Is there Food

in the Duterte
Revolution?

ISSN 0300-4155 / Asian
Magazine for Human Transformation Through Education, Social Advocacy and
Evangelization / P.O. Box
2481, 1099 Manila, Philippines ©Copyright 1974 by Social Impact Foundation, Inc.
Published monthly by
AREOPAGUS
COMMUNICATIONS, INC.
Editor
PEDRO QUITORIO III
Associate Editor
ROY LAGARDE
Staff Writers
CHARLES AVILA
EULY BELIZAR
ROY CIMAGALA
ROY LAGARDE
LOPE ROBREDILLO
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GLORIA FERNANDO
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2

EDITOR'S NOTE
CELEBRATING the 50th anniversary of this magazine is a signal
milestone. It has survived the media repressive martial law of
Ferdinand Marcos. It has withstood the penury that is characteristic
of most advocacy magazine that seldom attracts sponsors,
except during the 70s when the print-run shoot up to thirty or so
thousands per issue. It witnessed the ecclesiological progression
of the Church that was triggered by Vatican II. It saw the Vietnam
War, the collapse of the USSR, the tearing of the Berlin Wall and the
splintering of the communist ideologies
Through thick and thin, IMPACT Magazine has been zealous in
pursuing the development of perspectives on social issues not
only within the confines of the Catholic Church but also in other
Asian religions. Its editor, Fr. Cornelius Breed, wrote thus: “In spite
of the defects inherited from the past, world religions have a most
powerful influence far beyond their limited authority; yet often are
a great obstacle to renewal today. They are deeply respected and
cherished by most people, but today also more critically appraised,
because of their fundamental tendencies and clutches to age-long
traditions. Religions are so powerful, because these respond to the
deepest aspirations of man, the quest for the infinite and eternal.
Religions shape the interior life of individuals and communities,
much more than governments do.”
Browsing cursorily through past issues of IMPACT, one gets the
impression that in many instances it may have been a lone voice
crying in the wilderness as it tackled issues on war and armaments,
population and health, ideologies and world religions, labor and
social change, among many others.
In his foreword to Fr. Breed’s compilation of Impact editorials,
Antonio L. Ledesma opines: “To read these editorials as mere essays
dealing with agriculture, development, population and human
rights is to miss their essential meaning. For these editorials have
a unifying framework—the conviction that the spiritual flows over
the material, so that the material and the earthly take on a spiritual
and heavenly content. This perspective lies behind the meaning
of IMPACT’s theme: ‘Raising the Consciousness towards One Mind,
One Humanity, One Destiny.” It is a vision of Teilhard de Chardin…
that mankind tends to become one towards someone who totally
transcends humanity.”
This anniversary edition is dedicated to IMPACT’s editor of 38 years,
from 1965 to 2004. Fr. Breed was a visionary whose dream of “a
new civilization” was visible in every issue of this monthly magazine.
He was a Mill Hill Missionary who was ordained a Catholic priest in
London, studied doctorate in Canon Law in Rome and took parish
work in Antique in Western Visayas. His active participation in
the Priests’ Institute for Social Action (PISA) in Hong Kong in 1965
resulted in his appointment as the first executive secretary of the
newly established National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)
whose nationwide network of diocesan directors of social action
he organized.
This issue is a thanksgiving for all that IMPACT has become albeit
modestly in 50 years. This, too, is a statement of gratitude for all the
staff and friends who worked tirelessly all these years. Deo Gratias!

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

CONTENTS
37

|

Editorial

20

|

Must the Church speak on socio-political issues?

quote in
the act
"Human dignity is not negotiable or
determined by national laws."
Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United
Nations; in his intervention at the UN General
Assembly during a committee discussion on
the “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance.”

"If there is no substitute for victory in
war, neither is there any substitute to
preparedness in any emergency."

4

|

Parishes as wellsprings of mercy and renewal

8

|

It takes more than a President

11 |

13 |

The challenge of bridging the gap between word and praxis:
Reflections on Catholic Social Doctrine
Basic Ecclesial Communities: Agents of communion,
participation and mission

16

|

Stewards of God's creation

18

|

Human dignity is the right of all

28

|

NASSA/Caritas Philippines: Gains and pains in the past

30

|

News Features

33

|

Statements

Crispin Varquez, bishop of the Diocese of
Borongan; in a pastoral statement issued on the
3rd anniversary of super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan,
warning of complacency in times of disasters.

"May our government officials take into
consideration the life and future of our
people and environment, not on profit or on
materials convenience."
Ruperto Santos, bishop of the Diocese of Balanga
in Bataan; on the issue of Philippine President
Rodrigo Duterte reportedly giving a green light to
the activation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
which had been mothballed before it became
operational by the Cory Aquino government.

"We cannot tell the Church to keep quite.
It’s not in the nature of the Church to keep
quiet because the Church must always
proclaim."
Socrates Villegas, archbishop President of the
Catholic Bishops’ Conference and president of
the newly launched Aid to the Church in Need
(CAN) Philippines; saying that another form of
persecution is to silence the Church and not get
involved in politics, culture, business or in integral
human development.

"It remains a priority of the Church...
to make herself a “field hospital” for
marginalized people who live in every
existential, socio-economic, health-care,
environmental and geographical fringe of
the world."
Pope Francis, in his message to the participants
of the 31st International Conference of the
Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers held on
November 10-12, 2016 at the Vatican.

FEATURE ARTICLE

Parishes as
wellsprings
of mercy
and renewal

Pastoral exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
to open the Year 2017 as the Year of Parishes, Communion of Communities
BELOVED people of God:
We welcome the year 2017 in our
“novena-years” of preparation for
the grateful celebration in 2021 of
the five hundredth anniversary of
the first coming and first receiving
among our people of the Gospel
of Christ Jesus and of His holy
Church.
That
forthcoming
2021
celebration, recalling the first
Mass and first baptisms in our
shores, should be a new and joyous
explosion in our lives of faith, hope
and love throughout our country.
Surely such will be our response
to the free and gracious gift from
the heavenly Father which made
the year 1521, for us Christians first
of all, a memorable and incredibly
significant “new beginning” in our
history.

4

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

As we began this “novena” we
raised a banner of hope and renewal
for the Church in our land with the
motto, “Live Christ, Share Christ!”
That is the firm resolve with which
we now open the Year 2017, and
the cry of all of us, dear brothers
and sisters is--“Live Christ, Share
Christ!”
This cry can rightfully be the
motto for the now-ongoing “new
evangelization”in thePhilippines,
which
the
Second
Plenary
Council
of
the
Philippines
already proclaimed in 1991. To
that “renewed evangelization” we
brought with us all the hopes and
dreams of our people” for a truly
“renewed Christian society, life
and culture … based on the Gospel
Beatitudes, suffused with Christian
values of love and peace, of joy and

FEATURE ARTICLE

Filipino Catholics attend Mass at a parish Church in Manila. FILE PHOTO

hospitality, of patience and justice.”
Thus also did we resolve that the
Church in our land would become
truly “a church of the poor!”
(from ‘The Message of the Second
Plenary Council’)
“Live Christ, Share Christ!” As
we open the Year 2017, we pray
that God may grant us abundant
grace to make it a year of fuller
fulfillment of that motto and that
hope. 2017 has been programmed
to focus on the parish, “a
community of communities”. As a
center and fountain of missionary
discipleship and zeal for renewed
evangelization, “a genuine center
of constant missionary outreach.”
in
“EvangeliiGaudium”Pope
Francis insists that the parish “is
not an outdated institution and
can possess great flexibility still,

depending on the openness and
missionary creativity of the pastor
and the community.” (EG, 28)
Live communion, share
communion
The Church is a mystery of
communion. Our communion
flows from the Trinity overflowing
into
humanity
and
sharing
a
common
faith
journeying
together for the full unfolding
of the Kingdom of God. This
communion, made possible for
us because of the passion, death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
always has a double dimension—a
vertical communion with God and
a horizontal communion with our
brothers and sisters. The Church’s
life of communion is constantly
open to ecumenical and missionary
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

action because this communion is
always in a state of mission.
The Church in the Philippines
is a part of the communion of
Churches which is the universal
Church. We are a part of the
one Church of Christ. In every
particular Church "the one, holy,
catholic and apostolic Church of
Christ is truly present and active"
(Christus Dominus, 11). For this
reason, the universal Church
cannot be conceived as the sum
of the particular Churches, or
as a federation of particular
Churches. Whoever belongs to one
particular Church belongs to all the
Churches; since belonging to the
Communion, like belonging to the
Church, is never simply particular,
but by its very nature is always
universal (cfr. Lumen Gentium,13).

5

ARTICLES

The present efforts
at Church renewal
should center on
the parish. Without
parish renewal,
the family and
Basic Ecclesial
Communities will
not find strong
supportive ambience,
and will continue to
feel isolated.

6

In celebrating 2017 as the Year
of the Parish as a Communion of
Communities we are challenged to
more deeply discern not only the
structures of governance of our
dioceses and parishes but also of
the quality of faith life in the parish,
the fellowship, belongingness, and
participation experienced by its
members. In brief, our focus will
be the building of a parish that is
truly a faith community immersed
in the lives of its people. (CBCP
Pastoral Letter Live Christ Share
Christ, 2012)
In the Philippines our vision
of the Church as communion is
today finding expression in one
ecclesial movement that is the
movement to foster Basic Ecclesial
Communities” (PCP II, 137).
Usually
emerging
at
the
grassroots,
Basic
Ecclesial
Communities consciously strive
to integrate their faith and their
daily life. They are guided and
encouraged by regular catechesis.
Poverty and their faith urge their
members towards solidarity with
one another, action for justice, and
towards a vibrant celebration of
life in the liturgy. (PCP II, 139).
How can we work at renewing our
parish communities so that they
can better respond to the challenge
of restoring all things in Christ?
Celebrate communion, listen to
the Mother
2017 is the also the centennial
year of the apparition of Our
Lady to three children in Fatima.
At Fatima, Our Lady asked her
children to return to Jesus by the
three fold paths of prayer, daily
Communion and reparation. The
message of Fatima still rings clearly
and strongly for us. If we dream of
Church renewal, let us return to
prayer, let us receive her Son in
Holy Communion and let us offer
reparation for our sin.
As we pursue the dream to make
every parish community a family
of families and a communion of

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

communities, let us avail of the
message of Our Lady of Fatima to
help us reach our vision.
In the months of May to October
2017, Catholics all over the world,
led by Pope Francis, will recall
and celebrate the centenary of
the six apparitions of Our Blessed
Mother to the “three children of
Fatima”- Lucia dos Santos and
her cousins Francisco Marto and
his sister Jacinta. As we in the
Philippines celebrate our parishes
as communion of communities,
we will also turn with prayer
and devotion, deeper reflection
and rededication to “the Fatima
Message” of Our Lady. All these
activities will enable us to learn or
relearn “what Fatima was all about”;
how important and relevant Fatima
still is for our time, and how we
can and should put into practice
“what Fatima asks of us today”, so
we can renew and reinvigorate our
parishes in the Philippines.
The relevance of parishes, the call
of Fatima
“The present efforts at Church
renewal should center on the
parish. Without parish renewal,
the family and Basic Ecclesial
Communities will not find strong
supportive ambience, and will
continue to feel isolated.” (PCP II,
#604). In the same vein, it would
be a lost opportunity if the year
of the parish as communion of
communities would ignore the
clarion call of Fatima for prayer,
penance and communion.
Pope Benedict XVI took pains
to spell out the fundamental
significance of the Fatima events
and of the message of Our Lady of
Fatima. He believes that the “point
of Fatima” was not directed only
to the emergence of the disastrous
dictatorship of the twentieth
century in Russia and Germany.
No, it referred “to a critical moment
in history … when the whole power
of evil came to a head” not only in
and through those godless regimes

