CBCP lauds ‘Earth Hour’ efforts
NASSA signs partnership with CARE International
Current trends in vocation recruitment in the Church
THE National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) signed a memorandum of understanding today with CARE International at the CBCP Headquarters in Intramuros.
Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation, Inc Supplement
Protagonist of Truth, Promoter of Peace March 31 - April 13, 2008
Vol. 12 No. 7
Social / A6
NASSA / A6
Sumilao farmers reclaim land
IT’S OVER. After 10 years, the Higaonon farmers finally got what they wanted— the 144 hectares of agricultural land in Sumilao, Bukidnon. Feeling overjoyed, a farmer hugs Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales after the signing rites at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati City March 29, 2008.
AFTER 10 years, the Higaonon farmers finally won their battle March 29 to reclaim the 144 hectares of agricultural land in Sumilao, Bukidnon. The Sumilao farmers have forged an agreement with San Miguel Corporation Saturday, returning the ownership of 50 hectares of the 144 hectares disputed property to the farmers. The agreement was a result of negotiations initiated by Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales after he expressed support for the cause of the farmers last December. Under the pact, the farmers will gain 50 hectare within the contested 144-hectare property through a deed of donation by SMC. The remaining 94-hectare, however, will be taken from properties outside but within the vicinity of the contested area. The 94-hectare will be distributed to the Sumilao through the voluntary offer to sale (VOS) scheme under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales together with Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo signed the agreement as witnesses. Rene Penas, a Sumilao farmer leader, said that the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement is a significant breakthrough for the Sumilao farmers who have been victims of injustice for more than 12 years now. “We have suffered all sorts of injustices in our claim over the land. We have chosen non-violent action to press for our legal claim and rights under the law.” Sumilao / A6
Photo by Noli Yamsuan / RCAM
Photo by Noli Yamsuan / RCAM
By Roy Lagarde
Sumilao farmers hold each other’s hands after successfully reclaiming their land saying, “"Today our exodus ends, today we finally become tillers of the land we own since the beginning."
KC celebrates Vatican recognition of ‘heroic virtue’ of founder opened by Archbishop Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford (USA) in December 1997. The cause was presented to the Vatican in 2000 where it has been under intensive review by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Ordained by Cardinal James Gibbons in 1877 at the Baltimore Cathedral, Fr. McGivney was first assigned as curate of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1884, he was made pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Conn. He became seriously ill with pneumonia and died in 1890 at an early age of 38. Eight years before his death, he founded the Knights of Columbus that has grown to 1.7 million in membership worldwide today. In the Philippines, there are now about 260,000 members through the hard-work of another “heroic” priest Fr. George J. Willmann, SJ, who died in 1977. With the pope’s decree and the authentication of a miracle at Father McGivney’s intercession, the priest could be beatified. A second miracle will be required for his canonization. On learning of the pope’s decree, KCFAPI President Antonio Borromeo commented, “The news on Vatican recognizing and approving the heroic virtues of Fr. McGivney in such a historic short time of 10 years, gives the Knights of Columbus in the Philippines and the rest of the Knights worldwide a sense of pride and belonging to the Order.” The “misa de gracia” offered today in celebration of Venerable Michael McGivney coincided with the 126th Founder’s Day of the Knights of Columbus. (CBCPNews)
Bishop blasts jueteng resurgence in Batangas JUETENG is back in Batangas province and it appears that local authorities are “helpless” to stop it, a Church official said. Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles admitted the resurgence of the illegal numbers racket despite concerted efforts of the Church and the local officials of Batangas. Arguelles suspects top government officials might be serving as jueteng protectors leaving those in the local government powerless. “We are trying to figure out who could be ultimately responsible for these jueteng operations,” he said. The prelate said it’s very unfortunate that gambling and corruption are now part of the Filipino culture. He said the national government should do something to
end the illegal gambling for the sake of the country. “They must do something,” Arguelles told CBCPNews. “There should be no sacred cows in government’s drive against illegal gambling,” Arguelles said. “I believe it needs a presidential directive to stop jueteng in Batangas or elsewhere,” he added. Batangas police said jueteng has returned in the towns of Calatagan, Calaca, Laurel, Tamayo, Balayan, Tuy, Taal, Ibaan and Lipa City. News reports said that jueteng re-emerged last month through guerilla and kangaroo style operation by still unidentified group. It can be recalled that Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz brought the issue of
jueteng to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s doorstep in 2005. In senate hearings, he and his witnesses—former gambling operators—testified that Arroyo, her immediate family and her associates had allegedly received money from jueteng operations. “The tentacles of jueteng go as far as Malacañang,” Cruz earlier claimed. Until now, Cruz and several other bishops condemns the resurgence of the illegal numbers game, it seems with “renewed vigor.” Left and right attacks were already thrown against the Arroyo government for not doing enough to eradicate jueteng. But still, “no substantial action against gambling has been done,” said Cruz. (CBCPNews)
Photo by Denz Dayao / CBCP Media
THE Knights of Columbus (KC) in the Philippines celebrated the Vatican recognition of “heroic virtue” of its founder Father Michael McGivney. Attended mostly by members of the Luzon State Jurisdiction and officers of the KC Fraternal Association of the Philippines (KCFAPI) that filled the big church to overflowing, a Eucharistic celebration was held March 29 at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros, Manila, with KCFAPI Chaplain Msgr. Pedro Quitorio presiding and with Msgr. Joselito Asis, Fr. William Araña, OSA, Fr. Jerome Cruz, Fr. Asis Bajao, OSA, and Fr. Ramon Sala, OSA, concelebrating. A wreath-laying ceremony led by Luzon State Deputy Alon Tan was held immediately after the mass on the life-size statue of Fr. Michael McGivney at the headquarters of Council 1000 in Intramuros. On the eve of Palm Sunday, March 15, Pope Benedict XVI approved a decree recognizing the heroic virtue of Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus. The papal declaration is a major step that significantly advances the process towards sainthood and gives Father McGivney the distinction of being regarded as “Venerable Servant of God.” “The recognition made by the Pope on the “heroic virtues” of Fr. Michael J. McGivney brings increased inspiration to the members of the Order— a drive that will propel each one to work harder in the spirit of Columbianism,” said Patrocinio Bacay, chairman of the Board of KCFAPI. The process for Father McGivney’s sainthood was
Kalookan ordains first priest THE Diocese of Kalookan has ordained its first priest 5 years after it was erected a diocese in 2003. Ildefonzo “Jun” de Guzman was ordained priest at the San Roque Cathedral in a Mass officiated by Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez on March 15. Bishop Iñiguez said the new priest would surely help bring strength to the Catholic Church. De Guzman, 31, was born in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro and earned his degree in philosophy before beginning his theological studies at St. Vincent College Seminary in Manila. De Guzman, who also has a diploma in Marriage and Family Ministry from the Ateneo de Manila University, came to the Kalookan diocese in 2001. In an interview, the priest said that like other “servants of God,” he also wants to be the kind of priest “who is sensitive to the sufferings of people” and goes out his way to help them. De Guzman was immediately assigned parish priest at Immaculate Conception Parish in Malabon. During his homily, Iñiguez said priests are like good shepherds, who are willing to lay down their lives for their flocks. The Diocese of Kalookan is ministered by 53 diocesan, religious and guest priests in 26 parishes. (CBCPNews)
Church taps YouTube for online lenten retreat
“WHO is God?” was one of the leading questions asked by Google surfers last year. And to somehow figure this out, the Catholic Church has joined the YouTube bandwagon and posted videos on the Church’s teachings in order to minister to the flock. Since April 2007, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines already posted 58 video documentaries in YouTube as new way to introduce Jesus Christ to people especially to the new generation.
This year, the CBCP Media Office has tapped again the video-sharing website for online recollection to reach those who might not be able to make it to church for the Holy Week, such as overseas Filipino workers in nonChristian countries. The video catechesis entitled “Holy Week 2008” is a take with Balanga Bishop Socrates Villegas, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education. The episode of the Holy Week 2008 video series (www.youtube.com/cbcpmedia) immediately gained over seven thousand views since it was uploaded on Holy Tuesday. According to Neilson/NetRatings, YouTube has nearly 20 million visitors per month, with the dominant age group being 12 to 17 yearolds. CBCP Media Office Msgr. Pedro Quitorio said it catches online viewers better when video clips are done in short packets even if the subject is something catechetical. Church / A6
John Paul II called Apostle of Mercy CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, March 30, 2008— Pope John Paul II was an apostle of divine mercy, and his pontificate can be summarized with the idea that God’s mercy is mankind’s only hope, affirms Benedict XVI. The German Pope addressed crowds today gathered to pray the midday Regina Caeli in the plaza of the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, speaking of his predecessor’s legacy in promoting the contemplation of divine mercy. “All that the Church says and does shows the mercy that God feels for man,” the Holy Father said. “When the Church has to remind about a neglected truth, or a betrayed good, it does it always motivated by a merciful love, so that men may have life and have it in abun-
dance. From divine mercy, which puts hearts at peace, also arises the authentic peace of the world, peace among peoples, cultures and religions.” “Like Sister Faustina, John Paul II became in turn an apostle of divine mercy,” Benedict XVI affirmed. He recalled the night John Paul II died, April 2, 2005, “precisely the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter,” saying that many “observed the unique coincidence, which brought together [that day] a Marian dimension—the first Saturday of the month—and that of divine mercy.” Benedict XVI continued: “In fact, [John Paul II’s] long and multifaceted pontificate finds here its central nucleus; all of his mission at
the service of the truth about God, about man and peace in the world is summarized in this proclamation, [...] ‘Apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind.’ “His message, like that of St. Faustina, presents the face of Christ, supreme revelation of the mercy of God. To contemplate constantly this face: This is the inheritance that he has left us, which we welcome with joy and make our own.” The German Pontiff concluded his address entrusting to Mary, Mother of Mercy, “the great cause of peace in the world so that the mercy of God achieves what is impossible with human strength alone, and instills the courage for dialogue and reconciliation.” (Zenit)
Holy See hopes to raise John Paul II to the altars ‘as soon as possible’
VATICAN CITY, March 27, 2008—In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, said that like many people in the world, the Holy See hopes the beatification of John Paul II will occur “as soon as possible” but that the normal process would be followed. With the third anniversary of the late Pontiff’s death just a week away, Cardinal
Saraiva reminisced about the events of those days. “We all remember the day of Pope Wojtyla’s funeral. We remember the shouts of ‘Santo subito!’ ‘Sainthood now!’ That phrase, that cry, in St. Peter’s Square expressed what people were thinking. It meant that John Paul II genuinely had a true reputation for holiness among the faithful. And we know that is essential in the process of beatification,” he ex-
plained. “If that reputation for holiness did not exist, a cause for beatification could not even begin,” Cardinal Saraiva stressed, noting that the process goes through a series of phases. “Each process has two fundamental phases. One diocesan—local—and the other what we call ‘Roman,’ at the level of the Holy See. The diocesan phase was concluded on April 2 last year. Once the diocesan phase is closed, the
Roman phase is opened immediately without delay, with the official handing over of all the documentation gathered during the diocesan phase to my dicastery.” “Once this documentation is received, we immediately approve a postulator for the Roman phase, who is the same postulator that was in charge of the diocesan phase. We also appoint a relator who, guided by the postulator, puts together the so-called ‘positio,’ which is a collection of all the documents organized in a systematic and organic fashion. This ‘positio’ is printed out and is studied by the collegiate bodies of the dicastery,” the cardinal said. “The postulator of the cause for beatification of John Paul II is the one drafting the ‘positio’,” Cardinal Saraiva continued, noting that it could consist of volumes of documentation. “It doesn’t depend on the dicastery, but rather on the time the postulator needs to finish his work. I don’t know how many months, a year…I don’t know and maybe he doesn’t either,” he said. “What I can assure you is that once we receive the ‘positio’ we will study it immediately without delay. Because the dicastery certainly wants John Paul II to be raised to the altars as soon as possible and to be called ‘Blessed,’ responding thus to the cries in St. Peter’s of ‘Sainthood Now’.” (CNA)
Religious to discuss roles of authority in Latin Church gious life of the Latin Church”. The event has been organized to mark the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law. Officials at the “Angelicum” explain that during the congress, which will be held on April 9, participants will present “the specific model of authority of the Order to which they belong (both at a personal and collegial level as well as at the various
More than 7 thousand faithful gather to reflect on God’s compassion HO CHI MINH, Vietnam, March 28, 2008—More than 7 thousand Catholics gathered at the pastoral centre of the archdiocese of the former Saigon, for two prayer vigils on the message “God is rich in compassion”. Present at the vigils was Peter Tran Dinh Tu, bishop of Phu Cuong and president of the bishops’ commission for divine worship. The participants included many young Catholics from various dioceses in the country, who are in Ho Chi Minh City for school or work. Thanh, who comes from the diocese of Thanh Hoa, tells AsiaNews: “Coming here is like being with a second family, and is an opportunity for my spiritual life: I went to con-
fession and received communion during Holy Week”. Cuong, a young man from the parish of Binh An, adds: “I prepared to sing the fourteen stations of the Via Crucis in traditional Vietnamese music. My father taught me the technique, and this helps us to know each other better and draw closer together”. Sister Maria Tran Thi Nga, of the Missionaries of Christ’s Charity, says: “We are three sisters, and we work with the poor of Ho Chi Minh City. We help them to solve many of their everyday problems, and at the same time we invite all to prayer and compassion. In this sense, we share spiritual activities”. (AsiaNews)
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Marches in the Christian villages: justice in the death of Archbishop Rahho
Pope says predecessor’s legacy is contemplation of Christ’s face
VATICAN CITY, March 28, 2008—Leaders of various religious communities are planning to gather during the second week of April for a conference on how authority is exercised in their different orders. The Faculty of Canon Law of Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the “Angelicum”, will host the congress on the theme: “Various models of authority in the reli-
levels of General, Provincial and Local Superior), as it appears from a reading of history”, concentrating especially on “Rules and Constitutions revised since 1983”. Some of the topics to be discussed are: “The abbot vicar of Christ: authority in monastic life”; “Religious authority in the Friars Preachers as a mendicant order”; “Religious authority in the Society of Jesus”; and “Au-
thority and government in modern congregations”. The morning session will be presided by Cardinal Franc Rode C.M., prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, while the afternoon meeting will be held under the presidency of Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. (CNA)
MOSUL, Iraq, March 29, 2008—In silence, every day for almost a week, in the Christian villages of the plain of Nineveh peaceful marches have been held to call for truth in the case of the kidnapping and killing of the Chaldean archbishop of Mosul. Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was found dead on March 13, after 14 days in captivity. Three men who were with him were killed in the ambush during which he was kidnapped, after the celebration of the Via Crucis on February 29. Now Iraqi Christians are asking for justice. Responding to an appeal launched on Easter by the Nineveh bishops’ council (which includes the religious leaders of all the Christian communities present in the area) they have taken courage and each day have walked through the streets of Bartella, Karamles, Qaraqosh, al Qosh, holding the portraits of their “martyrs”: from Archbishop Rahho to Fr. Ragheed and Fr. Paul Iskandar, all killed in the last three years by Islamic terrorists. Without counting the many laypeople killed while resisting kidnapping attempts, because they refused to convert or only because they owned shops that sold alcoholic beverages (banned by Islam). The appeal of the bishops’ council, announced in all the churches last March 23, cites the words of one of Archbishop Rahho’s last homilies: “We are Iraqis, we want to build peace, to build Iraq, Iraq is ours too; we are for Iraq. We are staying here, we have no en-
emies, we do not hate anyone”. The message clearly asked: to suspend all outward celebrations except for liturgical ones; to fast on March 24 and 26; and to organize peaceful manifestations, so that justice may be done over the death of Archbishop Rahho. The events surrounding the death of the archbishop of Mosul are still unclear. The autopsy revealed no signs of violence, and showed that the prelate probably died at least five days before his body was recovered, probably following complications with his already precarious health. The Iraqi authorities say they have arrested a group of people, including four brothers, who were involved in the kidnapping; they are thought to be former members of the regime of Saddam Hussein, who are believed to have sold the bishop to al Qaeda. Initially, there were said to have been confessions, in which those responsible recounted torturing the bishop, but then the story changed to suffocation, a method used to leave no traces on the body. A last detail: it is thought that there is a video recording of the killing, but so far the police say they have not found it. The information released is raising doubts over the proper and transparent handling of the case on the part of the Iraqi government. This may be doing nothing more than seeking the least discrediting way to leave behind a shameful incident that has exposed it yet again to media attention and world public opinion. (AsiaNews)
Spanish bishops: No Catholic can support abortion, euthanasia or research with embryos MADRID, Spain, March 28, 2008— The subcommittee on the Family and the Defense of Life of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference reiterated this week that “no Catholic, either in private or public life, can support practices such as abortion, euthanasia or the creation, freezing and manipulation of human embryos in any case.” In a recent statement entitled, “Life is Always a Good,” the Spanish bishops underscored that “human life is a sacred value which we all must respect and which the laws must protect” from “its beginnings in fertilization until its natural end.” Released on the occasion of the 7th Pro-Life Day, which will be observed on March 31, the statement rebuffed the argument that Catholics can reject abortion but that it should be made available to non-Catholics, saying abortion is a matter of human rights and not of religion. Christians are called to continuously confront the many attacks on human life, the bishops stressed, and their efforts can find strong basis in natural law. “Therefore, they can be shared by all people of upright conscience,” they noted. “Just like all of us, the Son of God began his human life in the womb of his Mother,” the bish-
ops continued, stressing that all human life deserves to be accepted, respected and loved, especially when that life “is fragile and needs attention and care, whether before birth or in its final stages.” Recently, they went on, Spanish society was disturbed by the cases of abortion mills that were killing babies who were in their eighth month and by their ghastly actions to cover it up. “This reality, which the bishops have been denouncing for years, has brought to the forefront against the debate over abortion in our society,” they said. “While the end of illegal abortions is a significant step, the genuinely moral and humane thing to do would be to completely abolish the ‘abortion law,’ which is an unjust law,” the bishops asserted. “The abortion law should be abolished, while at the same time women should be given support, especially when they are mothers, thus creating a new culture in which families welcome and promote life,” they said. “Adoption is an important alternative. Thousands of couples have to endure long and tiresome processes to adopt while in Spain more than 100,000 babies died from abortion during 2006,” the bishops emphasized. (CNA)
Benedict XVI names deaf priest ‘Prelate of Honor’ MADRID, Spain, March 27, 2008—A Cuban priest who works on the Spanish island of Tenerife has been named an honorary Prelate by Pope Benedict XVI. Father Saturnino Agustin Yanes Valer is 80 and is deaf. Msgr. Yanes, as he is now referred to in his diocese, received the honorary title after 50 years of pastoral service to the deaf in Spain. One of his most recent projects is the blog http://
www.pastoraldelsordo.blogspot.com, which offers the readings of the Mass in simple language and a Sunday homily in sign language. Msgr. Yanes was born in Havana, Cuba on February 26, 1929. His parents, natives of Spain, returned to Tenerife when he was only seven months old. At the age of five he was diagnosed with an illness that left him deaf. He has several brothers who are also priests. (CNA)
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Local Muslim leaders include a Catholic priest in community discussion LOCAL Muslim leaders of Marawi City in Mindanao include a Catholic priest in community discussion. Fr. Teresito Larrozo Soganub, parish priest of Santa Maria Auxiliadora Cathedral in the Prelature of Marawi, said that his local counterparts from Muslim faith are cooperative and understanding, who invite him always to discuss matters related to the community, where Muslims are majority. He is happy that his interaction with Muslim brothers has been cordial and enriching. It is good that he gets a chance to share his ideas and contribute for the common good of the community in the locality, the priest said. His parish church with its corrugated iron roof does not look like a church from outside because it has no cross. “People here don’t want a large symbol. The residents do not want that,” he said. Catholics account for about 1 percent of Marawi’s entire population. Established in 1934, the parish has about 40,300 Catholics spread over 4,567 sq.kms. The parish gets about 8 weddings a year as most Catholics prefer to get married elsewhere so they can feast on lechon, or roast pig, a staple at celebrations
in Catholic parts of the country. Marawi, Lanao Del Sur province, is about 385 miles south of Manila. The city is also the spiritual center for the Maranao, the most devout of the three major Muslim groups in the country, a largely Catholic country in Southeast Asia. In 1970s, the city has witnessed a Muslim-Christian struggle, including kidnapping that have targeted Catholic priests, but today, the city is peaceful. “To avoid arguments and to avoid further misunderstandings we just plant the cross in our hearts,” Soganub, a 47 yearold chancellor of the diocese, said. “In my parish in Marawi, the only Islamic city in the Philippines, it’s easier that way,” said the priest who does not wear a crucifix or a clerical collar. Islam was practiced in the Philippines before the Spanish converted many to Catholicism in the 1500s. Mindanao, southern part of the country, remained largely Muslim and its religious balance was tipped in favor of Christianity only due to resettlement programs started during the US colonial period in the early part of the twentieth century and accelerated after World War II. (Santosh Digal)
Secularism also threatens consecrated life, says Pope Urges Salesians to focus lives on Christ BENEDICT XVI says that even consecrated persons need to guard against an increasing process of secularization that is gaining ground in modern times. The Pope said that today when he received in audience participants in the 26th General Chapter of the Salesian Society of Don John Bosco which is, he told them, taking place “in a period of great social, economic and political changes,” of “more intense communication among peoples,” and of “lively debate on the spiritual values that give meaning to existence.” “Don Bosco,” the Holy Father added, “wished the continuity of his charism in the Church to be guaranteed by the choice of con-
secrated life. Today, too, the Salesian movement can grow in charismatic faithfulness only if it continues to maintain a strong and vibrant nucleus of consecrated people.” “The entire congregation must constantly strive to be ‘a living memorial of Jesus’ way of living and acting as the Incarnate Word in relation to the Father and in relation to the brethren.’ [...] May Christ be the focus of your lives! [...] It is here that ardent love for the Lord Jesus is born, the aspiration to become one with him, adopting his feelings and way of life: faithful abandonment to the Father and dedication to the evangelizing mission which must characterize all Salesians.” Benedict XVI then went on to consider “the
process of secularization that is gaining ground in modern culture” and that “unfortunately does not even spare communities of consecrated life. Hence it is necessary to be cautious with lifestyles that risk abating evangelical witness, rendering pastoral activity ineffective and weakening the vocational response.” The Pope called on the participants in the chapter to help their companions “in protecting and reviving their faithfulness to the call. [...] May the Word of God and the liturgy be sources of Salesian spirituality! And especially, may ‘lectio divina’ practiced daily by each Salesian, and the Eucharist celebrated in the community every day, provide nourishment and support.” (Zenit)
THE Lay Associates of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) have been spearheading education support program for the Mangyan children and youth in Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro for the last four years. The Franciscan Lay Associates Mission Endeavors Foundation, Inc., founded by Tagaytay Group of lay collaborators of FMM nuns, serves as the organized mission work of the group. Under the foundation’s Education Support Program, about 25 pupils are enrolled in different levels of elementary education at the Abra de Ilog Central School, said FMM lay associate Alice G. Bacongan. The objective of this scholarship is to provide educational support in the formal school and then send those who graduated from the elementary level to the alternative secondary school in Danlog, the PAMANAK, added Bacongan. “Mangyan” is a general term that refers to eight ethnolinguistic groups of proto-malay origin that occupies the mountainous region of Mindoro Oriental and Occidental. The Mangyans are the original inhabitants
of Mindoro, the seventh largest island in the Philippines. Mangyan population is over 100,000, about 10 percent of the total population of the island. Mangyan tribe is one of the 110 tribal groups of the country. Reports say there are about 100,000 Mangyans spread all over the country, as it is officially hard to count their population. Cora Hernandez, one of the lay associates of the Foundation, assists the pupils with their homework, gives tutorials when necessary and coordinates with the teachers regarding performance in school of the pupils. Aside from the provision of full scholarship support, the foundation provided feeding for pupils to help them become more alert, receptive of their lessons and gain weight, Bacongan said. During school days, lunch is served to these pupils. Their parents take turns in cooking the food while the children participate in washing the dishes and cleaning the dining area at the Mangyan Pahingahan at the premises of the St. Rafael parish convent. The program also includes an adult literacy
education, which is conducted twice a week for the parents. Last year at least 25 adults of whom 15 attended literacy sessions regularly with no absences, said Beth Ambat, the Adult Literacy Facilitator. Parents who study under the adult literacy program, are taught to read and write. Most of them know how to write their names now and could read phrases and short sentences. During the 2004 elections, a parent who was able to vote and write his candidates on his own was so happy doing it for the first time, said Ambat. The foundation also provides health outreach services. One of the beneficiaries of this is Nomer Manalo, a 5-year old Mangyan kid whose right leg got burned when he was six months old. Foundation members coordinated with physicians and benefactors, local and abroad to provide necessary medical treatment for Manalo. Now Manalo can run and walk after three surgeries, said Enna Ong, who supervised all logistics for Manalo. (CBCPNews)
BUC, MILF, WCRP discuss peace dev’t FMM lay associates lead education in Mindanao program for Mangyan kids in Mindoro
REPRESENTATIVES from the World Conference on Peace and Religion (WCRP), Bishops Ulama Conference (BUC) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) met March 29 and discussed the peace developments in Mindanao. MILF Chairman Al Hadj Murad welcomed in Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao yesterday the representatives of the WCRP and the co-convenors of the Bishops Ulama Conference headed by Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla. In a dinner meeting, Murad communicated to the visiting groups the willingness of the Moro rebels to resume the long stalled peace negotiations between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Government Republic of the Philippines (GRP). Last December 2007, discussions to finalize the peace agreement between the Philippine government and Muslim rebels were called off following the MILF’s hitch on problem over money. MILF spokesman Eid Kabalu that time blamed the government for causing the setback to finalize a conclusive peace accord by raising constitutional issues on economic control of a proposed Islamic state. Kabalu during his previous press statement said the government wanted to use the Philippine Constitution as the basis for the formulation and implementation of the ancestral domain. Under the 1987 Constitution, the exploration, utilization and development of natural resources shall be under the full control of the states. In March 2007, the Philippine government offered to recognize the right of self determination for the Moros, the Muslims here in the south, which it had never done in over three decades of conflict and intermittent negotiations. The government and the Moro rebels have already leaped forward in the peace talk last November 2007 after they agreed to the scope the boundaries of the MILF’s demand for ancestral domain. However, the aborted meeting
last December was supposed to discuss on how resources on these lands are to be shared. The BUC, meanwhile, expressed their eagerness to support the resumption of talks between the government and the Moro rebels. BUC co-convenors remain hopeful that after the long overdue peace talks, a final solution to the already decade-old rebellion will materialize. Representatives of the WCRP are also confident that the Philippine government will come up determined to pursue an all-embracing peace settlement with the rebels. The meeting last March 29, it was learned, also consisted of a series in preparation for the Asian Conference for Religion and Peace (ACRP) at Tubod, Lanao del Norte in October of this year. The MILF is a Muslim separatist rebel group located in Southern Philippines. The area where the group is active is called Bangsamoro by the MILF and it covers the southern portion of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, Palawan, Basilan and the neighboring islands. Majority of the approximately 4.5 million Muslims in the Philippines live within those areas. Historically, the MILF was centered on the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the late 1960’s following the infamous Jabidah Massacre. The group demanded the formation of an independent Moro Islamic state. In the early days, the Philippine government rejected this demand and sent troops to the Moroland to maintain order. The MILF was formed in 1981 when the late Salamat Hashim and his followers split from the MNLF, due to the latter’s reluctance to launch an insurgency against the government forces and initiate a movement towards a peace agreement. Decades have passed and still counting, the insurgency in Mindanao brought damage to the lives and properties of the people and has caused so much poverty and displacement in the local communities. (Mark S. Ventura)
CBCP lauds ‘Earth Hour’ efforts THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has lauded “Earth Hour” participants for switching off their lights to help cut the world’s green house emissions. The bright lights in some Metro Manila areas faded to black alongside of the skyscrapers, as organizers declared “Earth Hour” evening of March 29 a success. Lights were also switched off at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, plunging its corridors and offices into an hour of darkness. “Following the call of Archbishop Angel Lagdameo earlier this week, the CBCP joined the Earth Hour to symbolize its commitment to the crusade
against global warming,” said CBCP Spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio who went to the Cultural Center of the Philippines to personally witness the “switch off” ceremonies. The event also plunged into darkness other cities outside Metro Manila that signified their support to combat climate change. The initiative began in Sydney last year and has become a global event, sweeping across 35 countries this year. Organizers hope the initiative will spur people to be more aware of their energy usage and its effect to the environment. They said that producing electricity pollutes the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels which are contributing to global warming. (CBCPNews)
Vatican: Muslims now outnumber Catholics ISLAM has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion, L’Osservatore Romano reported on Sunday. “For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us,” Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican daily. According to the most recent figures from the Vatican yearbook of statistics, the number of the world’s population that are Muslims is 19.2%, with the number of Catholics trailing behind at 17.4 %. “It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer,” Msgr. Formenti said.
