Page Monitor CBCP 3

Page 5 Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace

Page 10 Bahay Kalinga: Where Children of Lesser Means Find Temporary Love and Care

Page 12 Response to “Watch and Pray” Call

Vol. 10 No. 18

Pope: 18, 2006 DecemberTrue Peace

Needs Respect for Human Rights


People Urged to Maintain Fight Against Corruption
A Catholic bishop urged people to stand up against corruptions in government and continue to fight the “hasty” effort to change the Constitution.
People urged / P4

‘Stop STL’ Say Bishops
THE Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has called on the government again to drop its operation of the small town lottery (STL), a numbers game legalized late last year. For those who don’t know yet and for those who are acting blind,
Stopo STL / P4

Protagonist of Truth, Promoter of Peace December 18, 2006 Vol. 10 No. 18 Php 16.00

Faithful Prays for a Nation in Crisis
‘CharACter, not Charter, change needed’, say Bishops
By Roy Lagarde
THE prayer gatherings held across the nation was not just to air opposition against the speedy efforts to amend the 19-year old Constitution but also to watch and pray for a “nation in crisis” on December 15 and 17. On the 15th, the prayer rallies took place in a number of dioceses which include Lingayen-Dagupan in Northern Luzon; in the Visayas, all four dioceses of Negros; in Panay— Capiz and Iloilo; in Mindanao: Cagayan de Oro, Kidapawan, Marbel, Cotabato, Ozamis, Malaybalay and Digos. In Central Luzon: Malolos, Balanga, Cavite and the dioceses of the National Capital Region (NCR). Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), called for a “Watch and Pray” rally after the lower house of Congress tried to push through Charter change (Cha-cha), a move that critics said was designed to extend Arroyo’s tenure of power. “Watch & Pray, Magmalasakit para sa Bayan,” read the only banner at the stage after the organizers disallowed political speeches and banners during the gathering.
Faithful Prays / P4

Stop Gambling on Christmas Season, say Bishops
by Santosh Digal
FILIPINO bishops have decided to take on both illegal and state-run gambling for Christmas and have urged Catholics to remember the spirit of the season and not throw away their money. Launched by one of the country’s most charismatic prelates, Mgr Oscar Cruz, archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, the campaign has targeted illegal and government-run games. For almost five years now, the prelate has been involved in an all out fight against betting and gambling which has earned him the enmity of game lords and death threats. His campaign received a boost in the last few days when the Bishops’ Conference decided to join him. Its chairman, Mgr Angel N. Lagdameo, made an “urgent and ardent appeal” urging local and national
Stop Gambling / P4

A VERITABLE MULTITUDE -- of various civil society groups, member schools of Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP), and other Church groups -- converged at the Luneta Park last Dece. 17 for the “Watch and Pray, Magmalasakit Para sa Bayan” inter-faith prayer rally spearheaded by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. The huge prayer gathering served as a “call for the purification of reason, for the reawakening of the moral forces, and for the just ordering of society”.

Vidal Tells Flock to Get informed on Charter Change
CEBU Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal called on a crowd of hundreds to be aware and get involved on the Charter change (Cha-cha) issue. “If you want to decide as to its need or no need always be honest and be humble to ask questions in order to be clarified and to become committed to a cause,” Vidal said in his homily during the start of the traditional dawn masses at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. He said people should always be aware of the several social concerns that we have to face, and fight, and finish one at a time. “There is no denying it. One social concern of these days is the Charter change,” the cardinal said. Vidal reiterated widespread discussion and debates is “essential” before pursuing with the plan for amending the constitution. Discussions, he said, can even be held in prayer meetings, Bible studies, seminars, retreats and even a brief homily at a mass may start the discussion to be continued outside. Following the Catholic bishop’s call to support for education campaign on the issue, the Archdiocese of Cebu thinks of coming out with a module about Cha-cha. “In deciding to support a cause, it should be associated with one’s willingness to tell the truth, care for justice, act with integrity, shared love and respect for each other’s freedom,” he added. (CBCP News)

CBCP Calls for Unity vs. Political Killings
THE Catholic bishops called on human rights advocates to “forge a strong network of social solidarity” to put an end to the unresolved killings in the country, especially of activists and journalists. In a statement issued on Human Rights Day, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said human rights and peace advocates serve as the “moral bastion of the power of the powerless, who are the least of our brethren.” “Today, with all advocates and victims of human rights (violations), in this Year of Social Concerns, we are raising again our concern regarding practically the same issues—various killings without (the) benefit of court-trials,” he said. Lagdameo underscored the promotion and defense of human rights in the country have become “more complex and difficult.” That is why, he pointed out, there is need for an ever stronger solidarity among human rights advocates, peace advocates and all people of good will. “It is in this atmosphere which includes the dismantling of self-interests, we can have genuine economic development, we have been longing for so long a time. It is in the atmosphere of political stability that economy and business prosper and develop,” he said. The CBCP in recent years had issued several pastoral statements denouncing rights vioCBCP Calls / P12

Family Still the Core-foundation of Youth on HIV Awareness
THE future of HIV epidemic is in the hands of young people. The behavior they adopt now and those they maintain in their lives will determine the course of the epidemic in years to come. That is why, according to Fr. Conegondo Garganta, Executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY), the family is still the “core-foundation” and one positive avenue to help young people become aware about the disease. “The family is one basic help where it can assist the young people to know the complex realities regarding relationships particularly helping people to value responsibilities,” he said. He thinks that if parents are teaching kids about good values and AIDS, the children will know more about it and will find a way of not getting it. “We should have responsible programs especially in helping our communities to be aware of the issues surrounding AIDS,” he said. The priest said there are many available ways to help inform the community about AIDS. Influencing the educational system is the another way of raising awareness, said Garganta
Family Still / P4

Manila’s Poor Reenact Joseph, Mary’s Search for Shelter
A day after the Church’s massive protest against the Constituent Assembly (Con-ass), over two thousand urban poor people marched along the streets of Manila reiterating the question asked by Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem: “Do you have a decent place where we can stay?” Led by giant puppet of Joseph and Mary, the urban poor people marched from GOMBURZA Plaza to Padre Burgos Avenue and along the streets of Gen. Luna, Muralla and Cabildo on December 18.

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

Manila’s poor / P4

Day of / P4


World News
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut, DEC. 8, 2006—The Knights of Columbus are encouraging millions in North America again this year to not lose sight of the real meaning of the holiday season, and to “Keep Christ in Christmas.” The Christmas message is being spread as public service announcements on radio and television in English and Spanish in the United States and Canada, along with hundreds of billboards that have been put up by local Knights of Columbus councils. “In the midst of an increasingly materialistic and secular society, it is all too easy to lose sight of what Christmas really means. We give gifts to each other because it is the day on which we celebrate the ultimate gift: the Christ child, the savior of mankind,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Even those who do not share the Christian faith can and do appreciate the message of peace and hope that this Christian holiday — holy day — brings to the world. It

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

Knights Keeping Holiday Season Holy
is a message that the world needs now more than ever,” he added. T h e Knights h a v e launched similar campaigns since the 1980s. Last year, the Knights of Columbus Christmas announcements reached more than 43 million television viewers and up to 37 million radio listeners. (Zenit)

Pontiff Exhorts Political Leaders to Listen to Civil Society
Politics Is a Service, He Tells New Ambassadors VATICAN CITY, December 14, 2006— Benedict XVI is convinced that leaders of nations will avoid conflicts and wars if they listen to civil society and respond to its needs. However, the Pope pointed out, this calls for understanding political commitment as “a service to persons” and not as a way of guaranteeing privileges and power to a few. The Holy Father explained this today, in a joint address in French, to the new ambassadors to the Holy See from Denmark, Kyrgyzstan, Mozambique, Uganda, Syria and Lesotho. The Pontiff began by acknowledging that “the year just ending witnessed numerous conflicts on many continents.” In particular, he said, “the Holy See shares your disquiet for situations that put the survival of many peoples at risk, and cause the poorest to bear the burden of suffering and the lack of the most basic amenities.” “In order to face up to such circumstances,” the leaders of civil society “must pay greater attention to their people, seeking more effective solutions in order to resolve situations of distress and poverty and to share goods as equally as possible, both within each country and across the international community,” affirmed Benedict XVI. “The leaders of society have a duty to ensure that deep dissatisfaction with the political, economic and social spheres in a country or region is neither created nor maintained,” the Holy Father continued. “Because this could lead people to think that society and its decision-making classes ignore them, and that they have no right to enjoy the fruits of national production. … “Such injustices can only lead to disorder and engender a kind of escalation of violence. “The search for peace, justice and understanding among everyone must be a primary objective and calls for leaders of nations to pay heed to real-life situations, committing themselves to suppressing everything that opposes equality and solidarity, especially corruption and the hoarding of resources.” The Pope added: “This implies, therefore, that persons with authority in the nation must have the constant concern to regard their political and social commitment as a service to persons and not as the pursuit of benefits for a reduced number of people, in detriment to the common good. “I know that a certain amount of courage is needed in order to remain firm in the face of difficulties when the aim is the good of individuals and of the national community. Nonetheless, in public life, courage is an indispensable virtue in order to avoid being swayed by partisan ideologies, by pressure groups or by thirst for power.” Benedict XVI concluded by recalling to his listeners a key point of the Church’s social doctrine: “The good of individuals and of peoples must always be the priority criterion in decisions regarding social life.” (Zenit)

Basilicas in Rome Designated “Papal”
Paul Outside the Walls, made that announcement Monday. At a press conference, the cardinal clarified that “many thought that the title ‘patriarchal’ referred to the fact that through the latter the Pope exercised his title of ‘Patriarch of the West,’ in contrast to the ‘Patriarch of the East,’ something which is not at all true.” For historical and ecumenical reasons, Benedict XVI has decided to give up the title “Patriarch of the West.” The basilicas to be known henceforth as “papal” rather than “patriarchal” are St. Peter’s, St. John Lateran, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. “The four basilicas had been given in the past by the popes, as a base in Rome, to the Catholic Eastern patriarchs, not as an official title,” clarified the cardinal. “Therefore, the Pope has decided that from now on the four major basilicas will be called ‘papal’ basilicas.” (Zenit)

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2006—From now on, Rome’s four patriarchal basilicas will be called “papal” basilicas. Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St.

Message for the World Day of the Sick
much-needed medical resources, often of the most basic kind, with the result that the number of human beings considered ‘incurable’ is greatly increased.” After highlighting the “need to promote policies which create conditions where human beings can bear even incurable illnesses and death in a dignified manner,” Benedict XVI dwells upon the necessity “to stress once again the need for more palliative care centers which provide integral care, offering the sick the human assistance and spiritual accompaniment they need. This is a right belonging to every human being, one which we must all be committed to defend.” “The Church, following the example of the Good Samaritan, has always shown particular concern for the infirm. ... Many individuals health care professionals, pastoral agents and volunteers - and institutions throughout the world are tirelessly serving the sick, in hospitals and in palliative care units, on city streets, in housing projects and parishes.” The Pope encouraged people suffering from incurable and terminal diseases “to contemplate the sufferings of Christ crucified. ... Trust that your sufferings, united to those of Christ, will prove fruitful for the needs of the Church and the world.” “Through her priests and pastoral workers, the Church wishes to assist you and stand at your side, helping you in your hour of need, and thus making present Christ’s own loving mercy towards those who suffer.” (VIS)

Pontiff Links Peace With Respect for Women
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2006—Benedict XVI warns that peace becomes a mirage when the dignity of woman is not fully respected. The papal warning is included in the message for the World Day of Peace, to be observed Jan. 1. The day’s theme, “The Human Person, Heart of Peace,” addresses the challenge posed by the equality of nature of all people. “Insufficient consideration of the feminine condition also causes factors of instability in the social order,” states the message. In particular, the Pope mentions “the exploitation of women treated as objects and in so many ways of lack of respect to their dignity.” In particular, the Holy Father unmasks the persistent conceptions in some cultures “which still assign to woman a role of great submission to the discretion of the man, with consequences offensive to her dignity of person and [the] exercise of the fundamental liberties.” “One must not fall into the illusion that peace is assured while these forms of discrimination are not also overcome,” he notes. Such forms “lacerate the personal dignity inscribed by the Creator in every human being.” (Zenit)

VATICAN CITY, DEC 13, 2006—The Holy Father’s Message for the 15th World Day of the Sick was made public at midday today. The event is due to be celebrated in Seoul, South Korea on February 11, 2007, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In his Message, published in English and dated December 8, the Holy Father writes that “despite the advances of science, a cure cannot be found for every illness. ... Many millions of people in our world still experience insanitary living conditions and lack access to

KC Commits $50,000 for Typhoon Victims
Fund established for Typhoon victims in the Philippines ing in the wake of the storm, and aid is urgently needed for the survivors. The worst damage was done in the area around Mayon, a volcano in the province of Albay. Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson noted that the Knights of Columbus has more than 200,000 members in the Philippines, many of whom have been working to help those affected by the storm. “Just as U.S. and Canadian Knights rushed to help those in need after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year, Filipino Knights are reaching out to their countrymen on Luzon who are suffering so much right now,” Anderson said. “This contribution expresses our solidarity with them in their hour of need, and I am confident that Knights around the world will add their own contributions to this effort.” (KC News)

Indian Government Confirms Sex-selection Abortion Crisis
New Delhi, Dec. 15, 2006— The government of India has acknowledged the serious dimensions of the problem of sex-selection abortion. Renuka Chowdhury, federal minister for Women and Child Development, admitting on December 14 that over 10 million girls have been killed in 20 years in female feticide and infanticide. “Today, we have the odd distinction of having lost 10 million girl children in the past 20 years,” Chowdhury told a seminar in Delhi. “Who has killed these girl children? Their own parents.” In some states, the minister said, newborn girls have been killed by pouring sand or tobacco juice into their nostrils. Meanwhile, in a report released this week, UNICEF said 7,000 fewer girls are born in India every day than the global statistic would predict, because of sex-selection abortion. Parents routinely abort a female baby because of widespread gender prejudice. According to Hindu tradition, a father cannot attain moksha (salvation) unless he had a son to perform his last rites. The strong desire for sons is reinforced by social pressures, and by the burdensome dowries still required of parents when a daughter is married. Although Indian law bans sex-determination tests, many doctors ignore the law, charging high fees to determine the sex of an unborn child and perform an abortion if the child is female. This unscrupulous business explains why many places, particularly in northern India, have only fewer than 800 girls born for every 1,000 boys. (CWNews)

NEW Haven, CT, Dec 7, 2006—The Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus today committed $50,000 to help victims of Typhoon Durian, which struck the island of Luzon in the Philippines late last week, and encouraged state and local councils of the Order and any con-

cerned individual donor, to make contributions as well. The powerful storm hit the Philippines with winds as high as 140 miles (225 kilometers) per hour, and caused landslides and flooding that destroyed or damaged at least 250,000 homes. More than 1,300 people are dead or miss-

Photo credit: Ma. Jhona B. Acuña, PNU

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

News Feature
By Sr. Ruth Diaz, SFIC
What more should we do in building peace? Is our presence in Basilan still relevant? the make-up of society. I think about the exploitation of women who are treated like objects and diverse forms of lack of respect for their dignity; I also think about – in a different context – anthropological concepts persisting in some cultures, which relegate women to a place that remains strongly subject to the will of men, with harmful consequences for human dignity and the exercise of consequent fundamental freedoms (n.7).” True and lasting peace therefore presupposes respect for human rights and also an outlook that respects the environment, for “experience shows that all approaches that disrespect the environment harm human coexistence and vice-versa. The inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men is emerging ever more clearly. One and the other presuppose peace with God (n.8).” If respect for human rights is indispensable, the focus once again becomes the concept of the person because if “these rights are based on a weak concept of the person, how could we expect them not to be weakened too? The profound shortcomings of a relativistic concept of the person are evident when it comes to justifying and defending rights (n.12).” “The rights attributed to mankind can be affirmed without fear of denial only if they are grounded in the objective requirements of the nature bestowed on man by the Creator (n.12).” Safeguarding human rights implies, ultimately, a “constant reference” to the activities of international organizations, especially the UN and the Universal Declaration drawn up by this entity in 1948. “A moral commitment assumed by all of mankind”, this should also guarantee respect for international humanitarian law, “largely disobeyed”, for example, in the recent conflict in southern Lebanon.
Pope / P4


Pope: True Peace Needs Respect for Human Rights
by Franco Pisano
Vatican City, December 16, 2006—Respect of human beings and their rights constitute the true path towards peace, “a characteristic of divine action”, a gift of God and an obligation that binds individuals, states and the international community as a whole. This is the concept around which Benedict XVI developed his message for World Day of Peace 2007 that will be celebrated on 1 January. However, in the message published today, Benedict XVI did not limit himself to indicating factors and elements that prevent or oppose the affirmation of peace, ranging from a lack of respect for life to violations of intangible religious freedom, from rampant exploitation of nature to terrorism, from the permeation of gender imbalances and unequal access to essential items to new nuclear escalation. He also indicates those cultural approaches that oppose peace. The pope urged “commitment to give life to a human ecology that favours the growth of the ‘tree of peace’. To attempt such an undertaking, it is necessary to allow ourselves to be guided by a vision of the person that is not marred by ideological and cultural prejudices or by political or economic interests that incite hatred and violence. It is understandable that the visions held by men should vary from culture to culture. However, what cannot be allowed is the cultivation of anthropological concepts with inherent seeds of conflict and violence. Equally unacceptable are those concepts of God that stimulate intolerance towards one’s fellow men and recourse to violence towards them. This is a point that must be reiterated clearly: war in the name of God is never acceptable! When a certain concept of God is at the root of criminal acts, it is a sign that this concept has already been transformed into ideology (n.10).” “Respect for people promotes peace,” continued the pope, stressing “the duty to respect the dignity of each and every person” (n.4). The first consequence of this is the reality that “people cannot be used for one’s pleasure (n.4)”. The message also indicates factors that grievously oppose peace, like the denial of the right to life or religious freedom. “As for the right to life, we have the duty to denounce its destruction in our societies: alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism, and various forms of violence, there are those silent deaths provoked by hunger, abortion, experiments on embryos and euthanasia. How could all this be seen as anything other than an attack on peace? (n.5)” As for the lack of freedom of worship, it is a “worrying symptom of the lack of peace in the world”. Benedict XVI continued: “Speaking especially about Christians, I must say with sorrow that at times they are not only hindered, in some states, they are actually persecuted and tragic episodes of cruel violence have been reported even recently. There are regimes that impose one religion on all and then there are indifferent regimes that do not fuel violent persecution but promote systematic cultural derision of religious beliefs. In any case, a fundamental right is not being respected, with grave repercussions for peaceful coexistence (n.5)”. However, several tensions threatening peace are certainly also rooted in “the many unjust inequalities still tragically present in the world. Particularly insidious ones are, on the one hand, unequal access to essential items like food, water, a home and health care and on the other, persistent inequalities between men and women in the enjoyment of fundamental human rights (n.6).” “Insufficient consideration for the female condition brings factors of instability in

