Thanksgiving : one year after deadly typhoon

Baby Israel by Emylou Antigua

“My little Israel . . . blessing from God . . .” wrote Haiyan survivor Emylou Antigua on her Facebook account / contributed by Emylou Antigua)

Emylou Antigua has a happy reminder of the devastating typhoon that battered the central Philippines a little over a year ago: her son, named for the Israeli medical team that helped deliver him.

American Jewish Pins toys JDC photo

Danny Pins, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee chief financial officer for Africa and Asia region distributing toys and food to children in northern Cebu, Philippines. (Courtesy of JDC)

For Chief Financial Officer Danny Pins of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee his group’s response to Haiyan is “personally rewarding.”

Catholic mom, Jewish financial officer, what they are grateful for in their experience related to typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda

Opinion : Sri Lanka polls and papal visit 2015 – Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando

Update of Catholic In Asia blog Faith in God for papal visit security in Sri Lanka – priest 

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Sri Lankan theologian Father Reid Shelton Fernando in online discussion shared his opinion posted below on why Pope Francis should not come to Sri Lanka as planned following announcement of the Jan. 8, 2015 schedule of presidential elections in the South Asian nation. 

“According to the situation of the presidential elections fixed for the 8th (of)* January and (whether) it is (or not) conducive to have his (pope’s) visit on the 13th (of) Jan.

a)  The politcians have already politicized this visit by having banners, cut (outs) and posters.

b) Must take (into consideration) the political culture during elections – It is very violent and more it will be that the Ex- Govt. party member/ex minister is contesting against the incumbent president and already (campaigning) had started which will end up in violence and election malpractices. After the elections on the 8th when the results (are) announced on the 9th there will be vilification actions conducted.  This had been the trend in the last few decades.

c) In this mood as the Sri Lankan Catholic Community is only 6% to 7 % they (may also) face violent reactions from the Extremists Groups.

d) If the incumbent president is defeated then the new person elected will not be able to monitor the organization process of the papal visit.

e) From the side of the Church, the preparations for the papal visit was only to have an external show or demonstration of power. There is spiritual preparations planned but had not simmered down yet to the faithful in the grass-root level. Even (the) canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz has not figured in the last few months. 

f) There can be alternative proposal as His Holiness is due to Philippines in Jan 2016 for the International Eucharistic Congress, he can make the visit then there is enough time to prepare spiritually and take cognizance of the life and works of Blessed Joseph Vaz. Therefore, we can wait for one more year as there is no urgency. (What) is needed (is) that we – all faithful – be imbibed with the spirit of Blessed Joseph Vaz.

*words in parentheses were provided by Catholic In Asia editor 

Faith in God for papal visit security in Sri Lanka – priest

Korea - screen grab

Pope Francis in Korea YouTube screen grab.

Sri Lanka’s election commission has set the date of presidential polls on Jan. 8 as a stream of defections between political parties is expected to turn the race into what has been called a Game of Thrones in Al Jazeera’s social network.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party general secretary Maithripala Sirisena reportedly announced on Friday he would run against the president under the united opposition. More politicians are expected to switch parties today, Monday, Ceylon Today reported in the weekend.

Rajapaksa introduced an amendment to the nation’s Constitution supposedly lifting term limits for the president and allowing himself to run for another presidential term.

The ruling party secretary’s announced plan to run against his president has reportedly led to political unrest and fear that election violence during the papal visit just five days after the polls will be used for a military clampdown, a Sri Lanka source told Catholic In Asia asking not to be named.

“The 1999, 2005 and 2010 presidential elections were followed by 76, 39 and 85 incidents of post election violence. While people fear for the pope’s safety, it is a prestige battle for leaders,” the Sri Lankan political analyst said.

“There is a growing opinion that it would be better if the pope visit the country on the pope’s possible trip for the 2016 Eucharistic Congress in Cebu,” the journalist added.

IEC Cardinals Palma Nuncio NJ Viehland

Four Philippines cardinals pull together to launch 2016 Int’l Eucharistic Congress preparations in Manila / NJ Viehland Photos

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in the International airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Jan. 13, 2015, Tuesday, for his 3-day apostolic visit to the South Asian country. He is to pay a courtesy visit with President Rajapaksa, lead the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz – Sri Lanka’s first saint – and pray with pilgrims at a popular Marian shrine in Madhu in the country’s north west region.