These latest results come from 2006 and are not all Vatican tabulated. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only guarantee its own data. When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said. (CNA)
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Condoning corruption THAT Filipinos are discriminating in their regard for corruption in and outside the government is true indeed. Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ, pointed this out in his address at the BEC rural congress in Prelature of Libmanan late last month. And, come to think of it, he is right. “We are apathetic,” says the bishop. Culturally maybe, but Pinoys are easy to condone corruption especially when the “operator” is a relative, a friend, or, worse, when they somehow are benefited, or “naaambunan” by it. A “standard operating procedure” or SOP is the common parlance which carries an implication that such has become part of the “kalakaran” and therefore bereft of qualms—or morality, if you may. The logic is simple: when everybody does it, everybody does it; which is to say, “What’s your problem? It’s the norm”. This might explain why the irony of Filipinos being too sensitive when tagged derogatory names abroad. When Hollywood actress Claire Danes described Manila as a “dirty place full of rats and cockroaches”, everybody was clamoring to high heavens to declare the actress “persona non grata”—for telling the truth. When Transparency International rated the Philippines as one of the most corrupt countries in Southeast Asia, nobody heard a whimper of complaint—because that is an old truth. The issue of massive corruption and wholesale thievery during the Martial Law did not come as big as the conjugal dictatorship which smacks of political decadence rather than moral. But corruption then was equally worse, if not more—as the continuing Marcos Swiss accounts and hidden wealth easily substantiate. Which is why the thesis may be correct that Filipinos condone thieves, cheats and liars, but not dictators who are quickly sent to Hawaii. If a president is convicted of thief, he becomes forgiven in a week or two with an honorable act of executive clemency.
Abp. Angel N. Lagdameo, DD
In and Out of Season
The pre-colonial tagline of “islas de ladrones” imputed to this country has, of course, nothing to do with the Philippines being one of the most corrupt nations in this part of the world. But it gives a historical perspective—and a good wink.
NO leader has moved the whole world as did the late John Paul II, whose 26-year pontificate has shaped global history and inspired hundreds of millions of people everywhere. Millions all over the world watched through the TV the burial rites of the “extraordinary Pope,” in April 8, 2005. On May 18, he would have been 88 years old. A very strong “sensu fidelium” about the multi-qualified goodness of the Pope has been registered throughout the world from cardinals and bishops, from leaders of states and people everywhere, which is almost like a “beatification” of a “servant of God” by popular acclamation. Beyond all speculations, Karol Wojtyla, the Christian, “Lolek” for his intimates and family members, was the man chosen by the Holy Spirit through the College of Cardi-
Being very discriminating, this maybe the line of thought of those who find it futile not to wait until 2010 national elections, because, after all, it will be just as hackneyed as changing one corrupt collar from one stupid dog to another.
The Social Doctrine of the Church as Prophetic THE People of God know that our role as shepherds includes the duty to “teach the truth of faith: the truth not only of dogmas but also of the morals whose source lies in human nature itself and in the Gospel” (CSD, 70, citing Vatican II, Dignitatis Humanae, 14 and John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 27, 64, 110).
nals in 1978 when he was 58 years old. This man of the Holy Spirit was the first non-Italian Pope after 455 years. The world will long remember Pope John Paul II as the shepherd who has touched millions upon millions of people through his 104 Papal Visits outside of Italy. To help him guide the course of the Church, he created 231 cardinals and appointed more than 1,500 bishops. The world will remember him as a prolific teacher and catechist who has written a total of 85 Encyclicals, Apostolic Exhortations, Constitutions and Letters which shaped the faith and life of Christians. The world will remember him as the “man for others” who shaped global politics, always championing peace, human rights and the welfare of the poor in his 984 encounters with various Heads of States and Prime Ministers.
Happy Easter! AS the light of the Paschal Candle pierces through the murky night of Holy Saturday, ushering on its break the lilting mood of the Easter Vigil that exudes in the song of the “Exultet”, the people of faith plunges once again into the deep darkness of the Liturgy of the Word to carefully listen to the words of promise and of hope. It is in this holy darkness that the word of God starts again dispelling the chilling fear of death that has for so long terrorized the heart of man, slowly filling it up in an ever increasing intensity with the message of ‘God cares’ and ‘God saves His people’, that soon would blare into the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus, bursting into songs of jubilation and “alleluia”. For Christ is Risen! Christ is truly risen! Happy Easter! But back to reality. Is it really possible to celebrate a happy Easter in the midst of all these social turmoil and political mess? At times we begin to wonder if it remains reasonable to be optimistic about this country. The fact is that many of us have become cynical, refusing to believe that change can still take place, refusing to hold that a better life
This is also a duty, since the Church “cannot forsake this responsibility without denying herself and her fidelity to Christ: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!’” (1 Cor 9:16); CSD, 71). The Gospel then has a public relevance. This is even more understandable when we realize that the Church cannot ignore “the corrupting effects of injustice, that is, of sin” (CSD, loc. cit.). Therefore, the Church has a duty “to denounce when sin is present: the sin of injustice and violence that in different ways moves through society and is embodied in it” (CSD, 81). In this way the Church’s social doctrine defends human rights “especially those of the poor, the least and the weak.” One can easily see how this right and duty to denounce is both religious and moral. It is inseparable from the evangelizing mission of the Church. In the Old Testament God chose prophets to proclaim God’s word, announcing judgment and hope to Israel. Today the Church fills the role of prophet to herself and to society. Her social doctrine is prophetic. It is both judgment and hope. It calls to conversion. It enkindles hope. It bears the seeds of personal and social transformation. –Shepherding and Prophesying in Hope, CBCP Pastoral Letter, 2006
CBCP Monitor Tr u t h ,
Pedro C. Quitorio Pinky Barrientos, FSP
Kris P. Bayos
Melo M. Acuña
Dennis B. Dayao
Ernani M. Ramos
Roy Q. Lagarde
The CBCP Monitor is published fortnightly by the CBCP Communications Development Foundation, Inc., with editorial and business offices at 470 Gen. Luna St., Intramuros, Manila. P.O. Box 3601, 1076 MCPO. Editorial: (063) 404-2182. Business: (063)404-1612. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.cbcpworld.net/cbcpmonitor
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THE government of China has decided to continue its population control program of “One-Child Policy” in spite of its many consequences—among them the ratio of 20-30 boys for every girl. This scenario is frightening as the children are now growing up into their teens and young adulthood. The other result is the huge number of elderly getting dependent on the few babies that were born the past twenty five years since the policy was implemented. No matter how the Chinese government encourages the couples to bring to birth their female babies, their culture drives them to strive for a male first born. So the female unborn child is aborted if it is first-born and aborted as well if it is the second-born since the allocated one-child son has been born! I have just returned from a trip to Taiwan, Hongkong and Macau to give pro-life seminars to the Filipino overseas workers. Most of them are working as domestic helpers in such families that have an only son. And their
is still possible. In fact, some people have long given up—they chose to look for greener pasture elsewhere. Can the citizens of a morally shaken country such as ours capable of genuinely greeting each other with greetings of “Alleluias” and “Rejoice, for Christ is risen”? The answer is why not? After all the Church sincerely believes that the answer to our sad plight goes beyond socio-economic analysis and political maneuverings. For a start, our Church believes that this deep Easter experience of the risen Christ would give us the stubborn hope that blossoms best in moments of darkness and ambiguity; that it would give us the needed courage to pick up again the communal problem of searching for the truth that we have temporarily left off; that we can readily face up to the moral problems, political ambiguities, and social illusions, that have through these years tightly gripped the soul of our country. The experience of Easter could give us the hope to extricate ourselves from the sad situation that we are in, the time when work is scarce, when families are so poor they can no longer
Sr. Mary Pilar Verzosa, RGS
The Catholic Church will remember him as the pope of dialogue and consultation who presided over 15 Synods and gathered millions more around him for World Meetings of Families and World Youth Days. We here in the Philippines will remember him as the Pope who gathered more than 4 million at the Luneta intermittently chanting the refrain “John Paul, John Paul II, we love you … John Paul II, we love you.” That was in 1995 World Youth Day, his second visit to our country. I like to imagine that as a candidate for Beatification, John Paul has many patrons: the 1,338 he proclaimed blessed and the 482 he proclaimed saints, like Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and his fellow Polish, St. Faustina Kowalska of the Divine Mercy, like our own St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Blessed Pedro Calungsod.
Bp. Leonardo Y. Medroso, JCD, DD
For the Church has “the right to proclaim the Gospel in the context of society, to make the liberating word of the Gospel resound in the complex worlds of production, labor, business, finance, trade, politics, law, culture, social communications, where men and women live” (CSD, ibid.).
Pope John Paul II lovingly remembered
live with dignity and little pride, when the greed of those in the corridors of power has drowned away all their shame and decency, when corruption has become “our greatest shame as a people” (CBCP, “Reform Yourselves and Believe in the Gospel”). This hope is dynamic, alive, vigorous. It pushes us to action. It is alien for people of hope to say that the event of our times is inevitable. A Filipino Christian, whose spirit is soaked with the Easter experience, plunges himself into action, for he knows that at the heart of this topsy-turvy nation of ours rests the love of God. Easter has taught him that God has overcome the world. As Jesus said: “In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world” (Jn 16:33). By action here is meant concrete involvement in the unfolding of our history. Christians who possess the seed of hope in their hearts cannot be passive or indifferent bystanders in the drama which we call “everyday life”. “We can open ourselves and the world and allow God to enter: we can open Tidbits / A6
In China today: 120 boys to 100 girls due to the One-Child Policy
common complaint—those boys are spoiled brats, so hard to baby-sit for. Materialism is the rule of the day and no longer the muchadmired values of Chinese discipline, industriousness and respect for the elderly. It was truly consoling to see our kababayans trying hard to live a Christian life in such a secular atmosphere. The Catholic churches where I spoke after Holy Communion were filled with Filipinos during all the Sunday Masses. I was so proud to see them conducting the Choir, helping as altar servers, Eucharistic Ministers and ushers. Most of them were women. My heart ached for them as I knew that each of them longed for their families. Some were hurrying home this summer to attend the graduation of a son or a daughter—the fruit of their hard labor through the years they were separated from them. Fr. Nilo, the parish priest of St. Christopher Church in Taipei, invited me to speak to his parish leaders on pro-life awareness as
well as help set up counseling services. He admitted that seven out of ten confessions were abortion-related since abortion is legal in Taiwan. Still the guilt and depression of the women need to be addressed. As well as assistance to the pregnant so they do not abort. Fr. Nilo was glad that over a hundred attended the seminar and eagerly committed to get involved in pro-life work. Although it was a last minute arrangement, Ray Arcilla was able to gather the Save-aLife Net after one Sunday Mass at St. Mary’s Church in Hongkong for my brief sharing. Motivating them to get involved in pro-life was not necessary. The Education-Formation Parish Leadership Program members attend fifteen Sunday teachings that include pro-life values before they have their commissioning. Over 400 are actively conducting prolife seminars themselves or do side-walk counseling outside the Queen Mary Hospital where the women go for abortion. Love Life / A6
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Jose B. Lugay
Laiko Lampstand WE rejoiced when the Biofuel Act of 2006 was approved by Congress two years ago. This meant that we will have an alternative fuel produced from agricultural crops like coconut to produce biodiesel; sugar cane, corn or cassava to produce ethanol. After more than one year of implementation— addition of 1% biodiesel to diesel fuel and 5% ethanol to gasoline—prices of these food crops started to rise. Coconut supply to biodiesel producers like Chemrez Technologies. Inc. and Senbel was inadequate to support their capacity to produce biofuels. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last February instructed the Department of Agriculture to help these biodiesel producers to look for supply of coconuts and to support the farmers to plant more coconut in Luzon. In the United States, the production of ethanol from corn also created a disruption of the food supply which triggered the increase of cost not only of corn but of corn-fed hog and chicken. To add to the dilemma, it takes lots of electricity to produce ethanol. A typical plant eats up as much as the corn crop need of 1,660 farms. For ethanol production, 2 coal-fired electricity plants were set up in Marshalltown and Waterloo. With this experience that is, for ethanol production, a certain baseload energy is required, there are only 3 options for this initial source of energy, namely, 1) nuclear, 2) natural gas and 3) coal. In the Philippine scenario, we see the setting up of new coal-fired power generating plants. Since production of biofuel needs a
DIVES in Misericordia, God who is rich in mercy (Eph 2, 4), is how the Servant of God, the Great John Paul II, entitled his Encyclical dedicated to the Mercy of God. Believing in the crucified Son means “seeing the Father” (John 3, 16), means believing that love is present in the world and that this love is more powerful than any kind of evil in which individuals, humanity, or the world are involved. Believing in this love, means believing in mercy. For mercy is an indispensable dimension of love; it is as it were love’s second name…(Dives in Misericordia, 7). And as the Church commemorates his 3rd Death Anniversary, the Church also celebrates the first World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy in Rome. God willing, a number of us will be attending the Congress. For twenty years, the devotion to the Mercy of God as revealed to a Polish nun was suppressed, and it took a new Cardinal of Krakow to lift the ban and spread the devotion. That Cardinal eventually became John Paul II who also subsequently declared the visionary, the “Secretary of the Mercy of
the environment and its anti-flood properties, outweigh perceived harmful effects. Furthermore, he asserted that rice lands cannot be converted into jatropha plantations because jatropha can’t survive in wetlands. The brightest news lately is the discovery that malunggay seeds is a good source of oil for biodiesel. Malunggay or morinaga oleiferam, is more famous now for its medicinal and nutritional value. In fact just recently, a one hectare pilot experiment in the planting of malunggay, in the lahar land of Porac, Pampanga was successful. Governor Panlilio was guest to the get-together for tasting the products produced from malunggay which include malunggay tea, pan de sal, noodles, and polvoron. What is more exciting, however, is the fact that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers validated the potential use of malunggay oil as a major biofuel feedstock next to coconut. Seeds of malunggay contain 36 to 40% oil. The Department of Agriculture of Caraga adopted malunggay as its One-Town One-Vegetable program. 500,000 hectares will be planted with malunggay for the biodiesel feedstock. With the continuing increase in the price of fuel oil directly increasing the cost of transportation and all transported food products to the market, the Philippines has to continue research and development studies in renewable energy sources including the search for biofuel feedstock that will not affect the supply of food derived from coconut, sugar, cassava and other grains.
Fr. Melvin P. Castro
Speaking of Mary
God”, as St. Faustina Kowalska. And it was the same Pope who declared the Second Sunday of Easter—as requested by Our Lord Himself to St. Faustina—as the Feast of the Mercy of God. And as God could only destine it to be so, the Great John Paul II died on the eve of the Feast of the Mercy of God. But believe it or not, this Great Servant of God, a profound lover of Our Lady had to struggle as well with the very concept of Marian devotion. In his book, Gift and Mystery, Pope John Paul II himself tells us: At one point I began to question my devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ. At that time, I was greatly helped by a book by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort entitled Treatise of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. There I found the answers to my questions. Yes, Mary does bring us closer to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ. And it was through the reading of St. Louis that Pope John Paul II came to have his Papal
Motto, Totus Tuus—Totally Yours—an act of Consecration to Mary, the Mother of Mercy. Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has. At the same time, still in an exceptional way, she made possible with the sacrifice of her heart her own sharing in revealing God’s mercy. This sacrifice is intimately linked with the Cross of her Son, at the foot of which she was to stand on Calvary. Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to his own love, to the Covenant that he willed from eternity and that he entered into in time with man, with the people, with humanity; it is a sharing in the revelation that was definitively fulfilled through the Cross (Dives in Misericordia, 9). Hence, as we just celebrated the Feast of the Mercy of God and during this printing the World Congress on the Divine Mercy, may we all turn to Christ, the King of Mercy and put all our trust in him. And may Mary, the Mother of Mercy, ever draw us closer to Her Son. Ave Maria! Ad Jesum per Mariam.
Rev. Euly B. Belizar, SThD
By the Roadside A STORY is told of an employee who said to another: “Do you really believe our CEO is involved in wrongdoing when she went into this shady deal with foreigners?” “I’m afraid I have to say, ‘Yes’,” came the answer. “But do you have any proof?” “Well, you asked me if I believe… Have you forgotten that faith needs no proofs but only leads and clues?” I haven’t. My prime example is John the Apostle before the appearances of the Risen Jesus. He neither saw nor heard nor touched nor smelled Jesus who triumphed over death. He only saw the leads and clues: the empty tomb, the linen cloths lying flat (strange for body-snatchers to leave them behind unless they, following a meticulous plan, brought with them new linen cloths to wrap the body with) and, more interestingly (if one thinks of the body-snatchers theory again), the headcovering napkin which, John the evangelist insists, “stayed rolled up in its place” (as though the head with the body simply disappeared or moved itself out without touching the napkin—strange indeed) (Jn. 20:5-7). With only these clues, John “saw and believed” (Jn. 20:8). Of course, the most revealing take on faith comes from the Risen Jesus himself when he educates Thomas the Apostle and (through Thomas) you and me. “You believe because you saw me, don’t you, Thomas? Blest are they who believe even if they do not see” (Jn. 20:29). With that this whole matter about “seeing is believing” is completely debunked (and how, but unfortunately we are the ones who resurrect it from time to time). A friend of mine used to regularly travel with me from Borongan my hometown to Tacloban. He was so fascinated by the rainforests of Eastern Samar. But he found the San Juanico Bridge the most exhilarating. One time he made this passing remark regarding the bridge: “Come to think of it, the beauty of this bridge really is that it makes you reach Tacloban more easily from Samar or vice versa.” I think San Juanico Bridge is a good analogy of faith. Faith’s beauty is that it leads us to God and to his gift of salvation.
Bp. Guillermo V. Afable, DD
Biofuel feedstock vs food supply
baseload energy, is the program for biofuel really advantageous for the Philippines? A Nobel-prize winner scientist, Dr. Hartmut Michel says that biofuel development is counterproductive. It dislocates the food security program of an agricultural country like the Philippines. What is worse is that it destroys the environment. His arguments however were based on his experience in the United States—the conversion of forest lands for agricultural use; the wide application of fertilizers and the abundant use of water. These conditions are not the same when it comes to the use of alternative feedstock in the Philippines. Our alternative crops in the Philippines for biofuel production is now under intense experimentation—jatropha curcas for biodiesel and sweet sorghum for ethanol. If successful, these two crops will ease the pressure on the food chain supply. Philforest Corporation which was in the headlines along with Jun Lozada who was its President, was engaged in the research on jatropha curcas. It is claimed that this shrub will grow in any type of soil. Locally known as tubatuba or tubong bukid in the Tagalog region, tagumbao or tawa-tawa in Ilocos, kalunay in Cagayan Valley, tuba-tuba or kasla in Ilongo and tangan-tangan in Lanao, the Philippines has high hopes from the recent researches conducted by the Philippine National Oil Company-Alternative Fuels Corporation (PNOC-AFC). Its chairman, Renato Velasco said studies show that the benefits derived from jatropha, including positive effects to
The Mercy of God and Mary, Mother of Mercy
An anatomy of faith
Faith is, as a song once put it, “like a bridge over troubled waters”. Small wonder, then, that we call it a theological virtue; like no other, it links us directly to and with God. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he stresses that it is by God’s merciful love and favor, not by our own efforts, that we are saved. But he brings in the crucial role of faith. “I repeat,” he says, “it is owing to this favor that salvation is yours through faith” (Eph. 2:16). This doesn’t contradict, of course, James’ doctrine that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Paul is simply putting things in perspective. Salvation, he tells us, is God’s gift to us through faith which we also express in, and whose consequences include “the life of good deeds which God prepared for us in advance” (Eph. 2:10). The saving character of faith is also underlined by John’s gospel. The Son of Man, John’s Jesus insists, must be lifted up like the bronze serpent by Moses in the desert “that all who believe may have eternal life through him” (Jn. 3:14-15). Then the most beautiful utterance follows: “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). Again: “Whoever believes in him avoids condemnation” (Jn. 3:18). We therefore understand and confess with Tertio Millennio Adveniente, “the necessity of faith for salvation” (TMA 40). But we need to ask: What does it entail to believe? First, it entails realizing that faith is a process rather than the finished product. It is the journey rather than the destination. Let me explain. For me faith is an essential identifying mark of the Christian disciple. It is necessary on the way to God; once we reach him faith gives way to love; it is love that never ends. Second, faith involves listening to God’s self-revealing Word. As such, it becomes an added identifying mark of the Christian. When Jesus confronts the Jews for their lack of faith, he tells them point blank: “But you do not believe because you do not belong among my sheep” (Jn. 10:26). It is common for people to use diverse identifying marks
to describe someone, and at times one characteristic further illustrates another characteristic. For example, when I once asked a parishioner to describe his father he said, “He habitually wears shades; he has cataracts.” When Jesus excludes certain Jews from his flock, he explains a characteristic of his flock that further illustrates faith, their common identifying mark: “My sheep listen to my voice” (Jn. 10:27). The test of the pudding is in the eating; the test of faith is in the listening we give to the Lord’s Word. Third, faith entails saying “Yes” to the Word. That is why the Church also speaks of faith in terms of assent. It doesn’t mean that faith excludes doubt, at least in its embryonic stages. As we showed above, Thomas the apostle shows us that doubt may even be the first stop-over in the journey of faith. Nor does it mean an easy assimilation or giving of the nod. Even the Blessed Virgin who best exemplifies faith had to ask in a troubled voice, “How can this be since I do not know man” (Lk. 1:34). Still, the point is what she says as a final and definitive gesture: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). Fourth, faith involves reliance on the Word. It is trust. The words we say before Communion in response to the priest’s proclamation of the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” repeat the centurion’s confession of faith: “I am not worthy to have you under my roof. Just say the word and my servant will be healed” (Mt. 8:8). It is an absolute, unquestioning reliance on the power of Jesus’ Word. Which is how the gospels define faith essentially. I once asked the people in church to stand at the start of my homily. After a few seconds I asked them to be seated again. They looked at me puzzled. I explained that I have proved to them that the words of a human authority, such as myself, are powerful. For example, my word produced actions (standing and sitting). Then I said the clincher: “Just imagine how much greater the power of God’s Word. For example, whatever Jesus says in the gospel becomes true.” This is the logic and wisdom of faith.
DADITAMA ‘Let me go to the Lord’ ON 2 April 2005, the Lord God called John Paul II to take him home to the house of the Father. And once again, as he always did, when called by the Lord, he promptly responded with his brave heart in a whisper: “Let me go to the Lord,” as narrated by Stanislaw Dziwisz, his former secretary and now Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow. “Jesus I trust in you, have mercy upon us… From the last Regina Caeli message of John Paul II posted on the Vatican website, we read the following introduction to the text: Pope John Paul II died peacefully on the evening of 2 April, 9:37 p.m. Rome time. The last gift of the Holy Father for Divine Mercy Sunday, 3 April (also the Second Sunday of Easter), was the Regina Caeli, read by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Substitute of the Secretariat of State, at the end of the Holy Mass celebrated that day in St Peter’s Square for the deceased Pope. “I have been charged”, Archbishop Sandri said, “to read you the text that was prepared in accordance with his explicit instructions by the Holy Father John Paul II. I am deeply honoured to do so, but also filled with nostalgia”. Part of that short message still has a resounding relevance to our present world crises in economics, the environment, terrorism, the entire social order. He said, “As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the Risen Lord offers his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens hearts to love. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy! Lord, who reveal the Father’s love by your death and Resurrection, we believe in you and confidently repeat to you today: Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world.” This was, as it were, his last prayer for us before he passed away… complete trust in the Lord.
