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Pope says Lent is time to renounce selfishness
‘God Created Men and •B1Women for Resurrection •C1 and Life’
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
Pro-life advocate lauds Ayala Alabang ordinance
PRO-LIFE Philippines President Eric Manalang called on barangay councils opposed to the reproductive health bill to take measures that respect human life. Manalang said village officials should defend their positions against the RH bill by making ordinances that would protect the sanctity of life especially of the unborn. The anti-RH bill advocate cited, for instance, an ordinance in the posh confines of
Alabang / A6
IPs call for end of mining on ancestral lands
TRIBAL folks in Nueva Vizcaya called for an end of mining activities on their ancestral lands, saying large-scale mining will destroy their forests and leave them with nothing. “Respect the indigenous people’s rights. And our call: NO TO LARGE-SCALE MINING. Mining will not feed us, it will take our land; ravage our forests and leave us with nothing,” said Lucas Buay, a representative of Kasibu Inter-tribal Response for Ecological DevelopIPs / A6
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
Fortify marriage, Pope tells Filipino bishops
By Roy Lagarde
POPE BENEDICT XVI called on the Filipino bishops to strengthen the sacrament of matrimony especially among the young couples.
Amid “secularism,” he said care must be given to show young people the importance of the sacraments “as instrument of God’s grace and assistance.” “This is particularly true of the sacrament of matrimony, which sanctifies married life from its beginning, so that God’s presence may sustain young couples in their struggles,” he said. The pontiff made the statement during the “ad limina” visit of Bicol and Visayas bishops in Rome on Feb. 7-19, 2011 amid reports of the declining Catholic marriages in the country. An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines previously said that the number of church marriages dropped from 177,940 in 2008-2009 to just 166, 000 in 2010. Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL), said this was because Filipinos were marrying at a later age. He said couples were also opting for civil marriages first before going for a “grand” church wedding. Another official of the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal also admitted before that the high cost of church weddings is deterring couples from getting married. According to retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, churches must encourage couples to have simple wedding
President Benigno Aquino III, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Papal nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams and several bishops release doves during the unveiling ceremony of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin’s statue, witnessed by hundreds of people in Manila, February 25, 2011. The monument commemorates Sin’s role in the popular 1986 EDSA revolution that ended the Marcos dictatorship.
AN official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged Philippine lawmakers to look to US Congress’ example by defunding contraceptive use. Fr. Melvin Castro of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life said the US has realized its mistake for funding contracep-
Follow US House, CBCP official tells lawmakers
tion and the country can avoid it by rejecting the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. “If the US Congress defunded such entity, we ask our Congress to reject the RH bill which has the same effect of allocating people’s money against what they believe in,” he said. On Feb. 19 (Manila time), the US House voted a measure that would ensure no federal dollars to fund abortions. Voting 240-185, the Congressional body also cut off a federal family planning program that Planned Parenthood relies on for grants and contracts in taxpayer funding. The amendment to the 2011 Federal Spending Bill, introduced by Rep. Mike Pence, will now go before the Senate. In a statement, Pence described the vote as a “victory for taxpayers and a victory for life.” “By banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood, Congress has taken a stand for millions of Americans who believe their tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America,” Pence said. The CBCP official called on the Filipino lawmakers to take a cue from the US Congress ‘before it’s too late.’ “Ours is a poor country. We have to do something before it’s
Marriage / A6
too late for us to realize that the RH bill is wrong and spent millions of pesos for its implementation,” Castro added. “We ask our government and our legislators, let us not follow their mistakes of the past, and then only to realize we have to correct it in the future,” he said. (CBCPNews)
Prelate fears railroading of RH bill
AN official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines feared that supporters of the reproductive health bill are trying to railroad the passage of the legislation. Despite a Malacañang pronouncement that it is no longer a priority, CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life chairman Archbishop Paciano Aniceto can’t stop but wonder why it is fast-tracked. “It’s like there’s somebody dictating them to railroad it. There is double talk here in the government. Malacañang said there is prioritization. But the House is (working) double time,” he said. The CBCP has strongly opposed the passage of the bill for going against Church teachings against artificial birth control and for imposing sex education among primary and high school students. The House of Representatives cancelled on March 1 the first plenary debates on the RH bill due to problems in the building’s air conditioning system.
Railroading / A6
Archbishop Paciano Aniceto
Priest starts drive vs gambling in wake
IN a bid to stop the proliferation of gambling in his parish, a Catholic priest has vowed to deny giving burial rights to Catholics if there is gambling during the wake. Fr. Valentine Dimoc of the St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Lagawe, Ifugao made such order in a pastoral policy he issued recently. Dimoc said the parish would uphold the policy of not holding funeral Mass to persons whose bereaved families opted to allow gambling during the wake. “The policy is pastoral in nature, in response to a social and moral issue in a particular place; the Local Government Unit’s ordinance against gambling is what should be implemented for the common good but sometimes the power is
Priest / A6
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda (left), and CBCP secretary general Msgr. Juanito Figura face the media after CBCP-Malacañang dialogue on the RH bill last December 15.
CBCP suspends talks with Malacañang on RH bill
THE Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is suspending its dialogue with the government on the issue of the reproductive health bill. On February 19, CBCP president and Tandag
Suspends / A6
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
© Noli Yamsuan / RCAM
MADRID, Spain, Feb. 25, 2011—As a preparation for the upcoming World Youth Day in August, at least 300,000 youth are planning to visit various dioceses around Spain in the days preceding Benedict XVI’s arrival. The “Days in the Dioceses” event will take place Aug. 11-15 in 63 Spanish dioceses, where young people from other countries will be able to spend time with their peers in preparation for the youth day. This preparatory even began in Paris before the 1997 youth day, as a way of facilitating youth ministry in French dioceses, having the whole country welcome the pilgrims from other countries, and encouraging French young people to attend the activities with the Holy Father. The experience was so successful that it was repeated in subsequent World Youth Days in Italy, Canada, Germany and Australia. Over 150,000 participants from 137 countries have already registered, and an estimated 300,000 youth will take part in the program. The plan for those days may include: cultural activities, historical visits, moments for celebration, time for prayer and visits to shrines that make up the local religious identity. Javier Igea, who is in charge of organizing this event, pointed out that this networking of young people is “sowing bonds of peace in the global village.” An effort is being made in many places so that the accommodation of the participants is free. Young people who come from countries with greater economic difficulties are guaranteed cost-free participation in this
program. For example, the Diocese of Ciudad Real will be hosting 260 Haitians free of charge along with another 1,750 youth who will take part in the city’s program.
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
300,000 youth to visit Spanish dioceses
Preparatory mission Some 250 young Puerto Ricans will gather in Corozal, in their own country, this weekend, for another event in preparation for World Youth Day. They will walk two-by-two around the city, visiting children and the sick. Father Orlando Lugo of San Jose de Camuy explained: “We are going to begin the mission in Puerto Rico, because we understand it must begin here. This is the first meeting of this whole delegation.” The Puerto Rican delegation will later travel to a town in the province of Toledo, Spain, where from Aug. 14 to Aug. 19 they will visit the elderly and the sick and will invite other young people from to take part in the youth day activities. Roxana Zamot, 22, who belongs to the youth ministry leadership team in her parish, stated: “It is a unique experience where we will be missionizing and getting to know other people, other cultures. To take part with the Pope in the [World Youth Day] is the greatest thing that can happen to us as Christians and as young people.” In another initiative to prepare youth for the event in Madrid, a competition has been convoked for journalistic works centered on the theme “Watchmen of the Future,” an expression with which John Paul II described young people in his last visit to Spain in 2003. A prize will be awarded for journalistic works published before May 1 that reflect what Madrid’s World Youth Day is and what it means. (Zenit)
Chinese bishop, imprisoned for decades, dies at 90
VATICAN City, Feb. 27, 2011— Bishop Augustine Hu Daguo of the apostolic prefecture of Shiqian, Shihtsien, in the Chinese province of Guizhou, died on Feb. 17 at the age of 90. The bishop, who was approved by the Pope and part of the underground Church, spent decades in prison and forced labor camps because of his fidelity to the Pontiff. In China, religious practice is only permitted by the government with the oversight of the Catholic Patriotic Association, the body through which the authorities recognize religious personnel and register places of worship. Hence there is a “national” or “official” church, directed by the Association and the Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China. And then there are the laypeople, priests and bishops who oppose such control and who wish to obey the Pope directly. The latter constitute the non-official, or underground, Church. L’Osservatore Romano reported today on the death of Bishop Hu, noting that “the civil authorities, who never recognized him as bishop, impeded his residing in Shiqian.” It continued: “Despite the fact that his residence was in Duyun, in the Archdiocese of Guiyang, with discretion and effectiveness he administered the clergy and faithful of his apostolic prefecture with great zeal and spiritual fervor, giving life and hope to the various parish communities, scattered in the mountainous region. “Bishop Hu led a life teaching simplicity and poverty, in full adherence to the principles of the universal Church and to the primacy of Peter. “He was very gifted from the intellectual point of view and was always esteemed by all as an ecclesiastical saint.” “In the last years,”
Schoenstatt prepares to welcome Benedict XVI home
L’Osservatore Romano reported, “he did not hide his difficulties with language, with understanding and with mobility, though he continued to spend his energies in the service of the Lord and to dedicate himself particularly to hearing the confessions of the faithful.” The prelate’s funeral was held on Feb. 20. The news article noted, “In him, as in so many other Chinese bishops who have died in the last years, were fulfilled the words of the Book of Wisdom (3:1): ‘But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.’” (Zenit)
The Schoenstatt Movement is preparing for Benedict XVI’s visit to his home country of Germany in September with a campaign to show support for the Pope. Members are organizing a crusade of love and support of the Pontiff called “Postcard Action,” gathering prayers for the upcoming event. Some 30,000 postcards have already been distributed for the campaign, which the faithful are encouraged to send to the Pope with their personal messages. Another 20,000 cards have been printed for distribution. (Zenit)
Global Catholic population continues to grow
Christian in prison for apostasy secretly released in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 25, 2011—An Afghan man who converted to Christianity was freed from prison, where he had been held for nine months, and may have been secretly smuggled out of the country this week. Sayed Mussa, 46, ran the risk of a death sentence for apostasy. His release came after months of discreet diplomatic efforts between the Afghan government and western representatives in Kabul. Sayed Mussa, married and father of six children, worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross before his arrest. He was released on February 21 from Kabul Detention Centre after the judges had found that there was insufficient material to pursue the charges. This, according to Gen. Qayoum Khan, prison director. It is unclear whether Sayed Musa is still in Afghanistan, or whether he has already left the country. Some relatives, including his wife, say they have heard nothing from him. Diplomats, the U.S. embassy in the first place, refuse to confirm news of his the prosecutor sent a letter to the prison, which said there was no evidence against him, and that he was to be released. Sayed Mussa was arrested in May 2010 after a local television station showed some Westerners baptizing Afghans, and other Afghans who were praying in a secret Christian gathering. Local sources, on condition of anonymity, say the Afghan government has been under massive pressure for his release, and was uncertain, because it feared the reaction of radical Muslims. Some believe Mussa could have reneged on his conversion, before being released. Mussa was one of at least two Afghans in prison on charges of apostasy. Another, Shoaib Assadullah Musawi is in prison since November 2010 in the city of Mazari-Sharif, accused of having given a Gospel to a friend. The Afghan constitution guarantees freedom to practice religion, but ambiguously leaves the option to courts of referring to the Shari’a on many issues, including conversion. (AsiaNews)
The number of baptized Catholics on the planet continues to grow and half of their number are in the Americas. This is some of what can be learned from the data of the 2011 papal yearbook, the Annuario Pontificio, presented to Benedict XVI on Feb. 19, by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Archbishop Fernando Filoni, undersecretary for general affairs. The statistical data from the year 2009 furnish a summary view of the principal dynamics of the Catholic Church in her 2,956 ecclesiastical entities across the globe: The number of baptized Catholics has increased from nearly 1.16 billion in 2008 to 1.18 billion in 2009, with an absolute increase of 15 million faithful. (Zenit)
Pope to visit site where Nazis executed hundreds of Italians
Next month Pope Benedict XVI will mark the anniversary of a brutal massacre that took the lives of 335 Italians during World War II. On March 24, 1944, Nazi soldiers slaughtered the hundreds of individuals to exact revenge for a surprise bomb attack in the heart of Rome that killed 33 of their colleagues. The Pope will go to the site, called the “Fosse Ardeatine,” on March 27 to observe the 67th anniversary of the executions. It is very near the Catacombs of St. Callistus on the outskirts of Rome. He follows in the footsteps of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II, who also paid their respects to the dead. (CNA)
Vatican charity official says new challenges call for new leadership at Caritas
release, and say they will continue to keep the case Mussa, and others like it, under observation. Gen. Qayoum Khan said that Mussa was brought to court offices last Monday, after
The Vatican believes that its top aid agency, Caritas Internationalis, needs new leadership to build a stronger Catholic identity within the organization, said Cardinal Robert Sarah, who oversees the agency’s work as president as president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. The Rome-based Caritas recently announced that the Vatican would not permit its current secretary general, Lesley-Anne Knight, to run for re-election to the position this May. Cardinal Sarah explained the Vatican’s reasons during the course of a Feb. 22 press conference to release the Pope’s annual Lenten message. (CNA)
Pope to canonize 3 in October
Tunisian prelate horrified by priest’s murder
TUNIS, Tunisia, Feb. 24, 2011— The archbishop of Tunis expressed horror and sadness over last week’s murder of Father Marek Rybinski, a 33-year-old Polish missionary. On Monday, police apprehended a suspect in the killing. Archbishop Maroun Lahham expressed “horror, sadness, anger, revolt, concern, fear, doubt” in response to the Feb. 18 murder of the priest who had been working in Manouba, Tunisia since 2007. The prelate lamented: “Why was Father Marek killed? For 2,000 dinars ($1,300)!” He noted that the priest had written two weeks earlier that Tunisia “is a nation that is young, intelligent, incapable of violence, profoundly good and not capable of hate.” The missionary had also written: “During my stay in Tunisia, my attitude toward my fellow Muslims has changed dramatically. This fear of terrorism and extremism has completely disappeared. “Tunisians are so welcoming, friendly and warm. They teach me this attitude.” The archbishop recalled Father Rybinski’s offer to come to Tunisia shortly after his 2005 ordination. He praised the missionary’s efforts to collect donations “from everywhere to build new premises for the school he loved and he was directing.” Archbishop Lahham stated: “Where do we go from here? There is no question that times of difficulty are not the moments for running away.” “This is no time to panic,” he said. “It is time for faith, patience, precaution.” The prelate continued: “I say in my own name first, and I think I can say on behalf of any religious personnel of the Church in Tunisia, and on behalf of Christians in the country, as well as on the behalf of our brother Muslims and Jews: We will stay put in this country that has welcomed us, who loves us and who we love.” Referring to the Gospel passage about the seed that falls to the earth and dies, the archbishop affirmed that Father Rybinski “fell, he died, and in the example of Christ to whom [he] had consecrated himself to, it has borne fruit.” Killer apprehended On Monday the Tunisian authorities reported the arrest of 44-year-old Chokri Ben Mustapha Bel-Sadek El-Mestiri for the murder of Father Rybinski. El-Mestiri was a handyman who handled repairs at the Salesian school where the missionary was stationed. Father Rybinski reportedly gave him some $1,300 to buy supplies for repairs, but the handyman spent the money elsewhere. The Tunisian authorities suspect that El-Mestiri killed the priest because he was unable to repay or account for the money. Given the recent unrest in the country, the minister of the interior denounced the murder of the priest while expressing “relief” that it was not politically motivated. Archbishop Lahham observed the numerous messages of solidarity and sympathy from the Tunisian people after this tragedy. He noted that many demonstrated outside the cathedral with signs that said, “Marek, sorry!” A group of youth, the prelate noted, came with flowers and tears in their eyes, stating: “We have not killed. It is not Tunisia. Forgive us!” (Zenit)
Benedict XVI presided at an ordinary public consistory that approved the Oct. 23 canonization of three blessed — two Italians and one Spaniard. Blessed Guido Maria Conforti (1865-1931) founded the Society of St. Francis Xavier for Foreign Missions. John Paul II beatified him on March 17, 1995. Don Luigi Guanella (1842-1915) was a priest who founded two congregations: the Servants of Charity and the Institute of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. Pope Paul VI beatified him on Oct. 25, 1964. Blessed Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro (1837-1905) is a nun from Salamanca, Spain, who founded the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, and created the “Nazareth workshop” to help poor or unemployed women. (Zenit)
Pope tells Vatican academy that abortion ‘resolves nothing’
Abortion “resolves nothing,” Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Academy for Life Feb. 26. The academy was meeting at the Vatican to present studies on “post-abortion syndrome” and the use of umbilical cord stem cell banks for therapeutic treatments. The Pope told them that the effects on a woman after an abortion reveal “the irrepressible voice of moral conscience and the terrible wound it suffers each time a human action betrays the human being’s innate vocation to good.” The academy has studied many aspects of the abortion issue in past meetings. A focus of these most recent talks was to examine the risk for the woman and the existence of social pressures, especially in some parts of the world, to turn to abortion. (CNA/EWTN News)
Vol. 15 No. 5
February 28 - March 13, 2011
VATICAN City, Feb. 22, 2011— Lent is a time for self-examination and to let go of all traces of selfishness, which is the root of violence, Pope Benedict XVI said. “The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death,” which is why during Lent the church encourages almsgiving, “which is the capacity to share,” the pope said in his annual message for Lent. The text of the pope’s message for Lent 2011, which begins March 9 for Latin-rite Catholics, was released at a Vatican news conference Feb. 22. Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which promotes Catholic charitable giving, told reporters, “Intense misery leads to economic and political instability, creating a vacuum for conflict and unrest that produce a vicious circle of deepening hardship, especially for the most vulnerable.” The cardinal said the pope’s message underscores the fact that “the encounter with Christ in his word and the sacraments manifests itself in concrete works of mercy.” The theme of the pope’s message was taken from the Letter to the Colossians: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him.” Pope Benedict said Lent is a special time for people either to prepare for baptism or to strengthen the commitment to following Christ originally made at baptism. “The fact that in most cases baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: No one earns eternal life through their own efforts,” the pope said. In his message, the pope took the year’s Lenten Sunday Gospels and used them to draw lessons he said would be helpful in making the Lenten journey toward Christian conversion. The Gospel account of Jesus’ victory over temptation in the desert “is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength,” he said. The story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well is a reminder that all people, like the woman, desire the “water” of eternal life, he said. Only the water offered by Jesus “can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul until it ‘finds rest in God,’” as St. Augustine said. The Gospel account of Jesus
healing the man born blind “is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also to open our interior vision so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only savior,” the pope said. The story of the raising of Lazarus, read on the fifth Sunday of Lent, reminds Christians that their destiny is eternal life with God, who “created men and women for resurrection and life,” he said. The Lenten process of conversion, he said, is designed “to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the ‘world’ that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor,” Pope Benedict wrote. Through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, he said, “Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way.” Fasting helps people overcome selfishness and self-centeredness; almsgiving is a reminder of the sharing that should mark each day of a Christian’s life; and time dedicated to prayer is a reminder that time belongs to God and his desire is for people to spend eternity with him. (CNS)
Pope says Lent is time to renounce selfishness
© Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
Vatican official says cheap access to water a right for all
VATICAN City, Feb. 25, 2011—Reasonable access to clean water is a fundamental human right and its distribution should not be left solely to private companies seeking profit, a top Vatican official said. Bishop Mario Toso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told participants at a meeting regarding the future of water supplies around the world that water is not a commercial product but rather a common good that belongs to everyone. People have a “universal and inalienable right” to access, a right that is so fundamental that “governments cannot leave its management solely in private hands,” he said. Bishop Toso made his remarks at an international meeting near the Vatican called “Dammi da bere” (give me something to drink), promoted by the Catholic-inspired Italian environmental association Greenaccord. Bishop Toso cited Colombia, Philippines and Ghana as examples of countries where water management “inspired exclusively by private and economic criteria” has failed to produce adequate distribution for the population and where water costs three to six times
John Paul II seen as great friend of the sick
VATICAN City, Feb. 20, 2011—Reflecting on last Friday’s World Day of the Sick, the Vatican spokesman says he thinks Pope John Paul II’s beatification on May 1 will bring a focus to illness and revive the Christian spirit with which the Polish Pope endured Parkinson’s disease. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, gave this prediction on the most recent edition of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies.” He recalled how it was John Paul II who wanted the Church to celebrate a World Day of the Sick each Feb. 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. “Sickness,” the Jesuit said, “is such an essential part of the human experience that it is also necessarily at the heart of every experience of faith. It touches every person directly in his flesh or in his mind, or persons who are close to him and dear,” and “it involves man in the depths of his soul, challenging love, hope and faith itself.” “Jesus Christ, with the attention that he paid to the suffering, with his personal passion and death, is the most credible word of comfort for the sick, and the whole Church must try to be this way. [She must be] the animator of solidarity and love in every dimension of the human community,” he added. A lot of love Father Lombardi characterized John Paul II as a “great witness to sickness lived in faith.” “Like Jesus who carries the cross, he too is a great friend and intercessor for every sick person,” the spokesman asserted. Father Lombardi went on to reflect that “beyond comfort there is commitment.” He explained: “Benedict XVI says: ‘The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through “com-passion” is a cruel and inhuman society’ (“Spe Salvi,” 38).” “Suffering calls for and awakens love,” Father Lombardi concluded. “A lot of love. Without sickness we would not know the depth of love. We need to understand it and live it to grow in humanity.” (Zenit)
that of large cities such as New York or London. “The great paradox is that poor people pay more than the rich for something that should be a universal right: the access to drinkable water,” the bishop said. People in poor countries, he said, often suffer not for the lack of water but because “access is economically impossible.” Conflicts between peoples over their
water supplies, especially in arid areas, are inevitable without fair and democratic policies regarding the sharing of water, the bishop said. He added that many analysts warn that “in the future, following the oil wars that have characterized the past few decades, we will see new wars over water.” That situation is sure to be aggravated by climate change, he said. (CNS)
CBCP lauds gov’t peace efforts
MANILA, Feb. 21, 2011—The leader of the Catholic hierarchy lauded the efforts of the Philippine government to forge peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Communist Party of the Philippines, even as he called on people to support the peace process. In a statement, CBCP president and Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar called on the faithful to support the peace talks and pray for its success “so that peace is finally forged and armed conflicts are finally ended.” He emphasized that peace is everyone’s responsibility. “Together, hence, let us show our earnest desire to achieve peace. Time and again we have shown the world that together as one, Filipinos can do what seemed impossible, for no task is insurmountable to the committed hearts and dedicated hands,” he added. The prelate called on the Filipino people to mobilize efforts to make a resounding declaration: “WE WANT PEACE!” “Peace has always been the dream and aspiration of peoples. And it is not elusive,” Odchimar said. The Phl government and the MILF and the CPP-NPA-NDF, respectively, have agreed to resume the peace talks this month. Peace talks between the Philippine government and the MILF resulted in an impasse when in August 2008, the Supreme court declared as unconstitutional the controversial Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), while the government’s talks with the CPP had been stalled in 2005. “The resumption of the talks, therefore, is a golden opportunity to finally put an end to the conflicts that have ‘held hostage’ the country’s development for so long, and have created so many heartaches, division and misery among our people,” Odchimar said. The CBCP president also supported the call of Military Bishop Leopoldo Tumulak for everyone to get involved in the peace efforts. “I implore everyone to make their personal commitments to peace known, by supporting the peace activities that a multisectoral group has initiated these days,” he was quoted saying. He described the activities as “both symbolic and substantive not only to generate interests but more importantly, to deepen our dedication to true and lasting peace.” Odchimar said a Peace Walk will be held on Friday, February 25 to commemorate the 1986 EDSA People Power. “Forums and discussions in the national and community levels will continue to be held to deepen understanding of the issues at hand. Above all, together with my brother Bishops, I exhort you to consistently and fervently pray for healing and peace in our land,” he said. (Melo M. Acuna)
Bishop Nereo Odchimar
Environmental group calls for total mining ban Poverty pushes some OFWs to
MANILA, Feb. 24, 2011—An environmental group has called for a “genuine” moratorium to all large-scale mining activities across the archipelago, in a bid to salvage the remaining forests in the country. Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KPNE) made the appeal in a forum, attended by environmentalists and conservationists at the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Biology in Diliman, Quezon City. Records show that many of the virgin forests, especially those who are considered haven for various flora and fauna, are being destroyed by mining activities of different foreign-funded, but Filipino managed, companies. KPNE national coordinator Clemente Bautista Jr., in a statement said, that while cancellation of 600 mining permit applications, is a welcome gesture, President Benigno C. Aquino III should also consider implementing a total ban in mining, just like what he did in logging. Bautista also said that the cancelled mining permit applications seem to be dubious as it was not made to protect the environment as some of the cancelled permits are either cancelled due to lack of necessary documents or the mining proposal is deemed speculative. “After being ‘cleansed’ of old and incomplete mining applications, areas once closed will again be opened for mining projects and operations. A genuine mining moratorium is needed. This will greatly help in the rehabilitation and recovery [of] our degraded environment. It will allow the replenishing of our flora and fauna. Likewise, the government should also hold accountable mining companies like Marcopper in Marinduque, Oceana Gold in Nueva Vizcaya, TVI in Zamboanga del Norte, and KORES in Rapu-rapu, Albay for the environmental destruction caused by their operations,” said Bautista. Loi Manalasan, president of UP Explore, meanwhile said that mining issue is not only about saving trees, animals or beautiful places in the Philippines but saving the future of the current and the next generations. “The youth should stand against large scale foreign mining operations before the time comes when what is left for us to call our country is a wasteland left by the mining companies after taking our mineral resources,” Manalansan said. The group also urged Congress to repeal Mining Act of 1995 as it legalizes green crimes such as environmental degradation and corporate plunder of the country’s natural resources. (Noel Sales Barcelona) MANILA, Feb. 21, 2011—An executive of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said poverty and lack of opportunity to get high-paying jobs at home has led some Filipinos to give in to tempting offers from international syndicates. Fr. Edwin Corros, Executive Secretary of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Migrant and Itinerant People, said poverty is a serious factor that can push people to do even illegal things because they wanted to cash on overseas employment at the soonest possible time. “Another factor which one should seriously consider is poverty – when people cannot land decent and wellpaying jobs in the Philippines, they would seek employment elsewhere,” he added.
become ‘drug mules’—CBCP official
He said it is very probable that they get lured into becoming drug mules as soon as they are offered huge sums for “a small delivery” to places like China. Corros said a number of lessons can be learned from the case of Filipinos convicted of death in China. He thanked the Filipino nation for the prayers that Chinese authorities suspend, if not commute the death sentence to life imprisonment. Corros said countries like China are seriously implementing their laws, which simply means, should the penalty calls for death, it will be implemented. But he is thankful to the Chinese government for heeding the call of the Filipino nation to defer the convicts’ execution earlier scheduled today and tomorrow. (CBCPNews)
Springtime in the Arab world?