Sri Lanka’s Catholic Church leaders are relying on “faith in God” and government assurances that the upcoming presidential election will not interfere with the scheduled visit of Pope Francis, a spokesman reportedly told the online news website sundaytimes.lk after the date for the polls was announced.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo has reportedly kept mum on the announcement as he and local Church groups discussed the impact of polls on the papal visit. Earlier reports of impending elections had reportedly moved the cardinal to write to  Rajapaksa asking the president to inform the Church about the date of election and to tell the nation’s leader that it has not been deemed appropriate for the pope to visit any country at times of national elections.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka [Wikimedia commons}

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka [Wikimedia commons}

Meanwhile this weekend Father Cyril Gamini, cited as spokesman for the papal visit media secretariat when asked about the impact of the polls on the papal visit has been quoted saying: “Nobody knew that the elections will be held close to the Holy Father’s visit. We would have been happy if the elections had been held well before the papal visit.”

Fr. Gamini said, “There is already a security concern and we cannot dismiss that. But we have complete faith and we hope the Government will keep its word.” He said the Church was going ahead with the preparations.

“Nobody can say there will or won’t be pre- or post-poll violence. But…

Read full report Pope’s visit: Church depends on God

On Sunday, a top Buddhist monk campaigning to scrap the executive presidency and return the country to a parliamentary democracy declared support for Sirisena, who is also Sri Lanka’s health secretary, Agence France Presse news agency reported.

Read the full report Opposition secures Buddhist backing for Sri Lanka vote

Read update Opinion : Sri Lanka polls and papal visit 2015 – Fr. Reid Shelton Fernando

 

Catholic in Asia, don’t stop at baptism

Bishop Claver baptizes Aaron Viehland NJ Viehland

Bishop Francisco Clave baptizes Aaron / NJ Viehland Photos

Francisco F. Claver, S.J. (20 January 1926 – 1 July 2010) was a Filipino Jesuit priest, appointed and consecrated first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Malaybalay in the Philippines.  He was the first member of the Igorot ethnic groups in the northern Philippines to be made a bishop. 

Claver completed a masters degree in Anthropology in the Ateneo de Manila and finished his doctorate in the University of Colorado. Ordained to the priesthood on 18 June 1961, he was appointed as the bishop of what is now the Malaybalay Diocese on 18 June 1969 and was consecrated on 22 August 1969. Claver resigned in 1984, but was appointed Apostolic Vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Bontac-Lagawe, Philippines. He retired on 15 April 2004.

Much talk about Church renewal and change today under Pope Francis’ reform movement echoes some of Bishop Claver’s ideas articulated decades ago. In particular, he has asserted that lay people need to reform also. It is not enough for Church members to be baptized and take part in Sacraments. Laity need also to participate in leadership roles for the change that needs to happen. They are not only subjects who will be affected by change, but also key players who will effect the change.

Bishop Claver “Ikoy” was born in the province of Bontoc, Mountain Province and was one of the most influential people of the Cordilleras and courageous leader against martial law. In his activities and writings, he has emphasized the importance of a participatory Church that is necessary in carrying out the aggiornamento called for by the Second Vatican Council. For him, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) or the Basic Christian Communities (BCCs) are the primary and particular embodiment and vehicles of participation and Church renewal. He died in Manila on July 1, 2010.

 

 

Flashback: Why Pope Francis’ supposed “revolution” isn’t new for some in Asia

By NJ Viehland

AMOR, NJ Viehland

Religious women postulants offer flowers at Mass at 2013 AMOR meeting in Tagaytay City, Philippines/ NJ Viehland Photos

Taking renewal in the Church as the overarching theme of its structure, reflection and activities through the past four decades, the FABC has drafted what Father Arevalo calls a “map for evangelization in Asia.”

        

NCR PCNE tagle arevalo by NJ Viehland

Father Catalino Arevalo (right) with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila at the 2013 Philippine Congress on the New Evangelization in Manila / NJ Viehland Photos

 MANILA — “It’s a new world,” Jesuit Father Catalino Arevalo, premier theologian of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), says 40 years after the Catholic association was formally established.

         Retracing the FABC’s journey in an interview at Loyola House of Studies in Quezon City, he marveled at how “the average Catholic person today with all the new media is very different from the ordinary Catholic person when I was a young priest at 40 in 1960.”

         He said he never imagined that people in the mountains of Bukidnon province would see the multi-awarded Grammy winner Lady Gaga on television nor the Philippine popular artists as they performed more than 560 miles northwest in Manila. In his view, this reflects a similar situation in many Asian nations.

         In bringing the Gospel to the peoples of Asia, “we are like Jesus and the first disciples,” said the priest who has advised Asian Church and other leaders. “We have to start anew.”

FABC, Mapping Evangelization in Modern Asia

          More than 50 presidents and delegates of the 19-member bishops’ conferences (were to be) guided by this same spirit of renewal and vision of evangelization when they gathered in Vietnam for the Tenth FABC Plenary Assembly (X FABC Plenary Assembly) Nov. 19-25, 2012 , [1] the latest of such assemblies. They represented local Churches stretching from Kazakhstan in Central Asia to East Timor (Timor Leste) in Southeast Asia. The theme of that year’s assembly was: “FABC at Forty Years – Responding to the Challenges of Asia: The New Evangelization.” 

