Duplex houses turned over to 100 families in Legazpi


Holy Father’s Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations

Couple for Christ Supplement

Earth Day a call to support farmers, says CBCP head
FOR Filipinos, Earth Day is a call to support our farmers whom we have neglected for so long now to cause the present rice crisis, said Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in a statement issued April 22. “For so long a time these farmers have been neglected. And today we are reaping the fruit of that neglect: the present rice crisis,” said Lagdameo who is also the Archbishop of Jaro in Iloilo.



Protagonist of Truth, Promoter of Peace April 28 - May 11, 2008 Vol. 12 No. 9 Php 20.00
Social / A6

Bishop hails DOH ban on kidney transplant
By Kris Bayos
No less than the head of the Bishops’ Conference Office on Bioethics lauded the Department of Health (DOH) for mandating a total ban on kidney transplant for foreign patients. CBCP Office on Bioethics chair and Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said the recent mandate will consequently put an end to the illegal sale and traffic of human organs in the country. “Although the ban is not a permanent one, I think it is a good move towards curbing rampant sale of kidneys and other human organs illegally transacted in the suburbs and countryside,” Oliveros said. The bishop however said his approval of the ban of the kidney transplant for foreigners does not mean he has negative biases towards them. “I have nothing against the foreign patients coming to our country to avail of kidney transplant but I would personally prefer if the kidney transplant industry would give primordial priority to our local beneficiaries,” Oliveros said. The Philippines has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as among countries promoting “transplant tourism” to attract foreigners looking for organ transfers. Reports disclosed that non-Filipinos are being prioritized for medical procedure on organ transplant over local patients.

SVD Superior General renews stand on priests-politicians
WHILE expressing the congregation’s solidarity and joy with the Paraguayan people at the election of Fernando Lugo as their new president, the Society of the Divine Word assured them of prayers that their former confrere “may lead the nation with wisdom and courage, justice and compassion.” SVD Superior-General Antonio M. Pernia, a Filipino, issued a statement April 22, reiterating “that in principle we are not in favor of priests or religious entering politics.” He, however, admitted their vocation and mission “do have a political dimension.” He hastened to add that “this dimension is expressed by carrying out our prophetic and pastoral role in society, and not in involvement in partisan politics, the attainment of political power, or the assumption of a government position.” Pernia said that “as a concerned citizen of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo felt he had to respond to the call of the people.” He said then Fr. Lugo’s “option for the poor was seen as a source of genuine hope to the majority of the people of Paraguay.” He added that the congregation respects “his personal discernment and the clear choice of the people in the election.” The Filipino superior-general added they hope their former confrere’s “experience as a religious missionary priest and bishop will help him bring about the change desired by the people.” The congregation expressed optimism that “meaningful change will be achieved if he succeeds in changing the hearts and minds of the people—those he serves and those who serve with him.”

Leaders of various peasants’ groups with some Catholic bishops led by NRC-II chairman and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, seek for CARP extension during a dialogue with some lawmakers at the Batasan Complex in Quezon City, April 23. Foreigners are reportedly willing to pay P100,000 to P200,000 for each donated organ, a possible explanation for the influx of foreign patients to the country for medical tourism. Health secretary Francisco Duque III issued an administrative order last March dispelling the hoax that “kidney transplantation is part of medical tourism.” Organ transplantation for foreigners has been suspended since January as the DOH worked on drafting the recently promulgated order. CBCP Statement The CBCP after its 96th plenary assembly last January issued a statement condemning the abuse that has spawned a lucrative illegal trade of kidneys. “Organ transplant is a modern development in the field of medicine and organ donation is naturally good. But when the organ is offered for immediate financial gain, the donation is no longer moral. As such, the Church condemns it,” Oliveros was quoted saying after the plenary assembly. The bishop was quick to dispel claims that the Church likewise condemns the poor who are involved in such immoral trade. “We do not necessarily condemn the poor who, in their sheer financial needs, trades their organs for immediate financial gain,” Oliveros said, adding that his office has acquired information on specific localities where trade and traffic of human organs are prevalent. What the Church condemns, according to the prelate, are the “middle men” who brokers for such trade, without properly informing the organ giver of the implications of organ donation. “Information reached us that the brokers are the ones who gain more than the organ giver. The brokers are the ones who gain in the trading, pocketing more than half of the price of the sold organ,” he said. “They are human beings identified and cannot be treated as commodities. We encourage voluntary organ donation from cadavers and also from living donors.” The bishops also called on the government to impose stricter regulations on organ donation. Stern laws, the prelates said, should be enforced to stop the commercialization or selling of organs and prioritizing local patients over foreigners. Organ Committee The Catholic bishops said they are ready to accept that they be part of a special team that will screen all human organ transplants in the country. Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros, head of the CBCP’s Office on Bioethics, said they are more than willing to be part of a solution against the problem surrounding human organ sale. Oliveros said he and Sr.

Bastes elected Bible Society chair

NASSA asks gov’t to amend existing laws detrimental to environment
THE National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on the government to amend existing laws that are detrimental to the environment. In a statement released on the occasion of the celebration of Earth Day, NASSA Executive Secretary Sr. Rosanne Mallilllin, SPC, called on the government to “amend existing laws and policies particularly national mineral policies that are proven to be detrimental to the environment and are disadvantageous to the Filipino people.” “The Government should encourage the prosecution of all who violate environmental laws and /or fail to properly implement them because such negligence results in various environmental tragedies,” said the statement entitled “Reclaiming the Integrity of Creation”. According to Mallillin, “super typhoon Reming” in 2006 left Sorsogon with nearly 750 fatalities, and the destruction of some US $508 million worth of properties, infrastructure and agriculture. In September 2006, another strong typhoon, Milenyo left Metro Manila with over 100 fatalities. Heavy rainfall caused landslides and mudslides in Guinsaugon which left 200 people dead and displaced 1,500 individuals. She added extreme weather conditions seen in longer dry spells caused infertile and unproductive agricultural lands as “even more frequent and stronger typhoons destroy crops” which significantly affect farm outputs. Natural disasters “are even more aggravated by manmade and man-induced disasters such as mine tailing spills in Boac, Marinduque, cyanide spills in Rapu-rapu, Albay and the collapse of mine tunnels in Mt. Diwalwal. NASSA is the Catholic Church’s social action arm which attends to relief and rehabilitation requirements of various dioceses across the country. “The frequency and intensity of these occurrences give us a sense of urgency to evaluate and resolve what has gone wrong,” she added. In the same statement, NASSA called on everyone to limit the consumption of fossilized fuels to decrease greenhouse gases and use renewable sources of energy including solar and wind energy. It also called for an aggressive reforestation program along with proper waste disposal and for the government to amend existing laws and policies that have been proven detrimental to the environment and disadvantageous to the Filipino people as it encouraged the government to prosecute everyone who violate environmental laws or fail to properly implement them as negligence results in various environmental tragedies.

SORSOGON Bishop Arturo M. Bastes, SVD, was elected Chairman and President of the Philippine Bible Society (PBS), April 20. Bastes is currently the chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). He was also chair of the Bastes Commission, a fact-finding body that investigated in 2006 the controversial polymetallic mines in Rapu-Rapu, Albay, that recommended for the cancellation of the operation permit of Lafayette Philippines, Inc. The Philippine Bible Society is a non-profit, non-stock interconfessional Christian organization aimed at promoting the Bible by providing people “with Scriptures in the language they understand, in formats they prefer, and at prices they can afford.” PBS is an affiliate of the

United Bible Societies, a society of more than 137 Bible Societies operating in 200 countries and territories worldwide. The mission of the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) is to achieve “the widest possible effective and meaningful distribution of the Holy Scriptures in languages and media to meet the needs of our people, in translations that are faithful to the Scripture texts in the original language and which effectively communicate the biblical message, at prices people can afford, giving opportunity to everyone to pray, to give, to volunteer, and helping them to interact with the Word of God.” Its vision is to see “a Bible for every home in the major language of their locality; a New Testament for every literate Christian; a Scripture portion for everyone.” Bastes is the first Catholic bishop to get elected to this post. (CBCPNews)

Jail’s chapel promotes spiritual growth of inmates
THE new Davao City Jail Catholic Chapel has helped in the spiritual growth and maturity of the inmates. Senior Inspector Thomas Augustine Catarata, regional chaplain of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) said the existence of the chapel inside the jail becomes a vital factor in changing the overall character, perspective and attitude of the inmates. Catarata said the inmates become participative in the on-going faith-based or spiritual programs conducted by different religious organizations inside the city jail. Catarata added that the inmates, despite their wrongdoings have dignity to be respected and values to be nurtured. “A person, who is entrusted to us for safekeeping carries a value, a value that is embedded at the very core of his/her humanity. Such value is inviolable and God-ordained,” he said. “Whether the person is guilty or not of the crime he/she is accused of, still the value remains,” Catarata said. Fr. Hermes Larry Sabud, local superior of the Society of Mary Fathers and in-charge of the Archdiocesan Commission on Prison Welfare also said that because of the on-going spiritual programs among inmates there is an increasing desire among them to change and know Christ more. Sabud added that the construction of the chapel, although financed by some friends and benefactors was a “labor of love and gratitude” by the inmates. Chief Inspector Ferdinand D. Pontillo, CSEE, the jail warden,

also believes that the chapel will deepen the spiritual awareness of the inmates. “I know that by God’s grace this chapel will bring light, healing and reconciliation among the inmates,” said Pontillo. Pontillo also encourages different religious groups and volunteers serving in the jail apostolate to continue with their faithbased activities or spiritual programs. (Mark S. Ventura)


World News
NEW DELHI, India, April 28, 2008—Yesterday, 1,793 tribal Christians reconverted to Hinduism in a ceremony in Borivli (Mumbai), presided over by Hindu leader Swami Narendra Maharaj. Maharaj, who led the ritual of shuddikaran (purification), said that 42,200 people have been reconverted, above all in the tribal areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat. He accused Christians of using “luring and misleading” methods to convert Hindus, and said that “an anticonversion law is needed,” because “nobody should be converted, whatsoever be his religion”. He criticized the political parties that “have refused to take a firm stand on the government’s conversion bill”, and expressed his hopes for the creation of a “pressure group” that would protect Hindu “interests”. He also blamed the Hindu fundamentalist parties Bharathiya Janata and Shiv Sena for not being decisive enough. There are laws in various Indian states punishing the activity of proselytism. In general, these are interpreted in the sense that it is not prohibited to convince someone to renounce other religions in order to return to Hinduism, which is considered the “natural” religion for Indians. On April 14, in the city of Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu), over one thousand Christian Dalits reverted to Hinduism, and the organizers of the ceremony announced their intentions to reconvert another 20,000 Christians in Villupuram in upcoming months. The auxiliary bishop of Mumbai, Percival Fernandez, told AsiaNews yesterday that “two points must be clarified:

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

Cardinal: Giuliani shouldn’t have received communion
NEW YORK, April 29, 2008—The archbishop of New York said the city’s former pro-abortion mayor should not have received the Eucharist during Benedict XVI’s trip to the United States. In a statement released Monday, Cardinal Edward Egan recalled the Church’s position on abortion, noting that it “is a grave offense against the will of God.” “Throughout my years as archbishop of New York, I have repeated this teaching in sermons, articles, addresses and interviews without hesitation or compromise of any kind,” he continued. “Thus it was that I had an understanding with Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, when I became archbishop of New York and he was serving as mayor of New York, that he was not to receive the Eucharist because of his wellknown support of abortion. “I deeply regret that Mr. Giuliani received the Eucharist during the papal visit here in New York, and I will be seeking a meeting with him to insist that he abide by our understanding.” Giuliani, who is also on his third marriage, received the Eucharist during Mass at Yankee Stadium on the last day of the Pope’s visit. (Zenit)

1,793 Christians reconverted to Hinduism
1) no adult can receive or be given the sacrament of baptism without his or her free consent. Baptism given by coercive methods is totally invalid, hence the person so baptized cannot be numbered among Catholics. 2) We have been asking persons who are shouting from the house-tops that we are converting people to Christianity by force or other coercive methods, that they should produce before us persons who have been thus baptized and received into the Catholic Church: so far not a single person has been produced. If they feel shy to do so before us Catholics, let them produce such persons before the courts of law in our country”. On the state anti-conversion laws, Bishop Percival, who is also the chairman of the St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, maintains that it is more important that “legislators spend their precious time in the legislatures to plan and execute projects that get drinking water, decent housing, daily affordable bread and primary education to the millions who are deprived of these basic requirements for which they have a right. Instead of wasting precious time in working out anti-conversion laws, it would be much more profitable if they appointed a high level commission consisting of excellent judges that we have in plenty in the country, identify the persons converted by the Catholics by force and allurements and identify the person who did such a condemnable deed, and punish both concerned with laws that are already available in the constitution of our beloved country.” (AsiaNews)

Pope to visit France Sept 12-15

Russian visa system leaves priests scrambling
MOSCOW, April 29, 2008— Changes implemented to Russia’s visa system in October have caused problems for the nation’s religious workers. A decree mandating that foreign citizens with either business or humanitarian visas can only spend half their time abroad in Russia has forced priests and other pastoral workers to spend more time away from their faithful, according to a report from Forum 18 News. Father Igor Kovalevsky, secretary of the Russian bishops’ conference, said the change to the visa system is not the root of the problem. The real issue is getting temporary residency or work permits. Ninety percent of Russia’s Catholic clergy are foreign-born. And the process to get them a residency or work permit takes six months, he said. The new regulations correspond with those in the European Union, Andrei Sebentsov, vice chairman of the government’s Commission for Issues Concerning Religious Associations, stressed to Forum 18. As humanitarian visas are now no longer suitable for prolonged religious work, he explained, work visas are the main alternative, for which work permits are required. “Our priests are really, really suffering from this,” one Russian Catholic told Forum 18. He mentioned one priest, limited to 180 days a year with his parish in the region of Moscow, making a grueling 24-hour commute from his native Poland to lead weekend Masses. Others are spending extended periods outside Russia as their 180 days are already up, he lamented. And with fewer priests to go around, there are no weekday services in some towns. (Zenit)

PARIS, April 28, 2008—The French episcopal conference confirmed today the dates for Benedict XVI’s trip to France marking the 150th anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions. The Pope will arrive in Paris on Sept. 12. He is scheduled to meet with civil leaders, including President Nicolas Sarkozy. Later on, he will give a discourse directed to the world of culture. That evening in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Holy Father will celebrate vespers with priests, deacons, religious and seminarians. Afterward, he will give an address to youth. On Saturday, Sept. 13, the Pontiff will celebrate a public Mass. Also during his time in the capital city, Benedict XVI will meet with representatives of other Christian confessions, as well as Jewish and Muslim leaders, the French bishops reported. Saturday afternoon, the Holy Father will travel to Lourdes, where he will give an address to the pilgrims. Sunday, Sept. 14, the Pope will preside over a solemn Mass with the pilgrims. That afternoon, he will meet with French bishops and participate in a Eucharistic procession. The next day, the Holy Father will administer the anointing of the sick during a Mass. He will return to Rome that Monday afternoon. (Zenit)

Prime Minister deplores selective abortion of girls in India
ROME, April 29, 2008—Highranking officials in India have acknowledged the macabre scope of the selective abortion of girls, a practice that is increasingly more common in the country. India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, harshly criticized this situation, calling it “one of the most inhumane, uncivilized and reprehensible practices. The IANS news agency reported that the phenomenon above all affects the wealthiest regions of India and has led to a drop in the number of women versus the number of men. In the northeastern region of Punjab, there are only 798 girls for every 1000 boys; in Haryana, 819; New Delhi, 868 and in Gujarat, 883. “This indicates that the growing economic prosperity and the education levels have not led to a corresponding alleviation of the problem,” Singh said. He stressed that girls in In-

Catholic weekly takes government to court over use of the word “Allah”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

dia are more vulnerable because their parents fear early marriage, the payment of dowries, deficient nutrition or the lower status of women relative to men in society. “The patriarchal mentality

and preference for male children is complicated even more by the unethical conduct of members of the health care industry who offer sex determination services,” Singh said. (CNA)

Christians and Buddhists can cooperate on the environment, pontifical council says
VATICAN CITY, April 29, 2008—The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue sent its annual Message to Buddhists for the Feast of Vesakh. The letter stated the importance of environmental concerns and spoke of Christians and Buddhists uniting to care for the earth. Vesakh, the main Buddhist festivity, marks three fundamental moments in the life of Gautama Buddha. It is held during the full moon of the month of May because, according to tradition, Buddha was born, achieved enlightenment and passed away in that period. The message entitled, “Christians and Buddhists: Caring for the Planet Earth,” indicates that the “preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for everyone.” The letter points out that contribution of religious leaders is not “just a reaction to the more recent pressing threats associated with global warming. Christianity and Buddhism have always upheld a great respect for nature and taught that we should be grateful stewards of the earth. Indeed it is only through a profound reflection on the relationship between the divine Creator, creation and creatures that attempts to address environmental concerns will not be marred by individual greed or hampered by the interests of particular groups.” “On a practical level can we Christians and Buddhists not do more to collaborate in projects which confirm the responsibility that falls to each and every one of us? Recycling, energy conservation, the prevention of indiscriminate destruction of plant and animal life, and the protection of waterways all speak of careful stewardship and indeed foster goodwill and promote cordial relations among peoples. In this way Christians and Buddhists together can be harbingers of hope for a clean, safe and harmonious world.” It is the hope that such ideas may be promoted “within our respective communities through public education and our good example in respecting nature and acting responsibly towards our one common planet Earth.” (CNA)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, April 28, 2008—The lawsuit by the archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur against the government of Malaysia has been adjourned until tomorrow, April 29. The archdiocese is claiming the right to use the word “Allah” in its Catholic weekly, the Herald. Between last December and January, the case had raised serious controversy and accusations from minorities and activists against the Malaysian authorities, who are charged with violating freedom of expression and religion. The standoff over the use of the word “Allah” is just one more chapter in the difficulties facing the majority Muslim country, where a secular constitution is accompanied by Islamic courts charged with applying sharia. On December 10, the domestic security ministry—which oversees media permissions—had prohibited the Malay-language section of the Herald from using the word “Allah” to designate the Christian God, claiming it could be used in this way only by Muslims. Fr Andrew Lawrence, the director of the newspaper, was forced to accept the restriction, but the archdio-

cese decided to sue the government. The archbishop of the capital, Murphy Pakiam, maintains that the domestic security minister and the federal government are making a mistake: “I am advised by my solicitors that I have a legal right to use the word ‘Allah’ in the Herald, and this legal right stems from the right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution”, the archbishop explains in an article for the next issue of the Herald. Archbishop Pakiam further reports that he has been under constant pressure from the government to conform to the “directives”. At the same time, numerous threats have been issued, creating a climate of “apprehension”. The bishop concludes by describing as “unreasonable and irrational” the justification of the ministry, according to which the use of the word “Allah” is a “security issue which is purportedly causing much confusion and which threatens and endangers peace, public order and security”. Over thirteen years of publication, he adds, no article in the Herald has ever caused any incidents. (AsiaNews)

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

News Features


IPPF to come up with vision for M’danao dialogue
DAVAO CITY, April 28, 2008– The Imams-Pastors-Priests’ Forum (IPPF) is planning to come up with a vision and mission statement, which will serve as their guidelines in the furtherance of interreligious dialogue in Mindanao. The IPPF group earlier created a new set of convenors and members which will also head in its operations. During the meeting participated in by 10 imams, five pastors and three priests held in Camp Alano, Toril this city early this month, the group discussed and outlined their plans for the approval of the proposed vision and mission statement. The group agreed to approve the statement during their planned general assembly this coming April 28 to 30 still at Camp Alano. Aside from that, IPPF-Davao co-convenors Fr. Pedro Lamata, Pastor Mariano Apilado and Aleem Mahmod Adilao, also disclosed their action plan for 2008. Various activities scheduled like brochure designing and production, IPPF fora and Mindanao Week of Peace 2008. Programs and services provided by IPPF Mindanao are also included in their plans which will be tackled again during their general assembly to be participated in by existing IPPF in the areas of Digos, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato and Davao. The co-convenors also agreed to have a regular prayer and meeting once every two months “in order to ensure that we have a constant follow-up on our plans,” said Ustadz Mahmod Adilao, coconvenor of IPPF. The group agreed to hold the first meeting on June 12 to be hosted by the Catholic priests. (Mark S Ventura)

Holy Father sends new priests to spread joy
VATICAN CITY, April 27, 2008— Benedict XVI sent forth 29 newly ordained priests to spread the “joy of Christ” in a world that is “often sad and negative.” The Pope presided at an ordination Mass today in St. Peter’s Basilica in which, as Bishop of Rome, he bestowed the sacrament of holy orders on candidates from his own diocese. All of the men studied for the priesthood in Rome, although seven of the new priests are from outside Italy. The non-Italian priests are from Iraq, Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, France, Haiti and India. In his homily Benedict XVI explained that today a new mission was beginning for them. Being missionaries of the Gospel, he said, they must “proclaim and witness to joy.” The Pontiff asked, “What can be more beautiful to us than this? What can be greater, more exciting, than working together to spread the Word of life in the world, than communicating the living water of the Spirit?” Priests are called to bring the Gospel to all “so that all experience the joy of Christ and there be joy in every city,” the Holy Father observed. They are called

Manila Cathedral to celebrate golden jubilee
MANILA, April 28, 2008—The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its present structure on December 8. To mark the occasion, various programs are being planned, Jade Villanueva, an official of the Cathedral, told CBCP News. One of these is the second Manila Cathedral Pipe Organ Festival scheduled for Dec 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10. Now the eighth cathedral, the present Neo-Romanesque-Byzantine building rose from the ruins of its predecessor, which was bombed along with the rest of Intramuros during the Battle of Liberation in 1945. The reconstructed church, designed by Architect Fernando Ocampo, was solemnly consecrated on Dec. 7, 1958 in honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Manila Cathedral was raised to the status of a basilica on April 27, 1981 by virtue of a papal bull (decree) issued motu proprio by Pope John Paul II, three months after his first papal visit to the Philippines. The building has undergone major repairs and renovations but has remained every angle a picture of its old form, outshining in grandeur and magnificence, said Msgr. Nestor C. Cerbo, rector. Cerbo is focusing on the strategic and operational concerns, worship, education, services, temporalities and youth. In each of these areas, concrete projects and programs are in the lineup, enjoining the support and participation not only of its Mass goers or immediate community but also of others who rightly valued the Cathedral as the premier temple of the Archdiocese of Manila and an important cultural and historical wealth in the Philippines, said Cerbo . The Cathedral traces its origin to a nipa church built in 1571 by Fray Juan de Vivero. In Sept. 1581, the said church was remodeled into a better structure made of wood, bamboo, and nipa and on Dec. 21, 1521, it became a cathedral. The first cathedral was ravaged by fire in 1583 and a new structure, made of stone and mortar, was erected in 1591. The earthquake of 1599 and 1600 completely destroyed the second cathedral and from its rubbles followed further cycles or restorations and ravages. The third cathedral, built in 1614 and destroyed by earthquake of 1621 and 1736, and demolished in 1751; the fourth cathedral, inaugurated in 1760, repaired; the sixth cathedral, constructed from 1854 to 1858, repaired and renovated in 1850, and destroyed by earthquake in 1852; the sixth one, constructed from 1854 to 1858 and destroyed by earthquake in 1863; and the seventh one, inaugurated in 1879, damaged by earthquake in 1880, was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Filipino-American War in 1898-1902, and fully destroyed in 1945 during World War II, giving way a decade later to the construction of the present edifice (eighth structure)through the effort of Archbishop Rufino J. Santos. Yesterday, April 27, the Cathedral inaugurated its official website, www.manilacathedral.org. (Santosh Digal)

to be “messengers of this joy,” to multiply and transmit it, especially to those who are sad and disheartened. “If you are to be co-workers of the joy of others, of people who are often sad and negative, the fire of the Gospel must burn in you, the joy of the Lord must live in you,” he told the ordinands.

After the Mass, in his address before reciting the Regina Caeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI returned to the theme of his homily. The Pope said, “Where Christ is preached with the power of the Holy Spirit and he is accepted with an open soul, society, though it be full of problems, becomes a

“city of joy”—which is also the title of a book about the work of Mother Teresa in Calcutta. “This then is the wish I have for the newly ordained priests, for whom I invite all to pray: that where they are sent they may spread the joy and hope that flow from the Gospel.” (Zenit)

Duplex houses turned over to 100 families in Legazpi
NASSA-CBCP and this town’s Social Welfare Officer Emma N. Lindio, had to squeeze themselves into a small makeshift tent during the ceremonies. Bishop Quiambao exhorted the family-recipients “This is your new house, make it your home.” He underscored the family and life protection programs of the Catholic church as basis for the social action programs. Sister Rosanne said the funding used for the construction of duplex houses came from Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Filpinas and from donations of concerned Catholics who believed in chipped-in unity despite diversity. The CBCP-NASSA executive secretary proposed to name the newly constructed community “Damayan Village” as it was realized with the concerted efforts of everybody. “Sana, magdamayan kayo sa pagbuo ng bagong pamayanan,” she further said. (Elmer James Bandol)

LEGAZPI CITY, April 28, 2008—Despite pouring rain, 100 recipients of 50 duplex houses built with the funding acquired by the Social Action Center (SAC), expressed satisfaction they will now have a safe and permanent place they could call their home.

The simple turnover was held at barangay Sipi, another relocation site for disaster-displaced families. “Okey lang ang ulan na ‘yan, blessing ‘yan sa amin, ” (“It’s alright, the rain is a blessing for us”) said a disaster victim from Barangay Binitayan

whose house was covered with sand and volcanic boulders when super howler Reming came more than a year ago. The rains never dampened the spirit of the beneficiaries. Bishop Lucilo B. Quiambao, Administrator of the Diocese; Sis. Rosanne Mallillin, SPC of

CBCP Commission to hold Nat’l Conference for Youth Ministers
MANILA, April 25, 2008The Episcopal Commission on Youth of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will organize the biennial National Conference for Youth Ministers (NCYM) at Colegio de San Jose in Jaro, Iloilo City, May 5-9. As year 2008 is acknowledged as the Year of Word of God, youth ministers in the Philippine Catholic Church are called to reflect on their identity as witnesses to the Word of God as they draw life from it and share it with others, especially the young, said Masbate bishop Joel Z. Baylon, chair of the CBCPEpiscopal Commission on Youth. The theme is “The Word of God lives in you (1 Jn 2:14), youth ministers: drawing and sharing life in God’s Word, witnessing to the world.” God’s Word takes central place in the lives of youth ministers. The Word of God does not only serve as inspiration, but it actually is the source of truth guiding youth ministry. From it, youth ministers draw their personal project of life. Drawing life from God’s Word, they then are compelled to share this: in their interaction with young people, in their plans and programs, in their participation in the mission of the Church. In a most profound sense, the minister draws and shares life in his/her encounter with the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ, said Baylon.

