Pope’s second encyclical invites people to personally encounter Jesus

The Human Family, a Community of Peace



The more fortunate should renounce their rights—Lagdameo
“THE more fortunate should renounce some of their rights (even over material possessions they justly possess) so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others,” said CBCP president and Jaro archbishop Angel Lagdameo in his blog (www.abplagdameo.blogspot.com). This he said in the spirit of the celebration of International Human Rights Day and in the conThe more / A6



Bishop warns vs. toy gun gifts
A RANKING Catholic Church official has issued a stern caution against giving toy guns to children as Christmas gifts. Bishop Joel Baylon, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth, discouraged such presents because it doesn’t match up with the message of peace. “I had been negative towards that (giving toy guns) because of its possible bad effects to children,” he said. Bishop / A6

Protagonist of Truth, Promoter of Peace December 10 - 30, 2007 Vol. 11 No. 25 Php 20.00

Attack on the family undermines world peace, says Holy Father
Pope Benedict XVI called upon the international community to protect the family at all costs because it is “the first and indispensable teacher of peace.” He also insisted that whoever undermines the family, attacks peace in the entire community. The Holy Father’s message was made public in preparation for the upcoming 41st tion from society and the World Day of Peace, which State. will be celebrated on Janu“Consequently,” the Pope ary 1, 2008. said, “whoever, even unBefore launching into his knowingly, circumvents the explanation of why the fam- institution of the family unily must be protected, the dermines peace in the entire Pope defined the family say- community, national and ining that it is “ ‘a divine insti- ternational, since he weaktution that stands at the foun- ens what is in effect the pridation of life of the human mary agency of peace.” person as the prototype of The Holy Father also every social order’.” stressed that “everything that Benedict XVI insisted that, serves to weaken the family “the family is the first and in- based on the marriage of a dispensable teacher of peace,” man and a woman, everyand it is also, “the foundation thing that directly or indiof society ... because it enables rectly stands in the way of its its members in decisive ways openness to the responsible to experience peace. It follows acceptance of a new life, evthat the human community erything that obstructs its cannot do without the service right to be primarily responprovided by the family,” the sible for the education of its Pope emphasized. children, constitutes an obReferencing the Universal jective obstacle on the road Declaration of Human to peace.” Rights, Pope Benedict reWhile some people live with minded everyone that the the attitude that mankind lives Attack / A6 family is entitled to protec-

“Jesus must be experienced at Christmas, not simply as a great prophet, a religious founder or genius but as God’s ultimate Word to mankind. In him concrete human life is found in its most basic and radical form.” -- Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo

Volume of child trafficking overwhelming in Asia
THERE have been over four million women and children who have fallen prey to human traffickers in the Philippines and other southeast Asian countries over the past few years. According to the Asia Against Child Trafficking, an international non-government organization, the figures are “overwhelming.” Sr. Rosanne Malillin, SPC, NASSA executive secretary, said child trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and minors occur frequently in the poorest regions of the country. She described the illegal activities as “most severe form of abuse” against women and children. “The figures should send a strong signal to make all sectors help abate the incidence of child trafficking and exploitation,” Sr. Rosanne added. Along with NASSA’s and its 54 Diocesan Social Action Centers’ commitment to spearhead community mobilization for effective and efficient delivery of basic social services and implement programs on healthcare and education, the concerted efforts will further be strengthened by its linkages with the consortium of
Volume / A6

CBCP head: Put God at the heart of Christmas
JESUS should be at the core of our Advent and Christmas celebration, a highranking Church official said. Jaro Archbishop and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President Most Rev. Angel Lagdameo stressed it is important to put Jesus at the center of our festivities during the Christmas season. The Advent season, although a time of waiting for the coming of the Lord is being celebrated as if it is already Christmas, observed Lagdameo. But he lamented saying that in the midst of frenetic activities people tend to forget the reason for the celebration. “Jesus seems no longer a part of our Christmas parties during the Advent and Christmas season,” Lagdameo noted. “And yet without Jesus, all our festivities, gift-giving, decorations, Christmas carols are without meaning,” he added. We celebrate Christmas every year, the prelate said, to remind us of God who decided to be with us (Emmanuel). He said Jesus had embraced the nittygritty of human existence, so that man may learn from him how it is to become fully human. “He lived among us, laughed and cried like us, showing us how it is to be truly human yet totally attuned to God,” said Lagdameo.

Glimpse of hope
In the face of natural calamities and social ills people have to endure nowadays, the season of Advent and Christ-

mas nonetheless instills hope in the hearts of the faithful. The Advent season—four weeks of preparation before Christmas—is a period of waiting for the coming of the Lord. “We always ask God to come and change the world… to free our world from poverty, violence and war…to make us more concerned of other people, our environment and country,” Lagdameo said
CBCP Head / A6

United front vs child pornography needed
Community, Congressman Bienvenido Abante and Gabriela among others. Manzano said his group will try to replicate the caravan in various regions where child pornography is prevalent. In a statement, CBCP President and Jaro (Iloilo) Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo said the advocacy and campaign against child pornography “must be supported by civil society to protect the moral welfare of future generations.” He added civil authorities have the duty to prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials. CBCP Media Director Pedro C. Quitorio said while the country celebrated Human Rights day yearly, the
United / A6

Cubao bishop warns flock of ‘anti-life’ bills
“As your shepherd, I admonish you to defend the sanctity of human life and family that are now in tremendous dangers,” he said. The proposed laws, he said, “cleverly crafted” under the guise of Reproductive Health and Population Management pushes “safe” abortion and the use of abortifacients. The same policies, he said, will make compulsory the teaching of contraceptive methods to students from elementary up to high school. What’s worse, Ongtioco exclaimed, is that recipients of said policies, if approved, are under a punitive provision of imprisonment and fines if they are not followed. “They use the name of the poor on the issue of poverty to push their deadly intent of proCubao / A6

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco

OPTICAL Media Board Chairman Eduardo Manzano called on every sector of society to come together and form a united front against child pornography. Speaking at the kick-off rites before the Metro Manila-wide caravan, Manzano

expressed his thanks to the CBCP Ad-Hoc Committee Against Child Pornography, MTRCB under Chairperson Ma. Consoliza P. Laguardia, Office of Muslim Affairs, National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, Iglesia ni Cristo, Jesus Is Lord

A CATHOLIC bishop has renewed his alarm over two pending “anti-life” health measures filed before the local government of Quezon City. In a circular to his flocks, Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco warned that the proposed ordinances by Councilor Joseph Juico imperil the sanctity of human life and family.


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World News
VATICAN CITY, December 4, 2007—The 13th session of the conference of States parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is being held on the Indonesian island of Bali from December 3 to 14. A communique made public yesterday afternoon affirms that the Holy See will be present at the Bali meeting with a delegation led by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, apostolic nuncio to Indonesia, and composed of Msgr. Andrew Thanya-anan Vissanu, nunciature counsellor in Jakarta, and of three local experts from

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

Burma bishops: Fewer parties and more prayers for Christmas
YANGON, Myanmar, December 7, 2007—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Myanmar (CBCM) exhorted the faithful to cut down on “external” Christmas celebrations—games, songs and parties—in order to focus on “prayer and adoration until the country finds peace and prosperity”. The statement was referring to the Advent and Christmas celebration. According to UCA News during a special announcement on December 3rd, the bishops of Myanmar invited lay people, priests and the faithful to focus all their energy to promote peace. The country formally known as Burma, has experienced unrest since September after a violent government crack down on peaceful protests led by Buddhist monks. At least 15 people were killed and several monasteries were forced to shut down. “We would like to exhort all the faithful of the dioceses,” the message said, “to cut down on the external forms of celebrating the feast such as carol singing, Christmas parties and similar gatherings, and spend much time in prayer, fasting, contemplation, and in adoration of the Eucharistic Lord.” The letter signed by Archbishops Paul Zinghtung Geawng, president of the CBCM, and by Charles Bo, secretary general, arrived after a meeting on November 30th between the bishops of Myanmar in Yangon and the Apostolic Nuncio of Myanmar, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio. Father Joseph Soosay, secretary of the National Liturgy Commission, likewise suggested Catholics “need to celebrate Christ-

Holy See delegation at climate change conference
the Philippines and Indonesia: Fr. Benito B. Tuazon, Fr. Alexius Andang Listya Binawan S.J., and Vera Wenny Setijawati. “Given that the sessions of the Convention on Climate Change are held once a year in various countries,” the communique reads, “the Holy See is usually represented at such meetings with a delegation led by the apostolic nuncio and made up of experts from the area, so as to take advantage of local resources and to achieve a broader and more differentiated vision of the questions being examined.” (VIS)

mas after realizing its essence.” He explained that the call for more low-key celebrations derives from the need to “guide the people’s spirituality to celebrate Christmas meaningfully.” (AsiaNews/Ucan)

New director for Vatican newspaper
Romano, means the opening of a new era for the Vatican publication, which will include its complete publication online. L’Osservatore Romano was founded in 1861 at the request of Pope Pius IX in order to give a public voice to the Vatican, just months after the Pontifical states were lost in the wake of Italian unification. The Vatican daily, which is currently published daily in Italian, has a limited circulation of around 3,000 with only about 1,000 actually sold. The actual impact of the paper is much larger though because it reflects the position of the Vatican on critical issues. Although the Vatican daily will never be profitable, as it rarely prints ads, Vian has proposed not only creating greater interest in the newspaper but also expanding its readership. The day after becoming director, Vian instituted a significant change in the format and content of the newspaper: pages two and three, usually full of Italian news, have become international pages, with Italy covered as just another country. More importantly, the new director has begun providing space for extensive opinion articles by renowned experts addressing such sensitive subjects as the future of the liturgy, the dialogue between faith and culture and the reform of the curia. One such article by Valentin Miserach Grau, current president of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, criticized the state of liturgical music at the Vatican. Vian has also allowed international analysts of L’Osservatore Romano to sign their own articles, a decision that has pleased the paper’s editors and motivated them to work harder. According to Vatican sources, the refurbished newspaper has the support of Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. In addition, while editors prepare to publish the complete newspaper online, Vian has begun sending articles out via email to subscribers and to the editors of the principal Italian news agencies in Rome. Although there are currently no plans to make changes to the weekly editions in other languages, sources at L’Osservatore Romano are looking into the possibility of translating these opinion columns into English and Spanish. The idea of publishing some of the articles online that are not normally featured in the weekly editions has also been floated. (CNA)

Cancer is my ‘angel,’ says cardinal
Taiwanese prelate spreads message of courage
of the Gospel” at the last stage of his life.

A contribution

ROME, November 26, 2007—The recent naming of Catholic intellectual Giovanni Maria Vian as the new director of L’Osservatore

Holy See extols respect for immigrants’ rights
Archbishop addresses Migration Organization
GENEVA, December 7, 2007— Migrants who know their rights and have them respected can be a positive force for their new countries, as well as their nations of origin, says the Holy See. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, said this Nov. 29 when he addressed the 94th Council Session of the International Organization of Migration. The session was held Nov. 27-30 in Geneva. Archbishop Tomasi, speaking in English, said: “Estimates now give more than 200 million persons in the world living and working in countries different than the one in which they were born or were citizens and the 90 million workers among them are almost 3% of the 3 billion strong labor force. “Migrant workers, skilled and unskilled, have taken central place in many current debates.” “This type of migration,” he continued, “is looked at as a positive force for development of countries of origin, especially through the billions of dollars in remittances sent home by the migrants—$167 billion sent to developing countries in 2005—as well for the economy of receiving countries.” “In fact, for a growing number of countries, immigrants have become a necessity to compensate for the dwindling work force and for their demographic deficit,” Archbishop Tomasi explained. “Fairness in recognizing the contribution immigrants make can serve as a good base for their integration.”

Human priority
However, the 67-year-old prelate added, “two important dimensions of contemporary migrations are not adequately discussed and paid attention to in the formulation of policies: the victims of migration flows and the priority that persons have over the economy. “Present political trends appear clear and slanted in the direction of responding to the more emotional and vocal demands of public opinion for control and integration. “In the long run, however, a fair and effective solution will come from a comprehensive approach that embraces all policy components: the rights of the

state and of the receiving community, of the migrants, and of the international common good.” “In a parallel way,” Archbishop Tomasi emphasized, “the social teaching of the Catholic Church, and in fact that of all religious traditions, looks at migrants as human beings in the first place and then as citizens or guests, or as economic and cultural agents.” “Education can play a major role,” concluded the archbishop. “Migrants, aware of their rights, can be more secure in offering their services and talents and the receiving community, well informed and respectful of these rights, will feel freer in extending its solidarity in order to build together a common future.” (Zenit)

HONG KONG, December 7, 2007—After being diagnosed with lung cancer last year, Cardinal Paul Shan Kuo-hsi didn’t wait to die, but rather got up to inspire others to face life with courage. The Jesuit cardinal, who is the retired bishop of Kaohsiung and former president of the Chinese regional episcopal conference in Taiwan, began his “Farewell to My Life” tour in October. His first visit was to Hsinchu, located on the northwestern coast of Taiwan, and since then has visited the six other dioceses of the island. “I treated the cancer as my ‘little angel,’” the cardinal told ZENIT in a telephone interview. “It guides me to tell people that we should have the courage to face the challenges in our life.” The tour came to completion Wednesday when the prelate visited Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei. The university offered him an award to honor his love for life. Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi turned 84 on Sunday. The Chinese cardinal said he was “very happy to be a witness

The cardinal said he had visited a drug abuse center in Taitung and met 300 inmates there Nov. 22. He told them, “The cancer let me know that as I am entering the last stage of my life, I should try my best to contribute to society.” He prayed for the inmates and appealed that people should use “love” to settle the problems in their daily life. Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2006. He shared with those he met on the tour that he was shocked with the diagnosis, and with the prospect of only having a life expectancy of 4 to 5 months. “At first I asked the Lord, ‘Why me?’ When I calmed down, I recognized that it is the will of the Lord,” the cardinal said. “He wanted me to help the others by sharing my personal experience with them. “And now, I will confirm that ‘Why it is not me?’ A cardinal does not have a privilege to stay healthy forever!” He said that after his death, his body will be turned into fertilizer for the land of Taiwan, but his soul will be returned to the Lord. The Chinese cardinal also praised the heroic example of the late Pope John Paul II, who tried his best to live out the last minutes of his life with dignity. Cardinal Shan Kuo-hsi is a native of Hebei province, northern China. He left mainland China after he joined the Jesuits in 1946. He was ordained priest in the Philippines in 1955. He was named bishop of Hualien, Taiwan, in 1979, and bishop of Kaohsiung in 1991. He was elevated to cardinal in 1998, and retired in January 2006. (Zenit)

Let us defend the human dignity of North Koreans, says prelate
SEOUL, Korea, December 7, 2007– In a message released on the occasion of the 26th Human Rights Sunday scheduled for 10 December, Msgr. Boniface Choi Ki-san, bishop of Incheon and chairman of the Committee for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, writes that “[t]rue effort for the reconciliation of the Korean people should include defending the human dignity of [our] North Korean brethren as well as giving material aid to them. We should struggle to improve the human rights situation and to make the freedom of faith and of missions recognized in North Korea.” In “our society,” he adds, “the dignity of human life is not valued sufficiently, so the poor and vulnerable life is not properly protected.” Indeed, in his opinion, suicide, abortion, cloning of human embryos and capital punishment are currently the greatest threats to the dignity of human life. For this reason, “[w]e must strengthen our effort to protect the weaker members and minorities of society” like unborn children so that they do not pay for our weaknesses. In his message, titled Human dignity is the highest value, the prelate also urges Catholics to get ready cons c i e n tiously for the presidential election on 19 December. Given the fact that every “citizen has the right and duty to vote, we should elect as presi-

Australian Catholic Church running ads in movie theaters
SYDNEY, Australia, December 6, 2007—The Catholic Church in Australia on Wednesday debuted its first ever movie advertising campaign, CathNews reports. The advertising targets those who might be more open to God during the Christmas season. The cinema ad is brief and nonintrusive, showing a montage of images of Catholic life. It asks, “Have you ever wanted to know what Catholics believe?” The ads will run during the animated film “The Bee Movie” from December 6-19, and during showings for the movie “Atonement” from December 26 to January 9. Archbishop John Bathersby, Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Mission and Faith Formation, said the goal of the advertisements is to invite people to translate their Christmas experience into lasting peace by finding out more about Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church. The timing of the advertisements was no accident. “Boxing Day is the biggest movie-going day of the year and we are excited about this new method of taking the message of Christ and the Church out to the broader Australian community,” the archbishop said. He noted that the New Year was a time when people reassess their lives and look for what is missing from them. “Perhaps… they will be prompted to find out more about how the Catholic faith can help them find the peace they are searching for,” Archbishop Bathersby said. (CNA)

dent a candidate who respects human dignity and takes it as the supreme value in making decisions and carrying out policies.” (AsiaNews)

CDF to release important document on evangelization and catechesis
seph Levada, is about to release an important document on evangelization and catechesis, Vatican sources told CNA this week. According to the Vatican sources, the document, which could be made public this Advent, “can be regarded as an application of the principles of the document “Dominus Iesus” to the way evangelization is transmitted and catechesis is taught within the Catholic Church.” In “Dominus Iesus” the CDF, then under the leadership of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, clearly established the differences between the Catholic Church and other religions including other Christian denominations. “Dominus Iesus” states that only the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of the Christian faith. According to sources consulted by CNA, the new document on evangelization will stress the need to make the person of Jesus Christ, in his role as God incarnated to bring the full revelation of God’s plans through the Catholic Church, the corner stone and center of every program of evangelization and catechesis. The intention of the document, according to the source, is “to bring back the centrality of Jesus to the programs aimed at transmitting the faith to future generations, since several of these programs are centered on feelings or confused ideas about the teachings of the Church on the nature of Jesus.” (CNA)

Catholic population growing in United Arab Emirates
DUBAI, UAE, December 7, 2007— The KAI news agency reports that the number of Catholics in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is steadily growing. Forty-five priests serve 20 parishes and 1.3 million Catholics in the UAE. The largest parish is spiritual home for 65,000 Catholics—nearly all of them workers from India, the Philippines, China, and Africa. In May, the Holy See established diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, which honor a constitution that guarantees freedom of religion. (CWNews)

Cardinal William Levada

VATICAN CITY, December 6, 2007—The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), headed by Cardinal William Jo-

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

News Features


Pope’s second encyclical invites people to personally encounter Jesus
VATICAN CITY, December 3, 2007—It’s difficult to select a single summarizing line in Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Spe Salvi”, but a fundamental point is found in its first few pages. Christ’s sacrifice, the pope said, overturned the pagan worldview of the early Christian era. In Christianity’s new vision, the universe was governed not by the laws of matter but by a personal God who revealed himself in the person of Jesus Christ. “And if we know this person and he knows us, then truly the inexorable power of material elements no longer has the last word; we are not slaves of the universe and of its laws, we are free,” he said. Throughout its 76 pages, the pope’s encyclical on hope is not just an exposition of philosophical and theological arguments, but an invitation for people to personally encounter Jesus Christ. That invitation has been the core of Pope Benedict’s mission over the last two and a half years. In his first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est”, the pope said Christianity’s main purpose was to help people accept God’s love and share it—beginning with love “in its most radical form,” the sacrifice of Christ. In “Spe Salvi,” the pope argued that faith in Christ brings well-founded hope in eternal salvation, the “great hope” that can sustain people through the trials of this world. In presenting Jesus Christ as the source of love and hope for contemporary men and women, the pope has tried to explain the Church’s beliefs in ways that are convincing without being authoritarian. Certainly he has been a critic of contemporary culture in these pages, warning against the exaltation of science and technology, economic and individual selfishness, ideological excesses and misconceptions about freedom. But his critique is based on reasoned analysis, reflecting the pope’s conviction that Christianity, more than just an exercise in faith, does and must make sense to the modern mind. The pope also has shown sympathy for people who may doubt, or who are no longer attracted by the Church’s traditional arguments. In “ Spe Salvi,” for example, the pope acknowledged that many people today may find the idea of eternal salvation monotonous and “more like a curse than a gift.” He went on to say that “eternal life” is an inadequate term and suggested that people think of salvation more in terms of a supreme moment of satisfaction or joy. Some readers of “Spe Salvi “ were struck by the fact that the pope did not mention the Second Vatican Council or cite its documents. Pope Benedict in general appears to prefer the writings of individual Christians—ancient and contemporary—to illustrate his points. In this encyclical, the pope quoted early Church fathers and contemporary saints, making powerful arguments for hope that drew from centuries of Christian experience. Both the sermons of St. Augustine and the diary of a 19th-century Vietnamese martyr were at home in this text. (CNS)

Lights and shadows of Church life in Asia
VATICAN CITY, December 7, 2007—The 11th Meeting of the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops was held in Rome on November 20, under the presidency of Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of bishops, according to a communique made public today. During the meeting, attention was focused on “the situation of the Church in the nations of Asia, ... the implementation of the postSynodal Apostolic Exhortation ‘Ecclesia in Asia,’ ... the influence exercised by the recent post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation ‘Sacramentum caritatis’ on the various Churches of Asia, and proposals and suggestions for the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly which will have as its theme ‘The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.’ “The debate,” the communiqué adds, “made it possible to create a broad overview of ecclesial life in Asia, and of the living conditions in civil society, which in many ways are favorable to Church activity. Nonetheless, various areas of concern were identified, ... deriving from wars, the arms race, ethnic strife, violence, terrorism, repression and the various limits placed on freedom of conscience.” “The primary victims of persecutions are minorities,” the communiqué notes, “among them Christian minorities who are often forced to abandon their countries of origin, suffering violence also at the hands of fundamentalist groups. The lack of religious liberty takes various forms: limits to communication among bishops and between them and the Holy Father, ... the impossibility of creating episcopal conferences, difficulties in obtaining visas for pastoral card workers, limits on the building of places of workshop, and impediments to [religious] presence in public life.” The communiqué also notes a number of positive aspects such as “the fraternal welcome shown to Christians who have fled in fear of their lives; the increase in the number of Catholics in regions where they have, up to now, been scarce; the faithfulness even unto the giving of life, as in the case of the four priests killed in Asia in 2006, ... an increase in vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life, so that now Asians themselves have become missionaries to other particular Churches in Asia and on other continents.” Moreover, “the Church remains open to dialogue with the great religions of Asia, making a notable contribution to tolerance and civil harmony, to reinforcing the State of law and the process of the democratization of society.” The Church also exercises an important influence “through her social activities in schools and hospitals, and in favor of human promotion.” The communiqué also notes how the postSynodal Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Asia” is “producing abundant fruits above all through programs of diocesan activities and bishops’ pastoral letters,” while the postSynodal Apostolic Exhortation “ Sacramentum caritatis” is being “effectively disseminated, and translated into local languages such as Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai.” The next meeting of the Special Council for Asia of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops will be held on December 11 and 12, 2008. (VIS)

Fr. Renato Manubag, CMF Provincial, assists Papal Nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams cut the ribbon at the opening of Hope Center.

