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Thousands of people gather in San Carlos City, Pangasinan for a prayer rally against the reimposition of the death penalty on Dec. 12, 2016. Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said improving the country’s criminal justice system
is an effective deterrent against crime, not the capital punishment. PHOTO COURTESY OF FR. JEFFREY SEGOVIA

Death penalty
‘lazy’ approach —
Archbishop Soc

THERE is definitely a
case for overhauling the
criminal justice system
instead of reimposing capital
punishment, which, said
a Catholic archbishop, is a
“lazy” solution.
“Cleanse the police ranks!

Fix all the courts! Tighten
(the security) at the Bilibid
and other prisons. Death
penalty is a lazy form of
penalty instead of helping
reform those who made
mistakes,” said Archbishop
Socrates Villegas of

Lingayen-Dagupan at a
prayer rally in San Carlos
City on Dec. 12.
The prelate said the death
penalty is unworkable while
an efficient justice system is
capable of controlling crime.
“We are not protesting

without a solution. We
are protesting with an
alternative. Reform the
criminal justice system,”
said Villegas.
The archbishop said the
government must urgently
Lazy / A7


DECEMBER 19 - 31, 2016 VOL 20, NO. 31

Faithful urged:
Pray for EJK
victims’ mothers
“LET us pray for the mothers
of all those who died from extra
judicial killings…let us pray for
these mothers today.”
This is what Fr. Ben Beltran,
SVD said in a homily on the
Solemnity of the Immaculate
Conception of Mary, Dec. 8,
2016 at the Sacred Heart Shrine
Parish of Kamuning in this city.
“Every child is precious to
his mother,” he said in Filipino.
“Let us pray for these mothers
who cry for justice…for those
suspected only with no evidence
but [likewise] killed.”
Horrified by the continuous
increase in the summary
executions connected to the
government’s war on illegal
drugs, the priest highlighted
God’s promise of hope–
renewed life and salvation–for
those who have fallen into
grave sin, the opposite of what
is happening in many parts of
the country.
He stressed the need for
the faithful to pray for those
who cry out for justice like the
mothers of those who died at
the hands of policemen and
riding-in-tandems because of
the mere suspicion of drug use
or trade.
He called on those present
to imitate Mary who signifies
hope for mankind since she
was chosen by God to be free
from original sin so she could
bear in her womb the Savior of
“Let us pray for the
psychospiritual program of
the parish for the rehabilitation
of those afflicted…to give them
hope,” the priest also said,
citing the shrine’s program for
drug dependents.
As Public Affairs Ministry
(PAM) director of the
shrine, Beltran heads
the psychospiritual drug
rehabilitation program that
involves barangays Sacred
Heart and Kamuning through
the Ugnayang Barangay At mga
Simbahan (UBAS).
Each barangay has its own
name for the program that the
shrine hosts every Saturday at
9:00 a.m. Since the program
started around three months
ago, 60 persons have already
enlisted, although only half
actually attend every Saturday.
(Minnie Agdeppa/



Cardinal Tagle: Don’t give
up on addicts, criminals
By Roi Lagarde

CARDINAL Luis Antonio
Tagle of Manila said God
does not give up on sinners and “neither should

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle gestures during the greeting of peace at a Mass to mark the 10th founding anniversary of TV Maria at the Manila archdiocese’s
chapel in Intramuros, Dec. 13, 2016. ROY LAGARDE

Pia Wurtzbach donates for
Church’s scholarship program

As death toll of the “war on drugs”
nears 6,000 and in the face of the
government’s plan to revive the
death penalty, he stressed that good
Christians work with those who
have issues and try to restore them
in good faith.
In an Advent recollection on Dec.
11, the Manila archbishop strongly
condemned killings as “an act of
hopelessness and despair.”
“A people that has hope will never
kill,” Cardinal Tagle said.
According to him, hope means
that despite life’s challenges and
human imperfection, there is new
life. “But when you kill the person,
how will you see new life?” he asked.
“Every life has hope. Every life has
an opportunity to be transformed, if
Addicts / A6

Disaster response program
rolled out in 11 dioceses
THE National
Secretariat for Social
Action (NASSA)/
Caritas Philippines
has started to roll
out in eleven dioceses
the European Union
program called
Partnership for
Building Capacities in
Humanitarian Action
(PEACH), which

aims to strengthen
the Catholic
Church’s capacity
in responding to
Among the issues
discussed were
the processes,
and tools used
in humanitarian
response based
o n
C a r i t a s

emergency response
framework and
other international
“This training
is very timely as
Philippines is
gearing towards the
strengthening of the
Catholic Church’s
Response / A3

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle blesses Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach during a courtesy call at the
archbishop’s residence in Intramuros, Manila, Dec. 12, 2016. ROY LAGARDE

Bacolod bishop rallies faithful
vs. death penalty

REIGNING Miss Universe Pia
Wurtzbach is giving back to
children from the poorest of the
poor by giving financial aid and help
raise money for a Church-based
scholarship program.
Wurtzbach paid a courtesy visit
on Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on
Dec. 12 to turnover her donation to
Caritas Manila at the archbishop’s
residence in Intramuros.
She also donated designer clothes,
bags and other accessories that

AS Congress swiftly moves to
resurrect the death penalty, the
Diocese of Bacolod voiced its
opposition to the “culture of
death” through a “Prayer Rally
for Life” on Dec. 12, feast of Our
Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of
the unborn and of the defenders
of human life.
Opening with a procession
at the Sacred Heart Seminary
Shrine, the prayer rally proceeded
to the Bacolod Public Plaza, where

were sold at the Caritas’ first ever
“Celebrity and Friends Pre-loved
Luxury Brands Sale” at the Glorietta
5 in Makati City on Dec. 13 to 14.
The cardinal said proceeds from
the Christmas bazaar will be used to
fund the Youth Servant Leadership
and Education Program (YSLEP) of
Caritas Manila.
“We are here for one purpose and
it is to serve our brothers and sisters
with no other motivation but love…
Donates / A6

Bishop Patricio Buzon celebrated
a Mass and delivered his message.
Delegations from Catholic
schools and parishes also joined
the procession.
Death penalty is like ‘moving
Even as the newly-installed
Bishop of Bacolod, Buzon already
declared in August that bringing
back the death penalty is ironic
Faithful / A3


December 19 - 31, 2016 Vol 20, No. 31

Persecuted Christian bishops
denied UK visas

who persecute Christians,” he charged.
A Home Office spokesperson said that
all visa applications are considered on
individual merits and applicants must
prove they meet immigration rules
The Barnabas Fund criticized the
decisions at length in an Oct. 2 editorial
at its website.
It said the concerns about the two
Iraqi bishops are “at best spurious.” The
fund rejected claims that the bishops
did not have enough money to support
themselves in the U.K. and might not
leave the country.
“Anyone who has paid the slightest
attention to current world news
reports would know that both men
have pressing pastoral responsibilities
as previously Christian areas held
by ISIS are liberated,” the Barnabas
Fund said.
“The refusal to grant a few days’ U.K.
visa to these very senior church leaders is
symptomatic of a deeper problem in the
U.K. Home Office,” it continued. “In fact
they are not the first persecuted Christian
leaders to be refused visas for pastoral
visits to the U.K., nor is this problem
confined to Orthodox Christians.”
The organization also noted the
denial of a visa to the Iraqi evangelical
pastor Majeed Rashid Kurdi, who was to
participate in a Barnabas Fund speaking

tour in the U.K.
The Barnabas Fund has previously
objected to U.K. Home Office guidance
stating that senior members of
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood should
be presumed to be granted asylum,
despite the group’s alleged incitement
of violence against Egyptian Christians.
The group also questioned why visas
had been granted to two Pakistani
Islamic leaders who, according to the
Barnabas Fund, backed their country’s
strict anti-blasphemy law and called
for the immediate killings of Christians
who have been accused of blasphemy,
including Asia Bibi. The two leaders
visited tour U.K. mosques in July.
“(T)here is clearly a serious systemic
problem when Islamist leaders who
advocate persecution of Christians are
given the green light telling them that
their applications for U.K. visas will
be looked on favorably, while visas
for short pastoral visits to the U.K.
are denied to senior Christian leaders,
such as the Archbishop of Mosul, whose
congregations are facing genocide,” the
Barnabas Fund said.
The organization called on Home
Office ministers to remedy the situation.
The Barnabas Fund has helped
more than 8,000 Christians escape
persecution from the Islamic State
group. (CNA)

Bishops develop action plan in Sri Lanka for Asian families
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith,
Archbishop of Colombo,
enthused by the recent Asian
bishops’ conference in his
home city, said that firming
up family life in Sri Lanka
would be a top priority for the
church there.
“Western influences and
social evils negatively impact
family life and we should
safeguard the family with
the help of other religious
leaders and the support of
the government,” Cardinal
Ranjith said at a press
conference on Dec. 6.
Over 140 bishops,
archbishops, nuns and
priests discussed ways to
strengthen Asian family
life at the eleventh Plenary
Assembly of the Federation of
Asian Bishops’ Conferences
which was held for the first

time in Sri Lanka from Nov.
28 to Dec. 4.
“We found that the inability
of young couples to commit
themselves to traditional
family life is one of the threats
to the firm family structure
so we decided to help them
overcome their problems
with awareness programs,”
the cardinal said.
“We also decided to focus
on child rights. Once family
bonds collapse, children
suffer the mistakes of their
parents.... Also, many
couples have abortions and
the Catholic Church strongly
opposes this so we decided
to strengthen counseling
services,” he added.
Bishop Raymond
Wickramasinghe of Galle
said that the conference also
focused on migration and the
way it impacts family life.

“Many family members
migrate to European
countries leaving their spouse
and children in Sri Lanka...
Many women migrate to be
housemaids in the Middle
East hurting the education
and spiritual life of their
children. We decided to ask
our priests and nuns to pay
regular visits to such families
to help them,” Bishop
Wickramasinghe said.
Cardinal Telesphore
Placidus Toppo, Archbishop
of Ranchi, waxed prophetic
on spiritual values and family
life in an interview on Nov.
“The church in Asia has to
have a bold vision like Isaiah
to transform our families
and make domestic churches
channels of mercy. Each
family will have to grow into
a fruit-bearing tree and all of

them together will create a
new pasture of fruitfulness,”
he said.
“Pastoral workers have
to be men and women of
compassion, have the
willingness to listen and
possess angelic levels of
patience to help families
in their struggles. They
must become a eucharistic
presence in every way,” he
Delegates of the Asian
bishops’ conference met
Sri Lankan President
Maithripala Sirisena on
Dec. 1. He congratulated
them for discussing the
theme of strengthening
the Asian family. As well
as talks and meetings,
delegates enjoyed cultural
performances and visited
places of religious interest
in Colombo. (UCAN)

Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat plans golden jubilee
Ato Bekele Moges, the
Executive Director of the
Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat’s
Social and Development
Commission, said that the idea
of organizing an international
conference came with the view
of including all partners from
all sectors of the Church in
the discussion. He stated that
it is usually Caritas partners
that attend the coordination
meetings, but this time all
Catholic development
organizations and Pontifical
Institutions will be invited to
join the conference.
According to Moges, pastoral
ministry is the centre of the
Church’s life while Social
Development services help
in witnessing to the Gospel.
Catholic Bishops and
government officials will also
be expected to attend the event.
The Jubilee celebrations will
take place between 26 March to
29 March 2017 in Addis Ababa.
(Vatican Radio)