Prelature of Isabela Holds Communal Reflection on Peace Initiatives

Those were the challenging points for reflection Bishop Martin S. Jumoad had posed to the assembly of diocesan Clergy and Religious at Querexeta Formation Center, Isabela City on November 14, 2006. The meeting was a Communal Reflection concerning the Relevance of Mission, Commitment and Peace Initiatives. The Communal reflection was divided into four parts namely: Communal Prayer; Rationale; Sharing/Synthesis and the Fraternal Agape. Men and Women Religious present in the assembly included the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), Claretian Fathers (CMF), Oblates of Notre Dame (OND), Dominican Sisters of the Rosary (OP), Missionary Sisters of the Queen of the Apostles (SRA) and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (SFIC). The gathering was called by the bishop and organized in an atmosphere of uncertainty as lot of talks were circulating in the province that the Abu Sayyaf group is once again strongly penetrating in different parts of the island. This spawned reports that Basilan is in the state of triple red alert. Added to this is the fact that the prelature is being confronted with land issue problems. Consequently, Christian communities, including clergy and religious, became the target of threats. The participants concede that the realities of the province have affected their lives in the context of their prophetic stance. The uncertainty of the peace and order situation poses a great challenge in the area of evangelization. Nonetheless, they look at the gathering as a propitious event as they were able to reflect together the signs of the times with the hope of coming out with responses that can be interpreted in the acts of solidarity and commitment. In the course of sharing, the participants heard from one another both inspirations and challenges encountered in day-to-day faith life journey. They heard and felt inspiring comments like, “how we are able to live [in] peace in the midst of violence”; God’s gift of

courage and unconditional love that they can journey together diversely no matter what it cost. “At times, we are confronted with fear but we strive not to let this fear paralyze our sense of partaking Christ’s mission.” They acknowledged that it is not that easy to risk life but their faith and the support system they share strengthen them. It is the support of one another that enable each one to break down personal fears and take the challenge to cross the road which is unfamiliar. While it is true that they have the right to defend life, still they take the active non-violence stance by not carrying guns. But, when necessary, they avail of guards for security reasons, who at the same time act also as their mission partners. Adapting a pastoral framework of see, judge and act; the group was motivated to assert thus: “These realities somehow moved us even further and deeper to stand as one in the acts of solidarity, adopt healthy processes in settling land issues, re-visit our basic services delivery, strengthen linkages and networking, bridge peace through dialogue, justice and integrity of creation. In the eyes of faith, the only way we can interpret all these challenges into actions as our living commitment to our compassionate God is the prophetic life of God’s son Jesus Christ.” The process of communal reflection has inspired the diocesan Clergy and Religious to bring to the CBCP their collective stance as one local Church in Basilan, that is, their efforts to bridge peace and intensify their commitment in the context of our time. The day-long gathering ended with the assurance to uphold support system among participants and mission partners through an ongoing task reflection session and constant updating.

Pope Places Society in Mary’s Hands
ROME, December 8, 2006—On the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Benedict XVI figuratively placed in Mary’s hands the marginalized and defenseless members of society. During his visit today to the image of the Immaculate Conception in Rome’s Piazza de Spagna, the Pope prayed: “Show yourself a mother especially to the neediest: the defenseless, the marginalized, and the excluded, the victims of a society that often sacrifices man for other ends and interests.” The Pontiff also prayed that humanity would have “the courage to say ‘no’ to the deceptions of power, money, pleasure: to dishonest earnings, to corruption and hypocrisy, to egoism and violence.” The Holy Father continued: “‘No’ to the evil one, deceitful prince of the world. ‘Yes’ to Christ, who destroys the power of evil with the omnipotence of love. We know that only hearts converted to love, which is God, can build a better future for all.” Benedict XVI prayed to the Virgin Mary to watch over the citizens of Rome, to be a “vigilant guardian of Italy and Europe, so that from the ancient Christian roots people will be able to draw the sap to build their present and future.” “Show yourself a provident and merciful mother to the whole world so that, respecting human dignity and rejecting every form of violence and exploitation, firm foundations will

List of Papal Liturgical Events Published From Christmas Eve to Jan. 7
VATICAN CITY, December 14, 2006—The Vatican has published the calendar of Christmas celebrations over which Benedict XVI will preside. The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff made public the calendar today. On Christmas Eve, Sunday, Dec. 24, the Pope will celebrate Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The next day, Dec. 25, at noon, he will deliver a Christmas message and impart the blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city of Rome and the world) from the central balcony of St. Peter’s. The ceremony will be broadcast by television channels worldwide. On Dec. 31, at 6 p.m., he will preside over Vespers of the solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter’s. The Te Deum will be sung in thanksgiving. On Monday, Jan. 1, solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God, the Pope will preside over the Eucharistic celebration at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s, on the occasion of the 40th World Day of Peace. On Saturday, Jan. 6, solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany, the Pontiff will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s. This year, the liturgical season of Christmas will end on Sunday, Jan. 7, feast of the Lord’s Baptism. On that day, at 10 a.m. in the Sistine Chapel, the Holy Father will preside over the Eucharistic celebration during which he will administer the sacrament of baptism to a few children. (Zenit)

be laid for the civilization of love,” the Pope prayed. The Holy Father arrived to the Piazza di Spagna in a convertible automobile. He was standing as he greeted thousands who had lined the streets on this public holiday. This image of the virgin was blessed by Pope Pius IX on Dec. 8, 1857, three years after the dogmatic definition of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Since then, a floral homage has been held in the Piazza di Spagna, though it was interrupted during the years the Popes were obliged to stay inside the Vatican, from 1870 to 1929. In the morning, Rome’s firemen placed a wreath of white roses on the right arm of the image. Benedict XVI also visited, as is customary on this day, the Basilica of St. Mary Major. (Zenit)


Faithful Prays / from p1
Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the CBCP, challenged government leaders to undergo “character change” instead of Charter change. “More than a political Cha-cha, we need first and foremost an educative and a moral cha-cha, that means if our charter change is not preceded, accompanied and productive of character change then charter change would be useless,” he said. If a constitutional amendment is not preceded, accompanied and productive of character change then Chacha would be useless, he stressed. “Call it repentance from sin, reform of morals, renewal of values. All of these, and the nation will rise with hope, right vision and confidence,” he added. He then took the opportunity to thank the people who came to the prayer rally. “We didn’t expect this. Your presence here proves that you all love your country,” he said. Manila Archbishop Cardinal Rosales talked about reform in his homily during the concelebrated mass that highlighted the prayer rally with nine other bishops and several priests and religious. “There must be reform in many of us—in all of us!” said the 74-yearold cardinal who braved an illness that had confined him a day earlier at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center. “If in our lifetime, this change should come, let it all begin with the unity of our people. This means everyone is subject and object of reform.” He said the Church position did not mean a total rejection to amend the Charter but more important is the reform should also begin with individuals, including the body entrusted with elections. Rosales also called for unity and sacrifice among Filipinos, which he emphasized, is needed in the fight for poverty and in “the search for truth.” He said politicians and leaders in particular must give up their ambitions if only to achieve such unity. “We need the gift of unity but that unity cannot be had except only through sacrificing of ambitions… The only equation is to sacrifice for the good of everyone especially the poor in our midst,” he said. Due to the ban on political speeches, many participants held separate programs prior to the prayer rally. The prayer rally was dominated by representatives of the academe, catholic religious groups and other Christian denominations, civil society and a cross-section of society.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

US Catholic Church Set to Donate P24.7M in Aid
THE Catholic Church in the United States said it would match as much as $500,000 (roughly P24.7 million) in assistance for the victims of the last two typhoons. The donation will be coursed through the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the official humanitarian agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Typhoon Reming, the fourth Pacific storm to hit the country in four months, has claimed many lives, ravaged roads and bridges, swept away electricity and telephone polls, and flattened thousands of hectares of crops. Strong winds of up to 265 kilometers an hour and torrential rains sent walls of mud and boulders from the slopes of Mayon volcano crashing down on villages situated a few kilometers nearby. Officials say more than 1 million people from nine cities and 13 provinces have been affected, with more than 85,000 forced to seek shelter in evacuation centers. Property damage has so far been assessed at $12 million. Before the latest blow, villages throughout the Philippines were still recovering from two other recent typhoons— Milenyo and Paeng. In collaboration with Caritas Philippines, the CRS is set to conduct an assessment in view of the program to rehabilitate homes and livelihoods. The agency is dispatching a team that will coordinate the effort to help affected residents restore their livelihoods. In the meantime, the CRS was so busy working with Caritas in providing immediate needs like food, potable water, clothing, blankets and medicines for the victims. A few days after the typhoon already 900 bags of rice have been distributed by Catholic agencies. In one diocese alone, immediate assistance was given to 4,000 families. Over the past two years, CRS has been working with the CBCPNational Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA) to conduct Disaster Preparedness and Response training in all of the disaster-prone areas of the Philippines. CRS has been working in the Philippines since 1945, when they initiated relief and reconstruction efforts after World War II. The agency continues to provide relief to victims of emergencies, whether natural disasters or man-made emergencies. They also support ongoing programs in peace and reconciliation, health and agriculture. (Roy Lagarde)

Rally organizers said about 50,000 joined the rally, a fraction of the hundreds of thousand expected. But the police estimated the number between 15,000 and 30,000. Former president Corazon Aquino and several senators critical of President Arroyo were among those in the crowd. Police reportedly deployed about 16,000 forces to secure the rally and other vital areas in Manila amid warnings that communist insurgents might attempt to disrupt the event. Aside from Rosales and Lagdameo, other bishops who also came in the rally were bishops Deogracias Iñiguez of Caloocan, Antonio Tobias of Novaliches, Roberto Mallari of San Fernando, Pampanga, Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo, Jose Oliveros of Malolos, Florentino Lavarias of Iba, Zambales, Teodoro Bacani, emeritus of Novaliches and Auxiliary of bishops of Manila and San Fernando, Pampanga Pablo David and Broderick Pabillo, respectively. Known political figures who were also present include: Senators Franklin Drilon, Mar Roxas, Alredo Lim, Loi and Jinggoy Estrada, Jamby Madrigal, Panfilo Lacson; Representatives Joel Villanueva, Allan Peter Cayetano, Satur Ocampo, Loretta Rosales, Liza Maza and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay. (with reports from Miami Ebilane)

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

Stop Gambling / from p1
officials, ordinary citizens and business leaders to say “No” to numbers game. His appeal was read in Catholic churches in last Sunday mass, the second Sunday of Advent. The prelate said that he was “happy and quite satisfied” when national authorities decided to join the bishops to fight the problem. “This way they show they are united against this social scourge”. Mgr Cruz’s main target is jueteng, the Philippines’ most popular game. It has become a national phenomenon that generated gambling activities worth 13 billion pesos (over 185 million euros or close to 250 US dollars) last year, a business run by 14 or 15 gambling lords who divided up the Philippines 24 provinces among themselves and will do anything to protect their interests. The bishop told AsiaNews that “about 85 per cent of this money goes into payolas, kickbacks, to protect the ‘gambling lords’ and are paid out to government, police, army and even media. If you don’t like it, you’re not welcome in the country,” the prelate explained. For this reason, Archbishop Cruz has received threatening phone calls and letters as well as death threats. But he won’t let up and give in to fear. “In the country, the phenomenon is so widespread because Filipinos have bought into a gambling culture. We are an agricultural country and farmers have long periods of free time. This way, rackets can set roots and play on people’s hope for the big one as they spend their time having fun,” he said. Gambling is not only widespread among the poor but also among higher social classes, who are “more narrow-minded and tight-fisted” and play a “game different from jueteng”. “In the Philippines, the Philippines Amusement Gaming Corporation runs gaming on behalf of the government, but it is more like gambling because the people who run the gaming corporation are also in charge of illegal gambling,” he said. (AsiaNews)

People Urged / from p1
Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas said one proof of corrupt governance is the continuing insistence for Charter change (Cha-cha) through a Constituent assembly (Con-ass). “The Constitution should be saved from dirty politics. The changing of the Constitution is a serious matter that requires widespread discussion, total transparency and wise deliberation,” he said. The country’s big problem, Villegas said, is not the Constitution but the “shameless” corruption in the government that has led to poverty. “Corruption is not the handiwork of the Constitution,” he argued. “It can be done only by man. It’s man who should change. It’s man, not the Constitution, which is at fault.” Villegas, protégé and longtime aide of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin who led two people power revolts, said the country’s problem turned worse when Congress pushed the Cha-cha disrespecting the sentiments and rights of the people. The prelate led his parishioners their own version of the “Watch and Pray” rally in Balanga City on December 15 along with other dioceses nationwide. The bishop said the people should discuss together various social issues and act together for the good the country. The Bishops-Businessmen Conference (BBC) also echoed the CBCP’s call for vigilance against “shameless act of manipulation and self-preservation by the Charter change proponents.” “We are not against charter change per se. We are against the unduly hasty and underhanded way that the Administration Congressmen are pushing for a constituent assembly. Their desperate and calculating actions are indicative of the considerable vested interests at stake,” the BBC said in a statement. “The haunting possibility of the postponement of May 2007 elections would undoubtedly benefit no one but the congressmen and politicians proposing it. All roads are sure to lead to the extension and expansion of powers for the current administration and its allies.” (CBCP News)

Stop STL / from p1
CBCP head Archbishop Angel Lagdameo said that STL is a clone of jueteng which both enrich gambling lords while impoverishing the poor. “With STL and jueteng, our poor people become poorer while the gambling payola recipients become twice enriched,” he said. He said that without jueteng at its back, STL will not survive calling both “a dangerous and insidious pairing.” “And so we make this appeal: Stop STL please! It is another cause of corruption, another means of exploitation of the poor. The country has enough of these anti-social factors,” said Lagdameo. With only six months to the 2007 local elections, the CBCP official said some elected officials are likely to adopt the legal numbers game in their desire to serve the poor from STL and jueteng profits. He urged elected officials not to allow themselves to be instruments of poverty aggravation but instead work for poverty alleviation. “Whatever economic development our government shall have proudly achieved will be diminished or negated by the corruption and exploitation that accompany STL and jueteng,” Lagdameo also said. The CBCP said there is an “urgent and ardent plea addressed to government officials from the local to the national level. It is also a straight and strong appeal to private individuals and corporate entities involved in the same serious moral issue with socio-political undertones.” (Roy Lagarde)

Manila’s poor / from p1
Participants include children, old people, victims of demolitions, scavengers, relocated railroad families, leaders of people’s organization, various non-government organizations and sympathizers from all over Metro Manila. The priests greeted the marchers on the steps of the Cathedral. The marchers also include a donkey, the Blessed Mother in a scavenger’s pushcart and an “Ati-atihan” band. During the Mass, urban poor children acted out the Nativity story. The theme of this year’s “Panuluyan” is “Toward the Church of the Poor”. After the Mass, the priests joined the crowd in a salu-salo, games and Christmas carol contest at the Plaza Roma, right in front of the Cathedral. In the traditional “Panuluyan”, Filipinos go to houses where they ask for shelter for Mary. They are turned away at each house until they end up at the local Church. It compares the suffering of the urban poor, who are mostly deprived of decent housing. Despite Church efforts, the number of homeless people and forced evictions remains high, according to Urban Poor Associates (UPA), a non-government organization working on urban poor issues. “More than one-half of the metropolitan area’s 11.3 million people live below the poverty threshold, and more than 5 million people in Metro Manila do not have decent housing. The poor spend 100 pesos a day on food for families of 5 or 6. This hardly seems enough for a family,” said UPA. Three Catholic bishops, including Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, have criticized the government’s eviction practices along the railroad. “Panuluyan is the urban poor’s expression of desperation and a sign that the government has failed to ensure their housing needs. And yet it is also a sign of hope—that God will touch the hearts of government officials so that leaders may ‘rule this country righteously and the poor with justice,’” said the Task Force Riles. (John Lagman)

Family Still / from p1
Saddly, he said, still many people do not seem to have interest on the issue. He said: “The Church has to take a firm stand on making a big push by also asking the government to take this issue as a serious one and to campaign constantly for consciousness and awareness.” In the recent survey on Filipino youth conducted by Health Action Information Network (HAIN) and sponsored by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it was found out that 34 to 38 percent of female respondents and up to 40 percent of male respondents believed that AIDS is curable while 17 percent and 27 percent of women and men, respectively, believed that taking antibiotics can prevent the spread of AIDS. The survey involved 4,000 respondents aged 12 to 20 covering Metro Manila and 10 provinces. According to the UNICEF the study, which is very telling, shows the urgency of an organized information campaign among the youth on issues about AIDS. (Miami Ebilane)