ARTICLES

The answer to the power of evil in
the world of our time can only come
from the transformation of the heart,
through faith, hope, love; through
penance and conversion.”
but “in another way is still at work
today in our time, in the suffering
of the Church and the weakening
of the forces of good and of the
work of God in our world.”
If the nation needs healing, the
healing will start in our parishes. If
the nation needs to crush the forces
of evil, it will start in our parishes.
If the nation needs to strengthen
the presence of God in society, the
strengthening of the parishes is the
only way.
Pope Benedict has written, that
“the answer to the power of evil
in the world of our time can only
come from the transformation of
the heart, through faith, hope, love;
through penance and conversion.”
In this sense, the message of Fatima
is precisely not a thing of the past.
The Church continues to suffer
… even now there is tribulation.”
“There is the power which tries to
trample down the faith.”
What we beg and pray for is
this: “that the power of evil be
restrained, that the energies of
good might regain their vigor. You
could say that the triumphs of God
and the triumphs of Mary are quiet,
but they are real nonetheless,” said
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict tells us, then, that
the framework and meaning of the
message of Fatima is the struggle
of the work of God in our world
today and the struggle of the life
of church and of Christians, that
struggle in our own time against
the massively-spreading, active

forces of evil and sin in today’s
world, in our communities and
societies, in our own homes, in our
own lives.
New wellsprings of prayer and
mercy
Let us move toward some
proposals for a “program of action
for our parishes and basic ecclesial
communities”, a program which
flows from the Fatima message.
Pope Paul VI, in his own summing
up of the Fatima message, defined
it as “a message of prayer and
penance”. So let it be for our
parishes! Our communion of
communities needs a renewed
and passionate program of intense
prayer and penance.
Parishes and communities will
be renewed only through personal
and community prayer. Our first
mission in the world is to be a
leaven to teach our society how to
pray. Our first duty in communion
is prayer. The prayer of a shepherd
for his sheep is always music to
the ears of God. Prayer is an act
of love. Every prayer whether of
praise or contrition or petition
is always a plea for mercy. Prayer
is our parish anchor. Prayer is
our cornerstone. Parishes and
BECs will be renewed as oasis of
mercy through reparation for sins,
frequent confession and acts of
mercy.
Parishes and communities will
be renewed by living the Eucharist
whom we receive every day. The

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

Eucharist is the poverty of Jesus
disturbing the complacency of
the wealthy; it is the wealthy
sacrificing house, family, and
fortune to lift up the poor from
their poverty. It is the Word of
God inviting the confused, the
lonely, the bored, the suffering to
the joy of the Gospel. It is God’s
life humanized in his incarnation;
it is human life divinized in his
suffering, death and resurrection.
It is the compassion of the Father
touching the life of the sinner; the
conversion of the sinner practicing
the compassion of the Savior.
Let us envision parish renewal
from the Immaculate Heart of
Mary and through the means she
gave us at Fatima--prayer and
penance intensified in every parish.
From every parish and basic
ecclesial community, let us raise
our voices in prayer “Oh my Jesus,
forgive us our sins, save us from
the fires of hell, lead all souls into
heavens especially those in most
need of your mercy.”
May Our Lady of Fatima whom
we also invoke as Mother of the
Church pray that for us that every
parish truly become oases and
wellsprings of renewal and mercy!
From the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines,
November 27, 2016, First Sunday
of Advent
+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, CBCP

7

ARTICLES

It takes more than a President

President
Rodrigo
Duterte.
FILE PHOTO

By Charles Avila
MY good friend, Friar Louis Vitale,
OFM, reminded me last week in
Pace e Bene that it takes more than
a President to move the country to
a new culture of authentic change:
a country free of the yawning gap
between a very few rich and the
very many poor, free of human
rights abuses and environmental
destruction. It even takes more
than a village. It takes a mass
mobilization of people moving
together. This is what one sees
clearly on reviewing five decades of
IMPACT reports.
Culture and underdevelopment
Some thirty years ago an article
written abroad (in the Atlantic
Monthly) became the subject of

8

controversy and attention here
by its very title—“A DAMAGED
CULTURE: A NEW PHILIPPINES?”
It was a time, right after EDSA
I, when people thought a New
Philippines had dropped down on
them from heaven, or, in the very
least and more positively: weren’t
they now building one? The “evil
Marcos” was out, the “saintly Cory”
was in, and democracy marched
on worldwide, re-member? The
bloodless dethroning of the
almighty Marcos made Filipinos
feel good with a new dignity and
pride but, also, with worse amnesia
than they had ever had. The smug
unconscious had merrily whistled
the simplistic line: take away
Marcos; have a new President and
everything would be fine.
IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

We plain forgot that most of the
things that now seemed wrong
with the economy—such as grotesque extremes of wealth and
poverty, land-ownership disputes,
monopolistic industries in ca-hoots
with the government—had been
wrong for decades, even centuries,
before there was a Marcos in
Malacañang.
You won’t believe who said
the following while one issue of
IMPACT followed on another:
"Here is a land in which a few are
spectacularly rich while the masses
remain abjectly poor. . . . Here is a
land consecrated to democracy but
run by an entrenched plutocracy.
Here, too, are a people whose
ambitions run high, but whose
fulfilment is low and mainly
restricted to the self-perpetuating

ARTICLES

elite.” The words were Ninoy
Aquino’s, uttered long before
Marcos’ martial rule.
Many Filipinos just didn’t like it
when the Atlantic Monthly article
said that “in a sociological sense
the elevation of Corazon Aquino
through the EDSA revolution
should probably be seen not as a
revolution but as the restoration of
the old order.”
Of course the author did not,
could not, deny that EDSA’s four
days of courage “demonstrated a
brave, national-minded spirit”, and
“revealed the country's spiritual
essence.” But to author James
Fallows, nonetheless, the episode
seemed “an exception, even an
aberration.” He heard in Manila
what Pandit Nehru heard much
earlier in Delhi: “The more we
change the more we re-main the
same; we run twenty times faster
just to stay in place.”
Deeper in the Philippine reality
was the damaged culture that
led to a “tradition of political
cor-ruption and cronyism, the
extremes of wealth and poverty,
the tribal fragmentation, the
local elite's willingness to make
a separate profitable peace with
colonial powers”, old and new—all
reflecting a feeble sense of national
identity and a contempt for the
common good.
At the center of that damaged
culture was a twisted view of
the ownership of property
which ensured the creation and
development of oligarchy. That
the Philippines is an oligarchy and
how it historically became and
continues to be an oligarchy is very
little understood up to now—which
leaves very little chance for the
country to ever truly re-form
and embrace authentic change.
Presidents come and go but the
oligarchy stays. Either enough
number of us understands this or
not. Till now, clearly, we haven’t;
hence the incessant, stubborn
development of underdevelop-

ment we see all around.
Have we not come to accept the
sad fact that the rule and sway of
the few vs. the rule of the many is
something impossible to abolish,
that because it has been around for
centuries we may already believe
it is permanently here to stay, that
the broad masses of our people
must always stay poor and sick and
malnourished and vulnerable to
injustice while only a vibrant few
keep outspending even the elite
of more industrially advanced
nations?
Well, most of us (with one or
two exceptions) revere good Pope
Francis. What did he have to say
about our situation? He reiterated
the age-old insight into the
“hierarchy of truth.” Any society
can have any number of problems
and crises, he said, but the task
is to find the predominant one
that determines and influences
the existence and development
of all the others (an application of
St. Ignatius Loyola’s insight into
tackling first one’s predominant
fault). And in our time he said
that the biggest scandal we must
focus our attention on is the evergrowing gap between the rich and
the poor.
“The need to resolve the
structural causes of poverty cannot
be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the
good order of society, but because
society needs to be cured of a
sickness which is weakening and
frustrating it, and which can only
lead to new crises.
Welfare projects, which meet
certain urgent needs, should be
considered merely temporary responses. As long as the problems of
the poor are not radically resolved
… no solution will be found for
the world’s problems or, for that
matter, to any problems. Inequality
is the root of so-cial ills.” (Pope
Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, 202)
“Growth in justice requires more
than eco-nomic growth, while

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

We plain forgot that
most of the things that
now seemed wrong with
the economy—such as
gro-tesque extremes of
wealth and poverty,
land-ownership
disputes, monopolistic
industries in ca-hoots
with the government—
had been wrong for
decades, even centuries,
before there was a
Marcos in Malacañang.

presupposing such growth (ibid.
204).”
In essence, the development
of underdevelopment causes the
poverty keenly felt by the majority
populace. Peasants, agricultural
workers, rural landless, fisher folk,
indigenous peoples, workers, urban
poor, students and professionals,
patriotic businessmen and small
entrepreneurs—all alike are victims
of social injustice and the loss of
economic sovereignty, which in
turn cannot be changed unless we
wake up to their root cause in our
own minds’ notion of ownership,
and its resultant social practices,
institutions and structures—in
other words, unless we first wage a
te-nacious cultural revolution.
We have to go back a couple
of centuries quickly. It was the
occupation of the Philippines
by Westerners that brought a
significant and negative change in
the idea of property ownership.
Heads of barangays were
encouraged to individually own

9

ARTICLES

what traditionally were regarded
as communal lands of the whole
barangay and to lay de facto claims
to the lands of those indebted to
him. For the first time ever people
could and would now appropriate
for themselves as their exclusive
property the lands that had
hitherto honestly in their mind and
in actual practice truly belonged
to all. This process of individual
appropriation of land accelerated
in the Philippines throughout
the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. This is how oligarchy
came about.
If one has the time and the
inclination one could telescope the
evolution of property ownership
from land ownership to the
ownership of modern industrial,
commercial, finance, political (yes,
ownership of the state) and other
forms of capital to this very day.
It’s a tale of who owns what for how
long a time now to the exclusion of
the great majority. It’s a tale of elite
families shaping and being shaped
by the processes of change and the
persistence of an unjust absolutist
and ex-clusivist ownership concept
designed to create this yawning gap
between rich and poor.
The problem of injustice
in ownership is, first of all,
a problem of philosophy or
ideology. Without a clear-cut
ideological alternative to the
prevailing concept, rebellions
and movements toward reforms,
including changes in Presidential
personae from Ramon Magsaysay
to Rodrigo Duterte, no matter how
many and how strong, ultimately
fail. Without it, insurrections like
we have seen in early Rome and
latter-day Philippines will not
necessarily result in genuine social
revolutions. Thousands will be
killed or die—for nothing.
Thus the moral-philosophical
view was advanced that human
ownership of anything at all must
be regarded in the nature of
stewardship—not in the nature
of an absolute and exclusivist

10

domin-ium, as in the Roman law
concept so prevalent till now. And
a “steward” (vs. a “dominus” or absolute owner) is indeed, one, who
has right and powers over property
but not absolutely—not in any way
he wants—but merely according
to the will of the real or absolute
Owner of all things.
The Herculean task then and
now is to confront this established
ownership concept and stand it on
its head with reformed policies,
laws and strong governance backed
up by even stronger peo-ple’s
organizations—the type which
are not merely for the people but
of the people and by the people
themselves. Simple? Yes, but not
quite, as the predicate for success
is precisely getting into existence
such vibrant organizations of the
people. Indeed, it takes more than
a President.
From being an instrument
of exclusion and separation we
would now want ownership to be
one of inclusion and community
creation. Instead of an unlimited
and absolute power it should be
a limited one, related to genuine
human values. Instead of being
considered an end in itself it must
be considered a means to certain
clear ends.
For instance, if land ownership
is merely a means to the proper
use of land, what land use and
land ownership programs would
be realistic enough to follow a
moral philosophy of having? What
kind of land value taxation can or
should be used for this purpose
(right now – zero)? Clearly, the
question is crucial if one expects
to have peace and prosperity of
being. A given community may
agree among themselves, for
instance, that the purposes of land
use are food security for all, decent
habitats for all, and an ecologically
harmonious economic regime for
the common good.
Many IMPACT issues the past 50
years clearly show how we adopted
the kind of land distribu-tion
IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

that often led to land destruction
and never bothered to go for
rural development and rural
industrialization. Other countries,
like South Korea and Taiwan, did—
and they are prosperous nations
today.
There seems no end of reports
regarding the perverted politics of
money, personalities, patron-age.
social connections and coercive
violence practiced by the rentseeking wealthy and power-ful
who own the state and its agencies
in various ways of sharing and
altercation—all the while singing
praises to any incumbent popular
President’s obligatory commitment
to the common good.
Hence, so many of us know in
our guts that a mere change of
political personalities may only
mean more of the same—the
same oligarchy that has reigned
the past few hundred years using
the same money tactics to hold
captive politicians exhibiting
the same attitudes, doing the
same practices with the same
results that differ only as the
years go by because they become
smarter, and get to be worse and
worse—which is not to deny the
contradiction that somehow (with
in-creasing difficulty now) some
Presidents manage to maintain an
image of good intention and incorruptibility. The reality, however,
is: it takes more than a President.
The needed change we desire,
for instance, the re-structuring of
society into a modern indigenous
network of rural industries and
other community-based industries
requires a strong people’s
movement led by a spearhead
of organized change makers
(development workers or leaders),
and supported by all kinds of
direct and representative people’s
actions—evidence of a transformed populace. Yes, indeed, it
takes more than a President. It
takes a new mind, a new culture,
a new people. Can this ever be
possible?