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal granted
pontifical recognition
Pope Francis has officially recognized the Franciscan
Friars of the Renewal as a religious institute of
pontifical right, the order has announced. Institutions
of pontifical right depend immediately and exclusively
on the Vatican in the matters of internal governance
and discipline. It is the highest form of recognition
for a religious community, and is granted to
institutes that show steady growth over a period of
approximately 20-25 years. The Franciscan Friars
of the Renewal, sometimes referred to as the CFRs,
were founded in 1987 in the Archdiocese of New York
by a group of eight American Capuchins who desired
a form of Franciscan life dedicated specifically to
service of the poor and evangelization. The group was
established as a diocesan institute by Cardinal John
O’Connor in 1999. (CNA)
Pope: Through beauty, artists make the world
Beauty, under the care of artists, has the ability
to transform even the everyday lives of men and
women, Pope Francis said in a message for the
annual meeting of the Pontifical Academies. Vatican
Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin delivered
the Pope’s message during the 21st public session
Dec. 6, before presenting the winning artists of this
year’s Pontifical Academies Award, who are chosen
by the Pope.“Architects and painters, sculptors and
musicians, filmmakers and writers, photographers
and poets, artists of every discipline, are called to
shine beauty especially where darkness or gray
dominates everyday life,” the Pope wrote. They “are
the custodians of beauty, heralds and witnesses of
hope for humanity.” (CNA)
Women at the Vatican form association for
A new association for women working in the
Vatican announced Wednesday provides a personal
and professional network for women to offer support
to each other and to the community. Called simply
“Donne in Vaticano,” or “Women in the Vatican,” a
Dec. 7 communiqué said the association “intends
to create a network of friendship, exchange and
solidarity among all for personal and professional
growth.”President of the association and Vatican
journalist Tracey McClure said members of the
association believe women “are a valuable resource”
and should be “valued in the workplace and in
all areas of life and activity within the Vatican.”
(Hannah Brockhaus/CNA)
Francis: Never forget to smile, even when life is
For Pope Francis, one of most needed virtues of
modern time is hope, which is something he said must
never be abandoned no matter how hard life gets, and
which is often expressed in the simple act of a smile.
Referring to the “dramatic moment” of Israel’s exile
in the desert, Pope Francis said Dec. 7 that this time
was especially hard for the people because they had
lost everything, and felt “abandoned and without
hope.”The desert is a difficult place to live, he said,
but noted that it is precisely inside the desert that the
people of Israel are able to walk in order to return “not
only to their homeland, but to return to God, and to
hope and smile again.” (Elise Harris/CNA)
Pope Francis prays for victims of terrorist attacks
Pope Francis has prayed for the victims of several
terrorist attacks which had taken place in the hours
before his Sunday Angelus, Dec. 11. In Egypt, a
bomb outside St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo
killed at least 25 people on Sunday morning; in
Somalia, a suicide bomber killed over a dozen people
in Mogadishu on Sunday morning; and in Turkey,
at least 38 people were killed in twin bomb attacks
outside a football stadium in Instanbul on Saturday
evening.“And we also pray for the victims of some
horrible terrorist attacks which have hit various
countries in the last few hours,” Pope Francis said
after reciting the Angelus. (Vatican Radio)


VATICAN—The Secretary
General of the Ethiopian Catholic
Secretariat Fr. Hagos Hayish,
C.M., has said the occasion of the
Golden Jubilee, next year, would
be marked by bringing together
all partners of the Ethiopian
Church who have supported the
Church throughout the years in
spreading the Gospel and serving
the people.
“The Catholic Church’s
contribution to the ongoing
development efforts of the
country has been tremendous
for more than a century, and
since the establishment of
the Secretariat, we have been
rendering these services in a
more coordinated manner all
over the country. Our Partners
have travelled this journey with
us all the way; we plan to mark
our Golden Jubilee during the
coordination meeting as we hope
it will give us the opportunity to
officially thank our partners and
recognise their contribution,”
said Fr. Hagos.

Vatican Briefing
Pope to seminarians: Don’t let self-interest get in
the way of ministry
Pope Francis spoke to seminarians about the threefold ministry of the priest: welcoming and including
all, forming good relationships with God and others,
and avoiding the pitfall of narcissism.“Not everything
begins and ends with me,” he counseled Dec. 10.
“I can and I have to look beyond myself, to realize
the beauty and depth of the mystery that surrounds
me, the life that surpasses me, the faith in God who
sustains all things and all people, even me.”Meeting
with seminarians studying at Pius XI Seminary in
Puglia, a southern region of Italy, he explained that
the seminary is the perfect time for formation in this
area, so it is good to think about these things now,
in order to have time to cultivate them. (Hannah


LONDON, England—U.K. officials
drew strong criticism for denying visas
to Middle East bishops from regions
that have suffered Islamic State group
persecution, preventing them from
attending a cathedral consecration.
“These are men who have pressing
pastoral responsibilities as Christian
areas held by ISIS are liberated,” said
Archbishop Athanasius Toma of the
Syriac Orthodox Church in the U.K.
“That is why we cannot understand
why Britain is treating Christians in
this way?”
Syriac Orthodox leaders Archbishop
Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf of Mosul and
Archbishop Timothius Mousa Shamani
of St. Mathew’s in northern Iraq were
denied visas, the U.K. newspaper The
Sunday Express reports.
Similarly, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop
Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh of Homs
and Hama was also denied a visa. British
embassy officials said they would not
waive the blanket policy against visas
for Syrian citizens.
The archbishops had hoped to visit
for the Nov. 24 consecration of St.
Thomas Cathedral in London, the
first Syriac Orthodox cathedral in the
country. Both Queen Elizabeth II and
Prime Minister Theresa May had sent
personal messages of congratulations,
while Prince Charles of Wales addressed
the congregation in person.
Each of the three bishops come from
regions that have been under the control
of the Islamic State group. The group
has executed Christians, forced them
to pay an extortionate tax and accept
second-class status.
The extremist group destroyed
churches or converted them into
mosques, including the Mosul
archbishop’s former cathedral.
Martin Parsons, head of research at
the U.K.-based Christian aid agency the
Barnabas Fund, was among the critics
of British officials.
“It’s unbelievable that these
persecuted Christians who come from
the cradle of Christianity are being told
there is no room at the inn, when the
U.K. is offering a welcome to Islamists


CBCP Monitor

Baby Jesus reminds us of painful plight of
migrants, pope says
The Christmas tree and Nativity scene are symbols
of God’s love and hope, reminding us to contemplate
the beauty of creation and welcome the marginalized,
Pope Francis said. Baby Jesus, whose parents could
find no decent shelter and had to flee persecution,
is a reminder of the “painful experience” of so many
migrants today, he said Dec. 9, just before the Vatican
Christmas tree was to be lit and its Nativity scene was
to be unveiled. Nativity scenes all over the world “are
an invitation to make room in our life and society for
God -- hidden in the gaze of so many people” who are
living in need, poverty or suffering, he told people
involved in donating the tree and creche for St. Peter’s
Square. (Carol Glatz/CNS)

CBCP Monitor


December 19 - 31, 2016 Vol 20, No. 31

Scientists reconstructed the face of
St. Nicholas – here’s what they found
Scientists at a university
in Liverpool recently
unveiled what they say
is the most realistic
portrait ever created of
St. Nicholas of Myra,
the popular 4th Century
bishop best known as
the inspiration for the
modern-day figure of
Santa Claus.
Researchers at
Liverpool John Moores
University’s Face Lab used
a facial reconstruction
system and 3D interactive
technology to create
the portrait, which was
unveiled on Dec. 6, the
feast day of St. Nicholas.
University Professor
Caroline Wilkinson said

the reconstruction relied
on “all the skeletal and
historical mate rial”
available, the BBC
reports. A university
spokeswoman said the
new image uses “the most
up-to-date anatomical
standards, Turkish
tissue depth data and
CGI techniques.”
Among the features
depicted in the saint’s
image is a broken
nose, which Wilkinson
said had “healed
asymmetrically, giving
him a characteristic
nose and rugged facial
St. Nicholas lived
270-343 A.D. He was
the bishop of Myra, in

southern Turkey.
During his years as
bishop, he was imprisoned
during the Diocletian
persecution, then later
released when Constantine
came to power.
He was known for his
staunch defense of the
faith, as well as his often
anonymous generosity
toward those in need.
Stories surrounding
the saint abound. He is
believed to have once
rescued three sisters from
being sold into slavery
by throwing bags of gold
through an open window
into their house to pay
their family’s debts.
Another popular story
holds that he became so

The portrait includes the saint’s severely broken nose, which healed
asymmetrically. LJMU

enraged by the heretic
Arius – who claimed
that Christ was not truly
God—that he punched
him during a heated
debate at the Council of

Nicea in 325 A.D.
Based on the broken
nose in the saint’s facial
reconstruction, maybe
Arius punched him back.

New Catholic thriller takes on proof of soul in DNA
WESTCHESTER, N.Y.— What if proof for
God’s existence—and our very souls—could
be found within our DNA?
Published in September of this year by
Howard Books, Bruce Buff’s novel “The
Soul of the Matter” is the first in his threepart fictional series that grapples with faith
and reason. In an interview with CNA, Buff
discussed his reasons and inspirations
behind this unique thriller. He reflected
on how his faith has affected this novel,
the importance behind faith and reason,
and the influences which have gone into
the creation of his new book.
Below is the full text of the interview:
CNA: What is your faith background,
and how does it inform the novel?
Buff: I’m a practicing Catholic whose
initial faith formation – grammar school
religious ed and two years of Catholic high
school – was enough to teach me the basics
though without a lot of understanding. I
had this view that if I was generally good
to others, that was enough. Then my
faith changed and deepened dramatically
starting in the summer 1994 when I picked
up my father-in-law’s copy of C.S. Lewis’s
“The Problem of Pain.” Reading that
was extraordinary, and started a search
that continues today. After reading Peter
Kreeft’s “Making Sense Out of Suffering,”
I saw that he was teaching at BC. Since I
was working in eastern Connecticut, I was
able to take Kreeft’s night course, “The
Three Greatest Men Who Lived: Socrates,
Buddha and Jesus.” For me, nothing has
been the same since. Themes and questions
that Lewis and Kreeft discuss, about the
seeming incompatibility of a loving, all
powerful God with widespread and horrific
suffering, and what that means God wants
from us, are raised in “The Soul of the
Matter” series.
CNA: What does this have to say about
the relation between faith and reason, and
religion and science?
Buff: That science, properly understood,
points clearly to God’s existence and our
spiritual nature, that rather than being an
exception, the supernatural is all around
us. Consequently, faith and reason, religion
and science, based on a good understanding
of God will agree. Now of course there
can appear to be significant differences
between religion and science, such as the
Biblical description of the origin of both the
universe and humanity. I think there are
good answers to this and other apparent
differences but I’ll leave that to others to