Papal visit in Daditama
The beloved John Paul II has a special place in the hearts of the people in Daditama. He was the only Pope so far who has touched the ground of Mindanao particularly Davao City on that momentous day of February 20, 1981. For a few hours the Pope was with his flock in Mindanao and we marveled in his presence. Due to security considerations at that time, he was able to meet the people from all over Mindanao only at the airstrip of Davao Airport where he celebrated mass. We remember how he recalled and proposed in his homily as the rule of life within our ecclesial communities, the prayer of St. Francis of Asissi. “Make me a channel of your peace…” At that grace-filled day, he too gave special attention to the non Christians in Mindanao by meeting with the representatives of the Muslim communities at the airport terminal. He recalled with them the natural fraternity among Christians and Muslims because we belong to the one human family and brothers, as well, in the almighty God. He also stressed that cooperation and peace between them is an imperative of the one God which adherents of both religions have gotten to know as most merciful. That momentous day is so well remembered, that a beautiful memorial church was built to commemorate that event— San Pablo Church in Matina, Davao City. Each year too, the parish of St. Joseph, Sasa in cooperation with the Davao airport management would commemorate that day with a simple Eucharistic celebration right there where it all happened.
Special relations with Daditama Bishops
Diocesan Bishops of Daditama, except for Archbishop Capalla, have all been elected as Bishops by John Paul II. All four bishops, Archbishop Capalla, Bishop Manlapaz, Bishop Alo and Bishop Afable were all appointed to their present Diocesan Offices by this great pope. It was also John Paul II who erected the two new dioceses of Digos in 1980 and Mati in 1984 thereby increasing the Metropolitan province of Davao to four dioceses. Surely, John Paul II will be well remembered again on April 2, 2008 on his third death anniversary.
Servant of God
He was indeed a servant of God. This is what we in the Church call him now, while the process of his Beatification continues. Pope Benedict XVI encourages us, “May the Totus tuus of the beloved Pontiff encourage us to follow him on the path of the gift of ourselves to Christ through the intercession of Mary, and may she herself, the Virgin Mary, obtain it for us while we entrust to her motherly hands this father, brother and friend of ours, that he may rest in God and rejoice in peace (homily, 2nd death anniversary)
There is a worldwide endeavor to promote Eucharistic Adoration on April 2, 2008 from 7:00pm to 8:00pm local time. Cardinal George from Chicago and many other Holy Cardinals and Bishops from all over the world are participating in this Holy Hour. If you could help spread the word through your contacts we would be most grateful. The website www.worldwideadoration.org will give you more details regarding this Holy Hour. Here is what you can do:
To pray the rosary for this intention; To spread the word to your email contacts or through word of mouth; To attend adoration on April 2 and pray for peace, love and charity in the world; To organize adoration in your local parish from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm on April 2; To organize adoration in your local diocese; To assist with local press coverage of this holy event. (My email: email@example.com)
Fifth, faith involves a sharing of life between Master and disciple. Jesus describes the believing community: “I know my sheep and mine know me” (Jn. 10:14, 27). I notice that seminarians, religious and student activists use a common phrase to describe everything that they do to share the lives of the people in order to know them and, knowing them, serve them better. They call it “pakikipagbabad” with the poor, the youth, the marginalized, the oppressed, the grieving. Finally, faith entails obedience, a doing of the Word. “My sheep,” Jesus qualifies, “follow me” (Jn. 10:27). I once saw a blind old lady being led by a young man across the street to safety. I noticed how she lifted up her stick and let it rest by her side. Faith is like that. We let go of the stick of our own way of thinking, we let go of our own ideas or plans and allow the Lord Jesus to lead us to the Father’s own way of seeing, thinking and doing things. This way faith is really “letting go” and “letting God”. The biggest surprise of all is that it becomes our ultimate liberation. Which is why, we say, “Faith saves”.
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
ECY notes increase of applicants for WYD THE increased number of interested juveniles vying to be part of the official delegation of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) to the 23rd World Youth Day shows a similar boost in the youth’s interest to grow mature in their faith. This is what Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the ECY, said as he disclosed that the commission received an estimate of 1,400 diocesan nominations from around the country in the application period that lasted from October 2007 to February 2008. “This is a good sign because the numbers show that the interest to grow in faith is positively identified with the youth. Perhaps, it is the Holy Spirit who inspires them to join,” said Garganta, concurrently the director of the National Secretariat for Youth Apostolate. He added that of the 1,400 applications, 900 were followed up and are continuously undergoing evaluation and screening with ECY.
Compared with the 500 applications, 325 of which are granted visa, for the 2006 WYD in Cologne, Germany, this statistic is almost double in number. “Perhaps the proximity of the host country for this year’s WYD is a vital factor for the increase. Practically wise, flying to Australia is a lot cheaper compared to Germany,” he said, adding that the transportation expense is a major concern among the delegates. Garganta likewise said that although the ECY posts no quota to the number of its delegation, applicants are often hindered by financial constraints from pursuing their processing. “Practically speaking, monetary support is vital in the application. It is not only the applicants’ eagerness that will help them get there but material support as well,” he said. Although the ECY has not yet finalized the number of its delegates, Garganta said the
People are apathetic when it comes to corruption, says prelate
commission will probably be certain of its official delegation come June. “As to date, we still have not made final the number of the delegates who will make it to Australia but the final number will be out by the first week of June,” he said. As of press time, Garganta said the ECY is keenly engaged into paper works for the evaluation of the nominees and applicants to ensure that qualifications are met. After successful clearance by the ECY, the applicants will have to endure another screening process. This time, it will be with the Australian embassy that will determine their eligibility for issuance of visa. Only then can the official delegation be made final. “We want to form a delegation that is composed of matured faithful who are deep in faith and are capable of inspiring others in sharing their encounters with Jesus,” he said. (Kris Bayos)
BONTOC-Lagawe Bishop Emeritus Francisco Claver, S.J said that people are apathetic and discriminating when it comes to corruption. “We are apathetic, we do not complain,” Claver said about corruption which normally people condone as standard operating procedure. Speaking before 2,000 prime movers of Basic Ecclesial Communities from the Prelature of Libmanan, March 26, Claver echoed the bishops’ pastoral letter on the national situation and said “let’s not just blame the government for all the ills that we have. Let’s look at ourselves.” He recalled how people are discriminating when it comes to corruption involving their own relatives, citing an event in Bontoc during the general assem-
UST Hospital expansion plans to continue, says Rector THE disputed development plan of the University of Santo Tomas Hospital (USTH) will go on after a review team recommends its final findings, said acting rector, Fr. Rolando De la Rosa, OP. An ad hoc committee has been reviewing the redevelopment plans for USTH in accordance with the instructions of Fr. Carlos Alfonso Azpiroz Costa, O.P., master-general of the Dominican Order, the university’s student publication paper Varsitarian reported in its latest issue dated March 14. The committee’s findings would help De la Rosa gather information and study the viability of plans for the country’s top university hospital. The team is headed by Faculty of Engineering Regent Fr. Arthur Dingel, O.P., executive assistant to the head of UST Hospital, for the review and revision of the hospital development plans. Dingel told the Varsitarian, “The ad hoc com-
mittee for the review of the plans eventually forwarded to the office of the acting rector several recommendations. (And one of them) is the revision of the development plan which led to the creation of the ad hoc committee.” Through the committee, the development plans for UST Hospital, involving construction and renovation, updating of organizational structures, and prioritization of projects and programs, among others, will be reviewed and revised. As of press time, the committee is evaluating the construction of the fourth and fifth floors of the charity ward or Clinical Division of the hospital. The master general wants the hospital redevelopment to continue “within a level that can be afforded by the hospital and that cannot endanger the patrimony of the University.” “What I can assure you is I am here to implement what the master general wants,” De la Rosa said. “The new committee is only tem-
porary,” he told Varsitarian. Last September, three Dominicans, the top board of directors of USTH—the prior provincial of the Filipino Dominicans, Fr. Edmund Nantes, O.P., Rector Fr. Ernesto Arceo, O.P., and Vice-Rector Juan Ponce, O.P—resigned following a dispute among Dominicans over the separation and creation of incorporation of the hospital in 2004. Azpiroz also ordered the construction of a new hospital tower halted, the new corporation dissolved, and the P3-billion loan from a consortium of banks cancelled or renegotiated. The transactions were deemed illegal as they did not have the approval of the Dominican Curia and the Vatican. In the aftermath of this, the master general appointed De la Rosa, a two-term UST rector, as acting rector. At present, De la Rosa also serves as head of the hospital, but a management team takes care of day-to-day affairs. (Santosh Digal)
Tidbits / A4
Photo by Noli Yamsuan / RCAM
Sumilao / A1
A triumph of perseverance Ten years ago they had to go on a protracted hunger strike that lasted almost a month which resulted in the win-win formula decided by then President Fidel Ramos. “We thought that was the end of it but we lost the land when the Supreme Court decided against us on the basis of a technicality in ‘97. We hope that our 1,700 kilometers walk will not be put to waste. We hope this agreement will finally give us peaceful possession and cultivation of our land,” Penas said. Atty. Arlene Bag-ao, legal counsel of the Sumilao farmers said that the agreement was a triumph of the persevering spirit of the farmers. “They have faced all kinds of odds in their quest to reclaim the land, they have confronted the system that is stacked against them but they did not give up and continued to struggle for what is justly theirs even if it meant making big sacrifices. With the signing of the agreement, they will be able to fulfill their vow that
the first ground they will step on upon their return will be the land they will call their own,” she said.
assistance to the farmers through Kristohanong Katilingban sa Pagpakabana (KKP) and other XU extension groups.
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro City, a vocal supporter of the farmers said, “I have the feeling of gratitude because they got what they have long been fighting for. It’s just a beginning for them.” He added that even if the issue has almost ended, the support does not stop there. He said assistance will be given depending on what they need for their sustainability. The farmers took their few meters symbolic march at the highway of Sumilao before they arrived to the disputed site. “Sugod sa among krusada, nagbaklay me ug karun nagbaklay me ug pagbalik para ipakita ang among kadaugan (We started our crusade walking and now we are having the symbolic march for our victory),” said Samuel Merida, Chairman of MAPALAD Multi-purpose Cooperative.
Bukidnon Bishop Honesto Pacana, Archbishop Ledesma and Father Paciente, Parish Priest of Kisolon, Bukidnon celebrated the thanksgiving mass at the site and had it blessed. “Social legislation in the Philippines is difficult; we need to have a strong will. The crucial support from different sectors is very important,” said Atty. Aison Sy Garcia, a supporter of the farmers, when asked for insights on the case. “Ang ka-usa matinud-anon, Napahigmata namo ang gobyerno nga naay balaod sa katungod sa kabus pero kailangan naa pay grupo nga motulak para kini matuman (The crusade is sincere, we have awakened the government on the rights of the poor but we have to push for it to have it),” Merida said. Their entry into the land was the first time after 12 years of sacrifice. The farmers promised to take care of the land through farming and share the land to the landless farmers of Sumilao. (With reports from Maryann Alasay Zamora)
with NASSA. Sayer expressed his appreciation to Catholic Relief Services for facilitating the partnership with NASSA, which has an extensive diocesan network. He added NASSA is the best organization to be their partner “with its teams of dedicated, experienced and committed people” throughout the country. In his brief remarks, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace Chairman and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said he is overwhelmed by the support
extended by CARE International. The agreement was signed by CARE Secretary General Robert Glasser and CARE CEO Helene Gayle, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, NASSA Executive Director Sister Rosanne Malillin, SPC, and witnessed by Mohammad Musa, CARE Regional Director of Asia Regional Management Unit and NASSA’s Elvira Manalansan, CARE International is a nonprofit humanitarian organization with headquarters in Chemin de Balexert, Geneva, Switzerland. (Melo M. Acuña)
We are home “Nia na sa atong kamot ang yuta (The land is now in our hands),” said Kagawad Rene Penas, one of the Sumilao farmers when they arrived at the disputed Sumilao farm site. The 144 farmers arrived aboard an Air force C1-30 plane March 29 together with the support groups namely: 0ffice of Social Community and Involvement (OSCI), Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB), PAKISAMA, Balawud-Mindanaw, OSA and other supporters and their legal counsel Arlene Bag-ao. The farmers were wearing their whitestatement T-shirt emblazoned the words “Ibalik! 144 hectares sa Sumilao farmers” and trademark headband Sumilao farmers. The Sumilao farmers had their breakfast followed by a small gathering at Xavier University– Ateneo de Cagayan. The XU community headed by Fr. Jose Ramon T. Villarin,S.J. promised
Sustainable support needed
NASSA / A1
The memorandum provides for the development of capacitybuilding program that will effect a disaster risk-reduction in 35 dioceses that are classified within the high-risk category. In his remarks, CARE Asia Deputy Regional Director Patrick Sayer said the Philippines “boasts of a vibrant civil society that has played a part in re-establishing democracy 20 years ago.” He added civil society has continued to play a significant role in the well-being of its people. Sayer said CARE began work-
ing in the Philippines over the past six decades and “like many NGOs, it is forced to think about how to maintain relevance and legitimacy in the brave new world you are all creating, with others.” He said as a foreign organization they should further make their presence felt in the community. Sayer added CARE must remain engaged in humanitarian response to emergencies which he described as “one of the most crucial underlying causes of poverty.” CARE now have an AgriAqua Development Coalition
bly of small Christian communities. “They were singing ‘we look at the projects that are started by our barangay captain, and we see that they are substandard’ but hastened to add ‘but when they are our relatives who do these things, we look the other way,’” Claver said. “When I heard that, I said, that’s exactly what is wrong with us, we talk about corruption by others, but when our relatives, or we do it, we turn the other way around,” the prelate lamented. The prelate added that this was the reason why the bishops said “don’t just look at the people who are doing all these corruption, look into yourselves, because what we have found out is: if the problem continues, it is because we turn our eyes away.” He called on people to be sensitive to reports about the country’s classification as the region’s most corrupt. “We do not react, and here we are, we are a Catholic nation, but we have no reactions,” he added. “And this is where the bishops are asking you: let’s do something about it, but let’s start with ourselves, let’s not just blame others, let’s start where we can,” Bishop Claver appealed. (Melo Acuña)
ourselves to truth, to love, to what is good” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 35). “Even when we are fully aware that Heaven far exceeds what we can merit”, the Pope says, “it will always be true that our behavior is not indifferent before God and therefore is not indifferent for the unfolding of history” (35). Even when we seem powerless before the enemy, “our actions engender hope for us and for others…” (35). In other words, the more we engage actively and constructively in the efforts to improve society, the more we make alive the hope that is in us. Conversely, the more indifferent we are, the more cynicism destroys our capacity to dream for a better, renewed life. And when we act, when we actively involve ourselves in the unfolding of history, the element of suffering becomes all the more unavoidable. Being a consequence of our finitude, suffering is already inevitable, but it can
swell into horrifying levels when we labor for truth and justice. We can perhaps minimize it by leading a life of utter indifference. We can close our eyes from falsehood and tyranny, and spare ourselves from hostility. But is this the Christian option? The Holy Father says, “It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love” (37). And with a rather stunning emphasis, he repeats at least three (3) times in the encyclical that the capacity to suffer for truth and justice is an essential criterion, the very measure, of humanity (cf. 38 and 39). To abandon this capacity would destroy man himself. “Truth and justice must stand above my comfort and physical well-being, or else my life itself becomes a lie” (38). HAPPY EASTER!
Love Life / A4
A few days before I arrived in HK, a seven-month old premature baby was found dead in a paper bag in the downtown area where the Filipinos pack their balikbayan boxes. That was around ten in the morning. At 2:30, another woman looked inside the unclaimed bag and screamed when she saw the dead baby wrapped in a towel. The umbilical cord was still attached. A note in Tagalog said— ”Please help my baby. My employer did not give me maternity leave. My flight is at 11:30 today”. The police brought the bag to the station and investigations were incomplete up to press time. No one could give any information regarding the mother. Immediate reaction of the people was to condemn such cruelty. But the pro-lifers sighed and expressed pity that the woman did not know she could have been helped had she approached them. The incident motivated them all the more to strengthen their pro-life mission.
In Macau, my audience was mostly members of the Couples for Christ, a few priests and university students. This was organized by Prof. Zen Udani whom I have known ever since he was teaching here at the University of Asia and the Pacific. Again, it was a highly motivated group who expressed much appreciation for the video tapes and training manuals that I shared with them so they could continue with the pro-life work among themselves. During the Open Forum, the same question would be posed— ”Sister, when are you coming back here? We would like you to speak to more groups and to continue giving us training!” That is certainly a strong temptation for me to ask my Superior to mission me to Taiwan, Hongkong or Macau soon and join the Filipino Good Shepherd Sisters who have been serving our countrymen and women in those countries these past years.
Church / A1
No less than the Vatican has called on Catholic Churches to make the most of the Internet for evangelization and to make it “a new forum for proclaiming the Gospel.” Quitorio said video blogs that were “short, fast and easy” were “attuned to the psyche of today’s youth.” “It seemed a good way to reach our target audience and to preach to a great number of people,” he said. The CBCP official stressed that if the Church sticks to traditional modes, “we won’t be able to catch the attention of many youth who now have changing modes of expression,” he also said. The very first CBCP video blog posted featured Quitorio in a Holy Week series where he discussed various Lenten traditions. Other contents of the CBCP’s
YouTube account include reflections on the environment, gambling, politics, social justice and other social issues. YouTube enjoys popularity not only among youth in the Philippines, but also Filipinos abroad, who use Internet to connect with their families at home. Aside from its YouTube clip, the CBCP had been promoting the use of other new technologies to spread Catholicism in this country of 75 million Catholics. Last year, the CBCP Media Office has also launched a news service (www.cbcpnews.com) that has earned over a million in page loads within a period of few months. The CBCP Media Office makes good use of information technology to enhance its mission, says a note posted on CBCP’s website. (CBCPNews)
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Church in Korea launches new TV channel and website
SEOUL, Korea, March 19, 2008—The Church in Korea has launched a media offensive that includes a new television channel, a new internet publication and a revamped website for the episcopate, according to the Fides news agency. The bishops’ new website can be found at http:// www.cbck.or.kr and includes a vast array of documents and electronic books that can be downloaded. In addition, the bishops have launched a news service at http://hwahai.cbck.or.kr which will publish each month. The first edition features a column by Bishop Lucas Kim Woon-hoe, president of the Bishops’ Committee for Reconciliation, who explains that the new service “seeks to
contribute to understanding and reunification of the Korean people, as well as to strengthen the role of the Church as an agent of peace.” The Korean Church’s new TV channel, UTV, has also been launched, although right now it is only broadcasting over the internet. The Archdiocese of Seoul has also formed a Commission for Social Communications under the leadership of Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung. “The commission will help broadcasters and journalists in their relations with the Christian faith and in the proclamation of the Gospel,” reminding them of their task “to build a harmonious society and proclaim the truth,” he said. (CNA)
Venezuelan archbishop denounces Chavez’s new commune project UNION RADIO, March 25, 2008— The vice president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro, criticized a proposal by President Hugo Chavez to create Sovietlike commune cities “when decent services haven’t been provided to the cities that already exist in Venezuela for more than 500 years”. Speaking on Union Radio, Archbishop Luckert said Coro “seems like a war zone, with all the streets torn up. What will those poor communities that are part of the president’s illusory psychosis be like, when decent services haven’t been provided to the cities that already exist in Venezuela for more than 500 years?” he asked. Archbishop Luckert called the president’s proposal “foolish”
and a product of his fondness for Marxism, Socialism and Fidel Castro. He also said “21st century Socialism” is a concept “only Chavez and those around him” understand and are willing to swallow. He went on to note that Chavez wants education in Venezuela to be subject to his ideology. The Venezuelan people used to think that he would move the country forward, the archbishop said, “but now people understand that this is not the case.” Now people realize that Chavez makes false promises that “end up as nothing,” he explained. The archbishop warned Venezuelans to be alert against Chavez’s attempts to impose his reforms that were voted down during the referendum on December 2, 2007. (CNA)
Ugandan president teaches Muammar Gaddafi about Christianity KAMPALA, March 26, 2008— President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda spoke about Christianity to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in response to the latter’s claim that the Bible had been doctored, the Catholic Information Service for Africa reports. Last week Colonel Gaddafi claimed that the original Bible had mentioned Muhammed, but had been doctored to exclude references to the founder of Islam. Ugandan Christians condemned his claim. During Easter prayers at Nshwere Church in the Kiruhura district, President Museveni spoke about his discussion with the Libyan leader. He said he told Colonel Gaddafi that the resurrection of Jesus is important for humanity, especially Christians, because it gives them hope for life after death. The president said he also told Gaddafi that the fundamental laws of Christianity are contained in the two laws found in Chapter 12 of the Gospel of St. Mark. He cited both commandments, which read, “Love the Lord your God with all your
Vatican daily says Holy See has not ‘emphasized’ baptism of Muslim convert VATICAN CITY, March 26, 2008—The official Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, has rejected claims in some media reports that the Holy See has “emphasized” the baptism of Magdi Allam, the Muslim convert and associate director of the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera who entered the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. In an article entitled, “Religious freedom and dialogue,” the Vatican newspaper pointed out that it is tradition for the Holy Father to baptize, confirm and give First Communion to seven adult converts from different parts of the world during the Easter Vigil Mass.
“One of those persons was Egyptian-born journalist Magdi Allam,” the article noted, emphasizing that Allam—whose baptismal name is Christian—”freely chose baptism after a long journey of discernment and personal preparation necessary to take this step.” “This event, which is so unique, solemn and joyful, has not been emphasized, as can be seen by the confidentiality” with which the event was treated, the newspaper stated. The article quoted Vatican Press Office Director, Father Federico Lombardi, who explained that the Pope “does not distinguish between persons. Everyone is important before God and welcome in the community of the Church.”
Moscow Patriarchate to ‘monitor’ Catholic orphanages VLADIMIR, Russia, March 28, 2008—The Russian Orthodox Church has decided that it will closely and constantly monitor the activities of Catholic social organizations, especially orphanages. The decision was taken at a meeting of a joint working group on problems between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Churches that was held in the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow. “The working group is ready to do such monitoring,” said working group Co-Chairman Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. It will “try to work out a common vision of ways that could make Orthodox-Catholic interrelation [...] more systematic.” For Archpriest Chaplin, who is also Vice Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations at the Moscow Patriarchate, this means that Orthodox children in
Men’s Mag in public
Catholic orphanages and other Catholic institutions will obligatorily receive spiritual assistance and services from Orthodox clergymen. There are no precise data on the exact number of children in Catholic orphanages, but according to some experts, the number is no more than 200 throughout the entire Russian Federation. The Orthodox clergy’s request is understandable and reasonable, but the rights and interests of Orthodox children are already protected. Orthodox children in fact are already cared for by Orthodox priests and are free to practice their faith according to the principles of their Church. One example among many: Father Igor Vyzhanov from the Department for External Church Relations at the Moscow Patriarch-
ate baptized a child in April 2006 inside the St. John Bosco Orphanage. Over the years the approach of the Catholic Church to the education of minors has not changed. Nonetheless, Catholic social activities will be “monitored”. Like the 19 March meeting between Patriarch Aleksij II and the Mother of God archbishop that was postponed upon request by the Patriarchate, the Vladimir meeting represents another lost opportunity to talk about issues that are “sensitive” in the relationship between the two sister Churches, issues like visas for foreign religious, the return of Church property seized by the Soviet state, or the absence of Catholics from the Inter-faith Council of Russia (whose members include Orthodox, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists.) (AsiaNews)
FROM THE INBOX
AM a writer in Makati who frequents bookstores and magazine stands as I am a big fan of almost all types of literature. heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” According to President Museveni, Colonel Gaddafi seemed convinced that if one fulfilled both laws, one would have fulfilled most of the laws of God. The president said it did not matter which religion one belongs to as long as one fulfills both laws. “I do not believe in competition between religions, after all God has no religion. God is for us all,” the president said, according to the Catholic Information Service for Africa. (CNA)
“Benedict XVI’s gesture at the same time has important meaning because it expresses religious freedom with kindness and clarity and that includes the freedom to change one’s religion, as pointed out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,” he added. The Vatican newspaper also rejected claims that the baptism constituted a “hostile act against such a great religion as Islam. For many decades, the Catholic Church has shown her desire to dialogue with the Muslim world, despite many difficulties and obstacles.” The problems that exist “should not obscure what we have in common and what will come in the future,” the article stated. (CNA)
I am pretty liberal but a new magazine has caught my attention and rubbed me the wrong way. On blatant display in most of the major bookstores is a magazine… (name of magazine withheld—ed). Obviously intended for men, it goes well beyond the scantily clad women featured in other men’s magazines. In this month’s issue for example, they show a woman bound and gagged and seemingly struggling on the floor. I am not against sensuality, but promoting non-consensual sex so publicly seems not only un-Christian but totally inhuman as well. They are practically promoting violence against women. And I don’t know how to properly air my ire. I was hoping you sirs could look into this issue. - Bia F.
