it should take disasters of great magnitude for us humans to realize the fundamental truth of our human brotherhood and to stop wars and self-destructive rivalries born of hegemonic ambitions? Is not the Yolanda cataclysm ironic in that a disaster sidelined the poisoned relations among nations, which in themselves are a sure recipe to mutually assured destruction among us? It was so obvious there are gaps in the disaster responses by various groups. Some places, such as Guiuan or Tacloban, are given an avalanche of attention and care while other places, with less media presence hounding their post disaster lives, are left to their own devices. I know for a fact that the Diocese of Borongan and, to a certain extent, the provincial government
By The Roadside / A7
were brought down flat) and not the likes of Balangkayan, Hernani, Matarinao, Giporlos, Balangiga, Lawaan and many other towns and barangays in my province alone. I looked at the people along the roads and byways. There was a heroic effort to return to normalcy, except that the effort was always met by the abnormal everyday scenery of devastation. Till now I marvel at our people’s survival skills and endurance that can only be explained by both past experiences with extra strong typhoons and an undeniable faith in God. For instance, anyone who has seen the extent of Yolanda’s damage in places such as Balangkayan, Hernani, Guiuan, Giporlos and Lawaan would be in awe that only more than 200 hundred casualties are officially recorded not only in these places but in the whole Eastern Samar as well. It should make us pause that artists, singers and other celebrities, local and international, are among the first to feel for and with the victims, no matter their race, religion, gender or orientation. But the publicity and media mileage they generate should not make us turn a blind eye on many other local and international groups who, out of sheer human compassion, come to the aid of victims and the Filipino nation as well. Sometimes I wonder if God allows
Candidly Speaking / A4
By his incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man. We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model.” In short, Christ shows us the way of how to deal with whatever we experience in life, which he identifies with. We need to be aware of this truth of our faith and start to act and behave accordingly. We need to deal with Christ person-
ally through prayer, reception of the sacraments, continuing study of our faith, etc. This is how we can put life and purpose, order and harmony, meaning and beauty into our daily patchwork. We need to spread this Good News and reassure everyone of its veracity as evidenced in the lives of saints through the ages. Our times, more complicated, subtle and challenging, need modern saints who know how to cope with the growing patchworks we need to deal everyday.
THE lessons taught by the first Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE) continue to ripple, touching the lives of the Catholic faithful both inside and outside of the country, a ranking church official said. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that even if the PCNE is long over, its fruits are continuously being reaped as those who participated continue to echo the lessons they have acquired, expressing a different kind of faith renewal rooted to the graces of the Holy Spirit. “The formal event (of the PCNE) is over but we continue to reap the fruits; we continue to hear the echoes of PCNE and the ripples are reaching us,” Tagle said during the PCNE thanksgiving mass held at the Arzobispado de Manila Chapel last November 25. “As a pastor, I really thank God for the gift of communion; for the gift of the coming together of different persons, different temperaments, different backgrounds, and different economic and educational standing,” he added. The PCNE, considered as the Philippine Church’s humble contribution to
the Universal Church’s mission of new evangelization, was held at the University of Santo Tomas last October 16 to 18. “The gifts of the Holy Spirit were all lent, generously offered, to make PCNE happen. So PCNE is really the work of the Spirit for it is the gifts of the Spirit that animated PCNE,” Tagle said. Faith renewal, conversion In one of his visits to Pontificio Collegio Filippino in Rome after the PCNE, Tagle noted the enthusiasm and excitement shown by religious and lay Filipinos as they listened to him share what transpired in the PCNE. “Why am I saying this? Not just to congratulate ourselves, far from it, but for us to realize that our simple, humble contribution to the search of the whole Church for ways to pursue the New Evangelization, it cannot be contained if it is the work of God,” Tagle said. “Even if we do not advertise it, people would want to learn from it. And I tell you, just telling them stories, some of them were in tears already as they hear the testimonies,” he added. He also shared the story of Dominic Chan, a priest perceived as terror by many, who said “there in the PCNE, I felt like there was enough room for me to grow. I could spread my wings!” “I was amazed and quietly thankful the PCNE could have an effect deep down there in the heart of someone who has discovered a new way of being a person and a new way of being a leader. So it is not just the grand events but also what happened in the heart of this one monsignor,” he said. “So I told the priests, come and visit the Philippines, come and visit Manila, and you will also be a changed person when you come back to Hong Kong,” he added. “We started (the PCNE) and now they are asking us, please do it again. Please repeat it here. Please share it with us. So this is our humble offering to the Year of Faith and the search for the new evangelization. But we are humble in our thanksgiving knowing that it is the beauty of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit that really made all this possible,” Tagle noted. Pope’s PCNE address Tagle also shared that in an interview
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Lessons taught by PCNE continue to ripple, Tagle says
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle presides a thanksgiving Mass at the Arzobispado last Nov. 25 for the successful holding of the first PCNE.
CEAP urges member schools to accept students from ‘Yolanda’ stricken areas
THE Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) upon instruction made by the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education, urged member-schools to accept students from typhoon affected areas pending necessary requirements. Mr. Anthony Coloma, CEAP Advocacy and Information Management officer stressed that they have already instructed member-schools in Cebu and Manila to accept students from Leyte and Samar provinces who were affected by the recent typhoon. Coloma added that earlier, CEAP met with DepEd Secretary
And That’s The Truth / A4
he had with the Vatican Radio, he was told that the Philippines “made history” for making the “Pope speak in English,” noting that it was the first time that the Supreme Pontiff did so. “So even being able to encourage the Holy Father, whom we know is really
simple and very pastoral but enabling him to venture him into a new territory of addressing a whole people in a language that he was not quite comfortable with. But he ventured and it is a bit of a new evangelization,” Tagle said. (Jennifer Orillaza)
Filipino artists sing in support of Manila archdiocese’s projects
AN evening of music will again showcase the best of Filipino talents even as it raises funds to support the various projects of the Archdiocese of Manila. Dubbed Patron of the Arts, the concert will be performed by Filipino best performing artists, who have distinguished themselves by winning awards or by being featured in top-rating shows on TV or theater. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has earmarked the concert’s proceeds to finance the project of providing decent social housing to the 3,000 dedicated employees of the archdiocese. In last year’s concert, the proceeds went to the repair of the Manila Cathedral. The Patron of the Arts is being organized by the Jesuit Communications Foundation for the Archdiocese of Manila. The show is slated on 12 December 2013, 7pm, at the Meralco Theater. (CBCPNews)
Bro. Arman Luistro and with CHED Commissioner Patricia Licuanan to resolve issues concerning this. Coloma disclosed that there are around 50 schools affected by the typhoon Yolanda, mostly mission schools. “We really need to help them,” he said. In terms of documentary concerns, Coloma said the matter will be addressed after the students have recovered from the experience. “For those who cannot provide documents that they are from Leyte or Samar provinces, they will still be accepted, out of compassion. Documentary con-
cerns will follow when they are already pulling through from the horrible experience,” he added. Currently, CEAP is raising funds for affected schools to help them cope up and begin their operations on the soonest possible time. “We will be meeting representatives from Leyte and Samar this coming December 3 to address what their needs are. Hopefully, to help them in the longer term,” Coloma added. Aside from accepting students from areas affected by the typhoon, CEAP is also lending hands to those who will be asking for counseling. “If ever they would need
counseling, we will also help them,” he added. Christmas party The national secretariat of CEAP have decided to forego their Christmas party and funds intended for it will be donated to Yolanda victims. With regards to celebrating Christmas party by memberschools, Coloma emphasized that it is left to their discretion. As of the moment, CEAP has no definite number on how many students have been already accepted by member-schools and how many member-schools have applied the instruction. (Jandel Posion)
Church group holds Mass, interfaith service for typhoon survivors
IN the face of recent calamities that struck the Visayas region, the Catholic faithful are urged to turn to God in prayer to receive the needed strength and unity to pursue the relief and rehabilitation programs for typhoon survivors. The Archdiocese of Cebu Discernment Group (ACDG), in cooperation with more than 70 allied organizations, organized two separate religious gatherings to unite and rally the people in helping the survivors cope with their struggle to return to normalcy at the soonest time. A concelebrated Mass was held at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Dec. 1 at 5:30 pm and on Dec. 2, an interfaith service was held at the Cebu City Hall Social Hall at 5 pm. ACDG convenor Msgr. Romualdo Kintanar, in a press release, said the recent tragedy has brought a great number of people to “measureless pains,
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of the Church, made praying for priests a principal duty of her Carmelite family. In Chapter 3 of her book The Way of Perfection, she writes with empathy: “These (preachers and theologians) have to live among men and associate with men and stay in palaces and sometimes even behave as people in palaces do in outward matters. Do you think, my daughters, that it is an easy matter to have to do business with the world, to live in the world, to engage in the affairs of the world, and, as I have said, to live as worldly men do, and yet inwardly to be strangers to the world, and enemies of the world—to be, in short, not men but angels?” Then she adds, “This is not the time for seeing imperfections in those who must teach”, and urges her nuns to occupy themselves begging God’s help for the
Help / A1
Church’s pastors. Following St. Teresa we close our eyes to our pastors’ flaws and focus instead on “the beautiful hands of a priest”, actually the title of the following poem by an unknown author. We need them in life’s early morning, We need them again at its close; We feel their warm clasp of true friendship, We seek them when tasting life’s woes. At the altar each day we behold them, And the hands of a king on his throne Are not equal to them in their greatness; Their dignity stands all alone; And when we are tempted and wander, To pathways of shame and of sin,
It’s the hand of a priest that will absolve us, Not once, but again and again. And when we are taking life’s partner, Other hands may prepare us a feast, But the hand that will bless and unite us Is the beautiful hand of a priest. God bless them and keep them all holy, For the Host which their fingers caress; When can a poor sinner do better Than to ask Him to guide thee and bless? When the hour of death comes upon us, May our courage and strength be increased, By seeing raised over us in blessing The beautiful hands of a priest.
Vulnerability of priests Alminaza, who was appointed by Pope Francis last September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, as third bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos in Negros Occidental, came to Manila with nearly twenty of his priests to seek financial assistance and prayers for their diocese’s sick and retired priests, several of whom were struck down by infirmities at the prime of their years. Despite the many individual concerns, as well as national concerns like the rehabilitation of ‘Yolanda’-stricken areas in the Visayas, Alminaza ex pressed hope that the faithful will find it in their hearts to
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remember vulnerable priests who are most in need. “We are presenting our concern to you, very much aware that when you come for mass you have your own concerns to bring to the Lord and we would like very much to pray with you, to accompany you in bringing these concerns very much deep in your heart…At the same time, we would like also to appeal to you if you can give room for our concern as well,” he said. ‘Feeling useless’ The retired priests of San Carlos have also become a subject of a recent TV docu mentary, which includes, in the words of Alminaza, “a
very articulate, very intelligent priest, a good swimmer” who suffered a stroke; a young priest whose body is aging faster prematurely and who now struggles to express himself; a 38-year old priest, just four years in the ministry, who also suffered a stroke and whose own father now takes care of him; and an old priest who will celebrate his golden jubilee as a priest this month, once very active as a formator, but who now admits feeling “useless” sometimes. After showing a few clips from the TV documentary of the priests to the mass-goers, Alminaza said, “One of our greatest joys would be to also help you be aware that priests
like you get old as well. And we have our own moments of loneliness and of vulnerability.” In closing, he mentioned then Pope Benedict XVI’s personal message to him and other bishops during a private audience in 2008 to “take care of your priests” and to “love your priests as your primary collaborators.” Alminaza was officially installed as Bishop of San Carlos last November 18 by Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto. For more information on how to assist the retired priests of San Carlos, please contact the Bishop’s House at (034) 3126272; 729-9349. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)
anguish, and loss far greater than most have ever experienced in their lives.” But, he said the outpouring of compassion and charity from people was immediate, with Cebuanos “leading and joining the massive number of concerned citizens that mobilized within hours of knowing the state and condition of the victims.” He noted the “rising tide of generosity and volunteerism” among the people which continues up until present. “Aid from other provinces flew in. Disaster teams from other generous countries arrived and established bases in various parts of the typhoon stricken areas,” he said. Through the prayer gatherings, he said “[we] continue to ask God for much needed strength and unity” towards rebuilding of lives, livelihood and homes. (CBCPNews)
ebrate Christmas. The Season of Advent is approaching and this is very important for us Catholics,” Fr. Benny Tuason, the director for Ecology of the Archdiocese of Manila said in a Church forum, November 26. Victims of the recent typhoon in the Visayas will truly experience the real meaning of Advent and Christmas, according to the priest. “They will experience the real advent and Christmas not in terms of gifts. Because ChristNASSA / A1
mas is about Jesus, coming into your hearts,” he added. Tuason further said that the real Christmas is not about commercialism but experiencing Jesus Christ. Members of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) National Secretariat said they will forego their Christmas party and would donate the money instead to typhoon victims. (Jandel Posion)
It was almost instantaneous for Ida Tiongson to decline, given the gravity of the risk but she said she suffered sleepless nights, thinking how to refuse the proposal of film director Francis Villacorta to finance the project. “When group of Francis Villacorta approached us to help fund this movie, our HPI Board initially planned to let go. For some reason, I could not sleep at all and was in fact palpitating whenever I was thinking of how I would decline funding this movie. I actually had an unusual encounter. I knew what the message was and that is to trust and find a way to do this movie,” Tiongson shared. Tiongson disclosed that the movie’s budget is “quite high” and the risk of not being able to recoup the investment is equally “high.” But instead of declining, her group agreed to fund the movie and even enlist it to the Metro Manila Film Festival. “Contrary to our position, instead of declining, we even pushed for the materials to be submitted to MMFF, an idea which just came to me the day I was supposed to give them the bad news. Since the movie’s budget is quite high the only possible way to recoup, let alone earn, is via MMFF. Still the risk is still considered high but the movie must be made, it has a purpose,” she said. “With all sincerity, blockbuster ticket sales
sound good and awards certainly would be appreciated. But truly if we can change and inspire even only child to be closer to God, that is more than success. What a joy that would be!” she added. Tiongson said funding the movie was not a “gamble,” since she knew it was something that is meant to happen. “As an investment banker, this movie is considered high risk since it’s only for a single market and that no local religious or historical film has apparently earned to date. In fact most people said that it’s like we are throwing money away and that it’s a crazy idea. But I strongly feel God is with us in this movie. It is a movie with a purpose,” she added. Tithing Tiongson said she is prepared to lose her investment but adds that she considers it as a well-spent tithe. “If we financially lose, then it becomes our tithing. The real loss is when we earn but fail to plant the seed (of knowing Saint Pedro Calungsod) especially in the hearts of the children. What kind of success is that?” she added. Tiongson said the “Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir” movie is a must-see movie for the family and a good educational tool
for schools to use in teaching students about Calungsod’s life and martyrdom. “The film’s target is indeed to educate. According to researcher and director Francis Villacorta, the plot has been based on more than two years of research of facts, interviews and gathering voluminous information both local and overseas particularly in Guam, to ensure what we are doing is closest to what happened. Information gathered are like loose jigsaw puzzle pieces that need to be put together. To put the pieces together some inferences were made and some scenes have been dramatized,” she said. “The movie visualizes the books, stories and information into this media format called the film. To date only a small percentage of the population are still unaware of Pedro Calungsod’s life and his ‘adventures.’ This is not just religion but also history. Isn’t it amazing how a young Filipino was able to substantially contribute to making Guam largely a Christian nation today? It’s truly inspiring!” she added. “Pedro Calungsod, Batang Martir” stars Rocco Nacino and Christian Vasquez as Pedro Calungsod and Padre Diego de San Vitores, respectively. The film is produced by HPI Synergy Group in association with Wings Entertainment. (Kris Bayos)
program of recovery and rehabilitation, including emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction program, which will be launched on the first quarter of 2014. NASSA Executive Secretary, Fr. Edwin Gariguez discussed strategies on how to coordinate with the affected dioceses; how the diocesan coordinators would do their part to make things faster and easier; support for NASSA and the dioceses in reconstruction phase; and capacity building on national and diocesan level. “Our priority dioceses are Palawan, San Jose de Antique, Jaro, Kalibo, Capiz, Cebu, Calbayog, Palo and Borongan,” Gariguez said. Meanwhile, NASSA National Director Bishop Broderick Pabillo, let the Bishops and representatives from affected dioceses share their experiences and asked their urgent needs so
the Church partners may know how to support them. The meeting also highlighted the collaboration and coordination of different countries during calamities. Local organizations present during the meeting were Catholic Relief Service (CRS), volunteers, Social Action Diocesan Coordinating Council, Daughters of Charity, San Carlos Seminary, Caritas Manila, Radyo Veritas, Basic Ecclesiastical Community coordinators, and Cordaid organization. Also present were members of Caritas Internationalis from Asia, France, Spain, Canada, Australia, Ireland, Korea, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and UK. BEC Chairman Fr. Amado Picardal, Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez, Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez and Palo Archbishop John Du were also in attendance. (Yen Ocampo)
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December 9 - 30, 2013
properly consulted. The devastation to environment and livelihood prompted the Church to bind with fishfarmers and residents in an effort to have the plant closed, he said. The Environment Management Bureau (EMB) Region V found out poison in the effluence. In response to complaints and protests, and having established that the company has no basis to do business, Mayor Sally A. Lee ordered it in August this year to temporarily stop its operations and to close the plant for violating local ordinances and applicable national laws. She stated that the company may resume operations after its waste water treatment facilities passed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) standard, after the EMB issued waste water discharge permit and permit to operate, and after building and business permits were secured from the city government. The company in effect fasttracked its compliance with the papers, prompting Lee to issue permit to temporarily operate, almost a month from the date of closure, while the result of the test on waste water facilities is pending, Fr. Imperial said. “Unfortunately, another series of fish-kill happened within the three-month period to temporarily operate,” the priest said. “The direct impact was felt by the river and fishponds that are tapping it for water. Residents consume and sell fish caught in the river.” As a result, a monitoring team was formed, in which the Church is part, Fr. Imperial said. The group closely tracks on the impact of wastewater on environment and requires the company to rehabilitate the river, and pay for the damages incurred by fish growers and residents. “They have been telling the media that the issue was resolved,” he said. “But the problem continues. They are operating and throwing in the river.” Only a few days ago, another series of fish-kill in the river and fish-farmers’ flats were noted by the monitoring team and residents, Fr. Imperial said. The company, procuring mature whole coconuts for desiccated coconut meat and juice, may also exacerbate the displacement of farm workers who eke out a living in copra (toasted coconut meat) production, he said. Producing copra out of a thousand pieces of coconut may take two to three days. Selling husked whole coconut as much will cost only a day, which means less farmhands needed. The number of helpers engaged in copra production may considerably decrease, Fr. Imperial said. Agrarian reform will fail as landlords may concentrate lands in their hands while farmers are running to the cities to look for work. The province has 50, 000 farmers dependent on coconut, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Sorsogon officer-incharge Lourdes Matizano said. Peter Paul Philippines, paying outsourced workers from local labor agencies 25 cents a piece of whole coconut processed, spills out the country’s largest volume of the coco water export. In the January-October period last year, 15,296,470 liters of coco water was dispatched to the United States, Australia, and European countries, including former Soviet states, which accounted for $15,958,664 freight on board (FOB), the PCA main office statistics said. Local food and beverages
companies like San Miguel Corporation and Asia Brewery are clients of Peter Paul Philippines, Fr. Imperial said. The quenchers that they produce capitalize largely on coconut water. Peter Paul Company originated in Connecticut, USA in 1919. The Peter Paul Philippine Corporation was established in Candelaria, Quezon on June 29, 1946. In 1962, majority of its interest was sold to local stakeholders. At this time, the monitoring team, notably the Church, is pressing the EMB to disclose the result of the water waste study, if it has conducted any, Fr. Imperial said. He also questioned the issuance of permit by the city government to temporarily operate while the issue on effluence, which was initially found out to be laden with toxic substances, is still pending. (Oliver Samson)
Church wants coco processing plant operation stopped
SORSOGON City—Alarmed by another string of fish poisoning, the Catholic Church voiced out anew its stand to stop the operations of a coconut processing plant here, which is assumed to have polluted fishponds lining the river that opens its mouth in Sorsogon Bay. According to Diocesan Media Relation officer-in-charge Fr. Bong Imperial, the earliest occurrence of fish-kill took place during Peter Paul Philippines Corporation’s plant initial run for several months in 2012. Within the period spanning more than half a year, the company has operated without permits. All the requirements set by law were virtually ignored, according to Fr. Imperial. More prominently, residents of barangay Cabid-an and fishpond owners, who suffer the most from the plant’s water waste, were not
Tagle leads Palo diamond jubilee celebration
PALO, Leyte—Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle led the celebration of the culminating Mass of the Archdiocese of Palo’s 75th jubilee anniversary in the midst of destruction caused by typhoon Yolanda. “Because we need to pray, we need to gather, we need to give thanks. After all, with or without Yolanda, the Archdiocese of Palo is a diamond; and diamonds are forever,” Tagle said. Tagle was grateful that the archdiocese decided to pursue the closing celebration of the jubilee in spite of what had happened. “In spite of the pains and the sufferings because of the great loss brought about by the typhoon, we have to celebrate our being Church. Perhaps this is the only thing left for us to celebrate that we are still gathered by the Holy Spirit, that the Word of God is still being preached; and that the Holy Eucharist still feeds us,” he said. The cardinal emphasized that the Church still “lives here” in the archdiocese. “Buildings may collapse and fields may be flattened, but the Church will continue thriving, our Church will never be destroyed,” Tagle declared. Since November 8, the people in the region have been inspiring all people in the world. “In your hidden and silent ways, through your tears, through the laughter and the jokes of the young people, you have inspired the whole nation; in fact, the whole world. You inspired us to rediscover what being human is all about, you have inspired us to rediscover what faith is all about, you have inspired us to love once again, to think of others, to be brave, to smile and to hope,” he said. The cardinal assured the clergy of Palo that the Archdiocese of Manila is in communion with Palo and all priests are willing to assist them. He also extended the assurance and the love of Pope Francis to the people of the region who have touched the international community where the Pope also feels the pains and sufferings of the people. “Do not be afraid in asking God ‘why?’ all these things happened. Perhaps, this is the right prayer during this kind of calamities. Maybe this will attract our Father in heaven to look at us. We may not have the answer, but with His eyes looking at us, we are assured that He is with us, that He has never left us,” the cardinal furthered. Collections on Nov. 24 Mass in the Vatican was made for the Philippines. On 1st Sunday of Advent, mass collections in all parishes in Italy will be given to the Philippines. According to Fr. Amadeo Alvero, the archdiocesan spokesperson, in spite of what Leyteños are experiencing right now, the cathedral was full of attendees and the support of bishops in the region is visible. Concelebrating with Tagle were Palo Archbishop John Du, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Naval Bishop Filomeno Bactol, Maasin Bishop Precioso Cantillas, Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez, Catarman Bishop Emmanuel Trance and Catarman Bishop-Emeritus Angel Hobayan, Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez, and visiting priests from dioceses in the region. (Jandel Posion)
Taclobanons undergo emotional first aid
TACLOBAN City—More than 70 people attended a seminar on “Post Trauma Stress and Psycho-Spiritual Intervention” on December 3 at the Sto. Niño Church in Tacloban City, to help fellow survivors overcome their trauma. Organized by the Archdiocese of Palo Pastoral Disaster Response through its Committee on Psycho-Spiritual Intervention headed by Fr. Manuel Baybay, the half-day seminar was given by clinical psychologist Dr. Leo Deux Fils Dela Cruz, author of the book “Emotional First Aid Kit: Psycho-spiritual Model”. Fr. Amadeo Alvero, the archdiocesan spokesperson said attendees were individuals willing to commit their selves, time and talent for service in times of post calamity scenario where people are very much in need of Psycho-Spiritual intervention for a better healing. “It was inspiring and surely will be helpful for us here in the archdiocese and the victims of super typhoon Yolanda in the region. It made us aware of the nature of stress and how it affects the many aspects of our lives,” Alvero added. (Jandel Posion)
Diocesan youth day highlights faith, hope
Theology seminarians gather for biennial assembly in Cebu
CEBU City—The Theology seminarians in the Visayas gathered for their biennial assembly at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos (SMSC) in Cebu last October 21-25. Participants were theology seminarians of the Sancta Maria Mater et Regina Seminarium (SMMRS) of the Archdiocese of Capiz, along with their formators and rector, Rev. Msgr. Jerry Pamposa, P.C., the seminarians of St. Joseph Regional Seminary (SJRS) of the Archdiocese of Jaro with their rector, Rev. Fr. Midyphil Billones, S.T.D. and the seminarians of St. John the Evangelist School of Theology (SJEST) of the Archdiocese of Palo, with their Rector Rev. Fr. Jaime Oscar Florencio. The biennial event serves as an excellent occasion for theology seminarians to gather and form bonds of friendship and fraternity, which will be useful in their future ministry as priests in their respective archdioceses. The gathering also functioned as an avenue for the seminarians to be exposed to the diverse cultures of the Visayas region.
