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•B1 “Pahalagahan ang buhay”
The News Supplement for Couples for Christ
Advocates urge priests to use pulpit vs RH bill
SOME anti-reproductive health bill advocates called on Catholic priests to use the pulpit in the campaign against the measure. According to them, priests should be more aggressive in preaching the people about the church’s stand against the bill. Since the church’s stand don’t get much media attention, they said, it’s about time for church officials to use the pulpits in delivering sermons about the bill during Masses.
Advocates / A6
Study shows annulment cases in PH rising
THE number of annulment of marriages in the Philippines rose by more than 40% over the past ten years, according to the Office of the Solicitor General. From 2001, the country had 4,520 cases and 8,282 in 2010. This brings a daily average of at least 22 cases filed every day. Common grounds for legal separation or declaration of nullity is psychological incapacity, according to a document sent to CBCPAnnulment / A6
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
Pope urges faithful not to give up fight vs RH
By Roy Lagarde
POPE Benedict XVI called on Catholics to strengthen their resolve and not give up the fight against any “attacks” to life and the family.
In a statement read during a prayer rally on March 25 against the reproductive health (RH) bill, the pope urged Filipinos to respect and protect every human life. The pontiff’s message was relayed by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a letter to the Filipino cardinals. “His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI recommended the defense of these values which remain vital to the whole of Filipino society,” said Bertone. “I again encourage you and all who value the human person to be firm in your commitment to honor God and, by doing so, to manifest a deep love for life and for its protection at this time,” he said. Aimed at promoting the use of contraceptives, Bertone said that the bill is again putting the Filipino society in a “difficult period in all that concerns life and its defense.” “The Church is not indifferent in such moments because she believes that life is sacred, a gift from God who calls man to cooperate with Him, aided by a deep sense of responsibility for his actions,” the Vatican
Pope / A6
Filipinos trooped to the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta March 25, Feast of the Annunciation and Day of the Unborn; to protest against “attacks” on the sanctity of life and integrity of the family. Organized by the Archdiocese of Manila, the interfaith rally drew an estimated 200,000 people coming from different religious denominations.
Bishops mourn executed Pinoy drug mules
CATHOLIC bishops are mourning the death of three Filipino drug mules who were executed in China on March 30. At the same time, the prelates said it should serve as lesson for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to be extra careful abroad. Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo said OFWs should make sure they know the laws of the country they are in to avoid trouble. “We cannot control the administration of justice in other countries,” said Quevedo, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. I also wish to extend my deep condolences to the families of those executed and I pray for the eternal repose of their souls,” he said. “I also pray for all those OFWs who are under great suffering at this time.” Kidapawan Bishop Romulo dela Cruz also said he is saddened by what happened and expressed condolences over the death of the three Filipinos. “I’m sorry for the families who are bereaving now. I hope that this will also serve as a lesson for the future that our OFWs should be more careful,” he said.
“We already know that there are laws in each country about drugs… this is a lesson for all to be careful and to respect the laws of other nations also,” dela Cruz added. Ramon Credo, 42, Elizabeth Batain, 38, and Sally Villanueva, 32, were executed by lethal injection on Wednesday morning after they were found guilty of illegal drug trafficking. The execution took place despite earnest appeal from the Aquino administration to have their death sentence commuted to life. (CBCPNews)
Phivolcs Chief to Church officials: Check stability of old churches
ARMM postponement disappoints bishop
A CATHOLIC bishop is disappointed over President Aquino’s call to defer elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The ARMM polls are set on August 11 but the administration’s allies in Congress are determined to have it postponed. Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad maintains that the elections should push through as scheduled to solve the present problems in his province. “First and foremost I am frustrated (with the planned postponement of the ARMM elections),” Jumoad said over Catholic Church-run Radyo Veritas. But the Mindanao prelate said he will respect the decision of the government and will remain hopeful that it will bring good to their region. “They have the power of authority so let’s hope for [the] best because that’s what the President has promised that he will clean the government,” he said. “I hope it will materialize… I am a law abiding citizen and I respect the decision of the government,” Jumoad added. On March 22, the House of Representatives approved a bill seeking to synchronize the
ARMM / A6
San Agustin Church
Bishop Martin Jumoad
2 bishops urge pork barrel cut for OFWs
AT least two Catholic bishops urged lawmakers to use their pork barrel funds in the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers caught in armed conflicts abroad. The prelates said the lawmakers should help finance repatriation of thousands of OFWs in Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and even in the quake-ravaged Japan. Maasin Bishop Precioso Cantillas said congressmen and senators should allocate a portion
Cut / A6
DIRECTOR of Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Dr. Renato Solidum urged Church officials to ensure the stability of church structures against earthquakes. The Phivolcs chief said church officials should solicit professional help from civil and structural engineers to check on the strength of church edifices in the light of recent earthquakes that devastated neighboring countries. Solidum said a significant number of people regularly flock to churches. Old church-
es are also point of interest among tourists, he added. He said concern from church authorities is a manifestation of its social responsibility. The Philippines had records of destructive earthquakes and most of these are found in Manila, specifically in Intramuros, the first established city. The most destructive earthquake to hit the Philippines was the one that originated from the Philippine Fault Zone in 1880. He said many churches in Manila and Infanta, Quezon
Philvocs / A6
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
Stress moral responsibility, principles of justice
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
US bishops question use of force in Libya
Prefect promotes adoration for vocations, holy clergy
The prefect of the Congregation for Clergy says the value of Eucharistic adoration cannot be overestimated, and he is recommending that every diocese have an adoration chapel or shrine dedicated to the intentions of consecrated vocations and the sanctification of the clergy. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza affirmed this in a March 4 note to Bishop Dominique Rey of Frejus-Toulon, France. The bishop is promoting an international conference on Eucharistic adoration, to be held June 20-24 in Rome at the Salesianum. “We cannot overestimate the importance of adoring the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, knowing that worship is the highest act of the People of God,” the cardinal wrote. (Zenit)
Vatican urges support of Holy Land collection
The Congregation for Eastern Churches is urging Catholics worldwide to support the Good Friday collection for the Church in the Holy Land. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of that dicastery, sent a letter with an appeal to recall this “commitment that dates back to apostolic times.” He affirmed that “the Holy Land expects the brotherhood of the universal Church and desires to reciprocate it in sharing the experience of grace and suffering that marks her journey.” (Zenit)
Church needs courageous apostles to fight religious indifference—Pope
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2011—The U.S. bishops are urging government leaders to examine the use of military force in Libya according to principles of moral responsibility and the protection of human life. Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote a letter last Thursday to National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon emphasizing these points. The prelate acknowledged, “Recently our nation in coalition with others embarked on an internationally-sanctioned military mission to protect civilians in Libya from their own government.” In the wake of reports of
US bishops reiterate commitment to fighting clerical abuse
WASHINGTON D.C., March 25, 2011―Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the head of the U.S. bishops’ conference, reiterated the bishops’ resolve to swiftly remove priests guilty of sex abuse from active ministry. Archbishop Dolan released a March 22 statement—just ahead of National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April—saying that the occasion provides an opportunity “to unite with all Americans in a renewed resolve to halt the scourge of sexual abuse of youth in our society.” Archbishop Dolan also cited “recent disclosures” about the Church’s response to the clerical sexual abuse of minors as a primary reason for his statement. Earlier this month, Cardinal Justin Rigali placed 21 Philadelphia priests on administrative leave following an investigation into a grand jury report that said there were credible abuse allegations against the clergy members, who were in active ministry. Archbishop Dolan emphasized that the Church will continue to enforce a zero-tolerance policy, referencing the bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was drafted in the wake of the first revelations of sex abuse by clergy. “Over the past nine years, we have constantly reviewed the high promises and rigorous mandates of the Charter, as we continually try to make it even more effective,” he said. “We want to learn from our mistakes and we welcome constructive criticism,” the archbishop said, adding that the U.S. bishops “remain especially firm in our commitment to remove permanently from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense.” The conference president said that “this painful issue continues to receive our careful attention” and that “the protection of our children and young people is of highest
“massacres” of Libyan protestors and bombings of rebel forces by Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s leader for 42 years, the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1973. This resolution authorized the international community to establish a no-fly zone, and to allow for the use of “all means necessary” for the protection of Libyan civilians. On March 19, several countries launched bombing attacks on the Libyan military systems in Tripoli and elsewhere. Underlining Catholic teaching, that “the use of force must always be a last resort that serves a just cause,” the bishop affirmed, “The just cause articulated in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 to demand ‘a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses
of, civilians’ appears to meet this criterion in our judgment.” He added, “Since the protection of civilians is paramount, a key question is: Will the coalition actions stay focused on this limited goal and mission?” “In recent years,” Bishop Hubbard observed, “the Holy See has emphasized the role of international bodies in authorizing humanitarian interventions into sovereign nations.” Careful monitoring He added, “The United Nations Security Council needs to continue to monitor carefully the mission and the use of force in Libya.” The prelate outlined “important questions” in this regard, including: “How is the use of force protecting the civilian
population of Libya? Is the force employed proportionate to the goal of protecting civilians? Is it producing evils graver than the evil it hopes to address? “What are the implications of the use of force for the future welfare of the Libyan people and the stability of the region?” He pointed out that “the justice of a cause does not lessen the moral responsibility to comply with the norms of civilian immunity and proportionality.” In this regard, the bishop raised other questions, such as: “Is force being used in ways that protect civilian lives? “Are civilian casualties being avoided? Is the destruction of lives and property proportionate to the good being achieved in terms of saving civilian lives?” (Zenit)
Pope Benedict said at his general audience that the modern world needs “zealous” disciples of Christ, who will fight religious indifference with the “light and beauty” of the Gospel. The Pope dedicated his teaching at the Vatican on March 23 to St. Lawrence of Brindisi, who was born in Italy in 1559 and was named one of the Doctors of the Church for his expertise in preaching Catholic doctrine and Sacred Scripture. St. Lawrence is known for his “clear and tranquil” explanations of the Christian faith to his surrounding culture, the pontiff noted, particularly to those who had left the Church in the wake of the Reformation. (CNA)
New book features in-flight interviews with John Paul II
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi recently announced the release of the book, “Traveling Companions, In-flight Interviews with John Paul II.” The book, which features a selection of in-flight interviews the late Pope John Paul II gave to journalists, was released March 23 at the offices of Vatican Radio. Fr. Lombardi explained that Vatican Radio preserved recordings of the interviews given by John Paul II during the first years of his pontificate. The organization then made them available to journalist Angela Ambrogetti, author of the new book. The book was published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house. (CNA)
Pope Benedict prays for peace in Libya
Responding to the widening military conflict, Pope Benedict XVI has prayed for a “horizon of peace and harmony” to arise in Libya. He also assured the people of Libya of his “heartfelt closeness.” “The disturbing news coming from Libya has awakened in me fear and trepidation,” Pope Benedict told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square after the traditional Sunday Angelus prayers. He reported that he had offered a “special prayer” about the state of affairs in Libya during his Lenten spiritual exercises recently. (CNA)
Atheists and Catholics in Paris examine question of God
priority.” Archbishop Dolan also expressed his thanks to the conference’s National Review Board—an initiative that works to prevent sexual abuse of minors within the Church— as well as “Catholic parents, professionals, the victim-survivor community, law enforcement officials, and our diocesan victimassistance coordinators.” The archbishop noted that annual outside audits by forensic experts will continue, “checking that we remain faithful to the processes in place to protect our young people, promote healing of victims survivors and restore trust.” “In short, the progress made must continue and cannot be derailed,” he said, adding that “we want to strengthen it even more.” “We can never stop working at it, because each child and young person must always be safe, loved and cherished in the Church.” (CNA/EWTN News)
Pope Benedict XVI called for a greater sense of brotherhood in the world as the first official modern forum for dialogue between believers and non-believers was inaugurated last week in Paris. “Religions cannot be afraid of a just secularism, a secularism that is open and allows individuals to live according to what they believe in their own consciences,” he said. “If we are to build a world of freedom, equality and fraternity, believers and non-believers should feel themselves to be free, with equal rights to live their individual and community lives in accordance with their own convictions; and they must be brothers to one another.” (CNA)
Pope picks Augustinian nun to write Good Friday meditations
Catholic youth create videos for internet contest
LOUISVILLE, Kentucky, March 27, 2011―Young Catholic filmmakers have produced inspirational YouTube videos with Catholic themes as part of a contest to help evangelize others about the faith. The Kentucky-based Catholic youth media group Goodness Reigns is running the contest, whose entrants include youth groups and individuals aged 14 and older from all skill levels. They have submitted short films on Church teachings, the sacraments, Church history, the lives of the saints and examples of the contemporary mission spirit. Goodness Reigns’ People’s Choice Award promises a $1,000 cash prize to the winner of an internet vote. Entrants are also competing in the “Share the Story” short film contest. On April 1 contest organizers will announce winners, who may choose either video equipment packages or all-inclusive travel packages to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain. The entries come from 25 U.S. states and Canada, India, Mexico and Pakistan.
Pope Benedict XVI chose an Augustinian nun to author the texts for this year’s Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday, the Vatican announced March 25. Mother Maria Rita Piccione, a contemplative nun who leads the Federation of Augustinian Nuns, wrote the texts that will be read at each of the 14 stations, the Vatican statement said. Each year, the pope selects a different person to author the texts that mark the steps in the solemn, candlelight ceremony that begins at Rome’s Colosseum and leads toward the nearby Forum and Palatine Hill. (CNS)
Malaysian govt to release 35,000 Bibles seized over ‘Allah’ dispute
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, March 17, 2011—Government officials in Malaysia agreed to release 35,000 Bibles that were seized in the country as it continues a heated dispute over non-Muslims being allowed to use the word “Allah” for God. The decision on March 15 by the Muslim-majority government is being considered a significant move to quell frustration among Malaysian Christians, as a court case continues on whether nonMuslims have the constitutional right to use the word. The Herald, Malaysia’s sole Catholic publication, was prosecuted last year by the Malaysian Home Ministry and threatened with the loss of its printing license for its use of “Allah” in describing the Christian God in its Malay-language section. The Herald argued that use of the term follows a centuries-old tradition within the Arabic language that pre-dates Islam, while the Home Ministry claimed that its usage outside the Muslim context was an affront to Muslims. Islam is both the state religion and the largest faith in the country. According to Vatican Radio, on March 16 another government minister attempted to reimpose a block on 5,000 of the Bibles in the Malaysian city of Port Klang. “In Selangor—where Port Klang is—there is a state enactment that prohibits the use of the word ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims,” editor of The Herald Fr. Lawrence Andrew told Vatican Radio. The enactment, however, “goes against the federal constitution,” he underscored. Fr. Andrew also said there is an internal security act that allows for use of the Bible by Christians as long as they have been stamped with the words “For Christians Only.” “So legally we Christians can have the Bible, but they are now putting restrictions because of the fear that this will confuse Muslims,” he said. (CNA)
As of Friday afternoon, the People’s Choice vote leader was a video titled “The Sacrament of Divine Mercy.” It retells a story from the life of St. John Bosco in which Satan tries to demoralize a priest and his congregation about the effectiveness of confession. Another leading video, “The Ten Plagues,” reinterpets the biblical plagues in a high school
setting. The video “Finding John Doe” involves a troubled girl contemplating suicide, while another, “Morning Star Family Holy Hour,” describes the Holy Hour at a children’ prayer group in New York state. The contest will help create a repository of short films for catechists and the general public, organizers said. Gabriel Castillo, director of
evangelization at St. Theresa’s Church in Sugarland, Texas, praised the contest. “Now youth groups and teachers will have a safe place to send their students and peers to get solid Catholic information presented in creative ways,” she said. The website for the People’s Choice vote is http://www.goodnessreigns.com/vote. (CNA)
Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Confession teaches humility to priests and penitents, Pope says
VATICAN City, March 25, 2011— Confession teaches both priests and penitents to be humble and aware of God’s forgiveness, Pope Benedict XVI said March 25. “By administering the aSacrament of Penance we can receive profound lessons of humility and faith,” he told a gathering of priests at the Vatican. “For each priest, this is a powerful call to an awareness of his own identity. Never could we hear the confessions of our brothers and sisters merely on the strength of our own humanity.” “If they come to us it is only because we are priests, configured to Christ, the Supreme and Eternal Priest, and granted the capacity of acting in His Name and Person, so as to make present the God Who forgives, renews and transforms,” the Pope said. His remarks addressed participants in an annual course organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican tribunal in charge of granting indulgences, resolving sins reserved to the Pope, and resolving matters of conscience forwarded to the Holy See. The course concerned the “internal forum,” a technical term for the personal area of conscience and judgment in the priest-penitent relationship. Pope Benedict told the priests that the sacrament of Penance teaches the priest about his faith and the truth and poverty of his person. It also nourishes in him an awareness of his sacramental identity. He also pointed out that individual freedom and self-awareness are expressed “particularly clearly” in the sacrament. “It is perhaps for this reason too that, in an age of relativism and of the consequent reduced awareness of self, the practice of this Sacrament should also have diminished.” The pontiff then touched on the practice known as an examination of conscience, which involves a review of one’s sins and failings. This practice, he said, teaches Catholics to compare their lives with “the truth of the Gospel.” Comparing one’s life with the Commandments, the Beatitudes and “above all” the commandment to love represents a great “school of penance,” Pope Benedict told the priests. An “integral confession” helps penitents recognize their own fragility, achieve an awareness of the need for God’s forgiveness, and achieve the belief that divine grace can transform life. “Do not fail to give appropriate space to exercising the ministry of penance in the confessional. To be welcomed and heard is also a human sign of God’s welcome and goodness towards His children,” he said. (CNA/ EWTN News)
Vatican welcomes European court decision on classroom crucifixes
lated her children’s freedom of conscience. A lower chamber of the European court had ruled in 2009 that the classroom crucifixes violated the religious freedom clauses of the European Convention of Human Rights. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the Vatican welcomed the Grand Chamber ruling, which recognizes that “human rights must not be placed in opposition to the religious foundations of European civilization.” The decision is an affirmation of the respect owed to each country of the European Union for “the religious symbols of its cultural history and national identity” and for national decisions on how the symbols can and should be displayed, Father Lombardi said. A lack of respect, he said, would lead to a situation in which, “in the name of religious liberty, paradoxically one would limit or even deny this freedom, ending up excluding every expression of it from the public sphere.” Speaking to reporters at a news conference about a Vatican project to promote dialogue with atheists and other nonbelievers, Cardinal Ravasi had said that while a crucifix is a religious symbol to believers, it also is “a sign of civilization” in the West. In every culture, he said, people find symbols that express their identity and, in losing those symbols, “we run the great risk of losing our identity.” “Having white walls leads to a void, to cultural fragility. You may need to explain what a religious symbol means, but it isn’t right to have to take down your symbols simply to avoid offending someone,” the cardinal said. Similarly, he said, “when you go to a Muslim city, you aren’t concerned when you see golden crescent moons” lit at night and dotting the skyline. During his news conference, the cardinal presented the program for his office’s “Courtyard of the Gentiles” project, which aims to promote discussions between Christians and atheists or nonbelievers. The cardinal said the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” project tentatively is scheduled to hold sessions in other cities around the world, including in Quebec in 2012 and in Chicago and Washington in 2013. (CNS)
Fil-Ams unite to help Japan calamity victims
MANILA, March 26, 2011—Filipino-Americans in the United States are once again united in helping their kababayans who have been affected by the earthquake, tsunami and radiation leaks in Japan. Filipino communities, especially those who have been engaged in the religious service, had launched their own help campaign drive for Filipinos severely affected by the catastrophe. Dubbed as Help for Filipino Migrants in Japan (HFMJ), it aims to collect money and other forms of assistance to give the victims. In a statement, Nerissa N. Allegretti, secretary of the HFMJ and a coordinator for Lay Scalabrinian Missionary Movement-US Nucleus, said they are targeting to gather enough aids in order to immediately help the 20,000 Filipinos living in northern Japan, particularly in the Sendai coasts, who are heavily affected by the disaster. “The HFMJ coordinating committee is partnering with SAGIPMIGRANTE Japan to assist migrant Filipinos as well as other migrant groups affected by this tragedy. We are soliciting your financial donation,” reads the letter of appeal posted by the HFMJ in the social networking site, Facebook. Aside from financial help, the group has also joined hands with other organizations and individuals who have been praying for Japan. A three o’clock daily habit was launched for the fast recovery of Japan, where every Catholics and other Christian denominations are asked to pray, in silence, three (3) Our Fathers or compose their own prayers. Famous Filipino-Japanese model, Mayo Okawa, who is based in Nagoya-shi, also appealed for help. Trying to inspire and comfort her compatriots in Japan and elsewhere, who have been affected by tragedies and war, she wrote on her Facebook wall: “Trials should not surprise us, or cause us to doubt GOD’s faithfulness. Rather, we should actually be glad for them. GOD sometimes sends trials not to punish us but to strengthen our trust in Him so that our faith will not fail. Our trials keep us trusting; they burn away our self confidence and draw us near and close to Him.” In addition, in a private message to this reporter, Okawa extends her deepest sympathies to the victims of the tremor and tsunami. “To my kababayans who were affected in Sendai and Miyagi Prefecture: My heartfelt sympathy and condolences to your friends and loved ones who died and still missing. To all survivors, trials and hardships will make you closer to our Savior. With your faith in Him, you can make it, we can make it! Don’t lose hope, GOD is in control. I just wanted to announce that this is not God’s plan. GOD is love, He is merciful. We should not blame GOD for natural disasters instead, let us pray to our LORD that whatever happens, we love and praise Him and we need His mercy for whatever sufferings we have since March 11. I am praying for all of us,” she said in her message. Meanwhile, the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (Nafcon), a multi-sector alliance in the United States assailed the “slowness” of the Benigno C. Aquino III’s administration in helping Filipinos in Japan. “The Aquino administration so far has failed to effectively assist Filipinos in Japan. The President should use all available resources to ensure the refuge and safe return of our kababayans. Up to now no emergency money has been allocated for relief and the administration has proposed only a single C-130 military plane to fly our distressed Filipinos home,” said Fr. Benjamin Alforque, president of the Nafcon, in a statement sent to media. (Noel Sales Barcelona)
MANILA, March 17, 2011―Local officials must take a cue from the coal-fired power plant operations in Misamis Oriental whether or not to allow a similar project in Davao City, a Catholic archbishop said. “The consumer groups and the city government should see and observe the coal plant in Misamis Oriental before coming to action,” said Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla. And if the plan is approved, he said that safety measures with the use of modern technology and monitoring system must be in place. “If they agree to the establishment of the new plant, they should see to it that some knowledgeable citizens from civil society and religious groups should also monitor the monitoring plan of Aboitiz and Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” he said. The Aboitiz Corp. proposed to put a 300-megawat
coal-fired power plant in the city’s Binugao village as the key solution power shortage in the southern Mindanao. The firm said the shortage was merely because the hydro-electric plants in Marawi and Budkidnon can no longer provide sufficient supply of energy to the needs of the locality. The project, which divides local officials of Davao, also aimed at providing cheaper power to the region. Davao del Sur Governor Douglas Cagas and Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte support the project but Mayor Sara Duterte is against it although she would go with the decision of the people. In a petition, residents of Binugao village are also opposed to it and asked the city government to reject the proposed coal-fired power plant. Capalla admitted to have met with Aboitiz officials and got a briefing on the project at least three times. (CBCPNews)
VATICAN City, March 22, 2011—When training priests and educating students in philosophy, the Catholic Church must combat a widespread sensation that there really is no such thing as permanent, objective truths, a new Vatican document said. Because so many students are influenced by the cultural suspicion of truth, the Vatican said it will require an extra year of study before a student can earn a church-recognized bachelor’s degree in philosophy. The “Decree on the Reform of Ecclesiastical Studies of Philosophy,” released March 22 at the Vatican, updated norms issued in 1979. The decree was signed and presented by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. The decree’s introduction said the reform is
Vatican says church philosophy studies must combat suspicion of truth
needed primarily because of a shift in the cultural understanding of “the concept of truth. In fact, there is often mistrust in the capacity of human intelligence to arrive at objective and universal truth―a truth by which people can give direction to their lives.” The document said people must realize that unless there is such a thing as truth, there is no such thing as real charity or love. The study of philosophy helps people recognize the importance of human reason and helps them hone the ability to reason in order to discern the truth, the document said. At the same time, philosophy studies prepare them for the study of theology by helping them see that knowledge and truth are not limited to what they can see and touch, it said. The new document sets a minimum of three years of philosophy studies ― instead of two ― for an ecclesiastical bachelor’s degree in philosophy. The second degree, a license that allows a graduate to teach in a seminary, continues to be a two-year program after the bachelor’s, and a doctoral program must include at least three years of additional research, it said. The decree also included a broad outline of what must be taught in the bachelor’s program; a brief explanation of the philosophy study needed before studying theology; and requirements such as the number of professors a department must have before the Vatican will recognize it as an ecclesiastical faculty of philosophy. (CNS)
VATICAN City, March 18, 2011—Crucifixes displayed publicly in Italy, including in classrooms, are a sign of Christianity’s key contribution to European culture and civilization, said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Christianity is a “founding element” of Western civilization and “even if someone does not want to recognize it, it is an objective fact that the Christian presence is absolutely relevant, decisive,” the cardinal told reporters March 18. Cardinal Ravasi spoke just a few hours before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Italy in a case where a mother claimed crucifixes in Italian public-school classrooms vio-
Study on coal-fired power plant, health hazards link pushed
Spirituality in the defense of life
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
IMUS Bishop Chito Tagle in his homily at the Thanksgiving Mass for Life held at the Manila Cathedral last March 23, 2011, called for developing “spirituality towards the defense of life”. That was not only superb; it was very opportune at this point in time when working relentlessly for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill seems to be the main obsession of some legislators, and, therefore, also of the Catholic Church and other religious denominations that see the senselessness of rushing a legislative measure that is not really urgent, if not utterly useless. Saying that there are many forces against life, the good bishop saw the necessity of a spirituality surging from those who are working in the ministry of life and the family. The first questions he posed were “Are we coming from a deep commitment to God? Or are we coming from other agenda which in the end might prove to be counter to life? What makes someone a prophet of life and a prophet for life? Bishop Tagle took the cue from the readings of that day and used the biblical figure of prophet Jeremiah in the first reading and Jesus in the Gospel as the icons of the spirituality in the defense of life. Paradoxically, the way towards defending life is through sacrifice and even death. He says: “For it is only in life given in service that this life is promoted. Two figures—Jeremiah and Jesus. Life threatened but they took the threat and transformed the threat into love, service. And life is not threatened anymore. Life remains a gift given to others and others live because of Jesus.” This kind of spirituality is the presence of Christ in one’s heart. And since “ex abundantia cordis os loquitur” (from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks), this spirituality manifests itself in one’s thoughts, words and actions. For sure, those seemingly rabid and angry pro-lifers that mouth dirty expletives in emails and social networks are not at bosom-length with this way of life. Some have comfortably called their very own bishops as “tanga” and their pro-life co-workers as “satanic”; an allusion perhaps to those who accused Christ as driving out demons by the power of Beelzebul. And neither are they too close, those who are pro-life in intention but pro-death in vocation and behavior. Of course, the Lord has exhorted his disciples to be cunning as snakes yet innocent as doves—but this does not include unchristian conduct that, at the end of the day, betrays the very intention we are working for. At the end of the homily, the bishop admonished “We hope that our defense of life will go to that deep part of ourselves, where Jesus has the Holy Spirit transforming us into true prophet of life, patterned after Jesus Himself.”