Incomplete caption I WISH to thank you for your immediate response to our observation about the little space given in the CBCP Monitor’s previous issue to the National Launching of Alay Kapwa on February 8, 2008 in the Diocese of San Jose de Antique. The one-half page story on the AK Program (B7 of CBCP Monitor, Vol. 12, No. 6, March 17-30, 2008) along with the picture of the Papal Nuncio flanked by the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the CBCP ECSA-JP Commission looked good enough except for the caption. The picture caption, to be complete, should have placed the date and place of the launching as there was still space. It would have made us, Church people in Antique, feel good to see the date and place of the national launching in that caption. After all we spent so much money and effort in preparing for that national launching which we had thought would be deemed important enough. - Bishop Romulo T. de la Cruz Diocese of San Jose de Antique
People, Facts & Places Liturgical conference slated in Manila Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Archdiocese of Davao to mark ‘year of grace’ Apart from prayer, the archbishop also urged the people to reflect on the words of the late pope in the same Apostolic Letter: “Now is the time for each local Church to assess its fervor and find fresh enthusiasm for its spiritual and pastoral responsibilities, by reflecting on what the Spirit has been saying to the People of God in this special year of grace.” The archdiocese of Davao is an archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. It is a metropolitan see in the island of Mindanao. Under its jurisdiction are the three suffragan dioceses of Digos, Tagum and Mati, three towns that are now the capital cities of the three Davao provinces. The beginnings of the archdiocese started with the arrival of the Augustinian Recollects in 1848 followed by the Jesuits soon after. Its official beginnings came during its establishment as a Prelature Nullius in December 17,
1949 having the archdiocese of Cebu as its metropolitan. It was elevated into a Diocese on July 11, 1966 and eventually became an archdiocese on June 29, 1970 taking as its titular patron St. Peter the Apostle whose feast day is celebrated also on June 29. The official name given to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction is ‘Archidioecesis Davaensis” and San Pedro Cathedral parish as the seat of the archbishop. In December 29, 1954, Clovis Thibault, PME was appointed the first bishop of the prelature of Davao. He was a priest of the Foreign Mission Society of Quebec. Succeeding him in December 9, 1972 was Antonio Lloren Mabutas, a native of Agoo, La Union. Currently its appointed archbishop is Fernando R. Capalla, a native of Leon, Iloilo in Central Philippines. He succeeded the post on November 6, 1996. (Mark S.Ventura)
2,000 lay leaders gather for BEC Congress
THOUSANDS of lay leaders gathered today for a congress of the basic ecclesial communities (BEC) in the prelature of Libmanan. Prelature of Libmanan Bishop Prospero Arellano, in a statement released through Social Action Center Director Fr. Granwell Bitabit, said more than 2,000 lay leaders from
Seminar on images, worship slated in Lipa A SEMINAR on Sacred Images and Christian Worship will be conducted for priests, religious, seminarians, theology and religion teachers and lay liturgical workers on two Saturdays at different venues in the Archdiocese of Lipa. The seminar will discuss topics concerning the history and theology of the veneration of sacred images, images of the Holy Trinity and the Our Lord Jesus Christ, images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, angels and saints with special emphasis on Filipino religious and current practices. The seminar’s resource person is Fr. Virgilio B. Hernandez, who holds a doctorate degree in liturgy. The seminars will be held April 19 at St. Francis de Sales Theological Seminary at Barangay Marawoy, Lipa City and April 26 at St. Teresa College, Bauan, Batangas. In another development, parochial catechists from all over the Archdiocese of Lipa are expected to attend this year’s Catechetical Institute at the Oblates of St. Joseph Retreat House, Marawoy, Lipa City scheduled on April 13–18, 2008. (Fr. Nonie Dolor)
26 parishes have assembled for the occasion. The congress on the role of BECs in rural development was part of the ongoing consultations being held in preparation for the upcoming National Rural Congress sometime this year. The prelature level consultations and workshops were organized to consolidate what had been gathered at the ground level. Fr. Bitabit said they spent two months for consultations and interviews with various BECs in their prelature. Caceres Auxiliary Bishop Jose Roxas led the Mass during the congress. In his homily, Bishop Jose Rojas recalled the important resolutions passed during the rural congress held four decades ago which included a call for real agrarian reform. The prelate said BEC’s play an important role in social transformation. He also touched on the
social teachings of Pope Leo XIII. Bontoc-Lagawe Bishop Emeritus Francisco Claver, S.J. who graced the event reviewed the details of the first National Rural Congress held 40 years ago. “The Church must go to the barrio,” Bishop Claver said as he emphasized the need for dialogue, participation and co-responsibility among all sectors of society. Participant Cecil Deomano, an active lay leader in the prelature said Bishops Claver and Rojas underscored the need to put meaning and life to the prelature’s goals. The said congress aimed to give the rural poor especially the farmers, the opportunity to voice out their concerns notably on matters that affect their daily lives. It may be recalled that the January 2007 CBCP Pastoral Statement called for the convening of the Second National Rural Congress stating that the rural poor “must do the speaking by themselves, the discerning, the proposing of their own ideas, the planning of how we must as a people come together to work for the common good of the country…” (Elmer Abad)
Focolare Movement to hold Mariapolis 2008 THE Focolare Movement here will hold its annual summer gathering called “Mariapolis 2008” this coming April 18 -20 and will also pay tribute to their deceased founder Chiara Lubich. Lubich died on March 14 at her home in Rocca di Papa in Rome after coming home from the Gemelli Hospital where she was confined for a few days. She was the founder and president of the worldwide Focolare Movement, with established communities in 182 countries. Mercedita Fuellas, Focolare Davao Women chapter coordinator said that during their annual gathering they will also give honor to Lubich for his vast contributions to the movement and to the Church. “Lubich is really a woman of heroic faith,” said Fuellas adding that, “we in Focolare have many reasons to give thanks to God for the gift he has given to us in the person of our founder Lubich.” This year’s Mariapolis chose the theme, “Love makes a home,” a talk that was given by their founder when she was still alive. “It is also our way of remembering the teachings of Lubich,” said Fuellas. Fuellas said that participants in Mariapolis will generate the presence of Jesus through mutual and constant charity. This gathering, she said, is intended also to be an experience that can be lived in one’s own environment as a contribution towards
pope; objects such as crosses, rosaries and other articles of religious significance; religious practices and places that remind the faithful of Christ’ presence. The use of holy objects like rosaries and crucifixes are very popular among Filipino Catholics. But the Church frowns on some popular practices that make use of holy objects as amulets. “Sacramentals are instituted in order to enhance one’s sanctification and closeness with God,” said CBCP spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio. “In that sense, they should not be used as amulets or anting-anting which are meant to glorify human power or even greed,” he added. Quitorio said that like the sacraments, sacramentals proceeds from the paschal mystery which acknowledges the significance of the cross—and not the avoidance of it, which amulets and anting-antings do. The sacramentals serve to extend and prolong the work of the sacraments thus disposing the faithful towards a more fruitful celebration of the sacraments, explained the Catholic Catechism. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)
THIS year up to 2009 is a special year of grace for the local Church of Davao as it marks its Diamond Jubilee. Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla asked the people to pray and thank God, as the archdiocese is preparing for its 60th anniversary which will be launched this coming December 17, 2008. The archbishop said he will also issue a pastoral letter calling on everyone to participate and make this celebration not only memorable but really meaningful. “The meaningfulness of our celebration will arise from the way we understand and realize the guideline of the late Pope John Paul II: “to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm, and to look forward to the future with confidence,” said Archbishop Capalla quoting the late pope in his Apostolic Letter, Novo Millenio Inuente.
A LITURGY conference aimed to deepen knowledge and understanding of Catholics on the importance of rituals is slated on April 8-10 at San Carlos Major Seminary Auditorium, Makati City. Dubbed “Sacramentals and Blessings”, the conference is being organized by San Beda College in tandem with the Ministry for Liturgical Affairs of the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM). Sacramentals are sacred signs that have a semblance to the sacraments, according to the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy. “They dispose people to receive the chief effect of the sacraments and make holy various occasions in human life.” In a circular letter disseminated to all parishes and religious communities, the RCAM liturgical commission said “the topic is an interesting one because it is very popular among our practicing (and even nonpracticing) Catholics and the challenge is there for us to truly deepen our knowledge of their meaning and proper rituals.” Sacramentals include holy actions such as sign of the cross and blessings of priests, bishops and
a united world. Mariapolis 2008 will be held at Regional Major Seminary (REMASE) in Catalunan Grande, Davao City. Registration fee is pegged at P850 which includes meals and lodging for 3 days. Organizers are expecting that a number of participants will be coming from Davao City, Cotabato City, Nabunturan in Compostela Valley province, Banaybanay and Lupon Davao Oriental and other neighboring cities and provinces. Fuellas said that the spirituality of their founder also gives them the will and inspiration to live and survive despite the so many challenges in life. “We are inspired by the fact that the Focolare through our late founder envisions the world as one family in a communion of diversities,” said Fuellas. Adhering to the Gospel law of reciprocal love as the foundation on which to build relationships among all, Fuellas stressed that the movement also wants to promote a way of life that is directed towards building a society where there is more unity and where differences are transformed into mutual enrichment. She also added that Lubich’s statements on love and unity is very meaningful and can be a good source for reflections. “There is no problem which love cannot solve,” is one of the bold statement issued by Lubich when she was still alive. (CBCPNews)
CELEBRATED. Sr. Elpidia Bagol, FSP, Sr. Victoria Buniel, FSP, Sr. Ma. Cora Damalerio, FSP, and Sr. Porfiria Ocariza, FSP; 25th anniversary of religious profession among the Daughters of St. Paul, March 25, 2008. Most Rev. Mylo Hubert Vergara, DD, bishop of San Jose, Nueva Ecija presided the thanksgiving Mass at the Sanctuary of Queen of Apostles, Daughters of St. Paul, Pasay City. Sr. Elpidia and Sr. Ma. Cora, both natives of Bohol, are missionaries to Papua New Guinea and Thailand, respectively. Sr. Porfiria who hailed from Davao del Sur is currently assigned in FSP community in Davao while Sr. Victoria, from Surigao is presently assigned in Cagayan de Oro City. CELEBRATED. Fr. Ruben Areño, SSP, Fr. Celso Godilano, SSP, and Fr. Nicomedes Reforeal, SSP, 25th anniversary of sacerdotal ordination among the Society of St. Paul, March 23, 2008. A solemn mass of thanksgiving was celebrated by the Jubilarians with other Pauline priests at the Sanctuary of St. Paul the Apostle at St. Paul Seminary in Makati City. Fr. Ruben Areño is currently the provincial of the Society of St. Paul, Philippine-Macau province. Fr. Godilano, who was formerly provincial, is presently assigned in England, while Fr. Reforeal is the administrator of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish, Pasay City. CELEBRATED. St. Anne Parish and Diocesan Shrine, Silangang Malicboy, Pagbilao, Quezon, 50th anniversary of foundation, March 15, 2008. St Anne was canonically erected as a parish in March 17, 1958 and declared as a Diocesan Shrine in July 15, 2000. The golden anniversary celebration which started March 14 will go on until July 26, which is celebrated as the 100th fiesta of the parish in honor of St. Anne. On July 15, the parish will also celebrate its 8th anniversary as a Diocesan Shrine. VISITING. Sr. Brigid Lawlor, Superior General of the Good Shepherd Sisters (Religious of the Good Shepherd and Contemplatives of the Good Shepherd) will visit the Philippines from April 10 to 18, 2008. This is Sr. Brigid’s first official visit to the Philippine Province where 176 Filipino Good Shepherd Sisters are engaged in a variety of ministries in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. A lawyer by profession, Sr. Brigid was a former Provincial of the Washington Province and is the first American to be elected Superior General of the Congregation. During her 8-day visit in the country, she will also meet with the young sisters in formation as well as the Lay Affiliates/Lay Mission Partners of the Good Shepherd who collaborate in the apostolates of the religious.
CELEBRATED. Fr. Jose Rembert G. Rivera, 51, of Diocese of Kabankalan, 25th anniversary of sacerdotal ordination at St. Paul’s Church, Cauayan, Negros Occidental. A native of San Enrique, Negros Occidental, Fr. Rivera was the first to be ordained by Bishop Antonio Y. Fortich, DD, Bishop of Bacolod in April 8, 1983. He was assigned to the following places: Silay City, 1983-1986, Moises Padilla, 1986-1994; Isio, Cauayan, 1994-2000; Sipalay City, 2000-2005; Cauayan Proper, Negros Occidental, 2006 up to the present. He took six months ongoing formation at Vatican II Institute Menlo Park, CA, USA from September 2006-March 2007.
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Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Current trends in vocation recruitment in the Church
By Fr. Joel Francis Victorino
TO heed the call of the “Lord of the Harvest” to bring about a culture of vocations in our Church through the ministry of vocation awareness and promotion is not easy. It entails a lot of openness to various realities and trends. As the world changes, so do people, especially the young. One cannot but keep up with what is going on as people journey through life. It was in the midst of these many changes that every priest and religious, not only those with specified jobs as vocation ministers; need to move along with these challenges. Inviting young people to the priestly and religious life have become a daunting task. There are those who see the difficulty of getting vocations as a problem of values and worldly trends abounding. There can be various elements to these prevailing situations. But one must be able to see and distinguish where the problem really comes from. An example of a local Church Take the Diocese of Antipolo as an example. This is one of the largest dioceses in the Philippines in terms of population. It has a population of about three and a half million that covers the whole province of Rizal and the city of Marikina. Of this population, around two million seven hundred thousand are Catholics. There are only seventy five diocesan priests serving our local Church. Thanks to the presence of a number of religious men and women who have established their presence in the diocese, it is able to respond (although still with difficulty) to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the people. Its setting is both rural and urban. With its proximity to Metro Manila, a “merger and clash” of cultures and traditions ensue at times. The young people especially have become prone to such developments—values have, at many moments, become disvalues. Consumerist and individualistic mentalities have come about and the rise of various mentalities has changed the idea of self-giving and communal responsibility. Just a couple of years ago, the first diocesan vocation convention were convened and it discussed the challenges that confront vocation promotion and recruitment. At the end of the convention, there was a fearful consensus among the participants that the local Church had entered into a “vocation crisis.” Very few young people in that area have entered the seminaries and the convents over a period of ten years. In fact,
the numbers were declining. Although there was not enough scientific basis (no formal instrument was used), but hearing the experiences and testimonies of both religious and lay vocation ministers was proof enough of the difficulty the diocese was facing. The young people were to speak to the delegates and they shared some of their insights that proved to be important. These “informal” findings will perhaps resonate to the bigger part of the youth of the Philippines today.
The difficulty lies in… When asked why there seems to be a difficulty in inviting the youth today to consider the priestly and religious life, these areas need to be considered: family, economics, personal aspect, the views of the youth on the priests and religious, and other areas of importance that are commonly left out. Parents want their children to support the family, but at the same time, when the children would like something for themselves, they do not gain enough support from their family. Also, there is a difficulty of separating from the family as Filipinos, culturally, have strong and close family ties. Poverty also has proved to be a stumbling block. People are bothered by the fact that religious formation can cost so much. Thus, they would rather send their children elsewhere where they could benefit from whatever resources they would be putting out. A difficulty coming from oneself also arises. Many also are not ready or are willing to change what they are accustomed to. There is a prevailing lack of self-awareness among the youth, and their feelings toward opposite sex have become important issues they need to address. In fact, more are attracted to having their own family. Others reason out simply that they do not have vocation and not attracted to a life of prayer. Varying priorities and the inability to pass the entrance examination also figure out. How priests and religious live their lives have also become an area of contention. The youth run into barriers of not being able to respond to this particular vocation when they see priests and religious themselves have many difficulties in adhering to their own calling. They are discouraged by what they see and hear about religious men and women and are affected by controversies concerning priests. The youth also find it hard to discern their vocation because of the attraction and inability to separate from material things and modern technologies. They
have practical considerations, like the need to work to earn a living. They also have concerns with satisfying their need for pleasure and to belong to a family and a community of peers.
‘The Youth and the Holy’ The insights shared by some of the young people during the Antipolo vocation convention jibed with the result of McCann Erickson research of October 2005 entitled “The Youth and the Holy.” That research was triggered by the ongoing struggle to recruit vocations to the religious life. Fr. Jason Laguerta, the Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Vocations, commissioned the research to see why there seems to be the youth’s disinterest in service, and asks why the tactics employed did not elicit overwhelming response. There came the desire to investigate the seeming unattractiveness of the religious vocation. That research hoped to accomplish a better understanding of the context in which teens nowadays choose their courses and career paths, their perceptions of the Catholic Church and the religious vocation, and the barriers between the youth and priests/nuns/brothers. The research began with taking a look at the long term dreams of the youth which starts with the harsh realities of life. It can be said that today’s hard times are very real to the youth. Many of those interviewed said, “Malimit ko pong naririnig mag-away ang mga magulang ko tungkol sa pera.” “Dati po 100 piso ang baon ko. Tumaas na nga’ng lahat ng gastusin, binawasan pa ang allowance ko… 70 pesos na lang ngayon.” (My parents would often fight about money. I had an allowance of P100 pesos before. Now, even after everything has become expensive my allowance still has to be reduced to P70 pesos.) Almost all of them experience parental absenteeism. The “dual income families” have become the norm. Thus, “kanya-kanya na sa bahay (each to his own).” Lack of good employment opportunities has forced some parents to work abroad and most of these youth even feel guilty that they are causing the “break-up” of their families. Parental role has now evolved—parents and friends and confidantes, as much as they are nurturers and guides. Thus, these teens feel an even greater longing for the presence of their parents. Dreams of prosperity thus emerge and it comes as no surprise that they strongly aspire to reverse their family’s plight. This reality is stronger for the high school teens whose dreams of becoming a profes-
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Urbi et Orbi Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI RESURREXI, et adhuc tecum sum. Alleluia!—I have risen, I am still with you. Alleluia! Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus, crucified and risen, repeats this joyful proclamation to us today: the Easter proclamation. Let us welcome it with deep wonder and gratitude! Resurrexi et adhuc tecum sum—I have risen, I am still with you, for ever. These words, taken from an ancient version of Psalm 138 (v. 18b), were sung at the beginning of today’s Mass. In them, at the rising of the Easter sun, the Church recognizes the voice of Jesus himself who, on rising from death, turns to the Father filled with gladness and love, and exclaims: My Father, here I am! I have risen, I am still with you, and so I shall be for ever; your Spirit never abandoned me. In this way we can also come to a new understanding of other passages from the psalm: “If I climb the heavens, you are there; if I descend into the underworld, you are there … Even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as clear as day; for you, darkness is like light” (Ps 138:8,12). It is true: in the solemn Easter vigil, darkness becomes light, night gives way to the day that knows no sunset. The death and resurrection of the Word of God incarnate is an event of invincible love, it is the victory of that Love which has delivered us from the slavery of sin and death. It has changed the course of history, giving to human life an indestructible and renewed meaning and value. “I have risen and I am still with you, for ever.” These words invite us to contemplate the risen Christ, letting his voice resound in our heart. With his redeeming sacrifice, Jesus of Nazareth has made us adopted children of God, so that we too can now take our place in the mysterious dialogue between him and the Father. We are reminded of what he once said to those who were listening: “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11:27). In this perspective, we note that the words addressed by the risen Jesus to the Father on this day—”I am still with you, for ever”—apply indirectly to us as well, “children of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (cf. Rom 8:17). Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we too rise to new life today, and uniting our voice with his, we proclaim that we wish to remain for ever with God, our infinitely good and merciful Father. In this way we enter the depths of the Paschal mystery. The astonishing event of the resurrection of Jesus is essentially an event of love: the Father’s love in handing over his Son for the salvation of the world; the Son’s love in abandoning himself to the Father’s will for us all; the Spirit’s love in raising Jesus from the dead in his transfigured body. And there is Urbi / B7
B2 By Fr. Jaime Achacoso, J.C.D.
TIME and again, I have heard the expression “lay empowerment” in the lips of priests and our parish lay leaders. More often than not, they would be referring to the faculties now granted to some of our parishioners to act as lay ministers—to have a more active participation in the liturgical ceremonies and to be extraordinary ministers for Holy Communion—or to form
and unifying her in communion and in the works of ministry, he bestows upon her varied hierarchic and charismatic gifts, and in this way directs her; and he adorns her with his fruits (LG, 4). Two factors cause this diversity: 1) The action of grace and the charisms of the Holy Spirit on Christ’s faithful—i.e., personal vocation. 2) The individual response of every faithful—i.e., personal human freedom.
Faithful). The lay faithful, in the strict sense of cc.224-231, refers to a constitutional situation different from the previous ones, which is specifically characterized by baptismal secularity. The layman is not just Christ’s faithful who has not been ordained, or has not embraced the evangelical counsels in an Institute of Consecrated Life. He is Christ’s faithful who has embraced the world, but without being worldly. The specific vocation of the lay
of cooperation of lay faithful in the ministry of clerics—more often than not in connection with the liturgy. This is the reason for the unreasonable exultation of the phenomenon of lay ministries as an icon or model of commitment of the lay faithful in the Church. If I trained a fish to somehow move on muddy ground, I would not have really empowered it, because it is not proper for a fish to be terrestrial but aquatic. Likewise, if I trained a bird to walk
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
ordained ministers in the exercise of the sacra potestas or power of jurisdiction (or power of governance) which is really proper of the ordained ministers. This is the sacred power that Christ gave the Apostles (on Peter and the Apostolic College principally) and their successors, which they exercise with the other ordained ministers in persona Christi capitis (“in the person of Christ the Head”). An attentive reading of c.129 of the Code throws a lot of light
pointed judges in ecclesiastical tribunals (c.1421, §2); laymen have a consultative vote in the different councils at the parochial and diocesan levels, and can even be consultors in the Holy See (c.228); laymen can dedicate themselves in an organic way in the apostolic work of a Personal Prelature (c.296). Conclusion Up to this point, we can make the following preliminary conclusions.
Empowerment of the Laity (1)
part of the Parish Pastoral Council. In contrast, in a recent convention of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines that I attended in Antipolo (Oct.28-30,) I heard a very different notion from more than one of the speakers. What does the expression “lay empowerment” really mean? BEFORE we can understand the notion of lay empowerment, we must first understand very well the concept of lay or layman. This is important so that we understand in what way the laymen are supposed to be empowered. In order to do this, we have to first understand the fundamental equality of all the faithful; then we have to understand their diversity and the specific quality of the laity. The juridic equality and diversity of all the faithful By baptism, all Christians possess a common juridic condition of radical equality within the ecclesial society, and thereby share an identical objective and end, which is that of extending the Kingdom of God until it reaches its fullness in the end of time (Vatican Council II, Lumen Gentium, n. 9). By the baptismal character, and not by any posterior mandate of the Hierarchy, all the faithful are called with equal intensity to foster the common good of the Kingdom of God and to extend it. This character constitutes all Christ’s faithful into a royal priesthood, making them participate in the priesthood of Christ, by which they are called to share in Christ’s threefold mission of teaching, sanctifying and leading all men, and indeed all creation, towards God. Nevertheless, despite the radical equality of all Christ’s faithful by virtue of baptism, not all follow the same path (LG, 32). Among them, there exists diverse ways of life, which demonstrates a variety which enriches the Church. All this—unity and diversity—is a consequence of the action of the Holy Spirit, guiding the Church in the way of all truth,
Three Principal Situations of Diversity arise: 1) The Cleric (or Sacred Minister). The condition of cleric includes all those who, on top of the fundamental character of Baptism, have received the character of Holy Orders (c.207). This character marks an essential difference—not merely of degree—between the royal priesthood of all Christ’s faithful by virtue of Baptism, and the ministerial priesthood of the ordained cleric. This character confers on the cleric a new mission (Vatican Council II, Presbyterorum Ordinis, 2), which consists in striving for the internal vitality of the ecclesial society, preaching the Word of God, administering the means of salvation (fundamentally the sacraments) and directing the course of the Church as a society in persona Christi capitis (c.1008). In short, to “serve” or “minister” to all Christ’s faithful, so that they may exercise with full vitality their royal priesthood. Hence the term: ministerial priesthood. 2) The Religious (or Consecrated Faithful). The religious is another type of faithful, whose status arises from the profession of the evangelical counsels—i.e., perfect continence, poverty and obedience— through a juridical bond of a sacred character. This constitutes a stable way of life (c.573), which even if it does not pertain to the hierarchical structure of the Church, pertains nevertheless to its life and sanctity (LG, 44; c.574, §1). This way of life—the religious life—is characterized fundamentally by an intrinsic nonsecularity, which traditionally had even been called a contemptus mundi or fuga mundi, whose theological root and purpose was to give an eschatological witness to the world—i.e., to give a stark reminder to all men that this world is not our permanent home. 3) The Christian Layman (or Lay
Illustration by Blasimer Usi
faithful is to be immersed in the world (to be secular). To the laity corresponds specifically the task—within the universal mission of the Church—to develop the baptismal charisms so as to make the Church present in those circumstances wherein it can act as salt of the earth only through them (LG, 33). Understanding lay empowerment The problem with words is that many times they are not univocal (having only one sense) but are rather equivocal (having more than one sense). This is what happens with the notion of the oft-quoted expression of lay empowerment or empowerment of the laity. a. Loose sense of lay empowerment in daily usage To my mind, this is the most unfortunate sense of the expression lay empowerment, which usually refers to those manifestations
instead of fly, again I wouldn’t have empowered it but denatured it somehow, because it could never really walk as well as it could fly, because that’s the way it was created. While the so-called lay ministries are licit and laudable, what we cannot forget is that they are many times suppletory in nature—i.e., to supply for the lack of ordained ministers, whether temporarily or more stably (cf. c.230). They always constitute— to a greater or lesser extent—a denaturing of the lay character of being in the world. b. Improper sense of lay empowerment in the code of canon law Improper means “not proper” or “not really pertaining to” or “not corresponding to”. This is the first sense of lay empowerment that we can find in the Code of Canon Law, referring to the manifestations of the cooperation of the lay faithful with the
on this matter: Can. 129 — §1. In accord with the prescriptions of law, those who have received sacred orders are capable of the power of governance, which exists in the Church by divine institution and is also called the power of jurisdiction. — §2. Lay members of the Christian faithful can cooperate in the exercise of this power in accord with the norm of law. Note the difference between §1 and §2: Clerics are capable of the power of governance, as something proper to them. Lay faithful can only cooperate in the exercise of that power, meaning that the principal subject who operates that power are the clerics, while the laymen may only co-operate it. There are not a few instances of this cooperation of the lay faithful in the exercise of the power of jurisdiction provided for by the Code of Canon Law. For example, laymen can be ap-
1) The ordinary notion of lay empowerment—which refers to the greater participation of laymen in the liturgical celebrations—is an unfortunate impoverishment of the concept and may even be qualified as a denaturing (more than empowering) of the laymen to assume roles that are not that secular. 2) Another notion of lay empowerment—which refers to the cooperation of laymen in the exercise of the power of governance in the Church—may be more canonical (in the sense that it is in the Code of Canon Law), but can still be classified as improper, since it still represents a mere cooperation in the exercise of the power of jurisdiction which Canon Law really invests on sacred ministers. We still need to arrive at a deeper meaning of lay empowerment—one which would really reflect an intensification of the nature and role of the layman in the Church community.