CNA: Who do you hope to reach with
this novel?
Buff: Anyone who likes thoughtprovoking thrillers. Beyond that, I want
to reach people open to the idea that God
exists. For those who share my JudeoChristian beliefs, I hope my book helps
strengthens some aspect of their thinking
about science and faith. For others, I’d like
them to understand that every moment of
their life is their soul in action, that we are
here by intent, and that God’s apparent, but
not actual, absence means some important
things about Him and His expectations for
us that are worth further exploration.
CNA: How did you develop the science
behind the book?
Buff: November 1999, sitting in my
father-in-law’s office, working on my
computer, the question of what connects
bits inside a computer into words, or
how pixels on the screen are transformed
into images in our minds, popped into
my mind and got me off and running on
consciousness. Eventually, I concluded
that if physics exists as scientists believe
it does, then the material world alone
cannot be the source of perceptions,
awareness, cognitive thinking, and feeling.
Therefore we have immaterial minds and
every moment of our lives is our souls in
action. I then realized that the immaterial
mind challenges the Darwinian view of a
completely naturalistic, unguided process
as the complete explanation for human
origin. In looking for a plausible sounding
way, strictly for purposes of the story,
that something could be encoded in DNA,
I soon realized that there isn’t enough
DNA to direct human development, turn a
fertilized egg into an adult human, unless
complex processing greatly expands the 3
billion DNA “letters” into a much larger set
of information.
CNA: Where did you get the idea for
the novel?
Buff: In 1986 or so, I saw a magazine
cover that said that all humans have an
identical 20 percent of DNA in common. I
then thought that the idea that information
could be deliberately hidden in DNA, and
what that would be, could make for an
interesting thriller. It was strictly fictional.
CNA: Which character do you feel like
best expresses the message of the book?
Buff: Dan Lawson. He starts off with
traditional religious training, becomes
a person of today’s secular world, finds

himself struggling with his state of mind
and happiness, which causes him to choose
between an exploration for ultimate truth
or acceptance of despair.
CNA: Which authors are some of your
major influences?
Buff: C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft, Walker
Percy, Michael Crichton, and the Bible. I
only began studying the latter in recent
years, unfortunately. I’ve learned that a
good companion guide is invaluable to help
with context and meaning. Otherwise, it’s
easy to misinterpret.
CNA: What influences did you draw the
characters from?
Buff: I wanted them to reflect different
worldviews and use their respective
journeys and interactions as a way to
explore ideas while hoping that readers
will care about them. I imagined Dan as
someone who has many gifts, everything
has always come easy to him, and he’s
tried to live the modern version of
happiness. In one sense, he was headed
towards what many now would consider
the “ideal” life. His anger about some
of the things he’s experienced has also
shaped him sharply. Stephen started
from the same place as Dan but is not
angry, more open to self-examination,
and choose a life that was a hybrid of
the traditional and modern worldviews.
Consequently, he was at different place.
Trish is someone who seems like a
naturally good person, who’s never
thought about religion, but now is being
exposed to ideas that are challenging her
as well. Some readers have commented
that there is more to Trish than meets the
eye and that might be true.
CNA: Does “The Commission” or the
“bad guy” Sarastro reflect a certain evil in
the world today?
Buff: Absolutely. They are the logical
extension of today’s predominant view that
science, meaning the material world, is the
sole explanation for everything. Once you
buy into that, and deny God in the process,
anything becomes possible. It’s ironic how
much internal inconsistency there is with
atheistic beliefs and behaviors. Of course
Christians do a poor job of being Christians
but that is consistent with being fallen
creatures in need of redemption and grace.
Few atheists recognize the contradictions
inherent in their beliefs because, although
they deny its existence and origin, they still
possess the nature God gave them. (Perry

Helping end ‘modern-day human
The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is
closely connected to the pro-life cause as
the history of the evangelization in Mexico
At that time, Aztec Indians practised
human sacrifice. There are widespread
accounts of natives cutting out their
victims’ hearts or placing victims’ heads
on poles.

The Aztecs believed that the gods were
out to destroy the people and can only be
appeased by the shedding of blood.
The image of Our Lady, given to St. Juan
Diego, shows Mary pregnant with Jesus.
This image proclaimed “Emmanuel” (God
is with us), a God who took on human
Some nine million Aztecs were converted
to Jesus Christ because of the devotion
to Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Fr. Mickey
Cardenas/CBCP News)

Faithful / A1

because “We (Church and society) have
become mature” in terms of respecting life,
even of those who have committed heinous
The prelate added, “Bringing back death
penalty is like moving backward”.
Recently, on the Feast of the Immaculate
Conception, the Justice Committee of the
House of Representatives approved the
re-imposition of capital punishment for
heinous crimes, one of the priority bills of
President Rodrigo Duterte.
Response / A1

sub–regional hubs across
the country,” explained
NASSA/Caritas Philippines
executive secretary Fr.
Edwin Gariguez.
Diocesan social action
workers of the dioceses from
the provinces of Bohol, Quezon,
Negros Occidental, Nueva Ecija,
Oriental Mindoro, Sorsogon,
Palawan, Nueva Ecija,
Camarines Sur, Zambales, and
Nueva Vizcaya participated
in PEACH program’s recently

held first regional training of
Prior to this, NASSA/Caritas
Philippines also joined a
similar training organized by
Caritas Asia together with five
other countries implementing
the PEACH program, namely,
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh,
Myanmar, and Nepal.
The program, which is in
partnership with Caritas
Austria, Caritas Romania,
Caritas Czechoslovakia, and

the regional office of Caritas
Asia, will run until March 2018.
It aims to strengthen
the technical skills and
competence of church
workers and volunteers in
responding to emergencies
and implementing disaster
preparedness program.
The program also hopes
to boost the organization’s
capacity in the field of volunteer
management and to integrate
the Catholic Church in the

Philippines’ lessons and best
practices from its experiences
in responding to previous
disasters such as Super
Typhoon Yolanda together
with the EU’s humanitarian aid
“This a step towards the
localization and strengthening
of coordination with other
stakeholders in humanitarian
response,” said Gariguez.
(Caritas Philippines/

This cloistered nun got her
doctorate in aerospace engineering
cloistered nun in India
came out of her convent
for an extraordinary
reason: to attend a
graduation ceremony
for her doctorate in
Aerospace Engineering.
“I had joined the
religious order after my
final oral exam last year,
and this was the first
time I came out after
that. The rules of our
order forbid us from
going out of the convent,
but I was given special
permission to attend
the convocation,” Sister
Benedicta of the Holy
Face told Matters India
over the summer.
The 32-year-old nun
lives in a cloistered
convent of the Benedictine
Sisters of the Reparation
of the Holy Face.
Born in Kuwait
before the Gulf War,
Sister Benedicta studied
at St Xavier’s College
in Mumbai and then
earned a Master’s degree
in space science from

Pune University, located
90 miles from Mumbai.
She earned her PhD
from the Defense
Institute of Advanced
Technology in Pune.
According to Matters
India, her doctoral work
in the field of aerospace
engineering involved
scramjet engines, which
are used mainly for
hyper-sonic vehicles and
space vehicles.
Sister Benedicta had
always felt a call to the
consecrated life, but made
the decision to become
a nun after attending a
spiritual retreat in Pune.
She finished her doctorate
studies before telling her
family that she wanted to
enter a cloistered convent.
The congregation of
the Benedictine Sisters
of the Reparation of the
Holy Face was founded in
1950 by Venerable Abbot
Hildebrand Gregory.
In 1977, it became a
pontifical congregation
and has houses on several
continents. (CNA)

In Syrian monastery, priest who
escaped ISIS sees signs of hope

Father Jacques Mourad, who escaped from Islamic State. PHOTO COURTESY

HOMS, Syria— The
fourth-century saint Mar
Elian’s relics survived
the Islamic State’s
destruction of the Syrian
monastery that bears his
name, and a priest who
escaped captivity says
these are among the signs
of hope for Syria.
“In Mar Elian, we have
always hoped to welcome
everyone. Mar Elian was
really a sign of hope
for the Syrian people,”
Fr. Jacques Mourad
told CNA. “Everything
changed when I was
taken hostage. But we
can still build something.
We must, however, await
the end of this war.”
Fr. Mourad was
captured by the Islamic
State group in May 2015,
and escaped some five
months later. He was
prior of the monastery of
Mar Elian, in the Syrian
town of Al Qaryatayn,
about 60 miles southeast
of Homs.
The monastery had
given refuge to hundreds
of Syrians displaced from
Al Quaryatayn, and
partnered with Muslim
donors to provide for
their needs.
“Mar Elian was a
hermit who lived in the
fourth century, and his
relics were kept in the
monastery dedicated to
him,” the priest said.
In August 2015, Islamic
State militants captured
and destroyed the
monastery. Between 160
and 230 Christians and
Muslims were abducted
from the town. Several
dozen are known to have
escaped captivity.
Despite the horrors of
war, the area’s Christians
still looked to the
monastery of Mar Elian.
“After the destruction
of the monastery, we
thought his relics were
lost, but instead we
were able to find them.
This gave us great
consolation,” Fr. Mourad
said. The recovery of
the relics represents “a
great sign of hope for the
coming days,” he added.

Christians in Syria
are looking forward to
“placing the bones of Mar
Elian back in the places
where they were kept,
and to pray again around
that relics.”
The town of Al
Qaryatayn was re-taken
by Russian-backed
Syrian forces and their
allies in April 2016.
The priest reflected on
the motives of the Islamic
“When ISIS troops
took the region, among
the first things they
attacked was Mar Elian’s
tomb, with the aim to
destroy only the ancient
monastery,” he added.
For the militants, he
explained, tombs, relics
and saints are “a heresy.”
“They cannot accept
that the cities they seize
have places where tombs
or relics of saints are kept.
They believe that there is
no need for a tomb, as
once a person passes
away, his existence is
over on earth.”
Fr. Mourad said that
Islamic State militants, in
capturing him, “wanted
to send a message to
Christians in the region:
you are not welcome
here. It was a way to push
Christians to flee.”
Despite signs of
hope, the future of the
monastery, like the
future of the people in
the region, is uncertain.
Reviewing the
situation, Fr. Mourad
lamented that “nothing
has changed in Mar
Elian, and everything is
abandoned.” He stressed
that there is only a small
community of Muslims
still living in the area,
“perhaps because they
have no more places
where to live.”
“Large parts of the city
were destroyed,” he said.
Over 280,000 people
have died since the
Syrian civil war began
in March 2011. Another
12.8 million people
have been forced from
their homes. (Andrea


December 19 - 31, 2016 Vol 20, No. 31

CBCP Monitor


“VIOLENCE is not the cure for our broken world.” Thus speak
Pope Francis in message of the 50th World Day of Peace that
will be observed on January 1, 2017, but already released this
Monday on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Titled “Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace,” this may
be the first extensive treatment on nonviolence by a pope,
although St. John Paul II tackles this issue in three paragraphs
in Centesimus Annus and stressed in passing the fact that
momentous change in the lives of people, nations and states
had come about “by means of peaceful protest, using only the
weapons of truth and justice… by the non-violent commitment
of people who, while always refusing to yield to the force of
power, succeeded time after time in finding effective ways of
bearing witness to the truth.”
The devastation of two world wars and other forms of
“piecemeal” violence has lead humanity nowhere closer neither
to peace nor progress. The Pope asks, “Can violence achieve any
goal of lasting value” Or does it merely lead to retaliation and
to a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few ‘warlords’?
Indeed, violence is not one of the paths to peace. “Countering
violence with violence leads at best to forced migration and
enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are
diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs
to your people, families experiencing hardships, the elderly,
the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At
worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many
people, if not all.”
Pope Francis says that active nonviolence is more powerful
than violence. He cites history to prove that. He quotes Mother
Teresa when she received her Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, “We
in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring
peace—just get together, love one another…and we will be able
to over all the evil that is in the world.” He says, moreover, that
decisive and consistent practice of nonviolence had encouraging
fruits in peace building. “The achievements of Mahatma Gandhi
and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in the liberation of India, and of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in combating racial discrimination
will never be forgotten. Women in particular are often leaders
of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the
thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and
nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end
the second civil war in Liberia.”
In the Philippines were violence was congenital with the
Martial Law of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, active
nonviolence had encouraging results that finally conscientized
people into the bloodless EDSA revolution in February 1986.
Among the more prominent names in the active nonviolence
initiatives was the Jesuit Fr. Jose Blanco who made living and
preaching active nonviolence his ministry.
It is sad that hereabouts violence has become the centerpiece
of politics. Six months into his presidency, Mr. Rodrigo
Duterte has riddled his political path with blood with almost
Six Thousand people now dead in the euphemistically crafted
“war against drugs.”