Abp. Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ
AS part of the bishops’ ad limina visit to Rome, I was given the opportunity to have a personal audience with the Holy Father. This took place on 25 February 2011 in the Pope’s reception room. We started the fifteen–minute audience with Pope Benedict himself checking out the location of Cagayan de Oro on an atlas map spread out on his table. Then I presented to him two publications on the archdiocese’s Natural Family Planning program: a collection of articles, titled “NFP – Values, Issues, and Practices,” and a Guidebook for Training of NFP Counsellors. As he was paging over the publications, I gave the Holy Father an over-all view of our All-NFP program which over the past four years has covered nearly all our parishes. Moreover, our NFP training team has been invited to share our program with a growing number of dioceses in Mindanao and other parts of the country. As a positive response to the Reproductive Health bill issues (which the Holy Father had already heard about from other bish-
An audience with Pope Benedict XVI
ops), I told him that our program was receiving increasing interest because it offers information on all modern scientific NFP methods, including the simplified ones. The Holy Father’s immediate response was highly reassuring to me, and I am sure to all our NFP co-workers: “Yes, simplified methods are good for simple people.” We next dwelt on peacebuilding efforts in Mindanao. Pope Benedict was particularly interested to know more about our activities in interreligious dialogue and Muslim-Christian relations in the south. I described to him our ongoing dialogue efforts through the Bishops-Ulama Conference and the Mindanao Week of Peace. As Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, I told him our plans later this year for a Mindanaowide consultation of peace and IRD centers connected with the Catholic Church. This year in October would be the 25th anniversary of the first Day of Prayer for Peace convened by Pope
ECONOMIC recovery will be slow and more painful than is yet popularly perceived. Not only is this a currency and banking crisis or a property bubble that must be weathered. More profoundly, the present economic situation, replicated in many other parts of Asia, has raised serious questions about the viability of development models. Already in 1995 questions were raised in Malaysia about a so-called “Asian” development model that has as core elements high economic growth sustained indefinitely, managed and/or guided by omnipresent government officials, financed by foreign debt and implemented by cheap labor. Moreover, Westerners denounced “Asian” values that they associate today with crony capitalism, widespread corruption, banking irregularities, and lack of transparency. On the other hand, the dominant “Western” model emphasizes free trade and encourages competition, especially under the umbrella of globalization. The idea is to produce higher and better quality returns than one’s competitors, to be open to foreign investments, protect property rights, liberalize regulations, privatize government business corporations and have minimal government intervention. Unfortunately, those countries that had rushed to embrace this model have suffered most in the crisis. Yet it is clear that the best examples of the Asian model, Hong Kong and Singapore, topped the world in the 1997 Index of Economic Freedom by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street. There is indeed an “East Asian miracle” which got the “basics” right. These include low inflation, high levels of domestic saving, heavy investment in education and openness to foreign technology. Experts tell us that East Asian economies have been mixing the formula of Asian values and market capitalism and have been reaping considerable success. Still, many economists claim that development models be they Western or Asian, with their variants and combinations, tend to produce the same inequality of income, growth disproportionately against the poor, persistence of poverty and increased possibilities of social conflict. “Trickle down economics”, another name for “growth economics” inevitably creates inequality of income and wealth. We have yet to see a version of what some economists call “trickle up economics” where the fruits of economic growth are universally and equally shared. In the final analysis present development models are based on a vision of society that remains materialistic if not consumerist.
Pastoral Companion / A7
Saint Joseph: Model for mission
THE Liturgy of the Church designates two feasts in honor of Saint Joseph. The solemnity of Joseph, Husband of Mary, is celebrated on March 19; the feast of Joseph the Worker is on May 1. Historical knowledge about Joseph is limited. In fact, his role is described in detail only in the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke. His name appears in a few other places, where Jesus is identified as “Joseph’s son” and as “the carpenter’s son.” This lack of detailed biographical data reminds us that the Gospels are primarily “faith summaries,” written to engender a faith commitment. In this context, one asks: is it valid to assert that Joseph is a model for mission? Joseph, according to Gospel accounts, was a village carpenter; he was also a descendant of King David. Joseph’s life in Nazareth was that of a quiet, humble, consistent worker. His village life-style was simple and settled. He was betrothed to Mary according to traditional Jewish custom. Joseph, like all evangelizers and missioners, sought to faithfully and humbly serve the Lord in the many daily, routine tasks of life. Mission demands faith and humble service. A tremendous crisis disrupts Joseph’s lifeplans: Mary is pregnant. Joseph faces a great dilemma: What does he do in this confusing situation? He formulates a simple plan: a “quiet divorce.” This way of proceeding has
Fr. James H. Kroeger, MM
frustrating circumstances. Joseph dutifully raised Jesus into manhood; however, he most probably died before Jesus began his public ministry. In short, one notes that Joseph did not see the fruits of his labors. Joseph faithfully served and gave all to God; he did not seek for recognition. He allowed events to happen on “God’s time.” Mission demands the same humility and self-effacing service. When and how one’s efforts in mission will bear fruit is to be left in God’s hands. As one reflects on the birth of Jesus, one realizes that it was Joseph who first held the newly born child in his hands; he is the first human to hold Jesus—even before giving him to Mary. What a unique privilege! But, Joseph also desired to share Jesus with others, the shepherds, the magi. Mission demands both “holding” and “sharing” Jesus. Like Joseph, evangelizers make their home with Jesus and Mary; from this intimacy they share Jesus with others. The meaning of the name Joseph is “let God add.” Joseph, a model for mission, allowed God to add and increase, to fill his life with marvelous and unexpected gifts. Friends, through baptism we all are missionary; we look to Joseph as our model for living mission. Saint Joseph was declared patron of the universal Church in 1870; we see him as a model for living the missionary identity of the Church.
Joseph faithful to the Jewish law and also protects Mary (by law she could be stoned to death). Joseph plans a “middle course.” He does the “right thing,” assuring that no one will suffer; Joseph is truly the “just” man. Mission inevitably faces challenges and crises; thus, great discernment is demanded. Mission always seeks everyone’s welfare; no one will be harmed by decisions or actions taken. Just when Joseph seems to have everything in place, God intervenes in an unexpected way, in a dream. Joseph is commanded to change his personal plans: Take Mary as your wife! Alter your course of action. Place radical trust in God. Do not be afraid! Believe in God—in spite of everything to the contrary. Yes, all evangelizers need to have faith, to believe. “Mission is an issue of faith” (RM 11). Missioners believe that God always brings good out of difficult situations. Joseph remained committed to Mary— even though it entailed living through many difficulties. There were suspicions and probably even gossip around Nazareth. Joseph took the pregnant Mary on the perilous, lengthy journey to Bethlehem. They faced rejection, and in a crude, dirty, foul-smelling stable Mary gave birth. They fled as refugees into Egypt and for years lived as foreigners in a strange land. Only later did they return to Nazareth. Mission demands fidelity to one’s commitments—in the midst of trying,
Pastoral Exhortation on the Philippine Economy, 1998
Melo M. Acuña
Issues and Concerns
UNDER the mango tree where my friends converge after a round or two at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center grounds early in the morning, a lively conversation ensued between a retired prosecutor, a doctor, a former government employee and a cycling enthusiast. The issue may not be as simple as it seemed because it may be described as what today’s young professionals would depict as “complicated.” The issue revolved around Willie Revillame’s “exploitation” of a young six-year old boy known as “Jan-Jan” over his “Wiling Willie” last March 12. The usual Willie interviewed the boy, asked him who accompanied him to the station and where his parents were during the show. The boy said he was accompanied by his aunt who seemed delighted to see her nephew with the famous television host. It turned a bit different when Willie asked where Jan-Jan’s father works and when the young boy said he was in a parlor. Willie then asked what Jan-Jan’s father was doing and the boy said he’s cutting hair. Asked of his mother, Jan-Jan said she was at home because she just gave birth. One could see what used to be a runof-the-mill interview turned to be complicated when Willie asked the boy who taught him how to dance. He said it was his father. The boy reluctantly gyrated and danced the way macho dancers danced in some dimly-lit honkytonk bars frequented by what Fr. David Clay would describe as peo-
Willie, ‘Jan-Jan’ and the crowd
ple with “same sex attraction.” One of the senior citizens in our group said the dancing was “pure entertainment.” It was fun and it was worthwhile because the boy earned P10,000 just for the tenminute exposure to klieg lights. “Nobody earns P 10,000 just like that,” he said. However, the doctor in our group said it appears the show caters to the poor who at least hopes to bring home something after the program. The bike enthusiast said one man’s delight may be one man’s pain. Listening to their brilliant exchange, I pictured a scene from “Gladiator” when the Romans were lustily cheering slavesturned-killing machines who fought each other to death. When Willie handed over P10,000 to “Jan-Jan,” he soon requested him to dance again. This was when tears rolled down his eyes. The young boy didn’t like what he’s going through despite the chants from the audience. During the ten-minute span that I saw on YouTube, I can understand the pain and trauma “Jan-Jan” went through. Though it’s been said the parents approved of what the little boy did, the incident simply calls on us to reflect. Is it always a matter of money? Listening to the senior citizens in our group, they all said the situation indeed is quite bad with the prices of gasoline and prime commodities soaring with no relief in sight. They said more and more people will troop to programs that give out cash and gifts worth thousands of pesos.
Pedro C. Quitorio
Pinky Barrientos, FSP
PUBLICATION LAYOUT BY KRIS BAYOS
Roy Q. Lagarde
Ernani M. Ramos
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
Illustration by Bladimer Usi
Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
It bears saying that gambling is a vice. It promotes addiction, encourages indolence and thereby discourages industry. It feeds on human dependence on luck as it thereby demeans human dignity. This is why both legal and illegal gambling providers and operators do not frequent well lighted places. Much less are they proud in identifying themselves openly in public. It may be strange but true that the said individuals do not gamble as a rule. Reason: They eventually become losers. The same is true with those making illegal drugs their capital and source of income. As a rule, they do not take such drugs. Reason: They also emerge as losers in the course of time. Considering that gambling is both corrupt and corrupting, it is not only disturbing but also disgusting that a government that proclaims itself as the incarnate enemy of corruption not simply provides and promotes “legal” gambling but also openly tolerates “illegal” gambling such as Jueteng! As often said there is neither rhyme nor reason in such a gambling posture vis-à-vis its “Daan matuwid” loud and clear pre-election rhapsody. Gambling Republic! And this is not even about competence or will-power but merely about plain honesty and simple decency. Nothing more—and nothing less too.
Fr. Russell Bantiles
Oscar. V. Cruz, DD
Views and Points
CONSIDERING the nature of such government corporations as the PAGCOR promoting all conceivable forms of gambling plus the PCSO that is another official gambling provider in different modalities with different names, and add thereto the continuous proliferation of a good number of both “legal” and “illegal” gambling syndicates in the country, it is definitely not mere poetry to call the Philippines a “Gambling Republic”. This is not because Filipinos are born gamblers as gambling providers avidly claim—but rather because the government provides and encourages them to gamble. Truth to tell, there are rather very few countries where the government is a downright gambler itself. This is anything but a national pride. Never mind the poverty that is pulsating and threatening the peace and order in all the regions of the country. And forget about the graft and corruption still alive and kicking in many departments of government. Forgot as well the dejection of big number of people eagerly and continuously seeking work but in fact remain workless, desirous of having their children educated but become more and more ignorant in the course of time. To all this big social problem, the government appears to be loudly and repeatedly saying “Go and gamble!”
Why should I watch ‘There be dragons’?
“I THINK it was Oscar Wilde who said: ‘Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future’.” Thus runs the opening lines of the recent movie “There Be Dragons”, written, directed and produced (among others) by one of today’s most famous English directors, Roland Joffé (The Mission, The Killing Fields, The City of Joy). It deals on how two different personalities confront life’s “dragons” or, in Joffé’s words, “the dilemmas or turning points in our lives where we’re faced with potent choices that are going to affect our future”. “There Be Dragons” is about “the very different choices that people take at those turning-points – temptations, if you like – and how hard it is, and yet how necessary, to escape cycles of hatred and resentment and violence”, the director said. The film presents two different personalities – one historical, Saint Josemaria Escrivá de Balaguer (Charlie Cox), the founder of Opus Dei, whose life runs parallel with another fictional character, Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley), who has been the former’s childhood friend and seminary classmate. How both personalities confronted the Spanish Civil War and how their lives took dramatically different paths were unfold through Robert Torres (Dougray Scott), Manolo’s estranged son and a journalist who was tasked to write a book about the priest, Josemaría, on the occasion of the latter’s imminent beatification. The film also brings together the father and son as the terrible truth about the past is revealed. Set in the context of the Spanish Civil War (July 17, 1936-April 1, 1939), the movie wishes to transmit that the real setting of our fight against our own “dragons” are the wars of our everyday lives. Joffé notes that “Civil wars are most appalling because they pit brother against brother, family against family. By the end of the Spanish Civil War, half a million people had died. A civil war is a powerful metaphor for a family. As in civil wars, family members take sides and split up; old resentments become sources of hatred. We don’t forgive our aunt for doing this, we don’t speak to our father because he left our mother, we don’t speak to our mother because she went off with a man, or we don’t speak to our son because he chose a different profession than what we expected. Those are the civil wars of our everyday lives. ‘There Be Dragons’ is about both kinds of civil war”. The title itself is very significant. The director explains that medieval maps labeled unknown territory with the words “Hic sunt dragones” – “Here there be dragons” – to signify that in these places, one doesn’t really know what awaits him. “Because I didn’t really know what was coming next when I started, researching and writing this screenplay, or how it would quite end, ‘There Be Dragons’ seems like a very apt title – I was going a little off my map into unchartered territory, into themes of what saintliness might be, themes of religion and twentieth century politics and into the past of another country”, said Joffé. Indeed, it is very interesting to note that a self-confessed agnostic and several times divorced man would treat on themes like saintliness, redemption and religion. One wonders why the director has chosen to make a biopic of Saint Josemaría when with the message and the theme he wishes to convey, he could have chosen other historical more prominent figures. Nothing happens by mere chance. He said: “I was struck by Josemaría’s statement that God is found in ‘everyday life’, and that everyday life, in his case, was the Spanish Civil War. I wondered: How could one find the divine in war? But then the same question can be asked of all the fundamental challenges in life, and how we face them: How we respond to hatred and rejection, or the desire for revenge and justice – all those dilemmas are heightened in wartime”. “There Be Dragons” is a story of making a free choice in life between forgiveness and resentment or jealousy; between love and hatred; between hope and despair. Is forgiveness possible? One most heartbreaking scene is that of Fr. Josemaría arguing with his spiritual sons, convincing them to reject hatred and resentment after having witnessed the brutal assassination on the street of a Catholic priest-friend of theirs at the height of the war. “But what they did is utmost inhumane, Father”, said one of them, to which, the priest replied: “Yet, they are still human beings. They may have enjoyed killing other people, but they are still humans like us”. It really takes supernatural grace to see evil with the eyes of God. “So many horrible, horrendous acts between people seem unforgivable, unredeemable, impossible to move beyond”, says Joffé, “But forgiveness is possible! The inexhaustible possibility of forgiveness is what offers room for hope – even in the most painful, tragic and appalling circumstances, where hope seems impossible. But the price is high: It takes a deep sense of what it is to be fully human, a deep feeling for compassion – and a firm, individual, and yes, heroic resolve not to be caught up in prevailing hatreds, but to fight them with unremitting love”. “Essentially we’ve all got to choose whether to hang on to our resentments or find a way of conquering them. Life can be seen as a series of injustices, of rejections and hurts, or as full of opportunities, of chances to conquer those dragons through the overwhelming desire to replace hatred with love and connection. Many people have it in them to make that heroic choice. They realize that they can make a choice to be free. They have the strength of character to understand that hate is a prison. No one who hates can be free”, says Joffé. He adds: “Forgiveness unlocks what’s been frozen. It touches everything human inside the one who is forgiven as it touches everything human in the one who forgives. You think you can’t forgive? Well, you won’t know if you can forgive until you’ve done it”. “And how do you forgive?”, asks Joffé. “You forgive by empathizing. You forgive by being that other person. By abandoning demonization, by not saying, ‘I’m better than that person, I could never do that’, but by looking at that person and saying, ‘That could be me’.” Indeed, “this is very much a movie about love, about the strength of its presence and the arid and terrifying world that we inhabit in its absence. When people choose to love, the impartial observer can feel it in them – the sense of freedom, of compassion, of giving”. Finally, we all face this choice. Saint Josemaría chose the path of love. Manolo tread the road of hatred and jealousy. “Even Robert, the agnostic and materialist, is asked to choose between love and hate”, observes Joffé, “in a sense, to fight the world with love, or as Aline, a mysterious lady who conversed with Josemaría during his refuge in a mental hospital, puts it, “to fight God with love”. The film’s last words run: “Saint Josemaría founded the Opus Dei, which teaches that work and the circumstances of everyday life are occasions for growing closer to God, for serving others, and for improving society, while Manolo Torres remains in each of us, trying to conquer the dragons that reside within us!” The movie appeals to everyone to make a choice especially in these times of spiritual and moral turmoil in our society. On our response rests our happiness and the ultimate meaning of our existence. Isn’t this enough motivation to watch the film and reflect on it?
Atty. Aurora A. Santiago
Now is the time to act!
A VERY successful Interfaith Prayer Rally with the theme “Filipinos Unite Under God for Life” was held last March 25 at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta. Hundreds of thousands of faithful listened to the call of His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales to join the gathering. It was providential that the event happened during the Feast of Annunciation and the Day of the Unborn Children. Members of different religions led by their religious leaders joined the rally and voiced their objection to the RH Bill. The intention of the assembly was to pray for those who attack our valued culture of life and family. It was also an opportunity to inform those who do not know what RH Bill is all about. The Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Council of the Laity of the Philippines) and Pro-Life Philippines distributed flyers why RH Bill should be rejected. The Manila Police placed a crowd estimate of 200,000 before the Mass which was presided by Cardinal Rosales, but as evening falls, the crowd grew bigger. Radio Veritas President Rev. Anton C. T. Pascual placed the crowd at 500,000 when the Mass started. His Excellency Bishop Broderick Pabillo read the statement issued by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father said: “I commend the Church in the Philippines for seeking today its part in support of human life from conception until natural death and in defense of the integrity of marriage and family.” Speaking in Pilipino, Cardinal Rosales’s Homily was interrupted with rounds of applause several times. He enjoined everyone to value life, the best gift that the Lord has given us. He said “Kahit maghirap o magdusa, ang buhay ay dakila na dapat nating alagaan, ipagtanggol at itaguyod. Banal ang buhay mag-asawa. Salamat may Simbahan na nagpapa-alaala sa mga turo at magandang asal. (Even in sufferings and sacrifices, life is great that we should nurture, defend, and promote. Married life is sacred. Thanks that there is the Church that reminds us of the teachings and good manners.)” Simultaneous prayer rallies were also held in different parts of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The Diocese of San Pablo and Balanga held their Anti-RH Rally last March 26. The Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga held its Pro-life Prayer Rally with the theme, “Crusada ng Penitensiya Para sa Buhay at Kapayapaan,” on March 27, 2011 at Villa del Sol Quadrangle in San Fernando City. It coincided with the 50th death anniversary of Bishop Cesar Ma. Guerero, D.D., who protected life and peace. His Excellency Archbishop Paciano B. Aniceto stated that it is an opportunity for the local Church to guide its flock regarding the different signs of the times that are endangering the basic gift of God to us, the value of life. Bro. Banjo Serrano, President of the Archdiocese’s Council of the Laity, led the laity in making the prayer rally a success. *** It is very disturbing to note that the ProRH Bill legislators are trying to railroad its passage. Early on, there was the gentlemen’s agreement among the Pro-RH and Pro-Life legislators that discussion of the Bill in the plenary will be taken up in May, after the Holy Week recess. After a series of caucuses, the Pro-RH lawmakers finally dropped the bomb on the last day of Congress. In a clear desperate move, ignoring the palabra de honor and the Parliamentary Rules and Procedure, Cong. Garin acting as the Majority Floor Leader “for the Day”, opened the period of interpellation on RH Bill. As per the Pro-RH script, Cong. Antonio Tinio, a co-author of
Duc in Altum
the Bill, stood; he suggested amendments to the Bill. Immediately thereafter, Cong. Garin closed the period of interpellation. How can a co-author stood for interpellation? Second, why did Cong. Garin not allow the anti-RH legislators to take part in the interpellation? The Pro-RH legislators “played out their theatrical act before a national audience.” As the Pro-Lifers were saying, the next weeks are critical. They are now requesting everyone to watch over their congressmen and make sure that they are pro-life when congress resumes session on May 9. *** This column would like to thank the Prolife lawmakers who attended the March 23 Concelebrated Mass at the Manila Cathedral upon the invitation of Cardinal Rosales, the Main Celebrant. This space is not enough to mention their names but our Lord knows them. The Concelebrants were the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, Bishops who are members of the CBCP Permanent Council, other bishops and priests. It is a thanksgiving for all the efforts in defending life and campaigning for the rejection of RH Bill. *** Earth Hour was observed on March 26 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. when everyone put off lights in the homes, offices, malls, restaurants. Last year, the Philippines was number one among the countries which participated in the Earth Hour; we hope we maintain it. *** Congratulations to my niece Raiza Imperial who graduated Salutatorian of her High School Batch in the School of Holy Spirit of Quezon City. It is also her birthday on March 28.
Fr. Roy Cimagala
A SIDELIGHT in the RH Bill issue that is gaining public interest is that ordinance of the Ayala Alabang Village that seeks to regulate the availability of contraceptive materials. It so happens that the same ordinance is now being copied by other barangays in Luzon, and so, the controversy thickens. The brouhaha actually surfaces a more important aspect of life, and that is none other than the interplay between legality and morality, man’s laws and God’s laws. This is an area prone to a lot of problems. For one, there is an emerging attitude of considering any reference to God in the making of our laws as completely out of place. How this mindset came to be is quite a mystery to me, since as far as I can see, the ultimate basis of our laws should be God’s laws. Of course, we are now in some secularized and Godless world, and thus, we should not be all too surprised when we meet anomalies like this not only in the streets, but also in our lawmaking congresses worldwide. Some would ask, how would we ever know that such and such is the law of God? So, some of our legal minds are held captive by what is known as legal positivism. That’s purely human law with God having no place in it. Unfortunately, in some so-called developed countries and among some of our bright minds, this narcissistic anomaly reigns supreme. There are also people who may not openly profess atheism and agnosticism, but put God in brackets when they pursue their temporal affairs, like making laws and ordinances. They consider God a drag, a bother or an embarrassment in law-making. At best, they give him only some formalistic references, but no more. This is actually a common problem. While we need to have law and a whole legal and judicial system to regulate our life in society, what we don’t need is legalism, or the distortion and abuse of our man-made legal system. We are, of course, vulnerable to this predicament, since man’s intelligence and free will can take tortuous turns that in the end are determined by how our heart tilts—either toward God or is it just stuck with our own selves? Apropos of this point is what
Law, yes; legalism, no
St. Paul once said about freedom: “You have been called unto freedom. Only do not make freedom an occasion to the flesh, but by charity of the spirit, serve one another.” (Gal 5, 13) St. Peter said something similar when he said we should not make freedom a cloak for malice. (cfr 1 Pt 2, 16) That´s why Christ told us to be most faithful to his word. ¨”Whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5, 19) When our freedom is not acknowledged as coming from God and therefore, for God, when it is not lived in charity for the others as God wants it, then we can make laws and ordinances that cater to our own ideas, and not anymore God’s, of who we are and of how we are supposed to behave, etc. We can abuse our freedom and use it to pursue what we want, even to the point of disobeying God. This abuse of freedom and of the other gifts of God to us is rampant these days. That’s why we have many brilliant people entangled in their own web of conceit and pride. In this RH Bill-related Ayala Alabang ordinance, for example, it is claimed that some sector of the Catholic Church is imposing their option on others, and therefore, unconstitutional. How that conclusion was arrived at is again a mystery to me. I suppose we can look at things in different ways and through different lenses. If one is not clear about the intrinsic evil of contraception, not to mention abortion to which the RH Bill is bound to approve one day, if experience of other countries is to be considered, then anything that regulates or restrains the use of contraceptives would be viewed negatively. Some so-called legal luminaries are questioning this ordinance when in fact other RHrelated ordinances that favor contraceptives not only regulate and promote but rather impose the use of contraceptives. In this RH Bill issue, we are not mainly concerned about the legalistic intricacies involved. We are more concerned about the morality of such bill.
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
Ex-SC chief justice Davide slams RH bill ad
Ending culture of impunity will end journalists’ murders—CEGP
THE College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines-National Capital Region (CEGP-NCR) said that ending the culture of impunity in the country will stop all extrajudicial killings, especially of media persons critical on the issues of corruption in the government. The statement was issued by media groups pressuring Malacañang to allow journalists to carry guns in order to defend themselves against media murderers. But the Palace’s Communications Operations Group said there is no need to arm the media, stating that the only way to stop media killings is the swift police action to bring the perpetrators to justice. However, CEGP-NCR president Antonino C. Perdigon Jr. said that police action is not enough but there’s a need to reassess how the justice system in the country works, especially on the cases of summary executions of journalists. The latest victim was the dzME anchor, Marlina Perez-Somera, who was shot dead by unknown assassins last March 24. The motive of the killing is said to be connected with land dispute. “If the government would have the political power to end the assassinations [against journalists], then the murders would stop. However, if this kind of brutality would continue, more and more media practitioners will agree with the need of having journalists armed,” Perdigon said. “We urge President Aquino to have sincerity in ending these assassinations. His promise to make the past regime accountable [on the past political killings] and to make the present, spotless [with crimes] is not even close to coming true. What more promises will he make? What the people need is a visible act in pursuing those responsible for these political killings. These killings need justice not pseudo-statements of support,” Perdigon added. On the other hand, Malacañang is positive that the Somera case would be solved immediately. In a news report published on the dzME’s website (http://www. dzme1530.com/index. php?option=com_conten t&view=article&id=195.. .), President Aquino said that he is confident that the police would get the killers in no time. (Noel Sales Barcelona)
Retired Justice Hilario Davide is flanked by MACE president Mr. Antonio Yulo and KCFAPI president Alonso Tan during Mass at the San Agustin Church, prior to KC “Walk for Life”, March 26.