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sional and working abroad seem more pronounced. When asked how they see themselves 5 to 10 years from now, their top five answers are the following—famous, moneyed, altruistic, a global citizen, with family. Thus, they begin to chart their course. For them, preparing for the future begin with the right course in college. They choose courses that will ensure their marketability (e.g. nursing, technical and communication courses). They would continue to say that financial success is their way of “repaying” their parents for their sacrifice. Although they admit that money doesn’t buy happiness, it serves as an enabler to achieve a better quality of life. Thus, it would be common to hear the youth say: “You need money so that you can buy everything that you want.” “Of course, when you start your own family, you would want what is best for them.” “How can you give to others when you yourself have nothing at all?” Youth want real achievements Achieving success is in their hands. They persevere in their studies and keep themselves in check, as the study would say. Those interviewed voiced out these comments: “Hindi muna dapat magpadala sa impluwensya ng barkada.” “Hindi muna puwedeng ma-in-love.” “Iwasan muna ang puro bulakbol.” (I cannot allow myself to be influenced by my peers. I can’t fall in love yet. I won’t allow myself to just gallivant and not do anything productive). They know their resources allow them only one chance to achieve their dream. But this doesn’t stop them from having fun and finding fulfilment in their present life. They know they can still enjoy themselves for as long as they keep their balance—like hanging out with their peer groups, keeping up with the latest trends, exploring and mastering new technology, and adoring their famous media idols here and abroad. Others have started to make a difference
now. Thus, it is now common for some of the college teens to have found fulfilment in reaching out and helping society. There are those who would even say, “Before, I would always ask myself why the government doesn’t do anything right? But when I joined Gawad Kalinga, I thought that instead of useless talk, I would rather do something productive.” “Before, I would like to go abroad since I don’t see anymore hope, but when I saw what I could be capable of doing, I started to see things differently.” This positive experience has resulted in a reversed misperception that an individual can barely make a difference. It also negates the belief that our society is a hopeless case. There also comes about a sense of empowerment. Overall, there seems to be two clear portraits: (1) The fun-seeking teen who wants the freedom to explore various interests; who is always ready for a challenge; and the highly impressionable youth, and (2) The take-charge teen that is strongwilled; and says “The future is in my hands.” For this young person, nothing is impossible when the mind is set and does not want to feel confined to limited choices or possibilities. Perceptions on “the Holy Life” The research asked how did those realities jibe with their perceptions of “the holy life”? Interestingly, the youth regards the holy life very highly. They see priests and nuns as holy to the point of being unforgiving for any mistake committed. They acknowledge that not everyone has a “calling,” and that these people have committed themselves to a life of service. Two important factors influence this perception of the holy life. These are the lack of interface with priests and nuns which make them hold on to olden misperceptions; and the media mileage on the Church’s stand on political issues is misconstrued as meddling in the af-
fairs of the state. Thus, this begins to create a dissonance: (1) A life of confinement that puts a barrier for the young people in their desire to enjoy their youth and be able to take control of their own future. It also (2) reinforces to them their concept of a parent (“How can he be a father to me when I can’t even talk to him?”). This concept also makes them see that (3) nuns are subservient women who are quite removed from today’s ‘ideal’ woman. Also, the youth realized that they must live a lifetime service to others, but believes that they can serve their families even without becoming a priest or a religious. Challenges In all of these, there now comes about a big challenge to those who are promoting specific vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Being closer to the youth makes a whole lot of difference. But one must not see the young people in terms only of being possible candidates to the priestly or religious life. They must see them as persons and possible friends. Those who are in close contact with priests and nuns have a better appreciation of the religious life and its influence on others. In fact, some of the youth interviewed have said, “I know that I would get a better advice from a priest. It’s a good thing he is quite approachable.” “They are with us in Gawad Kalinga. We share the same difficulties and hardships.” “Sister is cool! She even knows the songs I like.” “I never realized that they can go out…even to the malls!” The vocation minister must not come out as different from others or removed from the reality of other people’s lives. The youth may have a lack of openness to consider the religious vocation because of their desire for family-building, or the lack of knowledge about the “holy life,” thus the seeming disinterest in entering the seminary or convent. But this does not mean that they are closed to the idea of living life in faith.
In fact, the young people believe that is one of the ways they could keep themselves in check and is a way to avoid the bad influences that may impede their future success. They also want to feel their world is not different from the priests and the religious—that priests and nuns know and understand their issues. If such is the case, how do we then respond to the challenges of the times today in order to promote better the vocation to the priestly and religious life? The McCann Erickson research proposes the following: (1) BE “APPROACHABLE,” NOT “UNTOUCHABLE.” The first step needed is to “humanize” priests and nuns in the eyes of the youth. The young people would like to take the journey together, but there are times when they don’t know if the religious can make it with them. (2) “LEVEL WITH ME.” The young people want to understand the application and relevance of God’s word in today’s context. They would like it presented to them in an interesting and engaging manner. Talking to the teens in “their vernacular” would also help address their misperceptions that priests/nuns are “different” and that “they wouldn’t understand me.” (3) “WALK THE TALK.” The youth of today are a generation tired of lip service. They want to see their parish priest making a tangible difference in their daily lives. Only then can we earn the credibility and respect of being a true friend and moral guide. (4) PRIESTS AND NUNS ARE EQUAL. There is a lingering perception that nuns play second fiddle to priests. This makes their role seem of secondary importance as well. If we are to entice young girls into the religious vocation, perhaps a distinct and “equalizing” role can be prescribed for nuns. Being attuned and in line
Today, one can see the strong influence of media in the minds of the youth. Those who work in the vocation ministry cannot simply move ahead “fighting” with media. It could also be a source of blessing when used properly. All modes of media appeal to young people. Thus, as a tool for vocation promotion, vocation promoters can maximize it in various ways—there are now priests who produce CD’s of their songs and do concerts that have not only entertained the youth but have led them to discover their own calling in life. Vocation posters should not be a drag anymore with those perpetual smiles pasted on the faces of the religious. There have been dioceses like Manila and Antipolo who employed advertising agencies to do “unconventional” vocation posters over the years which has caught the attention of many young people. Also, there are religious congregations who have made use of television, radio and print advertisements to bring out the message of God’s call—in a way that attracts the youth. With all these being done, are those in the vocation ministry to be seen as publicity-hungry men and women. Are they doing this just to be able to attract more vocations to the priesthood and religious life? For sure, it is not their intention. A reality needs to be brought forth—one which is lost at times to those in the “holy life.” There is a need to make a difference in the lives of the young people today. But priests and religious have to do it by being one with them— by making them feel that the “holy ones” are capable of journeying with them. Only then do priests and religious of contemporary times stand a better chance of winning the youth to their side and invite them into the “holy life.” (Fr. Joel Francis S. Victorino is currently the Vocation Director of the Diocese of Antipolo and also the National Finance Officer of the Directors of Vocations in the Philippines)
CBCP Monitor Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
The Diocese of
San Jose de Antique By Fr. Fortunato M. Abiera THE rich cultural heritage of the Antiqueño dates back to the 13th century during the Bornean migration to escape persecution from a Raja of the SriVisayan Empire; that led them to the shores of Panay Island. Their settlement started the transition of history from the native “Atis” who once roamed the place, in a friendly exchange of a golden salakot and necklace for their land, dubbed the “Barter of Panay”. Profiled like a seahorse, Antique is an oversized hemline on the western border of three-cornered scarf-like land mass that is Panay. It lies between the China Sea to the west and to the east tall mountain ranges separate the province from the rest of Panay. The province has eighteen municipalities. Fourteen are along the coast. Three are inland. One of them is an island with six islets. Stealing the limelight from the major concerns of Antique leadership are its handicrafts, fascinating and exquisitely crafted bamboo, rattan, buri and other forest vines and palms. The most valuable resource is the people, hardworking, honest, blessed with the purity of nature and the pristine simplicity of the countryside. Vision A truly Antiqueño Christian community, where a living faith in Christ, celebrated in Word and Sacraments and witnessed to by all, in service especially to the poor, builds the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of reconciliation and justice, of love and of peace. Mission To work towards such Vision by an intensified evangelization in all levels: a) prayer and spirituality; b) formation of social conscience; c) promotion of peace and order; d) creation of projects for development; e) education for political maturity; f) care for the ecology; and g) active participation of the laity
Diocesan Thrusts The diocese has five major thrusts: Basic Ecclesial Communities, Vocation, Family Life, Youth and Stewardship. Through its Basic Ecclesial Communities, the diocese strives to form basic communities where persons a) belong and are responsible for one another (Church as communion); b) share the Word of God and the Tradition of the Church (Prophetic Community); c) gather around the Eucharist and vibrantly celebrate life in the liturgy (Priestly community); d) act justly and live peacefully and work for the integrity of creation, and; e) emerge as leaders among the poor and empower the poor (Church of the Poor). Through its pastoral work on vocations, the diocese encourages and develops vocations in the family especially among the youth to both the ordained and lay ministry. The family life apostolate has its focus on establishing a caring and loving support for the family where vocations emerge. The Youth apostolate affirms and supports the variety of youth programs which encourage and develop interest and generosity towards the ordained and lay ministry. On the aspect of Stewardship, the focus is to return to God with love and generosity the first fruits of our time, talent and treasure for support of the ministry of the Church. Towards Becoming a Community of Small Communities Building Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) has been with the Diocese since its creation. It has its beginnings in the formation of leaders for what was then called Christian Community Builders (CCB). In Dao parish it originated from a neighborhood grouping, especially among families, known as COLENS. Another concrete expression of the Diocese’s efforts to build small Christian communities was the lay leaders’ formation to become “pastoral assistants.” All these efforts led to a handbook called “Growing-up Towards a
Community” intended for building small Christian community leaders. Since then, the Diocese engages herself in building people through the building of BECs. Much time, effort and resources had been invested but yielded to minimal results and impact. In 2002, the Diocesan Pastoral Assembly evaluated and reaffirmed the Diocese’s commitment to build BECs, with a strong recommendation of building core communities to live and experience COMMUNITY, thus enhancing its inception into the mainstream of the community, the parish, and the Diocese. Hence, the Diocesan BEC/KK Core Community was born which was replicated in the parishes and aptly dubbed as Parish BEC/KK Core Communities (PBCC). These groups regularly came for training and formation on becoming and building Christian communities. It was hoped that from these PBCCs, leaders from the grassroots with “experience” of being community will emerge. Therefore, the need to form, train and sustain in these potential leaders to become BEC facilitators in the parishes. From the initial PBCCs, the Parish Pastoral Councils with their Parish Priests chose 3 to 5 of their members to be formed and trained to become members of the Parish BEC/ KK Formation Teams (PBFT). These teams have been regularly coming for their monthly training and formation. With the wholehearted support and active participation of the Bishop, Clergy, Religious, and LAITY, the day will soon come when the whole Diocese becomes a true community made up of small communities, gathering around the Word of God and celebrating life in its fullness.
The Diocese in retrospect: 1581-2005
IMPORTANT FACTS Bishop ……………...…………..... 1 Priests: Diocesan …………................ 34 Religious ……………………. 10 Deacons ……………………… 3 Religious: Brothers ……………………... 9 Sisters ……………....……… 48 Seminarians: Theology …………………….. 14 Philosophy ………...………… 46 Pre-Diaconate …………...…… 1 Parishes …………………..…. 24 Chaplaincy ………………....…. 1 Educational Institutions: Kindergarten ……...………….. 11 Elementary ………………..…. 2 Secondary ……………..……. 11 Higher Schools ……....……... 2
ON BACKGROUND: St. Joseph Cathedral. LEFT: Bishop Romulo T. De La Cruz, DD
1581 Christianity set foot in the Province of Antique, particularly in Hamtik. 1865 Jaro was established as an ecclesiastical province which included the whole of Panay Island. The St. Joseph Missionary Society, better known as the Mill Hill Fathers arrived in Panay Island; many of them started their missionary work in Antique. The Province of Antique was made Prelature Nullius and later became Prelature but functioned as a Diocese under the Most Rev. Cornelio De Wit, MHM, DD as its first Bishop-Prelate. In its early years, the local Church was guided by the philosophy and theology of liberation, with these strategies: pastoral care, education/catechesis, liturgy, and socio-economic programs. True to its mission and dream, the first decade of the Prelature was marked by the building of small Christian Communities (Kristohanong Katilingban), setting up of the Seminary for the formation of its future priests, establishing schools for Christian education, organizing people for cooperatives both for fisherfolks, farmers and small entrepreneurs as well as migrant sugar workers dubbed as the sacadas, bringing health facilities to the barrios through the socio-medical program. The Missionary Sisters of the Lord’s Table, popularly known as the Mensa Domini was founded by Bishop De Wit, MHM, DD for young women who desire to consecrate their lives to God. The Catechetical Institute was established for the training of catechists and lay leaders. 1972 To bring the Word of God and the pastoral, catechetical and socioeconomic programs of the Prelature closer and accessible to people, especially in the islands and far-flung barrios, Radyo Kauswagan Antique or radio station DYKA was put up. The Diocese was tried and tested in its “liberational approach” in working with people when Martial Law was declared. The declaration somehow effectively paralyzed such kind of approach but has challenged and led the Diocese to be “creative” in implementing its mission and programs. Liturgy and catechesis took center stage while socio-economic programs slowed down. 1980 The Tuburan Sang Kabuhi, the diocesan formation center; was inaugurated with the purpose of training lay leaders and formation of the youth. 1982 The Prelature of San Jose de Antique was elevated into a Diocese—a new age has come! A Filipino diocesan priest was appointed as Bishop of the Diocese of San Jose de Antique – the Most Reverend Raul Quimpo Martirez, DD. Soon after, he announced the First Diocesan Synod to convene in 1987. The years that followed were dedicated to preparing for the Synod. 1987 The First Diocesan Synod was convened in December 1987, followed by the implementation phase in the succeeding years: dissemination of synodal decrees and policies, and corresponding structural changes. 1991 The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines was held and the Diocesan Synodal Decrees were aligned with its Proposals and Decrees. 1994 A new “springtime” for the Diocese through RENEW International as a “spiritual renewal and evangelization. It aims for renewal, namely in worship, catechesis and social apostolate. RENEW became the implementation “program” for the Diocese and a fitting preparation for the great JUBILEE 2000. 2001 Another milestone in the Diocese: The Most Reverend Romulo Tolentino De La Cruz, DD was installed as Coadjutor Bishop of San Jose de Antique. 2002 Bishop De La Cruz was canonically installed as the Third Local Ordinary of the Diocese. He called for the preparation and celebration of the Ruby Jubilee of the Diocese and convened a Pastoral Assembly to chart the Thrusts for the next five years. 2005 The Mid-program evaluation of the Five-Year Thrusts of the Diocese through the Diocesan Pastoral Assembly. Bishop De La Cruz built a haven for the Antiqueño youth which is now called John Paul II Youth Center. The following two years are “history-in-process.”
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Fr. Luis Supan
Question Box On the common good of society What does “common good” mean? Common good is “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily (…) The common good is always oriented towards the progress of persons. The order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around (Gaudium et spes, 26 ). This order is founded on truth, built up on justice, and animated by love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1906, 1912). What are the elements of the common good? “First, the common good presupposes respect for the person as such. Public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person. Society should permit each of its members to fulfill his vocation. In particular, the common good resides in the conditions for the exercise of the natural freedoms indispensable for the development of the human vocation, such as ‘the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard … privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion’ (GS, 26). Second, the common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. Authority should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, and so on. Third, the common good requires peace, that is, the stability and security of a just order. Authority should ensure by morally acceptable means the security of society and its members. It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defence” (Cf. CCC, 1907 – 1909). How could a citizen participate in promoting the common good? Participation is achieved first of all by taking charge of the areas for which one assumes personal responsibility: by the care taken for the education of his family, by conscientious work, and so forth. As far as possible, citizens should take an active part in public life. (Cf. CCC, 1914-1915). How could people in authority encourage participation in the achievement of the common good? “It is incumbent on those who exercise authority to strengthen the values that inspire the confidence of the members of the group and encourage them to put themselves at the service of others. Participation begins with education and culture (…) As with any ethical obligation, the participation of all in realizing the common good calls for continually renewed conversion of the social partners. Fraud and other subterfuges, by which some people evade the constraints of the law and the prescriptions of societal obligations, must be firmly condemned because they are incompatible with the requirements of justice” (Cf. CCC, 1916-1917).
Youth ministry to hold nat’l confab this May THE CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) has announced that it will gather Catholic youth ministers from around the country for the National Conference for Youth Ministers (NCYM) 2008 from May 5 to 9. Themed “Youth Ministers: Drawing and Sharing Life in God’s Word, Witnessing to the World,” the five-day confab will be held at the Colegio de San Jose in Jaro, Iloilo, where foster families will accommodate the participants in their houses during their stay for the assembly. According to the ECY, the conference aims at helping the youth ministers to “respond” personally and as part of the youth ministry team “to the inspirations and challenges of the Word of God in the
CBCP Office to hold seminar on Restorative Justice THE CBCP’s Episcopal Commission for Prison Pastoral Care (ECPPC) will hold a Restorative Justice and Prison Ministry orientation seminar in the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao on Saturday, March 29, 2008, the first for the year. Michael Bartolome, head of ECPPC’s programs department said the one-day seminar is in cooperation with the Volunteers in Prison Service (VIPS) and will benefit 60 jail and prison volunteers from the archdiocese of Tuguegarao and the Diocese of Ilagan and the Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk. Bartolome added that similar seminars
have been held in the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga and the Dioceses of Bacolod, San Pablo, Baguio, Butuan and Lucena. “Various groups have been established to attend to the prisoners’ welfare through church-based groups and non-government organizations now registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission,” Bartolome explained. He said the VIPS have provided outstanding assistance to prisoners through paralegal assistance among other services. VIPS National Coordinator Gerard Ian V. Bernabe said the seminar hopes to deepen
Bishop Marlo M. Peralta, DD
How does the diocese implement its social concern programs to help alleviate the situation of the poor in your area? As it is true in most dioceses in the Philippines, the Diocese of Alaminos implements her social concern programs through the Social Action Commission (SAC) in the diocese. The implementation is carried out from the diocesan to the parish level and down to the BEC’s and families. Hand in hand with our partners like the Diocese of Limburg, the parishes of St. Mauritius, St. Johannes and Schmitten in Germany as well as the different socially-oriented organizations and agencies, the Diocese is able to reach out to people especially the least and the poor in our midst. The programs of the SAC vary from Medical to Food and Nutrition Assistance, Scholarship Assistance to poor and deserving students, Livelihood Projects in some pilot barangays and BEC’s, CommunityManaged Health Program, Sustainable Agriculture, and Reforestation Project in some selected areas, Rice Loan Project in some parishes and BEC’s, a parish-based ministry for OFW’s, advocacy and mobilization efforts for the environment, children’s welfare and development, good governance and responsible citizenship, to name some of them. There were also concrete efforts by the SAC to help victims of calamities. In the recent past, the SAC had been actively coordinating efforts in housing projects for families in a few flooded areas affected by typhoons. I am very thankful to all the people, both lay and clergy, who have generously
youth ministry.” “In this year, acknowledged as the ‘Year of the Word of God,’ youth ministers in the Philippine Catholic Church are called on to reflect on their identity as witnesses to the Word of God as they draw life from it and share it with others, especially the young,” the commission said in its statement. Expected to attend are representatives of the 86 Diocesan Youth Councils and 29 member-organizations of the Federation of National Youth Organizations (FNYO) since a meeting of the National Youth Coordinating Council will follow the NCYM. The meeting will last from the afternoon of May 10 to 11. (Kris Bayos)
A native of Pangasinan, Most Rev. Marlo M. Peralta was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Alaminos on March 31, 2006. He was installed as bishop of Alaminos on July 1, 2007 succeeding Bishop Jesus Cabrera. In this issue of CBCP Monitor, Bishop Peralta talks about the diocese’s effort to help alleviate the situation of the poor through social concern programs; the ongoing local consultations in view of the 2nd National Rural Congress; the role of the BEC’s and the Laity in the life of the Church; the diocesan Catechetical apostolate; and the continuing formation program of the clergy.
worked and committed themselves in building and implementing the programs of the Social Action Commission for the last twenty two years. Their tireless dedication to love Jesus in the poor had surely been the driving force that kept the programs running. How are the local level consultations on the 2nd National Rural Congress going on in the diocese? Listening to the reports during our recent clergy meeting and recollection, we are almost finished with the consultations in the barangay and parish level. Almost all of the parishes have already submitted their written reports to be collated in the diocesan level. We have scheduled the Diocesan Rural Congress on March 29, 2008 with selected representatives from each parish. How active are the basic ecclesial communities in the diocese? Building BEC’s and strengthening the communion within and among them had always been an integral part of the mission and vision of this diocese from the very beginning. The three Pastoral Assemblies celebrated in the diocese during the time of my predecessor, Bishop Jesus A. Cabrera, have all affirmed that indeed the BEC’s are the concrete expression of our vision to become a community of Christ’s disciples and the vehicle for greater lay participation and empowerment. In general, parishes vary as to the stages in the formation and growth of BEC’s. Many parishes have already made significant progress in building up BEC cells in the barangay. But how well they are becoming a community in the evangelical sense and as articulated in our Pastoral Assemblies is yet another story. Nevertheless, such intangible reality is not hard to feel and
recognize. I believe, in the area of growing as a community of Christ’s disciples and bearers of his peace, we still have a long way to go. But I am also consoled by this because after all, as one bishop has said, becoming a community is an event we constantly try to keep alive and real in our midst. And so, some BEC’s may be active now, but they also face the possibility of slumbering later. Some BEC’s may be slumbering and even dying now, but they’re going to rise again. I am optimistic that what God has begun in our journey as a diocese and even as a BEC to grow as a community, He will nourish, sustain and put into completion in His own time. How does the laity’s greater participation in the life of the Church as envisioned by PCP II being realized in your diocese? Lay empowerment had been a recurring theme in the past three Diocesan Pastoral Assemblies (DPA). In fact, it was the pastoral and theological focus of the DPA II. Lay empowerment is one of the realities the diocese is slowly realizing. Many Catholic Schools are effectively handled by lay people. Church-initiated cooperatives are handled by the lay too. I believe one of the best expressions of lay participation realized by the diocese is the establishment of the Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Finance Council in all parishes. In addition to that is the Council of the Laity that regularly meets every month in the diocesan level. These institutions play a vital role in collaborating with the bishop and the clergy the pastoral direction of all the parishes and consequently the diocese as a whole. Considering these three alone and how well they are in place and functioning in the parishes had been grace
the awareness and commitment of their mission partners for “a form of justice that heals.” Sister Letty Doctolero, Archdiocesean VIPS coordinator for Tuguegarao will provide a situation on the jails and prison conditions. Bernabe will talk on the Restorative Justice paradigm and how it could be applied to the existing pillars of the criminal justice system. He will also orient the participants on the Basic Paralegal Assistance to inmates to further help government and detention prisoners in jail decongestion and speedy resolution of pending cases in various courts. (Melo M. Acuña)
enough from God to realize PCP II’s vision of greater participation by the lay people. Up to what degree do you think the laity’s participation should be especially in terms of decision making in the local Church? Important decisions concerning the life and mission of the diocese are essentially made in consultation with the clergy and the lay people. Every month, I sit down with the Board of Consultors and the Council of the Lay to discuss some aspects in the life of our local Church. These two fundamentally serve as a consultative body. In effect, they have some certain participation in every decisions arrived at. But ultimately, the final decision in all pastoral and administrative matters in the diocese lies in the hand of the bishop of the diocese. Thus, the degree of involvement of the laity (and canonically even the clergy) in the decision making within the local Church in the diocese is fundamentally consultative in nature. This does not in any way diminish the role of the laity in the local Church but essentially puts it in its proper context. A constant balance between ecclesiastical authority and lay participation must constantly be achieved. Lay participation should always be taken within the context of the Church structure in the same way that the Church structure should be constantly resilient to the contribution of the laity. Participation becomes meaningful when it listens to God-given authority in the same way that authority fulfills and achieves its greater purpose when it is tempered by humility. How active is the catechetical apostolate in the diocese? All parishes here basically have their own catechists numbering to 509 last year. A few parishes send prospective catechists to St. Benedict Institute in Vigan City, a school for catechists and religion teachers, to be trained and become pastoral workers later on. Although I believe things are going on smoothly with our catechetical apostolate, I also get that strong feeling that soon we need to take a closer look at the situation of our catechists in the diocese. Since catechesis is vital in every aspect of the Church’s apostolate, we recognize in our diocese the great need to strengthen the catechetical program as well as to deepen the commitment of
the catechists involved in this ministry. We have realized that we have a good catechetical program in the diocese and numerous catechists who have committed themselves to many years of service in this apostolate. However, we also saw that much is yet to be done in providing the basic necessities needed for the catechists to carry out effectively their ministry. Transportation, teaching materials, and food allowance seem to be minute details and yet in the context of our local Church here in Alaminos, such things count a lot for our catechists to remain fervent bearers of the Good News. It is good to note that most of our catechists come from very simple families of farmers, fishermen and laborers. In this regard, the diocesan thrust to empower the poor is slowly being realized. It is essential for catechists to also find some fulfillment and enjoyment in order to find meaning in their ministry with the hope that, by having all the means for their catechetical apostolate, they become, in the words of Paul VI, “ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor!” Do you have a continuing formation program for the clergy? There are scattered efforts both for individual priests and for the clergy in general which may not fall under the category of “ongoing formation” but which are nonetheless “formative.” We have two priests undergoing further studies in Rome right now. Priests are also encouraged to attend formation and skills training seminars called for regionally or by the different Episcopal Commissions in the Philippines. We have our annual retreat and annual Rest and Recreation. We also meet regularly for our clergy meeting and recollection. Notwithstanding these beautiful activities however is our need to devise a clear ongoing formation program for ourselves. At the moment, a continuing formation program is yet to be defined for our clergy in the diocese. We meet and gather as a clergy regularly but our agenda had been largely pastoral in nature and hardly developmental on our part. I hope that soon we can, as a clergy, take another serious look at the ad intra part without neglecting the ad extra aspect of our ministry.