Our lifelong Christian formation
WE need to understand that our Christian formation will take
our whole lifetime. This should come as no surprise to us, since
our ultimate goal in life is none other than for each one of us
to be “alter Christus,” another Christ. And can anyone dare to
say that he is Christ-like enough?
This is what God wants us to be, since we have been created
in his image and likeness. And Christ who, as the second person
of the Blessed Trinity and the perfect self-image of God, is the
pattern of our humanity as well as our savior and restorer of our
God-like image after we spoiled our original creation through
our sin.
We need to go to Christ. For his part, Christ is doing everything
to bring us back to God from whom we come and to whom we
belong. We need to spend time to know Christ better so as to
love and serve him as is proper to us, being children of God.
We can be sure that that time spent with him will certainly be no
waste of time. In fact, it will be the best way we can spend our time,
because we would be with someone who really matters in our life.
The duty to take care of formation is coterminous with life
itself, which will always give us lessons. And that’s because
the basics and essentials, the absolute, old and the permanent
truths, which we may already know, will always have to cope
and somehow need to get enriched by the incidentals in life, by
the relative, innovative and changing things.
In his second letter, St. Peter urges us to go on with our
formation: “Strive diligently to supply your faith with virtue,
your virtue with knowledge, your knowledge with self-control,
your self-control with patience, your patience with piety, your
piety with fraternal love, your fraternal love with charity.” (1,5-7)
And as we all know, charity is a never-ending affair, ever
making new demands on us, and introducing us to more aspects,
dimensions and challenges in life. It will always push us to do
more, to give more, to be more.
Besides, given the rapid pace of developments in the world
today, can we think that we can afford to sit pretty and rely
simply on what we have learned so far? Not only that. If we
realize more deeply that our ultimate goal is communion with
God and with others, can we ever think that we already have
enough formation to reach that goal?
We should take this duty of our lifelong Christian formation



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Politics of nonviolence

Views and Points
Abp. Oscar V. Cruz

THE well-known and much publicized
perceived miraculous phenomenon that
apparently took place in Lipa—through
the intervention of the well-known and
revered Blessed Mother Mary, Mediatrix
of all Graces—in 1948 has become the
cause of discussion if not downright
dissention particularly on the part of the
Catholic devotees of the Blessed Virgin
Mary under the above said title. They
are far from happy and at peace. They
would not just sit down and take things
as if everything is alright, everything is
in order.
Reason: They are in one way
or another understandably much
offended by and resentful of the
official decision written down and
made known to all those concerned
by the competent Vatican Office that
there was no such miraculous event in
Lipa at that time under the patronage
of the Blessed Mother. That there were
certain apparent signs of a miracle,
yes. But that there was actually a true
and real miracle that then took place,
no. Result: The Catholic devotees
convinced that the Lipa event was
truly miraculous are much offended
and resentful. It is understandable

Blessed Mother Mary,
Mediatrix of all Graces

wherefore that they are earnestly
seeking the reversal of the aforesaid
negative appreciation of the Vatican
Office concerned.
The truth of the matter is that as
published by certain media outlets, even
the highest incumbent Ecclesiastical
Authority in the place—personally
knowing and accordingly appreciating
the same Lipa phenomenon—did not
exactly agree with the pronouncement
of the said Vatican Office. And
understandably enough, he was affirmed
by the Marian devotees concerned.
So it is that the matter of the said
Marian miraculous event has become
an existential question not only in Lipa
but in other places in the Country with
the same devotion.
So it is that dated 9 July 2016, the
Commission of the Doctrine of the
Faith—counterpart of the Vatican Office
concerned—of the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines—issued
its own “Pastoral Advisory” ending with
the following pronouncement: “The
belief in and private devotion to our
Mother Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces is
centuries old and should be fostered as
a private devotion. But it must not be

Gay priests

based on the alleged Lipa apparitions…”
In other words, the Marian devotees
concerned have all the right and
prerogative to continue with their opted
devotion to Our Lady under the said
title. But let them do this by virtue of
their own personal option—not precisely
because of a miraculous event said to be
taken place in a Sisters’ Convent in Lipa.
It is exactly the same as in the case of
the Nazarene of Quiapo, the Mother
of Perpetual Help in Baclaran, the La
Naval in Quezon City—and many other
devotions. The competent Vatican Office
has not issued any pronouncement at all
on any miraculous feature of any of the
said subjects of religious devotion. But
their respective devotees are far from
becoming less in fervor and in number
just because no downright formal and
official miracle has yet been officially
attributed to any of them by the Vatican
Office concerned.
Precisely, who knows if the Lipa
devotees concerned fervently and avidly
continue with their personal devotion
to the Blessed Mother Mary, Mediatrix
of all Graces, would eventually bring
to fore the much desired and awaited

And That’s The Truth
Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS

NOW that Pope Francis
has reiterated the
Catholic Church’s ban on
homosexuals entering the
priesthood (through the
document “The Gift of the
Priestly Vocation” written by
the Vatican’s Congregation
for Clergy and signed by the
Pope himself), expect antipopes and Church bashers
to wag their tongues anew.
LGBT groups had at the
start of Pope Francis’ papacy
rejoiced over what they
presumed to be a “refreshing
open mindedness of this
pope.” With his now-famous
line “Who am I to judge?”,

and his ground-breaking
statement that “the Church
should apologize to the LGBT
community…” the pope was
universally hailed as a gayfriendly Church leader who
would bring a whiff of fresh
air into Vatican’s musty
corners. And now, this
The document says
the Church cannot admit
those “who practice
homosexuality, present
deep-seated homosexual
tendencies or support the
so-called gay culture” to
seminaries or holy orders.
“One must in no way overlook

Candidly Speaking

the negative consequences
that can derive from the
ordination of persons with
deep-seated homosexual
tendencies.” It feels like
ice water thrown at the face
of advocates for “LGBT
equality” in the Church. In
the USA, they have even
gone so far as to demand the
Pope’s retraction, or at least
an explanation on where
he exactly stands, “given
the blatant contradiction
between ‘Who am I to
judge?’ and this most recent
With netizens reacting
to this, social media are

already abuzz with angst and
sarcasm, only proving once
more how misunderstood
or unknown the Church
teachings are to so many
people. But I like bringing
the discussion on such lofty
matters down to the level the
church-goers and cafeteria
catholics who are unaware
that they are such simply
because they hear Mass
on Sundays. So I get the
ball rolling and ask them
what they think of this new
document barring gays from
the priesthood.
And That’s the Truth / A6


Fr. Roy Cimagala
IT means “Come, Lord Jesus” or “the
Lord is coming.” This Aramaic word
appears in the Book of Revelation
(22,20) to express the desire for the
speedy coming for the second time of
Christ, our Savior and King.
It also appears in the first letter
of Paul to the Corinthians (16,22) to
reinforce an injunction made earlier. It
also appears in the Letter of St. James
(5,8-9) to signify the need for vigilance
for the coming of Christ.
In all these cases, the word strikes as
something important and serious that
deserves to be known and used by us
to express its many nuances. It evokes
a kind of expectation as well as a holy
fear to offend God. It would be nice if
we could use it as a password that would
immediately put us in a certain frame
of mind.

Especially now in this season of
Advent when we are preparing for
the birth of Christ, we should remind
ourselves that we are not only interested
in that nostalgic feeling of Christ’s birth
but also in the more serious business
of preparing ourselves for his second
In a sense, this is the distinctive flavor
of the season of Advent and Christmas.
It’s about looking forward to Christ
coming again in glory as our King to
reclaim us as his people. That is why we
should remind ourselves again that our
attitude toward Advent and Christmas
should not just be mainly sentimental
and emotional. It has to be strictly
theological so that we can identify the
proper direction we should take in this
We need to strongly remind ourselves

that we are just passing by in this world.
We are meant for another world, the socalled “a new heaven and a new earth.”
(Rev 21,1) We ought to develop this kind
of outlook in life.
That’s why we have to know what
really is essential in this earthly life of
ours so that we do not get unnecessarily
entangled, confused and lost. We
even need to train our very instincts
to discern the things proper to us as
children of God.
Let’s hope that the word, “Maranatha,”
can help us to see what really is necessary
in life—our personal sanctity and our
role in the continuing work of salvation
through our personal apostolate.
“Maranatha” should not lead us to
think that we think little of our present
life with all its projects, concerns,
Candidly Speaking / A6

CBCP Monitor


December 19 - 31, 2016 Vol 20, No. 31

Along the Way
Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, STD

I NOTICE many Facebook friends
changing their profile picture. Actually,
there is no picture or image at all, just
black or total darkness. What does
it express? For some it could just
be an expression of protest. It could
be an expression of grief, a sense of
hopelessness and despair. It does
symbolize our present situation—
the darkness that we once again find
ourselves in. Indeed, we are living in
another dark period of our country when
evil appears to reign.
Every day as we watch TV and read
the newspapers we are confronted
with gruesome news and images of
those killed—mostly poor—by the
death squads and police. Almost 6,000
killed in six months. The president is
promising more deaths while absolving
the police of murder. He threatened
to kill human rights advocates and
lawyers. And there’s congress trying
to railroad a bill that will restore the
death penalty. The senate has come
up with a report denying the reality of
extrajudicial killings and the existence
of death squads.
With a judiciary and legislative
branches that seems to be controlled
and bullied by the executive branch,
the system of check and balance is
disappearing. So if the trend continues,

Light in the midst
of darkness

we can expect the casualties in the socalled war on drugs to exceed 70,000 by
the end of six years when Duterte’s term
ends. He said he would be happy to kill
3 million addicts following the example
of his idol—Adolf Hitler. We see a deeply
divided society—with many who have
dulled conscience or no conscience at
all—approving and applauding what’s
going on. On the other hand, there is a
growing number who are speaking out
and protesting against the hero’s burial
of a corrupt dictator and the killings.
Meanwhile, the bigger problems such
as poverty and corruption continue and
are not being seriously addressed. An
economic crisis is not farfetched. We are
indeed amidst darkness. Is there hope?
I know how it feels to celebrate
a bleak Christmas in the midst of a
seemingly hopeless situation. During
the early years of martial law, I spent
Christmas in prison—on hunger strike
with other political detainees to protest
the maltreatment that we received from
the minions of the dictator. In December
1985, two months before EDSA, our
family was in grief after my mother
was killed by a gang composed of PC
(Philippine Constabulary) soldiers. A
few months earlier, my Redemptorist
confrere—Fr. Rudy Romano—was
abducted by military intelligence agents

A Christmas wish…
no to death penalty
I WITH everyone a Very Joyful
and Peaceful Christmas and a
Very Healthy and Prosperous
New Year! 2017 is the Year
of the Parish; let us make
our parish a communion of
communities. As our former
parish priest said, we have to
make our community Buhay,
Mulat at Kumikilos (Active,
Informed and Responsive).
Let us learn to see the face
of Jesus in each and every
person. Let us seek the
goodness in every person we
meet. Let us educate each
other, guide each other and
help each other. Let us be
pro-active, not reactive.
Pres. Duterte lamented
that the cause of crimes in the
country is the proliferation
of illegal drugs. We all know
what illegal drugs can do to
the mentality and logic of
a person. It is the normal
reaction of the family of
victims of crimes caused
by drug users to retaliate,
to avenge the wrong done
on them. We support the
President in his campaign
against illegal drugs.
However, we differ in the
manner how it should be
implemented. We agree with
the Church when it stated
that illegal drug users and
pushers are sick person and
not criminals. They were
forced by circumstances to

these illegal drugs—family
problems, peer problems,
community problems. They
should be treated with care,
they should be reformed, they
should be allowed to return
to his community and be
productive members.
The re-imposition of death
penalty is now widely debated
upon in all fora. The idea came
about when President Rodrigo
Roa Duterte, in his campaign
against illegal drugs, declared
that death penalty should be
restored, as deterrent to the
increase in criminal offenses,
especially caused by the use of
illegal drugs.
In the Old Testament,
the rule is Lex Talionis—
an eye for an eye, a tooth
for a tooth. If the offender
damaged or injured the eye
of his victim, the victim or his
family can extract the eye of
the offender. If a wrongdoer
killed a person, he should
also be killed.
The New Testament shows
the value of human life; that
nobody has the right to take
the life of a person. Jesus
did not judge the adulteress,
instead he forgave her; he
commanded Peter to put
away his sword.
These modern days, more
and more countries reject
death penalty or capital
punishment. They allow the
rehabilitation of the offender,

and made to disappear. Around the
same time, a pastoral worker that we
have trained was killed by a paramilitary
unit - the CHDF. During that dark
period there seemed no end in sight for
the reign of evil.
Looking back and remembering the
subsequent events, I can say that in the
darkest moment there is always light.
After two EDSA people power events I
no longer doubt. In a seemingly hopeless
situation, there is always hope. This is
what the light of Christ symbolizes. The
God who never abandoned His people
in the past will not abandon us now.
Evil will not reign forever and ever.
This too will pass. As Mary’s song – the
Magnificat—assures us: The proud and
the mighty will be deposed from their
thrones. I firmly believe that a time
will come when decent Filipinos with
awakened conscience will overcome
their fear and rise to the occasion. I
have witnessed miraculous events in the
past, I expect another one soon. It may
not be the same as the previous ones
but it will once again the demonstrate
the triumph of light over darkness. I
hope my FB friends will change their
profile picture with a lighted candle—the
Christmas candle. This is the Good News
of Christmas—the triumph of light over
darkness, of good over evil.