ARTICLES

The challenge of bridging
the gap between word and praxis:
Reflections on Catholic Social Doctrine
Fr. Eutiquio ‘Euly’ B. Belizar,
Jr., SThD
ASK any ordinary Catholic,
let’s say, any Filipino Catholic,
if he/she has heard about the
social teachings of the Church.
A positive answer would not be
a surprise. Bishops, priests and
catechists, after all, have been
teaching or preaching on them
especially since Vatican II. But a
negative answer would be more
likely than we are prepared to
admit. The reason is that Catholic
social teachings seem, to ordinary
Catholics, to be matters that have
more to do with official Church
views on socio-economic-political
matters, whereas their general
Church life often means going
to church on Sundays or raising
funds for parish projects or going
to prayer and Bible sessions
with their faith community/
BEC cluster, if any. In a word,
while the official Church may
be strongly integral in its
pronouncements on Christian
life, concrete parish life is mostly
a traditionally institutional and
cultic experience. Word and
worship may be vibrant; Christian
practice and lifestyle could be
lagging behind.
For instance, the social doctrine
of the Church has been with us
officially since Rerum Novarum
(‘Of New Things, 1891) by Pope
Leo XXIII till Pope Francis’
Laudato Si’ (‘On the Care for
our Common Home’, 2015).
But the question that must not
cease hounding us till it finds

a satisfactory answer is: How
far has it really been received,
taken to heart and made “criteria
for reflection”, “principles of
judgment” and “directives for
action” (to borrow the important
phrases from St. John Paul II in
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, no. 8)
among Catholics, particularly its
lay faithful?
Could the answer be easily
forthcoming or, as a song says,
“blowing in the wind”? There
are aspects of the question that I
believe we need to ponder.

Forming a practical moral social
conscience
As though anticipating the gap
between teaching and practice,
the Second Plenary Council of
the Philippines recommended
from the very start a vigorous
formation of Filipino Catholics
aimed at inculcating in them a
conscience that moves from basic
“love of good” and “avoidance
of evil” to a “practical moral
conscience” that makes persons
or groups “turn aside from blind
choice and try to be guided by
the objective standards of moral
conduct” (PCP II, 284, 286). We
must wonder loudly how well
have we been doing in this area
of social conscience formation
in the Philippine Church in ways
that impact concrete parishes
of concrete dioceses. Are our
evaluations and assessments
bearing fruit in terms of socially
and morally formed leaders in
our political, economic, social and
cultural lives?

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

Papal teachings: Continuity and
unique contributions
It all starts with Pope Leo
XXIII’s acute perception of the
inhuman conditions of workers
and the growing power of social
movements. In response he
champions the creation of a
just society through his “just
wage theory” and the protection
of the workers’ rights (Rerum
Novarum). Pope Pius XI is
especially distressed by the
specter of child and female labor
tolerated and even promoted
in authoritarian and dictatorial
regimes which he also condemns
(Quadragesimo Anno-On the
Fortieth Year, 1931). His boldness
in doing so is unique. Pope
John XXIII keeps up the worker
question by advocating worker
participation and ownership,
then focuses on international
poverty rather than simply on
that in industrialized countries
(Mater et Magistra—Mother and
Teacher, 1961), while condemning
threats to peace in racism and
the arms race (Pacem in Terris—
Peace on Earth, 1963). The peace
question also gets the attention
of Pope Paul VI who goes further
than condemning the arms
race by advocating the integral
development of peoples as the
new name for peace (Populorum
Progressio—The Progress of
Peoples, 1967), reaffirming the
priority of workers and urging
Christians to look into their
social realities for solutions in the
light of the Gospel (Octogesima
Adveniens—On the Eightieth

11

ARTICLES

Year, 1971). Again Pope John
Paul II reaffirms the workers’
dignity as participants in God’s
creativity and productivity and
promoted by solidarity (Laborem
Exercens—Through Work,
1981), condemns the ‘structures
of sin’ and the gap between
rich and poor while upholding
‘preferential love for the poor’
(Sollicitudo Rei Socialis—The
Social Concern of the Church,
1987). He condemns the excesses
of capitalism, the ‘idolatry of
the market’ and the ‘insanity of
the arms race’ but affirms the
‘universal destination of earthly
goods’ (Centesimus Annus—The
One Hundredth Year, 1991), then
promotes the sanctity of life
and the ‘culture of life’ against
its violations (Evangelium
Vitae—The Gospel of Life, 1995).
Pope Benedict XVI, for his part,
meets head on the issues of social
justice and poverty by affirming
the inseparability of charity
from justice as well as from truth
(Caritas in Veritate—Charity in
Truth, 2009). For Pope Francis,
on the other hand, talks of the
social question in terms of
evangelization of which it is an
important dimension (Evangelii
Gaudium—The Joy of the
Gospel, 2013), then takes up the
ecological question by calling
for a “swift and unified global
action” and attention to the “cry
of the earth” and the “cry of the
poor” (Laudato Si—On Care for
our Common Home, 2015). All
these teach us how continuity of
our social concern also means
an openness to the new and
concrete situations of the times
we are in.

Community and Participation;
Rights and Responsibilities;
Option for the Poor and the
Rights of Workers; Solidarity;
Care for God’s Creation (as
articulated by the US Catholic
Bishops Conference). On the
other hand, PCP II takes a slightly
different path when looking at the
Church’s social teachings from
the perspective of the Philippine
situation. In its discernment
certain truths or principles have
greater relevance to the Church in
the Philippines, such as Integral
Development Based on Human
Dignity and Solidarity; Universal
Purpose of Earthly Goods and
Private Property; Social Justice
and Love; Peace and Active NonViolence; Love of Preference for
the Poor; the Value of Human
Work; the Integrity of Creation;
and the Empowerment of People
(PCP II, 293-329).
It is remarkable how differences
of socio-economic-political
situations in different places
where the Church exists could also
mean different perspectives on
relevant principles to give weight
to. For example, in the previous
presentation by the US Bishops
Conference of the seven pillars
of Catholic social doctrine, it is
remarkable that one does not
find as much emphasis on the
principle of the universal purpose
of earthly goods as our PCP II
does. In fact, it is not in the list.
One inevitably asks: Is the wealthy
socio-economic environment
within which the US Church lies
makes the importance of the
universal purpose of earthly goods
less perceived or appreciated than
we do in the Philippines?

Universal principles locally
applied
Catholic social doctrine has
seven pillars that are universally
acknowledged and taught, namely:
Life and the Dignity of the
Human Person; Call to Family,

Stress on the social doctrine’s
scriptural and spiritual roots
One block that keeps separating
the social doctrine of the Church
from Christian praxis is the
perception that it is basically
social work that has little to do

12

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

with faith. A constant appeal to
the God of the Scriptures is in
order. God, as we are taught by
the Bible, is a liberating God
who created us in his image and
likeness. This has tremendous
consequences that we see in the
acts of God himself. He frees us
from non-existence, then frees
his People from various slaveries,
as in Egypt and in indebtedness
and poverty to which prophets
are sent as agents of his liberating
message. Finally, he sends his Son
to free us from the fundamental
roots of slavery and decay: sin and
death, Satan’s claws and chains on
mankind and God’s creation. In
other words, a profound linkage
between catecheses on the social
teachings and Scriptures will go a
long way in connecting faith and
social practice.
Parish and diocesan structures as
examples of integral spirituality
There are basic scandals we must
acknowledge in our concrete lives
are Catholics. I cite two: Catholics
who are active in social action but
not in spirituality-oriented acts
or concerns; and Catholics who
actively pray and participate in
liturgies and spiritual concerns
but scarcely see social action
as part of faith life. The point
is, both are only half right. The
formation of social action workers
towards deeply cultivating their
prayer life and spirituality may
well be a good lead for the many
who are content with mere cultic
Catholicism. On the other hand,
by periodically doing catecheses
on the Church’s social doctrine
for the benefit of the ordinary
Church-going Catholics together
with encouragements that they
involve themselves in concrete
programs for the poor and
other social-concerns-oriented
activities, bridging the gap may
not necessarily be achieved at
once but will definitely get a good
start.

ARTICLES

Basic Ecclesial Communities:
Agents of communion,
participation and mission
By Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, SThD

98-99).
The link between communion and mission is
further emphasized when PCP II asserts that “the
Church is a communion in a state of mission.”
Participation in Mission as Communion does
not simply mean that everyone – from hierarchy
to laity - participate in decision making process
or in governance. Participation is linked to
Mission—especially the three-fold prophetic,
priestly and kingly mission.
Thus, the Church is communion that
participates in mission. The BECs which is
considered as a new way of being Church is
likewise the locus and agents of communion,
participation and mission.
In this article, I wish to expound what BECs are
and in what way they are agents of communion,
participation and mission.
In referring to the parish as communion of
communities—the primary reference is to the
BECs although not exclusively. The BECs are
local communities of Catholic Christians at the
neighborhood and villages within the parish. The
members are close to one another and relate to
each other as friends, brothers and sisters in the
Lord. They gather regularly to share the Word
of God and live it in their daily life, to pray and
celebrate their faith. They share their resources
and find ways to help and serve one another and
those who are poor and address their problems.
They are known by many local names (GKK,
GSK, MSK, Gimong, SISA, etc.). There are
various forms and shapes: Chapel-centered
communities—40 to 100 families; Chapelcentered communities with family groupings or
cells (composed of 7-15 families per FG); Family
groupings/cells without chapels (link all FGs as
one community/BEC)
PCP II recognizes the BECs as expression
of the vision on a renewed Church which
includes communion: “Our vision of Church as
communion, participation and mission, Church
as Priestly, Prophetic and kingly people, and as
Church of the Poor, a Church that is renewed,
is today finding expression in one ecclesial

THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the
Philippines has declared 2017 as the Year of the
Parish as Communion of Communities. The
CBCP pastoral exhortation “On Era of New
Evangelization” describes the focus of this year:
“This is a year when we more deeply discern
not only the structures of governance of our
dioceses and parishes but also of the quality
of faith life in the parish, the fellowship,
belongingness, and participation by its
members. In a special way we shall probe into
our efforts of making the parish a communion
of communities, a communion of Basic
Ecclesial Communities and of covenanted
faith-communities and ecclesial movements. We
shall discern and implement measures on how
communities of consecrated life may be more
integrated into the life and mission of the parish.
In brief, our focus will be the building of a parish
that is truly a faith community immersed in the
lives of its people.”
The priority for this year is forming and
revitalizing of Basic Ecclesial Communities
in every parish as agents of communion,
participation and mission with the active
participation of other faith communities, lay
organizations, movements and associations
(LOMAs).
The theme of 2017 is in line with the PCP II
vision of a renewed Church which is also based
on the Vatican II vision of the Church: The
Church as Community of Disciples that live in
communion and that participate in the mission
of the Church as a priestly, prophetic and kingly
people and as the Church of the Poor. For PCP II,
this vision of the Church finds expression in the
Basic Ecclesial Communities.
PCP II links communion with participation
and mission. “Participation is a very important
aspect of the Church as communion…In the
Philippines, participation largely means enabling
the laity to participate more fully in the life of
the Church and in its task of mission.” (PCP II