RETIRED Chief Justice Hilario Davide has criticized a new television ad on the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill. The ad showed former Akbayan Rep. Risa HontiverosBaranquel presented the bill as “a chance” for families to have a better future. Davide admitted he was disappointed by the content of the ad in a statement read by Court of Appeals (CA) Justice Jose Reyes Jr. during a “Walk for Life” in Manila on March 26 organized by the Knights of Columbus Philippines – Luzon Jurisdiction. The former Supreme Court chief and Reyes are senior officials of the K of C who led the protest march to raise their strong objection against the measure. Davide said he was “deep-
ly saddened, discouraged and troubled” by the advertisement shown on a commercial television reportedly sponsored by the RH bill lobby group Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD). “In short, she (Baraquel) says that the RH bill provides the chance for a better future of a family or of a child, for a better health of the child, of the mother, etc.” Davide said. “I asked myself: Have we lost our faith and trust in God that we now would leave our future to chance,” he said. At least 7,000 K of C members and their families participated in the rally carrying anti-RH bill placards and streamers from Intramuros to Rajah Sulayman Park in Malate where a program was also held. A Mass was held first at the
San Agustin Church where Davide was present but failed to join the march and the program because he had to attend his grandchild’s graduation. Davide also pointed that if the bill is passed, it would violate the first and most fundamental human right which the right to life. “The right to life begins with the right to life of the unborn and human mystery of Creation,” he said. Meanwhile, K of C Luzon spokesperson Arsenio Isidro Yap said that if the RH bill passes Congress, they might question its constitutionality before the SC. “We see it as unconstitutional because for Congress life begins at implementation. While in the Constitution, life begins at conception,” Yap said.
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“So there is a violation there… If they want to uphold that, they should change the Constitution first and define when life begins,” he said. Davide, meanwhile, called on his fellow “Knights” to exert all possible means to defeat “the forces that threaten the right to itself, especially the right of the unborn.” “At no other time than now must we walk, stand, fight, work and pray unceasingly with the courage, resources and might we could give and muster, for life,” he said. Also present in the rally was Mayor Alfredo Lim and Alonso Tan, K of C Luzon State Deputy. The Knights of Columbus is a militant anti-abortion group composed of more than 280,000 members nationwide. (CBCPNews)
Coal power plants must be shut off—environmentalists
THE Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KPNE) insists that there is a need to shut off coal-fired power plants in the country as they contribute to the bulk of carbon dioxide (CO2), which has caused climate change. Along with the global advocacy of mitigating the effects of climate change through the annual observance of Earth Hour on March 26, so should the Philippines reassess its policies towards coal-fired power plants, said Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of KPNE, in a statement. “Coal-fired power plants have been identified as among the largest emitters of carbon dioxide. President Aquino should enforce a moratorium on new coal plants to contribute in the global campaign to lower the level of carbon
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dioxide in the atmosphere from the current 390ppm to 350ppm,” he said, citing Dr. James Hansen, a well-known climatologist, who said that 350ppm is the safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if run away climate change is to be prevented. However, what worries KPNE more is the government’s Philippine Energy Plan that focuses on the privatization of the country’s energy resources. This move by the State, said Clemente, will increase the country’s dependency on dirty fossil fuels such as coal. The environmental conservation advocate also said that despite local opposition, coal-fired power plants such as Toledo coal plant in Cebu and Iloilo coal plant were built and is now ready to operate. (Noel Sales Barcelona)
official said. During the recent Ad Limina Visit of the bishops in Rome, the pope lauded them for their efforts to protect human life from conception until natural death, and for defending the integrity of marriage and the family. Teaching the wrong values According to Radyo Veritas, more than 200,000 people trooped to the Quirino Grandstand in Manila as early as 4 p.m. to raise their opposition against the controversial RH bill. In his homily during the 7 p.m. Mass, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales chided proponents of the RH bill for teaching the Filipino people the wrong values. “What kind of law is this RH bill that when it becomes a law… those who would (violate) may be asked to pay fines or face imprisonment?” he said. “Marriage is holy. Having sex is sacred because it is connected to life which came from God. Condom is not a game that should be taught to children so they would not be infected with diseases. Why should we teach these games to these children?” he asked. “Elders should teach children the importance of life, the holiness of selfrestraint which is called discipline…to have discipline and respect and for the person to have character. Now what they are teaching the children is use condom and play. This is how they make life cheap,” added Rosales. The church-organized rally coincided with the observance of the Day of the Unborn and the Feast of the Annunciation. All afternoon masses in Manila had been cancelled to enable priests to accompany their flock to the prayer rally and for them to concelebrate in the Mass.
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© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
In Quirino Grandstand, priests also heard confessions from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to highlight the call for conversion in the Season of Lent. The gathering included the recitation of the Holy Rosary, the Station of the Cross, Inter-Faith Prayer and Declaration of Opposition to the RH bill. Simultaneous Mindanao rallies Simultaneous rallies against the RH bill were also held in different key cities across Mindanao, gathering at least 50,000 concerned Catholics and representatives from various faiths. Zamboanga Archbishop Romulo Valles said they had a huge attendance during their mass action dubbed as “March for Life – Mass for Life” where the participants assembled at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception as early as 5:00 p.m. “We marched to the Shrine of Nuestra Señora la Virgen del Pilar, more than a kilometer away, for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist,” the Zamboanga prelate said. He said the message was loud and clear: “Those who believe in the gospel of Jesus, in front of the possibility of the RH bill becoming a law in our land must choose between the Culture of Life or the Culture of Death.” Valles said the big open area of the highly popular shrine of Nuestra Señora la Virgen del Pilar was filled with people. “It had no roof and it was a fiesta atmosphere that prevailed during the activity,” he further said. Meanwhile, at the Oval Plaza at the heart of General Santos City, about 4,000 Catholic faithful gathered for their antiRH bill rally. Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said more than 4,000 people representThe bishop said he is convinced that the government is doing everything it can to help the Filipino workers abroad. “We see that effort being made by the government despite the lack of funds,” Cantillas said. Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes also made the same challenge to the lawmakers for the sake of the OFWs. “It is the best time for them that all those congressmen must give their pork barrel to protect our OFW,” Bastes said. “I am challenging them that all their pork barrel will be put in a common fund so that our OFWs whose lives are in danger would be able to come back,” he said. (CBCPNews)
ing various parishes of the diocese joined some 40 priests and religious women for their protest rally. “We thanked God for the fine weather that brought parish representatives to our activity,” Bishop Gutierrez told CBCPNews. A protracted pro-life campaign CBCP president and Tandag Bishop Nereo P. Odchimar had earlier said that the Church is all set for a protracted campaign across the country to further promote its pro-life stand. The prelate made the statement on March 23, after a concelebrated Mass at the Manila Cathedral attended by pro-life supporters and the country’s lawmakers. Odchimar expressed his appreciation for the group of legislators who have “manifested their support and did not give in to pressures and lobby for the RH bill.” Support from lawmakers Congressman Fernando Gonzales of Albay’s third Congressional District, who was among those who attended the thanksgiving Mass, believed it is right for most lawmakers to support the Catholic Church’s position which is definitely pro-life. “I think this is strictly important to the lives of the people and we fully believe that the Church is correct in making its stand on this matter, ensuring life would go on,” the Albayano lawmaker said. Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto, Pangasinan Congresswoman Gina VeraPerez De Venecia, Manila Congressman Amado Bagatsing and about twenty other lawmakers participated in the Eucharistic celebration. (with reports from Melo Acuna)
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News, signed by Solicitor General Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, the Assistant Solicitor General Karl B. Miranda and one Attorney Christer James Ray A. Gudiano, Psychological incapacity can be found in Article 36 of the Family Code and can be cited as a ground for legal separation or nullity of marriage. Other grounds include lack of authority of the solemnizing officer, bigamous or polygamous marriages and marriages where one or both parties were below the marrying age allowed by law. It was learned that those who filed for annulment, 61% of the petitioners were women with 90% have filed cases in their twenties, while only 4% filed in their thirties. The same study revealed only 39% of men initiated the filing of the complaint with 70% of them in their twenties. It was also found that 25% of men in their 30’s or 40’s filed for annulment. The number of cases filed was lesser for both genders who are in their 40’s or 50’s. Some 35% of married couples filed their annulment case within the first five years of their marriage. The OSG report said marriages that lasted for five years or more, only 26% ended in an annulment suit while marriages that lasted for more than ten years, only 17% opted to have their union annulled. “The study noted the longer the parties are married, the lesser chances of them seeking annulment of their marriage,” the OSG document surmised. The sad part in the surge of annulment cases, as usual, is that more and more children are affected. The data from the OSG showed 82% of those who filed these cases have children and out of this 82% who filed these cases, 59% have at least one or two children, 22%
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have three to four children and 1% has five to six children. “The children of these marriages are likely to be affected by the separation of their parents,” the same study revealed. Annulment and nullity, not the same Meanwhile, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, head of the CBCP National Matrimonial Tribunal said, the Office of the Solicitor General at times “talked of ‘annulment’ and ‘nullity’ as if said actions on de facto marriages were somehow the same.” He explained nullity is about ab initio void marriages while annulment is regarding ab initio valid but invalidated marriages. The 76-year old prelate noted that OSG is said to intervene before the respective trial and appellate courts to “ensure that the interest of the State in the sanctity of marriage is protected” but the intervention is however not mandatory because the OSG is simply “authorized to intervene” and is even allowed to signify not only is “opposition” but also its “agreement” to a nullity/annulment decision. He sadly noted the OSG is not even mandated to appeal the decision. “That the fact remains, that nullity/ annulment decisions are not contested by the Office of the Solicitor General while collusion therein by the partes in causa is practically the norm,” Cruz explained. He added when the OSG was before mandated to interview, said marriage cases did not prosper when contested before the Supreme Court specifically under the nullity ground of “psychological incapacity” because the said Court observed Church jurisprudence in its decisions in marriage cases. (CBCPNews)
of their pork barrel fund for the OFWs. “It would be a big help… hope they will realize that,” Cantillas said over the Manila archdiocese-run Radyo Veritas. Cantillas is the chairman of the Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He said that although the fund is intended for development projects, it would be good if the legislators would use it for OFWs who want to go home. “The amount that would be gathered from the pork barrel of lawmakers could also help in providing jobs for the returning OFWs,” he said.
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were destroyed by the 7.5 magnitude quake. Even if churches were made of lime, rocks and egg-white, still, the solidity of the structures will depend on where these are constructed, he said. Need for Community Preparedness “While there may be earthquakes in the Philippines in the near future, these are not related to the devastating earthquakes which brought havoc to Japan and New Zealand,” Solidum said. But he added Filipinos should be able to prepare and focus on community preparedness which was manifested in northeastern Japan. He said the level of community preparedness is very important. Had the Japanese not been prepared, more people would have died from the catastrophe, Solidum said. Volcanic quakes cause little damage to public and private properties. However, Solidum said there have been instances when a very strong tectonic earthquake would “wake a volcano’s magma” as in the case of Mt. Pinatubo. He recalled a pretty strong earthquake with its epicenter in Central Luzon hit the region in July 16, 1990. Mt. Pinatubo erupted about eleven months after. (CBCPNews)
ARMM polls with the May 2013 midterm elections. By a vote, 191-47-2, the lawmakers approved on second and third reading House Bill 4146, the measure certified as urgent by Aquino. The measure also gives the President
power to appoint officers-in-charge in the ARMM government until new officials are elected. Aquino lauded the approval of the bill by the Lower House and hoped the Senate would do the same. (CBCPNews)
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, a known pro-life advocate, appealed to priests to often discuss with their parishioners why the church is against the bill. “I am appealing to our priests to always include in their homilies the issue on the RH bill,” Macalintal said. The lawyer noted that some priests are not comfortable discussing the issue with their flock or some don’t even know how to explain it. But priests, he said, can also get lay leaders and experts to talk about the
bill. “Without the support of our priests, the lawmakers will not feel our strong opposition to the RH bill,” Macalintal said. “I think the fight against the RH bill will be stronger if priests will discuss it in their homilies so that people would understand,” he said. Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, chairman emeritus of Pro-Life Philippines, also echoed Macalintal’s concern saying priests should speak more against the bill. (CBCPNews)
Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
SAN PABLO City—A multisectoral rally for life organized by the Diocese of San Pablo and the Knights of Columbus have declared Laguna a prolife and family-friendly zone. Around 7,000 young and old Laguna folks who joined in the “Walk for Life 2011” on March 26 have committed to favor and protect the integrity of life and family, while urging local government leaders to do the same. The Coalition for Life and Family of Laguna composed of individual parishioners, civic and religious organizations signed a resolution that read in part: “We, the citizens of Laguna and of the Cities of San Pablo, Calamba, Santa Rosa and Biñan gathered today as a Coalition for Life and Family of Laguna composed of the individual parishioners and civic and religious organizations now assembled, declare and affirm: our commitment to uphold and protect the dignity of the human person, the value of life from conception to natural death and the sacredness of the family founded on the indissoluble union of man and woman, THUS, We urge and request our good Governor JEORGE E.R. EJERCITO ESTREGAN, the HONORABLE MAYORS VICENTE AMANTE OF SAN PABLO CITY, JOAQUIN CHIPECO of CALAMBA, ARLENE ARCILLAS of SANTA ROSA and LEN LEN ALONTE-NAGUIAT of BINAN to declare the Province of Laguna and their respective Cities as ZONES FOR LIFE AND FAMILY.” San Pablo Bishop Leo M. Drona said they are in the process of making representations with Laguna lawmakers and Local Government Units (LGUs) to also make their commitments clear about the controversial issue of the RH Bill pending in Congress. He said he is pleased that presently, three out of the four Congressmen in Laguna had signified their intentions to reject the said bill in Congress. The lawmakers are Congressman Edgardo San Luis of District 4; Congresswoman Ivy Arago, District 3; and Congressman Dan Fernandez, District 1. The prelate said, they are still praying and waiting for the final words from District 2 Congressman Justin Timmy Chipeco who has not yet made any positive or negative commitment in relation to the RH Bill. The walk for Life spearheaded by the Knights of Columbus Laguna Chapter in coordination with the Family Life Ministry and supervised by Bishop Drona started with the celebration of the Holy Mass at about 7 a.m. at the Liceo de San Pablo Gymnasium. Concelebrated by the Religious and Diocesan Clergy, the Mass was followed by a short program with Parañaque Congressman Roilo Golez as Guest speaker. Golez said, the Filipino population is not the cause of poverty nor are they a liability, but assets. For instance, he stressed, the majority of the OFWs who remit millions of pesos and dollars in the country are members of poor families that have several children. He said, the fight against the RH Bill is not only for the people in the Church, rather it is a fight by every legitimate citizen, private individuals, professionals, parents, civic group, media, other religions, mainstream leaders of government, the general public who believe in the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception until its natural death. Drona in his homily said among others, that life is a gift from God. “Let us fight against the culture of death. It is an abomination to say that it is a person’s human right to kill a child inside the mother’s womb,” he said. He said the church is against the RH Bill not because it wants to meddle in political affairs but because the measure, although there are some positive points in
it, is laced with vital moral issues which are being violated or being subjected into distortions. He said the declaration to make Laguna a prolife and family friendly province is their commitment to continue fighting to defend the gift of life from God and to preserve the family. After the program, the bishop spearheaded the signing of the resolution followed by priests, leaders of every delegation, officers, civic groups, youths and others. Rally participants walked through the main streets bearing placards and streamers with anti RH Bill slogans like “Buhay Biyaya ng Diyos,” “Abort RH bill,” and “Abortion and Contraception are Fruits of the same tree-evil.” Meanwhile, more than 1,000 parishioners from the vicariate of Calamba also conducted their separate protest march along major thoroughfares of the city against the RH Bill morning of the same day. The march culminated at the St. John Parish Church for a Holy Mass and message from parish priest and vicar forane Fr. Rene Eriga. Eriga is also the Social Action Director of the Diocese. He was assisted by members of the clergy in the vicariate. (Fr. Romulo O. Ponte)
Laguna declared pro-life and family friendly zone
Isabela prelature lights candles, rallies against RH bill
ISABELA City, Basilan—The prelature of Basilan held its protest against the reproductive health bill by lighting candles and doing the way of the cross. Coinciding with the grand antiRH bill rally in Manila on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Basilan also organized a rally dubbed “Walk for Life through the Way of the Cross.” Bishop Martin Jumoad presided over a concelebrated Mass with four other priests with hundreds of parishioners in attendance.
Photo courtesy of Fr. Romulo Ponte
PNoy bats for public-private partnership to address Mindanao power woes
Immediately after the Mass, the Catholic faithful started their “Walk for Life Through the Way of the Cross” along the streets of the city. People lighted candles after the final blessing and proceeded to the kissing of the Holy Cross. (Fr. Arnel A. Lagman)
Tuguegarao holds Bible Congress
SOLANA, Cagayan―More than 200 parishioners from the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao and suffragan dioceses of Ilagan and Bayombong and the vicariate of Tabuk participated in a two-day Bible Congress here, vowing to live and help spread the Word of God in their respective areas. The parishioners, in their statement of commitment to spread God’s Word, promised to undertake the continuous formation and study of the Word and the proclamation of the unchanging message of God in a changing time. They have also committed to establish linkages and collaboration with other dioceses, commissions and pool resource persons in order to further the apostolate of spreading the Word of God in the mission of ‘changing the face of the earth’ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Resource persons include Lingayen-Dagupan Auxiliary Bishop Renato Mayugba and tired in living and spreading the Word of God. Talamayan emphasized that faith comes from what is heard and what is heard of is from God. “For man to become what he hears, he has to proclaim what he hears. And so, man has to listen and grasp the word that shapes his life,” the archbishop said. In spreading the word of God even in these trying times, it is necessary that everyone follows the precepts of justice and fairness, and of love to win the hearts and minds of the people and be under the graces of God, he added. It is important that in all the parishes and dioceses, adults and children are catechized, he said. The congress was the first Bible Congress conducted by the Metropolitan See of Tuguegarao through the leadership of Msgr. Danny Ulep, archdiocesan director of the Biblical Apostolate. (Purita Licas/CBCPNews)
CAGAYAN DE ORO City— President Aquino batted for the public-private partnership in order to address the impending power crisis in Mindanao. This, as he also warned people, during the joint Philippine Economic Briefing and Regional Development Council meeting here on March 23 of a high electricity rates next year when the exemption to privatize government-owned power plants in the island ends. RA 9136 exempts Napocor power plants in Mindanao from privatization, which Aquino said has led to a situation where the gov’t subsidized power rates in Mindanao. (Bong D. Fabe)
Misamis Oriental awarded for innovative health care program
CAGAYAN DE ORO City— Misamis Oriental is one of this year’s awardees in the Galing Pook Awards for its excellent innovations in addressing the problems on hospital services and facilities faced by the province. The Galing Pook award capped Governor Oscar Moreno’s outstanding performance as provincial local chief executive as it recognized his achievements especially in steering the province to greater heights in his three terms of office. (Bong D. Fabe)
Bishop seeks fair trial for Ombudsman
ECBA executive secretary Fr. Oscar Alunday who spoke on Verbum Domini; Fr. Fredel Agatep on The Evangelization of the Metropolitan See of Tuguegarao: Historical Perspective; Msgr. Gerard Ariston Perez, vicar forane of the Itawes Vicariate and chairman of the Family and
Life Apostolate of Tuguegarao on The Role of the Word of God in the Vision, Mission and Goal of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. Tuguegarao Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan and Auxiliary Bishop Ricardo Baccay urged everyone to continue and not get
Caloocan City— Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez urged senators to properly handle the impeachment case of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. Iñiguez said the lawmakers should properly deal with the issue after the Congress approved on March 22 the articles of impeachment to bring Gutierrez to trial at the Senate. The prelate called on the lawmakers to maintain objectivity and impartiality in handling the case of the embattled of anti-graft chief. (CBCPNews)
Pamalakaya demands P7.50 rollback in petrol
PNoy to pursue ARMM polls postponement
CAGAYAN DE ORO City, March 26, 2011—The Aquino administration is keen in pushing for the postponement of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). This was stressed by President Benigno Aquino III during his visit here when he faced local and national media in a brief Q&A forum. Aquino said that he expects intense debate in the Senate now that House Bill 4146 mustered enough in the Lower House just hours before congressmen went on a month-long Lenten recess. The Lower House passed on March 23 HB 4146, which gave the President blanket authority to appoint loyal subordinates as officers-in-charge of the ARMM. It also synchronized the ARMM elections with the
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MANILA—The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas demands from the big three oil companies a rollback of P7.50 on the price of petroleum products, not a measly P1.00. Pamalakaya spokesperson Salvador France said Caltex, Petron and Shell had been overpricing in petroleum products since December 2010. “ We insist oil companies to rollback the prices of petroleum products by P7.50 per liter and not P1 per liter and the oil cartel should resign from exacting monopoly pricing, price manipulation and overpricing,” he said. (CBCPNews)
Urban poor leader shot dead
national and local elections in May 2013. Aquino said that synchronization would eliminate “command votes” and would lead to clearer mandate by the people in the autonomous region. He said that this so-called “command votes” is the reason for the under-development of the ARMM. Aquino said there really is a need for the national government to intervene in the ARMM to be able to put in place institutional reforms that are badly needed and the only way to do this is to postpone the August 2011 elections and synchronized it with the 2013 elections. But Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of this city’s second legislative district said Aquino’s pronouncements smacked of double-talk since Aquino had promised the Filipino nation of reform and good governance.
“The Organic Act of the ARMM specifically states that the President only has supervisory powers over ARMM and not control. And the President’s appointment of OICs in the region is a clear violation of this Act,” he stressed. “The Constitution and the Organic Act clearly stipulate that the President’s power over the ARMM is limited to general supervision,” he added. Rodriguez also said that HB 4146 is an amendment to the Organic Act, which should be done through a plebiscite. As provided in the Organic Act, any amendment to it must be approved by twothirds of the members of the Lower House and Senate, voting separately. Then a plebiscite to ratify the decision of the House and Senate, he pointed out. (Bong D. Fabe)
NAVOTAS City—A leader of a Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap here was shot dead by unknown assassins, March 16. The victim was identified as Antonio “Nono” Homo, 47, a resident of Kadiwa, Brgy. San Roque, and currently the president of the Nagkakaisang Samahan sa Kadiwa, an urban poor organization affiliated with Kadamay. The victim was reported chatting with one of his neighbors when he was shot by unknown suspects. Kadamay-Navotas spokesperson Arthur Cadungon connects the killing to the escalating campaign of NASAKA against the planned demolition of shanties in the area to give way to the city government’s road widening and housing projects. (Noel Sales Barcelona)
Civil society urges PNoy to formally appoint Robredo, Acosta
John Paul II in Assisi. I assured the Holy Father that we would also commemorate this anniversary with a similar gathering of religious leaders praying for peace at the local level. In this connection, we briefly discussed the unfolding events in North Africa and the Middle East. Coincidentally, in the Philippines, I told the Pope, we were commemorating the 25th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution on this very day of my papal audience with him. The last topic of our discussion was the general pastoral situ-
ation of the archdiocese. Pope Benedict asked about the number of our priests and seminarians, our catechetical program, and the formation of parents and families as the first line for catechesis. I mentioned to him that the archdiocese has been blessed with more than a hundred priests but that this is not yet sufficient for attending to the needs of a million Catholics. We are also in the process of evaluating and strengthening our Catechetical Program, our Family and Life Apostolate (which includes the NFP Program), and
our formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities. Noting that I am a Jesuit bishop, the Holy Father inquired about the presence of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines. I mentioned to him that we have Xavier University as the leading university in Northern Mindanano. He was also glad to hear that there are five Jesuit universities in the country. We ended the audience with the Holy Father giving me some pasalubong in the form of rosaries and stampitas. Before leaving, I also asked for his apostolic
blessing – for myself and all our co-workers in Cagayan de Oro Archdiocese. Postcript: In a letter dated 5 March 2011, Archbishop Fernando Filoni from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State conveyed this message: “The Holy Father has asked me to thank you for the Natural Family Planning manuals which you gave to him. He appreciates the sentiments which prompted this gesture. His Holiness prays that you will be sustained in your episcopal ministry and filled with grace and peace.”
CAGAYAN DE ORO City— Leaders of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Northern Mindanao urged President Aquino to formally and permanently appoint a Bicolano and someone from Bukidnon to his Cabinet. “We would like to express our support on the formal and permanent appointment of Mr. Jessie Robredo as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government. We believe in his honesty and dedication to authentic service,” they said in a statement read during the Regional Consultation Forum with Civil Society Organizations in Region 10 on March 23. (Bong D. Fabe)
PNoy urges business leaders to support impeachment of ombudsman
CAGAYAN DE ORO City— President Aquino urged the leaders of the business community in Northern Mindanao, as well as local political leaders, to support the impeachment proceedings of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. While highlighting the economic gains of his 8-month administration, Aquino reiterated that he will pursue his campaign promises of a government of reform and of ending corruption for the betterment of the ordinary Filipinos. (Bong D. Fabe)
OUTGOING Papal nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams bid farewell to the Filipino prelates March 22 preparatory to assuming his new position in Greece. Adams said he enjoyed his almost three-year stay in the Philippines and urged the Filipino bishops to continue the church’s mission of “truth, kindness and charity.” “Being a human being is to dialogue… being with others, to listen to them, to talk to them, to understand them, to be understood by them, to love them and to be loved by them,” he said. “This should be the definition of a bishop… to be in the company of God, to participate in and to facilitate great conversation…,” said Adams. Adams made the statement during a “despedida dinner” hosted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines at its headquarters in Intramuros, Manila. Bishop Nereo Odchimar, CBCP President, noted Adams’ “fatherly” figure and was always impressed about his naturalness. “I would like to consider myself fortunate to have such a special person like you… that we learned to care to so much about and this makes saying goodbye hard,” he said.