Duc in Altum

Atty. Aurora A. Santiago

let him repent and lead a
new life. The Universal
Catholic Church rejects death
penalty, following the 5th
Commandment, “You shall
not kill.” Nobody is allowed to
kill a person, only the Creator
has the right to take the life he
gave, at the right time.
Death penalty deprives
a convicted person the
opportunity for rehabilitation
and reintegration into his
community. It precludes
himself from becoming a
productive member of society.
He needs to be given the
chance to correct the wrong
he has committed through
repentance and reparation.
Giving the person another
chance to a new life is more
humane and would deter the
commission of crime in the
future. Abolition of death
penalty respects the sanctity
and dignity of life; the society
can issue rules to protect
itself since death penalty has
no deterrent effects on the
solution of crimes.
During his pastoral visit
to the United States, Pope
Francis himself urged the
abolition of death penalty. He
encouraged the protection of
human life at every stage of its
development. He stated that
“every life is sacred, every
human person is endowed
with an inalienable dignity,
and society can only benefit


from the rehabilitation of
those convicted of crimes.”
True, the State has the
power to uphold the rule of
law, to maintain peace and
order, to provide justice for
its citizens. Under the 1987
Philippine Constitution, “No
person shall be deprived of
life without due process of
law.” (Art. III, Section 2, Bill
of Rights). The Philippines
practically “abolished”
capital punishment or death
penalty. The courts of justice
imposed life imprisonment
or reclusion perpetua (40
years, more or less, of
imprisonment) as the most
severe penalty. By that, the
case is automatically reviewed
by the Supreme Court.
Congress should enact laws
that would effectively reform
and rehabilitate convicted
criminals. The Bureau of
Jail Management must take
measures to improve and
develop the conditions of jails
and detention centers. The
criminal justice system must
effectively prosecute crimes
to provide equal protection
for all.
Happy Sacerdotal
Anniversary to Fr. Rico Ayo,
Fr. Romy Tuazon, Fr. Larry
Frias, Fr. Patrick Hiwatig,
O.P. Happy Birthday also to
Kalookan Diocese Curia staff
Jun Acebuche.

Spaces of Hope
Fr. Carmelo O. Diola

Gifts of hope
“FATHER, may I see you?” came at text from a Sr. Amanda.
This was an unexpected request and I tried to picture in my
mind the good sister. Nothing emerged. Nevertheless, I said
She came the following day to see me at the St. Joseph
parish in Mabolo, Cebu City. Sr. Amanda is a member of the
St. Paul of Chartres congregation. I asked her how she came
to be included in my cellphone directory. She had been invited
by a fellow sister about 3-4 years ago to intercede for some
activities of Dilaab. Her name and cellphone number had
been forwarded to me and vice-versa. I vaguely remember
requesting prayers for the Yolanda aftermath.
She started interceding for us but took a further step. She
started to bring in other intercessors. “No wonder Dilaab has
experienced many wonderful turn of events,” I told her. That
evening, we had dinner with Sr. Amanda together with my
team. It was a reunion of sorts. What joy we felt in our hearts!
Prayer makes a family.
The gift of intercessory prayer is something I deeply cherish.
It is a gift of hope since it allows us to see beyond our present
realities and circumstances.
Peripheral vision is also a gift of hope.
Shepherds take the lead since the sheep know his voice and
follow him (John 10:4). Yet, there are times, when he has to
wait for stragglers, as every pilgrimage chaplain knows. A
shepherd must develop a sensitivity to seek out those who
may have lost their way or have been left in the peripheries.
Shepherds need peripheral vision.
Individuals and groups can develop this peripheral vision.
To “ignite spaces of hope” means coming together to reach
out to the peripheries by creating spaces where individuals,
groups, and even sectors can feel at home with each other and
with those in the peripheries.
Our Dilaab journey has been that of developing a peripheral
vision. Our programs for the youth, public servants, voters,
and, most recently, for drug surrenderees, all have to do
with those in the socio-economic, political, religious, and
spiritual peripheries. Yet when we provide them pastoral
accompaniment, we realize that we too call the peripheries
our home. Limitation becomes potential and possibility.
To actively reach out to the peripheries is, to my mind,
the antidote to what Pope Francis refers to as “spiritual
worldliness”. He explains: “Spiritual worldliness, which hides
behind the appearance of piety and even love for the Church,
consists in seeking not the Lord’s glory but human glory and
personal well-being…It is a subtle way of seeking one’s ‘own
interests, not those of Jesus Christ’ (Phil 2:21). It takes on
many forms, depending on the kinds of persons and groups
into which it seeps…” (Joy of the Gospel; Evangelii Gaudium
or EG 93).
This threat of spiritual worldliness is so alarming the Pope
warns: “Since it is based on carefully cultivated appearances, it
is not always linked to outward sin; from without, everything
appears as it should be. But if it were to seep into the Church, it
would be infinitely more disastrous than any other worldliness
which is simply moral.” – [71]  H. De Lubac, Méditation sur
l’Église, Paris, 1968, 321. (EG 93).
Divine Providence has provided us a home in the pavilion
of the historical 51st International Eucharistic Congress.
Getting here and being entrusted with a very special space—
not as owners but as stewards—has been quite a journey for
us. Amusingly, at one point, the possibility of being out in
the streets hovered over us as our old office in the St. Jerome
Bible Center was demolished to make way for the pavilion.
When we were asked by Bishop Dennis Villarojo, the
Secretary General of the 51st IEC, to vacate our office at the St.
Jerome Bible Center in order to make way for the construction
of the IEC pavilion, our team had no hesitation doing so.
Interestingly, about three years before our departure, we
had met and agreed to approach Archbishop Palma of Cebu
to offer support for the renovation of the St. Jerome center.
God always exceeds our expectations.
Since 2014, we have known both stability and moving into
the mainstream, on the one hand, and living on the edge and
experiencing faith-deepening vulnerabilities, on the other
hand. Our new office symbolizes both tendencies.
We need to remember that time is greater than space. As
Pope Francis writes in the Joy of the Gospel sec. 223:
Spaces of Hope / A7

MASK-ing the issue

Atty. Jo Imbong
IN this Season of Folly . . . I
mean, Holly, masks rule the day.
“Come in your favorite mask!”,
is the order in an invitation to a
Christmas lunch for University
Faculty. With a little Paper Art
using bright purple (said to be
the color or royalty) Christmas
wrap, I materialized with a minitiara trimmed with silver (leftover) Christmas ribbon as faux
rhinestones. Tah-daa! Enter, the
Queen of England.
Oopsie, I forgot my sash. With
still a swad of wrap enough to
straddle the upper figure, I drape
the 4-inch-wide strip using colorful
clips at both ends.
It worked. The Department
Chair curtsied, “Your Majesty.”
“Hold it, serf,” I gestured, “does
anyone have a sword?” “Oh, she’s
going to knight me!” said the
Professor. “Not so fast, Doctor”,
I interject, “I was going to say, off
with his head!”
It was just timely that another

Professor materialized with a
regal Muslim fez reeking with—
guess what—grilled pork barbecue!
OMG. “Take off that fez, Professor,”
I whispered, “there are cameras in
this place, either that or hide the
pork!” “This is a potluck lunch,
isn’t it?”, he panics. I forgive him.
My cubicle-mate came as a
horse-head. No kidding. A real,
honest-to-goodness horse head
made of fake skin, complete with
a menacing mane, and a neat row
of white horse’s teeth in a wide,
frozen horse’s laugh. “What’s so
funny, Doc”, I snicker. “Oh, I have
a slew of kwentong kutsero’s to go
with my mask,” he says. “Try me,”
I challenged.
“What kind of jokes do you want
to hear,” he brags, “Politricks?
Steve Harvey-of-Miss Universe
jokes, or Low(er) House jokes?”
“None of the two,” I say, with
a wink, “we already heard them
and some of those are not even fit
for the Recycle Bin. “But I have

nothing against another Steve
Harvey gauche announcement for
Miss Universe,” I add with a wide
smile. That man is admirable.
Unlike some people, he promptly,
apologetically—and sincerely—
admits his mistake. To the whole
universe! Live! I will nominate
him as “Man of the Year”. I think
TIME could have made a mistake.
It should apologize promptly,
apologetically, and sincerely.
(Sorry for this little outburst, Your
Excellency, Ambassador Sung
King.) Just kidding here. Nobody
trumps Trump.
Look, if you are a fan of PressCons, read the face, or faces.
Especially the eyes. Those two orbs
looking at the camera could be red
flags, the kind that could be missed
(wittingly or unwittingly) by a
bank officer or an AMLA sleuth.
In the case of some public figures,
however, the face is—masked.
There you go again, this thing
about masks. There’s this new

game in town. It’s called “Masking
the Issue” (also called “Masking
Tape” in the case of SOCOR/CIDG
movies.) To play the game, you
must first know the truth, coz your
score in the game will depend on
how far you have departed from
it. There are luck-cards you can
pick (without peeking!) to help you
beat your opponents. Some cards
are labeled Fiction. Such cards
are supposed to be hurled at an
insistent reporter. That gives you
100 points if you hit your target.
If you’re not the gaming (no
pun intended) kind, shopping for
a good mask is an adventure in
itself—entertaining, at most, and
more exhilarating and oxygenpumping than Christmas shopping.
There are many masks to match
(or mask) your intentions. But
the best sellers are—the political
masks. These have variations of
color—yellow, red, even rainbow.
Your choice (see the pun?) Sorry,
no shades of gray (ha ha.) Watch

out for Toto Villareal.
But why is it that “official”
releases and statements in media
remind me of Maskara, a famous
Festival at the turf of my idol,
Bishop Emeritus Vicente M.
Navarra, D.D. (who unmasked
Team Patay and was subsequently
vindicated by the Supreme Court).
Official statements can be garlic(k)
ed, and peppered. But not to my
taste. And the expression on the
spokesperson’s face is, you guessed
it, masked.
The trick is, watch the body
language, the shuffle, the evasive
front. If you are alert enough,
watch for the “slip-of-the mask.”
Remember, the right to Information
means, no masking the issue. Watch
the audience too. Why do their faces
have the same (non)expression?
They must be enthralled by the
person in front of the microphone.
Or perhaps, they are mesmerized
by the masked figure.
Wit-A-Minute/ A6


December 19 - 31, 2016 Vol 20, No. 31

Miss Universe’s
Marian devotion
awes Cardinal Tagle
HAVING met reigning
Miss Universe Pia
Wurtzbach for the first
time, Cardinal Luis
Antonio Tagle could not
help but be amazed by
what he found out: she’s
a staunch Marian devotee.
Wurtzbach, a Catholic,
paid a courtesy call to
Tagle on Dec. 12 to turn
over her donation to
Caritas Manila earmarked
for a scholarship program
for the poorest of the poor
After the ceremony, the
two also had an almost
hour-long closed-door
meeting, during which the
beauty queen asked the
cardinal for a rosary.
“The queen of the
universe recognized Mary.
A Miss Universe asked me,
‘Do you have a rosary?’
For me, it’s powerful,”
said the prelate.
After the meeting,
Wurtzbach, who wore an

elegant white and blue gown
and her Miss Universe sash,
was seen wearing a rosary
around her neck.
It was Tagle’s personal
rosary given to him by
Pope Francis.
“She came out of the
meeting not only wearing
a Miss Universe sash but
a rosary. What a change!”
he said.
Wurtzbach said she always
brings a rosary wherever she
goes, especially on her trips
Fr. Anton Pascual,
Caritas Manila executive
director, said Wurtzbach
is also planning to visit
HIV patients at the San
Lazaro Hospital in Sta.
Cruz, Manila and the street
children in Baseco, Tondo.
“And I think the Miss
Universe organizers
are thinking about it
seriously,” he said. (Roy