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
IS the popular uprising that started in Tunisia then Egypt and now raging in Bahrain, Yemen and Libya a political virus that is infecting the Arab countries? Or is it just that people are already weary of overstaying regimes as in the case of Tunisia (21 years), Egypt (30 years), Libya (42 years) and Yemen (21 years), among others. But by the likelihood of it, this could be a trailblazer of a new paradigm of change that maybe tilting towards a more democratic way of life. Judging from video footages seen on international TV, observers see that most of the protesting crowds are young who seem not to be manipulated by radical movements or extremists. In Egypt, for instance, Muslims and Christians were rallying and praying together—defying the practice of extremists of pitting them against each other. What seem common in TV interviews, in blogs and social networks is that young people in these countries have an overarching motivation which is basically to be able to find job, to create a family and to live with a minimum of decency. And, seemingly, there has not been a whimper of extremism or even traces of Islamic agenda. Seemingly there was no aggressiveness in the sense of burning effigies of Uncle Sam or the trampling of the Israeli flag. There has not been any attempt to kill or imprison the deposed heads of governments who were known for wallowing in luxury and corruption; they were condemned, yes, but allowed to go. Of course, there is no denying that the internet is one of the bigger factors in changing mentalities of the new generation in the Arab world. The young people ofAmerica, for instance, and those of Yemen compare notes and opinions which may not be necessarily identical but definitely close to each other. Besides, the Arab world is very close to Europe where people have relatives that have been assimilated into France, Germany, Italy, England and others. People discover the chasm of difference in lifestyle between them that live less than $2 a day, as in Egypt, and their relatives in European countries. Call this revolution in the Arab world an awakening, but there are issues now that are coming out in the open—that is, at uprisings both in the streets and in social networks. One is the equality of men and women. Another is the separation of the state from religion. This is very crucial and may take a longer generational shift in worldview. What seem visible now is that young people are fed up with the conflicts of their parents, of the older generation. They just want to live in peace, build their own families and have a more open and developed nation, like the other parts of world. If such is the case, then a springtime in the Arab world may be in the offing.
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
Fr. James H. Kroeger, MM
CHRISTIANS know that Lent, Kuwaresma, is the forty-day period that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter. Lent is a special time of renewal, a God-given opportunity of grace, a golden moment—not to be missed! The Lenten Prefaces of the liturgy note: “This great season of grace is your gift to your family to renew us in spirit…. You ask us to express our thanks by self-denial. We are to master our sinfulness and conquer our pride. We are to show to those in need your goodness to ourselves.” Yes, Lent offers us an urgent opportunity for renewal in our mission commitments. Each year on the first Sunday of Lent the Gospel is always the same; it is a Synoptic account of Jesus’ forty-day desert retreat and the temptations by the devil. A close look at the temptations reveals that they reflect life’s basic challenges; they can be captured in three words, all beginning with the letter “p.” First, Jesus, having been “baptized” for his mission, is in the desert, fasting and praying for forty days; he is hungry, he wants food. The devil approaches with an enticing offer: just make bread from stones. Jesus counters the offer by asserting that true life comes from God’s word, not from bread alone. This first temptation deals with possessions. We all want
Lent: Renewal in Mission
material goods, conveniences, clothes, the latest gadgets (cameras, cell-phones, appliances, etc.). Let’s face it: we are all materialistic in both large and small ways. Do our material desires control us? Lent is an opportunity to examine ourselves and the depth of our Christian commitment. In the second temptation, the devil brings Jesus to a parapet of the temple; Satan presents a temptation to prestige or pride. Jesus will be well-known and famous, honored and recognized as someone special, if he jumps and the angels come to rescue him. How many of us are proud and want to be in first place, have worldly honors, be an important public figure? Jesus’ third temptation involves the devil taking him to a lofty mountain and displaying all the world before him. This is a temptation to power. Jesus is tempted to gain power for selfish purposes. How do we use or abuse our power? Do we use our position, authority, and influence to be in mission and truly serve others (e.g. poor, migrants, youth, squatters)? Do we sometimes act as if we, not God, control the world and people? Note carefully: we all are subject to these temptations to want possessions, prestige, and power. We all are selfish and proud. Thus, Lent is a grace-filled time
A faith reading of the changing context
FOLLOWING the pattern of PCP-II, we sought to discern God’s call to renewal within our changing historical and ecclesial context. PCP-II pointed to the strengths and gifts of the Filipino people. It also indicated the ills of the nation stemming from tragically unbalanced economic and political structures and ambivalent cultural traits. Unfortunately much of what was said then is still true today. New causes and factors have spawned new forms of the old ills. The global economy, in tandem with superb new technologies and means of social communications, has produced a global culture that has been radically changing the culture of Filipinos, especially of the young, even in rural areas. Individualism, materialism, a “feel good” morality are eroding civic and religious values. Respect for tradition, committed relationships and self-sacrificing love are often sacrificed on the altar of pragmatism. New forms of oppression of the poor are appearing, systematically blinding and enslaving their minds and hearts. Corruption in government has reached scandalous proportions, as demonstrated by the scandal of a presidential impeachment trial. The Church in the Philippines has, to our shame, also remained unchanged in some respects. Due to weakness in formation and education, the lack of defined diocesan pastoral directions and programs, and deficiencies in structures, many prescriptions of PCP-II have not been implemented. But beyond these factors, we see that failures in renewal have come from a deeper source: our hardness of heart and resistance to conversion. We confess that among those who make up the Church, even among some in positions of leadership and responsibility, the new attitudes, options, and lifestyles demanded by a Church that is Community of Disciples and Church of the Poor have all too often been honored in words but rejected in life. Moreover, largely due to inaction, uncritical acceptance of values and patterns of behavior of the dominant society, lack of consistent witnessing, we, as Church have to confess some responsibility for many of the continuing ills of Philippine society. We rejoice, however, in the perseverance and increase of many movements of renewal in Philippine society that have promoted the causes of women, the youth, farmers, laborers, fisher folk, the urban poor, overseas workers, families, tribal communities and the environment. We rejoice, too, that in the Church many committed lay people, religious women and men, priests, bishops, Catholic communities and institutions have sustained efforts to effect renewal through faith formation, the building of Basic Ecclesial Communities, livelihood and political education programs, and election monitoring, to name a few. Furthermore, the just concluded Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and the three years of intensive preparation before it filled our local churches with the blessings of purification of memory, active love of the poor and the earth, renewed awareness of and commitment to mission, and deepened hope. Still more recently, in the dramatic events of People Power II, we witnessed and experienced the gift of national and moral renewal which God empowered the Filipinos to receive. “Behold I make all things new” (Rev 21:5) Message of the National Pastoral Consultation On Church Renewal, 2001
Living Mission / A7
In solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters
SONIA, 34 years old, got infected with HIV by her Singaporean husband whom she met when she worked in Singapore. He contracted the infection when he was in the Navy, and died a few months of full blown AIDS before their one and only son, also died of AIDS at the age of four. It was when their son was newly born and diagnosed of having HIV that she was required to have a blood test, to be told that she was also carrying HIV in her body. She was full of bitterness then, especially when the relatives of her husband got all her property and finances from her, thinking that she would die of AIDS anyway, then sent her back penniless to the Philippines. She said that she found hope and meaning in life only when she joined the support group organized by PHILCHAN. These past years, she has been giving talks on HIV-AIDS prevention especially to the youth. I heard this story from Sonia herself when she gave her testimony during the First National Assembly of PHILCHAN ( Philippine Catholic HIV and AIDS Network) held at San Juan de Dios Educational Center last February 10. There were 150 participants from
Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, RGS
to reveal to his family his situation. When he finally shared this with them, thinking that they would accept him, having been their breadwinner for so many years, he was met with angry words and his father running after him with a bolo. Luckily, he claims, he was referred to this support group who has assisted him to seek for medication from DOH. As we know the “ARV” medication does not cure AIDS but only strengthens the immunity of the patient and delays onset of AIDS. By the way, that Malaysian has already passed away of AIDS. The last storyteller was Jason, 26 years old. He was working very well in a Call Center when he was offered a job abroad. He was diagnosed with HIV when he underwent the medical and laboratory requirements for a working visa. His family got to know of his situation only when he got confined for side effects of the medication he was taking. As his physician-sister was watching him, she got to know what he was really sick of, so a family meeting was held by his bedside. His parents embraced him and showed full support, even invitLove Life / A7
different male and female congregations and Catholic organizations. This was spearheaded by CBCP-NASSA, with Bishop Broderick Pabillo as the Chairperson, with Josephine Ignacio as the Executive Director. Of great significance was the sharing of the speaker, the DOH representative in charge of HIV-AIDS Prevention Program. She said that in 2007, there was only one new case of HIV infection diagnosed each day. This 2011, there are more than five new cases of HIV per day (National Epidemiology Center, DOH). Majority of the new cases are men from ages 18 to 25, involving MSM (men having sex with men) and those injecting drugs by sharing infected needles. This was the situation of Rolly, the other person who shared his story. He was 27 years old. In order to earn and have more to send to his poor family in the province since his salary as hospital employee was not enough, he lived-in with a Malaysian man who supported him. Out of pity for a patient who needed blood, he offered to donate. It was when he was being routinely checked as blood donor that it was discovered he had HIV. It took a long time for him
Fr. Roy Cimagala
I’VE said it many times before that I’m already tired commenting on issues like population control, birth control and family planning that are now rehashed by the term reproductive health (RH), and even more lately, by the deodorized term, responsible parenthood. To me, the right and wrong of these issues, their good and bad points insofar as their morality is concerned are quite clear. But since, some people continue in their bullheadedness to blur the line, I just have to drag myself to life again to contribute to the debate with some clarifications. Thus, reactions of feminist groups on the recent statement of the bishops about the RH Bill have roused me again to some action. A letter by a feminist spokesperson a few days ago just managed to do just that. As usual, the letter tries hard to sound nice, reasonable and fair. But it cannot hide for long the venom that inspired it. In the end, it said that with or without the bishops, the feminists will win this revolution about their so-called rights and freedom to do whatever they want to do with their bodies in so far as RH is concerned. What pride and arrogance! I was expecting that, of course, from the start of their letter. The wild feminist obstinacy unfortunately continues. And the main reason is that they see things differently. For them, bishops cannot meddle in issues like the RH Bill. If they have their way, they gag
Low road to freedom, rights, etc.
the bishops to silence. They have branded the bishops as nothing less than ‘moralists,’ a term they love to hate. Worse, it’s a given that since bishops are men, they cannot fully understand women’s concerns. That’s because in their worldview, things should just have to depend on what is popular, practical, convenient, political, social, economic, cultural, personal, or simply what they want to prefer, feminist or macho-leaning, etc. Out with the faith and morals, out with Church interventions. They like to paint themselves as democratic, and this is how they show it. They don’t listen to the bishops, they refuse to tackle what the bishops have to offer, and that can only distinctively be considerations of faith and morals. The bishops have no other interest, although what they offer obviously have many human implications and consequences, political, economic, social, etc. Their voice simply tries to convey the voice of God, insofar as God’s will impacts on our human affairs. If these feminists, who like to brand themselves also as Christians, try to study their Christian faith, they will realize that the authority of the bishops comes from Christ through the apostles and their successors. I wonder what authority these feminists have. Obviously, they will claim theirs comes from the people. But the power of the people to hand some authority to certain
Candidly Speaking/ A6
Pedro C. Quitorio
PUBLICATION LAYOUT BY KRIS BAYOS
Pinky Barrientos, FSP
Melo M. Acuña
Ernani M. Ramos
Roy Q. Lagarde
The CBCP Monitor is published fortnightly by the CBCP Communications Development Foundation, Inc., with editorial and business offices at 470 Gen. Luna St., Intramuros, Manila. P.O. Box 3601, 1076 MCPO. Editorial: (063) 404-2182. Business: (063)404-1612.; ISSN 1908-2940
Vol. 15 No. 5
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Post EDSA l: one big lost opportunity
party, excludes no person. This is simply intended to bring out the stark difference between the EDSA 1 phenomenon and the subsequent executive branch of government that took over the governance of the Republic. To say that it was a big dismay, is saying it mildly. The Hacienda Luisita became a big “legal” deal, although it was proudly claimed by the then administration that Agrarian Reform was precisely the centerpiece of the ruling government as a whole. The Mendiola Massacre took place as a consequence thereof such that some citizens who joined the EDSA 1, was violently deprived of their lives. The infamous “Kamag-anak Inc.”, became a by-word when the rah-rah boys of the Martial Law author and executor were dethroned and the go-go kin constituents of the succeeding national leadership took over. To these days and time: the hacienda remains a curse. The massacre rests unsolved. The Kamag-anak are somehow still around. This is not to mention the some six or more coup ventures that took place then. MABUHAY EDSA I—the individuals who started it, the characters who promoted it, the critical mass of Filipino who completed it! What a demonstration of a peaceful revolution! What a display of public unity and solidarity! What a people— the Filipinos!
Teresa R. Tunay, OCDS
Oscar V. Cruz, DD
Views and Points
EDSA I was wonderful for the country, a pride of the Filipino people. It was the end-result of a prolonged rude rule. It was the ultimate effect of incarnate self-service in a public office. It was the blessed birth of the so called “People Power” that these days seems to find more and more expressions in nations under decades of dictatorial governments. It was in particular, the concrete demonstration that it is in the civil community that power and influence really reside—notwithstanding all pretenses of royalties, dictators and politicos to the contrary. Except for those who benefited well and much thereafter with the onset of a new government, it was the immediate post-Edsa regime that undermined the bright promise of the search for truth. The promise of justice, the reign of peace—not to mention the strong expectation of progress and development. But then, for those who still remember, when people aired their cry for food, shelter and clothing, the incumbent leadership retorted something to this effect: You already have freedom! You already have democracy! What else do you want? What else do you need? This in no way is meant to belittle the few key characters and millions of ordinary citizens that made EDSA 1 an unforgettable reality, a historical landmark. This is merely intended to say the truth that respects no
…and that’s the truth Looking forward to Year 2036?
IT’S been 25 years since the “bloodless revolution” that amazed the whole world and glorified this tiny archipelago “somewhere in Asia.” Each year we’d celebrate the “restoration of democracy” in the country, and the rest of each year the headlines in this poverty-stricken third world country would continue to reek of crime and corruption—and of late, of kidnappings, terrorism, abuse of power, political patronage, etc. After a quarter of a century celebrating that supposedly life-changing event, where are we now? I’m not being cynical, just reflecting reality. Especially since I’m rereading a 25-year old article published shortly after “EDSA 1” which, I honestly believe, is a sobering reminder particularly for our leaders at this point in history. The following article is titled “What miracle? What glory?” by Magdalena Torres. It is interesting to note that in spite of the “miracle at EDSA” the people of this only Christian nation in Asia have remained loyal to anyone but Christ. Note the various factions we are thanking for the so called “bloodless revolution.” Believers in the US supremacy maintain that it is the American intervention in Philippine affairs that saved the Filipinos from a bloodbath. Fans of the Enrile-Ramos block insist that the “bloodless revolution” would not have happened without their heroes’ crucial change of heart. Marcos sympathizers assert that there surely would have been bloodshed had it not been for Marcos’ love for his people. A foreign correspondent writes that the television cameras (notably those which recorded for worldwide viewing the Marcos-Ver “debate”) are to be credited for actually having prevented carnage among our people. And advocates of “people’s power,” led by the involved clergy, of course, are just as quick in claiming it is “our rosaries” that brought about the “miracle.” While each may be valid in its own right, all these claims, however, have one thing in common; they all attribute the almost bloodless revolution to human cause, thus further dividing this Christian nation into segments none of which seems to have absorbed the message of Christ from the “miracle.” I recently bumped into a priest I had not seen for months. To my smiling “How are you?” he exclaimed, “We’ve won! We’ve won! It’s over! All efforts didn’t go to waste! Marcos is out!” I must admit it struck me dumb, but only because I was asking inside, “Lord, where is this country headed if all the evils our priests cared to fight are those outside ourselves?” But I quickly rode along and asked him, “We’ve won? You mean, we’re now all on the side of God?” The priest, unsmiling now, blurted out, “What do you mean we’re now on the side of God? We won because God has always been on our side, right from the start!” I switched to another topic, but the brief encounter was to flash on and on in my mind, like a yellow traffic light that wouldn’t be turned off. I view the “miracle at EDSA” as an act of Divine Mercy, a blanket absolution granted to an unrepentant nation of blind followers and blind leaders. Imagine what would have happened had events pursued the logical conclusion our human actions were leading them to. We had sown so much hatred around us then that we deserved nothing less than a national tragedy to make us learn our lesson, yet God chose to send us His love instead, and like the proverbial rain that falls on the both the just and the unjust, His forgiving hand came to preserve a whole nation bent on destroying itself. In that momentous event that nobody expected, Jesus Christ—with knuckles swollen from knocking on the door of our hearts—once more cried, “Let me in!” And He is still weeping, because our hearts have remained shut. We are back in the rat race, and human folly may yet reduce the “miracle at EDSA” into just another tool for attracting tourists’ dollars to our shores. In the euphoria following this Christian nation’s miraculous escape from a bloody confrontation, Christ is all but forgotten. Our idolatry goes on. A lady president is deified as “a goddess in the Pantheon of democracy,” lionized as a “Joan of Arc in a yellow tunic.” We’re still groveling before our colonizers as the true guardian of our welfare. We’re still counting on men with guns to bring us peace. We continue to take the word of the media—especially foreign media—as gospel truth. In a mad play for power we threaten to draw the blood we claim our fallen idol refused to shed. And we are in greater danger than ever of clinging to our pagan ways to bring about Utopia. How thankless can we be, that even in “gratitude” we must grab the glory for ourselves? “But we thanked God for the miracle, didn’t we?” Perhaps a million of us would cry thus, citing one impassioned celebration at the park where we flew balloons and shamelessly hailed Cory with much greater zeal than we’ve ever done for Mary. And we go on “thanking God,” here and abroad, all the while betraying our lack of consideration for Christ by discarding the season’s liturgical purple in favor of a political color. Feverish with false joys and unexamined victories we come to our houses of worship burning with politics instead of prayer. We call this thanksgiving? How much longer must we remain deaf to Christ? How can God’s kingdom come when we do not want to dethrone ourselves in our hearts? The “miracle at EDSA” is not a reward for our efforts. It is part of a Divine Plan for this only Christian nation in Asia: God allowed the evil in us to drag us down to such depths so that we may finally see that only He can lift us up again. How can it be a reward when all our efforts were leading us to hatred and divisiveness? Let us be humble and admit that we did not cause the miracle—it was God who willed to save us from ourselves in spite of the self-serving prayers we uttered when we found our necks stuck on the chopping block. How dare us say our actions, our prayers, prevented bloodshed? Who moved us to pray when blood threatened to rain on our picnic? What a shame that the face of Christ continues to be spat upon in a Christian nation! We are not thanking God at all— we are merely using His gift to puff up our egos. Since the “miracle” we’ve been boasting: I was there. I’m proud to be a Filipino. Look at these pictures―that’s me in front of the tank. Galing, ano? Two days ago, at a movie house, I sat next to man wearing a yellow shirt that says “I WAS A HUMAN BARRICADE” in big bold red letters. I found it ironic that someone who could stop advancing tanks could not stop himself from littering his surroundings with butong-pakwan shells. It is saddening to think that in spite of the miracle we have remained slaves of sin and habit―looking around, the danger signs are everywhere. Did this Christian nation merely change her dress for the benefit of the foreign media? Thanking God for a miracle means acknowledging God as the only Power in our lives. This Power deserves more than just token gratitude. What is a miracle for if it comes into our eyes and our ears and goes out of our mouths without touching our hearts? Did God
and that’s the truth / A6
Fr. Carmelo O. Diola, SSL
Yes! We Choose Life
I HAD never heard of Leoniver until a few days ago when one of his classmates told me about him. Leoniver (his real name) is a 21-year old student, a third year political science major in one of the universities in Cebu. The young man is quite up-to-date in current events and is a history buff. He is an avid reader and interacts quite actively with his classmates. His friend describes him as confident and generous. He is also physically blind. He lost his sight at age one and a half years old due to chicken pox and measles that destroyed the pupils of his eyes. Late last year, he asked his classmate if she was “doing anything about the RH bill.” He said he had initially favored the bill because of what he heard from people who supported it. He was made to believe it is only trying “to promote medication especially for women who will be obliged to take pills, complete with doctor’s prescription, for their health.” Based on this assumption, he agreed that the bill “should oblige government agencies to conduct seminars on women’s health.” After reading the bill and listening to another perspective, Leoniver realized that it would “actually promote abortion since certain contraceptives prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterine wall thus killing this foundation of life.” He also realized the bill will “turn people like dogs since distributing pills or contraceptive is the same as saying you can have sex anytime with anyone as long as you don’t get pregnant.” For him this promotes immorality. Furthermore, the bill takes away parental authority over their children. Parents cannot anymore control their children’s access to contraceptives. If children want to use it they don’t need to have their parent’s consent. The value of the family is lost even as the same happens to the relationship between husband and wife. The bill promotes a “kanya-kanya attitude.” Doubtless, some readers would dismiss Leoniver’s views as simplistic and even outof-touch with the times. But is this really so? Have they really read and pondered upon the consequences of House Bill 4244 or any of its precedents? Doubtless, some readers would also dismiss this article as the close-minded, unfeeling views of someone representing a group of men and women who do not experience the travails of family life. But is this really so? After all, we all do come from families. I am one of eight children. Growing up, we did not have many material comforts but we had faith, each other, and a society built on good moral values. We loved each other and shared hope. I started to read various versions of the RH bill since 2008 to prepare for an unexpected assignment in a university forum. I saw ominous handwritings on the wall as some key words used in the bill are common fare in the abortion lobby. Is this, in truth, a Trojan horse? Don’t you change mindsets before you change behavior? And is not language a carrier of mindsets? Nevertheless, I also felt sad because the bill also contained needed provisions for the welfare of women and children. I felt bad because I saw that underlying the formulation of the proposed law was an either-or spirit, as if mother and child, husbands and wives, parents and children, are natural enemies. I also felt betrayed because the bill’s proponents had so packaged the bill that one is forced, so to speak, to “burn the whole house in order to roast the pig,” to use the words of a lawyer. I refused to demonize those who did not share my views, even as some proponents from both sides lost civility. I know a Godgiven conscience is embedded in all of us and conscience formation, fed by right information and moral teachings, is a journey
Spaces of Hope
towards the truth. A few days ago, I read HB 4244, the latest version of the bill. I agree with the CBCP statement on the bill and its panel’s decision not to continue dialogue with RH bill proponents. Let me share some reasons why. Section 28 on “Prohibited Acts” subsection (e) includes “any person who maliciously engages in misinformation about the intent or provisions of this Act.” Does this mean that once the law is implemented, any contrary view is prohibited? Is pro-choice about having it my way and smothering all contrary views? Is this what People Power is all about? Why should doctors who will not, in conscience, provide the services called for by law, be penalized, cf. sub-section (a)? If the law is really founded on truth, is not the splendor of truth its own convincing power? Why penalize (section 29)? Furthermore, as Leoniver has noted, why indeed is a wedge of division being inserted among members of the family and why is parental authority weakened, cf. sub-section (a.2)? Why introduce a foreign mentality that highlights conflict? “Kanya-kanya” indeed. Section 10 defines “family planning supplies as essential medicines.” Is getting pregnant then a disease? Can people progress when their collective consciousness is supposed to tell them they are the fruits of a disease? This is absurd and looks at life as an enemy to be vanquished rather than a gift. I could go on, like asking what is the economic basis of the proposed ideal family size of two (section 20), but let me end by visiting some salient points of the CBCP 30 January 2011 statement. What is striking about it is that it focuses on the Philippine Constitution. The bishops are right in insisting that the RH bill violates the fundamental law of the land. The bishops also point out that the moral perspective is a missing link. The bishops and Leoniver agree. So is a growing number of individuals and groups who see the major
Spaces of Hope / A6
Fr. Russell Bantiles
“DE ‘rey del aborto’ a héroe de la vida’,” (From being a “King of abortion” to being a “Hero of life”) is how Monsignor Francisco Gil Hellín, archbishop of Burgos (Spain), describes Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an American medical doctor from New York, who died of cancer last February 21, 2011. He was 84. Perhaps not many in our country (or in our archdiocese) knew him a lot. But the story of his life and his conversion is worth reflecting today, especially in the midst of our struggle to defend life and family. Here are some interesting facts about him. Those who know Dr. Nathanson don’t ignore the fact that he was a pro-choice activist who gained national attention by becoming one of the founding members of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (later renamed the National Abortion Rights Action League, and now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America). But perhaps only a few knew how it all started. It all started when his girlfriend became pregnant and did not want to go on with her pregnancy. The plight of pregnant women who had to resort to clandestine abortion frequently done by less professional gynecologists has touched the doctor’s sensibility and moved him, Betty Freidan and others to promote the legalization of abortion in the US by founding in 1968 what is now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America. After five years they got what they wanted, for in 1973, with the controversial Roe vs. Wade decision, the US Supreme Court legalized the practice of abortion. Dr. Nathanson himself described in three steps their tactics for achieving efficiently and rapidly their aim. (I am quoting here Archbishop Gil who knew personally Dr. Nathanson). First, take control of the mass media of communications. “We convinced them that the proabortion cause favored a progressive liberalism and we saw to it that they get familiar with the statistics and survey results which they published”, he said. The mass media also got familiar with the number of illegal abortions and they often changed the digits from a hundred thousand to a million. He stated that the numbers he once cited for NARAL concerning the number of deaths linked to illegal abortions were “false figures”. This falsity has been oftentimes repeated and published in mass media until it became accepted as a hard truth. Second, “revile and humiliate the Church, calling Her social doctrines as reactionary; and we ascribe to the Church hierarchy the role of being the principal antagonist among those who oppose permissive abortion”. Dr. Nathanson himself wrote: “The drums of mass media had con-
King of Abortion; Hero of Life
vinced the American people that whatever opposition to abortion comes from the Catholic hierarchy and that pro-abortionists who are Catholics are the ones really intelligent and progressivists”. The third fundamental tactic was to ignore or to despise whatever scientific finding that somehow supports that life begins at conception. But in 1970’s, thanks to the development of ultrasound technology, Dr. Nathanson had the chance to observe a real-time abortion, an experience which led him to reconsider his views on abortion. He discovered that indeed there is life in development within the mother’s womb and that abortion in fact is murder. He said, “As a scientist, it’s not that I simply believe it, but I know that human life begins at conception and requires the protection that any of us needs.” Dr. Nathanson is often quoted as saying abortion is “the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States”. He authored the book Aborting America in which he first exposed what he called “the dishonest beginnings of the abortion movement”. In 1984, he directed and narrated a film which tackles abortion, titled The Silent Scream, in cooperation with the National Right to Life Committee. His second documentary Eclipse of Reason dealt with late-term abortions. In his 1996 autobiography, Hand of God, the “hero of life” narrates his previous work as an abortionist and abortion rights activist, saying, “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age”. He developed what he called the “vector theory of life”, which states that from the moment of conception, there exists “a self-directed force of life that, if not interrupted, will lead to the birth of a human baby”. When asked how is it that before crystal-clear scientific findings, not all doctors follow his example and still practice abortion, Dr. Nathanson replied: “It is just a question of arithmetic. For 300 dollars a woman may abort her child. In the US, there are one and a half million abortions each year. This implies that it is a lucrative business which could even produce at least 500 million dollars annually. And the greater part of this amount goes to the pocket of the practicing doctors”. God has rewarded Dr. Nathanson’s pro-life efforts. In 1996, he was baptized in the Catholic Church and since then lived the life of a fervent Catholic. May his life story give us something to think about. In the words of Archbishop Gil, “es un caso típico de cómo las personas pueden cambiar si se abren a la verdad científica y a la gracia” (His is a typical case of how persons could change only if they open themselves up to scientific truth and to God’s grace).