People, Facts & Places
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
Nuncio bids farewell to CBCP
Clergy mulls prophetic role in national assembly
Odchimar also lauded Adams for his “solicitude” for the Church and the hierarchy, adding: “We truly felt the sincerity of his friendship.” “We will treasure the memory we have with you,” the CBCP head said. In attendance were the three cardinals of the Philippines: Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and Jose Cardinal Sanchez who is prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy in Vatican. CBCP Vice President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and more than 50 other prelates also attended the gathering. “As you move on to greater challenges in your new assignment, we accompany you [with] our prayers,” Vidal told Adams. “Your work in the Philippines will bear much fruit… it is a legacy that we will cherish and remember,” he said. On Feb. 22, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Adams as Apostolic nuncio to Greece, with about 50,000 Catholics or about 0.5 percent of the country’s total population. The 66-year-old American prelate is set to leave the Philippines for Greece after the Holy Week. (CBCPNews)
© Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
NEARLY 200 priests from various dioceses across the country gathered for the second national clergy discernment to reflect on their respective roles as prophets “of the Church of the poor”. Comprising 111 priests from 42 dioceses, including the Military Ordinariate and 56 others from 34 religious congregations, the national assembly aimed to re-visit the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II), two decades since it took place by reflecting on the priests’ prophetic roles given “the new faces of the Church of the Poor”. The national gathering was a follow-
up of the first assembly of diocesan and religious priests held in October 2009, in response to the CBCP’s call to “form circles of discernment” in order to examine if Philippine priests have been prophetic so that integral evangelization could further realize the vision of being “Church of the Poor.” Jaro Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo’s gave the keynote speech titled “PCP II Perspective on Church of the Poor and the Priest’s Prophetic Mission”. Msgr. Manny Gabriel, one of the convenors, divided the assembly into 12
workshops, in what he termed as “pastoral circle”, where participants shared their experiences, analyzed and came up with pastoral actions on the “varying faces of poverty and marginalization in the ministries and lives of priests.” Aside from Msgr. Manny Gabriel, Fr. Roberto Rivera, SJ also guided the participants in using “social analysis”. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo provided the Scriptural foundations, Living Tradition and Social teachings of the Church. The group came up with pastoral action on the last day of assembly. A
team headed by Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza came up with a statement. Iba Bishop Florentino Lavarias, chairman of the commission on clergy of the CBCP, presided over the closing liturgy with the participants dedicating themselves to the Blessed Mother in the mission of being prophets in the Church of the Poor. Novaliches Bishop-emeritus Teodoro Bacani, Cabanatuan Bishop Sofronio Bancud, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez, Imus Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Kalookan Bishop Deogracias
Iñiguez, and Taytay Bishop Edgardo Juanich expressed solidarity with the clergy during their brief visits. Other activities, like a forum on the situation at Middle East and North Africa, pleas for signatures to help stop mining at Palawan, signatures for a letter to be sent to President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III on the labor problem in Cebu’s VECO, were also included during the four-day gathering. The national assembly was held at the Lay Formation Center (LayForce) of San Carlos Pastoral Complex from March 14-17. (Fr. Nonie Dolor/CBCPNews)
CELEBRATED. Davao Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla, 50th anniversary of sacerdotal ordination, March 18, 2011 at the San Pedro Cathedral, Davao City. The solemn celebration was graced with the presence of brother bishops that include Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, CBCP President and Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Zamboanga Sibugay Bishop Julius Tonel, Mati Bishop Patricio Alo and Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros. Born on November 1, 1934 in Leon, Iloilo, Capalla was ordained priest on March 18, 1961 at St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral in Jaro, Iloilo. In 1975, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Davao by Pope Paul VI. In 1977, he was named Bishop of the Diocese of Iligan. In 1994, he was transferred again to Davao where he served as Co-Adjustor Bishop before he was finally appointed as its archbishop in 1996. Capalla headed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines from 2003 to 2005. He was also chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue from 1990-2002 and was vice-chair of the same commission from 2002-2003. A peacemaker, Capalla was a convenor of the Bishops-Ulama Conference. He was also vice-chair of the National Unification Commission from 1992-1993 and a member of the National Peace Forum from 1999-2000 and of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 1998 to the present. He has received numerous awards and citations for being a peacemaker. In 1989, he was conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities by the Ateneo de Davao University. He was a national awardee for St. Lorenzo Ruiz Award for Peace and Unity in 1991. Ateneo de Manila University awarded him a Public Service Award for Peace in 1998; and in 2000 he received the Aurora Aragon Quezon Peace Award for Peace Advocacy and Peace Building. On March 14, 2011, the City of Davao conferred on him its highest award, the Datu Bago Award, for his untiring efforts in the promotion of interreligious dialogue, ecumenism and the peace process in Mindanao. CELEBRATED. Ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacons of Rev. Ferdinand C. Delatado, Rev. Mark Anthony S. Naval, Rev. Glenn William Z. Relucio and Rev. Rev. Moises D. Villamayor of the Diocese of Antipolo; Rev. Edric S. Bedural, Rev. Herbert John B. Camacho and Rev. Kristoffer H. Habal of the Archdiocese of Manila; Rev. Robert I. Dulnuan, Jr. of the Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe; and Rev. Mark Andrew S. Simbul of the Archdiocese of San Fernando; March 19, 2011, Solemnity of St. Joseph. The solemn occasion was presided by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo at the San Carlos Seminary Chapel, EDSA, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati City. CELEBRATED. Perpetual profession of vows of Sr. Maria Edesa C. Alibuca, Sr. Maria Mae M. Anacaya, Sr. Maria Ursula Nogo L. Bataona, Sr. Maria Imakulata L. Farnesi, Sr. Maria Petronela M. Herin, Sr. Maria Selviana N. Kune, Sr. Maria Hildegardis T. Meme, Sr. Maria Agnes M. Suwati, and Sr. Maria Valentina T. Taneo among the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM), March 25, 2011. The solemn occasion was presided by Most Rev. Honesto F. Ongtioco, DD, Bishop of Cubao, at the Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel at the RVM Generalate House in N. Domingo St., Cubao, Quezon City. CELEBRATED. The Diocese of Legazpi marked on March 17, 2011 the sacerdotal anniversaries of Msgr. Juan Binlayo and Fr. Jose Bañares, 50th anniversary of presbyteral ordination; Fr. Eduardo Bellen and Fr. Diogenes Barja, 25th anniversary of presbyteral ordination.
Priest to run, walk for peace, life
“BIKING priest” Fr. Amado Picardal is set to take his “journey of a lifetime” by running and walking across the Philippines for “peace and life.” Picardal said he will start the round-the-country pilgrimage on April 1 from Davao City in Southern Philippines to Aparri, the northern tip of the country. In his around 2,000 km journey to promote peace and the protection of the sanctity of life, he expects to be away from home for 58 days, and plans to take at least 42 kms a day of walking and running. “This will symbolize my life as [a] continuing journey and pilgrimage for life and peace,” Picardal said. He went on: “I will even do fasting and will only eat at night. I’m very serious about this advocacy.” Picardal said it will be a “walking or running prayer of appeal” for the success of the peace process between the government and the communist insurgents and with ran from Davao to Pagudpud in 2005. But what makes Picardal’s unique is because he is older and will do it alone, without any companion, support vehicle or crew, carrying what he need in his backpack. “I will also mix running and walking (Galloway method) which I believe will be more relaxing and sustainable for me,” he said. The priest will travel through North-Eastern Mindanao and Eastern Visayas on the first leg his journey. After that, he will take Southern Luzon, Central Luzon, Cordillera and Northern Luzon. “I will follow a different path, especially in the last leg when I will trek across the Cordillera mountain range,” Picardal said. Picardal is confident he will enjoy the experience: “I’m used to this. I’m not very particular about the fruits but it’s about doing it. For me it’s the journey and hopefully it will inspire people.” (CBCPNews)
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). “I also pray that the GRP and the MILF will likewise come up with a final peace agreement. I will pray for a widespread grassroots support for the peace process,” the Redemptorist priest said. “Also, these threats to life are ongoing like mining and logging... the extrajudicial kill-
ings especially the reproductive health bill... my appeal is to stop these,” he said. Running across the country is not new. Picardal will be following the footsteps of four ultra-runners: Cesar Guarin who ran from Pagadian to Baguio in 1980; Fr. Robert Reyes who ran in Mindanao (1996), Visayas (1997), and Luzon (1998); Jay Roxas and Mat Macabe who
UST confers highest award to UNESCO chief
THE University of Santo Tomas (UST) has conferred the Quadricentennial Gold Cross, its highest award, to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. The Asia’s oldest Catholic university, on the occasion of its 400th year of foundation, gave the award on the UNESCO head in a ceremony at 9 a.m. at the UST Medicine Auditorium on March 25. UST Office of Public Affairs Director Giovanna Fontanilla said the Gold Cross is the highest award granted by UST for persons who excel in the promotion of the arts, humanities and the sciences. Fontanilla said it is also given to individuals who “have distinguished themselves by their total commitment to the service of humankind.” Bokova also met Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro at 12:00 noon. A high-level dialogue with her was hosted by the DepEd and attended by senior officials of CHED, TESDA, DOST and DFA followed. The theme of the dialogue was centered on interfaith dialogue, education, and building a culture of peace in fighting poverty. “This will highlight the Philippines’ initiatives and achievements in UNESCO’s fields of competence, specifically in education and culture, and in view of UNESCO’s leadership in the promotion of culture of peace, the Philippines’ leadership in interfaith initiatives,” Fontanilla said. Bokova took part in bilateral meetings with senior government officials on March 25 to 26 to discuss UNESCO’s present and future cooperation with the Philippines. (CBCPNews)
Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Pahalagahan ang buhay
(Homily delivered by His Eminence Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales during the 7 p.m. Mass at the Prayer Rally “Filipinos! Unite Under God” at the Quirino Grandstand, Luneta, on March 25, 2011, Feast of the Annunciation and Day of the Unborn Child)
NAGSALITA ang Panginoong Diyos kay Moises at sa mga sumasampalataya sa kanya nang ganito: “Tatawagin ko ang langit at lupa na sumaksi laban sa inyo. ‘Ihahain ko sa inyo ay buhay o kamatayan, ang pagpapala o ang sumpa. Piliin na ninyo ang buhay, nang sa gayo’y kayo at ang inyong salin-lahi ay mabuhay sa pag-ibig ng Panginoong inyong Diyos, tumatalima at nananatili sa Kanya.” (Deuteronomio 30:19).
Simulan natin ang pagninilay sa prinsipyo na ang buhay ay ang pinakamahalagang biyaya na kaloob ng Panginoong Diyos sa sinumang tao. Ito ang matinding paniniwala at turo ng Simbahang Katoliko na ang buhay ng tao, kahima’t mahina or nagdurusa ay palaging isang pinakamalaking biyaya ng kabutihan ng Diyos (Familiaris Consortio, n. 30). Kapag hindi ninyo pinahalagahan ang buhay na iyan sa alinman o saan mang yugto ng buhay ng tao (sanggol, foetus, matanda, malakas o mahina), hinding-hindi igagalang ang buhay ng sinuman—at diyan kapag wala ng halaga o walang pagpapahalaga, wala ng magtatanggol sa buhay, dadayain ang buhay na yan, aapihin, kikidnapin na, pagsisinungalingan na, pagnanakawan na ang buhay na ‘yan ng tao! Kanya napaka-ganda ang pagtuturo ng Simbahan—alagaan, ipagtanggol at itaguyod ang buhay. Huwag hahadlangan ng anuman sandata o anumang artipisyal na paraan ang buhay. Ang paglalapastangan sa buhay na iyan, malakas man o mahina, na ating laging, pinapahalagahan ay labag sa kulturang Pilipino tungkol sa buhay ng tao. (Pastoral Letter, CBCP, 30 January 2011). Ang kahirapan ng tao o kaya’y ang pagdami ng tao ay likas na merong solusyon at ang kasagutan dito ay aral na rin ng Panginoong Hesukristo. Una, ang yaman ng daigdig or kaya’y ang pinagsikapan ng tao ay sapat na at sobra pa upang pagsaluhan ng lahat. “Magmahalan kayo” at magdamayan sa ngalan ng pag-ibig. Ikalawa, mayroong paraan na inilagay ang Panginoong Diyos sa kalikasan ng katawan ng lalaki at babae, na ito ay marapat alamin o pag-aralan upang matiyak ang mga araw kung kalian maaaring madulot ng panibagong buhay sa pagtatalik ang binhi ng lalaki at babae. Sa bawa’t pagtatalik ang mag-asawa ay maaaring maging katuwang ng Panginoong Diyos sa paglikha ng panibagong buhay. (Humanae Vitae, n. 11). Banal ang buhay ng mag-asawa at sapagkat ito ay banal ito ay ginagantihan ng Panginoong Diyos ng tuwa at ligaya ang bawa’t pagsasama ng sinuman magasawa, sapagka’t habang buhay nilang ipag-papatuloy ang masidhing pangangalaga hanggang sa ang mga anak ay akayin sa kabutihang asal, banal ring pamumuhay na mayroong pagdamay at paggalang sa kapwa hanggang sa katandaan. panahon ng hinog na binhi (ng buhay) para magsilang ng bagong buhay ng tao, lalang, at sa kawangis at kalarawan ng Diyos. (Henesis 1:27). Sa pag-aaral ng paraan para tiyakin ang mahalaga at banal na mga sandaling ang nahihinog na binhi ng buhay, malalaman ng sinuman ang mga banal na sandaling iyan—at kailangan naman sa mga tiyak na sandali at araw na iyan ang pagtitimpi, pagpigil sa sarili (pagpigil sa pang-gigigil). Yan ang sakripisyo ng tao. Alalaon baga ay kailangan ang mga Diyos. At ang tapat na magasawa ay hindi pinababayaan ng Panginoon. Banal ang pag-aasawa; banal ang pagtatalik sapagka’t ito ay kalakip ng pagbibigay ng buhay na galing sa Panginoong Diyos. Hindi ito laru-laruan na ituturo sa mga bata sa paggamit ng goma, lobo o condom, para iwasan daw ang sakit? Bakit mga bata ang tuturuan ng ganitong laro? Hindi po ba ang tamang ituro sa kabataan ay ang magandang halimbawa ng matatanda at ang kahalagahan ng buhay, ang kabanalan ng pagpipigil sa sarili na ang tawag ay disiplina? Ang tawag po noong una ay kapag may pagpipigil, mayroong disiplina at paggalang at magkakaroon din ng Karakter ang tao. Ngayon ang gustong ipamulat sa kabataan ay ito: gamitin ang goma, maglaro kayo! Ganyan kabarato ang buhay ng tao ngayon. Salamat at mayroong Simbahan at salamat at mayroong Pananampalataya na nagpapaalaala pa (kahit mayroong ilang mga mambabatas o matatanda na kakaiba ang isip na hindi na mabuting makapangaral, hindi na kayang makapagturo ng magandang asal at batas na magpapabalik pa sa dahandahang nawawala at nanghihinang magandang hiyas na ating kabihasnang Pilipino. At bakit bata pa ay tinuturuan na ang mga anak ng ilang mga matatanda at mambabatas sa pag-iwas sa responsibilidad at ang pagwawalang bahala sa katuwiran at kalinisan? (Sa pangalan daw ng sanidad at kalusugan). Puro maalwang palusot ang gustong ituro sa kabataan ng ilang mambabatas—kanya ganiyan ang magiging bukas ng Pilipinas—mga mamamayan na puro palusot, lahat ng padulas ang alam. May peligrong mawawala ang halaga (value) ng kristiyano at tunay na Filipino. Ang dapat ituro sa kabataan ay kalinisan ng budhi, kalinisan ng puso, disiplina at pagpipigil sa sarili
Spirituality towards the defense of Life
(Homily delivered by Most Rev. Luis Antonio Tagle, Bishop of Imus, during the Thanksgiving Mass for Life held at the Manila Cathedral, March 23, 2011)
Banal ang pag-aasawa; banal ang pagtatalik sapagka’t ito ay kalakip ng pagbibigay ng buhay na galing sa Panginoong Diyos. Hindi ito laru-laruan na ituturo sa mga bata sa paggamit ng goma, lobo o condom, para iwasan daw ang sakit? Bakit mga bata ang tuturuan ng ganitong laro? Hindi po ba ang tamang ituro sa kabataan ay ang magandang halimbawa ng matatanda at ang kahalagahan ng buhay, ang kabanalan ng pagpipigil sa sarili na ang tawag ay disiplina? Ang tawag po noong una ay kapag may pagpipigil, mayroong disiplina at paggalang at magkakaroon din ng Karakter ang tao. Ngayon ang gustong ipamulat sa kabataan ay ito: gamitin ang goma, maglaro kayo! Ganyan kabarato ang buhay ng tao ngayon.
Mayroon naming natural na paraan sa paghahanda sa mahalagang buhay na iyan. At iyan ang tinatawag na NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING. At ito ay kaloob ng Panginoong Diyos sa kalikasan ng bawat tao, lalaki or babae. Alam ng makapangyarihang Panginoong Diyos na darating ang araw na dapat lalung pagaralan at may pananagutang balakin ang dakilang paghahanda sa buhay na iyan. Kung kaya’t inilagay ng Panginoong Diyos sa kalikasan ng katawan ng tao—lalaki at babae—ang wasto at tiyak na paraan at sandali ng disiplina. Kapag may disiplina sa kama, tiyak na magkakaroon ng disiplina sa kalsada, maging sa pitaka (karta moneda). Dito mapapahalagahan natin ang “values” na itinuturo ng Simbahan. Banal po mga kapatid ang gawain ng mag-asawa, kaya naman ginagantihan ng Butihing Diyos ng ligaya at tuwa ang mag-asawa hindi lamang sa pagtatalik, kung hindi hanggang sa mapalaki sa kabutihang asal, kabaitan at akayin sa kabanalan ang kanilang mga anak. Kasama diyan ng mag-asawa ang Panginoong
YOUR Eminences, Your Excellencies, our beloved priests and religious, our Honorable members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, our beloved lay people, the valiant lay people. We are gathered for this Eucharistic celebration in thanksgiving to God for the gift of life and for the energy that has been given to us to promote and defend life. We also want to pray, we have to pray because the forces against life are always present. Let us not delude ourselves that we have only one enemy, that life has only one enemy. There are many faces of those that are against life, so we have to pray. And in this thanksgiving mass, we want to strengthen our resolve to work together to defend God’s precious gift of life. And since it is Lent, a holy season when we are invited to reflect on the meaning of the life, Jesus has won for us, through His Paschal Mystery, let us allow the readings for today to help us develop a spirituality. I repeat, a spirituality towards the defense of life. That is one contribution that Christians should make in this whole debate and I’m challenging all of us here to check ourselves, to repossess the right spirit in our defense of life. Are we coming from a deep commitment to God? Or are we coming from other agenda which in the end might prove to be counter life. Humanda po tayong lahat, maganda ang sasabihin ng mga pagbasa, at
Spirituality / B2
Buhay / B7
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
‘Sunday Mass’ on Mondays
(Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university, answers the following queries:) Q: My parish has a Hispanic “Sunday Mass” on Monday evenings. They celebrate the Mass of the previous Sunday, and I believe the implication is that it fulfills their Sunday obligation. Is this licit?—M.M., Biloxi, Mississippi A: If it is true that the implication is that this Mass fulfills the Sunday obligation, it is not licit. The Sunday obligation is just that, Sunday. The obligation may be fulfilled at any Mass on Saturday evening but may not be transferred to a weekday. Another possibility exists, however. On another occasion we explained how in some Arabian countries it is permissible to celebrate the Sunday liturgy on a Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. In these countries Sunday is a regular working day, and many Christian immigrants find it impossible to attend Mass. In this case it is the Sunday liturgy that is anticipated, not the Sunday obligation. Any Christian in these countries who can attend Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday retains the obligation of doing so. Praying a second, Sunday liturgy on a weekday holiday is a pastoral provision so that the large number of Christians who attend Mass on Friday may benefit from the richer selection of readings and prayers found on a Sunday. There is no obligation to attend Mass on such a Friday celebration, and it is necessary to explain that Sunday is not transferred. It is possible that the repetition of the Sunday liturgy on Monday obeys a similar motivation. In the United States large numbers of Spanish speakers work in service industries that frequently require weekend work. If the number is significant in a particular parish, then it is possible that the necessary permission could be sought to repeat the Sunday liturgy so as to provide a continuous catechesis in line with the liturgical year. But to repeat: Clear catechesis is necessary to explain that using the Sunday liturgy for pastoral purposes is not synonymous with fulfilling the Sunday obligation. Celebrating the Mass in Spanish would not in itself be a sufficient motivation for this transfer. In this case it could encourage some Spanish speakers to neglect their Sunday obligation in the false belief that they can do so attending the Monday Mass. If a Sunday Mass in Spanish is needed in the parish, then it must be celebrated either on Saturday evening or Sunday proper.
The Re-marriage of Fallen-away Catholics:
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
A Review of the Motu Proprio Omnium in mentem
Stamping the faithful with ashes
A Catholic man, a well-known personality, became a Born-again Christian and married a Baptist woman without securing the required dispensation from the Catholic authorities. After a few years, they break up and get a civil annulment from a Philippine court. Now he wishes to remarry in the Catholic Church with a Catholic woman. Can he do it? The Canon Law on Mixed Marriages and the so-called Disparity of Cult There are two phenomena regulated by Canon Law which oftentimes are confused: mixed marriages and disparity of cult. A mixed marriage is one contracted between two baptized persons, one of whom was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, and another who is a member of a Church or ecclesial community which is not in full communion with the Catholic Church. According to c.1124 of the Code of Canon Law, such a marriage cannot be celebrated without the express permission of the competent authority. Canon Law further stipulates that such permission can be granted by the Local Ordinary if there is a just and reasonable cause, but only if the following requirements (called cautions) are met: (1) the Catholic party declares that he/she is prepared to remove dangers of falling away from the faith and makes a sincere promise to do all in his/her power to have all the children baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church; (2) the other party is informed at an appropriate time of these promises which the Catholic party has to make, so that it is clear that the other party is truly aware of the promise and obligation of the Catholic party; (3) both parties are instructed on the essential ends and properties of marriage, which are not to be excluded by either party (c.1125). Can.1126 further establishes that the conference of bishops is to establish the way in which these declarations and promises, which are always required, are to be made, what proof of them there should be the external forum and how they are to be brought to the attention of the non-Catholic party. In practice, many dioceses in the Philippines now require the non-Catholic party to sign a simple document to this effect.
Spirituality / B1
Q: In my parish on Ash Wednesday, the priests and laypeople use this “stamp,” shaped in the form of a Jerusalem cross. After dipping it in the ashes, they stamp the people, one by one, as if they were branding a cow or something. Is not the meaning of Ash Wednesday the act of making the sign of the cross on one’s forehead with the finger? Is not the stamp a cold and uncaring act toward the congregation? Is this form of distributing ashes acceptable?—P.G., New York A: I have never heard or seen this particular practice except in some places in the U.S., and effectively I would be of the opinion that its mechanical nature effectively detracts from the sense of ashes being imposed upon our heads. The rubrics for the distribution of ashes state that the priest, on concluding, washes his hands, logically implying that he has physically handled the ashes and not just used a stamp. Historically, the use of ashes as a sign of penance is already found in the Old Testament, and even Jesus speaks of the necessity of some sinners to do penance in sackcloth and ashes (Matthew 11:21). Tertullian, saints Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, and many other Church Fathers make frequent reference to this practice, especially in relationship with the practice of beginning a period of public penance for grave sins. Apart from the relatively few public penitents, many other devout Christians confessed at the beginning of Lent so as to be able to receive daily Communion during this season and asked to be covered with ashes as a sign of humility after having received absolution. In the year 1091 Pope Urban II recommended this practice to both clergy and laity. Subsequently the rite of blessing and imposing the ashes became generalized and swiftly assumed considerable importance in the liturgical life of the faithful. At first, the rite was separate from Mass but eventually entered into the Mass itself around the 12th century. Initially, men received ashes sprinkled upon the crown of the head, while the ashes were imposed upon women by making a sign of the cross on the forehead. This difference probably stems from the simple fact that women were obliged to keep their heads covered in church. Today, the mode of imposing ashes varies from country to country according to custom. In most English-speaking countries water is added to the ashes to form a paste which is imposed by making a sign of the cross on the forehead. Many Catholics leave the mark of the ashes unwashed during the day as an outward testimony of their faith. In much of Italy and in some other Roman-language countries, water is not added to the ashes. Rather, the ashes are imposed by making a sign of the cross above the crown of the head as the ashes fall upon the hair. This mode has the advantage of capturing better the idea of ashes as dust but does not leave a visible sign that can last during the day, except upon those who happen to be bald. The use of the stamp mentioned by our reader would appear to be motivated by a desire to favor the duration of the sign during the day, even though this is merely an incidental, albeit positive, aspect of one particular mode of imposition. The danger is that this process could detract from what is essential to the ritual gesture, the act of receiving the imposition of ashes as a sign of personal penance and conversion.