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BIÑAN, Laguna— Faith and hope were the focus of the Diocesan Youth Day in the Diocese of San Pablo in Laguna last Nov. 30 at the St. Michael’s College. Themed “Faith Endures, A Glimpse of Hope,” the pre-National Youth Day activity gathered around 1,500 young people in the diocese. Fr. Alex Pontilla, assistant diocesan youth director talked about “faith endures” where he emphasized the importance of faith in everyday life, citing daily experiences as something divine. “The stability of our faith is measured on our experiences and trials we overcome,” Pontilla added. (CBCPNews)
Antipolo holds preparatory session for diocesan youth day
The biennial event is an opportunity for seminarians to strengthen their fraternity and to learn from one another in view of their future ministry in the priesthood.
Themed “For We Walk by Faith, not by Sight (2 Cor. 5:7)”, the 9th GTSV began with a Holy Mass celebrated by Most Rev. Julito Cortes, Bishop-elect of Dumaguete. Participants were officially welcomed in the evening of October 21 with a dinner and formal ceremony including the unveiling of the official 9th GTSV logo. On October 22, seminarians were given a conference titled “The Future Minister in the Philippine Socio-Political Milieu”, by Rev. Fr. Ramon D. Echica, S.T.D.,
Ph.D., Dean of Studies of SMSC. A workshop facilitated by Rev. Fr. Jesper John D. Petralba, Ed.D., Ph.D., D.P.A., followed in the afternoon. During the workshop, the seminarians discussed among themselves their impressions on the present state of the local Church of the Visayas and the role, which they may come to play in the future as ministers. Some seminarians from each seminary were also asked to share their thoughts to the plenum on sundry
topics such as the Lifestyle of Priests, Self-Criticism in the Church, the role of the Internet and the Social Media in Evangelization, among others. On Oct. 23, a sports festival was held while on the following day, participants paid a cultural visit to the historical sites of Cebu. Nightly cultural presentations were also hosted by many organizations and institutions of the archdiocese. Each participating seminary also held a cultural presentation on the evening of Oct. 24. The 9th GTSV ended with a Solemn Mass celebrated by the rector of the host seminary, Rev. Msgr. Vicente Rey M. Penagunda, P.C. along with the rectors of the other seminaries and priestformators. After the Mass, the GTSV Cross and “hosting task” for the 10th GTSV in 2015 was formally turned over to the St. Joseph Regional Seminary, Jaro. Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, D.D., Chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Seminaries, graced the event. (CBCPNews)
Grabbed from Epus Remonde’s Facebook Page
TANAY, Rizal—More than 600 young people from different parishes and youth groups in the Diocese of Antipolo gathered for a preparatory session for the upcoming 15th Diocesan Youth Day on December 27-29. Themed “Go and Make Disciples of all Nations” (Mt. 28:19), the program included a pilgrim walk for participants from the Church going to Sampaloc Elementary School for the overnight vigil held Nov. 30 until Dec. 1 at the St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal, wherein participants took part in workshops, plenary talk, youth vigil and sharing on the reflection of the theme. Sr. Eppie Brasil, OP, of the Dominican Sisters of Regina Rosarii encouraged the young people of the diocese to allow themselves be led by the power of God’s love. (Jandel Posion)
‘Imitate Christ’, priest challenges seminarians
DAVAO City—A Catholic priest challenged seminarians to “be imitators of Christ” during the 6th General Assembly of Davao Diocesan Seminarians at St. Francis Xavier Pre-College Seminary in Davao City, last October 29. “All of us want to imitate Christ, but it is concretized in different ways. Young people consciously and unconsciously tend to imitate,” said Fr. Russell Bantiles, the resource speaker during the assembly. Msgr. Edgar Labagala, in his homily, emphasized that like a mustard seed, “we also start in small beginning. Virtues and vices also start in a repetitive act of doing little things. “As a pilgrim in this world, let us pray for each other,” Labagala added Aside from the talk and mass, indoor and outdoor games were played by during the assembly. The activity is held every semestral break aimed to foster camaraderie and unity among seminarians from pre-college to theology. (Sem. Ritzchild John Cariaga/YPNews)
Praise, worship concert for victims of Bohol quake held in Cebu
economic landscapes, the bishops urged the faithful to “unite in groups which through prayer, discernment and concerted action will renew the social and political fabric of our country.” “Individual goodness is not sufficient anymore. The good individual will only be swallowed up by the evil system. While individual witness is important, it is in unity that good Christian people will get their strength and attain victory,” they said. Greatness of dignity Despite the seeming disconnection between the faith and action of many, the CBCP lauded the faith exhibited by Filipinos, especially when faced with devastating calamities. “The first and most important truth about you Filipino Catholic laity is not
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poverty but the greatness of your dignity. This dignity derives from God’s unmerited choice of you to belong to God’s holy people,” it said. “The devastation that typhoon Yolanda brought upon our brothers and sisters in Samar and Leyte has created surges of pain and anguish all over our land and even beyond our shores. The typhoon left us dazed and lost, groping in the dark for answers and explanation,” the bishops said, describing the situation of the Catholic laity as the “paradox of poverty and abundance.” Need for ‘integral faith’ The 120-strong collegial body stressed the role of the laity to transform the world and bring Christ’s kingdom into it by penetrating the different straits of society where they participate.
“Your own specific task, and the special responsibility given to you by the Lord is to find your own sanctification in the world, and to sanctify the world and transform it so that this world becomes more and more God’s world, God’s kingdom, where his will is done as it is in heaven,” they said. The bishops also noted the importance of living one’s faith, stressing that it is only through an “integral faith” that systemic concerns hounding the country may be resolved. “We urge you to promote a continuing education towards maturity of faith among our people, starting with our Christian families. But even more importantly, we ask you to make your faith bear on your day to day decisions and activities,” the bishops noted. Palo Archbishop John Du as CBCP treasurer; Fr. Marvin Mejia as secretary general and Msgr. Bernardo Pantin as assistant secretary general and assistant treasurer, will hold office until November 30, 2015. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)
CEBU City— A praise and worship concert was held last Nov. 30 in Cebu City to raise funds for quake victims and restoration of churches in Bohol that were devastated by the 7.2 magnitude temblor. Organized by FUEL or the Family of United and Empowered Leaders, the 8th district of the Commission on Youth of the Archdiocese of Cebu, the concert was endorsed by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and held at the Pope John XXIII. Themed “Refuel your Faith: Go and make Disciples of all Nations,” the event mirrored the Catholic Church’s celebration of the Year of Faith and the recent 2013 World Youth Day celebration in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event was a culminating activity of the Year of Faith and anniversary celebration of the National Thanksgiving Mass for San Pedro Calungsod. The Cebu Diocesan Youth Coordinating Council also launched officially the 29th Local World Youth Day celebration this coming 2014. (Jandel Posion)
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importance to be in step with the major directions Pope Francis has set in his first apostolic letter, Evangelii Gaudium. Villegas, who assumed office together with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles as vice president, also named
the dissemination, study and implementation of the “mind of Pope Francis for the Church” as expressed in Evangelii Gaudium, as a CBCP priority. “It is a heartwarming meditation by the Pope. It must be translated to life,” he added.
Released last November 26, Evangelii Gaudium or The Joy of the Gospel, is a 48,000-word document that Catholic leaders and thinkers are calling the “blueprint for evangelization in the 21st century.” The current set of officers, which also includes
are trying hard to address these gaps. But their resources are understandably very limited. Thankfully, some local and international aggrupations, through whom we feel the compassionate hand of Mother Church, like Caritas Manila, Gawad Kalinga of CFC, Catholic Relief Services, truckloads of relief and service personnel from other dioceses of the country, Caritas Germany etc., have been on hand to provide us much needed help. Again, the brotherhood of humanity is something we in Church proclaim as not only a matter of belief but also of practice. This Christmas there should not be a grand celebration in Eastern Samar. But this Christmas will be laden with a lot more meaning and spirituality. We certainly will feel the poverty, vulnerability and lowliness of the baby Jesus in the manger. We will go through same insecurity and deprivations we so lovingly gaze upon in the Holy Family. It
should be our hope and prayer that the same blessed emptiness wake us up to the grandeur of God’s humble but unfailing love. In a place called Brgy Bagtong, near Salcedo, Eastern Samar, I saw a vast heartbreaking scene of coconut trees either blown down, cut up or twisted in all shapes and directions like candles in the Super Typhoon winds. But, to my surprise, a farmer was in the same area. He was planting camote and camoteng kahoy that had now covered almost a hectare of fresh vegetation against a backdrop of wanton devastation. That, I believe, sums up the Eastern Samar spirit. A spirit that runs in our blood up to and beyond Christmas, as we prepare with St. Joseph to stand by Mama Mary, ready to extend all the care we can, on her way to giving birth to him who brings not only cheer but the gift of God’s heavenly kingdom even in the impoverished hovels of the earth.
People, Facts & Places
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
Religious sector rallies members to help debrief typhoon survivors
Photos: Left: Joan Fernandez/Right: Pinky Barrientos, FSP
Tagle hangs out with former streetkids, gives encouragement
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle spends some time with former street kids who are under the care of the Tulay ng Kabataan Foundation.
Salesian priest Fr. Javey Savines urges fellow religious to assist typhoon survivors in any way possible, during a Psychological First Aid seminar held at St. Joseph College in Quezon City.
WITH thousands of typhoon evacuees temporarily relocated in different tent cities within Metro Manila, the religious sector is mobilizing its members to assist and debrief survivors as they cope with their pain and loss. Around 300 members of men and women religious congregations and lay people attended a whole-day lecture on Psychological First Aid, Debriefing, Counselling and Coaching at the St. Joseph College Auditorium on Nov. 30. The lecture was a joint project of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) to train volunteers from the religious sector of post disaster interventions to help those who have been affected by typhoon Yolanda. Harriet Hormillosa, founderpresident of Reintegration, Care and Wholeness Foundation, Inc. (RCW) gave the talk with her team of counselors. Noting that many Religious priests and nuns have already been assisting survivors since
the day they arrived in Manila, AMRSP volunteer coordinator, Fr. Javey Savines, SDB said the Psychological First Aid training (PFA) is an additional tool that can be utilized in the volunteer work they are doing. “So if you are already a marshall, and you are in contact with the victims of the calamity, you can practice what we have learned today on the individual basis,” he told participants. He urged religious communities to send members to participate actively in the process of helping survivors come to terms with their traumatic experience. He noted that communities can commit “to lend confreres, sisters or even priests, to be actively part of the church’s helping team for the devastated parishes and dioceses in coordination with CBCP-NASSA and RCW foundation for a period of at least 2 to 3 months.” “Actually, there are already some congregations that volunteered their confreres to NASSA, and now they have already been sent to devastated areas. They are already there in the devastated areas, like Ormoc, Tacloban,
and there are also priests there,” Savines said. He noted that the devastated areas are in need of volunteer priests to do pastoral ministry because most of the parish priests there are also victims of calamity and cannot fulfill effectively their role as pastors. “So, there are many ways and levels where we can commit ourselves, whether personally or as a religious community or as a religious congregation,” Savines added. Thousands of evacuees have fled Tacloban and Ormoc for Manila and other cities since Nov. 16. Those who have no relatives in Manila are staying in a tent city in Pasay City, in public health centers and religious institutions that have adopted them. “We are really looking for more religious communities to open their doors for this [particular need],” Savines said. “The PFA can serve as our way of responding to our immediate apostolate to evacuation areas or institutions,” he added. “As a religious community, we also encourage you or invite [you] if we may open our doors
during this time of crisis to house evacuees, especially the aged, instead of bringing them to tent cities,” Savines appealed. Savines said religious institutions or communities that are willing to open their doors to evacuees may just contact NASSA. He said it is always a privilege to help those in need and that “we must be grateful that we are given this opportunity.” “So this is an emerging situation, and I think even our Apostolic Nuncio is inviting everybody, for us to respond to this calamity as a church, to make our presence really felt in this calamity…” he added. What is needed at the moment is the willingness and commitment to help, and of course permission from one’s congregation and superior, Savines said. Those interested and willing to do 5 hours of volunteer work in Villamor Airbase or in institutions housing evacuees may call up Sr. Susan, SFIC at 09175500692 or AMRSP office at 4485644. Shifts are 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm every day. (CBCPNews)
THE former street kids usually just see a picture of him in the shelter in Manila they now call home, but on Dec. 1, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle dropped by for real, commending them for their faith and joy. “Sometimes, you may think that you are the ones who always get help…That is also true. But you know, you are the ones who help us. We learn from you how to be strong, how to keep faith and how to continue loving in the midst of our situations in life,” Tagle told a group of 40 former street kids who are being taken care of by the Tulay ng Kabataan (TNK), a foundation that has been helping get kids off the streets of Metro Manila since 1998. A child’s joy He also thanked the former street kids, some of whom left the streets at 5 years old, some in their teens, for “showing their love, hope and joy to other people.” Before heading to the home center in Intramuros, Manila to watch the kids give dance presentations and short messages, Tagle first visited another TNK center in Smokey Mountain, called the Mother Teresa Center, to meet and talk to scavenger children that the foundation also
helps by providing tutorials, feeding and health programs. Tagle also vowed that the Archdiocese of Manila will explore more ways on how to support the mission of the foundation. TNK’s partner “To the full extent of the Archdiocese of Manila’s ability, we will help and be TNK’s partner in the mission of spreading love and the sense of family,” he said. TNK’s communications manager Alexandra Chapeleau also thanked the Archdiocese of Manila for awarding a house and lot to the foundation, which currently makes up the Intramuros TNK center. On Dec. 1, the TNK family in Intramuros also celebrated the feast day of its patron, Blessed Charles de Foucauld, a French Catholic religious and priest, who was martyred in 1916. In operation for 15 years, TNK is headed by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas as chairman. The foundation has several programs to address the plight of thousands of underprivileged infants, children and youth in the slums, dump sites and streets. For more information on how to help, call (02) 435 59 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)
Vatican warns bishops of schismatic groups in Phl
THE Vatican has alerted Philippine bishops of the presence and activity of two schismatic groups not recognized by the Holy See. The Apostolic Nunciature in a communiqué told the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines that the so-called Roman Catholic Society of Pope Leo XIII (Societas Catholica Romana Papae Leonis) and the Opus Sancti Michaelis Archangeli (OSMA) are not Catholic associations or movements recognized by Rome. Msgr. Seamus Horgan, first secretary to the Apostolic nuncio, said the Opus Sancti Michaelis Archangeli (OSMA) is a group based in Bologna, Italy and guided by the putative Superior General Michel Upmann as well as Fr. Gabriele Domenico Fiume, Fr. Giacomo Silva and a certain Fr. Antonio Fabbroni. “These groups are not Catholic associations and sacred orders received from their leaders are not recognized by the Catholic Church,” said Horgan. According to its website http:// www.cpl13.it/, OSMA has communities in 13 countries outside of Italy, including USA, Brazil, Colombia, Guatamela, Philippines, Panama, Cameroon, Ecuador, Uganda, Germany, Romania, Pakistan and Peru. Last year, the Apostolic Nunciature has also sounded a similar warning about the presence of RCSPLXIII and another group called Igreja Catolica Apostolica Brasileria (ICAB). Msgr. Gabor Pinter, chargé d’affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature, then said that the RCSPLXIII is led by Mr. David G. Bell, “a schismatic group not recognized in anyway by the Catholic Church.” He said that the bishops ordained in the RCSPLXIII “cannot exercise any ministry within the Catholic Church, which does not recognize their ordination.” “All organizations and associations connected with the Society must be regarded in the same manner as other non Catholic institutions are,” said Gabor. “Furthermore, since Mr. Bell has committed the crime of schism, all who have received ordination from him have incurred, for their part, the sanction prescribed by can. 1364 of the CIC: that is excommunication latae sententiae,” he said. Gabor said that the same considerations are also extended to the ICAB, a schismatic community founded by Mr. Carlos Duarte Costa, who died in 1961, and was succeeded by Mr. Luis Fernando Castillo Mendes, who in turn passed away in 2009. A schismatic is one who separates himself from the unity of the Church by refusing to submit to the Pope or those under him according to the hierarchy of the Church. Regardless of adherence to every other law of the Church, rejection of the pontiff is cause to be named schismatic. Schism, according to the canon law, is one of the offenses that a carry a penalty of automatic excommunication. (CBCPNews)
Prison Chaplains, volunteers hold 9th general assembly
AROUND 200 delegates from 39 dioceses and 5 non-government organizations are gathered for the 9th General Assembly of chaplains and volunteers in prison service at the Carmelites Missionaries Center for Spirituality in Tagaytay City, December 10-14. Organized by the Prison Ministry of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philipines, the triennial assembly aims to increase the participants’ awareness on the latest development in the field of criminal justice system especially the area of correction. Themed “Be a Joyful Witness to the Gospel”, the assembly hopes to solidify and strengthen partnership among all the prison volunteers and chaplains in the country, and to come out with the prison ministry agenda of each unit for the 2014-2016. Resource speakers include Msgr. Allen Aganon of the San Carlos Seminary who will dwell on the topic “On the New Evangelization”; Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Chair of the CBCPPermanent Committee on Public Affairs, who will talk on “Integral Faith Formation: Be Joyful Witness to the Gospel”; J/Chief Supt. Doris Dorigo, BJMP Deputy Director on Operations and Administration who will give an Update and Developments in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology; and PSupt. IV Venancio Tesoro of the Bureau of Correction who will share on the Bureau of Corrections Development. Aside from talks, a Focus Group Discussion will also be conducted to share the delegates’ insights on the topics. Films that tackle issues affecting jails and prisons like POSAS and Give up Tomorrow will also be shown. Imus Bishop Rey Evangelista, will open the assembly while Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will lead the closing ceremony. Bishop Pedro Arigo of the Apostolic Vicariate of Palawan, Bishop Leo Tumulak, Military Vicar and chair of the commission and Bishop Emeritus Manuel Sobreviñas of the Diocese of Imus will also preside in the mass on December 11, 12 and 13 respectively. (CBCPNews)
Our sincerest wishes and prayers for a most meaningful Christmas and a peaceful New Year!