Addicts / A1

only we believe. Because the
center of faith is not in the
accomplishment of things.
The center of faith is Jesus.”
“May we not give up,
especially on human lives
and may we not give up on
every single sinner. There
is hope for transformation,”
said Tagle.
The cardinal added that
hoping “is not the certainty
of human sight” but
something that is “nurtured
by faith”.
Reflecting on the life of St.
John the Baptist as “model
of hope”, he explained that
even those who have been
drawn into vices, especially
the youth, are not beyond
the hope of God’s grace and
of Divine Mercy.
“And even if we do not see
now the fruits of our hope, we

will continue hoping,” Tagle
added. “And we should not
declare that they’re beyond
“God can do wonders. Keep
on hoping. And this is hard.
Difficult. But it can happen.”
“K e e p on hop ing and
believing that it is God who
will accomplish it. Hope
for the poor. Hope for the
sinners. Do not give up on
them. Do not give up on their
lives,” he said.
Archbishop Socrates
Villegas of LingayenDagupan, for his part, said
that it a Christian duty to help
in stopping illegal drug trade
and other crimes.
However, he said, this
does not to justify summary
killings and reimposing the
capital punishment in the

Donates / A1

caritas,” Cardinal Tagle told
“We are happy that a person
like you and other celebrities,
if we might use that word,
are offering whatever you
could to support especially
the young people in need of
education,” he said.
Earlier, Wurtzbach along
with Philippine beauty
queen maker Jonas Gaffud
organized a charity gala for
the benefit of poor families
being assisted by the Manila
archdiocese’s social action
“Of course we are all doing
this just out of pure love and
good faith and asking for
nothing in return but just
giving back because we feel
very blessed,” she said.
“Of course its timely
because it’s the holiday
season as well,” Wurtzbach
added. “And I hope we could
work together for Caritas
International in the future,
even after Miss Universe.”
After the meeting which
lasted for about an hour, the

cardinal also gave Wurtzbach
a rosary that was given to him
by Pope Francis.
Fr. Anton Pascual, Caritas
Manila executive director, is
inviting the public to visit the
two-day bazaar to help their
more 5,000 scholars around
the country.
“The proceeds in this
celebrity bazaar will help a
lot in order to educate our
poor toward a better future,”
he said.
Pascual said a number
of local celebrities have
donated their “preloved
items” to help Caritas
Manila and will be sold at
up to 80 percent off.
Among the donors include
Kris Aquino, Anne Curtis,
Vice Ganda, Sarah Geronimo,
Toni Gonzaga-Soriano, Iza
Calzado, Derek Ramsey,
Ruffa Gutierrez, Julia
Montes, Bamboo, Denise
Laurel and JC Intal.
Pascual also said that the
bazaar was expected to raise
at least P2 million. (Roy

‘Drug war kills only the poor,’
says prelate
trade by killing people, most
of whom are poor, will not
resolve the problem, Manila
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick
Pabillo told over 200 faithful
during a Mass at Christ the
King Seminary on Nov. 8.
“Those who suffer are
mostly helpless and poor
people,” said the prelate.
Over 5, 000 lives had been
lost to the state’s war against
drugs just few months into
Duterte’s term. But the drug
trade continues to thrive, he said,
despite the bloody campaign.
“The culture of death in the
country is creeping,” stressed
Just recently, the House of
Representatives committee
on justice approved the
reimposition of the death

Fr. Ranhilio AquinoCallangan expressed his
opposition to the restoration
of capital punishment in a
Facebook post on Dec. 2.
The priest said: “There is a
fundamental reason that the
death penalty should not be
imposed… No fact-finding
proceeding is ever infallible,
and when you punish with
death you must be infallible.”
Vince Casilihan, a human
rights group leader in Bicol,
also expressed opposition to
the death penalty in a social
media post on Dec. 7.
He said: “Even without
death penalty so many are
dying without due process.”
Casilihan said the death
penalty will make the already
corrupt judicial system of the

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo FILE PHOTO

Philippines even worse.
The proposed House
measure is seeking to
penalize with death 20
crimes, including treason,
rape, parricide, murder,
infanticide, kidnapping and

serious illegal detention,
plunder, importation
of dangerous drugs,
possession of drugs, and
criminal liability for planting
evidence. (Oliver Samson/

Have a ‘merciful’ Christmas, young people told
AS Christmas break begins this week
for many students, a university chaplain
urged young people to seek inspiration
from the latest apostolic exhortation of
the Pope on mercy to get to know and
love Jesus Christ.
“I think the Christmas break offers us
a good opportunity to read the apostolic
letter of Pope Francis “Misericordia et
Misera” (Mercy and Misery),” said Fr.
Antonio Elizer Bermejo, University
Chaplain of the University of Asia and
the Pacific (UA&P), as he acknowledged
the Jubilee of Mercy has helped the
youth be more aware of the works of
“If the young people read “Misericordia
et Misera”, they will realize why we are
‘in the time of mercy’”, affirmed the
priest who has had
almost 40 years’ of experience of
working with young people.
Simple works of mercy
“I am impressed by the many works

of mercy of giving joy to the sick and
children,” said Bermejo, who has been
working with students since 2009 as
the UA&P chaplain and as a teacher of
The priest encouraged other young
people to organize many works of mercy.
“They may be simple ones, in small
groups, so that there can be more
interaction and the young people can
share and reflect on the Christian
meaning of the experience.”
“It will help them to gain an attitude
of concern for the poor and come out
with small but concrete gestures of love,
mercy, and compassion for the suffering
and the neglected,” explained the priest.
Simbang Gabi: Great avenue for
Underlining the timeliness of the
Pope’s letter, Bermejo observed,
“Here in the Philippines, Advent, the
preparation for the coming of Jesus
Christ, is practically nil. On the other

hand, Christmas parties are already
celebrated in big numbers all over the
The university chaplain recognized
that “Simbang Gabi is a great avenue
for evangelization as it attracts a lot of
young people”.
“A number of these people may not
attend Sunday Mass, but they take pains
to complete the ‘Misa de Gallo’.”
Bermejo saw in this a positive
challenge among priests to foster the
evangelical and pastoral impact of the
Misa de Gallo. “Homilies have to be wellprepared in order to move the hearts of
young people,” he said.
“I am impressed by the number of
people who come for confession, at
least, at the Sancta Maria Stella Orientis
Oratory in UA&P. Long queues are
formed by young people,” he said, noting
that the school has to make priests
available from 8.30am to 7.30pm so
that people can go to confession. (Fr.
Mickey Cardenas/CBCPNews)

And That’s the Truth / A4

“Bawal o hindi bawal,
walang diperensiya yon.
Yung parish priest naming
bakla at okay naman siya,
basta hindi siya nadadawit
sa iskandalo.” (Ban or no
ban—makes no difference.
Our parish priest is gay and
he’s ok as long as he doesn’t
get involved in a scandal.)
“Kami rin, ‘malambot’
yung parish priest namin
for six years. Maganda mga
sermon niya, maayos ang
patakbo sa parish, at at ang
galing mag-decorate ng
simbahan pag Christmas.
Kagalang-galang naman siya,
kaya lang pag nakaharap ng
pogi, nagniningning ang
mga mata.” (We also had
a ‘soft’ priest in our parish
for six years. He gave good
homilies, ran the parish well,
and was especially good at
decorating the church for
Christmas. He was generally
respectable, but around
good-looking men his eyes
would light up.)
“Hindi ko maintindihan
kung bakit ipagbabawal ng
pope ang mga bakla, eh
kalahati yata ng mga pari
ngayon, bading. Tutukan
na lang niya sana yung mga
pedophiles at magnanakaw.”
(I don’t see why the pope has

to ban gays, when half of the
priests now are already gay.
He should instead focus
on the pedophiles and the
“O, di tama nga ibawal niya,
para kumonti na ang mga
pedophiles at magnanakaw
na mga pari. Binibiktima
ng mga baklang pari ay mga
boys, tsaka kailangan nila
ng datung para makaakit
nila ang mga biktima, ha ha
ha!” (So it’s a a good move; it
will minimize pedophilia and
thievery among the priests.
Gay priests victimize boys,
and they need money to lure
victims, ha ha ha!)
“Pabor ako sa ban. Hindi
ko papayagang pumasok
ang anak kong lalaki sa
seminaryong tumatanggap
ng bakla. Ang isip at
damdamin ng bakla parang
sa babae, paniwala pa nga
niya siya’y isang babae na
nakukulong sa katawan
ng isang lalaki, at sexually
attracted sila sa lalaki.
Mantaking mong payagan
ang isang bakla 24/7 sa
tirahang puno ng ng mga
lalaki? Lalo lang mababakla
yon sa seminaryo!” (I’m all
for the ban. I wouldn’t send
my son to a seminary that
takes in homosexuals. A gay

Candidly Speaking / A4

challenges, etc. It should not
evoke an idealistic otherworldly attitude. Rather
it should help us see the
link of our earthly life and
our eternal life with God in
Precisely in this season of
Advent, one of the liturgical
prayers we say is the
following: “Father,...teach us
to judge wisely the things of
earth and to love the things of
heaven.” “Maranatha” should
make us see the connection
between heaven and earth.
The word should heighten
our awareness of our duty
to sanctify ourselves and do

CBCP Monitor

man feels and thinks like a
woman, he even believes
he is a woman trapped in
a man’s body, and he is
sexually attracted to men.
Can you imagine exposing
a gay man 24/7 to males?
He will just get worse in the
“Oo nga, gaya ng
nangyayari sa mga prison
pag may napahalong bakla.
Pwedeng mangyari iyon sa
seminary; taong lang tayo.”
(I agree, see what happens in
prison when a homosexual
man is around. That can
happen in seminaries, too;
we’re only human.)
“Bakit naman kasi
gugustuhin pang mag-pari
ang bakla… ang dami naming
puwedeng gawin sa buhay.”
(I don’t see why a gay man
would want to become a
priest…there are so many
other things to do in life.)
“Eh kung tingin ba nila
tinatawag sila ng Diyos eh.
Hindi naman sila puwedent
magmadre!” (What if they
think God is calling them?
They can’t be accepted as
“I mean, hindi ba nila
alam na mahihirapan
lang sila at ang ibang
seminarista? O baka

naman kaya gusto nilang
pumasok sa seminaryo ay
precisely because sa tingin
nila maraming men doon
na mababait at hindi sila
pagsasamantalahan?” (I
mean, don’t they realize that
it would be difficult for them
and other seminarians? Or
do they want to enter the
seminary precisely because
they think there are many
good men there who won’t
take advantage of them?)
“Hindi problema sa
Pilipinas yan—abroad lang
maingay ang mga LGBT.
Dito, tanggap na tanggap
ang mga bakla. Sa dami ng
mga successful na bakla,
gaya ni Vice Ganda, Boy
Abunda, mga film directors,
couturiers, etc., popular
na, milyonaryo pa. Bakit
gugustuhin pa ng mga bakla
na magpakahirap sa buhay
bilang pari?” (That’s not a
problem in the Philippines—
it’s only abroad that the
LGBT make noise. Here
homosexuals are so accepted,
like Vice Ganda, Boy Abunda,
film directors, couturiers,
etc. who are popular besides
being millionaires. Why
would gay men want to be
suffering in life as priests?)
(To be continued)

Wit-A-Minute/ A5

apostolate, taking advantage
of whatever circumstances
we may be in to pursue these
In other words, let’s hope
that the word can elicit the
passion and zeal for holiness
and apostolate. This pair
can never be separated,
since holiness by definition
involves not only loving
God but also loving others
with God’s love. Holiness
will always be apostolic. It
necessarily involves entering
into the lives of others for
And before we get some
strange ideas about this truth

of our faith, like, it is too
fantastic, undoable, if not
inhuman, etc., we need to
reassure ourselves that this
is the passion that would
actually make us fully human,
fully Christian, children of
God, perfect image and
likeness of God.
As to its practicability, we
cannot have any doubt about
it, since God, for his part, is
giving us everything for it
to take place. He has sent
his Son who became man
to us. And this God-man,
Jesus, died on the cross in his
supreme act of self-giving to
us. Nothing is spared to make

us be what we ought to be.
On our part, we have
been wired and equipped
for this passion for holiness
and apostolate. With our
intelligence and will, and
always activated by God’s
grace, we can enter into the
life of God himself, and the
lives of others.
This is the tremendous
wonder of our life—that
in spite of our weakness,
mistakes and sins, we are
still, as St. Augustine would
put it, “capax Dei,” capable of
God. And if we are capable of
loving God, then we too must
be capable of loving others.