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
CBCP pulls out of Senate RH bill consultation
THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) formally “disengaged” itself from a consultation with a Senate committee crafting the reproductive health (RH) bill. A CBCP representative to the Senate Committee on Health and Demography’s technical working group (TWG) claimed that their presence was already futile.Atty. Jo Imbong, CBCP Legal Counsel, said that the decision was made in consonance with the CBCP’s uncompromising stand against the RH bill as stated in its Jan. 31 pastoral letter. “The CBCP cannot lend its voice to a measure that undermines fundamental rights and the ideals and aspirations of Filipinos as written in the Constitution,” Imbong said. The CBCP official said it was supposed to be the TWG’s first meeting led by the chief of staff of Sen. Pia Cayetano, chairperson of the said committee, together with anti and pro-RH bill advocates. But Imbong said the meeting was “very cordial” as she informed the body of the CBCP’s decision to inhibit itself from the consultation. “We have to do that because the CBCP pastoral letter strongly rejects RH bill so there’s no more point for us in participating in the Senate committee process,” she said. After all, Imbong added, the consultation simply revealed how far apart their respective positions are. This is not the first time that CBCP called off its participation in the said dialogue. In February 2009, Imbong and other church representatives walked out of a hearing on the Senate version of the controversial RH bill claiming that there was “blatant disregard” of their concerns. They said that supporters of the measure were ramming the draft of the bill like “traditional politicians.” In a recent pastoral letter, the bishops called on the public to oppose the passage of the bill, which according to them, is a form of “moral corruption.(CBCPNews)
Caption: Legal Counsel Atty. Jo Imbong represents the CBCP to the Senate Committee on Health and Demography’s technical working group.
20k rally in Bacolod, burn RH bill effigy
THOUSANDS of demonstrators have marched through major streets in Bacolod City on Tuesday to protest against a birth control measure. In the rally, families with young children carried banners, Vatican flags and placards and chanted “No to RH bill! Yes to life!” The bill, already approved by the House Committee on Rules, requires the government to make a comprehensive range of contraceptives more widely available to the public. At present, lawmakers are gearing for debates at the House of Representatives on March 1,
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a week after the House committee on appropriations approved funding provisions of the measure. “We call on the government, both the legislative and executive branches, to carefully consider the matter and to stop pushing this unconstitutional measure,” the rallyists said in a manifesto. Organized by the Citizens’ Alliance for the Protection of the Human Life (CAPHL), protesters came from various civil society organizations and faithbased groups. The interfaith organization is headed by Bacolod City Council-
or Lyndon Cana as chairman and Catholic Bishop Vicente Navarra as honorary chairman. Other city officials led by Mayor Evelio Leonardia and Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson and Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez also joined the mass action. The presence of representatives from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Born Again Christians and other Evangelical and Baptist churches were also notable during the rally. The rally was capped with the burning of a giant octopus effigy bearing an RH bill sign at the Bacolod City Plaza. (CBCPNews)
ment (KIRED). Buay recalled what mining has done on the ancestral lands of IPs in Benguet and Ifugao, saying he did not want the same to happen in their territory. The Diocese of Bayombong and anti-mining groups held a press conference on Feb. 28 in celebration of the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) Resolution urging the withdrawal of Oceana Gold mining permit in Barangay Didipio, in Kasibu town of Nueva Vizcaya. Bayombong Bishop Ramon Villena presided a Holy Mass at St. Dominic de Guzman Cathedral prior to the conference. “We are one with the CHR headed by Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales in the commission’s resolve to recommend to the government under the new administration to consider the probable withdrawal of
the FTAA granted to a foreign company in view of the gross violations of human rights it has committed,” Villena said. In a resolution released on January 10, CHR declared that Oceana Gold Philippines, Inc. (OGPI) violated the “the right to adequate housing and property rights”; “the right to freedom of movement”; “the right not to be subjected to arbitrary interference”; “the right to security of persons”; and “the right of the indigenous community to manifest their culture and identity”. Tolentino Inlab, who heads the IP organization Didipio Earth Savers Multi-purpose Association (DESAMA) called for the scrapping of FTAA. “We call on these corporations and the government, to stop all forms of human rights violations. We say: No to largescale mining. Scrap the FTAA of
Oceana Gold!” he declared. Villena said the diocese will continue the fight to stop mining in Didipio and other areas endangered by mining application. “We will not relent nor give up. Our battle cry lives on: NO TO MINING, YES TO LIFE!” he stressed. About 1,000 people and various organizations, including SALAKNIB—Salakniban ti Lubong, Aglawlaw ken Karbengan dagiti Umili ti Nueva Vizcaya, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Task Force Detainees – Philippines (TFDP), Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), and Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights), participated in the activities. Organizers also put up a photo exhibit at the cathedral highlighting the ill-effects of largescale mining. (CBCPNews)
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rites instead or offer the sacrament for free. Wanted: More priests The pope also stressed the demand for more priests in the predominant Catholic country in Asia. Despite a worldwide increase of Catholic priests, Benedict XVI said the need for “more dedicated servants of Christ” is still a “pressing” issue in the Philippines. He said that in many dioceses the number of priests and the corresponding number of parishes is not enough to meet the spiritual needs in the country. “With you, I therefore pray that young Filipinos who feel called to the priesthood and the religious life will respond generously to the promptings of the Spirit,” the pope said. But Benedict XVI said he is “pleased” to note of local initiatives in fostering numerous vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. “May the Church’s mission of evangelization be sustained by the wonderful gifts which the Lord offers to those
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whom he calls!” he said. “In your turn, as Pastors you will wish to offer these young vocations a well-developed and carefully applied plan of integral formation so that their initial inclination towards a life of service to Christ and his faithful may come to full spiritual and human maturity.” The Vatican earlier said that the number of priests in the world has increased consistently over the past decade. There are more than 5,000 more Catholic priests globally in 2009 than there were in 1999, according to official Church statistics. Lay organizations The 83-year old pope also lauded the bishops and the basic ecclesial communities in the country for its “positive impact throughout the country.” “When formed and guided by people whose motivating force is the love of Christ, these communities have proven themselves to be worthy tools of evangelization as they work
in conjunction with local parishes,” he said. Similarly, he said, the Church in the Philippines is fortunate to have a number of lay organizations “which continue to draw people to the Lord.” In order to confront the questions of our times, the pope said the laity needs to hear the Gospel message “in its fullness.” “I therefore urge you to take special care in shepherding such groups, so that the primacy of God may remain in the forefront,” he told the bishops. More so, Benedict XVI also reminded the Philippine bishops to strengthen the evangelization of the youth. “I am happy to note that, in your country, the faith plays a very important role in the lives of many young people, a fact that is due in large part to the patient work of the local Church to reach out to the youth at all levels,” said the pope. “I encourage you to continue to remind young people that the glamour of this world will not satisfy their natural desire for happiness,” he said.
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Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City that regulates the use of contraceptives. “Let us not standby watching while our fellow pro-lifers from Barangay Ayala Alabang are being bashed and ridiculed for passing a Barangay law that bans hormonal contraceptives, regulates the use of condoms,” Manalang said over Radyo Veritas. Barangay Ordinance No. 01, Series of 2011, seeks, among others, to penalize the sale and purchase of “anticonceptional substance or devices,” like condoms and pills, without a prescription. “For the protection of the unborn and the institutions of marriage and family, no abortifacients shall be prescribed by health care providers within the territorial jurisdiction of the barangay,” part of the ordinance read. The measure also requires barangay health care providers to only use “safe, ethical, effective, legal and non-abortifacient” drugs, devices or methods of treatment.
Under the ordinance, funds disbursed for programs to support responsible parenthood will only be used to promote natural family planning services to married couples. The ordinance also requires the establishment of crisis pregnancy centers that would provide counseling, medical and material support to those “experiencing a crisis pregnancy. The policy also bars teaching compulsory sex education in public and private schools within the jurisdiction of the barangay without prior consultation with, and written permission of, the parents or guardians of minor students. Manalang lauded the ordinance saying it should serve as a model to other barangay officials who believe that “life is sacred.” “Let’s promote exclusively Natural Family Planning which the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines promotes. Show your support by helping pass similar ordinances all over the country,” he said. (CBCPNews)
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Proponents of the bill are confident the measure on family planning will be approved in the House before the 15th Congress adjourns in June. But Aniceto said the bishops are trying everything they can to convince their respective congressmen to reject the RH bill. “We are trying our best in our dialogues with our respective congressmen. I believe our congressmen are intelligent and educated,” said Aniceto. (CBCPNews)
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not used by political leaders and law enforcers,” Dimoc said. The priest underscored that the new parish policy is supported by the Pastoral Council of Lagawe Mission Station (PCLMS) and the Ifugao clergy during their meeting last year. Prior to its implementation, he clarified that the pastoral policy was also discussed and approved in a district meeting of Ifugao clergy. Last December, Dimoc said he also mentioned the rule many
times in his sermons especially during the Dawn Masses and during the New Year’s Mass. Gambling—such as playing card games—is one of the typical activities practiced in the Philippines especially in the provinces during wakes to pass the time and keep people awake. The bereaved families also opt that it be allowed because gaming contributions help them assuage the expenses they incurred for burying the dead. (CBCPNews)
Bishop Nereo Odchimar sent a letter to President Benigno Aquino, informing him of the CBCP’s decision to suspend the talks. “In view, however, of the pastoral letter that the Catholic Bishops issued on the matter last January 31, and considering the speed in the ongoing legislative processes both in the Lower House and the Senate, I deem it prudent to suspend in the meantime further talks with the Execu-
tive Department,” he said. Odchimar, however, thanked Aquino for his immediate response to the bishops’ earlier invitation for dialogue on the controversial reproductive health issues. He said the suspension of the CBCP’s participation in the dialogue “is primarily due to the ongoing visitatio ad limina apostolorum of the Philippine bishops with the Holy Father, according to the schedule set by
the Holy See.” Odchimar said the next regular meeting of the CBCP Permanent Council, which will provide the bishops the opportunity to address the developments, will still take place on the last week of March. Meantime, he called on the chief executive to “pray for the Lord’s guidance as we strive to promote the temporal and spiritual welfare of our citizens.” (Melo M. Acuna)
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leaders, where does it come from? Alas, this, I think, is the real problem we have. Many of us have practically lost our faith. Many of us have ceased to be believers of God and have turned to be self-believers. Instead of the doctrines of our faith, many of us now rely more on our human reasons and estimations of what is good and true. Many of us prefer to be guided by our personal opinions and human consensus, rather than what God and his Church teach us. Thus, many of us like polls and surveys. These instruments of human views and preferences are now made to replace God’s will, a good part of which is clearly elucidated, as in the Ten Commandments, and many others. One has to be maliciously blind and deaf not to know clearly at least a part
of God’s will. Our freedom and rights are gifts from God. They are not our inventions. They come from God and are meant for God and for our true good. God is their law and substance. Our freedom and rights are meant to guide us live in love, truth and real justice, even if they, given our weakened human condition, involve suffering. They can only be lived properly if lived in God, and not just by our own estimations of what is good and fair. What is needed, I think, is a real conversion of heart. And for this, a lot of prayers and sacrifices are needed. We can talk a little, try to offer reasons and arguments, but in the end, we know that conversion is an effect of grace. This is what we should ask God. Let’s hope we can rest from this useless wrangling.
features and underlying assumptions of the RH bill as basically unreasonable. It is not just a Catholic issue. I add a last key point. For nearly a decade now, I have been involved in advocacy work against graft and corruption. Every year P400 billion (not million) is lost to corruption. Why blame the gift of life for the consequences of corruption? Why open up another venue for graft by pouring funds into the coffers of government for the distribution of condoms and contraceptives? Why must a program be legislated for behavior best left between wife and husband in the quiet of the bedroom? As the bishops rightly point out, moral corruption is “the root of all corruption.” Yes, Leoniver sees eye-to-eye with the bishops. He sees. Do we?
give us this gift only so we could slap His face with it? Or only so we could brag to the rest of the world that we are special children of God? If we sincerely want to thank God we will make Him “Number One” in our hearts. We will make an honest effort towards change through individual conversion. The “miracle at EDSA” is Christ’s invitation for us to expand as Christians. Let us raise the quality of our worship, deepen our faith, heighten the levels of our prayer, and pray for a constant awareness of God’s presence, so that one day when each of us will have enthroned the Christ in our hearts, we may know what we mean when we say “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” The article ends there. I can’t claim political savvy, but
I think that as a blatantly Christian people we ought to examine our use of the word “revolution.” As it has come to be popularly linked to “EDSA 1”, writer Ambrose Bierce would be spot-on correct in saying “Revolution is an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment.” Pity that we have to count on political icons, slogans and symbols to better our lives! The teachings of our Lord Jesus are as revolutionary today as they were when He walked the earth, but in overlooking their relevance we have failed to use them to revolutionize our hearts. So, dear countrymen, unless and until we take Jesus seriously, we can expect more of the same headlines in year 2036, the 50th anniversary of the “bloodless revolution.” And that’s the truth.
© Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
Vol. 15 No. 5
February 28 - March 13, 2011
an educator he must share his advocacy to the young even little by little until such time that their awareness is quickened. “I don’t run for a fee or with sponsors,” he added. The priest who has been running since 1976 as his crusade for truth and good governance said he eventually realized that he himself was reformed. “Namalayan ko na ang sarili ko ang unang nabago,” he quipped. Reyes said anyone overstaying in power has the tendency to abuse. He mentioned as example BU President Dr. Faye Lauraya who is facing a restraining civil case for seeking reappointment for another 4-year stay as head of the state university. “Selection process should have been made by the Board of Regents and not evaluation of the performance of the incumbent president,” Reyes said when interviewed by Bobby Ala over DZRC AM radio. Reyes was invited to lead the fun run by CBEM students, most of whom were not yet born during EDSA but got to know it by reading books, newspapers and from lectures of professors. CBEM College Student Council Chair, Ma. Judith Claudio said, “We are aware about the message of EDSA though we were not born yet in 1986, [we] want to relive its spirit so that our generation can be proud of [us].” Asked why the pre-EDSA celebration activities were not supported by the bigger student organizations of the state university in Bicol, Claudio just wryly smiled and said: “Kanila kamalayan ‘yon,” and admitted that she learned in school all about campus freedom. (Elmer James Bandol)
Running priest leads Bicol students’ run for truth
LEGAZPI City— Running priest Fr. Robert Reyes led about a hundred students of Bicol University College of Business & Entrepreneur Management (BUCBEM) in a fun run on Feb. 24 as a prelude activity of the 25th anniversary celebration of EDSA 1. “The students of BU must remember that EDSA’s message was to topple down dictatorship created by long stay in power which some Arab nations are doing now,” Reyes told students before the 2-kilometer fun run started at 9:00 a.m. from the premier town of Daraga. Sporting black undershirt and short, the priest chanted “Katotohanan”, while participating BU students replied with resounding “Katoto Run Na!” The run surprised onlookers and pedestrians, and created short traffic jams. Reyes told newsmen that as
Bicol University students joined running priest Fr. Robert Reyes in a two-kilometer fun run to kick off celebration of EDSA’s 25th anniversary in Bicol, Feb. 24, 2011.
Maranao leader urges govt to give Mindanao war victims reparation
“I urged President Aquino to get these projects can be implemented as concessions MARAWI City—A respected Maranao leader of a Marawi City-based civil society monies and pay the families of the victims to the Libyan and Malaysian participation organization is challenging the government of the war in Mindanao,” he added. in the GRP-MILF peace talks; (3) To capture Dalidig also distributed to the media MILF Chair Salamat Hashim dead or alive; to give justice to all victims of the Mindanao war waged by the Arroyo administration by photo copies of various documents and (4) To file criminal charges against MILF pursuing the AFP Fund Scam to its lawful reports, which he called “evidences against leaders; (5) To bomb Napocor transmission the Arroyo administration.” Among these towers and power sub-stations, and blame end. Hadji Abdullah “Lacs” Dalidig, chair- documents was a two-page Memorandum the MILF; (6) to conduct comprehensive person of the Muspsywar operations lim Multisectoral and destabilizations Movement for Peace in Urban Christian and Development Areas and blame the (MMMPD) pointedly MILF; (7) To conaccused former Presivince the Asean, the dent Gloria Arroyo, European Union, several members of and the United her Cabinet as well States to declare the as “generals of the MILF as a Foreign Armed Forces of the Terrorist OrganizaPhilippines” of using tion (because of the the so-called Mindterrorist activities anao conflict to enrich to be blamed on themselves. them as stated in 5 “GMA and her coand 6 above); (8) To horts used the war in transfer the venue Mindanao to justify for the conduct of development projthe Balikatan 03-1 to ects in Mindanao Central Mindanao; which were funded AND (9) To resume by international doformal Peace Talks nor organizations once the objectives and agencies. But the were achieved. real intention is not Dalidig said this the development of document alone will Hadji Abdullah “Lacs” Dalidig shows to the media one of the documents he claims will pin Mindanao but to fill prove that the Ardown the Arroyo administration as the mastermind of the AFP Fund Scam. their own pockets and royo administration of Instructions dated February 11, 2003 from was behind all the atrocities that happened in bloat their bank accounts,” he said. Dalidig urged the Aquino administration Malacanang addressed to the Secretary of Mindanao in order to “justify the hundreds to pursue the investigation of the scam and the Department of National Defense that of millions of pesos in military funds that hold the former president and her cohorts detailed the implementation of “Oplan only went to the pockets of her generals.” Greenbase.” accountable. He said he is “not afraid” to testify in all Oplan Greenbase’s 9-point objectives were lawful investigating bodies now probing the “The Arroyo government should be made answerable. Her government orchestrated preceded with “As President of the Republic AFP Fund Scam. all these so they could justify more funding of the Philippines and Commander-in-Chief “I am not afraid. I am only afraid of my for military operations and for so-called de- of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Allah,” he stressed, adding: “Kailangan velopment projects all over the island. That (AFP), I do hereby order the following:” (1) papanagutin si GMA at ang mga tauhan is the only way the present administration To capture and occupy Buliok Complex and niya. Because of their greed, tayo dito sa will be able to give justice to the victims of environs within one week; (2) To clear the Mindanao ang kanilang ibinuhis.” (Bong Liguasan Marsh Area so that development D. Fabe) the war in Mindanao,” he said.
Bong D. Fabe
Diocesan News Briefs
Aboitiz Power mulls use of seawater for power plant
DAVAO City—The Aboitiz Power Corporation said it is considering using seawater for its proposed 300-megawatt fluidized bed coal-fired power plant project in southern Davao so as not to disturb fresh water sources in the area. Like pouring cold water over the opposition’s claim that APC’s proposed power plant project will compete with residents over the use of fresh water, APC said the proposed plant will be located at the tail end of the area’s fresh water sources and very near the sea so it will not impact on fresh water sources. (Bong D. Fabe)
MNLF leadership urged to continue working with Aquino gov’t
CAGAYAN DE ORO City— The MNLF-Bangsamoro Women’s Committee has urged the MNLF leadership to continue working with the Aquino administration for the good of the country. “The government has accommodated most of our demands. As the report of the Legal Panel has stated, 33 of the 36 demands of the MNLF has already been met. Let us start on the doable and not delay ourselves with issues where we cannot agree,” said Hadja Bainon Karon during the Government of the Philippines-MNLF-Organization of Islamic Conference 4th Tripartite Conference in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Feb. 23, 2011. (Bong D. Fabe)
CSOs, land use advocates push for swift passage of LUPA bill
CAGAYAN DE ORO City— Various civil society organizations and land use advocates are pushing for the passage of proposed Zoning and Land Use Policy Act that seeks to harmonize all existing laws affecting the land. Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, co-author of the bill, said that it “seeks to harmonize the reasonable claims of all those who hold interest on land and safeguards and promotes the general welfare of both existing and future generations through the proper management of land resources.” (Bong D. Fabe)
ADB urges business sector to invest in ‘climatefriendly’ technologies
Thousands expected to join Laguna rally vs RH Bill
SAN PABLO City—Organizers of the province-wide rally in protest of the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) bill are predicting several thousands of delegates would show up during the Walk for Life 2011 slated on the 4th week of March in this city. Sir Knight Ricardo B. Supena, Knights of Columbus (KC) District S-59 Deputy and host-in-charge of the provincewide activity said, aside from Lagunenses, some KC chapters in nearby Batangas and Quezon provinces have also signified their intentions to join the collective undertaking which coincides with the KC- sponsored nationwide walk in support of life also scheduled March 26. The KC districts in Laguna
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will spearhead the Walk for Life 2011 in the diocese in coordination with the Diocesan Family Life Ministry and the various ministries of the Diocese. Supena said Paranaque Congressman Roilo Golez is joining delegates of the Walk for Life event by addressing the crowd during the program and talk on the controversial issue related to the pros and cons of the RH Bill. Multi-awarded movie actor John Arcilla will also join the prayer rally by rendering entertainment numbers during the event dubbed as Walk for Life 2011 that will take place March 26 at the San Pablo Cathedral grounds and around the major roads this city. The program prepared by the KC says that Registration
and Assembly time would take place at 6:00 a.m. at the Liceo de San Pablo Gymnasium. A concelebrated Holy Mass presided by His Excellency Most Rev. Leo M. Drona would follow at 7:00 a.m. Fr. Jerry R. Oblepias, Director of the Family and Life Commission, will deliver his opening remarks at 8:30 a.m. followed by entertainment numbers from multi-awarded movie actor John Arcilla. Golez, a staunch pro-lifer, will expound on the pros and cons of the RH Bill and related matters. The closing remarks will be delivered by the Vicar General and Rector of the San Pablo Cathedral Msgr. Melchor Barcenas. Then the Walk for Life march will start from the Cathedral
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grounds and proceeds to the main thoroughfares of the city and back into the Cathedral. Meanwhile, Oblepias said, in preparation to the March 26 province-wide event, various parishes and vicariates of the diocese led by their respective parish priests and vicars forane have planned their mini-Walks for Life as a prelude to the bigger event. The Vicariate of the Holy Family in San Pedro town composed of seven parishes for instance has scheduled their mini-Walk for Life and Holy Mass on March 5. Similarly, the parishes of Del Remedio and San Gabriel the Archangel in San Pablo City would also conduct their miniprayer rally event on the same day. (Fr. Romulo Ponte)
ANTIPOLO City—The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is encouraging world governments to invest fully on ‘climate-friendly’ technologies to slow the effect of global warming. The statement was given during a climate change summit in New Delhi, India, early this month. ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said immediate steps are needed to lower the carbon intensity of development and improve the resilience of societies to climate change. He also stressed the need for the private enterprises or investors to get involve with the climate change mitigation project in their respective countries. (Noel Sales Barcelona)
Senate asked: Investigate the PNP
CALOOCAN City—A CBCP official has asked the Senate to investigate the alleged questionable activities the Philippine National Police (PNP). Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez wants the Senate or Congress to look into the alleged “send-off money” for outgoing PNP chiefs. Through an impartial inquiry, the head of the CBCP’s Committee on Public Affairs said the people would know where their taxes really go. “I am encouraging our law makers to investigate the alleged anomaly in the PNP… same thing of what they did into the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Iñiguez said over Radio Veritas. (CBCPNews)
Dutch NGO holds training for teachers of visuallyimpaired
to “master our sinfulness and conquer our pride.” How can we achieve this? The three traditional Lenten practices address each of the three temptations. When our desire for possessions is strong, we are to practice almsgiving, freely donating our material goods to the needy. If desire for prestige rules our lives, we will engage in fasting to conquer this form of selfishness. When we want power and control, we must spend time in prayer and surrender our lives to God’s will; we allow God to rule in our lives. Indeed, the three temptations are directly addressed through Lent’s
traditional observances: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is this precious opportunity to journey with Jesus in mission. This will involve struggling (as Jesus did) with the forces of evil, the demons of possessions, prestige/pride, and power. Relying on God’s abundant grace, our Lenten program (often called a “discipline”) is to address the selfishness deep in our hearts and to turn our thoughts and deeds to loving and serving both God and neighbor. A season of grace now begins. Don’t lose one day! God is calling us to renewal for mission. Listen to his voice today!
ing him to return home so he could be better cared for with his mom’s healthy cooking. He finds meaning in sharing his story in order to prevent others from experiencing this devastating disease that almost drove him to suicide. He admitted to the assembly that he was into MSM but has gotten out of that life style after the diagnosis. We commended the three for their honesty and courage in sharing their stories to us. We were reminded of the CBCP Pastoral Letter signed by Archbishop Carmelo Morelos in 1993, which is ever more relevant today stating – “We invite all persons of
good will to be in solidarity with HIV-AIDS patients. They are our brothers and sisters. We see in their faces the suffering image of Jesus Himself. As we minister to the afflicted, we proclaim to all the infinite compassion of God and the redeeming passion and death of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all.” The Assembly ended with the formation of working committees that will continue to explore, plan and implement how best to extend the compassion of Jesus to these patients, as well as engage in the education and prevention campaigns so urgent in our society today.