         The delegates were joined by resource persons as well as observers from the Vatican, other continental bishops’ groups and funding agencies, all accompanying the bishops as they reflected on opportunities and pastoral challenges that society presents the Church in Asia in the 21st century.

         The FABC plenary assembly, held every four years, usually brings together about 100 bishop-delegates with about the same number of resource persons to study a particular theme, pray together and draft a statement at the meeting’s close.

X FABC group picture

Xth FABC Plenary Assembly in Xuan Loc, Vietnam, Dec. 2012 / NJ Viehland Photos

         The working document for the event invited the delegates to discern how the Church can spread the Gospel in societies of Asia impacted by dynamics triggered by globalization, cultural diversity, poverty and many other factors. They will also try to take account of concerns such as: migrants and refugees, indigenous peoples, population, religious freedom, threats to life, social communications, ecology, laity, women, youth, Pentecostalism and vocations.

         The Holy See approved the statutes of the FABC in 1972. This voluntary association of bishops’ conferences in South, Southeast, East and Central Asia was formed “to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia, and to promote and defend whatever is for the greater good.” 

        Since the start, Father Arevalo has served as a resource person, writing adviser and theological consultant for the FABC. Bishops who pioneered the federation were just settling back in their dioceses after the close of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II, 1962-1965). They forged their plans for the FABC as local Churches in Asia grappled with questions on how to spread the Gospel in a “new world” being born after the colonial period

        Taking renewal in the Church as the overarching theme of its structure, reflection and activities through the past four decades, the FABC has drafted what Father Arevalo calls a “map for evangelization in Asia.”

Local Church

         “The FABC already made a general map of evangelization in Asia” in the 1970s, Father Arevalo pointed out, and its primary agent has always been the local Church.

          When Asian bishops came to Manila during the visit of Pope Paul VI in 1970, they met to discuss setting up a permanent structure by which Asian Church leaders could gather regularly to share their experiences and develop among themselves what local Churches could do to bring the realities of Vatican II to life in Asia. “Local Church” refers to the Church in each country, Father Arevalo explained, and the FABC gatherings were envisioned to “begin with bishops, but not just bishops.”

         Among those who gathered in 1970 were several prelates who would be instrumental in bringing the FABC to life, including Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan of Korea, Cardinal Valerian Gracias of India and Cardinal Justinus Darmojuwono of Indonesia, as well as Archbishop Mariano Gaviola of the Philippines and Bishop Francis Hsu of Hong Kong.

         In 1971, Bishop Hsu convened a meeting in Hong Kong for the presidents of 13 episcopal conferences, a gathering that would become the FABC Central Committee. Today, 19 episcopal conferences in Asia are FABC members : Bangladesh, East Timor, India – CBCI (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India), India – Syro-Malabar, India – Syro-Malankara, India – Latin Rite, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Laos-Cambodia, Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan (ROC), Thailand and Vietnam. The newest member is the bishops’ conference of East Timor, which was launched just this year. Previously, the youngest member was the Bishops’ Conference of Kazakhstan, which officially joined the FABC in 2008.

         The FABC also has associate members in nine Asian places that have no episcopal conference. Three are dioceses: Hong Kong and Macau in China, and Novosibirsk in eastern Russia. Four other associate members are in Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The remaining two are Mongolia and Nepal.

         In India, four distinct episcopal conferences belong to the federation. The bishops’ conference of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and that of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church represent the Oriental rite, while the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India represents the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. CBCI, the general body for the whole country, was among the FABC’s founding members.

         The first FABC plenary assembly in 1974 brought hundreds of bishops together in Taipei. The statement and recommendations they issued under the title “Evangelization in Modern Day Asia” spell out the perspective of the Asian context, as well as the FABC vision and approach to evangelization in the region.

         The statement stresses that the local Church immediately and primarily must be the agent, the subject of evangelization, in contemporary Asia. Father Arevalo elaborated that instead of always waiting for instructions from Rome on exactly what to do, “The Vatican Council already said it is time now for each of the local Churches to reflect and define how they see and how they prioritize the work that they must do.” Even so, he added, the FABC has always acknowledged that local Church activity would always work together with Rome.

         “It’s just like a man and a woman who are married now,” he continued. “Must they ask their grandmother or grandfather what they do each day of their lives? No. They get advice and direction from the grandfather or the grandmother, but it’s their responsibility to know what they must do with their own family, following with fidelity what their grandparents taught them also. So that’s the meaning of the local Church’s priority of responsibility.”