CBCP to hold seminar for news correspondents
THE Media Office of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is organizing a seminar for news correspondents on May 7-8 at the CBCP headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. The upcoming seminar aims to orient the news correspondents on the prophetic role of Church journalists in reporting news according to Church’s standpoint. Likewise it endeavors to highlight the importance of having a news organization as CBCPNews that is dedicated in “providing accurate news written from a distinctively Catholic perspective.” Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, CBCP Media Director, said the training of CBCPNews writers, reporters and correspondents is a continuing program. “This is the third that the Media Office will be giving. In 2006 there were two trainings conducted: one was on media work and the other on news writing,” he explained. Quoting Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Rapid Development, Quitorio said the continuing formation is essential for media to be used appropriately. “…a vast work of formation is needed to assure that the mass media be known and used intelligently and appropriately. The new vocabulary they introduce into society modifies both learning processes and the quality of human relations, so that, without proper formation, these media run the risk of manipulating and heavily conditioning, rather than serving people.” (11) “This is in response to the call of the Vatican to continuously train media workers in the Church,” he said of the seminar. Topics to be discussed during the seminar include “What is the Church Beat? CBCPNews as an alternative news organization, Enhancing Basic Skills in News Writing, and Managing the News.” CBCPNews online (www.cbcpnews.com) is the only local Catholic news agency in the country at present. Officially launched by the CBCP Media Office in June 2007, CBCPNews averages 3,000 hits a day. To date, it has reached more than 1.1 million hits. With news correspondents strategically posted in different dioceses, CBCPNews gets its daily dispatch straight from the “battle ground”. The news are uploaded everyday as they come in and distributed to email subscribers free of charge. Church news get into the mainstream media through CBCPNews. “Since we launched CBCPNews, we noticed that our news are carried not only by the international church news services but even by the local mainstream media,” Quitorio observed. “If only because of this, I think CBCPNews is something, because what happens is the mainstream media get the lead of our story,” he added. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)

Youth apostolate coordinators in a meeting with CBCP-ECY executive director Fr. Conegundo Garganta prior to the event. As the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God is convened this year, the Episcopal Commission on Youth has thought it very relevant for this gathering of youth ministers to reflect on the Word of God and its place in living the faith and ministry, he added. The conference aims to help the youth minister to identify the place of the Word of God in his/ her personal life and in the ministry, evaluate his/her choices, opinions and options in the light of God’s Word, respond, personally and as part of a youth ministry team, to the inspirations, and challenged of the Word of God in the youth ministry, celebrate the gift of God’s Word and of his/ her fellow ministers. The Archdiocese of Jaro, through the generosity of Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of CBCP, and his youth ministers, clergy, religious and lay extends its arms to participating youth ministers, directors, coordinators and leaders. Participating youth ministers will stay with foster families within the Jaro District. The organizers will provide accommodations for NCYM participants. Some of the topics that will be dealt with include community structured learning experiences, Bible service, Bible quiz, Filipino Catholic youth ministry The last NCYM was held in Davao City in 2006. (CBCPNews)


It’s corruption, pure and simple
SOMETHING must be very wrong in a government that has long since acquired the signal distinction for its outrageous graft and unmitigated corrupt practices in practically all levels of governance. It must be so bad that even the CBCP recently made the frank and candid pronouncement that the corruption was pestering the ruling administration “from top to bottom”. That the present government is reeling in and reeking from corruption is definitely not only an imaginary conclusion, nor a merely partisan political agenda. There are one too many indicators of such a realization and judgment; to claim the opposite, i.e., that all key public officials in command of power and wealth are eminent for their integrity and outstanding for their honesty is either fantasy or political spin or both. But even elementary rhyme and reason have to take into account the following admittedly unflattering factors publicly pointed out and commonly known: First, there is the long litany of big government deals and contracts loaded with “bukol” and “tongpats”, not to mention the scams ranging from simple street lamp posts to amazing fertilizers. Second, there is the consistently big failing grade on the matter of the approval rating of the President. Third, there is the title of the “Most Corrupt” appended by independent international surveys to the national leadership. http:// www.unisilvertime,com.ph/ There is a stark difference and even manifest contradiction between the official glowing economic statistics and glorious financial indicators, and the sober realities on the ground and on family tables. As far as government reports are concerned, there is so much financial abundance and economic development in the country. As far as million of people in the Philippines are concerned, they are cuing for rice, counting the few pesos in the pockets and waiting for food coupons. Why? More than the simple and innocent population, the real big culprit is corruption!

The Filipino laborer
RIZAL’S “La Indolencia de los Filipinos” has poked deep into the reasons for the trademark indolence of the Filipino and justified it with external causes such as the predispositions of living in the tropics. That, however, may just be an icing that gives way to his social thoughts in his previous works such as the “Noli”. Really, the Pinoy is not essentially indolent. If ever he has been tagged as such, it maybe because of unjust socio-political structures that has pushed him to the futility of laboring without dignity and just recompense. It is not a walk in the park to be under colonialists for over four hundreds years or martial law for 15 years and a corrupt government ad infinitum. Because labor is not meant to be stifled—or muffled as in the case of dictatorial regimes. The 15 million or so Filipinos working around the world is proof enough to the contrary. And this is not even to mention the side comments that the Filipinos are the best workers in the world. All hail to the Filipino laborer!

Abp. Angel N. Lagdameo, DD

Population: consumer In and Out of Season and food producer
erty cannot be the result of a growing population, but rather the outcome of corruption in both government and business sector … We are poor not because we are many, but because a few wittingly or unwittingly deprive our kababayans of opportunities to prosper …” Graft and corruption, not population growth is the major cause of our crisis. Already as of December 2004, the National Statistics Office had projected a population growth rate of 1.99% and not 2.36% as being insisted upon. In fact, the country is already experiencing a decline in the number of births. Population is expanding, but the expansion is not caused by “uncontrolled births” but rather by the elderly population being healthier and living longer than before. Improved health situation results also in higher survival rates of new born. To the question how we can solve the disproportion between increasing population and decreasing food supply, the fallacious answer is cut down the population. However, Pope John XXIII in his Encyclical Letter, Mater et Magistra (no. 189) had proposed the empowerment and education of the same population to solve the problem of decreasing food supply: “The real solution is to be found in a renewed scientific and technical effort on man’s part to deepen and extend his dominion over the earth.” … so as to produce sufficient food. Babies therefore are presently consumers, but they are also future food producers. Babies are not liabilities only but are future assets to replace the present generation and to support our senior citizens. Is the Catholic Church against population control? No. Rather the Church continues to advocate natural family planning as the morally acceptable way of practicing responsible parenthood. But the Church objects to the use of artificial contraception, such as the use of abortifacients, contraceptive devises, abortion and sterilization. Artificial contraception is wrong not because the Catholic Church forbids them; rather the Church forbids them because they are morally wrong: they violate the creative power of God and destroy the natural fruitfulness of human reproductive capacity.

The call for adequate housing
CLOSELY connected with the problem of demolitions is the need for adequate housing. We recognize that providing adequate housing for every person and family is not the responsibility only of government but of the whole community. The Church itself has sought to do its share and provide low-cost housing for the poor according to its capability. We wish to make a call to those who are in a position to supply low-cost housing to do so, or to continue doing so without, however, putting the price of houses beyond the reach of the people they are intended to help. For this reason we also appeal to the consciences of those in government and business to refrain from the giving and taking of bribes and from other corrupt deeds that increase the price of housing for the low-income groups and effectively deprive many of needed housing. Such acts of corruption certainly merit the condemnation of the Lord because they rob the public coffers and oppress the poor. The task of providing adequate housing for all families is a long process. The poor themselves must take their part responsibly and not alienate, for example, the land or housing given to them. The conflicts spawned by the clashes of interests cannot be remedied by legal solutions alone. Other non-legal solutions which involve consultation and dialogue are also necessary and should be explored. We ask the government to find out and address the causes of homelessness, such as the centralization of business and livelihood opportunities in the cities, and the conversion of agricultural lands for recreational and business purposes. We propose that the government, the Church, poor people, NGO’s helping the homeless, agree to form a study body that will make a thorough analysis of the problems of homelessness, land and land use, eviction and resettlement, and recommend concrete solutions. The chairperson of this body should be acceptable to the government, the Church, the poor people affected, and the NGO’s. —”I was Homeless and You Took Me In” A CBCP Pastoral Statement, 1997

DO we have rice crisis or price crisis or both? What is the real situation? There seems to be at the same time some problem of accountability, transparency and credibility! NFA rice is at 18 pesos while commercial rice is at almost 40 pesos. A big problem for the poor! And the Philippines, once upon a time a rice granary in Asia, is now the top importer of rice. Who is to blame for this crisis? What is the solution to this problem? One answer we are hearing these days is: blame the crisis on our growing population; and therefore there is need for a program of population control. It is both an economic and moral problem. I would like to quote the answer of a young city councilor from Olongapo under the Kapatiran Party, John Carlos de los Reyes. What he courageously and insightfully said can be applied to the problem of rice and food sufficiency. John Carlos de los Reyes in a convention on the Family held in Cebu said: “The root social problem of our nation is not over-population but massive, enslaving poverty. Philippine pov-

Sancta Maria, Regina Familiae
ROME, 24 April 2008. On 05 May 1917, Pope Benedict XV, at the height of World War I begged God for peace and invoked Mary as Regina Pacis, Queen of Peace. Eight days later, Our Lady appeared at Fatima bringing with her the Peace Plan from Heaven. In 1997, with the onslaught of attacks— subtle and overtagainst the dignity of the family, the Servant of God, the Great John Paul II called on Mary as Queen of the Family, Regina Familiae. The Sovereign Pontiffs—guided by the Holy Spirithave always been Prophets in the Church; Prophets in the true and full sense of the word, sensus plenior, as they would put it in Latin. The world, including our own country, has never witnessed such attacks against the Family and against Life itself. We may well wonder and ask, Bakit ba pinag-iinitan ang pamilya at ang buhay?

Fr. Melvin P. Castro

Speaking of Mary
For our migrant workers—some with no legal papers evenit will always be a choice between their personal happiness to be with their families in the Philippines or be away with them so that they could provide them with the necessary resources. Yet, tragically enough, some end up sad, away from home and their hard earned resources irresponsibly used, and worse, the very family they love breaks down and falls apart. I remember one migrant worker approaching me to tell me, Father, ipagdasal ninyo kami, malungkot dito. The sacrifices our fellow Filipinos will do in the name of their families. The forces against Family and Life not content, it seems, that we have to contend with poverty are now using the very issue of poverty to further erode the dignity of the Family and the sanctity of human life. It is shocking, to say the least, that the reSPEAKING / A7

Hence, John Paul II’s invocation of Our Lady as Queen of the Family speaks very well of the gravity of the situation both of the Family and of Life itself. True there are many families who find themselves in difficult situations, but it is not the family that is the problem. The strengthening of the family is in fact part of the very solution of our many social, economic, moral, and even spiritual ills. Statistics tell us that ten percent of our population is working overseas. They have and still are sacrificing a lot for their families. Many are the so-called domestic helpers serving foreign families in order to feed, shelter, and give education to their own families back home. I remember when during my studies for the priesthood how these valiant domestic helpers— women most of themwould pitch in their hard earned money so that I’d have resources for my books, toiletries, and even my plane fare.

ISSN 1908-2940

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

Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, RGS

Love Life
“I AM sorry. I/we were not there when you needed us and so you thought that abortion was the solution to your problem.” These are the words I say to women who come to me admitting in all humility to having had abortion. Abortion is an act of desperation. Abortion has many victims—a dead baby, a hurting mother, a confused or angry father, resentful and distrusting siblings, and many hardened, insensitive abortion-providers. The Blessing of the Garden of Angels then was a very significant response to the need for healing of the men and women in Nazareth Formation Center (NFC) last April 4. NFC was founded by Bob Garon about ten years ago for rehabilitation of persons in various addictions—drugs, alcohol, sex. Many of the residents reveal history of sexual abuse in their childhood.

‘Drugs, sex and abortion: the connection’
The place is actually a ranch in San Jose, Batangas. Along with some parents of the residents, they had fixed a garden beautifully with statues of angels and names of aborted babies etched in little marble markers. In the middle was the statue of the Resurrected Christ and below it was a bigger marker to the “unknown babies”—for the millions killed day and night remembering them. Flowering plants surrounded the rocks where the angels and markers were mounted. The residents themselves prepared the prayer service. Special guest was Bishop Soc Villegas who came all the way from his diocese in Bataan to do the Blessing. Three of the young women bravely read the poems they had written to their innocent babies—who they believe are now enjoying the peace of

Pedro C. Quitorio

Pinky Barrientos, FSP
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The CBCP Monitor is published fortnightly by the CBCP Communications Development Foundation, Inc., with editorial and business offices at 470 Gen. Luna St., Intramuros, Manila. P.O. Box 3601, 1076 MCPO. Editorial: (063) 404-2182. Business: (063)404-1612. Email: cbcpmonitor@cbcpworld.net Website: www.cbcpworld.net/cbcpmonitor

In the course of the counseling they eventually admit to having abortions due to promiscuity. They get into sex because of loss of selfesteem, need for cash to buy more drugs, or due to group pressure. There are around 40 of them now in the Center, ages ranging from 14 to 62 years old. Most of them begin on alcohol abuse, and in two years time they are on drug addiction. I have networked with Bob Garon over the years. He has been referring single mothers to our maternity homes and I have been referring to him the persons needing the services of his rehabilitation center. He had also helped me get my own airtime in the same radio stations he had been using. I was happy to be invited to the Blessing of the Garden of Angels. He and his wife, Emmy and children, Vanessa and Alexandra, are all involved in the rehabilitation program.

Jose B. Lugay

Laiko Lampstand
OUR school children instantly know through internet recent happenings on the other side of the world. Without any formal baptism we now become members of one global village. We are all equally affected by the same forces of change. We may have learned about this in a dramatic way, like the environmental effects of climate change as presented by Nobel Peace Awardee Al Gore; or we may have gradually become aware in the course of ordinary life like going to market—the effect of a world change—the sudden increase in the price of rice from P 18 to P 32 per kg. The rapid change in science and technology and its effects on our daily lives does not reach our “alarm” level of consciousness specially when there are more fascinating happenings to witness, like the latest results of the American Idol contest or the ending of the Marimar love story. We sit comfortably in our offices with our computers while the World Bank announces food shortages causing riots in Guinea, Mauritania, Mexico, Morroco, Senegal. Uzbekistan, Yemen and neighboring Indonesia. The world food and rice crisis triggered the governments of Vietnam and Egypt to immediately ban their rice exports. While the Philippines had a signed agreement with Vietnam for the supply of rice, in preparation for the lean harvests, the price had to be adjusted to current market prices. The Philippines has been aided by the United States who promised to provide 100,000 metric tons for immediate relief. This is now sold at P 25 / kg in the market. What were the causes that contributed to this rice crisis? The Opposition of course gave the expected answer—the failure of the Arroyo Administration. Mayor Duterte of Davao says its “nobody’s fault, not even President Arroyo. Nevertheless these are some of the factors that he observed in Davao: 1) The conversion of lands from food production

The interconnection— rice crisis and governance
porting country, and not increasing the price of palay, which income is the sole support of our rice farmers. Who is getting rich in the NFA deal? It does not need the reply from the favorite Bishop of the media to answer that. They say it is better late than never. The factors of governance to solve the rice and food crisis are numerous. They all have to be coordinated in order to set priorities for action according to the funds available. Instead of the government money going to corrupt practices, these should be spent wisely after arriving at a consensus on the priorities for immediate action. The National Food Summit held last April 4, although too late, is a good first step to consolidate all activities relating to the solution of the rice and food crises. These include funds for 1) repair or rehabilitation of irrigation systems in at least 300,000 hectares of unusable lands, 2) planting of certified and hybrid rice seeds. 3) additional 1.1 million hectares for planting—located in the Top Ten poorest provinces, 4) inputs and disease prevention measures to farmers planting during the wet or main planting season; 5) invest in post harvest facilities to reduce palay losses amounting to 8%. 6) a total of 1.8 million hectares will be planted with hybrid and certified rice seeds. These plans will need the support of Congress; i.e., for passing the national land use policy to categorize the use of lands for agricultural production, human settlements, infrastructure development, etc. We appreciate the trust given by the government for the Archdiocese of Manila through Caritas to participate in the distribution of NFA rice to the poor. As in any charity work, the Church should be in the front line. To our politicians—your goal should be to prevent all the catastrophic events to happen by using your mandate to govern—the making of laws and executing them following the Social Doctrines of the Church.

Bp. Leonardo Y. Medroso, JCD, DD

Tidbits The locus of punishments in the life of the Church
AN institution that spouses communion as its nature, forgiveness and love as necessary expressions of its essence, would seem short changed to find within itself a system that pursues crime and punishment. This is precisely the quandary of some members of the Church who feel that penal system runs counter to the essence of the Church as a Communio. As one Prelate told me: “Laws are strait-jacketed norms of behavior, restrictive in posture, coercive for the children of God who are supposed to be free. What I do is to tell my priests to always pursue the good and avoid by all means into falling into grave lapses that could get them in trouble with law and penalty?” I am a Canon Lawyer of the 1917 Code—an oldie by any standard. The Church was then conceptualized as a perfect society of law and order; an independent and proud institution where rights and obligations of each member are meticulously defined and respected, defended when impugned, vindicated when violated. Clearly, the aim of the law is to establish and sustain a Church that is just, a visible society that seriously looks after the harmonious and orderly development of the life both of the ecclesial society and of the individual members; a society that is proud to preserve right order. In sum, it looks into the promotion and protection of the common good of the Church. For this kind of society to survive it calls for a legal system that must be objective, that is, the competence and the exercise of its ecclesiastical power must give due emphasis to the external forum. Hence, in the Church a system was established to delineate the internal and external forum, out of which the principle like this comes out: “De internis Ecclesia non judicat.” For the law to be objective, the rule of law must be observed, out of which maxims come out like this: “The reason of the law, is not the law”; or, “dura lex sed lex.” Within the nature of this concept, the system moves toward the protection, and in any case, toward the restoration of the social order that may be harmed by the offense. From this point of view, it can be understood why the system has to be strict and objective. Also, it can be observed that the preoccupation of the law and its application by the administration was on judging the pastoral activities from the point of view of right or wrong, validity or invalidity of an act; the offense and restoration of just order. It is along this concept also that penal system is required and needed to be instituted. In fact, this is inherent to any legal system that has for its purpose the proper protection of a perfect society. However, this kind of legal system suffers a flaw: it gave emphasis on peace and order to the Church, on the rights and obligation of the constituents, on the defense and vindication of justice, that it had somehow veered its focus away from the concept of the Church as communion whose main attention is the salus animarum, the sanctification of souls, the development of the members of the Church as a community based on faith, grace, charisms and charity. The revision of the Code was inspired by the theology of Vatican II. Here, the Church is immediately presented as a great Mystery, a reality that has temporal, measurable qualities, yet transcends the dimension of the temporal order, straddling that it is on the temporal and the spiritual. As such it is a Sacrament of unity for the world, a sign that effects the communion of all men. In this concept the Church is still a society, an association of men and women with rights and obligations. But the focus is no longer on the external discipline that would guide the proper ordering and the harmonious interplay of individuals or group of individuals as they exercise their subjective rights, but shifts more to the internal life of the People of God who are called to holiness and are living as a community. Of course, Vatican II still talks about this Church as hierarchical, that is, it is set up as an institution with a variety of offices which aim at the good of the whole body. With a sacred power invested on them, the holders of these offices are dedicated to promote the interest of their brethren, and with free and well-ordered efforts bringing them to a common goal which is salvation. They have to look intently into the internal life of the Church, building up the body of Christ through the law of love. No wonder that in the revision of the 1917 Code, there were quarters, many of them, would like to remove the penal system of the Code, for it seems to run counter to the image of a spiritual Church, that is built on the strength of faith and love. Granted the weaknesses of human nature, they are ready to concede the introduction of a disciplinary system, but one that adheres less to the rigid concepts of crime and punishment, and more along the lines of a sanctioning administrative system. They appeal to the spirit of Vatican Council II that gives emphasis to the concept of communion which seems not to jibe with a penal system that is by nature coercive, that defines with strict interpretation the alleged offense vis-à-vis the “allata et probata”, and that inflicts just and proportionate punishments. Perhaps disciplinary regulation of some sort with a touch of some undefined sanctions would do. But, communion is not an ambiguous feeling nor an imprecise sentiment. Communion is an organic reality that requires juridical form. The community of free individuals, to exist as a real communion, is essentially organic and requires a juridical form. The law does not create a community; the community itself, requiring a juridical form consistent to its nature, enacts the law. Through the years the Church has shaped a juridical form that incorporates the penal system for it serves to protect the dignity of its constituents and defend the dignity of the community and the subjective rights of each individual member. The Church as a communion has to be protected. Penal sanctions do that service. With this concept, penal law can be considered as a necessary instrument in the service of the salus animarum. Salvation may not be its direct and proper objective, but it offers a ready environment for it to flourish and take effect. The Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Constitution “Sacrae Disciplinae Leges” underlined the importance of the Code in the life of the Church as a social and visible unit in these words: “… It is sufficiently clear that the purpose of the Code is not in any way to replace faith, grace, charisms and above all charity in the life of the Church or of Christ’s faithful. On the contrary, the Code rather looks towards the achievement of order in the ecclesial society, such that while attributing a primacy to love, grace and the charisms, it facilitates at the same time orderly development in the life both of the ecclesial society and of the individual persons who belong to it.”

areas into farms for cash crops such as bananas, 2) The abrupt change in our weather. 3) The main culprit however, he says, is the continuous increase in oil prices which prompted the increase in prices of all commodities, 4) Rice-hoarding by retailers and wholesalers, even by government is another issue. The same situation—rice hoarding— was reported in Capiz. The Capiz governor instituted a campaign against profiteers preying on unsuspecting consumers. Even the President had to order the NFA to investigate the irregularities involving distribution of NFA rice, including the diversion of subsidized cereal intended for the Tindahan Natin outlets to commercial markets. The other causes of low rice production which are now surfacing are neglect of good governance practices. These are some of the factors that if attended to by government would have prevented the rice crisis: a) Building and maintenance of irrigation systems, b) Completion of farm-to-market roads, c) Establishing of drying and milling facilities and equipment, d) Packaging and storage systems, and e) Shortening the supply chain to the rice consumers. In the area of support for Science and Technology, there is a need for funds for research and development which both the Philrice of Nueva Ecija and IRRI in Los Baños have pioneered—in raising seed varieties that increase harvest yield, methods of cultivation and fertilization when planting in different types of land—upland, paddies, discovery of new ways increasing harvest yields by proper management, soil fertilization and pest eradication and disease prevention. In short, all activities to grow our people’s primary food must be given all the inputs so that everyone can buy rice at an affordable, non-fluctuating price. Maintaining a low price which is artificial by government subsidy are two “governance” mortal sins—importing the rice which benefit the people of the ex-

Things to discard (or modify, at least) to be proudly Pinoy and Catholic
WHENEVER you read the words “Proudly Pinoy” and “Filipino Catholic” how do you actually feel (assuming you are both)? Do the words echo your real sentiments? Have you ever wondered how it would really feel to be “Proudly Pinoy” and Catholic? If you do, try doing away with the following things in your life and persuading other Pinoy Catholics to do the same in theirs (if you think this is a trick, it is not; if you think it’s mostly meant to challenge people into becoming who they are meant to be, now you get the picture). 1. Lack of discipline (such as coming late for Mass, weddings and other Church and civic acts). Nothing is as normal as Pinoys, individually or as a group, walking into the middle of the Mass or a wedding and all else. But nothing is as insensitive, unfair and indicative of a lack of deep spiritual mooring. (There are other harsher remarks we may leave unsaid here). Chances are, this extends to other areas of life as well: late reports, late disposal of garbage, late realization that that plastic wrapper you threw away now clogs canals and debases the environment, late decision to call the priest on behalf of someone seriously ill, late move to repent of serious sins, personal or social. Heaven’s (and prosperity’s) gate closes at the words, “Sorry, too late!” 2. Mixing superstition with religion. Many times while presiding over funerals in my parish I’ve spotted broken bottles over a coffin. I once asked why. I was told, “Oh, Father. It’s to break the cycle of death in the family...” I’d say, “Well, we don’t need that. Jesus Christ is the surest way to break the cycle of death. He is the Resurrection and the Life.” And I get unsympathetic stares (like I’m from another planet). Unfortunately su-

Rev. Euly B. Belizar, SThD

By the Roadside
side with that politico who is a regular sponsor of most everybody’s children at baptisms and weddings in church as well as of anti-life, antiFilipino bills in Congress? Last time I looked, I saw Mang Andoy with them, looking fresh after all these years of selling his votes to the highest bidder and still piously listening to the priest’s high-pitched denunciation of the separation of worship from life. Maybe Father or Monsignor should also include himself for taking donations from questionable sources or for failing to do the prophetic ministry to avoid antagonizing powerful and wealthy friends and/or relatives... If there’s anything worse than heresy, if there’s any gap that parallels the gap between rich and poor in our land, it’s the yawning gap between what we believe and how we live. 5. Tolerating corruption in private and public life. A government employee I know very well once confronted her youngest child for taking his sister’s toy. “You wouldn’t want her to use any of your toys without your permission, would you?” He nodded. “Then I don’t want you taking whatever belongs to her without asking her first. Do you understand?” In one simple stroke, I mused, she just taught her child to do justice. I’m not surprised because she also does that in her office, avoiding wasting her time in idle chitchat as government employees regularly do or cheating taxpayers their due by delaying action on work in progress. Recently she refused to take money that she says doesn’t belong to her, afraid that it’s part of a percentage of a loan being shared among ‘people in power’ and will be eventually shouldered by Juan de la Cruz. The only problem is she is a rare breed in government service. Most just look away when graft is committed; many times it could indicate how things are at home too. True Pinoy Catholics must say goodbye to all this. Or we will see no end to the way things are (which we all loudly bewail). (to be continued next issue)

perstition still co-exists in much of our faith practice with its genuine expressions. The problem is it blocks us from taking the real leap of faith which is essentially relying on every word of the Lord, and places us in the middle of a search for other sources of salvation. Invariably we fall into the wrong ones. 3. Seeing the Church’s promotion of justice, peace, human life, dignity and rights as playing politics. I was once watching the news on television and images of priests and bishops denouncing extrajudicial killings, government abuses, human rights violations come to the fore. Someone remarked, “Hirap sa mga obispo’t pari ngayon, namumulitika! (The trouble with bishops and priests these days is they’re politicking!)” This mindset, however ridiculous among educated Catholics, dies hard despite reminders that the promotion of justice and human dignity is an integral part of the preaching of the Gospel (Justice in the World, n. 6). It ignores the constant teaching of the Church that the Gospel is meant to penetrate all the dimensions of human life, including politics, economics, arts and culture. Small wonder, much of the world we know now is dominated by corruption, violence, terror, hatred, excessive materialism and secularism. Many Catholics and, alas, many more Christian believers have simply washed their hands of any involvement in actualizing Christian values where they are needed most. 4. Living as if faith has nothing to do with life. Remember the high society matron who goes to the Quiapo Basilica every week and never fails to fulfill her devotion to the Nazareno but just as unfailingly keeps maltreating her maids and employees every day, including denying them just compensation? Well, didn’t we see her recently sitting side by