Claretians launch Hope Center
MANILA, December 8, 2007— Claretian Missionaries opened its first Hope Center at Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City in a simple but meaningful ceremony led by Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams. The Hope Center, a communication center that caters to various spiritual and pastoral needs of people through spiritual books and other means, has a specific thrust— to be a place where hope is nurtured and shared. Fr. Benedict Dilag, CMF, CHCFI Executive Director explained the Center’s mission, saying it aims to be a place where young people can come together and feel accepted and cared for. “We desire to make it possible for them to feel that they belong in our center’s community, which does all things at all times in a loving, dignified, Christ-like manner,” said Fr. Dilag. According to Fr. Dilag, people today especially the youth have this desire to deepen their spirituality, strengthen their relationship with God, and find solutions to their problems. “Our heart is for the center to be a blessing on the secular marketplace, to infuse the lives of young people and their generation with hope, and to help them realize that our love-in-action approach is a reflection of God’s lifechanging love,” he added. In the Hope Center, young people both Catholic and nonCatholic can have the opportunities to explore various means available for receiving and communicating the Word of God. Spiritual books, magazines, periodicals, audio-visual materials, software and the internet are available to satisfy one’s quest for wisdom and knowledge. The Center also has an audio-visual display, coffee lounge, an internet café, eloading counter, and religious giftshop. It has a private corner for counseling and a prayer room where one can pray and meditate. With the launching of the Hope Center, the Claretians are not merely opening a new bookstore but going beyond the usual way of proclaiming the Good News, Fr. Dilag said. Present during the launching were the CMF Provincial, Fr. Renato Manubag, the Provincial Council, the Board of Directors of Claretian Communication Foundation Inc. (CCFI) and Claretian Hope Center Foundation Inc. (CHCFI), and Religious Men and Women, friends and collaborators of Claretian Missionaries. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)

Pope OKs plenary indulgence for Lourdes’ 150th anniversary
requirements for receiving it Dec. 5. An indulgence is a remission of the temporal punishment due for sins committed. A plenary indulgence is the remission of all punishment. Cardinal Stafford said the indulgence can also be applied to the souls of the faithful in purgatory. Catholics can receive the indulgence during two time frames. Pilgrims visiting the Massabielle grotto, where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette, can receive the indulgence during the Lourdes jubilee year, which runs from Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, until Dec. 8, 2008. Pilgrims who visit any public sanctuary, shrine or other worthy place dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes may receive the indulgence Feb. 2-11. Feb. 11 is the day the first of 18 apparitions occurred and is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Feb. 2 is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Cardinal Stafford said that to obtain the special indulgence one must fulfill the normal requirements set by the Church for all plenary indulgences; these include the person going to confession within a reasonably short period of time, receiving the Eucharist and praying for the intentions of the pope, all in a spirit of total detachment from the attraction of sin. Those who make a pilgrimage to Lourdes must visit the following sites, preferably in this order:

• The parish where St. Bernadette was baptized. • The Soubirous family home. • The Massabielle grotto. • The chapel where St. Bernadette received her first Communion.
At each location the faithful should end their meditation by praying the Lord’s Prayer, the creed and the special jubilee prayer or a prayer to Mary. Those visiting a holy place dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes in another part of the world Feb. 2-11 also should pray the Lord’s Prayer, the creed and the special jubilee prayer or a prayer to Mary. Catholics who cannot visit Lourdes or join a communal service dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes because of illness or other serious reason could still earn the indulgence “in their own home or wherever they are” Feb. 2-11, Cardinal Stafford said. (CNS)

VATICAN CITY, December 5, 2007—To mark the 150th anniversary of Mary’s appearance to St. Bernadette Soubirous near Lourdes, France, Pope Benedict XVI authorized a special indulgence to encourage renewed holiness. Catholics can receive a plenary indulgence for taking part in any public or private devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes, said U.S. Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican

court dealing with indulgences and matters of conscience. As Christians strive to become more holy, they can look to Mary who “calls the faithful to her Son and his sacrifice and to the love of the Father,” said the cardinal, quoting from “Lumen Gentium,” the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. The Vatican published the cardinal’s statement announcing the indulgence and outlining the

Local TV program features Caceres archbishop
NAGA CITY, December 10, 2007— Simbanwaan, Caceres Commission on Communications’ television program; aired its first season’s final episode on November 24 featuring the Archbishop of Caceres, Most Rev. Leonardo Legaspi as Shepherd and Teacher. The final episode also showed the parishes and its services, and individuals who have been featured earlier on the show’s segment Tao.com. The program was launched August 18 and has aired 13 episodes since then. The 30-minute television show tackles the programs and activities of the archdiocese of Caceres and discusses issues that are presented in different segments. The TV show has already gained a following even in such a short time it has been on air. Wow Simbahan, Tao.com, Tabang Komunidad, Simbareta, Isyu and VOX POP are just few of the segments of the program. Wow Simbahan introduces selected parishes with its special programs and services. Some memorable segments include a feature story on St. Jude Parish, considered as a “Wedding Capital”, subtitled Sikat sa Karasalan. Another hit is the Resurrection Garden where the remains of the priests of the Archdiocese were buried. Tabang Komunidad, a feature on various religious institutions of the Archdiocese introduces viewers to Hospital Apostolate, the Holy Rosary Seminary and the seminary life, the contemplative life and mission of the Carmelite nuns, and Gualandi-Center for the Deaf. Simbanwaan also has a feature on protecting the environment with Mount Isarog Integrated Area Development Program (MIADP) of CASAFI, an NGO which has programs for the conservation of Mt. Isarog; Hablondawani, an institution that offers integrated services for girls and women; and the Altersheim, the home of the retired priests. Some of the issues discussed under the Isyu segment are the challenges being faced by surviving marriages, preparing for death, modernization and its effect on vocation and the importance of prayer. Isyu is a segment that discusses pressing concerns of society and clarifies various doctrinal teachings of the Catholic faith. Tao.com on the other hand features persons whose lives provide inspiration. Mother John of Jesus of the Carmelite Sisters, Fr. Jomar de Hitta and Msgr. Gerardo Espedido were featured in this segment. Skycable Channel 20 broadcast a replay of the program every Sunday at 8:00 PM after Misa nin Banwaan. Manindogan, a radio program aired at RMN-Naga, 91.1 FM at 9:00-10:00AM on Sundays celebrated its fist anniversary last November 26. Manindogan tackles and features important and timely issues affecting family and society. It also presents some light and heartwarming stories of people from all walks of life; success stories of individuals; love stories of married couples; and other informative and helpful topics and issues. (Pides Orata)


The Womb of Peace

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

“Everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace,” says Pope Benedict XVI in his message for the 41st World Day of Peace that will be observed on New Year’s day. The Roman military writer Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus had kept us at bay with his famed adage, “si vis pacem, para bellum”—if you want peace prepare for war. So that, come to think of it, peace have been best discussed in war rooms or in the august halls of the United Nations or even around the provisions of the Geneva Convention. But real and lasting peace goes beyond the ambit of sociopolitical structures which immediately divide the parameters of power that, albeit temporarily and exteriorly, imposes peace according to the autocratic terms of the powerful. There is relative peace around the vortex of power—but what of it? Real peace and the path to it are, of course, within—as the Gospel points out. This is where the thoughts of the Holy Father come in handy because, indeed, the road to peace goes inwards and not the other way around. It is the heart that builds the blocks to peace. Hence, the exigency of protecting the family where every heart is nurtured and grown. And it is not by accident that the Prince of Peace had to be born in the context of a family. Says the Holy Father: “Whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.” In fact, the family is the womb of peace. Destroy that womb and you destroy the possibilities of peace.

Abp. Angel N. Lagdameo, DD

Human Rights Today
We appear to have progressed significantly regarding civil and political rights since the days of Martial Law. Yet when we survey our country today we are gravely disturbed and dismayed by seemingly unending violations of human rights. It is a long litany of injustice against civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights, including the right to development. We name some major violations: kidnappings, disappearances, deep-seated and rampant corruption, electoral frauds, de facto disenfranchisement of voters, arbitrary arrests, detention in secret places, torture and other inhuman treatment, extra-judicial killings by both government and rebel forces. Hundreds of families see their homes demolished because of economic projects and are not provided with substitute housing. Sexual harassment, rape of women and domestic violence are very serious recurring problems, aggravated by a “macho culture” and by a sense of shame to report incidents. When perpetrators are powerful, justice for the victims is dim. We also consider government policies regarding population control and their manner of implementation as highly objectionable in light of religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Family rights are violated as well as the rights of unborn children. Many Overseas Filipino Workers are exploited and abused. In some countries, Filipino Christian risk severe punishment, including death, when they practice their faith in accordance with the freedom of religion. Poverty hinders thousands of children from going to school and forces many of them to work, thus inhibiting their proper development. Indigenous peoples face the loss of their ancestral lands and the destruction of their cultures, as projects of development aggressively attack their traditional environment. Their rights to meaningful participation and development are often ignored. They suffer greatly from lack of basic services, health, and education. As the economic situation worsens, the rights of workers to association, to strike, to security or to bargain collectively are increasingly being restricted, legally and illegally. “Labor only” subcontracting is sometimes used by employers to evade their obligations to workers and to break unions. On the other hand it is popularly believed that many union leaders, for their own selfinterests, have enriched themselves and have exploited their own members. Further, the right of farmers and other agricultural workers to development is neglected or, at best, has been subordinated to the drive toward industrialization and global economic competitiveness. Many tenants suffer, as in the case of the MAPALAD Bukidnon farmers, because of contrary claims to land by powerful people and because of massive land conversions in the name of development. In such cases, true agrarian reform is deliberately ignored. Large scale fishing, often by foreign companies, considerably deprives small fisherfolk of their only means of livelihood. Irresponsible media reporting is known to have destroyed the fundamental right of persons to their good name. The above situation of human rights today calls for our strong moral denunciation. We call upon our government to do everything that it can legally do to bring to justice those who violate human rights, to correct the social structures that allow human rights violations to be perpetrated especially against the poor, the indigenous peoples, women and children, and to make sure that violations are not committed by our own security forces. - (A Pastoral Letter on Human Rights. 1998)

In and Out of Season
ON Human Rights Day our attention, proclamation and prayer reach out naturally to the victims of human rights violation, v.g. the child in the womb, violated children and women, the abandoned, harassed and exploited, the disadvantaged poor, the unjustly evicted from their land, etc… Unfortunately in our country with a democratic form of government, the rights of the people are not always fully respected. And the culprits: among others, public servants and elected officials. Human rights and the duty to respect, proclaim and obey them are mutually complimentary, indissolubly linked and inextricably connected. On the one hand, the human right of an individual imposes some duty on the part of others. On the other hand, one who claims his own rights, yet altogether neglects to carry out his duties, is a person who builds with one hand and destroys with the other (cf. John XXIII, Pacem In Terris, no. 264). In our country where millions radically lack the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, education, employment and health security, “the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights (even over material possessions they justly possess) so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine No. 158). It means going beyond mere charity, alms giving, and giving only

International Human Rights Day
Philippines. If there has been any deficiency or neglect in the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1998, we recommend that its cure be addressed in successive implementation. Chronic rural poverty is linked to the rural poor’s lack of control over access to basic productive resources, such as land, water and forest resources. In the light of the social doctrine on agrarian reform, there is moral obligation to grant the rural workers their legitimate desire to participate in the ownership of the land they till and in the profits of their toil. Sharing of land as well as of goods and goodness is a demand of the principles of human dignity, equality and stewardship. According to the most recent poverty report by the Asian Development Bank, three fourths of the Philippines remained poor and rural. This means that they have limited access to food, education, health security, housing and employment. In the current discussion and debate on the agrarian reform program, I hope and pray that the concerned sectors will be able to come up with needed monitoring schemes, support services, and assistance from related of the rural poor—on whose work on the land depends the life of the nation—a reform, an improvement of and extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program will need the support of the legislative and executive arms of government.

what one no longer needs. When leaders are hounded by unresolved anomalies and litanies of graft and corruption, it is difficult, almost impossible, to regain trust, credibility and respect which are critical ingredients to effective governance. If civil society wants to effect moral transformation in governance, they must be reasonably angry, articulate, and persevering in effecting the change they want to see. Most important is the element of spiritual transformation, whose key is conversion to God which starts with ourselves.

Agrarian Reform
This year we celebrate the 40th year of the issuance of “Populorum Progressio—Development of People” by Pope Paul VI. There the Pope states that a redistribution of land as part of sound policies of agrarian reform is indispensable for genuine economic development (PP no.23). According to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: “Agrarian reform therefore becomes a moral obligation more than a political necessity, since the failure to enact such reform is a hindrance in developing countries to the benefits arising from the opening of markets and, generally, from the abundant growth opportunities offered by the current process of globalization” (Compendium of the Social Doctrines no. 300). Premised on the above, we view the continued relevance of agrarian reform in the

Christmas is about communicating true (that is, ‘from Him who is truth) love
SEVERAL years ago I went for a morning jog in a park close to my auntie’s place where I took a short vacation. As I ran I saw a teen-aged couple (something between thirteen-to fifteen-year-olds) kissing and necking on a stand by the race track. I felt a bit nonplussed by my own reaction. I was startled less by what they were doing than by when they were doing it. It was only five forty-five A.M. I casually mentioned the incident during our breakfast conversation in my auntie’s place. One of my nephews heard my remark about how surprised I was to see those young people freely indulging themselves early in the morning. I wondered loudly if their parents knew or cared to know where they were and what they were up to. My nephew said: “Don’t worry about it, Uncle. It’s just early love.” I suddenly realized the generation gap between me and my nephew, between me and those teen-agers. This may be the age where free expression of feelings and desires is the in-thing (was there any age when it was not?) among young Filipinos. This may be the age where the repression or suppression is frowned upon directly or indirectly as a sign that our social mores are (to quote the so-called ‘liberated ones’) “maturing”. I doubt, though, if we can call that a sign of real maturation in the ways of our society. At least, as far as my nephew was concerned, I was sure there was confusion—a confusion reflected in those teen-agers— about what love is all about. Love being rarely discussed openly in our families, especially in its many faces and manifestations, some of which are false, is one big misfortune in modern Pinoy culture. Because of the influence of media to current attitudes and views, what with the flood of telenovelas, fantasy television series or movies, the internet and cell-phone-

Rev. Fr. Euly B. Belizar, SThD

By the Roadside
Scripture experts say of this verse as telling us that the coming kingdom has no boundaries in time and territory. For us, reading these words with Christian eyes, it becomes obvious that the fulfillment of this prophecy is Christmas Day when Jesus, the Son of David, the quintessential Israelite king descended from Judah, will be born. Now, how does this relate to our reflection on love and loving? Let me put it this way. This coming kingdom, ultimately founded on a descendant of Judah, is precisely borderless and timeless because it is the kingdom that manifests and communicates the real face of God who is Israel’s true king. God’s face is revealed precisely in and by Jesus Christ as LOVE. We see it in Jesus giving himself to us, by no merit on our part, totally and without reservations from the very start of the Nativity story. He abandons heaven, takes up our condition as slaves when he becomes human, suffers and dies for us in obedience to the Father (Phil 2:5-11). I find Matthew the evangelist’s simple genealogy account of Jesus’ birth completely astounding when brought to closer inspection. In the text read on a day before Christmas we hear of how among the ancestry of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High, are women known as sinners or having irregular marital unions: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. Let’s consider them one by one. Tamar was Judah’s widowed daughter-in-law who, disguised as a harlot, deliberately seduced and fooled him so as to sire descendants from him (Gen 38). Rahab, who was not even Jewess, was a harlot from Jericho who aided the Israelites against their enemies (Joshua 2:1ff). Ruth, another Gentile woman from Moab, a widow of a Jew named Mahlon, married Boaz, a distant
Roadside / A5

ISSN 1908-2940

CBCP Monitor
P r o ta g o n i s t of Tr u t h , Promoter of Peace

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created relationships, Filipino families are exposed to a wide market of ideas on love and loving. The result is not always good or even worth our while. Let me illustrate. It is told that a boy was once asked by his father to get him some water. When the boy returned with a glass of water, the father drank it and spat it out. “Why does this taste foul?” he asked his son. “I got it from our garden pail. I thought you were just going to water the plants or wash your hands or something.” The water was foul because its source was foul. Our ideas of love or loving are sometimes foul or, at best, incomplete because they come from wrong sources. The right source of love and loving is the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, about whom Christmas is what it is. In an ancient text we hear the words predicting the Messiah indirectly through the picture of Judah as the tribe out of which the kingly dynasty of Israel will emerge (Gen 49:2, 8-10). Considering that King David is a descendant of Judah and so is the coming Messiah, the words are unmistakably significant to you and me: “You, Judah, shall your brothers praise—your hand on the neck of your enemies, the sons of your father shall bow down to you” (Gen 49:8). It is a reference to leadership issuing from his tribe, something affirmed by the text’s description of “Judah, like a lion’s whelp…He crouches like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts— who would dare rouse him” (verse 9). It is especially remarkable since the lion is, even in ancient times, the acknowledged universal symbol of leadership. Then, more significant for our consideration are the words: “The scepter shall never depart from Judah, or the mace from between his legs, while tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people’s homage” (verse 10). I find it quite logical that

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir—Gold Medalist
responsible for their development—the School of the Holy Spirit and the Immaculate Conception Parish for their venue practice— into accomplished participants of the Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir. As of today they have been invited to guest in some TV programs. One big affair is scheduled on December 15—a TV show of GMA 7, SING FOR JOY—sponsored by the Department of Social Welfare, to raise funds for disabled children. This will be participated in by 23 choirs, 6 of the world-champions including Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir, Coro de Santa Cecilia, and the U.P. Madrigal Singers. We give our congratulations also to 10 Filipino choirs which bagged a total of 20 medals in the First Asian Choir Games in Jakarta Indonesia. They are the Davao Himig Singers, the Cebu Chamber Singers; the Coro de Santa Cecilia, a gold medalist; the Xavier University Glee Club, The Southridge Boys’ Choir, the Mandaue School of Arts Children’s Choir, also a gold medalist. Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to all patrons of the CBCP Monitor!

Nicolo F. Bernardo

Jose B. Lugay

Laiko Lampstand
CHRISTMAS dawn masses are celebrated in the Philippines and nowhere else in the Catholic World. Historians say this started when Pope Sixtus V declared that dawn masses would be held starting December 16 to allow farmers to attend the novena mass of Christmas before they go to work in the field. Since then the “simbang gabi” or “misa de gallo” is celebrated in gala style inside the church—lanterns, a big belen, and specially trained choirs. The Diocese of Cubao, the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, is blessed with a world-renowned choir, the Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir, which won a gold medal and 2 silver medals in the first Asian Choir Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia last November 2–10, 2007—gold medal in the Gospel and Spiritual categories, and silver medals in the Musica Temporanea and Musica Sacra categories. In 2004, they also won a gold medal in Music of the Religions Category in the 3rd Choir Olympics held in Bremen, Germany. This coming year, 2008, there is a standing invitation from the Sisters of Social Service (SSS), California to host

Lifeguard Santa and virtue
BESIDES the story of the child Jesus, the enchanting mystery of Christmas has much to do with the fabled Santa Claus— partly the person of Bishop St. Nicolas, partly the RussianGerman-American construct of a universal godfather who favors the “good.” Why is Santa Claus alive and popular despite its myth? Perhaps one reason is our frivolity for fantasy, which is our break from the hard blows of reality, such as having no gift for Christmas unless a Santa comes to town. Santa’s tale excites children’s hope (and perhaps frustration too, if they do not get their wish list), just like the generous Three Kings. Yet there are unwrapped truths behind the character of this bearded man. Santa is every child’s (and even adult’s) symbolic archetype of the giver—whether parent, godparent, friend, or relative—being generous enough to grant one’s life-wishes. Santa is the model of liberal giving, and so one is considered “Santa” who bears prized gifts. At a closer look, Mr. Claus enshrines the Aristotelian virtue of rightful giving and rewarding. And as you already know, St. Thomas Aquinas’ virtue ethics is full throttle Aristotle’s. “Santahood” shares a secret that politicians know: generous giving is ticket to fame. How else could one paint memories of good will if not by giving what people wish? “Generous people are loved more than practically any others,” Aristotle himself says in his Nicomachean Ethics. However, Santa is no user unlike some “charitable” men. In fact, he likes to give in secret, not in broad daylight. He does not even care to write in the gifts “Courtesy of Santa Claus.” For him, a gift is only given to one who deserves period. In legend, it has always been the child who has been good for the rest of the year, who passes the final test of patience and obedience of sleeping early on Christmas Eve. All these qualities play the theme of innocence and constancy. Only when character is proven that the reward could be had, and the reward need not benefit the giver —Santa— except perhaps for a bite of some leftover chocolates. His good tidings go to the deserving. As we heard the angels on high say, “Peace to men of good will.” Santa is an example of a virtues giver, one who in Aristotle’s terms “gives to the right people, in the right amount, at the right time, and all other things that are implied by correct-giving.” Santa knows well that it is better to give than to receive, “for it is more proper to virtue to do good than to receive good.” He knows the right use of wealth: it is for rightful spending, not mere possessing. Unlike crook “benefactors,” Santa does not take his resources from people’s taxes, or from hoarded goods, or the likes of Robin Hood, but from his year-long labor to make toys in the freezing Atlantic. Santa fits Aristotle’s description of an honest provider, one who “acquires wealth from the right sources, e.g., from his own possessions, regarding taking not as fine, but as necessary to provide something to give.” Santa’s liberality explains why he and his childless wife have no wealth to own but live simply with the elves, because, as Aristotle tells, “it is not easy for a generous person to grow rich, since he is ready to spend, not to take or keep, and honors wealth for the sake of giving, not for itself.” Here, Aristotle would approve Santahood’s ethics of doing good for itself not for anything else. Perhaps an Aristotelian reading could also explain why the elves chose Santa as their partner in producing children’s toys. “The generous person,” said Aristotle, “is an easy partner to associate with in dealings that involve money for he…is more grieved to fail to spend for what is right.” Meaning, the generous person would not let lose any opportunity to do good even if he has to give what he earned, and would do as much good as possible. In this sense, Santa is not only generous but as Aristotle would describe characters of his like, “magnificent.” Magnificent is he who “spends the worthy amount for a large purpose,” much like Santa who gives to all good children despite the long cold night of Christmas Eve. Santa’s fable proves a human truth to shun the two extremes (or viciousness) of being stingy (deficient giver) and lavish (prodigal giver). Both have selfish ideas of using wealth. This is a “truth” men of wisdom sensed even before Santa ever came to town and a “truth” that shall persist even as every child outgrows the jolly old saint and become a wise man himself. One who outgrows Santa realizes yet Aristotelian-Christian points behind this myth: that goodness is worth one’s wealth and that to do good until the end is virtue, itself the reward where all goodness come. If it is correct that the legend of Santa was of pagan origin, and since Aristotle recognizes the educational purpose of myths unlike his teacher Plato, then we can imagine the philosopher (and his follower Aquinas) giving an affirmative “ho-ho-ho” to the fabled old fellow. This Christmas and New Year, I wish blessings of peace to you dear reader and to all men of good will! To all men of good will.

the Hail Mary the Queen Children’s Choir in singing for the fund support of the Novitiate House of the SSS young sisters. This will be the choir’s second trip to the United States. They performed in 6 counties in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento California, U.S.A. in 2005. There is always a good organization, leadership and management behind the success of any undertaking. It is a demanding challenge for the choir master and support group to develop young school children from 8 to 18 years old to go through choral practice interspersed with the demands of schoolwork and disqualifying them if they have failing grades. We give credit for the success of this undertaking to the following personalities: Most Rev. Honesto Ongtioco, Bishop of Cubao, Choir Coordinator, husband and wife Ulan and Dinna Sarmiento, Music Director Jude Roldan and Choirmaster Teresa Roldan and accompanying pianist Melissa Tuqeban and of course to the parents of 40 children members of the choir. As a doting grandfather to choir members Cheli and Angel San Luis, I give thanks to all those

Natural Family Planning to alleviate poverty
THE practice of Natural Family Planning among married couples can alleviate poverty, not because they have less children, but because they become responsible, motivated, caring and industrious parents, no matter how many children they have, through the value-orientation seminars that all learners of NFP should undergo. Beth Lozada is a Natural Family Planning teacher in the Cagayan de Oro Diocese. She learned the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM or cervical mucus method) ten years ago from the Family and Life workers in her parish. Her four children are spaced three or four years apart and her youngest, a girl, she proudly claims, was planned according to sex, since her three elder ones are all boys. Lately, she has been keeping track of her monthly cycles through the Standard Days Method (SDM) of natural family planning as she fits the criteria of regular cycles. She knows when to shift from BOM to SDM or back to BOM as needed because she is well versed in both. Her husband is very cooperative and can teach the methods himself. Both are often invited to share their experiences in promoting natural versus the artificial methods. Beth is a grade school teacher in a nearby public school and she has been teaching NFP to many of the teachers there. She also talks about it to the market women and to her neighbors. She eagerly invites them to come to her house for more detailed explanation and to get a copy of the chart, if the choice is for the BOM, or the beads, if the woman prefers to use the SDM. She reports regularly to the Diocesan Family and Life Center and attends updates on the “All NFP Methods Program” whenever it is offered. She is very strict with the learners that they should not be using any artificial methods since the Diocesan Program is Pro-life, she says. CFLA, the Christian Family and Life Apostolate of the Diocese of Cagayan de Oro held their Coral or 35th Anniversary last Dec. 1 at Christ the King College, Gingoog City. It was attended by over 700 CFLA workers. Fifteen parish priests concelebrated with Archbishop Antonio Ledesma and quite a few more parish priests were around to show their support for these parish volunteers who have been conducting pre-cana, marriage validation and enrichment seminars, all methods of natural family planning programs and human sexuality teachings to the youth in their own areas. I was invited to give the Keynote Address. I began my talk by telling them that I accepted the invitation in order to gain inspiration from them because there was not much more that I could add to their motivation and information except to encourage them to continue to be “Persistent, Insistent, and Consistent in being Persons In Christ” for the sake of Life and Family. The afternoon was spent with songs and dances from each of the districts. Winning first prize in best presentation and costume was the group from Cagayan de Oro East District. These CFLA workers¯ twenty women were in flaming red and yellow costumes of the Tiganon tribe and fifteen men in blue and red silk attires brandished their spears. It was amazing and amusing to see these couples, many in their fifties and sixties, swayed and danced in unison to the ethnic beat. Much can be said about the gracefulness of their chosen Muslim Princes and Datu. Of course, the other groups gave very good performances as well and were given recognition in their own way. My trip to CdO was indeed very memorable. Day One was in Xavier University

Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, RGS

Love Life
Theology Department on the invitation of Fr. Poulin, SJ and Mrs. Love Naces. I was tasked to brief the student leaders on how to organize a pro-life youth program in their university. The next two days was spent with the Family and Life workers for a Training on how to conduct Pro-life Orientation Seminars, Counseling, Lobby and Organizing. The day before I returned to Manila, I visited the natural family planning teachers. That was when I met Beth Lozada, her husband and children. I was accompanied by Sr. Ludy, MSHP, the CFLA Coordinator and Ann Pielago, the NFP Coordinator. I also interviewed Agnes Banisula and her daughterin-law whom she taught NFP soon after she delivered her second child. The NFP teachers attest to the satisfaction of the couples regarding the value of NFP in their married life—how they have learned to be responsible not only in their sexual relations, but in caring for their children as well. The men are more challenged to do better at work, seeking ways to increase family income, while the mothers seem to have more time too to bring in some extra income. Their children are better behaved as they see their parents caring and respecting each other unlike in the past when they were often distraught and overburdened. How true that artificial contraceptives were never the answer to their problems. What they really needed were concerned people who would show them God’s good news of life, love, marriage and family. To all of you in CdO Diocese—Xavier U, CFLA, and the Serve Life members whom I had a chance to connect with on my last day— my heartfelt congratulations! May many more Diocesan and Parish Family and Life Apostolates flourish and touch peoples’ lives as you have done these past 35 years!