Part 2 Triple Dialogue

[Written for a project: 40 Years of FABC, September 12, 2012]

[1] The Xth FABC Plenary Assembly was actually held Dec. 10-16, 2012 to make way for a surprise consistory then Pope Benedict XVI set for Nov. 24 to create new cardinals, including Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila.

published with permission, FABC Office of Social Communication Executive Secretary

Interview : Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS

by NJ Viehland

NJ Viehland Photos

Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon [right] works with Sr. Ailyn Binco in overseeing and coordinating the varied ministries of Religious of the Good Shepherd Philippines – NJ Viehland Photos

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Nuns of the Religious of the Good Shepherd in the Philippines are multi-tasking as their congregation’s members engaged in apostolic work grow fewer and older.

Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, 47, for example, heads the Philippine Province’s Council for Ministry and coordinates its Ruhama Center for girls and women.

In an interview for Global Sisters’ Report (GSR) on Nov. 9, Sr. Borbon described the demands of her assignments. These have failed to overwhelm her, she says, because she has done most of the tasks she faces and past experiences left a rewarding feeling. 

She also counts on learnings from studying for her Masters in Educational Administration at the Ateneo de Manila University and PhD in Educational Leadership and Management at De La Salle University. In the end, Sr. Borbon says, engaging with people, especially young students while  juggling her time between assignments often leaves her feeling “energized.”

As part of the RGS charism, Sr. Borbon felt called upon to revive a program for exploited women after its internationally recognized founder and head, Sister Mary Soledad “Sr. Sol” Perpinan, passed away in 2011. Sr Perpinan had established a network of centers helping women even after rheumatoid arthritis bound her to a wheelchair. 

Saint Mary Euphrasia Pelletier founded RGS in Angers, France, in 1835 just after the French Revolution to help “morally endangered women and girls.” 

Read more on RGS history

contributed by Ed Gerlock

Women call out to people outside the nightclub where they work in Malate, Manila – contributed by Ed Gerlock edgerlock@yahoo.com.ph

The first RGS sisters who arrived in the Philippines in 1912 were Irish nuns sent by boat from Burma (Myanmar) in response to the invitation of the bishop of Lipa in Batangas Province, 51.6 miles (83 kilometers) southeast of Manila. Under RGS sisters in France, Philippines nuns ran schools and ministries in many parts of the country.

After opening a school in Batangas, the nuns established their first Good Shepherd home for endangered women and girls in Manila in 1921. They later opened homes for unwed mothers, prostituted women, battered women, slum dwellers, landless farmers, indigenous groups, overseas contract workers and their families, street children, “the most neglected and oppressed.” The Philippines province was established in 1960. 

Today RGS has grown to be one of the world’s biggest congregations of women with more than 4,000 sisters serving in 73 countries in five continents. On its centennial in 2012 the Philippines Province reported it was running 27 apostolic and contemplative communities in the country. More than 140 apostolic sisters and 25 contemplative sisters were serving in the Philippines.

In 2002 there were a total of 183 Filipino apostolic and contemplative sisters, the Catholic Directory of the Philippines reported. 

Read Part 1 of Q & A with Sr. Borbon published in GSR

Part 2

Sri Lanka: Making a chair fit for a pope

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Pope Francis has planned to be in Sri Lanka in January. The main service will be held at the Galle Face Green. The altar on the stage is now being constructed by a Sri Lankan carpenter. His name is Basil Mark Fernando. His father, G.D. Fernando, constructed the altar for the Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II, reported Ceylon Today.

Read full report

 

Pope Francis wants to be inspired by the faith of people – Cardinal Tagle

Tagle Ochoa Pinto Papal press con NJ Viehland

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila to journalists 

Press Conference to announce the Philippines Papal Visit itinerary

From Q & A: 

Pope Francis told me that he wants to visit the Philippines and that he really admires the faith and resilience of the people.

I think he will come to bring a message of solidarity and hope.

But I’m also quite certain that he would want to imbibe, be edified and be inspired by the faith of the ordinary people.

man with leprosy on piano Ed Gerlock

People with leprosy have fun on the piano during Christmas season. – Ed Gerlock Photos edgerlock@yahoo.com.ph

Sri Lanka papal visit itinerary sites readied

The Catholic Church in Sri Lanka has started preparations both in Colombo and in Madhu, two places Pope Francis will visit on his apostolic journey to Asia next year, his recently released itinerary shows.

Priests blessed Galle Face Green last Friday kicking off work on the stage for the altar where the pope will say Mass on Jan. 14, a senior priest told Sri Lanka’s The Sunday Times.

At this five-hectare ocean-side urban park in the heart of the financial and business district of Colombo “The stage will be constructed by personnel of the Sri Lanka Navy. We have planned out…

Read full report

Pope Francis will depart from Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Monday, Jan. 12 at 7pm and will arrive in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, at 9am Jan. 13. After the welcome ceremony he will meet with the country’s bishops at the archbishop’s residence. He will then pay a courtesy visit to the president of the Republic. The day will conclude with an interreligious meeting at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. That convention center was built in  Colombo city in the 1970s as a gift from the People’s Republic of China in memory of the fourth Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) who served from 1956 until he was assassinated by a Buddhist monk in 1959.