The CBCP Media Office takes this occasion to thank its benefactors, partners, and subscribers for their support to the media work of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Vol. 17 No. 25
December 9 - 30, 2013
Filipino Catholic Laity: Called to be Saints… Sent Forth as Heroes!
A Pastoral Exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines for the 2014 Year of the Laity
OUR dear brothers and sisters in Christ, You already know surely that this coming 2021 we shall be celebrating the 500th year of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines. For in 1521, Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines, and in Cebu, he, a lay person, catechized King Humabon of Cebu, his wife and their people. The king and his queen were subsequently baptized together with their followers. It was on this occasion that the queen, newly given the baptismal name of Juana was gifted by Magellan with a statue of the Santo Niño, which was later found in 1565 by soldiers of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, and is now preserved in the Basilica of the Santo Niño in Cebu. In preparation for the celebration of this providential event of the first arrival of Christianity in our shores, the Church in the Philippines has planned nine years of intensive evangelization, with a theme for every year. For the year 2013, we celebrated the Year of Faith provided by then Pope Benedict XVI. The Year 2014 will be the YEAR OF THE LAITY. Our Situation: The Gospel of Joy Pope Francis says “The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident. It is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity”. (Evangelii Gaudium, 52) I f w e w e re g i v e n a n opportunity to describe the situation of the Catholic laity in the Philippines, it would be the paradox of poverty and abundance. The devastation that typhoon Yolanda brought upon our brothers and sisters in Samar and Leyte has created surges of pain and anguish all over our land and even beyond our shores. The typhoon left us dazed and lost groping in the dark for answers and explanation. Poor as we are, this pauper among the nations of the earth hides two jewels in her rags. One of them is our music. Our other treasure is our faith. As long as there remains in these islands one mother to sing Nena’s lullaby, one priest to stand at the altar and
offer God to God, this nation may be conquered, trampled upon, enslaved but it cannot perish. Like the sun that dies every evening, it will rise again from the dead—Horacio de la Costa, SJ. The first and most important truth about you Filipino Catholic laity is not poverty but the greatness of your dignity. This dignity derives from God’s unmerited choice of you to belong to God’s holy people. God called you in Christ to be united to his Son. When you were baptized, the Holy Spirit united you with our Lord Jesus the Son of God, and thus you became true sons and daughters of God, partakers of the divine nature. There is no greater dignity on earth or in heaven than that of being adopted children of God, and being made truly his children, and thus co-heirs to eternal life with Jesus Christ. This dignity flows from the love of God, and made the author of 1 John exclaim, “Behold, what manner of love God has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are. Beloved we are already the children of God but it has not yet appeared what we shall be, because when we see him, we shall become as he is.” This is what also made St. Leo the Great exclaim, “Recognize your dignity, O Christian . . .” That grace came to you with your baptism which is a true rebirth to eternal life. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. (Evangelii Gaudium, 1) When you were united to Christ by the Spirit at baptism, you were also incorporated into the body of Christ, which is the Church, and you became members of the people of God. Your membership in the Church is a full membership. You belong to the Church as much as any pope, bishop, priest, or religious does. You are not second class members of the people of God. When you live the life of grace, you are full citizens of God’s kingdom on earth. In fact, the Church teaches that “the greatest in the kingdom of God are not the ministers but the saints”.
When you were joined to Christ by the Spirit at baptism, you also became sharers of the threefold mission of Christ teacher, priest and servant. You were baptized not only to share in Christ’s dignity as Son of God, but also to share in his mission for the salvation of the world. You share in Christ’s dignity and mission with all others who are likewise united to him by the Holy Spirit. In uniting you to him, Christ also united you to all those who are united with him. With all those who are united to Christ by faith and baptism, you form one body of Christ, whose head is no less than Christ himself. Thus the whole body manifests and prolongs Christ’s life and mission in the world. You, our dear lay faithful, have as your particular mission the sanctification and transformation of the world from within. In fact, many of you are called by the Lord to do service in the Church and for the Church. Such is the case of lay liturgical ministers and catechists, for example, who perform an indispensable service in the Church community and its institutions. Such also is the case of lay people who are asked to participate in the administration of Church property and works. Yet, your own specific task, and the special responsibility given to you by the Lord is to find your own sanctification in the world, and to sanctify the world and transform it so that this world becomes more and more God’s world, God’s kingdom, where his will is done as it is in heaven. You are called by Jesus to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The Lord Jesus told his disciples to preach the Gospel to every creature, and to make all nations his disciples. This command to the whole Church falls especially on you, who are in the world. As Pope Francis has been repeatedly telling Catholics, you must go into the world of the family, of business, of economics, of politics, of education, of the mass media and the social media, to every human endeavor where the future of humanity and the world are at stake and to make a difference, the difference that the Gospel and the grace of Christ bring to human affairs.
Our Situation: The Challenge of the Gospel W h e n w e l o o k a t o u r Philippine world with the eyes of faith, there are several areas of special concern which you, our lay faithful should direct your attention and action to. Pope Francis calls our attention to “the great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ. (Evangelii Gaudium, 2). Poverty Poverty is a social and spiritual problem in our country. A great percentage of our people live below the poverty line. They do not even have the necessities for decent human living. It is estimated that twelve million of our people have gone to foreign countries in their search for adequate income to support their families’ needs. While this has brought many material advantages, it has also resulted in great harm to family life. And many of our overseas Filipino workers work in conditions of servitude and are often submitted to humiliations. A still vast number of our people are without work, and many are forced to live in slum areas and in miserable situations. A vast number of our children are unable to go to school, and those who do go get sub-standard education in poorly equipped schools. Many have been driven by poverty to cater to the lusts of human predators. Though there have been significant economic gains, the same percentage of our
people have remained mired in poverty over the past several years. The wealth of our country has remained woefully mal distributed. This endemic poverty is gravely contrary to the will of God. You, my dear lay faithful are in the best position to creatively work our solutions which will satisfy the demands of justice and charity. What are you doing to create wealth, to preserve wealth, and to share wealth? Do the more prosperous among you feel the sufferings of our poor brothers and sisters, and do you think of ways and means to help alleviate their poverty, and help them towards prosperity? Politics The second is the problem of politics. We say “ problem of politics ” because, as we have repeatedly pointed out, politics as it is practiced in our country is perhaps the single biggest obstacle to our integral development as a nation. Politics as presently practiced, and as it has been practiced for a long time, is riddled with graft and corruption. Our elections are notoriously noted for their violence and vote-buying and for the lack of proper discernment in the choice of candidates. Recent developments have highlighted the corruption connected with the pork barrel which those in power are loath to give up despite their blatant misuse for political patronage. It is now clear that our people are poor because our leaders have kept them poor by their greed for money and power. What are you doing to help get worthy people to positions of authority and power? What are you doing to get rid of the politics of patronage, violence and uneducated choices? What are you doing, our dear lay faithful to rid our country of graft and corruption? Do you perhaps participate in corrupt practices by selling your votes, by buying votes, by bribery and acceptance of kickbacks? Business and Commerce Corruption in politics is paralleled and strengthened by corruption in business. We know that our tax collecting
agencies are notorious for their extortionary practices. Corrupt tax collectors of course imply business people who cooperate in their corrupt activities either to survive in business or to reap bigger profits. It is also known that too many of our tax payers do not pay the correct taxes, while the taxes that are collected are often misspent in over-priced or ghost projects. Corruption in business leads to the further impoverishment of the poor and the widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. Greed and Selfishness While poverty and corruption are real and great evils; we must search for their causes. Our culture has been contaminated by the twofold greed for money and power that has characterized much of the modern world. In our consumerist and materialistic society, people are valued according to what they have. Pope Francis says “Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised—they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”. (Evangelii Gaudium, 53) The greed for power is the twin brother of greed for money. Those who have money easily get into power, and when they are in power, they can protect and increase their acquisitions. In our country, winning a government position is often the passport to affluence. Politics in the Philippines is a business proposition. Truth Suffers The first casualty of such greed for money and power is the truth. To get money and power, to keep money and power, to increase their money and power, people have recourse to lies and cheating. The truth is easily
Laity / B7
© Nirva Delacruz / CBCP Media
By Fr. Jaime B. Achacoso, J.C.D.
THE couple married young, and on the decision of the elders really, because the girl was pregnant and reluctant to marry but the boy’s mother wanted her son to be responsible. They have one child, male, 36 years old and also married. The man has a second family with three young children. He has another child (but no family) abroad. All this is known and accepted by the legal wife. If their marriage is annulled, what happens to his legitimate child? Will he drop his family name? May the man marry his concubine in his second family, the mother of his three children? Will the presently sole legitimate child of the man retain his status as legitimate heir if the second family becomes “legal” through the new marriage? Whether or not the man remarries, how are the properties to be divided among his children? What will the legitimate (first) wife get to keep for herself? Our law says the conjugal property belongs to husband and wife: will the change of spouse affect former agreements? The line of questioning above reveals not only the typical confusion between marriage nullities and annulments — with the logical conclusion that the former is just a form of Catholic divorce—but also the confusion between the civil and the canonical order. It even hints at a lack of appreciation of the true nature of marriage. We have to address these three aspects separately, in several installments of this column. Marriage is a Natural Institution In the past decade-and-ahalf, there have been repeated attempts to pass a divorce law in the Philippines, defeated repeatedly as well, thanks in no mean measure to the efforts of the Catholic Church (allied with our Muslim brothers). In Europe and North America, on the other hand, the legislative agenda had moved on to greater depths of depravity with the passage of same-sex unions (which we should never call marriage). The fundamental error in both legislative moves is the failure to realize that marriage is a natural institution—its nature, essential properties and ends form part of human nature—of which man is not the author and which therefore no piece of legislation can alter. It is only up to man to use his reason to understand the intrinsic reality of marriage and to act accordingly. John Paul II explained this point very well in his annual address to the Roman Rota on 1.II.2001 when he said: Many misunderstandings have beset the very idea of “nature”. The metaphysical concept (…) has been particularly neglected. There is a tendency to reduce what is
This can be seen very clearly in the current attempts to present de facto unions, including those of homosexuals, as comparable to marriage, whose natural character is precisely denied. When the Church teaches that marriage is a natural reality, she is proposing a truth evinced by reason for the good of the couple and of society, and confirmed by the revelation of Our Lord, who closely and explicitly relates the marital Can.1055—§1.Thematrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament. Can. 1056 — The essential and education of the children who may result. It is in function of this two-fold end that the essential properties of marriage follow: unity (monogamy) and indissolubility (till death of one of the spouses). The Marriage of Catholics It is this natural institution of marriage, which has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament, making of it therefore
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
Marriage for Catholics
and indissolubility obtain a special firmness. H o w e v e r, o n c e C h r i s t raised the natural institution of marriage to the dignity of a sacrament for the baptized, the two aspects—sacramentality and natural institution—have become inseparable. As c.1055, §2 solemnly declares: For this reason a matrimonial contract cannot validly exist between baptized persons unless it is also a sacrament by that fact. What this means is that for a Catholic to be married validly in the eyes of God, he or she has to be married sacramentally (“in Church”). This is expressed clearly by c.1059: Even if only one party is baptized, the marriage of Catholics is regulated not only by divine law but also by canon law, with due regard for the competence of civil authority concerning the merely civil effects of such a marriage. In other words, getting married only civilly is not enough for a Catholic, even if in practice—in most Catholic countries, like the Philippines—a Church wedding carries with it automatically also a civil wedding: the papers signed at the end of the Church ceremony are not Church papers but the pro-forma Marriage Contract from City Hall. In effect, what happens is that by mutual agreement between Church and State, the State empowers the solemnizing priest to act as its solemnizing officer—a role played by the Judge or another public official in a simply civil marriage—to witness the Marriage Contract involving a Catholic spouse(s). Thus, not just any Catholic priest can officiate a marriage, but one who has the license to solemnize marriages, duly registered in the proper government office. To conclude this first part of the Answer to the mailed Questions above we can say that we can never approach marriage or family problems and issues in a simply expeditious way—simply looking for the proper legal norms to apply to the situation so as to “legalize” an otherwise irregular situation. Marriage as a natural institution has its own rules which must be respected, and in the case of Catholics this has been finely positivized and formalized in a body of Matrimonial Law within the Canon Law of the Church.
specifically human to the cultural sphere, claiming a completely autonomous creativity and efficacy for the person at both the individual and social levels. From this viewpoint, the natural is merely a physical, biological and sociological datum to be technologically manipulated according to one’s own interests. This opposition between culture and nature deprives culture of any objective foundation, leaving it at the mercy of will and power.
union to the “beginning” (Mt 19: 4-8) spoken of in the Book of Genesis: “male and female he created them” (Gen 1: 27), and “the two shall become one flesh” (Gen 2: 24). Marriage has Natural Ends and Essential Properties Canon Law, respecting the natural order, has expressed the ends and properties of marriage as a natural institution in the following terms:
properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtains a special firmness in virtue of the sacrament. In short, by nature marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, setting up a partnership involving their whole lives—to the point that they become “two lives in one”—aimed of its nature towards a double end: the full personal development of the spouses and the procreation
a visible sign for him to bestow his grace on the baptized who contract the marriage covenant. This is beautifully expressed by c.1055, §1 in fine. It is as if, in order to enable fallen man and woman to fully live the total life project of the marriage covenant that God wanted to be part of such a project, such that through the grace of the sacrament, in Christian marriage the essential properties of unity
Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university, answers the following queries:
Q: On several occasions I have attended Mass on Sunday in a parish in the U.S. outside of my own diocese. Each time, the celebrant gave about a one-minute homily. Indeed, the parish announcements were longer than the homily. Is there any rule that indicates how long a Sunday homily is to be? -M.E., Rochester, New York A: One experiences a rare pleasure when a parishioner laments about the homily being too short. It is a sign of true hunger for a substantial explanation of God’s word. Unfortunately there is relatively little with respect to official norms regarding length of homilies. This is partly inevitable because expectations vary from one culture to another and even from one social milieu to another. There are some cultures which expect long discourses during Mass and others which fidget after six minutes. No. 24 of the Introduction to the Lectionary has the following to say about the homily: “The homily, by which, through the course of the liturgical year, the mysteries of faith and norms of Christian life are set forth from the sacred text, as part of the Liturgy of the Word has been recommended often and especially since the liturgical constitution of the Second Vatican Council, and indeed is prescribed in some cases. The homily in the celebration of Mass is customarily to be given by the one who presides by virtue of the fact that it shows how the word of God which has been proclaimed becomes together with the eucharistic liturgy ‘a kind of proclamation of the wonders of God in salvation history or the mystery of Christ.’ And also the Paschal Mystery of Christ, which is announced by the readings and homily, is exercised through the sacrifice of the Mass. Christ, moreover, in the preaching of his Church, is always present and at work. “The homily, therefore, whether it explains the word of sacred Scripture that has been proclaimed or another liturgical text, ought to lead the community of the faithful to celebrate the Eucharist actively, so that ‘they may hold in their manner of life what they have grasped by faith.’ By this living explanation of the Word of God, which is read, the celebrations of the Church, which are carried out, can also acquire a greater efficacy if the homily is truly the fruit of meditation,
Length of Homilies
aptly prepared, neither excessively drawn out nor too brief, and if it is attentive to the needs of all those present, even children and the uninstructed.” Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini has a beautiful passage regarding the importance of the homily: “59. Each member of the People of God ‘has different duties and responsibilities with respect to the word of God. Accordingly, the faithful listen to God’s word and meditate on it, but those who have the office of teaching by virtue of sacred ordination or have been entrusted with exercising that ministry,’ namely, bishops, priests and deacons, ‘expound the word of God.’ Hence we can understand the attention paid to the homily throughout the Synod. In the Apostolic Exhortation S a c r a m e n t u m Caritatis, I pointed out that ‘given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved. The homily is part of the liturgical action and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful’ (No. 46). The homily is a means of bringing the scriptural message to life in a way that helps the faithful to realize that God›s word is present and at work in their everyday lives. It should lead to an understanding of the mystery being celebrated, serve as a summons to mission, and prepare the assembly for the profession of faith, the universal prayer and the Eucharistic liturgy. Consequently, those who have been charged with preaching by virtue of a specific ministry ought to take this task to heart. Generic and abstract homilies which obscure the directness of God›s word should be avoided, as well as useless digressions which risk drawing greater attention to the preacher than to the heart of the Gospel message. The faithful should be able to perceive clearly that the preacher has a compelling desire to present Christ, who must stand at the center of every homily. For this reason preachers need to be in close and constant contact with the sacred text; they should prepare for the homily by meditation
and prayer, so as to preach with conviction and passion. The synodal assembly asked that the following questions be kept in mind: ‹What are the Scriptures being proclaimed saying? What do they say to me personally? What should I say to the community in the light of its concrete situation?› The preacher ‹should be the first to hear the word of God which he proclaims,› since, as Saint Augustine says: ‹He is undoubtedly barren who preaches outwardly the word of God without hearing it inwardly.› The homily for Sundays and
Omitting or Adding the Gloria
Q1: When an ordination of a priest takes place on a day that is not a liturgical feast or solemnity, should the Gloria be sung? The Rite of Ordination only states that after the procession, “the liturgy of the word takes place according to the rubrics” (6). According to this, there should be no Gloria if the Mass occurs on a memorial. However, in all of the ordinations that I’ve been to in the past, the Gloria was always sung, whether or not it was called for by the rubrics of the liturgy. Could you please clarify? -- H.H., Berkeley, California Q2: At Sunday Mass with a baptism included, besides omitting the Greeting and Penitential Rite, is the Gloria also omitted? -- A.C., Townsville, Australia A: As both questions are closely related, I will address them together. No 53 of the General Introduction of the Roman Missal says: “The Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church, gathered together in the Holy Spirit, glorifies and entreats God the Father and the Lamb. The text of this hymn may not be replaced by any other text. The Gloria is intoned by the priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir; but it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or by two parts of the congregation responding one to the other. “It is sung or said on Sundays outside the Seasons of Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and at special celebrations of a more solemn character.” Thus, since an ordination is certainly “a special celebration of a more solemn character,” the Gloria can be sung or recited at any ordination in which the ritual Mass of Ordination may be celebrated. An obligatory memorial would not impede the celebration of the ritual Mass, and so the Gloria could be sung. This would be true even if for a good reason the bishop decided to celebrate the saint of the day rather than the ritual Mass. The days when the Gloria would be excluded at ordinations, such as Sundays of Lent and Advent, and Nov. 2, are not usually chosen for such a festive celebration. When baptism is celebrated during Mass, the greeting and penitential rite are omitted, since the rite of receiving the children takes place at the beginning of the celebration. The rubrics also say that the creed is omitted, since “the profession of faith by the entire community before baptism takes its place.” Since the rite of baptism makes no mention whatsoever of the Gloria, it must be presumed that it is not affected by the celebration of the sacrament and thus follows the usual rules with respect to its being sung or not. Likewise, the fact that the rubrics of other sacramental rites, such as ordination, mention the singing of the Gloria if foreseen, would also suggest that baptism is not an exception to this general rule.
solemnities should be prepared carefully, without neglecting, whenever possible, to offer at weekday Masses cum populo brief and timely reflections which can help the faithful to welcome the word which was proclaimed and to let it bear fruit in their lives.” If this is the challenge the Church poses to priests and deacons for their preaching, then it would seem unlikely that it can be achieved in a brief minute-made homily. The Church does recommend brevity, above all because the homily should be in proportion to the entire celebration. It makes little sense to go on for 20 or more minutes and then rush through the Eucharistic Prayer. Once more cultural factors have to be taken into account, and it is nigh impossible to give strict rules. One could say that on a Sunday six minutes would be a minimum, but the maximum is much harder to determine. I believe that the criterion of proportion with the rest of the celebration is a good guide, along with the faithful›s expectation within the context of a concrete pastoral situation.