Abp. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ, DD

Populorum Progressio – Pastoral Companion 40 years hence
tive of the many more countries that remain underdeveloped. It is in this light that Pope John Paul II pointed out the originality of Populorum Progressio in his commemorative encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, twenty years later. First, Populorum Progressio emphasizes the ethical-moral and cultural character of development. “Development which is merely economic is incapable of setting man free,” notes Pope John Paul II. Secondly, the social question has now acquired a worldwide dimension. The transfer of capital and technology has gone beyond national borders without much regulation. On the other hand, the mobility of labor has been restricted. Thirdly, development is closely linked to justice and peace. “The new name for peace is development,” writes Paul VI, even as the earlier notion of peace includes justice as a pre-requisite. During the second day of the conference, continental-wide reports were given on the challenges of development in Africa, Europe, America, Asia, and Oceania. Working groups by languages were then asked to discuss the interrelated themes of: conflicts, poverty and inequality, democracy, and environment. In the midst of all these sharings on develall sinners when he intentionally allows his Son to be born into a family tainted by sin in its many faces (David’s story alone suffices as an illustration, not to say the abovementioned women). Two, God’s love destroys the divisions between peoples. In the family of his Son, Jew and Gentile are permanently mixed (Jesus was not a pure Jew, as no one is really pure Filipino). Doesn’t this give us a picture of what true love is? If all mankind learns this lesson, opment issues today, perhaps the most striking was that of Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi in India. Speaking in the first person as a tribal himself in his keynote address, he asserted: “What I am today and what my people of Chotanagpur are today, is almost entirely because of the Social Teaching of the Church.” He went on to cite the evangelizing work of a pioneer missionary, Fr. Constant Lievens, a Belgian Jesuit, who came to India in the late 19 th century. Noting the mass exploitation of the tribals and land usurpation by landlords, Fr. Lievens took up legal cases in defense of the tribals’ lands. Because of this, Cardinal Toppo continued: “A great number of them accepted Christianity, as they came to understand that it enabled them to regain their human dignity. Within seven years there were eighty thousand Catholics. Today there are over a million Catholics from this tribal region… While Fr. Lievens is called the Apostle of Chotanagpur for bringing Christ to our people, he is also popularly known as Nyay Ka Masiha, i.e., ‘the Messiah of Justice’ for bringing justice to our people. Faith and Justice always go together. This happened to my people, and for this reason, I am here with you today.” would there be wars or even any reason to pick a fight against anyone? Christmas is a big statement of love. It says that we don’t truly love unless we love the way God loves us in and through the babe born in a manger. This babe who became a man shows us that true love goes beyond looking for the lovely and lovable for we were absolutely unlovely and unlovable when he started embracing us. Every time tragedy strikes, a crime or misde-

ON November 22-24, 2007, in Rome the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace convened the Second World Congress of the Ecclesial Organizations Working for Justice and Peace. More than 250 delegates from the Church’s social action centers throughout the world came together to commemorate the “40th Anniversary of Populorum Progressio: the Development of the Whole Man and of All Men.” Pope Paul VI issued his landmark letter on “The Development of Peoples” in 1967, just two years after the completion of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Many of the conference speakers pointed out the relevance and continuing challenges raised by the social encyclical. There is first of all the challenge to be human—in a world where violations of human rights are still rampant, especially against women and children, tribal minorities, and the weaker sectors of society. There is also the challenge of pluralism and different cultures, even as modern means of communication and transportation have brought the four corners of the world closer than ever before. Finally, there is the challenge of globalization—which can be viewed either from the perspective of those countries that dominate the global market or from the perspecRoadside / A4

Exploitation of Children
CLEARLY the exploitation of children is a morally deplorable and criminal act. Because of the immense damage, oftentimes irreparable, it brings to children Exploitation robs children the dignity of life, the enjoyment of life that is their inherent right It deprives them of education that could secure for them a stable future. Children who have been sexually abused suffer the pain and trauma of their experience throughout their lives and are vulnerable to more abusive behavior and relationships later on in life. As a social phenomenon, the exploitation of children in the Philippine context can be traced mainly to poverty. This condition of poverty has emboldened unprincipled employers and moneyed foreign pedophiles to use children. Incest and rape, on the other hand, have been known to breed most in environments marked by unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, and the lack of proper and decent housing. These pressing concerns demand immediate attention and concerted response from all sectors, if the problem of sexual abuse of children is to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. —(“Welcoming Them For My Sake” (Mt. 18:5)—Pastoral Letter on the Exploitation of Children, 1998)

ancestor of David and Jesus (Ruth 4:10). Then the famous Bathsheba committed adultery with King David who literally stole her from her husband Uriah (2 Sam 11 and 12). In this mere genealogy the footprints of God’s love is visible. One, that love zips the boundaries between the holy and the sinful. The all-holy God resolves the distance by simply embracing and saving the sinful. God it is who embraces you, me and

meanor, you could spot the source quite easily: an unloved person with an unloved life trying to desperately let its voice be heard. Christmas says that it is not what separates us human beings that we must see but what brings us together in the true condition of our humanity. To paraphrase Gandhi, beneath the different colors of our skin is the same color of our blood. It’s the same God we are from, whose only Son saves us from the same sorry, sorry darkness we are in. He never distinguishes us as black or white, brown or yellow, red or olive. He calls and treats us as brothers and sisters by letting us share the highest life that knows God only as—Father.


Local News
CATHOLIC priests and bishops may become unpopular should they talk about social issues but “that is part of our prophetic role, our responsibility to tell the people that what is morally wrong has to be rectified.” CBCP Episcopal Commission on Canon Law Chairman and Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Y. Medroso said the bishops and priests may get into the picture if they see “there is something wrong with governance” and hastened to add “his conscience would tell him to get out and be heard, to speak out if there’s something wrong with the authorities.” Bishop Medroso said limiting priests and bishops to spiritual matters is wrong. “It is a very,

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

Think green this Christmas, bishop urges

Canon law prelate says involvement on social issues is part of mission
very wrong concept of the mission of priests, bishops and religious for we do not exist in this world as spirits, we are living in this world with body and soul and precisely because of that the involvement is so close and simply we cannot separate one from the other,” the prelate from Tagbilaran said. Asked about various and at times conflicting opinions from bishops and priests, Bishop Medroso said his brother prelates and priests have different views and convictions on political issues. “We have to consider the reality that even priests and bishops have different perceptions and appreciation of events,” the 69 year-old prelate concluded. (CBCPNews)

Bishop not surprised RP on top 10 list of petty bribery
A SENIOR bishop said he is not surprised the Philippines is among the top 10 nations with corrupt government institutions. “That is not news anymore,” Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz told Church reporters. A recent survey by global anticorruption body Transparency International has found that more than one in ten people have paid a bribe in the past 12 months. The report showed that the world’s poor were the hardest hit by the bribery while authorities and public officials were the worst offenders. By region, Africa experiences the most demands for bribes. The study also found that the countries with the highest level of petty bribery were Cameroon, Cambodia, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Senegal, Romania, and the Philippines The group contradicted the popular notion that bribes are paid by rich people to gain power and influence. They said that poor people are victimized by bribery just to ensure they get basic public services. “It has been like that and worst since the assumption of leadership of the present administration,” said Cruz. In the country, he said, the poor and the helpless are always the victims of the extortion done by corrupt and corrupting government officials. The government, he said, is truly economically and morally bankrupt. “If it becomes truthful, honest and just, then that is news,” Cruz added. (CBCPNews)
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AS the song goes, it’s “the most wonderful time of the year.” But what most people don’t realize is that yuletide season is also one of the toughest times of the year for the environment. A Catholic prelate and an environment organization have joined forces to urge householders to think green this Christmas to veer away from generating wasted energy and millions of tons of trash. Kalookan bishop Deogracias Iñiguez has called the faithful “to hew closer to the essence and simplicity of the first Christmas.” Iñiguez and the EcoWaste Coalition are appealing to the people to “refuse crass consumerism and rejoice in a simple and ecological celebration of Christmas.” Environmentalists observed that the celAttack / A1

ebration of Christ’s birth has transformed into a pageant of unbridled consumerism and has become the most wasteful and most energy-consuming festivity in the Christian calendar. “Following the example of the Babe in the Manger, Christmas should be a time of strengthening His light within us so that we can give, receive and spread the real gifts of Christmas—hope, love, charity, peace and joy,” he said. “We pray that we will have more of this inner radiance and less of the store-bought glitter and pomp that quickly fade away at the end of the season,” added Iñiguez, who is also the chairman of the Committee on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

EcoWaste Coalition youth advocate LJ Pasion, meanwhile, said any action towards protecting the environment will go a long way in conserving our “depleted” resources and in curbing climate change. The group claimed that over-the-top decoration, marketing gimmicks, shopping extravaganzas, and the ubiquitous trash created by the holiday frenzy have increasingly shrouded the real essence of Christmas. In Metro Manila alone, trash generation of about 8,000 cubic meters daily is expected to go up by one-third during the Christmas season due to the consumption spree. “Let us all pay attention to the ecological and health costs of the choices we make this Christmas time,” Pasion said. (Roy Lagarde)
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alongside one another purely by chance, the Pope explained that the Christian worldview is one in which society is “progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters.” Without the family, Benedict said, “society is a mere aggregation of neighbors, not a community of brothers and sisters called to form one great family.”

Natural law must become the international norm
Benedict XVI writes: “A family lives in peace if all its members submit to a common standard: this is what prevents selfish individualism and brings individuals together, fostering their harmonious coexistence and giving direction to their work. ... For the sake of peace, a common law is needed, one which would foster true freedom rather than blind caprice, and protect the weak from oppression by the strong. ... Power must always be disciplined by law, and this applies also to relations between sovereign States.” This law, the Pope suggested, should be “the moral norm grounded in nature itself.” He also insisted that knowledge of this natural moral norm is possible if men strive to reflect on the “deepest inclinations present in their being.” Pope Benedict XVI explained that in the increasingly globalized society of today, establishing an international moral law depends on “a constant commitment to strengthen the profound human content of international norms, lest they be reduced to mere procedures, easily subject to manipulation for selfish or ideological reasons.”

Needs of the family must be protected
The earth is the home of the human family, says the Holy Father, highlighting the need “to care for the environment” which “has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion.” The Pope was careful to explain that, contrary to the attitude of some environmentalists, “human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole.” “Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man,” the Holy Father said. Out of concern for those countries that struggle to afford protecting the environment, Pope Benedict said, “if the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations.” Critiquing unbridled capitalism, the Holy Father said that “the moral obligation to ensure that the economy is not governed solely by the ruthless laws of instant profit,” must be noted.
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We must respond to difficult times
“Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future,” the Pope observed. In this context, the Pope underlined how “the danger of an increase in the number of countries in Terris, No. 264, the Archbishop said the human right of an individual “imposes some duty on the part of others.” He added “one who claims his own rights, yet altogether neglects to carry out his duties, is a person who build with one hand and destroys with the other.” Meanwhile, LingayenDagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz said the intrinsic attributes of basic human rights are “universal, inviolable and inalienable.” In his blog (www.ovc.blogspot.com), the prelate said these rights are universal “because they are inherent in every human person, irrespective of race, color and creed.” Archbishop Cruz added human rights are inviolable for “they are essential accompaniments of the human person independent of time, place and circumstances.” These rights are inalienable for

possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension,” while in Africa there are still “many civil wars” and “the Middle East is still a theatre of conflict and violence, which also affects neighboring nations and regions and risks drawing them into the spiral of violence. On a broader scale, one must acknowledge with regret the growing number of States engaged in the arms race.” “In difficult times such as these…At a time when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a stand-still, I feel bound to entreat those in authority to resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons,” Benedict XVI exhorted. Pope Benedict concluded his message by recalling three special anniversaries: “Sixty years ago the United Nations Organization solemnly issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. ... This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the Holy See’s adoption of the Charter of the Rights of the Family and the 40th anniversary of the celebration of the first World Day of Peace.” “In the light of these significant anniversaries, I invite every man and woman to have a more lively sense of belonging to the one human family, and to strive to make human coexistence increasingly reflect this conviction, which is essential for the establishment of true and lasting peace. I likewise invite believers to implore tirelessly from God the great gift of peace,” the Holy Father said. (CNA)

“Our prayer for the season of advent is come Lord Jesus, be with us… heal our land,” he added.

Materialistic mentality
Not a few Church leaders have called on the faithful not to lose sight of the reason for the season. Without understanding the reason of the celebration, then it become shallow and materialistic, Lagdameo said. Kalookan bishop Deogracias Iniguez earlier noted how commercialized the celebration of Christmas has become. Just recently the Holy Father
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made the same observation in his address to the pilgrims gathered at St. Peter’s Square on December 9. He urged them to open their hearts to welcome God and not allow the materialistic mentality to dominate their hearts. Reflecting on the day’s gospel, he said: “Through the Gospel, John the Baptist continues to speak through the centuries, to each generation.” “His clear and harsh words, I agree, are much healthier for us, men and women of our time, where the way of life and frequent perception of Christmas unfortunately suffers from a materialistic mentality,” the pope said. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)

Caritas member countries under the Asia Partnership for Human Development (APHD). The partnership rallied every member countries’ support for the Pan Asia Program to trace the whereabouts of victims, uncover new routes in human trafficking and possibly lead to the apprehension of criminal characters deeply involved in the nefarious and illegal trade. The annual “Day Against Child Trafficking” celebration has been observed nationwide today through symposia on child trafficking and dissemination of awareness-raising materials. (Melo M. Acuña)

existence of child pornography shows outright violations against children. “The right of the child prevails over the right of entrepreneurs,” Msgr. Quitorio added. MTRCB Chairperson Ma. Consoliza P. Laguardia said child pornography destroys the moral fiber of the country. “We have to protect our children from evil things such as exposure to pornography,” Laguardia added. She expressed
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optimism the advocacy campaign would succeed as various groups manifested support. “Everyone should help and with the CBCP supportive of the campaign, we can all put illegal activities to a stop,” she further said. She appealed to all parents, teachers and local government officials to support the campaign against pornography. She further said pornography is not limited to movies as there are magazines and reading ma-

terials that feature obscene materials. “The police should go after these materials openly sold in the streets,” Laguardia concluded. The caravan went around malls where pornographic materials have been confiscated. Appeals from Chairman Manzano and school children to cease and desist from selling pornographic materials were relayed to mall owners and video store owners. (Melo M. Acuña)

text of present situation of the Philippines “where millions radically lack the basic necessities of life, such as food, shelter, education, employment and health security.” The prelate said human rights victims include “the child in the womb, violated children and women, the abandoned, harassed and exploited, the disadvantaged poor, the unjustly evicted from their land.” He, however, added “unfortunately in our country with a democratic form of government, the rights of the people are not always fully respected.” He lamented that the culprits “among others are public servants and elected officials.” Human rights and the duty to respect, proclaim and obey them are “mutually complimentary, indissolubly linked and inextricably connected,” he said. Quoting from Pope John XIII’s Pacem

“no human person may be legitimately deprived of any basic human right.” The prelate further said that “exploiting the human person or trampling upon dignity or violating human rights is in effect one and the same abominable reality.” “Disdain for one of them is disdain for all three, in the same manner that respect for one of the three is respect for all of them,” he said. “No public official irrespective of his or her immense wealth and great power, no despotic and dictatorial leader with all his or her command of the military with the latter’s deadly weaponry, no royalty dressed in silk and gold, is essentially over and above any single human person no matter how poor, weak and helpless he or she is,” he concluded. (Melo M. Acuña)

moting contraceptives and abortifacients,” he said. The said Quezon City ordinances, reportedly endorsed by Councilor Diorella Sotto-De Leon, are already set for public hearing. Ongtioco told CBCPNews that his concern was based not only just on Church opposition to contraception but on the lives at stake that will adversely be affected by the use of contraceptives. He said the Church cannot remain silent on the issue, given
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the gravity of what is being proposed. The bishop has urged the faithful to make a conscientious right of objection. “We need to be vigilant now as Catholics, firmly and faithfully believing in the truth handed down to us from Lord Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church,” Ongtioco said. “Let us be ready to hold prayer rallies if and when so needed to prevent the passage of this deadly ordinance.” The prelate also called on his priests, to deliver homilies ing toy guns is not healthy fun. “Parents should act like censors here,” said Baylon, who is also the bishop of Masbate, a province that has a long track record of political violence. “They should be more careful in providing gifts to children.” Besides, he said, there are other ways to make children happy and not by teaching them, in a way, violent acts. He said there are other modes of celebrating the spirit of giving during Christmas. The prelate suggested giving children books and other educational gifts that they could enjoy too. “There are other things we can provide that’s something worthwhile,” he said. The Church official also called

about Juico’s ordinances everyday as soon as possible especially on Saturday and Sunday. “We strongly oppose these proposed ordinance(s) for Quezon City because it kills the unborn children, cause deadly cancers, destroys the Catholic educational formation of our youth and take away from us our intrinsic inalienable right to the free exercise of a correct conscience and our right to freedom of worship in the Catholic faith,” he said. ( R o y Lagarde) on the young Catholic faithful to rejoice at the “real essence” of Christmas and that is by “sharing and giving”. “We give gifts at Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ and His gifts to us of eternal life through his life, death and resurrection,” he said. Baylon said there is a “great upheaval” in terms of values in today’s youth and this coming Christmas is a “great time” for them to pause and reflect what the birth of Christ is all about. “It’s a great time to pause and listen then give real meaning to life,” he also said. “Even though you have nothing to share, just being with the one you love is enough,” the bishop added. (Roy Lagarde)

Baylon said there are studies indicating that war toys have harmful effects in normal children playing with violent toys. He said children should never be allowed to play violence, anymore than they should be allowed of pretending to kill each other or other types of play fighting. He said that giving children with gun replicas are “very inappropriate” because it’s somehow teaching them to be fierce. The bishop said toy guns and it’s associated “behavioral training” effects could push children to become violent. Unfortunately, he said, parents and even godparents have become so desensitized that they don’t realize that children play-

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007



The Human Family, a Community of Peace
1. At the beginning of a New Year, I wish to send my fervent good wishes for peace, together with a heartfelt message of hope to men and women throughout the world. I do so by offering for our common reflection the theme which I have placed at the beginning of this message. It is one which I consider particularly important: the human family, a community of peace. The first form of communion between persons is that born of the love of a man and a woman who decide to enter a stable union in order to build together a new family. But the peoples of the earth, too, are called to build relationships of solidarity and cooperation among themselves, as befits members of the one human family: “All peoples”—as the Second Vatican Council declared—”are one community and have one origin, because God caused the whole human race to dwell on the face of the earth (cf. Acts 17:26); they also have one final end, God”(1). 2. The natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love, based on marriage between a man and a woman(2), constitutes “the primary place of ‘humanization’ for the person and society”(3), and a “cradle of life and love”(4). The family is therefore rightly defined as the first natural society, “ a divine institution that stands at the foundation of life of the human person as the prototype of every social order”(5). 3. Indeed, in a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace. It is no wonder, therefore, that violence, if perpetrated in the family, is seen as particularly intolerable. Consequently, when it is said that the family is “the primary living cell of society”(6), something essential is being stated. The family is the foundation of society for this reason too: because it enables its members in decisive ways to experience peace. It follows that the human community cannot do without the service provided by the family. Where can young people gradually learn to savor the genuine “taste” of peace better than in the original “nest” which nature prepares for them? The language of the family is a language of peace; we must always draw from it, lest we lose the “vocabulary” of peace. In the inflation of its speech, society cannot cease to refer to that “grammar” which all children learn from the looks and the actions of their mothers and fathers, even before they learn from their words. 4. The family, since it has the duty of educating its members, is the subject of specific rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which represents a landmark of juridic civilization of truly universal value, states that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State”(7). For its part, the Holy See sought to acknowledge a special juridic dignity proper to the family by publishing the Charter of the Rights of the Family . In its Preamble we read: “the rights of the person, even if they are expressed as rights of the individual, have a fundamental social dimension which finds an innate and vital expression in the family”(8). The rights set forth in the Charter are an expression and explicitation of the natural law written on the heart of the human being and made known to him by reason. The denial or even the restriction of the rights of the family, by obscuring the truth about man, threatens the very foundations of peace. 5. Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace. This point merits special reflection: everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of a new life, everything that obstructs its right to be primarily responsible for the education of its children, constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace. The family needs to have a home, employment and a just recognition of the domestic activity of parents, the possibility of schooling for children, and basic health care for all. When society and public policy are not committed to assisting the family in these areas, they deprive themselves of an essential resource in the service of peace. The social communications media, in particular, because of their educational potential, have a special responsibility for promoting respect for the family, making clear its expectations and rights, and presenting all its beauty.

Humanity is one great family

6. The social community, if it is to live in peace, is also called to draw inspiration from the values on which the family community is based. This is as true for local communities as it is for national communities; it is also true for the international community itself, for the human family which dwells in that common house which is the earth. Here, however, we cannot forget that the family comes into being from the responsible and definitive “yes” of a man and a woman, and it continues to live from the conscious “yes” of the children who gradually join it. The family community, in order to prosper, needs the generous consent of all its members. This realization also needs to become a shared conviction on the part of all those called to form the common human family. We need

8. In this regard, it is essential to “sense” that the earth is “our common home” and, in our stewardship and service to all, to choose the path of dialogue rather than the path of unilateral decisions. Further international agencies may need to be established in order to confront together the stewardship of this “home” of ours; more important, however, is the need for ever greater conviction about the need for responsible cooperation. The problems looming on the horizon are complex and time is short. In order to face this situation effectively, there is a need to act in harmony. One area where there is a particular need to intensify dialogue between nations is that of the stewardship of the earth’s energy resources . The technologically advanced countries are facing two pressing needs in this regard: on the one hand, to reas-

fostering their harmonious coexistence and giving direction to their work. This principle, obvious as it is, also holds true for wider communities : from local and national communities to the international community itself. For the sake of peace, a common law is needed, one which would foster true freedom rather than blind caprice, and protect the weak from oppression by the strong. The family of peoples experiences many cases of arbitrary conduct, both within individual States and in the relations of States among themselves. In many situations the weak must bow not to the demands of justice, but to the naked power of those stronger than themselves. It bears repeating: power must always be disciplined by law, and this applies also to relations between sovereign States.

vere in dialogue about these issues and to encourage the legislation of individual States to converge towards a recognition of fundamental human rights. The growth of a global juridic culture depends, for that matter, on a constant commitment to strengthen the profound human content of international norms, lest they be reduced to mere procedures, easily subject to manipulation for selfish or ideological reasons. 14. Humanity today is unfortunately experiencing great division and sharp conflicts which cast dark shadows on its future . Vast areas of the world are caught up in situations of increasing tension, while the danger of an increase in the number of countries possessing nuclear weapons causes well-founded apprehension in every responsible person. Many civil wars are still being fought in Africa, even though a number of countries there have made progress on the road to freedom and democracy. The Middle East is still a theatre of conflict and violence, which also affects neighboring nations and regions and risks drawing them into the spiral of violence. On a broader scale, one must acknowledge with regret the growing number of States engaged in the arms race : even some developing nations allot a significant portion of their scant domestic product to the purchase of weapons. The responsibility for this baneful commerce is not limited: the countries of the industrially developed world profit immensely from the sale of arms, while the ruling oligarchies in many poor countries wish to reinforce their stronghold by acquiring ever more sophisticated weaponry. In difficult times such as these, it is truly necessary for all persons of good will to come together to reach concrete agreements aimed at an effective demilitarization , especially in the area of nuclear arms. At a time when the process of nuclear non-proliferation is at a standstill, I feel bound to entreat those in authority to resume with greater determination negotiations for a progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons. In renewing this appeal, I know that I am echoing the desire of all those concerned for the future of humanity. 15. Sixty years ago the United Nations Organization solemnly issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948-2008). With that document the human family reacted against the horrors of the Second World War by acknowledging its own unity, based on the equal dignity of all men and women, and by putting respect for the fundamental rights of individuals and peoples at the centre of human coexistence. This was a decisive step forward along the difficult and demanding path towards harmony and peace. This year also marks the 25 th anniversary of the Holy See’s adoption of the Charter of the Rights of the Family (1983-2008) and the 40 th anniversary of the celebration of the first World Day of Peace (1968-2008). Born of a providential intuition of Pope Paul VI and carried forward with great conviction by my beloved and venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, the celebration of this Day of Peace has made it possible for the Church, over the course of the years, to present in these Messages an instructive body of teaching regarding this fundamental human good. In the light of these significant anniversaries, I invite every man and woman to have a more lively sense of belonging to the one human family, and to strive to make human coexistence increasingly reflect this conviction, which is essential for the establishment of true and lasting peace. I likewise invite believers to implore tirelessly from God the great gift of peace. Christians, for their part, know that they can trust in the intercession of Mary, who, as the Mother of the Son of God made flesh for the salvation of all humanity, is our common Mother. To all my best wishes for a joyful New Year! From the Vatican, 8 December 2007 BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

Overcoming conflicts and disarmament

The family, society and peace

Diorama of the Nativity at the Vatican

to say our own “yes” to this vocation which God has inscribed in our very nature. We do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters. Consequently, it is essential that we should all be committed to living our lives in an attitude of responsibility before God, acknowledging him as the deepest source of our own existence and that of others. By going back to this supreme principle we are able to perceive the unconditional worth of each human being, and thus to lay the premises for building a humanity at peace. Without this transcendent foundation society is a mere aggregation of neighbors, not a community of brothers and sisters called to form one great family.

sess the high levels of consumption due to the present model of development, and on the other hand to invest sufficient resources in the search for alternative sources of energy and for greater energy efficiency. The emerging counties are hungry for energy, but at times this hunger is met in a way harmful to poor countries which, due to their insufficient infrastructures, including their technological infrastructures, are forced to undersell the energy resources they do possess. At times, their very political freedom is compromised by forms of protectorate or, in any case, by forms of conditioning which appear clearly humiliating.

Family, human community and economy

The family, the human community and the environment

7. The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop its proper relationships. For the human family, this home is the earth , the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all. Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances. If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations. Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.

9. An essential condition for peace within individual families is that they should be built upon the solid foundation of shared spiritual and ethical values. Yet it must be added that the family experiences authentic peace when no one lacks what is needed, and when the family patrimony—the fruit of the labor of some, the savings of others, and the active cooperation of all—is well-managed in a spirit of solidarity, without extravagance and without waste. The peace of the family, then, requires an openness to a transcendent patrimony of values, and at the same time a concern for the prudent management of both material goods and inter-personal relationships. The failure of the latter results in the breakdown of reciprocal trust in the face of the uncertainty threatening the future of the nuclear family. 10. Something similar must be said for that other family which is humanity as a whole. The human family, which today is increasingly unified as a result of globalization, also needs, in addition to a foundation of shared values, an economy capable of responding effectively to the requirements of a common good which is now planetary in scope. Here too, a comparison with the natural family proves helpful. Honest and straightforward relationships need to be promoted between individual persons and between peoples, thus enabling everyone to cooperate on a just and equal footing. Efforts must also be made to ensure a prudent use of resources and an equitable distribution of wealth . In particular, the aid given to poor countries must be guided by sound economic principles, avoiding forms of waste associated principally with the maintenance of expensive bureaucracies. Due account must also be taken of the moral obligation to ensure that the economy is not governed solely by the ruthless laws of instant profit, which can prove inhumane.