On Jan. 14, Wednesday, Pope Francis will canonize Sri Lanka’s first saint Blessed Joseph Vaz during a Mass to be celebrated at 8.30 am at the Galle Face Green. The pope will travel by helicopter to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Madhu,  Mannar district, northwest Sri Lanka.

The site is considered as the holiest Catholic shrine on the island and is a well known place of devotion for Catholics belonging to the Tamil and Sinhalese ethnic groups. The church with a 400-year history has been a symbol of unity not just between Tamils and Sinhalese groups who fought in a civil war for more than 25 years until 2009. It has also brought together people of various religions, including Buddhists, Hindus and Protestants. From Madu, Pope Francis will return to Colombo by helicopter.

On the last day of his pilgrimage, Thursday, Jan. 15, the pope will visit the chapel of Our Lady of Lanka in Bolawalana before he departs Sri Lanka by plane, at 9am, for Manila.

Read Pope Francis’ complete itinerary in Sri Lanka

 

 

Cardinal Tagle announces Papal Visit 2015 itinerary

Papal Visit itinerary press con NJ Viehlandjpg

(left to right) Philippines Ambassador to the Holy See Marciano Paynor, state Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. , Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig, Chair of CBCP Commission on Social Communication, Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr head of the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle announced at a press conference today the itinerary of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the Philippines Jan. 15-19 next year.

Cardinal Tagle said Pope Francis will bring his message of “Mercy and Compassion” to 11 different venues in the Archdioceses of Manila and Palo during his Apostolic Visit to the Philippines.

The cardinal said Pope Francis is expected to arrive in Manila from Sri Lanka (the first leg of his Asian trip) by plane…

Read full report: Philippines is ready for “Pope of Surprises”

NJ Viehland Photos

“I would say on the government’s part, 95% of its preparations is all about security,” Philippines Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Jr. told the Nov. 14 press con on the itinerary for Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines in 2015. Ochoa declined to discuss details of security concerns and plans for the papal visit. / NJ Viehland Photos

Papal Visit presscon Paynor NJ Viehland

Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Marciano Paynor at the Nov. 14 press con on Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to the Philippines responded to reports saying typhoon survivors in Tacloban would be evicted from temporary homes to make way for the Pope Francis’ visit. Paynor said: “Very early when we were making preparations for the visit in Tacloban, we had already been requested not to unnecessarily move people around. But even before the pope’s visit was announced or even before we knew about the pope’s visit, there had already been movements in the area because of typhoon Haiyan. So any kind of movement now is part of that. In fact , actually it had slowed down and we’ve had to alter some of our plans to respect that particular request that as few numbers of people as possible should be dislocated on account of the pope’s visit. So whatever movements there are now are movements which were planned way before and it’s part of the rehabilitation plan of the government. / NJ Viehland Photos

Scroll down for photos or click to view complete itinerary

Papal Visit itinerary Tagle Giuseppe Pinto NJ Viehland

Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto: Pope Francis dreams of “a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” [EG27] / NJ Viehland Photos 

Papal visit press con Pantin NJ Viehland

Fr. Pantin reads the message from Archbishop John Du of Palo, Leyte / NJ Viehland Photos

Papal Visit itinerary Fr Marvin Mejia NJ Viehland

“When the Pope sees us Filipinos, may he see the living god in us” – Fr. Marvin Mejia reads the message of CBCP President Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan / NJ Viehland Photos

Related posts

CBCP Pastoral Letter to Prepare for 2015 Papal Visit

NDF denies it asked CBCP to mediate peace talks with gov’t

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro joined the Mass at Malate Church Sept. 21, 2014 commemorating the anniversary of declaration of martial law in 1972. / PEPP photo release

Communist rebels said they had never requested the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to mediate in the stalled peace negotiations between them and the government.

In what amounted to a rebuke …

Full reporby Interaksyon

 

Catholic schools launch nat’l congress on family set on papal visit

Congress on the Filipino Family SMX NJ Viehland

[l-r] Dennis Salvador SMX Convention Director of sales, Dexter Deyto VP/Gen. Manager signing with Miriam’s Rose Bautista, Jose Arellano, OIC Executive Director of CEAP, Maricel Salapantan, MC High School Family Councilpresident. / NJ Viehland Photos

Updated Nov. 19, 2014

Miriam College (formerly Maryknoll College), has teamed up with Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) member schools and ABS-CBN media network to convene the National Congress on the Filipino Family.

The national congress is slated on Jan. 16-17 coinciding with Pope Francis’ Jan. 15-19 visit to the Philippines, but is not included in the Pope’s itinerary.