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

13

ARTICLES

movement. This is the movement to foster Basic
Ecclesial Communities.” (#137)
“They are small communities of Christians,
usually of families who gather together around
the Word of God and the Eucharist. These
communities are united to their pastors but
are ministered to regularly by lay leaders. The
members know each other by name, and share
not only the Word of God and the Eucharist but
also their concerns both material and spiritual.
They have a strong sense of belongingness and
responsibility for one another.” (PCP II 138)
St. John Paul II describes BECs as part of the
effort to decentralize the parish community
and regard them as expressions and means
for a deeper communion: ““These are groups
of Christians who, at the level of the family or
in a similarly restricted setting, come together
for prayer, Scripture reading, catechesis, and
discussion of human and ecclesial problems
with a view to a common commitment. These
communities are a sign of vitality within the
Church, an instrument of formation and
evangelization, and a solid starting point for
a new society based on a “civilization of love.”
These communities decentralize and organize
the parish community, to which they always
remain united. They take root in less privileged
and rural areas, and become a leaven of Christian
life, of care for the poor and neglected, and
of commitment to the transformation of
society. Within them, the individual Christian
experiences community and therefore senses
that he or she is playing an active role and
is encouraged to share in the common task.
Thus, these communities become a means of
evangelization and of the initial proclamation of
the Gospel, and a source of new ministries.”
“Because the Church is communion the new
‘basic communities,’ if they truly live in unity with
the Church, are a true expression of communion
a means for the construction of a more profound
communion. They are thus cause for great hope
for the life of the Church.” (RM 51)
How can BECs be genuine expression of
communion? The members experience
the bond of unity which is based on shared
faith, celebrated in the breaking of the bread,
concretely expressed in the sharing of material
goods (Acts 2:42ff).
In the BECs the members know each other,
they have a strong sense of belonging and
responsibility for one another. They live as
brothers and sisters, as community of friends—
kapuso, kapamilya, kaibigan and kapitbahay.

14

IMPACT

The Catholic families are linked to other families
in the neighborhoods and organized as family
groupings or BECs cells. The neighborhood cells
or family groupings are linked to each other and
comprise the chapel-level or area level BECs.
These BECs are linked to other BECs.
There are lots of celebration and tablefellowship in BECs—with simple common
meals to fiesta celebration. The celebration
of the Eucharist is more meaningful because
it expresses and celebrates the life of
communion—of unity, friendship, sharing and
participation among the members.
The sharing of time, talent and treasure is an
essential expression of communion. This means
practicing a spirituality of stewardship. This
generates a spirit of volunteerism (sharing of
time and talent). Some BECs adopt a modified
tithing system (sharing of treasure) which is

NOVEMBER 2016

ARTICLES

Thousands of people fill the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City for the Mass to end the 3rd CBCP Basic Ecclesial Community National Assembly,
November 14, 2015. ROY LAGARDE

The BECs carry out their mission within the
parish, starting in their own neighborhood, in
the barangay or village, in nearby communities.
They go to the peripheries in the parish and
reach out to those who are baptized but not
evangelized, those who are nominal or seasonal
Catholics and those who are alienated from the
Church. They engage in dialogue with Christians
from other denominations and those who
belong to other religions.
Many BECs have not yet realized this vision of
a renewed Church. The task of the clergy and
the lay faithful during and beyond the Year of
the Parish as Communion of Communities is
forming and revitalizing BECs so that they truly
become agents of communion, participation and
mission. In this way, they will indeed become
what Pope Francis calls “Communities of
Missionary Disciples.” (EvangeliiGaudium).

voluntary by nature. There are also mutual
aid systems and income generating projects
designed to help the members who are needy
and even those who are not members of the
community. Some BECs in the rural areas have
set up communal farms. Many have organized
cooperatives.
In the BECs, the members express their
communion more fully as they unite and actively
participate in fulfilling their threefold mission.
This is the prophetic mission—of proclaiming
and giving witness to the Word of God, the Good
News, as well denouncing the manifestation
of evil in society. This is the priestly mission—
through active participation in the liturgical
celebration. This is the kingly/servant mission—
of working for the kingdom, for justice, peace
and the integrity of creation. This is a mission of
social transformation.
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ARTICLES

Stewards
of God’s
creation
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
THIS might be too big or too
abstract an issue for a newspaper
column to tackle, but I think it
is worthwhile to bring it out if
only to remind ourselves of our
responsibility as stewards of God’s
creation whose integrity we have to
uphold, enhance and defend.
The world today is developing
very fast, and we just have to get
a handle on these developments
that clearly are not all that right.
There are many questionable
things taking place, like the issue
of climate change etc. That’s why
we now have a graver concern
over how we are taking care of our
environment, with Pope Francis,
for example, issuing an encyclical
on it entitled, ‘Laudato si.’
As God’s image and likeness and
redeemed children of his through
Christ, we are tasked to take care
of God’s creation. “Be fruitful and
increase in number. Fill the earth
and subdue it. Rule over the fish
in the sea and birds in the sky and
over every living creature that
moves on the ground.” (Gen 1,28)
That was God’s clear mandate to
our first parents. It continues to be
ours too, till the end of time.
The world has been given to us
by God as the place for us to do our
life’s test of whether to love him in

16

return or not. As such, it comes to
us with a certain order, direction
and unity. It comes to us with laws
that we try to discover and follow.
As the masterpiece of that
creation, we are made its stewards
who have to take care of it, always
with the mind of God and never
just with our own ideas. That’s
why we need to always be in God’s
presence, asking for his guidance.
We can never overemphasize our
need for prayer, for studying the
doctrine of our faith, so we can
discern God’s will and ways as we
go through our earthly affairs.
Offhand, the catechism tells us
some basic indications of how
we can respect the integrity of
creation. “Animals, like plants and
inanimate beings,” it says, “are by
nature destined for the common
good of past, present, and future
humanity. Use of the mineral,
vegetable and animal resources
of the universe cannot be
divorced from respect for moral
imperatives.” (CCC 2415)
It continues by saying that
“man’s dominion over inanimate
and other living beings granted
by the Creator is not absolute; it is
limited by concern for the equality
of life of his neighbor, including
generations to come; it requires a
religious respect for the integrity of
creation.”
IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

In following these indications
with prudence, I imagine that
aside from prayer and study, a lot
of consultation among concerned
parties should be done. This is
especially so when dealing with
legitimate interests and values that
compete and collide against each
other.
Let’s hope that we develop the
appropriate attitudes, skills and
structures to put these ideals into
practice. Leaders from various
sectors—church, politics, business,
culture, etc.—should come
together to develop this greater
sensitivity toward our duty to

ARTICLES

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles
leads thousands of anti-coal groups
in marching around Batangas City to
protest the proposed coal plants in
their province, May 5, 2016. Around
8 proposed coal-fire powerplants
is set to be constructed around the
province, countering the Philippines'
climate initiative of reducing carbon emissions as part of the COP21
agreement. VEEJAY VILLAFRANCA FOR
INSTITUTE FOR CLIMATE AND SUSTAINABLE CITIES

Let’s hope that
we develop
the appropriate
attitudes, skills
and structures to
put these ideals
into practice.
respect the integrity of creation.
St. John Paul II once remarked:
“It is the Creator’s will that humans
should treat nature not as a ruthless
exploiter, but as an intelligent
and responsible administrator.”
We need to have a clear idea of
what would comprise keeping and
enhancing the integrity of
God’s creation and what would
harm it.
In this regard, the Church is
offering her social doctrine to
give some guidance. “The Church
receives from the Gospel the full
revelation of the truth about man.

When she fulfills her mission
of proclaiming the Gospel, she
bears witness to man, in the name
of Christ, to his dignity and his
vocation to the communion of
persons. She teaches him the
demands of justice and peace in
conformity with divine wisdom.”
(CCC 2419)
It is important that the voice
of the Church be heard and
considered with utmost respect.
While human ideologies will
always have something valid to
offer, it is our God-given faith that
at the end of the day contains all
the truth about how we have to
VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

carry out
our duty toward the integrity of
creation.
It is our God-given faith that puts
everything in order, in unity and
with proper direction. It covers all
the needs of man and provides the
resources for any eventualities that
can take place in our earthly affairs,
including our mistakes.
This God-given faith, together
with its necessary complement
of hope and charity, should
serve as the spirit behind all our
temporal affairs that would need
all the helpful contributions of our
sciences and technologies.

17

ARTICLES

Human dignity is the right of all
By Fr. Shay Cullen
WE are bombarded daily by the
news and images of violence and
mayhem. The bombing of Yemen
and Aleppo, the horrific war in
Iraq and Syria, conflicts in Sudan
in Africa and with the deaths and
suffering of migrants and refugees
fleeing violence and war. It gives
us urgent reason to feel the human
suffering and to think and act about
our humanity. What are we as a
species that we do violence to each
other?
As a species, are we more animal
than human, more violent than
peaceful? Has our intelligence
brought greater, more efficient
means of killing and exterminating
others than building equality and
peace, ending hunger and poverty
of hundreds of millions of people?
It seems we, humans with the
big brains and intelligence, are
damaging ourselves and our planet
beyond repair and recovery.
Are we not like a shipload of
humans fighting among ourselves
and causing the ship to sink? The
aggressors tend to demonize their
opponents, to take away their selfworth and self-respect and deprive
them of their dignity. They do so to
exert superiority over them. Racial
hatred is the result and it is on the
rise in the world today.
The human has evolved as the
most aggressive and destructive
species on the planet to the extent
of one more powerful group in
a community or country striving
hell-bent on dominating or even
exterminating others they dislike
and whom they consider to be
inferior, different or dangerous to
them. When two or more groups
feel threatened by others, they
arm themselves and are ready for
aggression or self-defense, violence,
war and retaliation.

18

Peaceful community life and
co-existence is possible when
the universal human rights
of all members of a group are
recognized, cherished and
protected from those who
would deny them.
IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

ARTICLES

Crime scene investigators inspect an image of
Jesus Christ that belonged to a suspected drug
pusher who was killed and dumped along EDSA
in Pasay City, November 10, 2016. VINCENT GO

Doing nothing is to forfeit our
rights and dignity. We are in this
planet together and we must
work together to live in peace
and harmony with equality and
justice. Dialogue, discussion, talking
over differences, getting to know
and understand those who are
different from us in race, religion
and economic status can bridge
the gap. It is when we engage and
look each other face to face and
listen to each other that there is a
chance for peaceful negotiation and
understanding can be reached.
Troops and weapons are
being sent to Eastern European
countries by North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) to counter
the threat of Russia to wage war
by proxy as it did in Crimea and
Ukraine. The Russian leadership
feels threatened by the increasing
number of states joining the
NATO and intends to assert itself.
Diplomacy and persuasion is the
road to peace.
Violence in a family, a community
or between nations can begin when
some members are considered to
have less rights and dignity than
another. One group will dominate
another and deprive them of
freedoms and rights. Motives differ,
some want to exploit and grow rich
on the backs of the poor; others
want to take over the nation’s natural
wealth. It is the greed and will to
have power over others that drive
the violence in our world.
Peaceful community life and
co-existence is possible when
the universal human rights of
all members of a group are
recognized, cherished and
protected from those who would
deny them. That’s why awareness of
these rights and dignity is essential
to defend and promote them and
that is to promote peaceful living
together in cooperation and mutual
respect. The most successful
nations are built on the respect and
adherence to the rule of law that
establishes and defends human

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

rights and dignity.
These rights declared by the
United Nations in the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and
specified in various international
conventions are the bedrock upon
which people of the world are
supposed to live lives of dignity and
harmony with justice and equality.
They are also at the heart of
Catholic Social Teaching, which
traces as its source of wisdom and
enlightenment the faith and belief
in a loving greater power that exists
within and beyond the physical
universe and imbues every creature
with value and worth. It is a belief
that every human being comes
to life no matter their condition,
status, race, religion, disability, rich
or poor. They have equal value
and rights that is established in the
image and likeness of universal
goodness and love.
This is inherent self-value and
worth of every individual and
the recognition that they have
equal human dignity that cannot
and should not be taken away
from them. From this universal
recognition of human dignity
of each person by all nations
derives all other rights. We ought
to recognize and respect in all
others that which we want to be
recognized and respected in us,
too. At the very least such universal
rights, based on the dignity of each
human person, is a shared strategy
for survival and success. At its
highest level it brings about a wellordered peaceful and prosperous,
united community where the
dignity of each is respected and
protected.
It has to be this recognition
of the dignity, integrity and
empowerment with equality of
the human person that has to be
highly valued above all else. It is not
the strongest that ought to survive
at the expense of the weaker but
respect for human dignity of each
person is what will bring about just,
peaceful communities and nations.