12. The Church has often spoken on the subject of the nature and function of law: the juridic norm , which regulates relationships between individuals, disciplines external conduct and establishes penalties for offenders, has as its criterion the moral norm grounded in nature itself. Human reason is capable of discerning this moral norm, at least in its fundamental requirements, and thus ascending to the creative reason of God which is at the origin of all things. The moral norm must be the rule for decisions of conscience and the guide for all human behavior. Do juridic norms exist for relationships between the nations which make up the human family? And if they exist, are they operative? The answer is: yes, such norms exist, but to ensure that they are truly operative it is necessary to go back to the natural moral norm as the basis of the juridic norm ; otherwise the latter constantly remains at the mercy of a fragile and provisional consensus. 13. Knowledge of the natural moral norm is not inaccessible to those who, in reflecting on themselves and their destiny, strive to understand the inner logic of the deepest inclinations present in their being. Albeit not without hesitation and doubt, they are capable of discovering, at least in its essential lines, this common moral law which, over and above cultural differences, enables human beings to come to a common understanding regarding the most important aspects of good and evil, justice and injustice. It is essential to go back to this fundamental law, committing our finest intellectual energies to this quest, and not letting ourselves be discouraged by mistakes and misunderstandings. Values grounded in the natural law are indeed present, albeit in a fragmentary and not always consistent way, in international accords, in universally recognized forms of authority, in the principles of humanitarian law incorporated in the legislation of individual States or the statutes of international bodies. Mankind is not “lawless”. All the same, there is an urgent need to perse-

The family, the human community and the moral law

11. A family lives in peace if all its members submit to a common standard: this is what prevents selfish individualism and brings individuals together,


People, Facts & Places

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

Delegates to the 13th South East Asian Congress representing 7 Asian Conferences that include Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, East Timor and the Philippines.

South East Asia Major Superiors hold congress in Tagaytay
THE South East Asia Major Superiors (SEAMS) representing six South East Asian countries held its XIII congress in St. Scholastica’s Center of Spirituality, Tagaytay City last November 19-25 reflecting on the theme “Religious Formation for Asia Today.” The congress provided a venue for delegates to assess their own current formation programs and led them to a greater awareness on the challenges of religious formation in Asia today. Likewise, the congress gave participants the chance to find out various means available to formators to develop effective formation programs. Most Rev. Luis Antonio Tagle of Imus diocese delivered the keynote address at the religious gathering. Other resource persons were Bro. Aidan Kilty, FSC who spoke on “Initial Formation: Inculturated Formation – an ‘affair of the heart’”, and Sr. Leticia Garcia, DC on “On-Going Formation: Accompanying Religious in Life’s Development Stages.” Organized by the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), the congress was attended by 111 participants, 31 of which were official delegates from the Major Superiors’ Conferences of South East Asia. Other participants were observers from major superiors and formators of member countries. SEAMS is composed of seven Conferences that include Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, East Timor and the Philippines. Smaller countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei are grouped into one Conference. The organization acts as a coordinating

LAUNCHED. VERITAS 846 KAPANALIG, a caring, sharing and listening radio community comprising of Veritas st aff, anchors, and listeners who pool resources of time, talent and treasure for common advantage and mission; at St. Peter’s Church, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City, December 2, 2007. Most Rev. Bernardino Cortez, DD, Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Social Communication led the Eucharistic celebration with Fr. Anton Pascual, President and Chief Operating Officer of Radio Veritas, and some clergy who anchor programs at Veritas. LAUNCHED. TV MARIA, the television station of the archdiocese of Manila; December 8, 2007 by His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales who blessed the production studio of TV Maria located in the compound of Caritas Manila in Pandacan, Manila. The blessing marked the official launching of TV Maria, which has been on test broadcast since January 1, 2006. The programs of TV MARIA are currently being carried over 300 cable networks in the Philippines including Channel 96 of Destiny Cable. Eventually, it will have its own channel on Sky cable. TV MARIA is also seen and heard in the United States, Canada and the Middle East through the Dream Satellite. The only national television network of the Catholic Church in the country, TV MARIA aims to bring the Word of God, to each and every Filipino in any part of the world. LAUNCHED. HOPE CENTER of the CLARETIAN COMMUNICATIONS FOUNDATIONS, INC. (CLARETIAN MISSIONARIES) by His Excellency Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, December 8, 2007, Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City. A friendly gathering-place for young Catholics, the Hope Center provides unique opportunities for all Christians to explore various means available for receiving and communicating the word of God. The center offers religious and spiritual books and magazines, audio visual materials and the internet. The communication center also has a coffee lounge, an internet café, e-loading counter, religious giftshop, counseling corner and a prayer room where one can spend time to meditate. CULMINATED. YEAR OF ST. EZEKIEL MORENO, December 7, 2007, at San Sebastian Auditorium in Quiapo, Manila on the theme: The Holy Eucharist: Focal point of St. Ezekiel’s life and sanctification and the driving force in promoting vocations. The event was highlighted with a concelebrated Mass presided by His Excellency Most Rev. Cirilo Almario, D.D., with Most Rev. Federico Escaler, D.D., Most Rev. Benjamen Almoneda, D.D. and Recollect priests headed by the Prior Provincial, Rev . Fr. Lauro Larlar, OAR, concelebrating. The momentous day was celebrated by the OAR, A.R., Secular Fraternity, collaborators and students on December 5 and 7, 2007 respectively, simultaneously in places where the Recollect s have parishes and school apostolates. St. Ezekiel Moreno is a Spanish missionary born in La Rioja, Spain. He was ordained in Intramuros, Manila on June 2, 1871 and was assigned to the Mission Center in Calapan, Mindoro Oriental. He also served in the parishes of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Las Piñas, Sto Tomas, Batangas, Intramuros and Sta. Cruz, Manila. On August 19, 1906, St. Ezekiel Moreno died of cancer of the palate which affected his throat, nose, ears and eyes. He was beatified by Pope Paul VI on November 1, 1975 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992. Today, St. Ezekiel Moreno is a Patron saint of cancer patients. CELEBRATED. MOTHER GEMMA ABUNDA SILVERO, MSH, 50th anniversary of religious profession among the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, which she founded; December 14, 2007. Mother Silvero pronounced her first profession of vows on May 25, 1957 and made her final commitment on May 18, 1963 while member of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters. Most Rev. Crispin Varquez, DD, bishop of Borongan presided the Thanksgiving Mass of her Golden Jubilee at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, Borongan City. ORDAINED. REV. ROMAN L. SANTOS, REV. IVAN PAUL N. OBANDO, REV. LAURO G DE DIOS, REV. CHRISTOPHER JEFFREY L. AYTONA, . REV. CECILIO VLADIMIR E. MAGBOO, REV NORMAN I. QUILAQUIL, . REV. RODEL S. CANSANCIO, REV. JULIU PAUL C. FACTORA, REV. LOUIE R. CORONEL AND REV. NILO A. LARDIZABAL to the Order of Presbyters among the Order of Preachers, Dominican Province of the Philippines. Most Rev. Socrates Villegas, DD, bishop of Balanga presided the ordination rites on November 30, 2007, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle at Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City. DIED. November 2007: Most Rev. Juan Nilmar, Kalibo; December 2007: Msgr.. Jaime San Andres, Caceres; Msgr. Pablo Alcarez, Cebu; Fr. Ciriaco Sevilla, Gumaca; Fr. Jovencio Sanchez, Tagbilaran; Fr. Efren Sanchez, Daet.

body of men and women major superiors of religious congregations in South East Asia. It serves as a support group for the major superiors of the region through sharing and updating, expression of common aspirations and finding effective means and ways to spread the Gospel of justice, peace and love to the people they are called to serve. The one-week congress concluded with delegates expressing through a common statement their renewed commitment to their specific mission of “animating initial and on-going formation in the hope that the religious may reveal the Asian face of Jesus Christ today.” SEAMS holds congress every three years to establish course of action for the fulfillment of its goals and objectives. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)

Jaro celebrates Vocation Awareness month
THE Archdiocese of Jaro marked November as vocation awareness month highlighted with an overnight Vocation Jamboree held last November 23-24 at the University of San Agustin, Iloilo. A grand parade kicked off the highlight of this year’s vocation animation activities. Six thousand young people jam-packed the gymnasium of the University of San Agustin during the jamboree. Vocation promoters representing different communities of Men and Women Religious of the archdiocese joined the affair. Their presence showed their sincere desire to inculcate in the hearts and minds of our young people the seed of priestly, religious, and missionary vocations. Guest vocation promoters coming from Luzon, Mindanao and other parts of the Visayan island also joined the celebration. Together, they all became living examples of happy lives following the “Good Shepherd.” The happy life journeying towards answering the “call” was affirmed by Mr. and Mrs. Joel Adrias who emphasized the important role of every family in the growth and care for vocations. Moreover, the young crowd was captivated by the life story shared by the guest speaker, Rev. Fr. Jason H. Laguerta, the National Coordinator of the Directors of Vocations in Philippines (DVP). His deep personal experiences showed how he found God. His calling in life served as an inspiration to the young men and women who were also in search for meaning in their lives. The Vocation Jamboree created a renewed enthusiasm among the youth of Jaro to continue their search for a more meaningful life by responding to the “call” of the Lord of the Harvest. It also offered an opportunity for the clergy and lay faithful to strengthen the active participation of the different parishes, Catholic schools and lay organizations. The event provided a venue for cooperative endeavor in the various fields of pastoral ministry. The Vocation Jamboree created awareness in the hearts of our young people the value of a life dedicated to God and service to His Church. The jamboree ended with a solemn Eucharistic Celebration presided by Most Rev. Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D., Archbishop of Jaro and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). In his homily, Archbishop Lagdameo, challenged the young crowd to be generous in responding to the “call”. He gave special emphasis on the need for generosity in answering the priestly, religious and missionary life. This year’s celebration was part of the vocation promotion activities programmed by the archdiocese of Jaro with the support of Rev. Fr. Richard S. Pinongcos, Director of the Archdiocesan Commission on Vocations, with the collaborative endeavor of Rev. Victor F. Gonzaga, OSA, President of the Council of Vocation Promoters. (Fr. Richard Pinongcos)

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual (standing, 4 from left) with the staff of Radio Veritas 846 at the launching of Veritas846Kapanalig at St. Peter’s Parish, Commonwealth, Quezon City last December 2.


Salesians spend early Christmas with handicapped
THIS holiday season, spending time with the “most forgotten” was worth it for a group of would-be priests. The pre-novices of the Salesian seminary helped spread the joy of the Yuletide Season by spending special time with the handicapped last week. They joined the Manila archdiocese’s ministry for people with disabilities in a Christmas party held for the disabled and poor children: the deaf, mute, blind, and crippled, among others. The occasion was held at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati City where handicapped from the metropolis gathered together to enjoy early spirit of Christ’s natal day. The cooperation and help of various non-government organizations, charitable institutions and schools added to the success of the yearly event. In a statement, the Salesians said working for marginalized youth and with the local Church are two significant Salesian apostolic activities. “For the aspirants and pre-novices concerned it was a first hand experience,” a Salesian said. The seminarians acted as caregivers, assistants in health services, and entertainers during the program, and even being loving elder brothers for at least a day. “As they prepare themselves to be future brothers and priests for the youth of the Philippines, it was a very rich and rewarding experience,” the congregation added. The Episcopal Commission on Health Care of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-ECHC), meanwhile, has earlier been appealing for help for the disabled. Fr Luke Moortgat, CBCPECHC executive secretary, urged the faithful not to forget the needs of the handicapped. There are about four million disabled people in the country. Sadly, he said, they are not properly cared for and many people do not even know how to attend to them. “Let us care for the people who will never know what day of the week it is and much more the name of the benefactors,” said Moortgat. (Roy Lagarde)

CBCP Monitor CBCP Monitor CBCP 25 Vol. 11 No.Monitor
December 10 - 30, 2007 December 10 - 30, 2007 December 10 - 30, 2007

Vol. 11 No. 25

B1 B1
Prelature of Batanes

Baby Jesus in the Crèche

B2 Updates

B3 Diocese

TV program aims to unite TV program aims to unite families through the bible families through the bible

B4 Commissions B4 Commissions

B5 Statements B5 Statements

Christmas reflection Christmas reflection

The Holy Family of Nazareth

B6 Reflections

B7 Social Concern B7 Social Concern
Healing poverty: A Grameen experience

Pastoral Concerns

The Christmas Novena The Christmas novena began as a means of communicating the riches of the Liturgy to the faithful who were unable easily to grasp it. It has played a very effective role and can continue to play such a role. At the same time, in current conditions where the faithful have easier access to the Liturgy, it would seem desirable that vespers from the 17-23 of December should be more solemn by adopting the use of the “major antiphons”, and by inviting the faithful to participate at the celebration. Such a celebration, held either before of after which the popular devotions to which the faithful are particularly attached, would be an ideal “Christmas novena”, in full conformity with the Liturgy and mindful of the needs of the faithful. Some elements, such as the homily, the use of incense, and the intercessions, could also be expanded within the celebration of Vespers. The Crib As is well known, in addition to the representations of the crib found in churches since antiquity, the custom of building cribs in the home was widely promoted from the thirteenth century, influenced undoubtedly by St. Francis of Assisi’s crib in Greccio. Their preparation, in which children play a significant role, is an occasion for the members of the family to come into contact with the mystery of Christmas, as they gather for a moment of prayer or to read the biblical accounts of the Lord’s birth. Christmastide During Christmastide, the Church celebrates the mystery of the Lord’s manifestation: his humble birth in Bethlehem which was made known to the shepherds, the first of Israel to welcome the Savior; the Epiphany to the three wise men who had “come from the East” (Mt 2,1), the first of the Gentiles who recognized and adored Christ the Messiah in the child of Bethlehem; the theophany at the river Jordan in which the Father declares that Jesus is His “well-beloved Son” (Mt 3, 17) at the outset of his messianic mission; the miracle of Cana in which Jesus “manifested his glory and his disciples believed in him” (John 2,11). In addition to these celebrations recalling the primary meaning of Christmas, there are also other celebrations closely connected with the mystery of the Lord’s manifestation: the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents (28 December) whose blood was shed because of hatred for Jesus and because of Herod’s rejection of his lordship; the memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus, 13 January; the feast of the Holy Family (Sunday in the octave of Christmas) celebrating the holy family in which Jesus “grew in wisdom and grace before God and men” (Lk 2, 52); the solemnity of the 1st of January which recalls the divine, virginal and salvific motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and, although outside of Christmastide, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord (2 February), celebrating the encounter between the Messiah and his people, represented by Simeon and Anna, and the prophecy of Simeon. Much of the richness and complexity of the mystery of the Lord’s manifestation is reflected in displays of popular piety, which is especially sensitive to the childhood of Christ which reveals his love for us. Popular piety intuitively grasps: the importance of the “spirituality of gift”, which is proper to Christmas: “a child is born for us, a son is given to us” (cf. Is 9, 5), a gift expressing the infinite love of God, who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (John 3, 16); the message of solidarity conveyed by the event of Christmas: solidarity with sinful man, for whom, in Christ, God became man “for us men and for our salvation”(118); solidarity with the poor, because the Son of God “who” was rich but became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of your poverty” (2 Cor 8, 9); the sacredness of human life and the wonderful event that is every birth, since the Word of life came amongst men and was made visible through his birth of the Virgin Mary (cf. 1 John 1, 2); the messianic joy and peace to which man has aspired in every age: the Angels announce the birth of the Saviour of the world to the shepherds, the “Prince of Peace (Is 9.5) and proclaim “peace on earth to men of good will” (Lk 2, 14); the spirit of simplicity and poverty, humility and trust in God, suggested by the events surrounding the birth of Christ. Popular piety, precisely because it can intuit the values inherent in the mystery of Christ’s birth, is called upon to cooperate in preserving the memory of the manifestation of the Lord, so as to ensure that the strong religious tradition surrounding Christmas is not secularized by consumerism or the infiltration of various forms of neopaganism. Christmas Eve In the space of time between the first Vespers of Christmas and Midnight Mass, both the tradition of Christmas carols, which are potent means of conveying the Christmas message of peace and joy, and popular piety propose certain forms of prayers, differing from country to country, which should be cherished and, where necessary, made consonant with the celebration of the Liturgy: These would include: “live cribs” and the inauguration of the crib in the homes of the faithful which is an opportunity for family prayer: this prayer should include a reading of St. Luke’s account of the birth of Christ, the typical Christmas carols, as well as prayers of petition and praise, especially those of children who are the protagonists in such family moments; the inauguration of the Christmas tree. This event also offers an opportunity for family prayer. Apart from its historical origins, the Christmas trees have become a potent symbol today and is very diffuse amongst Christians; it evokes both the tree planted in the centre of Eden (Gen 2, 9), and the tree
Christmastide / B7



CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

Baby Jesus in the Crèche
Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university, answers the following question: Q: In setting up the outdoor or indoor Nativity scene, I am under the impression that the statue of the Infant is to be placed there “ab initio,” not placed there at midnight on Christmas Eve. Is there documentation which supports that view? — M.H., Woodside, New York A: Here we are in the region of custom, and customs can vary from place to place. The choice might also depend on circumstances. There are very few mentions of this theme in official documents. No. 111 of the Directory of Popular Piety contains the following indication: “At Midnight Mass, an event of major liturgical significance and of strong resonance in popular piety, the following could be given prominence: [...] at the end of Mass, the faithful could be invited to kiss the image of the Child Jesus, which is then placed in a crib erected in the church or somewhere nearby.” Although this is more of a pastoral suggestion rather than a strict law, it would indicate the preference that the Christmas crib in or near a church should not be formally unveiled until the Christmas Midnight Mass. It is also technically possible to set up the crib on the evening of Dec. 24 if a parish celebrates the Christmas vigil Mass. This possibility, while liturgically correct, is probably less effective from the point of view of popular piety, which tends to associate Christ’s birth with the midnight Mass. In some places the custom exists of using a different (usually larger) statue than that used in the crib; and the faithful are invited to kiss the image of the Child Jesus at the end of all Masses on Christmas Day. Outside of the liturgical ambience the practice of Catholic households and schools varies widely. One family I know has the charming custom of setting up the crib in the family room but placing the Holy Family, the shepherds and the three wise men in various corners. Each day the family members move the statues a few steps closer. They place the figures in the crèche on returning from midnight Mass (except for the wise men, who arrive on Jan. 6). There may, however, be very valid reasons for setting up the full Nativity crib before Christmas Day. For example, a Catholic store owner, school, or even a parish located in a busy thoroughfare might desire to remind busy shoppers what Christmas is really all about. The crib thus combines the representation of a historical event with a testimony of Christian conviction that this event is a central and defining moment in human and salvation history. In such a case, having the image of the Infant Jesus from the beginning is almost certainly to be preferred. It makes little sense to have the images of Mary, Joseph, sundry shepherds, three wise men and the occasional choir of angels gazing adoringly upon an empty haystack. While already committed Christians might perceive the empty crib as the expectation of Christmas, the symbolism could be lost on many for whom the familiar representation of the complete Nativity scene might ignite a spark of true light amid the flimsy tinsels proclaiming “Happy Winterval.” (Zenit)

Hope, an encounter with love
By Fr. Juan Pablo Ledesma
THE two wings with which the human spirit arises toward the contemplation of truth, taught John Paul II, are faith and reason. Using an image of St. Isidore of Seville, we can describe in a stroke the content of this second encyclical of our Benedict XVI. Hope is “the foot” one uses to advance toward future goods. The opposite is despair. And the one without feet despairs. Throughout the whole of the encyclical the question arises always new and always current: Why do we hope? The image of the path, of the foot, synthesizes and crystallizes the integral vision of Christian hope that Benedict XVI offers us, because hope and salvation are inseparable. I am astonished in the first place at his theological intuition in order not to enclose hope in the chains of a conceptual or static definition. On the contrary, he presents hope in its dynamism, in a personalized, comprehensible form, and in open and current dialogue with everyone. Perhaps the most original aspect of this encyclical is the fact that it demonstrates hope in its integrity, embracing all spheres. First, it addresses time, including the past, the present and the future, looking toward eternal life. Then, it talks of the various schools where one can attain hope: prayer; action, because all serious and right action of man is hope in act; suffering, and here it’s fitting to point out how suffering forms part of human existence and constitutes his greatness. Additionally, God is joined to and is near to our pain. Christianity teaches that God—truth and love in person—participates in and joins our suffering, because he wanted to suffer for us and with us. Citing St. Bernard, Benedict XVI says, “God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with.” The Pope also speaks of hope in connection with the Final Judgment. Souls have hope of salvation in the resurrection of the body. The image of the Final Judgment is not a terrifying image, but an image of hope in Christ, our advocate. Hope develops itself in two dimensions, like the two arms of a cross: They do not stay in themselves, but project themselves into the other, like salvation or sin, which is not individual. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one redeems himself alone. That vision of Benedict XVI stands out in close relation and interaction between virtues and life. Faith is not only a tending of the person toward what is to come, and that is already totally absent; faith gives us something. Between the lines, the reader can summon those thoughts which the then professor Joseph Ratzinger taught in his “Introduction to Christianity”: a faith that is hope, which places its trust in God the Father, who can neither be deceived nor deceive us. The hope to which Benedict XVI invites us is personal, because it is born of the encounter with a person, who is love, truth, liberty. In a word: God. A hope revealed and witnessed by the first Christians. It is thrilling to reread this encyclical through the prism of false hopes: from the revolutionary ideas of Barabbas and Bar Kokhba, the subjugation to fatal destiny, the unsuccessful attempts of the French Revolution to establish the dominion of reason and of liberty, the Europe of the Enlightenment, the false idea of human progress, up to the disastrous consequences of the Marxist errors, forgetting that man is always man. Hope, therefore, transforms all personal, social and religious spheres. Christian hope is invoked in a prayer to Mary, the “Star of the Sea,” which shines above us and guides us on our path; a path that should be run with the feet of hope. (Father Juan Pablo Ledesma is the dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum University in Rome. This article is taken from Zenit with permission)

Appointed prelate of Isabela, Basilan in November 21, 2001, Bishop Jumoad was installed third bishop of the Prelature in January 12, 2002. In this issue of CBCP Monitor, Bishop Jumoad talks about the challenges of his Episcopal ministry among the Muslims, stressing that respect for other cultures is essential in achieving peace. He goes on to share his insights on the active presence of the laity in the Prelature through their participation in various diocesan and parish programs, as well as in BEC’s; the Prelature’s firm stand in upholding the Church’s teachings against contraception; the threat of materialism on the lifestyle of people and the Clergy’s ongoing formation. How do you find your Episcopal ministry in a diocese that is predominantly Muslim? My Episcopal ministry in this predominantly Muslim place is very challenging. I have to understand and respect their culture. I must not be judgmental. Oftentimes I have to discover the reasons why our brother/ sister Muslim acts in a particular way. That is why my Episcopal motto is: “Fides Et Spes” (Faith and Hope). This Faith must give me strength to exercise the ministry of presence in this Muslim territory. One expression of this ministry of presence is our service rendered to the children of Muslims, Christians and Indigenous People—through the Isabela Foundation, Inc. (acting as the Intermediary office for Christian Children’s Fund) that cater to their to needs such as education, water and sanitation, health and housing. Reaching out to them creates harmony although sometimes I am misunderstood. There were times that I was called Muslim Bishop by the Catholics because of my concern for the welfare of the Muslims. Showing concern to people of other cultures manifests our respect to their faith and culture. Respect is the stepping stone to understanding which hopefully leads to peace and reconciliation. How does the Prelature carry out the vision of PCP II as regards the laity’s greater participation in the life of the Church? Empowerment of the Laity is given emphasis in the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan. The laity’s presence is felt in almost all programs and ministries. In fact all eight parishes in my diocese have lay Parish Pastoral Coordinator who is tasked to plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate the programs and ministries in the parish. However, her/his role is to recommend to the Parish Priest. Ultimately, the Parish Priest has the final say in the implementation of the programs of the Parish. How active are the basic ecclesial communities in the Prelature? Only few chapels have remained active. When leaders are good and committed, the community is strong. One authentic sign that the community is truly BEC is when people in that locality are generous to one another. They are ready to make sacrifices for the welfare of their neighbors. When people are selfish, then the gospel values have not yet fully penetrated in the hearts of the people. Another sign that the community is truly BEC is when the people are no longer “Priest” centered. They can proceed in their meetings and prayers even if the priest is not yet around. They decide for their own welfare in the community. They are mature in faith. How does the diocesan family and life apostolate respond to the threats against family and life? Our Muslim brothers have released and declared their FATWAH; that means some forms of contraceptives are now allowed in their faith. The local Church in Basilan remains firm in its stand with the Catholic Church’s teaching against contraception. We have disengaged and severed our connections with funding agencies that slips in the promotion of contraceptives. We also have intensified our campaign for natural family planning and have strengthened covenanted communities to promote Catholic teachings in family life. We talked to covenanted communities that are Trans-Parochial by nature to become parish-based and help their community organize liturgical activities after having been undergone the some formation. What is your take on the threat of materialism creeping into our lifestyle due to globalization? After the May 2007 election, I, together with the clergy and religious men and women, have at least seen indicators that materialism is slowly creeping in the lifestyle of some of the Basileños. A great number of the populace have compromised their values for economic reason and have lost their sense of transcendence. There was a very obvious inclination to focus more on the material aspect at the expense of human dignity and spiritual values. I called the clergy and the sisters to sit down for common reflection. We have resolved that we need to intensify more the values formation and education, both in the parish and in academic institutions—to promote Christian values formation among parishioners, both young and old not, only during Alay Kapwa seminars but whole year long. At the same time, we evaluated our lifestyle as Church leaders. At the end of the day, we also realized that we were lacking in a life of austerity and simplicity. As Church leaders we must be examples of what it means to be simple in life... our material possessions must not be a source of scandal to others... Do you think consumerism has affected our sense of values, especially the young? Yes, consumerism has affected people’s sense of values especially the young. This philosophy teaches that good is found only on what is convenient and comfortable... what is new and fashionable. This frame of thinking affects the values of the individual especially the concept of the Divine. The young with this mentality would say that the concept of God is out of touch in reality. New inventions can replace the concept of the Divine like cellphones and other forms of technology. Consumerism makes a person adore that which gives the individual instant gratification which is not lasting. That is why there are so many unwanted pregnancies, pre-marital sex, drugs and substance addiction. Consumerism has distorted our capability to discern what is essential and vital in one’s life. Our conviction and commitment are affected. This mentality is also present in the Church. We need to anchor our values in Jesus and in Scriptures. How is the ongoing formation of your clergy in the Prelature? I have to be honest. There is no structured on-going formation of the priests in the Prelature because we lack financial capability to send priests to specialize on certain field or undergo a month or year for ongoing formation. However, in the diocesan level, we try to look for ways as we invite speakers that would help deepen the spiritual, intellectual and pastoral life of the clergy. From time to time, human formation is also given attention. I am happy with the clergy in the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan. I am transparent to them as a FatherBrother, I have to listen to what they say and if there are areas of relationship that need to be improved then I am willing to do it for the sake of unity and harmony in the Prelature. This is also true with the presence of religious priests, sisters and brothers in the Prelature. We work as a team in this Prelature. There are times that we do not agree but we always support one another. I am glad and happy with their presence here in the Prelature as mission partners.