Nicolo F. Bernardo

SO the latest census reveals that our annual population growth rate is down to 2.04 percent, from 2.34. While some think this is good news, the former Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez even contends it’s no good enough. It means two million more Filipinos every year, notwithstanding the food shortage we already suffer. Romualdez’s concern is valid if those two million Filipinos to be born—and the rest of us including Romualdez—only eat and consume. Very alarming indeed! In other words, you have two million more parasites (because parasites only consume) to compete for food. This is basically Malthusian economics that tells us that resources are like a pie, the more people there are to share, the less each would have. Is it not? It is if Romualdez, who by the way works for the contraceptive clinic Friendly Care, knows better than Simon Kuznets, Gary Becker, Amartya Sen, George Akerlof, and the rest of the Nobel Prize for Economics laureates who time and time again debunk Malthus’ theory. Let them introduce you to the “dynamic pie” analogy. Natural resources are like a pie, and the people who share from it don’t only eat, they produce, they complement it with human resource. Such is human nature. Thus the pie actually gets bigger, not smaller; the more there are productive people who share from it. It is not surprising that we have better economies in the cities where there are many

Shortage and the dynamic pie
humans. But who conserve the forests? The many humans also. Who are to blame for emissions causing global warming? The many humans. Who are to praise for efforts to save Mother Nature? The many humans also. Who endanger animals? The many humans. Who care for animals? The many humans also. It appears that the overpopulation alarm rests on the presumption that most humans are on the bad side—people are vicious consumers. And the more there are people, the more there are vicious creatures to eat up the planet, is it not? Too bad. Because when this presumption is perpetrated and internalized by people, such as many in our government and some in the media, the more people feel helpless finding solutions but to contracept and abort their future generations. Because again, their policies rest on the presumption that people are but creatures who consume. With some of our greedy government officials and commercializing media practitioners, perhaps that’s true. Their humans-are-butinsatiable-consumers theory speaks for themselves. As for enlightened economists, humans are presumed to be by nature productive, and they have unlimited ingenuity and technology to make the earth, like them, ever dynamic and full of possibilities. Whichever side we hold true could be selffulfilling. As for me, I dissent from Romualdez. Too many Filipinos—and people—if made conscientious, could only be good enough.

people, and worse in rural areas where there are less people despite the resources there available. In fact, people go to where there are big populations (mega cities and urbanized countries) in order to eat! True, the father who has many children will have to divide his meager resources to sustain his offspring, but this is hard investment. Soon enough, he would have many children to sustain each other and himself. The key here is to train those who share from whatever resource productive, if in fact they are not. Romualdez is correct if you have 88 million Filipinos who are Juan Tamads who do nothing but eat. I don’t suppose Filipinos, who work hard abroad, only eat. We would long be starving if not for the dollar remittances of these many people. Think of it, millions of rice seedlings are useless if there is no human to process these to become food. Some environmentalists blame overpopulation for the imbalance in ecosystem. Again that is true if humans, like the rest of the species in the ecosystem, only consume and don’t produce what they eat. When in fact humans breed and reproduce the very animals and plants they eat! Humans also do conserve and even recycle what they use. After all, science tells us that energy is neither created nor destroyed but only transformed. If not for humans, there would be no one to process consumable energy. Indeed, who destroy the forest? The many


Local News
TO dole out monetary aid to poor families in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit, the Roman Catholic Church warned. Abra Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian said the government’s program that gives a family, living below the poverty line, up to P1, 400 a month are only meager sums that will ultimately make people lazy. He said the Arroyo administration must and shall quit the business of dole out, saying that it “will only promote dependency on the government.” “We hope the government would focus on long-term plans,” Jaucian said in an interview over the Church-run Radyo Veritas. Jaucian said giving poor people with livelihood programs for their main source of income is better than just giving them mere financial aid. He said the government must preserve not only the bodies of the poor from destitution but

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

Cycling priest to Arroyo: Redeem yourself

Church nixes cash aid to poor families
also their self-respect, their selfreliance and courage and determination. The bishop added that the government is wrong in thinking that social programs like “Ahon Pamilyang Pilipino” poverty reduction program is helping. He said such program would only breed indolence and contentment with mediocrity generation after generation of families. Caritas Manila executive director Fr. Anton Pascual echoed Jaucian’s sentiment, adding that the program is “anti-poor.” If that would be the case, he said, the government do not want poor people to succeed. Pascual said the government only needs the target recipients to stay poor, and be dependent on them. “With due respect to the government, I think the idea to give pure dole-out money will give the poor no dignity, breed the culture of dependency and antidevelopment to our poor countrymen. Thus, it will not effectively eradicate poverty,” he said. (CBCPNews)

Muslim head says population control not a solution to poverty
A CATHOLIC priest known for biking around the country bringing a message of peace asked President Arroyo to use her remaining time in power for redemption. Fr Amado Picardal, CSsR, said time is not yet over for Arroyo to do something good for the country and restore credibility in her government. In his two-page letter for Mrs. Arroyo, which he delivered to Malacañang last April 27, the priest urged the President to promote the culture of life, peace and good governance. “Madam President you can use the remaining years of your presidency to redeem yourself,” the priest wrote. Picardal said Arroyo could still live up to the promises she made after she was installed by “People Power.” Futile The “cycling priest” lamented the alleged rampant corruption in the government, but stopped short of calling for President Arroyo to resign. The strongly worded letter was laden with criticism against Arroyo—from the alleged cheating in the 2004 election to the ZTE scandal, saying her performance towards solving corruption had undercut the public’s trust. “You have become so unpopular, your approval rating is very low and many are calling for your resignation. There is anger and discontent among the people,” the letter said. “Even if I wish you would resign I will not ask you to step down because I know it will be futile. You intend to hold on to power and finish your term,” it added. ‘Shame and disgrace’ But Picardal warned that if Arroyo wouldn’t act now, she has nowhere to go but in a place full of humiliation. “The worst thing that can happen to you is to spend the rest of your life in shame and disgrace knowing that you have been judged by your people as greedy, corrupt, deceitful, power-hungry president no better than Marcos or Estrada,” the letter said. “Madam President, do not allow yourself to be dominated by the dark side but live in the light. Picardal is holding his “Bike for Life and Peace” which he started mid-March from Davao City in Mindanao and has traveled to areas in Luzon. He seeks to spread his message for life and peace by traveling around the country on his bicycle. His message also includes the fight against abortion, extrajudicial killings and environmental destruction. (Roy Lagarde)
ULAMA League of the Philippines (ULP) Southern Mindanao Chair Ustadz Mahmod Adilao stressed that population control is never a solution to the looming problem of poverty in Mindanao Instead of pushing for reproductive agenda, Adilao said the government should focus on providing the basic and social services of the people in Mindanao The Philippine government wants to focus its population control efforts in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), whose population growth rate of 5.46 percent is way above the national average of 2.04 percent. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the growth in the ARMM largely contributed to the latest increase in Philippine population. The ARMM covers provinces considered the poorest in the country, according to Duque. The country’s population jumped by 15.8 percent to 88.57 million, as of August 2008, and from 76.50 million in May 2000. The Muslim leader expressed apprehension that in line with the population control program of the government is also the implementation of sex education. “We don’t want that our children will be taught about sex. It is taboo in our culture to talk about sex especially if you address it to the women,” he said. (Mark S Ventura)

OFWs in death row alarms bishop
A ROMAN Catholic bishop expressed alarm over reports that at least two Overseas Filipino Workers were sentenced to death recently. CBCP Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People head Bishop Prescioso Cantillas said the situation is “unfortunate” for Filipinos languishing in death rows. Cantillas blamed poverty in the country as the main reason for people to seek overseas employment just to help their families. “Syempre alam natin na ang sitwasyon doon ay hindi maganda. Minsan dahil sa kahirapan yung iba hindi na naliliwanagan ang isip,” (Of course, we know the situation there is not always alright. Sometimes, they lose their reason because of difficulties) he said. Cantillas’ comment was aired in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas April 24. “Minsan sila ay nagkakamali o kaya nagkakasala kaya iyon talaga ang hirap ng kalagayan ng mga kababayan nating OFW,” (Sometimes they commit mistakes. That’s how difficult life can be for our OFWs) he added. A Filipina OFW in China was sentenced to death on April 2 for smuggling heroin into that country. The Guangzhou Municipal People’s Intermediate Court convicted Marissa Collado, a 40year-old from Bulacan province. She was handed a death sentence that was suspended for two years. In Kuwait, a Filipina housemaid is also facing death penalty after convicting her of stabbing to death her employer’s 20-yearold daughter. Kuwait’s criminal court said that Jakatia Mandon Pawa stabbed the victim many times with a kitchen knife while she was asleep at dawn on May 14 last year in the al-Qurain district, south of Kuwait City. In Manila, the government said it is monitoring the case and appealing the verdict of the two OFWs. (CBCPNews)

Church rejects US rice
FOR three years the Catholic Church has been quietly helping the government in distributing rice from the National Food Authority to where it’s most needed. In the wake of the looming rice crisis, the government sought the help of the Church again to let more parishes, especially in Manila, help sell NFA rice to poor families. The move is part of the government’s initiative to shun rice hoarding or to prevent the NFA rice from being repacked by some retailers and sold in the market as commercial rice. Caritas Manila coordinator Fr. Mar Castillo said the Church is more than willing to help the government in making sure the problem is addressed the soonest possible time. “Our only goal here is to help the less fortunate people,” he said. But when asked if they would still sell NFA rice containing genetically modified organisms (GMO), the priest made a sudden turn around. Castillo said they would stop the distribution of the government-subsidized rice, especially those imported from the United States, as it would only imperil the health of many people. “If the safety of the rice is not guaranteed, we are not going to distribute it,” said Castillo in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas. International environment watchdog Greenpeace urged the NFA Thursday to halt the distribution of US rice after a shipment last February has been found to be

Archbishop Dosado: ‘Rice crisis a political issue’
ARCHBISHOP Jesus Dosado, CM said the so-called rice crisis diverts the public’s attention from the real issues involving corruption. Interviewed at his residence prior to a meeting with the Ozamis clergy last April 29, Dosado said the high demand for rice was due to manipulation “to cover up the greater issue of corruption.” The prelate also said the province of Misamis Occidental as in other provinces have no rice shortage. “I believe the rice crisis is a political issue and I don’t want to give any political comment because it would be really dangerous for the Filipino to switch them from the real issue of corKIDNEY / A1

ruption,” the prelate said. He added “even as the rice crisis provides some temporary relief for President Arroyo

from the scandals, rice traders may also be hoarding rice, to sabotage our economy.” The Archdiocesan Social Action Center has began helping the beleaguered National Food Authority through the NFA/ church-accredited outlets. The church-based outlets are open every Friday to assure the poorest of the poor of their rice requirements. Social Action Center’s Blythe Urbano said NFA has already set aside 100 sacks a week for regular distribution to ten NFA-Church accredited outlets. She said local residents trust the Social Action Center and such arrangements would end speculations and possible hoarding. (Wendell Talibong)

GMO contaminated. The group believes that the P25 per kilo US rice being peddled by the NFA may be among those affected by the GMO. Greenpeace urged the government to impose a mandatory

counter-test to US rice imports over concerns that it could be contaminated with genetically modified materials. Experts said GMO strain could pose a threat to public health and the environment. (CBCPNews)

Rosanne Malillin of National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) were to sit as the clergy’s representatives to the Philippine Network for Organ Donation and Transplantation (PhilNetDat). “As of now, we have yet to receive a formal invitation to take part as member,” the bishop said in an interview over Churchrun Radio Veritas last April 30. Oliveros assured that moral issues would be considered once they’re officially in the panel. “We’ll see to it that this will be fruitful,” he said. A day after banning kidney

transplants for foreign patients, the Department of Health said they wanted the Church to part of the PhilNetDat. “We have sent our formal invitations to them to be part of the committee that will help solve the problem on transplants,” DOH Undersecretary Alexander Padilla said in a separate interview. PhilNetDat is the implementing arm of the Philippine Board for Organ Donation and Transplantation (PBODT), which was created to form policies concerning body part transplants. (With reports from Roy Lagarde)

Everybody should realize “that everything we have is God’s gift and must be cared for lovingly and carefully” as everyone should be encouraged to dispose garbage properly and use resources sparingly, Mallillin added.

Mallillin said she remains optimistic with the Basic Ecclesial Communities “will heed the call and respond to the real threats of environmental degradation, pollution and climate change now looming before us.” (Melo M. Acuña)

It was during Lugo’s appointment as bishop last March 5, 1994 that he ceased to be part of the of congregation because he directly became under the Holy Father as provided for in Canon 705 of the Code of Canon Law.

Pernia further said “as a con-

sequence of his decision to enter into politics in Paraguay, his ministerial faculties as a priest and as a bishop have been suspended by the Vatican.” He added that they expect “Vatican authorities will in due time clarify his status in the Church.” (Fr. Joseph Suson, SVD)

Pope Benedict XVI, when as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and President of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith had said: “God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can, in any circumstance, claim for himself the right to destroy directly an innocent human being. Human procreation requires on the part of spouses responsible collaboration with the fruitful love of God” His predecessor, Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae had condemned abortion, euthanasia and genocide as supreme dis-

honor to the Creator of life. To conclude: in the present rice crisis or price crisis of food supply, we must look at population not as the root cause of the problem. The social doctrine of the Church challenges society and government to regard population not as mere consumer but also to help and facilitate their becoming producers and formal businessmen. By completely eradicating corruption and restoring justice our government can empower population to keep the continuous flow of production and supply.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

Diocesan News

LEGAZPI City—At least 31 families here whose homes were destroyed by typhoon “Reming” last year received new homes from the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) recently through its Permanent Shelter Assistance Program in coordination with different local government units of Albay province. (Melo Acuña)

Bishops use YouTube to promote Internet safety
CANBERRA, Australia, April 28, 2008—Australian bishops are educating the faithful about the possibilities and dangers of the Internet, and doing so with their own Internet ventures. A pastoral letter called “Internet Safety” marks World Communications Sunday, celebrated in Australia this Sunday. And the letter has a unique element a video introduction featuring Bishop Peter Ingham on YouTube. Bishop Ingham, the Australian bishops conference’s delegate for media issues, said the video is a way to get the message out. “That’s where we have to be, if we’re going to be talking to people, especially to young people about navigating the Net safely,” he said. “If only a few people see this video message and think over the points raised, it will be most worthwhile.” The letter is directed primarily to parents, grandparents and teachers, and includes an initial explanation of what the Internet is. The YouTube video talks directly to young people about safety on the Net. The letter warns parents about the dangers of the internet, including “stranger danger,” a term that refers to the threat of children thinking that they are talking to a friend or peer and giving personal information to would-be aggressors. The letter also mentions the problems of “cyber-bullying,” the same sort of problem kids of all generations have faced, though now with a virtual, rather than physical dimension. The Australian bishops also stressed the dangers of Internet pornography. “Figures provided by Nielsen/ NetRatings NetView show 2.7 million Australians visited an ‘adult’ Web site in March of 2007—this figure counts repeat visitors to adult Web sites only once; 4.3 million visited in the first quarter of that year,” the letter notes. “More than 35% of all Internet users in the quarter ending March visited an adult Web site at least once.” The danger of pornography affects both youth and adults, the letter lamented. “A recent online survey of teenage girls run by an Australian teen magazine, found that seven out of 10 of those surveyed had accessed pornography sites by accident and 21% on purpose,”

New homes for “Reming” victims

DARAGA, Albay—For allegedly desecrating consecrated hosts by feeding these to their prized pets, some cockfighting aficionados in Albay province in Bicol face the prospect of excommunication, Our Lady of the Gate parish priest Paulo Barandon warned, adding that the host is already consecrated. “When the host has already been consecrated, it commands utmost respect.” (Elmer James Bandol)

Church warns vs feeding hosts to fighting cocks

CEBU CITY—The Archdiocese of Cebu will be represented by 26 youth leaders to the World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia on July 15-20, 2008 and will be assisted by Fr. Kit Sestoso of St. Joseph Parish in Mandaue City and eight other priests who will supervise the delegates. (Joseph Suson, SVD)

Cebu sends 26 delegates to WYD ‘08

the bishops reported. Discernment Thus, the prelates affirmed, despite the many positive uses of the Internet, the avalanche of information means that users must be discerning. “Parents, educators, Church leaders, psychologists and others are increasingly raising concerns about the dangers of the Internet, particularly for young people, but for older people as well,” the bishops wrote. “A generational and technological divide can often mean that parents feel out of their depth

when trying to monitor their children’s Internet use,” the letter acknowledged. “This pastoral letter seeks to address these issues through the context of faith. “In identifying some of the dangers of the Internet, and bringing some of the wisdom of our faith tradition to bear upon them, it is our hope that we can all be alert to those aspects of the Internet which can be a danger to our safety, to our human dignity, and to our relationships with each other and with God.” (Zenit)

PALO, Leyte—The soaring prices of rice in Samar and Leyte provinces, two of the country’s rice granaries get too ironic for Palo Archbishop Jose Palma, saying they are supposed to be abundant in rice supply, but people are suffering the same problem felt throughout the country.” It is rather unfortunate that Leyte and Samar are rice producing provinces but this is happening,” Palma said. (CBCPNews)

Prelate laments rising rice prices

Gospel translation from Greek to Cebuano underway
CEBU CITY—Under the auspices of Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, translation of the four Gospels of the New Testament— Matthew, Mark, Luke and John†from Greek to Cebuano is underway. It is expected to be out for circulation by May 2009. (Santosh Digal)

Socialists want to eliminate God from hospitals, says Spanish bishop
MADRID, Spain, April 29, 2008—Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona in Spain has defended the right of Catholic chaplains to work in hospitals, saying that spiritual care is a right of the infirm and not a privilege of the Church, as the Socialist Party has sought to portray it. In a message, Bishop Fernandez said the attempt to expel chaplains from local hospitals was due to a desire to “eliminate God from public life,” as the presence of priests “is the living presence of God in the world of health care, in order to respond to a right and need of the infirm. Suppress chaplains and we will have expelled God from hospitals.” Such a move would also take important ethical guidance away from patients and family members, he said. “The sick and their families go to him (the chaplain) during the long hours of illness and find in him consolation and many times guidance in how to act.” “Chaplains are a hindrance to the plans against life that are being and will be implemented,” the bishop continued. “Respect for life from conception to natural death is a matter of common sense, which chaplains continually reiterate.” Likewise, he said, the work of chaplains is not to proselytize, as “they do not minister to those who are of other religions.” “If the sick person is Jewish or Muslim, they have the right to be visited and cared for by a minister of their own faith,” he said. For this reason, Bishop Fernandez concluded, the campaign against chaplains has been “intentionally unleashed,” and therefore intervention by the justice department has been requested. Bishop Fernandez thanked chaplains for their pastoral work and said he hoped that “on my own death bed I will have at my side a Catholic priest who will help me pass from this world to the next in the peace of God.” (CNA)

DAVAO CITY—Oasis of Love Founder and dramatic actor Christopher de Leon visited Davao on April 25-27 for the “Life in the Spirit Seminar” at the Regional Major Seminary (REMASE) in Catalunan Grande, this city. In his talk, De Leon invited the participants to a meaningful discernment on the impact of the Holy Spirit in their lives. (Mark Ventura)

Oasis of Love founder visits Davao

Seminar vs. human trafficking held for OFWs
ZAMBOANGA CITY—Saying that prevention is the first line of defense, Church-based Silsilah Dialogue Movement held a seminar about human trafficking to assist OFWs, especially women last April 8-9 in partnership with the Coalition Against the Trafficking in Women- Asia Pacific. (CBCPNews)

Parish marks Earth Day, kicks off annual fiesta
IPIL, Zamboanga Sibugay—The parish of St. Joseph the Worker Parish here took a new turn as it begins a weeklong celebration of its fiesta by planting trees to mark Earth Day on April 23 wherein 20 parish council members took part in planting some 1, 000 seedlings along the national highway leading to the town proper. (Antonio Manaytay)

British Catholic schools on guard against opportunistic baptisms
LONDON, April 30, 2008— Catholic schools in Britain are now rebuffing parents who, desperate to enroll their children in high-quality Catholic schools, baptize their children for pragmatic reasons, according to the Telegraph. Parents are said to go through a “five-year epiphany,” baptizing their children when they reach school age. Many schools are refusing to consider children who have had late baptisms. Some have set the upper limit at 12 months, while others consider only those who have been baptized within a few weeks of birth. Peter Stanford, a governor at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic primary school in London, said, “if you have had your child baptized at two or three or four they won’t get in.” At London Oratory, a school where former Prime Minister Tony Blair sent his two eldest children, only children baptized no later than four months after birth will be admitted. Staff said the policy helped deter parents who baptized their children only to gain admission. Last year, the school had 700 applicants for 160 places. David McFadden, head teacher at London Oratory, said the criteria for admission are based on canon law. “The first criterion is based on Mass attendance. The next is to what extent the Catholic parents have met their obligations regarding the Church’s sacramental practice, including baptism,” McFadden said, according to the Telegraph. One 37-year-old hairdresser from Essex told the Telegraph she and her husband had converted to Catholicism two years ago to secure their daughter’s admission to the local Catholic school. “I did this purely for my children,” said the woman, a mother of three who spoke under condition of anonymity. “I wasn’t religious beforehand and I wasn’t brought up in a religious family. I could count on one hand the number of times we’d been to church. But I felt very strongly that I wanted to give my children the best chance. That was my main priority.” (CNA)

Papal intention focuses on values-based culture
VATICAN CITY, April 29, 2008—Benedict XVI’s general prayer intention for May is for a culture that defends and promotes the values of the human person. The Apostleship of Prayer announced the general intention chosen by the Pope, “That Christians may use literature, art and the mass media to greater advantage in order to favor a culture which defends and promotes the values of

the human person.” The Holy Father also chooses a missionary intention for each month. In May he will pray, “That the Virgin Mary, star of evangelization and queen of the apostles, may still guide today with maternal affection the missionaries, both men and women, throughout the world, just as she accompanied the apostles in the early stages of the Church.” (Zenit)
with our “daily bread,” the farmers who cultivate the fruitfulness of our earth,” Lagdameo said. Saying that Earth Day is everyday, Lagdameo stressed that celebrating it is an opportunity “to express our appreciation, gratitude and protection for our earth which has been assigned to us by the Creator of the universe.” “We are co-partners with one another and partners of God in caring for the earth. Communal action must be promoted to address the problem of global warming, climate change, wastefulness and destruction of natural resources. We are together in this earth for better or worse. Let it be for the better,” the statement concluded. (CBCPNews)

In the same statement, he said that being stewards of the earth it is everyone’s responsibility to support the farmers who have been producing the staple food that sustains every Filipino. “Stewardship of the earth would mean for us Filipinos accepting our responsibility to encourage, support and develop the “primary sector” who sustain us


ported rice crisis is now being attributed as a fault of the Church teaching. I cannot but help recall how the Roman Emperor Nero had Rome burned and put the blame on Christians and became his pretext for the systematic persecution of the Church. Let us, then, imitate John Paul II and call on Our Lady, Regina Familiae, for the protection of Family and Life. This coming month of May, let us offer not just flowers but spiritual offerings to Our Lady as well begging her for the safeguard of our fami-

lies. Prayer, let us not forget, should be the very source of our strength in the advocacy in the defense of the Family and Life. Prayer and work. We pray and we work for the defense of the Family and Life. And no matter how bleak the situation may be, let us never lose our peace and joy, our gaudium cum pace, because we know in the end God is victorious. We turn to Our Lady that this definitive triumph be hastened just as she did hasten the very first

miracle performed by Christ at Cana. And it is in fact a great consolation that this first miracle occurred during a wedding feast when the couple found themselves in difficulty. Our Lady noticed their predicament before they themselves even noticed it, and she gladly took the initiative to intercede to her Son on their behalf. That is Our Lady as Mediatrix of All-Grace, she who acts as intermediary to Christ who is the source of all graces. Ave Maria! Ad Jesum per Mariam.

our Lord in heaven. They sang a couple of lullaby songs that they had composed, and all of these poems and songs were written in an album that was permanently placed in their adoration chapel. There were a lot of tears and holy silence as Bishop Soc went from one marker to another to bless them—44 markers in all. Then it was the turn of the men to express their participation in the abortions of the women they got pregnant. One by one they said, “I dedicate this song to my child Angelo or Michael or Therese …” One of them mentioned four names. A program of lively singing followed the sumptuous meal, most of the dishes were brought by the parents of the residents but some were prepared by the residents themselves. All of them take turns in the kitchen, in the garden, in cleaning the toilets, rooms and the animals in the farm.