© Noli Yamsuan / RCAM
Vol. 17 No. 25
December 9 - 30, 2013
(As of December 3, 2013)
to Hilantagaan Island (1 barangay) and Kinatarkan island (3 barangays) off mainland Bantayan. The remaining distributions will focus on barangays in Madridejos municipality. * Distribution of relief goods through CRS in Samar (Basey) and Leyte (Palo and Tanauan) for 9000 households. Catholic Relief Services Bilateral project activities * A total of 18,386 tarpaulins for 16,554 households and 4,351 hygiene kits and hygiene promotion have been distributed in Ormoc and Kananga (Ormoc), Palo and Tolosa (Palo) and Giporlos (Samar). * 4,351 WASH kits have been distributed in Palo and Tanauan (Palo) * A group of 40 workers has completed 161 work days of CFW and have cleared Capiz * The diocese reported an excessive supply of food relief in the first few weeks of the response. * NASSA arranged to send PhP 1,370,500 for 10kg of rice and 1kg of monggo per HH for 2,500 HHs in Capiz. San Jose de Antique (Antique) * NASSA prepared to send PhP 830,000 for 10kg of rice and 1kg of monggo per HH for 2,000 HHs in Antique. Taytay (Palawan) * NASSA arranged to purchase and send 10kg of rice and 1kg of monggo per HH for 600 HHs in Taytay. Calbayog (Samar) * NASSA arranged to purchase and send 10kg of rice and 1kg of monggo per HH for 500 HHs in Samar. Kalibo (Aklan) * NASSA arranged to send PhP 900,000 for 10kg of rice and 1kg of monggo per HH for 2,500 HHs in Aklan (PhP 137,500 monggo to be purchased by Jaro) Cebu * NASSA arranged to send funds for purchasing 10kg of rice and 1kg of monggo per HH for 2,700 HHs in North of Cebu. Caritas Austria * EA activities * On 30 Nov a workshop was held with all four dioceses in Iloilo with Neal (ERST) and Josephine (NASSA) in order to develop the next phase of rehabilitation. Bilateral project activities * Panay: Working with the Dioceses of Jaro (Iloilo), Kalibo (Aklan), Roxas (Capiz) and San Jose (Antique) on proposals and appeals especially for livelihoods and shelter programmes. * Cebu: Assisted a local NGO (CRRC) in distribution of food and housing materials for 3200 families in North Cebu (Mahawak, Kawit, Gibitngil, Tindog, Daanglungsod, Don Virgilio Gonzales) * Negros: Funded a food distribution in the Barangays Washington / Escalantes and North Cadiz. Implemented by local NGO (CPRS). 400 families have been reached in total. * Panay: Working with local NGO (PCDR) in Iloilo. Caritas Germany * 9150 tarps have been procured and transported from Cebu. They should arrive on Samar on 2 December. EA activities * Around 2100 tarps are being unloaded at 4 points around Basey and Marabut. Distribution starts 2 Dec, organized with Catbalogan DSAC, local Parishes and Government. * The remaining tarps will arrive in Borongan 3 Dec. The distribution plan is set up with Borongan DSAC and shipments of tarps if requested (full/ half load), but will take at least 10-14 days to arrive. * C-Austria is discussing the issue of community shelters for the rehabilitation phase. Could this be applied more widely in other areas besides Panay? Their experiences in Bangladesh and Aceh were very positive. Is anybody else considering this approach? * C-Germany have a GIS specialist in Manila if there is a need for support for mapping. * A dropbox has been developed for CI members to share reports and resources. Details have been shared 2 Dec. If you didn’t receive an invite and want to get access to please email Janet jcrossley@ cafod.org.uk * A high-level MoU for CI member ways of working with NASSA and the
NASSA / Caritas Consolidated Situation Report – #4
1. Summary Super Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) made its first landfall at 4:40am on November 8 in Guiuan, southeastern Samar Island. With wind speeds estimated at 195 mph (348 kph), Haiyan is likely the strongest tropical cyclone on record to make landfall. Haiyan made a total of 6 landfalls across 4 regions of the Philippines. More than 10 million people have been affected by the typhoon across 44 provinces. 2. Key Data on Affected Populations1 * Updated figures from the National DisasterRiskReductionandManagement Council (NDRRMC) report that a total of 2,335,031 families (over 10.9 million persons) were affected across 12,014 barangays (villages), in 44 provinces and 586 municipalities and 57 cities in 9 regions. * The official casualty figures stand at 5,632 reported dead, 26,136 injured and 1,759 missing. These figures are actual numbers recorded rather than estimates, so these can be considered low. * Currently 851,655 families (over 3.8 million persons) are reported as displaced. 5.6% of these families are staying in 1,084 evacuation centers. The remaining 94.4% of displaced families (over 3.6 million persons) are outside the evacuation centers. * DSWD reports 1,168,909 damaged houses with 582,827 completely destroyed. * The cost of damages to infrastructure and agriculture is estimated at PhP 30 billion. * The reported response so far (foreign and local) includes 35,121 personnel deployed and over PhP 708 million worth of relief assistance provided to affected families. 3. Security/Political Situation Security * No concerns reported. * The mayor and MDRRMO supported C Switzerland to settle the previously reported conflict with the local resort owner. It seems to have involved political issues on barangay level. An apology has been received and a meeting with all parties concerned will follow to close the issue. Logistics * Procurement of goods taking time, as all local suppliers are dealing with a lot of demand, and international procurement takes 10-14 days. * Due to weak connectivity in Borongan, only a certain time of the day has strong mobile phone signal and people still rely on satellite phone to call. Political Situation * No update 4. Appeal funding EA 23-2013 budget: 4.9 million Euro Total pledges: 6.1 million Euro (including GIK) The scope of the EA response will not be extended therefore there is a significant oversubscription. This will be discussed at the meeting on 4 Dec, but it is expected that some flexible funds can be moved to the Recovery/ Reconstruction EA to be launched in the 2nd half of Feb. 2014. 5. Programme Progress Caritas Philippines/NASSA Total response * N A S S A h a s o rg a n i z e d t h e preparation of food packs for 19,300 households (HHs) worth PhP 19,720,000 for Jaro, Capiz, Antique, Aklan, Taytay, Calbayog, Cebu, Borongan and Palo. * This total does not include the food packs distributed earlier by the Diocese of Maasin (PhP 400,000 for Palo) and Cebu (PhP 300,000 for Daanbantayan and Bogo). * As volunteers have recently been dispatched to the diocese, there are limited updates at this time.
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
(Organizational Development), Cat Cowley (Donor/Confederation Liaison), Janet Crossley, and Nick Harrop/Ben White (Media/Coms). * Some immediate and long-term positions need to be confirmed, this is being discussed with CI and Caritas Philippines. CVs have been received to CI and are being reviewed. Caritas Austria * Daniela Pamminger currently in Iloilo until 15 Dec, Claus Stephan Wagner in Iloilo until Feb. 2014. Andreas Zinggl in Cebu City until 10 Dec. * Caritas Austria will open an office in Iloilo City and plans to locate approx. 3 delegates there. Caritas Germany * 2 staff in the field (Friedrich in Basey
logs from three zones and elementary school and have cleared all the access roads in zone two (Palo). * 10 water bladders are benefiting 2,367 households in Palo. * The WASH team began to rehabilitate latrines in Buntay, Tanauan, organized a group to dig latrine holes in Cogon, and conducted two hygiene sessions. Cordaid Bilateral project activities * Finalized the rapid assessment in Palawan municipality of Coron. The main need is for shelter. * Cordaid is planning to implement an integrated shelter, fishing boat, forestry equipment, tree planting, radio station program for about 2 years in cooperation with the local parish and other partners. * Currently there is no coordination taking place, that has been flagged to the mayor’s office and the parish. 5. Coordination and Meetings
DSACs has been developed. It is with NASSA for final changes. Draft is in drop-box here. * The 3W matrix has been shared and saved in the drop-box here. Please complete and send to Mark M before Wednesday so that we can share it at the partners meeting RESPONSE COORDINATION * The Multi-Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) was conducted by 40+ agencies in 9 provinces covering 92 municipalities and 283 barangays. It identified the priority needs as: Food assistance and water; Shelter; Livelihoods recovery (farming, fishing, and service industries); and restoration of services (WASH, education, health, protective and other community services) and management of IDPs. See the report here. · The minutes of the Cash Working Group meeting in Manila on 20 Nov are saved in drop-box here * To sign up to the UNDSS daily security situation alerts email tanya. email@example.com * Cebu Shelter cluster meetings are every Monday 9am at Provincial Capital Building. Lead agency keeps changing, currently IFRC. * Caritas Switzerland and local partners from Cebu are attending shelter and protection cluster meetings in Cebu, and coordination meeting organized by the municipality of Santa Fe on Bantayan. * Coordination is still a challenge, there are many organisations in cluster meetings, but they are not visible in the field or municipal clusters. 6. Media & Communications The Caritas Flickr is here: http:// www.flickr.com/photos/27673812@ N05/sets/72157637551477753/ 7. Advocacy * Some issues are coming up, for example: shelter material price rises (due to production issues or massive IOM order?); land rights around Government declaration on no-build zone. * What else is a challenge that could be addressed in advocacy work? * See report about this story here http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/534035/ govt-declares-coastlines-no-build-zones * See CAFOD’s policy briefing here. 8. Personnel and offices NASSA * A joint NASSA and ERST office has been set up in Cebu city: the address is Unit 205, Krizia Building, Gorordo Avenue, Kamputhaw, Cebu City. * Communications officer resigned on 26 Nov. Replacement for his role as information encoder is being sought. * Fr Javey Javines SDB is designated liaison of NASSA with the Religious Congregations on Yolanda efforts. 3 Coordination meetings have so far been organized with the Religious. ERST * Maria Prescilla left on 30 Dec after a week working with ERST and NASSA on data collection and quality. * The current ERST staffare: Mark Mitchell (Team Leader), Neal Deles
and Dieter in Borongan) until 8 Dec. * Friedrich leaves 9 Dec. Dieter will go back to Samar after a few days. Ulli (logistics expert) leaves 5 Dec. * Albert in Bangkok 3-9 Dec. * Setting up a small office in Cebu and a field office in Borongan. Planning a 2-3 year programme. Caritas Switzerland * 3 staff now based in Cebu: Yvonne Affolter (delegate, since Nov 12), Julian Jekel (delegate, since Nov 25) and Malou Vera (local project coordinator, permanent staff). Catholic Relief Services * 29 CRS and CAFOD TDY (temporary duty) staff are now in country. Dina Brick arrives on December 4th. Cordaid * Jan-Willem will leave the Philippines on 6 Dec. * A new representative Mr. Ronald Langford will arrive in the coming days. 9. Activities Planned for Next Reporting Period NASSA * Collated list of locations where evacuees are accommodated through DSWD. These are likely deployment areas for participants (mostly Religious and mission partners) of Psychological First Aid seminar (held 30 Nov) Caritas Germany EA appeal activities * Distribution of tarps in east and west Samar, organizing the transport of expected NFI and Hygiene Kits together with other supply from Catbalogan, where they hopefully will arrive tomorrow, to Borongan. Bilateral project activities * Will be working on needs assessments up to Christmas Caritas Switzerland Bilateral project activities * Distributions of relief goods will continue in several barangays of Madridejos municipality on Bantayan Island. Hope to complete in next 2 weeks. Catholic Relief Services EA appeal activities * Started procurement of 6000 WASH/ NFI kits for NASSA, these are on their way Cordaid Bilateral project activities Cordaid is looking for another diocese to work with, in one of the worst affected area. A new representative Mr Ronald Langford will arrive for that the coming days. A visit will be conducted by the COO of Cordaid in his role of current chairman of the SHO, cooperating Dutch NGO’s, a fundraising platform. Mr. Van Eeghen, a press officer and 2 journalists will travel from Manila to Cebu, Ormoc, Tacloban to Samar from 2-7 December.
Palo (Leyte) * Volunteers deployed from Dioceses of Tagum (Fr. Em) and Tabuk (Mike Ruma) has helped the Archdiocese of Palo revive the operations of their Chancery. Tagum and Tabuk were recipients of CI/ NASSA Housing projects this year. Borongan (Eastern Samar) * 3,000 food packs (rice, monggo and sardines) arranged by Archdiocese of Caceres are expected to be delivered by the first week of December. * An assessment has been done but no list of beneficiaries yet. * Due to weak connectivity, only a certain time of the day has strong mobile phone signal and people still rely on satellite phone to call. Reports were submitted to NASSA when the deployed volunteer went to Cebu. Naval (Biliran Island) * No update Jaro (Iloilo) * The diocese reported an excessive supply of food relief in the first few weeks of the response. NASSA arranged to send 1,370,500PhP for 10kg of rice and 1kg of monggo per HH for 2,500 HHs in Jaro. distribution will start immediately on arrival. * A vehicle (pick-up truck) for field monitoring arrived in Basey 2 Dec. Two more vehicles should go to Samar by the end of this week to support Catbalogan and Borongan DSACs transport capacity. Bilateral project activities * 800 tarps will be handover to a Malteser project in St. Antonio (outside EA) Caritas Switzerland Bilateral project activities * Distributions of relief goods in Santa Fe and Madridejos on Bantayan Island are ongoing. * Relief goods (shelter kit, NFIs, hygiene set and food) distributed to around 5,000 of the 9,000 targeted families so far. * The completed distributions include logistically complicated distributions
NASSA * Coordination meeting was held on 30 November in Iloilo * On 26 and 28 November NASSA met with small group of Religious Congregations active with the evacuees in Manila to share efforts and Religious’ needs, offers and observations, for better and coordination and response both in Manila and in other Dioceses of their scope. CARITAS COORDINATION: * A joint CI member coordination meeting is held in Cebu every Monday morning at 11am. These meetings have been a very effective way of sharing information and coordinating between Caritas members. * Cordaid is looking for 5000 tarpaulins for distribution in Palawan a.s.a.p. It can procure itself but will take a while, is looking for possibility to borrow from other CI partners and give back later. * C-Germany can organize more
NDRRMC Sit Rep #49, 1 December 2013, 6 am
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
An initial report on San Antonio de Padua Mission Center in Basey, Western Samar
The human spirit, unbroken by tragedy… a faith that faces reality without blame: the story of the San Antonio de Padua Mission Center, Basey, Diocese of Calbayog, Western Samar and its 11 Barangays and 8 Sitios
By Sr. Teresa Mueda, DC
YOLANDA was a phenomenon totally unexpected and unparalleled in its destruction; and yet amidst the desolation of loss, the uncertainty of a future, and amidst the rubble, not only of homes but also of dreams, there emerges a persistence to survive, to recreate, a courage that smiles through tears, dances through tragedies and a tenacity of faith among the people of Basey, and the San Antonio Mission Center… dispositions that easily describe the spirit of every Filipino who experienced Yolanda firsthand and survived it. The Municipalities of Basey and portions of Sta. Rita are nearest to San Juanico Bridge that connects Tacloban and Samar. Basey and its various barangays especially Basey proper, and the San Antonio de Padua Mission Center covering 11 barangays
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
Tenacious in faith amid tragedy
and 8 sitios experienced the tragic consequences of Yolanda. Basey is nearly 5 hours from Calbayog City if one takes the public ride and 4 hours in a private car. On the other hand, if one crosses the San Juanico Bridge, one steps on Leyte soil in less than 10 minutes. This probably explains why this municipality, out of all the municipalities of Western Samar is hardest hit. O f the 11 barangays of the San Antonio Mission Center, the DC Assessment Team of 3 sisters and one Social Worker who heads the DC Justice, Peace and Concerns Desk initially chose 3 barangays for initial assessment which were hardest hit by Yolanda, from what they learned from their visits and from interviews with leaders and barangay officials of Basey. As of this writing though, it is increasingly revealed that almost all of San Antonio’s barangays including the ones along the highway are deeply affected, and Fr. Rex Ibanez,
Priest in Charge of the Center, appeals that the other barangays be assisted too. The San Antonio Mission Center The San Antonio Mission Center is almost a parish in its own right although as of now, it is still part of the St. Michael the Archangel Parish. It covers 11 Barangays and 8 Sitios. The 11 Barangays are: San Antonio, Amandayehan, Cambayan, Tinao-gon, Can-abay, May-it, San Pedro, San Juan, Dampigan and Calicugan. The 8 sitios are: Sitio Bugho – Basey, Sitio Sta. Cruz, Sitio Calbang, Sitio Candaya, Sitio FFF, Sitio Bugho, Sta. Rita, Sitio New Dampigan and Sitio Cantaba. Put together, the Mission Center has a total population (as of November 12, 2013) of 15,896 with 3,391 households. About 2,815 houses were either damaged or totally washed out; with 53 dead, 435 injured, and 13 remain missing. The people of these areas are fishermen and farmers. Yolanda swept
away their homes, their boats and their farm products. San Antonio is the Mission Center’s center. It is here that Fr. Rex Ibanez resides. It is more or less 30 minutes from the highway. It is a Basic Ecclesial Community with a population of 2,741; 731 families and 675 Households. The total number of houses is 675, with 511 totally washed out. Number of casualties are 41, missing are 11, and injured, 277. The Church, the Rectory and portions of the Elementary School had been unroofed and almost emptied by Yolanda. The people continue to celebrate the Eucharist and pray in a church whose images have been broken, the walls torn down, and whose roof is the blue sky. Almost all of the chapels of the different barangays and sitios suffered the same fate. This deprivation of their chapels on top of their other losses is a big blow to the parishioners and there is an appeal that the chapels be built first so there is some place dry they can go to pray and find solace. Amandayehan is about 5 to 8 minutes by motorbike or habal-habal from San Antonio and 15 minutes by motorboat from Tacloban. Population is 1,159; 249 families and 223 households. The total number of houses washed out is 116; with 2 casualties and 34 injured. Cambayan is 5 to 8 minutes from Amandayehan by motorbike or habalhabal. Population is 387; 128 families and 99 households. Number of houses totally washed out is 99, with one casualty – the newly elected Barangay Captain. The number of residents, families and households change nearly from day to day because families and persons who have moved out right after Yolanda have returned and those who have initially stayed are moving out. The people from these barangays receive food packages that include rice, water, and canned goods; clothing is
also made available to them. During our interviews, the people, the BEC and Barangay leaders expressed gratitude for the food and water they receive but the following emerge as priority needs: Shelter kit that includes carpentry tools and wood for makeshift/temporary houses since even the chapels and the elementary schools had their roofs blown away. Kitchen kit that includes cooking materials, plates, glasses, utensils because when their homes were washed out, all these too had been washed away with their homes. Sanitary, hygiene and personal items kit: underwear, sanitary napkins, toothbrush, soap, slippers. Sleeping kit: Mosquito nets, blankets, mats. Cambayan expressed the need for SEEDS so they can begin planting again. Stress debriefing Some of them have received some sleeping kit items but not everyone, because packages are usually not enough for all the residents of the barangays. In particular, those who had their houses washed out lost practically everything and they are left with nothing to cook on, to wash with, even to sit on. The evacuees, especially from areas along the shoreline have sought shelter in the Elementary school’s remaining classrooms but they have been given notice that classes will try to begin in January. They have nowhere to move. The 8 other barangays are affected in almost the same way and are in the same condition as San Antonio, Amandayehan and Cambayan—in varying degrees and will need the same assistance. Transportation remains difficult for the barangays; there is still no electricity and donations of portable generators to affected parishes have helped ease a little bit of the darkness but the price of gasoline remains prohibitive. Theinlandbarangays,asofnow,aremainly
Tenacious / B7
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
May They Be One
Help Put a Bible in Every Filipino Home
The human face of Philippine poverty
By Fr. Shay Cullen
REGGIE is the human face of poverty in the Philippines. He and his family lived on the edge of total poverty until typhoon Haiyan (locally code-named Yolanda) pushed him and his family into absolute poverty this November 2013. He is a 17 year-old jobless youth whose home was taken away by the 245 kilometer per hour wind. Then, his dignity was taken away by human traffickers who forced him and six other youth from Cebu into unpaid labor on a fishing boat and then abandoned them hungry and unpaid. Then he sunk into even greater poverty when his freedom and human rights were taken from him by the authorities when they jailed him for being a vagrant. He was rescued from illegal imprisonment recently. But the one image that haunts me is that of Edgar. One of the poorest of the poor and typical of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos is Edgar, a street boy, skinny, emaciated, skeletal, the human no one wants to look at. He was found wounded on the street. He had in his possession one pair of shorts to cover his otherwise naked body. He had nothing else in this world. A reality so shocking where the obese are more numerous than the 1.2 billion poor that live on less than US$2 a day. The Philippines, with its towering condominiums, wealth and opulence of the ruling elite is the poorest nation of Asia for its population size. It is the one country that has not made progress in reducing poverty unlike other Asian countries despite economic growth that only benefits the rich. There are 29 million Filipinos living below the poverty line based on figures released by the government statistics office. The population is more or less 105 million and 27.9 percent in 2013 are living below the poverty line. This is almost the same as it was four to seven years ago. Walden Bello in his writings Afterthoughts says that the rest of the world has made great improvement since 2005 to 2008 in reducing poverty as the World Bank declared, “The progress is so drastic that the world has met the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to cut extreme poverty in half, five years before its 2015 deadline.” The Philippines has not made any such strides and the roots of poverty are found in the concentration of economic and fiscal power in the hands of a few powerful families. Debt is a tool of control. Getting poor countries into debt was a deliberate policy by rich nations to have economic and political influence over developing
Face / B7
New life after the storm
IN Tacloban City, when a storm surge threw its fury at Anibong Point, the waters carried away Viola Coquilla’s husband, daughter, son-in-law, and a grandchild. The 60-year old Viola went through the tyranny of the unknown. Are any of her missing loved ones still alive or are they among the retrieved bodies in mass graves? How she yearned to search through the mass graves, clinging in hope against hope that at least some of them may still be alive! But she didn’t know where to start and neither did she know where these mass graves can be located. Recalling her family’s Yolanda ordeal amid the raging sea waters around them, Viola said she held on to whatever things she could find and cried out to God for help and rescue. When the storm Yolanda left the country, it left Anibong Point in shambles and grief. Yet, when Viola was asked how she was doing, she smiled and said “New Life”. New Life… new begin- Viola Coquilla ning. This is our cry for the victims of Yolanda. Yes, food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs are now being given to them. Yet, there are pains deeper than physical wounds and hunger that must be met. Only God’s grace and His Word can bring lasting comfort and healing to the victims. This Christmas season, the May They Be One (MTBO) Bible campaign seeks to bring the Bible to our Kababayans ravaged by the recent typhoon and earthquakes in the Visayas and rebel raids in Mindanao. For people who have lost livelihood, homes and loved ones – it would serve as fitting gesture to give the Bible – the gift of the Word that will never perish. If you wish to support this special Christmas outreach, contact Pearl or Helen at 524 5337 or email them at pearl@ bible.org.ph or firstname.lastname@example.org. With your generous donation, more Violas will have the power to stand strong, emerge from the rubbles and find hope, healing and life. MTBO Bible Campaign book account: PBS-MTBO Account #3903-0649-34 (BPI-Sta. Mesa Branch). Fax deposit slip to 521-5803.