QUEZON City—A special training aimed to help teachers develop the conceptualization skills needed to attend to specific learning difficulties of visually-impaired was held at Maryhill School of Theology, Quezon City last Jan. 17-21. The workshop was conducted by an international Dutch organization called Visio in collaboration with the Episcopal Commission on Health Care of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. According to Fr. Luke Moortgart, ECHC executive secretary and executive director of Special Education Assistance, prior to the training, the Visio team first visited the different schools and organizations of the country that are involved with blind people. (CBCPNews)
Prelate calls on authorities to rid Batangas of drugs
LIPA City—Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles called on government authorities to rid Batangas province of the drug menace. In a text message sent to CBCP News from the Vatican where he and other prelates are on their ad limina visit, Arguelles said he appeals to (government) authorities to make a thorough clean-up of the whole province. “It’s been a long time since I fear highly placed people are behind the drug menace,” he said. He added government authorities should “look seriously into the increasing vice dens.” (Melo M. Acuña)
Elmer James Bandol
People, Facts & Places
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
Pope urges Filipino student priests to grow in faith
ON the 25th anniversary of EDSA People Power 1, President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay unveiled a bronze statue of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin. They were joined by Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Papal nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim. The 15-feet statue was designed by artist Ed Castrillo, who said that it took him a month to finish the sculpture which featured the late Manila archbishop wearing his everyday plain “sotana”, his right hand raised in blessing. The monument was unveiled at the Aquino Park at the corner of the P. Burgos Street and Bonifacio Drive, close to the statues of former President Corazon Aquino and her husband, the late Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. The ceremony was witnessed by priests, nuns, government officials and students. Lim said that Sin is in the right place, since aside from being in the same park with the Aquino couple, he is also near the statues of Gen. Jose de San Martin who played a huge role in the liberation of Argentina, Chile and Peru, as well as Cuba’s national hero Jose Marti Perez. Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, a
POPE Benedict XVI has encouraged the community of student priests at Collegio Filippino to grow in spiritual and theological maturity as they prepare for their future ministries. “Let me encourage you, the present generation of students at the College, to grow in faith, to strive for excellence in your studies, and to grasp every opportunity afforded you to attain spiritual and theological maturity, so that you will be equipped, trained, and stouthearted for whatever awaits you in the future,” the Holy Father said. The community had an audience with the pope on February 19 as one of the highlights of PCF`s celebration of its golden jubilee.
He told the student priests to strike a balance between studies and pastoral charity by attending to fellow Filipinos in various communities in Rome especially in their spiritual needs. The pope is very much aware of the great number of Filipinos working in Rome and the equally increasing need for their spiritual growth. Grateful for the message of the Holy Father, the student priests resolved to be diligent in studies, grow in holiness and become generous in bearing witness to their priestly calling. There are currently 27 student-priests residing in PCF, three administrators, four nuns and five lay personnel. (Garret Alfonso Ulanimo)
President Aquino unveils Cardinal Sin monument
trusted aide of Cardinal Sin, said the statue is not just a reminder but “a challenge to love God the same way Cardinal Sin did. “Cardinal Sin served everybody. He served the poor and the rich, the old and the children, Catholics and non-believers,” Villegas said. “All he wanted to do was to serve, serve like the good Lord.” “We need this monument not for Cardinal Sin but for us. We are a forgetful people and we need to remember. This monument is built not so much to honor Cardinal Sin. This monument is a challenge for all passersby to love God and country the way Cardinal Sin and Senator Ninoy and President Cory did,” he said. He added that the monument should also remind the people on how to continue the spirit of the EDSA revolution 25 years later. “We hope this monument will continue to teach us that service is more powerful than ambition, that prayer is more powerful than guns, that love is the greatest law of all laws and the only way to peace is peace,” said Villegas. During his life, Cardinal Sin was one of the most prominent figures during popular revolt, which led to the toppling of the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos. Cardinal Sin died on June 21, 2005. (CBCPNews)
REASSIGNED. Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, papal nuncio in the Philippines, has been reassigned to Greece as announced by Vatican on February 22. Adams will be holding the same position in Greece with about 50,000 Catholics or about 0.5 percent of the country’s total population. The 66-year old American prelate was the 15th in the line of apostolic delegates and apostolic nuncios to the Philippines. Adams was named papal nuncio to the Philippines in September 2007. In line with diplomatic tradition in countries with a Catholic majority, Adams also became the dean of diplomatic corps. He succeeded Archbishop Fernando Filoni who has been reassigned to the Vatican as the city’s new undersecretary for general affairs. Born in Philadelphia, USA in 1944, Archbishop Adams was ordained priest in July 1970 for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He entered the Vatican’s diplomatic service in 1976, working in Rwanda, Kenya, Kenya, Honduras, Ireland, Denmark, and Czech Republic. The late Pope John Paul II appointed him in 1996 as the Apostolic Nuncio in Bangladesh and elevated to the dignity of Archbishop with the titular see of Scala. He also served as papal nuncio of Zimbabwe in 2002 to 2007. A papal nuncio serves as Vatican envoy to the prelates of the Episcopal Conferences and particular churches, and strengthened relationships between Pope Benedict XVI and heads of states and bishops. INSTALLED. Fr. Jose Aripio, SSP, as Provincial Superior of the Society of St. Paul’s Philippines-Macau Province on February 20, 2011. SSP Superior General Fr. Silvio Sassi presided the Liturgical Celebration held at the Sanctuary of St. Paul in Makati. Also present during the occasion was Fr. James Ferry, MM, Vicar for the Religious of the Archdiocese of Manila. Serving with Aripio in the provincial government are Fr. Dominador Guzman, Jr., Provincial Vicar, Br. Hansel B. Mapayo, Provincial Secretary, Fr. Teotimo Melliza and Fr. Alan Gamutan. The Superior General handed over to the new provincial government the SSP Manual of Authority and Constitutions in the presence of members of the Pauline Family, friends and the apostolic collaborators of the Society of Saint Paul. CELEBRATED. San Pablo Diocese’s St. Peter’s College Seminary marked its 30 years of foundation with a concelebrated Mass led by Bishop Leo M. Drona on February 22, Feast of The Chair of St. Peter. Present during the occasion were several members of the clergy and seminary fathers, seminarians, nuns, parents, benefactors and friends. The seminary, according to rector, has survived through thick and thin and grown up for 30 years under the tutelage of three bishops. The first prelate to handle and oversee the seminary was the pioneering founder Bishop Emeritus Most Rev. Pedro N. Bantigue. The second was newly-retired former Bishop of Pasig Diocese Most Rev. Francisco C. San Diego; and the third and current one is Most Rev. Leo M. Drona. Meanwhile, two parishes also celebrated their respective fiestas on the same day. One is the San Pedro town whose parish priest is Fr. John Tabot and the other one is the Barangay Parish of Balibago, Sta. Rosa City under the care of its parish priest Msgr. James Contreras.
FOR the second time, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) will try to be on the Guinness World Records by forming the largest human cross on Ash Wednesday, March 9. Giovanna Fontanilla, UST’s Student and Public Affairs director, said more than 20,000 Thomasians will come together to form the cross at the open space in front of the campus’ grandstand at 4 p.m. “The attempt at a world record is imbued with religious significance since on the said date, as the foreheads of the
UST eyes world record for largest human cross
faithful are marked with the sign of Christ’s saving cross, the entire University community will ‘mark’ a portion of the UST campus with a huge Dominican Cross, symbol of the Catholic and Dominican identity of the University,” Fontanilla said. The event, the UST official said, will also be in an atmosphere of joyful and prayerful gathering. She added that a Mass to be led by UST Rector Fr. Rolando de la Rosa will follow after the attempt for the world’s largest human cross. “Members of the University community are
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
invited to participate in this symbolic activity that can also be their act of penance during the Lenten season,” Fontanilla said. Last December, UST shelved its bid to set the record for the world’s largest “living rosary” because of the insufficient time to have the attempt authenticated. But without the world record, some 20,000 UST students still gathered to form the largest human rosary in the country last December 8. The human rosary was instead held as a tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary. (CBCPNews)
Radyo Veritas climbs 4th in Nielsen survey CBCP office holds
CATHOLIC Church-run Radyo Veritas 846 emerged as one of the preferred AM radio stations among listeners in Mega Manila. This latest finding was according to the data released by the famous industry ratings supplier Nielsen Media Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) for the last quarter of 2010. Veritas 846 or DZRV ranked fourth in the latest RAM survey, showing a significant leap from its number seven ranking in the past ratings. ABS-CBN’s radio station DZMM emerged as the favored among the lot followed by the GMA Network’s DZBB and Manila Broadcasting Company’s DZRH. Among the Top 5 AM stations, Veritas 846 is among those that registered high increase in rating points for most of the week—an increase of 0.20 from Monday to Sunday, and 0.22 points from Monday to Friday. The survey in Mega Manila, which includes the provinces of Bulacan, No.4 among secular radio and No.1 in faith-based stations,” said Veritas 846 manager Fr. Anton Pascual. “We also express our gratitude to Radio Veritas Kapanalig Community which stands at 15,000 members, anchors, staff, management, listeners that pushes Radyo Veritas to the survey,” he said. Veritas 846 improved its several programs last year by giving more emphasis on evangelization and on its various social advocacies, which according to Pascual, contributed to the improving ratings of the station. Veritas Pilipinas, a prime time talk show aired Monday through Friday, at 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. got the highest listenership rating among the programs of Radyo Veritas. It is hosted by Ms. Jing Lanzona, Fr. Nono Alfonso and Msgr. Pepe Quitorio. (CBCPNews) IN an effort to provide information and come up with concrete ideas on how to improve the situation of the blind in the country, the Episcopal Commission on Health Care convened a congress for visually impaired, parents, relatives, teachers and caregivers on February 5. Held at the Karel Hall of Paco Catholic School, the meeting featured volunteer speakers who lectured on understanding “blindness” and on how parents, caregivers and teachers can address the needs of the visually impaired. Saying that being blind is more than just not being able to see, speakers underscored that though deprived of sight, the blind should not lose their dignity. They noted that blindness affects the person’s relationship with his other senses, sources of information, and the way he learns various concepts. The attitude of the visually impaired is more important than their disability since there is a possibility that they can-
Congress on Blindness
not change their blindness, but “they can change their attitude and outlook in life,” the speakers stressed. The speakers also underscored the importance of early testing with early intervention. They said that it is important to introduce the blind child to the real world so that gradually he will show more independence. Meanwhile, other speakers stressed on the primordial development of conceptualization skills. Group discussions focused on the reflection of participants on the speakers’ input, and their own experiences in order to come up with ideas for action. Fr. Luke Moortgat, CICM, ECHC executive secretary and executive director of Special Education Assistance, also emphasized that the visually impaired can participate in the Holy Mass by delivering or reciting the first reading during the celebration of one Sunday Holy Mass for persons with disabilities. (CBCPNews)
Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Rizal, also showed that Veritas 846 has topped all other religious stations. “We thank the Lord for giving us the grace to be successful in our evangelization program that brought us to be
Photo courtesy of the Pontificio Collegio Filipino
Vol. 15 No. 5
February 28 - March 13, 2011
‘God Created Men and Women for Resurrection and Life’
The 2011 Lenten Message of Pope Benedict XVI
follow the Lord. The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of “a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life” (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into “true worshipers,” capable of praying to the Father “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it “finds rest in God”, as per the famous words of St. augustine. The Sunday Gospel of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”. On the fifth Sunday, when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: “I am the resurrection and the life… Do you believe this?” (Jn11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity— together with Martha—all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life open our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope. The Lenten journey finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Triduum, especially in the Great Vigil of the Holy Night: renewing our baptismal promises, we reaffirm that Christ is the Lord of our life, that life which God bestowed upon us when
“You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him.” (cf. Col 2: 12)
Dear Brothers and Sisters, The Lenten period, which leads us to the celebration of Holy easter, is for the Church a most valuable and important liturgical time, in view of which I am pleased to offer a specific word in order that it may be lived with due diligence. As she awaits the definitive encounter with her Spouse in the eternal easter, the Church community, assiduous in prayer and charitable works, intensifies her journey in purifying the spirit, so as to draw more abundantly from the Mystery of redemption the new life in Christ the Lord (cf. Preface I of Lent). 1. This very life was already bestowed upon us on the day of our Baptism, when we “become sharers in Christ’s death and resurrection”, and there began for us “the joyful and exulting adventure of his disciples” (Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 10 January, 2010). In his Letters, St. Paul repeatedly insists on the singular communion with the Son of God that this washing brings about. The fact that, in most cases, Baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: no one earns eternal life through their own efforts. The mercy of God, which cancels sin and, at the same time, allows us to experience in our lives “the mind of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2: 5), is given to men and women freely. The apostle to the Gentiles, in the Letter to the Philippians, expresses the meaning of the transformation that takes place through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, pointing to its goal: that “I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3: 10-11). Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ. a particular connection binds Baptism to Lent as the favorable time to experience this saving Grace. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council exhorted all of the Church’s Pastors to make greater use “of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 109). In fact, the Church has always associated the easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence. 2. In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord—the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year—what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him. The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus’ mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ – the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle “against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world” (eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires—even today—of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil. The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the apostles Peter, James and John “up a high mountain by themselves” (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: “This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him” (Mt17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God’s presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to we were reborn of “water and Holy Spirit”, and we profess again our firm commitment to respond to the action of the Grace in order to be his disciples. 3. By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a selfcentered relationship with the “world” that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor. In Christ, God revealed himself as Love (cf. 1Jn 4: 7-10). The Cross of Christ, the “word of the Cross”, manifests God’s saving power (cf. 1Cor 1: 18), that is given to raise men and women anew and bring them salvation: it is love in its most extreme form (cf. encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 12). Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way. Fasting, which can have various motivations, takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation—and not just what is in excess—we learn to look away from our “ego”, to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31). In our journey, we are often faced with the temptation of accumulating and love of money that undermine God’s primacy in our lives. The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death; for this, the Church, especially during the Lenten period, reminds us to practice almsgiving—which is the capacity to share. The idolatry of goods, on the other hand, not only causes us to drift away from others, but divests man, making him unhappy, deceiving him, deluding him without fulfilling its promises, since it puts materialistic goods in the place of God, the only source of life. How can we understand God’s paternal goodness, if our heart is full of egoism and our own projects, deceiving us that our future is guaranteed? The temptation is to think, just like the rich man in the parable: “My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come…”. We are all aware of the Lord’s judgment: “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul…” (Lk 12: 19-20). The practice of almsgiving is a reminder of God’s primacy and turns our attention towards others, so that we may rediscover how good our Father is, and receive his mercy. During the entire Lenten period, the Church offers us God’s Word with particular abundance. By meditating and internalizing the Word in order to live it every day, we learn a precious and irreplaceable form of prayer; by attentively listening to God, who continues to speak to our hearts, we nourish the itinerary of faith initiated on the day of our Baptism. Prayer also allows us to gain a new concept of time: without the perspective of eternity and transcendence, in fact, time simply directs our steps towards a horizon without a future. Instead, when we pray, we find time for God, to understand that his “words will not pass away” (cf. Mk 13: 31), to enter into that intimate communion with Him “that no one shall take from you” (Jn 16: 22), opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life. In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death” (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ. Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves—just as she did—in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life. From the Vatican, 4 November, 2010 BENEDICTUS PP XVI
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
An Application of Canon 915: Obligation to Deny Holy Communion to Those in Obstinate and Manifest Grave Sin.
The Denial of Holy Communion to Public Supporters of the RH Bill
By Fr. Jaime B. Achacoso, J.C.D.
Recently, the national broadsheets carried an emotional story─that ran for several days─of a tugof-war regarding the threat of excommunication to the proponents of the Reproductive Health Bill. In the end, the issue died down with the CBCP clarifying that there was no such threat. I remember that in the course of the U.S. electoral campaign of 2004, a similar crisis arose with the case of Catholic politicians who publicly, after admonition, continued to support legislation favouring procured abortion and other measures contrary to natural moral law─e.g., harvesting stem cells by the destruction of cloned human embryo, redefining marriage to include a relationship between persons of the same sex. The application of c.915 of the Code of Canon Law─to must be denied: (1) to respect the holiness of the Sacrament, (2) to safeguard the salvation of the soul of the party presenting himself to receive Holy Communion, and (3) to avoid scandal. THe DOCTrINe OF 1 COr 11, 27-29 aND eCCLeSIa De eUCHarISTIa The canonical discipline in question has its source in Sacred Scripture. St. Paul admonished the Christians of Corinth to examine their consciences before approaching to receive Holy Communion: Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself (1Cor 11, 27-29). “The emphasis is on selfis, in the practice of the virtues of faith, hope and love. Noting the teaching in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n.1385) and following the rule of the Council of Trent, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that, in order to receive Holy Communion worthily, one must have confessed and been absolved of any mortal sin of which he is guilty. (3) The judgment of one’s state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one’s conscience. However, in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. With the words, “cannot fail to feel directly involved”, the roman Pontiff clarified the obligation,
Faulty Trinitarian Formula
(Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university, answers the following query :) Q: I recently attended a rite of profession of perpetual vows. I was disturbed by the actual profession formula that was used. I would appreciate your opinion. The profession of vows in this case was addressed to “Holy God, creator, redeemer and sanctifier.” The theological inadequacies of this expression as a Trinitarian formula are clear to me. However, I have two questions: 1) Given that religious profession is a gift through which a person is deepened in their baptismal consecration, and given that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has recently ruled that any baptisms performed using the above erroneous Trinitarian formula are invalid, what, if any, are the consequences of this regarding the validity of the profession I witnessed? 2) Given the gross theological inadequacy of the Trinitarian formula used, could this situation also raise questions of invalidity on the basis of insufficient knowledge on the part of the person making the profession, or on the basis that this person has a seriously erroneous concept of God?—M.F., Suva, Fiji Islands aS our reader mentioned, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) answered the following questions on Feb. 1, 2008: “First question: Whether the Baptism conferred with the formulas «I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the redeemer, and of the Sanctifier» and «I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer» is valid? “Second question: Whether the persons baptized with those formulas have to be baptized in forma absoluta? “reSPONSeS “To the first question: Negative. “To the second question: affirmative. “The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these responses, adopted in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.” The technical expression “in forma absoluta” is in contrast with conditional baptism. In other words, there is no doubt as to the invalidity of baptism using the above-mentioned formulas. The CDF did not offer the theological reasoning behind its decision. But I think it is safe to say that it has less to do with the theological deficiencies of the formula than with the necessity to remain faithful to the essential elements directly mandated by Our Lord. St. Thomas aquinas teaches that any change in the essential form of a sacrament renders that sacrament invalid. For example, if the minister were to say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin” this would invalidate the sacrament. If the change did not vary the essential elements, it would be illicit but not invalid, as would be the case if one were to say, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and may the Blessed Virgin protect you.” Because the invalidity of the sacrament is based on altering the essential words of the form (and not so much on its theological deficiency) I would say that the use of this formula in a rite of religious profession would not in itself affect its validity. The profession as a juridical act takes on many forms in accordance with the spirituality of each institute, and a specific mention of the Trinity is not required. What is essential is the profession of the evangelical counsels in accordance with the dispositions of a specific religious institute within the Church. It is also doubtful that this particular erroneous concept of God would invalidate the profession. The substitution of the traditional Trinitarian formula for these versions is a relic of a once-fashionable ideology masquerading as theology. These expressions are not so much erroneous as incomplete. God is certainly creator, redeemer and sanctifier. However, substituting the Trinitarian Persons for divine actions impoverishes the biblical concept of God. God the Creator is not quite the same as God the Father Creator. In the first case, we could be left with a deist watchmaker or some similar abstract concept, whereas the notion of Father Creator implies self-giving love and providence. Likewise, the concept of God the Son is far richer than that of redeemer, as it tells us more about the Father’s love in sending the redeemer and the nature of redemption as not just forgiveness of sins but divine adoption in the Son. Much more could be said but it would require a thesis. although I do not believe that this formula invalidates the religious profession, I would recommend to our reader to see if is possible to enrich the religious in question with a more complete theological formation that would allow them to consciously renew their formulas.
Council for Legislative Texts, “in agreement with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments”, issued a declaration making it clear that c.915 applies to the faithful who are divorced and remarried. referring to the text of 1Cor 11,27, 29, the Declaration expresses the theological and canonical reasons of c.915: “In effect, the reception of the Body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy constitutes an objective harm to the ecclesial communion: it is a behavior that affects the rights of the Church and of all the faithful to live in accord with the exigencies of that communion. In the concrete case of the admission to Holy Communion of faithful who are divorced and remarried, the scandal, understood as an action that prompts others towards
deny Holy Communion to those persons obstinate in manifest grave sin─generated quite a bit of discussion. Can that norm be applied to the case of the proponents of the RH Bill?. CarDINaL raymond L. Burke, presently the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Signatura Apostolica─like the Supreme Court of the Catholic Church─wrote a lengthy article about this issue, from which we can quote heavily.1 In effect, the discussion among the Bishops uncovered a fair amount of serious confusion regarding the norm of c.915. Specifically─Burke pointed out─the denial of Holy Communion was repeatedly characterized as the imposition of a canonical penalty, which of course shouldn’t be done in such summary fashion by the sacred minister, without a due process─whether judicial or administrative. In fact─he continued to pointed out─c.915 “only articulates the responsibility of the minister of Holy Communion─ whether ordinary or extraordinary─to deny Holy Communion to those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin.” In effect, the denial of Holy Communion can be the result of the imposition or declaration of the canonical penalties of excommunication and Interdict (cf. cc.1331, §1, 2º; and 1332). However, there are other cases in which Holy Communion
examination, in order to discover preparedness to receive the Sacrament or not. If one is not prepared, for example, because of serious sin which is unremitted, then he simply is not to approach to receive Holy Communion. However, if the lack of right disposition is serious and public, and the person, nevertheless, approaches to receive the Sacrament, then he is to be admonished and denied Holy Communion. In other words, the Church cannot remain silent and indifferent to a public offense against the Body and Blood of Christ.” This doctrine is summarized by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “On the eucharist in Its relationship to the Church,” issued on Holy Thursday, 17.IV. 2003. In Chapter Four of the encyclical Letter, “The eucharist and ecclesial Communion,” Pope John Paul declared, among other things: (1) The celebration of the eucharist cannot be the starting point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection. (2) John Paul II reminded us of the requirement that we be in the state of grace in order to receive Holy Communion. Making reference to 1Cor 11,28, he declared that whoever desires to participate in Holy Communion must be about the daily work of growing in holiness of life, that
on the part of the Church, to take action, when a person who remains in grievous and public sin approaches to receive Holy Communion. THe NOrM OF C. 915 OF THe 1983 CODe OF CaNON LaW The canon reads: Those who are excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion. as Card. Burke points out, “the text makes it clear that the Church has the responsibility to deny Holy Communion to those who are known to be under the imposed or declared penalties of excommunication and interdict, and to those who are known to persist obstinately in manifest grave sin. although the text does not state so explicitly, it is clear that the Church’s responsibility is carried out by the minister of Holy Communion.” It stands to reason that it would be necessary to know that indeed the persons concerned obstinately persist in manifest grave sin─i.e., that his pastor has informed him about the grave and public sinfulness of what he is doing and has cautioned him to refrain from approaching Holy Communion. THe DeCLaraTION OF THe PONTIFICaL COUNCIL FOr LeGISLaTIVe TeXTS On June 24, 2000, the Pontifical
wrongdoing, affects at the same time both the sacrament of the eucharist and the indissolubility of marriage. The long-standing discipline of the Church requires that the minister of Holy Communion exercise discretion regarding the distribution of Holy Communion to those who persist in manifest and grievous sin. The exercise of such discretion is not a judgment on the subjective state of the soul of the person approaching to receive Holy Communion, but a judgment regarding the objective condition of serious sin in a person who, after due admonition from his pastor, persists in cooperating formally with intrinsically evil acts like procured abortion.” CONCLUSIONS Card. raymond Burke draws the following conclusions from the aforementioned review of the history of the canonical discipline of denying Holy Communion to those who obstinately persist in public grave sin? (1) The consistent canonical discipline permits the administering of the Sacrament of Holy Communion only to those who are properly disposed externally, and forbids it to those who are not so disposed, prescinding from the question of their internal disposition, which cannot be known with certainty. (2) The discipline is required
Communion / B7
© Pinky Barrientos / CBCP Media
Vol. 15 No. 5
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Preservation of cultural artifacts is a noble undertaking but if carried out of personal gains it becomes questionable and divisive. The essence of culture is the fullness of life and a living, authentic faith.