Then they asked me to speak on post-abortion trauma and healing. Hearing the girls loudly sobbing as they watched the film on abortion was most upsetting but I assured the parents that it was good for them to cry and grieve. This is part of the healing process, a stage that the postaborted had to go through after they have surmounted the first stages of denial, anger, bargaining and forgiving. After my talk, a 20-year old young woman approached me and revealed how the abortionist would demand sex in exchange for the free procedure. And this is done immediately after the D and C. His son would then take his turn in sexually using her before she was allowed to go home. She has had five abortions. Her first sexual abuse was when she was 12 years old and first abortion when she was 15. She got into drugs to deaden the nightmares, and later into

prostitution. A 19-year old claimed she was sexually abused by her own father, an actor by profession. He started abusing her when she was 9 years old. Her mother had her confined because of anorexia nervosa, addicted to diet pills. Little did she know that her daughter was into so many other addictions by then. The session was just the first of many more that they have to undergo in order to be able to move on and “graduate” from the rehabilitation center. Hopefully, healing the abortion trauma will hasten their recovery from their addictions and other trauma from child abuse. Those interested in getting involved in post-abortion healing, a training on group therapy using the Hope Alive will be held on November 9 to 15 in Tagaytay. Contact the Pro-life Center for details – 911-2911 or Sr. Pilar at 0920-945-5494.


People, Facts & Places
at 2650 F.B. Harrison is free, and open to anyone interested to attend. Among the speakers are Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, CBCP Media Director and CBCPWorld vice-president; PDI journalist Beverly Natividad, and actors Edu Manzano and Matteo Guidicelli. This year’s WCD message has the theme “The Media: At the Crossroads between SelfPromotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others.” It highlights the vital role of media in the life of people and development of society. “Truly, there is no area of human experience, especially given the vast phenomenon of globalization, in which the media have not become an integral part of interpersonal relations and of social, economic, political and religious development,” said the Holy Father in his message. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

Catholic media practitioners to celebrate World Communications Day
CATHOLIC media practitioners are set to mark the observance of 42nd World Communications Day on May 4, Ascension Sunday with various activities aimed at highlighting the theme for this year’s celebration. In a statement, Manila’s Archdiocesan Office of Communications said it will observe the day on May 9 with a half-day conference at Villa San Miguel starting at 9:30 am. A speaker will discuss the theme while a group of panelists representing various media entities will serve as reactors. A short presentation on the Catholic Mass Media Awards will be shown during the conference. His Eminence, Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales will deliver the welcome address, while Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez, Chair of CBCP Commission on Social Communications will say the closing re-

LAUNCHED. Opening of the Centennial Celebration of Calbayog as a Diocese at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral, by Most Rev. Isabelo C. Abarquez, DD, April 2, 2008. Calbayog will celebrate its 100th year of foundation as a diocese on April 10, 2010. During the proclamation Bishop Abarquez declared the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, Calbayog City, Churches of St. Bartholomew, Catbalogan City, Our Lady of the Annunciation, Calbiga, Samar, St. Michael the Archangel, Basey, Samar and St. Anthony of Padua, Zumarraga, Samar, as Pilgrimage Churches from April 10, 2008 to April 15, 2010. Bishop Abarquez granted plenary indulgence to all pilgrims who visit the said churches under the usual conditions, that they go to confession, receive Holy Communion, make a firm amendment in life, persevere in work of mercy and charity, take part in the liturgical celebration in the designated Church or at least pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, one Credo, one Our Father, one Hail Mary, one Glory Be. The diocese is currently working for the realization of two important projects in time for the centennial celebration: the completion of Centennial Pastoral Center and the continuation of the Second Diocesan Synod for the renewal of the local Church of Calbayog. CELEBRATED. Fr. Renato Cuadras, Archdiocese of Jaro, 25th anniversary of sacerdotal ordination, April 22, 2008. A graduate of University of Sto. Tomas Central Seminary, Fr. Cuadras, was ordained priest at Saint Vincent Ferrer Seminary in Jaro, Iloilo City on April 22, 1983. Among his pastoral assignments include being director of St. Catherine Parochial School, June 1984-1985; assistant parish priest of Leon, Iloilo, 1984; assistant parish priest at Jaro Cathedral, Vice-Chancellor and Secretary to the bishop, 1985; Parochial Administrator, San Miguel, Iloilo, 1997 and its parish priest from 2000-2002. He was Vicar Forane of St. Titus and Timoth, 2001; and parish priest of Batad, Iloilo, 2002. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of the Espousal of Our Lady Parish, Mandurriao, Iloilo City, at the same time the Head Archivist of the Archdiocese. AWARDED. Most Rev. Jose Manguiran, Bishop of Dipolog; for being a true “earthsaver and a farmer,” advocating responsible mining; Bishop Ramon Villena of Nueva Vizcaya for advancing the rights of indigenous peoples; Fr. John Couvreur, CICM, Parish of St. John Evangelist in Quirino, Isabela, for running after illegal loggers and timber poachers in Quirino, Isabela; with Fr. Neri Satur Award. The citations were given at a mass celebrated April 22 in observance of Earth Day. Earth Day is a week-long celebration that is observed world wide to bring to people’s attention the degradation of the environment. CELEBRATED. S. Ma. Yakoba Ledu Ona, S. Ma. Catherin A. Legion, S. Ma. Riza G. Lorion, S. Ma. Petronela Mone, S. Ma. Ermilinda Owa, S. Ma. Elsa N. Rioveros, S. Ma. Merlita B. Sabate, S. Ma. Lidwina Satban, S. Mary Grace B. Sebigan, S. Ma. Hermina Weling, S. Ma. Tessamy B. Quisquerin, perpetual profession of vows among the Religious of the Virgin Mary, March 31, 2008 during the thanksgiving mass celebrated at Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel, RVM compound, N. Domingo St., Quezon City. DIED. S. Ma. Florencia F. Toling, RVM, March 17, 2008.

marks. Paulines WCD celebration Meanwhile, the Daughters of St. Paul is celebrating the event with a forum on May 3, starting from 1 pm, to be capped with a mass for World Communications Day at 5 pm. A panel of speakers who are experts in various fields of me-

dia, Internet, Broadcast and print will give a talk-reflection on the message of the Holy Father. Feedbacks on the speakers’ reflection will be given by a group of reactors coming from the academe, religious and laity. The forum to be held at the Pauline Communications Center of the Daughters of St. Paul

Ipil holds annual youth festival
RETURNNG from a four-day youth festival, Diocesan priest Laure Helar was tired but apparently in high mood. “It was a success,” he intoned, referring to the 24th Baliakag Youth Festival held April 21-24 in Bayog town of Zamboanga del Sur, some 80 kilometers northwest from here. Baliakag stands for Batan-on Lihuk Alang sa Kaangayan ug Hustisya (Youth Action for Equality and Justice), which is a parish-based youth movement founded by Helar in 1984. The first Baliakag Youth Festival was held in 1985. There were 912 registered youth participants coming from the 19 parishes under the Prelature of Ipil, according to Helar, who is the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Kabasalan town. “But there were unregistered youths who were at the festival,” he added. An array of activities like sportsfest, Bible quiz, paintings and poster making contests, dance sport competitions, and talks filled the four-day festival. “The festival is designed to suit the interest of our young people as we draw them near to Jesus,” Helar explained. Bishop Julius Tonel of Ipil prelature was one of the speakers. He talked about “Youth and Spirituality” where he encouraged the youth-participants to walk closely with Jesus Christ as they grow and reminded them of their “power to do something good for the society” as agents of change. Other speakers were Daniel Castillo of the Social Action Ministry (SAM) who talked on “Climate Change”, and Zamboanga Sibugay Board Member Jonathan Yambao who talked on “Rights and Privileges of the Youth”. Towards the end of the festival, the 7-foot Baliakag Jubilee Cross was launched as a signal of the start of the year-long silver anniversary celebrations which will culminate in next year’s festival to be held in Kabasalan parish, some 20 kilometers north from here. “The Jubilee Cross will be moved from one parish to another to end up at the Kabasalan parish as the host of next year’s celebrations,” Helar said. The Jubilee Cross, according to him, will serve as a call to the youth to connect always to Jesus and to “answer to the challenge of the Gospel to continue to care and serve for others.” “Everyone is challenged to continue to love and care for other people,” Helar ended. (Antonio M. Manaytay)

Lingayen youth movement to hold summer camp
AIMING to deepen their social and spiritual lives through prayer, fellowship and service, 45 teen-agers from The Youth For Christ-Lingayen Chapter will gather for a summer camp at Malatava Chapel from May 3 to May 4. Ray F. Sison, Lingayen YFC team leader, said the summer camp will provide the participants the chance to develop their social skills and deepen their spiritual lives. He added the fellowship will include games and the traditional bonfire while talks on spirituality and prayer will form part of the prayer module. “Service allows you to look on others rather than concentrate on one’ s self for as you help people who are ‘broken’ you are also slowly healed from your brokenness,” Sison said. The participants whose age ranges from 13-17 years old are expected to actively participate in the summer camp, a prerogative for full-time Youth For Christ (YFC) membership. Parents have been invited to attend the first-day orientation by the YFC facilitators and are likewise encouraged to listen to a series of talks on God’s plan, repentance, faith, healing and forgiveness. (Lucille B. Beumer)

Seminar-workshop on news writing held in Cagayan de Oro

Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ with resource speakers and participants to the news writing seminar held at SEARSOLIN, Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City last April 26-27. THE Archdiocesan Social Communications Ministry of Cagayan de Oro held a two-day seminar workshop on news writing at the South East Asia Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN), Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City last April 26-27. Participants included 13 delegates representing some parishes in Cagayan de Oro, lay organizations, women religious and neighboring dioceses of Iligan, Butuan and Malaybalay, and eight staff of the archdiocesan social communications apostolate. In his welcome address, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ said journalism today poses a challenge because there is the tendency among people to want just mere entertainment than to seek the truth. “Oftentimes, what is truthful or ordinary does not get carried into the news, and that is I think, [a] challenge for all of us; how to bring about and communicate the truth but also to make it something that is newsworthy,” he said. Speakers were Sr. Pinky Barrientos, FSP, assistant director of CBCP Media Office and Kris Bayos, CBCPNews staff writer. Barrientos laid the foundation of the two-day seminar by providing an overview of the Church teachings on Social Communication stressing the importance of the modern media in evangelization. She likewise emphasized that “both clergy and the laity who work in the church have equal duty to make use of media for catechesis and evangelization.” Reflecting on the rapid developments of media technology, Barrientos said everyone is called to make a difference in a rapidly evolving world of media. “Where are we, the Church in all this?” she asked. “Do we allow ourselves to be in step with all these developments and innovations, or do we let ourselves become overwhelmed and consequently overtaken?” Bayos, meanwhile, discussed the essentials of news writing giving participants useful tips on how to make their stories work. She also facilitated the writing workshop which gave the participants the chance to apply the guidelines they heard during the talks. Organized in tandem with the CBCP media office the seminar aimed to train novice writers in news gathering and news writing; to establish and strengthen networking within the Church both at the local and national levels; and to bring local issues and events to the knowledge of greater Church community through news reporting. (CBCPNews)

Seminar on Masses for children to be held in May
THE Ministry for Liturgical Affairs of the Manila Archdiocese plans to hold a seminar on the directory for Masses with children in May. Fr. Reginald R. Malicdem, director of the Commission on Children and Youth Liturgy said the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council had spoken of the need of liturgical adaptation for various groups celebrating the liturgy. One such group that needs special attention is the children. Both the Synod of Bishops in 1967 and Concilium for the Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy considered how the participation of children in the liturgy, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, could be made easier. This is the rationale why a special Directory for Masses with Children was prepared in 1973. Malicdem said that the Ministry for Liturgical Affairs has observed the growing number of parishes, and even schools, who celebrate the “Children’s Mass.” In order to have a unified understanding of the liturgical principles and norms and the proper celebration of the Mass with Children, the said seminar will be held on May 3 from 8 am to 12 noon, at the Arzobispado Chapel, Intramuros, Manila. “We request that a recommendation letter from the Parish Priest/ Chaplain/campus Minister/Spiritual Director be sent to the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission Office before the seminar,” Malicdem said referring to an important requirement per participant. For more information, please contact the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission Office at telephone number 527-7631 local 214 and telefax 404-3891. (CBCPNews)

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Vol. 12 No. 9

CBCP Monitor

April 28 - May 11, 2008

Pastoral Concerns


‘The human person is the high-point of God’s creative design for the world and for history’

Excerpts of the Holy Father’s Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, New York, April 18, 2008
MR. PRESIDENT, Ladies and Gentlemen, Through the United Nations, States have established universal objectives which, even if they do not coincide with the total common good of the human family, undoubtedly represent a fundamental part of that good. The founding principles of the Organization—the desire for peace, the quest for justice, respect for the dignity of the person, humanitarian cooperation and assistance— express the just aspirations of the human spirit, and constitute the ideals which should underpin international relations. As my predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II have observed from this very podium, all this is something that the Catholic Church and the Holy See follow attentively and with interest, seeing in your activity an example of how issues and conflicts concerning the world community can be subject to common regulation. Indeed, questions of security, development goals, reduction of local and global inequaliily, and attention to the innate dignity of every man and woman, today find renewed emphasis in the principle of the responsibility to protect. This has only recently been defined, but it was already present implicitly at the origins of the United Nations, and is now increasingly characteristic of its activity. Every State has the primary duty to protect its own population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or man-made. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international instruments. The principle of “responsibility to protect” was considered by the ancient ius gentium as the foundation of every action taken by those in government with regard to the governed: at the time when the concept of national sovereign States was first developing, the Doto protect, leads us to the theme we are specifically focusing upon this year, which marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document was the outcome of a convergence of different religious and cultural traditions, all of them motivated by the common desire to place the human person at the heart of institutions, laws and the workings of society, and to consider the human person essential for the world of culture, religion and science. Human rights are increasingly being presented as the common language and the ethical substratum of international relations. At the same time, the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights all serve as guarantees safeguarding human dignity. It is evident, though, that the rights recognized and expounded in the Declaration apply to everyone by virtue of the common origin of the person, who remains the highpoint of God’s creative design for the world and for history. They are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the subject of those rights. Experience shows that legality often prevails over justice when the insistence upon rights makes them appear as the exclusive result of legislative enactments or normative decisions taken by the various agencies of those in power. When presented purely in terms of legality, rights risk becoming weak propositions divorced from the ethical and rational dimension which is their foundation and their goal. The Universal Declaration, rather, has reinforced the conviction that respect for human rights is principally rooted in unchanging justice, on which the binding force of international proclamations is also based. This intuition was expressed as early as the fifth century by Augustine of Hippo, one of the masters of our intellectual heritage. He taught that “the saying ‘Do not do to others what you would not want done to you’ cannot in any way vary according to the different understandings that have arisen in the world” (De Doctrina Christiana, III, 14). Human rights, then, must be respected as an expression of justice, and not merely because they are enforceable through the will of the legislators. As history proceeds, new situations arise, and the attempt is made to link them to new rights. Discernment, that is, the capacity to distinguish good from evil, becomes even more essential in the context of demands that concern the very lives and conduct of persons, communities and peoples. In tackling the theme of rights, since important situations and profound realities are involved, discernment is both an indispensable and a
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The bishops ask, the pope responds
(The following is a transcript of the answers of the Holy Father to the questions by the US bishops after his address to more than 400 cardinals and bishops from 194 US dioceses gathered at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, during the second day of his US visit) Q: Holy Father, how do you assess the challenge of increasing secularism in public life and relativism in intellectual life? How do you suggest confronting these challenges, for a more effective evangelization? A: I touched upon this theme briefly in my address. It strikes me as significant that here in America, unlike many places in Europe, the secular mentality has not been intrinsically opposed to religion. Within the context of the separation of Church and State, American society has always been marked by a fundamental respect for religion and its public role, and, if polls are to be believed, the American people are deeply religious. But it is not enough to count on this traditional religiosity and go about business as usual, even as its foundations are being slowly undermined. A serious commitment to evangelization cannot prescind from a profound diagnosis of the real challenges the Gospel encounters in contemporary American culture. Of course, what is essential is a correct understanding of the just autonomy of the secular order, an autonomy which cannot be divorced from God the Creator and his saving plan (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 36). Perhaps America’s brand of secularism poses a particular problem: it allows for professing belief in God, and respects the public role of religion and the Churches, but at the same time it can subtly reduce religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith becomes a passive acceptance that certain things “out there” are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life. The result is a growing separation of faith from life: living “as if God did not exist”. This is aggravated by an individualistic and eclectic approach to faith and religion: far from a Catholic approach to “thinking with the Church”, each person believes he or she has a right to pick and choose, maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior conversion to the law of Christ. Consequently, rather than being transformed and renewed in mind, Christians are easily tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of this age (cf. Rom 12:3). We have seen this emerge in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion. On a deeper level, secularism challenges the Church to reaffirm and to pursue more actively her mission in and to the world. As the Council made clear, the lay faithful have a particular responsibility in this regard. What is needed, I am convinced, is a greater sense of the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and the natural law on the one hand, and, on the other, the pursuit of authentic human good, as embodied in civil law and in personal moral decisions. In a society that rightly values personal liberty, the Church needs to promote at every level of her teaching—in catechesis, preaching, seminary and university instruction—an apologetics aimed at affirming the truth of Christian revelation, the harmony of faith and reason, and a sound understanding of freedom, seen in positive terms as a liberation both from the limitations of sin and for an authentic and fulfilling life. In a word, the Gospel has to be preached and taught as an integral way of life, offering an attractive and true answer, intellectually and practically, to real human problems. The “dictatorship of relativism”, in the end, is nothing less than a threat to genuine human freedom, which only matures in generosity and fidelity to the truth. Much more, of course, could be said on this subject: let me conclude, though, by saying that I believe that the Church in
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© Stefan Zaklin/epa/Corbis

ties, protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate, require all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law, and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet. I am thinking especially of those countries in Africa and other parts of the world which remain on the margins of authentic integral development, and are therefore at risk of experiencing only the negative effects of globalization. In the context of international relations, it is necessary to recognize the higher role played by rules and structures that are intrinsically ordered to promote the common good, and therefore to safeguard human freedom. These regulations do not limit freedom. On the contrary, they promote it when they prohibit behavior and actions which work against the common good, curb its effective exercise and hence compromise the dignity of every human person. In the name of freedom, there has to be a correlation between rights and duties, by which every person is called to assume responsibility for his or her choices, made as a consequence of entering into relations with others. Recognition of the unity of the human fam-

minican Friar Francisco de Vitoria, rightly considered as a precursor of the idea of the United Nations, described this responsibility as an aspect of natural reason shared by all nations, and the result of an international order whose task it was to regulate relations between peoples. Now, as then, this principle has to invoke the idea of the person as image of the Creator, the desire for the absolute and the essence of freedom. The founding of the United Nations, as we know, coincided with the profound upheavals that humanity experienced when reference to the meaning of transcendence and natural reason was abandoned, and in consequence, freedom and human dignity were grossly violated. When this happens, it threatens the objective foundations of the values inspiring and governing the international order and it undermines the cogent and inviolable principles formulated and consolidated by the United Nations. When faced with new and insistent challenges, it is a mistake to fall back on a pragmatic approach, limited to determining “common ground”, minimal in content and weak in its effect. This reference to human dignity, which is the foundation and goal of the responsibility

© Chang Lee/Corbis



CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

Saints’ prayers for souls in purgatory
FATHER Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum University, answers the following queries: Q: The Church is often called the communion of saints, the militant Church, the purgative Church and the Church triumphant. We living here on earth are urged to pray for the souls in purgatory to help them purify themselves from their sins in order to enjoy the beatific vision. My question is: Do also the saints in heaven pray for the souls in purgatory as we ourselves do?—S.B., San Gwann, Malta

Pre-nuptial agreements
By Fr. Jaime B. Achacoso, J.C.D.
I AM a Catholic priest. In a recent marriage that I solemnized outside Manila, the bride’s father demanded that the Marriage Contract contain an annotation that a Pre-Nuptial Agreement had been made (regarding real estate properties that the bride was inheriting from her parents), and that such annotation be made prior to the filing of such Marriage Contract in the City Hall. Though taken aback, since it was the first time I encountered such a request, I agreed, since it was too late to do anything else. Did I do right? WHAT saved the day, as far as the canonical marriage was concerned, is the fact that there are normally two marriages being contracted when a so-called Church wedding takes place: first and foremost, the canonical marriage (which is what we can comment about) and the civil marriage (which is what the Marriage Contract from City Hall attests to, and about which we shall not comment about for lack of competence). Since the annotation was made in the Marriage Contract for the civil marriage—assuming that such pre-nuptial agreements are licit in the civil
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Illustration by Bladimer Usi

sphere—then there was absolutely no problem as far as the canonical marriage was concerned. Nevertheless, it would be good to comment on the incidence of such pre-nuptial agreements on the validity and/or licitude of the canonical marriage, if such agreement were really taken formally by the spouses as part of their marital consent. Conditioned Matrimonial Consent in Canon Law Can. 1102—§1. Marriage based on a condition concerning the future cannot be contracted validly. §2. Marriage based on a condition concerning the past or the present is valid or invalid, insofar as the subject matter of the condition exists or not. §3. The condition mentioned in §2 cannot be placed licitly without the written permission of the Local Ordinary. As we had explained in the past, the matrimonial consent should in principle not be subjected to any condition, since by its very nature, marriage implies a total acceptance of the other in

the actual moment of the celebration of marriage. As far as conditions concerning the past is concerned, the validity of the marriage contracted would of course depend on whether or not the condition is met or not—something which can be verified at the moment of marriage since the condition is of the past; nevertheless, the Law prohibits (under pain of illicitness but not of invalidity) the placing of such conditions without the written permission of the Local Ordinary. On the other hand, a condition concerning the future invalidates the marriage, since the condition—on which the consent depends—still does not exist at the moment of celebrating the marriage. Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Canon Law The so-called pre-nuptial agreement, which of late is becoming popular in some Western countries, is still relatively uncommon in the Philippines. When it occurs—as in the present case—it normally involves property settlements—in the case of

death of one of the spouses, or the separation of the spouses, or the declaration of nullity of the marriage—and is an issue exclusively in the sphere of civil law. However, care should be taken by the parish priest (or the solemnizing priest) that such a prenuptial agreement does not in fact formally enter in the formation of the consent given in the celebration of a canonical marriage: 1st: because if such a condition involves property settlements in the future, such a condition invalidates the consent (and the marriage), since it involves a condition that does not yet exist (c.1102, §1). 2nd: because even if such a condition involves something of the past, it should not be allowed without written permission of the Local Ordinary (c.1102, §3), under pain of illicitness. Conclusion From the tenor of the consultation, it can safely be stated that the canonical marriage was contracted validly by the spouses, since the pre-nuptial agreement was a purely civil instrument.

A: The question is more theological than liturgical and very speculative theology at that, but is also very intriguing. The crux of the question revolves around the way that the saints in heaven can know the realities that occur on earth and in purgatory. In general most theologians hold that once a person enters into the realm of the beatific vision, they do not have universal access to our thoughts or to earthly reality. Any knowledge they gain is received directly from God, and God most certainly makes them aware of requests for their intercession in a way that we can only imagine but never fully grasp while remaining here below. Therefore I believe we can confidently affirm that the saints intercede for the souls in purgatory in those cases when someone on earth requests that saint’s intercession for a particular soul.