Don’t get me wrong. Some
masks are for the good.
Like the case of one very
good-natured elderly nun
of the Sisters of St. Paul.
I remember her because
she goes about telling jokes
to lift the spirits of sick
people in hospital wards.
Believe me, she’s quite a
character because her simple
humor (my Microsoft Word
app must be British) works
wonders. The moment I
heard her talk in one
“serious” conference, I
sincerely believed she has
really good sense on top of her
bright wimple headdress—

unlike some trying-hard
Honorables (just kidding,
delete). She reminds me of
the British Mr. Bean of TV
lore, who has a Master’s degree
in Engineering from Queen’s
University, England, but is
paid to act funny, effectively
poking fun at all of us. And
so when I was privileged to be
introduced to the good Sister
at St. Paul’s Pasig sometime
last June, I promised to gift
her on her Birthday in January
with—you guessed it—a mask.
Not just any mask, but a
harlequin mask, sparkling
with sequins and tiny bells on
the “tentacles”.

CBCP Monitor


December 19 - 31, 2016 Vol 20, No. 31

Help drug users, ‘Year of the Parish’ launched
prelate urges
Catholic schools

Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles talks to drug users who want to become productive
citizens of the country through the Sagop Kinabuhi (Save Lives) Program. CONTRIBUTED

DAVAO City— The local
church of Davao has tapped
the network of Catholic
schools in Davao Region to
join the fight against drug
In a meeting with the
Davao Association of Catholic
Schools (DACS), a network
of schools, Archbishop of
Davao Romulo Valles
asked the heads of different
schools to be one with the
Archdiocese of Davao in its
fight against drugs by coming
out with their own anti-drug
The archbishop said
in a Nov. 25 meeting at
Archbishop’s Residence
that the local church should
have a unified voice though
the different schools will be
running their own programs
to fulfill their role in the war
against drugs.
Sagop Kinabuhi Program
Valles also acknowledged
the initiatives of different
Catholic schools in coming
up with their own programs
to help drug users become
productive citizens of the
country while encouraging
those with no programs yet
to join initiatives catering
to drug users. The said
programs are in partnership
with the different barangays
in this city.
The archbishop is currently
leading the diocesan
initiative of helping drug
users together with different
partners through the Sagop
Kinabuhi Program (SKP) 2,
which aims to reach out to
drug users.
Funded by the University
of Southeastern Philippines,
the SKP 2 program seeks
to help drug users who
want to become productive
citizens of the country by
first entering into Voluntary
Submission for Reformation
The program covers the

parishes under the Talomo
District in this city, where
residents from different
barangays have entered
VSR. The Philippine
National Police in Davao
City and volunteers of the
Archdiocesan Social Action
Center (ASAC) Davao who
spearhead SKP 2 have
interviewed and profiled drug
users during assessments
made on Oct. 15 and Nov. 24.
3-year program
Sr. Ma. Marissa Arado,
TDM, said the program was
initiated in 2000 to cater
to the growing issue of
Children in Conflict with
the Law (CICL). Presently,
Sagop Kinabuhi Program
is being run to support the
government’s battle against
She said there are 74 people
who submitted themselves
for reformation during the
first assessment on Oct. 15
and 43 during the second
assessment on Nov. 24. They
are targeting to enroll 130
individuals into three-year
program as they also plan to
implement the program at
the barangay level.
“So far, we are having a
difficulty in gathering the
number of individuals who
will submit themselves for
reformation. Maybe because
they are afraid for their lives,
and we still have to explain
more about the program,”
said Arado.
“We are looking for the
possibility of asking the
barangay captains to explain
and campaign more for the
inception of this program
[at] the barangay level,” she
Valles thanked the
different partners of SKP 2
for their support, expressing
optimism in the Church and
the academe’s fight against
drugs. (John Frances
Fuentes/CBCP News)

Diocesan Basic Ecclesial
Community (BEC) directors,
and coordinators coming
from 72 dioceses from all over
the Philippines, including
representatives from several
CBCP commissions and
renewal movements gathered
from Nov. 28 to 30 in this city
for the launching of the Year
of the Parish asCommunion
of Communities.
Organized by the
Committee on Basic Ecclesial
Communities of the Catholic
Bishops’ Conference of the
Philippines and hosted by the
Diocese of Malaybalay under
the leadership of Malaybalay
Bishop Jose Cabantan,
chairman of the CBCP-BEC
Committee, the event brought
together 174 participants from
all over the country. Also in
attendance were Bishops
Crispin Varquez of Borongan;
George Rimando, Auxiliary
Bishop of Davao; and Oscar
Florencio, Auxiliary Bishop
of Cebu.
Bishop Honesto Pacana,
Bishop Emeritus of
Malaybalay, presided over
the opening Mass on Nov. 28
at the Malaybalay cathedral.
This was followed by the
welcome dinner and program
at the Diocesan Formation
Center in Impalambong.
After dinner, the delegates
were brought to their
respective foster families in
BEC areas in various parts
of the city.
Challenges of the BECs
On the second day, Fr.

BEC Committee heads have a meeting and evaluation at the National Gathering of BEC Directors and Coordinators, Nov. 30. 2016.

Amando Picardal, CSsR,
presented the framework for
the observance of the Year of
the Parish as Communion of
Communities, which should
take into consideration the
situation and the challenges
BECs face.
There were also workshops
and reporting by regions
and sub-regional groupings
to discuss the situation of
BECs as well as external and
internal challenges. After a
synthesis of the reports by
Fr. Danny Pilario, a panel
discussion and open forum
followed in the afternoon. The
panelists were composed of
Bishop Jose Cabantan, Mgr.
Manny Gabriel, Fr. Danny
Pilario, CM, Dr. Estella
Padilla, and Fr. Picardal.
In the evening, the
delegates had dinner and

Gospel sharing in the homes
of their respective foster
families together with
neighbors who are part of
BEC cells.
Understanding the theme
Two talks were given
on Nov. 30 to deepen
the understanding of
the theme of the Year of
the Parish Communion
of Communities: the
perspective by Mgr. Manny
Gabriel and the missiologicalpastoral perspective by
Picardal. Three delegates, Fr.
Tony Addauan from Luzon;
Rowena Daquilanea from
Visayas; and Fr. Bong Dublan
from Mindanao, shared their
experiences and response to
the theme.
This was followed by a

panel discussion and open
forum. The clergy, religious,
and lay leaders of the diocese
of Malaybalay were also in
After lunch, the delegates
had regional/sub-regional
planning session followed
by reporting. The launching
Mass of the Year of Parish as
Communion of Communities
was celebrated at 5:30 pm
in the San Isidro Cathedral.
After the Mass, participants
attended a closing dinner
and cultural program at the
diocesan formation center.
The next National Gathering
of Diocesan BEC directors and
coordinators and culmination
of the Year of the Parish as
Communion of Communities
will be held in Tagbilaran,
Bohol in November 2017.

Samar’s youth orchestra to perform at WACOM4
PASIG City— Instead of gazing at the sky
in search of a “supermoon”, members
of the University of Asia and the Pacific
(UA&P) school community chose to
remain “down to earth” to celebrate
the real presence of Jesus Christ in the
Eucharist, adding a special touch with
one of a kind “floral carpets.”
As a fitting way to cap the Extraordinary
Jubilee of Mercy and the Year of the
Eucharist and the Family, UA&P held
on Nov. 10 a public adoration of Jesus
Christ with the Holy Eucharist brought
in solemn procession in the corridors
and hallways of the school.
But unlike the usual Eucharistic
processions held in many places on
the Solemnity of Christ the King, the
school community distinguished itself
by laying elaborate floral carpets along
the procession route.
Flower carpets for the Lord
“While very important persons (VIPs)
get to walk on a red carpet, we show our
Lord that He is even more important
than them by lining His path with
flowers,” pointed out UA&P Student
Affairs Officer Arianne Vito Cruz.
“Along the route ‘flower girls’ sprinkle
flower petals along the path of the
Eucharistic procession while the more
prominent areas of the route are covered
with floral carpets,” she added.
“The floral carpets are composed of
flower petals and fillers made of colored
sawdust and leaves. Every year, different
sets of designs are made, depending
on the year’s theme,” said the school
According to Vito Cruz, this year’s

Christ the King College Youth Symphony Orchestra of Calbayog City, Samar. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Eucharistic procession theme, “The
Eucharist, the Risen Christ, present and
living in our families”, was chosen in line
with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of
the Philippines’ declaration of the Year
of the Eucharist and the Family.

“Once finished, the floral carpets are
covered with plastic sheets. Water is
periodically sprayed onto the carpets
so that the flowers will stay fresh
until the actual procession,” explained

A community-wide activity
“Assembling the floral carpets is a
community activity,” shared Eucharistic
procession designs committee head
Yoko Hashimoto.
“A few days before the Eucharistic
procession, volunteers separate the
petals from the flowers and keep them in
a cold room. On my part, I put together
the sheets of Manila paper and draw the
designs on them.”
“The Manila paper, which would
serve as the pattern for the floral
arrangements, were laid out on the
ground only a day before the procession
to allow people to walk on the areas
covered by the route,” she added.

“Preparing for the Eucharistic
procession is not merely a task to be
accomplished for the sake of an event,”
the sophomore student said, stressing
the significance of the students and staff’s
efforts for the Eucharistic procession.
“It is a venue for the whole university
community to come together to express
their creativity and live out our motto,
‘UNITAS’ (Unity), while offering it all to
God,” the young student added.
For the benefit of the public, a
special time-lapse video of the UA&P
Eucharistic procession preparations is
available on its Facebook page. (Fr.
Mickey Cardenas/CBCP News)

Lazy / A1

fix the underlying issues that
still drive people to crime.
According to him, death
penalty in the context of
an imperfect justice system
creates a lethal mix where
the poor always suffer and
politicians and powerful
figures often get away with
“If there’s death penalty but
the criminal justice system is
corrupt, slow and one-sided,
rapist and plunderer, and
pusher and killer will remain
confident (to commit crime).
It’s business as usual,” he
Villegas also argued that
court officials are only human,
they make honest mistakes,
and other influences may
distract or even conflict with
the impartial administration
of justice.
When a mistake is made

in the capital punishment
process, an innocent person
may be executed by the state
and such error can no longer
be corrected.
The prelate also refuted
claims that the Church
is being soft on crime for
opposing the death penalty.
He said they are against
crime and the Church doesn’t
take for granted the pain felt
by the victims of crimes.
“But the solution is not
killing criminals. Our
alternative is fullness of
life for the guilty and the
innocent. Fullness of life
for the poor and the rich.
Fullness of life for sinners
and saints,” said Villegas.
He added: “Christ died for
the criminals and the victims.
The love of God is for all. Our
love should be like God’s love.
For all.” (CBCPNews)

Spaces of Hope / A5

Giving priority to space
means madly attempting to
keep everything together in
the present, trying to possess
all the spaces of power and
of self-assertion…Giving
priority to time means being
concerned about initiating
processes rather than
possessing spaces…What
we need, then, is to give
priority to actions which
generate new processes in
society and engage other
persons and groups who
can develop them to the
point where they bear fruit
in significant historical
events. Without anxiety,
but with clear convictions
and tenacity.
He continues: “This
principle enables us to
work slowly but surely,
without being obsessed with

immediate results. It helps us
patiently to endure difficult
and adverse situations, or
inevitable changes in our
Yes, we are home at last,
but the journey continues.
Prayers, a peripheral vision,
and a new office should bear
fruit. How do we measure
success that is not worldly?
Again Pope Francis’s words
are worth listening to:
“Sometimes I wonder if there
are people in today’s world
who are really concerned
about generating processes of
people-building, as opposed
to obtaining immediate
results which yield easy, quick
short-term political gains
but do not enhance human
fullness…” (EG 224).
“People-building” is further

explained by one of Pope
Francis’s favorite theologians,
Romano Guardini, who
wrote: “The only measure
for properly evaluating an
age is to ask to what extent
it fosters the development
and attainment of a full and
authentically meaningful
human existence, in
accordance with the peculiar
character and the capacities of
that age.” (EG 224)
It is easy to lose sight of
this essential dimension. We
need to be disturbed, time
and again, so to return to this
lodestar. A poem attributed
to Sir Francis Drake brings
out this point beautifully:
“Disturb us, Lord, when
we are too well pleased with
ourselves, when our dreams
have come true because we
have dreamed too little; when

we arrived safely because we
sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when with
the abundance of things we
possess, we have lost our
thirst for the waters of life;
having fallen in love with life,
we have ceased to dream of
And in our efforts to build
a new earth, we have allowed
our vision of the new Heaven
to dim. Disturb us, Lord, to
dare more boldly, to venture
on wider seas where storms
will show your mastery;
where losing sight of land,
we shall find the stars. We ask
you to push back the horizons
of our hopes; and to push
into the future in strength,
courage, hope, and love.”
Yes, gift us with Your
creative disturbance! A most
blessed Christmas to all!