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the 45th World Day of Prayer for Vocations 13 April 2008 - Fourth Sunday of Easter
DEAR brothers and sisters, 1. For the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on 13 April 2008, I have chosen the theme: Vocations at the service of the Church on mission. The Risen Jesus gave to the Apostles this command: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19), assuring them: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28: 20). The Church is missionary in herself and in each one of her members. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, every Christian is called to bear witness and to announce the Gospel, but this missionary dimension is associated in a special and intimate way with the priestly vocation. In the covenant with Israel, God entrusted to certain men, called by him and sent to the people in his name, a mission as prophets and priests. He did so, for example, with Moses: “Come,—God told him—I will send you to Pharaoh, that you may bring forth my people … out of Egypt … when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you will serve God upon this mountain” (Ex 3: 10 and 12). The same happened with the prophets. 2. The promises made to our fathers were fulfilled entirely in Jesus Christ. In this regard, the Second Vatican Council says: “The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons … To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By his obedience he brought about redemption” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 3). And Jesus already in his public life, while preaching in Galilee, chose some disciples to be his close collaborators in the messianic ministry. For example, on the occasion of the multiplication of the loaves, he said to the
Apostles: “You give them something to eat” (Mt 14: 16), encouraging them to assume the needs of the crowds to whom he wished to offer nourishment, but also to reveal the food “which endures to eternal life” (Jn 6: 27). He was moved to compassion for the people, because while visiting cities and villages, he found the crowds weary and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mt 9: 36). From this gaze of love came the invitation to his disciples: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9: 38), and he sent the Twelve initially “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” with precise instructions. If we pause to meditate on this passage of Matthew’s Gospel, commonly called the “missionary discourse”, we may take note of those aspects which distinguish the missionary activity of a Christian community, eager to remain faithful to the example and teaching of Jesus. To respond to the Lord’s call means facing in prudence and simplicity every danger and even persecutions, since “a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master” (Mt 10: 24). Having become one with their Master, the disciples are no longer alone as they announce the Kingdom of heaven; Jesus himself is acting in them: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me” (Mt 10: 40). Furthermore, as true witnesses, “clothed with power from on high” (Lk 24: 49), they preach “repentance and the forgiveness of sins” (Lk 24: 47) to all peoples. 3. Precisely because they have been sent by the Lord, the Twelve are called “Apostles”, destined to walk the roads of the world announcing the Gospel as witnesses to the death and resurrection of Christ. Saint Paul, writing to the Christians of Corinth, says: “We—the Apostles—preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1: 23). The Book of the Acts of the Apostles also assigns a very important role in this task of evangelization to other
disciples whose missionary vocation arises from providential, sometimes painful, circumstances such as expulsion from their own lands for being followers of Jesus (cf. 8, 1-4). The Holy Spirit transforms this trial into an occasion of grace, using it so that the name of the Lord can be preached to other peoples, stretching in this way the horizons of the Christian community. These are men and women who, as Luke writes in the Acts of the Apostles, “have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ” (15: 26). First among them is undoubtedly Paul of Tarsus, called by the Lord himself, hence a true Apostle. The story of Paul, the greatest missionary of all times, brings out in many ways the link between vocation and mission. Accused by his opponents of not being authorized for the apostolate, he makes repeated appeals precisely to the call which he received directly from the Lord (cf. Rom 1: 1; Gal 1: 11-12 and 15-17). 4. In the beginning, and thereafter, what “impels” the Apostles (cf. 2 Cor 5: 14) is always “the love of Christ”. Innumerable missionaries, throughout the centuries, as faithful servants of the Church, docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, have followed in the footsteps of the first disciples. The Second Vatican Council notes: “Although every disciple of Christ, as far in him lies, has the duty of spreading the faith, Christ the Lord always calls whomever he will from among the number of his disciples, to be with him and to be sent by him to preach to the nations [cf. Mk 3: 13-15]” (Decree Ad Gentes, 23). In fact, the love of Christ must be communicated to the brothers by example and words, with all one’s life. My venerable predecessor John Paul II wrote: “The special vocation of missionaries ‘for life’ retains all its validity: it is the model of the Church’s missionary commitment, which always stands in need of radical and total self-giving, of new and bold
Pope / B7
Indigenous Communities and the Church:
‘Promoting solidarity against the mining issue’ Statement of the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP) MINING in the Philippine experience not only destroys the environment but has become the vehicle for the violation of human rights, ethnocide of IP communities, and even deaths. It has been a decade since the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) first released a statement of concern regarding mining in the Philippines, and yet through these years, the Philippine government has been unwavering in implementing ‘development aggression’. The unceasing invitation for foreigners and local governments to enter into or accept mining ventures is contradictory to the Constitution which explicitly states that the environment and human rights should be nurtured in communities, especially in that of indigenous peoples. Statements from various dioceses and Indigenous Peoples Apostolates (IPA) in the country strongly oppose the ongoing mining program of the government. In the Mindanao dioceses like Dipolog, Ipil, Ozamis, Pagadian, Iligan and Marawi (DIOPIM), calls have been consistently raised to halt the operations of Toronto Ventures Incorporated (TVI) which have been documented to displace indigenous communities and are destructive of large tracts of land, flora and fauna in Zamboanga del Norte and nearby provinces. Mining activities of TVI also encroach on the sacred grounds of the Subanen, a blatant violation of their rights, culture and jurisdiction over their ancestral domain since they have a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) which was given by no other than President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself. To date, numerous mining applications are also threatening various localities in these dioceses. In a joint resolution of indigenous communities in SOCCSKSARGENDS (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, Gen. Santos, Davao del Sur), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) has been accused of being the instrument for foreign firms to lay claim on large tracts of land by giving these firms certifications stating that IP communities have given their “free, prior, and informed consent” (FPIC) even if they have not. The resolution also states that in the process of implementing RA 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, many victims have violent experiences with the military, CAFGU, SCAA or other paramilitary groups so that IP communities will be harassed, divided and forced to leave their ancestral domains, as seen in their experience with Sagittarius Mines, Inc. in Tampakan, South Cotabato and nearby areas. In the statement of the clergy, religious and faithful of the Vicariate of Puerto Princesa in Palawan province where RA 7611 or the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act is being implemented to ensure the care, maintenance and development of the unique environment and natural resources of the province, it has been noted that exception after exception has been forwarded by many municipalities in the “Environmentally Critical Areas Network (ECAN) Zones” to favor mining applications. This is a blatant violation of laws that ensure the welfare and rights of affected communities. The Mangyan Mission in the Vicariate of Calapan also strongly opposes the manipulation being done by INTEX Mining Co (CREW Minerals Inc.) in Mangyan communities. For mining operations to be accepted in Oriental Mindoro, INTEX has been documented to divide communities, co-opting one group to agree with mining activities. This not only destroys the environment but also destroys the culture and unity of these communities. All ten areas covered by mining applications or ongoing mining activities are in the ancestral domains of the Mangyans. Similar experiences have been reported by other dioceses like the Dioceses of Ilagan, Bayombong, Sorsogon, and Romblon. Given these experiences, the ECIP and Indigenous Peoples Apostolates (IPAs) and their partner indigenous peoples communities in the country are calling for the following: · the cancellation of all types of mining applications and the revocation of approved mining agreements; · the stoppage of all mining operations especially those in ancestral domains; · recognition and respect of the right of IP communities to their ancestral domains whether or not they have CADTs; · for the FPIC process not to be rendered powerless but to encourage more participation of IP communities in the FPIC process; · the strengthening of authentic IP organizations, respect for their systems of governance and adherence to their culture; and · forwarding of the nation’s genuine progress that is founded on sustainable development. We are also calling on all sectors of society to actively participate in making the government understand the plight of our co-Filipinos so that the bounty of our Creator will be enjoyed by future generations. In the name of ECIP-IPA, +SERGIO L. UTLEG, D.D. Bishop of Laoag ECIP Chairperson March 12, 2008
BEC: dialogue, participation and co-responsibility Bishop Francisco Claver (center) with BEC leaders during the rural congress held in the Prelature of Libmanan, March 26, 2008.
By Most Rev. Francisco F. Claver, SJ, DD THE Basic Ecclesial Community, we call it GKK or Gagmayng Katilingban Kristohanon in Cebuano, started in Mindanao in the 1970’s, so the first BEC began there during the time of Martial Law. We were forced to go into it because the Federation of Free Farmers which was starting strong in the barrios became a creature of Martial Law. When that happened, members of the Federation of Free Farmers, with their strong social orientation, went back to the barrios and became the nucleus, the beginnings of the BECs in Mindanao. So it’s good to remind ourselves of that. Also, the first Rural Congress was
held in Cagayan de Oro. But why in Mindanao? Because Mindanao, at that time and up to now was, and is, the most neglected portion of the country. And that is why I think BECs started well there, because what we did was to go to the barrios, to go to the people, and say, “you are the important ones”. In January this year, the bishops put out a pastoral letter on the national situation, and they said, “Let’s not just blame the government for all the ills that we have. Let’s take a look at ourselves.” This reminded me of something that happened in Bontoc during my last year there. We have these small Christian communities, like yours, and one time we had a general assembly of the whole Vicariate where the
parishes reported what they were doing. There was a group of women who came up and they started to sing and dance in the Igorot way. And this is what they said “We are the corruption monitoring group in our barangay, la la la…” “We look at the projects that are started by our barangay captain, and we see that they are substandard, la la la…” So they danced and sang, and went on to say, “But when they are our relatives who do these things, we look the other way…” When I heard that, I said, that’s exactly what is wrong with us! We talk about corruption by others, but when our relatives, or we, do corrupt things, we turn the other way. That is the reason why the bishops in their last letter in January said, “Don’t just look at the people who are doing all the corruption, look into yourselves, because what we have found out is, if this problem continues, it is because we turn our eyes away.” We are apathetic. We do not complain. We accept corruption as standard operational proce-
dure. So that’s when we realize that you can have all these politicians being corrupt, but if the ordinary people, that’s us, do nothing about them, corruption will continue. So there’s not much sense in calling for all these officials to resign. Who will take their place? In other words, what the bishops were saying was, what we need is a moral reform of the entire country. And so let’s start where the people are—in the barrios. That’s why we are coming to you. Now you take a look at the Rural Congress. The second Rural Congress will take place this year. It will come out with suggestions from the people just like what you did here. Those will go to the national congress. Now the important thing is, who is going to act on those suggestions? Whatever they come up with, those plans, those decisions will come down to you. And it’s the people in the barrios that are going to do the action. This is why in the Rural Congress you will notice that the delegates will make very much of the BECs,
because they know that the only ones who are going to implement whatever the Rural Congress comes out with are the people in the barrios—you. You are going to be the implementers. And therefore, you better understand what you are doing. Just listening to your presentation a while ago, I see that nobody needs to tell you what is wrong. You know it. The only problem is how to get together. When we started in Mindanao, there were only three ideas that were very, very strong in all the dioceses in Mindanao. Those were dialogue, participation, and co-responsibility. What does dialogue mean? Let’s talk to one another, listen to one another. I see that you are already doing that. Participation—the one who is going to decide the action is not the priest, or for that matter, the leaders. It’s the people. Priests and leaders have to listen to the people, to talk to them. And the people have to listen to them also, but in the final decision, the decision should be by participation—they have to participate.
And finally, co-responsibility— the responsibility is with you. It’s not with the priest. It’s not with the bishop. It’s not with the government. Although of course, they have their own responsibility as well. But the real responsibility is with you. Take a look at those three: Dialogue—are we listening to one another? Are we talking to one another? Or, are your leaders just giving speeches, there’s no feedback? So dialogue is very important. Secondly, participation— you are not just going to be idle, listening to what your leaders are saying. You have to correct them if they are wrong. And you have to help in the decision making. And then finally, co-responsibility—you know what we are talking about here? It is something you often hear about—PEOPLE POWER. That’s where real people power is. Now, I’d like to mention something here when we talk about dialogue. You listen to one another, but there is also one person to whom you have to listen. BEC/ B7
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
Joy rooted in the cross THIS is the joy associated with Easter. The very canon and source of joy, it’s an organic fruit of Christ’s cross. And it can only be achieved through it. In short, if not rooted in the cross, you can be sure it’s not real joy. To understand this joy, we have to go theological. We surely would miss it if we just depend on the biological, psychological, physical, social or economic approaches to it. Sad to say, these attitudes are common nowadays—of course, in constantly morphing ways. The latest it would seem is to have some makeover. We’ve been through the wellness fad, accessorizing, health tonics, reality shows, etc., all with their intense but fleeting feelings of high. The late Pope Paul VI described this unfortunate phenomenon once: “Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the occasions of pleasure, but finds great difficulty in giving birth to happiness. “For happiness has its origin elsewhere. It is a spiritual thing. Money, comfort, hygiene, material security, etc., may often not be lacking but nevertheless, despite these advantages, boredom, suffering and sadness are frequently to be found supervening in the lives of many people.” And to add some more, it’s not only boredom, suffering and sadness that come, but also all forms of destructive obsessions and sweet poisons can become unavoidable. Many things now lend credence to this observation. Just look at all the scandals sprouting not only in the entertainment world, but also in the world of politics. Even in some religious circles, these scandals can erupt precisely because the idea of joy is wrongly understood and developed. Going theological means going beyond the purely human factors that can produce some elements of joy. It means relying more on our Christian faith, letting it integrate all the other aspects to be able to take part in Christ’s joy, no less. This point is crucial, because it sets us in the most adequate framework in which any effort to understand and attain joy has to be made. Faith corresponds to our fullest stature as persons and children of God, indicating to us what we truly need to be happy. Faith engages us in our very core and embraces our whole being. It goes much further than what our biological, physical or social nature can cover. It takes us out of the confines of time and space. It enters into that inmost sanctuary where we relate our time with eternity, what is material with what is spiritual, the human with the divine. It links us with God, our Father and Creator. For many, the cross that leads to joy is how to actuate our faith. This can be a real test, since faith is not readily felt. Besides, it requires tremendous effort to get around to it. Primarily a supernatural gift, it defies sensible grasping. Our great challenge is how to make this supernatural faith take deep root in our life so that it can work according to our human condition. We have to aim at that moment when we would have a sensible appetite for it, like what we have for food and air. This is not an impossible, quixotic dream. We have the means, we have the capability. There’s also, first of all, God’s grace that makes this supernatural phenomenon take place in our often weak, frail selves. We just have to be brave enough to carry the cross. And this means that we have to learn to activate our spiritual faculties, that is, the use of our intelligence and will, animated by grace. The problem is that we often don’t develop our spiritual faculties. We prefer to remain carnal and material, completely time-and-earth-bound. Worse, there are now systematic ideologies that espouse and reinforce this attitude, and we readily fall for them. We have to break loose from this veritable slavery. We have to learn to pray, makes sacrifices, study, avail of the sacraments, develop virtues— literally carrying the cross to achieve that resurrection of a joy that the world can never give nor understand. It’s the joy that flourishes even in the midst of problems and difficulties, the joy that refuses to get spoiled by an atmosphere of human success and prosperity. It’s the joy of being with God.
Avoid potholes by taking humps THEY tell me that the average speed of a car in Manila is 25 kph. That’s catastrophically slow. That’s just the speed of a turtle injected with steroids. Aside from traffic, there are two other things that make vehicles go slow: Humps and potholes. Between these two, I’d rather choose humps. Especially those that are painted bright yellow and smooth on the curves, with nice signs to tell us they’re coming. But I don’t like potholes, period. They come in all sizes: tiny Mickey Mouse holes to nuclear bomb testing craters. And they never come announced. They just appear when you’re one inch away, and kabloom. And kablagblagblag... Life’s like that. When God wants you to slow down, He’ll send you potholes. But He can never give you humps, because that’s something that you should deliberately make for yourself. Potholes are the small and big problems of your life. When you have a bleeding hangnail, an expensive Italian shoe isn’t very beautiful. When your doctor tells you that you have malignant cancer, your Mercedes or BMW suddenly lacks oomph. And when you discover that your teen-age son is on drugs, your jewelry doesn’t shine as brilliantly as before. Like potholes, problems come suddenly. No one warns you they’re coming. And your whole life goes kabloom and kablagblagblag... But because of these kablooms, you’re forced to stop and think. You ask fundamental questions, like, “What’s life all about? Where am I going?” Overnight, your hierarchy of values changes. The most important things in life¯such as your soul, your family, your God¯become painfully obvious. And what used to be so pressing and insistent and noisy, reveal themselves to be cheap. Humps, on the other hand, are deliberately made. By you. You plan them out. (And fight for them with your life.) A quiet time for prayer each day. Or Mass during lunch hour. Perhaps a weekly prayer meeting. A personal retreat every year. Humps are special times when you’ll ask the very same fundamental questions: “What’s life all about? Where am I going?” But this time, not because you’re forced to, but because you want to. Take a lot of humps. Perhaps potholes won’t come as often.
Illustration by Blasimer Usi
Were not our hearts... Third Sunday of Easter, Lk. 24: 13-35
By Fr. Pellegrino
THIS Sunday’s gospel presents us with two disciples of the Lord who were trying to make sense out of the shocking events that took place in Jerusalem. They were in a quandary over the Lord’s death. They had been convinced that He was the Messiah, but how could the Messiah suffer like Jesus suffered? Nor could they make sense out of the report that Jesus had risen from the dead. They could not decipher what all this meant to them. In fact, they were having difficulty understanding anything about life. We are no different than they were. We have difficulty understanding life. What is the meaning of all the nonstop activity of our lives? Why do we scurry about trying to accomplish so much and then often end up accomplishing little other than exhausting ourselves? How do I, how do you, deal with suffering and even death? What sense can be made of our brief
existence on earth? Our late great pope, John Paul II, said that it is only in the Mystery of Christ that the Mystery of Man finds its meaning. Jesus became one with us so that we might become one with Him. The activity of our lives, from writing theological dissertations, to shopping for food, to coaching teams, to changing the baby’s diapers and everything in between, all have profound meaning when they are performed with the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. These same activities are meaningless when they are just done because they have to be done. When Jesus becomes the beginning and end of our activity, every action of our lives is a prayer. This includes suffering. In his homily for Pope John Paul II’s funeral, Cardinal Ratzinger, the present Pope Benedict XVI, quoted John Paul II’s last book, Memory and Identity: “In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love ... It is this suffering which
burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good”. The Cardinal then added: “Impelled by this vision, the Pope suffered and loved in communion with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence proved so eloquent and so fruitful.” The disciples on the road to Emmaus could not understand what happened to Jesus or why it happened until they were brought into an understanding of Scripture. The “stranger on the road” pointed out verses from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah that spoke about the Suffering Servant with such clarity that it seemed to be a detailed description of Jesus’ last days, even though this section of Isaiah was written 700 years before Christ. Once the disciples were brought to a deeper understanding of the Bible, the events of the week before began to make sense to them. Once Peter and the other disciples who had hidden from the Temple Leaders on Good Friday came to an understanding of the suffering of the Mes-
siah, they were no longer destroyed by the fear of suffering in their own lives. The Word of God did it. Again, “It is only in the Mystery of Christ that the Mystery of Man takes its meaning.” Throughout our lives we are drawn to ever deeper experiences of the Word of God in Scripture and Eucharist. Every year might seem to be the same. Perhaps, we begin the liturgical celebrations of Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter with the feeling, “Here we go again.” But every year brings a new and deeper understanding of the Word of God. And with this understanding of the Word of God comes a new and deeper understanding of ourselves, of the mystery of our lives. The mystery of our lives will not be completely solved until after our deaths when we see God face to face. But we can approach the solution, we can take the steps to find meaning in existence through our union with Jesus in Word and in Eucharist. And then our hearts also will burn with joy as we savor the presence of Jesus in our lives.
Atty. Jo Imbong
Who did it? WAY back in 1953, a graduate student at the University of Chicago named Stanley Miller mixed together in a flask a cocktail of methane ammonia and hydrogen sulphide. It was meant to be a primeval “ocean” which is what the earth’s early atmosphere was, and where, Holy Scripture says, the “Spirit moved along the waters.” To simulate lightning, Stanley connected the flasks with rubber tubes and introduced electrical sparks. The whole idea was that from that broth, life however primeval will emerge. Stanley waited with great anticipation. Of course, there was no mantra like, “Let there be life!” as in Genesis 1:20 for Stanley was just a lowly lab denizen. No life crawled out of the “warm little bubbly pond” which is where Charles Darwin thought early life began. Last time we heard of Stanley, he was still at it, and intoning a thoughtful “Hmmmm ...” How could not an organism tick to life under those conditions, Stanley could not quite understand. And his puzzlement is not without reason. For according to a highly respected science writer named Bill Bryson (A Short History of Nearly Everything, 2003), “there is nothing terribly exotic in the chemicals that animate us,” so much so that “if you wished to create another living object, whether a goldfish or a head of lettuce or a human being [!] you would need really only four principal elements—carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, plus small amounts of a few
others principally sulfur, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. Put these together in three dozen or so combinations to form some sugars, acids, and other basic compounds and you can build anything that lives.” Bill continues to say that life somehow emerged so swiftly, in fact it is believed that it must have had some help and in this case, it did get a good deal of help so that, “at some point in an unimaginably distant past some little bag of chemicals fidgeted to life. It absorbed some nutrients, gently pulsed, [and] had a brief existence. This much may have happened before perhaps many times,” Obviously, the dance of life did not stop there because, “this ancestral packet did something additional and extraordinary: it cleaved itself and produced an heir: A tiny bundle of genetic material passed from one living entity to another, and has never stopped moving since. It was the moment of creation for us all. Biologists sometimes call it the Big Birth.” Bill Bryson talks scientific sense. So the question is, what or who ignited that primordial twitch? This was too exciting for Isotope Geochemist, Victoria Bennett. Nestling on top of her work table at the Earth Sciences Building of the Australian National University in Canberra is an unpretentious piece of rock that is suspected to be 3.85 billion years old. The age is crucial to the rock-dating machine near it which examines the rock for rem-
nants of ancient living matter in it. Ms. Bennett is quite sure that the rock holds vestiges of life from eons of its having sat in an ancient landscape where there was almost no sun. In that dark neighborhood, everything around the sitting rock was not conducive to life at all. And yet, life there was. The rock dating machine confirmed it. When asked how is it that life could emerge in such hostile ground, Ms. Bennett surmised, “There must have been something that suited it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.” She said it was something, not Something. Well, there is hope. I have always believed that if the same question were to be asked in a “Battle of the Brains” or some similar adventurous diversion, a Physicist or some sincere student of Physics would beat anyone to the buzzer. And give the correct answer. For a Physicist is so up close to the universe, it is only him whose nose is flattened against the universe’s windowpane. In that position, it should be virtually impossible for him not to grasp the First Person who pressed the first buzzer that triggered the Big Birth. At this age, however, the question still hangs, unanswered in many people. But it is not beyond human logic. It is a question that can be answered even by those who have not made it to the buzzer. Let me ask you, then: who did it? If you have been with me up to this point and you are smiling . . . I think you have arrived at an answer to that. And I smile with you.
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
NRC II consultations on the diocesan and regional levels By Sr. Pinky Barrientos, FSP THE Second National Rural Congress which is slated sometime this year is being convened to celebrate the first rural congress organized in 1967. Forty years have passed since then, and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) through its January 2007 pastoral statement “The Dignity of the Rural Poor – A Gospel Concern” issued a call for a Second Rural Congress (NRC II) “to review the continuing issues confronting the majority of our people in the rural areas.” The pastoral statement stressed that the rural poor, especially the farmers should take center stage in this particular congress. This time they have to do “the speaking by themselves, the discerning, the proposing of their own ideas, the planning of how we must as a people come together to work for the common good of the country…” Consultations on the local level Two parallel tracks of consultations have been organized at the local level where representa-
tives from the rural poor (farmers, fisherfolks, IPs and BECs) met to discuss and analyze their current situation. The Diocesan (ad intra) consultations centered on the role of BECs in rural development, and facilitated by the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), the Episcopal Commission for Indigenous Peoples (ECIP) and the BEC Office. The sub-regional (ad extra) consultations took up rural poverty issues among basic sectors. Involved in these consultations is a coalition of non-government and people’s organizations engaged in rural issues, the Philippine-Misereor Partnership (PMP), the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), and the Rural Poor Solidarity (RPS). The consultations on the diocesan level started in September last year. Although initially expected to finish by the end of March, some adjustments have to be made as a number of dioceses have yet to conduct their own local assemblies. Meanwhile, the sub-regional consultations that began in November are still continuing, reports of which are to
be consolidated sometime in April or May. Regional Congresses The consolidated reports from the local consultations (Phase I) will be brought to a higher level of discussion (Phase II) in the five regional congresses to be held in major regions of the Philippines—Luzon North, Luzon South, Western Visayas, Central and Eastern Visayas, and Mindanao. Bishop-convenors are Bishop Guillermo Afable (Mindanao) with the assistance of Auxiliary Bishops George Rimando and Jose Colin Bagaforo; Archbishop Jose Palma of Central and Eastern Visayas, assisted by a Cebu secretariat; Archbishop Onesimo Gordoncillo for Western Visayas, assisted by a Jaro secretariat; Archbishop Ramon Arguelles for Luzon South; and Bishop Ramon Villena for Luzon North. The Central and Eastern Visayas Rural Congress is slated on May 21-22 in Cebu City. Each diocese will send five delegates, which include the bishop; person in-charge of the NRC; two sectoral representatives, and a
priest (social action director). The Mindanao secretariat scheduled its Regional Congress on June 10-13 in Davao City with eight representatives that will include small farmers, indigenous peoples and other sectors. The schedule of the South Luzon congress has yet to be determined. Fr. Junjun Ramos, social action director of Lipa has been tasked by Archbishop Arguelles to convene the Congress for South Luzon, although no definite date has been set yet. The Diocese of Bayombong, in charge of organizing the North Luzon Rural Congress, has yet to finalize also its schedule and other
details for the regional congress. Objectives In his guidelines prepared for the convening of Regional Congresses of NRC II, Archbishop Antonio Ledesma (NRC II chair) presented the objectives of the Regional Congress thus: 1) to present the collated and consolidated results of the diocesan ad intra and sub regional ad extra consultations; 2) to deepen the analysis on the factors and root causes of rural poverty; (social, economic, political, cultural, etc.); 3) to reflect on the current situation in the light of the Social Teachings of the Church and to
discuss the challenges to Church and Society; and 4) to arrive at concrete recommendations and action plans, addressed to: a) dioceses; b) basic rural sectors; c) government agencies; and d) civil society organizations. Final Phase The third phase of the NRC II will take place in Manila sometime in July. The final assembly expects to gather around a hundred delegates from the five regional congresses. A corresponding number of bishops will peruse the regional reports. The congress is also expected to come out with a final statement on the NRC II.