If we were sure that the saints of heaven were independently praying for the souls in purgatory, perhaps many would defer the act of spiritual charity of praying for the deceased to the saint’s powerful intercession.
The Church itself invokes the saints in this way, albeit in a universal manner, during the rite of final commendation at the graveside at the prayer of the faithful: “V. Saints of God come to his/her aid! Come to meet him/ her angels of the Lord!” “R. Receive his/her soul and present him/her to God the Most High.” If the Church proposes a prayer to implore that the saints come to the aid of the dead, then it clearly believes this aid is possible. From a theological standpoint it is very difficult to be able to affirm that saints intercede, on their own initiative, so to speak, for the souls in purgatory without some form of earthly intercession. It does not mean it does not happen; it is just that we have no way of knowing. It is also possible that in a general way the saint’s participation in the heavenly liturgy continually glorifying God is also of benefit to the souls in purgatory, but once more we are ignorant of the precise manner in which this might come about. As the poet Thomas Grey said: “Where ignorance is bliss, ’Tis folly to be wise.” If we were sure that the saints of heaven were independently praying for the souls in purgatory, perhaps many would defer the act of spiritual charity of praying for the deceased to the saint’s powerful intercession. The blessing of ignorance obliges us to continue exercising this intercession on our own, in the hope that others will do likewise for us when we are gone. Q: “If a person on earth needs prayers, does he himself need to request these prayers from a soul in purgatory, or can a soul in purgatory pray for that person without the request?” A: Usually we refer to purgatory as a passive state, and we pray for the souls in purgatory and usually never think of the souls in purgatory praying for us (see Catechism, Nos. 1030-1032). However, while there is little or nothing in Church tradition regarding this point, I believe that it cannot be totally excluded. If someone requests the prayers of a deceased person who happens to be in purgatory, God might well make that person aware of this request. Thus, in a way that is analogous to the spiritual good we inevitably do to ourselves whenever we pray for others here on earth, performing the act of love of praying for others could quite well form part of the process of purgation for our lack of perfect love during our lives.

fruitful virtue. Discernment, then, shows that entrusting exclusively to individual States, with their laws and institutions, the final responsibility to meet the aspirations of persons, communities and entire peoples, can sometimes have consequences that exclude the possibility of a social order respectful of the dignity and rights of the person. On the other hand, a vision of life firmly anchored in the religious dimension can help to achieve this, since recognition of the transcendent value of every man and woman favors conversion of heart, which then leads to a commitment to resist violence, terrorism and war, and to promote justice and peace. This also provides the proper context for the inter-religious dialogue that the United Nations is called to support, just as it supports dialogue in other areas of human activity. Dialogue should be recognized as the means by which the various components of society can articulate their point of view and build consensus around the truth concerning particular values or goals. It pertains to the nature of religions, freely practiced, that they can autonomously conduct a dialogue of thought and life. If at this level, too, the religious sphere is kept separate from political action, then great benefits ensue for individuals and communities. Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom, understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual and communitarian—a vision that brings out the unity of the person while clearly distinguishing between the dimension of the citizen and that of the believer. The activity of the United Nations in recent years has ensured that public debate gives space to viewpoints inspired by a religious vision in all its dimensions, including ritual, worship, education, dissemination of information and the freedom to profess and choose religion. It is inconceivable, then, that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves—their faith—in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature. The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing

are to sustain humanity’s hope for a better their part in building the social order. My presence at this Assembly is a sign of world and if we are to create the conditions esteem for the United Nations, and it is in- for peace, development, cooperation, and tended to express the hope that the Organiza- guarantee of rights for future generations. In my recent Encyclical “Spe Salvi” I indition will increasingly serve as a sign of unity between States and an instrument of service cated that “every generation has the task of to the entire human family. It also demon- engaging anew in the arduous search for the strates the willingness of the Catholic Church right way to order human affairs” (no. 25). to offer her proper contribution to building For Christians, this task is motivated by the international relations in a way that allows hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus every person and every people to feel they Christ. That is why the Church is happy to be can make a difference. In a manner that is con- associated with the activity of this distinsistent with her contribution in the ethical and guished Organization, charged with the remoral sphere and the free activity of her faith- sponsibility of promoting peace and good ful, the Church also works for the realization will throughout the earth. Dear Friends, I of these goals through the international activ- thank you for this opportunity to address you ity of the Holy See. Indeed, the Holy See has today, and I promise you of the support of always had a place at the assemblies of the my prayers as you pursue your noble task. Peace and Prosperity with God’s help! Nations, thereby manifesting its specific character as a subject in the international doPope Benedict XVI blesses an american soldier at the end of a mass at the main. Nationals Park Stadium in Washington, DC. The United Na--L’Osservatore Romano/Pool/epa/Corbis tions remains a privileged setting in which the Church is committed to contributing her experience “of humanity”, developed over the centuries among peoples of every race and culture, and placing it at the disposal of all members of the international community. This experience and activity, directed towards attaining freedom for every believer, seeks also to increase the protection given to the rights of the person. Those rights are grounded and shaped by the transcendent nature of the person, which permits men and women to pursue their journey of faith and their search for God in this world. Recognition of this dimension must be strengthened if we

It is harder to affirm with any certainty that these souls can do so out of their own initiative. However, if someone, while still alive, promises to pray for another after death it is likely that God, who inspired the original promise, will find a way to allow its fulfillment even if the person spends some time in purgatory.
It is harder to affirm with any certainty that these souls can do so out of their own initiative. However, if someone, while still alive, promises to pray for another after death it is likely that God, who inspired the original promise, will find a way to allow its fulfillment even if the person spends some time in purgatory. A Toronto reader inquired: “Perhaps the pious tradition of patron saints indicates that the saints can take some initiative in intercession, at least in their ‘patronages.’” I would say that this could be true only in part because patronages do not stem from the initiative of the saints but from the initiative of those, whether individuals, groups or the universal Church, who invoke their patronage. In this way a patronage is a kind of stable or permanent request for the saints’ mediation in a particular field or for a specific category. Just as God makes saints aware of individual requests for their intercession, he will make them aware of these more general and stable invocations for their mediation.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008


THE St. John the Baptist Cathedral of Kalibo, Aklan. INSET: Bishop Jose Romeo O. Lazo, DD

Compiled by Fr. Mark Randy Beluso, SThL
HIS Holiness Pope Paul VI created the Diocese of Kalibo on January 17, 1976 and formally erected it on July 15, 1976. The Diocese is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Capiz. The principal patron is Saint John the Baptist, who is also the patron of the Cathedral Parish in Kalibo. Señor Santo Niño and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary are the devotional patrons. Bishops The first Bishop was Juan Nicolasora Nilmar, born on August 24, 1916, in Miagao, Iloilo. He was appointed as first Bishop of Kalibo by Paul VI on June 3, 1976. He was installed by the Most Reverend Bruno Torpigliani, D.D., Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines and took possession of his seat in Kalibo on July 15, 1976. Bishop Nilmar, after 17 years of fruitful shepherding the young Diocese, retired from office on November 21, 1992. The establishment of the Santo Niño Seminary, as a diocesan institution for those who aspire for the priesthood and as prescribed in the Papal Bull of Erection of

Kalibo as a Diocese, is one of his fondest achievements. The second Bishop is Gabriel Villaruz Reyes, whose father hails from Kalibo and mother from Capiz. He was born on August 3, 1941 in Kalibo, Aklan. Formerly an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, Monsignor Reyes was appointed Bishop of Kalibo on November 21, 1992 by John Paul II and was installed on January 12, 1993 by the Most Reverend Gian Vincenzo Moreni, D.D., Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines. On December 7, 2002, John Paul II appointed him to the Diocese of Antipolo and took possession of that seat on January 29, 2003. The reconstruction of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (1993 – 1997) and now, also known as the Diocesan Shrine of Santo Niño, is one of his lasting legacies to the Diocese. Bishop Reyes’ 10 years of value-laden ministry in Kalibo were also well remembered for his convocation and the promulgation of the first Synod of Kalibo (1996). This significant event set the pastoral redirection of this Christian Community. For eleven months starting on February 4, 2003, the Diocesan Board of Consultors of Kalibo elected the Right Rev-

erend Monsignor Adolfo Perlas Depra, the then Vicar General, as the Diocesan Administrator who took over the pastoral governance during the period of a sede vacante. On November 15, 2003, Pope John Paul II of happy memory appointed the Reverend Father Jose Romeo Orquejo Lazo as the third Bishop of Kalibo. Born on January 23, 1949 in San Jose, Antique, he is the first local cleric of that province to be promoted to the episcopate. He was ordained as Bishop on December 29, 2003 in San Jose, Antique by Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, who also installed him as the third Bishop of the Diocese on January 8, 2004 in Kalibo. The Diocese The Diocese covers the entire civil province of Aklan, which gained political independence from the province of Capiz on April 25, 1956. Aklan comprises the northwestern portion of Panay Island, with its northern coastline facing the Sibuyan Sea. Its southern boundary touches that of Capiz. Its western boundaries are the highlands bordering the province of Antique.

third Sunday of January, the Santo Niño Ati-Atihan de Kalibo is a weeklong festivity during which people paint their faces, soot their bodies with charcoal, don colorful costumes and dance on the streets by the drumbeats to praise and honor the Santo Niño. Favorable spiritual blessings bestowed on many local and foreign devotees are greatly attributed to the Christ-Child. Most of all, Aklan is wellknown for the world famous Island of Boracay, whose white sand beaches attract tourists from home and abroad all year-round. The island is situated at the northwestern tip of the province. The Diocese of Kalibo has 24 parishes that are presently served by 66 active diocesan priests, 1 religious priest, 2 deacons, and assisted by a total of 3 religious brothers and 52 religious sisters of 8 religious congregations (6 of Pontifical Right and 2 of Local/Diocesan

Bishop . ……………………...………… 1 Priests: Diocesan …………………………… 69 Active ………………. …………....….. 63 Retired …………………………..…... 2 Abroad …………………………...…… 4 Religious ……………………….…… 1 Deacons ……………………………… 1 Brothers ……………………………… 3 Sisters ………………………………... 47 Diocesan Division: Vicariates …………………………… 5 Parishes …………………………..… 24 With Resident Pastor …………….… 24 With Parochial Vicars …………….... 2 Entrusted to the Diocesan Clergy ………..……….. 24 Institutions: Seminary …………………………….. 1 Religious Houses …………….…… 8 Diocesan Shrines ……………….…. 2 Educational Centers: College ………………………….…..... 1 Vocational/Technical ………………… 1 High School …………………………. 2 Elementary ………………………….. 3 Pre-School ………………...……….. 10 Population ……………….…… 526,330 Catholics ……………..….…….. 484,697 Area ………………….. 1,817.89 sq. kms.

The Diocese of Kalibo
The faith was first brought to Aklan as early as 1569, particularly to Kalibo, which is the present capital of the province. Kalibo became a parish in April of 1581. The parish then comprised the entire province of Aklan and the two towns of Capiz: Sapian and Ivisan. Aklan first became administratively independent of the entire Panay group in 1656 but it was still part of the province of Capiz. In 1956 the Capiz territory was divided into two and Aklan, which was formerly the third congressional district of that territory, became a separate province. Aklan as a province is what one might consider average. One good feature is that the land is well distributed among its inhabitants. Much of its forests and other natural resources are still preserved. It has the biggest area of forests among the four provinces in Panay Island. Today, its economy is dependent mostly on agriculture. Its leading food crops are rice and corn while commercial crops include coconut, sugar, fruit and food products as well as small and large-scale industries concentrating on piña and abaca weaving. Deep-sea fishing and fishpond production are also major sources of income with the coves and bays nearby providing a sizable supply of fish. Aklan is also a tourist destination. The province, especially in the towns of Kalibo, Ibajay, Batan, Makato and Altavas, is famous for the celebration of the feast of the Santo Niño, known as the Ati-Atihan or the AtiAti. Culminating on the Right). Among its institutions are 2 diocesan Catholic schools, 1 diocesan minor and college seminary. Initial stages of Basic Ecclesial Communities are now operative in a good number of the parishes in the Diocese. The people are religious and are endowed with profound faith. Many priestly and religious vocations come from Aklan. Some were even elevated to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The late Gabriel M. Reyes, the first Filipino Archbishop, who became the Archbishop of Cebu and then of Manila; the late Ciceron Tumbokon, former Bishop of Cabanatuan; the late Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, Archbishop-Emeritus of Manila; Raul Q. Martirez, Bishop-Emeritus of San Jose, Antique; Gabriel V. Reyes, the former Bishop of Kalibo and now of Antipolo; and Jose Corazon T. Tala-oc, Bishop of Romblon—are all beloved sons of this province. Although born and raised in Davao, Bishop Julius Tonel of the Prelature of Ipil claims that his roots hails from Aklan.

the light of PCP II. The Synod also aimed at restructuring the Diocese and strengthening the small Christian communities in the midst of the changing situations. The Diocese celebrated its 25th year (Silver Jubilee) on October 8 – 9, 2001. The diocesan-wide celebrations were graced by no less than His Eminence, Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, the then Archbishop of Manila, Archbishop Antonio Franco, the then Nuncio, and other Archbishops and Bishops of the Philippines. Their dignifying presence was a sure inspiration for the entire Christian Community that continues to journey as one particular Church—striving to attain its vision articulated in the decrees of the Synod of Kalibo. Vision We deeply aspire: To be a Church, whose members are true disciples of Christ, that is, persons who, possessing an intimate knowledge and love of Christ, commit their lives fully to Him and, through Him, to the Father and to the Holy Spirit; To be a Church, which is a real sign and instrument of Christ’s special love for the poor; a Church where priority in attention and care is given to the least brothers and sisters of Christ; a Church where the rich and the poor work together so that, with justice and love reigning, everyone will have a sufficient amount of the earth’s goods; To be a Church which is a real communion, whose members, rich and poor, political allies or not, aware of their being one Body in Christ, love one another as brothers and sisters. Practicing the spirit of solidarity, they transcend personal or group
Diocese / B7

Pastoral Thrust The pastoral thrust of the Diocese is catechesis, social action and liturgy— these being the three components of integral evangelization which, according to the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II), is the mission of the entire Philippine Church. To better implement the goals of PCP II in the Diocese, the first Synod of the Diocese of Kalibo was convoked in Santo Niño Seminary, Numancia, Aklan on November 11 – 16, 1996. The Bishop, Priests, and leaders of the laity gathered together to study the context and challenges of the times so that the Church in the Diocese can better address them in

Fr. Geroge M. Prado



CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

NASSA holds seminar to boost social action work

Western Visayas holds 1st FLA summit
By Mike and Aida Gomez
A REGIONAL family and life summit for Western Visayas tackling various concerns on the area of family life apostolate was held at the Magnificat Pastoral Center, diocese of Kalibo last April 3 and 4. It was a hot summer day, but rain fell over Kalibo, Aklan, as 3 Family Life Directors, 2 Sisters, 29 couples and lay counterparts arrived at the Magnificat Pastoral Center, Bishop’s Residence to attend the summit. An exhibit on the issues of abortion was on display outside the venue and the cathedral, through the efforts of the Archdiocese of Jaro. Participating delegates came from the Dioceses of Bacolod, San Carlos, Antique, Kalibo, Romblon and the archdiocese of Jaro. Workshops During the workshops, the participants assessed various family life realities in their respective dioceses: the culture of life and death; the state of family life as an apostolate; its weaknesses and strengths; discussed opportunities and feared the threats from well-organized and well-funded foes. They also talked about other areas of concern—education, advocacy, alliance building and the continuing activities of family and life. After summarizing the workshops, a common stand was arrived at for every concern. Objectives/Key Result Areas Although one day was not enough for the workshops, the six arch/dioceses nonetheless, arrived at the following shared objectives: 1) to organize Family Life Ministry in every parish/ chaplaincy; 2) to strengthen linkage/coordination with family oriented Lay Organizations, Movements, Associations (LOMAs) and other diocesan commissions; 3) to strengthen/widen the acceptance of Natural Family Planning as envision by the Catholic Church; 4) to institutionalize FL programs, services in parishes, BECs; 5) to provide comprehensive formation, information program and services for families and schools; 6) to form/ build capabilities of Family Life Ministers, workers, Animators; 7) to enhance the Pre-Cana and Post-Cana services; 8) to strengthen diocesan Family Life Ministry/Center; 9) to expand involvement of professionals from the medical and legal field in the Family Life Ministry. The participants also identified Key Result Areas such as Education/Formation: a) Facilitators trainors’ training for pre-cana, post cana, NFP; b) Trainings for Family Life Workers, Ministers, Animators; c) Training on Responsible Parenthood for Family Counselors; d) Development of Family Life Modules; e) Seminar/catechesis on family values, Christian sex education; f) Preaching, Evangelization, Focused Group Discussions on family and life; g) Use of tri-media for information dissemination. Difficulties The common difficulties encountered by the six arch/dioceses are the lack of volunteer couples especially from the professional field—the medical and legal, indifference of some priests regarding pro-life issues, budget insufficiency both in parishes and the commissions, lack of family life modules which addresses the needs of parishes and families. Lay coordinators expressed the concurrent multiple assignments of the Commission Directors as one predicament to hurdle in achieving its plans and implementation of family life programs. The Archdiocese of Jaro is undergoing profiling of data in parishes which family life can utilize in its planning, that could also be useful for other dioceses to gather. Likewise, is bent to organize the ministry in its 93 parishes/chaplaincy, so does the Diocese of San Carlos. Bacolod Diocese is an institute of learning for family life
Western / B7

A total of 63 delegates from the different Social Action Centers all over the country participated in the Basic Orientation Seminar for Social Action Works conducted by NASSA at the CBCP-NASSA BEC Development Center in Tagaytay City last April 14-17.

By Zar Gomez
THE National Secretariat for Social Action– Justice and Peace (NASSA-JP) conducted a Basic Orientation Seminar on Social Action Works (BOSSAW), April 14-17, in an effort to further ignite the involvement and commitment of social action workers in the promotion of justice and social transformation for total human development. The 3-day seminar was held at the CBCPNASSA BEC Development Center in Tagaytay City. A total of 63 participants, consisting of 1 bishop, 3 nuns, 38 priests, and 21 lay social action workers, took part in the event. Among the participants were 22 newly installed social action directors; 9 were old time directors; 6 were newly installed assistant directors; 12 were diocesan social action workers; and 14 were from the national secretariat. The participants represented 38 Diocesan Social Action Centers (DSACs), or 44 per cent of the 86 DSACs in the Philippines. Bishop Crispin Varquez, DD of the Diocese of Borongan was among the participants. Three other bishops graced the event as resource speakers. The BOSSAW is a regular event conducted by NASSA every two years to officially orient and welcome newly installed social action directors in the country. It is generally intended for the new directors, but this year’s BOSSAW also catered to old time directors and other social action workBishops / B1

ers who wished to take part in the event. This year’s BOSSAW was anchored on the following objectives: 1) to reinforce awareness on the Social Teachings of the Church in relation to social action works, so as to encourage the new directors to beef up their involvement and commitment to the promotion of justice and social transformation for total human development; 2) to acquaint the new directors with the structures and functions of NASSA-JP and the Social Action Network, in order to strengthen partnership and cooperation within the network; 3) to exemplify and share the experiences of two partner agencies, in order to provide the participants with appropriate knowledge on how NASSA forges collaborations with other institutions; 4) to foster solidarity among the new directors and formally welcome them to the social action network. In his talk on the first day of the seminar, Bp. Francisco Claver, SJ, DD, vicar-apostolic emeritus of Bontoc-Lagawe, highlighted significant events in the history of the Philippine Church and narrated how the events helped shape the evolution of NASSA and the DSACs. His talk also centered on the topic, “Social Action Ministry in the Building of the Church of the Poor”. Bp. Broderick Pabillo, DD, the new chair of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action Justice and Peace (ECSA-JP), followed the talk of Bp. Claver with a discourse on how the Word of God serves as the guiding light of social action. Bp. Pabillo inspired the participants with verses in the bible that directly relate to

the actual works of the DSACs. Karl Gaspar, CSsR, a Redemptorist brother, spoke on the topic, “The Church in Asia Today with Special Reference to the Church in the Philippines.” Bro. Karl shared his knowledge on the current events and situations of the Churches in Asia that pose a challenge to social action works. He gave some recommendations at the end of his talk, on how to direct social action works in the light of the current trends and development in Asia. Bp. Dinualdo Gutierrez, DD, the former chairman of ECSA-JP for ten years and now the vice-chairman of the commission, tackled the topic, “PCP II: Envisioning the Philippine Church vis-à-vis the Pursuit of Justice, Development and Peace.” He expounded on the topic citing, as concrete examples, the various activities and works of the Diocese of Marbel, in terms of pursuing holistic development for the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC). Sr. Rosanne Mallillin, SPC, executive secretary of NASSA; followed the talk of Bp. Gutierrez by emphasizing on the BEC as the locus and focus of social action works. She discussed the various developmental and spiritual aspects of the BECs that play a significant role in social action works. She also underpinned the important roles of the bishops and the clergy in ensuring the success of a BEC program in a diocese. The seminar culminated with a holy mass, which was concelebrated by Fr. Clarence Patag of DSAC-Lipa and Fr. Edwin Perito of DSAC-Palo.

America, at this point in her history, is faced with the challenge of recapturing the Catholic vision of reality and presenting it, in an engaging and imaginative way, to a society which markets any number of recipes for human fulfillment. I think in particular of our need to speak to the hearts of young people, who, despite their constant exposure to messages contrary to the Gospel, continue to thirst for authenticity, goodness and truth. Much remains to be done, particularly on the level of preaching and catechesis in parishes and schools, if the new evangelization is to bear fruit for the renewal of ecclesial life in America. Q: Holy Father, how do you view the quiet attrition by which Catholics are abandoning the practice of the faith, attendance at Mass, and identification with the Church? A: Certainly, much of this has to do with the passing away of a religious culture, sometimes disparagingly referred to as a “ghetto”, which reinforced participation and identification with the Church. As I just mentioned, one of the great challenges facing the Church in this country is that of cultivating a Catholic identity which is based not so much on externals as on a way of thinking and acting grounded in the Gospel and enriched by the Church’s living tradition. The issue clearly involves factors such as religious individualism and scandal. Let us go to the heart of the matter: faith cannot survive unless it is nourished, unless it is “formed by charity” (cf. Gal 5:6). Do people today find it difficult to encounter God in our Churches? Has our preaching lost its salt? Might it be that many people have forgotten, or never really learned, how to pray in and with the Church?

Here I am not speaking of people who leave the Church in search of subjective religious “experiences”; this is a pastoral issue which must be addressed on its own terms. I think we are speaking about people who have fallen by the wayside without consciously having rejected their faith in Christ, but, for whatever reason, have not drawn life from the liturgy, the sacraments, preaching. Yet Christian faith, as we know, is essentially ecclesial, and without a living bond to the community, the individual’s faith will never grow to maturity. Indeed, to return to the question I just discussed, the result can be a quiet apostasy. So let me make two brief observations on the problem of “attrition”, which I hope will stimulate further reflection. First, as you know, it is becoming more and more difficult, in our Western societies, to speak in a meaningful way of “salvation”. Yet salvation – deliverance from the reality of evil, and the gift of new life and freedom in Christ – is at the heart of the Gospel. We need to discover, as I have suggested, new and engaging ways of proclaiming this message and awakening a thirst for the fulfillment which only Christ can bring. It is in the Church’s liturgy, and above all in the sacrament of the Eucharist, that these realities are most powerfully expressed and lived in the life of believers; perhaps we still have much to do in realizing the Council’s vision of the liturgy as the exercise of the common priesthood and the impetus for a fruitful apostolate in the world. Second, we need to acknowledge with concern the almost complete eclipse of an eschatological sense in many of our traditionally Christian societies. As you know, I have pointed to this problem in the Encyclical Spe Salvi. Suffice it to say

that faith and hope are not limited to this world: as theological virtues, they unite us with the Lord and draw us toward the fulfillment not only of our personal destiny but also that of all creation. Faith and hope are the inspiration and basis of our efforts to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God. In Christianity, there can be no room for purely private religion: Christ is the Savior of the world, and, as members of his Body and sharers in his prophetic, priestly and royal munera, we cannot separate our love for him from our commitment to the building up of the Church and the extension of his Kingdom. To the extent that religion becomes a purely private affair, it loses its very soul. Let me conclude by stating the obvious. The fields are still ripe for harvesting (cf. Jn 4:35); God continues to give the growth (cf. 1 Cor 3:6). We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II, that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 86). What is needed above all, at this time in the history of the Church in America, is a renewal of that apostolic zeal which inspires her shepherds actively to seek out the lost, to bind up those who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are languishing (cf. Ez 34:16). And this, as I have said, calls for new ways of thinking based on a sound diagnosis of today’s challenges and a commitment to unity in the service of the Church’s mission to the present generation. Q: Holy Father, how do you assess the decline in vocations despite the growing numbers of the Catholic population, and the reasons for hope offered by the personal qualities and the thirst for holiness which characterize the candidates who do come forward?

A: Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of a local Church. There is no room for complacency in this regard. God continues to call young people; it is up to all of us to encourage a generous and free response to that call. On the other hand, none of us can take this grace for granted. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38). Strange to say, I often think that prayer— the unum necessarium—is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue! Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations. Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God’s call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call. It has been noted that there is a growing thirst for holiness in many young people today, and that, although fewer in number, those who come forward show great idealism and much promise. It is important to listen to them, to understand their experiences, and to encourage them to help their peers to see the need for committed priests and religious, as well as the beauty of a life of sacrificial service to the Lord and his

Church. To my mind, much is demanded of vocation directors and formators: candidates today, as much as ever, need to be given a sound intellectual and human formation which will enable them not only to respond to the real questions and needs of their contemporaries, but also to mature in their own conversion and to persevere in life-long commitment to their vocation. As Bishops, you are conscious of the sacrifice demanded when you are asked to release one of your finest priests for seminary work. I urge you to respond with generosity, for the good of the whole Church. Finally, I think you know from experience that most of your brother priests are happy in their vocation. What I said in my address about the importance of unity and cooperation within the presbyterate applies here too. There is a need for all of us to move beyond sterile divisions, disagreements and preconceptions, and to listen together to the voice of the Spirit who is guiding the Church into a future of hope. Each of us knows how important priestly fraternity has been in our lives. That fraternity is not only a precious possession, but also an immense resource for the renewal of the priesthood and the raising up of new vocations. I would close by encouraging you to foster opportunities for ever greater dialogue and fraternal encounter among your priests, and especially the younger priests. I am convinced that this will bear great fruit for their own enrichment, for the increase of their love for the priesthood and the Church, and for the effectiveness of their apostolate. Dear Brother Bishops, with these few observations, I once more encourage all of you in your ministry to the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, and I commend you to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Mother of the Church.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008


Everyday is Earth Day
EARTH DAY is an opportunity for us to express our appreciation, gratitude and protection for our earth which has been assigned to us by the Creator of the universe. Everyday is Earth Day. We recall on EARTH DAY what Pope Benedict XVI said at his visit to the United Nations Organization: “International Action to preserve the environment and to protect various forms of life on earth must not only guarantee a rational use of technology and science, but must also rediscover the authentic image of creation.”— Protecting the environment is a common concern that must be done in every locality. Observation and creativity are needed to protect our local environment from misuse and abuse. Stewardship of earth would mean for us Filipinos accepting our responsibility to encourage, support and develop the “primary sector” who sustain us with our “daily bread,” the farmers who cultivate the fruitfulness of our Earth. For so long a time these farmers have been neglected. And today we are reaping the fruit of that neglect: the present rice crisis. Earth Day challenges us to preserve this earth for future generation. We are co-partners with one another and partners of God in caring for the Earth. Communal action must be promoted to address the problem of global warming, climate change, wastefulness and destruction of natural resources. We are together in this Earth for better or worse. Let it be for the better. +ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO Archbishop of Jaro CBCP President April 22, 2008

Media at the crossroads between self-promotion and service
Searching for the truth in order to share it with others
Message of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, 42 nd World Communications Day, Sunday, 4 May 2008
DEAR Brothers and Sisters! 1. The theme of this year’s World Communications Day— ”The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others”— sheds light on the important role of the media in the life of individuals and society. Truly, there is no area of human experience, especially given the vast phenomenon of globalization, in which the media have not become an integral part of interpersonal relations and of social, economic, political and religious development. As I said in my Message for this year’s World Day of Peace (1 January 2008): “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” (No. 5). 2. In view of their meteoric technological evolution, the media have acquired extraordinary potential, while raising new and hitherto unimaginable questions and problems. There is no denying the contribution they can make to the diffusion of news, to knowledge of facts and to the dissemination of information: they have played a decisive part, for example, in the spread of literacy and in socialization, as well as the development of democracy and dialogue among peoples. Without their contribution it would truly be difficult to foster and strengthen understanding between nations, to breathe life into peace dialogues around the globe, to guarantee the primary good of access to information, while at the same time ensuring the free circulation of ideas, especially those promoting the ideals of solidarity and social justice. Indeed, the media, taken overall, are not only vehicles for spreading ideas: they can and should also be instruments at the service of a world of greater justice and solidarity. Unfortunately, though, they risk being transformed into systems aimed at subjecting humanity to agendas dictated by the dominant interests of the day. This is what happens when communication is used for ideological purposes or for the aggressive advertising of consumer products. While claiming to represent reality, it can tend to legitimize or impose distorted models of personal, family or social life. Moreover, in order to attract listeners and increase the size of audiences, it does not hesitate at times to have recourse to vulgarity and violence, and to overstep the mark. The media can also present and support models of development which serve to increase rather than reduce the technological divide between rich and poor countries. 3. Humanity today is at a crossroads. One could properly apply to the media what I wrote in the Encyclical Spe Salvi concerning the ambiguity of progress, which offers new possibilities for good, but at the same time opens up appalling possibilities for evil that formerly did not exist (cf. No. 22). We must ask, therefore, whether it is wise to allow the instruments of social communication to be exploited for indiscriminate “self-promotion” or to end up in the hands of those who use them to manipulate consciences. Should it not be a priority to ensure that they remain at the service of the person and of the common good, and that they foster “man’s ethical formation … man’s inner growth” (ibid.)? tions, which require choices and solutions that can no longer be deferred. 4. The role that the means of social communication have acquired in society must now be considered an integral part of the “anthropological” question that is emerging as the key challenge of the third millennium. Just as we see happening in areas such as human life, marriage and the family, and in the great contemporary issues of peace, justice and protection of creation, so too in the sector of social communications there are essential dimensions of the human person and the truth concerning the human person coming into play. When communication loses its ethical underpinning and eludes society’s control, it ends up no longer taking into account the centrality and inviolable dignity of the human person. As a result it risks exercising a negative insome degree concerns us all, because we are all consumers and operators of social communications in this era of globalization. The new media – telecommunications and internet in particular – are changing the very face of communication; perhaps this is a valuable opportunity to reshape it, to make more visible, as my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II said, the essential and indispensable elements of the truth about the human person (cf. Apostolic Letter The Rapid Development, 10). 6. Man thirsts for truth, he seeks truth; this fact is illustrated by the attention and the success achieved by so many publications, programmes or quality fiction in which the truth, beauty and greatness of the person, including the religious dimension of the person, are acknowledged and favorably presented. Jesus said: “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). The truth which makes us free is Christ, because only he can respond fully to the thirst for life and love that is present in the human heart. Those who have encountered him and have enthusiastically welcomed his message experience the irrepressible desire to share and communicate this truth. As Saint John writes, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life … we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete” (1 Jn 1:1-3). Let us ask the Holy Spirit to raise up courageous communicators and authentic witnesses to the truth, faithful to Christ’s mandate and enthusiastic for the message of the faith, communicators who will “interpret modern cultural needs, committing themselves to approaching the communications age not as a time of alienation and confusion, but as a valuable time for the quest for the truth and for developing communion between persons and peoples” (John Paul II, Address to the Conference for those working in Communications and Culture, 9 November 2002). With these wishes, I cordially impart my Blessing to all. From the Vatican, 24 January 2008, Feast of Saint Francis de Sales. BENEDICTUS XVI