Viola watching over a son injured by typhoon Yolanda’s fury.
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
Vol. 17 No. 25
December 9 - 30, 2013
Cagayan Valley Ecumenical Conference (CVEC)
Pastoral Letter to the People of God on the occasion of International Human Rights Day December 10, 2013 “Blessed are they who maintain justice; who constantly do what is right.” (Ps 106:3)
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.” Preamble, UDHR) The Declaration stresses that “it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last report, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law.” (Preamble, UDHR). If not the pains of hell, then let the people’s right to rebellion as a last resort, instill fear in the hearts of exploiters and oppressors of peoples. Not papal tiara, not kingly crown, not books of philosophers, not political party platforms and relativisms of modernity, not the integrity of creation, not even the Holy Books, set the standards for nations and members of the human family today, but the Universal Declaration of Human Rights based on the consensus that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another and in the spirit of brotherhood.” Article 1, UDHR); and, that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” (Article 3, UDHR) The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 1993 states: Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings; their protection is the first responsibility of Government.” It has come to this that under contemporary circumstances, the UDHR, human law, sets the basic minimum standards for the assertion and promotion, nurture and defense of human rights. Human rights are political norms to guide governments, the military, and business in their dealings with the people. So be it, for now. However, we remind ourselves as Christians and ecclesial communities and ecumenical expressions of the Church founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that the human person is a creature of God, redeemed by the ministry, passion and death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ his Son, and especially beloved, gifted, and empowered by the Holy Spirit for worship, service, and abundant life. Thus, the birthright of human rights of every person. God is the source and measure of human rights! This is the Word that we in faith boldly proclaim to the world. Thus with greater reason are Christians and the churches impelled to celebrate International Human Rights Day and the UDHR and to commit themselves in solidarity with peoples to uphold human rights as foundation of “freedom, justice and peace in the world.” (Preamble, UDHR) We celebrate the day and honor all of good will, especially our departed heroes and martyrs for justice and freedom, when we: * p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h e s t ru g g l e of peoples of the world against exploitative programs of monopoly capitalist globalization, such as trade liberalization, privatization, and price regulation; * denounce military aggression of superpower governments against developing countries; * denounce politico-military crimes such as murder, massacre, torture and rape * demand militantly and in organized fashion that works of justice be done by government, business and armed forces to promote: the right of the nation to national sovereignty against monopoly capitalist globalization and foreign political and military aggression; the right to life, food, jobs and social services; the right to genuine land reform and nationalist industrialization; the right of children to education, care and play; the right of citizens to gender and racial equality and religious freedom; the right of indigenous peoples to selfdetermination; the right of people and creation to ecological integrity; * demand the abolition of “pork barrels” and other instruments of political patronage and corruption, and an end to political dynasties; * demand the unconditional release of political prisoners. We celebrate the day and honor all of good will, especially our departed heroes and martyrs for justice and freedom, when we: * remember and take pride in inspirational examples of people’s power against colonialism, PEACE be with you! After two world wars in a generation, nation-states through the United Nations General Assembly forged on December 10, 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All peoples of good will consider this declaration, despite whatever weaknesses it may have, and despite grave violations of human rights since then to this day, a saving event—a great deed of the Lord, we dare say—that should guide governments, military forces, and business establishments in their avowed aim “to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,” as well as “to promote friendly relations between nations.” This Charter remains a powerful non-violent instrument of peoples to pressure the trinity of Big Government, Big Military, Big Business, and even Big Science to renounce vested self and class interests and the violence of finance and investment capital, arms, embargos, and instigation of regional wars, to serve the people well. The Charter is most welcome especially to the poor of both developing and developed countries of the world. For the Charter is an expression of good, right, and correct values by which to judge and, yes, convict perpetrators of human rights violations in the forum of public opinion. It is an expression of people’s awareness that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.” (Preamble, UDHR) Now, therefore, THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, proclaims THIS dictatorships, martial rule, terrorism, and economic embargos; * praise existing national programs of free education and health care and nationalization of strategic industries not under the sway of the World Bank; * praise international solidarity work for the release of political prisoners; * praise the 1987 Philippine Constitution’s Declaration of Principles and State policies in consonance with the UDHR; * support peace negotiations between governments and rebels; * proclaim in joy the love of God that sustains us in our common journey to his kingdom of justice and peace and abundant life for all. Let us so today and all the days of our life. In Jesus’ name. Amen. With our pastoral blessing, CVEC co-Chairpersons, Most ReV. JosepH A. NacUa, OFMCap, Diocese of Ilagan Most ReV. Ramon B. Villena, Diocese of Bayombong Rt. ReV. AleXander Wandag, Episcopal Diocese of Santiago Rt. ReV. JosHUa CUateros, IFI Diocese of Santiago BisHop Elorde Sambat, UCCP North Luzon Jurisdictional Area Reference: ReV. Fr. Francisco R. Albano Coordinator, Ecumenical Desk Diocese of Ilagan
‘By your patient endurance you will save your lives.’
(Lk 21:19) Pastoral Letter to Super Typhoon Yolanda Victims: Observations and Appeals
BELOVED People of God: In my continuing visits to areas hardest hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in this our Diocese of Borongan, as your Bishop, I would like to share the following: 1. We really need to persevere in patience, endurance and sacrifice. Rising back to normalcy will not be achieved in an instant. Let us recognize the importance of continuing our efforts to help one another and to share with one another our time, abilities, including our treasures, food and drinking water etc., not only for the good of our individual families but also of our whole community. One community’s rise is the rise of all of us. 2. I am deeply concerned and saddened by the ongoing outmigration of many of our people to Cebu, Manila and other cities or places far from their origin. This is because you and I know only too well that they are not necessarily secure in their places of destination. In fact, many of our people end up in urban centers where work is also scarce and the only certainty is being lured into a life of crime or being further victimized by as yet rising urban criminality. 3. On the other hand, from where we are we see plenty of help coming and will continue to come not only from sources within the Church and government, local and national, but also from many NGOs and other foreign organizations, such as the U.N.O. and other aid agencies from many foreign governments or organizations. Needless to say, they could be more helpful to victims who are here with us rather than elsewhere. I am aware, of course, that some of the victims need to temporarily leave the place where they suffered ‘trauma’ before they eventually return to continue the process of normalization. There are also those who no longer want to go back to the place of ‘trauma’. I respect their decision, but I still appeal to all to keep loving our homeland and to work together so that it may rise again. Who we are we owe a lot to where we are from. 4. Let us take all necessary precautions so that diseases of any kind may not spread in our land. Let us continue to clean our homes, yards, in fact our whole environment. Let us also refrain from eating contaminated food or unsafe drinking water. Cleanliness is not only next to Godliness; it is also a way to saving lives. 5. During this time of crisis and tragedy, let us not cease giving support to one another. Let us seek to be more understanding of one another, especially of those who are suffering and in need of help more than we do. Let us not hesitate to sacrifice for one another for the good of our neighbor and for the common good. In this way we show ourselves to be true reflections of our loving God and followers of Jesus Christ his Son. Let us always heed his new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). May our loving and merciful God continue to bless you all. And may we be assisted by the prayers and intercessions of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and by those of all the Saints of God in our sufferings and losses. Please remember that your Bishop is one with you in prayer and in the struggle to our common revitalization. Your Bishop and Brother, Most ReV. Crispin B. VarQUeZ, DD Bishop of Borongan November 27, 2013 Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
PIMAHT’s Statement on Campaign against Human Trafficking
OUR Almighty God created us according to His image, making us just a “little lower than heavenly beings and crowned us with glory and honor” (Psalms 8:5). God loves us so much that when we fell into sin, He gave His only Begotten Son Jesus to save us from eternal punishment (John 3:16). Nobody has the right to take away this God-given glory and honor from any one. Integrity is an inherent and inviolable human right. However, perpetrators of human trafficking, both sexual exploitation and force labor, are destroying the integrity of millions of vulnerable children and women all over the world. Human trafficking is now the fastest growing criminal industry in the world, tied for second with the arms industry and behind drug dealing. As a Church, we cannot just sit idly by while cases of human trafficking are piling up year after year. We are so worried that the devastation caused by the recent strong earthquake and super typhoon Yolanda will trigger an increase in human trafficking if we do not remain vigilant. God has ordained the Church to be the light and salt of this world to nurture and preserve human dignity. Jesus Christ, the head and chief cornerstone of the Church (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 2:20) has so ordered that all He commanded be taught and observed (Matthew 28:20) and amongst these commandments are loving one another (John 13:34), setting the oppressed free and ‘proclaiming the acceptable year of the Lord’ (Luke 4:18-19). In a fitting rebuke to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees of His time, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ publicly criticized their religiosity simply because they neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23). Perpetrators of human trafficking are becoming bold, sometimes with impunity, in their criminal activities. If they are becoming bold in committing this modern-day slavery, we have to be much bolder in fighting it. Instead of us becoming afraid of them, they must be afraid of us as we stand in solidarity with one another as great protagonists in the cause of justice. Human trafficking is so huge a social problem that we churches belonging to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) have bonded together to form the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (PIMAHT). Our common desire as communities of faith is to work together and with others to end human trafficking in the Philippines, guided by our common core value of upholding human dignity, justice, solidarity and freedom with courage and honesty. It will be an uphill crusade, but we are emboldened by the belief that the God of justice is on our side. Let us start winning little battles to finally win the war. What can we do together as the Body of Christ? As initial action steps, let us… 1. Strengthen our prayer networks. Let’s get connected through these networks to demolish the networks of evil through prayer power for “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). 2. Remain vigilant. Let’s keep our watch and partner with local authorities and non-government organizations engaged in justice issues for the transformation of broken justice systems. 3. Participate actively in awareness campaigns and advocacy work. Let’s join and support campaigns raising people’s awareness on the issue of human trafficking and advocating for its elimination. Any single person shielded from the evil of human trafficking will certainly please God. Any single person victimized by it will surely break the heart of God. 4. Help secure long-term aftercare for survivors of abuse. The rescue of human trafficking victims is only the first step in the long process of restoration. Perpetrators have to account for their crimes under our laws. Victims have to be reintegrated to society and this will involve health care, emotional support, spiritual nurture, provision of livelihood and temporary/transitional housing. Jesus, in a discourse on His second coming, tells of this parable, “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply. ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:37-40). Whatever we did for a single victim of human trafficking, we did it to the Lord. Together as a church, let’s take these initial steps to free those enslaved by this modern-day slavery. Let us be encouraged by Paul’s declaration, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31). For the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking: THe Most ReVerend Broderick S. Pabillo National Director, NASSA Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Intramuros, Manila, Philippines ReVerend ReX RB ReYes, Jr. General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines 879 EDSA, West Triangle, Quezon City BisHop Efraim M. Tendero National Director Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches 62 Molave Street, Project 3, Quezon City
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
God wants to renew the earth
3rd Sunday of Advent (A); December 15, 2013
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
TODAY’S liturgy is characterized by a pressing invitation to rejoice. The reason for this is the “nearness of the Lord”—a nearness that makes the desert bloom and causes a series of miraculous transformations that do away with all forms of suffering. A spectacular change, indeed, which obviously prompts rejoicing and hope-filled expectation. But the picture offered by the First and the Third Readings seems too good to be true. “Realistic people” point out that this is not really the way things are. What we see, instead, appears to be the very opposite of such a utopian vision: we live in a world submerged in suffering, injustices, oppression, exploitation, hunger, aggressiveness, endless forms of physical and moral degradation . . . . The idyllic scenes described by the prophet Isaiah are not only at odds with the concrete situation, but also seem impossible to be actualized even in the future. They look more like a mirage than a blueprint for a possible improvement. This is the view of “realistic people” (whom we call “unbelievers” or “skeptics”). Such a “view” becomes a challenge to us Christians and all those who claim to take seriously the prophetic visions of the Holy Scriptures. “When will these wonders become a reality?” the “unbelievers” ask us. “Why,” they press us, “have these visions not come true in these two thousand years of Christianity?” “Is this not a sign that all these nice words are just wishful thinking and that religious faith is the opiate of the people and a vain consolation for the weaklings?” Many “believers” fall flat when faced with such a challenge. They do not know what to answer. They even admit that their opponents have articulated a difficulty which has often resounded in their hearts, too...” But a real, strong believer knows that there is an answer to those difficulties. Authentic believers know that the visions prospected by the prophets are a mirror of what God wants things to be. As such, they are a judgment on the present situation and a challenge to transform it in order to bring it as close as possible to the ideal that God Himself has aware of our immense weakness. We are not like the apostles. Even much less are we like Jesus. Nonetheless, the mission and the challenge stay, while at the same time we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live up to that challenge. But the presence and help of such a powerful ally does not remove the need for our personal effort. Those “healings” and transformations will become a reality to the extent that we accept to become instruments of God’s plan. That is how the desert of our present society will start blooming and produce fruits of solidarity, brotherly concern, justice, fairness, . . . and all other virtues which soothe the pains of our hearts and make us all exult with joy. Our lay people have a very special role in making this vision come true. As Christmas approaches and the invitation to rejoice echoes in our churches and our hearts, let us remember the basic condition for such a rejoicing: the fulfillment of God’s dream of happiness for all, brought about through the cooperation of all those who believe in it.
implanted in our hearts. Those visions became a reality in Jesus through his presence and the miracles he performed. This caused in many people feelings of joy, consolation, and fulfillment. Then Jesus passed on to his
disciples the task and mission to do what he had been doing. They are passed on to us and to all those who believe in a God who invites people to do their share in carrying out His plan of salvation. We are the ones who must
enable the blind to see, the cripple to walk, the deaf to hear, the dead men to rise to life . . . . We are tasked with the mission to make the vision of the prophets come true. Such a mission becomes a great challenge because we are all
Mary and Joseph: God’s faithful partners
4th Sunday of Advent (A); December 22, 2013
presented to all. Outstanding and wellknown examples of such invitation are recorded in the Bible, starting with Adam and Eve, down to Abram, Moses, Joshua, all the prophets and kings, and Mary Most Holy. Unfortunately, a good number of those called, starting with Adam and Eve, out of pride and irresponsibility, botched the chance that had been offered them to be on the side of God, and failed miserably. Others, like Joseph of Nazareth, whose call we remember today, did not hesitate to “dump” their own plans in order to embrace God’s project and work whole-heartedly at its realization. Joseph made the right choice and stuck to it through thick and thin, rain or shine. His humble and generous faithfulness made him a worried custodian and a frightened exile. He learned at his own expense that
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
A LOT of people yearn to be associated with important or famous persons even for just a short while. We see this verified when crowds gather around sports or showbiz idols in the hope of being photographed near them; or when they push their way through in order to get an autograph that they will treasure for the rest of their days . . . . And of course, if the association lasts longer than just a few seconds and stretches into days, or months, or years of service under people with a big name, the thrill they experience is even greater. What about being invited not just to serve under God’s leadership, but actually becoming His “partners” in the implementation of His plan? That should be, for all of us, an unparalleled honor, indeed. We should feel flattered
* Is 7:10-14 – God writes straight even with crooked lines. * Rom 1:1-7 – Jesus is the Son of God and a descendant of David. * Mt 1:18-24 – Jesus, the son of the Virgin Mary, is the promised Messiah.
and do the utmost so as not to miss such a unique opportunity. Well, such an opportunity is not just a “theoretical possibility” but a breathtaking reality. And it is an offer
being invited to “work for God” is no assurance to be exempted from harassment, persecution or suffering in any form. It is no assurance, either, of a “glorious exit.” The silence and apparent “irrelevance” that enveloped Joseph after his return from Egypt, is a clear sign of “unrewardedness”—within the earthly lifespan—that may accompany even the staunchest loyalty. Under the glamorous initial appearance, there lies the harsh reality of challenging tests that will show our mettle. God’s invitation to us to be His partners offers no assurance that success will always smile at us during this earthly life. Accepting it may even include the frightening possibility that everything may end in a failure, if we view things from a simply human perspective. The tragic end suffered by Jesus Christ himself is a proof of that. Becoming and continuing to be God’s
partners is not for weaklings or people who want to live an easy life. It demands humility, generosity, loyalty, courage, and perseverance. But, over and above all these virtues, it demands FAITH—trusting God fully and entrusting oneself totally to Him, come what may. This should be clear to all of us as we reflect on the implications of God’s call to be a part of His plan. Some may be concerned about the “importance” of the mission assigned to them. This is an unnecessary worry. The hidden metal bars that give solidity to the building may be as important as (or even more than) the elegant windows that embellish the façade. What matters most is not so much WHAT we are called to do, but HOW we do it. All that matters is that we walk faithfully, to the end of the road, by the side of our invisible “Senior Partner” who not only knows the way, but also IS THE WAY to sure and lasting success.