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

1 JANUARY 2007


Bp. Juan de Dios M. Pueblos
Most Rev. Juan De Dios M. Pueblos, D.D., bishop of Butuan (Northern Mindanao), became a headline figure when a few months back he accepted his appointment as member of the Melo Commission created by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last August 21 through Administrative Order 157 to probe the killings of media workers and activists. Recently, Bishop Pueblos spoke to CBCP Monitor about the relationship of Muslims and Christians in his area, his diocese’s programs on social concern, family and life, participation of the laity in the church, and other pastoral strides or plans of the diocese. Undeniably, Butuan—like other provinces in Mindanao— is not 100 per cent Catholic or Christian. There are, obviously, Muslims too in your area. How is your relationship with them? You know, when I was assigned before in Cotabato, I had the impression that if no gunshot is heard in a day or week, that’s abnormal. But here in Butuan, I can say that the Muslims are good and peaceful, concentrating more on their livelihood than on irregular activities. For me, the main aspect in defining our relationship with the Muslims is taking or eradicating the prejudice against them and working more in promoting peace in this part of Mindanao. I have observed that some Christians here go to the mosque and pray with them as, likewise, some Muslims visit our Cathedral and other churches asking questions regarding our images and statues or why we receive communion during Mass, and others more. There is, for instance, one Muslim sultan in our place who, when we became friends, stopped from wearing his white head cap. We’re really good friends, he frequently visits me at my residence. What I’m saying is that in our diocese there’s really an open communication between Christians and Muslims, and I am happy with that. How is the Church’s agenda on social concern being observed in your area? Oh, we have a very strong social action program in our diocese, particularly with regards to our advocacy in protecting our hinterlands and forests. Of course, there are some unscrupulous individuals, not excluding perhaps some military personnel, who are trying to make money through irregular means out of our rich natural resources. But for those, including also the military, who are really committed to protect our environment, it’s really good to journey with them. Fertility of the soil in our area is very tempting. It was just providential enough that the big NALCO lumber company folded up their operation. Although, I would not deny the fact that there are also rebels in the area, particularly at the 2 virgin forests we have in our place. So our program of social concern is concentrated more on ecological protection. What about eradicating poverty? Is this part of your social concern program? Oh yes, definitely. We have already started it, and our farmers now are marketing their own products. They now have the means to send their children to school, and that’s really heartwarming enough. You see, in my diocese I consider it a normal target in maintaining a more or less stable socio-economic class distribution of people according to the following percentages: 10% as super rich, 20% as rich, 40% as average income earners, 20% poor and 10% super poor. So that if we try to hold on to this status, we will still be peaceful. For me, what is dangerous is that when the average and super poor people will increase and the rich will become poor, I am quite sure that a revolution would likely happen. Our target instead is to help the average and super poor improve their lot, or let the super rich help the super poor in order to balance the equation. What about the family and life program in your diocese? How is it going? Our family and life program is very, very active. We have our active and dedicated staff working on this. One aspect that we have stressed regarding this pastoral area is empowering the wives to have some source of income or livelihood. I have observed, even as I was still in Kidapawan (Cotabato), that when a wife is earning too (and the family’s income source not solely dependent on the husband) the husband respects her more. So, in this aspect, we are now trying to provide women or wives with some means of livelihood or any legitimate source of income, and that contributes to the stability of the whole family. PCP II has laid some precepts for the greater involvement or participation of the laity in the Church. How is this being realized in your area? Well, our laity are empowered in the sense that they also somehow “call the shots”, in all levels—from the chapel, to the parish, and up to the diocesan level. We empower them by making them active in their respective apostolate areas through the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). Currently, are there some major plans for the Diocese? Well, one is the plan of dividing the diocese into two. I was interviewed by the nuncio
7 Questions / P12

1. At the beginning of the New Year, I wish to extend prayerful good wishes for peace to Governments, leaders of nations and all men and women of good will. In a special way, I invoke peace upon all those experiencing pain and suffering, those living under the threat of violence and armed aggression, and those who await their human and social emancipation, having had their dignity trampled upon. I invoke peace upon children, who by their innocence enrich humanity with goodness and hope, and by their sufferings compel us all to work for justice and peace. Out of concern for children, especially those whose future is compromised by exploitation and the malice of unscrupulous adults, I wish on this World Day of Peace to encourage everyone to reflect on the theme: The Human Person, the Heart of Peace. I am convinced that respect for the person promotes peace and that, in building peace, the foundations are laid for an authentic integral humanism. In this way a serene future is prepared for coming generations. The human person and peace: gift and task 2. Sacred Scripture affirms that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). As one created in the image of God, each individual human being has the dignity of a person; he or she is not just something, but someone, capable of self-knowledge, self-possession, free self-giving and entering into communion with others. At the same time, each person is called, by grace, to a covenant with the Creator, called to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his place. From this supernatural perspective, one can understand the task entrusted to human beings to mature in the ability to love and to contribute to the progress of the world, renewing it in justice and in peace. In a striking synthesis, Saint Augustine teaches that “God created us without our aid; but he did not choose to save us without our aid.” Consequently all human beings have the duty to cultivate an awareness of this twofold aspect of gift and task. 3. Likewise, peace is both gift and task. If it is true that peace between individuals and peoples—the ability to live together and to build relationships of justice and solidarity—calls for unfailing commitment on our part, it is also true, and indeed more so, that peace is a gift from God. Peace is an aspect of God’s activity, made manifest both in the creation of an orderly and harmonious universe and also in the redemption of humanity that needs to be rescued from the disorder of sin. Creation and Redemption thus provide a key that helps us begin to understand the meaning of our life on earth. My venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on 5 October 1995, stated that “we do not live in an irrational or meaningless world... there is a moral logic which is built into human life and which makes possible dialogue between individuals and peoples.” The transcendent “grammar”, that is to say the body of rules for individual action and the reciprocal relationships of persons in accordance with justice and solidarity, is inscribed on human consciences, in which the wise plan of God is reflected. As I recently had occasion to reaffirm: “we believe that at the beginning of everything is the Eternal Word, Reason and not Unreason.” Peace is thus also a task demanding of everyone a personal response consistent with God’s plan. The criterion inspiring this response can only be respect for the “grammar” written on human hearts by the divine Creator. From this standpoint, the norms of the natural law should not be viewed as externally imposed decrees, as restraints upon human freedom. Rather, they should be welcomed as a call to carry out faithfully the universal divine plan inscribed in the nature of human beings. Guided by these norms, all peoples —within their respective cultures—can draw near to the greatest mystery, which is the mystery of God. Today too, recognition and respect for natural law represents the foundation for a dialogue between the followers of the different religions and between believers and non-believers. As a great point of convergence, this is also a fundamental presupposition for authentic peace. The right to life and to religious freedom 4. The duty to respect the dignity of each human being, in whose nature the image of the Creator is reflected, means in consequence that the person can not be disposed of at will. Those with greater political, technical, or economic power may not use that power to violate the rights of others who are less fortunate. Peace is based on respect for the rights of all. Conscious of this, the Church champions the fundamental rights of each person. In particular she promotes and defends respect for the life and the religious freedom of everyone. Respect for the right to life at every stage firmly establishes a principle of decisive importance: life is a gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject. Similarly, the affirmation of the right to religious freedom places the human being in a relationship with a transcendent principle which withdraws him from human caprice. The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man. Peace requires the establishment of a clear boundary between what is at man’s disposal and what is not: in this way unacceptable intrusions into the patrimony of specifically human values will be avoided. 5. As far as the right to life is concerned, we must denounce its widespread violation in our society: alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism and the different forms of violence, there are the silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentation on human embryos and euthanasia. How can we fail to see in all this an attack on peace? Abortion and embryonic experimentation constitute a direct denial of that attitude of acceptance of others which is indispensable for establishing lasting relationships of peace. As far as the free expression of personal faith is concerned, another disturbing symptom of lack of peace in the world is represented by the difficulties that both Christians and the followers of other religions frequently encounter in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions. Speaking of Christians in particular, I must point out with pain that not only are they at times prevented from doing so; in some States they are actually persecuted, and even recently tragic cases of ferocious violence have been recorded. There are regimes that impose a single religion upon everyone, while secular regimes often lead not so much to violent persecution as to systematic cultural denigration of religious beliefs. In both instances, a fundamental human right is not being respected, with serious repercussions for peaceful coexistence. This can only promote a mentality and culture that is not conducive to peace. The natural equality of all persons 6. At the origin of many tensions that threaten peace are surely the many unjust inequalities still tragically present in our world. Particularly insidious among these are, on the one hand, inequality in access to essential goods like food, water, shelter, health; on the other hand, there are persistent inequalities between men and women in the exercise of basic human rights. A fundamental element of building peace is the recognition of the essential equality of human persons springing from their common transcendental dignity. Equality on this level is a good belonging to all, inscribed in that natural “grammar” which is deducible from the divine plan of creation; it is a good that cannot be ignored or scorned without causing serious repercussions which put peace at risk. The extremely grave deprivation afflicting many peoples, especially in Africa, lies at the root of violent reactions and thus inflicts a terrible wound on peace. 7. Similarly, inadequate consideration for the condition of women helps to create instability in the fabric of society. I think of the exploitation of women who are treated as objects, and of the many ways that a lack of respect is shown for their dignity; I also think —in a different context—of the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are still firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms. There can be no illusion of a secure peace until these forms of discrimination are also overcome, since they injure the personal dignity impressed by the Creator upon every human being. The “ecology of peace” 8. In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to him, but man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed.” By responding to this charge, entrusted to them by the Creator, men and women can join in bringing about a world of peace. Alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a “human” ecology, which in turn demands a “social” ecology. All this means that humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the
The Human / P10




CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.”
(John 1:5)

THIS is a signal truth forwarded by the gospel reading on Christmas day. It is an inspiring reminder for us during these admittedly bleak and dark times in our dear country. It is a strong message of hope in these days of much despair, poverty and misery among us as a people. Christmas means many different things to many different persons. But one distinct significance of Christmas is always the same and true: the birth anniversary of Christ as the incarnate light that guides us in our continuing search for truth, insistent pursuit of justice and constant longing for peace. Christmas calls for our sincere gratitude to God the Father for sending his own Son to be our everlasting light and guide in our day-today living. Now when our own country is in one big socio-moral darkness basically due to odious and ominous politics, the more we need Christ to light our path to hope, unity and solidarity. Sad but true, we have to admit that in our country during these trying times, there is too much lying, stealing and cheating, too much graft and corruption, too much greed for power and wealth, too much abuse of human rights and killing of human lives. Make no mistake about it, there is too much darkness in our midst— even during this Christmas season. With Christ the light staying with us, the big social darkness brought about by corrupt and corrupting individuals, cannot triumph. Liars, cheats and thieves live and die. Greedy, abusive and vicious individuals come and go. But Christ our light—showing us the way, telling us to the truth and leading us to life—can never be conquered by the dark moral decay now enveloping our national horizon. Under the banner of Christ the incarnate light, let us continue to watch, to pray and act in order to once again enkindle our faith, hope and love. This way, with Christ and each other, we shall eventually dispel the socio-moral darkness afflicting our present in order to enjoy thereafter a well lighted and enlightening tomorrow. This way, there is still good reason to greet one another: “Merry Christmas!” Christ the everlasting light—Thank you for coming to us!

“Getting closer to the first Christmas...”
Abp. Angel N. Lagdameo, DD

In and Out of Season
IT has been well said that “A leader who develops people, adds. A leader who develops leaders, multiplies” (John Maxwell). Everyone whether successful or not, even in the position already of leadership, comes to a point when he/she asks “Where do I/We go from here?” or “Where do I/we go to learn a different way?” Far be it from us to be under some “dogmatic manipulator” or “distant dictator” to direct us towards another stage of our journey. When we come to a point in our journey that we look for and welcome someone who will tell us where to go or what to do, we are in search for “another shepherd” or “a mentor.” Mentoring is another function of a shepherd, generally an older and experienced shepherd. When mentors are present in our lives, we seem to know how to proceed or do better. Almost every social unit across history has some recognized “adult role models” or “wisdom figures”—whether they be tribal chieftains, village headmen, clan leaders or family patriarchs. In modern day communities, social and charismatic groupings, they are known as “elders” because they are generally older.

Mentoring as Leadership Model
to six. If we do not find positive mentors, by default, negative mentors usually find us. Jesus Christ fulfilled his leadership on the Twelve Apostles also by mentoring them. He drew a bold contrast between his spiritual leadership and worldly leadership, which is aggressive, competitive or controlling. He told the Twelve not to imitate the exercise of authority of pagan leaders. “Do not be like them.” Jesus’ leadership style is based on submission and service, not on authority. “Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest … just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt. 20/26-28). Jesus mentored his Apostles with his “Follow me.” What Jesus taught was transmitted by example that the Apostles could imitate. In the early Church, St. Paul likewise fulfilled his leadership by mentoring. He said that his aim was to present himself as a model for others to imitate (2 Thes. 3/9). He invited the Corinthians: “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” (1 Cor. 11/1). To the Philippians
In and Out / P8

These “elders” are known to be more experienced, stronger members of the group looked up to by younger and new members. According to Erik Erickson, a pioneer in developmental psychology, “Mentor”—in ancient Greek Mythology—is the name of the person to whom Odysseus, planning to set out for the Trojan War, entrusted the care of his household and the education of his son, Telemachus. Mentor served as the “advisor, the wise and trusted counselor or teacher” of the young Telemachus. Hence, the term “mentor” literally came to mean “advisor, wise and trusted counselor.” Many a great personage in history have passed the life-molding power of some mentor. Robert Blight asserted “A boy cannot become a man without the help of another man. It may even be a man who is dead. But most ideally a father, grandfather, uncle or someone to whom he apprentices.” Eric Erickson concludes that the mentoring phenomenon is written into the psychological make-up of individuals and communities, and that mentors are essential to healthy human development, especially from age four

Rev. Euly B. Belizar, SThD
ISSN 1908-2940

CBCP Monitor
Protagonist of Tr u t h , Promoter of Peace

Roadside By the Roadside
LIFE in the Philippines, as elsewhere (things differ only in degree or so I think), is pretty much like one of our choice delicacies, the ‘halo-halo’. Basically it’s a mix of near-measured amounts of various fruit elements, beans, pinipig (which I take the liberty of translating as ‘rice crunches’) etc. True, more and more ‘enlightened’ Pinoys avoid the ‘halo-halo’ like the plague mainly because it’s ‘fattening’, the most dreaded f-word in the upper and celebrity classes. But nothing better illustrates our situation and psyche. Let’s begin with our race. The ordinary Pinoy is basically a Malay-ChineseIndonesian-Indian ‘halo-halo’ that has been further blended with Spanish, American, other European or even Middle-Eastern blood. Where no blood mixing is involved the Pinoy has become a cultural and psychological ‘halo-halo’:

The Cross in a Time of Joy
ness people swear to you it’s ‘not yet’ anything like that (try going with caroling children before Christmas-decorated houses and they’ll tell you, “Di pa Pasko, patawad muna! (‘It’s not yet Christmas, spare us from giving you anything yet’)”. Right now the Philippine situation is classic. While the government takes pride in the ever-strengthening peso, media reports tell of growing hunger among the populace. Pinoys sang in unison the praises of the boxer Manny Pacquiao when in a sensational match he knocked out his opponent in the third round, drawing exclamations of how one sportsman had united a nation. In a recent homily to elementary school children I was chastened to realize all of them know Manny Pacquiao and his accomplishments more than what Advent and Christmas were all about. And yet as the
Roadside / P8

Pedro C. Quitorio

Pinky Barrientos, FSP
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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. Email: Website:

a rice-fish-and-vegetable-eating Asian who also likes to feast on hamburgers, spaghetti and McDo fried chicken, etc. In Church life our ‘halo-halo’ mindset is ever-present and, on occasion, can be both endearing and upsetting. By October when it’s still Ordinary Time we already play Christmas tunes and start decorating our surroundings like Christmas time is already upon the land. As a theology seminarian I remember being struck by one characteristic of God’s Kingdom, namely, that it’s both ‘already’ here but ‘not yet’ in its fullness which is still a future event. I say that’s very much in sync with the Pinoy mindset for Christmas and other things of life, something very telling of our ‘halo-halo’ psyche. Even during Ordinary Time and in early Advent, if you were in the Philippines you’d think Christmas is ‘already’ come even if in Church and in everyday aware-

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

Some Christmas Wishes
growth reach the working class. I wish workers and professionals wouldn’t have to leave the country to find overseas employment as more investors and business establishments begin operations in the countryside. Overseas employment isn’t guarantee for success. How I wish our consular officials would seriously look into cases involving our OFWs and guarantee better and more humane treatment from their employers and host countries. I wish to see doctors, nurses and medicines in government clinics and hospitals as there would also be potable water in the countryside. Finally, I wish our leaders would inspire and motivate people to persevere in these most trying times. May they be sincere in what they say and may they learn to value Honesty and Integrity among other virtues. Merry Christmas!!!

Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

Melo M. Acuna

Issues and Concerns
GOING over today’s and yesterday’s newspapers, I couldn’t help but list some wishes for Christmas. Just like a child decades ago, I longed for battery-operated toys and some pesos I could spend buying books I wished to read. There’s truth that one’s priorities change as one grows older. Today, I wish all elementary school pupils would have nutritious food on their school tables during recess. During the 1960s, over at Padre Zamora Elementary School in Pasay City, we were introduced to an array of American food through the Cooperative American Relief Everywhere (CARE) program which included bulgur wheat, oatmeal, cornmeal, and non-fat dry milk. These commodities were popular prior to the introduction of the nutribun. I wish high school and college students would fully utilize the advancement in information technology by carefully

that truth! …and that ’s the truth!

reading and understanding what they download from their personal computers. It is everyone’s wish to finish schooling and find decent work with decent wages. I also wish that lives normalize in Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and Marinduque after super howler “Reming” brought serious destruction to lives and properties. I hope homes would be built in much safer areas, far from the onslaught of floodwaters and lahar. I also hope we’ll have more typhoon-resistant school and government buildings along with more durable roads and bridges. I wish foreign donors and Filipino concerned citizens wouldn’t grow tired of extending their hand of friendship and assistance to the needy. I also wish our leaders would at least refrain from issuing too many conflicting statements. I also hope to see their promises from previous years realized, as benefits from the often reported economic

Taking a tip from the movies
THE creative and realistic depiction of Mary and Joseph in The Nativity Story can teach the Church a thing or two about ‘packaging’ our Saints for public consumption in this day and age. “ Sana naman kumuha sila ng magandagandang Mary! Ang pangit naman ng bibig nito!” (They should have picked a more beautiful Mary! This one has such ugly lips!) “At saka hindi ba medyo me idad na si St. Joseph? Bakit ito, bata?” (And isn’t St. Joseph supposed to be old? Why is this one young?) That was overheard as the guests at the premier showing of The Nativity Story flowed out of the Greenbelt 3 cinema last November 24. Making the comments were two well-heeled elderly ladies. Two weeks later, at a popular mall during the same movie’s regular run, a 30-something woman said to another as they emerged from the theater: “Okay ‘yung anghel na ‘yun ah—me balbas pero walang pakpak!” (That angel is cool—he has a beard but has no wings!) This pretty much sums up the big difference in audience perception as far as images of supposedly holy ones go. The Nativity Story should also teach the Church a thing or two about “packaging” our Saints for public consumption in this day and age. The movie blasts stereotypes—a fact that threatens the characters’ credibility among old school believers—but because the actors play their roles with such depth of characterization, they come across as more human, more real, more reachable. That means more “copyable”, and therefore more appealing to younger Catholics unwittingly searching for more down-to-earth role models. We’ve been raised on stampita images of Mary: always in demure poses, head bowed down, hands clasped in prayer. We are accustomed to remembering Mary mostly as European artists portray her, in fine, gold-trimmed clothing, with tapering fingers and rosebud lips, gentle eyes untouched by sin, sometimes blonde, other times brunette, but never a hair out of place. Enter 16-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes, The Nativity Story’s Mary: olive-skinned, with zits on her face, she unwraps her dark damp hair and wipes her sweat as she slumps beside a tree. She moves as any 14-year old Jewish girl from Nazareth does, pitting olives with her stubby fingers, going about her kitchen chores, even sitting on the earth with knees apart and a bowl of food between her thighs—so unladylike? Indeed, this Mary is rough clay, an earthen water jug, while the stampita virgin so dear to our imagination is a Lladro figurine—flawless, shiny, pastel-colored, dust-proof. And the stampita Joseph? Of course, he matches the stampita Mary: meek and mild, soul of gentleness, chaste spouse, hands never soiled even when holding a carpenter’s tools. The movie’s Joseph, played by Oscar Isaac, is in the prime of youth, doesn’t hide his admiration of Mary from his friends, tends to throw down things when angered, bursting with so much energy you’d think twice before letting your 14-year old go out with him. The angel Gabriel is the antithesis of angelic as we also know it from stampitas, classical art, cinema, assorted media, plus chi-chi gift shops in our malls. Wingless, semi Afro-hairstyled, bearded and bemoustached, his appearance in the sky is heralded by the wind rustling through the leaves. He descends on earth and hails Mary, but without his white gossamer robe, even the most open-minded moviegoer would wonder, “Who’s this character?” Actor Anthony Siddig is the farthest thing you could ever imagine being cast as a messenger of God. Give him an Uzi and he’ll look like a terrorist. Stick a cigarette in his mouth and he’ll pass for a “durogista”. And even if he were a real angel, he’d be more credibly cast as a fallen angel. Anyway, he looks like some character you wouldn’t want to sit next to on a bus. And yet Mary believed this angel. That’s the whole point! The Nativity Story is all about faith! We all know by heart the story of Jesus’ birth, but The Nativity Story takes us from the Christmas card prettiness we’re familiar with to the next level—faith, a belief in God that does not hinge on the externals. Mary looks every inch like an ordinary village girl who doesn’t deserve a second glance, but she shows extraordinary strength of character in accepting God’s will conveyed, literally, from out of the blue. Mary’s discerning ability and effective faith enables her to stand upright and immovable before the neighbors’
the truth / P8

OFW’S Christmas Away from Home
CELEBRATION of Christmas in the Philippines is unique. It starts the earliest and ends the latest. Christmas songs are played as early as September and Christmas lanterns are displayed until the feast of Candelaria, February 2. Children start caroling from house to house weeks before Christmas. The spirit of celebration rises in crescendo from the first day of Simbang Gabi to the eve of Christmas—the celebration of the midnight mass capped by the sumptuous Noche Buena—the feast of traditional Filipino Christmas recipes. For the well-off this consists of ham, chicken relleno, queso de bola, ensaymada, hot chocolate, etc. For the rural folks, though not sumptuous but equally filling are the kakanins— bibingka, puto bumbong, quesong puti and salabat. The opening of gifts especially when little children are around becomes the happiest moment of the day’s celebration. The feeling of togetherness and love that Christmas arouses is etched in each Filipino soul. No matter where in the world the Filipino resides, that feeling comes back at Christmas time. Woe to those who

Jose B. Lugay

Laiko Laiko Lampstand
volcano was stripped of its lahar with record breaking rainfall cascading and damaging on its path whole villages along its slopes thus burying hillside homes and killing thousands of sleeping and unsuspecting farmer families. Where blinking lantern lights would have announced the Christmas season, darkness prevails to this day in Bicol, Eastern Samar, Biliran, Marinduque, Antique and Northern Palawan. Meanwhile our congressmen were busy over cha-cha while the world was collapsing in the Bicol towns below the towering Mayon volcano. The United Nations noticed that there were 190,000 Filipino victims of calamities of typhoons and landslides in year 2006. Member nations gave help. Those who lost their homes will receive this aid but that soulful feeling of Philippine Christmas will not be there. For the overseas workers, this leaves an excruciating feeling of loneliness—they want to be here to help their loved ones! Their only recourse is to turn to prayer—that the Santo Nino, the child Jesus who they can entrust for help and give them hope, will always be there to protect their families back home.

are not in their homeland this Christmas— 3,500 of them migrating every day this year—the nostalgia of past Christmases etched in their soul will hound them with extreme loneliness. I am sure that one million Pinoys who migrated this year to foreign lands—mothers and fathers who will miss their children terribly will try to compensate for their absence by sending as much dollars as they can afford to support the family’s celebration of Christmas. In fact, last October’s OFW remittances were the highest ever, more than $1.2 billion for a single month! This particular Christmas season is out of the ordinary—one for the books! It was preceded by three powerful typhoons—Milenyo, Reming, and Seniang. It devastated the Eastern Seaboard of Luzon, the islands of Samar, Marinduque and Biliran—cutting across the Visayas through Northern Cebu to Panay and the Calamian group of islands. Power outage occurred all over the affected areas, no lights in tourist destinations like Boracay for many days. It scuttled the Asean Summit, preventing the chief of states of neighboring Southeast Asia from coming to Cebu! Mayon

Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, RGS

Love Life
The Disabled Their life is one characterized by resourcefulness and courage—of the constant striving to live in the “normal” world of stairs, doors, rooms and roads. There are six to eight million physically disabled individuals in the country. And this Christmas, they continue to hope for a more accessible environment in the year ahead. The Department of Public Works and Highways have constructed pedestrian crossings in selected areas to provide barrier-free facilities and accessibility features for the benefit of the disabled. Millions of pesos have been set aside for the work, which consists mainly of providing curb cutouts on sidewalks and traffic islands and to allow wheelchair users to cross signalized intersections and mid-block crosswalks. But still we hardly see our disabled brothers and sisters on the streets with us. Senior Citizens The Philippines has 5.4 million elderly citizens. By being 60 years old and over, they are said to be in the “troisiene age” or third age. And it is this stage which nests a vast resource of wisdom and experience.

Remember them at Christmas
born baby was found dead inside a drum in North Forbes, Makati. The child was soft; it was wrapped in plastic, and put inside a milk ox. On that same day, on a street corner in Sta. Cruz, Manila, still another baby (a mestiza) was found abandoned in a trash can. Bruises on her neck indicated that she had been choked beforehand. The next day, a newborn baby, with its umbilical cord still attached, was found with several stab wounds, in a garbage dump in Pandacan. Barely alive and wrapped in a cellophane bag with leftover cooked rice, he died at the PGH hospital. These children had been judged before they could even form the words to defend themselves. We could have saved them. And that knowledge points us to the truth that if we could have, then we still can save other lives The deeper question is, where were we when the mothers of those babies needed us most so that they could have the hope and the practical means to go on with the pregnancy. Take down these Pregnancy Crisis Centers. Promote it to as many people as possible. Remember—the life you save today may save your life tomorrow. Call 91102911 or 0919-2030-637

Rural elderly citizens may fare somewhat better than their urban counterparts, since close-knit family ties and community support continue to prevail in the countryside. Yet this does not mitigate the fact that this special group of individuals needs our respect and support. How? By giving them opportunities to be involved in decision-making, youth formation, and counseling programs, by holding multi-generational activities. Indeed, the age factor sets no barriers this season, because Christmas is for everyone. Unwanted babies (No Christmas for them – ever) Every year, there is n estimated 400,000 cases of induced abortions in the country. The reasons for these incidents range from financial difficulties to unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, and are frequent among single women and women with large families. To date, no one has been convicted of abortion, nor have the incidents stopped, despite the canon and civil laws which prohibit abortion. Let us digress from these statistics and look at real, single cases of greater significance. A few months ago, a new-


For instance, we have strong stations in Jolo and Tawi Tawi, which is a Muslim territory. There are eleven broadcasters working in our station in Jolo; three are Catholics, and eight are Muslims. In Tawi Tawi we have nine workers in our station; four are Catholics and five are Muslims. But they are all good, close friends. During our last workshop for Diocesan Media Directors, we interviewed two Muslims—Jess Sampang of Jolo, and Thalia Kashim of Tawi Tawi. In Jolo, the Muslim Imam calls his people to prayer over the Catholic Radio Station. The Catholic school, run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Sisters of Notre Dame, has a student body which is 95% Muslim. This is the Philippine effort to follow the counsel of John Paul II: “Break down the walls between us… Build bridges to unite all the children of God.”

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media (ECSCMM)
By Fr. James Reuter, SJ
CATHOLIC Communication in the Philippines is coordinated by the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications and Media. The present Chairman of the Commission is Bishop Bernardino Cortez, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila. He is also the Chairman of the Philippine Federation of Catholic Broadcasters, the Catholic Media Network, and President of TV Maria, the Catholic Satellite Television Channel. Catholic Media Network The Philippine Federation of Catholic Broadcasters, the Catholic Media Network; is made up of 48 Catholic radio stations and five Catholic Television channels. Each radio station is owned and operated by the Bishop of the Diocese in which it is located, or by a Religious order. All 48 stations are commercial, making a great effort to be self-supporting, by broadcasting national and local advertisements. The radio stations are united by satellite. The Catholic Media Network has a common radio newscast from 6:00 to 7:00 each morning, interactive. In this newscast, each local station contributes its own good news, which is carried nationwide over the frequencies of all the other Catholic radio stations. The program is called “Veritas Pilipinas.” It is planned to increase programs like this, uniting the Church all over the country. To help each station survive financially, the Philippine Federation of Catholic Broadcasters has created a marketing agency called FTD—First to Deliver. This agency solicits ads for the Catholic stations, individually, and as a network. The satellite link is a help to marketing, because the Catholic Network saturates the nation, reaching areas which are not contacted by any other network. There are many dioceses in the country that reach out to distant mountainous areas where there are no roads, where the priest can visit the people only once or twice a year. But with a radio station, the Bishop can speak to all the people in his diocese, at any given moment. Because of this unique purpose, the Catholic stations are located where the people are, but where the money is not.

Seminar-Workshops for Diocesan Media Directors The Bishop of each ecclesiastical area has been exhorted to appoint a Diocesan Director of Social Communications and Media. This year, with a grant from the Propagation of the Faith through the intercession of Signis, we have held four seminar-workshops for the Diocesan Directors of Media. These were held in four different areas to lessen the cost of transportation. Many of our Diocesan directors are producing strong religious programs over the secular radio stations and television channels. TV Maria TV Maria is a television channel on the Dream Satellite. It has been on the air 24 hours a day since January 1, 2006. We telecast eight hours of new programming each day. The eight hours are repeated twice more, each day. This is satisfactory, because the footprint of the Dream Satellite covers the whole Philippines, a large part of Asia, the whole continent of North America, including the United States and Canada, and 22

nations in the Middle East. When it is night in the Philippines, it is day in the United States and Canada. Our target audience is the Filipino, wherever he is. So our medium of expression is English, Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano—languages which Filipinos understand. Our television satellite footprint reaches China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, but thus far we do not try to telecast in those languages. Our audience, as of this moment, is relatively small, because to receive a satellite telecast you must have a satellite dish and a decoder. But the potential of satellite television is tremendous. TV Maria is owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Manila. The Chairman is His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. At present, a state of the art television studio, complete with editing facilities is being constructed in the large compound of Caritas Manila. This will enable our Catholic TV producers, and our Catholic Colleges and Universities with courses in Communication Arts, to create quality programs. In brief, the Philippines is really making an effort to use media for evangelization, as John Paul II begged us to do.

Chairman: Bp. Bernardino C. Cortez Vice-Chairman: Bp. Jesus A. Cabrera Members: Bp. Patricio H. Alo Bp. Florentino F. Cinense Bp. Jose R. Rojas, Jr Executive Secretary: Fr. James B. Reuter, SJ 2307 Pedro Gil, Sta. Ana, Manila Tel No. (02) 564-451 / 5637319

In and Out / from p6
he wrote: “Live according to what you have learned and accepted, what you have heard me say and seen me do” (Phil. 4/9). To the people of Thessalonica Paul delineated the contrast between positive mentoring and negative mentoring: “We command you, brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to avoid any brother who wanders about from the straight path and does not follow the tradition you received from us. You know how you ought to imitate us. We did not live lives of disorder when we were among you” (2 Thes. 3/6-7). Paul multiplied himself by developing leaders, elders, like Timothy and Titus. St. Peter, as an elder, addressed his fellow elders, his fellow spiritual leaders, in this way: “To the elders among you, I, a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and sharer in the glory that is to be revealed, make this appeal … Be examples to the flock, not lording it over those assigned to you” (1 Pt. 5/1,3). To the presbyters of Miletus Paul gave this instruction: “Keep watch over yourselves, and over the whole flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” (Acts 20/28). The presbyters were the elders who were not only older in years, but also older in the faith. Jesus and the Apostles have left behind the great tradition of mentoring in the Church, which makes modern day shepherds also powerful mentors. No matter where we are in our life’s journey, as individuals and as communities, we are likely following the path of people who have been following Jesus. The Three Wise Men or Magi, looking for the Messiah born in Bethlehem accepted to be mentored in their journey to Bethlehem and then in their journey back home. They may have been mentored too by some of the shepherds who have gone to Bethlehem. “What we are teaches far more than what we say” the saying goes. This truth can bring either blessing or harm to the church or community. Selfrighteousness and pessimistic mentors are destructive. But winsome mentors are the kind of people who make us want to be like them. Winsome mentors exude a kind of gentle fire and warm affection, their pleasant personality and deep character make others desire to follow them. In today’s cyber-world, Lynn Anderson observes “we need strong mentors to show us how to handle alcohol, money, sex, stress, temptation and burnout. We need mentors to show us how to share our faith, how to deal with anger, how to show compassion, how to live with disappointment and grief, and how to do a spectrum of Christian services.” Strong mentors show us how to live. And when we are tempted to give up, we need to see faithful mentors who will give us hope on trying inspite of failures along the way. But as inspirational and encouraging as mentors are, their inevitable imperfections must also be acknowledged and accepted. They are still human. No matter how perfect or saintly, human mentors are flawed. But we have a flawless Redeemer-Mentor who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jo. 14/6). It is to him that we look up, who alone can assure us “Fear not, it is I” (Mt. 14/27).