Failure to follow these norms by itself does not invalidate the canonical marriage thus contracted, but it renders it illicit─i.e., if done with full knowledge and consent, it would be gravely sinful for all involved (starting with the witnessing priest of course who should know better). Quite a different matter is the so-called impediment of disparity of cult established by c.1086, which stipulates: §1. Marriages between two persons, one of whom is baptized in the Catholic Church or has been received into it and the other of whom is non-baptized, is invalid. §2. This impediment is not to be dispensed unless the conditions mentioned in cc.1125 and 1126 [i.e., the cautions for mixed marriages] are fulfilled. In other words, whereas in the case of an unauthorized mixed marriage is only illicit but valid, the presence of the impediment of disparity of cult─unless lawfully dispensed─renders the marriage invalid from the start. The Motu Proprio Omnium in mentem The Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio” Omnium in mentem, issued 26.X.2009, dealt with two unrelated matters: a clarification of the ministerial function of deacons, and the obligation of the canonical form of marriage for those faithful who have left the Church in a formal way. Saving the first matter for a future article, let us focus now on the second clarification. The Motu Proprio dealt with the obligation of the faithful who have left the Church in a formal way─e.g., the typical fallenaway Catholic who joins the Born again movement─to follow the ecclesiastical laws regarding the canonical form of marriage, the required dispensation from the impediment of disparity of cult and the need for permission in the case of mixed marriages. It did this by taking away from the previous redaction of cc.1086, §1 (establishing the impediment of disparity of cult), c.1117 (requiring the canonical form if at least one of the parties of marriage is a baptized Catholic) and c.1124 (requiring permission from
the Local Ordinary for a mixed marriage), a phrase which limited the scope of the Catholic party to one who “was baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it and has not by a formal act defected from it.” Thus, in the new redaction of the aforementioned canons, the phrase “and has not by a formal act defected from it” has been deleted. The crux of the matter is that many problems arise as regards the separation of the faithful from the Church. The papal document explains it: “First, in individual cases the definition and practical configuration of such a formal act of separation from the Church has proved difficult to establish, from both a theological and a canonical standpoint. In addition, many difficulties have surfaced both in pastoral activity and the practice of tribunals. Indeed, the new law appeared, at least indirectly, to facilitate and even in some way to encourage apostasy in places where the Catholic faithful are not numerous or where unjust marriage laws discriminate between citizens on the basis of religion. The new law also made difficult the return of baptized persons who greatly desired to contract a new canonical marriage following the failure of a preceding marriage. Finally, among other things, many of these marriages in effect became, as far as the Church is concerned, clandestine marriages.” In sum, what the motu proprio has established is that even if a Catholic separates from the Church, he/she is still under Church Law, even if he disregards it. If he/she marries a person who is not validly baptized without due dispensation (from the impediment of disparity of cult) from the Local Ordinary, that marriage would be invalid. Conclusion Since our Catholic personality married the Baptist woman (invalid baptism) without dispensation from the impediment of disparity of cult, that first marriage was invalid. Thus, after securing a civil annulment, he is free to marry (not re-marry) in the Catholic Church with a Catholic woman.
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sana maging bukas tayong lahat para magpasuri sa mga pagbasa tungkol sa hinahanap ng Salita ng Diyos sa mga nagiging propeta para sa buhay. Prophets of life, prophets for life, how do we distinguish them? What makes someone a prophet of life and a prophet for life? In the first reading, from the prophet Jeremiah, we see the sorry state, the miserable state of a prophet, he goes around proclaiming God’s word, and what does he get? The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem were conniving against him, they were plotting against him. They were carefully noting his words. They wanted to eliminate him, the destiny of every prophet. And Jeremiah knows it. He knows the evil forces that were plotting against him. The one sent by God, the God of life, the God who wants to restore life. And what is the response of Jeremiah?
He breaks into a prayer. He turns to God, the God who calls him and his prayer in the whole book, you may want to look the book of Jeremiah. The prayer of the prophet Jeremiah is simple, very open, you can see the humility of this prophet, he talks to God openly. He tells God, heed O Lord and listen to what my adversaries say. Should good be repaid with evil? Sa tagalog maganda. Diyos, ano ba? Naririnig mo ba yung kanilang pinagbubulong-bulungan? Nagbubulung-bulungan sila sa kanilang mga caucus, naririnig mo ba O Diyos? Hindi nila pinaririnig sa amin, naririnig mo ba O Diyos? Naririnig ng Diyos. And Jeremiah reminds God in his prayer. Remember, I stood before you, to speak in their behalf, to turn away your wrath from them. Jeremiah was very clear about his role, he was not there only to speak to people on behalf of God, he was there
to speak to God on behalf of the people, so that God’s wrath may be turned away from the people. The prayer of Jeremiah, so open to God, and in his prayer his role gets clarified for him. If we go to chapters later, the 20th chapter, you see Jeremiah in his prayer again, struggling with God. I don’t know how many of us pray to God this way. Jeremiah even said, God you fooled me. And in exasperation he said, and I allowed myself to be fooled by you. Because you were stronger than I was, and looked at what has happened to me, because I spoke your word, he even cursed the day that he was born because of the suffering that he undergoes for the sake of the Word of God and for the sake of the people. And he tells God openly, I want to retreat, I want to give up. No more. Ayaw ko na. But then he says, when I discovered your word, I devoured your word, and whenever I try
to runaway, I feel your word like a fire burning within me. A fire flaming my bones, I cannot run away. I maybe subjected to suffering but I’m committed to your word. Your word is in me. Your word is in my bones. I cannot escape your word. This is the commitment that every person who defends life must have and it has a clear source, not any self seeking, not any agenda for my sake. Jeremiah the prophet only had one reason, I am consumed by the flame of the Word of God, burning in my bones even before the adversaries could burn them. He was already burning within him with the fire of the word of God. That type of prophet is unassailable, that type of prophet is beyond all compromises and pride because the source of fire is burning within spirituality. So I’m inviting all of us to turn to Jeremiah, to turn to his sufferings
Spirituality / B5
© Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
key governance principle of leaving to individuals, institutions, and other lower bodies those decisions and duties that they can and should take up on their own. It disregards the maxim that governments govern best by refraining from overreach. 7. The bill proposes to spend tax money on population control programs, featuring artificial methods of family planning, which many citizens find offensive to their conscience and objectionable on the basis of the constitutional protection of the unborn. Indeed, many citizens are asking: what business does the government have dispensing contraceptives and condoms and spending public funds on items that are supposed to be a matter of individual “choice”? 8. The bill is not only intrusive; it is also coercive. It tramples upon the right of conscientious objection on the part of individuals and institutions
© Roy Lagarde / CBCPMedia
By Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao
OVER these past several months, I have often been asked for the reasons behind my stance regarding the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) bill. Many have long known I am against the bill in its present “consolidated” form. They guess that since the Bishops are unanimously against it, then I must also be against the RH bill. When it comes to matters of faith and morals, Bishops provide guidance; they have spoken clearly and authoritatively in accord with their Pastoral responsibilities. Nonetheless, as an ordinary person, while I listen to the moral guidance of our Bishops, I also put forward my own reasons, based on my professional background, for my stance on the RH bill. As I make clear in [this article], being against the RH bill in its “consolidated” form is being for: transparency; the value of human life; enjoyment of freedom with corresponding responsibility; a balanced approach to development; the dignity of every person, including each person’s sexuality; putting proper limits on the role of government; respect for the primary right of parents to educate and bring up their children in an atmosphere that respects and promotes high moral standards; respect for the right of conscientious objection; and securing the foundations of our long-term, sustained progress as a people. Why I Am Against the RH 1. THE bill, in its present “consolidated form”, dissimulates. It is far from transparent: it purports to be for reproduc-
Why I Am against the RH
tive health. In fact, by its aim, it is dangerous not only to the health, but even the life, of unborn babies. It can also be dangerous to the health—both physical and psychological—of women. 2. The bill aims at fewer babies being born in our land, under the premise that the fewer they are, the better off the P h i l i ppi n e s would be: fewer mouths to feed, fewer children to educate, fewer people to care for. This premise looks at children— indeed at people—as mere liabilities. It turns a blind eye on the other side, that they can be— indeed often are—great net assets. 3. The bill claims to make the road to development much easier: the fewer babies we have to provide for, the more resources we free up for investments, particularly for infrastructure. It forgets that the best investment we can make is on people, on a big natural base of human resources. 4. The bill ignores one of the most pressing development issues now confronting Japan and a few other countries as well, including many European countries and soon also South Korea and China. Ageing of the population, arising from too few babies being born, is bringing growth rates. It fails to give due importance to the key determinants of development, which include the following top five factors: “good governance; openness to knowledge; stable finances; allocation of goods and services principally by markets; by threatening jail and other punishments to those who refuse to promote and observe its anti-life orientation and propagation of artificial methods of birth prevention. 9. The bill offends the basic dignity of human sexuality so essential for strong families as the foundation of a strong society. While proposing to improve the condition of families, it can easily lead to a fools’ paradise, characterized by “more premarital sex, more fatherless children, less domesticated men, more crimes, more social pathology, more single mothers, and therefore more poverty”, as has actually occurred in some countries that have taken the path the bill proposes (George Akerlof). 10. The bill promotes a mindset that weakens the ethical fiber of our people. It devalues human life. It fosters short-term enjoyment of “freedom” without instilling a deep sense of duty to take on its corresponding long-term responsibilities. It views personal relationships and social processes from a narrowly pragmatic, materialistic perspective without giving due consideration to ethical and spiritual values, the bedrock foundations for the genuine development of our people. (Dr. Estanislao holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he was also a Teaching Fellow and Research Fellow. He was Finance Secretary during Pres. Corazon Aquino’s administration. Currently, Dr. Jesus Estanislao is head of Institute of Corporate Directors and the Institute for Solidarity of Asia.)
The Philippines Under Fire
about a demographic winter, which considerably darkens the long-term prospects of the economies concerned. 5. The bill is simplistic in its view of development: one shaped and determined mainly by lowering birth rates and population
high rates of savings and investments” (Michael Spence). 6. The bill expands the role of government considerably, expanding it into areas that are best left to individual choices and responsible decisions of married couples. It violates the
By Steven W. Mosher
AS I write, there is a battle royal underway in the Philippine Congress. On the one side are the Planned Parenthood types, backed by wellfunded international organizations, who are attempting to ram through legislation that would cripple the Filipino birth rate. On the other side stand those who believe that the most precious resource of the Philippines is its people, and who object to the use of what some call “human pesticides” to control the Filipino population. As you might suspect, the U.S. foreign aid establishment, emboldened by the anti-people mentality of the Obama administration, is on the wrong side of this crucial battle for Life. The legislation in question is called “The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health And Population And Development Act Of 2011”—a title which manages the remarkable feat of encapsulating three lies of the abortion/ population control movement in the short span of a dozen words. “Responsible Parenthood’ is shorthand for the wrongheaded notion that couples are somehow doing the world a favor by having few or no children. In fact, the opposite is true: Children are the only future a nation has. Those who are willing to provide for the future in the most fundamental way—by providing the future generation—are a national treasure. They should be praised and encouraged, not condemned and sterilized. “Reproductive Health,” another
favorite of the anti-life movement, is equally misleading. Such programs are not intended to produce health at all, but sterility. Lest you think I exaggerate, consider how the “reproductive health” of a population is defined: It is the percentage of women of childbearing age who have been sterilized or who are using so-called “modern methods of contraception.” The higher this percentage (of women who have been chemically or surgically sterilized), the greater the supposed “reproductive health” of the population is said to be. This leads to the absolutely bizarre conclusion that a population enjoying perfect “reproductive health” would not be able to reproduce at all! Why? Because every last female reproductive system would have been disabled. We should not be surprised that the same people who define pregnancy as a disease, define “reproductive health” as sterility. Finally, the implication of “Population and Development” is that population growth constitutes an intolerable burden on the economy. But while it is true that growing populations do produce temporary scarcities of goods and services, in a free market entrepreneurs respond by innovating; they devise more efficient means of production, for example, or they find substitutes for scarce materials. At the end of the day a larger population not only produces more goods and services, they do so at a lower price. Economists have a name for this: It’s called economies of scale. The language of the Philippine Reproductive Health Bill, as it is called for short, is just as dangerous as its
name suggests. Section 20, which fixes the “ideal” family size at two children, undermines the God-given right of couples to decide for themselves the number and spacing of their children. It will give further impetus to social engineering projects, already underway in the Philippine Department of Health and other government departments, to reduce family size. In our experience at PRI, any time a government sets population targets of any kind, it leads to human rights abuses. But this is only the beginning of the mischief. Consider Section 13, which imposes on local government officials the obligation to enforce the provisions of the Act and “give priority to family planning work”. To this China hand, this sounds an awful lot like the PRC, where local officials are under constant pressure to reduce the birth rate, and do so by resorting to forced sterilizations, forced contraceptions and, all too often, forced abortions. Another provision which could have been taken from Beijing’s playbook is Section 15, which sets up a so-called “Mobile Health Care Service,” and details how it will operate around the country. Apparently, as is the case in China, mobile sterilization teams will be brought in to do the dirty work of population control that local physicians, nearly all Catholic, find morally objectionable. Incredibly, the proposed law even attempts to stifle dissent by Catholics and others by prohibiting the dissemination of “malicious disinformation about the intent and provisions of this Act.” The “malicious disinformation” that
the framers of the bill had in mind would presumably include—aside from my criticisms above—pointing out the simple truth that life begins at conception. Now I know that you may find this hard to believe, but the “reproductive health” enthusiasts who support the bill deny that a woman who has conceived a child is actually pregnant. It is not until five to seven days after conception, when the developing embryo imp lants in the lining of the uterus, that they are finally willing to admit its existence. In claiming that human life does not begin at conception, but at implantation, they violate not only science but common sense. But it is important to understand that they are not fools. They do not engage in this obvious subterfuge lightly, but because they believe that the very success of their population control agenda demands it. You see, if they admit that life truly does begin at conception, then they would also have to admit that every last one of their hormonal concoctions— from pills and hormonally laced IUDs to implants and injectables—cause early-term abortions. All hormonal contraception works, at least part of the time, by preventing an already conceived baby from implanting in the uterus. The backers of the Reproductive Health Bill lie about this, too, of course, because they know that few women would take a supposed “contraceptive” knowing that it would actually cause them to abort. This second lie is especially important to their efforts in the Philippines, where
the Constitution, in Article II Section 12, provides that “the State shall equally protect the life of … the unborn from conception.” The Philippine Congress, wanting to leave no doubt about its intentions and no room for misinterpretation, defined the word conception in medical terms, as the fertilization of the ovum. Implantation goes unmentioned This puts the Reproductive Health Bill, which indiscriminately promotes all types of abortifacient contraceptive devices and services, on a collision course with the Philippine Constitution. The bill’s backers, supported by foreign “experts” and driven by their anti-people agenda, hotly deny that contraceptives are human pesticides, and that their massive distribution in the Philippines will exterminate large numbers of innocent Filipino babies. But there is little doubt that, if the bill passes, and “reproductive health” becomes the order of the day in the archipelago, that millions will die. So far, the Philippines has resisted the population control juggernaut that has crushed the populations of other Asian countries like China and Indonesia. Zoe Vidal, a Philippine bioethicist, rightly observes that in this sense the Philippines is “the last country standing.” Let us pray, for the sake of generations of Filipino babies as yet unborn, that they shall stand fast. (Steven W. Mosher, an internationally recognized authority on China and population issues, is the president of Population Research Institute, a research group founded by Fr. Paul Marx, OSB)
© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
Alay Kapwa 2011
Our neighbors and environment, our responsibility
CLIMATE change is now in the mouth of everyone, because now it is being experience by all. We experience untimely and extreme weather conditions. More and more people are attributing human activity as a factor in these climate changes. We have neglected due care that is to be given to the environment. For a long time we have regarded the environment as an inexhaustible source of raw materials and as a passive receptor of all our wastes. Only now do we realize that there is a limit to what the environment can take and to what it can give. Since the inception of the Alay Kapwa program of the Philippine church in 1975, we have drummed up the idea that no man is an island, that we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters who are in need, that we cannot love God without responding to the needs of our brethren. We still do this in our Alay Kapwa program. In fact the need is greater now, what with the catastrophes brought about by climate change. In 2010 alone around 1.5 million Filipinos have been uprooted by extreme weather conditions. The amount that we get from the Alay Kapwa program is set aside to respond to these calamities. But we should also be more proactive. Thus, trainings are given on disaster preparedness to vulnerable areas. Being proactive, however, also means that we avoid the human factors that contribute and aggravate to the effects of climate change. This means taking our responsibility to care for creation. Hence the program of Alay Kapwa this year is not simply to ask people to contribute for the relief and rehabilitation fund of our Church in the Philippines, but also to educate our people towards good stewardship of the earth. In fact, if we take care of the environment we are doing good to our brothers and sisters. We have now to realize that it is not enough to take care of our fellow human beings. We also have, as Christians, to take care of our fellow creatures, that is, all of creation! In our situation now, we cannot afford to remain in the “business-as-usual” mode. Our usual way of behaving, of speaking, of living has contributed to our sorry state. Business, government and church have to heed the call to change to start reversing our destructive situation. May this season of Lent by a season of conversion to all of us—conversion towards greater love for our brethren and greater care of the earth. Let us be generous in our effort to curb our wasteful ways and generous to contribute to the needy and to our stewardship of Mother Earth! MOST Rev. BRODeRICK PABILLO, D.D. Chair, ECSA-JP National Director, NASSA
An open letter to President Benigno Aquino III
by the participants of the Second National Clergy Discernment
actively participating in union activities. These violations of DOLE’s legal order were reported through a formal letter to DOLE-Region 7 by the labor union on December 3, 2010. DOLE-7, however, did not even have the decency to respond to the formal letter. Moreover, DOLE did nothing about the violations of its legal order. What is going on here? May this be investigated? In addition, our reflection brought us to the realization that one of the causes of the mistreatment of labor is that it is treated as a commodity, a thing to be bought as cheaply as possible. We would like to remind the President and DOLE of the Church Teaching that human labor has dignity because the worker shares in the divine attribute as God’s co-creator. “It remains a major point of reference for us all as we give thanks to God for the meaning with which God has endowed work as a reflection of the dignity of every worker, a ‘co-creator’ with God in this world of human endeavor.” (USCCB, September 7, 2009) As such, human labor shares EQUALLY the dignity of the management and the owners of capital. Therefore, we humbly suggest the following: * That labor is made a COEQUAL PARTNER of capital and government as our country crafts any economic developmental plan. * That you UNEQUIVOCALLY REVOKE the UNWRITTEN incentive for foreign and local investments to come in our country because labor unions are discouraged. In fact, since 1974, the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) boasts of having absolutely no existing labor union. * That violation of the right to organize labor unions, guaranteed by the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, the 1987 Philippine Constitution, and the Dear Mr. President, We are the National Clergy Discernment Group, a national gathering of Roman Catholic bishops and clergy from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Twenty years after the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCPII), we are reflecting on our role as socially—committed prophets in building up the Church of the Poor. Mr. President, last May 2010 elections you called on the Filipinos, “Iiwan na natin ang daang baluktot… Ang daang matuwid ang tanging daan tungo sa pagbabago.” In keeping with this, we would like to present to you and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, something strange that is happening with the DOLE Region 7. There is a labor-management conflict in Cebu City between the Visayan Electric Company (VECO) and the Visayan Electric Company Employees Union (VECEU). DOLE assumed jurisdiction over the problem on November 10, 2010. One of its orders was the following, “that neither management nor labor should do anything that would worsen the situation.” Labor obeyed. The management, however, continued to engage in alleged illegal union busting activities such as: declaring that the union president is still terminated converting the status of some union members to “confidential employees” (part of management), which automatically cancelled their union membership―actually, they remained as tellers, lines men (rank-and-file), contracting out regular work to other labor contractors, interrogating and harassing union members, pressuring them to shift loyalty from the union to the management; discouraging new regular VECO workers who are automatic union members from consistent official teaching of the Church, will be made a CRIME by your government. Moreover, that it also a crime to harass existing labor unions. * That the right to security of tenure of the workers be protected and the various ways management employ to circumvent the law against contractualization of workers be stopped immediately. Pope Benedict in Caritas in veritate says, “I would like to remind everyone, especially governments… that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity: ‘Man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life’.” (CV, 25) This means that in the economic realm, the life and dignity of all must be protected, work and the rights of workers must be respected, and a genuine commitment to the common good must be upheld. We believe that an enlightened labor force, co-equally with an enlightened capital/management, can together, enthusiastically forge a developmental thrust that is for the benefit of the common good, not just for a few. We would very much appreciate it if, Your Excellency, can spare some of your precious time to meet with some of our representatives to discuss these matters with you. May we always heed what God wants us to do, as we endeavor to follow the straight path of love, justice, and peace. In Christ, the Good Shepherd and in Behalf of the Participants to the Second National Clergy Discernment, BISHOP GeRARDO A. ALMINAzA, D.D. Auxiliary Bishop Archdiocese of Jaro March 15, 2011
May They Be One
Help Put a Bible in Every Filipino Home
n Dumingag town, Pagadian, parishioners from one barrio would borrow a Bible from the closest barrio that had a Bible. Due to the scarcity of the printed text, some parishioners would simply copy portions of Scripture by hand. others would even borrow from other religious groups such as the Adventists or the Protestants. Fr. Riolito Ramos, San Jose Parish priest, said that anyone who would see their Bibles may not be able to recognize the copies because the edges have become dirty and worn from use. even plastic covers could not spare the Bibles from dirt due to frequent use, reading, handling and borrowing. Fr. Ramos said the wear and tear attested to the people’s thirst for the Word of God. the thirstier the people were, the dirtier their Bibles became. in 2009, three Bible distributions were held under the May they Be one Bible campaign, bringing in 600 additional Bibles to the parish. People got their Bibles and read straight away. Some of these Bibles were worn out quickly from reading. Fr. Ramos believes it was because these Bibles were being lent to other barangays who did not have their own copies. ironically, the dirty Bibles resulted in a cleaner lifestyle for many. According to Fr. Ramos, reading the Bible has opened the eyes of a group of parishioners to the importance of maintaining ecological balance. As a result, they began lobbying against unscrupulous mining practices. Fr. Ramos further added that morally, a number of philandering husbands were transformed by the Word, and decided to end adulterous relationships. Personally witnessing the power of the Living Word, Fr. Ramos’ expressed desire is to have more May they Be one Bibles to distribute in his cash-strapped parish.
Statistical update No. of Dioceses participating in the Bible Campaign – 80 out of 86 Dioceses Bibles Distributed (Jan. 1, 2011 – Mar. 21, 2011): 45,011 cps Bibles Distributed by Languages - tagalog (16,481cps.), Cebuano (9,000 cps.) english (7,458 cps.), ilocano (4,273 cps.), hiligaynon (3,341 cps.), Bicol (1,995), Pangasinan (13 cps.), Pampango (937cps.), Samarenyo (1,513 cps.) Parishes/Communities served: 66 total Bible Distribution: (Jan 2009- March 21, 2011): 346,045 cps target No. of Bibles for Distribution for 2011: 400,000 cps. total Funds Needed for Printing and transport of Bibles in 2011: P60M
Dirty Bibles, Cleaner Lifestyle
Members of the MTBO Advisory Committee: Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo, DD, Ambassador Henrietta T. de Villa, Mr. Rod G. Cornejo, Mr. Rene E. Cristobal Sr., Dr. Philip C. Flores, Mr. Dante M. Lanorio, Fr. Oscar A. Alunday, Fr. Antonio B. Navarrete, Fr. Art B. Orense and Mr. Albert S. Tanlimco. Praise God that His Spirit is actively at work in the hearts of our countrymen, causing a great hunger for His Word. Pray that May They Be One Bible campaign will be able to raise the P60 Million peso goal this year to be able to distribute 400,000 Bibles to poor Filipino homes for 2011.