Most Rev. Martin S. Jumoad, DD


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CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007



ON BACKGROUND: Procession in honor of Blessed Jesus Villaverde OP missionary in Sabtang who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on October 25 2007. LOWER RIGHT: Bishop Camilo D. Gregorio, DD

By Fr. Brigido Casas
THE Prelature of Batanes was established on November 30, 1950 as Territorial Prelature of Batanes and Babuyanes. In February 6, 2002, the Prelature was reduced to comprise only the Province of Batanes and is now known as the Territorial Prelature of Batanes with the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia (Vigan) as Metropolitan. Babuyanes was ceded to the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. The province lies on the northernmost tip of the Philippines, on vast expanse of wild waters where the Pacific Ocean merges with the South China Sea. Basco, its capital town and where the seat of the Prelature is located, is about 280 kilometers north of Aparri (the northernmost point of Luzon Island) or some 860 kilometers north of Manila, and about 190 kilometers south of Taiwan. It is bounded on the north by the Bashi Channel, on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the west by the South China Sea, and on the south by the Balintang Channel. Batanes is the country’s smallest province both in terms of population which numbers to roughly 17,000 as of latest census, and in land area which measures 209.3 square kilometers. It is composed of 10 relatively small islands in which only three are inhabited namely; Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat Islands. The entire province has only 29 barangays that encompasses the six municipalities of Basco, Mahatao, Ivana, Uyugan, Sabtang and Itbayat. It has five parishes plus a soon to be erected parish in Uyugan, a Marian Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Miraculous Medal which the Ivatans have a strong devotion to, and 12 barangay chapels. Batanes is a pastoral mountain bearing down on the savage sea; seabirds skimming the waves below; village of stone houses huddled on more tractable coasts; an island inchoate still warm with force of creation. It is the land of the Ivatan (referring both to the person and the language). Ivatan, like most Filipinos, are of Malay stock. But they also trace their roots to early immigrants from Formosa as well as Spaniards who came to the island in the 16th century. Being an insular people, the Ivatans have kept the purity of their gene pool. To this day, they bear the features of their forebears—the Formosan’s almond eyes and the Spaniard’s aquiline nose. Life is hard—and generally uneventful. What is surprising is that the provincial jail is always empty and the folks never lock their door or windows except during typhoons. In the Ivatan’s uncertain universe, only God is certain. Having God on their side also lessens the pang of their isolation. Thus the Ivatans are an intensely religious people and in every town, no matter how small, has a church of its own. The Dominican mission and evangelization of Batanes According to researches and studies made by Dr. Florentino Hornedo, Ph.D., the first Dominicans who started a mission in Batanes were Fr. Mateo Gonzales and Fr. Diego Piñero who came to Batanes in 1686. Another missionary joined them in 1688 by the name of Fr. Juan Ruiz. When Frs. Gonzales and Ruiz died and Fr. Piñero returned to Luzon, Batanes was left without missionaries until 1720 when Fr. Juan Bel and Fr. Alonso Amado reopened the Dominican mission. The difficult circumstances forced the missionaries to resettle in Calayan with over a hundred Ivatans who went with them. But many died because of disease Bishop-Prelate …………………………………. 1 and lack of food and Priests: eventually, went Diocesan (working in the Prelature) …...…… 3 back to Batanes. Guests …………………………………………. 1 More missionaries (Working outside the Prelature) ……...……… 3 came and went, othReligious: ers died; and once Filipino …………………………………………. 2 more, the mission Foreign ………………………………………… 1 Sisters ………………………………………….... 5 was abandoned. Seminarians: The Dominican Philosophy …………………………………..… 8 Chapter of 1771 reTheology …………………………………...….. 8 quested the King of Post-Theology ……………………………….... 4 Spain to establish a Prelature Divisions: government on the Parishes ………………………………….……. 5 islands and assign a With Resident Pastor ………………………... 5 military detachment Entrusted to Diocesans ………………...……. 24 in Batanes for secuEntrusted to Religious ……………………….. 1 Chaplaincies/Missions ………………...…….. 3 rity so that Educational Center: Christianization College ………………………………………... 1 could be facilitated. Population ………………………………...... 16,467 Thus in 1782, then Catholics …………………………………… 14,618 Governor-General of the Philippines

The Prelature of
Jose Basco y Vargas Valderrama sent an expedition to undertake the formalities of getting the consent of the Ivatans to become subjects of the King. The Cross was officially planted on Ivatan soil on June 26, 1783 when Batanes was annexed to Spain in a solemn public ceremony witnessed by Joseph Huelva y Melgarejo, first governor of Batanes, and Dominican Fathers Bartholome Artiguez and Baltazar Calderon. Since fires and typhoons routinely destroyed the government and mission buildings, lime and stone churches began to be built around 1795 with the help of imported masons, stone cutters, and carpenters from Cagayan. First to be constructed was the church of Santo Domingo at Basco, then San Jose in Ivana. The priest-engineer-architect Fr. Nicolas Castaño constructed the imposing façade of the Santo Domingo church at Basco in 1812, the convent in 1814, and the stone bridges which to this day are still in use in San Vicente and Tuhel in Ivana, and probably the one at Basco and San Felix. He also wrote a catechism in Ivatan which eventually got printed in 1834—the first known printed Ivatan text (extant today in the reprint of Retana), and which also suggests some literacy of the Ivatan of his time in the Romanized orthography. This literacy was the result of schools established in the towns basically for catechesis; practical skills were also taught. In 1853, Fr. Vicente Araujo, O.P., was assigned to Itbayat and by 1855, the Itbayat mission was formally recognized. Around 1873, stone school houses for boys and girls were made: the San Vicente church in Sabtang was decorated by the priest artist Fr. Rafael Cano, O.P., in splendid Baroque polychrome and gilt; a beautiful new church in San Carlos was built by Fr. Crescencio Polo, O.P., on the site of an old church ruined by a typhoon in 1872. Its decoration was also in Baroque style. From Dominican Missionaries to Diocesan Clergy Since the evangelization of Batanes and the establishment of the Prelature, the Spanish Dominicans of the Holy Rosary Province and a handful Filipino Dominicans were at the forefront of the missionary activities and held various positions and capacities in running the Prelature—from Bishop-Prelate, Parish Priests and some key assignments. Most of the Spanish Dominicans had served zealously the Prelature for more than half of their lives and had become pillars of the Ivatan culture whom they considered as revered figures. The coming of diocesan missionaries from the Archdiocese of Caceres was a welcome gesture and they worked for the betterment of the Prelature with their youthful


vigor coupled with their enthusiastic spirit since most of this diocesan clergy were newly ordained ranging from one to three years in the ministry. In 2003, when Bishop Camilo Gregorio took over the position as Bishop-Prelate of Batanes, the clergy serving the Prelature were of mixed affiliations; two diocesan, two SOLT Missionaries and the only remaining Spanish Dominican who had been serving the Prelature for more than 39 years in Itbayat in addition to being appointed Episcopal Vicar. In 2003, the Ivatans witnessed the first diaconal ordination and in 2004, the first ordination to the priesthood in the prelature. These historical religious events propelled more vocations from the natives since most Ivatans who studied for the priesthood and became priests belong to religious congregation particularly the Dominicans. In May 13, 2006, the first native diocesan priest, Rev. Fr. Algerico Andrew Gonzales was ordained and was assigned to Itbayat to help Fr. Domingo Deniz, OP. At present, there are 13 Diocesan Clergy under the Prelature serving in different capacities and some on study leave. Religious Missionaries of St. Dominic (Dominican Sisters) In 1953, three Sisters from the Religious Missionaries of St. Dominic came to Batanes to start their pastoral mission through catechetical instruction in the public schools. When their contract ended in 1970, the Sisters went back to Manila. However, after many years, moral decadence had seeped through the Ivatan values. Upon the request of the Ivatans, the Sisters came back in 1982 and established a Mission house. Their pastoral activities did not focus only on catechetical instruction but also included home and hospital visitations; Bible enthronement; Marriage encounter seminars; basic formation for receiving the sacraments of baptism and confirmation as well as preparing children for first communion. They also ventured in helping distribute Holy Communion to the sick and

later on some members who have educational background on teaching were asked to teach at St. Dominic College. When the Spanish Dominican Fathers left Batanes in 1997, they voluntarily entrusted the Dominican Residence to the Sisters who continued to help in the mission by establishing a pre-school. Lay Organizations and Movements Heeding the call of the Second Vatican Council and Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, the Prelature started to foster a more active role of the laity in the Church. Every parish tries to implement programs and foments the collaboration of the lay faithful in all aspects of ecclesial life. Having introduced liturgical reforms through local seminars and other formations, the faithful are appreciative of the orthodox initiative of their pastors. A number of lay organizations came and collaborated with the church hierarchy of the Prelature. Every organization or movement has its own priestspiritual director. Many lay faithful are also given the opportunity to work together in performing liturgical activities. They work as extraordinary ministers of communion, lectors, acolyte, cantors, etc. Some have endeavored to become full time church worker with very minimal allowance. Others have rendered their services for free to help the Prelature attain financial stability, at the same time witnessing by their life experiences and reflections, in order to inspire other members of the faithful. Pastoral Thrusts The main thrust of the Prelature is centered on the construction and renovation of centuries-old churches ravaged by natural calamities. Financially, the Prelature does not receive any monetary remuneration from the Holy See but it does obtain a yearly token subsidy from the CBCP which is also shared with Babayunes. Most clergy of the Prelature have to source funds outside of the Prelature since generation of funds is so limited given the economic status of the
Batanes / B6


TV program aims to unite families through the Bible
Fr. Luis Supan


CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

The question box

Questions on the Holy Bible
1. What does “Word of God” mean? In its broad sense, it refers to Divine Revelation—the manifestation of God’s loving plan of salvation for mankind. It was prepared in the Old Covenant and fulfilled in the New, in the Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The beginning of the Letter to the Hebrews says: “At many moments in the past and by many means, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our time, the final days, he has spoken to us in the person of his Son”. For this reason, “Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect, and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one” (CCC 65). This is no mere metaphor. The “Word of God” primarily refers to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God” (Jn 1: 1). The same eternal Word (true God, consubstantial with God the Father) “was made flesh” (Jn 1: 14), taking on a true human nature—Jesus Christ. Finally, “Word of God” refers to Holy Scripture. So the priest says at the conclusion of the gospel reading in the Holy Mass: “Verbum Domini” (the Word of the Lord). 2. Is the Word of God found only in Holy Scripture? The Word of God (Divine Revelation) is found not only in Sacred Scripture but also in Sacred Tradition. The Second Vatican Council explained the harmony of these two channels of Revelation in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum. It says: “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single Sacred Deposit of the Word of God, which is entrusted to the Church” (DV 10). They are like two branches of a river, but coming from the same source: “There exists a close connection and communication between sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine well-spring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end” (DV 9). In sum, “the Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone. Hence, both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal feelings of devotion and reverence” (ibid.). In its strict sense, Sacred Tradition is the body of teachings (mainly oral) coming from our Lord Jesus Christ handed down by the Apostles to their successors (i.e., the bishops, in union with the successors of St. Peter). In his letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul upheld the authority of the spoken word as a valid source of Christian teaching: “So then, brethren, stand firm, and hold the teachings that you have learned, whether by word or by letter of ours.” (2 Th 2:15). In its broad sense, we can consider Sacred Tradition all of Divine Revelation that has been transmitted to us, such that it also embraces Sacred Scripture. We read in Dei Verbum: “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the Apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit” (DV 9). This is so because Sacred Tradition was prior in time to the writing of the holy Gospels. Our Savior did not write a book containing what we need to believe in and what we must do to be part of His Kingdom. Our Lord’s command to the apostles was to preach the gospel. As mentioned in the last issue of Question Box, the books of the New Testament were written between 50 and 100 AD. “The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition” (CCC 83). 3. What is the role of the Church’s teaching office (Magisterium) with regard to Sacred Scripture and Tradition? The Magisterium, assured of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, judges which books deserve to form part of the Canon of the Bible. The Magisterium (the Pope and the bishops in union with him) relies on Sacred Tradition in order to define authoritatively which books are divinely inspired and canonical. (The earliest formal declaration being made in the Synods of Hippo of 393 A.D., and of Carthage, 397 A.D.) This Tradition is contained in the teaching of the universal Magisterium of the Church, in the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, in the law of the Church, in the Liturgy, as well as in the beliefs and practices of the lay faithful. Thus, the Church gives importance to what the previous Popes and Councils had taught about the Holy Scriptures, as well as to how the Fathers and the saints used and commented on them, since Sacred Tradition is part of Divine Revelation, as mentioned above. Both Tradition and Scripture have been entrusted to the Church, and within the Church, only the Magisterium has the role of interpreting them authentically and of preaching them with authority. 4. What recent teaching of the Magisterium illustrates this? In order to settle once and for all the question on the possibility of ordaining women to the priesthood, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter in May 1995 bearing the title “On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone”. The Pope said: “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful” (italics added). The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith further clarified the nature of the Pope’s teaching: “(this) is founded on the written word of God and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church”. Further, that “the Roman Pontiff … handed on this same teaching by a formal declaration … as belonging to the Deposit of the Faith” (italics added). Every member of the Church could now enjoy the certainty that the practice of calling only men to the priesthood was an explicit will of our Lord Jesus Christ himself.

Program host Elvira Go interviews Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle in one of the program's episodes.

A TELEVISION program aimed at evangelizing the family on the power of the Word of God to transform a person’s life is currently on broadcast in two major TV stations, NBN Channel 4 and RPN 9. “Power to Unite,” as the program title suggests, also aims to unite people of different persuasions through common understanding of the Bible. “We are all one, we have the same God, why should we fight?” asked Elvira Go, host of the program. Go who is also the chairperson of the National Catholic Family Bible Quiz (NCFBQ), says the show is the fruit of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Conceptualized by the NCFBQ Secretariat, the program made its maiden debut on NBN Channel 4 September of this year with a weekly episode aired every Tuesday evening at 7:00-7:30. Meanwhile, RPN 9 is airing the program with two episodes each the whole month of December three times a week, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 4:30-5:30 PM. In magazine format, the program tackles relevant topics that concern fam-

ily life and social issues based on Chapter 13 of St. Paul’s letter on the Corinthians, which is love. The show features different bishops who expound on the theme of each episode. Families who won the NCFBQ also appear as guests not only to showcase their singing prowess but also to give testimony to God’s providential love as they experience it in their lives. Go admits having no background at all in production and broadcasting, nonetheless, she accepted the challenge of producing a TV show as a ministry inspired by God. And indeed, despite the lack of material resources, the good will was never lacking. Go said friends just came forward and offered their services for free. A deeply religious woman, Go sees the hand of God in every decision she made. She conceptualized the bible quiz and ventured to produce a TV show later on to make families become aware of the power of the Word. Family Bible Quiz The idea of organizing a bible quiz came from a friend who encouraged Go

to pursue the project. Wanting to put her idea to the test Go presented her project to different bishops asking their opinion and guidance. She said she was able to come out with the bible quiz because “the Holy Spirit used these people to guide me,” Go said, referring to the bishops. Forty-four dioceses joined the first national bible quiz in 2004. The 2007 quiz had 67 dioceses with 384 families. “Why is my advocacy the family? Because I always believe everything starts with the family,” explained Go, when asked why she specifically thought of involving the family in the bible quiz. NFBQC is in close partnership with the Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) in organizing the families of champions to become deeply rooted in the Bible. The goal is to organize 20 families of champions who will later on become evangelizers of the Word to other families. To date, eight families of champions have already undergone a retreat facilitated by ECBA Executive Secretary Fr. Oscar Alunday, SVD. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)

Angelita Miguel-Aquirre, M.D.

Health and life

Reproductive Health
REPRODUCTIVE health has been a byword for a number of years. Most people think that this is for the best interest of women. However, there are a number of scientific facts that are not well propagated and must be known by all. In tri-media we often hear about the right to “informed choice” but is the information given complete, truthful and factual? Here are, for instance, some facts that will show that birth control products can be fatal: Contraceptives inhibit and interfere with normal and health reproductive processes resulting in serious complications and side effects. We pay a high price for tampering with nature. Hormonal contraceptives (pills, injectables (DEPO-Provera, implants and patches) containing estrogens and progestins have been classified as carcinogenic (Group 1 category—which is used when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans) raising breast cancer, cervical, and liver cancer risk (World Health Organization International Agency for Research on cancer (IARC), Bulletin 167, July 29, 2005). Hormonal contraceptives do not always prevent ovulation. In case of breakthrough ovulation and subsequent fertilization, however, because they upset the delicate hormonal balance in the womb, it also works by preventing implantation of the newly conceived human embryo. (US Physicians Drug Reference, 1978, p. 1817; 1997 p. 2746; Pharmacology of Drugs, Up To Date Online 15.1, 2007) Product literature of these drugs and devices also warn about heart and blood abnormalities such as thromboembolic complications, premature hypertension and coronary heart disease. In 2003 Barbara Seaman, Fellow of the Columbia University School of Journalism and a cofounder of the National Women’s Health Network in Washington D.C., published her book entitled The Greatest Experiment Ever Performed on Women (Exploding the Estrogen Myth) a documentation and research on the adverse effects of this drug on the health of women. What is unfortunate is that most of these adverse effects have been recognized early at the time of its development in 1938 by the British Biochemist Sir Edward Charles Dodds. But this was not disseminated well to women and their spouses. Together with its spiritual and moral dimensions, the truth about reproductive health must be known. It is a serious responsibility.

Congress on deafness held
A CATHOLIC Congress on Deafness focusing on the issue of accessibility to promote an enabling and inclusive environment for the deaf was held at Pili Capitol Convention Centre, Naga City, on November 23-26. More than 400 delegates composed of DHH, LGUs, doctors, SPED teachers, service providers and parents came from different parts of the country to attend the event. Centered on the theme: “WE CARE: Creating an Enabling and Inclusive Environment for the Deaf”, the gathering committed delegates from different sectors to become partners in creating an inclusive and enabling environment for the deaf. Now on its 18th year, the Philippine Catholic Congress on Deafness (PCCD) was first initiated in 1989 as National Catholic Congress of Deafness (NCCD) by Fr. Luke Moortgat, CICM, Executive Secretary of the Commission on Health Care of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). The Annual Philippine Catholic Congress on Deafness is focused on the presentation of Missionary works of various deaf organizations coming from different parts of the country. Insights and stories of the delegates are shared in this occasion, thus an event where exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences happen. With vast experience of working with deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) people, the keynote speakers expounded on the subject with authority. Leeanne Seaver, M.A., Executive Director for Hands and Voices Foundation, Illinois, USA, delivered the keynote speech. A mother of three, Seaver’s eldest son is profoundly deaf. Cherryl DeConde Johnson, Ed.D, a member of Fellow American Academy of Audiology (FAAA), is currently working as supervisor of the Exceptional Student Services Unit of the Colorado Department of Education where she oversees services for low-incidence disabilities including the areas of deaf and hard of hearing disabilities. She is also raising a daughter with hearing loss. Local speakers on the other hand discussed the state of the art in deaf advocacy, systems and trends, the Biwako Millenium Framework, Protection and Freedom Rights and educational rights for the deaf in the Philippines. PCCD Consultant, Veronica Ester “Boots” Mendoza facilitated the congress. Archbishop of Caceres, Most Rev. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, fully supported the event. Various organizations also lent their support by serving as foster parents to DHH participants: The National Council for Welfare for Persons with Disabilities, the Liliane Foundation Philippines, a special foundation for the children with disabilities in developing countries; the Couples for Christ-Camarines Sur, and Knights of Columbus. The families also prepared themselves and studied basic sign language to communicate with their foster children. The local government and the whole province of Camarines Sur likewise offered their assistance to the said congress. The Sisters of the Little Missions for the Deaf (SLMD) and St. Francis de Sales Hearing Impaired Foundation, Inc. Naga City Chapter hosted the event. It is estimated that there are 126,225 deaf and hard of hearing out of 84 million Filipinos. Roughly there is one deaf for every six children with disability. There are no available statistics at present for DHH in the Bicol region. Sr. Nora Patlonag, SLMD, in an interview, said. Although there are statistics of DHH in schools they are not reliable since hearing-impaired students also attend regular classes because there are no SPED classes available, she clarified. First to be held in Bicol, PCCD was organized in time for the 100th death anniversary of Venerable Joseph Gualandi, founder of the Sisters of the Little Missions for the Deaf, a religious congregation that takes care of the hearing impaired. (Pides Aura J. Orata)

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007


The Roman Catholic Bishop of Cubao
Circular Letter No. 12
TO: ALL PARISH PRIESTS, SCHOOL DIRECTORS, RELIGIOUS MEN AND WOMEN, LAY ORGANIZATIONS, AND TRANSPAROCHIAL COMMUNITIES My Dear People of God in the Diocese of Cubao: The Love and Peace of Jesus our Life! As shepherd, I admonish you to defend the sanctity of human life and family that are now under tremendous dangers, being threatened by two proposed Quezon City Ordinances cleverly crafted under the guise of Reproductive Health Population Management. These proposed ordinances affect adversely contraception, abortifacients and “safe” abortion. The same ordinances will make compulsory the teaching of contraceptive methods to pupils from Grade V up to Fourth Year High School students under a punitive provision of imprisonment and fines if they are not followed. They use the name of the poor on the issue of poverty to push their deadly intent of promoting contraceptives and abortifacients. An ordinance establishing a Quezon City Population and Reproductive Health Management Policy introduced by Councilor Joseph “SEP” Juico and endorsed by Councilor Diorella “Lala” G. Sotto-De Leon. We need to be vigilant now as Catholics, firmly and faithfully believing in the truth handed down to us from the Lord Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church. We need to defend millions of lives at stake who will be killed because of the cancerous effects of the pill, the abortifacients effects of the IUD and the lie about condom as a deterrent to AIDS. To our brother priests, include this mission in your homilies everyday as soon as possible especially on Saturday and Sunday. We strongly oppose this Reproductive Health and Population Management proposed ordinance for Quezon City because it kills the unborn children, cause deadly cancers, destroys the Catholic educational formation of our youth and take away from us our intrinsic inalienable right to the free exercise of a correct conscience and our right to freedom of worship in the Catholic faith. Let us be ready to hold prayer rallies if and when so needed to prevent the passage of this deadly ordinance. Praying for your full cooperation and immediate action on this grace and urgent matter concerning our faith and the lives of our flock. With my paternal blessings. +MOST REV. HONESTO F. ONGTIOCO, DD Bishop of Cubao November 9, 2007 Feast of Dedication of the Lateran

Christmas reflection
CHRISTMAS is the celebration of an event of God “going outside of himself,” becoming man in Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, God has assumed the everyday in order that through him and with him man may learn to be fully human. Jesus in his human life— as described in the Gospels—is the word, the address, the message of God to humanity. Jesus must be experienced at Christmas, not simply as a great prophet, a religious founder or genius but as God’s ultimate Word to mankind. In him, concrete human life is found in its most basic and radical form. Through his earthly life Jesus showed how the absolutely distant God is likewise absolute near. Through his incarnation, Jesus Christ reveals the deepest meaning of being human… that in every human being there is the ability to be God in the world or to be infinitely open to God’s self-communication. +ANGEL LAGDAMEO, DD Archbishop of Jaro President, CBCP

Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation
Order of Carmelites
Come let us walk in the light of the Lord!” (Isaiah 2:5). “Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put the armor of light…” (Rom. 13:11)
AS we prepare and celebrate the season of Advent, we are invited to be awake and prepared. Advent means, “coming or arrival,” thus we must be ready to receive the message of God’s coming through the Messiah. We need advent to remind us that justice and peace will be achieved in the future amid the signs of the times. The Order of Carmelites Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation shares the call of prophet Isaiah and Apostle Paul “that people will come together in the Lord’s name. Wars will cease and there will be peace. We respond to this challenge as we face the darkness brought by the glaring issues of large-scale corruption, human rights crisis and economic plunder that still await truthful and just resolution. We lament the death of poor 11-year-old Marianet Amper who ended her life by hanging because of extreme poverty. We are scandalized by the wave of corruption and bribery, including the anomalous NBN- ZTE deal and distribution of “early Christmas gifts” to win over the loyalty of congressmen and governors for the administration. The multimillion anomalies leave our people ever more dispossessed, including the 728 million fertilizer scam, the $2-million Impsa power plant pay-off, the P28-billion Northrail project, the P200-million Jose Pidal bank account, the P1.3-billion Mega Pacific Comelec computerization scam, and the P1.1-billion Macapagal Boulevard overpriced contract. While prices of basic commodities steadily increase, no substantial wage and salary hikes have been implemented and excessive taxes continue to burden the poor. While disasters and ever deepening poverty continues to grip the nation, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and several administration lawmakers together with their families are spending public funds for their trip abroad. We join the cries for justice for all the victims of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations, the Glorietta and Batasan bombings and massive militarization that brought massive displacement to civilian communities. Guided by our Carmelite Constitutions 111: “We live in a world full of injustice and disquiet. It is our duty to contribute to the search for an understanding of the causes of these evils.” The morally bankrupt regime that has governed with fraud and violence is clearly the cause of evils in our nation today. We thus join the Filipino people in the pursuit of truth and justice. To save our people from the dark powers of this corrupt-ridden administration, for the good of the nation, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo must step down now! Fr. Jerry Sabado, O.Carm. National Convenor Order of Carmelites-JPIC 26 Acacia St., Barangay Mariana, Quezon City