Roadside / from p6
country basked in the glow of an athlete’s triumph magnified to lengths greater perhaps than its due, a super-typhoon named ‘Reming’ (known internationally as ‘Durian’) trampled down our collective spirits by one fell swoop. Trees, power lines, houses, buildings, etc. crumbled like cards in the Bicol region, Batangas, Marinduque and other Luzon provinces. We in Samar watched in knowing and compassionate horror the ravages that once were our fare. Even as we start picking up the pieces, a Pinay recently receives some justice when her alleged rapist (a U.S. marine) is found guilty, sending her to shouts of jubilation after months of media-exposed shame and doubt. Triumph and tragedy, glory and destruction, celebration and suffering—isn’t that the Pinoy reality that has been with us since Abraham parted with Lot? But the most riveting thing about all this is that this isn’t a Pinoy original. We see it right in the Nativity story of Jesus. Advent and Christmas, being times of expectation and joy that they are, capture every Christian’s heart, and the Pinoy’s no less. But deep in its essential story is the shadow of the Cross ‘already’ even when Calvary is still a ‘not yet’. There is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, “by whom all things were made and without whom nothing came to be” (Jn 1:3), “wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7). The child is adored and gifted by wise men (Mt 2:11-12) and shepherds (Lk 2:15-20) but also pursued for “political assassination” by a powerful monarch (Mt 2:1-18) (doesn’t this sound so familiar?) The message is unmistakable: The richest person in the whole universe joined, for the world’s sake, the ‘poorest of the poor’. The most powerful person walked in the ranks of the powerless. Can wealth be mixed with poverty, glory with misery, joy with suffering, divinity with humanity? Advent ponders; Christmas answers. God must be Pinoy. He loves ‘halo-halo’.

the truth / from p7
malicious eyes, and because of it, God comes down to live among men. Any village boy would have killed to spare himself from becoming the greatest cuckold in history, but not Joseph. Upon Mary’s return from visiting Elizabeth, he gets the shock of his life seeing her bulging stomach. Never having touched Mary at all, the groom-elect is troubled, and in his deepest darkest moments may have led the mob in stoning her to death, but he doesn’t. Instead, he shows remarkable self-control and righteousness in deciding to keep her. His goodness is justified when the same hirsute angel appears in his dream to substantiate Mary’s claim. Hence, he becomes Mary’s partner in welcoming the Immanuel into this world. See—it wasn’t only Mary who said “yes” to God; Joseph did, too. By the creative and realistic depiction of Mary and Joseph, The Nativity Story has offered inspiring models for us, especially the young. Mary and Joseph were nameless faces like most of us, two nobodies in Nazareth from where it was believed nothing good could come, and yet, by their enduring witness to the Divine’s presence in their lives, they became virtual co-creators of God. Might we not wish to be visited by angels who would sweep us off our doubts so our hearts would be God’s alone? In our prayers and novenas, after telling God of our needs and desires, can we stay a little longer to listen to Him speak of His desires for us? Our Church—and indeed the world—needs more Marys and Josephs, persons with simple hearts who would put aside personal discomfort in order to follow the dictates of the Divine in their lives. Mary and Joseph obeyed God in spite of their neighbors’ judgment; thus, in time, Jesus became one of us. We all want a better world, but are we willing to put God as Number One in our life for it? Are we willing to obey God at all cost? Our obedience is a small thank-you gift to offer to The One who has given us life. And that’s the truth.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

fleeing from Muslim depredations in Lanao and Cotabato). Most of these new immigrants were Christians and had to be given spiritual ministration. The Jesuits withdrew many of their men from other parts of Mindanao (the parishes taken over by Columbans or diocesan priests) and concentrated on Bukidnon. At one time there were nearly 40 Jesuits working in Bukidnon. This was the situation when in 1969 it was decided by the Holy See (on recommendations from the Archbishop of Cagayan and from the Apostolic Nuncio) to separate the Province of Bukidnon from the Archdiocese of Cagayan and create it into a Praelatura Nullius. At that time, there was one diocesan priest and 35 Jesuit priests. Of these latter, 15 were Filipinos, the others of various nationalities (Americans, Italians, French, etc). The Prelature of Malaybalay was created by the Holy See on 25 April 1969. It was actually on 28 June with Archbishop Hayes of Cagayan acting as administrator until the new bishop was installed as Prelate Ordinary on 4 September 1969. The Prelate was Francisco Claver SJ, an anthropologist. He was appointed on 9 June, ordained bishop in his native Mountain Province on 22 August, and installed in Malaybalay on 4 September of 1969. During the period of the Prelature, two outstanding efforts were made. One was the intensive campaign to develop a native diocesan clergy, which began to bear fruit in the 1970’s and 1980’s. By mid1980, most of the parishes that had been founded and served by the Jesuits had been taken over by the diocesan priests. The other outstanding effort was the resistance (passive but vocal) against the excesses of martial law and of the military. Unfortunately, this resistance sometimes played into the hands of the dissident forces, including those of the communist-led NPA. With the increase in the number of diocesan clergy, the Prelature of Malaybalay was raised to the status of a diocese of 15 November 1982; with Bishop Claver as the first residential bishop. Two years later, on 14 September 1984 he resigned his see, and his coadjutor bishop, Gaudencio Rosales, took over by right of succession. The appointment in 1993 of Bishop Rosales as Archbishop of Lipa left the Malaybalay see vacant. Father Medardo Estaniel was elected administrator by the diocesan consultors. The new Bishop, Honesto Ch. Pacana SJ, was ordained and installed at Malaybalay on 24 March 1994. Father Pacana had spent many years in Bukidnon. He was the founder of the Bukidnon Catechetical Institute, and for a while he served as superior of the Jesuit mission district of Bukidnon. At the time of his appointment, he was Rector of the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary at Cagayan de Oro. He is from Cagayan de Oro and is apparently the first native-born from Mindanao to be raised to the episcopacy. After his Episcopal Ordination on March 24, 1994, Most Rev. Honesto Ch. Pacana, SJ, DD outlined his vision for the Diocese of Malaybalay, to quote, thus: “I affirm the mission and vision of the diocese articulated by the first bishop of Malaybalay, Bishop Claver, and confirmed and expanded by my predecessor, Archbishop Rosales. In the choice of means for achieving the vision for the common good, we will always be guided by our common faith in Christ and His values.


THE evangelization of the native tribes in the Central Mindanao highlands (now Bukidnon Province) began towards the middle of the 19th century. The first mission station was Malitbog, situated in the canyon behind Tagoloan. The Spanish Recoleto friar who had charge of the parish of Jasaan made occasional visits to Malitbog. A chapel already existed there by 1848. In the 1870’s, the Recoleto Fray Mateo Bernad, the parish in-charge of Jasaan, made excursions farther up to the valley of the Togoloan River and established a chapel at Sumilao, which he dedicated to the Patroness of his native Aragon (Spain), Our Lady of the Pillar. He made visits further in land, to Impasug-ong, Kalasungay, Malaybalay, Bugcaon, and established a chapel at Linabo, on the confluence of the Sawaga with the Pulangi. The baptisms administered in these various places were recorded in the baptismal register of Jasaan. Access to Bukidnon at that time was by trail up the Tagoloan River on horseback. In 1876, in accordance with an earlier royal decree entrusting all of the Mindanao missions to the Jesuits, the Jesuits took over the parish of Jasaan. The evangelization of the mountain area was at once intensified. A resident priest was eventually assigned to Sumilao, and later also to Linabo. It was from Linabo that Father Eusebio Barrado made his historic exploration of the Pulangi downstream to the Cotabato regions where it became the Rio Grande de Mindanao. (Cf. M.A. Bernad, SJ, “The Jesuit Exploration of the Pulangi or Rio Grande de Mindanao 1888-1890”, Kinaadman, VI/2 (1984) 149-190). Ecclesiastically, the Bukidnon missions, like all the rest of Mindanao, had been under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Cebu until 1865. With the creation of the Diocese of Jaro in that year, Mindanao was divided longitudinally from north to south: the western part was under Jaro, the eastern remained under Cebu. In 1910 the Diocese of Zamboanga was created, with jurisdiction over all of Mindanao and the adjacent islands. In 1933, Mindanao was divided horizontally, the southern part remaining under the Diocese of Zamboanga and the northern part under the new Diocese erected at Cagayan de Misamis (now Cagayan de Oro). Two Jesuit bishops were appointed that year: Luis del Rosario for Zamboanga and James T.G. Hayes for Cagayan. Bukidnon thus became an integral part of the Diocese (later the Archdiocese) of Cagayan. During the Second World War, Bishop Hayes and several of the American Fathers evacuated to Bukidnon where they were taken prisoner by the Japanese, subjected to harsh treatment and brought to Manila. One priest however eluded capture, Father Doino, who ministered to various Bukidnon villages and towns all through the war years. His main base was south of Malaybalay. After peace was restored in 1945, the most intensive missionary work by the Jesuits in Bukidnon began. In the beginning, only one parish was reopened namely Malaybalay. But one Jesuit priest, Father James Cawley, made extensive excursions to the north and south, establishing chapels in many places that have since become parishes. Among his foundations were the mission stations (now parishes) of Maramag, Dangcagan, Salawagan Kiokong, San Fernando, Pangantucan, Kadingilan, Kalilangan, dagumbaan, Wao, etc. In the 1950s, a tremendous influx of immigrants came to Bukidnon from Luzon, the Visayas and other parts of Mindanao (many of them

Diocese of Malaybalay

“Dominus Fortitudo Mea”
By Rev. Fr. Bobby V. Cena
The overarching efforts at building basic ecclesial and discerning communities as a potent source and agent of evangelization and change will be on the priority list of the diocesan thrust. The Church of Bukidnon will sustain all initiatives that promote a creative, participative and empowered laity. I trust that we will all continue to keep the good of the Church and the diocese uppermost in our minds, as we discern together in the spirit of faith and prayer what is best for the glory of God and the most efficacious means for achieving it. Assured of mutual prayer and support, let us move ahead in the spirit of solidarity to continue to build a church that is truly alive, truly participative, truly Christian.” Diocesan Vision-Mission In response to contemporary needs, concerns, and demands for the continuing growth of the Church in Bukidnon, the vision-mission statement of the diocese was revised last year. Below is the articulation of the current Vision-Mission of the Diocese of Malaybalay. VISION: The total human and Christian development towards unity with the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. MISSION: We, The community of disciples of the Diocese of Malaybalay commit outselves to: 1) Build and strengthen our families within the Basic Ecclesial Communities Renewal in Catechesis: • Centered in our faith in Christ • Enlightened by the Holy Spirit • Strengthened by the Word of God • Nourished by the Eucharist and other sacraments • With the guidance of Maryand the leadership of the Pastor 2) Live our Faith in God through an Identification with Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior Renewal in Worship • Jesus the Word of God made man as our model; • He is the source of strength and inspiration. • Union with Him is life. 3) Witness as Church of the Poor, to the kingdom values of truth, justice, peace, and love. Renewal in Social Apostolate: • Spiritual – Ecumenism and Interreligious dialogue • Political – Good governance and Good Citizenship • Economic – Sustainable Agriculture • Cultural – Indigenous Peoples • Social – issues on: gambling, population control, violence, etc. • Ecological – Environmental Care and Protection To ensure that the diocese is always in line with its vision-mission, a gathering of priests, religious sisters, religious brothers, and parish lay leaders is set every February of each year. They call it the Diocesan Pastoral Assembly (DPA) and they are now on its 36th Assembly. During this assembly, pastoral evaluation and planning for the past and coming year is discussed respectively. Speakers are invited to talk on certain issues relevant to the present situation not only of the diocese but also of the whole country. The agenda of said DPA is based on the assembly of all priests and religious who are working in the diocese. They call it the Priests and Religious Assembly (PRA) and they are now on its 33rd Assembly. The assembly is scheduled every November of each year. In the two assemblies, the first day is always a day of prayer where the bishop with his priests, sisters, brothers, and lay leaders reflect together, share their experiences in small groups, and ends the day with a Holy Hour and confession. After the DPA, each parish conducts their Parish Pastoral Assembly (PPA) where those who attended the DPA re-echo the aforementioned assembly to the parish level and discuss how to realize and contextualize the DPA plan. The Diocese of Malaybalay is divided into eight (8) deaneries with its respective deans. Each deanery is composed of different parishes. These deaneries meet quarterly with its priests, sisters, brothers and lay leaders to follow up the DPA plan; among the agenda of the meeting is to discuss how the DPA plan is being contextualized and implemented and what are some problems and difficulties that each parish encounters. They then discuss also the pastoral concerns peculiar in each deanery. With this meeting, any pastoral problems that a parish priest and parishioners encounter are discussed and addressed to with the help of other members of the deanery. In the Diocesan Level, the Diocesan Pastoral Coordinating Council (DPCC), which is composed of Deans and Apostolate or Movements’ Coordinators and Directors, meets quarterly to discuss and evaluate the DPA Plan and make some suggestions and recommendations. In this way, the DPA Plan is well coordinated through the entire diocese. Some agenda may be discussed in the bimonthly Presbyteral meeting, which in one way or another, has same purpose with that of the DPCC Meeting. Unique to the Diocese of Bukidnon is the camaraderie among priests and religious. Aside from the different assemblies and meetings, they also have their Advent and Lenten Recollections spearheaded by their very own bishop. Another, the priests and religious who belong to the same deanery gather together at least twice a year for a community building. Furthermore, the Religious Sisters also have their group, which they call the Religious Sisters of Bukidnon (RSB). They also meet regularly not only for community building but most importantly to discuss how they could serve better the peoples in the Diocese of Bukidnon. On the other hand, the diocesan clergy meet together bimonthly in different parishes to unwind, to enjoy each other’s company, and to strengthen their fraternal bond. Unassumingly, this gathering is one of the most awaited meetings of the clergy because here they agree not to discuss heavy issues; they discuss matters related only to their priestly life and concerns. Truly, the diocese continues its journey guided by a bishop whose heart always goes to his priests, religious and lay faithful, holding on to his motto “Dominus fortitudo mea” (The Lord is my strength - Ps 28, 7).

MELANIE (not her real name) suffered physical abuse from the hands of her stepfather when she was still very young, although she seemed not to remember it very well now. Melanie’s mother brought the child to Bahay Kalinga for fear that her husband might accidentally kill the girl. With mother already dead and both father and two brothers in jail having been convicted for rape, Liza (not her real name) and her other sisters used to sleep on the sidewalks along Guerrero St. in Ermita with her other sisters. A social worker took pity on the girls and brought them to the center. Nina’s (not her real name) mother ran away with another man leaving her and other siblings by themselves. Although Nina’s father remained with the children, he was often not at home to earn a living selling bean curd. When Nina and her younger sister were brought to Bahay Kalinga, both were incapable of speech. Melanie, Liza and Nina are three of the 18 children living at Bahay Kalinga—Shelter for Street Children located in the compound of Nuestra Señora de Guia Church in Ermita. The shelter was established on July 2, 2000 out of inspiration by Msgr. Geronimo Reyes, then the parish priest of Ermita Church. Used to take his morning exercise by jogging around the vicinity of his parish, the sight of children sleeping on the sidewalks and nearby parks tore Msgr. Reyes’ heart. He thought of establishing a drop-in center that would provide a place for street children to spend the night in peace. Out of the generosity of people from the parish and elsewhere, a three-story building at the back of the parish compound was erected. The place, though far from perfect became a haven for a small group of street and neglected children who have been exposed to the harsh realities of life at such a young age. At the center, they momentarily learned to experience the true meaning of what and how it is to be loved and cared for even for a night. Since the building is not big enough to accommodate a big number of dwellers, it was decided to convert the place into a shelter for


CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

Bahay Kalinga
By Pinky B. Barrientos, FSP
girls. Thus, the idea for a temporary drop-in center eventually evolved into a shelter for girls aged 7-12 years old. The shelter is currently under the supervision of the Hospitaller Sisters of Mercy. Sr. Corazon San Diego takes charge of the shelter with two other Sisters. The nuns have been supervising the center since the time it was first put up in 2000. Since the place is very small, it can only accommodate 20 at a time. According to San Diego, the children can stay until they are 12 years

Where children of lesser means find temporary love and care
demic education. Despite the difficulties they have experienced at home, the children still wish to go home to celebrate Christmas with their own family, notwithstanding lack of food and even a place to sleep. Fr. Sanny de Claro, Nuestra Senora de Guia’s parish priest and director of Bahay Kalinga, said the children should not be deprived of spending Christmas with their families. “Family interaction is very important for the children,” says de Claro. He noted that Bahay Kalinga

old, after which they are transferred to another institution, unless the parents are ready to take the children back into the family. But, some of the children’s mothers have personally asked the Sisters to let their children remain in the shelter, according to San Diego. They realized that their children can only have a future in a life away from the streets. Besides food and shelter, the children are also given human and religious formation. They go to Ermita Catholic School for their aca-

can provide the children with education and other material things but the role of the parents cannot be fulfilled by anybody except by the parents themselves. The parish community is involved in providing a home atmosphere for children who have no parents to go home to. Some children will spend their Christmas holidays with foster families within the parish. “Family is very important to the children,” says de Claro. “Even if they are given everything, still, they long for the presence of the parents” in their lives. San Diego disclosed that they recently met with some parents who live in Luneta Park, explaining to them the situation of the children. She noted how in the past children came back to Bahay Kalinga after the holidays sick and malnourished. Her past experiences have taught her that this time there won’t be any difference. “When they return here, they are so hungry,” San Diego says. “Sometimes we also send them food to help them out.” But San Diego need not worry this time. According to de Claro, parents who live in the streets will stay at Bahay Kalinga during the Christmas holidays to be with their children. “The formative presence of family in the life of children is very important,” de Claro emphasized. “I encourage the parents to love their children well.” The bleakness of life back home does not stop the children to dream, according to San Diego, who disclosed that it is every child’s wish that she and her family will be together. Some of the girls, when asked, also expressed their desire to go back and help their family someday. Meanwhile, with all the love and care they were showered on by people around them upon arriving Bahay Kalinga, Nina and her younger sister were able to speak again. Understandably, Nina is way behind in her education; even though already 12 years old, she is still in Grade 2. Her younger sister, on the other hand, does not only speak a lot these days, but also sings very well. All the children sing at choir in the parish Church.