The congress to be launched today supports the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that closed in Rome Oct. 19 on the topic, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”. “It aims to highlight the voice of the laity in discussion of what actually takes place within the family,” organizers said in their press release. 

Miriam College High School principal Edizon Fermin, Adviser of the Executive Council National Congress on the Filipino Family said organizers hope to be as open and inclusive as possible. The congress will gather a broad range of participants, includingsame-sex couples who have raised families, “housbands” who have shifted from the traditional roles of household men, career-oriented couples juggling work with parenting, teenaged mothers abandoned by the fathers of their children, separated parents with custody of their children, children orphaned by soldier parents, children growing up in the digital world. These are also topics to be discussed in engaging talks and workshops.

Ed Fermin of Miriam College hands to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the working document of the Congress on the Filipino Family convened by school family councils, PTA particularly from Catholic Schools - NJ Viehland Photos

Ed Fermin of Miriam College hands to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the working document of the Congress on the Filipino Family convened by school family councils, PTA particularly from Catholic Schools – NJ Viehland Photos

Fermin presented last September the congress concept paper to Cardinal Tagle which Fermin said was drafted primarily by parents’ associations during the cardinal’s Theological Hour lecture on the 2014 synod at Loyola School of Theology.

Related post

CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas: Random thoughts at the close of the synod 

Synod on the Family: Commentary by Hector Welgampola

 

 

Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia bus out to island quarantine for Ebola

Peacekeepers from Liberia in bus AFP release

Filipino peacekeepers from Liiberia bus out to Caballo island for quarantine for Ebola / via AFP photo release by TSG Bruna PAF,PIO and SGT Bermas PAF, PIO

The 108 Filipino peacekeepers arrived in the Philippines Nov. 12 afternoon from Liberia, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded the second highest number of cases of ebola virus infection.

They boarded buses and headed out to Caballo island off Cavite, south of Manila, for a 21-day quarantine before they may join their families, some of whom were at Villamor Air Base to wave to them.

The men and women peacekeepers dressed in battle fatigues emerged at the tarmac around 5:04 p.m. from a United Nations-chartered UTair Aviation from Monrovia, Liberia, with 24 policeman and a jail officer who served as UN staff in the country torn by decades of rebellion and civil war. 

They passed through a thermal scanner then gathered assembled in front of the grandstand for a brief welcome ceremony led by Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado. Personnel from the AFP Peacekeeping Operations Center and Joint Task Group Liberia which will be overseeing the quarantine of the personnel joined the welcome ceremony.

The peacekeepers were deployed to Liberia last December for a six-month tour of duty that was extended by UN officials. 

Some of the families of the peacekeepers gathered at the Air Force Museum, about a kilometer away and watched a live video streaming of the arrival.

 

 

Church, society called to enable new landowners via land reform – CBCP president

coffee farmers' cooperative, Laguna /NJ Viehland Photos

coffee farmers’ cooperative, Laguna /NJ Viehland Photos

AGRARIAN REFORM

AS A CONTINUING PROJECT OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

Not too long ago I issued a statement on the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and its implementing law, lauding its achievements as well as candidly pointing out the challenges that still had to be hurdled.  The CBCP is once more being asked about the expanded and enhanced version of the program and whether it remains not only legally but morally justified.

Laguna,NJ Viehland

Laguna / NJ Viehland Photos

Agrarian Reform as Moral Imperative

Unless the expropriation of privately owned property serves the higher cause of social justice, agrarian reform cannot  hardly (be) justified.  When it casts itself off from this moral mooring, land reform merely becomes disguised confiscation by the State of private property.  This also means that the underlying motive as well as the defining criterion for any enhancement, expansion or amendment of the agrarian reform law presently in place must be social justice — and this is exactly what is disturbing because our Legislature that has not seen urgency in other matters of national concern involving social justice cannot credibly enact an enhanced or improved agrarian reform law unless it takes all the demands of social justice in their entirety to heart.

Some Concerns of Law Reform

The present spate of investigations into questionable acquisitions by officials of government of considerable tracts of land — often in scandalous proportions — leaves no doubt that the law has in several ways been circumvented and persons otherwise disqualified from amassing vast tracts of land in contravention of the law have in fact done so.  Genuine law reform and resolute law implementation must address this.

It is also a fact to which many of our pastors throughout the country bear witness that farmer-beneficiaries have, through some subterfuge, successfully alienated their acquisitions, defeating the purpose as well as the intendment of the program.  While on the one hand, this speaks of a downright irresponsibility on the part of farmer-beneficiaries, it also suggests that they needed assistance from government, from the Church, from NGOs to succeed in their new roles as land-owners bad sadly, at least according to their perception, received no such assistance.