Reclaiming the Integrity of Creation
A CBCP-NASSA Statement on the Occasion of the Earth Day Celebration
“Our degraded environment is but a reflection of the pollution of the inward environment. The problems begin in the human heart, the inner core of the human being.” (Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI) AS nations around the world mark the global celebration of Earth Day, the Church and the Filipino people are called upon to think about the heartrending state of our environment amidst the looming crises on global warming and climate change. The world wakes up each day with the news of disasters and calamities in different parts of the earth, in different forms to different people with different magnitudes. Climate change has recently given us fright and has raised worldwide concerns. Stronger typhoons, longer droughts and pestilences severely affected human lives. Super typhoon Reming devastated a vast part of the province of Sorsogon leaving 734 dead and causing US$508 million damage to properties, infrastructure and agriculture. Similarly, another super typhoon Milenyo left an equally extensive devastation in Metro Manila leaving 100 dead and causing millions of pesos damage to properties. Heavy rainfall caused landslides and mudslides in Guinsaugon, killing 200 people and displacing some 1,500 more; and Mt. Bulusan in Sorsogon had been spitting out ashes, sulphur, and smoke since 2006, placing the immediate vicinity in heightened alert. Extreme weather conditions in the form of longer droughts cause infertile and unproductive lands. More frequent and stronger typhoons destroy crops which affects agricultural yields. These natural disasters are even more aggravated by man made and man-induced disasters such as mine tailing spills in Boac, Marinduque, cyanide spills in Rapu-rapu, Albay and the collapse of mine tunnels in Mt Diwalwal. The frequency and intensity of these occurrences give us a sense of urgency to evaluate and resolve what has gone wrong. Over the years, man continuously and progressively places stress on nature and creates destruction and imbalance in the planet. Mining for gold along with other precious metals and non-metallic minerals such as coal, cement and oil had placed a great strain on our environment. Specifically, the large-scale clearing of forests and open-pit mining operations increase the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, which cause global warming. Destructive fishing such as the use of dynamite and cyanide poison the coral reefs and deplete the fish stock. As stewards of God on Earth, we are duty-bound to regard Creation with utmost respect, to protect and conserve Nature’s life-giving biodiversity, and to judiciously use her natural resources to fulfill the essential needs of people now and for succeeding generations. There is need to pause and assess the situation we are in such as to respond in a Godly way. It is our urgent responsibility to ensure the health and sustainability of our ecosystems and the survival of our communities, especially the poor. The National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASSA-JP) of CBCP, recognizing the present environmental challenge to the prophetic mission and witnessing of the Church, issues the following calls: 1. Collectively, nations should limit consumptions of fossilized fuels to decrease greenhouse gasses specifically carbon dioxide along with the use of renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind energy. 2. Reforestation is a must to restore natural forest cover. Proper waste disposal should be encouraged and implemented. 3. The government should amend existing laws and policies particularly national mineral policies that are proven to be detrimental to the environment and are disadvantageous to the Filipino people. The government should encourage the prosecution of all who violate environmental laws and/or fail to properly implement them because such negligence results in various environmental tragedies. Political will is a renewable source and resides not only on government institutions but also on the Church, non government organizations (NGO) and civil society organizations (CSO). 4. Individually, we can take part in caring for our environment by making each member of the family realize that everything we have is God’s gift and must be cared for lovingly and carefully. With these thoughts, it is easier to encourage everyone to dispose garbage properly and to use resources sparingly. 5. We call on the Church hierarchy to be more vigilant, enlightened and inspired in serving as guardians of peoples’ faith and providing pastoral guidance to their flock in making moral judgments particularly on issues of ecological concerns. Everyone needs to work hand in hand and face up to the challenge ahead of us. Our immediate and total response is not only a matter of fostering a collective legacy but that of securing the survival of generations to come. It is my fervent prayer that our people, starting from the members of the Basic Ecclesial Communities, will heed this call and respond to the real threats of environmental degradation, pollution and climate change now looming before us. SR. ROSANNE MALLILLIN, SPC NASSA-JP Executive Secretary

Their extraordinary impact on the lives of individuals and on society is widely acknowledged, yet today it is necessary to stress the radical shift, one might even say the complete change of role, that they are currently undergoing. Today, communication seems increasingly to claim not simply to represent reality, but to determine it, owing to the power and the force of suggestion that it possesses. It is clear, for example, that in certain situations the media are used not for the proper purpose of disseminating information, but to “create” events. This dangerous change in function has been noted with concern by many Church leaders. Precisely because we are dealing with realities that have a profound effect on all those dimensions of human life (moral, intellectual, religious, relational, affective, cultural) in which the good of the person is at stake, we must stress that not everything that is technically possible is also ethically permissible. Hence, the impact of the communications media on modern life raises unavoidable ques-

fluence on people’s consciences and choices and definitively conditioning their freedom and their very lives. For this reason it is essential that social communications should assiduously defend the person and fully respect human dignity. Many people now think there is a need, in this sphere, for “info-ethics”, just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and in scientific research linked to life. 5. The media must avoid becoming spokesmen for economic materialism and ethical relativism, true scourges of our time. Instead, they can and must contribute to making known the truth about humanity, and defending it against those who tend to deny or destroy it. One might even say that seeking and presenting the truth about humanity constitutes the highest vocation of social communication. Utilizing for this purpose the many refined and engaging techniques that the media have at their disposal is an exciting task, entrusted in the first place to managers and operators in the sector. Yet it is a task which to



CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

Living the love of Jesus
By Rev. Fr. Villanueva, Jr. Maximo
SOMETIME ago, I read this story. “He was a Serb, she a Muslim. They had been sweethearts since high school. Both were 25 years old and, although both died through the same mindless hatred that has doomed 138,000 Bosnians in the past year, their final embrace goes further than perhaps any other image in capturing the intimate, unutterable sadness of this war. After striking a deal with local commanders for passage across the battle lines, the couple set out on foot, carrying two bags and their hope of living together in peace. Somebody mowed them down with a machine gun. Bosko died instantly, mortally wounded. Admira crawled over and during her final seconds, succeeded in tenderly wrapping her arm around his body. Then she, too, passed away. They lay there for the next five days while Serbs and Muslims, each blaming t h e other, bickered over which side could recover the bodies.” Today we celebrate the 6th Sunday of Easter. Jesus says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Let us focus on the “my” not the “the”. MY commandments, not THE commandments. Jesus is not talking about the Ten Commandments. He does not belittle them, though. He made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount. He says categorically that he has not come to do away with the Jewish law or the teaching of the prophets but rather to fulfill their inner potential. Jesus is telling us that His commandments occupy a different level. So what are His commandments? There is only one and that is the commandment to love: to love God with all our heart and soul, and to love others as we love ourselves, to love others as Jesus loves us, as he loves the sinner, as he love his enemies. They include commands to recognize Jesus in the most needy, in the poor, in the sick, in the marginalized, even in the criminal (“I was in prison...”). They include commandments to be agents of healing and reconciliation in a broken and divided world. There is nothing explicit about any of this in the Ten Commandments. A good Christian is not just a law-abiding person taking care of oneself. He/she is a loving, caring person reaching out to others in love and service. There is never a room for mediocrity as a human being but as a full human being—with the ability to Love, no more, no less. With this, Jesus gives us an assurance that He will not leave us alone but He will send an Advocate to help us fulfill His commandment to Love. “I shall ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, the Spirit of truth.” The word ‘Advocate’ here is the Greek parakletos, from which comes ‘Paraclete’. It refers to a person who comes to stand by us and protect and gives us support. It can refer to a defense lawyer in a court of law, or an expert who comes in to solve a problem. It is a person who gives us courage to face great difficulties or a person who comforts us in difficult situations. All these are applicable to the Spirit of truth that Jesus promises to send on his disciples to be with them in all the trials, they and the Church will face. These might be hard for the disciples to understand, and harder still for us to grasp. But we let God be God in our lives. We let society see God in us. So we see a lot of Boskos and Admiras in our midst, even in our Christian, Catholic society— in different levels, not just during war but even in offices, in the church, in our homes. All are victims of a society that promises to love and be loved. Despite the assurance of Jesus, the world is still waiting to see an overflowing of love instead of hatred, violence and discontent. The world is still an arena of hope not of despair. The world is still the world where Jesus will send His Advocate. If you search the word “love” in the internet, you will find in the results page at least 1,890,000,000 pages or definitions of love. This is more than 1/5 of the world’s population. But it is never a guarantee that there is the same number in this planet who are loving and caring. As His followers we continue to pray that we recognize His Spirit, despite the seemingly blatant negative forces that blind us to see Him. Today can be a special day to us and to the Lord. We can start keeping His commandment to Love in the here and now of our lives.

Illustration by Bladimer Usi

Bo Sanchez

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

The Christ in my life
By Ma. Luisa M. Lacson
JESUS CHRIST is the mainstream of my 43 years in the education ministry as a Religion teacher. I developed deep FAITH rendered true SERVICE and COMMITTED myself to follow His teachings. CHRIST is the source of my PEACE because His Father has given me the power to experience it and to extend it to others. The PEACE that is always with me wherever I go. Something I can forget but cannot lose. CHRIST is my salvation, my refuge and my protection. My redeemer. My destiny. I always trust Him and I know I will never be harmed. CHRIST is in each beat of my heart, a new creation. He always renews and refreshes my faith. CHRIST must have been pleased on how I’ve been promoting His name all these years allowing me to teach minds, to touch hearts, to transform lives, to experience Him among the little children, the youth, the educators, the Couples for Christ, the Marriage Encountered Couples, the catechists, the public school children and our future teachers. I practically experience Christ among all kinds of people; the rich, the poor, the gifted, the underprivileged. CHRIST revolves within and around me as I experience life with others. I teach Christ to the children in the manner of goodness through cheerful dispositions at plays and storytelling. Examples of good behavior, kindness, loving and prayerful articles. I interact with the youth aside from my very own 5 children (with the help of my husband). Proclaim CHRIST’s name in our activities. We laugh together. Weep spontaneously. Smile inspiringly with them. Learn happily together. Believing that Christ is part of all our undertakings. I facilitate at Bible readings and preside over religious symposia. Conduct prayer groups meeting among couples. Bring Christ’s teachings on how to keep their married life together with CHRIST as the center of everything. JESUS CHRIST is in my life with the catechists whose focus are Christ’s love, sufferings, miracles and power. Maintaining that we live Christ in us, so our flock in the public schools will see Christ in us and receive Christ from us. My talks on Christ’s related subjects to different groups carry the sincerity, the truthfulness, the zeal and impact of Christ in me so I can make a difference in their lives as I bring Christ to them. I grow in delight with Christ. I observe His laws and keep them with all my heart. I seek the path of Christ’s commands. I turn to Him to teach me wisdom and enrich my knowledge. My soul pines for His salvation. I hope in His WORD. I reflect CHRIST in my daily thoughts, words and actions. CHRIST provides me the lamp to my path. I resolve to keep His decrees, my inheritance forever. JESUS is my JOY, my LOVE, my INSPIRATION. This is JESUS CHRIST in my life. A long tale of experience which I firmly believe that God the Father, all along let Christ’s existence in me as I continue ... to LIVE JESUS IN MY HEART FOREVER as I wish and pray that you too have Christ in your life.

Fr. Roy Cimagala

The Pope in the US
POPE Benedict arrived for his first visit to the US as Pope, receiving a warm, rousing welcome that spanned “from sea to shining sea.” But he also had to traverse through tricky terrain and turbulent oceans. Even if he had to say big and challenging words, he managed to show his simplicity and gentleness. From a certain angle, he looked like a lamb amid wolves. This papal visit is very significant because the US is without doubt the leading country in the world. What happens there has tremendous impact on the rest of the world, not only politically, but also spiritually, morally, culturally. I am sure that the Pope had this in mind, and thus had to prepare a suitable armory of messages to infuse, if not resuscitate and heal the wounded Christian spirit not only in that land but also in the whole globe. First was the issue of clerical sexual abuse which has caused great pain on everyone. It was very moving of him, amply showing his humanity and spirituality, to apologize for this ugly stain in the American Church. He met with some of the victims and drew attention to his paternal hurt and affection for what happened to them. But he did not get stuck there. He said that the problem has to be seen and resolved in the wider context of everyone’s proper understanding of human sexuality. He encouraged and dared the bishops to do their best to put a stop to this highly scandalous problem. He was happy to note that “you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives greater protection to young people.” He encouraged them to take care also of priests. He made it clear that it is far better to have holy priests than to have many priests. His address to the bishops summarized the main challenges of the American Church today. While praising the generosity, vitality and creativity of the Americans, he indicated the problems to be tackled. Posing the question of how in the 21st century can a bishop best fulfill the call to “make all things new in Christ,” and lead his people to “an encounter with the living God,” he enumerated the difficulties. First are the subtle forms of secularism that make one inconsistent in his Christian life, professing his beliefs in Church on Sunday and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs. Or to ignore or exploit the poor, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every man from conception to natural death. He wanted the faith to permeate every aspect of the people’s lives, never treating it as solely a private matter. He wanted it lived in the public fora also. Another problem are subtle forms of materialism which, he said, can easily focus on the present perks at the expense of the eternal life which Christ promises in the age to come. “It is easy to be entranced,” he said, “by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us…This is an illusion. Without God, our lives are ultimately empty.” “The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the object of our preaching, the focus of our sacramental ministry should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship with Christ,” he said. He also mentioned the danger of individualism, a corruption of true freedom and autonomy. This makes people forget their abiding responsibilities towards others. He told the bishops to give the laity a deep formation in the faith so as to make it impact on people’s lives and culture. He egged them to participate actively in public discussions and in shaping cultural attitudes, making use of the media. His speech to the UN also tackled many important topics, ranging from human rights, defense of life, international cooperation and solidarity, etc. It’s quite clear that the Pope has defined for us the challenges we have to face. Now we need to digest his words, and start converting them into strategies, then to action, and hopefully to life and abiding culture.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

Social Concerns
By Fr. Rufino P. Yabut


By Fr. Shay Cullen
THERE was no comfort in the Philippine report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week for 14 year old Felix Avila, emaciated, half-staved, brutalized, shocked and dazed as he was helped walk from behind the bars of a police detention center in Metro Manila. Like a skeletal survivor of Auschwitz, he was helped walk on weak unsteady legs to a rescue van and away to freedom. Rescue, because it was as if he was released from the pains of hell to the joys of heaven. Heaven was when they stopped at the first restaurant and he devoured his first proper meal in months. At that very time in Geneva, Philippine Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was enthusiastically reporting to the world and specifically to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that the Philippine government had an exemplary human rights record with a few failings that were being corrected. This, despite the hundreds of unexplained summary executions, disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and violations of children’s rights and non-implementation of the laws protecting human rights. In the mind of some officials, compliance with the international obligations to protect human rights is satisfied and fulfilled by having constitutional safeguards, implementing laws, declarations, executive orders and Supreme Court decisions. According to them, it seems, actual implementation is not necessarily required because that is for the security forces to do. The officials say they don’t know who the violators are, they are not investigators, just reporters. When cross examined they were amazed that anyone would question the veracity of the report. The cases of child abuse like that of Felix in police stations or detention centers are frequently explained by officials by saying everything is changing for the better, the de-

Kalookan: Church of the Poor
THE Diocese of Kalookan was among the new Dioceses established and disjoined from the Archdiocese of Manila at the instance of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, then the Metropolitan Archbishop of Manila, under the Papal Bull, issued June 28, 2003 by Pope John Paul II. The new Diocese was canonically erected, and His Excellency, Most Rev. Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr., DD was formally installed as its First Bishop, on August 22, 2003. The Challenge During the installation rites for Bishop Iñiguez, Cardinal Sin said that the “majority of the people living in this part of the metropolis are poor and needy. You have in your midst the urban poor of Dagat-Dagatan, the fisherfolk of Navotas, and the vendors and workers of Malabon.” His Eminence then posed this challenge to the new Diocese: “to become Church of the Poor”, which was likewise PCP II’s mandate. The “Poor” Indicators The first task of the new Diocese was to attend to the poorest of the poor in its midst. The Church set itself to be one with the poor, helping the poor, training the poor to help themselves, and to help one another. At the outset, we categorized the poor into three classes: those whose earnings are just enough for them to get by in their daily needs, with nothing set aside for a “rainy” day or any contingency such as, calamities, illness, etc.; those whose meager earnings are not enough for their daily needs, constraining them to borrow or seek financial help; and those with no earnings at all, depending on help from others, especially from the Church. Ninety percent of the population of the Diocese falls under this category. Social Services and Development Ministry, Caritas Kalookan (SSDM) To the SSDM falls the task of addressing the mandate of the diocese for the alleviation of the sufferings of its poor. As part of its social services, SSDM responds to crisis situations, by way of emergency intervention in times of fire, typhoon, sudden illness or death in the family. It attends to the immediate need for food for the hungry, and medicine for the sick. To lessen the effects of poverty, it provides livelihood programs and micro financing schemes. In the realm of social development, SSDM offers the following: 1. Savings and Loan Value Education (SALVE). Gives assistance to those in need by way of micro financing in the form of loans to small entrepreneurs, at easy terms. 2. HAPAGASA. Each parish has one such feeding program for the poor, which gives one meal for five times a week for six months per batch of 30-50 malnourished children. Their parents are educated in the process. 3. Scholarship program. Gives financial assistance to deserving poorest of the poor in line with set criteria. Tutoring is offered. Also helps the poor to avail themselves of TESDA, scholarship program of the government. 4. Pamilihang Agape. Commits itself to make available to parishes and parishioners, especially the poor of the diocese, their commodities needs: for foodstuff, office and school supplies at much lower prices than what they ordinarily pay in other market sources. 5. Organizing communities. SSDM helps parishes organize their respective SSDM Chapters to plan, act and find ways to take care of/help the poor of the parish. 6. Special projects. There are the other Ministries under SSDM, which also help the poor within their respective jurisdictions: Prison Ministry, Ministry on Migrants and Urban Poor Ministry. In sum, helping the poor involves addressing immediate needs, and providing programs to take care of long term needs and to alleviate or lessen the effects of poverty. But what we really aim at is not just to meet immediate needs, not just to lessen, but also, ultimately, to totally eliminate poverty. It might take a long time under present circumstances where the prevalence of corruption in society deprives the poor of funds, which may otherwise be channeled for their benefit. The poor are always the first to be affected. There is much to be done but much needed resources are inadequate. The poor are special to the Heart of Jesus. The poor we shall always have with us. We trust that generous hearts will share their bounty for the sake of God’s “little ones”: the poor, the sick, and the afflicted.

A one-sided report
tention centers are transformed into happy rehabilitation centers (change of signboards). Such sparse economy with the truth, it being in excessively short supply here, makes eyebrows touch the ceilings. Besides, the Philippine delegates were eager to announce that they recommended to President Macapagal-Arroyo that the government join the United Nations Operational Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT). This will be too late and since the United Nations can do nothing anyway to enforce compliance, except listen to fanciful tales and self-glorifying reports, the protocol are useless. The government panel did eagerly report there was an 83% drop in summary executions of pastors, priests and political persons in the past year. A very good news if true. But the cutback in the number of being executed came about under intense international pressure. So if government officials take credit for reducing the numbers assassinated by death squads by 83 percent they must know who is behind the death squads and ordered them to stop. Responsibility for the killings and violations of human rights now rests on government. Felix is just 14. His hair is starting to fall out. His skin is the white sickly pallor of a TB patient. His human and civil rights were violated so frequently, so casually, so normally, in such a manner as to tell the world that this is just a normal routine treatment for suspects and its nothing out of the ordinary. They are always amazed when we express our strong protests at the conditions and hardships of the minors behind bars. They deny and lie about the obvious, they ignore the photographic evidence and testimony of witnesses. Now we are barred from visiting these detention jails like the Manila Youth Reception Center where conditions of the minors are awful. The photographic evidence can be viewed on www.preda.org. I requested an official of another detention center for minors to give me the names and photos of the guards so that their victims, now rescued, could identify their abusers, torturers and file charges. However I got no answer and no names. Some think we who are working for human rights are anti-government when in fact we are pro-people and against abuse. There are many good dedicated people in government who detest the violations of rights and want a better Philippines, we work with them. The one-sided human rights report could be well balanced by the testimony of Felix and thousands like him.
Western / B4

Diocese / B3

interest for the sake of the common good; To be a Church, which, grateful for the natural resources and the beauty of Nature with which God has gifted Aklan, works to preserve, restore, and develop these gifts for the glory of their Creator and the sustenance and enjoyment of His people. Mission To achieve this vision, we, accompanied by prayer, will embark on a renewed integral evangelization whose aims are salvation and liberation and whose chief means are catechesis, worship, and social apostolate. As a Church of communion and participation, we stress the important role of the laity and the youth in the fulfill-

ment of this mission. They are not only objects of pastoral care but are also subjects of evangelization. By virtue of Baptism and Confirmation, the laity are empowered with basically the same mission as the Church’s pastors. Commitment We—Bishop, priests, religious, laity, and youth—commit ourselves to implement the spirit and decrees of the First Diocesan Synod of Kalibo in the light of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. Accompanied by Señor Santo Niño, Mary, the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and Saint John the Baptist, we will journey and work together towards the transformation of Aklan into God’s

Kingdom of justice, love, joy, and peace. As the Diocese marked the 10th anniversary of the promulgation of its first Synod within the occasion of its 30th foundation celebration as a Diocese on November 14 – 16, 2006, a Diocesan Pastoral Assembly was held in Santo Niño Seminary. Such a pastoral gathering aimed at assessing the extent of the implementation of the synodal decrees in all aspects of the faith-life experience of the people and formulating a five-year diocesan pastoral plan with the shared hope that by so doing, this whole particular Church—journeying, growing and maturing altogether—would be more able to respond to the signs of the challenging times ahead.


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workers, and strong in its implementation of the Billings Ovulation Method having numerous BOM teachers in the parishes. It has a strong group of volunteer counselors for women and children victims of violence, in the home or elsewhere. Diocese of Antique is an example of what a Family Life Apostolate networking with the BECs is and how the catechists can work hand-in-hand with family life. Fr. Jevic Pendon of the Diocese of Romblon, being assigned to family life just recently has expressed his predicament in encountering the many concerns of the family and life. The diocese has no lay/couple coordinator. His positive approach, one of hopefulness is still his best weapon. The Diocese of Kalibo, relatively new as a commission, has taken steps to strengthen its inadequate diocesan core group through Family Life Congresses, Pre-Cana and NFP training seminars. Commonalities Common to all the Dioceses is that all have ongoing Pre-Cana seminars and its goal of organizing the Family Life ministry in their parishes. The diocesan level, though perceived to be still inadequate, is strongly motivated, enough to continue its mission as a commission. Potentials of a more organized and responsive family life ministry especially in the parishes are enormous in building the local church communities or BECs, in evangelization process and in combating threats to the family, especially those from the national and local government’s population control


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laws and programs. No concrete steps have been arrived at to address the various advocacies, i.e. meeting with local lawmakers. The one big question the delegates would have wanted to address was – are our programs and projects “reaching” our intended target – grassroots families? The delegates were hopeful that they will be better equipped to respond to more concerns by next meeting. In the meantime, each diocese can start/ continue their missions to defend life and for more evangelized and evangelizing families. Dr. Bullecer updated the assembly on the D.E.A.T.H.S. bills in Congress and the Senate, and the disturbing news that these are being lobbied in the Local Government Units, some having already passed anti-life bills on reproductive health. The delegates pledged to unite, share resources and information to be more effective in their ministry. Highlight of the summit was the 1st Friday Eucharistic Celebration as thanksgiving for the gift of Life and Family. A directory of FL directors and their couple/coordinators were made available to enable easier communication. The summit, held for the first time in the region became a reality through the initiative of Jaro CFL director Fr. Abing Tutana, who also facilitated the event, partnered by Kalibo CFL director, Fr. Josue Escalona as host, and inspired by the enthusiasm of Dr. Rene Josef Bullecer, HLI Pilipinas. The group agreed to meet annually, preferably after Holy Week. On 2009, Cebu City will host the next summit, courtesy of Dr. Bullecer of HLI-Pilipinas.