Campana de Baler and Other Church Ornaments
PhilCHA Network holds its First General Assembly
By NASSA Staff
THe Philippine Catholic HIV/aIDS Network, dubbed the action force of the Philippine Church in responding to the challenges of HIV/aIDS, held its First General assembly on February 10, 2011 at the Fray Clemente Holiness CenterSan Juan de Dios education Foundation in Pasay. It was attended by representatives of 37 Catholic organizations and congregations. The Network started with only 19 members when it was launched in March 2010. The event was jointly supported by the MSC Mission Office and the Catholic Medical Mission Board, and organized by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social action (CBCP-NaSSa), which is also the Secretariat of the Network. The Call to be Relevant Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, the National Director of CBCP-NaSSa and Bishop-advisor of the Network, invited the delegates to look into the 1993 CBCP Pastoral Statement on HIV/aIDS: In the Compassion of Jesus to see if “it is still valid” and “to propose to CBCP our points of concern.” He
By Fr. Nilvon Villanueva
WHere is the campana de Baler? Ironically, no one seems to have an answer. Who really has an exact knowledge where the giant bell of Baler has gone? When was the last time anyone has seen and heard the bell ring? People from all walks of life here in Baler may have varied versions of how the famous antique bell was lost. But no one can exactly say how and when the bell disappeared from Baler. Many years after the Spaniards left Baler, Doña aurora aragon Quezon in the mid 1930s started to restore the church from the ruins of many battles between the Spanish and Filipino soldiers. Doña aurora voluntarily gave off her time and money for this noble task for she loved Baler deeply. Her thoughts were always centered on how she could serve the people she held dear in her heart. She knew the importance of religion, faith and spirituality in the lives of the people. although Baler then did not have a fulltime priest there was a priest from the Diocese of Lipa who came only for fiestas. Baler was then part of the Diocese of Lipa. after discernment and impelled by her judgment, Doña aurora travelled to the Carmelite Fathers in New Manila where the Quezons had a house to ask for missionary priests. She begged the Carmelite Fathers to come and serve Baler. The Carmelite Fathers The brown fathers, with Fr. Patrick Shanley as head, went to the Bishop of Lipa and asked the good Bishop if they could be assigned to the poorest part of his diocese. His wish granted, Father Shanley was assigned to the northern part of the diocese which then comprised the northern part of Quezon, Polillio Islands and aurora province. Then, these places were part of what was called
Tayabas Province. In 1948 the Carmelite Fathers formally started their mission in this part of the diocese which later became the Prelature of Infanta in 1950. Many Carmelite Fathers gave their lives to the missionary work in aurora. Theirs was a response to the Church’s call to serve the people and the poor by building communities of faith and love through catechism, the celebration of the sacraments, building convents, churches and schools. In thirty five years, the Carmelite Fathers were an essential part of the history, the cultural heritage and the human journey of the people of aurora. They were with us in the thousands of baptisms, weddings and funerals of every family in aurora. They heard our confessions and were always one with us in all of life’s challenges. Who can forget how Fr. Leo McCrudden gave his life while attempting to rescue some fishermen of Baler in the midst of a raging storm? By the 1960’s the Church entered into renewal following Vatican II. The Church opened its doors to the new breath of the Spirit. There were many liturgical reforms, including changes in the liturgy, altar, arts, rites, vestments, language. Many Churches restructured their altars, some ornaments and images were changed following the call of renewal. We have many reasons to thank God for Doña aurora aragon Quezon a model of a good and loving steward. In her humility and sincerity, Dñna aurora gave her life for us. We too thank every Carmelite Father who with their pure hearts, blessed aurora and the people with a heritage and legacy of faith rooted in genuine human concern and a communitarian spirit. We thank Carmelite Bishop Julio X. Labayen, who headed the Prelature of Infanta for 40 years and the Filipino clergy for their commitment to justice, and a preferential option for the poor.
Now, the Filipino clergy spread all over the Prelature of Infanta have dedicated themselves to the mission of serving and journeying with the living Church, a Church of the Poor: “…a community of faith that embraces and practices the evangelical spirit of poverty, which combines detachment from possessions with a profound trust in the Lord as the sole source of salvation” (acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 125). Essence of culture We too, believe in the importance of preserving material artifacts for our cultural heritage. We are saddened by the loss of Campana de Baler, the many church ornaments, vestments and chandeliers. The long drawn battles during the Spanish colonization, the absence of priests for a long period of time after the Spaniards left Baler, the liturgical reforms and physical changes after Vatican II, are realistic events that may account for the loss of these cultural artifacts. There are many lessons to be learned by all in the equally important duty of preserving cultural artifacts. For one, dialogue − between institutions involved in the preservation and care of cultural artifacts has historically been a mature and diplomatic option. Because, while attempts to trace, recover and preserve the cultural artifacts of Baler are noble undertakings, these become questionable and divisive if pursued against the backdrop of personal gains, malicious intent to discredit the clergy and as a means to divert attention from other pressing issues. For, indeed, there are more important concerns like the fight against aPeCO (Aurora Pacific Economic Zone Freeport), mining, logging, corruption, and poverty. The essence of culture is the fullness of life and a living, authentic faith.
also challenged the assembly to set up “the structures needed for better coordination and to animate the whole Church.” Mapping the Strategic Directions To guide the action plan workshop in the afternoon, Dr. Susan Gregorio from the Philippine National aIDS Council was invited to give the country’s current situation on the fight against the HIV/AIDS and the government’s various responses to the issue. Three persons living with HIV & aIDS were invited to share their life experiences and sat with the working committees to formulate the Network’s strategic directions for the next 2-3 years. Ms. Jo Ignacio, the HIV/aIDS Programs Coordinator of CBCP-NaSSa presented the drafted Vision-Mission-Goals and the organizational structure of the new Network which is the fruit of a 4-day workshop completed by the Network’s core group.
May They Be One
Help Put a Bible in Every Filipino Home
he May They Be One (MTBO) Bible continues to make its presence felt in homes and families. More and more parents and children are now reading and studying the Bible together. A good example is the Pallarca family—the winner of the 2011 Northern Region Catholic Family Bible Encounter. Husband and wife Danilo and Marilou with their children David Michael, aged 24, twins David Micho and David Michee aged 16—from the Diocese of Cabanatuan—belong to one of the 16 families who received MTBO Bibles under a partnership program between May They Be One and the Catholic Family Bible Encounter. The Encounter requires each participating family to read the entire Bible— from Genesis to Revelation. The Pallarcas said that they have previously never read the Bible together though they were active in church. But when they did start reading and memorizing portions of the Scriptures, the experience turned out to be fun. The practice also strengthened their bond as a family. The children are thankful that despite their parents’ busy schedule, they made time for studying the Word of God with their kids. The youngsters were greatly inspired by this family activity and said that they want to continue the family reading of the Bible even after the Encounter. Young as they are, the Pallarca kids have decided to commit themselves to serving as volunteers in the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) in their area to teach others and help spread the joy of reading the Bible in every home.
Family Encounter with the Bible
Members of the MTBO Advisory Committee: Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, DD, Ambassador Henrietta T. de Villa, Fr. Oscar A. Alunday, Mr. Rod Cornejo, Mr. Rene E. Cristobal Sr., Dr. Philip C. Flores, Dante M. Lanorio, Fr. Antonio B. Navarrete, Fr. Art Orense and Mr. Albert Tanlimco. May They Be One Bible campaign is a nationwide program which aims to distribute 5 million Bibles in 7 years. Learn more about how you can be part of the Campaign. Call us at PBS 526-7777, ECBA 5279386 or visit www.bible.org.ph and www.ecba-cbcp.com. Donations can be deposited in the following bank accounts: PBSMTBO Account#393-0649-34 (BPI Sta. Mesa Branch) Fax deposit slip to 521-5803 or ECBA-CBCP Account #0251021376 (BPI-Tayuman Branch) Fax deposit slip to 527-9386. For credit card payments – go to PBS website (www.bible. org.ph).
The Pallarca Family, winner of the 2011 Northern Region Catholic Family Bible Encounter
Praise God for the growing influence of God’s Word in many Filipino families. May the Lord cause the seed of the Word planted in the hearts of Filipinos to take root, grow and cause a ripple effect to the rest of the country. Pray that the Lord will continue to use the Catholic Family Bible Encounter to increase awareness and love for God’s Word.
Number of Dioceses participating in the Bible Campaign – 80 out of 86 Dioceses Bibles Distributed (Jan 1, 2011 – Feb 18, 2011): 26,053 cps Bibles Distributed by Languages - Tagalog (5,907cps.), Cebuano (8,203 cps.) English (3,583 cps.), Ilocano (2,048 cps.), Hiligaynon (3,341cps.), Bicol (773 cps), Pangasinan (8 cps.), Pampango (677cps.), Samarenyo (1,513 cps.) Parishes/Communities served: 42 Total Bible Distribution: (Jan 2009- Feb. 7, 2011): 333,841 cps Target No. of Bibles for Distribution for 2011: 400,000 cps. Total Funds Needed for Printing and Transport of Bibles in 2011: P60M
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
A victory for truth: the life of Bernard Nathanson
An unlikely hero of human dignity died this week, a doctor who once performed thousands of abortions
By Carolyn Moynihan
DUrING four decades of the abortion wars in the United States there has been much traffic across the battle lines. Many who should have been on the prolife side positioned themselves in the opposite ranks—the deceptively named Catholics for a Free Choice is the prime example. This was the easy path, a case of going with the cultural flow under the influence of leading institutions in the media and political life. Defections from the pro-abortion side, however, have been much more significant, not to mention heroic. Norma McCorvey, the “Jane roe” plaintiff of the 1973 Supreme Court case which issued in the legalizing of abortion throughout the US, became a high profile opponent of abortion and eventually petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn its roe v Wade decision. Many others have followed her in the public renunciation of the killing of unborn children, most recently abby Johnson, a young Planned Parenthood clinic operator from Texas, whose story was published last month. But no convert to the pro-life cause comes near in prominence or influence to Dr. Bernard Nathanson, one of the original abortion rights campaigners, who died on Monday at the age of 84. Dr. Nathanson did as much as anyone to launch abortion as a regular means of birth control, but for that very reason he also did more to discredit it once he faced the truth about this “procedure” and began to write and speak against it. Culture wars—those that matter—are always about truth. as an obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr. Nathanson knew that there was a living human being in the womb of a pregnant woman but he turned his face against this scientific fact—in the first instance, perhaps, because abortion assisted his own lifestyle. at college in the 1940s he got his girlfriend pregnant and used money from his father to pay for her (illegal) abortion. “It served as my introduction into the satanic world of abortion,” he later wrote. after settling in New York he got another girlfriend pregnant and decided to abort the child—his child too—himself. How often denial of the truth is motivated by one’s own misdeeds! The fact that many people were doing botched illegal abortions provided another excuse for the legalization campaign that Dr. Nathanson became caught up in during the late 1960s. “Illegal abortion was in 1967 the number one killer of pregnant women,” he wrote. Justifications paved the way for lies. In aborting america (1979) he admitted: We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000. repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250 annually. The figure we constantly fed to the media was 10,000. These false figures took root in the consciousness of americans convincing many that we needed to crack the [anti] abortion law. another lie—one that is told wherever abortion is promoted—was perpetrated by the name, Centre for reproductive and Sexual Health, given to the New
York abortion clinic where, from 1970 to 1972, Dr. Nathanson, as director and by his own account, “presided over 60,000 deaths”. The “health” claim in the now numbingly familiar phrase, “sexual and reproductive health”, presumably is based on providing abortions which don’t kill women, but it is entirely cancelled out by the 100 per cent death rate for unborn children. What brought the abortion “rights” crusader to change his mind—and, more importantly, his heart? Partly it was peer pressure: because of his public profile as an abortionist he began to be treated as a pariah in legitimate medical circles and received fewer obstetrical referrals. Surely, even at that early stage, it was also the fervor of the right-to-life movement that sprang up in opposition to the abortion campaign—although he deplored the “blind polarity” and “screaming placards” of both groups in an article published in the New england Journal of Medicine in 1974. In that article, however, Dr. Nathanson expressed his misgivings about abortion and the “cry” used to justify it: “that nothing can be human life that cannot exist independently”. There was no longer, he said, “serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy…” Why? Because technology was making liars of everyone who held otherwise: electrocardiographic evidence of heart function has been established in embryos as early as six weeks. electroencephalographic recordings of human brain activity have been noted in embryos at eight weeks. Our capacity to
measure signs of life is daily becoming more sophisticated, and as time goes by, we will doubtless be able to isolate life signs at earlier and earlier stages in fetal development. He performed his last abortion in 1979. If pro-life activists were the first witnesses to the truth about the unborn child to Dr. Nathanson, technology was the other great witness. Ultrasound imaging was developing rapidly and it was images of the child in the womb that eventually convinced him that a true human being is killed in abortion. Using real-time ultrasound images in 1985 he made the famous and electrifying short film, The Silent Scream, showing 12-week child shrinking away from the abortionist’s instruments. In 1987 he produced another film, eclipse of Reason, showing a late term (five months) abortion in its gruesome and morally shocking detail. The latter film includes testimonies from several exabortionists. Introducing “eclipse of reason”, actor Charlton Heston pointed out that more than 20 million abortions had been carried out in the US since 1973. Yet, despite the importance of the issue and the huge public debate about it, a complete abortion had never been shown on television. The media had failed to do what they said was their job: to inform the public—in this case about the facts of abortion. Today, anyone can watch Dr. Nathanson’s and other abortion videos on YouTube, but has any major television network yet shown such pictures? even displaying graphic posters gets pro-life
demonstrators into trouble, as though they were committing an obscenity themselves rather than the people who did the killing. There is a conspiracy among institutions to hide the truth, as Dr. Nathanson himself observed. His own efforts to correct the lies were untiring. In addition to his films there were books—notably, aborting america (1979)—and speaking tours around the world. as he lost friends in the abortion movement and amongst former colleagues, he found new ones in the pro-life movement. Joan andrews, an ardent advocate for the unborn child who served more than a year in jail for blocking abortion clinic entrances, was particularly close. She was over 40 before she married Chris Bell and when she conceived, a friend tells me, she “asked Dr. Nathanson to look after her pre-natal care. It was a big statement for someone like Joan to have a former abortionist caring for her own baby. I think the trust and confidence she showed in Dr. Nathanson helped him to forgive himself for all the harm he had done to mothers and babies.” Later she served as Dr. Nathanson’s godmother when he was baptized in the Catholic Church by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York in 1996. It was not inevitable but it was very fitting that the doctor who used to describe himself as a “Jewish atheist” should reach out eventually for The Hand of God—the title of his book about his whole pro-life journey. a priest who instructed him in the Catholic faith, Fr. C. John McCloskey, called the book “one of the more important autobiographies of the twentieth century”, documenting
“man’s inhumanity both to humanity and to his personal self, and the possibility of redemption.” all those murders—the 75,000 he took responsibility for included 5000 he performed himself and 10,000 performed by interns at St. Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan—created a debt of justice that no man could pay by himself. The burden on his awakened conscience must have been extreme, and unbearable without a faith that assured him of forgiveness. He learned that the debt was already paid in full and he only had to make up as best he could for the wrong. Joan andrews Bell says “he underwent huge amounts of fasting to make up for it”. He always accused himself before anybody else: “I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age,” he wrote in The Hand of God. and, “I know every facet of abortion. I helped nurture the creature in its infancy by feeding it great draughts of blood and money; I guided it through its adolescence as it grew recklessly out of control.” The New York Times quotes the latter sentence as an example of Dr. Nathanson’s tendencytopainthimselfin“luridcolours”— as though it was merely a rhetorical device to make the audience gasp. everything else, however, points to his deep sincerity and even heroism in completely turning his ideas and his life around. He has earned the right to be counted among the heroes of human dignity. (Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet. This article is reprinted here under special publishing arrangements with MercatorNet)
Historic amendment to defund Planned Parenthood passes overwhelmingly in House
WaSHINGTON, DC, February 18, 2011—In a historic vote Friday afternoon, the US House voted to strike all federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of america. every year the abortion giant receives hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding. The congressional body voted 240-185 in favor of the amendment, introduced by rep. Mike Pence (r-IN), to the 2011 Federal Spending Bill. Immediately after the vote rep. Pence released a statement saying: “This afternoon’s vote is a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life. By banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood, Congress has taken a stand for millions of americans who believe their tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the largest abortion provider in america. “I commend my colleagues in both parties for taking a stand for taxpayers and a stand for life.” The amendment will now go before the Senate. The vote came after a heated debate in the House. It also comes in the wake of an explosive series of videos released over the last two weeks by the pro-life organization Live action, which showed Planned Parenthood staff repeatedly willing to aid and abet the trafficking of underage “sex workers” by offering advice to an undercover investigator posing as a “pimp” on how to obtain secret abortions, contraception, and STD tests. In a web page released right after the vote, Planned Parenthood called the legislation “the most dangerous legislative assault in our history, and it cannot go unanswered.” In an open letter to Congress that the organization is asking supporters to sign, the abortion giant says: “To every member of Congress, know that we stand together today against this outrageous assault, and together we will not lose.” Nancy Keenan, president of NaraL Pro-Choice america, blasted the vote. “The new anti-choice House leadership promised a jobs agenda and is now waging a war on contraception,” Keenan said. “These lawmakers are out of control, and we will hold them accountable for their actions.” In a statement Tony Perkins of Family research Council congratulated the House and rep. Pence: “Planned Parenthood, a scandal-plagued abortion organization, must be held accountable for abusing innocent young victims while receiving hundreds of millions in federal dollars each year.” “The fact that Planned Parenthood not only left minor girls trapped in prostitution, but encouraged it, shows an incredible lack of humanity on their part. What goes on behind the windowless offices of Planned Parenthood, as Live action’s videos show, is both saddening and shocking, but the fact that it has often been done with taxpayer dollars is indefensible.” Lila rose, the President of Live action, issued a statement turning the attention of pro-life advocates to the coming battle in the Senate. “The case to cease funding is crystal clear,” she said. “But for any Senator who remains unsure, imagine explaining to your constituents that you voted to keep sending $350 million of their tax dollars to an ‘non-profit’ that puts young girls in harm’s way and made $63 million in profits by performing over 300,000 abortions last year. It’s time once and for all to stop financing these activities.” at some times poignant, at others openly bitter, House lawmakers on Thursday night went head-to-head over the momentous amendment. rep. Chris Smith (r-NJ), a top pro-life leader in the House, described the conversion of former Planned Parenthood director abby Johnson when she was confronted with the reality of how an abortion kills a child. “Despite the best and slickest market branding money can buy, the stubborn fact remains that Planned Parenthood clinics are among the most dangerous places on earth for a child,” said Smith. “Not only does Planned Parenthood vigorously lobby and litigate against parental notification and consent laws— thus enabling secret abortions for very, very young girls—but now we‘ve learned from recent undercover taped investigations at several of its clinics ... that Planned Parenthood employees were found to be more than eager to assist people posing as sex traffickers to procure abortions for underage girls.” In an emotional rebuttal, Democrat rep. Jackie Speier of California said that she “lost a baby” to “that procedure that you just talked about,” and that “to suggest as you have that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed, or done cavalierly, or done without any thought, is preposterous.” “Planned Parenthood has a right to offer abortions. Last time I checked, abortions were legal in this country,” she said in a speech that won applause. a number of other pro-abortion Democrat House lawmakers defended the abortion giant, saying that stopping its taxpayer funding “will risk the lives and safety of millions of american women.” rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Ca) argued that stripping familyplanningfundswasactually detrimental to taxpayers. “For every dollar invested in family planning services, taxpayers save four dollars,” said Slaughter, presumably following the same logic as PPFa president Cecile richards and former Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have argued that allowing fewer people to be born means less cost to the government to support them. The amendment’s future remains uncertain: while the majority of the U.S. Senate remains in Democrat hands, some moderate members may be persuaded to side with the funding cut. Following the amendment’s success in the House, rep. Pence called on members of the upper chamber to finish the job. “I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to support this legislation and end federal funding of Planned Parenthood once and for all,” he said in a statement. (LifeSiteNews)
Vol. 15 No. 5
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Address of Pope Benedict XVI to the Visayan and Bicol Bishops on the occasion of their visit ‘Ad Limina apostolorum’
MY dear Brother Bishops, I am pleased to receive you today on the occasion of your ad Limina visit, and I offer my sincere good wishes and prayers for yourselves and for all those entrusted to your pastoral care. Your presence at the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul strengthens the profound unity that already exists between the Church in the Philippines and the Holy See. as the deep links which Catholics enjoy with the Successor of Peter have always been a significant characteristic of faith in your country, I pray that this communion will continue to grow and flourish as you consider the present challenges of your apostolate. While the Philippines continues to face many challenges in the area of economic development, we must recognize that these obstacles to a life of happiness and fulfillment are not the only stumbling blocks that must be addressed by the Church. Filipino culture is also confronted with the more subtle questions inherent to the secularism, materialism, and consumerism of our times. When selfsufficiency and freedom are severed from their dependence upon and completion in God, the human person creates for himself a false destiny and loses sight of the eternal joy for which he has been made. The path to rediscovering humanity’s true destiny can only be found in the re-establishment of the priority of God in the heart and mind of every person. above all, to keep God at the center of the life of the faithful, the preaching of you and your clergy must be personal in its focus so that each Catholic will grasp in his or her innermost depths the lifetransforming fact that God exists, that he loves us, and that in Christ he answers the deepest questions of our lives. Your great task in evangelization is therefore to propose a personal relationship with Christ as key to complete fulfillment. In this context, the second Plenary Council of the Philippines continues to have beneficial effects, the result being that many dioceses have formed pastoral programs focused on conveying the good news of salvation. at the same time, it must be recognized that new initiatives in evangelization will only be fruitful if, by the grace of God, those proposing them are people who truly believe and live the message of the Gospel themselves. This is surely one of the reasons why basic ecclesial communities have had such a positive impact throughout the country. When formed and guided by people whose motivating force is the love of Christ, these communities have proven themselves to be worthy tools of evangelization as they work in conjunction with local parishes. Similarly, the Church in the Philippines is fortunate to have a number of lay organizations which continue to draw people to the Lord. In order to confront the questions of our times, the laity need to hear the Gospel message in its fullness, to understand its implications for their personal lives and for society in general, and thus be constantly converted to the Lord. I therefore urge you to take special care in shepherding such groups, so that the primacy of God may remain in the forefront. Thisprimacyisofparticularimportance when it comes to the evangelization of youth. I am happy to note that, in your country, the faith plays a very important role in the lives of many young people, a fact that is due in large part to the patient work of the local Church to reach out to the youth at all levels. I encourage you to continue to remind young people that the glamour of this world will not satisfy their natural desire for happiness. Only true friendship with God will break the bonds of loneliness from which our fragile humanity suffers and will establish a true and lasting communion with others, a spiritual bond that will readily prompt within us the wish to serve the needs of those we love in Christ. Care must also be given to showing young people the importance of the sacraments as instruments of God’s grace and assistance. This is particularly true of the sacrament of matrimony, which sanctifies married life from its very beginning, so that God’s presence may sustain young couples in their struggles. The pastoral care of young people which aims to establish the primacy of God in their hearts, tends inherently to result not only in vocations to Christian marriage but also in plentiful callings of all kinds. I am pleased to note the success of local initiatives in fostering numerous vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. However, the need for ever more dedicated servants of Christ both at home and abroad is still pressing. From your quinquennial reports, it appears that in many dioceses the number of priests and the corresponding number of parishes is not yet sufficient to meet the spiritual needs of the large and growing Catholic population. With you, I therefore pray that young Filipinos who feel called to the priesthood and the religious life will respond generously to the promptings of the Spirit. May the Church’s mission of evangelization be sustained by the wonderful gifts which the Lord offers to those whom he calls! In your turn, as Pastors you will wish to offer these young vocations a well-developed and carefully applied plan of integral formation so that their initial inclination towards a life of service to Christ and his faithful may come to full spiritual and human maturity. Dear brothers in the episcopate, with these thoughts I assure you of my prayers and commend you to the intercession of Saint Lorenzo ruiz. May his example of steadfast faithfulness to Christ be an encouragement to you in your apostolic labors. To you, to the clergy and religious, and to all the faithful entrusted to your care, I cordially impart my apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace. February 19, 2011
Message of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales during the unveiling of statue of Cardinal Sin
TWeNTY-FIVe years after the people Power at eDSa, we are here at the corner of Bonifacio and Burgos avenues, named after two brands of Philippine Heroes—the one in arms and the other raising the Cross. (andres Bonifacio and Padre Burgos). at eDSa the arms were tamed by the Cross. The nation commemorates that singular God-inspired intervention in the restoration of Democracy in our Country. and today we inaugurate the monument to honor the memory of H.e., the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, and to remind the Nation that it is always possible to dismantle dictatorship and injustice through peaceful and nonviolent means. Prayer and sensitivity to conscience, which is the voice of God in every man and woman, guided the nation in those most perilous times in our history as an independent people. eDSa became the symbol of the Philippine version of exodus in the Holy Bible. We believe that the spirit of freedom belongs to everyone of all times, faith and races, as we see today happening in the experience of people the world over. The longing for freedom repeats the experience of an exodus or a political eDSa wherever and whenever there are people, who are oppressed and made victims of injustice. But we are also reminded that the escape from the tyranny of the egyptian Pharaoh via the miraculous crossing of the sea was only the first step among many steps to freedom. real freedom would wait through the forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert, the forty years of being purified, being found unfaithful in order to be cleansed before the entry to the Promised Liberty (Land). From our experience we see that the Pilipino hesitates to enter the desert that will test his virtue, his integrity and his fidelity to the love of God, People and Country. Let the common aspiration then be: the courage to enter the purification of values and the assurance of a well formed conscience in order to better become aware of the voice of God when one is at the crossroads of right and wrong, good and bad, holy and unholy, power and integrity, God and Mammon (Money). Once tried and purified, then and from thereon, eDSa will not need to be remembered. It will forever be the heart of the political value and life of Pilipino. +GAUDENCIO CARDINAL B. ROSALES archbishop of Manila February 25, 2011
‘Complete Priestly Formation Includes Not Only the academic’
(The address of Pope Benedict XVI to the students and faculty of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino in an audience, February 19; on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Collegio.) YOUr eminence, Dear Brother Bishops and Priests, I am pleased to greet you, the students and faculty of the Pontifical Filipino College in this year marking the fiftieth anniversary of its establishment by my predecessor Blessed John XXIII. I join you in giving thanks to God for all your College has contributed to the life of your fellow Filipinos both at home and abroad over the course of the last five decades. as a house of formation located here, by the tombs of the great Apostles Peter and Paul, the Filipino College has fulfilled the mission entrusted to it in a variety of ways. Its first and most important task remains to assist students in their formation in the sacred sciences. This the College has accomplished well, as hundreds of priests have returned home with advanced degrees obtained from the various Pontifical universities and institutions in the city, and have gone on to serve the Church throughout the world, some of them with great distinction. Let me encourage you, the present generation of students at the College, to grow in faith, to strive for excellence in your studies, and to grasp every opportunity afforded you to attain spiritual and theological maturity, so that you will be equipped, trained, and stout-hearted for whatever awaits you in the future. as you know, a complete priestly formation includes not only the academic: over and above the intellectual component offered to them here, the students of the Filipino College are also formed spiritually through the Church of rome’s living history and the shining example of her martyrs, whose sacrifice configures them perfectly to the person of Jesus Christ himself. I am confident that each of you will be inspired by their union with the mystery of Christ and embrace the Lord’s call to holiness which demands from you as priests nothing less than the complete gift of your lives and labors to God. Doing so in the company of other young priests and seminarians gathered here from throughout the world, you will return home, like those before you, with a grateful and permanent sense of the Church of rome’s history, of her roots in the paschal mystery of Christ, and of her wonderful universality. While you are in rome, pastoral necessity should not be overlooked and so it is right, even for priests in studies, to consider the needs of those around them, including the members of the Filipino community living in rome and its environs. In doing so, let the use of your time always strike a healthy balance between local pastoral concerns and the academic requirements of your stay here, to the benefit of all. Finally, do not forget the affection of the Pope for you and for your homeland. I urge you all to return to the Philippines with an unshakeable affection of your own for the Successor of Peter and with the desire to strengthen and maintain the communion which binds the Church in charity around him. In this way, having completed your studies, you will surely be a leaven of the Gospel in the life of your beloved nation. Invoking the intercession of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, and as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord, I willingly impart to all of you my apostolic Blessing.