The Human / from p5
links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology. Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa. It becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men. Both of these presuppose peace with God. The poem-prayer of Saint Francis, known as “the Canticle of Brother Sun”, is a wonderful and ever timely example of this multifaceted ecology of peace. 9. The close connection between these two ecologies can be understood from the increasingly serious problem of energy supplies. In recent years, new nations have entered enthusiastically into industrial production, thereby increasing their energy needs. This has led to an unprecedented race for available resources. Meanwhile, some parts of the planet remain backward and development is effectively blocked, partly because of the rise in energy prices. What will happen to those peoples? What kind of development or non-development will be imposed on them by the scarcity of energy supplies? What injustices and conflicts will be provoked by the race for energy sources? And what will be the reaction of those who are excluded from this race? These are questions that show how respect for nature is closely linked to the need to establish, between individuals and between nations, relationships that are attentive to the dignity of the person and capable of satisfying his or her authentic needs. The destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth’s resources cause grievances, conflicts and wars, precisely because they are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development. Indeed, if development were limited to the technical-economic aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end up by unleashing man’s destructive capacities. Reductive visions of man 10. Thus there is an urgent need, even within the framework of current international difficulties and tensions, for a commitment to a human ecology that can favor the growth of the “tree of peace”. For this to happen, we must be guided by a vision of the person untainted by ideological and cultural prejudices or by political and economic interests which can instill hatred and violence. It is understandable that visions of man will vary from culture to culture. Yet what cannot be admitted is the cultivation of anthropological conceptions that contain the seeds of hostility and violence. Equally unacceptable are conceptions of God that would encourage intolerance and recourse to violence against others. This is a point which must be clearly reaffirmed: war in God’s name is never acceptable! When a certain notion of God is at the origin of criminal acts, it is a sign that that notion has already become an ideology. 11. Today, however, peace is not only threatened by the conflict between reductive visions of man, in other words, between ideologies. It is also threatened by indifference as to what constitutes man’s true nature. Many of our contemporaries actually deny the existence of a specific human nature and thus open the door to the most extravagant interpretations of what essentially constitutes a human being. Here too clarity is necessary: a “weak” vision of the person, which would leave room for every conception, even the most bizarre, only apparently favors peace. In reality, it hinders authentic dialogue and opens the way to authoritarian impositions, ultimately leaving the person defenseless and, as a result, easy prey to oppression and violence. Human rights and international organizations 12. A true and stable peace presupposes respect for human rights. Yet if these rights are grounded on a weak conception of the person, how can they fail to be themselves weakened? Here we can see how profoundly insufficient is a relativistic conception of the person when it comes to justifying and defending his rights. The difficulty in this case is clear: rights are proposed as absolute, yet the foundation on which they are supposed to rest is merely relative. Can we wonder that, faced with the “inconvenient” demands posed by one right or another, someone will come along to question it or determine that it should be set aside? Only if they are grounded in the objective requirements of the nature bestowed on man by the Creator, can the rights attributed to him be affirmed without fear of contradiction. It goes without saying, moreover, that human rights imply corresponding duties. In this regard, Mahatma Gandhi said wisely: “The Ganges of rights flows from the Himalaya of duties.” Clarity over these basic presuppositions is needed if human rights, nowadays constantly under attack, are to be adequately defended. Without such clarity, the expression “human rights” will end up being predicated of quite different subjects: in some cases, the human person marked by permanent dignity and rights that are valid always, everywhere and for everyone, in other cases a person with changing dignity and constantly negotiable rights, with regard to content, time and place. 13. The protection of human rights is constantly referred to by international bodies and, in particular, the United Nations Organization, which set itself the fundamental task of promoting the human rights indicated in the 1948 Universal Declaration. That Declaration is regarded as a sort of moral commitment assumed by all mankind. There is a profound truth to this, especially if the rights described in the Declaration are held to be based not simply on the decisions of the assembly that approved them, but on man’s very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God. Consequently it is important for international agencies not to lose sight of the natural foundation of human rights. This would enable them to avoid the risk, unfortunately ever-present, of sliding towards a merely positivistic interpretation of those rights. Were that to happen, the international bodies would end up lacking the necessary authority to carry out their role as defenders of the fundamental rights of the person and of peoples, the chief justification for their very existence and activity.
The Human / p12

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference Office of Social Communication 11th Bishops’ Meet Taytay, Rizal, Philippines November 20-25, 2006

professionals in mainstream media should be provided. 7. Traditional media such as folk arts, performing arts, dance, music and drama should not be neglected and seen and developed as alternative means of social communication. 8. Communication education for parents, pastoral workers, religious and laity, especially children and youth should be promoted. 9. World Communication Day should be seen as an opportunity to build up awareness of media developments to sensitize people on the importance of social communications and to use media in general. 10. An effective network of Christian communicators of Asia should be promoted to share valuable information and facilitate the recounting of Jesus stories. 11. Bishops, Church leaders and communicators at national and international conferences need to communicate their inspiring experiences, insights and stories with their people and dioceses at home and beyond.

THE 11th annual FABC-OSC Bishops’ Meet on “Managing Communication for Bishops’ Conferences” was held in Taytay, Rizal (Manila/ Philippines) from November 20 to 25, 2006. The representatives from Bishops’ Conferences of 12 different Asian countries based their considerations on important Church documents. Already the Vatican II Document Inter Mirifica (1963, nos. 19-20; 21) and the following Pastoral Instructions Communio et Progressio (1971, nos. 170, 171-176) and Aetatis Novae (1992, nos. 1923) demanded that national Communication offices for Bishops’ Conferences be organized and maintained. These National Communication offices should provide beside others both personal care for communicators as well as communication training and planning to secure a well organized program for their countries. They should have a spokesperson and provide an ongoing two way information flow within and outside their respective Conferences. The bishops and participants further reflected and studied in more detail the roles, functions and needs of these Communication Offices. A wake up call was made to be aware of the onslaught, influence and demands of new emerging communication cultures in Asia. The participants felt a pressing need to enable the Churches in Asia to meet these challenges. The participants committed themselves to fully implement the demands of the Church documents and to effectively avail themselves of the opportunities created by new media and the rapid communication revolution, utilizing relevant Strategic Management Principles for Communications and Corporate Communication Systems. The bishops also reflected on and studied the inputs from media and management experts who emphasized the need for “strategic conversation and for benchmarking outcome” rather than just output. The old paradigm of one-way, top-down communications has no relevance anymore today in a world which is increasingly interactive, horizontal and flat rather than hierarchical. Communications today is also research driven and scientific, rather than intuitive. Hence, social communications instead of being messagedriven, should seek to understand the needs, expectations and priorities of different “stakeholders” such as the bishops, priests, religious, laypersons and those of other faiths and civil authorities. This calls for effective networking at various Church levels, using the Internet and tools like email, webchat, webinars, SMS/ texting, Podcasting and other means of social communication.


The 11 th annual meeting of Asian Communication Bishops (Bishops’ Meet 06) made the following recommendations:

1. All bishops’ conferences and dioceses should prepare a pastoral plan for communication with a proper time frame and a clear vi-

sion and mission statement relevant to their region. 2. All bishops’ conferences and dioceses must set up a communication office and appoint a full time media professional as director/ spokesperson. 3. Bishops should ensure that the personnel appointed for communication offices and activities should be professional, academically trained and with commitment to assure the continuity of the work. 4. Media workshops should be organized to sensitize and equip bishops, Church leaders, seminarians and religious on media relations, crisis communication (including ambush interviews), and other media related issues and approaches. 5. Proper Networking with media practitioners through seminars, workshops, get-togethers should be provided on a regular basis and not just in the time of need or crisis. 6. Programs for pastoral support of

AS we celebrate the 1948 Universal Declaration of HUMAN RIGHTS, we recall what our country has been through and on account of which the Church in the Philippines has issued its statements and exhortations, such as against arbitrary arrests and detentions, liquidations and salvaging, secret marshals and para-military forces, persecution and killings of church personnel, ministers and journalists, extra-judicial killings of protesters and defenders of their rights, all committed and perpetrated in the name, in those days, of national security and development. Today, with all advocates and victims of Human Rights, in this Year of Social Concerns, we are raising again our concern regarding practically the same issues: various killings without benefit of court-trials. Has the situation in fact improved or become worse? And why are advocates, defenders and beneficiaries of agrarian reform being harassed and killed? And how many prisoners are languishing in jail without the benefit of defense or beyond the length of time that will be imposed if their cases were heard on time. The advocates of Human Rights and Peace have to forge a strong network of “social solidarity” as the moral bastion of the “power of the powerless,” who are “the least of our brethren.” On this occasion of Human Rights Day, we are invited to look at the big picture. In the Encyclical “Centissimus Annus” Servant of God, Pope John Paul II has drawn up a list of them for our individual and collective examination of conscience: “the right to life, an integral part of which is the right of the child to develop in the mother’s womb from the moment of conception; the right to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child’s personality; the right to develop one’s intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth; the right to share in the work which makes wise

Forging Social Solidarity for Human Rights

use of the earth’s material resources, and to derive from that work the means to support oneself and one’s dependents; and the right freely to establish a family, to have and to rear children through the responsible exercise of one’s sexuality. In a certain sense, the source and synthesis of these rights is religious freedom, understood as the right to live in the truth of one’s faith and in conformity with one’s transcendent dignity as a person.” (Centessimus Annus, 47: AAS 83 (1991) Recalling the statement of Pope John Paul II before UNESCO in 1980, Pope Benedict XVI called for “a mobilization in defense of Human Rights” (June 2, 2005, Peace can only be attained in the atmosphere of a local and global advocacy of Human Rights, where the promotion and defense of which have become more complex and difficult. That is why

there is need for an ever stronger solidarity among human rights advocates, peace advocates and all people of good will. It is in this atmosphere which includes the dismantling of self-interest that we can have genuine economic development, we have been longing for so long a time. It is in the atmosphere of political stability that economy and business prosper and develop. May God who shows us the vision of a social order founded on truth, justice and love (Gaudium et Spes, no. 26), guide our steps in the way of peace. + ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, DD Archbishop of Jaro & President, CBCP December 9, 2006

THIS is an urgent and ardent plea addressed to our government officials from the local to the national level. It is also a straight and strong appeal to private individuals and corporate entities involved in the same serious moral issue with socio-political undertones. Stop the Small Town Lottery or STL, please! For those who do not know and those who refuse to admit it, STL is the legal cover-up for the illegal numbers game of jueteng. The endorsement of STL simply means the promotion of jueteng. We were well appraised that all intelligent computations mathematically show STL will

not survive financially without jueteng behind it. In fact, we are told both STL and jueteng have the same operators and collectors, the same poor victims and the same influential wealthy beneficiaries. With STL and jueteng, our poor people become poorer while the gambling payola recipients become twice enriched. STL and jueteng together is legal and illegal gambling combined. They are a dangerous and insidious pairing. We ask: Is it not enough that there are already millions of poor people in the country? Is it not enough that there are men, women and chil-

dren in the country who no longer eat what they need, when they have to? Is there not enough poverty in the country that the poor should have even less because of STL and jueteng? It would be hard to find elected officials in the country who did not promise during elections that they would serve the poor, work for human development and attend to the common welfare. This is why it would be unconscionable for them to adopt STL and automatically allow jueteng that exploit their already poor constituencies. We pray: Would that our elected officers do not allow themselves to be instruments of poverty

Plea and Appeal:
aggravation instead of poverty alleviation. Even if STL is legal, does this make it necessarily moral? And when something legal as STL is paired with something illegal as jueteng, is this not in fact something illegal? And would our local and national officials dare promote any illegal operation in the country? With the adoption of STL, it would be next to impossible to stop Jueteng. And so we make this appeal: Stop STL please! It is another cause of corruption, another means of exploitation of the poor. The country has enough of these anti-social factors. Whatever economic development our government shall have proudly achieved will be diminished or negated by the corruption and exploitation that accompany STL and jueteng. “If corruption causes serious harm from a material point of view and places a costly burden on economic

Stop STL, Please
growth, still more harmful are its effects on immaterial goods, closely connected to the qualitative and human dimension of life in society. Political corruption, as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church teaches, ‘compromises the correct functioning of the State, having a negative influence on the relationship between those who govern and the governed. It causes a growing distrust with respect to public institutions, bringing about a progressive disaffection in the citizens with regard to politics and its representatives with a resulting weakening of institutions.’ (No. 411).” (The Fight Against Corruption, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican City, No. 4) For the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, + Angel N. Lagdameo CBCP President November 30, 2006

Just as not to defend truth is to suppress it, so also not to oppose what is immoral or illegal is to approve it. To neglect to fight evil when one can do it is no less a sin than to encourage it. (Pope Felix III).

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media


Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro Archbishop’s Residence P.O. Box 113 9000 Cagayan de Oro A Pastoral Letter

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

Simbahan Lingkod ng Bayan Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University Loyola Heights, Quezon City

A Wrong Move by the Wrong People at the Wrong Time
THE events in the House of Representatives last week that unfolded over TV and other modes of mass media have triggered such a widespread outcry that the proponents for a Constituent Assembly have backtracked from their original position. But the challenge is not yet over. It is well to ask ourselves why there was such a swelling of righteous indignation in the first place. This was expressed by various sectors—ranging from Civil Society groups that characterized the House proceedings as “garapal” (i.e., brazen, callous, desperate) to the CBCP statement that bluntly described the actuations of the House majority as “fraudulently illegitimate and scandalously immoral.” First, it was the wrong move. The Lower House cannot blithely bypass the Senate in a duly constituted bicameral Congress. It cannot simply change house rules to rush the revision of the basic law of the land. And it should not dispense with the principle of checks and balances in our democracy; otherwise, as has already happened too often in the past, one party may issue all the checks while the people are left with a zero balance. Secondly, it was the wrong people. Congressmen are elected by districts to represent primarily the interests of their constituents; they cannot be expected to transform themselves overnight to have a broader outlook for the entire nation and to be divested of their localized, much less personalized, interests. The suggestion of postponing the May elections and extending their terms is a blatant manifestation of self-serving interests on the part of the representatives. Even players in a basketball game cannot be their own referee to declare overtime. We should also be reminded that the present Administration that backed the Con Ass still has to give a full accounting for the “Hello, Garci” tapes, the Bolante fertilizer fund scam, the Mayuga report, extra-judicial killings, etc. Going beyond political partisanship, these are moral issues that continue to prick the Christian conscience. Charter change cannot be made a diversionary tactic to leave unanswered these prior questions on the credibility of the present leadership. Finally, it was the wrong time. Just when the issue of the People’s Initiative had been resolved by the Supreme Court, the hurried move for a Constituent Assembly raised anew fears of manipulation and railroading (as indeed descriptive of the Cha Cha train). Why the haste in revising the fundamental law of the land? Why not allow the holding first of May elections that are constitutionally mandated – and can indeed provide the genuine people’s initiative in retaining or replacing the present leadership? What then are some lessons we have learned? First, that we want the rule of law and not of men. Our law-makers should not be seen as law-breakers, or people who bend due process to suit their own interests. Secondly, that democracy is not only a matter of numbers, but of moral principles. For the thoughtful observer, a well-reasoned objection is more convincing than a hundred “ayes” on the floor. And thirdly, we can indeed heed the dictum that politicians look to the next elections, whereas statesmen look to the next generation. It is in this light that as citizens we must maintain our vigilance. On December 17th, there is a call for inter-faith prayer rallies in Manila and other cities, including Cagayan de Oro. This will show our solidarity and social concern over what is happening to our country. This would also provide an appropriate occasion for us to start forming engaged (and enraged) citizens’ groups in our parishes to prepare for the next elections or referendum. These groups should first enunciate the moral principles they want to be embodied in the leaders that they choose. Moreover, it is perhaps time to look for a new crop of leaders with ideals and Gospel values that can give hope for a brighter future for our country. Together with other faith communities and people of good will we can all join hands and hearts to build the City of Man even as we acknowledge the over-arching moral principles of the City of God. +ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, S.J.,D.D. Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro 12 December 2006

SLD’s Letter to the Members of the House of Representatives
WE would like to raise our concern about the moves in the House of Representatives to amend the constitution through a constituent assembly. We all believe that the current situation necessitates change and we appreciate the effort of your institution to find solutions to address these problems, albeit we do not agree with the manner through which the House seeks to correct the ills of our society through a constituent assembly. What worries us further is that the process you are currently undertaking excludes the Senate. Archbishop Angel Lagdameo; the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines described the current move in the House of Representatives as “fraudulently illegitimate and scandalously immoral” and “perceivably selfserving.” The bishop further stated that “graft and corruption cannot be committed by Constitution” and that instead of the fundamental law of the land, “it is the people who are guilty of graft and corruption who need to change.” We share the same sentiments with the Bishops and the Filipino people. We firmly believe that finding solutions to our problems merits and inclusive and widespread dialogue and well discerned action respectful of the different democratic institutions and constitutionally mandated process. It is in this light that we stand firm in our conviction as supported by the Pastoral Exhortation of the CBCP that “amending the charter involving changes in the economic provisions and major shifts in the form of government requires widespread participation, total transparency, and rationality that allows for objective discussion and debate”. As an elected representative of the people, we believe that your position regarding the charter change issue must represent the genuine voice of the Filipino people. The latest Social Weather Station and the Ibon Foundation Surveys resonate with the voice of the people about charter change. They do not want charter change right now. At the moment, there are more pressing issues to address. The aftermath of Typhoon Reming is one. Of course, there are the constant malaises rooted in poverty and corruption. Heed the people’s call. Do not dash our hopes for enlightened politics. Please decide according your conscience. Be with us in defending democracy. Protect our right and desire to vote and dictate the destiny of our much beloved country. STOP Con-Ass! STOP ChaCha! We want to have the May 2007 elections! Watch and Pray for self-serving representatives.

The Human / from p10
cluding those not currently provided for by international law. M o r e o v e r, the scourge of terrorism demands a profound reflection on the ethical limits restricting the use of modern methods of guaranteeing internal security. Increasingly, wars are not declared, especially when they are initiated by terrorist groups determined to attain their ends by any means available. In the face of the disturbing events of recent years, States cannot fail to recognize the need to establish clearer rules to counter effectively the dramatic decline that we are witnessing. War always represents a failure for the international community and a grave loss for humanity. When, despite every effort, war does break out, at least the essential principles of humanity and the basic values of all civil coexistence must be safeguarded; norms of conduct must be established that limit the damage as far as possible and help to alleviate the suffering of civilians and of all the victims of conflicts. 15. Another disturbing issue is the desire recently shown by some States to acquire nuclear weapons. This has heightened even more the widespread climate of uncertainty and fear of a possible atomic catastrophe. We are brought back in time to the profound anxieties of the “cold war” period. When it came to an end, there was hope that the atomic peril had been definitively overcome and that mankind could finally breathe a lasting sigh of relief. How timely, in this regard, is the warning of the Second Vatican Council that “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” Unfortunately, threatening clouds continue to gather on humanity’s horizon. The way to ensure a future of peace for everyone is found not only in international accords for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, but also in the determined commitment to seek their reduction and definitive dismantling. May every attempt be made to arrive through negotiation at the attainment of these objectives! The fate of the whole human family is at stake! The Church as safeguard of the transcendence of the human person 16. Finally, I wish to make an urgent appeal to the People of God: let every Christian be committed to tireless peace-making and strenuous defense of the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights. With gratitude to the Lord for having called him to belong to his Church, which is “the sign and safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person” in the world, the Christian will tirelessly implore from God the fundamental good of peace, which is of such primary importance in the life of each person. Moreover, he will be proud to serve the cause of peace with generous devotion, offering help to his brothers and sisters, especially those who, in addition to suffering poverty and need, are also deprived of this precious good. Jesus has revealed to us that “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8) and that the highest vocation of every person is love. In Christ we can find the ultimate reason for becoming staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace. 17. Let every believer, then, unfailingly contribute to the advancement of a true integral humanism in accordance with the teachings of the Encyclical Letters Populorum Progressio and Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, whose respective fortieth and twentieth anniversaries we prepare to celebrate this year. To the Queen of Peace, the Mother of Jesus Christ “our peace” (Eph 2:14), I entrust my urgent prayer for all humanity at the beginning of the year 2007, to which we look with hearts full of hope, notwithstanding the dangers and difficulties that surround us. May Mary show us, in her Son, the Way of peace, and enlighten our vision, so that we can recognize Christ’s face in the face of every human person, the heart of peace! From the Vatican, 8 December 2006. BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

International humanitarian law and the internal law of States 14. The recognition that there exist inalienable human rights connected to our common human nature has led to the establishment of a body of international humanitarian law which States are committed to respect, even in the case of war. Unfortunately, to say nothing of past cases, this has not been consistently implemented in certain recent situations of war. Such, for example, was the case in the conflict that occurred a few months ago in southern Lebanon, where the duty “to protect and help innocent victims” and to avoid involving the civilian population was largely ignored. The heart-rending situation in Lebanon and the new shape of conflicts, especially since the terrorist threat unleashed completely new forms of violence, demand that the international community reaffirm international humanitarian law, and apply it to all presentday situations of armed conflict, in-

7 Questions / from p5
regarding this and it was noted that the current land area of the diocese is too big, although it can be said that the population is not really that big enough. But, for me, splitting the diocese may just be right because, for one thing, I couldn’t personally attend to the needs of the whole diocese considering its vast distance. If it is divided into two, the province of Agusan del Sur will be a new diocese. But, at the moment, the nuncio is still encouraging just to delegate a priest-administrator to take charge on that area. Is there, of late, any major milestone or stride for the diocese? Yes, there is. We’re very happy that our own diocese-run college, the “Fr. Saturnino Urios College” in Butuan City, has just been approved by CHED last July of this year to obtain a “university” status. So it will now be called “Fr. Saturnino Urios University” or FSSU. It’s already 105 years old, the oldest Catholic-run school in the city of Butuan. Now, as a university, it is first of its kind in the whole of Caraga, which covers the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, S u r i g a o d e l N o r t e a n d Surigao del Sur. Really, it’s our pride being the bastion of Catholic education in the region.