M or al A s s es s m en t Abhorrent Disturbing Acceptable Wholesome Exemplary

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 9
April 28 - May 11, 2008

Technical Assessment Poor Below average Average Above average Excellent

Title: 88 Minutes Cast: Al Pacino, Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman, William Forsythe, Deborah Kara Unger, Neal McDonough, Leah Cairns Director: Jon Avnet Screenplay: Gary Scott Thompson Cinematography: Denis Lenoir Music: Ed Shearmur Editor: Tim Nordquist Genre: Mystery/Thriller Distributor: Columbia Pictures Running Time: 108 min. Technical Assessment: Moral Assessment: CINEMA Rating: For viewers 18 and above

Title: Pathology Cast: Milo Ventimiglia, Michael Weston, Alyssa Milano, Lauren Lee Smith, Johnny Whitworth Director: Marc Schoelermann Producers: Gary Gilbert, Gary Lucchesi, Mark Neveldine, Tom Rosenberg, Brian Taylor, Skip Williamson Screenwriters: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor Music: Johannes Kobilke Editor: Todd E. Miller Genre: Drama/ Crime/ Suspense Cinematography: Ekkehart Pollack Distributor: MetroGoldwyn-Mayer Location: Los Angeles, California, USA Technical Assessment: .5 Moral Assessment: CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

By Bladimer Usi

Buhay Parokya

AN ASIAN girl is found dead in a Seattle, Washington flat she shares with her twin sister Janie Cates (Tammy Hui): methodically killed, she is hung upside down by a rope, cut by a scalpel and left to bleed to death. Serial killer Jon Forster (Neal McDonough) is convicted on the strength of the testimony of world-renowned forensic psychiatrist Dr. Jack Gramm (Al Pacino). Insisting on his innocence, Forster swears to take revenge on Gramm, all the while hoping to get pardon. On the eve of Forster’s execution by lethal injection, similar killings occur using Forster’s modus operandi, pointing to the possibility that they have indeed imprisoned the wrong guy. Worse, victims include women whom the womanizing Gramm has bedded. Then Gramm gets a mysterious call warning him he has 88 minutes to live. This sets the gutsy psychiatrist—who is a university professor and carries an FBI ID card, being a consultant for the agency—on a lone hunt aided only by his

hunches, his gay assistant Shelly Barnes (Amy Brenneman) and, later on, his female student Kim Cummings (Alicia Witt) who has a huge girlish crush on him. But soon, even his FBI buddy Special Agent Frank Parks (William Forsythe) is ready to arrest him, when Gramm’s “DNA is all over the place,” pointing to him as the killer. They have good reason to believe so, since Gramm could be acting on revenge himself—he lost his 12-year old sister to a serial killer employing the same method as the convicted Forster. If 88 Minutes was never meant to be a technically impeccable movie, but rather intended to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats, it hits its mark. It captures your attention with enough elements piled one on top of the other, and piques your imagination and curiosity so much that your are left with no time to question the loose ends, the jumpy sequence of events, the implausibility of certain developments, etc. Thanks to the arresting presence of Al Pacino, 88 Minutes turns out to be 108 minutes of gripping suspense. Those who invested in the movie were on target in casting Pacino and banking on his reputation to carry the movie through. Particularly in the Philippines, where the average viewer is more emotional than intellectual and therefore couldn’t care less about the filmography of director Jon Avnet or screenwriter Gary Scott Thompson or its less-than-famous actors, something as engaging as 88 Minutes (with Pacino onscreen almost the whole time) is bound to have longer DVD shelf life than any other

mystery-thriller currently showing. No matter what the more erudite First World critics say about Pacino’s “lackluster performance” or stooping to accept B-grade movies at this point in his career, the fact remains that as a 66-year old forensics expert harboring guilt over his sister’s fate, Pacino delivers perfectly well. His is not lackluster performance—rather, it is a soulful portrayal of a lackluster persona. Sometimes, film critics who know too much must learn to separate the actor from the role. We cannot imagine Richard Gere or Tom Hanks giving life to Dr. Jack Gramm as effectively as Pacino with his hangdog looks does. As for the “middle-age mediocrity” that critics claim Pacino is caught in, see for yourself— Pacino is Pacino, he can take on any role he damn well pleases and get away with it; he neither needs nor depends on critics’ judgment to prove his acting caliber. 88 Minutes is not a movie for the queasy. Gore flows freely, and close-ups of the serial killer’s modus operandi would make you want to close your eyes for obvious reasons. However, the subject matter and content—rape and murder, conviction of the innocent, respect for the human body, womanizing, ethics in the teaching profession, etc.—provide rich and thought-provoking topics for discussion particularly with young adults. Despite its technical flaws, overshadowed and trivialized by the lead actor’s convincing depiction of the main character, 88 Minutes in the end gives the guilty what he or she deserves, and ensconces justice in its right place.

There are three missing articles in this cartoon. Find a teady bear, Philippine flag and coconut shell.

TOPNOTCH medical student Ted Gray (Milo Ventimiglia) has just graduated from medical school and joins one of the most prestigious hospital-schools of Pathology as resident-intern. Equipped with natural wit and intelligence, Ted gets the attention of an elite group of interns. Afraid to be alienated, he makes friends with them and he is welcomed though reluctantly at first. Unknown to him, he has become a pawn in their dangerous, morbid, after-hours extracurricular activities at the morgue. He is then challenged and seduced to join their game of committing the perfect undetectable murder. Once trapped, Ted’s life and love will be jeopardized. Can he still quit the game before he or his loved ones become the next victim? Pathology may be just another B movie at the onset but the tightness of the story and impeccable acting of the characters make the film pass off as a good crime-suspense-drama. The movie is able to take its audience to the world of pathology, a world least explored by many, without much blood and gore. Such approach allows the audience to imagine and look at the said field of medicine with objectivity. However, the storyline tends to be shallow and thin with the characters’ motivations left unjustified which are perhaps attributed to the plot’s lack of a back story. But then

the film, technical wise, is quite able to meet its objective of putting a certain amount of suspense and mystery amidst the soap-operatic plot so it is still a good watch. It is said in the movie that Pathology is a window to God for doctors see the perversion and corruption of the human flesh, although unnatural and violent, to determine the cause of death. However, when such window is abused by malicious minds, danger follows. The movie works around this premise but the visuals and plotlines leave the audience with disturbing views about the preservation of life. The morality play in the movie has posed more questions than answers. In a dog-eat-dog world, should one always conform to what is popular over what is good? The characters who have committed sin are all punished in the movie but apparently, there is no remorse from seen in them as they commit crimes of both ambition and passion. Thus, the film in its entirety is morally disturbing. There is violence, nudity, gore, desecration of human body, pre-marital sex, lesbianism, incest, drugs and alcohol. Although done in context and good taste, these can still offend sensibilities and may influence the minds of the very young. Such messages are appropriate only for a mature audience.

CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 3
February 4 - 17, 2008


The News Supplement of Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation, Inc.


A woman after God’s own heart

The Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD), a family ministry of the Couples for Christ, held their 15th International Conference last April 18-20 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center, SBMA, Zambales. The theme for this year’s Conference was “A WOMAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART”. Over 3,500 delegates attended the HOLD ICON. Previously named as HOLD International Leaders Conference (ILC), the Conference has assumed a new name as HOLD International Conference so that all members, not only leaders, were encouraged to attend. Emerging from the CFC crisis of 2007, members converged for the event more united in spirit and in service. A large number of

delegates traveled from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Some 78 In- love even in the most difficult of circumstances. The third session ternational HOLD delegates came from different countries (Europe, “Love Hurts” was a zarzuela showing hurts and pains through North America, Middle East, Oceania and Asia). The CFC Interna- music and songs led by Tootsie Lopez. tional Council members (with their wives), other CFC leaders, and Malou Reyes of Canada gave the talk “Love Conquers”. She the ICON Committee Teams, formed part of the crowd that filled up spoke about how love conquers our sinfulness, hurts and pains, the Convention center. It was definitely an SRO event! fear, biases and prejudices. Didi Galsim then challenged the delIt took some three long months to prepare for the event. Differ- egates in the final session of “A Woman After God’s Own Heart” ent committees were tasked to take care of the program and the inviting them to carry out God’s wish – for them to abide in Christ, talks, the venue and the production. Different groups were in charge walk by the Holy Spirit and love others as God loves us. Each was of the accommodation, making sure that everything was provided to manifest the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. for from medical needs, food and other logistics. The excitement Msgr. Crisostomo Cacho celebrated mass on Sunday morning grew as the date of the event fast approached. As adrenalin kicked and spoke about belonging to a spiritual house and how people in, it was full speed ahead for the organizing committee. are the living stones of God’s creations — each uniquely different On D-day itself, buses and vans brought in the delegates in huge from the other. He exhorted everyone to be tolerant of each other. numbers. The affair on Friday afternoon opened with a mass celThe conference ended with a Praisefest. Special Awards were ebrated by Rev. Fr. Roque Villanueva from the Diocese of Iba, given to Singapore (Most Organized Delegation), Misamis OcciZambales. His homily on the gospel for the day encouraged the dental (Most Inspiring Delegation), Laguna (Biggest Provincial Delneed to emulate women of the world as potential dwelling places egation), West C (Biggest Metro Manila Delegation), and West A of life especially when they carry their unborn children in their (First to reach target allocation). The special award called “Faithful wombs. One” was given to Eileen Lim of Singapore, Linda Hernandez of The program that evening was aptly called “Crazy About Love”. Brunei and Baby Cariquitan of USA for having attended the HOLD Regions from all over the Philippines and abroad showcased the International Conference for 5 consecutive years. different emotions about love which they presented through muEileen Lim, from Singapore had this to say,”…we were touched sic. Love songs in different dialects and some nostalgic songs sent by God in different ways at the HOLD Icon, thank you for the beauthe Handmaids crooning with ‘mucho gusto’. tiful memories. God is loving and merciful. He has blessed us with Saturday and Sunday were focused on the different inspirational the HOLD community.” Girlie Schramm from Germany said, “It talks on love. The first session, “Love Makes Us One” by Bernie was my first international conference and I wish this to be a habit, Cuevas, talked about the CFC global vision, the HOLD Vision and if the good Lord permits.” Everyone left the conference with high the HOLD Mission Statements likening a Christian community to spirits fired up to love one another and definitely inspired to be a human body which had different parts with different functions women after God’s own heart. designed by God to complement one another but still one body. Bel Liboro spoke about the various lives of saints in the second session entitled “Love is …”. Each participant was reminded on how they should be April 18, 2008 our models – ordinary people who show us how to


The origins of Couples for Christ
(part 3)
by Zeny Gimenez and Marivie Dalman
This will be the last in the series about the early origins of Couples for Christ. When we began this story, the intention was not to pit one side against the other or generate even more contentious issues than our community already faces. We simply wanted to tell the truth. In the interest of fairness, we wanted to hear from those who, for 15 long years, had stood silently by while only one perspective of our early history was told. This series has allowed the other side to be heard now, at a crucial time in our community life. Is it by God’s design? We will never know. What we do know is this: In the pursuit of truth, we discovered a great story. This is it! We tell it now, to the best of our abilities. If this series had raised more questions than it tries to answer, we sincerely apologize. History, after all, is only a series of perspectives that only attains clarity when seen from the vantage point of distance and time. Perhaps those questions will be answered in time, perhaps not. Perhaps we are all simply being asked to look at the facts and to relate those facts to our own lives. They are not meant to confuse or disorient us, but to lead us to a more committed life with the one who we say we are FOR… Christ. In the pursuit of historical research, there is a tendency to get swamped in the minute details. We found ourselves wading through reams of materials, most of them unsolicited. But the ones that mattered, the facts that we eventually published, were those that we actively solicited because Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community (LNP), the only true source of the facts, was not initially inclined to provide them. They only relented when we urged that Couples for Christ needed to hear their side. Even after 15 years, the people we spoke to, clearly still felt the pain caused by the events of 1993. But the telling of the truth and the catharsis of finally being able to speak out, appear to be pointing the way to true healing and reconciliation. In the last meeting that the authors had with Vic Gutierrez, together with Joe and Babylou Tale, what shone through was the spirit of genuine reconciliation. Joe was led to declare that this is the start of healing for both communities. He predicted a closer relationship between CFC and LNP based on the shared mission of renewal and of reaching out to others.

Dear Brethren: We thank all of you for your continued faithfulness to our CFC life and mission. We thank you most especially for the many messages of support and concern that you have sent during this new challenge in our community life. We refer to the news story that appeared in ABS-CBN News Online based among others, on a letter that Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity of the Vatican, sent to Joe Tale last March 11, 2008. We wish to immediately assure you that this news story is NOT a Vatican release. This was written by a local reporter, with an unfortunate slant inimical to CFC. We have accordingly written to ABS-CBN News Online, a copy of which was previously circulated. This letter was part of a continuing dialogue between Joe Tale (and the CFC International Council) and the Cardinal on the matter of how CFC can more fully live out its life and mission, and supposed to be a private communication to the CFC International Council. The dialogue began way back in August 2007, after the International Council wrote the Cardinal to inform him of the results of the elections. This was an act of courtesy in view of the fact that CFC is an international private association of the faithful, approved by the Vatican as such in 2005. The item of Cardinal Rylko’s letter cited by the news story (i.e. partnership with companies distributing contraceptives), has been the subject of consultations which the CFC International Council held with various pastors of the Philippine church, including Cardinal Rosales, even before we went to the Vatican. We asked the difficult questions, but the answers we got have been essentially the same. Joe Tale and Rouquel Ponte then visited the Cardinal in March 2008, seeking his guidance on the conflict that visited our community in 2007. The Cardinal was well-informed of the circumstances of the conflict, and knew that there were two groups now using the name Couples for Christ. The Cardinal was most concerned about accusations that CFC was veering away from its life and mission, particularly because of Gawad Kalinga’s partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. The IC assured the Cardinal that: 1. CFC has not and will not veer away from its vision and mission. Even while we are active in the social dimension of the gospel, our work in evangelization and family renewal have always been continuing. 2. The partnerships were entered into in good faith and in good heart. They involved capacity-building, particularly in the area of health care, and were definitely not about distribution of contraceptives in the GK sites. 3. The pharma companies concerned do not manufacture contraceptives in the Philippines and had in fact withdrawn whatever limited stocks from the Philippine market. On the other hand, the Cardinal maintained that: 1. CFC is under the guidance of the Church in issues of faith and morals. 2. Being pro-life includes not partnering with companies distributing contraceptives, even if such partners do not in fact distribute them in the Philippines. 3. Quoting from the letter of Cardinal Rylko’s letter to Joe Tale (March 11, 2008) he said, “We urge that you prepare and spread in the newspapers in the Philippines and on your website a well thought and clear public declaration recognizing the erroneous steps taken. It is recommendable that you prepare it with the help of some Bishops and ecclesiastical Advisor, so as to benefit the healing and growth of your organization. This open apology will help to clear the confusion among the faithful. Of course, your decision to stop receiving this type of funding will help recover the good standing of your association Couples for Christ.” The IC submitted to the Church’s stand. Although we argued that our intentions and actions were noble and that we saw things differently (no scandal in the partnership), we also understood the clergy’s perception that out partnership caused scandal among the faithful. Moreover, we expressed initially that we were not in favor of a public apology, but in obedience and in faith, although with sadness in our hearts, we obeyed. The IC has always advocated a posture
CFC / C2

The unraveling of the story…

January 1991, after almost 10 years of serving as the head of CFC, Vic yielded the overall leadership to Fr Herb Schneider. He was very busy serving in several areas as a leader in Ligaya. Frank Padilla was then the executive director of CFC and also served as the Coordinator of the North District. The rest of the CFC council were; Tony Meloto, Bobby Pilar, Rouquel Ponte, and Arben Visenio. CFC membership was about 7,000 couples; larger than LNP and all its ministries combined. There were many requests from various parishes for CFC to conduct a Christian Life Program. CFC could only accede to a few due to a lack of trained leaders. It had to ‘borrow’ leaders from Ligaya to accommodate these requests. Problems started to crop up, as Ligaya members had difficulty in balancing their schedule between service in CFC and Ligaya activities. CFC members were still in the so-called ‘underway’ phase undergoing leadership training.
Origins / C3

Vic and Agnes Gutierrez with Joe and Babylou Tale

by Joe Tale, CFC Executive Director


CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 3
February 4 - 17, 2008

God’s healing love
I take this opportunity to praise God and share a very personal experience of God’s healing love and His hand in the concrete circumstances in our lives. Praised be to Him, the author of life! My wife Babylou and I had planned to go to Baguio City the last weekend of March. I was scheduled to give a talk for the CFC Disciples Weekend. I decided to cancel our trip when I got an invitation from Melo Villaroman Jr to also give the same talks in the Disciples Weekend scheduled in Singapore. I accepted his invitation when I found out he was tasked to give all five talks. We were able to excuse ourselves since the Baguio weekend already had the support of three IC brothers. Our flight was booked on the 28th of March. It was a chance for Babylou to have a break. She was thrilled with the idea of celebrating her birthday in Singapore on the 30th of March. The morning of our departure, I went to the center to finish up some work. I hadn’t planned on staying long, but ended up leaving around 11:30 am. I had to fetch Babylou at home in Mandaluyong. I knew my schedule was tight but I was fairly confident we could make it. Traffic was bad. At some point it just didn’t make sense to continue. We considered turning back, but decided to give it a try even as Babylou’s disappointment started to set in. We got to the airport at 2:15 pm and needless to say the counter was closed. The plane was leaving in 15 minutes. We pleaded with the supervisor and we were surprised he agreed. We rushed to the gates and made it to our flight on time. I was not quite feeling well while we were on board. It felt like flu was setting in. When we got to Singapore, the fever set in with a fury. I took some medicine, had a sponge bath and went to bed. I woke up feeling rather weak the next morning. Patrick and Yvonne, our CFC leaders in Singapore, came over and brought me to a clinic nearby. The doctor prescribed some medicines which I took. I nursed my fever over a light lunch, and proceeded to the venue. I laid down on a bench in the cafeteria outside the auditorium and started sweating profusely. Feeling somehow better, I just changed my shirt and felt strong enough to deliver Talk 3, “As Jesus Loved” and Babylou also did some sharing. I begged off from the rest of the talks because at that point I really felt very weak. During the break, some brothers, who knew I had just been to another tropical country, suggested that aside from getting a medical check up, I should request to be tested for malaria. After the conference we headed straight to Mt. Alvernia, a Catholic hospital. After two long hours of waiting, the blood test confirmed the worst: I was positive for malaria and I had to be confined right away. When we got to my hospital room, it was a few minutes past midnight of March 30 and I felt terrible. What a “birthday gift” I was giving my wife an evening in a hospital room many miles away from home! My first three days in the hospital was really bad. I had intermittent high fever. I had no appetite at all and I was constantly vomiting. My platelet count was steadily decreasing, finally reaching a low of 51. My potassium and blood sugar were also precariously low and I could not take any of the awful tasting oral medicine. I could hardly sleep because of the numerous tests being administered round the clock. I had IV connections in both arms which made it difficult to move about. All this time, Melo and Nini Villaroman and the CFC members in Singapore were generous with their support. They would take turns visiting, praying over me and keeping Babylou company. Eddie and Angie Low graciously accompanied Babylou to hear Mass during her birthday. A nun in the hospital gave me daily communion. Fr. Steven, CFC Singapore Spiritual Director, gave me the anointing of the sick. Dr. Lam, a specialist in infectious diseases who was attending to me, gave us regular updates on how the malaria parasite count steadily decreased, and how my platelet count was improving. I was given Ensure to sustain me since it was the only food I could take. I knew my appetite had partially returned when I requested Melo to get me a charbroiled burger. I could finish only a fourth of it, but it was a good sign. It was only later, after I had gotten better, that Babylou and I discovered the extent of the danger I was in. I had the deadly strain of malaria, Falciparum. This strain was fatal! I later learned that it attacks the brain, liver, kidney and other vital organs. Dr. Lam has a long list of patients with widespread malaria who eventually went into coma and died. Quite a few were hospitalized for months undergoing dialysis because their kidneys were affected. I was evidently an exception. Babylou and I didn’t know any of these. Former Defense Secretary Rene de Villa, a CFC brother who happened to be in Singapore, came to visit me in the hospital. He narrated to me his bout with malaria when he was still active in the military. He told us about other soldiers in his group who died on the our CFC community. This is definitely another lease in life for me, third day of their illness. and I will use it to serve and glorify our God even more! I truly praise and thank God that He brought us to Singapore, that He used fellow CFC brothers to advise me to have the malaria test. God brought me there to get the best care and the best medicine. I CFC / C1 learned from Joe Yamamoto, a CFC brother who is a physician, that we only have the oral form of medicine in the Philippines. The of humility and obedience to the Church. While we express our intravenous type of medicine is not available locally. Had I stayed in views and justify them, in the end, we obey authority, consistent Manila or gone to Baguio, I would have in all likelihood just consid- with our own culture in CFC and our vision statement which inered it the ordinary flu. I had the diagnosis and the treatment just in cludes the phase “one with the Catholic Church.” And so we obeyed. Last April 7, 2008, we published a full-page the nick of time. God’s timing is perfect! God provided for all my needs. After my discharge from the hos- ad in the Philippine Star. The IC is of the belief that this was part of pital, I also had the best place to recuperate. Babylou and I were our governance responsibility of safeguarding the oneness of our invited by Philippine Ambassador to Singapore, Amb. Belen Anota community’s mission with the church. It is unfortunate that our and her husband Jun to stay with them. Both are CFC members. God detractors are now using this gesture of obedience and commitment to our Catholic faith to try to discredit us. We urge all of you bless their hearts! I would like to thank my angels – Melo and Nini Villaroman to be steadfast. God is testing our humility and obedience. He is and all the CFC brethren in Singapore for all their love and sup- asking us to make the sacrifice of loving even those who seek to port. I am so grateful for the care that was given to me by Dr. Lam destroy us. There are many things we do not understand as we and the medical and nursing staff of Mt. Alvernia Hospital. I also journey through this life but when Church authority, we obey, conthank my family, my two daughters Vida and Rica, our son in law fident that our quiet acceptance of His will shall open the floodJon Hizon and his parents Bing and Ellen and all of you brothers gates of His graces. We assure everyone that we will not waiver from our commitand sisters in the CFC global family from around the world who prayed and offered novenas and masses for my healing and recov- ment to love and care for the poor. We continue to be guided by ery. I also thank the brethren from FFL and my relatives and friends our Mission statement – “Building the Church of the Home and who likewise offered their prayers. Heaven was definitely stormed Building the Church of the Poor.” We exhort you to pray for our community as we weather this with your prayers. I am sure the Lord heard you and healed me of storm. Once again, it is time to remind ourselves that our God has my disease. I especially honor my wife Babylou who showered me with her given us a wonderful message, one that will refine us into better sacrificial love. She was indeed the “Chief Nurse” who kept me com- servants and pastors – “Love one another as I have loved you.” This is our beacon and guide as we forge ahead in our vision and pany 24/7. All thanksgiving, all glory and honor I give to our loving God, our mission. greatest Healer, who arranges all the circumstances of our lives so God bless us all. we can fully experience Him! Babylou claims she got the best birthday gift from God, after all. CFC INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL The early detection and treatment of my malaria, in a very real way, allowed me to feel God’s love, love from my family and love from

Philippine Scenes and Wonders

CFC’S establishment in 1981 signalled the birth of a community that eventually became one of the more dynamic Catholic charismatic organizations in the world. Fr. Herb Schneider, S.J. initially oversaw the birth process of a community that has committed itself to the vision of Families in the Holy Spirit Renewing the Face of the Earth.

Being one with the Catholic Church
gin and direction needed to be embodied in the expanded vision where CFC’s being “One with the Catholic church” is emphasized. The statement does not pay mere lip service to unity with the Church; the community has indeed embraced it as a continual reminder of how and with whom we are to serve. To us in CFC, what does being one with the Catholic Church denote? The following come to mind: 1. Acclamation of its origin and life- From its humble beginnings in 1981 as an outreach of another Catholic charismatic community, Ligaya ng Panginoon, the greatest majority of CFC members were and are Catholics. In this regard, it reflected outright its fundamental orientation if not the totality of its mission. Remember that the basic intent originally was to help impress upon the husbands their roles and enable them to act as priests of the domestic church; they were to bring the presence of God in their family by presenting Christ to the family, and the family to Christ. CFC leaders and members were strengthened by their better understanding of the roles of prayer, the sacraments, and the centrality of the Holy Mass in the life of Catholics. General assemblies, even from the early stages of our community, began with the Sacrifice of the Mass. The prayer meetings, held in the homes of members, were a further affirmation of this union with the Church. The emphasis on prayer, on the insistence that we are marked with the sign of the Cross and therefore, all activities must begin with the sign, on the conscious effort to establish loving relationship with one another – these are all hallmarks of our faith. 3. Defines its fidelity to the call of the Church by responding to the Great Commission. - As CFC reach out to the Filipino migrant communities around the world initially, it became a natural progression to extend the invitation to the CLPs to the nationals particularly as they have become related to the originally Filipino migrant communities, by reason of intermarriages, birth or affinity, because of work or association. But the most important consideration as well as realization is that peoples of all races and status have the same spiritual needs and respond to programs, activities or communities that address their yearnings. CFC’s great commission has extended to every corner of the world, and now institutionalized by the creation of the International Mission Office. The IMO is in charge of more than 70 missionaries, single and married, who have responded to the call to mission and are now deployed in many countries. Because, CFC faithfully exercises its role as evangelizers borne by the distinctive identity of members as disciples of Christ, the connectedness to the primary mission of the Church is very clear. For much of its formative years, CFC worked for evangelization and family life renewal but before the end of the last century, it responded to the call of the Church for total Christian liberation, represented by CFC’s thrust in social justice, respect for life and work with the poor. 4. Acts in line with the changes brought about by Vatican II and PCP II. — Not only does CFC become active in the Church as members but by and large, supports the work in the parish and the dioceses. The presence of CFC members in the parish enlivens the worship and service life in the local churches because they become more involved in the life of the parish by becoming leaders of members of parish pastoral councils, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, choir members and the like. The also support pre-Cana activities and reinforce charismatic life in music and in worship. Many parish priests have been delighted to see the resurgence of interest in seminars sponsored by the parish and in many activities such as liturgical processions and feasts.

by Joe Yamamoto Philippine Missions Director International Council Member

While there have been many organizations and movements in the long history of the Church, CFC is one of those that continue to review its evolutionary process while responding to the challenges and opportunities of the rapidly changing times. A very important milestone for the community was the permanent recognition given it by the Vatican in 2005 as a private lay association. This came after a preliminary five-year period of waiting during which CFC’s status was one of temporary recognition. Nevertheless, it embraced the triple task of evangelization, family life renewal and the work of total Christian liberation even when its status was ad experimentum. By 2007, it became clearer that despite problems that confronted the community, our ori-

Members of Couples For Christ, who before their renewed life, were nominal Catholics attending only Sunday mass and with only a cursory interest in the liturgy, have become active participants. Many CFC members have developed a very personal relationship with Jesus, and have made daily Mass and communion a part of their lives. Our oneness with our Mother Church is indeed part and parcel of our being CFC, and has been our guide from the start. It isn’t a dictum that is now forced upon us by virtue of the recent circumstances. Our history, our life and mission, our very existence is one of unity with our pastors and with our Church. To say the least, Couples for Christ as a community has made its contribution to effectively change the landscape of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. With the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we continue to look forward as children of God, and as families in the Holy Spirit renewing the face of the earth to build a church of the home and a church of the poor.