Reject the RH-RP Bill! It is Anti-life and AntiFilipino! It goes against the Spirit of EDSA!
We, members of the Good Citizenship Movement, representing thousands of faculty and students, government employees, businessmen, parents, women and urban poor, reject the proposed House Bill on reproductive health and responsible parenthood. It is unhealthy, anti-life, irresponsible and anti Filipino! The Bill is unhealthy and antiLife If passed, the Bill would make contraceptives more accessible and encourage their use. But medical research has shown conclusively that contraceptives have harmful effects for women who use them regularly. Some are even carcinogenic. Proponents of the Bill also claim that widespread use of condoms will reduce the incidence of HIV-aIDS. Nothing is farther from the truth! Just look at the experience of Thailand where aIDS has spread greatly since they started flooding their people with condoms! another deceptive claim of the Bill’s proponents is that more contraceptive use will reduce unwanted pregnancies. The truth is that contraceptive use gives a sense of “false security”, opening the way to more sexual activity and more unwanted pregnancies! But the most deceptive and damning claim of the Bill is that it is against abortion! Yet it provides for free services to women for post-abortion trauma. It facilitates and encourages the use of contraceptives that are abortifacient! It violates the right to life of the unborn Filipino! It is for abortion! The Bill assumes that a woman’s right to choose whether to abort is equal to the unborn’s right to life. This is not consistent with the natural moral law which makes the right to life superior to any other human right, including a woman’s right to choose to abort. In a word, a woman’s freedom to choose ends where a child’s right to life begins! The Bill is irresponsible and unconstitutional The right and responsibility to educate children belongs primarily to the parents. This applies to sex education. If the bill is passed, it would take away this right and responsibility and give it to the schools and to mass media! This is not “responsible parenthood”! It is a clear violation of parents’ right to choose the manner and vehicle for giving sex education to their child! It is therefore irresponsible and unconstitutional! The Bill is anti-Filipino Underlying the Bill is the claim
RH Bill / B7
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
9th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A (Matt 7:21-27) March 6, 2011
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
Of Bogus Heroes and Bogus Christians
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
NOT so long after angelo reyes committed suicide, some quarters began trumpeting him as a hero, even comparing him to the Samurais of Japan, in the wake of the investigation of his involvement in the mind-boggling corruption in the armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Of course, if flight is an indication of guilt, what could be more indicative of guilt than a permanent one to the cemetery? No wonder, even if he was buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery), many critics were not convinced of the propriety of interring him there; according to them, he was not a hero, and there is nothing heroic in self-slaughtering for one’s self. One such critic is Ninez Cacho-Olivares: “Why then are the Filipinos being lulled into believing that suicide is not only a heroic act of reyes, but an honorable and courageous act of saving the nation? Have Filipinos become so amoral that they no longer know what is right from wrong? “ Continues Cacho-Olivares in his article, “Spin”: “But all this spin on the suicide of reyes that plays on the Filipino culture calling for respect for the dead is a big spin to save the corrupt in government and for the ugly truth never to surface. They in the military have even gone to the extent of portraying a suicide of a former chief of staff as heroic, and he is now being treated as a hero, with even the Philippine president, who claims to campaign against corruption honoring the suicide. If such is the way things go today in this country, why former military comptroller retired Gen. Jacinto Ligot, who refuses to talk and claims he remembers nothing, or at times, invokes his right against self-incrimination, should not take the “heroic” soldiers’ way out: Suicide. The same should go for his followers: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20). For Matthew, as for Jesus, Christianity is not about a more strict observance of the law, it is not about being concerned that none of the commandments of Moses are broken. Such brand of Christianity is bogus, anymore than the Christianity propagated by charismatics that do not go beyond acclamation of Jesus’ Lordship. Understandably, of course, the former could win a good number of adherents because they tended to disregard the commandments. (Who, indeed, would reject a religion that is too easy to observe, and yet gives assurance that one can reap eternal rewards?) On the other hand, people flocked to the Pharisees because many valued good behavior. and yet, Matthew (and Jesus, of course) looked at both brands of Christianity as bogus. In view of this, what then is authentic Christianity? If neither strict adherence to the law nor being a pseudo-charismatic will bring one to the kingdom of heaven, what will? according to Matthew, the sure foundation lies in hearing the words of Jesus and doing them:”everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Matthew 7:24). There are two points to be noted here:  First of all, the contrast is not between saying and doing, not between theory and practice, not between faith and works which is adverted to, for instance, in James: “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?... Faith, by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14.17). rather, Christianity is, before anything else, adherence to the person of Jesus. It begins with the belief that in the very person of Jesus God has revealed his redemptive plan, and the fruits of
Bogus / B7
the other chiefs of staff who have been linked to the corruption in the military. after all, as the claim goes, suicide makes one a hero, which translates to the idea that one who refuses to help in baring the truth and hides the truth is a hero and his suicide a heroic act; a courageous act and he is “saving the country, its institutions and the Filipino people by his death.” If Cacho-Olivares is vigorous in her assertion about who is a hero and who is not, so, in today’s Gospel, Matthew was no less spirited in his expose on what is bogus Christianity and what is authentic. He launched his attack on two fronts.  On the one hand, he tried to show the claims of the charismatics of his day that their brand of Christianity was not authentic. In the saying, “Not everyone who calls me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 7:21), he had in mind false prophets
and false charismatics who believed that their good external actions, seen in their prophetic utterances, the acclamation they made in their congregation, singing the title “Lord” to Jesus, and their miracles of healing were enough proofs of the authenticity of their discipleship. The truth is, they are even described as “lawless”, which could mean that they have probably neglected the commandment to love their neighbor, which is the fulfillment of the law. One is reminded of the question that Jesus posed in Luke, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). In the mind of Matthew, charismatics, enthusiasts and prophets might be good preachers and good lecturers, or good singers and prayer leaders at the liturgy, but their brand of discipleship remained deceptive since they were unmindful of their obligation to lift the poor from
misery. They appeared holy, but their inwardness teemed with selfishness, if not greed. That is why, they were “ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matt 7:15).  On the other, he directed his attacks also against the Pharisees, who at the time he wrote the Gospel, were consolidating their theology in the light of the fall of Jerusalem, and who advocated strict Jewish orthodoxy. It is possible that they were Christians who—in contrast to the charismatics who thought that, with their claim that they had the Holy Spirit, there was no need to follow the law—advocated strict adherence to the Pharisaical piety; probably, for them, Christianity was being a good Jew with one added element: belief in Jesus as the Messiah. Which is why, earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew portrays Jesus already speaking of a higher righteousness for
The Temptations of Setting Aside the Mission, of Image Building and of Power
1st Sunday of Lent - Year A (Matt 5:1-12) March 13, 2011
need actually and many of our poor people are languishing in poverty,” said the good Bishop. “It’s sad that only politicians are getting richer while millions of people are getting poorer,” he noted. according to the Bishop, there is no assurance that the hefty sum would be used properly, because it is one big source of corruptible funds. Of course, greed is not easy to moderate. as Oscar Wilde puts it, “I can resist everything except temptation.” In today’s Gospel, Matthew brings us to the subject of temptation that is encountered in the Christian community, and he provides us with three typical examples: (1) The Tempter says: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to turn into bread” (Matt 4:3b). In the first example in which Jesus is asked to turn the stones into bread, the Christian community seems to be faced with the temptation of using the powers given by Jesus to satisfy human need. Of course, at first blush, there seems to be nothing wrong with using power to satisfy hunger. Jesus himself multiplied the five loaves and two fish to feed the hungry crowd that has been following him (Matt 14:13-21). This is the reason why the Church does something about the problem; it sets up social action centers here and there because social charity or social involvement is not foreign to its mission. Still, this can be a temptation in a Christian community because, even though it is a good thing, it is not the proper mission of the Church. Its proper mission is to bring the Good News to men, and social involvement is meaningful only if it is not divorced from the proclamation of the Word. That is why, in response to the Tempter, Jesus says: “Not on bread alone is man to live, but on
Bishop Pat Alo
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
IN a recently proposed bill at the Philippine Congress, Quezon province representative Danilo Suarez wanted to increase the pork barrel of congressmen by P30M, and that of the senators by P50M, to be taken from the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC). It may be recalled that under present practice, congressmen received P70M pork barrel, otherwise known as Priority Development assistance Fund (PDaF), while Senators have P200M. reacting to the proposal, Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos asserted that instead of giving an increase, the pork barrel should be abolished, and the fund be given directly to the concerned local and national agencies “Who will be in favor if you are in a good mind and in a good sense? Our country is in
every utterance that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4b). Social involvement that does not proceed from the Word of God is no different from the social involvement of a communist; it is pure humanism. If the Church serves the poor and gives food to the hungry, it is because service to them is a Gospel imperative. But before its serves the hungry, the Christian community must first of all be fed with the bread of life, the Word of God. (2) “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down,” this is what the Tempter says to Jesus while they are at the parapet of the Temple (Matt 4:5-6). This temptation has to do with the community’s power and work to attract attention. Of course, we know that with the coming of mass media of social communications, we now live in a culture in which image building is of paramount
Temptations / B7
IN a democracy the government is supposed to represent the voice of the people, because it must follow its own definition as a government of the people, for the people and by the people. Such is therefore the turbulent confrontation in the Philippines today as regards the reproductive Health Bill that includes use of artificial contraceptives and abortifacients contrary to the Catholic stand. Well, if we are to respect the majority Catholics of our people or even the Muslim population, the government ought to respect Catholic thought and Islamic policies, at least to be true to its name as a true democracy. After all, the Church is only fostering what is truly the first right of our people, which is LIFe. You cannot promote the other subsequent rights of liberty and property, unless we admit the very first of the rights of man – LIFE. It would be a false and distorted democracy that says it is for people’s welfare, whereas they intend population control by terminating or obstructing life in various ways and methods. In the very first chapter of the Bible God’s word speaks: “God blessed them, saying to them, Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it” (Gen. 1:28). are we going to allow our minds to be obscured and deviated from the right track just because of the money offers or even the temptations of the world, the devil and the flesh.
Fr. Francis Ongkingco
Parting’s sweeter sorrow
“and what’s wrong with that? aren’t present-day love stories like that? Don’t they always tend to show the romantic parts immediately?” Tim argued. “I’m not ruining my relationship by following some lousy scripted movie. I will definitely not allow ‘love’s first kiss’ which ought to come at the end, to mess everything up in the beginning.” “Hey, girl, it’s only a kiss. It isn’t like going all the way.” “That’s what many say until they’ve gone all the way,” Tim said. “One can’t fast-forward true love. Doing so only makes one unable to discern and make decisions properly.” “But isn’t love reason enough?” “Of course, but love must have some goal, some direction. It should be oriented towards forging lifetime commitments to ensure it is kept always true and fruitful. and making such decisions cannot be done when one’s mental abilities are obscured by one’s passions.” “You’re saying…,” “I’m saying that you can’t know a guy through his lips. In order to know if he will be a faithful husband, a caring dad, a modest and temperate man, and a hard-working colleague, etc. To know all this, I must engage him and challenge him. and one’s passions aren’t exactly the right tools to know these crucial lifetime features about a person.” “But how did your first and only kiss make you decide to break up with your friend?” “I guess, it’s not only what one knows about how true love ought to be. But it’s also about knowing how to pray one’s love life,” Tim shrugged her shoulders. “Pray…?” “After that first kiss I felt wonderful but somehow guilty because I had given something so intimate to someone who wasn’t –as we both were not– ready for such a deep sign of affection and trust. I saw the danger of opening ourselves too much to our passions and becoming vulnerable to them, and losing the chance to really know each other.” “So you felt you weren’t ready? Then why notjustavoidthekissingstuffandjustcontinue being friends?” Wanda suggested. “Well, I also realized something in that first kiss. He was not yet mature enough to give us the true love we deserved at that stage of our relationship.” “What do you mean deserve?” “He lacked self-control, and this was a sign that he needed time. I believe that true love should and can already be given, but one which respects the stages of acquaintance and intimacy the couple are in. Love should already give itself entirely but appropriately, according to the degree and depth of commitment that the couple has achieved. If one tries to place an expression of love at the wrong stage, even though it may at first be something sweet or passionate, it becomes artificial and confusing. Thus, loves first kiss, to be truly of love must be planted at the right time and place.” “Wow! I never saw things this way. Maybe you realize this because you’re such a prayerful person,” Wanda said after emptying her can of beer. “Iguessso.It’strue,prayerhelpedmealotto decide.IlookedattheCrucifixandcomplained to the Jesus. I told him, ‘how could you make me know someone who has touched me so deeply in life, and then allow something so sweet to suddenly turn bitter?’” “What did He say?” Tim smiled, “I was comforted when He told me: I allowed you to experience this bitterness now, because I’m preparing you for something sweeter later.” “Later?” Wanda’s eyes lit up. “are you saying there’s a new guy in your life?” “I didn’t say that. all I said was that there’s something better and sweeter waiting for me later.” Tim winked at Wanda and extended her can of beer to make a toast to their friendship.
TIM woke up to the sun’s gentle warmth stroking her cheeks. But she didn’t return the inviting embrace. She preferred to shun the radiant light and wished she never woke up at all. There was a darker and heavier storm raging within her that seemed to turn her away from all that enticing brightness. This brewed a gnawing emptiness that gave out a hollow sound that deeply gashed her heart. a few weeks ago, her emotions were totally the opposite. a spark had ignited a flame that blazed inside her even while she slept. all this made her exude a mysterious, contagious joy and excitement. Her closer friends noticed. They understood what this meant: she was in love. Indeed, she was, and for the first time. First experiences are always the best and the ones we most cherish. A first time in being in love was not just a casually new experience. It could only be described as first love, and simply that [PerIOD]. every step was carefully made, every word to her ears sang a fresh melody, and every meeting was anticipated with a virgin desire. But here she was sulking under a blanket of gloominess and consoled by a now damp tear-drenched pillow. This was not how a fairy tale should end.
“Cinderella was luckier,” Tim said disgustingly. “at least, she had left a glass slipper for a happier ending.” She lamented that there weren’t even mice to console her and a squash to smash with her frustration. It was worse than having a nightmare. She was staring at it wide awake. It was indescribable to be crushed by one’s negative passions all at once. There wasn’t even time to store a bit of warmth from the fragile flame of love. The flame was barely lit and suddenly snuffed out. Blown out by what or by whom? and the answer was what Tim couldn’t bear accepting: by herself. *** “By you?” Wanda, Tim’s best friend was surprised. “Wait a minute! [reWIND] [STOP!] [PLaY!] Okay, how was this supposed to be your fault? How could something so romantically perfect go so wrong and end up really sour? Weren’t things going smoothly as fairy tales do, towards the ‘they-livedhappily-ever-after’ ending?” “Yes…! Tim replied, “and…NO! It was truly a fairy tale, but one which was being fast-forwarded to the point that what’s supposed to be part of the end, was played at the start.”
Vol. 15 No. 5
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Proposal to the CBCP also during the event, the bishops were asked to review the CBCP Pastoral Statement on HIV/aIDS “In the Compassion of Jesus,” written in 1993 in the light of new developments on the issue. He encouraged the bishops to make all statements on HIV/ aIDS be known to all faithful, and “not to let it gather dust in the shelves.” Such move will enhance awareness and eliminate stigma and discrimination. He added that the cause of persons living with HIV/aIDS should not only be supported in advocacies, but they themselves should be invited in liturgical celebrations in their own parish, in their own church. Stigma and Discrimination of an HIV/ AIDS Infected Person a person living with HIV for thirteen years, Ms. elsa Chia, gave a face to thousands of people infected with the virus by her moving account on how she lost her family, both husband and child, to aIDS in 1997. The stigma and discrimination, she emphasized, was due primarily to ignorance and fear of the virus. according to Ms. Chia, people like her are living better lives because more and more initiatives from different groups are promoting acceptance to people like her. She was thankful to the Church, as well, because of its leadership and stand on the issue. HIV/AIDS Pilot Program by the Church NaSSa HIV-aIDS Program Coordinator, Ms. Josephine Ignacio, thanked Bishop Jose rojas, Jr. and Bishop Florentino Lavarias, for having supported the pilot program, “Building a Community of HIV/ aIDS educators within Basic ecclesial
Bishops Oriented on HIV/AIDS
By NASSA staff
THe Bishops who participated in the 102nd Plenary assembly discussed the status of the HIV situation in the country with Msgr. Bob Vitillo, Geneva-based Special advisor on HIV/aIDS to Caritas Internationalis and Dr. Steven Kraus, regional Director of UNaIDS Support Team based in Bangkok. It was held last January 27, 2011 at the Pius XII Catholic Center in Paco, manila. Dr. Kraus imparted to the bishops the great urgency of the HIV/aIDS issue and noted a 25% increase in the new HIV/aIDS cases between 2001 and 2009, in contrast to the global trend of declining or stabilizing number of new HIV infections. He lauded Bishop Broderick Pabillo, National Director of the National Secretariat for Social action (CBCP-NaSSa), for his foresight in organizing the said seminar for the bishops and for supporting the advocacy on HIV. He particularly asked the CBCP to pressure the government in allotting appropriate fund for HIV/aIDS responses, including the provision of the anti-retroviral drugs. Msgr. Vitillo, on the other hand, explained to the bishops the basic facts on the disease including its three major modes of transmission. He said that the virus can be passed on from a person to another through blood, sexual intercourse and mother-tochild. He also elaborated on HIV and tuberculosis (TB) as a deadly duo, each speeding up the progress of the other. Furthermore, he said that the Philippines now ranks 9th on the list of 22 high-burden TB countries in the world.
RH Bill / B5
Communities,” in their respective dioceses: Libmanan and Iba. NaSSa hopes to replicate such program in other dioceses in partnership with the Catholic Medical Mission Board, which was represented in the seminar by Dr. rabai Mathai, Senior representative for asia-Pacific. Philippine Catholic HIV/AIDS Network (PhilCHAN) Ms. Ignacio also introduced the
Philippine Catholic HIV/ aIDS Network (PhilCHaN), a loose coalition of Catholic congregations and institutions involved in ministries directly or in some ways related to HIV/ aIDS. They are the Church’s action force in bringing God’s everlasting love to those infected with and affected by the virus while working for an HIVfree society. Its members include the episcopal Commission on Health Care
Temptations / B6
(eCHC) and episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant Peoples (eCMI). The Human Immuno-deficiency V ir us (H IV ) h as n o cur e un t i l now. even persons who have it are not aware they carry the virus and can infect others unless they submit themselves to voluntary and confidential counseling and testing at social hygiene clinics.
that overpopulation causes poverty, and therefore, Filipino population must be controlled! Most economists and political scientists would refute this! empirical research shows otherwise. We assert that the Philippines is not overpopulated and population is not correlated to poverty! We have more than enough land and food for our people. Our problem is that our cities and urban centers are too densely populated, simply because there are not enough jobs in the countryside. The solution is for government and business to decentralize their economic programs and empower the provinces. More support to agriculture and fishery, and more tax revenues to local governments can achieve this. Furthermore, let us not make the same mistake of Singapore and the industrialized West. Their negative population growth now drives them to pay couples and give them incentives
Communion / B2
to have children! No, the problem is not population per se. The problem is to have better economic policies and better education programs for our people. That will put an end to our poverty! The Bill is anti-EDSA The Spirit of eDSa was simply this: a united people won back its freedom peacefully! Thus, a Spirit of Unity, Freedom and Peace restored our pride and dignity! The proposed rH-rP Bill is unnecessarily dividing our people. It is pitting Catholics against nonCatholics, the Catholic Church against the government. It does not promote unity! The Bill violates the right to life of the aborted unborn Filipinos, and their potential to be born and live as free citizens in a free country. Let us not deprive them of that right! Finally, the Filipino wants and
deserves to live peacefully with everyone. This Bill is causing sincere and well-intentioned Filipinos to fight against each other. It is a needless provocation. Let us reject it! An ardent call We therefore ardently call on our Congress representatives to reject this Bill! We call on our Senators not to let it prosper! Most of all, we call on our beloved President Benigno aquino III to remain steadfast in his decision not to support the Bill! The greater common good of our country demands nothing less! Br. rolando Dizon FSC Founder and Chairman Good Citizenship Movement De La Salle University, Manila February 26, 2011 eDSa Silver anniversary
by the invisible bond of communion which unites us to God and to one another. The person who obstinately remains in public and grievous sin is appropriately presumed by the Church to lack the interior bond of communion, the state of grace, required to approach worthily the reception of the Holy eucharist. (3) The discipline is not penal but has to do with the safeguarding of the objective and supreme sanctity of the Holy eucharist and with caring for the faithful who would sin gravely against the Body and Blood of Christ, and for the faithful who would be led into error by such sinful reception of Holy Communion. (4) The discipline applies to any public conduct which is gravely sinful, that is, which violates the law of God in a serious matter. Certainly, the public support of policies and laws which, in the teaching of the Magisterium, are in grave violation of the natural moral law falls under the discipline.
(5) The discipline requires the minister of Holy Communion to forbid the Sacrament to those who are publicly unworthy. Such action must not be precipitous. The person who sins gravely and publicly must, first, be cautioned not to approach to receive Holy Communion. This, in fact, is done effectively in a pastoral conversation with the person, so that the person knows that he is not to approach to receive Holy Communion and, therefore, the distribution of Holy Communion does not become an occasion of conflict. It must also be recalled that “no ecclesiastical authority may dispense the minister of Holy Communion from this obligation in any case, nor may he emanate directives that contradict it”. (6) Finally, the discipline must be applied in order to avoid serious scandal, for example, the erroneous acceptance of procured abortion against the constant teaching of the moral law. No matter how often a Bishop or priest repeats
the teaching of the Church regarding procured abortion, if he stands by and does nothing to discipline a Catholic who publicly supports legislation permitting the gravest of injustices and, at the same time, presents himself to receive Holy Communion, then his teaching rings hollow. To remain silent is to permit serious confusion regarding a fundamental truth of the moral law. Confusion, of course, is one of the most insidious fruits of scandalous behavior. It would be interesting to study the possibility of applying this norm to the case of those who persist in publicly promoting the rH Bill in its present form, which the Bishops have collectively classified as contrary to the natural moral law.