Christmas: God with us, for ever
Solemnity of Christmas; December 25, 2013
And it was in order to restore humankind to its pristine splendor that He sent His only Son, who is “Light from Light” to this world of ours, darkened by sin. His coming was the wonder we call “Christmas” – the wonder of the eternal, omnipotent God becoming a mortal, frail human being; the wonder of a spark of divine light daring to challenge the darkness of sin in the heart of every individual and of society. One would have expected an enthusiastic reception, but things turned out very different. When the Light of the universe came into this
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THERE is no doubt that we live in a world darkened by sin —sin in its almost innumerable forms of pride, lust, exploitation, injustice, oppression, terrorism, hunger, war . . . . We are surrounded by this ocean of man-made forms of moral disorder which causes so much suffering, confusion and even despair. The horrors of the “Holocaust”; the brutalities of the Japanese occupation
knows no fading and no retreat. God’s light, in fact, shines on in all those who accept it, for the Incarnate Son of God has given them the power to become children of God, children of Light. To them he has entrusted the challenging mission to widen the circle of light, grace and goodness by conquering new hearts and new generations to the cause of light. It is the joyful mystery of a “perpetual Christmas” made possible by the constant presence of Jesus’ Spirit in the hearts of the “children of light.” Since then, though sin has not been
The family we are called to form and love
Feast of the Holy Family (A); December 29, 2013
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
MANY families in our society today are just poor wrecks. They exist only in parish or municipal records, and in the memories of years long gone by. In reality they have crumbled because love has died out in them. Where there used to be kindness and trust, there reign bitterness and betrayal. Where sharing and love once flourished, now there is only selfishness and even hatred. Most home situations have reached a point of no return, with children born out of wedlock and unfaithfulness having become a way of life. Such situations create a crisis of values, a crisis of faith. How will these parents raise their children as Christians? What families will these children be able to form? . . . A world full of malice and selfishness has easily shattered what was already so feeble in these wounded families. A l l f a m i l i e s need to rediscover the necessity and power of Christian values such as love, dedication, respect, fidelity, forgiveness, purity, faith, prayer . . . . Only if these and similar values are treasured and nurtured will a family be able to weather the inevitable storms of life. We need to rediscover the value of this sacred institution which is part of God’s original plan for humankind and which is rooted in our very nature. We need to strengthen our commitment to preserve and enrich our families as one of the most precious treasures on earth and as the basic unit of our society. We need to rediscover the value of the Christian family and to treasure life, peace, joy, holiness, and love. The advice of St. Paul to the Colossians (see today’s First Reading) is the infallible formula that makes every family a little church – the “church in the home.” The Holy Family of Nazareth was confronted with many of the problems our families face today: poverty, homelessness, prejudice, and persecution. Still, they remained faithful to the
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Midnight Mass * Is 9:1-6 – The coming of the Messiah will bring light and freedom to all men. * Ti 2:11-14 – Our response to the selfoffering of God to us in Jesus Christ * Lk 2:1-14 – The Savior is born at Bethlehem, and the shepherds are the first to receive the good news.
© Pinky Barrientos, FSP / CBCP Media
Dawn Mass * Is 62:11-12 – The coming of the Messiah ushers in a New Era. * Ti 3:4-7 – The Messiah is the greatest sign of God’s mercy and compassion. * Lk 2:15-20 – The shepherds glorify God for the gift of the newborn Savior. Mass of the Day * Is 52:7-10 – The Messiah is a source of joy and consolation for all. * Heb 1:1-6 – The Incarnate Son of God is the revelation of the Father’s glory. * Jn 1:1-5.9-14.18 (or Jn 1:1-18) – The eternal Word of God becomes a frail human being.
eliminated from the face of the earth, its absolute domain has been challenged and is destined to be shattered. Now we have a choice and a chance: all human beings have the possibility of choosing between the light of God’s Kingdom and the darkness of Satan’s. Those who take the first option have the chance to eliminate the “pockets of darkness” in themselves and in the environment in which they live. In this way, the spark of light that came to earth on the first Christmas has been spreading from heart to heart, bringing hope and peace to a world that needs both so much.
© Pinky Barrientos, FSP / CBCP Media
forces throughout Asia; the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the inhumanity of the Soviet “Gulags”; the killing sprees of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge; the carnage of the terrorist attacks in New York and other parts of the world; the endless number of innocent people victimized by suicide bombers, bombings, kidnappings, systematic torture and other forms of human perversion . . . are just the tip of the iceberg of sin that tarnished the 20th century and has already begun to infect the new millennium we have just started . . . . It is an old story, an old form of “moral pollution and degradation” that have their roots in the very beginning of human history and which has kept growing over the centuries. Such a situation is very different from what God wanted for mankind, for God Himself is light and all that He created was bright and beautiful.
world, he got a “mixed reception.” A very tiny group, comprised of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the Magi welcomed him with joy and gratitude. The greatest majority treated that coming as a “non-event,” while others rejected him, forging an incomprehensible alliance with the darkness that was destroying them. Incredibly, many slaves had learned to love their chains. That was the “sorrowful mystery” of human perversion at its worst! But God’s love is too pure and strong to be defeated by man’s rejection. God’s Light, clad in human weakness – Jesus Christ – continued to shine for the sake of all: both for those who accepted him and those who kept rejecting him. He continues to shine in the Church, in his Word and his Sacraments, in the supreme effort to win over all human beings through the divine embrace that
© Pinky Barrientos, FSP / CBCP Media
Vol. 17 No. 25
December 9 - 30, 2013
climate change? The experience of Typhoon Yolanda gives us the answer. There were some who thought that if Tacloban City had prepared well, the damage would have been less. I disagree. Truth is, with that kind of typhoon, which is unprecedented in the Philippines, there was little, if not nothing, that could have been substantially done to limit the destruction. Nature, made worse by our abuse and misuse, has to take its due course. The more dangerous and sad part of this is that calamities will get harder, harsher and hammering. So, what can we really do? The situation looks dim, hopeless, frustrating, and almost insurmountable. It is hard not to entertain these feelings. It is hard not to think about what more is to come. The loss of lives, destruction of properties, and inaction of responsible authorities are just too much to bear. It is made more painful by the fact that we know why it is happening and we know what to do. But, we refuse to respond properly. Mitigation— the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions—is our best move to stop global warming. We cannot anymore afford increases in global temperature. Drastic mitigating actions are possible and must be done immediately. It is not yet too late to make some sacrifices in order to preserve and care for our dear planet Earth. It is the only one we’ve got. There is no other planet to go to once we lose this. How much longer will our leaders need to discuss what has already been studied, evaluated and decided? What calamities more do we want to prod us to finally address the causes? How many more people need to die? When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?
By Fr. Benny Tuazon
I COULD not bear the sight of it. I decided not to watch the news, read the papers, look at Facebook posts, and listen to radio accounts of the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda. I thought it would be better to utter some prayers and offer all my masses to all the victims. What those people, affected by the storm, went through must be beyond imagination. Many must have stared at death. We all knew how strong Yolanda was. We were sufficiently warned and asked to prepare. When it came, the preparations proved to be wanting and no match against the strength of Yolanda. Those of us who had experienced Yoling or Milenyo have an idea of how devastating a typhoon carrying more than 200 kph winds can be. There must be a way of dealing with this kind of disaster. We have to find it fast because these calamities are getting stronger and emerging more often. What can we do? Erratic weather due to global warming had been found to be the main cause of these super calamities. The United Nations through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) had determined it to be unequivocally anthropological. Simply put, our activities since the Industrial Revolution, especially the last 50 years, had caused them. Significant increases in global temperature had been recorded by weather institutions. If we had caused it, it follows that we are also the solution. We can do a lot in preventing these super calamities to develop and attack us. The
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choices we make can turn around if we will not stop further heating of the earth. Again, what can we do? As I had said in my past articles, the UNFCCC, which is tasked to combat climate change, had shifted to adaptation as the main strategy. Mitigation, while still considered as the move that can halt if not reverse the already dire situation the world is already in, became merely an option. The UNFCCC saw it more important, effective, and relevant to assist nations that are experiencing great danger and damages from climate change financially and technically. This was affirmed by Governor Joey Salceda who was recently appointed as co-chair
of the very powerful Green Climate Fund (GCF) during the Tapatan program held at the Aristocrat Restaurant (please visit bukaltv.com). Gov. Salceda shared that countries are now contributing billions of dollars to the GCF as part of their responsibility to the rehabilitation and protection of countries damaged by climate change. Because they were the ones mainly responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions, they are shouldering the expenses needed by affected countries, namely the small island states and the developing ones. This seems to be a good setup. Not really. If we examine it closely, adaptation is no more than a band-aid or temporary
solution to the problem of climate change. Adaptation helps affected countries cope with the effects of climate change but does not really contribute to reverse or radically stop it. In exchange for those dollars emitter-countries contribute, they take the credit for the greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions saved by some countries. Carbon trading, as they call it, allows countries with high ghg emission to operate “business as usual”. This, in a way, renders mitigation efforts useless. What some countries had saved, other countries use in exchange for payments! But can a country really protect and prepare to fully defend itself against
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
disregarded and sacrificed. This is true also in the mass media where what is sought after and broadcast is not so much what is true but what is news; the competition among the networks and the printed media is not so much for accuracy in reporting but for ratings which attract more money and build up greater power. Common Good is Ignored The second casualty is the common good. The sense and responsibility for the common good is sadly wanting in our country. The culture of greed for money and power caters to the selfish interests of individuals, families and economic and political groups. Our families which are characterized by an admirable closeness are also characterized by a closedness that is unmindful of the common good. This being closed to the common good is especially evident in our politics where political dynasties are nurtured and people vote with little consideration for the impact on the country of their votes. But even our mass media are often tools of vested interests rather than instruments for the promotion of the common good. In business, in politics, in the entertainment business, in media, profit almost always has priority over service despite protestations to the contrary. Pope Francis warns us “Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the
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poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us. (Evangelii Gaudium, 54). Challenge and Mission The renewal of our country thus demands of us all, and especially of you, our lay faithful, a return to truthfulness and the fostering of the sense of the common good. A society that is not founded on truth cannot stand, because a society not founded on truth is either founded on lies or deceit which can provide no stable basis for human relationships and a stable social order. Thus, we must obey the biblical injunction “to do the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). We must seek the truth, speak the truth, do the truth. This means that we must seek what is right, speak what is right, and do what is right; and to do so “in love”, that is, in solidarity with and service of others. Know the Faith My dear lay faithful, the greatest challenge for you is to know the content of our faith, and to bear witness to your faith by a life of faith. We wrote to you a few months ago praising your simple but deep faith. Yet we had to point out to you two
main deficiencies of the faith of our people: first, that the faith of many is uninstructed and, more importantly that this faith has been separated from life. So many of our people do not even know the fundamentals of our faith! They thus become very vulnerable to the seductions of other religious groups who find them easy targets of their recruitment efforts. Many of our Catholics cannot even answer attacks on basic Catholic doctrines like the divinity of Christ, the Eucharist, the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the veneration of images. Live the Faith But more harmful even is the separation of faith from life. It is certainly a shameful proof of our failure to evangelize our country that our churches are filled with people, our religious festivities are fervent, our Catholic schools are many, but our country is mired in poverty and in corruption. Many, perhaps the majority of the corrupt people in politics and in business are graduates of our own Catholic schools and are “practicing” Catholics. The majority of those who cheat in elections and those who sell their votes are also baptized Catholics. This is also true of the bribe takers in public offices and the looters of our public coffers. As we noted in our pastoral letter, the criteria for decisions taken by many in politics do not derive from faith but from other sources inimical to the Christian life. The poison
of the greed for power and wealth has already pervaded the political and business systems. We echo the challenge of Pope Francis “We want to challenge “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism”, who lack a meaningful relationship to the Church and no longer experience the consolation born of faith. The Church, in her maternal concern, tries to help them experience a conversion which will restore the joy of faith to their hearts and inspire a commitment to the Gospel. (Evangelii Gaudium, 15) Thus we urge you to promote a continuing education towards maturity of faith among our people, starting with our Christian families. But even more importantly, we ask you to make your faith bear on your day to day decisions and activities. It is only an integral faith, a faith that believes, a faith that worships, and a faith that works in love (Gal. 5: 6), that will serve as God’s way “to make all things new” in our beloved country. Communities of Faith Since the corruption in business and in politics that we must fight against is systemic, we your pastors, urge you to unite in groups which through p r a y e r, d i s c e r n m e n t a n d concerted action will renew the social and political fabric of our country. Individual goodness is not sufficient anymore. The good individual will only be swallowed up by the evil system. While individual witness is
important, it is in unity that good Christian people will get their strength and attain victory. To sustain and strengthen you in your efforts, we urge you to read the BIBLE, God’s written word. Read it not only to study it but pray with it. When read prayerfully, the Bible will nourish your life. It will be a lamp to guide you in your journey. It will help you resist temptations; it will help you to know and follow Jesus, our Lord. Second, we urge you to have recourse to the SACRAMENTS. Value your baptism and prepare well for the baptism of your children. Let parents take seriously the responsibility they undertook at baptism to raise up their children as good Christians. Christian marriage should be valued not only as a beautiful and solemn ceremony but as a welcoming of Christ into the life of the couple and their future family. Hence, it must be adequately prepared for by pre-marital instructions. Christian married couples should see their marriage as a public commissioning by Christ to serve and protect life and married love itself. We ask you to have recourse especially to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. The Eucharist, participated in actively in faith, is the source of Christian life and strength. It is the bread of life and of martyrs. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, on the other hand, will help us heal our moral wounds and give us the grace to fight sin in ourselves and in society.
A Church which “goes forth” is a Church whose doors are open. Going out to others in order to reach the fringes of humanity does not mean rushing out aimlessly into the world. Often it is better simply to slow down, to put aside our eagerness in order to see and listen to others, to stop rushing from one thing to another and to remain with someone who has faltered along the way. At times we have to be like the father of the prodigal son, who always keeps his door open so that when the son returns, he can readily pass through it. (EG, 45) And finally, we ask you to stand up for Jesus not only in religious activities but in your private and public life. Speak up for Jesus and his Church in public discussions. Do not be afraid to be identified as Catholic Christians. You have been called to be saints; you are sent forth as heroes. Take courage. Choose to be brave! May the example of our two lay Filipino saints Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod be your inspiration for the coming year! May Jesus and his Mother be with you and with us all, and make us, a “pueblo amante de Maria” also truly the land of Jesus in Asia. For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, +SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D. A rc h b i s h o p o f L i n g a y e n Dagupan CBCP President December 1, 2013, First Sunday of Advent
nations by ensnaring them in webs of foreign debt administered by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Other developing nations began to resist the power and control that the developed nations exercised over them by the chains of debt. The worldwide campaign to cancel debt succeeded in exposing this tactic and nations refused to pay or had it restructured and changed economic policy for one that gave real freedom and growth that favored the poor. But the Philippine elite, forever subservient, made debt servicing their obedient obligation. This slavery to the debt masters consumes as much as twenty five percent of the
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national budget leaving little for other investments in infrastructure and rural development where the majority of the poor live. The Philippines has remained enmeshed in the debt trap and makes no effort to throw it off. The Philippine government and their backers are clinging to an economic ideology that allows multinationals to exploit the economy and natural resources and makes them all richer and the rest of the nation poorer. The Philippine Congress passed mining laws for example, that gave the international mining corporations unprecedented privileges that many claim are unconstitutional. They destroy the environment with open pit excavations, cut forests causing
landslides and disasters and entire villages and communities are uprooted and driven into poverty. Recently, truck loads of fresh cut forest logs came from Tangub, in Northern Mindanao heading for Molave. More evidence of this very corrupt practice is going on in public view. The poor are driven from the impoverished countryside to urban slums where their children, some as young as 13 years old end up in the sex trade exploited by local and foreign sex tourists with government leaders allowing it and profiting from the outrage. Tourism is more fun in the Philippines, they say. Poverty is allowed to grow by the greed of the dynastic families that
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hold a monopoly of political power backed by the military. They passed laws that allowed members of Congress to have huge lump sums of money from the national treasury for their socalled projects in their constituencies. However, most of it was siphoned off into their private accounts through fake projects. The scandal has dominated the headlines for months as one sordid revelation of corruption at the highest levels follows another. Meanwhile, in a desperate effort to meet the UN millennium goals to reduce poverty, the government has been implementing the Conditional Cash Transfer Program. This hand out project, despite its shortcomings, is helping to prevent poor urban families
from falling into abject poverty. It’s a temporary life jacket to keep them afloat in an ocean of deprivation and hunger. What is needed is a pro-poor economic policy change that will put job creation for the poor and land distribution (with support), at the center of economic policy. This will help create a strong lower and middle class with spending power that will, in turn, create more employment. The wealth will be distributed instead of concentrating among a few at the top. The Philippines will remain among the most backward and poorest of nations unless there’s a dedicated pro-poor government in power and that is not likely in the foreseeable future.
Father, trusting in His love. In the process, each family member led the other to greater holiness. The Holy Family of Nazareth is for all our families a model to be imitated. If we do so, the whole Christian community in our country will experience the renewal that we all need so badly, and which can be achieved only by practising the Gospel values exemplified in the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Unfortunately, nowadays in an ever-growing number of nations, the family institution is being desecrated by the legalization of
the living together of couples of homosexuals. Such legalization confers an aura of “righteousness” to a cohabitation of individuals of the same sex wherein homosexual acts are considered “appropriate” and “natural” like the marital acts in heterosexual marriages. This legal approval of such unions institutionalizes as “accepted” and “normal” forms of sexual activities which most civilizations—and especially the Judeo-Christian and Moslem civilizations—have always considered abhorrent and degrading.
By using the term “family” to indicate also unions of individuals of the same sex a very severe blow has been dealt to the sacredness of the human family as established by the Creator. It won’t be long before the devastating moral effects of such desecration will become obvious and possibly irreversible. Only sound and strong families established according to God’s plan can stem this “moral hurricane” unleashed on us by “the father of all lies” under the guise of “civil rights” and the right to marry the person I love.”
accessiblebymotorbikes.Thereisstill a lot of debris by the roadside and the unpredictable weather makes travelling very difficult. When one begins to ask how the people are able to cope amidst the mountain of rubble and garbage, one can only wonder at the tenacity of spirit, the depth of faith and the inner strength that the survivors tap into to face the situation day after day after day. Coordination and Collaboration There is good coordination and collaborative relationship
between Fr. Ibanez, the Barangay officials and the officers of the Basic Ecclesial Communities. This collaboration is comforting and facilitates the distribution of goods, the dissemination of information and the continuous gathering and re-checking of data about the barangay/sitio. The residents themselves, after the initial shock, have started, on their own to take initiatives to rebuild with whatever they can put their hands on. Temporary/ makeshift dwellings are sorely needed because the weather is very, very volatile. It rains and the
sun shines and then it rains again, sometimes in the span of 10 or 15 minutes. A strong sense of mutual support and concern pervades. The structures of the Basic Ecclesial Communities in terms of zones and clusters have gone a long way in making more tolerable an already intolerable situation. This confirms that in moments of extreme need and disaster, the bond of relationship and the structures of governance in the BECs provide a solid ground not only for faith but also for mutual support, relief and rehabilitation.
TITLE: Romeo & Juliet LEAD CAST: Douglas Booth, Halilee Steinfeld, Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Natascha McElhone, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke, Tom Wisdom, Leslev Manville DIRECTOR: Carlo Carlei SCREENWRITER: Julian Fellowes PRODUCER: Ileen Maisel, Nadja Swarovski, Julian Fellowes EDITOR: Peter Honess MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Abel Korzeniowski GENRE: Drama and Romance CINEMATOGRAPHER: David Tattersall DISTRIBUTOR: Relativity Media LOCATION: United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland RUNNING TIME: 118 minutes Technical assessment: ½ Moral assessment: ½ CINEMA rating: V18
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
Abhorrent Disturbing Acceptable Wholesome Exemplary
Poor Below average Average Above average E xcellent
T he C a p u l e t s a n d t h e Montagues, the wealthiest families in Verona, are at war. Teenager Romeo, a Montague (Douglas Booth) spots Capulet teenager Juliet (Hailee Steinfeld), at a Capulet masquerade ball. Their eyes lock; it’s love at first sight—or destiny, as William Shakespeare’s universally acclaimed romance portrays it, because even after the party masks are peeled off, they’re still madly in love. In love
enough to want to marry, which Friar Laurence (Paul Giamatti) does, in secret. The problem is Juliet’s father, Lord Capulet (Damian Lewis), unaware that his daughter is already legally married, demands that
Juliet marry Count Paris, a nobleman. Enmeshed in the Capulet-Montague rivalry, Juliet is a virtual prisoner of her father ’s desire for the convenient marriage; Romeo on the other hand happens to
kill a Capulet, resulting in his being exiled outside of Verona. Something doesn’t quite click that well when a Shakespearean classic goes on film. Carlo Carlei’s Romeo & Juliet will be compared with other film versions, and side by side with Zefirelli’s it might pale somewhat in many areas. The acting of the two leads leaves much to be desired; it’s not clear whether it’s their being green horns or their lack of chemistry that leaves the audience unmoved. Steinfeld’s Juliet is enthusiastic but average; Booth’s Romeo seems too intent on perfecting his lines that he sometimes comes on stiff and bereft of emotion. It’s Giamatti’s solid portrayal that carries the show, his fire making up for the lack of passion in the newbies’ performance. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the viewer suspects Carlei has intended his opus to be Friar Laurence’s story, not Romeo and Juliet’s; he gets the soulful shots, and that hangdog look in his eyes effortlessly draws the audience’s sympathy to his favor. The other actors, the lush production sets, costumes and cinematography, however, raise the overall technical score.