December 5 - 18, 2016 Vol. 20 No. 30

CBCP Monitor

Noli Yamsuan, Cardinals’ Caritas Manila head gets
photographer, dies at 71 ‘outstanding Filipino’ award

Manuel “Noli” Yamsuan (1945-2016)
MANILA— Manuel “Noli”
Yamsuan, a prominent
photojournalist known for more
than three decades of images that
captured the late Cardinal Jaime
Sin on the world stage and in
private moments, died on Dec. 10.
He was 71.
The cause were acute stroke and
complications from diabetes, the
Archdiocese of Manila told the
In a career that spanned more
than 40 years, he worked for
various local and international
But Yamsuan is most
remembered and acclaimed for his
coverage of the life and ministry of
Cardinal Sin.
In essence, he was the
cardinal’s official photographer.
His photographs appeared in
magazines such as Time, Asiaweek,
Asia Magazine, Orientation and
Asia Today.
As a church photographer, he
also chronicled major events of the
local Church, including the three
papal visits to the Philippines by
two pontiffs— Pope John Paul II
in 1981 and 1995 and Pope Francis
in 2015.
Over the past few years, he
had also served under Manila
Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio
Cardinal Rosales, and current
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio
Cardinal Tagle until his retirement

in August this year.
Yamsuan was a licensed chemical
engineer, having graduated with
a Bachelor’s Degree from the
University of Santo Tomas, where
he also completed his secondary
He joined the defunct Philippine
Daily Express in 1972, giving
in to a passion and launching
a long and multi-awarded
career in photojournalism and
He has worked for or contributed
to local publications such as
Veritas Newsmagazine, Manila
Daily Bulletin, Philippine Daily
Inquirer, The Sunday Inquirer
Magazine, Metro Magazie, Taipan,
Sports Asia and Woman Today
He was also photo editor or
contributing photographer of
numerous coffee table books,
among them Totus Tuus (1982),
Bayan Ko (1986), People Power
(1986), John Paul II, We Love
You (1981), Cuaresma, Scenes of
Sin (32 Years of Photographing
Cardinal Sin), People Power 2
Lessons and Hopes, A Pilgrimage
of Faith with Mary, Pueblo Amante
de Maria, and “I Am Here” (Pope
Francis’ 2015 visit).
Yamsuan is survived by his
wife, Peachy, former Philippine
editor of the Union of Catholic
Asian News, and their children.

Opus Dei prelate passes away

MANILA— Caritas Manila executive
director Fr. Anton Pascual was feted
with The Outstanding Filipino
Award for “humanitarian service.”
The Junior Chamber International
(JCI) Senate Philippines said the
priest will join two others who will
be given this year’s TOFIL or the
“The Outstanding Filipino Award.”
Pascual was cited for his “selfless
dedication and contribution” in
the field of community service
and for establishing cooperatives
and other programs to help poor
Other awardees include former
Philippine Ambassador to the
United Sates Jose Cuisia Jr. and
former Agriculture Secretary
William Dar.
The awarding ceremonies was
held at the Malacañang Palace on
Dec. 12.
Pascual is currently the president
of Radio Veritas and founder of the
Simbayanan ni Maria Community
Development Foundation, Inc.
He also heads several
cooperatives such as Bahay Pari
Credit Cooperative and Caritas

Fr. Anton Pascual, Executive Director of Caritas

SALVE Microfinance Cooperative.
For several years now, the priest
has also been an official of several
non-government organizations,
including the Philippine Council
for NGO Certification, Alfonso
Yuchengco Foundation, Inc., and
One Meralco Foundation.

In the year 2010, he was a
recipient of the Order of the Golden
Heart (Orden ng Gintong Puso)
Presidential Award from the Office
of the President.
He also received the AIM
Alumni Achievement (Triple A)
International Award, the highest
recognition given by the Asian
Institute of Management to its
outstanding alumni, in 2014.
Last year, Pascual was honored as
the Most Outstanding Cooperative
Leader in Metro Manila by the
Cooperative Development Authority
(CDA) Gawad Parangal.
With this new award, Pascual
joins the ranks of previous TOFIL
awardees such as the late Manila
Archbishop Jaime Cardinal
Sin, former President Diosdado
Macapagal, and former Sen. Jovito
Established in 1988, TOFIL is
a jointly organized by JCI Senate
Philippines and ANSA Foundation
to recognize men and women who
have made significant contributions
to public welfare and national
development. (CBCPNews)

Salvatorian sisters mark 25 years of religious life
QUEZON City—Three
nuns of the Sisters of
the Divine Savior (SDS)
celebrated their 25th year
as brides of Christ in a
Holy Mass at the Christ
the King Seminary in
Quezon City on Nov. 8.
Sr. Mary Adeline
Abamo, Sr. Carolina
Lapara, and Sr. Frances
Mangabat, said a quarter
of a century spent with
their congregation is “a
blessing” and expressed
gratefulness for the grace.
“For me, the 25 years with
the congregation is a great
blessing to celebrate,” said
Abamo, who is a children and
women’s rights and welfare
advocate. “God has been
there always in my journey.
I am so overwhelmed with
His grace and unconditional
‘So happy’
According to her,

despite her limitations
as a human being, she
was able to rise above
challenges in the past 25
years because God has
been always around.
“I am so happy,” she
said. “If I will be given
birth again, I will choose
again a religious life with
the Salvatorian sisters.”
Looking forward,
Abamo said she will
continue serving God
by sharing her life with
the poor, especially
abused children and
women whom she has
accompanied for the last
15 years.
“I want to encourage
young professionals,
men and women alike to
continue discerning for
their vocation,” she said.
“Always live by faith.”
Mangabat saw the silver
jubilee of her religious
profession as a day to be

grateful for the graces
received in the last 25

Sisters’ formation and
administration work. “He
is always faithful.”

Day of thanksgiving
“This is really a day of
thanksgiving,” she said.
“We have gone through
many opportunities that
[have] continued to move
me forward.”
Mangabat expressed
gratitude for the
support from her family,
congregation, friends, and
well-wishers during the
past decades.
“I am blessed. But this
blessing is not only for my
own consumption. This is
meant to be shared.”
She said she is grateful
for the grace that helped
her rise each time she was
“There is no one who I
can hold on to except God,”
said Mangabat, who is in
charge of the Salvatorian

Blessing to be shared
Mangabat was also sent
to missions in depressed
areas outside Metro
Manila where she helped
build BECs.
“I believe that God will
still bless me with the
same blessing that I have
to share with the same
people,” she said.
Attended by over 200
people from across the
country, the thanksgiving
Eucharistic celebration
was officiated by Manila
Auxiliary Bishop
Broderick Pabillo.
The Salvatorian sisters
celebrated their 25th year
of religious profession,
coinciding with the
congregation’s 128th
Foundation Day. (Oliver

Cubao diocese inaugurates new multimedia studio
MANILA— Bishop Honesto
Ongtioco of Cubao a new media
center of the diocese during a
special ceremony held on Dec. 12
The event brought church officials
and lay leaders from near and far
to witness the occasion in the more
than 13 year history of the church
The facility features a
multimedia studio with state-ofthe-art broadcast equipments to
further improve and strengthen
the diocese’s ministry on social
Fr. Steve Zabala, media director
of the diocese, stressed the need of
means of communication to reach
out to people and to communicate
the message of Christ.
“This audio and video production
studio is for evangelization,” Zabala

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao leads the inauguration of the diocese’s media office and studio.

told Manila archdiocese-run Radio
Veritas on Tuesday.
The media was among the
ministry priorities of the diocese

particularly to engage the digital
word for information dissemination
and inte g ral e vang e lizat ion.

Join the Father Michael McGivney Guild for free!
Bishop Javier Echevarria (1932-2016)
ROME— Bishop Javier Echevarria,
the prelate of Opus Dei, passed away
on Dec. 12, the feast of our Lady of
Guadalupe. He was 84. He was the
second successor of St. Josemaria
Escriva, Opus Dei’s founder.
The auxiliary vicar of Opus
Dei, Monsignor Fernando Ocariz,
administered the sacrament of the
sick a few hours before his death.
Bishop Echevarria had been
hospitalized on Dec. 5th at the
Campus Bio-Medico University
Hospital in Rome because of an
infection in his lungs.
He was receiving antibiotics to
combat the infection. In the last
hours complications arose which
caused difficulty in his breathing
and resulted in his death.
As is provided for in the statutes

of the Prelature, the ordinary
governance of the Prelature
now falls to the auxiliary vicar,
Monsignor Fernando Ocariz. In
accord with the statutes, it falls to
him to convoke an elective congress
which will elect the new prelate.
The congress has to take place with
three months, and after the election
occurs, it must be confirmed by the
Bishop Echevarria was born in
1932 in Madrid, and it was there
that he met St. Josemaria. He was
St. Josemaria’s secretary from 1953
to 1975. He was later appointed
secretary general for Opus Dei and
in 1994 was elected prelate. On
January 6, 1995, he was ordained
bishop by St. John Paul II in St.
Peter’s Basilica.

THE Knights of Columbus established the Father McGivney Guild to promote the Cause
for canonization of our founder, Venerable Michael J. McGivney (1852-1890). The goal
of the Guild is to spread the good word about his holiness of life, to encourage devotion
to his memory, and to seek his intercession before the throne of God. The Guild serves
as a clearinghouse for information about Father McGivney, his life and works, and any
favors attributed to his intercession. Father McGivney is a unique model today for both
Catholic laymen and priests because of his attention to the social ills and injustices of
his day and his collaboration with the people of his parish. He was zealous for the life of
union with God through prayer and the sacraments, and would have been right at home
in today’s world. He was then and would be today an eager apostle for the Gospel of
life, and active in building a civilization of love.
Membership in the Guild is open to anyone who wishes to share in this mission of
making known the life and work of Father McGivney and of encouraging devotion to
his memory. To join, fill out the attached application and mail it to the address given.
There is no charge to enroll, and you need not be a member of the Knights of Columbus.
The Guild is anxious to receive reports of favors received through Father McGivney’s
intercession. It is not only miracles that are required to move the cause forward, but witnesses to the power of the servant of God’s prayers before the throne of God.

To start your free membership and receive the Guild newsletter, please complete the form below and return to: Father
McGivney Office - Philippines, Knights of Columbus Fraternal Association of the Philippines, Inc. Center, Gen. Luna cor. Sta.
Potenciana Sts., Intramuros, Manila 1004, Philippines
Name/s: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Complete Mailing Address: ____________________________________________________________________________________________
City/Province:_______________________________________ Country & Zip Code: ___________________________________________________

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