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
A Mission Partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines

Military Operations Threaten Lumad Communities
SINCE the start of this month, around 500 military men, some belonging to the 58th IB PA have arrived in Lumad communities in Diatagon, Lianga and San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. They brought with them two 6x6 military trucks, one of which was loaded with rice and other food stuff, two armored personnel carriers (APCs) and two 105 howitzer cannons. The military men stayed in the houses of civilians, and occupied Lumad Literacy Schools. They also put up makeshift tents near the houses of the residents. Checkpoints to monitor the activities of the residents were set up. When passing these checkpoints, residents are asked to present their IDs or cedulas, their names and mobile phone numbers are listed, and their belongings are inspected. The military men interrogated teachers and students of tribal community schools, telling them that if they have relatives who joined the NPA, they must surrender. The ongoing military operations have greatly affected the lives of residents in 12 Lumad communities. They have stopped going about with their normal daily activities for fear of their safety. Classes in 7 Lumad Primary Literacy Schools with more than 500 pupils, and a Lumad High School with 177 students have been disrupted as the military also stayed in these schools. More than 200 families have already fled their homes, and are now staying in evacuation centers set up by Karapatan in the town proper of Lianga, some 15 kilometers away from the Lumad communities. According to Karapatan, 1,512 persons mostly women and children who braved the heavy rains, and endured the long walk to the town proper, are now housed in the evacuation centers. No action has been taken by the local government units up to this time, while Col. Jose Vizcarra, commander of the Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade, has declared that operations allegedly in pursuit of NPAs will continue until necessary. The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) strongly denounces this unwanted intrusion to the once peaceful communities of our indigenous brothers and sisters, and calls for the immediate withdrawal of military troops in the abovementioned areas. Military operations have always posed great danger to the lives of helpless civilians. We must not wait until someone is hurt or even killed in the course of these operations before concrete actions are taken to normalize the situation. We call on Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as Commander-inChief of the Armed Forces to immediately look into the plight of the affected residents, and to order that the military operations be stopped. The safety of civilians is already at risk, and turning a deaf ear will surely aggravate the situation. The RMP also calls on all church people to voice out their concern in the light of these developments, and hold GMA and the military accountable for any and all violations of human rights. SR. ELENITA BELARDO, RGS RMP National Coordinator FR. JESUS MALIT, SSS AMRSP Co-Chairperson November 29, 2007

XII South East Asia Major Superiors Congress
St. Scholastica’s Center of Spirituality, Tagaytay City November 19 - 25, 2007
Christ at the service of the mission of the Church”1 in Asia today and COMPETENT FORMATORS who are in themselves models of happy, mature and committed Religious capable of loving and accompanying formands to “wholiness” and implementing a Relevant, Integrated and Balanced Formation Program. Ongoing Formation The Challenges of On-Going Formation identified the lack of a Systematic and Integrated Program that would address needs that will arise in Life’s Developmental Stages2. There is a common concern for those who hold leadership positions in ministry. An On Going Formation towards Responsible Stewardship is seen to be necessary. There is also a need to address the reality of aging and diminishment among Religious. The VISIT to the Inter-Congregational Formation Centers has reinforced the value of working together in the work of formation. Collaboration and intercongregational initiatives need to be supported, encouraged and sustained as it continues to be at the service of the Church today. In the context of 21st Century South East Asia, in the face of all the challenges and opportunities, we affirm the importance of the integration of the Human, Professional, Intellectual, PsychoSpiritual, Social and Cultural dimensions with special attention to DIALOGUE, COMMUNION IN DIVERSTIY, INTER-CONGREGATIONAL COOPERATION and PARTNERSHIP WITH THE LAITY as essential elements of relevant Religious Formation today Energized by our experiences and our newfound friendships and the renewal of old acquaintances, we take courage in taking up anew our vital task of animating initial I am the vine, you are the branches; whoever remains in me bears fruit in plenty. (John 15:5) WE, Religious men and women from six South East Asian countries (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines) came together to share and assess Religious Formation today. Cognizant of the uniqueness of each country, we were unanimous in identifying a multi-cultural and multi-religious environment that has certainly been influenced by violence, materialism, individualism and an increasing climate of secularism. Initial Formation Among the many concerns regarding Initial Formation, two main areas call for urgent attention: the EFFECTIVE SCREENING OF CANDIDATES that will enable and ensure the formation towards one’s “total consecration to God in the following of Jesus and ongoing formation. Seized by the Passion of Christ, we, the South East Asian Major Superiors and Formators renew our commitment to live the Paschal Mystery and to put on the mind and heart of Jesus Christ and so rekindle the fire within as we undertake the mission of formation today, revealing the Asian face of Jesus Christ, our unique gift to the Church and our world, today. I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

Taken from the Keynote Address of His Excellency Most Reverend Luis Antonio Tagle, DD – Opening of the XIII SEAMS Congress, 20 November 2007


Taken from the Talk of Sr. Leticia Garcia, DC –“Accompanying the Religious in Life ’s Developmental Stages” – 21 November 2007



CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

Cultivating the Christmas spirit
AGAIN it’s Christmastime, which, Pinoy style, starts way earlier and ends much later than what the Church calendar says, and expresses itself more elaborately than liturgically indicated. I don’t know whether it’s age catching up or due to external causes that I don’t seem to notice much Christmas décor around nowadays and to feel that palpable excitement I as a kid used to pair the season with. I remember suggesting to the janitor to put new decors in my office, since I’ve been seeing the same ones for years now. He told me that they may look old to me but they all appear new and beautiful to the new students. Rather than arguing, I chose to be happy with that smart reply, actually a cover for some budgetary limits. I just have to find a way to make the old look new. Problem is I’m creativity challenged in this area. Anyway, I felt high when the other day a priest-friend, who has a raging passion and with matching skills for making Christmas crèches, showed me his latest version. It’s a very beautiful “belen” done in cool architectural artistry and landscaping, with playing fountains and dancing lights, with angels floating on air, and together with the usual cows and sheep, little pet dogs and cats accompany Mary and Joseph to adore the infant Jesus. All of a sudden, I became a kid again, launched in a sparkling flight into the world of Christian mysteries, but still inflated by childish fantasies. Then I remember the duty we all have every time Christmastime comes around. The Christmas story is actually a very beautiful story worth repeating endless times. Of course, each time it is considered, we are meant to plumb deeper into its significance and relevance, and to incarnate the lessons. The Christmas story is about God who loves us so much that he sends his own Son to be like us to save us. And the Son’s work of our redemption is the best that any attempt at saving anyone or anything can ever be. For the redemption Jesus does is not simply personal but also social, not only material but also spiritual, not only in the human level but also in the supernatural level. It’s a redemption complete, total, and forever. He gives us the fullness of life. This is all because we are God’s children, created in his image and likeness, and meant to participate in God our Father’s supernatural life. But in achieving that, our redemption presumes the fulfillment also of our human potentials. We cannot fully attain our supernatural goal without being fully human. Of course, what is to be fully human is something not quite easy to know, since it is part of the mystery of Jesus’ life. We have to continually deal with our Lord to get insights of this mystery. In other words, Christmas is a reminder that Christ wants to be born not only in the world, but also in the heart of each one of us. He wants to take hold of us, of course, with our cooperation, in order to reconstitute us, since we have been deformed by our sins. He wants to be born and to live in our mind, our heart and even in our body. He wants to be in our thoughts, desires, feelings, words and deeds. He wants us to make us like him, precisely to recover God’s image and likeness in us. The true spirit of Christmas can only take place when we allow our Lord to be truly born in us. This requires tremendous effort and the full exercise of our freedom. This is because Christ cannot enter into our life if we don’t want him. And wanting him is not just a matter of feeling and desire. It has to involve the whole of us: our mind, heart, body and everything else. Thus, Christmas invites us to make our faith more and more theological, and to incarnate that theological faith in our life. Every time Christmas comes, we need to make a step further in this direction, such that with St. Paul we can say: “It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2,20)

The Holy Family of Nazareth
The Christian alternative to the dysfunctional (Feast of the Holy Family, 30 December 2007)
The Holy Home of Nazareth was a spiritual powerhouse. It was where God made His dwelling, where work became prayer and where every human activity was elevated as a means to holiness. The presence of Jesus in that home made it a sanctuary of perpetual adoration. It brought God so close to the human family. In an age where fidelity is challenged, good role models are wanting and parentless children abound, the Holy Family of Nazareth becomes a ray of hope shining through the darkness of indifference, isolation and parental neglect. While living in the context of harsh Roman rule, widespread poverty and growing discontent among the Jews, the Holy Family cherished the happiness of being together. Their home became a solace and a consolation for their tired bodies and a shield against anxiety and worldly allurements. It was in the simplicity of life, in the candor and warmth of their relationships, and in their openness to the needs of one another that they were able to experience the presence and providence of God in their daily lives. Though poor, they were never wanting. Though far away from Jerusalem, their home was God’s own temple. Though in the midst of a sinful environment, their lives were a living witness to God reigning in the heart of humanity. The Holy Family of Nazareth, therefore, stands as the Christian alternative to the dysfunctional. While many breadwinners would leave their families here in the country, in search of better opportunities abroad, Joseph and Mary will make them realize

By Rev. Fr. Redentor M. Molina

TODAY’S feast centers on the family of Nazareth: the cradle of love, the stronghold of fidelity and a beacon of hope. It was through the guidance of Joseph and Mary that Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2: 52). Such loving parental presence became a human expression of that Divine love which accompanied the Child Jesus in manifesting the full embodiment of the Reign of God in every stage of his entire earthly existence. It was in Christ that the human and divine became one, and in him and through him, the human family embraced and experienced the Divine.

that presence and togetherness accompany the duty to provide for their children. While media and technology bombard our youth with ideas and values that are often alien, if not contrary to our own culture and faith, the Teen-age Christ will show our young people that humility, purity, respect and obedience are still valid paths to integrity and wisdom. And while modern-day families are absorbed by the vicissitudes of daily life which may take away some quality time together, the Holy Family of Nazareth will teach them that prayer, openness, honesty and dialogue are values that will keep the members of the Catholic family happy and one. May the Holy Family of Nazareth be our model and guide as we continue to face the challenges of our time.

The Virgin without sin
Gospel Commentary for Feast of Immaculate Conception
By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap
WITH the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Catholic Church affirms that Mary, on account of a singular privilege bestowed by God and in view of the merits of Christ’s death, was preserved from contracting the stain of original sin and came into existence already completely holy. Four years after being defined by Pope Pius IX, this truth was confirmed by the Madonna herself at Lourdes in an apparition to Bernadette with the words: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” The feast of Mary Immaculate reminds humanity that there is only one thing that truly lowers man—sin. It is a very urgent message to repeat. The world has lost the sense of sin. We joke as if it were the most harmless thing in the world. The world presents its products and spectacles as sinful to make them more attractive. It talks about sin, even the gravest sins, in terms of endearment: peccadilloes, little vices, etc. The expression “original sin” is used in the advertising world to indicate something very different from the Bible: A sin that confers a bit of originality on the one who commits it! The world is afraid of everything but sin. It is afraid of pollution, the obscure maladies of the body, nuclear war, terrorism; but it is not afraid of the war against
Batanes / B3

Bo Sanchez

God, who is the eternal; the all-powerful; love. Jesus says, however, not to be afraid of those who kill the body, but only of him who after he has killed has the power to cast into Gehenna (cf. Luke 12:4-5). This way of thinking exercises a tremendous influence even on believers who want to live according to the Gospel. It produces a sleep of conscience in them, a kind of spiritual anesthesia. There is a drug that skews our understanding of sin. The Christian people no longer recognize its true enemy, the master that enslaves it; this is because what we have is a gilded slavery. Many who speak of sin no longer have an entirely adequate idea of it. Sin becomes depersonalized and is projected only onto institutions; we end up identifying sin with the position of our own political and ideological adversaries. An investigation about what people think sin is would probably have frightening results. Instead of liberation from sin, all efforts today are focused on liberation from regret over sin; instead of fighting against sin we fight against the idea of sin, replacing it with something very different, namely, “guilt feelings.” We do precisely that which in every other sphere is considered the worst thing of all, that is, we deny the problem rather than resolve it, we push back and bury evil in the unconscious instead of removing it. It is similar to believing that we can eliminate death by eliminating the

thought of death, or worrying about bringing down the fever rather than curing the sickness when the fever is only a providential revelatory symptom of the sickness. St. John says that if we claim to be without sin, then we deceive ourselves and we make God a liar (cf. 1 John 1:8-10); God, in fact, says the contrary, he says that we have sinned. Scripture says that Christ “died for our sins” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3). If you take away sin, then Christ’s redemption itself is made futile, you have destroyed the meaning of his death. Christ would then have been tilting at windmills, he would have spilled his blood for nothing. But the dogma of Mary Immaculate also tells us something very positive: God is stronger than sin and where sin abounds grace abounds even more (cf. Romans 5:20). Mary is the sign and guarantee of this. The whole Church, after her, is called to become “glorious, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, that she might be holy and immaculate” (Ephesians 5:27). A text of the Second Vatican Council says: “But while in the Most Holy Virgin the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she is without spot or wrinkle, the followers of Christ still strive to increase in holiness by conquering sin. And so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues” (“Lumen Gentium,” 65). (Zenit)

A tiny human being in my arms
“MY son.” These two words didn’t roll off my tongue easily. The first time I said it, it felt awkward. As if something didn’t fit. “My son.” It felt strange. As though I was reading a script of a play. I had to practice saying it a thousand times. “My son… My son… My son…” I started saying it the day I found out that I had a baby boy through my wife’s ultrasound test, and I kept saying it to myself daily. Finally, on the morning of January 21, my son was born. The nurse came out of the delivery room, holding a tiny human being wrapped in a white sheet, his chubby face screaming to the entire world, his small hands and delicate fingers shaking nervously. “Baby Sanchez?” the lady in the green surgical robe asked, looking at the room full of expectant fathers. I stood up, holding my breath. She showed me my baby. “My son,” I whispered—the line I’ve been rehearsing for months now. The little guy screamed, “Waaaaaaaaaah!” But in my heart, I heard him cry out, “Daaaaaaaaaad!” I’m sure that everyone in that room will swear to their graves that they didn’t hear my baby say that. But I don’t care. I called him, “my son,” and he called me “Dad”, and that’s that. End of story. People ask me, “What did you feel at that precise moment?” and I cannot even begin to answer. I’m supposed to be a writer and therefore a master of words—yet I grope with my adjectives. More than that, I grope with my emotions. “Joyful” isn’t powerful enough. “Bliss” isn’t sweet enough. “Peaceful” isn’t calm enough. “Happy” isn’t intense enough. After my baby was whisked away to the nursery, I got back to my seat in the waiting room. I shut my eyes. But tears escaped them anyway. And then out of the blue, my eighty-year old father lumbered in. As we always do, we embraced. “Dad,” I whispered. “My son,” I heard his heart say to mine. And suddenly, the past thirty-three years folded up into the present and I was now the baby bundled in white, and my father was standing over me. “My son,” he said. “Daaaaaaaaaaaad!” I cried my little lungs out. At that point, for some reason, I knew I was going to be great father. The eighty-year old man in front of me seemed to agree. He smiled and we both walked out of the room in search of the tiny human being that will change our lives forever.

Province which solely depends on inadequate trade and commerce. The Cathedral of Sto. Domingo which had been greatly affected by the 2000 earthquake is still an unfinished edifice. But the most beautiful thrust of the Prelature lies in the development and strengthening of the age-old traditions, cultural practices, and recently introduced religious practices which form the core values of the Ivatan faithful. We take pride in having preserved the Sto. Niño

visitation during Christmas season which every Ivatan family looks forward to celebrate as the highlight of the season. Novena Masses in honor of their beloved Patron is an experienced worth keeping and for the Ivatans is their own special way of sharing their blessings and being grateful to God. The Batanes Day Celebration is celebrated with a nine-day procession on foot carrying the respective Patron of every parish on bare shoulders of volunteers as a form of sacrifice to ob-

tain favor from God. These are just some of the values that have been inculcated in the lives of every Ivatan faithful. Blessed Jesus Villaverde The Prelature is inspired by the example of Blessed Jesus Villaverde, OP, who was recently beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on October 25, 2007. He worked as a Missionary in Sabtang from 1915-1916. His beatification was celebrated with much joy and enthusiasm by the Clergy and people of Batanes espe-

cially in the Cathedral of Sto. Domingo in Basco. Thus, the Prelature continues to traverse and test the mettle of evangelization finding more avenues where the Gospel of Christ can prosper and soar to greater heights in its missionary quests to bring the Christian faithful of Batanes more closely to God with the motherly help of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the Province–and the intercession of St. Dominic, Patron of the Prelature.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

Social Concern
ingness to work and pay their small loans in weekly installments. They are the sari-sari store owners, the fish vendors, the trisikad drivers, among others. We conducted on house visitations, to help determine their worthiness to be included in the program based on their housing and living conditions. Once approved by the loan appraisers who employ point system in rating the prospective applicants, they undergo a 15-hours seminar where the policies, the benefits, and the rules are explained well to the participants. After which they are required to pass the Group Recognition test prior to loan release of the minimum amount of P3,000.00 payable in 6 months with P140 weekly payments in two percent interest. Grameen Banking System (GBS) Grameen Banking was invented by Prof. Mohammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi Economics professor who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. He was able to prove that through peer pressure and discipline with a group of some 30-50 unemployed women given with micro loans financing; start their own business and pay light weekly premiums; could help alleviate poverty through the eradication of middle men in the buy and sell business. Indeed, Grameen has helped millions of poor in the world because it is so simple and so relevant and has undergone innovations both by the private sector and the Church especially in the hope to evangelize the poor through livelihood programs during the weekly center meetings. Each center meeting is composed of a center chief, a secretary and a treasurer. Their meeting lasts over an hour wherein they start and end with a prayer. In between, there is gospel and faith sharing, group concerns, collection and assignments for the succeeding meetings. A project coordinator presides, implements discipline, initiates evangelization and catechisms, and collects the payments. One of the best things I observed during center meetings is the recitation of the 10-point decisions which include helping and encouraging each other, to plant vegetables in their backyards, to respect their individual differences and promote dialogue among faith and culture, encouraging the culture of savings through their weekly center savings deposit to help defray common expenses.


Healing poverty: A Grameen experience
By Fr. Albert Mecaydor
WORKING with the poor and living with them provided me with the experience that to be poor does not always mean to live in misery. There are many challenges and opportunities that are waiting to be tapped and harnessed. One of the ways to do it is through the Grameen or village banking. While undergoing a regency program in the last quarter of 2004, I was sent to Sorsogon by my parish priest, Msgr. Peter Garces; with the blessings of Archbishop Carmelo DF Morelos to learn the Grameen, which Bishop Jesus Varela has successfully implemented in the Diocese of Sorsogon, In Sorsogon, I was billeted at El Retiro, in Cabid-an, Sorsogon, which housed the Bishop Emeritus, and the Sisters Servants of the Divine Healer, a religious community Bishop Jesus Varela founded. Their apostolate is mainly healing poverty, the Grameen way. They are the force behind the success of Peoples’ Alternative Livelihood Foundation of Sorsogon, Inc. (PALFSI). The exposure Learning Grameen through the very efficient Chief Executive Officer, Sr. Del Oling, SSDH, provided me with the orientation of concepts and process of Grameen. My two-month exposure include the program concepts and processes, on field observation on seminar training, loan release, loan utilization check, center meetings and evangelization. I was so impressed with the flow of center meetings that could last over an hour which begins and ends with a prayer. In between are roll call, gospel and faith sharing, collections, group reporting and common concerns, planning and evaluation. In others words, we are empowering the poor at the center level. At the head office, I saw people queuing for loan applications and loan releases. There is a good records management, strict observance of policies and firm but courteous staff. On field provided me with first hand experience where the clients of Pilar, Gubat, and other areas to name a few, work hard and are helped by the program. Their income level increases, and with the additional capital provided, they can expand their business activities. Recipients of the Grameen program are screened on the basis of income level, where the poorest are prioritized, given their willChristmastide / B7

Zamboanga experience After two month-long exposure with PALFSI, I came home enthusiastic and deeply moved to replicate the livelihood program. I believe given the basic knowledge and with a meager capital to start with, the program will grow. Along with fellow volunteers, Susana Morgia and Errol Salvador, we dared to start despite the odds. The program was replicated in Zamboanga through its own Ayudahan Livelihood Foundation of Zamboanga, Inc. (ALFZI) with the wholehearted support of Msgr. Peter Garces and encouragement of Bishop Jesus Varela. A number of good hearted wellto-do parishioners responded to the investors meeting called to raise funds to propel the livelihood program. Due to the increasing number of clients who need to avail, there is a need to find additional sources. The Knight of Columbus, through the able leadership of Mr. Pete Rodriguez, also invested a substantial amount on a reasonable interest rate. Learning Grameen, and implementing it in Zamboanga is quite an experience. How could I forget the happy faces of clients dur-

ing seminar-workshops doing group dynamics and team building exercises? These clients are elementary and high school graduates who are struggling parents, trying to survive each day to provide the basic needs of their families. But life must go on. Something in me has to die. I have to relinquish the post and respond to a higher calling which is the ministry of priesthood. The Ayudahan Program Merging resources, both human and financial, make the program strong. Thanks to PALFSI, with its able and proficient technical staff led by Ms. Ditas Ravanilla. Qualified ALFZI staff were absorbed into the program. Livelihood loan programs are upgraded along with insurance benefits and made available to the clients. At present, Ayudahan Program is serving almost 10 thousand households and expanding. Several parishes at present have a number of centers. These centers now sponsor a Sunday mass in a parish where members of Ayudahan attend mass with their simple yet heartily given offerings. The parish of San

Roque for example has 10 centers now sponsoring Mass every second Sunday of the month. When we got started only three of us were there, now the program has over forty staff serving the program. I call it a ‘grace’ because somehow God allows things to happen because He has a purpose. Breaking barriers As we tried to focus our livelihood program to effectively help the poor, and promote evangelization at the center level or the grassroots, our program does not exclude those of other religion. As a matter of fact, Prof. Yunus is a Muslim. In this way, we are trying to heal not only poverty but also the wounds of prejudices over other kinds of religious affiliations. It is very consoling to see when we pray together in a center meeting where members are of various religious orientations. What a wonderful world would it be if we could cultivate this practice of building bridges and breaking barriers in response to the call of building up the Kingdom of God. This is what my professors in Ecumenism and Missiology classes called dia-

logue of faith and life. Healing continues As we continue to address poverty, we in the Church through the Doctrine of Social Justice, open our minds and hearts to what Mother Teresa said: “No one is so poor that cannot give and no one is so rich that cannot receive.” Aware of the problems and threats, we open our eyes, minds and hearts of the strengths and opportunities it brings. Our mission is to proclaim and to build the Kingdom of God through the program. The policies and rules are designed to achieve the objective of Grameen. We respect the right of the clients to a livelihood, under equal opportunity. Doing Grameen may not be easy but it is a proven way to help the poor in our midst. We are trying to balance prayer and action, dialogue and brotherhood. We are only but instruments to a great purpose. Jesus said in Luke 17:15, “you have just done your duty.” And this is our duty, to help the less fortunate. For whatever we do with the least of our brothers and sisters, we do it for Jesus!

of the Cross, which lends it a Christological significance: Christ is the true tree of life, born of human stock, of the Virgin Mary, the tree which is always green and productive. In the Nordic countries, the tree is decorated with apples and hosts. “Gifts” can be added; but among the gifts placed under the tree, something should be included for the poor since they belong to every Christian family; the Christmas supper. The Christian family, which traditionally blesses the table and gives thanks to the Lord for the gift of food, performs this ceremony with greater intensity at the Christmas supper which gives potent concrete expression to the joy of family ties. Where possible, the Church desires that the faithful should prepare for the celebration of Midnight Mass on December 24 with the Office of Readings(119). Where such is not possible, it may be opportune to arrange a vigil of hymns, readings, and elements drawn from popular piety. At Midnight Mass, an event of major

liturgical significance and of strong resonance in popular piety, the following could be given prominence: at the beginning of Mass, the proclamation of the Savior’s birth according the formula contained in the Roman Martyrology could be made in song; the prayer of the faithful should really be universal, and where appropriate, use several languages; and the poor should always be remembered in the presentation of the gifts; at the end of Mass, the faithful could be invited to kiss the image of the Child Jesus, which is then placed in a crib erected in the church or somewhere nearby. The Feast of the Holy Family The feast of the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Sunday in the Christmas octave) is a festive occasion particularly suitable for the celebration of rites or moments of prayer proper to the Christian family. The recollection of Joseph, Mary and Jesus’ going up to Jerusalem, together with other observant Jewish families, for the celebration of the Passover (cf. Lk 2, 41-42), should nor-

mally encourage a positive acceptance of the pastoral suggestion that all members of the family attend Mass on this day. This feast day also affords an opportunity for the renewal of our entrustment to the patronage of the Holy Family of Nazareth(120); the blessing of children as provided in the ritual(121); and where opportune, for the renewal of marriage vows taken by the spouses on their wedding day, and also for the exchange of promises between those engaged to be married in which they formalize their desire to found a new Christian family(122). Outside of the feast, the faithful have frequent recourse to the Holy Family of Nazareth in many of life’s circumstances: joining the Association of the Holy Family so as to model their own families on the Holy Family of Nazareth(123); frequent prayers to entrust themselves to the patronage of the Holy Family and to obtain assistance at the hour of death(124). The Feast of the Holy Innocents Since the sixth century, on 28 Decem-

ber, the Church has celebrated the memory of those children killed because of Herod’s rage against Christ (cf. Mt 2, 16-17). Liturgical tradition refers to them as the “Holy Innocents” and regards them as martyrs. Throughout the centuries Christian art, poetry and popular piety have enfolded the memory of the “tender flock of lambs”(125) with sentiments of tenderness and sympathy. These sentiments are also accompanied by a note of indignation against the violence with which they were taken from their mothers’ arms and killed. In our own times, children suffer innumerable forms of violence which threaten their lives, dignity and right to education. On this day, it is appropriate to recall the vast host of children not yet born who have been killed under the cover of laws permitting abortion, which is an abominable crime. Mindful of these specific problems, popular piety in many places has inspired acts of worship as well as displays of charity which provide assistance to pregnant mothers, encourage adoption and the promotion of the education of children. The Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God On New Year’s Day, the octave day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. The divine and virginal motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular salvific event: for Our Lady it was the foretaste and cause of her extraordinary glory; for us it is a source of grace and salvation because “through her we have received the Author of life”(127). The solemnity of the 1st of January, an eminently Marian feast, presents an excellent opportunity for liturgical piety to encounter popular piety: the first celebrates this event in a manner proper to it; the second, when duly catechized, lends joy and happiness to the various expressions of praise offered to Our Lady on the birth of her divine Son, to deepen our understanding of many prayers, beginning with that which says: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for