2. Identity as a community raised by God. - CFC’s human founders are Catholics. As one goes over and studies the history of Couples for Christ, the pivotal roles played by Fr. Herb Schneider, S.J., Vic Gutierrez and others are very evident. (See and read the Origins of CFC, CBCP Monitor Ugnayan supplement for March and April 2008). The Vatican Statutes affirmed and redefined our identity. The global nature of CFC in no way diluted its Catholic identity but further enhanced it.

CBCP Monitor CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 3
February 4 - 17, 2008

Because of its young population, CFC has made great inroads through Youth for Christ. YFC now has an active membership of about 500 youth, starting from the first youth camp in Fuiloro, Lospalos, a district in the easternmost tip of the island in 2002. The youth are taking the lead to show that God’s love demands our entire heart, will, mind and that if we let Him, He will totally change our lives. Stories from the youth include those of the rotunda trouble-makers of Comoro during the 2006. Back then they stoned passing cars, beat up people, and burned houses. Today they are active YFC members and one of them is the youth head of the largest Dili chapter, Comoro. There are other, and simpler, stories of quiet commitment like the nameless, countless members who brave the noonday heat, walking to YFC activities because they don’t even have the money for public transportation. Youth for Christ, concentrated in Dili, is present in 5 parishes and 1 campus-based university. It is also present in 5 districts (provinces), mostly in the eastern half of the island. The year 2008 kicked off with the YFC Couple Coordinators’ Training, SHOUT (Summer House Training) of the Dili leaders and the YFC Summit (Leaders’ Conference) all in the month of January. With growing passion in their hearts, the youth of Timor are starting to see hope despite the confusion and instability of their country’s situation. They themselves have ceased to strike with their fists and are now raising their hands up in praise. Without a doubt, God will still do “greater things than these” in Timor.


CFC – Youth for Christ – Timor Leste
“Foti sae gerasaun foun fiar na’in sira nian!” – “Raising up a new generation of believers!” This pretty much sums up the amazing things the Lord is just beginning to accomplish in Timor Leste. This country has a population of more or less a million people, 60% of which are youth. It has had a tumultuous history marked by violence, poverty and political instability. It is actually an insignificant dot on the map but for the Philippines, Timor Leste is important because it is the only other Catholic country in Asia.

Papal Nuncio F. Padilla welcomes Joe Tale in Papua New Guinea
Last March 1, 2008, Joe Tale visited CFC of Papua New Guinea to address the 200 delegates of the 2 nd National Missions Conference. He and two members of the CFC Port Moresby Area Council made a courtesy call to His Excellency Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, the Papal Nuncio of Papua New Guinea. Joe Tale expressed his gratitude to the papal nuncio for his support for CFC in Papua New Guinea. He also assured the Archbishop that CFC will always work side by side with the clergy, especially in the area of family renewal and evangelization. The Archbishop commended CFC, saying: “I am happy with your work, CFC is always welcome here. Please continue what you are doing.” – CFC PNG

(L-R) Bro. John Orea, Bro. Joe Tale, Archbishop Frank Padilla and Bro. Abe Dela Cruz.

Origins / C1

Towards the end of 1991, Frank met with Vic to discuss CFC concerns and a proposal to establish CFC as an independent community. It would entail the spinning off the East district so that the entire group could concentrate fully on CFC. Vic, as his pastoral leader, advised him to put his proposal in writing and submit it to Fr Herb. However Fr Herb and the ExCom took a while before acting on the proposal. By 1992, the atmosphere in the community was rife with rumors and news about CFC’s plan to separate. This was the backdrop of a major upheaval that led to the separation of CFC from LNP in 1993.

The Final Stages…

On March 19 during the Elder’s Assembly, before the agreed date to dialogue with Fr. Herb, Frank dissolved the council, held elections and declared the establishment of the ‘new’ Couples For Christ Global Mission Foundation Inc. The next day he wrote a letter to Fr Herb, informing him that the assembly of the previous night had elected a new Council and that CFC was no longer willing to be under the authority and direction of LNP. On the issue regarding ownership he wrote, “There is no question that God owns CFC, and it is distasteful for any human person or organization to claim ownership of what belongs only to God. You will agree with this and thus there is no need to address this, it is the practical consequences of so- called “ownership” that need to be addressed, and these are mandate and accountability.”

independence from us and also let us not insist that the executive director be a LNP member.”


It is useless now to speculate whether or not Fr. Herb’s proposal would have made a difference. The split pushed through because the major players in CFC were convinced that it was by God’s design. It has now been 15 years since that painful period in CFC’s life. Both communities have

gone their separate but parallel ways, sharing a common vision – to be instruments by which people can draw closer to God. It is perhaps a fitting end to this story that on the eve of his departure for a new life abroad with his wife, Vic wrote the following letter to the CFC International Council. Eschewing any pretensions to be “founder,” Vic says he wrote the letter as an exercise of the “grace of paternity,” as a father to children he once nurtured.

Letter to the CFC International Council Dear Brothers,
I graciously agreed to speak with your Ugnayan staff though with much hesitation when you asked me to comment on the CFC origins and the 1993 CFC-LNP split. I understood your quest. It is normal for any organization to try to authenticate its early beginnings and directions. The results of the interviews have now been published in the CBCP Monitor and many are happy about them. I am pleased to have been of help. But I must have been naïve to think that my recollections of the past would be appreciated by all who are and were part of the CFC. Even with documents backing up my points of view, there arose dissenting views. My credibility was assailed, my version doubted and I am made to appear a peddler of untruths. I do not mind that. For 15 years, some of you in the CFC have looked at me with very low regard because of accusations thrown against me by some of your leaders. I do not wish to make any attempt to vindicate myself now. It is not important to me. I have concerns though. My version of the CFC origins seems to have fanned the flames of hostility further between your group and the FFL. I do not wish it upon you all. The grace of paternity that St. John of the Cross spoke about impels me to desire nothing but peace and unity between the Global and the FFL servants of the Lord. Like a father, I pray that you may have peace, love and justice among all of you in the CFC. Let there be no more ‘Global’ or ‘FFL’ among you; only humble servants of God. When the CFC split from the LNP in 1993, my ten-year old son said that the Lord had three words for me. He and I had just come out of a one-hour visit to the Blessed Sacrament. He said the words were: Love. Hope. Peace. He explained to me what the words meant. Love the brothers and sisters in CFC. Hope for a better relationship. Pray for peace to rule the hearts of the leaders of both LNP and CFC so that they can do God’s work effectively. Quite mature for a ten-year old, I took him seriously and I shared those words of wisdom with the brothers and sisters in LNP who were affected by the CFC-LNP split. Compliance with those words protected and nourished us in the LNP in the past 15 years. Now I share the same words with you. Love. Hope. Peace. They can help you in your current situation.” The FFL group is asking the Ugnayan to be fair. Get the side of Frank Padilla, they say. But some of you say that Frank had 15 years to promote his side of the story. You know the situation better than I do. However, maybe the FFL is right to demand that their side be heard. Why not put the taped speech of Frank of March 19, 1993 on your website? Make it also available for audio listening at your office for anybody who wants to listen to his arguments and decisions on why CFC broke away from LNP. That was an event that Frank is very proud of, I was told. Then, publish the letter of Fr. Herb Schneider of March 11, 1993 which Frank denounces as a clear admission that Ligaya wanted nothing but to control CFC. And publish the reply of Frank dated March 20, 1993. Everyone’s side will then have a chance to be heard for one final time. After that, close the matter and never speak about it again for the sake of peace. What can be fairer than that? “Some say I still hold a grudge against CFC? Evidence? That I was not a signatory to the statement of reconciliation between CFC and LNP in 2005. Please understand that I had already retired from leadership at that time. Let me reprint here a part of my letter to the LNP Senior Head Coordinator in 2005 which should explain everything. “First, I think it is alright that you meet with the top leaders of the CFC as proposed. You are the incumbent SHC of the Ligaya and thus you are empowered to represent the Ligaya in matters like these. It is also right for Fr. Herb to come with you because he is Ligaya’s spiritual director. Together, the two of you can have a meaningful dialogue with Frank Padilla and his leaders. But I do not have to join you for I hold no leadership position in the community and I am comfortable with where I am right now.” I have nothing to settle with Frank and his friends personally. They did what they have done and they know what they did. If they think it is not wrong, I do not have a mission to tell them that what they did was wrong. They are big boys now. On the other hand, if they think they did wrong to Ligaya, then they should ask forgiveness for that wrongdoing and you should accept the apology on behalf of Ligaya. No big deal. On a personal level, if Frank and his friends want to meet with me for anything, we do not need a third party, a go-between, to facilitate the meeting. Frank knows where to reach me. And we are on speaking terms.” Have I been telling you the truth? Yes. But if anyone doubts me, I can only borrow the wit of Abraham Lincoln, “…ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.” It makes no difference now whether some of you in the CFC or in FFL believe my account or not. There is nothing we can do about the past except to look back at it maturely and profit from it. What do I gain from all these? Nothing. I also ask for nothing. How about you? Coming to me is an exercise in humility on your part. You came asking me, whose word had been meaningless to you in the past, to ask for my account of what happened from your founding in 1981 and the CFC-LNP split in 1993. You published my account even if it hurt some of you. I commend you. Where do you go from here? The task of evangelizing the world can continue without any of us. In a moment, God used us for the task. In another instant, we are put aside. When we say that only God owns CFC, we should examine what claims we make about the task and the organization, the positions and the corporate functions. I know I sound like I am preaching to the choir, but even leaders like ourselves need to be reminded of the most basic truths about the service we do in the Kingdom of God. As for me, I will continue to exercise the grace of paternity. I will pray for your eventual healing and unity. I will pray that you will be restored to the fuller understanding of the mind of Christ about the work we do and the relationships we must maintain with our fellow servants God bless us all. In Jesus, Vic B. Gutierrez April 15, 2008

Ominous days…

February 1993, Fr Herb met in a series of meetings with Frank and some members of the CFC council. After the meetings, on March 11, he wrote a memo to Frank Padilla and the CFC Council explaining the response of the Overall Leadership Team (OLT). The following are excerpts from this memo: “Couples for Christ is an outreach of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community and a partner in mission with LNP and the other outreach organizations that were formed by the community. As such CFC leadership needs to acknowledge openly its accountability to the authority of the community over its outreaches as this is exercised by the Partners in Mission Council (in which CFC participates) and by the Overall Leadership Team. The Executive Director of CFC, like all other executive directors of Ligaya outreaches, needs to be a covenanted member of LNP. This has been a long-standing policy. As a coordinator of the community, Frank was involved in establishing this policy. …This means that Frank needs to live out his Ligaya commitments under the direction of his district coordinator, if he wishes to continue to serve as Executive Director of Couples for Christ.” Fr. Herb had this to say about ‘who owns CFC’: “I believe with all my heart that the Lord inspired leaders of the Ligaya to start Couples for Christ. I believe that He guided these same leaders and others whom they raised up to develop CFC into the effective outreach for family renewal that it has become over the years. …I believe Couples for Christ is what it is today because of the selfless cooperation in mission of many, many couples in CFC and in Ligaya. The leadership of community members on many levels made invaluable contributions especially in the earlier years of CFC. All of the above being true, in no way denies the authority of the community over Couples for Christ.”

On mandate he wrote, ”You claim that you placed us in our positions and that you have authority over us, our position is that its simply not right for a few men, who are not directly involved in the life of CFC and whose priorities lie elsewhere, to have this control and authority, over the lives of 45,000 people. Those who are in CFC should be the ones to determine their own leadership and how their lives are going to be lived. Thus we have elected a new Council, by an overwhelming majority vote of CFC elders during our Elders Assembly yesterday. This new CFC Council now has its mandate and authority directly from its own members, through the elders themselves and as representatives of all other CFC members in this country.” On accountability he wrote, “You maintain that; CFC must be accountable to LNP and/or to the OLT and/or to the Partners-in-Mission Council. We steadfastly believe in accountability and pastoral cover. But it can no longer be to LNP/OLT, because we are no longer confident in your ability to care for CFC and to look to its best interests. Furthermore, LNP itself has no pastoral cover or accountability to speak of, aside from within itself or within the SOS. Thus we have decided to voluntarily submit ourselves to the pastoral care of the Catholic Church and to be accountable to her shepherds, our bishops. Thus we have asked the following bishops to be our Spiritual Directors over regional CFC groups, to wit: Bishop Teodoro Bacani - CFC Metro Manila Bishop Ruben Profugo - CFC Luzon Bishop Jesus Varela - CFC Bicol Archbishop Angel Lagdameo - CFC Visayas Bishop Carmelo Morelos - CFC Mindanao All the above is to say that CFC, in accordance with what we believe is God’s will, will determine its own life and mission, independent of and from LNP. We ask that you accept the will of the great majority of CFC leaders and members, and no longer try to impose anything on us. We ask you this, knowing fully well your disagreements, for the sake of CFC and the good of the overwhelming number of its members.”

Making a stand, Fr. Herb declared: “If he (Frank) feels called to leave Ligaya, he resigns as executive director of CFC. One can be fully involved in the mission of CFC and give all one’s time and energy to it without being an executive director.” He also appealed to the CFC Council to “… postpone the decision on appointing new members to the CFC Council until we can finish our organizational and structural decisions at the Partners in Mission Council. Furthermore, may I have the opportunity to communicate and explain the above to the Elders of CFC at their next assembly.”


The Game Plan…

While consultations and meetings were ongoing among Ligaya leaders and some members of the CFC Council, the articles of incorporation of a ‘new’ CFC were already being worked out by a select few CFC leaders. It is now evident that just a small number of CFC leaders were privy to the round table discussions with Fr. Herb. Certain compromises were apparently made because of their love for CFC, their loyalty to Frank their leader, and belief in his ideals. The greater majority of CFC members did not know the complete picture. They believed what they were told and knew only one thing - that the growth of CFC was hampered by LNP, whose training of leaders was limited and whose vision for evangelization was ‘inward looking’ not ‘outward looking.’ A lot of the leaders thought that the idea to separate was a blessing from heaven, that it was God’s answer to their prayers. Meantime, Frank requested for a week of prayer and discernment, but the die was cast and the separation was in the pipeline. The split would occur in days.

Frank and his wife Gerry, together with about 30 LNP leaders resigned from LNP. Bobby Pilar and Arben Visenio opted to stay with Ligaya. Some LNP members chose only to take a leave of absence from LNP, unwilling to leave behind the evangelization work that they had already started in CFC. Frank did not run for any position and it was Rouquel Ponte who became executive director of CFC for the next six years. It was a period of pain and anguish, of losing friends, of broken relationships. It was time for prayer and discernment for leaders who were torn between love and loyalty to LNP and dedication to work and service in CFC. The crisis eventually became global as the rest of the leaders and members of CFC communities abroad had to make difficult decisions: Whether to stay or to go. But, there was no need for all the pain and resentment, unknown to Frank and the CFC council, Fr. Herb drafted a proposal as a response to the issues that beset CFC. One significant paragraph in this proposal stands out: “LNP is genuinely concerned for the sound development of CFC. We want it to be long-range effective for Church and family renewal. Let me propose the following approach, let us give Couples For Christ its

The Proposal…



CBCP Monitor
Vol. 12 No. 3
February 4 - 17, 2008

Charism: grace from GOD
“A Church without charism could only be a Church without grace.” – Cardinal Avery Dulles An eager crowd greeted Rev. Fr. Anton Pascual at the CFC teaching night held in Xavier School on April 22. In his talk entitled: Charism, Its Meaning and Challenges, the jovial priest urged the leaders of the community to discern CFC’s particular charism at this age and time, which, he says, is “the embodiment of your vision, mission, and core values” and that which makes CFC “unique and distinct.” Fr. Anton explained that while charism (from the Greek word charis, meaning “grace”) is a spiritual gift freely and unconditionally given by God, it does not always end up being used for good. He cited the example of Adolf Hitler, who used his charisma as a leader to orchestrate World War II and destroy millions of lives. The Church, says Fr. Anton, is charismatically gifted by the Spirit to perform distinct and mutually complementing functions in building up the body of Christ. That is why in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, we read that there are different gifts but the same Spirit, different ways of serving but the same Lord, and different workings but the same God. The charismatic movement, in particular, is gifted with “a grace-given ability and willingness for any kind of service that contributes to the renewal and up building of the Church”. Hence, we have our different family and social ministries, including Gawad Kalinga. faithful are called to submit to their wisdom and guidance. As spiritual director of Serviam, a Catholic community, Fr. Anton is no stranger to the division and separation that sometimes happen to charismatic groups. The origin of the charismatic movement is Pentecostal or Protestant, he explains, and division or separation is typically Protestant. Unity, on the other hand, is the nature of Catholicism. To be truly Catholic is to be united into the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. Division is okay, he clarifies, if authentic personal and communal discernment is followed and the process is guided and approved by the pastoral office of the bishop. The role of the pastoral office explains Fr. Anton, is to encourage people to unleash their charism through words, sacraments, and ministry, and to authenticate genuine charism and distinguish them from false charism. It is also the pastors’ duty to discipline the exercise of the charism to prevent abuse, and coordinate all the particular charisms so that they are directed towards achieving greater unity of ecclesial love instead of a distorted self-sufficiency. Within the Church, says Fr. Anton, there should be a healthy interplay of institutions. For instance, CFC institutions (regular activities, laws, etc.) must complement, not conflict, with the higher institutions of the Catholic Church (liturgical seasons, sacraments, etc.) Individual charisms also interact to build up the Church as the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit, who is a source of creativity, energy, enthusiasm, and freedom, bestows charism in accordance to a person’s office, state of life, and social responsibilities. All graces bestowed on individuals always have a charismatic aspect, because it equips each person to fulfill particular tasks within the community. Therefore, “no one’s gift must be despised” because “each one has a proper and distinctive charism and is bound to respect the charism of others.”

A Creative Balance
According to Fr. Anton, there has always been tension between charism and institution since the time of the apostles, with charism coming from the Pauline tradition and institution from the Petrine tradition. The Church, however, holds that it needs both charism and institution. The Church cannot defend itself without institutionalized structures in the areas of doctrines and doctrinal formulation, forms of public worship, structures of pastoral governance, and laws and customs regulating the behavior of members. Neither can charism stand on its own. Fr. Anton noted that charism is sometimes divided into non-institutional (those without established guidelines, such as healing) and official (those with established guidelines, such as the laying of hands during ordination). He stressed what is called the charism of office, which renders the Pope infallible in matters of faith and morals. This charism of unfailing truth and faith is rooted in God’s promise “to assist the Church so that the faith of the Christian community will never be corrupted by erroneous teaching.” The Bishops are similarly gifted with charism of office, which is why the

Be discerning
While both charism and institution are important for the renewal and reform of the Church, both also present a danger to the community. In institutions, the rigid and mechanical structures may end up stifling the spiritual growth of its members. In charism, the danger comes in the form of manipulative leaders who may use their influence to gain political power or enrich themselves.

When asked to comment about the concept of a ‘keeper of the charism’, he said… “We designate people or an individual to preserve protect and nurture our charism. They are holders of our charism. I would rather choose to call it an institutionalized charism. The community designates people to preserve, protect and promote the charism of the community. Institutional charism is different from personal charism. Personal charism is that which a person has (i.e. teaching, prophecy etc), which he brings wherever he is. But of course if the person departs from the community, in good faith or otherwise, since the charism is institutionalized you can designate another person or organization to safeguard, preserve and promote the charism.” Fr. Anton cautioned against falling into the temptation to use our gifts for vested interest. He further warned against being fixated on a particular charism, noting that spiritual innovation of charism has taken place in church history through the likes of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola. In particular, he cites Mother Teresa, who was initially called to become a contemplative nun but later received another call to serve the poorest of the poor. “Use the gift that God has given you,” he advises, “but always be discerning. Always be aware of the movement of the Spirit because the Spirit blows where it wills. Discern the signs of the times. Interpret the will of God in history.”

The mark of Christ
Last April 4-6, 2008, 10,500 delegates from Youth for Christ chapters all over the country converged at Tagaytay City Centrum, Tagaytay City and declared themselves marked by the Mark of Christ. The venue was scorching hot by day, and shivering cold by night time, but the youth experienced three days of nothing but the love of Christ filling the venue. The stage made YFC history by its sheer size, being the biggest built, 48 ft by 24 ft, with 36 panels designed with the 7 YFC identities. The size of the assembly also made history, being the biggest turnout in the many years that the International Leaders Conference has been held. The conference started at 9 AM of Friday with a parade of colors, presenting all regions, as segue for the competitions. The vibrant worship led by Ro Nierre on Friday night, by Dexter Suban on Saturday morning, and by Philip Aquino on Saturday night maintained the mood for the entire conference. The talks were inspiring, as usual. “Marked” was given by Angelo Saludo, Fulltime Pastoral Worker for YFC Manila. Rouquel Ponte, International Missions Director of CFC, and Rommel Ancheta, International Coordinator of YFC, together pinned down the message of great encouragement and exhortation to continue the mission of evangelization and work with the poor. Fr. Roland of Dumaguete and Fr. Nelson of Paranaque shared their amazement at the wonderful spirit of the youth. Dana Flores, YFC Fulltime worker for YFC Metro Manila gave a talk on “Let God” while Dunn Estacio, YFC Fulltime Worker from the USA, gave the talk entitled “Declare,” leading the youth to shout out their love for the Lord and to lay everything down for God. Workshops on discipleship, marketing Jesus, career building, worship, website and graphics, were given to enhance the talent, knowledge and skill of every YFC member. On the third day, the fourth session was on “Tatak Kristo,” designed to instill in the heart of every youth present that their mission is to spread the mark of Christ to everyone they know. The session made concrete examples of how we can extend God’s love through the 7 YFC identities: a) missionary; b) source of unity in the family; c) single-minded for God; d) 100% pure; e) patriot; f) champion of the poor; and g) model of excellence. It wasn’t just speeches and testimonies for the youth. Proving that they are indeed marked by the

Seychelles: love paradise
On March 15, 2008, the feast of St. Joseph, husband of Mary, Seychelles, an archipelago consisting of 155 islands and with the smallest population among the sovereign states in Africa, became the love paradise of the continent as CFC members gathered for the Disciples Weekend. As early as 6 AM, brothers and sisters from the different towns of Seychelles streamed into Deepam Cinema. Soon, their voices were raised in praise and thanksgiving, attracting even bystanders to the event. CFC Missionaries in Seychelles, Lito and Ofie Samaniego, and CFC East and Central Africa Coordinator, Clarke and Cynthia Nebrao, gave stirring testimonies of love. The Governance Team of CFC Seychelles also took turns in sharing the challenges of loving in the context of the Seychellois society. The Disciples Weekend in Seychelles was graced by the presence of His Lordship Bishop Denis Weihe, Bishop of the Diocese of Victoria, Seychelles. In his message to the community he said, “I love three things about Couples for Christ. One, CFC empowers the local leadership of the country to take on the work of evangelization. With the local leadership in place, we can evangelize more people in this country. Two, CFC is very missionary. You don’t wait for things to settle down, but with urgency, you move on to reach more people to know God’s love. It is in this missionary spirit that the disciples of Jesus carried the love of Christ to all the nations. It is my wish that CFC Seychelles will bring back families, especially the men, back to Christ. Third, CFC is very much within the structure of the Catholic Church. You are bringing back the fire of the Holy Spirit in our Church. It is because of this fire that CFC, in less than two years of its establishment here in Seychelles, have exceeded my expectations. Now, let us love one another as Jesus loved us so we can evangelize and bring individuals, families and this country back to God’s loving arms.” - Clarke Simoy Nebrao

love of Christ, the youth participated in the Tatag Kristo Youth Build in GK Alapan, Cavite from March 31 to April 3. Just before the conference started, the youth from different provinces and areas formed teams of 10-15 members and actually built houses. It was simple and yet Christ’s love was very much real during the build. The youth built not only houses but also the reality of God’s love in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Gawad Kalinga. Kookie Santos from Team Laguna declared: “Before, this GK site was pretty much a dumpsite. But now it is a beautiful village with colorful homes and wonderful people. Luckily, many people have good hearts and want to help other people.” April Liz Parreño, Team YFC Iloilo, had this to say:”The GK Build experience was indescribable. It just proved that with God, all things are indeed possible. It made me realize that though our country’s situation today is miserable, we can change it. We must not lose hope for we have a great God, and with His grace, we, the CFC Youth for Christ, are capable of uplifting the hopes of others.” The whole week of the YFC Build and the weekend of the YFC ILC was indeed a great experience everyone will remember. Christ is our identity. Christ is our mark. This is the message of this great week of our journey to the mountaintop of glory. This is one journey for all the 10,500 youth to experience Christ. As the youth left the venue to go back to their respective areas, the challenge that they brought home was to live out the mark and spread Christ to everyone, especially to the

Love: antidote to war and fear
The start of the year was a very difficult time for our mission center in Kenya. This country experienced post election violence with around 3,000 people killed and 250,000 Kenyans being displaced in their own country. At the peak of the violence and uncertainty, the members of Couples for Christ Kenya responded with loving concern for their countrymen. CFC members from different parishes pooled their resources together and donated clothing, maize meals, blankets and whatever else they could share. The various leaders of Couples for Christ Kenya presented a monetary donation to the Cardinal of Kenya for the resettlement of the remaining displaced peoples in the country. His Eminence John Cardinal Njue, Cardinal Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya, in response, said, “Couples for Christ, take courage! Problems and difficulties will be there, but remember that the resurrection of Christ was the greatest declaration of love to all His people. It is in this resurrection that we have our faith. I commit myself and my vocation to the family especially the couple where the family starts. You have come a long way, but still we are far away from our destination. Let us journey together for healing and love to prevail in this country, our beloved Kenya. In this time of unrest, fear and uncertainty in our country, the only way to fight back is to sow seeds of peace through love. Love translated into helping our fellow Kenyans to move on and find peace in the Lord. Couples for Christ, keep up your good works. You have my love and support.” — Clarke Simoy Nebrao

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