Pope / B5
endeavors”. (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, 66) 5. Among those totally dedicated to the service of the Gospel, are priests, called to preach the word of God, administer the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, committed to helping the lowly, the sick, the suffering, the poor, and those who experience hardship in areas of the world where there are, at times, many who still have not had a real encounter with Jesus Christ. Missionaries announce for the first time to these people Christ’s redemptive love. Statistics show that the number of baptized persons increases every year thanks to the pastoral work of these priests, who are wholly consecrated to the salvation of their brothers and sisters. In this context, a special word of thanks must be expressed “to the fidei donum priests who work faithfully and generously at building up the community by proclaiming the word of God and breaking the Bread of Life, devoting all their energy to serving the mission of the Church. Let us thank God for all the priests who have suffered even to the sacrifice of their lives in order to serve Christ ... Theirs is a moving witness
that can inspire many young people to follow Christ and to expend their lives for others, and thus to discover true life” (Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, 26). 6. There have always been in the Church many men and women who, prompted by the action of the Holy Spirit, choose to live the Gospel in a radical way, professing the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. This multitude of men and women religious, belonging to innumerable Institutes of contemplative and active life, still plays “the main role in the evangelization of the world” (Ad Gentes, 40). With their continual and community prayer, contemplatives intercede without ceasing for all humanity. Religious of the active life, with their many charitable activities, bring to all a living witness of the love and mercy of God. The Servant of God Paul VI concerning these apostles of our times said: “Thanks to their consecration they are eminently willing and free to leave everything and to go and proclaim the Gospel even to the ends of the earth. They are enterprising and their apostolate is often marked by an originality, by a genius that
demands admiration. They are generous: often they are found at the outposts of the mission, and they take the greatest of risks for their health and their very lives. Truly the Church owes them much” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 69). 7. Furthermore, so that the Church may continue to fulfill the mission entrusted to her by Christ, and not lack promoters of the Gospel so badly needed by the world, Christian communities must never fail to provide both children and adults with constant education in the faith. It is necessary to keep alive in the faithful a committed sense of missionary responsibility and active solidarity with the peoples of the world. The gift of faith calls all Christians to co-operate in the work of evangelization. This awareness must be nourished by preaching and catechesis, by the liturgy, and by constant formation in prayer. It must grow through the practice of welcoming others, with charity and spiritual companionship, through reflection and discernment, as well as pastoral planning, of which attention to vocations must be an integral part. 8. Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to
Urbi / B1
BEC / B5
more: the Father’s love which “newly embraces” the Son, enfolding him in glory; the Son’s love returning to the Father in the power of the Spirit, robed in our transfigured humanity. From today’s solemnity, in which we relive the absolute, once-and-for-all experience of Jesus’ resurrection, we receive an appeal to be converted to Love; we receive an invitation to live by rejecting hatred and selfishness, and to follow with docility in the footsteps of the Lamb that was slain for our salvation, to imitate the Redeemer who is “gentle and lowly in heart”, who is “rest for our souls” (cf. Mt 11:29). Dear Christian brothers and sisters in every part of the world, dear men and women whose spirit is sincerely open to the truth, let no heart be closed to the omnipotence of this redeeming love! Jesus Christ died and rose for all; he is our hope—true hope for every human being. Today, just as he did with his disciples in Galilee before returning to the Father, the risen Jesus now sends us everywhere as witnesses of his hope, and he reassures us: I am with you always, all days, until the end of the world (cf. Mt 28:20). Fixing the gaze of our spirit on the glorious wounds of his transfigured body, we can understand the meaning and value of suffering, we can tend the many wounds that continue to disfigure humanity in our own day. In his glorious wounds we recognize the indestructible
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the consecrated life can only flourish in a spiritual soil that is well cultivated. Christian communities that live the missionary dimension of the mystery of the Church in a profound way will never be inward looking. Mission, as a witness of divine love, becomes particularly effective when it is shared in a community, “so that the world may believe” (cf. Jn 17: 21). The Church prays everyday to the Holy Spirit for the gift of vocations. Gathered around the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, as in the beginning, the ecclesial community learns from her how to implore the Lord for a flowering of new apostles, alive with the faith and love that are necessary for the mission. 9. While I entrust this reflection to all the ecclesial communities so that they may make it their own, and draw from it inspiration for prayer, and as I encourage those who are committed to work with faith and generosity in the service of vocations, I wholeheartedly send to educators, catechists and to all, particularly to young people on their vocational journey, a special Apostolic Blessing. From the Vatican, 3 December 2007.
signs of the infinite mercy of the God of whom the prophet says: it is he who heals the wounds of broken hearts, who defends the weak and proclaims the freedom of slaves, who consoles all the afflicted and bestows upon them the oil of gladness instead of a mourning robe, a song of praise instead of a sorrowful heart (cf. Is 61:1, 2, 3). If with humble trust we draw near to him, we encounter in his gaze the response to the deepest longings of our heart: to know God and to establish with him a living relationship in an authentic communion of love, which can fill our lives, our interpersonal and social relations with that same love. For this reason, humanity needs Christ: in him, our hope, “we have been saved” (cf. Rom 8:24). How often relations between individuals, between groups and between peoples are marked not by love but by selfishness, injustice, hatred and violence! These are the scourges of humanity, open and festering in every corner of the planet, although they are often ignored and sometimes deliberately concealed; wounds that torture the souls and bodies of countless of our brothers and sisters. They are waiting to be tended and healed by the glorious wounds of our Risen Lord (cf. 1 Pet 2:2425) and by the solidarity of people who, following in his footsteps, perform deeds of charity in his name, make an active commitment to justice, and spread
luminous signs of hope in areas bloodied by conflict and wherever the dignity of the human person continues to be scorned and trampled. It is hoped that these are precisely the places where gestures of moderation and forgiveness will increase! Dear brothers and sisters! Let us allow the light that streams forth from this solemn day to enlighten us; let us open ourselves in sincere trust to the risen Christ, so that his victory over evil and death may also triumph in each one of us, in our families, in our cities and in our nations. Let it shine forth in every part of the world. In particular, how can we fail to remember certain African regions, such as Darfur and Somalia, the tormented Middle East, especially the Holy Land, Iraq, Lebanon, and finally Tibet, all of whom I encourage to seek solutions that will safeguard peace and the common good! Let us invoke the fullness of his Paschal gifts, through the intercession of Mary who, after sharing the sufferings of the passion and crucifixion of her innocent Son, also experienced the inexpressible joy of his resurrection. Sharing in the glory of Christ, may she be the one to protect us and guide us along the path of fraternal solidarity and peace. These are my Easter greetings, which I address to all who are present here, and to men and women of every nation and continent united with us through radio and television. Happy Easter!
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And who is that? The Holy Spirit. Because that is what you do in your BEC. You do bible sharing, but you cannot just talk about the bible, unless first you pray and then you listen to the Holy Spirit telling you what should be done in prayer. So when I talk about dialogue among yourselves, what is important here is that you also dialogue with the Holy Spirit. That’s the bible sharing, sharing the Word of God. The Word of God means that the Spirit is still talking to us. I mention this because when you talk about the BECs you might think everything is action, action, and action. No! The BEC is first of all based on prayer and on the bible. Those are the forces that give the BECs their strength. Keep that in mind. Ultimately, the dialogue is going to be with the Holy Spirit. Do you understand that? Because if you do, then you see that what we have in the BEC is not just like any other organizations, like the Knights of Columbus, CWL, or even the charismatic groups. The BEC is the Church. That’s the real Church. And I’m very glad to see this here. It seems to me that in your diocese, I don’t even have to talk about this because the BECs are well developed here, as I can see. Let me share with you just one observation about the BECs nationwide. In 1991, just after the beginning of Libmanan, the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines made the BEC as a priority of the whole Philippine Church. I have worked in Mindanao, and I have worked in Manila for ten years before being assigned back to Bontoc-Lagawe in Northern Luzon. So I think I’ve covered the entire country! But when I look at what’s happening in those other places, I see that some of the BECs are strong; some are weak; some are just beginning. So in Northern Luzon, we’ve asked ourselves, what are the essentials of a BEC that all the others should have? In a national survey in 1995, we found out that there were 95 names for the BEC. So we asked what was common among them. And we decided on these three— First, bible-sharing where the people come together to share their thoughts on the bible. That’s very important because that’s where you get in touch with the Holy Spirit. Second, pastoral planning. You just don’t insert in the BECs and talk and pray. You have to go into action. What is the Spirit telling you about your problems now—poverty, corruption, lack of development, all these things—what is he telling you?
You have to act. And the third most important reason is participation. Everybody must participate in this process. Now, those are the most important things in the BEC. And that’s what I ask you to do. But I know that I have no reason to say that this is not happening here. I have been talking to your priests and to the bishop and I can say that you are far, far advanced more than many dioceses in the country. This I can say, looking at what has been happening in Mindanao, the Visayas, and Northern Luzon. So keep it up and let’s see what’s going to happen. Just think of this, if this happens all over the country, then we can have that moral reform that we are often talking about. If we have that, then we can call ourselves a truly Christian nation. Just one last thought. You know, whenever we hear reports about us, Filipinos, in the international press, we react. I remember that time when Senator Roco was still here. There was a candy in Britain that was called Filipina. How did Senator Roco react? He said, “let’s complain about this”. What I’m trying to point out here is that whenever we hear Filipinos downgraded, we react. We are very sensitive. But when we hear every year that our country is number one or number two as the most corrupt nation in Asia, we do not react. And here we are, we are a Catholic nation, but we have no reaction on our good reputation. And this is where the bishops are asking you. “Let’s do something about it, but let’s start with ourselves. Let’s not just blame others, let’s start where we can.” Let me end with those women I was telling you about, dancing in Bontoc. You know how they consider their work with regard to this national problem? They said “If we see what’s happening in Manila we tell ourselves, we can do nothing about it. But if we go down to the barrio, if we take a look at the barangay captain, there we can do something.” And their philosophy of action is very simple: “We do what we can, where we are, with the little that we have, and with other little people like us.” I hope that it will also be your philosophy not just in the Church but in society at large. Thank you. (A talk given during the BEC Rural Congress of the Prelature of Libmanan where more than a thousand lay leaders gathered on March 26, 2008 in preparation for the upcoming National Rural Congress.)
B8 Moral Assessment Abhorrent Disturbing Acceptable Wholesome Exemplary
Title: Horton Running Time: 88 min. Cast: Jim Carey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett Directors: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino Producer: Bob Gordon Screenwriters: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul Music: John Powell Editor: Tim Nordquist Genre: Animation/ Adventure/ Comedy Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Technical Assessment: ½ Moral Assessment: CINEMA Rating: For viewers of all ages
FRIENDLY and ordinary as animal lovers like to think, Horton is a harmless elephant who lives in a friendly, ordinary jungle. One day, he hears a teeny-weeney voice supposedly coming from a speck of dust which has settled on a delicate but inconsequential flower that the jungle has billions of. Following his ears, he investigates the sounds he picks up, leading to his discovery that on that speck of dust is a whole world populated by “Whos” who, incidentally, have facilities to communicate with
MAC en COLET
Horton, too. Horton befriends these furry little creatures he hears but can not see, and takes it upon himself to protect at all costs the little flower the speck of dust clings to. Then trouble comes in: the other jungle creatures see Horton talking to a speck of dust and think that he has gone crazy. Of course, nobody else in the jungle has ears as huge as the elephant’s, so how could they hear what Horton hears? So they all gang up on him, determined to get rid of the speck of dust and lock the crazy elephant up in a cage. By the squealing and giggling of the audience (half of whom are children) you’d know how delightful Horton hears a Who is. A Dr. Seuss tale, Horton hears a Who is not only entertaining to watch; it is also engaging, as Horton the elephant comes across as almost human with a kind heart, completely believing in what he hears and knows to be true, and laying his life on the line to save the people concerned. That’s the main attraction of the movie—the story itself, backed by effective “characterization” and imagery so winning it can appeal to even
CBCP Monitor Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Technical Assessment Poor Below average Average Above average Excellent
adults who are children at heart. Horton hears a Who is a good balance of cartoon and character: a solid message delivered with a lollipop flavor. If the suspicious jungle creatures in this movie are that determined to destroy the speck of dust, Horton is even more determined to save it, after all, he believes, persons live on that dust speck, and “A person is a person, no matter how small.” Besides this solid lesson in tolerance and charity, the movie offers “bonuses” for people who have ears, so to speak. The importance of listening is highlighted here—and are we followers of Jesus not taught that faith begins from listening? Hearing the Word of God and listening for His message, and being courageous in standing for what we believe in? Horton hears a Who also offers a lesson in humility as it subtly reminds us of our smallness— when we gaze at the dark starlit skies we realize our planet is but a speck of dust (if not smaller) in the vastness of creation, yet our faith teaches us that the Holy Spirit dwells within our person.
ni Bladimer Usi
Look for the three missing items: Rubber shoes, faucet and whistle. (Illustration by Bladimer Usi)
Title: Over Her Dead Body Running Time: 95 min. Cast: Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, Lake Bell, Jason Biggs Director: Jeff Lowell Producers: Paul Brooks, Scott Niemeyer, Peter Safran, Norm Waitt Screenwriter: Jeff Lowell Music: David Kitay Editor: Matt Friedman Genre: Romantic Comedy/ Fantasy Cinematography: John Bailey Distributor: New Line Cinema Location: Los Angeles, USA Technical Assessment: ½ Moral Assessment: ½ CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above
KATE (Eva Longoria Parker) is about to be married to Henry (Paul Rudd), but on the day of their wedding, Kate dies when she is crushed by a huge ice sculpture of an angel. Kate is not allowed to enter heaven until she finally resolves her unfinished business on earth. Thus, Kate goes back to earth as a ghost constantly guarding Henry. Meanwhile, Henry is unable to fully recover from the trauma of loosing Kate even after a year, so he reluctantly agrees to consult a part-time psychic cum full time caterer named Ashley (Lake Bell) at the urging of his sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane). Despite his skepticism over Ashley’s psychic abilities, Henry finds himself falling hard for Ashley, and the same is true with Ashley. Kate however, haunts Ashley for she considers it her heavenly duty to break up Henry and Ashley’s blossoming romance. The premise of Over Her Dead Body is not really new. However, the actors themselves are somehow able to pull it off because the viewers do not see them on the big screen often. Eva Longoria Parker and Paul Rudd together with the rest of the cast are more popularly
known as television stars. But then, the same strength gives the film its major setback. Over Her Dead Body appears to be a made-for-TV-movie. The storyline is less cinematic and the script is a no-brainer. There are some funny moments in the movie though that the audiences would surely enjoy but the film does not really go beyond being clicheic and predictable. Can a ghost really have a power over human beings’ decision? The film has worked on this thesis and it actually says that the phrase, “till death do us part” is never applicable for some obnoxious souls such as Kate’s. Although there is quiet retribution towards the end, apparently the outcome of events are all maneuvered by her, a ghost. There are lessons of love and letting go to be learned in the film. Ashley as the fake psychic goes back to the Catholic Church which is also commendable. However, young audiences should be cautioned of some mild sexual insinuation, nudity and vulgar language. The film condones pre-marital sex and depicts drunkenness as funny and acceptable. Gender stereotyping and discrimination is also present in the movie.
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
Ugnayan The News Supplement of Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation, Inc.
A brotherhood affirmed by Manny Catabas “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6) Ronan, a widower is a father longing for the love of his son. Kayee is newly married and is a son longing for a father’s embrace. Kenny is a Malaysian Chinese, married, with two teen aged children, just recently emerging from a bout of chronic depression. And finally, a father and son who found the venue to affirm their love for each other. These five men of diverse backgrounds came to Tagaytay, to-
gether with more than four hundred men, for the Servants of the Lord International Conference last March 15 – 16. They came to seek God’s affirming love. And they were not disappointed. As one brother remarked after the first of the three sessions, “Bro, it’s only the first talk and I’m already crying.” The first talk, about how God faithfully honors men and how men can in turn honor God, was given by Melo Villaroman, Jr. Melo Sr. was so touched by the context of the talk and the sharing of his son that he was in tears as he recognized his son’s long-
Fr, Paul Uwemedimo blesses palm fronds during the Mass at the end of the SOLD Conference.
ing for a father’s embrace. The scene was so emotionally packed that everyone shed tears as father and son embraced each other. Everyone felt the warmth of that embrace in spite of the cold winds gently seeping through the open windows. What followed next was unscripted but somehow natural. Ronan Yuson, a participant, followed the urge to go up front and share how touched he was by the love between father and son. He confessed that he too is longing for the love of his son who has been estranged from him for a long time. With tears rolling down his cheeks, he requested everyone to intercede for him and for his son, that they too may re-affirm each other’s love. And this request and prayer would be answered sooner than he expected. During the lunch time break, Kayee Ablanque, a Filipino expatriate based in Singapore, approached Ronan. He too, is longing for love, which his father has not accorded him. Despite the success he has achieved – a good paying IT job in Singapore, his recent wedding to a Christian Indonesian woman, he still feels empty. Since both were seeking love, he proposed that they treat each other as father and son, and to give what each is longing for
— a father’s love from Ronan and a son’s love from Kayee. During the afternoon session, Manny Garcia, SOLD International Coordinator, spelled out how one can accomplish the mission of SOLD and that is, by being COMBAT ready. COMBAT is an acronym adopted by SOLD which stands for Courageous, Obedient, Motivated, Bold, Attack mode, Thankful. These characteristics are very important for achieving victory for Christ. Who dares…wins! I had an opportunity to converse with Kenny Ling from Malaysia. Married to a born again Christian, Kenny has two teenaged children. It is indicative of the close bond among brothers that even though we hardly knew each other, Kenny soon was sharing his life with me. His brother was murdered, an event that caused him tremendous grief and brought him to deep depression. Although born Catholic, he tried to find solace with another Christian sect, but didn’t find it. He came back to the Catholic faith and joined SOLD. After his fulfilling experiences and fellowship with the SOLD members in Sibu, Malaysia, he’s now at peace with God. He is proud of the fact that his two teenagers are also active members of the local Youth for Christ. And he just is waiting
SOLD brothers deep in prayer and worship
for the right time to bring his wife back to the fold. The following day being Palm Sunday, the commitment ceremony was preceded by a mass celebrated by Fr. Paul Uwemedimo. Fr Paul, in his homily, aptly described what total commitment means for SOLD. It means being a real servant who is faithful not just in words, nor in singing and praising but by living and witnessing. The commitment ceremony led by Charly Laiz was a solemn affair, made even more meaningful because Charly began the cer-
emony with the washing of the feet, a symbolic act of servitude. Everyone else experienced washing someone else’s feet and having his feet washed. Semper Fidelis. Always faithful. This is the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. It signifies their loyalty to the corps and to one another, and their commitment to their comrades. Semper Fidelis. The SOLD has adopted this motto to signify their commitment to serve and love God with all their hearts, minds and souls, and to leave no man behind in their journey towards heaven.
The origins of Couples for Christ (part 2)
The split of 1993
by Zeny Gimenez and Marivic Dalman The story of Couples for Christ continues in this issue. Vic Gutierrez, who oversaw the creation and growth of CFC from its inception in 1981 to the time of the split in 1993, agreed to be further interviewed. The facts mentioned in this article are based on records that have been kept by Ligaya ng Panginoon and on recollections of some of the leaders who were involved in the events leading up to the split.
THE SPLIT OF 1993
By 1992, Couples for Christ had grown far beyond what Vic Gutierrez and Fr. Herb Schneider originally envisioned it to be. Back in 1981, they had simply wanted a venue where the women participants in their popular prayer meetings could bring their husbands and together, grow in their relationship with each other and with the Lord. But as the years wore on, it became increasingly clear to Vic, and later to the Executive Council formed to oversee CFC, that God’s plan for CFC was broader and far more complex. It was Ligaya that fostered and encouraged the early rapid growth of CFC. As early as 1982, Vic recalls that “LNP received requests from various groups in the Philippines for help in establishing support groups for married couples.” With the help of what Vic calls CFC’s “exportable packages” – manuals and audio tapes – CFC expanded into several provinces. Expansion into other countries followed soon after. Vic remembers that as early as 1983, or only two years after its inception, CFC was already being promoted in various places in Asia. The first foreign country was Hongkong, followed by Singapore and then India. In 1986, Vic spoke about CFC at the Sword of the Spirit international conference of community leaders in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Very soon after, CFC groups were established in the United States. By 1989, a CFC chapter had been organized in Los Angeles by Jun and Auring Tan, one of the original 16 couples.
Rapid and Massive
1989 saw the realization of a prophecy that was revealed four years earlier to Nina Ponte, wife of Rouquel Ponte, a couple leader in CFC at that time. “God has given CFC His authority and blessing to win the world for Christ,” was the revelation that inspired CFC to pursue a new vision. “Rapid, massive, and global” was the evangelization thrust formally declared in August 1989. During its tenth anniversary celebration in 1991, Couples for Christ adopted the vision statement “Families in the Holy Spirit Renewing the Face of the Earth.” As CFC continued to blossom in many parts of the country, new chapters also started to sprout in countries around the world. Ligaya encouraged the expanding reach of CFC, although Fr. Herb Schneider initially had misgivings about CFC’s worldwide thrust. Fr. Schneider soon changed his stand, especially when the Sword of the Spirit expressed great interest in CFC and in a letter to then Executive Director Frank Padilla, stated, “We see a great potential for Couples for Christ not only in Poland, but in many locations in Europe.” CFC would later claim that it was Ligaya’s opposition to rapid and massive evangelization that would trigger the split of 1993. Vic disagrees: “LNP said that CFC should do rapid and massive evangelization but it should exercise pastoral responsibility in forming the newly-evangelized couples before they are assigned to leadership positions. In other words, we wanted the newly-evangelized couples to grow a little more before they were assigned to serve as household heads. We felt that it was premature to push them into pastoral leadership immediately after finishing the CLP. Infants should not be assigned to serve other infants in the faith.” During his short exhortation at CFC’s ninth anniversary on June 16, 1990, Vic told the leaders: “This year we committed ourselves to double our number. In the year 2000, one million members. Will we make it? I don’t know. What I know is that we can only achieve all these by the grace of God.”
Vic and Agnes Gutierrez
In the year 2000, CFC did achieve that prophetic number of a million members but Vic Gutierrez would no longer be around to congratulate CFC. By then, CFC had been separated from its mother community for more than 7 years.
The Cracks Begin to Show
Success does have its downside. CFC’s growth and what CFC leaders perceived as a reining in of their zeal for expansion would lead Frank Padilla and the other CFC leaders to question the authority of LNP and the relationship between the two groups. What was the chain of command that Ligaya exercised over Couples for Christ? Ligaya oversaw not just CFC but other covenanted groups, namely: Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals Christ’s Youth in Action
Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon Tahanan ng Panginoon Institute of Pastoral Development Women for Christ Lumen Christi Word of Joy Foundation Each community had an Executive Director, later on an Executive Council, that oversaw the affairs and concerns of the community. According to Vic, this was done in order to make all the outreaches autonomous. In the case of CFC, the Executive Council in 1992 was composed of: Frank Padilla, Rouquel Ponte, Tony Meloto, Arben Vicenio and Bobby Pilar. In order to keep all the communities in line with the mother community’s goals and thrusts, Ligaya created the Partners in Mission Council (PIMC) composed of all the Executive Directors of the outOrigins / C3
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
by Joe Tale, CFC Executive Director
A season of new beginnings Hallelujah! Christ is risen! The season of Lent has ended. The time for remembering a most sorrowful event – the death of our Savior Jesus Christ - is over. It is Easter – a time for rejoicing and for looking ahead with hope. Our Savior, the Son-of-God Jesus, who died for us on the cross, has risen from the dead! His triumph over death ensured our salvation. I am sure many of us remember our childhood, when the season of Lent and Easter was commemorated with greater reverence and intensity than we do today. Not too long ago, before the advent of the internet, of cable TV, of 24/7 stores, Lent was indeed a quiet time. For the entire Holy week, from Holy Monday to Black Saturday, it was as if the whole nation stood still. The only music radio stations played from Monday to Wednesday was somber religious dirges. The only TV shows were endless reruns of “The Ten Commandments.” On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the radio and TV stations were closed and all that the radios and TVs produced were static. They were on air again on Black Saturday but still with the same soft quiet music. When we were children, we were enjoined to keep still, to refrain from shouting, from boisterous play and from quarreling, especially on Good Friday. We were extra obedient, extra respectful, extremely well-behaved. “Namatay na si Hesus” was the only thing we needed to hear to be reminded of our obligations as good children. And there were of course the continuous prayers. Aside from the 6 PM daily rosary, we were ordered to accompany our elders for the public Way of the Cross in the churches. We were awakened very early on Maundy Thursday to visit, often with the entire clan, the requisite number of parish churches for the traditional “Visita Iglesia.” And we were forced to squirm in our seats for hours on end as we listened to mostly old women chant, in a cacophony of shrill and strident voices, a sing-song rendition of the “Pasyon,” the Passion of Christ sung out in mournful and loud tones. As this was very often done with the aid of a public address system, the whole neighborhood was forced to listen too. But Easter Sunday was another matter. In some regions of the Philippines, children would be awakened at the crack of dawn to witness the “Salubong,” when the risen Christ would meet His mother. They were also told to jump as high as they can. This was supposed to ensure that they would grow to be tall. Nobody has ever satisfactorily explained the why and how of this practice and I guess many of those who did follow never actually obtained the
growth spurt promised, but it was tradition and it was observed. Easter Sunday meant we could play again, we could go back to our jumping and running games, we could shout again. We could be happy again because “Christ has risen!” Today, we are no longer chilCFC Executive Director Joe Tale attended a fellowship dinner hosted by Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro, Iloilo together dren and many of us, the youth with leaders of CFC Iloilo. and the singles and the young married couples, may not renew spirit of excitement and commitment. We have expectant faith member the times such as I have described them. But the sense of that the other ILCs of the Family Ministries and our anniversary joy, after emerging from a period of reflection and of meditation on celebration in June will be blessed as well. the life and death of Jesus, is still there, still palpable, still strong. Easter is indeed a time for new beginnings. Astronomically, the • The evangelization programs in the various areas are well on their way. In addition, we look forward to exciting challenges brought Christian calendar ensures that Easter Sunday always falls within the by special evangelization opportunities – about 40,000 families in period from March 22 to April 25, and in the Northern hemisphere, government relocation sites in Cavite, Laguna and Bulacan (in this period also heralds the coming of spring, a time when new buds partnership with the National Housing Authority), and overseas sprout, when the earth’s cover turns from gray and brown to green Filipino workers and their families (in partnership with the Deagain. Thus the new hope and new beginnings that Easter brings are partment of Labor and Employment). real in more ways than one. This year, our Lord gave us the theme, nay, the admonition, to • The pastoral congresses are being conducted in more countries around the world, love as He does. This in itself is a new beginning. Coming from a year of Lamentations and of hurts and bitterness, this dictum of love • We are establishing a wider platform for upscaling of Gawad Kalinga in full response to the Lord’s call for us to care for the least represents renewed hope, renewed commitment, reinvigorated spirits. of our brethren. We are called to actively seek and bestow forgiveness. We are tasked to reach out, even to those who refuse to accept our proffered hands. • We have been given an opportunity to set our history straight and to establish the right basis for our relationship with the Ang Ligaya Our new beginnings start from the state of our hearts. It should ng Panginoon, our mother community. also encompass the state of our mission. As we begin in earnest to address our evangelization work, our work with the poor, our work Finally, we are about to hurdle the financial burden brought on by with the Family Ministries and the Social Ministries, we do so with renewed hope that the Lord will continue to make His presence felt huge bank loans of the past. That is indeed a wonderful blessing and truly a new beginning for our community because it sets the stage in everything that we do. • Our recent major events – the Leaders Conference in Araneta, the for greater generosity from our brethren to support the mission. We Metro Manila Mission Core Disciples Weekend (now being ech- are confident that the Lord is about to tip His bowl of plenty on us, oed in all the regions), the Singles for Christ International Leaders that He will bless us and grant us renewed strength and greater Conference (ILC) in Clark, the Servants of the Lord ILC in Tagaytay resources to do His work. – have been blessed not only with record number of participants A Blessed Easter to all! but more importantly, with substance in the contents and with a
The Philippine Road to Evangelization Series
by Joe Yamamoto Philippine Missions Director International Council Member
Moved by the Holy Spirit From its very inception, Couples for Christ has drawn its direction and inspiration from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Throughout its history, the community has consciously sought discernment through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is evocative of that dependence in the Spirit that our vision as “Families in the Holy Spirit renewing the face of the earth” was recently expanded to include the following:... “ Moved by the Holy Spirit, one with the Catholic Church, blessed to witness to Christ’s love and service, Couples for Christ is a united global community of family evangelizers, that will set the world on fire with the fullness of God’s transforming love.” The beginnings of the Catholic Church are traceable not only to the very moment Jesus commissioned Peter to be its first head but also to the descent of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. The scripture described an epochal event in the early Church when, in the form of tongues of fire, the Holy Spirit embraced the first community of Christian believers and allowed it to experience firsthand what Jesus was saying all along about the coming of the Paraclete. “Suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:2-3). Pope John Paul II emphasized, during the meeting of the Ecclesial Movements in Rome (Pentecost, May 30,1998), that “with these words the Acts of the Apostles bring us into the heart of the Pentecost event; they show us the disciples who, gathered with Mary in the Upper Room, receive the gift of the Spirit. Thus, Jesus’ promise is fulfilled and the time of the Church begins. From that time the wind of the Spirit would carry Christ’s disciples to the very ends of the earth. It
would take them even to martyrdom for their fearless witness to the Gospel.” He further continued by stating that “In our world, often dominated by a secularized culture which encourages and promotes models of life without God, the faith of many is sorely tested, and is frequently stifled and dies. Thus we see an urgent need for powerful proclamation and solid, in-depth Christian formation. There is so much need today for mature Christian personalities, conscious of their baptismal identity, of their vocation and mission in the world. There is great need for living Christian
As we trace our journey as CFC members, we are made more keenly aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life. We recognize that all of us received the Holy Spirit at Baptism and Confirmation. During the CLPs, each of us experienced a renewed outpouring of the spiritual graces, particularly during Talk No.9 – Receiving the Power of the Holy Spirit. CFC formation tracks allowed us to learn more about God and experience His presence. We learned to exercise those spiritual gifts during our prayers and worship, individually and as part of community. The more we used them, the more we experienced
three levels, the Spirit enriches our lives. Because the Spirit is active in our lives, the natural progression is we are joined to Jesus intimately. This occurs in two basic ways. First, the Risen Christ is present in and among us today in the Spirit. Second, because we have accepted Jesus, the Spirit is the inner source of our life of faith. “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor.12:3; PCP II 64,68). This means we can come to know, recognize, and experience Jesus only because the Holy Spirit makes it possible.