Clearly, therefore, the nagging problems of the redistribution of land resources in this country cannot be solved by the mere passage of laws or the amendment of legal provisions.  The Church, for one, is called to that charity that takes the form of empowering new land-owners so that they may truly enjoy the self-determination that characterizes persons as God’s free sons and daughters.

Laguna,NJ Viehland

Laguna / NJ Viehland Photos

Family Fragmentation and the Vacuity of Land Reform

Agrarian reform envisioned the family as an economic unit, endeavoring to give each family that portion of God’s earth on which it labored so that together, having impressed the marks of their personhood — both as individuals and as a family — on the land, it would be truly be theirs.  But this idyllic picture is slowly fading, sliding over into the realm of fiction, for the sad reality is that the Filipino is now very frequently a fragmented family, youngsters setting as their priority migration to some foreign land with the result that continued ownership of the land their parents once lovingly tilled becomes a matter of indifference.

Again, it is clear that the issue goes far beyond legal considerations and touches on the very mission of the family and life apostolate of the Church.  Agrarian reform, the CBCP continues to hope, should be a potent instrument of social cohesion and the flourishing of the family as the domestic church.

THE CBCP THEREFORE requests the Legislature to consider the foregoing points in its project to expanding and enhancing the agrarian reform program, even as it calls on various church groups, lay groups in particular, as well as NGOs, to do their part to see to the meaningful fruition of this program.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, November 12, 2014

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas / NJ Viehland Photos

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS

   Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
   CBCP President

Bishops Conference to stay out of gov’t-Communist front peace talks – CBCP president

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (right) /NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (right) /NJ Viehland Photos

The CBCP President 

on the

REQUEST to MEDIATE IN THE GOVERNMENT-NDF DIALOGUE

The National Democratic Front presents itself as the umbrella organization of which the Community Party of the Philippines – New People’s army is supposedly its military arm.  We make these statements with trepidation because we are not sure about the degree of cohesiveness that exists between the top echelons of the Front and local cadres of the New People’s Army.  We have been informed by members of the government peace panel that they were under the impression that many of the attacks and raids conducted on the local fronts were hardly ever known and — if ever — only belatedly acknowledged by Utrecht leaders.

The Situation

The Government of the Philippines has repeatedly acceded to peace talks, appointing top-level negotiators even requesting the involvement of the good offices of such foreign governments as the government of Norway.  Regrettably, none of these prolonged, and expensive negotiations have borne substantial fruit.  The cessation of hostilities usually declared on the occasion of negotiations have regrettably been used by the rebel forces to recruit membership especially in far flung barangays that have had to labor under the burden of supplying food and sustenance to the members of he New People’s Army.  And while insurgents complain that some of their leaders have been arrested while on safe-conduct passes, it is our understanding that such passes were issued to allow their representatives to attend negotiations and conferences, and not for the purpose of consolidating membership.

Our Mission

When the Catholic Bishops Conference mediates, when it engages in dialogue, when it initiates negotiation, when it gets adversaries talking to each other, it does so at all times as herald of the Gospel and servant of the Kingdom of God.  Truth and justice are therefore its primary and non-negotiable guideposts, and when it does not find these present, or when, in its discernment, made in prayer and docility to the prompting of the Spirit, it does not find a disposition to sincerity and trustworthiness in the parties to the dialogue, the CBCP will not lend itself to a fruitless exercise or to a charade visited on the entire country.

Communism and Capitalism

We the bishops of the Philippines will continue to pray for a peaceful resolution to this long-festering problem of insurgency in the country.  While events of recent history have proven with historical certainty the impracticability of such socialist societies as the now-defunct Soviet Union and Eastern Europe once espoused, neither must we forget Pope Francis’ constant teaching that unbridled and unprincipled capitalism cannot be any better and is as exploitative and oppressive particularly on the marginalized.  We encourage qualified lay persons to contribute to the dialogue and to foster that spirit of openness and sincerity that alone can make negotiations promising.

The CBCP for its part categorically states that it cannot take in the role of initiating, convening, mediating or presiding over a dialogue between the National Democratic Front and government representatives.  We are of the firm persuasion that under the present circumstances, this cannot be part of our ecclesial mandate as an episcopal conference.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Manila, November 10, 2014

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

    Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
    President, CBCP

 Note: As of post time, CBCP’s reply to questions on “request to mediate” had not arrived.

 

Obituary: Indian nun who helped sex workers, trafficked people dies

Farewell Sr Shalini D'Souza video

Sister Shalini D’Souza, the first Indian to head a US-based international religious congregation for women, and who once distributed condoms in Delhi’s red-light district to fight AIDS, died Thursday. She was 76.

Sister Shalini of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth was “an extraordinary person” whose “vision of mission …

Read full report from Patna, India

Pro-life Democrats blame pro-abortion stance for party defeat in US polls

Democrats For Life of America in a Nov. 5 media release has urged the Democratic National Committee to relax its pro-abortion position and “open its doors to welcome and support pro-life Democrats.”