19

COVER STORY

Must the Chur
socio-politica
20

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

Priests and seminarians light candles to oppose the
government’s plan to bury the late President Ferdinand
Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani during a protest
action held a day before the 44th year of Martial Law
declaration in Quezon City, Sept. 20, 2016. MARIA TAN

rch speak on
al issues?

By Lope C. Robredillo, SThD

ON the November 8, 2016 decision
of the Supreme Court to allow the
remains of Ferdinand Marcos to
be interred at the Libingan ng Mga
Bayani, Veritas846.ph published a
quote from Abp Socrates Villegas,
CBCP President: “I am very sad.
The burial is an insult to the
EDSA spirit. It mocks our fight to
restore democracy. I am puzzled
and hurt and in great grief. It

calls for greater courage to make
the full truth of the dictatorship
known.” Comments were mixed.
But typical of those who were
against the Archbishop’s statement
was a netizen of the social media
who goes by the name of Salty
Nooblet Cyrus. Far from arguing
on the merits of the quotation,
she/he zeroed in on authority and
right to make such a statement

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

on a political issue, opining that
the separation of Church and
State must be observed, and that
Church authorities must confine
themselves to the spiritual realm.
Contra arguments on Church’s
socio-political involvement
Must Church leaders not speak
on social and political issues? It
might be of help to take a look at

21

COVER STORY

...the separation
of Church and
State, is probably
one of the least
understood principle
in Church-State
relations. Quite
often, ordinary
people take it to
mean simply that
the Church should
not interfere in the
affairs of the State,
just as the State
should not meddle in
the concerns of the
Church.

22

the most common objections.
Separation of Church and State.
The first one, the separation of
Church and State, is probably one
of the least understood principle
in Church-State relations. Quite
often, ordinary people take it to
mean simply that the Church
should not interfere in the affairs
of the State, just as the State
should not meddle in the concerns
of the Church. Thus, when
some Church officials denounce
government policies, some
immediately call the denunciation
a violation of the separation of
Church and State. If anything,
they expect Church officials to be
silent when it comes to poli-tics,
social and political policies and
programs.
This is far removed from
its meaning. The principle,
enshrined in the 1987 Philippine
Constitu-tion, Art II, Sec 6, finds
its explication on the bill of rights
in Art III, Sec 5, stating that no
law shall be made respecting
an establishment of religion,
or prohibiting its free exercise.
It guaran-tees free exercise
and enjoyment of religious
profession and worship, without
discrimination or preference. No
religious test shall be required for
the exercise of civil or political
rights. Phil-ippine jurisprudence
has long interpreted the
principle along this line, and
has never construed it to signify
suppression of public voice of the
Church.
Which things are Caesar’s?
Oftentimes, people object to the
Church’s interference in political
and societal affairs on the ground
that Jesus himself clearly forbade it.
Tacked to that claim is the saying,
“Render to Caesar the thing that
are Caesar’s, and to God the things
that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). This
has been interpreted in various
ways by exegetes, ranging from
those who take it as counselling
obedience to political authorities

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

to those who see it as an advise
on non-payment of taxes (see my
book, Jesusological Foundations
for a Theology of Social Transformation). But for many defenders
of the status quo, the interpretation
of S. Dummellow is representative: Jesus so sympathized
with the Roman imperialism
that loyalty and submission to
civil power are a duty binding in
conscience.
Today, no exegete worth his salt
would take it that way. Practitioners
of historical-critical meth-od
have shown that, interpreted in its
historical context, the emphasis
of the saying is on the se-cond
segment. Writes Richard Horsley
in his book, Jesus and the Spiral of
Violence: The key in the saying
“must lie in what is Caesar’s
and what is God’s… Jesus would
appear to be consistent with later
rabbinic teaching in this regard…
that everything is God’s.” Dorothy
Day is quoted to have said that if
we render to God everything that
belongs to God, there would be
nothing left to Caesar. Clearly,
the passage cannot be taken as a
proof-text for the separation of
Church and State. At least, no
respectable exegete, either Catholic
or Protestant, would invoke the
saying to silence the public voice of
the Church.
Religion as a private affair. A
third objection to the Church’s
public voice in matters of social
and political issues is the idea that
religion should be confined to
individual morality, that it should
only be about private faith and
personal piety, church worship
and affairs of the sacristy. For
some, especially those influenced
by Lutheran tradition, the Church
should be concerned on-ly with
individual’s reconciliation with
God, it has to prioritize salvation
of the soul, and only discuss the
Bible, not social and political
questions. In effect, the Church
cannot apply any reli-gious

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo leads prayers for the victims of extrajudicial executions at the Baclaran Church and condemned the increasing number of vigilante-style killings of suspected drug pushers and users, August 10, 2016. MARIA TAN

teaching on political and social
life, much less in a critical way.
It cannot challenge the existing
public order.
But that is a caricature
of religion. At the heart of
Christian religion is the Gospel
that has to be announced as good
news, but as Gustavo Gutierrez
argues in his A Theology of
Liberation, “the annunciation of
the Gospel, precisely insofar as it
is a message of total love, has an
inescapable political dimension,
because it is addressed to people
who live within a fabric of social
relation-ships, which, in our
case, keep them in a subhuman
condition.” The Gospel has
always a direct consequence
for social and political life. For
this reason, religion cannot be
confined to purely private affair
nor entirely to other-worldly
concerns.

The Church and socio-political
issues of the day
That brings us to the role of
the Church in social and political
affairs. For, if the Gospel has an
immediate effect on the life of
society, the Church, being herald
of the Gospel, cannot ignore the
socio-political issues of the day. Its
involvement, as noted in the CBCP
Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine
Politics (41-42), can be looked at
from different angles.
The Gospel and politics. In
the Bible, gospel refers first of all
to the Kingdom of God, which
summarizes the mission of Jesus.
According to the Lord’s Prayer
(Matt 6:10), it means doing God’s
will on earth; God’s will has to be
done not only in the religious,
social and economic life of the
people, but also in their political
life, because politics is an activity in
the world. The kingdom-values of

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

peace, justice, freedom, mercy and
reconciliation that the prophets
spoke of have to be made visible, if
not prevail, in all these aspects of
life. But if Jesus has commanded
his disciples to bring the gospel to
all the world, there is no legitimate
reason why it cannot pro-claim it
in the field of social and political
life, since there is no aspect of
human life that cannot be a field of
evangelization. Politics has to be
transformed and nurtured in the
light of the Gos-pel.
The mission of the Church and
politics. Probably no one disputes
that the mission of the Church
is one of salvation. But what is
salvation? It is regrettable that
the term is often taken to mean
salvation of the soul, because
a correct understanding of the
word must take into account the
whole person; what is saved is
not only the soul but also the

23

COVER STORY

body, and all the dimensions of
the human person as a being in
the world: spiritual and material,
eternal and temporal. That is
why, the Second Vatican Council,
in Apostolicam Actuositatem,
says: “Christ’s redemptive work,
while of itself directed toward
the salvation of all, involves the
renewal of the temporal order.
Hence, the mission of the Church
is not only to bring to everyone
the message of grace of Christ,
but also to penetrate and perfect
the temporal sphere with the
spirit of the Gospel.” Since
politics is part of the temporal
order, the Church cannot
therefore exempt politics in the
work of salvation.
The moral dimension of
politics. All human activity, as it
comes from the intellect and will
of man, has always a religious and
moral dimension. The reason for
this is that any human action may
lead either to grace or to sin. Since
politics, the art of governance
and public service, is a human
activity, it always has religious

and moral dimension. There
is always a moral aspect in the
administration of public resources,
in the governance of people, and
in the dispensation of justice.
And inasmuch as the religious
and moral dimension of life is
the competence of the Church, it
cannot therefore overlook politics
in the fulfillment of its mission to
preach the Gos-pel.
The CBCP’s intervention on social
and political issues
Papal social encyclicals. It
is on account of these various
dimensions in relation to politics
that the Church has been engaged
in the social and political life of
the people. But contrary to what
many people may think, there is
nothing new in this. The Church
has been long involved in contemporary issues of society. In
its current form, its intervention
finds expression in the series of
social encyclicals, beginning with
Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891
on labor and capital and on the
condition of workers, then with

Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno in
1931 on various themes treated
in Rerum Novarum, including
dignity of labor, rights of workers
and the principle of sub-sidiarity.
John XXIII took up the themes of
private property and social justice
in his 1961 Mater et Magistra,
while Paul VI’s 1961 Populorum
Progressio proposed a pluralistic
approach to eco-nomic problems.
John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens in
1981, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis in 1987
and Centissimus Annus in 1991
treat of such social and political
topics as work as both humanizing
and dehumanizing, authentic
human development, critique
of capitalism and communism,
eco-nomic development as
enslavement, and option for
the poor. Benedict XVI took up
various themes in Populorum
Progressio, and spoke of layers of
development, including inequality,
re-spect for life and use of
technology in Caritas in Veritate
in 2009, and Francis describes our
world as a common home that we
must care for in Laudato Si in 2015.

Caritas Philippines chairman Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona together with the leaders of other faith-based groups and civil society organizations
ask President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to adopt its develop-ment and ecological agenda for the poor during a press conference at the Pius XII Center in
Manila, June 15, 2016. PHOTO COURTESY OF CARITAS PHILIPPINES

24

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

The CBCP speaks. Unknown
to some many Catholics, the
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of
the Philippines (CBCP) and its
predecessor, Catholic Welfare
Organization (CWO) have
issued more than two hundred
pastoral letters and statements,
many of which were meant to
guide the faithful in relation to
the relevant social and political
issues of the day. In general,
one might classify these latter
into three: (1) those that pertain
to internal concerns that have
to be clarified or restated or
explained in the light of new
realities in the country in
relation to the work of CBCP
Commissions. Examples:
“Religious Instruction in Public
Schools: An Opportunity and
a Challenge” in 1987; “To Form
Filipino Christians Mature in
their Faith” in 1990; “Save the
Family and Live” in 1993.
(2) Those that respond to moral
and political issues of the day
are so numerous, among them
be-ing: “CBCP Post Election
Statement” in 1986 on the
conduction of the February 7
Elections; “Thou Shalt Not Steal”
in 1989; “Guiding Principles of
the CBCP on Population Control
in 1990; “CBCP Statement on
the Debt Problem” in 1990; “On
Renewing the Political Order” in
1991; “On the Non-Restoration
of the Death Penalty” in 1992;
“Pastoral Letter on Human
Rights” in 1998; “Shepherding and
Prophesying in Hope,” in 2006;
and “I will turn their mourn-ing
into Joy” in 2016. (3) Those that
expound its social and political
teaching are best represent-ed
in “Pastoral Exhortation on
Philippine Politics” in 1997;
“Catechism on Church and
Politics” in 1998; “Pastoral
Exhortation on the Philippine
Economy” in 1998; “Pastoral
Exhortation on Philippine
Culture: in 1999.