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us, sinners.” 116. In the West, January 1 is an inaugural day marking the beginning of the civil year. The faithful are also involved in the celebrations for the beginning of the new year and exchange “new year” greetings. However, they should try to lend a Christian understanding to this custom making of these greetings an expression of popular piety. The faithful, naturally, realize that the “new year” is placed under the patronage of the Lord, and in exchanging new year greetings they implicitly and explicitly place the New Year under the Lord’s dominion, since to him belongs all time (cf. Ap 1, 8; 22,13)(128). A connection between this consciousness and the popular custom of singing the Veni Creator Spiritus can easily be made so that on January 1 the faithful can pray that the Spirit may direct their thoughts and actions, and those of the community during the course of the year (129). New year greetings also include an expression of hope for a peaceful New Year. This has profound biblical, Christological and incarnational origins. The “quality of peace” has always been invoked throughout history by all men, and especially during violent and destructive times of war. The Holy See shares the profound aspirations of man for peace. Since 1967, January 1 has been designated “world day for peace”. Popular piety has not been oblivious to this initiative of the Holy See. In the light of the new born Prince of Peace, it reserves this day for intense prayer for peace, education towards peace and those value inextricably linked with it, such as liberty, fraternal solidarity, the dignity of the human person, respect for nature, the right to work, the sacredness of human life, and the denunciation of injustices which trouble the conscience of man and threaten peace. –(Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy. Principles and Guidelines— Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments)


Moral Assessment Abhorrent Disturbing Acceptable Wholesome Exemplary

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

Technical Assessment Poor Below average Average Above average Excellent

Title: The Golden Compass Running Time: 112 min Cast: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards, Eva Green Director: Chris Weitz Producers: Bill Carraro, Deborah Forte Screenwriter: Chris Weitz Music: Alexandre Desplat Editors: Anne V. Coates, Peter Honnes, Kevin Tent Genre: Science Fiction/ Fantasy World, Drama, Witches and Wizards Cinematography: Henry Braham Distributor: New Line Cinema. Location: Norway Technical Assessment: Moral Assessment: ½ CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

THE plucky orphan Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) catches the fancy of the beautiful ice queen Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) who invites her to a trip to the north. Lyra becomes wide-eyed with excitement at the thought of seeing the ice bears, but before she can depart, her best friend Roger (Ben Walker) is abducted by the mysterious “Gobblers” and disappears. For the trip, she is in secret given by the Master of Jordan College the “alethiometer” which looks like a golden compass. She is cautioned against letting Mrs. Coulter know she possesses the alethiometer as it reveals to her the truth about things and will therefore become— along with the armored ice bear Iorek Byrnison (voiced by Ian McKellan)— her indispensable companions in the adventure. She soon discovers the bitter truth about Mrs. Coulter and, armed with nothing but guts, Lyra escapes. One cannot help comparing The Golden Compass with another trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. It is the cinematic adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel which earned for the author a certain degree of fame among the literati. If you find yourself dozing off through the

movie, it is because The Golden Compass seems to suffer from an identity crisis, so to speak. It’s supposed to be a fantasy but it’s not fantastic enough; the book’s claim to fame is its philosophy and ideas but these can not be justly translated onto the screen. Besides the articulate ice bears (which are by the way totally CGI), it offers no monsters, orcs, or wizards. Its battle scenes are too puny for the movie to be called an epic; the costumes and the underdeveloped characters are never too deliciously outlandish for the film to compare with the visceral fantasy that is The Lord of the Rings. There was quite an uproar in some religious circles in the United States prior to The Golden Compass’ premiere. It was labeled “atheism for kids”, arousing the interest of CINEMA to view and evaluate the movie’s content. While it is true that the novelist Pullman is an atheist, and that the book may bear his atheistic leanings, the movie ignores religion altogether and only makes of the book a story of a child learning to accept what is special about her. Even though the movie bears certain references to morality, demons or to the “dust” that is “not there at childhood” but settles on a person later on in life, these do not even overtly or covertly come across as being colored with atheism. If the book were indeed “atheism for kids”, the screen adaptation certainly fails to convey this, despite its allusions to the designs of the “Magisterium” to rob the people of free will, or to the murderous tendencies of a cleric who attempts to poison somebody. Which reminds us of another much-adoabout-nothing film, the Da Vinci Code. Recall how the controversy surrounding it merely filled the pockets of its author and producers? The movie was booed at Cannes because, after all that hoopla, it wasn’t evil enough. The less said of how evil The Golden Compass is, the less people will want to see it. If they insist on seeing it, let them be disappointed.

CHRISTMAS time in chilly London is the setting of a brutal murder in a barbershop and the death from childbirth of a 14-year old girl, Tatiana (Sarah-Jeanne LaBrosse) in a North London Hospital. The separate incidents have drawn together the Russian-born Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen) and Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts). The mysterious Nikolai serves as driver and doubles as undertaker of a notorious family belonging to the Vory V. Zakone criminal brotherhood of Eastern European origin, while Anna is a midwife in the hospital where Tatiana has left behind her baby girl and a personal diary written in Russian. In her attempt to find the baby’s lineage and relatives, Anna wants the diary translated. Her mother, Helen (Sinead Cusack) is supportive of her efforts while her Russian-born uncle Stepan (Jerzy Skolimowki) who has been translating the diary, warns Anna of its dangerous content which might jeopardize her life. The warning comes belatedly as Anna has already followed her initial lead, a business card which was inserted in the diary, of a plush restaurant in the city. She meets the suave and charming owner, Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) to whom she naively entrusts a copy

of the diary only to discover later that she is dealing with the formidable head of the crime family. While the film has reportedly been edited locally to delete graphic portrayal of mutilation, there are still many violent scenes and sexual acts that are offensive. In this aspect, the film may have successfully portrayed the sordidness of organized crimes and their vile perpetrators in the Mafia genre. Delivering a superb performance, Viggo Mortensen has given soul to the unraveling of the mysterious Nikolai character. A criminal that could show compassion cannot be totally despicable. Even Armin Mueller- Stahl as Semyon gives a creditable performance as he shifts roles from a genteel proprietor of a a TransSiberian restaurant to a ruthless patriarch of a criminal group. The cinematography is commendable, and Howard Shore’s musical score heightened the suspense and intensified the mood in the film. The open ending could be Cronenberg’s way of inviting viewers to compose their own conclusions. “Every sin leaves a mark” is the movie’s tag line in posters and advertisements. Of course, this does not refer only to the tattoos commonly branding criminals and their cohorts but to sinful social

Title: Eastern Promises Running Time: 100 min. Cast: Virgo Mortesen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Sinead Cusack, Donald Sumpter, Jerzy Skolomowski, SarahJeanne La Brosse Director: David Cronenberg Producers: Robert Lantos, Paul Webster Screenwriter: Steven Knights Music: Howard Shore Editor: Ronald Sanders Genre: Drama/ Thriller/ Crime Cinematography: Peter Suschitzky Distributor: Solar Entertainment Corporation Location: England Technical Assessment: Moral Assessment: CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

structures around us reminding us that sin has a history and has far-reaching effects on persons, family, and nation. To those who wallow in sin, human life is cheap and only money has value. For criminal groups who wield power and money, women are objects of pleasure that could be herded in their “stable”. Warring families in the Mafia tradition follow the law of retaliation: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, propelling a cycle of violence.

ANSWER TO THE LAST ISSUE: THE ARE NO GREAT THINGS, ONLY SMALL THINGS WITH GREAT LOVE. MOTHER TERESA QUOTES IN QUIZ Booklets available at BOOKSALE stores in SM, Robinsons and selected malls in Manila. For mail order text 09192803036.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25 25
December 10 - 30, 2007 December 10 - 30, 2007


A Supplement Publication for KCFAPI and the Order of the Knights of Columbus

KCFAPI President SK Antonio Borromeo joins the pioneer Benefit Certificate holders under the Gold Series Plan, as Executive Vice-President Ma. Theresa Curia explains; the presentation of the certificates highlighted the launching ceremony of the “KC Gold Series Plan” held at the Father George J. Willmann Center in Intramuros, Manila on November 29, 2007.

KCFAPI launches new insurance benefits
By Joseph P. Teodoro

ANOTHER piece of good news from the Knights of Columbus Fraternal Association of the Philippines, Inc., mutual benefit society providing life insurance needs of brother Knights and their families.
In a ceremony held at the Fr. George J. Willmann Center in Intramuros, Manila last November 29, 2007, KCFAPI launched its newest benefit offerings, “KC Gold Series”. The key features of the plan include benefit payment for Capital Accumulator Plan, Assurance Plan and Retire Plus Plan. The insurance plans are part of the eightpoint program, which highlights the golden jubilee of the fraternal association. The launching was made more vibrant with a variety show that also showcased the talents of the company’s employees. Present during the occasion were KCFAPI President Sir Knight Antonio Borromeo, KCFAPI Treasurer SK Antonio Yulo, KC Luzon State Deputy SK Alonso Tan and State Secretary SK Arsenio Isidro Yap, Spiritual Director Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III and Executive Vice President Ms. Ma. Theresa Curia. The present and potential benefit certificate holders of the new insurance programs from various parts of Luzon also graced the event. SK Borromeo said that with the current development, the KCFAPI has grown so much from the time it was established. That despite challenges, the company has been able to create affordable insurance plans “that we have been gearing to give to you and to the public”. “It is our pleasure and honor to present the three new products that we thought will help all other areas in their quest of serving our brother knights’ family,” he addressed to the association’s dedicated area managers and fraternal counselors. The new products are now available to KC members to include in their benefit portfolios as additional financial security.

major investment in a not so distant future. The plan may also be useful for purposes of financing a personal purchase, funding an important occasion or buying a ticket for a much coveted trip abroad.

Easy to the pocket
The KC Assurance Plan affords the benefit certificate holder growing for a KC member’s family with a level amount of insurance contribution up to six years. Thereafter, a client is no longer required to pay the same and remains to be insured until his lifetime. Subscription to this plan is easy to the pocket and affordable even to those average income earners.

KofC Visayas leaders meet for mid-year evaluation
ALL roads led to the DepEd Ecotech Center, Lahug, Cebu City on December 7-9, 2007, where servant-leaders of the Knights of Columbus Visayas Jurisdiction convened for their Mid-Year Evaluation Conference. In his message to the Regional, Provincial and District Deputies, Sir Knight Dionisio “Jun” Esteban, Jr., the Worthy Visayas State Deputy, said that the gathering is aimed at reviewing the Visayas Jurisdiction’s performance vis-à-vis membership and service goals of the Order. “It is a time to look back on what had been accomplished during the past six months of the Columbian Year 2007-2008 and what the Jurisdiction needs to accomplish before the current fiscal year will end in June 2008” said the Visayas Deputy. The gathering came shortly after the Visayas Deputy Esteban’s own trip to Washington DC, U.S.A. last Nov. 17-18, 2007 where he joined other State Deputies Orderwide meeting with Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and staff for their own mid-year evaluation and workshop. During that meeting in Washington, the Supreme Knight urged all State Deputies to tap the “tremendous opportunities for growth” in terms of membership, insurance and charitable activities in their respective State Jurisdictions. As an offshoot to the U.S. trip, Bro. Jun gathered inputs from the Visayas Jurisdiction’s Regional, Provincial and District Deputies in coming up with a VISAYAS STATE STRATEGIC GROWTH PLAN, one that will enable councils to attract new members through consistent and affective programming in areas of Family Life, Pro-Life Advocacy and activities for the support of the Church. The ideal State Strategic Growth Plan, as suggested by the Supreme Council, should not only address short-term goals but long-term goals as well. This way, there will be continuity and sustainability of the Knights of Columbus programs even if there will be leadership changes in the organization, thus ensuring the bright future of the Order. The humble and mild-mannered Visayas Deputy Jun Esteban truly motivated other KofC leaders to “Plan Their Work” and “Work Their Plan”, as goals and targets for achievement were set and consolidated by the Regional Deputies. Also subject of discussion during the Visayas Mid-Year Evaluation was the forthcoming “Visayas State Convention” slated for May 16-18, 2008 in Cebu City, where Filipiniana/Barrio Fiesta/Santacruzan fervor will fill the air. A special feature of the State Convention will be the “renewal of marriage vows” for Knights and Ladies married for 25 years and above. His Eminence, Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu, will preside the marriage renewal cum convention opening mass. After the Visayas Mid-Year Evaluation, the Visayas Deputy and his staff will make rounds to the different regions for the provincial conferences to personally ascertain the status and activities of the more than 500 councils in the Visayas Jurisdiction. (Bro. Junjie Navales Cruz)

Wise decision
The fraternal association is also offering a new type of retirement saving program. The KCFAPI said retirement benefits provided by other companies may be inadequate when the time comes that one has to avail of them. Enrollment in the KC Retirement Plus Plan may be a wise decision to put up future to augment the present established scheme. The insurance contribution is affordable that even a rank and file employee may find it easy to slowly build up his retirement program.

Young professionals
The KC Capital Accumulator Plan is a savings program with insurance protection feature exclusively designed for KC members and their family. It is ideal for young professionals who are currently employed but also desirous of becoming entrepreneurs. This plan will help them build up a fund to start a small business or augment a

NOVEMBER 30, 2007 was a red-letter day throughout the country in commemoration of Gat Andres Bonifacio’s heroism, also the feast day of St. Andrew, the Apostle. For the Knights of Columbus in the Visayas, the day was especially significant because two sons of brother knights were ordained to the priesthood. Rev. Fr. IVAN PAUL NOEL OBANDO, OP and Rev. Fr. RODEL SAVELLONA CANSANCIO, OP received the sacrament of the Holy Orders, together with eight others, at Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City, Metro Manila. They overcame the rigors of studying for the priesthood under the tutelage of the Dominican religious order. His Excellency, Most Rev. Socrates Villegas, DD, Bishop of Bataan, presided the ordination, together with His Excellency, Most Rev. Camilo Gregorio, DD, Bishop of Batanes. In his homily, Bishop Villegas called on the ten ordained priests to: (1) acknowledge that they are not worthy, (2) always strive to live up to their priestly vocation, and (3) put Christ in the center of their lives. He assured them of his prayers and support, especially during those times when they would feel that their responsibilities are difficult to bear. More than eighty Dominican and diocesan priests concelebrated during the ordination mass, among them Rev. Fr. Trinidad “Daddy” Silva, Jr., Parish Priest of the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, Naga, Cebu, where both Fr. Ivan (of Central Poblacion, Naga) and Fr. Rodel (of Inoburan, Naga) are parishioners.

Sons of Knights. Rev. Fr. Ivan Paul N. Obando and Rev. Fr. Rodel S. Cansancio (front row, 2nd & 3rd from right, respectively) with Parish Pastoral Council Of ficers from Naga City, Cebu, together with K of C Cebu Central Provincial Deputy Carmelino N. Cruz, Jr. and Naga Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Trinidad “Daddy” Silva, Jr. (2nd row, 2nd & 5th from right, respectively).

Two sons of Knights ordained priests
Rev. Fr. Rodel S. Cansancio
Belonging to a family of Knights, Rev. Fr. Rodel S. Cansancio, the youngest among his siblings, was an active officer of St. Francis Columbian Squires Circle 1994 during his teenage years. His father, the late Sir Knight Quirico Cansancio Sr., inspired by the wife Lady Marcela, was a dedicated member of Naga Council 3940, while his elder brother Sir Raymundo Cansancio, and brother-inlaw, Sir Eduardo Navales Candia are active knights and parish BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) leaders. Fr. Rodel will be assigned at the University of Santo Tomas to help fulfill the Dominican mission of Catholic education. True to their being Columbian Squires during their teenage years, Fr. Ivan and Fr. Rodel have lived up to the Squires’ motto “ESTO DIGNUS” (Be Worthy). They have persevered, through hard work, discipline and devotion, to attain their priestly vocation. Both of them excelled in their academic studies, finished their Philosophy degree Cum Laude and Magna Cum Laude in their Theology, respectively. They are currently pursuing postgraduate studies. Naga Council 3940 gave moral and financial support through the Knights of Columbus Refund Support for Vocations Program (RSVP) during their seminary years. During the ordination in Quezon City, the Knights of Columbus shared in the joy of this gift of priesthood and was represented by KofC Visayas Public Relations Chairman and Cebu Central Provincial Deputy Carmelino Navales Cruz Jr. and his Lady, Hasmin. They were joined by Naga Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) Officers: Sis. Linda Largo, President; Sis. Fely Racaza, Treasurer; Bro. Rocky Racaza, Worship Chairman and philanthropist couple Bro. Bert and Sis. Juliet Barrera. The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, who were both priests’ mentors during their high school years, were also in attendance. Aside from the newly-ordained priests’ immediate family, many Naganians traveled all the way from Cebu to cheer and give moral support and prayers to Fr. Ivan and Fr. Rodel. A thanksgiving Mass, traditionally known as “Canta Misa”, was celebrated by Fr. Ivan and Fr. Rodel on Wednesday, December 12, at 4:00pm, at the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, in Naga, Cebu, for the thousands of Naga parishioners led by the City Mayor, Hon. Valdemar M. Chiong. KofC Visayas Deputy, Sir Knight Dionisio “Jun” Esteban, Jr., was in attendance during the mass, like a proud father to the two new priests, BECAUSE TRULY, THEY ARE SONS OF THE KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS. (Bro. Junjie Navales Cruz)

KC Foundation scholar passes 2007 Agriculturist Board Exam
A KC Foundation scholar, Kathryn Ann E. Dominisac, daughter of Bro. Daniel and Sis. Corazon Dominisac from Camp Philips, Bukidnon (Council 5802) passed the 2007 Agriculturist Board Exam given by the Board of Agriculture in Cagayan de Oro City on July 2007. She graduated last April 11, 2007 with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture major in Plant Pathology at the Central Mindanao University (CMU) in Musuan, Bukidnon. Ms. Dominisac, a consistent honor student, took her Oath of Professional at the Office of Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) in Cagayan de Oro City. (Denise C. Solina)

Rev. Fr. Ivan Paul Obando
Rev. Fr. Ivan Paul N. Obando was a former Chief Squire of St. Francis Columbian Squires Circle 1994 under the guidance of Naga, Cebu Council No. 3940. He is the 2ndamong four siblings and the only son of Sir Knight Vicente “Vic” and Lady Lucena Obando. The elder Obando, a silent and unassuming servant-leader in the Knights of Columbus, was a Past Grand Knight, former District Deputy and former Visayas Columbian Squires Chairman. In recognition of his valuable service to the Order, the Worthy Visayas Deputy has tapped Bro. Vic as the Visayas Jurisdiction’s Vocations Chairman for Columbian Year 2007-2008. After his ordination, Fr. Ivan will be assigned as a Parochial Vicar of Sto. Domingo Church, Quezon City, aside from his teaching assignment at the University of Sto. Tomas.

Ms. Dominisac receives her diploma from the CMU President during the graduation ceremonies held at the University Convention Center, Central Mindanao University, April 11, 2007.

Photo by Dennis Dayao

The Cross


The Cross
Finally on Dec. 2, 1949, the Supreme Master Mulligan issued specific instruction to Rev. Fr. George J. Willmann, “to approve applications for the Fourth Degree, collect the fees and act as the Master of the Fourth Degree.” The Exemplification took place at the Holy Ghost College (now College of the Holy Spirit) and the first exemplification of the Fourth Degree in the Philippines became a reality. On that fateful day, Dec. 2, 1949, the honors of the Fourth Degree were received by the Filipino knights. Master Santidad. The team was composed of Fr. William D. Araña, OSA as the Faithful Friar, SK Antonio Ma. Sunga, as Historian, SK Oscar Rodriguez as Narrator, SK Manuel Lopez as the Expounder of the Constitution, SK (ret.) Judge Tirso Velasco alternating with SK Boy Arzadon as the Defender of the Faith, SK Arsenio Isidro G. Yap (the incumbent State Secretary) as the Recorder, and SK Chris Balis as the Marshall of the Honor Guards. Not to be outdone were the Color Corps who were very smart in their uniforms. The commanders of the Honor Guards were many that day. Commander SK Ramon C. Montes, Commander SK Cesar Abad, Commander SK Rene Ison and Commander SK Rizal Valencia are the most visible commanders of the Honor Guards whose sense of duty and commitment, unquestioned loyalty, and dedication to their task, are very laudable. The Master of the Fourth Degree, SK Venancio G. Santidad was very resplendent in his uniform of yellow cape and chapeaux. He conducted the exemplification with much dignity and honor. The celebration of the Holy Mass started at two o’clock in the afternoon. Shortly thereafter, the ceremony started and went smoothly. The honoree, Luzon Deputy SK Alonso L. Tan, to which the class of the fourth degree will be named, arrived at 3:00 pm. He arrived looking fresh, wearing a piña jusi barong. The ceremony was momentarily stopped and the honor guards lined up and did the cross swords formation. The Luzon Deputy was accompanied by the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, SK Mike Yu, Past Grand Knight of Manila Council 1000. He was escorted in front of the candidates and seated at a place of honor. After the dubbing ceremony, SK Cesar Galang, the State Retention Chairman of the Luzon Jurisdiction, introduced the honoree. He was wearing his Faithful Navigator’s uniform and was seated also in front of the class. SK Alon Tan reminisced and reminded them about the history of the Fourth Degree. He said he was greatly honored because that day was exactly the same date the first exemplification was conducted at the Holy Ghost College. Now he is the honoree in the 58th anniversary of the Fourth Degree. He admonished all 4 th degree knights not to forget the perseverance and persistence of those who labored hard and long so that we may enjoy the benefits and honors of the Fourth Degree. He particularly mentioned Rev. Fr. George J. Willmann who represented the Filipino knights in the United States. In his speech, he impressed on all the privilege of being a Fourth Degree member. With that privilege comes great responsibility. “We are tasked to do honor to our country and to the Church,” said Alon Tan. “The Fourth Degree also known as the Patriotic Degree is dedicated to the primary purpose of fostering the spirit of patriotism and promoting responsible citizenship and love and loyalty to our country,” the Luzon Deputy continued. The Luzon Deputy also made it clear that “the Fourth Degree is not a separate organization but a part, not apart, of the third degree within the Knights of Columbus.” “Remember,” he said, “the members of the Fourth Degree are also members of their councils and as such, we are all subject to the same Constitution, laws, rules and regulation of the Knights of Columbus, under the supervision of the same Supreme Officers and Supreme Board of Directors as the other three degrees.” By taking the oath of the fourth degree, “we are banded together by a common commitment to perform conscientiously our duties as Catholic gentlemen of the Knights of Columbus.” SK Alon Tan expressed his admiration for the honor guards. “I am very proud of our honor guards. Our color corps or the honor guards are required to assist in religious functions and other civic duties. They lend color to any ceremony,” he said. The Luzon Deputy made a strong appeal to the members of the Fourth Degree not to look down upon the third degree members. “Do not think yourselves as higher than them. But look at them as co-equal. Let us avoid petty quarrels on who is higher than whom. What must always prevail is cooperation and good harmonious relationship,” he said. SK Alon Tan also exhorted the brother knights about maintaining proper decorum and protocol. “When it is a council activity, the Grand Knight is the one in-charge. When the occasion is a Fourth Degree affair, it is the Faithful Navigator who is the one in-charge.” The Luzon Deputy congratulated the members who just received the honor of the Fourth Degree, while praising the Marshall, SK Chris Balis for a job well done. As a parting message to the newly exemplified brother knights he said: “As a Fourth Degree member, you now have the privilege to own a sword, symbol of a prayerful knight. Don’t let that sword fall. Keep it bright and shining, untarnished, for liberty’s sake.”

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

The Fourth Degree Exemplification
By Paul Oblea
THE Knights of Columbus, the largest Catholic lay organization in the world, has four levels of membership, the first degree, the second degree, the third degree and the fourth degree. Since it’s founding here in the Philippines in 1905, the members of the Knights of Columbus have multiplied rapidly. The members belonging to the Third Degree are so numerous that they clamored to be advanced to the fourth degree. Way back in 1949, The Filipino knights, were so eager to get the honors of the Fourth Degree that they petitioned the Supreme Council in Connecticut, USA to bring the exemplification team here in the Philippines. Then Supreme Master Mulligan was not keen in bringing the 26man Exemplification Team to Manila. In 1949, $60,000 was needed to bring the Exemplification Team to Manila. It was a very huge sum then. Bro. Ramon F. Campos (who later became the Grand Knight of Manila Council 1000) together with Bros. Celso Jamora, Manuel Lim, and Paul Versoza, persevered and convinced Supreme Master Mulligan and brought the Fourth Degree to Manila. Rev. Fr. George J. Willmann, “that gentle warrior”, who loved the Filipino knights so much, represented them in the United States. He was very instrumental in bringing the Fourth Degree in the Philippines. Finally, Bro. Manuel Lim, then Grand Knight of Manila Council 1000, together with Rev. Fr. George J. Willmann, informed Supreme Master Mulligan, that there are now 17 Filipino knights who took the honors of the Fourth Degree in the United States and are now ready to take the great responsibility.