CBCP Calls / from p1
lations like illegal arrests and detentions, liquidations and salvagings, secret marshals and para-military forces, persecution and killings of church people, journalists, militants and rights advocates. Various international human rights groups say they are becoming increasingly concerned over unresolved political killings in the country. Amnesty International says numbers have risen since rebels were listed as terrorists. Not one of the murders of leftist activists has been solved despite an order from President Gloria Arroyo for police to put a stop to the killings. (CBCP News)

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006


(A Sequel)
From Pope Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est, we read: “The formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, so that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor proved effective in the long run.” “The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity” (DCE, no. 29).

PREMISED on the above PCP-II Statements, in celebration of the Year of Social Concern within the Advent Season, we issue this Pastoral Exhortation: “Watch and Pray: Magmalasakit Para sa Bayan.” Asked and challenged by concerned people on how to respond to a perceived development of a “constitutional crisis, there is need to respond more collectively to the present crisis produced by the prospect of Charter Change by Administration Congressmen desperately bent on creating themselves into a Constituent Assembly. We need to be vigilant. The temptation to manipulate and to hold on to power endangers the common good and the safety of the greatest number. We need to watch and pray, to offer sacrifice for the country. In this spirit, we are proposing a NATIONAL WATCH AND PRAY GATHERING, in all major cities or dioceses in order to express our opposition to the hasty and manipulative way CON-ASS is being pursued or undertaken for Charter Change. Not only do we need to WATCH (critique, denounce, purify) but above all we need to PRAY for the enlightenment of our leaders in government. It would be good if we can do this simultaneously in the AFTERNOON OF DECEMBER 15, 2006, FRIDAY, close to sunset, the EVE of the SIMBANG GABI. It will be about the same time the activity will be held in the Archdiocese of Manila in Luneta. As suggested, there should be no streamers or flags of any group allowed except streamers with the following message: NO TO CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY YES TO CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION NO POSTPONMENT OF MAY 2007 ELECTIONS The message shall be communicated in prayer and songs. No

Magmalasakit Para sa Bayan
“As Church, we need to respond not only individually but more collectively to our country’s social problems since they are deeply rooted in the social system.” (PCP-II, #240) “But beyond its being a social and political resource, the Church is first and foremost a light that illumines a spiritual force that needs to critique the social, political and cultural fields in order to affirm, denounce, purify or reinforce in the light of the World of God.” (PCP-II, #248)

Watch and Pray

rowdy speeches. As PCP-II #240 has it, we are doing this as Church responding collectively to our country’s social problems, in particular the crisis-laden prospect of a hasty Charter Change. The gravity of Charter Change and its perceived consequences for our country, the shift in the form of government demand rational discernment, discussion and debate, not in turbulence but in serenity, peace and unity. In this Advent Season, may we

the Filipino people be ready—at any time—to welcome into our hearts, our homes, our government institutions as well as Christian communities, JESUS CHRIST, THE RETURNING KING. For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, +ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO Archbishop of Jaro President, CBCP December 8, 2006

THE call for a WATCH AND PRAY GATHERING in the Dioceses stays because it is a call for the purification of reason, for the reawakening of the moral forces, for the just ordering of society: PAGMAMALASAKIT PARA SA BAYAN. In response to the call of WATCH AND PRAY many Dioceses are preparing for the scheduled December 15 prayer gathering. In the Archdiocese of Manila, we are told, it will be on December 17. These gatherings will be one great occasion for the lay faithful in the Dioceses to express their love and concern for the good of our country. Our answer to the crisis of leadership in our land is prayer: that our leaders may be enlightened and may have moral force also to lead the country toward truth, justice, peace and love. We join the sentiments of many people to put CHARTER CHANGE in the wider perspective of many concerns (social, economic, politics) that qualify our situation. As we have said before, if Charter change is really needed, or when such shall be decided to be held, the best option is to do it through a Constitutional Convention. Please, hold the CON-CON,

purified from “negative impact” that accompanied People’s Initiative and CON-ASS. The Filipino people deserve the best of the best. May the work of the CONCON, if and when it shall be opportunely convoked, be the work of statesmen, whose concern will not be to fit it to a pre-determined framework, but who will discern, discuss, debate on what will be the best for our country. Our lay faithful must take the greatest interest in praying and working for the greatest good of the Filipino People. As we have stated in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, “we as citizens of this ‘earthly city’ need to be maka-tao, maka-bayan, and maka-Diyos. We need to exercise a healthy nationalism which would require the living of such values as: pagsasarili, pagkakaisa, pakikipagkapwa-tao and pagkabayani. (PCP-II 251) For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines +ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO Archbishop of Jaro CBCP President December 11, 2006

Response to “Watch and Pray” Call

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

DESPITE the result of twelve hours of turbulent discussion leading to shouting at one another in the House of Representatives, we continue to hold that the way to change the Charter is not by way of a Constituent Assembly by way of a Constitutional Convention. We believe that the changing of House Rules for Congressmen of the Administration to convert themselves into a CON-ASS is fraudulently illegitimate and scandalously immoral. It is perceivably self-serving on their part. Why can’t they entrust the CHA-CHA to others? Why are our Administration Congressmen desperately in a

hurry? The haste is questionable and suspicious. We encourage our people in the parishes to be vigilant, to express their opposition to CON-ASS and to offer prayers for our government. Graft and corruption cannot be committed by the Constitution, but by the improper application of it. It is the people who are guilty of graft and corruption who need to change. God help us! God help our country! +Angel N. Lagdameo, DD Archbishop of Jaro President, CBCP December 6, 2006

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media

Watch and Pray for Self-Serving Representatives

WE enter the immediate preparation for the joyful celebration of Christmas. The atmosphere is one of joy coupled even with a sense of humor. How God answered our prayers even before we directly addressed it to him. And so the Prayer Rallies of Petition is now converted into Prayer Rallies of Thanksgiving. God has heard our unarticulated prayer. He loves the Philippines. He has converted our crisis-laden situation into Kairos, a moment of grace. Let us give thanks to God and exalt him above the heavens. According to the report of our Social Action Center: Novaliches and Infanta have finished their prayer rally. The following have signified to “watch and pray”: Northern Luzon; in the Visayas all four dioceses of Negros; in Panay – Capiz and Iloilo; in Central Visayas, Cebu (a forum); in Mindanao: Kidapawan, Marbel, Cotabato, Ozamis and Digos. In Central Luzon: Malolos, Balanga, Cavite and the Dioceses of National Capital Region (NCR). Only Manila will hold the Prayer Rally on December 17, Sunday. Everything is in the hands of God. We express our discernment, sentiments and plans: God will touch peoples’ hearts. He perfects the work we begin. According to our liturgical ordo: the Aguinaldo Masses are offered “for the perseverance of our

country in the faith” (Ordo page 10). More than hastily changing our Constitution and shifting the system of our government, we have a number of crises (problems) to solve, together with the need for genuine electoral reform. The CON-CON can therefore be placed in the list of priorities, arranged according to importance and urgency. Haste must be avoided; because haste makes waste. We thank God because our leaders heard the voice of the people. We hope and pray both leaders and people will persevere in their common concern for the country. The convergence of so many institutions and groups—with the good of the country in their hearts—is a miracle of grace. It is a religious response to a political situation. Our government needs to be prayed for. People do not—should not—pray against each other. They must pray for each other. God does not have enemies, only children. Whatever may be people’s place in the political and social spectrum, they are above all citizens of the same country and children of God. + ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO December 15, 2006

© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media


by Juan L. Mercado

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

Misa de Gallo Memory

The Two Visitors at the Manger
By Bishop Jose Manguiran
ST. John says of Jesus, “He came into His own and His own received Him not.” Jesus came to His own people at Bethlehem to ask for a hotel accommodation; he got no suite but instead a stable. At the stable, the ChildKing was visited by two groups of men: the shepherds were the first to arrive at the stable, the kings next. In terms of guide, the shepherds were guided by the singing angels; the kings by the star. The two guides differ in this: the angels were spiritual beings, while the star is a thing. The two well-wishers brought their gifts: the shepherds offered lambs, while the kings gold, frankincense and myrrh. The two gifts differ in this: the lambs were lives, with life, while that of the kings were lifeless things. Christ intentionally appeared first to the weak, to the shepherds, to generate being, to generate life, “and the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was as they had been told.” Lk. 2:20. What they heard was a Gospel of liberating hope and what they saw as a liberator born in a manger. “Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you: he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Lk. 2:12. Only the men of humility and goodwill can read the signpost to salvation.

Bo Sanchez

LET me describe to you a hard-headed, stubbornviewed, narrow-minded, obstinate-thinking, stiffnecked man. Two guys bump onto each other on the street. And one says, “Tom? Wow, Tom! My, you’ve changed! You were so stout before, and now, you’re soooooo thin! And you used to be short, but now you’re incredibly tall. And my goodness, you were so fair-skinned before, but you’re dark now! And your clothes! You’ve changed your style! You’ve changed soooooo much!” The other guy says, “Uh, I’m sorry sir, but I’m not Tom. My name is James.” “Gosh!” exclaimed the first man, “You funny boy! You’ve even changed your name!” There are creatures like that in the world today. About 99.99% of the earth’s population, I think. They’ll insist on what they think, perceive, and feel—no matter what reality is screaming at them. Another example: Like I always believed I was ugly. But all the girls around me keep telling me I’m kinda good-lookin’. So what do you think should I do? Be stubborn or open to the truth? Some may not like that example very much, so I’m giving you another one. Every time I see a gorgeous sunrise, or play with a baby, or hear glorious music, or stand on top of a mountain, or run on the beach, or catch a child smile at me—I automatically think that perhaps God must be having fun at that particular moment. I think: God must be a happy God! Laughing and having a grand time when He’s creating and recreating stuff. Or why would He make those lovely things? That’s reality. It screams the truth to me! “Uh, I’m sorry, but I’m not Tom. My name is James.” But you think I’d still believe the truth the next day “Gosh, you funny boy! You’ve even changed your name!” For when I start my routine of the day, I immediately forget all about my great discovery. In the monotony of my existence, I revert back to my programmed idea of who God is, the image I carried in my brain since I was a scared child spanked by my religion teacher, scolded by a parish priest, and severely warned to be silent in church by my parents: Gray throne, long beard, long face, angry eyes. Suddenly, I’m uneasy with Him. Because He’s too serious. If I really want to have fun, I’d do it when He’s not watching. Too bad. ‘Cuz He wants to have fun with me. I wonder. When will I ever get real? Please heal my stiff neck, Lord.

THE grime-streaked beggar at the Redemptorist church door wouldn’t budge. Mass had just ended. If delayed, I’d miss that overbooked flight for Bangkok. As a “martial law refugee”, Thailand was my United Nations duty station for 17 years. Four of the five kids were flying in from US schools to join us for Christmas. Shifting his battered can, the beggar persisted. “Don’t you remember me?” Seeing the blank look in my eyes, he murmured: “We were classmates in grade school. I am Candido…..” Memory scraped away the wrinkles, the dirt and in-between years. We had played “patintero” and other games of childhood. Together, we built model airplanes and sailed toy boats. Vacations, we’d swim in nearby resorts. Today? Tiene cara de hambre. “You have the face of hunger,” the orphan boy tells the Crucified in the film classic: “Marcelino, Pan Y Vino.” We barely managed snatches of conversation. Airline schedules are unyielding. Couldn’t I have dropped, into his tin cup, more than what was hurriedly fished out of a shirt pocket?, I fretted even as the immigration officer waved us on. We’re all invited to journey to Bethlehem. For some, like Imelda Marcos, the invitation comes, as the Guardian notes, while she “clicks a button for servants in a Manila penthouse cluttered with masterpieces by Picasso, Michelangelo, Gaugin, priceless antique statues of Buddha and gold, gold, gold.” Others, like my beggaredclassmate, wearily limp to “the City of David” with empty tin cans. Billionaires here lodge in “gated enclaves” while many lack frugal livelihoods. “There’s no room in the inn.” Yet, “Christmas is the only time I know of when men and women, seem by one consent, to open their shut-up hearts freely,” Charles Dickens wrote in 1843. Like the reengineered Ebenezer Scrooge, they “think of people below them, not as another race of creatures bound on other journeys, but as fellow passengers to the grave.” I’ve never seen my beggar-friend again. But he forms part of Christmases past images. As the years slip by, these mental snapshots remain. But revisiting them, one discovers that a bittersweet (chiaroscuro?) tone overlays the montage. Images include kindnesses by friends one now rarely sees. I rushed out to talk with a pediatrician, glimpsed midway through an Advent mass. Dr. Mike Celdran lavished care on my now-grown kids. I wanted him to meet my lawyer-daughter and her doctor husband, visiting for Christmas. But he had left. “That season comes wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated / The bird of dawning singeth all night long,” one reads in “Hamlet”. The OFWs too were singing carols like Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit at the SVD Fathers Verbiti conference room in Rome, Italy. It was Christmas Day. Did they

sing the old Spanish carols like Nacio Nacio Pastores? I don’t remember now. Verbiti is tucked close to Hadrian’s wall. It was festooned with star lanterns and a belen. A couple of lechons were on the table. But corrosive loneliness contorted the faces of many in that room, separated from kith and kin, in “this “hallowed and gracious time”. One glimpsed in the tears slipping past tightly-closed eyes, the economic diaspora’s costs. Hidden behind those hefty foreign exchange remittances are: pain, separation, alienation, trauma even. Tiene cara de hambre. Christmas, the Filipino SVD fathers told their expat flock, is “Emmanuel—God with us” in the dark night, even of loneliness and despair. “There are no more unvisited places in our lives.” Illnesses in absent family is shattering for expats. In Indonesia, we trudged to the Crib in Gereja Theresia ( St Therese’s Church ), behind Jakarta’s giant mall: Sarina. Half a world away, alone in a Los Angeles ICU room, an economic diaspora statistic—my younger brother—lay dying. In January, Jesse phoned. Life is fragile, he said. We don’t know when we will see each other again. Let’s meet in Cebu with our then 86-year old mother. So, he flew in from LA. Our only sister from Toronto arrived. And we joined in from Bangkok. We had a laughter-filled week. Our mother went July. “Please. No heroic measures,” our sister-in-law soberly cautioned the cardiac team that rushed in. And by December, Jesse was gone too. The Child of Bethlehem enables us to see beyond the grave. “Death is not the extinguishing of life,” the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote. “It is putting out the lamp because dawn has come.” From our third floor flat in Bangkok, we’d watch this Thai lady slip into the deserted courtyard of Holy Redeemer Church. Draped in the Advent dawn’s soft darkness, she’d pray before the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help—until Misa de Gallo, introduced by Filipino workers, would start. Her silhouette brought Isaiah’s lines to mind: “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,” Isaiah writes “Kings shall (stream) to the brightness of thy rising.” That silhouette, like the image of a Muntinlupa prisoner, forms part of our Christmases past. Clad in sweat-stained detainee togs, the prisoner wouldn’t budge. If delayed, I’d miss a dinner appointment. Seeing the blank look in my eyes, he murmured : “Don’t you remember me? We were playmates in Cebu. My name is Policarpio….” There is, we’re told, a geography of the heart. Like the Magi, we travel its byways, not merely from place to place, but from grace to grace. It is a search for what endures amid the transient. Without fail, we find it in those with cara de hambre. “And they found the Child with Mary his mother,” the story goes. Venite adoremus. (E-mail :

© Alinari Archives/CORBIS

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

CINEMA Reviews
IN London, four students receive a from the local university's student accommodation office for lodging in an old mansion house. Students Tom (Luke Mably), a smart and cocky drug dealer and Adele (Emma Catherwood), his feisty and sexual girlfriend. Jenny (Billie Piper),a good-natured girl with clairvoyant powers and Nick (Sam Troughton), a kind and sensitive art student quickly move in and meet their fifth house-mate, Tina (Alsou), a beautiful, weird and mysterious girl. When Nick repairs the old brokendown Russian spirit clock, a countdown to mayhem begins as Jenny sees the past crimes committed in the mansion and unfriendly spirits haunt the students mercilessly. During the next two days, they reveal their darkest secrets of having murdered someone in the past as the ghost pit them against each other. They also realize that they are soon to be trapped inside the house as the spirits are determined to claim a killer's soul for another killer to release the soul of murder victim Edmund Joseph. The film is hardly a horror flick peppered with clich?s and unoriginal ideas for cheap screams. The first third of the film is lamentably boring as the director takes his sweet time to build up the characters whom audience can already decipher within the first five minutes anyway. The next two-thirds are no better. David Smith is clearly unable to transition from commercials and documentary into a feature filmmaking. The poor storyline, to begin with, has just been incorporated with safe "horror" ingredients that you've seen in dozen other movies done in better ways. British pop stars Piper and Alsou are so uninteresting and bland. The music is boring and inappropriate. The clean and bright cinematography reveals all flaws and shortcomings of the design and creativity. There is no reason why audience should waste time and money to see this movie. Time catches up with everyone

and all misdeeds, transgression and wrongdoings will eventually come back to haunt the doer. Perhaps not in this lifetime but for sure no crime will go unpunished. This, perhaps, is the best message the film gives since it is concentrated on characters with shady pasts, involved in substance abuse or teenage premarital sex. As usual, spirits and afterlife are represented as negative, terrifying, controlling and vengeful. This runs contrary to moral teachings of the Church. Although there is an attempt to show how people can become altruistic in a crisis situation, the idea of self preservation at any cost is more dominant when the characters are pitted against each other. The film falls flat as a horror-thriller and may not actually scare young audiences. However, parental guidance is necessary for some scenes and situations that may be misinterpreted as acceptable.