Father”(Gal 4:6). The Spirit empowers us to love – Through Him we are enabled to love God, and to love our neighbor. “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” ( Rom5:5). And “if God has loved us so, we must have the same love for one another... if we love one another, God dwells in us and His love is brought to perfection in us” (1 Jn 4:11 -12). St. Paul stresses this gift of love above all charisms. The Spirit empowers us to bear witness - At the Last Supper, Jesus told the apostles: “When the
The key is to be always connected to God as the source of graces and gifts. We need to safeguard and daily strengthen that relationship. communities! And here are the movements and the new ecclesial communities; they are the response, given by the Holy Spirit, to this critical challenge at the end of the millennium. You are this proverbial response.” Considering that the statements were uttered by John Paul II during the second decade in the life and mission of CFC, our community received a very clear and powerful affirmation of the reason for its existence – to help bring the light of Christ to a troubled world. This mission was given during a very important part of the Church liturgical year- the Pentecost — and at the same time that the whole Catholic community was at the threshold of the new millennium.
spiritual transformation and our spiritual journey became sustainable. The key is to be always connected to God as the source of the graces and the gifts. We need to safeguard and daily strengthen that relationship.
HOW THE SPIRIT WORKS IN OUR LIVES In our personal lives, the Holy Spirit is active in three levels. First, He is active “within,” and this is where we experience the Spirit in our thoughts and feelings. Second, He manifests Himself through the interpersonal experiences we have with family and friends. Third, He is active in our work and social life in the community and parish. In these
THE SPIRIT’S ACTIONS AMONG US In very concrete terms the Spirit: 1) adopts us as children of the Father; 2) enables us to love as Christ commanded; 3) empowers us to bear witness to Christ; 4) allows us to know the truth; 5) draws us into community unity and service; and 6) inspires us to live a truly Christian life.
Paraclete comes...he will bear witness on my behalf. You must bear witness as well.” (Jn 15:26). Right about the time of Ascension, Jesus promised: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, then you are to be my witnesses in Jerusalem... and even to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Jesus calls us to give witness to Him before others by sharing His three-fold mission of Prophet, Priest, and King.
The Spirit adopts us - By adoption, we become “children of God” (Jn 1:12). Jesus is the only begotten, God’s own Son, but through Him and His Spirit, we are adopted by the Father, and are called “children of God.” We can truly call God, “Abba
The Spirit empowers us to know the truth - Knowledge of the truth is a power which the Holy Spirit instills among the faithful. PCP II points out that “all persons are bound to seek the truth, especially in religious matters.” Jesus promised his apostles
the Spirit of truth who “will teach you everything and remind you of all I told you” and “guide you to all truth.” (Jn 14:26; 16:13) John Paul II stresses further that “the Spirit will help people to understand the correct meaning of the content of Christ’s message. He will ensure the continuity and identity of understanding... the same truth which the Apostles heard from their Master.” The Spirit draws us into community, unity and service - PCP II explains how the lay faithful are called “to animate the temporal order with Christ’s Spirit.” This unity in loving service is made possible through the manifold gifts and charisms vested upon us by the Spirit. This is the same empowerment of the Spirit that Isaiah spoke about: “a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2). The Spirit inspires true Christian life - Much as every lay faithful is called to a personal journey of relationship with Jesus and therefore holiness, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that guides and strengthens us. The transformation that each one experienced through our CLPs began the life-changing process that we refer to. BY THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT Because Couples for Christ was raised by God as a community of lay faithful, it can only function in accordance with His plan. This is outlined by the vision statement of “Families in the Holy Spirit renewing the face of the earth.” The continuity of its mission of “building the church of the home and building the church of the poor” can and will only happen through the goodness of the Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
MMLA: More Manila Loving Awakened by MK Guaño “SFC is the place to be, I am home ‘coz Christ is with me!” This chant rocked the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary Gym last March 15, 2008, where 1000 SFC leaders gathered for the bi-monthly Singles for Christ (SFC) Metro Manila Leaders Assembly (MMLA), the biggest yet for the ministry. The atmosphere
was overwhelming as the spirit of the recently held SFC International Leaders Conference was still very much alive in every person who was there. The powerful worship led by Dennis Montelealto, a chapter head of Central A sector, set the tone for the whole activity. The emcees, Erwin Robles and Cathy
SFC leaders listen intently to the talks
Book also from Central A, together with the SFC Dance Ministry and the Central A Music Ministry, roused the crowd through chanting and dancing. The main session of the MMLA was a Lenten recollection given by Fr. Tito Caluag, now serving in the Diocese of Imus. He talked about how awareness and consciousness help people gain meaning in their lives. He mentioned that people live 80% of their lives out of expectations – how they are supposed to act and what they are supposed to do. “Our day-to-day lives pull us in different directions, making us disintegrated. That is why we need awareness and consciousness of what the core of our lives is,” Fr. Caluag explained. “We should live out of choice and not just out of expectations,” he
Fr. Tito Caluag
CFC Japan turns 12! Members of Couples for Christ in Japan came from various corners of the country to reunite and gather for a one-day, Spirit-empowered 12th anniversary “Disciples Weekend” on March 3, taking to heart the 2008 theme of CFC — Love one another as I have loved you. (John 13:34). The event was held at the Meguro Gajoen Hotel in Tokyo. About 200 members of the CFC, SFC, HOLD, SOLD, YFC, and KFC, seized the rare opportunity to listen to a series of talks and testimonies about being loving, faithful disciples, especially amid the challenges of living Christian lives in a foreign country. This year’s anniversary was also special because of the presence of our beloved clergy such as Fr. Resty who celebrated the mass, Fr. Mario who was part of the Osaka CFC group that was formed just last year, Fr. Leo of St. Anselm’s church in Meguro and Fr. Kawaguchi of the Catholic Tokyo International Center. The day’s activities and the fellowship dinner afterwards cemented the bonds among the brethren and reaffirmed their commitment to work hand in hand with each other and with the clergy in fulfilling their God-given mission of evangelization. added. Fr. Caluag reminded everyone that the basis of Jesus’ choice is love. This is the whole message
of the cross. As Mother Teresa said, “We don’t do great things. We do only little things with great love.”
SFC Metro Manila leaders left the MMLA fired up for the challenge to fill the world with more love their whole lives through.
Origins / C1
reaches. There was one requirement: the Executive Directors of the outreaches must be covenanted members of Ligaya. Over-all leadership was vested in the Overall Leadership Team (OLT) of Ligaya. Fr. Herb was the head of the OLT.
Chronology of the Split
In late 1991, some of the top leaders of CFC, led by Frank Padilla, proposed the formation of a separate community that would solely serve the needs of CFC. The OLT studied the proposal at some depth but after much discussion, turned down the proposal and communicated the decision to the CFC Council in July 1992. Vic, who laughingly refers to himself as “Mr. Trash” because he never throws any document away, can recall every detail and every date related to the split. He says, “Unfortunately that decision by the OLT did not resolve the conflict. Fr. Herb, as spiritual director of CFC, had to meet with the top leaders of CFC many times to discuss, to listen, to try to bring the issues to a resolution, but to no avail.” Finally, it became necessary for the OLT to meet with the CFC Executive Council to state clearly the relationship between the two groups and from there, to come to discussion and agreement on the changes being proposed by CFC. Two meetings were held – on February 26 and March 1, 1993. During the March 1 meeting, some members of the CFC Council refused to acknowledge that CFC was an outreach of Ligaya and consequently, denied that they were accountable to the mother community. Ligaya’s proposal that this reality be accepted, even as a starting point for further discussion and organizational changes, was shot down. On March 11, 1993, Fr. Herb, in his capacity as OLT head, wrote a memo addressed to the CFC Executive Council, spelling out the relationship of CFC to Ligaya (that it was an outreach) and asking the CFC leaders to acknowledge this publicly. Fr. Herb also reminded the CFC leaders of Ligaya’s long-standing policy that the Executive Director of the outreaches must be a covenanted member of Ligaya. On March 15, Frank Padilla replied, acknowledging receipt of Fr. Herb’s memo. He requested that the CFC Council be given a week for prayer and discernment before meeting again with the OLT. Fr. Herb readily agreed and both agreed to meet again on March 20, 1993. March 19 was the regular elders assembly of CFC. At that meeting, one day before the scheduled meeting with Fr. Herb, Frank Padilla led the move to dissolve the existing CFC Council and elected a new Council. Some of the CFC elders present at that
meeting objected but the elections continued. With this move, CFC sent a clear signal to Ligaya: CFC was no longer an outreach of Ligaya and that the CFC leaders were no longer accountable to Ligaya on how they would conduct the affairs of CFC. The promised meeting with Fr. Herb did not materialize. Ligaya would later learn that the incorporation papers of CFC were filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 3, 1993.
Stung by the suddenness of the move, Ligaya needed more than a week to meet, discuss and formulate a response. The following are taken from the position statement that Ligaya released to its members on March 30, 1993: “Response of Ligaya to This Move 1. The Ligaya leadership and the community members who have been deeply involved in the CFC leadership are grieved by the move of the CFC leadership to separate from Ligaya. We strongly disapprove of the manner in which the separation was done. What they did was out of order and seriously damaging to relationships among brothers and sisters in the Lord. 2. While we believe that Ligaya has rights over CFC, we opt not to pursue those rights for the sake of peace and harmony in the Church. We believe that it is right in the Lord for us to spend our efforts in bringing the gospel to many families, rather than in seeking redress for our grievance. We enjoin our brothers and sisters who share our grief to take on this posture of peace. 3. In practical terms, our decision is to let CFC go its own way. We are relinquishing our rights to the name CFC, to the CFC Foundation, with all its assets and liabilities. This decision may create a vacuum for some CFC members and leaders who may not agree with the decision taken by the present CFC leadership. We want to assure these brethren and leaders that we are committed to continue serving them. We have a place for them in our plans for a family apostolate. 4. Our decision to let go of CFC does not in any way affect our mission to bring families to Christ. The Ligaya is committed to continue responding to God’s call to evangelize families. The response that we made to God’s call in 1981 when we organized CFC does not end now that CFC has been led away from us. We are now in the process of organizing the Ligaya Family Life Apostolate. We will pour into this apostolate our available pastoral and leadership resources as well as our years of pastoral experience in family life ministry.” As a conclusion to the position statement, Ligaya leaders explained: “The position of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon as expressed above is the product of much prayers and discern-
ment. We have consulted and have taken into consideration the prayerful inputs of our Ligaya members, especially those who are involved in the CFC-LNP relationship. We are making this position paper available to anyone who wishes to understand our decision. Ligaya members who are serving in CFC may use this paper to speak to their members regarding the decisions taken by Ligaya. We caution them, though, to refrain from campaigning. While we do not want to campaign, we want to be clear that we are open to receive anyone who wishes to serve and to participate in our Family Life Apostolate. We wish no evil to and speak no evil against those who have searated from us and have led CFC away. We do not intend to compete with them in any way. All we desire is to end the period of strife and be able to serve the Lord and His Church fruitfully through our family life apostolate. …We commit ourselves to a common work. Through this cooperative effort, we desire to give witness to Christian unity and brotherhood and sisterhood, even as we pursue our individual organization’s vision and mission. We apologize to anyone who may have been scandalized by this unfortunate event and we seek your prayers as we try to serve the Lord in a more determined way.” The position statement was signed by Fr. Herbert Schneider, S.J., Victorino Gutierrez, Michael Joseph, Jr. and Kenneth Noecker.
Debunking the Myths
Vic Gutierrez was initially hesitant to sit down and be interviewed for this article. He would much rather have preferred to let the 15-year separation remain uncluttered by further controversy, particularly since it is now being compared to a similar recent separation. As he stated, “It is depressing to see such a wonderful work of God (CFC) being wracked in a senseless controversy.” He also hastens to correct the impression that he desires to be called the founder of CFC. “Why does there have to be a fight on who is the founder? In the broader spiritual community, it is distasteful and indecent to fight for such an honor.” He also explained some of the misconceptions about the split. Myth No 1: LNP repressed CFC to prevent it from doing its mission in rapid and massive evangelization. As earlier explained, it was in fact Ligaya that initiated the forays into the provinces and even into the countries of Asia, North America and Europe. It was also Ligaya, through Vic, that first began to think in terms of doubling membership and to dream of a million members as early as in 1991. The “exportable packages” were in fact
done in order to ensure that rapid and massive evangelization may be carried out with the minimum presence of LNP and CFC leaders. Myth No. 2: The 1993 split was because of a basic difference in vision. There was no difference in vision. Ligaya initiated and, when the CFC leadership was firmly in place, fully supported the drive for more members and for rapid territorial expansion. The split happened because of a basic difference in the way the relationship between the two groups was perceived. In that meeting of March 1, Ken Noecker of Ligaya proposed that the starting points of the discussion should first be established. From these starting points would ensue the discussion and decision on how to re-align the relationship between the two organizations. The starting points were: the CFC Council must acknowledge, first, that CFC was an outreach of Ligaya and second, that the executive directors of the outreaches needed to be covenanted members of Ligaya. Frank Padilla flatly refused to make such an acknowledgement, in spite of years of living and operating under such a reality. The meeting was adjourned. After the March 19 meeting of the CFC leaders, Frank would write a memo to Fr. Herb (dated March 20, 1993) stating that “There is no question that God owns CFC and it is distasteful for any human person or organization to claim ownership of what belongs to God.” The conflict was thus reduced to a question of ownership, on the premise that Ligaya was attempting to claim ownership of CFC. Myth No. 3: God intended the split to happen. Vic laughs when he hears that this is one reason being offered by some quarters to explain why the split of 1993 happened, the same reason being bandied about now that CFC has suffered another split. “God does not cause His disciples to break relationships, to quarrel and to accuse one another. He can bring us to where He wants us to be not through these means. When we quarrel, it is not because God wants us to quarrel, but because of our human weaknesses.” Myth No. 4: The split between CFC and LNP was by “mutual agreement.’ Vic begs to disagree. “There was serious disagreement between the main leaders of CFC and the LNP leaders. But we did not want it to become a public scandal in the Church. Remember that we were caught unaware by the sudden move to separate. So there could not have been any “mutual agreement.” LNP was against CFC’s proposal to be spun off as a separate entity. We were
ready to exhaust all means to prevent the separation. But the separation happened. We had no choice but to accept it in order to preserve the good name of both organizations. So our only response was to issue a position statement. We distributed it to members and to all who were interested in finding out more about the split. We mailed copies to all the bishops also.” Regrets… and Might-Have-Beens It has been almost exactly15 years since that fateful split. Vic has since retired from active leadership, although he is still very much involved in the life and mission of Ligaya. But he still thinks of those events of 1993 with a great deal of regret. He says, “When I recall the events of those days, I can only say, ‘Sayang.’ Tears did not have to flow. Personal relationships did not have to be broken. LNP and CFC could have continued sharing each other’s strengths. And CFC could still have attained its mission although in a lightly different way.” Vic believes that Frank Padilla misunderstood LNP’s moves as a mere positioning for ownership and control of CFC. “He was wrong,” Vic declares. “LNP only wanted to provide three things for CFC. First, LNP was concerned about the care and protection of the top CFC leaders, especially in the area of their personal relationships. We believe that the more responsibility you take on for yourselves, the more authority you have to seek over your life and mission. Second, LNP wanted to help CFC relate properly to local Church authorities, especially to the parishes. Third, LNP wanted to give guidance to the teaching courses and spirituality of CFC. “ POSTSCRIPT The rift between LNP and CFC would be healed but it would take more than 12 years. On July 16, 2005, on the occasion of LNP’s 30th anniversary, the two organizations would meet once again, but this time in an atmosphere of healing and reconciliation. They would release A Statement of Reconciliation, Unity and Brotherhood, signed by Frank Padilla, Rouquel Ponte and Tony Meloto, for the CFC Council and by Tony Panajon, LNP Head Coordinator, for the Body of Coordinators of LNP. Fr. Herb Schneider would sign the statement as witness. For LNP and CFC, it was time to close the book on a sad and difficult episode. It was time to move on, once again embracing one another as brothers and co-workers in the work of the Lord. Next issue: more on split.
Vol. 12 No. 7
March 31 - April 13, 2008
A very unique CLP Couples for Christ in Kota Kinabalu is probably unique in that it is the only one among the CFC global family that has one whole unit composed of 16 hearing and speech-impaired individuals. The 16 members consist of one couple (CFC), one Servants of the Lord member, two Handmaids of the Lord and 11 Singles for Christ. In February 2007, the coordinator for the speech and hearing impaired ministry of the parish approached CFC. She had heard and seen for herself that CFC offers good formation and support environment for all sectors of the parish and she wanted to know if there was a possibility that CFC would conduct a CLP for her wards. What followed was a Christian Life Program beyond the expectations and wildest dreams of CFC in the area. The CLP began on 23 March and was completed on 13 July 2007. There were no manuals, no guidelines, no previous experience to guide any of us when we agreed to conduct the CLP. But trusting in God’s guidance and wisdom, we approached this CLP boldly. Because the CLP days were on Fridays and because this was normally a busy day for the parish, there were no available venues. The only room available was a room shunned by most because of its proximity to the Parish Hall where a Charismatic Prayer Meeting is held every Friday. It was a
room normally not ideal for a CLP or any seminar or teaching session because of the noise, but this time, we did not mind the noise. The participants didn’t mind either. It was a CLP like no other. Each session began with the usual songs and opening prayers — in sign language. The speakers gave the talk while the interpreter translated it into sign language. All talks were accompanied by a Power Point presentation with texts adapted to the participants’ vocabulary: no very long words or phrases. The deaf/mutes were a “noisy” and inquisitive lot. If any one of them failed to really understand a term or a concept, he/she would readily raise a hand for clarification. I even experienced repeating a whole talk by a speaker the previous week because they said they did not understand it. Their discussions were very animated, with rapid hand movements. Sometimes, they got so carried away that they missed the signal to end their discussion. We took to dimming the lights to get their attention. Today, our deaf-mute brothers and sisters are fully living out their new lives as renewed Catholics. They even had a presentation during the fourth anniversary celebration of CFC Kota Kinabalu. Our fervent wish is that we would soon be able to converse with them in sign language so that we can truly be one with them. (Romie Tiama)
Disciples weekend echoed in Mindanao and Bicol
No words are needed to praise and honor the Lord.
A truly blessed day Bishop Romulo Valles of Zamboanga City celebrates Holy Mass at the conclusion of the Mindanao Leaders Disciples Weekend.
One Thousand Six Hundred Fifty One (1,651) leaders representing 27 Provinces of the 5 Regions in Mindanao gathered at the spacious Astoria Regency Convention Hall located within the vicinity of the historic Pasonanca Park, Zamboanga City for the 2008 CFC Mindanao Leaders Conference dubbed as “Disciples Weekend” held on March 1516, 2008. The conference was hosted by CFC Zamboanga City. Vic Lauro, Provincial Area Director for Zamboanga, opened the weekend with a vibrant worship. Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat, who was accompanied by three city councilors, welcomed the participants to his beautiful city. Inspiring talks and messages were given by powerful speakers, led by Joe Yamamoto and Joey Arguelles of the International Council, Nonoy Dalman, Provincial Area Head of Zamboanga, Noel Grino, Dodong Banaynal and Dodong Becada. The week-end conference was fittingly capped with a Holy Mass which coincided with the annual celebration of Palm Sunday. The Most Rev. Romulo G. Valles D.D. Archbishop of the Diocese of Zamboanga City was the main celebrant of the Holy Eucharist. In his homily he exhorted that discipleship is a difficult road to follow because true discipleship is humble servanthood and entails suffer-
ing. He also affirmed that in Zamboanga City there is only one Couples for Christ. The Holy Mass was concelebrated by Rev. Fr. Gilbert Gente, Rev. Fr. Sulpicio Soliva, CFC Zamboanga City Spiritual Adviser and Rev. Fr. Max Campo, Spiritual Director CCR- Zamboanga City. Bing Calzada
...And in Bicol The Disciples Weekend for the Bicol region was held from February 23-24 in Naga City. CFC leaders from Albay and the southern part of Camarines Sur braved raging floodwaters to get to the venue. They were joined by CFC leaders from the islands of Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon, and Camarines Norte to listen to God’s messages of love. God showed His hand in the preparations for the event. A few days prior to the conference, the
region experienced unusual and heavy monsoon rains, rendering many major thoroughfares impassable. The situation showed no sign of improvement such that the team in charge entertained alternative options. But by midday of Friday, the sun shone. The delegates sent word they would be coming and not one delegation backed out from their commitment to attend. From the morning worship of the first day, the talks and sharings and fellowship, the celebration of the Eucharist on the last day until the praise fest at the end of the conference, God manifested His undying love. The homily shared by Rev. Msgr. Zañado, parish priest of St. John Evangelist, Metropolitan Cathedral who celebrated the Holy Mass, was equally inspiring. (Ped Suministrado)
Feb 29, 2008 – Brgy. Tangkaan, Padre Burgos. This is the home of two budding GK Villages both from ANCOP CANADA – Leyte Association of Ontario GK Village and Northern Alberta GK Village. On this day, the GK sites celebrated a very special event — five couples received five sacraments. Pidong and Narda, Ruben and Emma, Alex and Celia, Romeo and Marites and Eugene and Louvella, all Aglipayans, received the Roman Catholic sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, Matrimony and the Holy Eucharist … all in one day! The GK team led by Gina Paler and Flor Alesna and the Project Director, Freddie Dalugdugan, prepared everything from the
Church requirements, bridal dresses and grooms’ wear, to the food during the wedding reception. The caretaker team, CLP team and the CFC area council stood as godparents to the couples. Rev. Fr. Edmund Resus, the parish priest, exhorted the new converts on how it is to be a true Christian. The area is home to mostly Aglipayans, an ironic twist considering that Limasawa, then part of the municipality of Padre Burgos, is considered the cradle of Christianity since it was here where Spanish missionaries landed on March 31, 1521 together with Ferdinand Magellan. They celebrated the first ever Easter Sunday Mass in the Philippines on that day.
The five couples pose in their bridal finery.
Pentecost activities slated at Luneta
The music ministry leads the Bicol leaders in praise and worship.
This year’s Pentecost Rally will be unique. For the first time, the program proper will begin at 6 PM of May 10, at sundown, and end at dawn of the following day. The Pentecost Rally will be held at the Luneta grounds and will feature the launching of the “Feed My Sheep” campaign. There are many activities scheduled in the morning of May 10. Medical and dental services will be offered free
beginning at 9 AM in conjunction with art and culture workshops and demos, such as story telling in coordination with PETA and Museo Pambata and values formation lectures. About a thousand Gawad Kalinga residents will be provided with lunch. The program proper will begin with choir performances followed by inspirational talks. At precisely 12 midnight, there will be a torch parade followed by
the celebration of the Mass. An agape (feeding) celebration will follow. The activity is expected to draw about 50,000 people and will be jointly celebrated with other Catholic charismatic groups such as the Light of Jesus, FOCOLARE and Bukas Loob sa Diyos. Also expected to attend are GK residents in Metro Manila, GK partners, LGUs private corporations, schools and universities.