Card. Raymond L. Burke, Canon 915: The Discipline Regarding the Denial of Holy Communion to those obstinately persevering in Manifest Grave Sin, in Periodica, 96 (2007), pp.3-58.
importance. People often feel the need to parade their personal achievements, and prefer to splash on the front page of the newspapers their works or contributions to charities. They would even employ public relations agents and image-makers to enhance the people’s perception of their appearance. But from a Christian point of view, success in image-building is not an evidence that the community is faithful to its mission. The ability to draw huge crowds is not an evidence of the effectiveness of the community’s ministry, even if many people would like to believe it is—that is why they envy tele-evangelists who have thousands of viewers. Before God, achievements count nothing. What is of importance is the community’s faithfulness to God in doing its specific mission, even if it does not win the admiration of men or attract big numbers of admirers. It must simply trust in God’s word, even if doing so is not recognized. For this reason, it might even go against the world and its values (cf rom 12:2); but certainly it does not need to justify itself before the judgment seat of men, for what the world holds is abominable before God (Luke 16:15). (3) Pointing to the kingdoms of the world and their magnificence, the Tempter says: “all these I will bestow on you if you prostrate yourself in homage before me” (Matt 4:9). This third temptation is about power. Of course, politicians crave for it—and some even become addicted to it, because it gives them the power to control and dominate. Political power enables the politician to conquer territories, subjugate peoples, convert them en masse, establish a personal kingdom and, because political power is convertible to economic power, to get rich. In a secular world where a secular culture prevails, political power is a great temptation. No wonder every President makes his or her own enemies, because the logic of power entails it. Still, political power has no place in the Christian community. It does not and will never advance the cause of Jesus Christ; there is no
Bogus / B6
evidence that the Kingdom of God will spread throughout the world because of political power; if it will, Christ should have said so, but he never did. On the contrary, there seems to be something demonic about it. That is why in today’s Gospel, Jesus rejects it: “You shall do homage to the Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve” (Matt 4:10). Political power cannot be exercised in the Christian community, and if at all one should speak of power there, it is the power to serve: “anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest, and whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all” (Matt 20:26). Indeed, Jesus does not mince words in his criticism of political power, for its exercise results in violence and oppression (Luke 22:25). This account of the triple temptations of Jesus was preserved to teach the Christian community. as Wilde notes, temptations are difficult to resist; but the Christian community has a model to imitate: like the community, Jesus was tempted, but he did not succumb, and therefore in imitation of the Lord, the community must resist it. The community must not copy the old Israel that did not overcome temptation. To make that point, Matthew so framed the story of the temptation of Jesus as God’s Son (Matt 4:1-11) as to make a comparison between Jesus and Israel. Both Jesus and Israel are sons of God (Matt 4:3; Matt 2:15 and Hos 11:1); the number 40 is significant in the life of Jesus (40 days of fasting in the desert, Matt 4:2) and in the life of Israel (40 years of sojourn in the desert, Deut 8:2). But they are different: whereas the community of Israel failed in the temptation in the desert (exod 17:1-7), Jesus conquered it (Matt 4:1-11). at the same time, this story of the triple temptation of Jesus provides us with a picture of what the Christian community should be: it is a community that lives by the word of God, goes against the values that the world holds dearly, and serves its members even to the point of dying.
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what Jesus did are appropriated by Christians by means of doing his teachings.  Which brings us to the second point. The words referred to are not the laws of the Old Testament but, as Matthew would have it, the teaching of Jesus, primarily his Sermon on the Mount. What are truly distinctive of being Christian can be discovered in that sermon, because they mirror the ultimate revelation of God’s will for humanity in Jesus. It is unfortunate that are many Christians, even Catholics, who believe that they are good Christians or Catholics because they have followed all the Ten Commandments. That is certainly wrong. even Muslims and Jews follow them, and yet we do not call them Christians. Merely to base one’s being Christian on the Ten Commandments is to espouse a fake Christianity. One may not steal, one may not
commit adultery, one may go to Church not only on Sundays but even every day, but these do make one an authentic Christian. as authentic heroism must be predicated on truth and unselfish dedication to the country, so real Christianity is based on the person of Jesus, his words heard and incarnated in practice. Consequently, one’s discipleship has a firm foundation when one not only follows the moral commandments, but also does so from inwardness, when one is able not to resist the evil doer, when one forgives seventy-times seven times, when one does not worry about the future because he knows God would take care of it, when one does not look at the speck in his brother’s eyes, when one does not lay up treasure on earth, when one is merciful, pure in heart, and poor in spirit. When one does all this—he is a real follower of Jesus.
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
Abhorrent Disturbing Acceptable Wholesome Exemplary
TITLE: Unknown CAST: Liam Neeson (Dr. Martin Harris), Diane Kruger (Gina), January Jones (Elizabeth Harris), Aidan Quinn (Martin B), Bruno Ganz (Ernst Jurgen), Frank Langella (Rodney Cole) DIRECTOR: Jaume Collet-Serra SCREENWRITER: Stephen Cornwell, Oliver Butcher GENRE: Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. Pictures LOCATION: Berlin, Germany RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes Technical Assessment: ½ Moral Assessment: ½ CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 18 and above
Poor Below average Average Above average Excellent
aMerICaN botanist Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) flies to Berlin with his wife elizabeth (January Jones) to speak at a biotechnology conference. Checking in at the hotel he misses his briefcase, rushes back to the airport in a cab to retrieve it and gets into an accident that causes brain trauma resulting in partial memory loss. after cab driver Gina (Diane Kruger) bravely saves him from death, the police take him to a hospital where he lies in coma for four days. He awakens, wonders why no one has looked for him, and recalls just enough to escape from the
hospital and return to the hotel to find his wife he hopes will establish his identity. He finds her with a stranger (aidan Quinn) who claims to be the real Martin Harris. Worse she denies knowing him and confirms that her husband Martin Harris is the man with her. It’s a mystery the bewildered Harris would give his all to solve, and he is helped by Gina and her friend ernst Jurgen, a private investigator (Bruno Ganz) who used to work in the east German secret police. Based on French writer Didier van Cauwelaert’s novel,Unknown may keep you at your seat’s edge rooting for the accident victim—credit that to Neeson’s looks which seem to naturally evoke sympathy. But of course he’s an actor who feels his role to the bone, even if his character be in such an absurd situation as Harris. Good direction by Jaume ColletSerra pulls together the pieces of this brain-teasing story into clarity, aided by the lead actors’ self-convinced portrayal of their roles. Ganz as the ex-spy, wizened and wise and blessed with a prickly humor by his Stasi past, lends depth—even heroism—to the plot. If it were up to us, Ganz should get a nomination for Best
Supporting actor. action and violence abound as the audience is led further into the dark, until close to the end of the 115-minute thriller when the unknown becomes known. Unknown seems to have been made just to puzzle the brain. Older generations would call it “mental calisthenics”, the younger ones would say it’s “mind f—k”. It may entertain many who like to solve riddles but it offers little ethical guidance for those expecting it. Its redemptive factor comes late in the movie when—the mystery having been demystified—a character tries to influence another towards a new life direction. Unknown, however, may arouse one’s curiosity regarding the killer-forhire industry, to ask questions like: How deeply is a spy indoctrinated to prepare for his or her mission? How does the training impact his self-image? How much of his real self is lost in the process? Does this then still hold him morally culpable for the acts he is paid to commit? Is there another process by which the killer-for-hire is disengaged totally from his role upon the completion of his mission? You see, even movies that critics would judge unworthy may lead to profound thoughts a world in chaos needs today.
MAC en COLET
Ni Bladimer Usi
Look for the images of Saint Bernadette, the Grotto and a Candle. (Illustration by Bladimer Usi)
TITLE: From Prada to Nada CAST: Camilla Belle, Alexa Vega, April Bowlby, Kuno Becker, Wilmer Valderrama, Nicholas D’Agosto, Adriana Barraza, Karla Souza, Alexis Ayala DIRECTOR: Angel Garcia DISTRIBUTOR: Lionsgate GENRE: Comedy, Romance LOCATION: USA ; RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes Technical Assessment: ½ Moral Assessment: CINEMA Rating: V14
NOra (Camille Belle) and Mary (alexa) are beautiful, rich, spoiled and pampered. although their last name is Dominguez, they definitely do not consider themselves Latina and have put no effort to learning their mother’s native tongue. The sisters think they have everything until their father dies and they find themselves penniless and at the mercy of the woman with whom their father had an affair with. The sisters are kicked out of the house and are force to live with their auntie in the poor side of East Los Angeles. At first, they are bemused at the living conditions of the people and look at themselves as a class way above the rest. However, the Latino community is not impressed with the newcomers. Over time, only when the sisters learn to live beyond their designers’ clothes and BMWs and value themselves for the real person inside their hearts and start treating other people as equals do they find true meaning in life. The movie is a weak spin off on Jane austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”. although, there are numerous instances where we find the girls in hilarious situations, the humor fails to deliver a good punch because the storyline is too predictable and the plot takes a long time to make the necessary twist for character redemption. The problem is in the script. The characters are too shallow and empty-headed that by the time they make the transformation, it is a bit too late to be genuine and to elicit sympath. And because the script is flat and the script shallow, you cannot really expect a stellar performance from the lead actors. On the positive side, the movie is cute and adorable production-wise. The movie starts with an interesting and promising premise but fails to deliver a great movie. There are several good points that the movie emphasizes: First, we say that material wealth should not be the basis of judging a person. FrOM PraDa TO NaDa shows this clearly as characters find meaning in life and self-respect not when they were covered with blings, brands and expensive things but when they were stripped of all possessions and began to interact using their hearts. Second, people are always capable of changing. We can never say that just because a person was born and raised in a certain way, he or she will remain like that for the rest of his or her life. We clearly see how the lead characters made a complete 360 in dealing and respecting people and in discovering their self-worth. Lastly, success is sometimes handed down the family line, but it is sweeter and more meaningful when it comes hand in hand with perseverance and hard work. People who have invested sweat, talent and determination in their achievements value the fruits and rewards even more. The movie is not one of the must-see films but for those who would or plan to, there are good lessons to take home afterwards.
Vol. 15 No. 5 Vol. 14 No. 3
February 28 - February 14, 2010 February 1 March 13, 2011
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
By Nirva de la Cruz
SFC - Challenging The Status Quo
target is really us, Man, because “the evil one wants us to be separated from the Lord.” Thus, he bombards us with attacks against our entire being – our mind, our heart, our spirit, our body. He uses things that are basically good against us (media, science and technology and culture) to spread death, sin and hopelessness. The second day of the ICON was also workshops day, as the thousands of delegates attended more than 10 simultaneous workshops on different topics that dealt with how to be fortified against the enemy. Among the workshops was “Love Pretend” on Theology of the Body by Fr. Joel Jason; a workshop on online evangelization by Fr. Stephen Cuyos, MSC and a workshop on contemplative prayer. On the evening of the second day, after the opening worship by Niño Tuyay, Fr. Joel Jason gave the rousing second session called “Sleeping with the Enemy.” He talked about Satan’s lies, particularly the most powerful lie that he spreads -- “You are not loved.” Because of this lie, we seek things, relationships and possessions to comfort us and make us believe that we need to be “worthy” of love. Often we believe that the heart is the best symbol of love but the man on the Cross is the most steady expression of God’s love. Fr. Joel explained, “The heart stops beating but the man on the cross never stops loving.” For the third session, Christian Aliwanag talked about how the full armor of God is Christ Himself. Christian, a former missionary to Indonesia now serving in Mindanao, talked about how Satan pretends to be big, but he is, in fact, small. He just brings a magnifying lens and uses our weaknesses and insecurities against us. Christian also stressed that there is nothing so deeply embedded in our hearts that God’s love cannot reach and remove; there is no area in our life that God cannot completely heal; there is nothing we cannot forgive with God’s grace. That night, thousands of singles committed to live for Christ, to choose to do what is right despite what the world upholds. During the ICON’s Sunday Mass, Msgr. Zosimo Ma.Sañado told the singles, “Let Jesus be our satisfaction.” Whatever state of life we may choose as
“WHOEVER goes against our God will have to face His people…” This was the battle cry that 6,500 Singles for Christ members from over 20 countries chanted over and over again at the end of the 18th SFC International Conference. It was a public show of force, but it was also a personal commitment to stand for Christ, to do what is right even when no one is watching.
God’s love Reaches Everything
The annual conference was held at the CamSur Water Sports Complex in Pili, Camarines Sur from February 18 – 20 and was focused on the theme “I Stand,” taken from Couples for Christ’s theme for 2011: “Put on the Full Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-17). At the opening mass, Msgr. Jonie Aguirre talked about the ultimate armor we should put on. Basically, this armor is lived out through a renewed faith that can be seen through our values and lifestyle. In talk 1 entitled “Call to Arms,” Mike Serapio said that the evil one’s main
All out War: Heart, Mind, Body, Spirit
“You are not loved.” - Satan
SFC is Ready to Rumble!
Shok Ariola leads singles in praise and worship
SFCs, Jesus should remain our focus. Before the last session, Rej Agana from CFC–Australia led the delegates into worship by assuring them, “Never again will we be confused, never again will we back down from battle. We will go from victory to victory because that is what (God) said.” For the last session entitled “March to Victory,” missionary Noli Manuel talked about how this year’s ICON is SFC’s coming out party. At 18, a father usually presents his daughter to the world. He explained, “I guess that is also what God is doing to us today. He is presenting us to the world.” With the live streaming and the coverage of local news networks of the ICON, the singles’ convictions were heard not only by the 6,500 delegates at the site but around the world. The conference highlighted several testimonies from sing les. One of t hem,
Ahyen Lanot, talked about getting involved in several immoral relationships because “I had a distorted notion of love. It was self-serving, self-seeking.” Acknowledging that “I destroyed friendships, families and eventually, myself,” Ahyen described her thoughts of suicide. Eventually, realizing that God was trying to save her, she joined Singles for Christ and is now an advocate of purity, going on mission trips to seek out other singles with similar issues. Kikoy Manlunas from North America declared that despite pre-marital sex being the norm in the society where he lives, he chooses to live a life of chastity. He said, “I choose to save myself till after marriage.” Aissa Aureliano is a public prosecutor who commits to work for honest dealings, integrity and true service for the country despite rampant corruption. The conference ended with Michael Ariola challenging everyone to take God’s armor with them, staying true to Christ as they get deployed to their areas all over the world. The ICON ended but the true battle begins with Christ at our side.
JOE Yamamoto, CFC President and Executive Director and Rouquel Ponte, CFC International Mission Director, met with the Presidents of three Pontifical Councils: Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko – Laity; Cardinal Ennio Antonelli – Family; and Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio – Migrants, on February 22 and 23. The meeting with Cardinal Antonelli reaffirmed the role of Couples for Christ in the plan of God for the family. The cardinal stressed the importance of strengthening marriage, defending the family from various forces that aim to destroy it and the need for continuing formation. This was the first time
Celebrate As A People of God
Cardinal Antonelli received a personal briefing from leaders of Couples for Christ and he was happy to note the various stages of CFC in its life and mission. He invited CFC to the World Meeting of Families to be held in 2012 in Milan, Italy, and broached the possibility that CFC can be one of the presentors during this meeting. In the meeting with Archbishop Veglio, Joe Yamamoto and Rouquel Ponte presented CFC’s Work for Migrants and gave a detailed report on the various initiatives of the community since the program begun. Archbishop Veglio explained the role of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples your sense of identity. Seek your origins and roots that your charism may be truly revealed and the fullness of your mission emerge.” Cardinal Rylko summed up the meeting with these words coming from the late Holy Father: 1. Remember your past and celebrate your history with gratitude. Man alone does not write his history based on space and time; God writes with him as man allows himself to be led by God. 2. Live in the present with joy and patience. Your situation may not be always favorable but if you carry with you the joy of the Spirit and live with great pa-
Rouquel and Joe with Archbishop Veglio and Linda Stockman, wife of CFC Rome area leader Michael Stockman.
tience and endurance, you will remain faithful and fruitful. 3. Finally, look to the future with God-given confidence and hope. You can only do this if you cultivate a life not of selfadoration but by giving it all for the glory to God and for the good of humankind. Cardinal Rylko was invited to come to Manila in June 2011 but because of the Pontifical Council’s role in the preparation for the World Youth Day in Spain later this year, he regretfully declined. However, he accepted the invitation to come to Manila in the spring of 2012 to attend a global rally on Mission and Evangelization. (By Rouquel Ponte and Joe Yamamoto.)
From left, Rouquel, Cardinal Antonelli, Joe and Alex Poyaoan, household head, CFC Rome
and how lay movements such as CFC can impact on the life of migrant families today. He was happy to note that CFC does its work not just in the host country of the migrants but in the sending country as well. Joe and Rouquel also reported that CFC is now beginning to expand the program to include non-Filipino migrants coming from Asia and Africa. The final meeting was with Cardinal Rylko of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Joe and Rouquel gave the cardinal positive feedback about the recently-concluded Congress
on Evangelization held in Seoul, Korea last September 2010 and commended the Pontifical Council for the Laity in taking the initiative to Asia. Professor Guzman Carraquiry, the Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council, invited CFC to the same meeting to be held in Africa in 2012. Cardinal Rylko encouraged CFC to continue its work and remain faithful to its charism. He emphasized the need to celebrate our sense of identity, echoing the words of the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, soon to be beatified: “Find
The two IC brothers with Cardinal Rylko
Joe Tale, CFC Chairman
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
Spouse and Comrade
BAGUIO, the City of Pines, became once again the venue of the CFC Metro Manila Mission Core Weekend Recollection last January. The recollection was anchored on the CFC theme for 2011 – “Put on the Full Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). The ambience of Baguio, particularly its cool and nippy weather, always lends itself to both self-reflection and fellowship among brethren in community. Baguio is a romantic place, a favorite honeymoon destination. Of course, many long for the “good old days” when Baguio was even more beautiful, when the refreshing scent of pine trees pervaded over most of the mountain city, when walking up and down a less polluted Session Road was a pleasure by itself and another highlight of the trip. Baguio is indeed a special city where love between husband and wife can be nurtured and strengthened. During the weekend, we understood more deeply why and what it means to put on the full armor of God. One speaker, in jest, but to emphasize the point, said that putting on the full armor does not mean putting it on so husband and wife can be protected against each other. The enemy is not our spouse, even when sometimes there is misunderstanding and even quarrels between us. The enemy is the evil one who continues to prowl, looking for victims to devour (1Peter 5:8), looking for marriages to break up, looking for families to destroy. Both husband and wife need to put on the full armor of God to jointly protect their marriage. Satan can at times be direct and openly tempt either spouse. But more often, he is more subtle, indirect, may even ride on the good things each one does, so that we don’t recognize him until it is too late. The weekend emphasized how we should be truly God’s army, for we continue to be in the midst of a spiritual battle. Thus, we should close ranks, move in unity, be comrades to one another. Our closest comrade in God’s army is our spouse, just as our closest neighbor who we are to love as ourselves, is our spouse. This is a relationship we are to protect. This is a relationship we are to strengthen as we go forth and respond to the mission. Weekends such as the one we had often rekindle our own love story with our spouse. Baguio is a place where a number of such love stories begin. Whatever the situation then, however romantic or plain vanilla it was, whether it was sparkling wine and violin strings wafting through the air, or just an ordi- Our wives as Valentine serenaders nary setting, it was the Lord’s way of putting us together. And as such, each love story is beautiful, for now we know it was God’s way of making our paths meet, husband and wife, to be God’s gift to each other, and to play a role in His plan. Recall your story. Go over the pictures. Feel your heartbeat. Feel God’s love. Of course, from experience, we know that the journey is never always smooth, and the road not always all-weather. There are humps and bumps, potholes, downright rough and rocky portions. There are highs and lows in the journey, dangerous ravines, and even night and fog that prevent us from seeing much of the road ahead. There may be air turbulence or ocean swells from time to time. But here we are. The Lord has held us in the palm of His hands. Do not be afraid to recall the tough moments, too, for it is through such remembering that we realize even more how God loves us and allows us to overcome, by His love and mercy. It is precisely during our low moments that we experience the Lord’s strength the most. Let us thank and honor each other as spouses, for holding on through the storms together, for not giving up on each other, for not giving up on God. Let service and fellowship. But the journey in the Lord continues for all, for He has also blessed us with a place for everyone in our mission. A few weeks ago, we observed Valentines Day. Our household, just like many others, I’m sure, celebrated the day of hearts in fellowship. Our creative wives met a few days before, and handcrafted personalized Valentine’s cards that they surprised their husbands with. They also prepared and practiced a very meaningful song, “How did You Know” which they sang for their husbands, and which made our hearts melt, w h a t with a beautiful melody and lyrics that go: “How did you know, I needed someone like you in my life, That there’s an empty space in my heart, You came at the right time in my life. I’ll never forget, how you brought the sun to shine in my life, and took all the worries and fears that I had.” We husbands on the other hand, were more predictable. We also prepared a song number, but had to rely on the standard “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.” We also prepared our own love notes that we openly, individually, read to our respective wives. For a moment, the almost extinct art of old fashioned love letter-writing was back, sincerely made and just as sincerely read, punctuated at the end with a long stemmed rose, and of course, a loving kiss. It was truly a celebration of love. In worship, we thanked the Lord for His great love for us, we thanked the Lord for the gift of love between husband and wife, for the gift of children, fruits of our love and joy of our hearts. It was a pleasant evening. We even had a heart-shaped pudding, heart-shaped cookies, and other Valentine cakes abounding. Once more, the love between husband and wife was rekindled and strengthened. For husband and wife especially, love is the additional armor that we put on as special comrades in arms in this battle. We thus take time to pray for all married couples especially, that, garbed in the armor of God, and the special armor of love, we may take the frontline in defending God, in defending the gift of life, in strengthening family, whether rich or poor, whether young or old. We stand our ground as comrades, bound by a special sacrament, and alongside the entire army of God, pursuing our vision and mission together, in our neighborhoods, work places, in depressed communities, in our assigned mission areas, yes, actually, to the ends of the earth if necessary. We do so confidently, because Jesus assures us: “Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” [Matthew 18:19} As a married couple, we have a special empowerment, not only for our life together, but also for the mission. Let us recognize such empowerment, pray for it, receive it, and move forward in love with it. It may be a few weeks belated, but this should still be good – Happy Valentines Day!
us also thank and honor our children, for the joy and inspiration they bring us. With God’s loving presence in our marriage, we continue to move forward in our journey together. “Two for the road, we travel down the years, collecting precious memories,” says the song. We travel as the closest comrades in this army of God. In the course of our journey as a community of families, we have lost some brethren along the way. Some have lost their husbands, some have lost their wives. In God’s perfect plan, He has called them to Himself. We thank and honor them for times spent together in
Joe Yamamoto, CFC Director
A Leader’s Walk
ON the weekend of February 18, all roads (at least for CFC Europe) led to Brussels for the third CFC European Leaders’ Conference. Aside from the usual conference sessions, there was an added bonus as on Sunday, Feb. 20, the participating leaders proceeded to Banneux, Belgium for the concluding talks as well as for the ANCOP launch for CFC Europe. Banneux is a very meaningful site because it was there that Mary, the STAR OF EVANGELIZATION, appeared in 1933 in a series of apparitions. It was there where she would eventually reveal herself as the “Virgin of the Poor.” For the ANCOP leaders and supporters, this was significant in the light of the declaration by CFC, on Dec. 8, 2009, that Our Lady of Banneux is the Patroness of our Work with the Poor. During the conference, the leaders learned about the directions and plans of CFC for the upcoming years but there was a bigger reason for the meeting. The conference aimed to instill in the leaders present the great need for the community to strengthen the leadership corps and to make the leaders better equipped for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Our sense of belonging to a lay community underscores the importance of being leaders in an essentially spiritual sense. Rouquel Ponte and I took the opportunity after the Brussels conference to proceed to Rome for scheduled meetings with the Pontifical councils. In Rome, during a casual visit to the House of Jesus, we saw, right after the entrance, a statue of St. Ignatius. Written on the pedestal are the Latin words “Ite Inflammate Omnia” – (Go , inflame all! or Go, set all on fire!). Just a few words and yet sufficient to underscore the work of CFC members as evangelizers. Leadership experts have emphasized that organizations, movements and communities rise or fall on the merit of its leadership. Even religious organizations are subject to this reality. Over time, it has become common understanding and wisdom that an effective leader in the professional world or corporate milieu can serve as an equally effective leader in the twin environments of secular and spiritual. In short, anyone can be a good spiritual leader. Why is leadership critically important especially for the 21st century? Aside from moving their organizations forward and expanding, guided as it were by vision and mission statements, leaders are tasked to provide the anchor as well as the sense of strength and stability for the members. The current century is marked by unprecedented opportunities for leadership to positively impact their organizations. The reality of marvels in technology and communication heightened the expectations of members and undoubtedly made the leaders keenly aware that such developments can be a blessing and a curse. Emails and cell phones connect members to their leaders instantly, 24/7. While it seems advantageous, the same technological marvel creates tremendous pressure on leaders to respond quickly, with the inability to do so interpreted by members as lack of commitment or even lack of concern for the members’ welfare. The paradigms of leadership have changed and despite the countless books written on leaders and leadership, there is still a paucity of good leaders. That need is felt in all domains- religious or otherwise. Because man is a spiritual being created unto the image and likeness of God, everyone, be they bosses or simple employees, has spiritual needs that God wants to meet through His servants in the workplace. The sooner that basic premise is accepted, the easier the appreciation that spiritual leadership based on spiritual principles can apply very well in the secular world. The problem is that the materialistic world rejects it as unreal and anachronistic. Society’s greatest need is not just for good and capable leaders but for leaders who understand and practice leadership that are best modeled and exemplified by the life and work of Christ. As applied to CFC, what would be the best way to communicate this need and how can it best help to fill that gap? Of course, there are trainings and formation programs for leaders but in a bigger sense, can something more be done? Fortunately, the community of CFC recognizes that the best way every member can do the work of evangelization is to demonstrate Christian transformation far beyond their household meetings or the community’s activities and events. In a more meaningful sense, a CFC leader needs to witness to this transformed life as one called to be ‘salt of the earth and light to the world.’ The work of witnessing is to be carried courageously and persistently in the marketplace- our place of work or society at large, starting of course, with our families. J. Oswald Sanders, author of Spiritual Leadership, wrote that “leadership is influence, the ability of one person to influence others.” Robert Clinton, another Christian author, added: “the central task of leadership is influencing God’s people toward God’s purposes.” To that end, George Barna emphasized that “a Christian leader is someone who is called by God to lead; lead with and through Christlike character; and demonstrate the functional competences that permit effective leadership to take place.” With the kind of inputs and insights shared by a good number of Christian leaders and book authors, it is appropriate to emphasize that good leaders are needed to influence people to achieve greater good and that greater good does not ignore the would-be impact of principled Christian leadership. Henry Blackaby says it all by defining that “spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda.” To move people on to God’s agenda necessitates the leader’s dependence on God and the recognition that he is accountable to Him. People who desire good leadership must learn to quietly reconcile within him the application of Godly principles that are equally effective in the spiritual and temporal realms.. The life and journey of God’s people in the Scriptures are replete with instances of blessings and victories that come from fidelity and obedience to the Lord as well as examples of troubles and disappointments that come in the heels of insolence and disobedience. The Scripture further indicates the folly of trying to separate the realities of the spiritual world from that of the secular. Even spiritual leaders need to embody the 4Cs outlined by Barna in his book, Leaders on Leadership. These are Call, Character, Competence and Consequences (results). The journey on spiritual leadership starts with a call, with God progressively working on the person He molds and shapes according to His plans and timetable. Frequently, God uses unlikely people to do His purpose. Many of the Biblical heroes were flawed and would not fit the common concept for leaders and yet they performed exactly as He ordained to the extent of shaping the destiny of mankind. He chose leaders that brought His people to their ordained destiny and followed His purposes in accordance with His prescribed timetable. One can look at the example of the lives of Abraham, Moses, David and other Old Testament prophets and see the hand of God every step of the way. The world admires successful leaders to the extent that they are lionized as born leaders or even self-made leaders who rose above adversities. On the contrary, spiritual leaders respond to the call as a result of the active work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Oswald Sanders noted that” there is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader.” The prerequisite to spiritual ends are spiritual means that come only from the Holy Spirit. A little known character in the Old Testament was Zerubbabel, the governor who oversaw the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem after the return of the Jewish exiles from their Babylonian captivity. The task that lay upon the shoulders of Zerubbabel was daunting because the temple was in ruins and the whole region was chaotic after being decimated by war. At that critical point in his life, he received a life changing message from the Lord: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts.” ( Zech. 4:16). The work of Zerubbabel went far beyond the tools and materials of construction or its logistics. It needed to be accomplished while they were fending off attacks by Israel’s enemies. The lesson for the builder was that spiritual leaders must receive the authority and power from the Holy Spirit even when the task appears to be non-spiritual. Building edifices, handling people and generating funds become spiritual works when the Spirit is involved. Without that presence and empowerment, people may be leaders but definitely not spiritual leaders. The bottom line to all this is that God sets the leader’s agenda but that does not happen unless there is a willingness on the part of the leader to submit to God’s will. Henry and Richard Blackaby had this to say for leaders: “No experience, good or bad is ever wasted. God does not squander people’s time. He does not ignore their pain. He brings not only healing but growth even in the worst experiences. Every relationship can be God’s instrument to mature a person’s character. The world can offer its best theories on leadership and provide the most extensive training possible, but unless God sets the agenda for a leader’s life, that person, though thoroughly educated, will not be an effective spiritual leader.” Robert Clinton, another Christian author, wrote in The Making of a Leader, that the six stages of leadership development are: Sovereign Foundations, Inner Life Growth, Ministry Maturing, Life Maturing, Convergence and Afterglow or Celebration. SOVEREIGN FOUNDATIONS refer to the formative years of a leader during which God’s activity starts to be manifest. Essentially these are factors beyond the control of the person- parental love, birth order, illness, financial status, etc. It is during this period that the emerging leader responds to his life’s circumstances which determine much of his potential to lead. INNER LIFE GROWTH marks the period when a person develops his character, and the beginnings of his spiritual life. When the Holy Spirit makes His presence felt, the person becomes less subject to the whims of fate but progressively learns to think and act in a Christlike manner. MINISTRY MATURING- this is the phase when a person makes his early attempts at spiritual leadership. In the CFC community, this is when the person begins to develop his leadership potential and even learns to recognize his strengths and weaknesses. At this stage, the focus is on WHO a leader is rather than WHAT he does. LIFE MATURING characterizes the period when the struggling leader is able to focus on his strengths and find the opportunities where he learns to be most effective. Prior to this phase, God is working primarily in the leaders but at this point it becomes increasingly clear that God is working through the person. CONVERGENCE is the phase where a person’s experiences in life and in service begin to come together into a specific responsibility or task wherein his effectiveness is maximized. This is the time where the leader is best known for his role and his greatest success. AFTERGLOW OR CELEBRATION- is the phase that few spiritual leaders will ever achieve. It comes after a period of substantive leadership service. This is the time when the leader has faithfully allowed God to accomplish His will for that person and their organization. This is the period of building and teaching the next generation. This is likewise the time when the leader has nothing else to prove and yet continues to “lead by influence” because of who he is and what he has come to represent. The journey of any budding or striving leader in the CFC community will start the moment he recognizes that he has the responsibility to be open and is willing to be used by the Lord. That becomes the gateway to his spiritual leadership. No matter how one cuts it, the rite of passage to spiritual leadership is marked by accepting the advice – ‘ Ite Inflammate Omnia.’ Go inflame all! Go and set everything on fire with the Holy Spirit!