Principles that apply in social and
political life
All these exhortations, statements
and letters show that the Philippine
Hierarchy is in touch with the life
the people and concerned with the
common good. Numerous though
they may be, yet they all flow from
principles that the Catholic Church
have underscored as a result of its
reflec-tion on the Word of God in
relation to the socio-economic and
political realities all through the
centuries. Which is why, though
one may not be able to read all
these documents, it would not be
difficult for him to understand
the position of the Church if
they are read in relation to the
principles on which they are based.
After all, they embody the CBCP
application of these prin-ciples to
the issues that confront the Church
and the Filipinos. Admittedly,
the principles are many, but the
following have been emphasized
in the Second Plenary Council of
the Philippines (PCP-II) 1991 in
its Acts and Decrees (292-329), in
the CBCP Pastoral Exhortation
on Philip-pine Politics (43) 1997,
in the CBCP Pastoral Exhortation
on Philippine Economy (37-85)
1998, and, more recently, in CBCP
Pastoral Letter on Social Concerns
(18-20) 2006:
Human dignity and solidarity.
The human person is made in the
image of God, and is called to share
life with him. This dignity is the
basis and source of all the rights
and duties (social, eco-nomic,
political) of the human person. All
must promote that dignity and
denounce whatever oppresses
it. The equal dignity of all brings
them into mutual solidarity, that
is to say, solidarity is built up on
the recognition of the dignity of
all. Extrajudicial killings and death
penalty tram-ple on that dignity.
Because of solidarity, one cannot
exploit other people or treat them
as less than human.
Universal purpose of earthly

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

The human person
is made in the image
of God, and is called
to share life with
him. This dignity is
the basis and source
of all the rights and
duties (social, economic, political) of
the human person.
goods and limits to private
property. According to John Paul
II in his Solicitudo Rei Socialis,
one of the greatest injustices in the
world is the poor distribution of
the goods and services originally
intended for all. Thus, the use
and ownership of the goods of
land must be diffused for the
benefit of all, not confined to a few
families. That is why there is a
limit to private property; this has
to be subordinated to the universal
destination of goods. Crony
capitalism is wrong.
Preferential option for the
poor. Being an option of Jesus
himself who became poor and
had compassion for them, this is
an obligatory, essential choice. As
PCP II puts it, “the common good
dictates that more attention should
be given to the less fortunate
members of society.” It behooves
us to be more concerned with
those who are at the margins of
human, social and politi-cal life:
the unemployed, poor fisher
folk and farmers, street children,
slum dwellers, tribal Fili-pinos,

25

COVER STORY

victims of typhoon, drought and
earthquake, etc.
Social justice and love. True
development is not possible
without social justice and love. It
demands, among other things,
consideration for the common
good, and equitable distribution of
wealth among different regions and
groups. It rejects concentration of
wealth, plunder of gov-ernment
coffers, graft and corruption,
among others. But since justice
is the minimum of love, it has to
have its inner fullness in love. Love
creates solidarity and brotherhood
and therefore can help overcome
hostilities that divide ethnic,
religious and political groups.
Peace and active non-violence.
Armed struggle as a method to
create transformation of society
finds no justification in the teaching
of Jesus. As John Paul said in his
visit to the Philippines, “the road
to total liberation is not the way of
violence, class struggle or hate; it is
the way of love, brotherhood and
peaceful solidarity.” The adage of
Jacques Mallet du Pan is lapidary:
“Revolu-tion devours its children.”
Integrity of creation. No
authentic development is possible
without a passionate care for the
earth and the environment. Natural
resources are limited and cannot
be exploited as though they were
inexhaustible, as their destruction
can be irreparable and irreversible.
That they bring enormous sum
to the government coffers should
not made to justify and trivialize
ecological dis-asters that can result
from human greed.
Priority of labor over capital,
workers’ right over profit. John Paul
II enunciates this princi-ple in his
encyclical Laborem Exercens: “We
must first of all recall a principle
that has always been taught by the
Church: the principle of the priority
of labor over capital. This principle
di-rectly concerns the process of
production: in this process labor
is always a primary efficient cause,
while capital, the whole collection

26

Archbishop Socrates Villegas hugs a mother of a suspected drug pusher killed by alleged vigilantes
after a Mass for the victims of extrajudicial killings at the Dagupan Cathedral, Sept. 14, 2016. GLENN
LOPEZ GLENN LOPEZ

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

of means of production, remains a
mere instrument or instrumental
cause” (12). Since capital is an
instrument, it must serve the
common good. For this reason,
profit cannot be the main motive of
any economic enterprise; it is more
intended to serve the community of
persons, including the dignity and
right of workers.
These are but few of the many
principles that are fleshed out in
the encyclicals of the Popes and
in the pastoral letters, statements
and exhortations of the CBCP,
but sufficient enough to show
that when the Church speaks on
social and economic issues, it is
not its intention to subvert the
State. On the contrary, precisely
because both Church and State
have the same constituents, its
intervention should be seen as a
service exercised for the good of
all. With more reason there-fore
should the State guarantee the
rights of the Church, but also
protect and promote its mission.
If anything, both of them should
rather engage in dialogue, while
maintaining and respecting their
proper competence.
Unfortunate development in
Philippine Christianity
Cultic Catholicism. It is to be
deplored that, in the history of
Philippine Christianity, these social teachings are almost unknown
at the level of the lay people. No
wonder, Philippine Catholi-cism is
still largely cultic with little bearing
on socio-political and economic
realities. It is not an exaggeration
to say that the number of those
who would attend a lecture by the
Cardinal on the defense of human
dignity would pale in comparison
with those who would make it to
the proces-sion of the carroza of
the Poon Nazareno.
Decalogue-confined morality.
A number of reasons could be
adduced, but part of them is that,
for centuries, our teaching on
morality has been largely confined

to the memorization of the Ten
Commandments. Moreover, their
social implications are almost
never expounded in the pulpit.
While it is true that priests do
study the social encyclicals in the
seminary at the college level, yet
they are not part of the curriculum
in the general course of theology.
As they become priests, very few
ever recall, still less study, the social
principles. It is not surprising that
in the sacra-ment of reconciliation,
social sins are almost never heard
of in the confessional.
Absence of social principles in
catechism. But the absence of
social principles in the preaching
and teaching of the ordinary parish
priest is matched by their absence
in catechetical booklets published
by dioceses. It seems that in many
parts of the country, not much
improvement has been done on the
content on the Baltimore Catechism
or in the Doctrina Cristiana.
Dearth of references to CBCP’s
wisdom and scholarship in CFC. In
addition, it is even a bit ironic that
the Catechism for Fiipino Catholics
(CFC) issued by the Bishops of
the Philippines, while containing
social principles (1160-1195), did not
draw much from their wisdom and
schol-arship that one encounters
in their pastoral statements, letters
and exhortations. Of the more than
200 of them, only the 1975 Pastoral
Letter on the Mahal na Birhen is
cited as source from the Philippine
Hierarchy. The CFC would have
been more Filipino had it cited
many times from the documents
of the Philippine Hierarchy.
That way, the social and political
teachings of the CBCP would
have been widely disseminated.
One has to congratulate the
effort of the CBCP Media Office
is putting the collection of these
documents in the internet. For it
is also important that the bishops’
teaching is accessible in the social
media.
For if the bishops do not speak,
who would?

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

Conclusion
It is fitting, before closing this
piece, to recall the memorable
words of a German at the time
of the Nazis. Martin Niemöller,
a Protestant pastor who became
so outspoken in his public criticism of Adolf Hitler--easily
remembered for his murder
of more than 6 million Jews-that he had to spend 7 years in
the Nazi concentration camps.
Probably because it had been
delivered in several fora, it has
several versions, but the meat
of the quote is that, for him,
the leaders of the Protestant
Churches have been complicit in
the transmogrification of Hitler
in their silence, espe-cially in the
persecution, imprisonment and
pogrom of millions of people by
the Nazi.
Goes the quotable quote: “First,
they came for the Socialists, and
I did not speak out because I was
not a Socialist. Then they came for
the Trade Unionists, and I did not
speak because I was not a Trade
Unionist. Then they came for
the Jews and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew. Then they
came for me—and there was no
one left to speak for me.”
Of course, not to keep one’s
mouth shut is dangerous. It is no
joke to be courageous especially
if one knows that, in a few
moments, he will be six feet below
the ground. In the social media,
a critique of the establishment
will certainly result in a tsunami
of trolls posting responses that
are, among others, replete with
half-truths, inflammatory, ad
hominem, off topic, annoying,
and full of hatred. But in the real
world, being liquidated is not a
remote possibility. Jesus himself
pointed out: “They will hand you
over to persecution and they will
kill you. You will be hated by
nations because of my name. And
many will be led into sin, they will
betray and hate one another” (Matt
24:9-10).

27

ARTICLES

NASSA/Caritas Philippines:
Gains and pains in the past
FIFTY years ago, the National
Secretariat for Social Action
(NASSA) was born in the bosom
of the Philippine Catholic Church
that was swept by the tide of
change initiated in the 1960s by
Vatican II –an aggiornamento that
opened the windows of the Church
to the world.
Set up in 1966, it began its
journey under the guidance of the
Philippine Catholic Church which,
for the first time in centuries,
allowed herself to be challenged by
the human condition of poverty
and injustice and placed herself at
the service of the Filipinos.
Throughout the 50 years of
its existence, NASSA has been
rocked by challenges amid
political and economic conditions
that threatened to cripple its
initiatives, natural and man-made
calamities that wreaked havoc
on the lives of the people, and
internal organizational doubts that
chastise its unsuspecting but honest
intentions.
Like any human organization,
NASSA has been affected by the
changing social situation and
subjected to the push and pull of
conflicting social influences even as
it tried to cling to the teaching and
inspiration of Christ.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines’s
preferential option for the poor
is reflected in its alternative social
development thrust that includes:

Socio-Economic Agenda
- Rural development through
cooperative, livelihood and microfinance projects - Sustainable
agriculture and food security
- Ecological and Environmental
Resource Conservation and
Management

Socio-Political Agenda
- Political reforms for efficient
and participatory governance
- Electoral reforms for clean

28

and honest elections - Political/
government transparency through
efficient system of monitoring
public officials

Socio-Cultural Agenda
- Efficient and adequate social
services (health care education)
- Social consciousness and value
formation
As NASSA/Caritas Philippines
entered into the second decade
of the 21st Century, it finds itself
involved in a number of advocacy
efforts such as honest electoral
politics, anti-trafficking in humans,
anti-mining efforts, HIV-AIDs
awareness, and a host of other
promotional activities.
#REACHPhilippines: The stories
of true heroes
No words can match the utter
despair and absolute wretchedness
Typhoon Yolanda spread in
November 2013 in central Visayas.
Nations around the globe initially
expected that it will take a long
time for Filipinos to come to terms
with such a great loss.
One of the first organizations
to respond to the humanitarian
emergency, NASSA/Caritas
Philippines, through the Caritas
Internationalis (CI) confederation,
was able to launch three successful
emergency appeals. With
additional and different forms
of assistance from numerous CI
Member Organizations (CI MOs),
the over-all Caritas response since
2013 totalled already to at least 4.6
billion pesos, reaching more than
1.8 million individuals.
The overwhelming support
from 42 CI MOs and the
CI enabled NASSA/Caritas
Philippines to implement the
#REACHPhilippines (Recovery
Assistance to Vulnerable
Communities Affected by Typhoon
Haiyan in the Philippines)
IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

Program. Partnering with the nine
most affected dioceses – Antique,
Borongan, Calbayog, Capiz, Cebu,
Coron, Jaro, Kalibo and Palo – the
program was able to complement
the services and interventions
provided by the government and
other international and national
humanitarian organizations.
More important to note, all
166 communities under the
#REACHPhilippines Program
endeavour to integrate across
all sectors the principles and
framework of Community
Managed Disaster Risk Reduction
(CMDRR) and community
organizing to maximize the impact
of the program, especially to the
most at risk communities.
Institutional capacity building
initiatives also have been
formalized to ensure that the
national Caritas and the diocesan
social action centers are equipped
with the core competencies that
will enable them to sustainably
continue on with the programs
even beyond the 3-year appeal
period.
Considered as one of the largest,
most comprehensive and wideranging humanitarian program by
Catholic charities worldwide, the
#REACHPhilippines was able to
implement a full scale emergency,
recovery and rehabilitation
program which by now, has
started to be linked with numerous
development and advocacy agenda
by the church, the government
and the civil society groups, and
recognized as a milestone in local
humanitarian sector on its own.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines has
already gone so far on difficult
paths. But through the pains and
the gains of the past, and down
the 50 years of its journey with the
people, it has remained ready to
rise to the call of the situation.