Buhay San Miguel
TITLE: Status: It’s complicated CAST: Jake Cuenca, Paolo Avelino, Eugene Domingo, Maja Salvador, Solenn Heusaff DIRECTOR: Chris Martinez SCREENPLAY: Chris Martinez DISTRIBUTOR: Regal Entertainment RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes GENRE: Sex-Comedy-Drama LOCATION: Manila TECHNICAL ASSESSMENT: Moral assessment: ½ CINEMA rating: V 18
Si Manny (Jake Cuenca) ay isang chef na playboy at walang sineseryoso sa mga babaeng kanyang nakarelasyon. Kabaligtaran naman ang kaibigan niyang si Jerry (Paolo Avelino), isang graphic designer na naniniwala sa true love at ito nga ang kanyang hinihintay kung kaya’t wala pa rin siyang ka-relasyon. Sa kanilang pagtatalo kung sino sa kanila ang tama ang pananaw sa pag-ibig at relasyon, napag-kasunduan nilang subukang magpalit ng istilo. Si Manny ay manliligaw ng isang babae lang habang si Jerry naman ang aaktong playboy. Mangyayari nga ito nang makilala ni Mannny ang konserbatibong si Rina (Maja Salvador) at nang ang mga kliente ni Jerry na sina Sylvia (Solenn Heusaff) at Marian ay akitin siya at bumigay sa kanilang pang-aakit. Sino kaya kina Manny at Jerry ang makakatagpo ng tunay na pag-ibig? Ang Status: It’s Complicated ay isang makabagong “adaptation” ng klasikong obra ni Ishmael Bernal, ang Salawahan. Buong kahusayan na binuhay sa makabagong panahon ang pelikula at nagawa pa rin nitong maging matapat sa orihinal. Dito mapapatunayan na sa kabila ng pagbabago ng panahon, may mga bagay na sadyang hindi magbabago lalo na kung relasyon ang pag-uusapan. Mahuhusay ang mga nagsiganap at nawagang mapanindigan ang istilo mula sa orihinal na pelikula – mabibilis na dayalogo, nakakatutuwang punchlines at nakakatawang mga eksena. Walang itulak kabigin ang husay ni Domingo na siyang nagdala ng karamihan sa mga nakakatawang eksena. Sila Cuenca at Avelino ay kapwa mahuhusay din at di naman nagpahuli sila Salvador at Heusaff. Marahil magiging mas mahusay pa ang pelikula kung nagsubok itong palalimin pa ang pinaghuhugutan ng bawat relasyon. Marahil nakulong sila sa pagnanais na muling buhayin ang obra at maging matapat hangga’t maaari sa orihinal. Sa ganitong dahilan, ang mga walang malay na manonood na isa itong remake ay pawang magtataka kung bakit ang mga tauhan ay ganoon magsalita at kung bakit pawang maraming tanong pa rin ang di nasasagot dahil sa bilis ng mga pangyayari. Ngunit kung sadyang pagbubuhay lamang sa lumang obra ang intensiyon sa likod ng Status: It’s Complicated, naging matagumpay naman ito. Nakasentro sa relasyon ang Status: It’s Complicated. Tulad ng titulo nito, sinasabing tunay ngang wala nang mas sasalimuot pa sa relasyon, lalo na sa relasyong romantiko sa pagitan ng babae at lalaki. Ngunit bali-baliktarin man ang komplikasyon, mauuwi pa rin sa iisang aral ang lahat – ang pagiging matapat. Sa pagpapalit ng istilo nila Manny at Jerry, kitang ang tunay na naging masaya sa bandang huli ay ang naging tapat sa iisang babae lamang. Ipinakita rin sa pelikula na sa kabila ng paglipas ng panahon at sa pagbabago ng teknolohiya, sadyang di nagbabago ang turo ng simbahan patungkol sa pakikipagrelasyong sekswal – na ang pakikipagtalik ay para lamang sa mag-asawa na may basbas ng kasal. Sa kabila nito, di pa rin maiiwasan na ang pelikula ay maaari pa ring makalito sa kung ano nga ba ang tayo nito sa pagpapahalagang moral. Marami kasing mga nakakabagabag na eksena na nagpapakita ng pang-aakit ng babae sa lalaki at hindi ito nalinaw sa pelikula kung tama ba o mali. Ang usaping sekswal din ay laging nauuwi sa pananaw lamang ng laman at hindi ng kaluluwa. Kapupulutan ng aral ang pelikula ngunit ang mga makikitang imahe ay kinakailangan ng malalim na pang-unawa upang makarating ang mensahe sa nararapat na konteksto ng relasyon at sa kung ano ang turo ng simbahan na nararapat sundin ng lipunan sa ano pa mang panahon. Kailangan ng hinog na pag-iisip upang hindi maligaw sa mga isinasaad ng pelikula.
Vol. 17 No. 25
December 9 - 30, 2013
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
CFC at the Pilgrimage of Families in the Year of Faith
together with the other CFC delegates, awaiting the gates of St. Peter Square to open for the weekend event. It was really an awesome and inspiring experience to be one with the multitude of people from different races, different nationalities and culture sharing that great love for God and standing firmly on their conviction in the sacredness and importance of the gift of love, marriage, family, parents, grandparents and children. The Pope’s central message that day focused on three assurances: thank you and sorry. Pope Francis stated, “The life of a family is filled with beautiful moments: rest, meals together, walks in the park or the countryside, visits to grandparents or to a sick person… But if love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus always gives us that love: he is its endless source. In the sacrament he gives us his word and he gives us the bread of life, so that our joy may be complete.” 3. Finally, Pope Francis pointed to the icon of the presentation of Jesus in the temple, a beautiful picture of three generations—Simeon and Anna, Joseph and Mary, and Jesus in Simeon’s arms. He describes the elderly couple representing faith as memory, and proceeds to ask the congregation, “Do you listen to your grandparents? Do you open your hearts to the memories that your grandparents pass on?” The Pope urged the faithful to reflect on the role of grandparents in the family, exhorting that a people who does not listen to their grandparents is one that dies as they are considered the wisdom of a people. Pope Francis stresses, “Like the Holy Family of Nazareth, every family is part of the history of a people; it cannot exist without the generations who have gone before it.” All throughout the weekend, people were praying, singing and playing music. Everywhere, you can hear different languages being spoken. There were smiles and laughter in the people’s faces, nobody was complaining even if they were standing for a long time. There were presentations, dances, songs, testimonials and storytelling for the children. And before blessing the faithful, Pope Francis reminded everyone, “Remain ever close to Jesus and carry him to everyone by your witness.”
“Family, Live the Joy of Faith!”
By Cynthia Campos
IT WAS Thursday, October 24, 2013, 1:15pm when we arrived at the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome. It was my second time to visit this beautiful city. The first one was during the Jubilee Year in 2000 where we were privileged to come so near to John Paul II who was Pope then. Going to the Vatican this time with my husband George, my eldest son, Patrick and my youngest daughter, Christen was really an unexpected blessing for our family. We, together with over 90 other Couples for Christ delegates from Italy, UK, Canada and the Philippines represented the CFC global community in this historic Pilgrimage of Families. At 9:30 am of October 25, Friday, George, my two children and I, together with Mannix and Aileen Ocampo, Joe and Mila Yamamoto appeared at the Dicasterate of the Laity where George, Mannix and Joe updated Canon Law Doctors of the ac-
tivities of Couples for Christ and presented the various programs of the community in relation to building the church of the home and building the church of the poor. Couples for Christ was assured of their continued support as well as its Pontifical Recognition. Our group then proceeded to the Dicasterate of Evangelization where we were blessed to meet His Eminence Fernando Filoni, J.C.D., PhD, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He was delighted to be updated of CFC’s missionary work and appreciated the contribution of the global community in propagating the faith and sending missionaries to the different parts of the world. After the fruitful one-hour meeting, Cardinal Filoni gifted everyone with a Rosary with the Holy Father’s emblem on it. His Excellency, Cardinal Filoni was assigned as Papal Nuncio to the Philippines in 2006 for a year before he was recalled back to the Vatican. Finally, on the 26th, we lined up under the heat of the sun
1. Despite the struggles and hard work that goes into the defense of the family, and the seeming lack of love in the world, God gave all of us His word from Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, so that your joy will be complete.” Pope Francis added, “Take home this Word of Jesus, carry it in your hearts, share it with the family. It invites us to come to Jesus so that he may give this joy to us and to everyone.” 2. Pope Francis took the words from the matrimonial vows, “I promise to be true to you, in joy and in sadness, in sickness and in health; I will love you and honour you all the days of my life,” and honored both the engaged and married couples for taking a journey into the unknown together, for promising to stay together, and remain healthy to raise their children. The Holy Father also reiterated on the three essential words in marriage: please,
Top Photos: CFC leaders and their respective families at the Dicastery of the Laity; Bro George Campos (CFC Executive Director) and Bro Joe Yamamoto. Photos Below: Colorful balloons with messages for the Pope released by the delegates; Official delegates from Couples for Christ gather together as one family.
Msgr. Paul Tighe Exhorts Netizens: ‘Communicate the Word!’
shy away from it, this will leave social media open to malicious content.” He adds, “We can only be effective communicators if we are soaked in the Word. Who is the Word? Jesus Christ. We do not only share the Word, but we invite people to get into a relationship with God.” Below is an overview of Msgr. Tighe’s keynote address during the CSMS: Sharing the Word: The Church in a Digital World Communications is at the centre of the life of the Church. As a community called together by Christ, our mission is to share the Good News of God’s love for all people with those we meet on the pilgrimage of life. The fullness of God’s love is revealed in the person of Jesus, the Word made flesh. Jesus communicated in word and deed; the Church is called to proclaim and to witness to the continuing presence of Jesus among us. The Church has always sought to use media to communicate. Currently, we are living through a radical transformation of the media and the Church is focussed on understanding the ‘newness’ of the culture of digital communications in order to be communicate effectively. If we are to share the Good News with our brothers and sisters in the ‘digital continent’, we must speak a ‘language’ they can understand and be present as authentic witnesses to our faith. The’ language’ of digital and social communications is conversational, interactive and dialogical. If our communication is to touch people’s hearts and minds; we must be able to listen to them and engage seriously with their questions. As a Church, we are more used to preaching, to teaching and to issuing statements. These are important activities but the most effective forms of digital discourse are those that engage people individually, that seek to respond to their specific questions and that attempt to dialogue. It is a basic truth of communications that our witness – our actions and our patterns of behaviour – is often more eloquent than our words and proclamations in expressing who we are and what we believe. In the digital arena, a particularly significant way of offering such witness will be through a willingness to give oneself to others by patiently and respectfully engaging their questions and their doubts as they advance in their search for the truth and the meaning of human existence (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Communications Day 2013). It is therefore important to know how to dialogue and, with discernment, to use modern technologies and social networks in such a way as to reveal a presence that listens, converses and encourages. Allow yourselves, without fear, to be this presence, expressing your Christian identity as you become citizens of this environment (Pope Francis, 21 September 2013). If we look carefully at the activities that drive social media, we see that people are seeking human friendship, searching for information and sharing their knowledge. These activities manifest the basic and persisting human needs for love, meaning and purpose. We must ask ourselves: are we up to the task of bringing Christ into this area, or better still, of bringing others to meet Christ? Can we walk alongside the pilgrim of today’s world as Jesus walked with those companions to Emmaus, warming their hearts on the way and bringing them to an encounter with the Lord? (Pope Francis, ibid). Even as we acknowledge the challenges to effective communication, we should remember that ultimately it is not our work but the grace of God that will change hearts. It is necessary to be absolutely clear that the God in whom we believe, who loves all men and women intensely, wants to reveal himself through the means at our disposal, however poor they are, because it is he who is at work, he who transforms and saves us (Pope Francis, ibid).
By Alma Alvarez
“The language of digital social communications is conversational, interactive and dialogical. If our communication is to touch people’s hearts and minds, we must be able to listen to them and engage seriously with their questions.” This is how Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican, addressed the participants of the Catholic Social Media Summit v2.0 at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Manila last November 23, 2014. Msgr. Tighe, who manages the Pope’s twitter handle @Pontifex, flew in last November 19 to deliver the keynote address in the said event. Msgr. Tighe acknowledges the power of social communication in the modern times. “Social media can be a nasty place. This can make good people shy away from it. But if we who are responsible social media practitioners
Photos (clockwise from left): Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, III, Director, CBCP Media Office; Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines; and Msgr. Paul Tighe; Msgr. Paul Tighe at the mini Press Conference held on day 1 of the Catholic Social Media Summit.
By Alma Alvarez
Prayer, Faith, Joy A Call For All Families
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
CFC Global Website relaunched!
LAST October 26 and 27, Cynthia and I, together with 90 other CFC couples from other parts of the world, attended the Pilgrimage of Families at the tomb of Peter in the Year of Faith. Through an invitation from the Vatican via the Pontifical Council for the Family, Couples for Christ was represented to this very joyous gathering about a month before the close of the Year of Faith. After pondering on the events which took place during those two blessed days, I was led to reflect on the homily given by Pope Francis on the Sunday readings of that weekend. What was God’s message for me and my family? What was God’s message for CFC? In his homily, Pope Francis zeroed in on three basic, but very important features of what a Christian family should have. First, the family prays. The Gospel reading that Sunday was about the two men praying in the synagogue—the Pharisee and the tax collector. In his exhortation, the Holy Father pointed out the difference between authentic and false prayer. The Pharisee, in his arrogance, embodies an attitude of self-satisfaction and glorification, whereas the prayer of the tax collector is “a poor man’s prayer”— humble, acknowledging his unworthiness and his needs. In the light of the Gospel, the Pope challenged us: Do you pray together as a family? How do you pray? The family needs God—his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness. And despite the difficulties that
may surround the family which can keep families from praying together, we must simply pray, and we must pray simply. Praying the Lord’s prayer together is easy. Reciting the Rosary as a family gives us strength. And praying for one another—husband and wife, parents and children, grandchildren and grandparents—these are what will make our families strong. The second feature that Pope Francis mentioned in his homily is the family keeps the faith. The context of keeping the faith is not to keep it within the family like keeping it in a box or treating it like a personal bank account, but to proclaim it to the world. Like St. Paul who said in his second letter to Timothy, “I have kept the faith!” by going to the ends of the earth to boldly proclaim the good news, we in CFC must also be witnesses of this good news. How? By conducting our lives in a manner pleasing to God, by our acceptance of others and by our openness. As we sing in our Couples for Christ theme song, our families must become “salt and leaven of His people, lamps that shine in the dark”. As families who keep the faith, we are called to be missionary families, not just to faraway lands, but within our own households, our neighborhood, to people who are in need, the marginalized, in our day-today lives. The last thought Pope Francis emphasized is the family experiences joy. The entire psalm that Sunday is a song for God who is the source of peace and joy. The psalm assures each one of us that the Lord is near, He hears the cry of the desolate and defends us from evil. That gives us enough reason to rejoice! Deep joy only comes from the presence of God in the home. When there is the presence of God, there is harmo-
ny, togetherness and mutual support and respect. When there is the presence of God, there is love and mercy and patience. “God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centeredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally,” Pope Francis added. As another challenge, Pope Francis presented everyone with a “homework”: to answer these two questions—How are things when it comes to joy at home? Is there joy in your family? Hearing this message from the Holy Father that Sunday, I cannot help but say a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for bringing me and my family to Couples for Christ. Like all the other families in the community, it is in CFC where my own family is growing in prayer, in faith and in joy. It was also a great blessing that Cynthia and I were able to bring two of our children—Patrick, our eldest, and our youngest Christen— to the pilgrimage. (Our two other daughters, Therese and Kat, were unable to join us in that trip.) I believe that through the message for families in his homily, Pope Francis brought this very timely message to every CFC family and to all Catholic families in the world amidst the challenges and attacks against the family and on life. Like our mother Mary, may we ponder all these in our hearts. And as we enter the Christmas season, may we always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth.
CFC GMC Recollection Ushering the Season of Advent
Discover 12 Ways to Live Christ this Christmas
The CFC Global Mission Center employees took a breather from the daily grind for an afternoon Advent Recollection with Fr. Benedict Lagarde from the Missionaries of Jesus last November 28, 2013. During the recollection, Fr. Benedict set the tone for the CFC GMC mission workers to be able to experience the three journeys: inward (self-examination), upward (How am I with my relationship with God?), and outward (How is my relationship with others?) In order to do this, he presented 14 possible roadmaps, and asked each person to reflect on what road they took during the past year. After a brief dyad, Fr. Benedict shared insights on the CFC theme for 2014. “Behold and ponder”, according to Fr. Benedict, is “others-centered”. “Christ did not call attention to Himself as He hung on the cross. He instead drew attention
towards His mother and His beloved disciple, and was concerned more about their welfare,” Fr. Benedict emphasized. Another point that Fr. Benedict shared is that the first household gathered by Jesus was the one at the foot of the cross. Like CFC’s own household groups, this group was messy, with a sprinkling of blood from the wounds of Christ. But despite the mess, it was a household of faith. He likewise entrusted both the man (John) and the woman (Mother Mary) with each other, acknowledging the mutuality of men and women. The afternoon was capped with a Mass, and a reflection on the importance of Jesus’ birth in the manger instead of the inn. Fr. Benedict shared that while an inn is a place for travellers who are just “passing through”, a manger is a place of permanent shelter. This signifies that Jesus is meant to stay in our lives.
ANCOP Scholar Passes CPA Board
AS We usher in the Advent season, we are inviting you to join us in our effort to promote a positive spirit in everyone’s heart this Christmas. CFC has come out with an online Christmas campaign entitled, “Live Christ this Christmas”. It will feature ads with inspiring messages highlighting 12 practical ways to live out our CFC way of life this season. Please visit our official website (www.couplesforchristglobal.org), “Like” Couples for Christ Official fanpage (facebook.com/CFC.Global.Mission) and “Follow” @CFChrist on Twitter starting December 1 culminating with the Feast of the 3 Wise Men on January 5, 2014. How to support this campaign: 1. Connect online with CFC (website/twitter/FB) during the entire Christmas season. 2. Promote the message: “Live Christ this Christmas!” #livechristthischristmas. 3. Check out the series of ads (total of 12 ads) which we will be releasing every week and share it to as many people as possible through Social Media Together, let us be one in reminding our family and friends that Christ is the true essence of Christmas. CFC ANCOP Scholar Mary Grace Padida passed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Board examination given by the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) last October 2013. Mary Grace graduated with a degree in Accountancy at the Polytechnic University-Sta Mesa Campus last March 2013. She was provided financial and other support by CFC ANCOP under the Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD) Adopt a Scholar Program (HASP) beginning in 2010 until she finished college, or a period of 4 years. Mary Grace’s father is a security guard. They live in a house owned by a relative. She dreams of providing her parents a decent housing and also to send her younger sibling to college. Mary Grace is a conscientious student. She learned from her mother the value of saving money, persistence and determination to succeed. Her mother is an active member of the CFC HOLD Ministry while Mary Grace has been with Youth for Christ –West B. (Efren Tompong)
CFC-Archdiocese of Lipa (Batangas) 26th Anniversary: A Testimony of Obedience
By Paul Dimayuga
CFC KFC Indonesia Revved Up to “Follow Jesus”
MemberS of Couples for Christ and its Family Ministries all over Batangas gathered together in celebration of the great love and bountiful blessing of the Lord for the 26th Anniversary of CFC Batangas, last November 10, 2013 at the Batangas City Coliseum. Early Sunday morning, attendees arrived in their colorful dresses and costumes for the Wedding at Cana theme. The highlight of the event was the praise parade competition participated in by the twelve different clusters of CFC Batangas. The vibrant and lively dance and praise gave the audience of about 3000 one great show. Jay Calingasan added brightness to the anniversary celebration by leading the afternoon worship. His inspiring story, the powerful music of the band and the members of Youth for Christ dancing in praise truly rocked the entire coliseum.