Vol. 15 No. 5
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Putting on the Armor of God through the Social Media
By Layle Ancheta
AS we enter our 30th Anniversary and take on our marching orders to put on the full armor of God, CFC continues to focus on bringing Christ to all areas through a strong, solid, and intensified evangelization. This year, CFC is led to venture into another battle field in fulfilling this mission - the fields of social media and social networking. In His papal message for the 45th World Day of Social Communications, Pope Benedict XVI encourages everyone to focus specifically on the internet as a network for communication. Though he warned against getting sucked into a purely digital existence and stressed the importance of real-world human relationships, Pope Benedict encouraged the use of online social networking as a tool for evangelization: The Pope says: “As with every other fruit of human ingenuity, the new communications technologies must be placed at the service of the integral good of the individual and of the whole of humanity. If used wisely, they can contribute to the satisfaction of the desire for meaning, truth and unity which remain the most profound aspirations of each human being. In the digital world, transmitting information increasingly means making it known within a social network where knowledge is shared in the context of personal exchanges. I would like then to invite Christians, confidently and with an informed and responsible creativity, to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible. This is not simply to satisfy the desire to be present, but because this network is an integral part of human life. The web is contributing to the development of new and more complex intellectual and spiritual horizons, new forms of shared awareness. In this field too we are called to proclaim our faith that Christ is God, the Savior of humanity and of history, the one in whom all things find their fulfillment (cf. Eph 1:10). The proclamation of the Gospel requires a communication which is at once respectful and sensitive, which stimulates the heart and moves the conscience; one which reflects the example of the risen Jesus when he joined the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35). By his approach to them, his dialogue with them, his way of gently drawing forth what was in their heart, they were led gradually to an understanding of the mystery.” In response to this call, CFC has begun exploring these social networks in an effort to strengthen our evangelization as a global community. CFC is now in social networking through our CFC Website (www.cfcglobalmission. org). Our website aims to serve as the window of CFC to all CFC members, anywhere in the world. It aims to function as an informational and inspirational tool in sharing the life and culture of the CFC community to our members and non-CFC members. Another social media that CFC is strengthening is the CFC Facebook Account (Page Name: Couples for Christ). This account now has 11,000 members globally. This has become a very power tool in sharing God’s message through inspirational stories, events and experiences shared to and by all the members who are online. All CFC global and national events, specifically the leaders’ conference and the Family Ministries international conferences, have gone on livestreaming via Youtube. Livestreaming enables our members anywhere in the world to be part of all our conferences and events. The inspiring potential of live streaming is an opportunity for many of our members to experience Christ and His words powerfully and strongly even though they are miles away. Livestreaming data of CFC in the recent events show the powerful potential of this social network in bringing Christ and spreading His word massively and rapidly: 1. CFC Leaders Conference in Araneta a. Actual Attendees: 18,000 delegates in Araneta b. Attendees via Live Streaming: 3,800 views, 36 countries and 25 provinces 2. CFC SFC International Leaders Conference a. Actual Attendees: 6,500 delegates in Camarines Sur b. Attendees via Live Streaming: 7,696 views 29 Countries and 49 provinces and MM areas As we continue to use the social media for the evangelization of people, we are reminded that these tools are given for us to maximize its full potential to our advantage: 1.) For these social networks to help in building meaningful relationships and 2.) For this to be a tool to enable inspirationsharing amongs people, thus, for us, being able to share an experience of Christ to one another. The undeniable call now is to take our faith online through the social media. As CFC ventures into social media as a new platform of evangelization, we aim to continue to be dynamic, yet personal and pastoral, as we respond to the needs of the time, that is, to be where most of the people are and proclaim God to the ends of the earth. The battle against the evil one is also real and rapid in the social media and so all of us are called to also “put on the armor of God” by being committed to use these online communications in truly bringing Christ to the rest of the world.
The Family Ministries –
By Tina Santiago
CFC is blessed to be “30 years old” this year, and is bent on allowing the “new springtime” of evangelization and service to sweep through the community. Aside from a fresh look at evangelization strategies, CFC is also looking at new faces who will commit to greater service for God. The appointment of new Family Ministries International Coordinators is evidence of this. sionary couple to Kenya, Africa, despite the fact that Chelo was 4 months pregnant at that time. After arriving in Kenya, they faced even more challenges. But, as what happens when we surrender to God’s call, the Lord proved that He is truly faithful. Through the African mission, Nic came to rely more on the Lord, and was reminded of the gift of being part of a global family. Their daughter, Kazuri Bernice, was born in Africa. Nic and his young family stayed in Africa for 3 years. Upon returning to Manila, they were integrated into Couples for Christ and are now serving, in addition to their Family Ministries assignment, as CFC Unit Head. Nic says that his reaction to being appointed KFC International Coordinator can be summed up in two words: “Praise God!” He is humbled and amazed at how the Lord has brought him to serve from one ministry to another, and one country to another. Claiming God’s unending greatness, Nic is excited about the service ahead.
New Leaders, New Hope, New Zeal
with his fellow YFC members. These opened his eyes to the joy and humility of doing missionary work. That is why when God called him to be a fulltime worker, he readily said “yes.” Michael became a Mission Volunteer for CFC Youth for Christ back in 1999, establishing YFC in the different campuses in Metro Manila. When he graduated from college, he became a YFC Fulltime Pastoral Worker, as a “natural response, a way of honoring God’s love” for him. In 2001, he was called to be among the first batch of missionaries sent to Africa. According to Shok, this was a very challenging and totally different experience since it involved a lot of unlearning and relearning as the culture and the norms were different. Michael spent one year as a single missionary to Africa, handling YFC, and establishing it in different provinces, parishes and schools. After returning to Manila, Michael was assigned to serve in Singles for Christ. But he would not remain single for long. He married Ma. Carmela “Carel” Flores, a fellow fulltime pastoral worker in 2003, and soon after, they flew to South Africa, bringing along their 6-month old baby girl Nina Andrea “Andie.” In their four and a half years as a couple missionary in Africa, they presented CFC to parishes, running the pastoral formation programs, and even printing CFC shirts for conferences. When they arrived in South Africa, there were only about eight couples who were very new to the ministry. By God’s grace, and through their dedication and commitment, CFC South Africa grew to a 1,500 strong community with members coming from CFC and all the Family Ministries. God also used the African mission to show Michael the importance of strengthening CFC’s relationship with the clergy. Cardinal Napier became a very close confidante and guide not only for CFC South Africa, but for Michael and Carel as a couple. The cardinal helped them grow CFC in South Africa and his endorsement opened a lot of parish doors to Michael and Carel. Michael and his family moved back to the Philippines in 2008. He and Carel were asked to coordinate the Migrants Program of CFC, in addition to serving in Singles for Christ. In 2010, after years of praying, he and Carel welcomed their son, Caleb Luke, into the family. Carel was also asked to serve as head of the HR Dept of the CFC Home Office When asked how he felt about being appointed IC, Michael sums up his reaction in one word - “Thanksgiving.” As the SFC IC, Shok feels that it is his role to facilitate the flow of God’s grace from the community to the single man/woman and from person to person. By empowering the SFC team and the leaders of SFC, he hopes to be able to reach every single man and woman, and let them continue to have an experience of Christ in whatever state they are in. Nic, Lawrence and Michael bring to the Family Ministries the passion and zeal to spread God’s love to the ends of the earth through their specific roles as ICs. Let us pray for them, their families and their co-missionaries, that they may continue to serve the Lord with their all, all the days of their lives.
Nic Escalona Jr: KFC International Coordinator
Nicanor “Nic” G. Escalona Jr. is no stranger to the Kids ministry, himself being a former KFC member. Now 28 years old, Nic is a loving husband to Fatima Chelo, and doting dad to threeyear-old Kazuri. Nic recalls how his parents joined CFC in 1993 in Mandaluyong, and how they encouraged him to attend the Kids’ Assembly at the Miraculous Medal Parish when he was 13. From KFC Nic transitioned to YFC. At the yearly YFC Metro Manila Summer House Training or SHOUT, Nic heard the Lord calling him to fulltime work. But it would not be until March 2003, when by then he had moved from YFC to SFC, that Nic became a fulltime worker, as a values formation coordinator/facilitator in Bagong Silang High School. In March 2004, Nic was assigned to serve YFC in Metro Manila West A, which covered the areas of Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela. In March 2005, he was appointed member of the YFC International Council and served as the YFC Metro Manila Head at the same time. He was also assigned to lead the Work with the Poor program for YFC. But he remained active in his SFC chapter. It was in SFC that he met Chelo. A short time after getting married, they answered the Lord’s call to serve as a mis-
Anna and Lawrence with Zam and Xandra
Edfer Lawrence Quintero: YFC International Coordinator
Edfer Lawrence Quintero, or simply “Lawrence,” has been serving the Lord since he was a young teenager in Malabon. He joined YFC at his Catholic high school in 1994, and credits his parents who, despite not being community members, introduced him to God through their weekly Sunday masses as a family. When his parents separated, Lawrence was already a YFC leader in his area. It was his YFC Couple Coordinators who helped see him through those difficult times, and it was in the CFC community that he found his “second family.” In 2001, after graduating from college, Lawrence transitioned to SFC, and also became a fulltime mission worker, serving in YFC. Lawrence’s first assignment in
YFC was in the Campus-Based program. In 2003 he was sent on mission to South Africa for one year during which time, he served in all the ministries of CFC. It was on mission in Africa that Lawrence learned how to focus more on the Lord. Lawrence and the rest of the missionaries to Africa realized the need to pray more, and listen more to the Lord every day. After coming back, Lawrence was assigned to Palawan for a year, bringing the same spirit and CFC culture to the community there. In 2005 he was transferred to SFC where he served in Metro Manila and became the Area Head of Northern Luzon. In the same year, he got married to his first and only girlfriend, Anna, “a true gift from the Lord.” As a couple, they entered CFC in Malabon, and were eventually blessed with their two children, Zamuel, 4 years old, and Xandra, 3 years old. In SFC, Lawrence had various assignments, ultimately becoming part of the SFC International Council. Lawrence admits to being “shocked” at the news that he had been appointed YFC International Coordinator. Right now, Lawrence is enjoying go-
ing back to his fulltime roots, and is re-learning YFC while being inspired by his present team. He believes that his main role is to become a brother to his teammates, and to remind them to continue to be inspired by the love of God and by the power of the Holy Spirit as they continue to serve with commitment, passion, and excellence. As the YFC IC, Lawrence believes that God is the author of the mission and that more than his work as a fulltime missionary, his most important contribution to the community would be his own family, and their commitment to grow more in their life and mission in the community
Michael “Shok” Ariola: SFC International Coordinator
Michael Ariola, or “Shok,” claims he joined the community “accidentally” in 1997 through CFC Youth for Christ when he was a student at the San Beda College. He had no plans of joining but because the friend he was with was going to the Youth Camp, he ended up joining. Michael considers that incident as the turning point in his life, because the Camp opened his eyes to God’s love. The hurts and anxieties he endured from his family life were washed away by God’s cleansing grace, and it was as if he could see things from a different perspective. It was God’s great love that helped heal not only Michael, but his family too. Coming from a broken family, being active in YFC became a source of healing and inspiration for Michael. Through his persistence and prayer, his mother eventually joined the community through Handmaids of the Lord and his brother joined Youth for Christ. As a YFC member, Michael went on many mission trips
Nic and Chelo with Kazuri
Michael and Carel with Andie and Caleb Luke
February 28 - March 13, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 5
By Tina Rodriguez
A Nationwide Call To Defend Life and Love
Veritas, Youth Pinoy, Human Life International, Alliance for Family, Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, Foundation for Family and Life, Medical Practitioners for Life, Muslims for Life, Pro-Life Phils Foundation, Pro-Life Coalition for Family and life, Ang Kapatiran party, Buhay Party List, Philippine Solidarity Foundation, El Shaddai, Christian Family Movement, Edsa Shrine Community, Serve Life Phils, Mother Butler Guild, PPCRV, and many religious congregations. Rene Bullecer and Ligaya Acosta of Human Life International were there to greet the participants to the rally, and Mayor Lito Atienza, a vocal pro-lifer, was the emcee. Fr. Anton Pascual of Caritas gave a passionate speech about how our poor countrymen need job opportunities more than population control, which is NOT the solution to poverty in the Philippines. Instead of spending millions of taxpayers’ money on contraception, we should focus on improving the quality of life of Filipinos by giving them access to good education and employment opportunities. What was also encouraging about the Rally was the stance of the pro-life congressmen. Representatives Bagasina, Tieng, Velarde, Dimaporo, Golez, Bagatsing, and Del Mar, and former Senator Pimentel all spoke out against the RH Bill and committed to fight it. They are true examples of political leaders who not only practice good governance, but are aligned to the greater Good. There were also medical professionals who proclaimed their pro-life stance, and briefly explained how life begins at conception/fertilization, and NOT during implantation.
ON Sunday, January 13, 2011, Couples for Christ were among the thousands of Filipinos gathered to say “YES TO LIFE, NO TO THE RH BILL” at the Interfaith Pro-Life Rally held at the PICC Grounds. People from all walks of life and of different faiths came together for one clear and pressing purpose: to show the world, especially the local legislators and government leaders, that we Filipinos are for the culture of life, and not the culture of death, as proposed by the RH Bill. It was very encouraging and inspiring to see so many groups and individuals come together to declare their love for life and love. Parents came with their children, young people with their barkadas, and even our elderly countrymen came in full force to show their stand for life. Couples for Christ joined more than 50 groups, representing all walks of life, at the rally. Some of the other groups were: Knights of the Altar, diocesan groups from various dioceses all over Luzon, Cenacle, Order of Malta, Caritas Manila, Radio
An inspiring sharing by a Muslim mother of 10 children also stood out in the afternoon’s program of activities. She proudly proclaimed that Muslims are pro-life, and what is needed by people are opportunities to enhance their lives, NOT the RH bill! Even celebrity mom Christine Jacob-Sandejas shared about her pro-life stance as a mother to five children, which in this day and age, is considered a large brood, or even “too many” to some. Creative dance presentations helped in entertaining the crowd, and prayers led by men of different faiths i.e. a Baptist bishop, a Muslim Imam, and a Catholic priest showed the true unity of those gathered. Bro. Mike Velarde gave an inspiring closing exhortation. All in all, it was a powerful testimony to the uniting spirit of the Filipino people. After coming home from the rally, Couples for Christ members, along with our other countrymen, were more empowered, convicted and inspired to continue to defend the cause of life and love, no matter what it takes. What a meaningful way to spend the eve of Valentine’s Day!
Bishop Headlines CFC Canada Rally
We Are More than Conquerors
ON the weekend of February 18-20, 201, 108 YFC leaders and couple coordinators, gathered for the YFC National Leaders’ Summit held in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Erin Kinsella, the Director of the Youth Office of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg, attended the weekend activity. The summit was entitled “More than Conquerors” from Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” The goal of the summit is to gather all the YFC leaders across Canada, to share the direction of YFC Canada in the next three (3) years, and for YFC Canada to move in one direction. The event started with the first session “The Legacy” delivered in talk show format by John Acosta, and spoke of God’s victories in YFC Canada. The next day, the second session on “Anointed Leadership” was given by Candy Subang followed by the pre-workshop orientation given by YFC National Chairman, George Fournier. The afternoon saw the participants in workshop mode, planning the responses of each area per direction. The three directions of YFC Canada are: Full-scale Advocacies; Full-blast in Evangelization, and Full-fledge Missionaries. The evening session started with the anticipated mass celebrated by Fr. Martin Bradbury, Holy Cross Parish Priest. This was followed by the third session “Into your Hands” given by Vince Gomba. On the last day, the fourth session, “More than Conquerors” was given by Gelo Saludo. The closing activity was a moving Adoration of the Holy Eucharist followed by a powerful praisefest led by Jason Diala, YFC Area Head of Calgary. It has been three years since the last NLS and this one was really what YFC Canada needed. This sets the direction where each area will be going and hope to achieve after three years. As Canada’s National Anthem states that it is the “True North,” YFC Canada also believes that God is the True North and is bent of reclaiming the nation for God.
By Rico Tingin
MORE than 600 red-shirted CFC members, including from the Family Ministries, converged at Canada Christian College last Saturday, Feb 12, for this year’s GTA (Greater Toronto Area) Evangelization Rally. The 2011 theme “Put on the Full Armor of God” (Eph 6:11) was the center theme of the whole rally. Most Reverend William McGrattan, Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Toronto, was the headline speaker
at the rally. To the delight of the crowd, Bishop McGrattan changed from his usual black blazer into a flaming red t-shirt, signifying his solidarity with the CFC family. In his talk, Bishop McGrattan acknowledged CFC as a gift of God from the Philippines to the world. He cited CFC as “one of those very important lay movements born out of the 2nd Vatican that truly manifested the grace and gift of God.” In reference to our theme, “Put on the Full Armor of God” for this year, Bishop McGrattan, highlighted the following points: * The armor of God is an armor of love. * Each component of the armor mentioned in Eph 6:11-18 represents the various gifts that God has given us. * God has given us the armor not so much to protect us but to strengthen us by equipping us
with certain gifts. * We are to use these gifts solely for two purposes; to love God and to love our neighbor * CFC has been given the vocation of being witnesses to the immense love of God in the mystery of man and woman. * CFC with its gift that focuses on marriage and family is truly, in our present culture, a sign of evangelization. He ended by encouraging CFC to be strong, to stay united in the sacrament of marriage and to express that mutual love and sacrifice as a witness to people around us. The evangelization rally was highlighted by a mass concelebrated by Bishop McGrattan and Fr Luigi Accossato, Superior of the Consolata Missionary Centre.
By AJ Cabacang
IN January 28-30, 2010, at Hilton Hotel, Surrey City, Metro Vancouver, 123 leaders of the CFC -Youth for Christ Ministry, together with more than 20 couple coordinators in British Columbia, Canada gathered as one for the 2011 CFC-YFC Pacific Regional Leaders Conference. The conference’s central theme, “Called,” revolved around the verse, Ephesians 4:1, “Be worthy of the calling that you have received.” The weekend retreat started off on Friday with Holy Mass, followed by Eucharistic Adoration and topped off by a charismatic praise and worship session inside the beautiful Our Lady of Good Counsel church in Surrey. Though this was only the beginning of the conference, many affirmed that this was the highlight of their weekend. Like any YFC event, the event was filled with Fun, Fellowship, Freedom and Faith. The young leaders attended sessions and workshops on: Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP), Time and Money Management, Public Speaking and Creative Evangelization. The ANCOP workshop was led by the youth program heads, Chris Velasco and Charlene Algabre. They emphasized that like Jesus, we are called to serve everyone especially the poor. The Time and Money Management workshop was given by Rene Garrucho, the Country Coordinator for Kenya and a member of the ANCOP and the Pastoral Formation Committees in British Columbia, who gave practical tips on how to be models of excellence in financial stewardship, and balancing time so that relationships, school grades and stress levels are maintained, while prioritizing a close relationship with God. The Public Speaking workshop was given by Father Rodney Nootebos who told the YFC participants that they were being called by God to be prophets of the Good News. He emphasized that with practice, preparation and prayer; we don’t have to worry about loss of words, sweaty palms and cracked voices to be confident protagonists of the truth. The Creative Evangelization Workshop was given by Lorna Richardson, a Simon Fraser University undergraduate in Psychology, Gender Studies and Counselling. She discussed the importance of using our unique God-given talents to spread the Gospel to the high schools, post-secondary institutions, and new mission areas through creative evangelization. YFC full time workers, Angelo Saludo and Candy Subang, also delivered talks about service and the relationships that we have with the brothers, sisters, titos and titas that we serve with.
CFC Home Office Recollection: Love In the Ordinary Times of Our Lives
By Tina Rodriguez
AROUND 50 fulltime staff and pastoral workers of the Couples for Christ Home Office in Manila took some time from their busy work schedules to “stop, look and listen” and be refreshed by God’s love. Through the opening worship, led by SFC International Coordinator Michael “Shok” Ariola, and the recollection itself, given by Rev. Fr. Xavier Olin, SJ, many were able to realize once again that God is present in the ordinary things and in the ordinary times of our lives. Fr. Xavier started off by exhorting all those present to think back to the previous weeks and months and to become aware of what moments in the past had been glimpses of God’s love. He enjoined everyone to reflect on the song “You Are Mine,” which has these beautiful lines from Isaiah 43: Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow Me, I will bring you home; I love you and you are Mine. Fr. Xavier also reminded everyone that “in the end, it all begins in God and with God – who goes out of His way to love us. He loves us, longs for us, desires us first.” He asked everyone to try to recall when they first experienced God’s love, emphasizing that God does not ask us to convince Him to love us, but to allow Him to love us. Fr. Xave also spoke about how the Church is still in the season of Ordinary Time, which actually makes up most of the Church calendar. There are a few feasts here and there, but that is all. This can be likened to our experiences as Catholics – our lives are not full of big celebrations every day, but are mostly made up of ordinary time and everyday moments. Like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who in the last months of her life had great difficulty feeling God’s love, we too sometimes cannot or do not acknowledge God’s loving presence. Like Job, we are sometimes exhausted, and we ask “Where is God? I can’t see Him, I can’t feel Him anymore.” The answer is simple though, and many times forgotten because of our suffering, pain and complacency: “God is with us.. always.” To emphasize these points, Fr. Xave talked about former businessman turned Jesuit St. Alfonso Rodriguez, who for the most part of his religious life, served as a doorman or porter. St. Alfonso found his sanctity and calling in the ordinariness of his life, and was always excited to answer the door because He always saw God in His work. He drew His love from the well-spring of prayer, even in the most boring, mundane tasks. Two video clips shown by Fr. Xave further emphasized the beauty of God’s love made manifest through human relationships and the common, everyday things -about a woman named Sally from Smokey Mountain, who was a volunteer Natural Family Planning teacher in her neighborhood and about one husband, Warren, who is taking care of his wife Mila, now comatose after giving birth to their first child. Through the video clips, the truth that God wants to show us shines through– that in the reality of ordinary time, in the crushing times of suffering, Jesus, Emmanuel, is with us. His love is unchanging and unconditional.
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