The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) / Caritas Philippines is the development, advocacy and humanitarian
arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. With funding from Caritas Internationalis (CI) and Caritas
Internationalis Member Organizations (CI MOs), NASSA/Caritas Philippines in partnership with the social action centers and
relief and rehabilitation units of the dioceses in the Philippines were able to build transitional and permanent shelters to
victims of various calamities during the past eight years.
The map shows the location of the dioceses and the disasters it responded to together with NASSA/Caritas Philippines.
Tropical Storm Violeta (Merbok)
No. of Shelter Units
Project Cost

and Tropical Depression Winnie 2004
1. Diocese of Cabanatuan
200 units
Php 14,000,000.00
Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana)
and Typhoon Pepeng (Parma) 2009
2 Diocese of Antipolo
250 units
Php13,415,042.00
3. Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
25 units
Php 1,671,620.00
4. Diocese of San Fernando (La Union)
50 units
Php 2,089,578.00
5. Diocese of Urdaneta 40 units Php 1,812,070.00
Typhoon Sendong (Washi) 2011
6. Diocese of Dumaguete
7. Diocese of Iligan
8. Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

165 units
262 units
150 units

Php 6,599,984.00
Php 11,249,992.00
Php 18,250,020.00

Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) 2012
9. Diocese of Mati
800 units
Php 17,654,989.00
10. Diocese of Tagum 190 units Php 17,654,989.00
Bohol Earthquake 2013
11. Diocese of Tagbilaran 75 units Php 2,302,797.00
12. Diocese of Talibon 35 units Php 898,986.00
Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) 2013
13. Archdiocese of Palo 480 units Php 50,019,850.00
14. Diocese of Calbayog
133 units
Php 18,762,550.00
15. Diocese of Borongan
501 units
Php 22,620,700.00
16. Archdiocese of Jaro 760 units Php 41,034,500.00
17. Diocese of San Jose de Antique
351 units
Php 27,084,250.00
18. Archdiocese of Capiz
275 units
Php 24,453,200.00
19. Diocese of Kalibo
365 units
Php 31,705,900.00
20. Archdiocese of Cebu
445 units
Php 39043,100.00
21. Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay
300 units
Php 28,133,950.00
(Palawan)
Typhoon Nona (Melor) (2013)
22. Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan

125 units

Php 4,875,000.00

NEWS FEATURES

PH gets serious about helping
persecuted Christians
AS the only other majority Catholic
nation in Asia, the Philippines
concretizes its commitment to
help the persecuted Church with
the opening of Aid to the Church
in Need’s Philippine office.
A Pontifical foundation, which
aims to support the needs of
Catholics and other Christians
in high-conflict areas, Aid to
the Church in Need now has
a national office headed by its
national president, Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of the
Philippines president Archbishop
Socrates Villegas, together with its
national director Jomar Luciano.
“The national office [of ACN
Philippines] also will create a pool
of benefactors that would support
the worldwide effort of ACN. For
a very long time, the Philippine
Church has been a beneficiary
of donors worldwide, now it’s
time for us to also participate in
this mission and extend our help
to our brothers and sisters,” said
Luciano in an interview.
Evangelization support
According to him, it is ACN’s
mission “to give support to the
suffering Church around the world
and to help in the propagation
of the faith, especially to places
where the Church in persecuted.”
“It supports efforts of
evangelization and mission,”
added Luciano.
The idea of opening a Philippine
ACN office came about when
ACN executive president Baron
Johannes Heereman von
Zuydtwyck of the Knights of
Malta in Germany, came to the
Philippines to attend the 1 1st
International YOUCAT Congress in
Tagaytay, revealed Luciano.
Since ACN is the mother

30

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines, and bishops
Antoine Chbeir of Latakia in Syria and Montfort Stima of Mangochi in Malawi arrives for a press conference at the CBCP headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, November 14, 2016. ROY LAGARDE

foundation of YOUCAT International,
it was during this visit that
Heereman von Zuydtwyck presented
to Villegas the plan of creating
a national section of ACN in
the Philippines. Currently, the
Philippines is the 23rd national
section of ACN.
Religious Freedom Report
According to Luciano, ACN, which
was initially established in 1947
as a Catholic aid foundation for
war refugees, is guided by three
principles: prayer, information, and
charity.
“Through these principles, ACN
aims to create awareness of the
reality of our suffering brothers and
sisters in order for us to extend our
support to them. ACN will give us
the chance to show our compassion

IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

and solidarity with our persecuted
brethren through our help: prayer,
information, and charity,” he
explained.
Villegas will celebrate a Holy Mass
on Nov. 15, Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. at
the Manila Cathedral right before
the blessing of the ACN Philippines
Office located at 2/F Arzobispo
wing, CBCP Building 470 Gen. Luna,
Intramuros, Manila.
After the Mass, the ACN will also
launch the Religious Freedom
Report, which aims to give “an
in-depth analysis of the situation
of religious exercise in different
countries where religious intolerance
in reported” every two years, will
be read. The Report will also be
launched by ACN International in
Rome, 6:00 p.m., Philippine time.
(Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz/CBCPNews)

NEWS FEATURES

PH youth release statement
before COP22
MANILA, Nov. 8, 2016 – A total of 137
Filipino youth from different parts
of the country issued an official
statement on climate change on
the 3rd anniversary memorial Super
Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) that
devastated parts of the Visayas in
2013, ahead of the 22nd Conference
Of Parties (COP 22) in Marrakesh,
Morocco.
Led by Climate Reality Project
Philippines, the young leaders
gathered during the Youth Beyond
Paris and Future Negotiators’
Training held in Luzon, Visayas and
Mindanao, from September to
October 2016.
Not just a mere paper
Dubbed the “2016 Philippine
Youth Statement on Climate
Change”, the document will be
submitted to Philippine negotiators
and other youth delegations at the
ongoing COP22, from Nov. 7 to 18.
“The statement is not a mere
paper with words. It carries the
aspiration of the Filipino youth of
their future. It carries the dream of
millions [of] Filipino people, that
should never be taken for granted.
This statement is a reflection of
voices being threatened by climate
change, and the only solution is
climate justice. This paper upholds
our right to develop and most
of all, live,” said Ruzzel Morales,
representative from the Visayas.
The youth statement emphasized
“the Philippines’ extreme vulnerability
to climate change as well as the
need to properly address the
plight of communities such as
women, children, people with
disabilities, indigenous groups, and
the marginalized rendered twice
vulnerable by the devastation of such
natural calamities. The document
also recognizes that the employment
of the human rights approach to
the negotiations is an imperative

for securing the most ambitious
commitments from all parties.”
The statement also demanded
that parties at “the United Nations
Framework Convention on
Climate Change seek to address
the worsening effects of climate
change through the immediate
ratification of the Paris Agreement
in light of the goal to limit the
global temperature rise to 1.5
degrees Celsius. The youth also
stressed the need to strengthen
existing mechanisms on mitigation,
adaptation, loss and damage,
technology transfer, capacitybuilding, and finance” to help
climate vulnerable countries such
as the Philippines cope.
‘Non-negotiable’ future
Filipino youth also reiterated
that the future of the Filipino
youth is “non-negotiable”, calling
on the Philippine government to
strongly consider the ratification
of the Paris Agreement. Presently,
there are 10 out of 33 certificates
of concurrences for ratification
that have been submitted to the
Climate Change Commission as
of Nov. 3, 2016. These government
agencies include the Department
of Education; the Department of
Social Welfare and Development;
the National Economic and
Development Authority; and others.
Headed by Country Manager
Rodne Galicha, Climate Reality
Project (CRP) Philippines is also
guided by Policy Research and
Advocacy Director Beatrice Tulagan,
who also leads the Philippine
youth delegation in Morroco. CRP
Philippines is under the bigger
non-profit organization involved in
education and advocacy related
to climate change established in
July 2011 by Nobel laureate Al Gore.
(Carl Jamie Simple S. Bordeos /
CBCPNews)

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

3 years after
Yolanda,
bishop warns vs
complacency
in disasters
MANILA— As recovery continues
almost three years after typhoon
Yolanda’s devastation, a Catholic
bishop called on the public to
always be prepared for disasters.
In a pastoral letter issued
for the third anniversary of
Yolanda, Bishop Crispin Varquez
of Borongan said there is no
room for complacency, which
leads people to ignore disaster
warnings.
“The third anniversary of
Yolanda cannot lead us to
complacency. It should and
must lead us to watchfulness
and preparedness marked by
informed resilience,” said the
prelate.

Survivors of typhoon Yolanda remember their
loved ones who died in the tragedy three
years ago during a visit to a mass grave at Holy
Cross Memorial in Tacloban City, November
9 , 2016. ROY LAGARDE

31

NEWS FEATURES

“If there is no substitute to
victory in war, neither is there
any substitute to preparedness
in any emergency,” he said.
An estimated 16 million people
were affected and 1.4 million
homes were damaged when
Yolanda struck the Visayas region
on Nov. 8, 2013.
The disaster also brought
“horrific” destruction of
people’s livelihood, farms,
churches, government facilities,
infrastructures, among others.
“We pray in a special way for
those who are still in the process
of recovery,” the bishop said as
he urged the faithful to continue
praying for the thousands of
people who died during the
onslaught of Yolanda.
He lamented the many
families who are still living
in temporary shelters which
already need replacements “that
are stronger against any possible
emergency.”
“I am deeply concerned that
these shelters are built mostly of
coco lumber,” said Varquez.
“Resilience also requires us to
build houses and infrastructures
able to stand against super
typhoons, flooding and
earthquakes.”
“Equally important, we must
cultivate livelihoods and sources
of income resilient to calamities,
that is, we must be able to
support our families despite acts
of nature beyond our control,” he
added.
The prelate also reiterated his
call for the people to care for
the environment and mitigate
the adverse effects of climate
change.
He said efforts are needed to
care for the integrity of creation
such as planting, recycling,
better use of renewable energy,
and reduction of energy
consumption through austere
and simple lifestyle. (Roy
Lagarde/CBCPNews)

32

Bishops slam court ruling
on Marcos burial
MANILA– Catholic bishops have
deplored a court decision that
allows a hero’s burial for the late
dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
In a strongly-worded statement,
the Catholic Bishops’ Conference
of the Philippines hit the Supreme
Court’s verdict, which dismissed
all the petitions against the
government’s plan to bury Marcos
at the Heroes’ Cemetery.
“The burial is an insult to the EDSA
spirit. It mocks our fight to restore
democracy. We are puzzled and
hurt and in great grief,” said CBCP
president Archbishop Socrates
Villegas.
“It calls on us for greater courage
to make the full truth of the
dictatorship known,” he said.
Voting 9-5 with one inhibition,
the High Court on Nov. 9 said the
petitions had no merit, adding that
there is no law that prohibits the
burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng
mga Bayani.
President Rodrigo Duterte has
repeatedly said his decision would
help bring “healing” among the
Filipinos.
But the bishops warned that
Duterte’s move will not bring peace
and unity to the country.
They also made it clear that peace
can only come if there is justice.
“Justice demands recognition
of the harm done to the people
and restitution to the victims,”
Archbishop Villegas said.
Since his demise in 1989, Marcos’
burial at the heroes’ cemetery had
been strongly opposed because of
human rights abuses committed
during the Martial Law years.
The bishops said the dictator
had made many people suffer by
arbitrary torture and death.
“He has deprived many poor
people of their basic needs while his
IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