Fr. Riolito Ramos, with members of the San Jose Parish in Dumingag, Pagadian
Visita Iglesia: A lenten offering of the Media Office of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. Launching April 1, 2011. www.visitaiglesia.net “Discover an online experience of the Lenten season through Easter”
Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
death, and in defense of the integrity of marriage and the family. In these areas you are promoting truths about the human person and about society with arise not only from divine revelation but also from natural law, an order which is accessible to human reason and thus provides a basis for dialogue and deeper discernment on the part of all people of good will. Strengthened by this clear message, I again encourage you and all who value the human person to be firm in your commitment to honor God and, by doing so, to manifest a deep love for life and for its protection at this time. With my prayerful good wishes in this delicate moment, I remain Yours sincerely in Christ, +TARCISIO CARDINAL BeRTONe Secretary of State
read right after the opening prayer at the Holy Mass on March 25, 2011 at the Quirino Grandstand Interfaith Rally for Life
My dear Brother Cardinals, Not for the first time, Filipino society is passing through a difficult period in all that concerns life and its defense. The Church is not indifferent in such moments, because she believes that life is sacred, a gift from God who calls man to cooperate with Him, aided by a deep sense of responsibility for his actions. On the occasion of their recent Ad Limina visits, the Filipino Bishops were unanimous in demonstrating their sensitivity to the attacks being made upon life and upon the family. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI recommended the defense of these values which remain vital to the whole of Filipino society. Speaking on 29 November 2010 to the Bishops from Manila and the north of the country, the Holy Father said: I commend the Church in the Philippines for seeking to play its part in support of human life from conception until natural
Message from Pope Benedict XvI
‘Towards Justice That Moves Beyond Punishment’
February 3 - 6, 2011 Carmelite Missionaries Center of Spirituality, Tagaytay City
THE declaration comes from 55 Arch/dioceses and 7 Non-government Organizations with 167 lay Volunteers in Prison Service, 33 Jail and Prison Chaplains, 16 religious women, and two bishops from the CBCPEpiscopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care who met from February 3-6, 2011 at the Carmelite Missionaries Center of Spirituality in Tagaytay City. The theme of the assembly is “Towards Justice That Moves Beyond Punishment”. The declaration is addressed to the stakeholders in the criminal justice system. After sharing and learning from our experiences, listening to experts in the various fields and discipline in the area criminal justice and discerning the will of the Loving and Merciful Father as one member of the Christian Community, We affirm * That scripture’s teaching on justice is centered on restitution and restoration, not vengeance and punishment. Restitution was seen as a way of setting things right. That justice should be based on principles of forgiveness and reconciliation; that retaliation plays no part. * Our faith teaches us to place distinctions between wrongdoers and the virtuous, and to see ourselves as brothers and sisters with varying strengths and weaknesses. * That crime that is inevitable in our world is not only the responsibility of a few evil individuals within the society. When the law is broken, there is corporate responsibility. * That we need to relearn how to practice compassion and mercy in our dealings with one another; * That the current criminal justice system that is punitive is just another form of violence and as such has little potential for healing broken relationships and restoring the sense of community among those affected by crime; * That we need a system that gives a better deal to victims, that promotes apology, healing, understanding, accountability, personal and collective responsibility, forgiveness and even reconciliation. * That we should develop a new philosophy of justice that will move from PUNISHMENT to RECONCILIATION; from VENGEANCE to HEALING OF VICTIMS AND OFFENDERS; from ALIENATION and HARSHNESS to COMMUNITY WHOLENESS or SHALOM; from NEGATIVITY and DESTRUCTIVENESS to HEALING and FORGIVENESS AND MERCY. * That restorative justice is the paradigm of justice that will provide the opportunity to enhance the dignity of the stakeholders of crime. We are deeply concerned with: a) The current justice system that is punitive and retributive b) The non-observance and nonimplementation of laws both international and local that protect the dignity of the persons deprived of liberty c) The lack of holistic programs for the victims, offenders, ex-offenders and their families. d) The plight of children in conflict of the law despite the passage of the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006 e) The lack of facilities and program for prisoners with special needs like the handicapped, the old, the sick and mentally challenged f) The congested, outdated and dilapidated facilities for persons deprived of liberty g) The cruel, degrading treatment and the experience of torture perpetrated by the keepers and the inmates as well. h) The slow disposition of cases. i) The problem of graft and corruption. In view of the aforementioned we call on the following sectors to act on the following recommendations: I. For the executive Department: 1. That it observes and enforce its commitment to international laws, agreements, and treaties to which the Philippine is a signatory that promote the interest and welfare of the stakeholders in the criminal justice system. 2. That it recruits qualified personnel that will take care of the persons deprived of liberty and that it disciplines the same when they found violating the prisoners’ rights. 3. That it comes out with after-care program for the victims of crime as well as to ex-offenders. 4. That it addresses the slow disposition of cases by appointing more qualified and competent members of the court i.e., judges, court personnel, prosecutors and public attorneys. 5. That it comes out with centralized information data based records of the persons deprived of liberty. 6. That it considers a community based treatment of those in conflict with the law. 7. That it revises the guidelines in the granting of executive clemency by making it more rehabilitation and treatment based. 8. That it initiates the training and education of the agencies concerned with persons deprived of liberty especially the law enforcers and the correctional employees on field of human rights. II. For the Legislative: 1. That it makes bills that will provide more restorative justice interventions and alternatives to imprisonment like diversion, work furlough, study furlough, treatment centers and community based program. 2. That it works for the immediate passage of the bills on Recognizance or pre-trial release and the integration of jail and prison administration under one agency or government unit. 3. That it considers revising the penal and prison laws that dates back during the turn of the century and consider archaic and outdated. 4. That it decriminalizes some of the offense that might be unacceptable behavior but not criminal acts like prostitution, gambling, vagrancy. III. For the Judiciary: 1. That it creates a monitoring system to trace the development and movement of cases in courts to promote speedy trials. 2. That it strictly implements the rules governing the handling of cases and impose sanctions on judges who are very slow in the disposition of cases. 3. That it immediately fills up the vacancy in the courts. 4. That it considers revising the rules of court that were patterned after the US that has a jury system. Iv. For the Different Dioceses and Archdioceses 1. That our bishops integrate into the arch/ diocese structure the prison ministry as part of its pastoral ministry. 2. That our bishops designate priests, religious and lay association to engage in the restorative justice ministry and assign person/s within the diocese to regularly attend to the concerns and advocacies of the ministry. v. For volunteers in Jails and Prison 1. That we hold regular assembly, training and fellowship for pastoral and theological enrichment. 2. That we device a three year integrated program for prison reform and rehabilitation in consonance with the philosophy, principles and basic tenets of biblical justice. 3. That we work for a more vigorous and sustained advocacy and lobbying for the enhancement of the rights of the victims and the persons deprived of their liberty. 4. That we come out with concrete evangelization program for the members of the criminal justice system specifically the members of the correctional pillar. 5. That we establish linkages with agencies and groups working in the criminal justice system especially in the field of correction. 6. That we minister to the victims and their families. 7. That we continuously raise funds to finance our program for the prison ministry. 8. That we monitor the observance of the local and international laws governing the persons deprive of liberty like the acts of torture of inmates not only by prison guards but among each other as well. vI. For the CBCP-eCPPC 1. That the commission continues to lead in the advocacy and lobbying in enhancing the dignity of the stakeholders in the criminal justice system and work for justice that will be in consonance with the Gospel values and teachings of the church. 2. That the commission continues to provide pastoral and theological updating among its units and network members. 3. That the commission continues to act as the resource center for materials on prison ministry and its advocacies and concerns, specifically on Restorative Justice and alternatives to imprisonment. 4. That the commissions continue acting as a clearing house and coordinating center for programs and activities among its members. That the commission continue the collaborative partnerships with other faith and government agencies both locally and internationally. Closing statement We conclude the assembly with gratitude in our hearts and renewed hope for more zealous effort in our prison ministry. Inspired by the insights through the sharing of our experiences in prison and the expert in the field of criminal justice system, we will carry with our hearts the value of cooperation, acceptance and humility as volunteers in prison service. We end with trust in God’s providence and guidance as we fulfill our mission in being a light to others as we work for “Justice That Moves Beyond Punishment”
Statement of Appeal for Japan
BROTHERS and Sisters, We express our sincerest sympathies and condolences to the citizens of Japan who have recently been devastated following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, triggering tsunamis on Japan’s eastern coast and sparked radiation threats due to damaged nuclear plants, forcing thousands out of their homes. The earthquake was the strongest recorded in Japan’s history and the fifth largest quake worldwide. The phenomenon, considered to be the worst disaster since World War II, vastly impinged on the country’s infrastructure, private properties and industries. It has also caused thousands of families to be homeless and took the lives of their loved ones. Many areas experienced blackouts as quake and tsunami damage has forced power plants to shut down putting a strain on electrical supplies Along with the extent of the damage to life and property by the earthquake and tsunami, Japanese authorities are even more concerned with a possible meltdown of three nuclear reactors located at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. A meltdown is said to be caused by a catastrophic failure of the reactor core, with a potential for widespread radiation release. In this light, we call upon our Caritas partners and all concerned citizens to extend prayers and support to our fellow Japanese brothers and sisters. Our donations will buy food, water and shelter, and rebuild homes and schools. Although Japan is a world power, Christian charity bids us to be one with those who suffer. The Philippines and other nations have also received support from Japan in times of need. Let us pray for the speedy recovery of the entire country and lift up to God those who lost their lives in this disaster. NASSA–Caritas Filipinas welcomes donations from friends and partners which will be forwarded to Caritas Japan, our partner. PHILTRUST BANK Account Name: CBCP CARITAS FILIPINAS FOUNDATION, INC. PESO Account No. 00320 – 013976 – 5 US$ Account No. 0034 – 00013827 EURO Account No. 0035 – 00000031 Thank you very much! May God bless your compassionate and generous hearts. BRODeRICK S. PABILLO, D.D National Director NASSA-Caritas Filipinas
Declaration of the 8th General Assembly of Chaplains and Volunteers in Prison Service
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and to marvel at how such a person stepped in ridicule and adversity could sustain his prophetic role in the purity of his commitment to the word of God. This is fulfilled in the prophet who is much greater than Jeremiah, because He is the Son of God, Jesus. In the Gospel, Jesus plainly tells His disciples of His destiny. They were going to Jerusalem where we would be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes who were condemned Him to death. He would be handed over to the Gentiles. He will be mocked, he will be scourged, he will be crucified. But on the third day, he will rise from the dead. But Jesus interprets the meaning of his sufferings at the end of this passage. He says the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for the many. The death of Jesus was not a case of other people claiming His life. For Jesus, His death was really an act of service. He will serve even if it means giving “My whole life. My last breath will be my last act of service.” And so nobody takes his life away from him. I give my life as a ransom for the many. Life is always a gift. God gives life and no one should take away
life. Life as a gift should continue being a gift. The moment life is taken away, we destroy the very nature of life as gift. And Jesus says so, even His dying in the Gospel of John, he says, no one takes my life away from me, I lay it down freely. I give my life as a gift and no one should take it away. There is only one interpretation on the death of Christ that matters to us according to the Gospel. His death has been faced by Jesus as the ultimate giving of Himself in the form of service. Again, this is part of our spirituality. We will be offering our lives for life; we will be offering our lives for the sanctity of life. But let it be fueled by the spirit of Christ, just like Jeremiah, only one motive, loving service. That makes the fight for life redemptive. Loving service, if I do not give my life out of service, then I am actually claiming the lives of others, misusing the lives of others. It is only in that purity of intention that we find in Jeremiah and in Jesus were life is truly served. But my dear brothers and sisters, we have to be warned because in the middle of the Gospel for today, we find the sons of Zebedee, James and John.
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© Roy Lagarde / CBCP Media
4th Sunday of Lent – Year A (John 9:1-41) April 3, 2011
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
DURING the presidency of Arroyo, a power outage hit the entire Luzon amid loud blasts, fueling rumors of coup d’etat. But National Power Corporation (Napocor) officials were quick to explain that the blackout was due to a short circuit that occurred when an overhead groundwire in a Tayabas substation snapped. According to Jo Maglina, Napocor corporate communication manager, when the groundwire fell, it hit the conductors connecting the 230 kilovolt Tayabas-Kalayaan line with the 500-kv TayabasDasmariñas line, both of which bring power from generation plants in southern Luzon to the rest of the island. The general blackout not only resurrected fears for destabilization plots that the military immediately sought to allay. It also put businesses to a standstill and paralyzed the operation of many plants. Life in Luzon almost came to a halt. At night, people lived in darkness, and some could only move because improvised light guided them. Many might have felt they were living the life of the blind―scared, threatened, immobile or almost, and removed from the joys of normal living. We recall this power outage because today’s Gospel is a story about a man born blind whose physical impairment Jesus cured (John 9:1-41). If this narrative occurred in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), this would have been treated as a miracle story, and the wondrous cure by Jesus would have been considered an evidence of the coming of the Kingdom of God. But far from taking it as a miracle, John simply calls this particular act of power as sign, and in the entire Gospel, this is the sixth of the seven signs. As a sign, it points to a greater and deeper reality. It gives the recipient, and those who witness the wondrous deed an anticipation and foretaste of what Jesus can give when his hour, that is, the hour of his passion, death and resurrection, comes to pass. From a material sign, one is led to a spiritual reality. In last Sunday’s Gospel, for example, the water from the well of Jacob is a sign of the supernatural water, God’s wisdom that Jesus, after his resurrection, gives to those who believe in him. In today’s Gospel, the physical blindness of the man is meant to teach us about our spiritual blindness, and the sign of the healing of the man born blind is intended to lead us to spiritual light that shines in darkness. In the Old Testament, the light that shines on in darkness is none other than the word of God inscribed in the Law. The Law regulates a form of life that a Jew must live if he is to attain salvation. Hence, the Psalmist sings: “A lamp to my feet is your word, a light to my path” (Ps 119:105). In the New Testament, however, the light that shines on in darkness is none other than the Word made flesh. That is why, if John tells us about the story of the healing of the man born blind, it is his way of asserting that the true light is not the law but Jesus himself. Says Jesus: “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5b); and John claims that Jesus is the light that gives light (John 1:4). But if he is the light
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
The Christian community as a people that walks in the light
of the world, this implies that people who live apart from him dwell in darkness. And in John’s theology, darkness represents the kingdom of wickedness and evil; it is the realm of sin, and one who lives in darkness lives in sin and wickedness. “Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds were wicked. Everyone who practices evil hates the light; he does not come near it for fear his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19b-20). Hence, if one lives outside the Christian environment, he is like the physically blind who lives in darkness; he lives a life of sin and wickedness. Just like Manila when it experienced the Luzonwide power outage, people like him are blind, scared, unable to move for lack of a guiding light. They are removed from the joys of living with electricity; that is to say, they do not live authentic life. They simply exist, but they do not have real life. This raises the question: how does one acquire real or authentic life? In the present narrative, the blind man was given sight because Jesus smeared mud on his eyes and commanded him to wash at the pool of Siloam (John 9:6-7). In John’s symbolism, this curing of the blind man by washing and the use of spittle is a symbol of baptism. In other words, for John, true light, which is the real or authentic life, is communicated to the believer through Christian baptism. Notice that we say “believer”— for the story assumes that the blind man has an initial faith in Jesus. Strictly speaking, John asserts that one who lives in sin wickedness receives the light of
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To be a Christian is to be a man for others
5th Sunday of Lent – Year A (John 11:1-45) April 10, 2011
one reads the story, he gradually notices that it leaves much to be desired. For example, after Jesus raised him from the dead, did Lazarus live a normal life? Did he die again? Why is it that we do not hear about him in the subsequent events in the Gospel? Truth is, these questions are irrelevant, because the story is not about Lazarus, but about Jesus. In the previous Sundays, we noticed that Jesus performed signs—he performed acts of power that brings the reader who has faith to spiritual realities. The water of Jacob’s well was a sign of the water of life, and the cure of the blind man was a sign of Jesus as giver of light. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus once again performs a sign—the seventh—to bring the mind and faith of the believer to another spiritual reality: Jesus is the giver of life. But what is life, in the first place? Does it simply mean a power that animates something or someone? It may be noticed that the word “life” occurs 36 times in the Gospel of John, 13 in the Johannine Letters, and 17 in Revelation. Since it is found 107 times in the Johannine writings and 135 times in the entire New Testament, the concept is therefore relatively important. But what does the term signify? Of course, there are various meanings of the word. Metaphorically speaking, for example, one might say that Jennifer is his life, or money is his life, or teaching is his life. In the Johannine usage, however, life is what God himself and Jesus possess: “Indeed, just as the Father possesses life in himself, so has he granted it to his Son
Bishop Pat Alo
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD
WHEN some major TV networks featured an Abu Sayaf footage a few years ago, there was much outrage and furor—as well as approval. The TV footage showed machetewielding Abu Sayaf rebels interrogating captured soldiers before chopping off their heads in an undetermined location at the Basilan jungles. There was much criticism on Malacañang’s decision to release the tapes to the TV networks. People were terribly upset, calling Malacañang insensitive and manipulative in gathering support to the holding of the Balikatan 02-1. Others, however, favored the airing of the footage, saying that it embodies the truth about the Abu Sayaf atrocities. Former President Arroyo herself, defending the decision to release the gory footage, declared that the people have the right to know. But amid the mounting outrage as well as increasing support, a person who called himself “Jun” claimed that the machete-wielding man seen on TV was not an Abu, but he himself who was forced to do it, because if he did not, the Abu Sayafs would have beheaded him instead. He killed others so that he might live. Today’s Gospel is about Jesus who is the exact opposite of “Jun”—Jesus died so that others may live. But that is going ahead of the point of the narrative. At first blush, it would seem that the story is about Lazarus. But as
to have life in himself” (John 5:26). Jesus has it from the Father: “Just as the Father who has life sent me, and I have life because of the Father…” (John 6:57). Life is therefore the fellowship of the Father and the Son, and this fellowship cannot be destroyed: “Whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life, and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26). If we may attempt at a short description, we say that life is the experience of God in our lives, and this life is one of wholeness that is shared with others. In this life there is integrity of body and soul, and there is fullness of joy. In the letters of Paul, this seems to be akin to the indwelling of the Spirit: “You are not in the flesh, you are in the spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Rom 8:9). In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that anyone who believes in him will live (John 11:26). This means that a person, even here on earth, can already share or possess this life of fellowship with God if he puts his faith in Jesus (1 John 1:3). And the seventh sign—the story of Lazarus—is meant to illustrate this teaching. If Lazarus is Jesus’ close friend, he represents the Christian who believes in Jesus and, like Lazarus and his sisters, is loved by him. But who does Jesus love? According to John, he who keeps the commandments of love: “He who obeys the commandments he has from me is the man who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father. I, too, will love him and reveal himself to
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Stand of the Church
(What is good for Filipinos?)
THE hotly contested issue of the RH Bill being discussed in Congress is actually intent on seeking what really is for our own good. Which stand: that of the Church or of certain legislators? There are many money offers from all sides that make the whole point cloudy from the very start. Money, you know, is corrupting. Look back into history. People sold, betrayed, back downed because of disreputable money offers or its equivalent in other worldly advantages. We are seeking the good of the Philippines with concepts open to the transmission of life so as to have a future of society alive through the cooperation and contribution of the young, duly formed and educated to assume leadership roles in the midst of a vibrant society facing diverse challenges in a world undergoing the normal pains of growth and change. As the saints have expressed: “The glory of God is man fully alive, but the life of man comes from God.” That depends now upon your understanding and respect for life, as God truly intends. “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it” (Gen. 1:28). We want a moving and young society, truly alive and obedient to God’s designs, in a love that will reach the eternity of bliss in heaven, after being true to God, to oneself and to one another.
Fr. Francis Ongkingco
Getting ahead of technology
“MY phone is sooo cool!” Gerald flashed his cell at Benson. “Oh, yeah? Mine is cooooler!” Benson retaliated. “Bet it doesn’t have games like mine has,” Gerald started clicking on his gadget. “It does and I don’t even have to click like you. I just tap the icon,” Benson began showing off his device’s features. “But yours doesn’t have a voice thingy!” challenged the other. “What’s a voice thingy?” Benson asked. “I don’t have to even touch the phone. I just say, ‘daddy’, and it calls up my dad,” Gerald stuck his tongue out at Benson. “Oh, that one! I have that too,” Benson retaliated. “What about you Alec?” Gerald noticed their silent but observant companion. “Yeah, how do you call your dad to pick you up?” Benson added. “I don’t have a cell,” Alec said to the surprise of his two friends. *** It may be not too long before children lose their much-coveted innocence and simplicity because of the way they are being heavily exposed to and are becoming dependent upon technological devices or gadgets. If this is how they already are now, imagine what they will be—unless they are properly oriented— when they become adults? Children’s materialistic outlook is further reinforced when they observed how overly dependent and indulgent their parents and siblings are with material things. This gradually shapes their attitudes both in their personal and social development. For example, insecurity may arise when they end up comparing themselves with the things others have and what they have. This is further complicated when other people may have similar but better or newer things. This insecurity can become a breeding ground for vicious sentiments like envy, vanity and sometimes stealing. Pope Benedict XVI observes the advantages of technological progress, but he also laments its negative effects. “We have seen it ourselves: progress has increased our capabilities, but not our moral and human stature and capacity. We have to regain an internal balance, and we also need spiritual growth. This is something that the tribulations of our time are increasingly teaching us to recognize.” (Benedict XVI, Light of the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald) Here are some ideas that parents and mentors may find useful to transmit to their children or mentees. It is not enough to simply impart these ideas. As parents and guides, we have to give the pure lesson of good example of not succumbing to the lure of ‘novel’ things or becoming too dependent to them to the point of sacrificing family life, friendship, dialogue and the gift of listening to others. a) Of Needs and Wants. This is perhaps the first thing to stress and clarify. If one doesn’t know how to distinguish his needs from his wants, then it will be easy to give in to different forms of immoderation, greed, and envy. A need is something essential--physical, professional, moral and spiritual--to the person’s integral perfection. A want is something dispensable and often only auxiliary to man’s development. The problem is that we are now forgetting that things don’t change a person as much as a person can change himself. b) Newer isn’t always better. If better means that a gadget has more features, then think again. Most likely these additional features won’t really be maximized nor radically change the way we function. Define what you really need something for. Remember you can’t have everything in one go. For example, a phone is mainly for making calls and sending texts. If this principal need is achieved, then your cell is as cool as any other. c) Faster isn’t sometimes fast enough. Speed in gadgets is one crucial factor that truly defines advantage. Again, you will have to determine what you need speed for. Buying things that have faster features (i.e. processor speed) means having to spend more but lesser battery life. When one’s main purpose would be texting, making calls and writing a note, speed isn’t really that essential. d) Bigger isn’t always more. Again, like speed, size matters when it comes to what a gadget can hold in terms of movies, songs and applications. But
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Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
There’s a need to overhaul water policies, environmentalists say
companies are the ones who are raking massive profits, while leaving the majority of the people in the Philippines, waterless. Bautista refers to the privatization of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) in 1997. The water-as-a-right alliance, Water for the People NetworkPhilippines (WPN), seems to support KPNE’s claims. In a statement, the WPN said that “The privatization of public water utilities has worsened the people’s access to water, adding that 16 out of 100 families in all income classes do not have access to safe water. In Metro Manila, water rates have also continued to increase since the privatization of the MWSS, with the two private firms increasing their basic charges by 449% (Maynilad) and 845% (Manila Water). WPN also stated that less than 60% of Maynilad’s service area in the west zone has 24-hour water service, while Manila Water claims 99% water supply coverage in the east zone but does not distinguish areas with direct household connection from those serviced by private water suppliers. Philippines manages its water resources poorly—study In terms of water management, Bautista said that the Philippines is one of the top ranking countries in the world that manages its water sources poorly as only five per cent (5%) of its 90 million population have a sewer network connection, citing the latest World Bank (WB) study. Citing that same study, Bautista said that 95 per cent of the households in the country are dumping its wastewater these illnesses and deaths from water pollution. The urban poor sector bears the brunt of the negative health and economic impacts of the pollution since they live in high risk areas,” Bautista furthered. Laguna de Bai and Manila Bay: great examples of water resource mismanagement He made the Laguna Lake an example of how poorly the previous and current governments have managed the water sources in the country. Laguna Lake (also known as the Laguna de Bai) is the largest body of freshwater in the country, and third in Southeast Asia, covering 949 square kilometers (or equivalent of 98,000 hectares). It is surrounded by the Rizal province on the north, Laguna province on the south, and Metropolitan Manila on its western shores. It is the home of 23 fresh water fishes and the 10 salt water fish species and the 26 types of lakewater based plants that provide the 100,000 fishing families in Laguna Lake, their livelihood. While it seems to be teeming with life, the lake is slowly dying because of pollution. In 1997, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported that 8.5 million people residing around the lake are dumping their domestic and other wastes directly to Laguna de Bai. Industries and the agriculture sectors also contribute to the polluting of the lake, as they constitute 30 and 40 per cent of the wastes found in water, respectively. Meanwhile, the Water Environment Partnership in Asia (WEPA) has identified
Water mismanagement in PH endangers water supply
By Noel Sales Barcelona
WATER is for the people, not for profit. This was the statement of the environmental advocate group, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (KPNE) during the global celebration of World Water Day on March 22. “Despite of our vast water resource potential, the Philippines is among the lowest in terms of water availability in Southeast Asia. Only one out of every two Filipinos has piped water in their house. Only a third of the rivers in the country can be used for water supply. This is because majority of our rivers have varying levels of pollution and degradation. Pasig River, Parañaque River, Bocaue River, and Meycauayan River are among the most polluted rivers in the country and also in the world,” said Clemente “Enteng” Bautista Jr., national coordinator of the KPNE. KPNE has assailed the government for its alleged inaction to the water problem in the Philippines. “The Aquino administration has neither reviewed nor changed the bankrupt economic policy and poor water management of the past administrations. Water resources and facilities are still being privatized. For example, water supply and sewerage services remain a private venture. The government has relegated its responsibility of providing effective and safe water supply and sanitation services in Metro Manila to private companies,” he said. He also said that the water
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directly to groundwater or to canals, which are connected to larger bodies of water such as rivers, lakes or seas. “In Metro Manila, only 15% of the population is connected to the sewerage system. The study also shows that 58% of the groundwater is contaminated because of pollution coming
from domestic and industrial wastewater,” the environmental advocate stated. Bautista also disclosed that 1/6 of the recorded disease cases in the country and about 6,000 premature deaths are related to contaminated drinking water. “Around US$134 million or P6 billion is lost yearly because of
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Manila Bay as one of the “water pollution hotspots” in Southeast Asia. While Manila Bay is supporting the livelihood of about 23 million people, it is under threat as pollution in the waters increases each year. “The sustainability of the Bay and its diverse ecosystem is however continually threatened by a variety of land and sea-based human activities, which contribute to the decline of its environmental quality. Overexploitation of resources, illegal and destructive fishing, habitat destruction, pollution, siltation and sedimentation, uncontrolled development and the conflicting use of limited available resources cause pressures on the bay,” the WEPA states in its website. While there are several laws being implemented to protect the Manila Bay, it seems that these laws are insufficient. “However, with the increasing complexity of the problem there is a need for multi-agency and cross-sectoral management program,” WEPA explained. On the other hand, KPNE said that in order to reverse the negative effects of the water sources’ mismanagement and the extensive water pollution in the country, the government should craft laws and implement programs that will re-orient the utilization and management of our water resources. “The water industry should be working, primarily for public service and needs, and not for private profit. At the same time the people must struggle to establish a government that will genuinely uphold their interest and not of the corporate world,” Clemente said.