Joseph P. Teodoro

For Brother Knights by Brother Knights Adjudicating insurance claims expeditiously
THE death of a father especially if he is the breadwinner of the family puts a great burden to those he left behind. Immediately upon the death of father the family is confronted with the final expenses of the deceased. This includes the cost of the last hospitalization, the memorial service and the lot whereon the remains will finally be laid to rest. After the burial, the widow and the children will begin to feel the pains of the financial problems. Where will they get their daily subsistence, the funds for the children’s education and the money to pay for emergencies and future needs? This problem is magnified if the father in his lifetime failed to provide for said contingencies. The wife will be forced to find work and some of the children may have to stop from their studies. In some instances the mortgage of the house will be foreclosed. There are a lot of insurance companies and financial institutions that provide the service of securing the financial future of those interested and capable of availing such services. KCFAPI was organized almost 50 years to cater to the insurance need specifically of brother knights and their family members. The people in the Board of Trustees and the management officers belong to the Knights of Columbus family. KCFAPI is proud to announce its distinction of adjudicating insurance claims expeditiously. A case in point is the case of the late grand knight of Council 10738 in Damortis, La Union, Bro. Romeo Geneta. He enrolled himself under the SPEK plan on June 14, 2007. Four months later, on October 5, 2007 Bro. Romeo figured in a vehicular accident where he died instantly. On the very day that all the requirements was found to be in order, KCFAPI issued a check in favor of his bereaved wife representing the death claim proceeds under the benefit certificate.

Exemplification Bulwagan


Last Dec. 2, 2007, the District Master of the National Capital Region, Sir Knight Venancio G. Santidad, conducted an exemplification of the Fourth Degree at the Bulwagan of the Quezon City Hall. The date of the exemplification coincided with the first exemplification, 58 years ago. There were 118 candidates who took the honors of the Fourth Degree. The Bulwagan was teeming with Incumbent and Past Faithful Navigators. The staff of the Master was in full force. Sir Knight Alex Estabillo had his hands full in the preparations. He coordinated the whole affair. From the registration of the candidates up to the entrance of the Bulwagan, SK Alex Estabillo was busy as a bee in the preparation of the Fourth Degree exemplification. Sir Knight Christian M. Balis, the indefatigable Marshall, was there as early as one o’clock in the afternoon to rehearse the ceremony with the Honor Guards. Everything had to be in order so as not to compromise the dignity of the ceremony. The Exemplification Team looking resplendent in their colorful uniforms arrived and prepared for the arrival of

- - - - - KC Supreme News - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Knights of Columbus leaders deliver check for $1.6 million to pope
VATICAN CITY, December 7, 2007—The supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus and the fraternal order’s bishop-chaplain met privately with Pope Benedict XVI Dec. 6 and delivered a check for $1.6 million. Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson and Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., handed the pope the check, which represents a year’s interest from the Vicarius Christi Fund, established in 1981 when the Vatican found itself in the midst of a series of huge budget deficits. While the Vatican’s annual budget deficits have been reduced or erased, the 1.7 million Knights worldwide have continued to bring the pope a check each year to support his charities and special projects. The Vatican has received more than $43 million over the years from the Knights, whose members are mostly in the United States. (CNS)

Reason for the season: keep Christ in Christmas
The Knights have been producing Keep Christ in Christmas public service announcements since the 1980s. The Knights of Columbus Christmas announcements reach more than 40 million television viewers and up to 37 million radio listeners. Hundreds of billboards with the same message have also been put up by local Knights of Columbus councils, and many councils sell religiously-themed Christmas cards as well. “In the midst of an increasingly materialistic and secular society, it is all too easy to lose sight of what Christmas really means. We give gifts to each other because it is the day on which we celebrate the ultimate gift: the Christ child, the savior of mankind,” said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson. “Even those who do not share the Christian faith can and do appreciate the message of peace and hope that this Christian holiday—holy day—brings to the world. It is a message that the world needs now more than ever.” This month the Knights kicked off the Christmas season as councils nationwide—including the Supreme Council in New Haven—took part in the “Light up for Christ” program. Councils are encouraged to hold a Christmas tree or Nativity scene lighting ceremony on the first Tuesday of December to commemorate Christ’s birth. (KC News)

Keep Christ in Christmas 2007 includes telecasts of ‘The Birth of Christ’
Christmas cantata composed by Andrew T. Miller, a Knight of Columbus from Seattle. The executive producer is Raymond Arroyo, a Knight of Columbus and host of EWTN’s international news magazine, The World Over. The performers include the Christ Church Cathedral Choir and St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir— the choirs that George Frideric Handel used to unveil his Messiah in 1742—and are joined by St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral Choir and the Christ Church Cathedral Orchestra, to produce Miller’s contemporary classical works, which are based on St. Luke’s Gospel narrative of the Nativity. The program is narrated by Academy Award-nominated Irish Catholic actor Liam Neeson ( Schindler’s List, Star Wars: Raymond Arroyo, Liam Neeson and The Phantom Andrew T. Miller. Menace , and The Chronicles of Narnia ). “The Catholic and Protestant singers involved in this project put aside their differences for ‘One Blessed Night’ and raised their voices in unison around the central mystery of their faith,” said Neeson. The program is scheduled to air on Public Television nationwide throughout the 2007 Christmas season, and the CD and DVD are available from Sony BMG Masterworks. (KC News)

Crèches of Italy at the Knights of Columbus Museum

MILLIONS of people in North America will get the message to “Keep Christ in Christmas” thanks to public service announcements from the Knights of Columbus that will be aired in the United States and Canada during the Christmas season. Radio spots encouraging people to “Keep Christ in Christmas” in various ways—including by helping the less fortunate—will be aired in English and Spanish. A public service announcement for television has been sent to TV networks and hundreds of local broadcast stations and cable television systems.

Scholarships awarded to seminarians
THE Knights of Columbus has awarded 45 new $2,500 scholarships to seminarians for the current academic year and renewed an additional 81 grants. The scholarships are for men studying for the priesthood for dioceses or religious institutes in the United States and Canada and are renewable for up to four years. The grants are made from the Father Michael J. McGivney and Thomas V. Daily scholarship funds, which were established in 1992. Since the funds were established 850 seminarians have been helped. Preference in awarding the grants is given to men who are Knights or who are the sons of Knights. This year, approximately half of new awards went to Knights or sons of Knights. Jonathan D. Raia is studying for the Diocese of Austin at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and is recipient of a Bishop Daily scholarship. In a thank-you letter to the Knights, Raia wrote: “I am personally indebted to several councils for finanPreference in awarding the grants is given to men who are Knights or who are the sons of Knights. This year, approximately half of new awards went to Knights or sons of Knights. Jonathan D. Raia is studying for the Diocese of Austin at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and is recipient of a Bishop Daily scholarship. In a thank-you letter to the Knights, Raia wrote: “I am personally indebted to several councils for financial support that I have received faithfully every year of my formation. This scholarship is a huge help to my diocese. … I became a Knight in the parish of my pastoral year this past year [Father James A. Donnelly Council 6658, Copperas Cove, Texas], so now I am proud to be a member of an organization that has done so much to support me personally and encourage vocations in the Church.” Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., was among many bishops who wrote to thank the Knights for supporting seminarians studying for their dioceses. “Your gift demonstrates the deep respect for the priesthood, which is a hallmark of the Knights of Columbus.” In his thank-you letter, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, N.J., noted the support seminarians in his state receive from the Knights. “The Knights have continued to grow and thrive because they are such an integral part of the communion of the Church.” (KC News)

THE Knights of Columbus contributed $100,000 toward the production of an extraordinary musical event on public television stations throughout the United States. The new PBS special, The Birth of Christ, prominently includes the professional efforts of two individual Knights. The program united Protestant and Catholic musicians in Dublin for the recording of a

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

The Cross
Christmas Messages
Advent and Christmas remind us that we have a God who decided to be with us (Emmanuel), to participate in our laughter and tears, our struggles and strivings… above all to help us translate our faith into hope, and to prove to us that indeed “God is love,” and that we can love like God. To quote Pope Benedict XVI in his most recent Encyclical Letter “Spe Salvi” (Saved in Hope): “The Christian Message was not only informative but performative ” (no. 2). That means that the “Good

News not only gives new meaning but it is also lifechanging. That is what the Incarnation of the word of God, Jesus Christ, has done: it taught us not only to be genuinely human, but also to walk the divine path, and become genuine image of God in the world. What does Christmas challenge us to change in our life? With this thought, I greet the Knights of Columbus as I reiterate to them the gratitude we have for their generous support and show of solidarity in some of the Bishops’ undertakings in the ministry. Merry Christmas. +ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO Archbishop of Jaro CBCP President

Living Stones

As Knights we should witness to our belief that God entered history in an enduring way through his Son, Jesus Christ
by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson
new work of art in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in honor of the Incarnation. Indeed, the new Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome testifies to the central tenet of our faith: that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son into it to redeem it (cf. Jn 3:16). This is not the God of a delusion or a hypothesis; it is the God who enters history, who changes lives and who changes the world. This is the message that all those entering the great basilica in Washington, D.C., will find as they walk beneath the impressive Incarnation Dome. While it may be easy to dismiss an abstraction, it is not so easy to dismiss the millions of lives that have been changed and the millions throughout history who have chosen to suffer persecution and even martyrdom because of that change. This reality was brought home to me recently when I was privileged to visit the bishops attending the World Synod of Bishops of Ukrainian Rite Catholics. In remarks to those bishops, I said the Knights of Columbus recognized that during the last century their country had suffered a form of “national crucifixion”—a persecution of the Christian faith that has had few precedents in history. Ukraine is still recovering from this dreadful time and it will continue to do so for many years. But what is remarkable is the Ukrainian people’s witness to the faith in the midst of suffering and their choice to remain united with the love of God expressed through the Person of Jesus Christ. This history and a personal witness by millions is not understood by those who claim God is a failed hypothesis. Not all of us can write books to refute the claims made by atheists or those who challenge God’s existence. But each of us can make an even more compelling response through the concrete and personal witness of our own lives. Members of the Knights of Columbus have a unique opportunity to do so through our families, councils and parishes—to build through our own lives an Incarnation Dome from living stones. Advent is the perfect time to take up or renew this effort. Dorian and I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas and a great fraternal new year. Vivat Jesus!

MY sincere and heartfelt congratulations and greetings to all the members of the Knights of Columbus…. in the service of the Fullness of LIFE! In life, we often travel. We make many trips to see people and places. We undertake journeys to unknown places to explore, to discover and to admire God’s creation. We travel for various reasons. Traveling can be educational, enriching, relaxing, fulfilling, or just tiring. There is however another important journey that we should undertake. It is a journey that is difficult. It requires a lot of will power, honesty and determination. It is the journey inwards, a journey within ourselves. During the advent and Christmas seasons, we are asked to journey towards the Bethlehem in our hearts where Christ is born anew. Although we notice silence, be calm. Have no fear. Let us simply be present to Him and learn “the things hidden from the wise and learned and revealed to little children.” (Mt 11:25) He who created heaven and earth becomes poor to show that in the hearts of those who have nothing save God is where the true

treasure lies. The King of glory is born in obscurity, in the company of the faceless, the nameless in society, to show that man needs nothing more but to simply “Be,” for true glory lies in our shared dignity with Christ. Christmas is the Father in heaven, God living and true, giving Himself to us in His Son Jesus, who is Son of Mary, too. This divine gift is the very reason for all our rejoicing on Christmas and throughout the New Year. God is Emmanuel—a God who lives in the midst of His people to share their struggles and burden, their pains and sorrow. His love brings us blessings. He is our only hope, our peace and joy! The renewal of our commitment as Knights of Columbus to the mission of the Church helps us make our advent journey more fruitful and meaningful through our participation in the programs of our parishes especially in attending to the needs of the least, the lost, and the poor, etc., enabling us to dispose ourselves more to welcome Christ in our lives amidst the noise that surrounds us. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year! +NESS F. ONGTIOCO, DD Bishop of Cubao Luzon State Chaplain

Over the last several years a number of books have been published attacking the idea of God: The God Delusion, God is Not Great, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Atheist Universe and The End of Faith, to name a few. Some have even become best sellers. The authors of these books find no room for the idea of God in their lives or the universe. For them, God is an abstraction or the imagined author of a universe controlled by impersonal laws and mechanisms. Of course, they are free to believe or not believe in God. They are not free, however, to reject history, nor those who have lived and made history. And so they are not free to easily dismiss the person who entered history and who changed it forever. They are not free to dismiss the person of Jesus Christ: the one who has changed hearts and changed lives for more than 2,000 years and who loved – even to the cross. This God is not an impersonal, abstract or mechanical God. He is someone entirely different. This is one reason why in celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Knights of Columbus we have chosen to do something to highlight the reality of God in history in an enduring way. We have made possible the creation of a beautiful

Dear Brother Knights in the Philippines, The PEACE of Christ our Savior be with you! It is that time of the year when our hearts burn with greater love for others. Why is this happening? Because we are learning from God our Father who loved the

world so much that He gave us His only Begotten Son. May you continue to reach out in love to your family, to your Brother Knights and to others, especially the poor and the humble. May you ever grow in love for the Lord above all. VIVAT JESUS! +ROMULO T. DE LA CRUZ, DD Bishop of San Jose de Antique

IT is my privilege to greet everyone a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Let us be thankful to the Almighty God, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother Mary to her Son, for the bountiful blessings which we in the Order of the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines, KCFAPI, Keys Realty, Mace Insurance, and the KC Foundations have received and enjoyed during the year.

A voice in the wilderness has been calling us to make the roads straight for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is never late for us to make up for our shortcomings in the past. Let us make this a meaningful season by reaching out to those who are less fortunate. Let us give our positive response to the call of the Supreme Council in the last State Deputies’ Meeting to share our blessing to the poorest of the poor. VIVAT JESUS! ANTONIO B. BORROMEO President, KCFAPI and Keys Realty Corp.


The Cross

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 11 No. 25
December 10 - 30, 2007

Bro. Arcenas: A True Fraternalist
By Annie M. Nicolas
ciation as member of the Board of Advisors. Bro. Arcenas is also the Chairman of the Board of Keys Realty and Development Corporation, a subsidiary of KCFAPI. During his incumbency as Chairman and President, Bro. Arcenas’ major thrust is for KC Fraternal to be able to offer second-tonone benefits to the members of the Order of the Knights of Columbus. The Association’s insurance program had remarkably grown under his stewardship and tutelage, enabling more families of Knights of Columbus to enjoy the privilege KCFAPI has to offer. Bro. Arcenas is indeed a true fraternalist, unceasingly giving his advice and sharing his wisdom without expecting anything in return. He always has an eye for charities, as he would normally give out cash gifts received to one of his favorite charities, our very own KC Foundation and Fr. Willmann Charities. He joined the Order of the Knights of Columbus in 1977 and in his 30 years as a knight—served as Grand Knight of KC Council 5922 (Merville, Paranaque City) and District Deputy of District M-66. As a professional, Bro. Arcenas is presently the Chairman and President of one of the biggest savings banks in the country, Banco Filipino. He was a recipient of awards and appreciation certificates from several organizations and associations in the banking industry including “Leadership Award” and “Outstanding Savings Banker”. He was also a lecturer in various seminars on business management and banking including Central Bank Training seminars. Bro. Arcenas is one of the pillars of the Association. He has been generous with his time and effort for which the Association will be forever grateful.

The KC Priests
Rev. Fr. Venes Paolo Matias Parish Priests of Sto. Cristo Parish Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija Date of Ordination: November 27, 1997
I ENTERED the minor seminary at the Maria Assunta Seminary. It was not my intention to become a priest. But I tried it since I needed to be in the high school system. But there I discovered that I had a vocation. I went through the regiment of seminary life—following the rules and regulations of the seminary which in the end helped me become a priest. The support of my family members helped a lot in pursuing my vocation. I think without it, I cannot imagine pursuing my studies in the seminary. I have also experienced to be acquainted with the opposite sex so that when I decided to become a priest, I knew what I had to leave behind. The K of C was able to help me through the scholarship all the way from Philosophy to Theology. The K of C provided for all my books. I am very thankful for the help because the books helped me a lot in my studies. Wherever I am assigned today I always promote the Order of the Knights of Columbus.
(Source: www.youtube.com/kcpriests) _________________________________________________

SK Teodoro O. Arcenas, Jr.

As KCFAPI celebrates its golden anniversary in 2008, SK Teodoro O. Arcenas, Jr. will likewise celebrate his silver anniversary unselfishly serving the Association Bro. Arcenas was elected member of the KCFAPI Board in 1983 to 1986, also in 1989 to1992, and in 1995. He was elected Chairman and President of the Association from 1997-2005. He continues to serve the Asso-

Visayas Deputy Esteban:

“A Knight Through and Through”
By Bro. Junjie Navales Cruz
HE practically “climbed the organizational ladder” of the Knights of Columbus. Joining the Order as a charter member of Council 6681 in Marikina, Metro Manila 32 years ago, Sir Knight Dionisio “Jun” the new WorEsteban, Jr. thy Visayas Deputy, Sir Knight Dionisio “Jun” Esteban, Jr. and his family moved to Cebu in the early 80’s, brought to the Queen City of the South by reason of his work as Vismin Marketing Manager of an industrial supply company. From then on, his family got acculturated with, and learned to like, the Cebuano way of life. In between corporate work and tending to his three children and his wife, the former Fe Rodrigo; Brod Jun (as he is known to and fondly called by brother knights) did not waver in his commitment to serve the Knights of Columbus. He joined meetings of Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral Council 3106 where he met Sir Knight Panfilo “Filo” O. Pacubas (who was then a pillar of the Knights of Columbus prior to his appointment as Visayas Secretary, then Visayas Deputy, and presently, Vice Supreme Master of the 4 th Degree). When his family eventually settled in Consuelo Village, Mandaue City, Brod Jun became a very active member of the K of C Fatima Council 7101 based in Basak, Mandaue City. There, he worked hard for the Order as Council Membership Director until his brother knights elected him as Grand Knight for two terms in Columbian Years 1994-1996. After that, Brod Jun was asked to join the Visayas Jurisdiction work team of then Visayas Deputy, Sir Knight Patrocinio “Pat” Baccay. Brod Jun did not shirk from the various endeavors assigned to him, namely: Provincial Deputy—Cebu North, Color Corps Commander and later on Faithful Navigator of Lapulapu 4th Degree Assembly, District Deputy V-12 and Visayas Recruitment and Retention Chairman, through the Columbian Years 1996 to 2001. In recognition of his leadership capabilities and achievements (he reactivated Council 9359—previously suspended for 8 years, organized Council 12730, Canduman, Mandaue City, received the Star District Award and the Very Important Proposer’s Club-50 member level category, among other achievements) Brod Jun became the Visayas Membership Director in Columbian Years 2001-2003, where he and the then Visayas Deputy Pacubas received for the Visayas Jurisdiction the prestigious “Circle of Honor Award” from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council and they were feted to a holiday—K of C style—in Cancun, Mexico. When the prolific gentleman from Iloilo, Sir Knight Eduardo “Eddie” Laczi was appointed Visayas Deputy in Columbian Years 2003 – 2007, he entrusted to Brod Jun the care of Central and Eastern Visayas. Brod Jun became Executive Assistant to the Visayas Deputy for Central and Eastern Visayas and concurrently, Regional Deputy for Central Visayas. In August 2006, he was part of the official delegation of the Visayas Jurisdiction to the 124th Supreme Council Convention in Orlando, Florida, U.S.A. With all that Brod Jun had done for the Order, it came as no surprise to those who know him well that the Worthy Supreme Knight Carl Anderson appointed him as Visayas Deputy for a two-year term starting on July 1, 2007. In his speech marking his formal assumption as Visayas Deputy, Brod Jun recalled the challenges he overcame in the past, accepted the responsibility to lead the Visayas Jurisdiction and is banking on the cooperation and support of his brothers. Brod Jun has put to heart his being a knight, as even his personal business endeavors have the semblance of the nobility of the Knights of Columbus: his first entrepreneurial venture was named “Knights Craft” and the wellpatronized bread and pastry products in Basak, Mandaue City, courtesy of “Grandbake, Inc.” where he is President and General Manager. His experiences in the business sector, in the engineering field (he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Mapua Institute of Technology), socio-civic involvements (Kiwanis, Association of Ilocanos in Cebu, Consuelo Villagers Association) and most of all, his far and wide hands-on, taskoriented leadership experience in the Knights of Columbus will augur well in his new job as Visayas Deputy. Even if Brod Jun will be with a crowd, it will be very easy to spot him, hands down. After all, he is a knight in the true sense, the Worthy Visayas Deputy, Sir Knight Dionisio “Jun” R. Esteban, Jr.—”A Knight Through and Through.”

Rev. Fr. Juvelande S. Cabading Parish Priest, Immaculate Conception Parish - Sablan, Benguet Date of Ordination: Feb. 17, 2005
I believe that my vocation started in the family. My parents are very religious and they influenced me a lot. When I grew up I reflected and discerned that God was calling me through my family. After I graduated from high school, I entered the seminary. I had been through many apostolates in many places. And my exposure to the different communities, different people, and different activities related to the seminary formation helped a lot to nurture my vocation. When I was in college, in third year, I became a beneficiary (scholar) of the K of C until I graduated from theology, until I became a priest. When I was in high school I was a member of the Columbian Squires. The Columbian Squires in our parish was newly organized—until later on it wavered. I am thankful for the K of C. I am thankful for being a member of the Columbian Squires when I was in high school. I am thankful for the K of C for helping me through my seminary formation especially financially.
(Source: www.youtube.com/kcpriests)

Knights of Columbus Philippines Foundation, Inc.

Officers (2007-2008)
Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr. – Chairman Bro. Alonso L. Tan – President Bro. Ruperto P. Somera - Treasurer

KC Group of Companies hold annual retreat
seven capital sins and the things that influence people to commit sin. He also dwelt on how important Liturgy is and that everything should be well-prepared for the celebration of the Holy Mass. Msgr. Quitorio stressed that the sign of being a good Christian community is loving one another and working as one body. In his homily during the feast of the Immaculate Conception, he inspired the retreatants to be strong and have faith in the Lord Almighty. He also said they should bear in mind that no matter what situation they are in Jesus Christ will always be there to give them love and protection. The venue with its beautiful landscape and clean surroundings provides a quiet place where anyone can reflect, think, pray or just find time to be alone with God. The participants went home smiling after that very meaningful date with the Lord. (Denise C. Solina)

Bro. Francisco V. Tankiang – Corporate Secretary Bro. Patrocinio R. Bacay – Member Bro. Antonio B. Borromeo – Member Bro. Estelito C. Casal - Member Bro. Sofronio R. Cruz – Member Bro. Dionisio R. Esteban, Jr. – Member

Other officers: Bro. Joselito E. Mañalac, General Manager; Atty. Rizal V. Katalbas, Assistant Corporate Secretary; and Bro. Edwin B. Dawal, Administrative Officer.

Knights of Columbus Fr. George J. Willmann Charities, Inc.

Officers (2007-2008)
Justice Jose C. Reyes, Jr. – Chairman Bro. Alonso L. Tan – President Bro. Ruperto P Somera - Treasurer . Bro. Mariano R. Sideco – Corporate Secretary Bro. Patrocinio R. Bacay – Member

Employees of KC Group of Companies with Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, III during their annual retreat held at the Mary Help of Christians Center of S pirituality at Tagaytay City last December 7-8.

EMPLOYEES of KC Group of Companies participated in this year’s retreat held at the Mary Help of Christians Center of Spirituality, Don Bosco Batulao, Tagaytay last December 7-8.

Msgr. Pedro C. Quitorio III, Spiritual Director of KC Group of Companies facilitated the retreat which ended with a Holy Mass in celebration of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

During the first conference, Msgr. Quitorio said there are many things that influence our existence and one of the biggest determinants is “sin”. He discussed matters related to sin, the

KC priests organize speakers bureau
KCFAPI Golden Jubilee Logo
THE Knights of Columbus epitomizes the ideal Catholic gentleman. True to the objectives of the Order, the life of a Brother Knight is imbued with faith, fraternity and concern for the family. IN a meeting held November 27, the KC Priests Association decided to establish a speakers bureau that will be composed of experts in various church discipline coming from the members of the association. This initiative stemmed from the request of the State Deputies that KC priests help in the catechetical upliftment and spiritual nourishment of all Knights of Columbus members throughout the country. KC Priests Association President Fr. Renato M. Sapungan, will gather members of the speakers bureau in an orientation seminar on February 1314, 2008 in Tagaytay City. Aside from propagating the teachings of the Church among the members of the Knights of Columbus in the three jurisdictions, the Speakers Bureau will give special emphasis on the study and promotion of the life and works of Fr. George J. Willmann, SJ. The KC Priests Association is also planning to hold a national symposium on the life and works of Fr. Willmann. It is tentatively scheduled sometime in September 2008. (Denise C. Solina)

Bro. Antonio B. Borromeo – Member Fr. Jerome J. Cruz - Member Bro. Sofronio R. Cruz – Member Bro. Dionisio R. Esteban, Jr. – Member Bro. Arsenio R. Lopez – Member Fr. Benjamin Deogracias M. Fajota - Member Fr. Renato M. Sapungan – Member Msgr. Pedro C. Quitorio III - Member

Other officers: Bro. Joselito E. Mañalac, General Manager; Atty. Rizal V. Katalbas, Assist ant Corporate Secretary; and Bro. Edwin B. Dawal, Administrative Officer.

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