Protesters display placards during a rally against
outside the Supreme Court against the proposed
burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the
Heroes cemetery, August 31, 2016. ROY LAGARDE

family and cronies were enriched,”
said Archbishop Villegas. “We do not
forget this!”
“We will not allow that this be
forgotten by the future generations
in order that the same strong-hand
oppression may not happen again,”
he added.
The CBCP head also said that
“those who do wrong should be
made accountable.”
However, according to him, this is
not being recognized by the Marcos
family and his cronies up to now.
“Then the victims of human rights
abuses have not been properly
compensated for,” Archbishop
Villegas lamented. “This is a matter
of justice.”
“We see this as another step to
build the culture of impunity in
the country. Marcos is no hero! He
should not be presented as one,” he
said.
The Catholic Educational
Association of the Philippines
(CEAP) earlier said that Marcos’
burial at the heroes’ cemetery will
dishonor the efforts of those who
fought the dictatorship.
The CEAP also said “it will
invalidate all that many heroes have
spent their lives fighting for.” (Roy
Lagarde/CBCPNews)

STATEMENTS

Statement on the Supreme Court decision to
allow the burial of former President Marcos
at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

Various groups hold protests in front of the Supreme Court in Manila to oppose the hero’s burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, August 31,
2016. ROY LAGARDE

WE do not forget!
We are saddened by the decision
of the Supreme Court to allow the
burial of former President Marcos
in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
We see this as another step to
build the culture of impunity in
the country. Marcos is no hero! He
should not be presented as one.
During Martial Law he had made
many people suffer by arbitrary
torture and death. He has deprived
many poor people of their basic
needs while his family and cronies
were enriched. We do not forget
this! We will not allow that this be
forgotten by the future generations
in order that the same strong-hand
oppression may not happen again.

Those who do wrong should
be made accountable. First they
should admit the wrong they have
done. Up to now this is not being
recognized by the Marcos family
and his cronies. Then the victims
of human rights abuses have not
been properly compensated for.
This is a matter of justice.
Burying Marcos in the Libingan
ng mga Bayani will not bring peace
and unity to the country. Peace can
only come if there is justice. Justice
demands recognition of the harm
done to the people and restitution
to the victims. We as Church work
for peace and unity that is based on
truth and justice for all, especially
for the poor and the victims.

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

We are very sad. The burial is an
insult to the EDSA spirit. It mocks
our fight to restore democracy.
We are puzzled and hurt and in
great grief. It calls on us for greater
courage to make the full truth of
the dictatorship known.
Yes, we do not forget and we will
not forget!
From the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines,
November 9, 2016
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines

33

STATEMENTS

“Be strong in the Lord” (Eph 6:10)
BELOVED People of God:
Grace and peace of our Lord
Jesus Christ!
Three years ago Super Typhoon
Yolanda hit our area and many
parts of the Visayas region,
bringing horrific destruction on
our homes, livelihood, farms,
churches, chapels, government
facilities, infrastructures, and
others. Most of all, many lives
were lost in one terror-stricken
sweep. All of these we cannot and
must not forget.
May I congratulate you all for
the courage and sacrifices that
you have shown in our common
efforts to rise from the depths of
such a tragedy. I believe it was our
common faith and trust in God
that gave us all the hope and the
inspiration to live and move on.
We pray in a special way for
those who are still in the process
of recovery. And, without
diminishing the memory of their
lives, let us continue to pray for
our beloved dead that they may
find peace in God's heavenly
kingdom.
Please allow me to address
the families who are still living
in temporary shelters. In two
or three years your temporary
homes need replacements
that are stronger against any
possible emergency. I am deeply
concerned that these shelters
are built mostly of coco lumber.
Seeing how obviously helpless
these shelters are against
another Yolanda or Ruby, I urge
you to find suitable remedies to
your homes that need them.
We all have seen how even
foreigners were awed by our
resilience after Yolanda. But
we must all acknowledge the
fact that our faith in God has
made individuals, families and
communities resilient in the
aftermath of climate change

34

NUNS light candles and pray for those who perished during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda
at a memorial dedicated especially for those whose bodies were not recovered in Tacloban City,
November 8, 2016. Thousands of candles were also lined up along major roads in the city to mark
the third anniversary of Yolanda. ROY LAGARDE

disasters like Yolanda. Therefore,
let us treasure and keep our faith
burning. To do so we must live
and share that faith with others.
Resilience also requires us to build
houses and infrastructures able
to stand against super typhoons,
flooding and earthquakes. Equally
important, we must cultivate
livelihoods and sources of income
resilient to calamities, that is,
we must be able to support our
families despite acts of nature
beyond our control.
There are other challenges we
must hurdle together:
• The restoration to normalcy of
our ecological order;
• The protection and
conservation of our environment;
• Planting of trees and the
greening of our surroundings;
• Reuse and recycling of goods
and products;
• Continuing and better use of
renewable energy; and
IMPACT

NOVEMBER 2016

• Reduction of energy
consumption through austere and
simple lifestyle.
Conclusion
The third anniversary of Yolanda
cannot lead us to complacency.
It should and must lead us to
watchfulness and preparedness
marked by informed resilience.
In this regard I urge everyone to
be ever attentive to official news
and information sources, such
as PAG-ASA on crucial details as
the location, path, strength and
projected effects of typhoons,
storm surges (tidal waves) and other
calamities or emergencies. If there
is no substitute to victory in war,
neither is there any substitute to
preparedness in any emergency.
May Mary, our Mother, intercede
for our deliverance from all evil.
Yours in the Lord,
+CRISPIN VARQUEZ
Bishop of Borongan

STATEMENTS

‘Human dignity is not negotiable or
determined by national laws’
MADAM Chair,
Last year marked fifty years since the
adoption of the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination. At the time, it was a landmark
adoption, signaling the conviction of the
international community that racism of any
kind cannot be tolerated. However, as we look
at the world today, especially in the context
of global migration and displacement, we
must admit that much of the progress on
eliminating racism, racial discrimination, and
xenophobia is in serious risk of being eroded,
sometimes intentionally.
In this regard, my delegation welcomes the
recent report of the Special Rapporteur of
the Human Rights Council on contemporary
forms of racism, racial discrimination,
xenophobia and related intolerance, in
which he outlines in stark detail the threat
that the spread of extremist political parties,
movements and groups in many parts of
the world pose to the realization of the
peaceful, just and inclusive societies that the
Member States of the United Nations have
committed themselves to realizing through
the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development and the New York
Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.
It is, in particular, a grave cause for concern
that, according to the report, there has been a
marked increase in the number of racist and
xenophobic incidents of violence, especially
in the public sphere. This resurgence, in many
instances politically motivated, seems to be
driven by fear of the other, in particular, the
fear in front of our responsibility to care for
the marginalized and vulnerable, for those
in desperate need of our compassion and
solidarity.
This year alone, the United Nations
High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)
calculates that, even with still two months
left in the calendar year, the number of
deaths of refugees and migrants crossing
the Mediterranean has already reached a
record high. Despite a significant decrease
in the number of people seeking to cross
the Mediterranean to Europe, the UNHCR
reported that 3,740 lives have already been lost

The human
rights
of every
individual,
rooted in
the innate
dignity of
the human
person, are
inviolable,
without
distinction.

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

in 2016, just short of the 3,771 reported for
the whole of 2015.
Madam Chair, migrant or resident, human
dignity is not negotiable or determined by
national laws. The human rights of every
individual, rooted in the innate dignity of
the human person, are inviolable, without
distinction. This is not only a founding
principle of the United Nations Charter and
affirmed in the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights: it is also enshrined in human
experience, and represents an enduring
truth that we must not only recognize when
convenient but at all times. As Pope Francis
reminds us, “from this perspective, it is
important to view migrants not only on the
basis of their status as regular or irregular,
but above all as people whose dignity is
to be protected and who are capable of
contributing to progress and the general
welfare. This is especially the case when they
responsibly assume their obligations towards
those who receive them, gratefully respecting
the material and spiritual heritage of the host
country, obeying its laws and helping with its
needs.”
Madam Chair, alarmed by today’s many
manifestations of racial discrimination
and other forms of intolerance, the whole
human family must reaffirm once more its
common determination to fight all forms of
discrimination and intolerance as contrary
to the dignity and equality inherent in all
human beings, and remain resolute to adopt
all necessary measures to eliminate them in
all their forms and manifestations.
Thank you, Madam Chair

35

(Below is an IMPACT Editorial in August 1976)

Building communities
A COMMUNITY is more than the sum
total of individuals who compose the
community, because it comprises the
intricate network of social relations among
the members. Without his intertwining
network of social support to one another
there is only a group of individuals; with
this support network there is a real and
viable community much more powerful
than the sum total of each person’s strength.
Without the group a person lives for
himself, is weak and vulnerable. In a group
or community a person lives for others
and even the weakest member shares the
strength of the group, provided they are
committed and faithful to the group.
This is such a self-evident truth, that it is
really amazing to see how little it has been

36

IMPACT

understood, and how the implementation
of it is more conspicuous by its absence in
actual life than by its vital presence.
This not only applies to rural village
communities, it is even more applicable to
urban groups with the same interests, and
even to religious communities who by their
very calling have banded together to prove
to the whole world that unity of love and
understanding is the pearl in exchange for
which they readily sold and parted from all
earthly possessions.
Did we do everything possible to obtain
this treasure? Each one has to start and
transform his immediate surrounding into
a living community. For those who believe
everything is possible. What is wrong is in
not really trying.

NOVEMBER 2016

EDITORIAL

IMPACT is FIFTY. It was born in
August of 1965 as a simple newsletter
with the sole purpose of maintaining
contact among the 150 participants of
the Institute for Social Action in Asia
(PISA) that was held in Hong Kong of
the same year.
But there is more to this than
meets the eye. IMPACT eventually
developed into a monthly Asian
magazine which pursued the passion
for human development and social
transformation. According to the late
Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen OCD, who
co-founded Impact with Fr. Cornelius
Breed, “IMPACT was founded to
serve as the voice of the social action
program in every realm of our society.
We wanted to motivate and inspire
those in the leading positions in
Asia to focus on ways and means of
attaining human, social and economic
transformation and development.”
The overall landscape of the 60s was
suffused with the aggiornamento of the
Second Vatican Council that clamored
for a paradigm shift of socio-political
engagement even in the deepest

recesses of the Catholic Church. The
issuance Populorum Progressio, an
encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the
development of peoples, in March
1967, made the roadmap of emerging
social teachings of the Church—that,
anyway, was already on the road with
Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in
1891—even more pronounced.
Or so it seemed. Because, today, 50
years after, the social teachings of the
Church—which, painfully, has been
regarded by some as the most kept secret
of the Church—is still alien to most
church-goers. A cultic Church, such as
the diminutive parish that devotes most
of its pastoral work to celebrating the
sacraments but anemic in the work of
caring for the needy and serving those
in the peripheries, is most prevalent.
Until today, the Church is maligned
and reviled as mundane whenever she
speaks of social justice or sociopolitical
concerns, especially in social media.
This is a tremendous challenge to
the Philippine Church that in a few
years will be celebrating 500 years of
Christianity.

VOLUME 50 • NUMBER 11

37

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NOVEMBER 2016