Thereafter, Singles for Christ Batangas presented a Cana Musical Stage Production which vividly commemorated the selfmanifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ at the Wedding at Cana, a miracle of love and obedience. International Council member and Philippine Missions Director Jimmy Ilagan, with his wife, Lorna and another IC member Noynoy Dalman both shared their thoughts making the celebration filled with wonderful messages from the Lord. Ding Aguinaldo, Regional Coordinator of CFC Southern Tagalog, arrived later to greet the participants. This momentous event was then closed by Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Archbishop Arguelles, who also celebrated his birthday last November 12, reiterated the essence of the renewal of our faith and evangelization— “Live Christ. Share Christ.” Archbishop concelebrated the Mass with Msgr. Boy Oriondo, Fr. Oca Andal, Fr. Dale Barreto Kho, Fr.
Eugene Penalosa, Fr. Peewee Cabrera and Fr. Donald Dimaandal. The event also became an opportunity for CFC Batangas to share to the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda, when they contributed thru the Mass collections the amount of Php54,148.00 as initial fund. This was endorsed later to the Archdiocese thru LASAC, the social action commission. Vic Alvarez, the Provincial Area Director of CFC- Archdiocese of Lipa, announced the highly anticipated winners for the praise parade competition. West Sector Cluster A bagged the first place award, while North Sector Cluster B and South B Sector ending up in second and third place, respectively. Jun and Anlyn Angeles of CFC, Stephanie Landicho of SFC and Ian Dimayacyac of YFC hosted the said event. Truly, this day for the Lord was an evident manifestation of victory through wholehearted obedience of all the faithful servants of God, the Couples for Christ and its Family Ministries.
The firST ever Kids Village Indonesia held last November 9, 2013 in Sta. Helena Auditorium in Karawachi, Tangerang was an astounding success. The event was an adaptation of this year’s IKV held last April in Sydney, Australia. KFC Fulltime Worker, Veni Doodoh, who attended the event in Sydney, echoed the IKV event to KFC Indonesia by doing a similar program. Talks, scripts and workshop materials were translated in Bahasa Indonesia. The program included Praise Parade, Power Book Presentation, Workshops, Teaching of KFC Songs. The story play portrayed by the Sunter Youth group gave the children a good understanding of God’s Creation of the world, Adam & Eve, the 10 Commandments, the story of Noah’s Ark, all
pointing to one central message: that Jesus wants them to always love and follow their parents. Kuya Miguel Mercado led the ROCK team to teach praise songs to the kids such as the Chada, 10 Commandments Boogie, Follow Jesus and Every Move I Make. The CFC Canisius Chapter Head, Jojo Apolo, delivered a talk on Raising Pure Kids during the Parents Workshop. There were about 90 kids and 48 parents from 4 different chapters who attended the event. Seeing the children in the community grow in faith in God through this kind of activity is such a big joy and fulfillment, and KFC Indonesia is certainly looking forward to the International Kids Village in 2014.
Vol. 17 No. 25
December 9 - 30, 2013
By Malou Clarito
Returning to Kenya
We prAiSe and thank God for allowing us to visit Nairobi, Kenya for the third time. ELDORET It was God’s providence as He made it possible for us to meet Kenyan priest, Rev. Fr. James Kairu of St. Patrick Parish in Vancouver during our Fulltime Pastoral Workers’ Retreat last October. He was able to connect us with another priest, Rev. Fr. Peter Gichure based in Eldoret, Kenya and the Bishop of another area, Homabay. The latter was to organize a Christian Life Program in his parish, St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Eldoret is a 6-hour drive from Nairobi. The rain-drenched, rugged and muddy road did not dampen our spirit. Upon our arrival, we paid a courtesy call to the Bishop of Eldoret, His Excellency Cornelius Korir who, upon learning about CFC, gave the go signal right away to do the very first CLP in Eldoret. The activity yielded total graduates of 8 Couples, 29 Handmaids of the Lord, 12 Servants of the Lord and 5 Singles for Christ. One couple participant was given the sacrament of matrimony by Fr. Gichure on the day of dedication. It was a simple but festive celebration of love and their renewed faith in God. After the CLP, we were brought to UPENDO FM, a radio station of the Archdiocese of Eldoret where CFC was given a 20-minute airtime to promote Couples for Christ. One of our fulltime pastoral workers, Goi Villegas, was asked to record a Christian song which was aired on the very same day. Goi is the man behind the successful LIVELOUD concert in the Philippines. Our stay in Eldoret became more meaningful when Fr. Peter brought us to two of the most depressed areas in that village. The first was a primary school for children, whose classrooms are made basically of mud and very light materials that are not very conducive to learning. The school needed help to improve their current situation. The children were among the poorest of the poor in that area. The second place we visited is called St. Anne’s Little Home, a home built for children who were abandoned by their parents because of their deformities and various other physical challenges. The place served as their haven of hope where they are warmly welcomed and loved. These two places will be our newest addition to our ANCOP’s Child Sponsorship program. After those visits, we went to San Loreto School where we were welcomed by more than 800 high school students. The program started with a mass. Goi Villegas our fulltime missionary and the group taught the students the action song “My Life”. Fr. Peter Gichure requested Goi to perform a Christian Song. The students loved it very much that they gave Goi a very loud applause. We invited all the students to attend the first ever Youth camp in their campus which will be held at a later date. This early, the children are very much excited to join. HOMABAY With the help of the parish priest from Eldoret, we
were able to go to Diocese of Homabay to meet His Excellency, Bishop Phillip Anyolo. We presented him the CFC program and he was so excited to know that we can replicate said programs to the different parishes under his Diocese. “CFC is the organization that will help the parishioners to strengthen family relationship since we are now moving from The Year of Faith to The Year of the Family”, he said. The Vicar General Fr. Peter promised that he will organize the first batch of participants to the first CLP which is to be held either first week of December or early January of next year. SOWETO Through the invitation of Rev. Fr. Jose Eudes Rebeiro dos Santos, we went to Soweto to visit Canada’s 15 sponsored children and their parents. We found them busy doing Christmas cards for their sponsors in Canada. Our team also gathered profiles of new children for sponsorship. At the end of our stay, Fr. Jose offered a mass for all the missionaries, sponsored children together with their parents, as well as thanksgiving for all CSP sponsors from Canada. “The children and their families are now filled with hope because of the generosity of all our sponsors,” he said. NAIROBI We also attended the Planning Retreat of the Area Governance Team of Kenya. The planning started with a recollection given by Rev. Fr. Jose Eudes Rebeiro dos Santos, parish priest of St Joachim and St Anne Parish. The team responded with a very passionate commitment to double their effort to serve the Lord in their respective assignments and to make Kenya an even stronger area. After a week, the Christian Life Program was held at Donum Dei Center with 8 couples graduating. We welcome all of them as new members of the CFC family and ended the program with celebration of the mass given by a Filipino priest, Fr. Eusebio Manangbao, SVD. We were blessed to meet the new parish priest of Don Bosco Church, Fr. Salema who gave us a warm welcome and committed to give his full support to all CFC program in the parish. A very significant event happened while we were there, as we welcome to the Christian world the latest addition to the family of our Philippine missionaries, Onnel and Maia Tolentino. Baby Benedict’s baptism was officiated by no less than Bishop David Kamau. As part of our mission trip, we conducted different household visitations, one on one with the missionaries and give talks to the different retreats and CLP. MOMBASA The last leg of the mission was a 10-hour bus trip to Mombasa. The leaders were given directions as they deliberated on their plans and activities for 2014, all geared towards strengthening the CFC community. We thank the Lord for His mighty presence in this very successful mission trip. Truly, He led us the way to continue His work to the ends of the earth. CFC Kenya has been transformed by the grace of God and is ready in unity to Behold and Ponder for 2014. We bring back all the praises and glory to HIM.
Cana Conference in the Himalayas
By Ramon Santiago
PoSSibly one of the last Cana Conferences held globally, the one held in Kathmandu, home of the Himalayas, was held during the last week of October. More than 150 members of CFC from the various areas of Nepal such as Kathmandu, Godavari and Pokhara came for the one-day conference. Fr. Robin Rai, Parish Priest of the Assumption Church in Dhobighat, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, and also the Spiritual Director of CFC Nepal, gave the welcome message. He said that the the wedding at Cana was very significant as it was Jesus’ first miracle; it was there where the water which filled six stone jars was transformed into the best quality wine. He said that this can be likened to the radical transformation of many people leading empty, tasteless lives and who have completely plunged themselves into a world of emptiness and what God’s graces can do in bringing back joy and happiness into their lives. The first talk, “The Wedding Feast”, was given by Chirendra Satyal, CFC Nepal Unit Head, with his wife Caroline Satyal as sharer, together with, George and Celestina Subba, couple coordinators for SOLD and HOLD, respectively. Carol and the Subba couple shared about their marriages, how they just surrendered all the challenges in the hands of God, and the vital role CFC has played in transforming and making them the new persons that they are. Chris Ebreo, CFC Bahrain Country Head and outgoing CFC Nepal Country Coordinator , gave Talk 2, “Do Whatever He Tells You”. The sharers of this talk were Damien and Juliana Shrestha of CFC Pokhara, an area which is in the central part of Nepal. Damien shared the challenges that came when their daughter was born who was mentally challenged. Eventually, after joining CFC, she learned that one should yield to the Lord’s plan and accept it. This led them to start a school looking after and giving care to the mentally disabled children. The third talk, “Empty Jars, Filled to the Brim” was given by Gyan Rai, CFC Nepal Chapter Head. The sharers were Gyan’s wife Sujata Rai, and Juliana Yonzone. Reflecting on her personal life, Sujata shared that she used to be so full of herself, but Jesus helped her get rid
of all of these through the support of her loving, very patient and understanding husband, and all the life-changing and enriching teachings of CFC. She also shared about their trials with their son, but she was confident that through all of this His wine of joy and peace will come with the morning and they will be filled to the brim. Juliana shared that she was born in a Catholic family but gradually began to distance herself from her religious activities as she was growing older. However, during and after the Christian Life Program she was overwhelmed by the Lord’s presence, which led to her transformation. Looking back, she saw how empty her life had become then and now she strongly believes that she has been filled to the brim with sweet wine of joy and happiness. Mar Japitana of CFC Bahrain and incoming CFC Nepal Country Coordinator gave the fourth talk, “From Water to Wine: Radical Transformation”. Rajendra and Manita shared how God’s transforming love manifested through CFC. The last talk of the conference, “Witness! God’s Glory Revealed”, was given by Mon Santiago, CFC South Asia Regional Coordinator. The sharing was given by his wife Tita and a SOLD member, Yashpal Rai. Yashpal shared that the Christian Life Program had a strong influence in transforming him, and the “Bible” is the wine that stimulates our spirit, gives us strength, encourages us to stand in the forefront among the wolves. Tita shared about how God has revealed His glory throughout their married life of 40 years, and how God has blessed their marriage in raising their four children especially after they joined CFC 18 years ago. Towards the end of her sharing, she honored her husband for being the true man and servant of God he is today, far from what he was when they first met, and asked forgiveness for sometimes becoming the “obstacle” to his service. She shared that their trip to Nepal and her one-to-ones with the sisters further strengthened the Lord’s affirmation of her purpose in joining her husband during the mission trip. Before the conference ended, Fr. Robin instituted a renewal of marriage vows, after which the couples shared wine authentic Cana that was mixed with local wine. The conference ended with a mini-praise fest and empowerment prayer led by Chris Ebreo.
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
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
Victory in mission, clockwise from top left: Jun and Malou Clarito with Filipino priest in Nairobi, Kenya, Fr. Eusebio Mangbao, SVD; the Eldoret mission team with His Excellency Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret; the author children from Eldoret Primary School; wedding of new CLP graduates; the mission team with Bishop Philip Anyolo of the Diocese of Homabay.
December 9 - 30, 2013
Vol. 17 No. 25
CFC Prepares for 51st International Eucharistic Congress in 2016
CFC USA Recognized by Clergy in Two More Dioceses
IT WAS truly a great afternoon as our CFC Church Integration Coordinator Michael “Shok” Ariola and CFC Cebu Church Integration Officer Vic Abarquez met with Archbishop Jose Palma. The meeting was all about faith, hope and love. As the year of faith came to a close last Sunday, November 24, 2013, CFC Cebu was very much excited to join the Catholic Church in preparing for the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in January 2016. The IEC is an international gathering which aims to promote the awareness of the role of the Eucharist in our lives, in the life of the Church and in the problems of society. The said gathering takes place every four years. This was the very exciting
topic during that afternoon. CFC assured Archbishop Palma of the full support of the whole community. Aside from talking about the IEC, CFC and the Archbishop also discussed about the calamities that struck Visayas, with Ariola sharing with Archbishop Palma the efforts that were being initiated by Couples for Christ to help in the relief and possible rebuilding of Eastern Visayas. They discussed promising collaborations and integrations to also help in the efforts of the Archdiocese of Cebu. The meeting ended with the Archbishop praying over the CFC missionaries who met up with him. It was a prayer for strengthened faith, finding hope amidst everything, and sharing love whenever possible.
CFC USA with Bishop W. Francis Malooly of the Diocese of Wilmington
CFC USA with Bishop Ronald Gainer of the Catholic Diocese of Lexington
4,000 Attend CFC UAE 21st Anniversary Celebration
In TWo separate occasions, Couples for Christ USA received recognition from the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington in Delaware and the Catholic Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky. The Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly, Bishop of Wilmington, and the Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer, Bishop of Lexington, both recognized the initiatives of CFC USA and ANCOP in promoting Family Life and Evangelization and have endorsed the community to parishes in both Dioceses.
By Ramuel and Beth Garcia / Ernie and Mini Uson
IT WAS a spirit-filled day as CFC-United Arab Emirates celebrated its 21st Anniversary at the UAE University in Al Ain last November 15, 2013. The joyful anniversary celebration started with a Thanksgiving Mass at St. Mary’s Church with His Excellency Bishop Paul Hinder as the main celebrant. In his homily, Bishop Paul Hinder stressed the importance of becoming a true witness of experiencing God’s love and sharing this to all. Members of the CFC UAE National Council together with Jimmy Ilagan, a member of the CFC International Council and Philippine Missions Director, later met with Bishop Hinder and parish priest Rev. Fr. Anthony, assuring them of CFC’s continuing support of all church activities and expressed desire to work even more closely with the church in pastoral formation and new evangelization efforts. Preparations for the anniversary celebration started a month before as CFC’s International Spiritual Director, Msgr. Allen Aganon, visited the UAE and conducted a spirit-filled retreat attended by the 220 CFC UAE Mission Core members. Msgr. Aganon likewise visited the various parishes, celebrated Holy Mass, and gave the talk “Sacraments - Keeping the Faith as a Migrant Worker” to all parishioners. Approximately 4,000 members coming from the various emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Fujairah, and Ras Al Khaimah attended the celebrations. The day commenced with a parade representing all areas and family ministries. After the parade, National Council member, Mario Dizo, led a short but moving prayer focused on asking God to take good care of those affected by the recent calamity that struck the Philippines and use CFC community to ease the suffering of our beloved countrymen back home. Ramuel Garcia, UAE National Director and Country Head delivered his State of the Mission Address (SOMA) encouraging all members to continue loving, serving, and praying for one another. He also stressed that all are called to be a missionary. After the colorful presentations, Jimmy Ilagan delivered a very inspiring anniversary message, calling on each one to be vigilant and to continue to passionately serve God and His people. Ilagan introduced the new set of members of the UAE National Council and asked all present to extend their hands toward the council members and their spouses, asking God for continuous guidance, protection, and wisdom. The new set of CFC UAE National Council (effective January 2014) is as follows: • Ramuel Garcia (Country Head and National Director) • Ernie Uson (NC Mission, Evangelization & Church Integration Head) • Mario Dizo (NC Family Ministries Head) • Mar Santos (current Area Director of CFC Sharjah and Northern Emirates) • Bal Quiambao (current Area Director of CFC Abu Dhabi) • Bong Valencia (currently a member of Abu Dhabi AGT and Sector Head of CFC Al Ain) • Arnel Batusin (currently a member of Dubai AGT and Sector Head of CFC Dubai & Jebel Ali) The 21st CFC UAE Anniversary celebration activity ended with a closing prayer led by Leo Verdolaga, out-going National Council member, thanking God for being so faithful for 21 years of CFC existence in the UAE. With 8,500 active members, CFC UAE is the third largest CFC community outside of the Philippines, after CFC USA and CFC Canada. By God’s grace, CFC UAE has become a Regional Mission Center and takes care of CFC’s mission and evangelization work in 10 Countries in Africa, 4 Countries in the Middle East, and 4 Countries in Central and South Asia. This year, CFC UAE funded ANCOP projects worth Php6.5M. Education projects include sponsoring 80 college scholars in ANCOP’s Child Sponsorship Program and funding of 18 Cornerstone projects. CFC UAE also funded two surgical missions in Baybay, Leyte and Bangued, Abra, bringing Christ’s love to the over 150 poorest of the poor who otherwise would not have been able to afford major surgeries. Community development projects include completion of a multi-purpose hall in Kanlungan ng Pag-asa Village in Bani, Bataan and 185 emergency shelters for Davao typhoon victims.
CFC Metro Manila West C Meets Harold Sala
By George and Chit Miravite
November 15, 2013 was an eventful teaching night at the St. Vincent Parish Church in Tandang Sora, Quezon City for CFC Metro Manila West C sector as well-known speaker, author and Bible teacher Harold Sala and his lovely wife Darlene, alternately talked about “Writing the Story of Us with a Happy Ending”. Jun and Jean Uriarte, member of the International Council, were also present at the well-attended event that almost filled up the huge church. West C Pastoral Formation Head Norman Robles opened the event with a powerful worship, which was followed with the warm welcome and introduction of the speaker-couple by the Sector Head, Steve maningat. To the surprise of the audience, the couple, both aged almost 80, still looked vibrant, energetic and very much in love. Unmindful of the scaffoldings due to the ongoing church repairs, the Sala couple started by excitedly introducing their growing family, and talking about their 15 years of pastoral work in the Philippines, their ministry and more importantly their love story. The first challenging statement from the couple was that marriages with happy endings are the result of learning to cope, being willing to be vulnerable, living without selfishness, embracing
God’s way, forgiving quickly and being willing to change. Impossible? No! Difficult? Yes! Couples still argue that often, men do not understand their wives while wives think their husbands are completely ignoring them, but what they really need are unwavering commitment, a Christcentered life, an open communication, immediate resolution of conflicts and issues, forgiveness, having fun together, meeting each other’s needs, building confidence, and living with a purpose to achieve longevity and blissful endings. As the night progressed, the Harold and Darlene, as well as the audience, constantly exchanged stolen glances timid smiles, intermittent laughter and serious looks with their spouses, clearly an indication that love was indeed in the air. Finally, the Sala couple encouraged CFC to continuously build and support each other regardless of the circumstances in their life. They exhorted their audience to live today as if it was their last day together. Happy endings are indeed celebrations of God’s goodness. As couples held hands together and whispered sweet nothings as they exited the church doors, it was encouraging to see that the love stories of those couples will have happy endings that are about to be written.
With His Might, We Fight!
By Alma Alvarez
“THe light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.” -John 1:15 This was the opening salvo of Catchfire 2013, the prayer rally organized by Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (ALNP) Community last December 1, 2013. The ULTRA was jam-packed as members of ALNP and its affiliate communities Lingkod ng Panginoon, Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), Christ Youth in Action (CYA), Tahanan ng Panginoon, Familia, Women for Christ, and Couples for Christ rocked the stadium with a powerful opening worship following the Mass celebrated by no less than the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, His Excellency Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas. After the testimonials of Manny and Arlene Arcilla, Mon Dalay, and Atty. Ted Te on how they fought their battles with the might of God, Bobby Quitain, an elder of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community, delivered a formidable talk on the Catchfire theme, “With His Might, We Fight!” Quitain presented 4 ways. 1. Choose to enter. In whatever battle, all are encouraged to enter the battleground. Instead of being bystanders, every Christian must be soldiers. “Whatever your station is in the battlefield, fight your battle there. You may be a housewife, a government employee, or just a member of your prayer community. The Lord is telling you to fight where you are,” he emphasized. 2. Choose to equip. David was not used to the armor Saul gave him. Instead, he got his ever-reliable sling and his five smooth
stones and used them to slay Goliath. Quitain added, “What are our five “smooth stones”? Remember the 5 spokes the wheel— community, prayer, scripture, sacraments, evangelization.” 3. Choose to entrust. Whomever God owns, He takes care of. “Let us not only entrust our lives, but also our battles, to God. If we do this, He will win the battle for us, but in His own terms,” Quitain quipped. 4. Choose to engage. Perfect love casts out all fear. Christians must not turn their backs on the enemy. The Lord may not spare His people from the storm, but He will never, ever let go. To close the prayer rally, the leaders of all the affiliate communities were called onstage to pray over the entire congregation.