Jesus has three closest friends among the twelve—Peter, James and John. And in the Gospel, we find the mother, the mother of James and John, approaching Jesus with a request, “command that these two sons of mine will seat one at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” They missed the point, and this is the warning to all of us. We might miss the point. Katatapos pa lang ng napaka-dramatic na pagpapaliwanag ni Jesus, wa effect. At mga kaibigan pa, mga kaibigan, the closest, pati naman yung nanay nakialam pa. Yung nanay ni John and James, expert sa lobby, mahusay maglobby. Pero yung mga nagla-lobby na yan, sometimes they think they know what
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they are talking about, but they miss the point. They could not understand this new kingdom, this kingdom of life that will come when life is given as a gift. In their minds, life is preserved only through prestige, power, positions, and for that life they will sacrifice other lives. This is the history of humanity which Christianity wants to counter. The end to sacrificing lives is by the spirituality of life given as gift and service. And so Jesus, patiently turned to them, ask them, “can you drink of the cup that I will drink of and can you be baptized in the baptism that I will undergo?” Meaning, are you ready to undergo my life-giving death. For it is only in life given in service that this
life is promoted. Two figures—Jeremiah, Jesus. Life threatened but they took the threat and transformed the threat into love, service. And life is not threatened anymore. Life remains a gift given to others and others live because of Jesus. We hope that our defense of life will go to that deep part of ourselves, where Jesus has the Holy Spirit transforming us into true prophet of life, patterned after Jesus Himself. Let us pause and enter into our hearts and allow the face of Jesus to challenge us to ask us deep and disturbing questions about the spirituality of our commitment to life. (This transcript is courtesy of Radyo Veritas)
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him” (John 14:21). John categorically states that Jesus loves Lazarus (John 11:3), and therefore one can assume that Lazarus, while he was living, obeyed the commandments of love. For this reason, Jesus gives him life. Because life has not been taken away from him, though he died, Lazarus’ death is only a form of sleeping (John 11:43-44). In this narrative, therefore, the physical death of Lazarus is simply meant to signify a spiritual reality. It is a sign of who Jesus is—he is a giver of life. At the same time, it is a sign of what he can do to those who believe in him—one does not die if he possesses the life of Jesus. The story of Lazarus is narrated to challenge the hearer to believe in Jesus (John 11:26), and to believe in him is to love, for it is in love that faith is shown: “His commandment is this: that we are to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and we are to love one another as he commanded us” (1 John 3:23). By believing in him and loving him in the community of believers, the
believer receives life from him. But if he rejects Jesus and even hates him, one dies. But if one receives life because he believes and loves, he is no longer in the realm of death, but even here on earth, he receives divine life: “That we have passed from death to life we know, because we love the brothers” (1 John 3:14b). For John, this is the only kind of life that endures—others perish with death. Life of wealth will go bankrupt, life of beauty will fade, life of popularity and fame wanes. If there is anything that persists even after death has occurred, this is our fellowship with God. And because this assumes that one loves his brothers, one cannot follow the example of a certain “Jun” who, if his story is true, blindly obeyed the Abu Sayaf to chop off the head of the soldiers, in order to have life. Such life would end soon in death. If Christ is able to give life because he died, so is a Christian: he must offer his life for others so that others may live, and in that way, he will surely receive a hundredfold life.
let’s get real here! After installing all these apps, copying giga-loads of songs and videos, surely one can’t indulge in all of these together. More often than not, we only access a few items here and there, and often just to ‘show off’ what these digital ‘toys’ can now do more than what they’re really useful for. e) Connect to people, not things. In the end, we ought to stress that we must be able to give more importance to people over things. If the things we have only lead to isolating us from family, friends and God, then it’s high time to begin reflecting on how to get ahead of technology by controlling it to work in our advantage rather than making it to control us. *** “Then how will your dad know when to pick you up?” Gerard asked. “Simple, he promised to pick me up here every day at 5 o’clock sharp.”
at paggalang sa hindi sariling pera. Anong klaseng panukalang batas itong RH Bill na kung maging batas na, at ang itinuro o ipaliwanag ng Simbahan at mga naglilingkod dito ay ang katwiran na galing sa Bibliya, Pananampalataya at konsensiya ng Kristiyano tungkol sa Buhay at Kalinisan, sa halip na ang turo ay ang RH law, ay maaaring papag-multahin o ibilanggo ang mga ito? Paparusahan pa ang sumusunod sa konsensiya at Pananampalataya. Hindi ito ang Pilipinas! Hindi na tayo babanggit ng anumang bansa, pero hindi ito ang Pilipinas na minahal at pinag-alayan ng buhay ng mga bayani, sampo ng tatlong Pari—Padre Mariano Gomez, Padre Jose Burgos, at Padre Jacinto Zamora. Sa El Filibusterismo, ang unang pahina ay inihandog ni Jose Rizal sa tatlong pari na iyan. (At ang gusto pang alalahanin ng ilan ay si DAMASO na ito naman ay hindi Pilipino!) Ito ang paninindigan ng Simbahan: Ang pagmamalasakit sa katatayuan ng maraming mahihirap, lalo na ang mga nagdurusang kababaihan na nagsusumikap upang gumanda ang buhay at kailangan pang mangibang bayan upang kamtin ito o kailangan pang pumasok sa isang hindi disenteng paghahanap-buhay. Nababagabag ang Simbahan diyan. Ang Simbahang Katoliko ay para sa buhay at dapat ipagsanggalang ang buhay ng tao mula sa sandali na ito ay ipaglihi o mabuo hanggang sa natural na katapusan nito. Naniniwala ang Simbahan sa mapanagutang (responsible) pagsasaayos ng bilang at panahon ng pagsisilang sa pamamagitan ng Natural Family Planning. Dito kailangan ang pagbuo ng matatag na kalooban (character
Community / B6
© Pinky Barrientos, FSP / CBCP Media
building) na nagtataglay ng sakripisyo, disiplina at paggalang sa dangal ng asawa. Kung wala kang sakripisyo, hindi ka makakabuo ng karakter. Ang sinumang tao ay tagapangasiwa lamang ng kanyang katawan. Ang pananagutan sa ating katawan ay dapat umalinsunod sa kalooban ng Diyos na nangungusap sa atin sa pamamagitan ng konsensiya (budhi). Kapag hindi pinakinggan at iginalang ang tinig na ‘yan ng Diyos (sa konsensiya), yayanigin at lilindulin, hindi ang bundok at dagat, kung hindi ang budhing ‘yan ng sinumang tao. Aming paninindigan na sa mga pagpili kaugnay ng RH Bill, ang budhi (konsensiya) ay hindi lamang sapat na kabatiran kung hindi higit sa lahat ay ginagabayan ng mga itinuturo ng kanyang pananampalataya. Naniniwala kami sa kalayaan sa relihiyon at sa karapatan ng pagtutol ayon sa budhi (konsensiya) sa mga bagay na labag sa sariling pananampalataya. Ang nakapataw at parusa sa napapaloob sa minumungkahing RH Bill ay dahilan para sa aming pagtutol dito. (Pastoral Letter, CBCP, 30 January 2011). May panahon pa upang maiwasan ang trahedya moral na idudulot ng RH Bill. Baguhin ang mga panukalang ‘yan, o ibagsak ang kayang kabuuan ng siyang pugad ng walang paggalang sa buhay, pagkawala ng responsibilidad at disiplina na siyang tunay na kailangan ngayon ng tao at bayan. Kung ang mga bata ay natuturuan pa ng Simbahan, ang mambabatas ay amin rin pinapaalalahanan. Lahat kayo, ngayon at bukas, ay kasama sa aming dalangin. Pagpalain kayong lahat at ang Bayan ng Poong Maykapal! Mahal tayo ng Diyos at alaga ng Ina ni Hesus!
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life through faith and baptism. In Christian theology, one who is baptized belongs to Christ; he no longer lives in sin that makes it impossible for him to be saved, but receives the light of grace that saves him. The reception of true light, however, implies a moral imperative—once one receives light, he no longer walks in darkness. Despite the attempt of the Pharisees to persuade the cured man to renounce his belief in Jesus, he stood his ground. Though he experienced excommunication and suffered rejection in the hands of authorities, he demonstrated his courage in defending his gradual understanding of Jesus—he is a man called Jesus, a prophet, one from God and finally the Son of Man. It is in this sense that we can understand when Jesus says: “I have come to the world as its light to keep anyone who
believes in me from remaining in the dark” (John 12:46), or when he declares: “He who acts in truth comes into the light to make clear that his deeds are done in God” (Jon 3:21). This teaching recurs in other New Testament writings. In a letter attributed to Paul, for example, we are told: “Now you are in the light of the Lord. Then, live as children of light. Light produces every kind of goodness and justice and truth” (Eph 5:8-9). Matthew expresses it differently: “Your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father” (Matt 5:16). This simply means that a Christian is to identify himself with the blind man who, having been cured, gives witness to Christ against the hostility and bullying of powerful authorities, even if this implies abandonment of one’s friends, family and the society to which he belongs.
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
Abhorrent Disturbing Acceptable Wholesome exemplary
Poor Below average Average Above average excellent
VALERIE (Amanda Seyfried) is in love with the brooding but passionate Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) but her parents want her to marry nice village boy Henry instead to help the family financially. Neither man is bad looking, and Valerie who likes Henry but is more attracted to Peter, agrees to elope with Peter. But their situation gets more complicated when Valerie’s sister is killed by a werewolf that strikes every full moon night. This terrifies the whole village: why would the werewolf kill a human being despite the village’s monthly animal sacrifice to keep the creature satisfied? So they call in famous werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) who arrives in the village with a retinue of black bodyguards and a huge metal elephant. Soon, during another full moon attack, Valerie discovers she has a connection with the killer wolf but she keeps the discovery a secret. Father Solomon tells the villagers the werewolf takes human form by day, thus it could be one of them. Valerie suspects the werewolf could be someone she loves or who loves her. Any screen character portrayed by Seyfried seems to automatically elicit sympathy from the audience, thanks to her wide-eyed look that lends
her face childlike innocence. The trailer of Red Riding Hood apparently implies evil lurking behind those can’tdo-anything-bad eyes, but the movie would soon belie that sneaking suspicion. Obviously she’s not the werewolf but you nonetheless hang on to find out what ultimately happens. That, dear viewer, shows you how a bias for certain actors gets you hooked on the story despite the presence of some elements you would otherwise consider ridiculous or irrelevant. Here, they are the metal elephant that turns out to be torture chamber for suspected werewolves and witches, and the color of Valerie’s hood which contributes nothing to the story but which makes a great frame against a snowcovered landscape. The title itself makes you wonder, why “red riding hood” when Valerie never rides; doesn’t she only walk to her grandmother’s cottage and run away from the wolf? Some film critics would rip Red Riding Hood apart on account of its bearing vestiges of Twilight—this thing about werewolves, virginal heroines falling for bad boys yet spared from wolf attacks, but whatever, it’s an engaging story from beginning to end. Of course, it’s a sin to kill a human being. But when a werewolf kills, it is not quite
TITLE: Red Riding Hood CAST: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Lukas Haas,Shiloh Fernandez, Michael Shanks, Julie Christie, Virginia Madsen, Max Irons, Darren Shahlavi DIRECTOR: Catherine Hardwicke GENRE: Drama RUNNING TIME: 100 min. Technical Assessment: 3 Moral Assessment: 2.5 CINEMA Rating: Viewers 14 and above
human, so is the act of killing then outside the scope of human morality? Aah, that’s a gray area in red riding hood country! How could CINEMA pass judgment on a werewolf’s trespasses, or is it worth the bother at all? We cannot do that without spoilers, so you might as well see for yourself why we’re giving it a 2.5 score in the moral arena. This teaser might help you, though: Why did the carnivorous werewolf who used to be satisfied by the villagers’ animal sacrifices kill a woman but did not eat her? a) the werewolf was scared away by the woman’s screaming; b) the werewolf was allergic to the fabric of the woman’s dress; c) the werewolf wasn’t hungry. Enjoy the ride.
MAC en COLET
Ni Bladimer Usi
Look for the images of the Last Supper, cord and veil and chalice. (Illustration by Bladimer Usi)
TITLE: Limitless CAST: Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Anna Friel, Johnny Whitworth DIRECTOR: Neil Burger SCREENPLAY: Leslie Dixon CINEMATOGRAPHY: Jo Willems EDITOR: Naomi Geraghty MUSIC: Paul Leonard Morgan and Nico Muhly PRODUCERS: Leslie Dixon, Scott Kroopf, and Ryan Kavanaugh EXECUTIVE PRODUDER: Tucker Tooley PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Patrizia Von Brandenstein GENRE: Action thriller RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes Technical Assessment: 4 Moral Assessment: 2 CINEMA Rating: Audience Age 18 and above
STRUGGLING writer Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is at a low point of his life --career, relationship and finances, when he accidentally meets his former brother-inlaw Vernon ((Johnny Whitworth) while walking in the street. Realizing his present state during a brief catch up, Vernon offers Morra a mindstimulating pill called NZT that allows him to access 100 percent brain intelligence function and enables him to step up in his life. Cynical at the beginning, but on discovery of immediate amazing effect on his first try, he knows what to do next. He asks Vernon to give him more pills. But before Morra gets his share, Vernon is murdered. Morra manages to find a bag of pills. As expected, he suddenly gains back the lost glory as a writer, his girlfriend, and the liberty to enjoy the benefits of overflowing knowledge. His services become in demand in the business community where he had the opportunity to work with a business wallstreet tycoon Carl Van Loon (Robert De Niro). The film “Limitless” has an interesting plot to start with. However, as the story builds up, it somehow struggles to sustain the interesting momentum. The scenes become predictable and has the tendency to prolong unnecessarily. The chasing scenes, for example, are not clearly established whether there is paranoia, real life and death situation, or just obsessions to the pills. For any reason, why death scenes have to be very violent. The director may also have overestimated the use of voice over for this film, because often the narration causes destruction. It already has a good casting coup that fits the requirements of the characters in the film. Acting wise, both Cooper and De Niro did well in their respective roles. If not of the good special effects, the film can be dragging at some points. Lighting is good and it helps in establishing emotions as required by the scenes. The cinematography is well complimented by special effects. Overall, the film goes with good technical qualities. The film shows that accessing 100 percent utilization of brain function can bring amazing effects to the person, the economy and society in general. The problem is, the film disregards the natural process for it and instead promotes cheating and so called “instant” culture. It is simply drug addiction that is harmful to the body. The film shows how it makes people greed for instant success, money, fame, and power. The main technology is the human mind that people can use to bring out their full potentials with due respects to natural process. But the film ends with an alarming conclusion that it is okay to continue with an experimental drug for as long as it is taken “responsibly” with a right dosage and for a good purpose. The film also shows that sex is an easy trade off for a service of ‘smart’ person. The death scenes are too violent and absurd (such as sipping human blood). The film requires a mature audience who can understand the whole saga of this wonder drug and the accompanying circumstances.
Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
The News Supplement of Couples for Christ
God’s Army On The Cross!
By Bobbee Mella
MORE than 400 true men of God committed themselves to put on the full armor of God in defense of His Gospel during the 10th SOLD Men’s International Conference in Pilar, Bataan, on the last weekend of March1113, 2011. The commitment was made at the foot of the Cross of Valor in Mt. Samat. It was truly another experience of a lifetime for the SOLD delegates who came all the way from as far as Southern Mindanao, as well as China and the USA. For them, this was their mission statement: the SOLD Ministry is really the ministry of men (and women) praying, adoring, revering, devoting and surrendering to God. As the Pilar Convention Hall started to fill to capacity on the first day, Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Diocese of Balanga, Bataan fittingly opened the conference with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. His homily exhorted the ministry to merge faith and action in leading the flock. Joe Tale then formally opened the 10th SOLD Men’s Icon. Friday evening was capped with the Cadence March competition among the different provinces in attendance. The morning of Saturday saw the delegates being grouped into different companies and given “mission orders’ as they trekked up the scenic “Dambana ng Kagitingan” in Mt. Samat. To achieve the mission, they had but one slogan: Let no man be left behind. In spite of the heat of the sun and the ascending 14-flight zigzagging footpaths to the shrine, all the companies were able to achieve their mission orders. After the afternoon praise, the first talk entitled, “The Soldier” was delivered by Jude Abenoja, Area Head of Southern Leyte. The talk dwelt on the servant of the Lord as a Christ-centered soldier wearing the seven elements of the armor of God, ready to sacrifice and give his all in defense of the Gospel. Jojo Cuyugan of Davao shared how a true soldier responds amidst the adversities one encounters, sharing his own story of overcoming the death of his wife and being left with the care of four autistic children. In the second talk, “The Art of War,” Bobbee Mella, CFC USA National Council member and SOLD National Coordinator, expounded on how to stand firm and fight the enemy by knowing one’s self and the enemy, knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, getting out of the comfort zone, and forming a strategy in attacking the enemy. In proclaiming God’s kingdom, he emphasized that the way to success is by making it both a goal and a mission. Tong Bonifacio of West-C Sector aptly shared how he was able to combat the comfort zones of his Christian life while Eric Oliveros of Quezon shared how he firmly stood ground amidst the attacks of the worldly life. A Lord’s Day led by Melo Villaroman capped the afternoon sessions in preparation for the fellowship night where delegates showed their vocal talents in a magic-sing competition. Msgr. Allen Aganon started the final day with a moving celebra-
tion of the Holy Eucharist. The final talk, “The Full Armor of God” delivered by Joemar Salumbides, SOLD International Coordinator, gave each and everyone marching orders on how to keep the faith – by holding his ground, being firm and unwavering in God’s calling and purpose, and never taking off God’s armor until the battle is finished. Mon Verdejo of Albay gave a heart-rending story of how his life, filled with misfortunes and family controversies,
was transformed into victory. After the commissioning of all the leaders, the conference ended with a rousing praisefest led by Joemar with everyone proclaiming, continuing and claiming the legacy of God’s victorious battle against the enemy. Indeed, all these indefatigable true men (and women) of God have started the road trail onward to the 11th SOLD Men’s Icon in Cebu in full armor to regain God’s kingdom!
The Mindanao “CFC Armor of God” Leaders Conference
By Layle Ancheta
TANGUB City is known as the Christmas Capital of Mindanao for its beautiful display of Christmas lights and symbols. This year, it was also the venue for the CFC Mindanao “Armor of God” Leaders Conference held last March 11, 12 and 13, 2011. More than 4,500 CFC leaders from the 25 provinces in Mindanao gathered in the Tangub City Gymnasium to experience God’s marching orders through our CFC theme for the year, “Put on the Full Armor of God” taken from Ephesians 6: 7-11. The grand preparations of this event, considered the biggest in the history of the city, was led by City Mayor Philip Tan and his wife, Jenny, also members of Couples for Christ in the province. The Tangub City gymnasium, which has existed for the past 15 years, was renovated and fully air-conditioned just in time for the CFC weekend. The whole city graciously welcomed their guests with festivities, food fiestas and late night parties and band concerts in the plaza from Friday night till Saturday night. The highlight of the weekend’s activities was the thanksgiving street dancing of the Tangub Tribu Sinanduloy, who danced on the streets wearing their colorful and festive costumes with the theme of a bountiful harvest and celebration. The Sinanduloy dancers are the defending champions in the street dancing, Sinulog-based category in the Philippines for the past years. With such a warm welcome, everyone was truly excited as the talks and sharings unfolded God’s message for everyone that weekend. Rene Breva opened the conference with a prologue. The first session was led by Rommel Ancheta as speaker and wife Layle as sharer, while Session 2 was led by Boie Sescon, with wife Angging as sharer. CFC Chairman Joe Tale led the third session and wife Babylou took the stage to give her testimony. This was followed by Session 4 with Joe Yamamoto as speaker and Dodong Banaynal as sharer. The final talk and praisefest was led by Michael “Shok” Ariola with sharers, Ruel and Maan Aguirre. The conference was rendered more Spirit-filled by worship leaders Ruebert Dechos, Francis Kaamino, Cesar Advincula, James Solano. Lending spice to the program were the Session News Anchors: Pempe Deguilmo, Boy Gonzales, IC member Joey Arguelles, Philip Tan and Caloy Subang. Indeed, it was a powerful weekend for the CFC leaders of Mindanao. As they all left the warm city of Tangub, they carried with them a stronger and bolder conviction to continue to serve in one of the most challenging and exciting group of islands in the Philippines.
Experiencing A Bountiful Feast and Celebration
Called To Nurture, Defend and Protect Life
By Tina Rodriguez
ON Friday, March 25, 2011, Couples for Christ was privileged to be part of the Filipinos Unite Under God For Life Rally held at the Luneta Grandstand. Along with thousands of other Filipinos of different beliefs and faiths, CFC came together to show that we stand for LIFE. Two busloads of staff and fulltime workers from the CFC Home Office joined CFC brethren from all over Metro Manila and the nearby provinces to declare our commitment to nurture,
defend and protect life in all forms, from conception to natural death. CFC was privileged to host the live streaming video broadcast of the Rally, and our very own CFC Church Integration Office Missionary, Sk Ortigas, was interviewed on GMA 7’s 24 Oras because of it. The program, which had Fr. Joel Jason and Ms. Gaines Rosario as the emcees, started with the recitation of the Holy Rosary, followed by the Stations of the Cross for Life. Afterwards there was an inter-faith prayer and Declaration of Opposition, including testimonies from people from all walk of life.
One of them was Ms. Mae Belgica, a woman who used to be an active contraceptive user, who bravely shared that when artificial contraceptives failed her and she got pregnant, she had an abortion, not just once, but several times. By God’s grace, she realized the error of her ways, repented, changed, and eventually bore her first child at the age of 42. Her sharing was a powerful testimony to the dangers of the “contraceptive mentality” and how laws like the RH Bill, which do not legalize abortion but “only” contraception, are inherently dangerous. Mae’s sharing was followed by a rousing declaration of opposition to the RH Bill by Congresswoman Aliah Dimaporo of Lanao Del Norte. Coming from a background that included working overseas, she emphasized that the main asset of the Philippines was, and continues to be, the Filipino. Our human resources are the number one quality “export” of the country, and many foreign employers she had encountered usually indicated their preference for Filipino workers. Listening to
Called / C4
Joe Tale, CFC Chairman
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
MARCH and April are graduation months. While graduation programs are culminating activities not only for schools but more for the graduating students themselves, they are interestingly, and aptly, called Commencement Exercises. For indeed, while a chapter in the lives of graduates have ended, a new one has begun. Endings are really beginnings, too. Students, upon their graduation, should focus on the road ahead, to commence yet another phase of their life journey. I was honored to be invited by my alma mater in Dumaguete City - Foundation University High School - to be the Commencement Speaker during their Graduation Ceremonies last March 26, 2011. I would like to share with you the insights I shared with the graduating students, their parents and teachers. Somehow they seem as appropriate to them who are embarking on a new life chapter as to us as we prepare to close the third decade of our community life and look forward to another. To the audience: “To the graduates, this is your day, a signal achievement in your journey through life. I am sure there are mixed emotions, of gratitude, that finally, at least for this phase of your education, you are over the challenges of exams, recitations, projects, and other requirements; but also of sad goodbyes to classmates, friends, teachers and staff, some of whom you might not be seeing again for a long time. Add to these - feelings of uncertainty, and perhaps anxiety, of what lies ahead. Where does my road lead from here? “It is likewise a day for your parents and family, they who labor and sacrifice to provide you with an education that will help you live a better life, for the most part, a wish for a better life than they ever had. Let us honor the parents and family of our graduates. This day belongs to them, too. “Today, as well, is a day for your university officials and teachers, they who patiently teach and form you, develop your skills and potential, and prepare you for the next phase of your educational development. Educators do not just work for pay, although that is important, too, but more than that, I know that they work with their heart, they give of themselves, with a vocation to make this world a better place, starting with you, by making you a better person.” On their theme: “The Graduate: A Partner Towards A Transformed Society” -- “As we look at our society today, Philippine society specifically, we immediately understand and see the urgent need for transformation. Not cosmetic change, but deep transformation. Not tomorrow, but beginning today. “And you have an important role to play in the transformation of this nation. More and more, we have become a nation of young people, where the young constitute a majority of the population. Thus, we do not have to wait for the future for you to be a force for societal change. You can be that force now. You can start making a difference now. “It is instructive though, to recall an anecdote: A young graduate, full of idealism, goes forth raring to change the world. After 10 years, not succeeding in changing the world, he downsizes his goal and now just seeks to change his country. After another 10 years, he still is unsuccessful in changing his country, so he once again lowers his sights and just seeks to change the city where he resides. After another 10 years, he is now really disappointed that he cannot even change his city, and thus settles for seeking to transform his family. But, with his children already grownups, it has become difficult to transform even his family. So, feeling frustrated, not having changed the world, not having changed his country, nor his city, not even his own family, he focused on changing the only thing left– his own self. “So what is the moral of the story? Is it, to forget about idealism, and just be realistic. Is it to forget about dreaming big, and just be pragmatic and content with small things? No! “For we should not lose our idealism. The capacity to dream is what keeps the youth in us, no matter our age. The author Samuel Ullman writes: Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals.” “The moral of the story is this: if you want to change the world, change yourself first. In other words, the young graduate should have done the last thing first, and the first thing last. He should have focused on transforming himself first, before attempting to change the world. “Mahatma Gandhi puts it well: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” “Again, be the change you want to see in the world. Do not point at others. Do not blame others. Start with yourself.” On the state of society that we seek to transform: “What do we see around us? Media is crowded with news on crime, violence, immorality, widespread poverty, injustice, graft and corruption, illegal drugs.” “While these are real problems, these are really but manifestations of something deeper. At the root of all of these, is an underlying breakdown of moral values.” “Against this backdrop, some would like to transform society by reforming the structures. While this will help, it is not enough unless we go to the fundamentals. A former high government official in the US, Charles Colson, who served as Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon, was imprisoned due to charges related to Watergate. In prison, he encountered the Lord in a special way, in a similar way that Ninoy Aquino did, also in prison. In a book he wrote, “Against the Night,” Charles Colson writes: “I spent the first half of my professional life in politics and public service. When I was in the White House, I was a complete secularist. .. I really believed that people could be changed by government being changed. But when I became a Christian, I gained a new perspective on the actual influence political structures have over the course of history. I began to see that societies are changed only when people are changed, not the other way around. The crisis is not political; it is moral and spiritual.” “Thus if we want to transform society, we need to hit the root of the problem. Since the core of the problem is moral, then let us strike there. Otherwise, we will only keep jabbing away at the surface manifestations without landing the knockout punch. “How do we respond? I propose the following guide: 1. Know your identity -- You are created in the image and likeness of God. You are meant for something greater. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 2. Acknowledge your weaknesses and repent -- Repentance, acknowledgement of our own sins and shortcomings, and resolving to change is an important step. Repentance is from the Greek root word “Metanoia” which means a turning away from or a turning away to. 3. Walk your talk -- Integrity or consistency of word and action is a goal we all should aspire to because this is the linchpin of character. 4. Get involved -- Be salt of the earth. Immerse in the situation, there should be no fence sitters; know that only a pinch will go a long way, you need not be many to make a difference; don’t work for recognition, just have the satisfaction that you have helped. 5. Persevere -- Galatians 6:9 says it well: a. This is not a sprint, but a marathon Closing Thoughts “The theme of social transformation is actually a very challenging one. We can get lost in the maze or get overwhelmed by the complexity of it all. We may not even know how to begin. I suggest we start with small things. Let’s start doing good to others. Doing something good to others always inspires, and in some intangible but real way, transforms both the doer and the recipient. Let us start with doing something good today. Not tomorrow, but today.”