Title: SPIRIT TRAP Running Time: 91 mins Lead Cast: Billie Piper, Luke Mably, Sam Troughton, Emma Catherwood, Alsou, Chike Okonkwo Director: David Smith Producer: Susie Brook-Morris Screenwriters: Phil O' shea, Paul Finch, Rohan Candapa Music: Guy Fletcher Editor: Simon Cozen Genre: Horror/Thriller Cinematography: Nick Sawyer Location: London Technical Assessment: Moral Assessment: CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Title: TENACIOUS 'D Running Time: 93 mins Lead Cast: Jack Black, Kyle Glass, Jason Reed, Ronnie James Dio, Troy Gentile, Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins Director: Lian Lynch Producers: Stuart Cornfeld, Jack Black, Kyle Glass Screenwriters: Jack Black, Kyle Glass, Lians Lynch Music: Tenacious D Editor: David Rennie Genre: Musical Comedy Cinematography: Robert Brinkman Distributor: New Line Cinema Location: Missouri / Hollywood Technical Assessment: Moral Assessment: CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

OBSESSED with rock music, a very young JB (Jack Black) sings offensive, sexually suggestive songs and earns the ire of his shocked family. Fleeing his Christian upbringing in Kickapoo, Missouri he wanders about and finally finds his way to Venice Beach in Holywood where he meets guitar virtuoso KG (Kyle Glass) who impresses JB as a genius. With their common intense interest in rock music, they become friends and develop a mentor-pupil relationship by which JB as the latter goes through a training regimen that infuses rock music culture with Kungfu overtones. The two decide to play together, call their rock band Tenacious D, proclaim it as the "greatest band on earth" and join a competition to pay the rent. But

they learn that to be better than all other rockers, they must have a magical guitar pick, fashioned from a devil's tooth, that could enable them to create their master piece. This "pick of destiny" is heavily secured at the Rock and Roll History Museum. Now they plot to steal it and that begins a series of misdeeds and unexpected events including a meeting with the devil himself. The film is a fictionalized story of the origin of the real rock band called Tenacious D a nd for its fans, it is the much awaited movie spin-off from a short-lived HBO series. For rock music enthusiasts, the music actually played by the Tenacious D will definitely have some appeal. However, except for these music sequences, the rest of the movie (the lengthy gaps between the music numbers) is so tedious and silly that it is

hardly watchable. Most of the humor is gross. Ben Stiller and Tim Robbins have cameo appearances. Both Jack Black and Kyle Glass playing themselves (they founded the band about 12 years ago) are presented as bigger than life, though Black appears to be the more accomplished performer and carries more of the comedic load. Tenacious D is a musical comedy that some young people, especially those who have a penchant for rock music, may find entertaining. And it is important that in enjoying the music, they have an awareness of the danger of being swayed by the objectionable lyrics of the songs. For the lyrics, though funny at times, are often sexually suggestive, blatantly offensive, even profane. This is true not only regarding the lyrics but also of some of the dialogue and action, all done in the guise of humor. Here, humor is almost equated with vulgarity. Other negative values in the film include the use of drugs by the rockers, the suggestion of devil worship as when the small boy JB, when berated by his father, prays to the devil who comes to life from the door poster and encourages him so that JB promptly runs away from home. Towards the end, JB and KG reject the devil in their encounter, but all throughout the film, there is the suggestion of the strong association of the rockers' success with use of numerous paraphernalia (including the devil's pick) and symbols linked to the evil one.

Title: SA ILALIM NG COGON Running Time: 95 mins Lead Cast: Yul Servo, Julia Clarete, Dido De La Paz, Katya Guerrero Director: Rico Maria Ilarde Producer: Mammu Chua Screenwriters: Mammu Chua, Rico Maria Ilarde Music: Malek Lopez Editor: Ron Dale Genre: Suspense Cinematography: Luis Quirino Location: Luzon Technical Assessment: Moral Assessment: ½ CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above


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BILANG pagtanaw ng utang na loob sa gang lord na nagpiyansa upang makalaya sila, si Pepito (Raul Morit) at si Sam (Yul Servo) ay pumayag na magnakaw para kay Johnny-B (Dido de la Paz). Hindi kriminal si Yul, isang dating marino na nakulong lamang sa pagiging bagansya, kung kaya't ayaw niyang magnakaw o pumatay ng tao bagama't pumayag siyang magmaneho ng kotseng gagamitin sa pagnanakaw. Subalit nang makuha na ang salapi, tinangkang patayin ni Pepito si Sam, ngunit sa halip, si Pepito na dati nang gun-forhire ang napatay ni Sam. Napilitang tumakas si Sam hanggang umabot siya sa isang abandonadong mansiyon sa isang sukal na lugar na napapaligiran na ng kogon at talahib. Samantala, kumalat na ang balita tungkol sa nakawan, at sa pag-aakalang tinakasan sila ng mga nagnakaw, naghahanap na si Johnny-B at ang kanyang mga kampon sa nawawalang Pepito at Sam. Sa kanyang pagtatago, nakita niya ang isang misteryosang babae na laging nag-iiwan ng pagkain sa isang lugar malapit sa makapal na kogonan. Sinundan niya ang babae hanggang matuklasan niya ang tirahan nitong nakukubli sa kogon sa likuran ng bahay na malaki. Nagkalapit ang loob ng mahiwagang babae, si Katia (Julia Clarete), at ni Sam, at habang umiinit ang kanilang pag-uugnayan, natunton naman ng mga kampon ni Johnny-B ang pinagtataguan ni Sam. Kung kuwento din lamang ang pag-uusapan, may kuwento ang Sa Ilalim ng Cogon, at ito'y

maliwanag at malinis na naisalaysay sa tulong ng malinaw na dialogue at payak ngunit matinding sinematograpiya. Sapat ang pagganap ni Clarete at Servo bagama't hindi gaanong nabigyang-lalim ng mga pangyayari ang characterization, kung kaya't hindi mawari, halimbawa, kung si Katia ba'y baliw o matino, o kung si Sam ba ay marangal o mapagsamantala. Marahil kung humaba-haba pa ang istorya, at dumami-dami pa ang kanilang mga pagsubok na daraanan sa buhay, ay lulutang na kanilang tunay na kulay. Mahusay ding nadagdagan ng musika ang sabik ng manonood sa mga pangyayari. Hindi inaasahan ang magiging katapusan ng mga masasamang loob ngunit nang dumating ito, hindi masasabing wasto ang kinahinatnan ng bawa't mga tauhan. Isinasaad ng Sa Ilalim ng Cogon ang buhay ng mga taong wala nang tinatanaw na kinabukasan kundi ang maliliit nilang daigdig na hinubog naman ng lungkot at pighati. Iniwan ng asawa si Sam sa dahilang hindi niya alam; iniwan din ng asawa si Pepito para sa ibang lalaki. Ang ulilang si Katia ay iniwan din ng buhong na ama sa malawak na tirahang mistulang piitang kogon, pinangakuang babalik ngunit hindi na sinipot hanggang magdalaga ito. Ano ang leksiyong maaaring mapulot sa pelikula? Wala ni isang tauhan sa kuwento ang nag-iisip, nananalangin or umaasa sa Diyos. Sadyang tuyot at hungkag ang buhay at pusong hindi nakakakilala sa kabutihan ng Lumikha.


People, Facts & Places
cally till this day. The three-term ACBC president was in the country December 3 to 19. His trip to the Philippines is a gift from the Filipino community of Canberra-Goulburn upon his retirement in gratitude for the personalized pastoral care of Filipino migrants he gave through Missionary Apostles of Christ in the Eucharist (MACE) sisters. The MACE is a religious organization of women which was established in Canberra with his guidance. The MACE in the Philippines is based in Parañaque City. Carroll is noted for his concern and pastoral ministry for the aborigines and ethnic groups, particularly the Filipinos, in his archdiocese. He has been cited for his work for the development of Catholic Education in Australia. He also celebrates the Annual Philippine Independence Day mass in Canberra attended by the embassy staff, and personally attended to the Filipino Annual Day and among others. Carroll has also met with the officials of De La Salle schools and Manila Archdiocesan Parochial Schools Association (MAPSA). (Miami Ebilane) CELEBRATED. Most Rev. Diosdado Talamayan, 74, archbishop of Tuguegarao; 50th sacerdotal ordination anniversary; November 30, 2006. Born in Manila on October 19, 1932, Talamayan is the seventh child out of nine children. He studied high school at the Immaculate Conception Minor Seminary in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. He then went to the University of Santo Thomas (UST) Central Seminary where he earned his Bachelor and Licentiate degrees in Philosophy and Theology (PhB, PhL, STB, and STL). On November 30, 1956 he was ordained priest. He also pursued further studies: Doctor of Sacred Theology (SThD) from the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, Spain in 1961; Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from the Universidad Central de Madrid, Spain in 1962; Master of Arts in Teacher Education from Columbia University, New York in 1970; Diploma in French Language and Civilization from the Institute Catholique de Paris, France in 1960; and a Diploma in Thesis Advising from De la Salle University, Manila in 1979. Erstwhile as priest, he served in several parishes, namely: Cathedral Parish of Tuguegarao; Tumauini Parish of Isabela; a parish in London, England; St. Cecilia’s Church in Rhode Island, USA and St. John the Martyr Church in New York City, USA. He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop on January 12, 1984. Prior to that ordination he served the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao as Chancellor and Secretary of the Diocese of Tuguegarao from 1960-1967. In 1975 he was appointed as Honorary Prelate of the Holy Father and was elected President of the Priests Assembly of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao in 1977; member of the Administrative Troika of the National Counselor of the Pontifical Mission Aid Societies; and member of the Episcopal Commission on Clergy and Vice-Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Missions. In 1984 he was a recipient of the Premyo Zobel in recognition of his writings on the Spanish Language and Culture. During his tenure as archbishop of Tuguegarao, he was able to build several churches and parishes in his diocese and also organized numerous medical missions, among others. CELEBRATED. St. Scholastica’s College, Manila; 100th foundation anniversary; December 3, 2006. The turn of the century from 1896 to 1906 was a dark time for the Catholic Church in the Philippines. The shift from Spanish to American rule brought about changes in the political, sociocultural and religious orders. It was during this time that the missionary sisters of Tutzing, Germany, under the leadership of Mother Brigitta Korff, OSB responded to the pleas for help by the Papal Legate to the Philippines, Dom Ambrosius Aguis, OSB. Five sisters were appointed for the mission of bringing God’s word to the Philippines, they arrived on the 14th of September 1906, feast of Exaltation of the Cross. The fist school opened on December 3, 1906, in Tondo, Manila, with an enrollment of 8 students (2 boys and 6 girls) in Grades 1-3. There was also a free school with an enrollment of 50 boys and girls held in a nearby shed. Because of the increasing number of students, they moved to San Marcelino Street and before Christmas they moved to Pennsylvania Ave., now Leon Guinto St. where the school stands now. During World War II, part of the college was converted into a hospital and the school was sealed as “property of the Japanese Imperial Forces” where the sisters lived among the ruins. St. Scholastica’s College reopened its doors after the ravages of war in 1946. The motto “Ora et Labora” – Pray and Work – is the Benedictine way and this has since been inculcated in every Scholastican.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 10 No. 18
December 18, 2006

Australian Archbishop celebrates his First ‘Simbang Gabi’
FOR the first time, a former head of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC) celebrated a centuries-old Filipinos tradition “Simbang Gabi” is a novena of Masses offered on each of the nine days before Christmas. “I’m amazed at how the Filipinos keep their faith even on walking up early to attend morning masses. In Australia there’s no mass like this,” said Archbishop Emeritus of Canberra and Goulburn in Australia, Francis Carroll. A Mass offered by Carroll on December 16 at the St. Joseph Parish in Las Piñas kicked off the novena prayer and festivity. The tradition dates back to the 16th century, tracing its roots to Mexico where the first outdoor Masses at dawn were held for peasants who had overflowed the churches. After Spanish friars introduced the custom to the Philippines, the people adopted it enthusiasti-

CELEBRATED.Roman Catholic Diocese of Talibon (Bohol), 20th anniversary as diocese; December 2, 2006. The historical origins of Talibon dates back to1602 when the Jesuit missionary Fr. Juan Torres, SJ formed the older Spanish settlements of Loboc in the south of Bohol, and thereon began the evangelization to the early natives. An earlier hostile impression that the Spaniards were after the local gold, then already being mined in Talibon, was dispelled by the good padre’s testimony and sincerity. He made clear that it was their souls he was after of. From native hut to the beginnings of a stone church, Christianity was gradually embraced by the people. After two centuries, Talibon became a municipality in 1830; then in 1831, a parish under the patronage of the Holy Trinity was put up with Fr. Ramon De Sta. Ana as the first parish priest. The episcopal jusrisdiction of Talibon then was under Cebu’s Bishop Santos Gomez Maranon of the Augustine Order. In 1852 the construction of the permanent Church began, with the use of coral rocks hauled from the sea by conscripted labor of the natives. Finally, in January of 1986, the Holy See sent a word declaring Talibon as the seat of a new diocese, under the titular of the Most Holy Trinity, with Bishop Christian Vicente Noel as its first Bishop. CELEBRATED. Daughters of Saint Paul (FSP)—Zamboanga City; 25th foundation anniversary and laying of cornerstone for the new convent; December 7, 2006. One of the ten institutes founded by Blessed James Alberione, the congregation of the Daughters of St. Paul proclaims the Word of God through the means of social communication. The first Daughters of St. Paul sisters arrived in the Philippines in 1938. On March 1980, they went to Zamboanga to open a media center and start a community upon the invitation of the late Most Rev. Francisco Cruces, DD, then Archbishop of Zamboanga. Since their founding in 1980, the Daughters of St. Paul have implemented their missionary work in coordination with the Church using the communications media to bring the Word of God to the people. At present, the media center is temporarily located in Tetuan Parish Building, while their house has been demolished to give way for the construction of their new residence and media center so that they can give the residents better service. The occasion was preceded by the celebration of the Triduum (three-day) Masses held from December 4, 5 & 6 at the St. Ignatius Tetuan Parish Church with Fr. Max Campo, Fr. Michael Ufana and Fr. Adrian U. Barcelo as presiders respectively. Most Reverend Carmelo Morelos, the Archbishop of Zamboanga, celebrated the Thanksgiving Mass on December 7 with other priests in the Archdiocese as concelebrants. The Jubilee theme was “Gratefully Celebrating 25 years of Grace!” Leading off the guests was Sr. Yolanda Dionisio, Provincial Superior of the Daughters of St. Paul. She delivered her words of thanks during the Eucharistic celebration. Immediately after the Thanksgiving Mass, the people proceeded to the construction site as Archbishop Morelos led in the laying of the cornerstone. As part of the ceremonies, two newspapers, coins and currency of the day, a set of building plans, a pay list from the project, and a list of those who supervised the demolition and construction were placed in the cornerstone as mementos of the historic event. The Silver Jubilee anniversary concluded with a LIVE talk show from 6:00 – 7:00 PM on TV 11 with the topic: “The Mission of the Daughters of St. Paul in the Church and the 25th Anniversary Celebration of their Foundation.” The Daughters of St. Paul have served the people of Zamboanga and its mission territory for 25 years now through their mission of bringing God’s message using the communications media such as the press, films, radio, audio visuals and the internet.

Catholic Church, city gov’t co-sponsor mass wedding
HUNDREDS of couples are expected to tie the knot at a mass wedding organized by the Catholic Church and the city government on December 24 at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Tuguegarao City. Parish priest Msgr. Benjamin Lasam said the mass wedding will be the church’s and the city government’s Christmas gift to the couples. Brides and grooms from the poorest sector of society were selected by the organizers. Lasam noted there are still a number of couples in the city who have been living together for some time now without the benefit of any civil or church marriage. “We offer to them this benefit without having to worry about any fee or charges and rest assured that their union will be legalized and blessed,” he said. The priest urged the religious organizations and movements here to scout and recruit potential beneficiaries of the project. A pre-marriage seminar will be held prior to the wedding ceremony to make the couples understand their responsibilities as husband and wife and as parents to their children. Meanwhile, Mayor Randolph S. Ting said the conduct of mass wedding is one of the projects of the city government not only to update its civil registry records but also to legitimize the couples’ union and the status of their children. (CBCP News)

The CBCP beat reporters, representing various print media outlets, held its Christmas party at the CBCP Media Office last Dec. 18, hosted by Msgr. Pedro Quitorio (rear, 2nd from right), CBCP spokesman and media director.

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