Joe Yamamoto, CFC Director
Cast A Giant Shadow
CAST a Giant Shadow was the title of a 1966 movie based on the experiences of a JewishAmerican military officer, Col. David ‘Mickey’ Marcus ( played by actor Kirk Douglas ) who commanded units of the fledgling Israeli Defense Force during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Marcus was an officer who saw action in the Second World War. He was attached to a US Army unit that helped organize the relief operation for the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by the American troops. His military and leadership career continued into the 1948 Middle East conflict when he was asked by the leaders of the Jewish Resistance, the Haganah, to assist in preparing Israeli troops for the defence of the newly declared state of Israel against its hostile neighbours. In addition to training and preparing the poorly equipped but highly spirited and determined Jewish soldiers, Marcus was instrumental in constructing the Burma Road that brought food and relief goods to the besieged and nearly starving populace of Jerusalem. Despite the nearly insurmountable difficulties and hurdles, Marcus made a lasting impact and contribution by virtue of his character and leadership. People who step into the shoes of leaders will eventually leave a lasting impression based on the impact they have made in the course of their lifetime of contribution and influence, be it in the spiritual or the temporal dimensions. As the leaders grow in their own maturity and influence, the people whom they lead and serve eventually come under their ‘shadow’ and recognize the contribution to the life of the group or organization. Undoubtedly, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of the spiritual giants of the Old Testament was Moses. After serving the Lord through a long and fulfilled life, Moses stood on the slopes of Mount Nebo in the present day kingdom of Jordan, beholding the beauty and promised bounty of Canaan, the Promised Land. With eyes grown dim with age, he longingly scanned the mountains and valleys of the Promised Land knowing that he would not be able to ever set foot on the land that was foretold and promised to the Israelites since time immemorial as proof of God’s covenant with His people. The role played by Moses was unique because he was raised specially by the Lord to liberate his people from 400 years of slavery and bondage in Egypt under extremely difficult circumstances. As the chosen prophet, he received the two tablets of the law and was conferred the extraordinary privilege of speaking directly to God regularly during their desert sojourn. All throughout the desert wanderings, Moses was the link between God and the Israelites. His exploits and achievements, as recorded in the Holy Book, were phenomenal and extraordinary among men then and since. But what stands out in his story is that the Lord was able to fully use him according to His divine plan because Moses was a paragon of humility and obedience. The Jews revered and held him in high regard as God’s extraordinary prophet. Such was the pivotal role of Moses that even today, with the daily reading of the Torah, Jews of all ages and all generations continue to be reminded of his special role. Whenever the Ten Commandments are recited, Jews and Christians alike come under the giant shadow of Moses. Aspiring leaders must recognize the necessity of being led by others across the full spectrum of their journey that begins with their recruitment. In the spiritual field, that initial encounter starts with the Call. The great Patriarchs of the Bible experienced the call of the Lord, and for each of them, the call was unique. The circumstances were never routinary nor circumstantial but rather followed a particular pathway that was specifically suited for each one called. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob went through the call under different circumstances. The same uniqueness can be said about the call of Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Exequiel, Daniel, David, the Apostles, and Paul. Nothing is the same, except that all those mentioned were called for a particular time, for a particular purpose. Once called, the leader will be judged or remembered according to the other requirements – Character, Competence and Consequences (or results). For those called to spiritual leadership, there is the paramount importance of the belief that God will empower, equip and provide. Since a leader will be appreciated or valued according to his impact or contribution to the organization, community, church or movement, it is safe to state that he must learn to cast his shadow, the larger or longer, the better. One important caveat for spiritual leaders is that their shadows must come under the even greater shadow of God. They must not walk alone. They cannot risk being isolated from the light of the Lord and guidance of the Holy Spirit. A leader who walks with and in the Lord must learn to walk in God’s shadow and his continued journey must come under His authentication. To gain a better understanding of the divine authentication or affirmation or anointing, if you will, one needs to read a long quote from the book “Spiritual Leadership” by Henry and Richard Blackaby: “It is imperative for spiritual leaders to evaluate their lives to determine whether God is confirming their leadership. There should be ample evidence of God’s affirmation. For one thing, God will fulfill His promises to the leader and the leader’s organization. Leaders who continually present new ideas and visions for the future but who never see those dreams come to fruition are clearly presenting their own visions and not God’s. Second, when God affirms a leader, God will vindicate that person’s reputation over time. All leaders suffer criticism during the course of their work. Criticism is not necessarily a sign of poor leadership. It may stem from people resisting God rather than rejecting the leader. The way to tell the difference is that God will ultimately exculpate those who are led by the Spirit. A third sign of God’s presence in a leader is changed lives. When someone leads in the Spirit’s power, lives are changed.People are moved to experience God in a new dimension. Leaders may entertain people, or impress people, or even motivate people but if there is no spiritual advancement in the people they lead, their leadership originates from the leader’s talent, but not necessarily from God. A fourth characteristic of God-inspired leadership is that others recognize God is the driving force behind the leader’s agenda. When God chooses a leader who is willing to submit to His will and trust Him to do what He promises, God is pleased to work powerfully through that leader. If nothing unusual or divine is happening under a person’s leadership, the leader may be operating in his own strength rather by the power of the Holy Spirit. Leaders who are led by God will be willing to lead their people to accept God-sized assignments. Leaders who walk by sight, however, will never see God perform miracles as leaders who walk by faith. Finally, the unmistakable mark of leaders who are authenticated by God is that they are like Christ. They function in a Christlike manner and those who follow them become more like Christ. The success of a spiritual leader is not measured in dollars, percentages, numbers or attendance. A person is truly a spiritual leader when others are moved to be like Christ. How does one attain God’s authentication? The key lies not in the leader, but in God. There is nothing a leader can do that will guarantee God’s affirmation. All a leader can do is submit. Some spiritual leaders try to be more committed. What they need to do is to be more submitted. There is a significant difference between a personal determination to try harder and a complete abandonment of one’s self to God’s purposes. The former lies on people and their commitment; the latter relies on God and His sufficiency. The biographies of history’s greatest spiritual leaders reveal specific divine encounters wherein these men and women yielded themselves to God at the deeper levels of their lives. All spiritual leaders have a point in their lives when they yield to Christ as their Lord and Savior, but the greatest leaders have their subsequent encounters with Christ, in which they fervently, unconditionally yield every aspect of their lives to Him. The more these people come to know God, the more they come to recognize their limitations and the more they are compelled to yield to God.” The life and times of St. Paul provide the classic example of yielding fully to Christ and subsequently, the world has come to experience the impact and contribution of that changed life. From being tormentor of early Christians to becoming the most ardent apostle of Christ is the salutary example of God’s transforming and empowering love, and a life journey of a leader who continues to cast a giant shadow in the world today. A shadow cast need not be giant but everyone who aspires to be a spiritual leader must learn to walk in the shadow of Christ if he expects to be used according to God’s purpose. That purpose may be grand or even simple yet even the day to day experiences can amply demonstrate the shadow of a leader’s life. Challenging circumstances and occasions provide even better opportunities to demonstrate a leader’s character. Chiune Sugihara was a 40year old Consul General serving in the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, Lithuania. In July 1940, Jewish refugees trying to escape the Nazi atrocities fled from Poland and sought exit visas from the consulate. Word had gotten out that the only way to safety was to exit Lithuania to the Soviet Union and then through Japan and finally the Caribbean. The desperation of the Jews grew every hour as the Nazis were rapidly advancing. Being a faithful diplomat, Sugihara wired Tokyo for permission to issue the visas. His government refused to give the authorization. Chiune wired back two more times and two more times, he was refused permission. He was even advised to stop inquiring. The situation posed a big dilemma to Sugihara; as a traditional Japanese, he was taught obedience to authority from birth. If he disregarded his orders, he and his family would be disgraced and had to suffer the severe consequences. On the other hand, he was from a Samurai clan, inculcated with the values of helping those in need, especially if oppressed. In a deeper sense, as a Christian, he was to follow Christ and His cross. The choice was clear, because for the next 29 days, he and his wife Yukiko issued transit visas as quickly as they physically could. They worked nonstop, barely having time for food or sleep. On August 28, 1940, Sugihara was finally ordered to close the consulate and leave for Tokyo. Still, he kept writing and issuing visas up to the last moment. As the train pulled out of the station, he threw the visa stamp out of the window in a last attempt for refugees to pick it up and use after his departure. Sugihara’s diplomatic career suffered, and after dismissal from service, he went into obscure existence. His deeds cast a giant shadow in the lives of the more than six thousand Jews saved from certain death in the Nazi concentration camps. His heroic Christian act saved thousands. It was the second largest group of Jews rescued from Nazi extermination. In 1985, Israel conferred their nation’s highest award to Sugihara, “Righteous among the Nations” The shadow that a spiritual leader casts might not be as great. However, it only becomes a giant shadow when it is led under the shadow of Christ.
Vol. 15 No. 7
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Living Up To CFC’s Prophetic Role
Taking on GOD’S ARMOR: The BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
CFC Metro Manila Leaders gathered at the Christ the King Parish Church in Greenmeadows, Quezon City last March 15, 2011 for the monthly MCG (Mission Core Group) Teaching Night. The gathering started with an inspiring evening worship led by Cholo Labog, the Sector Head of CFC Metro Manila East A. In his exhortation, he reminded everyone that as we face trials and tribulations in this battle called life, our main focus should always be on God. He also emphasized the importance of being prepared for the battle by always putting on the full armor of God. The topic for the evening’s assembly was entitled “LIVING UP TO CFC’S PROPHETIC ROLE, given by Joe Tale, CFC Chairman. He opened the session by asking the assembly to pause for a while and pray for the people of Japan, who are recovering from the recent earthquake and tsunami. He especially lifted up our CFC brethren who are there in Japan now, helping and serving in the rescue operations in Sendai. CFC is a GIFT to the WORLD. Joe Tale cited some of the highlights and victories of the CFC community all over the world since the beginning of this year: the opening of new CLPs in Virginia with 54 Caucasian participants; the opening of CLPs in Puerto Rico and Hongkong; the recent visit of our CFC International Council members, Joe Yamamoto and Rouquel Ponte, to the Vatican, where they met with the Pontifical Councils on Family, on Laity and on Migrants; the values formation of our migrant workers in Hongkong; the Laiko Lecture series led by CFC on the Papal encyclicals starting this month; the new partnership with the Department on Education to bring the program of Ancop and CFC to public schools; and the well-attended CFC and Family Ministries Conferences and Echo Conferences. “All these achievements just show that CFC truly has a prophetic role to play in sharing God’s love and goodness to the rest of the world. As a community we are called to be light to the world and to give hope to those who need hope,” Joe Tale said. Yet, Joe Tale stressed, as we recognize this great and vast work to spread the Good News through these many opportunities, we are called to be responsible and accountable in our dealings. He quoted the words of John F. Kennedy (The Uncommon Wisdom of JFK: A Portrait in His Own Words): “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” Taking on the ARMOR OF GOD- The BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS We continue to recognize our shortcomings and weaknesses believing that amidst all of these, God will use and equip us to accomplish our mission, individually and as a community. For this reason, we ought to take to heart the armor of God especially His breastplate of righteousness. Joe Tale stated that this armor is the most visible piece in the armor of God. He added that it is about the consistency between what we say and do, for it is by our actions that we draw people to the Lord, thus fulfilling our prophetic roles. WHAT WE SHOULD NOT BE: Matthew Joe Tale cited the whole chapter of Matthew as the most fitting passage to reflect on in taking on the breastplate of righteousness. He also cited the Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees (Matthew) as concrete examples of what we should not be as leaders in CFC and as servants of God. Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what
they do, for they do not practice what they preach. (Matthew) WHAT WE SHOULD BE: THE BEATITUDES (MATTHEW 5: 3-10) Joe also explained that the best way to live wearing the breastplate of righteousness is through the eight Beatitudes that Jesus gave in the Sermon on the Mount. “BEATITUDE” actually means “supreme happiness.” These beatitudes are given to us by God so that we may live a righteous and upright life that will truly please Jesus.
Joe led the assembly to reflect on how we as CFC leaders can allow the breastplate of righteousness to shine in our lives. He said that this season of Lent is truly very timely for CFC leaders to reflect deeply on how we can live out the beatitudes as our way of life. The evening ended with Joe encouraging all CFC Leaders to continue to strive to be true Couples “FOR CHRIST”, not just in our words, but more importantly in our actions. It is only through our faithfulness as followers of Jesus that the prophetic role of CFC can be realized.
Discovering The Law of the Harvest
Metro Manila Central C Teaching Night
SFC as Voluntourists
“MABALOS.” This expression of gratitude means more than just “Thank You” to Bicolanos because translated, it actually means “I will return the favor.” On two occasions, over a hundred Singles for Christ members were given the opportunity to say “Thank You” to the Lord and to share His blessings to others through the SFC Voluntourism program. The Voluntourism program (a play on the words volunteer and tourism) focuses on volunteer work and touring the area of service, which in this case was Naga City. February 16: Participants were grouped into six teams symbolized by the different components of the armor of God. After a talk on Servant Evangelism, everyone received marching orders to make Naga City feel the love of God. To make things more exciting, the socalled task was incorporated into an Amazing Tour activity which included a trip to the Cathedral, the Cathedral museum which housed various artifacts, a liturgical and archeological excursion. But for everyone involved, the highlight of the activity was finding ways to help others and share Christ’s love with them. Most of the groups found themselves in one of the Central Plazas. Since it was mid-afternoon, many of the SFC Voluntourists opted to help those working within the vicinity and to reach out to those who had made the plaza their home. To a passerby, it may have seemed odd that the men cleaning the Plaza ground were young and well-dressed. Also unlikely was the presence of lovely ladies selling candles at the church across the plaza. And it was definitely out of character to have tricycle barkers with melodious voices. What was most striking to see though, at least maybe to a secular person, were the small groups formed after the whole activity. It was definitely heart-warming to see SFCs share the gift of prayer with people whom they had just met. The evening was capped by a talk on “Making Friends with the Poor.” The speaker, Fr. Alarcon, said that “we’ve been talking about the poor but we seldom talk to them.” He also reminded everyone about the saying, “Nobody is so poor as to have nothing to give and nobody is so rich as to have no need.” He challenged all present to turn their ears, eyes, hearts and minds to the poor. His talk was the right motivation for all the participants to prepare well for their volunteer work the next day. February 17: Bursting with hearts for service, everyone headed to their respective volunteer work areas. Taking to heart what Fr. Alarcon had said, a group of SFCs talked and listened to prisoners of BJMP Naga about their ordeals. Others interacted with the students of Sta. Rafaela and communicated with the deaf kids of Gualandi through lip-reading. Those in Villa Marilac became doting grandchildren to the elderly for a few hours while Sibol volunteers became Ates and Kuyas to the kids. The generosity and creativity of everyone was apparent in all the volunteer sites. Aside from the gifts shared, like school supplies for the kids and toiletries for the prisoners, SFCs also presented a fun program filled with games and song and dance numbers. Coming out of the volunteer places, each one had a unique experience to tell but everyone felt truly blessed and inspired by their Jesusencounters through the poor. The “tourism” aspect of the program was equally enjoyable. SFCs had their fill of the delicious Kinalas at downtown Naga after the Servant Evangelism activity and the fellowship at the Panicuason Hot Spring after the volunteer work. All in all, it was a good treat for a job well done. To those who enriched the lives of the SFC Voluntourism participants: “Mabalos”! Thank you very much!
By Layle Ancheta
HOW can you harvest more blessings? This was the main topic at the Central C Sector Teaching Night last March 3, 2011. Over 1000 CFC and SFC members of the sector filled the Lay Formation Chapel in Guadalupe to listen to wellknown guest speaker, Bo Sanchez of the Light of Jesus Community. The Sector Governance Team, headed by Sector Head Bong Arjonillo and wife Carol, and Central C2A Chapter headed by JM Yupangco, invited Bo Sanchez to speak to the assembly on the “Law of the Harvest.” Bo Sanchez admitted that because of his numerous ministries, he has stopped giving speeches and talks,
except through his regular Sunday Feast event. Thus the Central C sector felt very blessed that he was able to grace the gathering. Bo’s talk stressed that Jesus should always be at the center of our lives and the main operating system of the universe. He stressed how important it is for every person to focus on Jesus in order for one to fully experience the blessings and abundance of life. Bo said that the “Law of the Harvest” goes like this: What you plant, you harvest. What you don’t plant, you don’t harvest. The more you plant, the more you harvest. The less you plant, the less you harvest. These principles reminded everyone that blessings from God are truly abundant and overflowing only if we know
how to plant the blessings of love, hope and joy in our family, our workplace, our service and in our personal journey with the Lord. The many insightful stories Bo shared highlighted the realization that in order to have a joyful life, one must be secure in the love, blessings and abundance that come only from God. This will then be radiated and reflected in the life we live and in the relationships we continue to create and nourish with the people around us, especially with our spouses and children. The night ended with Bo saying a special prayer of abundance and empowerment, and leading everyone to a commitment to always cling to God and rely on His mighty power and blessings.
CFC Visits Australian Bishop
By Josie Pangilinan
LAST March 9, 2011, CFC International Council member and Country Coordinator for Australia Lito Tayag visited Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Julian Porteous at his office in Abbotsford Rd, Homebush. He was accompanied by Dandy and Susan Calvez from CFC Manila, CFC Australia Council member Dom Pangilinan, and YFC Australia leaders Noel Custodio and Marissa Caspe. The bishop expressed particular interest in the YFC Oceania Conference in July which will be attended by many young people from all over the Oceania Region, even proposing that the venue for the closing activity of the conference should be more open such as Tumbalong Park at Darling Harbour. He praised CFC and YFC for being bold in expressing their Catholic faith. Lito Tayag reiterated an earlier invitation to the bishop to grace the 30th Anniversary of CFC which will be held in Manila in June.
March 28 - April 10, 2011
Vol. 15 No. 7
CFC Holds Breakfast Forum to Launch Pro-Life Advocacy
By Joy Katigbak
WHAT is Theology of the Body and what does it have to do with the pro-life advocacy? Mark Wassmer, the executive producer of Theology of the Body events and conferences, was in Manila recently to answer these questions. He was the main speaker at a Breakfast Forum hosted by Couples for Christ last March 5, 2011 in North Greenhills. CFC organized the breakfast forum in preparation for the conference in June entitled “Freedom to Love,” to be conducted by Christopher West, one of the most sought-after speakers in the Church today on Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body (or TOB for short). The forum brought together several pro-life groups and lay communities, and focused on the topic: “Bridging Connections and the Role of Theology Theology of the Body, a series of 129 talks given by Pope John Paul II during the early part of sal questions of what it means to be human and how we can live life in a way that brings Body is the answer to today’s questions on the real meaning and the sacredness of life and “why’s” of everything we believe in with regard to the meaning and sacredness of life and human sexuality. It reveals the deeper meaning and the higher purpose of our pro-life advocacy. Many of the participants of the forum were grateful for the gathering that brought together groups with a common purpose: to protect and defend life and the family in light of God’s design and plan for humanity. Many expressed eagerness to listen to Christopher West preach more on Theology of the Body at the “Freedom to Love Conference.” This will be held on June 25, 2011, Saturday, at the ULTRA. For ticket reservations and inquiries about the Freedom to Love Conference, please contact Joy Katigbak at 0917-8362539 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
of the Body in our Pro-Life Advocacy.” Wassmer presented some of the key messages of
his pontificate. The Theology of the Body addresses the two most fundamental and univer-
true happiness and fulfillment. Hailed as the “new sexual revolution” the Theology of the
human sexuality. Wassmer stressed that the TOB provides us with the
CFC Rizal Holds ANCOP Songwriting Contest And “Free To Dance” Concert
LEAD KIDS: Molding Christ-like Leaders
By Raymond Rimando
ARMED with the vision-mission of molding Christ-like leaders, 862 CFC Kids for Christ coordinators gathered together for the 1st KFC National Couple Coordinators Conference (NCCC) on 11-13 February 2011 in Marikina. “You are not only helping the kids, but the entire CFC family. As you evangelize kids, you enrich the community and renew the society. As you renew the society, you can change the world,” said Joe Tale, CFC Chairman, in his exhortation to the conference participants. The coordinators shared their own family journeys as they struggle to serve the Lord through the CFC Kids for Christ. The Buenaagua family, based in Australia, knew it was not easy for the parents to serve the Lord because it means sacrificing time with the children. Through the CFC Kids for Christ, however, they were able to serve the Lord as a family. Flor Cabaluna of Surigao del Norte, on the other hand, talked about the blessing of experiencing great joy in serving the Lord. She sells deep fried bananas to support her family. When she learned that the CFC Kids for Christ will hold its 13th International Kids Village (IKV) in Singapore, she dreamed of attending the event with her family. Although she has no regular income, she hit on a formula for success: tithes plus service equals abundant blessings. With God’s grace and plenty of sacrifice, she was able to go to Singapore with her
ON the evening of March 19, 2011, CFC Rizal hosted two back-to-back events: the provincial contest for the entry to the ANCOP Songwriting Contest and the “Free to Dance” Post-Valentine’s Concert. These were held at the Casimiro Ynares Sr. Memorial Gymnasium in Binangonan, Rizal. The activity kicked off with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, followed by an opening prayer rendered through a dance interpretation of “The Prayer.” Dennis Arcilla, provincial ANCOP head, gave a short description of ANCOP. The contest proper followed afterwards, wherein four entries were performed. To close the songwriting portion, Gretchen Yaoyao of the 29 AD band captivated the audience with her performance of “Angels Brought Me Here.”
Called / C1
The “Free to Dance” portion was opened by a presentation of the Kids for Christ Rizal. This concert was also a contest for CFC Rizal’s three clusters, each of them presenting in three “categories”: CFC-HOLD dance, SFC-YFC dance, and duet. It was inspiring to see the clusters cheer on their young and not-so-young dancers, and then to slow dance their way onto the floor as the duet entries were performed. The contest was capped with a dance from HOLD Rizal. The event ended with a praisefest led by Charlie Imbang, a SFC chapter head, after which came the announcement of winners. Kevin Esguerra of the SFC won the ANCOP Song-Writing Contest, while Cluster A (comprising the areas of Taytay and Angono) won the “Free to Dance” contest.
family as well as tour and visit relatives in Malaysia. Lala Garcia shared the blessing of belonging to a global CFC family, particularly when her husband had a stroke and through prayers and donations from the global CFC family, was able to undergo a successful brain surgery. Melo Villaroman, CFC Family Ministry Head, gave a new meaning to the word BRAVE: B-believe in faith; R-respond or recommit by giving 100% to the Lord; A-armor of God, to put on every day; V-victory, to expect and claim the Lord’s victory; and Eempowered by the Holy Spirit. Being brave was precisely the right prescription for Art Malabanan, a former police officer, as he faced the challenge of raising 10 children while
serving the Lord through the CFC Kids for Christ. As one family, they attend out of town conferences and go beyond borders as missionaries, praying and serving the Lord. Chin-chin Lizardo, daughter of Voltz Lizardo, CFC Kids for Christ Leadership Enhancement and Development (LEAD) Coordinator, shared her experience of growing up as part of the CFC Kids for Christ family. Aside from inspiring sessions, there were interactive workshops on selfassessment and communication and people skills. Fr. Soc Mesiona and Fr. Jimmy Padilla also reminded couple coordinators to trust the Lord, while Nic Escalona, Jr., CFC Kids for Christ International Coordinator presented the 2011 directions.
the congresswoman truly made those present feel proud to be Pinoy. Other powerful testimonies and declarations came from: * Ansel Beluso, who shared about his former gay lifestyle and God’s transformation of his life when he joined a community. Ansel has been happily married for almost ten years to a woman he met in community with whom he has three children. He exhorted everyone to continue the fight for life, and fight the RH Bill, which also indirectly encourages the homosexual lifestyle. * Celebrity mom of five and TV host Christine Jacob-Sandejas, who deplored the RH Bill’s policy on sex education for children from Grade 4 to fourth year high school, saying that this was too long a period, and reminded those present that parents have the sole and moral responsibility to teach their children about sex. * Renowned Catholic lay preacher Bo Sanchez, who led everyone in a prayer for the Philippines, and exhorted all present to believe that the Filipino people are a blessing to the world, and not a problem. * Parañaque Representative Roilo Golez who does not believe that the bill will stop the cycle of poverty in the Philippines,
because it is only focused efforts on education and training that will. Quoting from GMA News, Rep. Golez said: “They want to spend P3 billion for condoms and contraceptives that will prevent the birth of 200,000 babies. If you were to ask me, I’d use the P3 billion for the training of 200,000 young Filipinos so that they will excel.” One of the most well-received testimonies was from the People’s Champion himself, boxing legend and Sarangani province representative Manny Pacquiao, who sent a video-recorded message, where he said that the RH bill will prevent “blessings” from being born. He even said that if his father and mother had used a condom, then there wouldn’t be a Manny Pacquaio. He also slammed the RH Bill, saying that it would cause the degradation of the Filipino youth’s morality, and that the solution to poverty is fighting corruption, not controlling the population through contraceptives. Sister Pilar Versoza of ProLife Philippines led the crowd to pray the Angelus and Prayer for the Unborn, which was followed by inspirational songs from the El Shaddai Chorale, and creative presentations from our very own Singles for Christ, who also led the crowd in the “I Stand” chant. There was also a Live Pure Movement presenta-
tion by our young brothers and sisters from Youth for Family and Life. Representatives from different sectors of society tore copies of the RH Bill as a sign of protest, reminiscent of the tearing of cedulas by Filipino freedom fighters in the 1800s led by national hero Andres Bonifacio. The Holy Mass was then celebrated, presided by His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, who was accompanied by Cardinal Ricardo Vidal and Cardinal Jose Sanchez, and other Bishops and priests. During the Mass, a message from the Vatican about the Protection of Life was read. In his homily, Cardinal Rosales stated that: * The sanctity of life is God’s greatest gift to man. “If life is not given value at any stage, whether as an infant, fetus, elderly, weak or strong, nobody would respect life. Once life loses importance and respect, man will be cheated, abused, lied to and robbed with impunity.” * Instead of promoting the use of contraceptives, we should honor the role of the husband and wife in the conception of human life, and promote natural family planning, which teaches discipline, self-control and respect for the other. “Kapag may disiplina sa kama, may disiplina sa kalsada. Kapag may
disiplina sa kalsada, may disiplina sa pitaka.” * Instead of teaching children “games” in the form of contraceptives, we should teach “the purity of conscience, cleanliness of the heart, discipline and selfrestraint and respect for money that is not theirs.” * The RH Bill is anti-Filipino, and those accusing the Church of being like Father Damaso fail to remember that Damaso was not a Filipino, and all that he was accused of doing is not part of the Filipino culture and lifestyle. Before the final blessing, Cardinal Rosales led the Prayer of the Consecration of the Philippines to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After the Mass, Mike Velarde of the El Shaddai community shared some inspiring words as a segue to their community’s prayer meeting. All in all, it was a fitting way to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation and the Day for Unborn Children, and was also an apt venue for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines to thank those who promote “true welfare” for Filipinos, including the unborn. CFC, together with our fellow Filipinos and brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church, are proud to be one in saying: “Obey God’s Will, NO TO RH BILL!”
SFC Strengthens and Empowers the Army of Leaders
LAST March 19-20, 2011, around 60 SFC Leaders from Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Aurora and Tarlac gathered in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija for a weekend of training, strengthening and empowerment. Taking off from the recent ICON where all SFCs declared to STAND, SFC is now seeing to it that its leaders will not only take a stand but also inspire other people, especially their members, to take a stand. Through the S.E.A.L weekend, SFC leaders were reminded not just of their calling but of the God who called them. They also received training in their areas of influence. The weekend ended with every leader in the previously-mentioned areas ready to give all and do all for God.
S.E.A.L. - Strong and Empowered Army for the Lord
The SFC S.E.A.L Weekend is for the formation of all leaders and aims to help them believe in their anointing, and build them as household heads, unit heads, chapter heads, cluster heads, sector heads and provincial couple coordinators by commissioning and empowering them to go “make every single man and woman all over the world experience Christ.” The SFC S.E.A.L Weekend in Cabanatuan was the first of many weekends which are scheduled to take place in the different provinces of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao between March and May of this year.
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