It  blamed  support for abortion for destroying party candidates in pro-life states and districts.

Results of the Nov. 4 polls is only one of many signs of Democratic Party members losing touch with rank-and-file-American Democratic voter, the party’s pro-life members said in their statement titled “You cannot win when you alienate 21 million people in your base.”

All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 36 of the 100 seats in the Senate were contested in Tuesday’s mid-term general polls. Voters also elected governors for 38 state and territories, officials for 46 state legislatures and four territorial legislatures and numerous state and local races. 

While various races, both in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives remain too close to call or are expected to be subject to recounts, analysts have noted sweeping gains by the Republican Party in the Senate, House, and in many gubernatorial elections, as well as state and local races. Republicans have regained control of the Senate for the first time since 2006, and solidified their majority in the House. 

Democrats for Life in its recent statement blames candidates’ pro-abortion platform for their defeat. 

Read full text of their statement and charts.

Democrats in their party’s website list among key issues job creation, education, health care, clean energy. The party believes, “We’re greater together than we are on our own—that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules.” This is reportedly why the party, led by President Barack Obama, is focused “on building an economy that lasts—an economy that lifts up all Americans.”

Analysts say poll results reflect dissatisfaction and disenchantment with the  Obama administration.

Exit surveys reportedly found 40 percent of voters rated the economy as the most important issues. Despite signs of modest improvements — unemployment below 6 percent, the stock market surging and gas prices dropping — the electorate expressed a generally pessimistic view, surveys reportedly showed.

One-quarter of voters said health care was the top issue in their vote, while about one in seven said foreign policy or illegal immigration was most important.

Asian Americans represent a “small” share of voters (2.9 percent in 2012), but remains the fastest growing sector of the U.S. population. Since 2008 Asia has accounted for more than 40 percent of new immigrants to the U.S. when slightly over 31 percent were coming from Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Analysts predicted the sector would vote Democrat in the recent polls.

The Republican Party, commonly referred to as the GOP (America’s Grand Old Party) is generally based on a platform of American conservatism, while the Democrats support contemporary American liberalism.

Republicans support free markets, limited government, socially conservative policies based in traditional values and Judeo-Christian morality.

 

 

 

 

 

A Conversation About Life: Points of View on Reproductive Health – Book launch

Conversation about life Poster

Claretian Communications Foundation, Inc. and the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in cooperation with the Cebu Theological Forum cordially invite you to:

WHAT: Book Launching of “A Conversation About Life: Points of View on Reproductive Health” by Orlando P. Carvajal, Levy L. Lanaria, Rhoderick John S. Abellanosa, Aurelio C. Joaquin, Leny G. Ocasiones, Milagros A. Chan, Pasquale T. Giordano, SJ, Mitos Serrano-Rivera, IRH, Antonio J. Ledesma, SJ

WHEN: November 25, 2014 (Tuesday), 1:00-5:00PM

WHERE: Theodore Buttenbruch Hall, University of San Carlos Downtown Campus, P. del Rosario St., Cebu City

Interview: Missionary nuns help shorthanded diocese minister to poor Filipino families

Sr. Bernadette de Silva Wijeyeratne, Holy Family of Bordeaux (HFB) directs fishermen's recollection, Bulan, Sorsogon, Philippines. / photo courtesy of HFB

Sr. Bernadette de Silva Wijeyeratne, Holy Family of Bordeaux (HFB) directs fishermen’s recollection, Bulan, Sorsogon, Philippines. / photo courtesy of HFB

Manila – Sr. Bernadette de Silva Wijeyeratne came to the Philippines 23 years ago through the mission program of the Sri Lanka province of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux. Sr. De Silva, as neighbors and friends now call her, knew bitter civil war and deep poverty in Sri Lanka. Still, living among poor families in Sorsogon province is full of demands.

She spoke with Global Sisters’ Report in Manila about her experiences among the country’s poorest families in Sorsogon diocese some 186 miles southeast of Manila, and her international institute founded in the early 1800s.

French Fr. Pierre Bienvenu Noailles organized women and men volunteers of all conditions and vocations to proclaim the “good news” by imitating the Holy Family of Nazareth.

Read the full interview with Sr. de Silva

Philippines called to lead campaign against the death penalty in Asia

Cities for Life rally "No justice without life", Oct. 28, 2014, Greenfields Square, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Cities for Life rally “No justice without life”, Oct. 28, 2014, Greenfields Square, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Egidio anti death penalty rally singers NJ Viehland

Hundreds of people who gathered at a public square here for a rally against the death penalty lit candles and joined in singing “Heal the World” to close a historic dialogue on human rights and respect for the dignity of life.

It may have ended months of work for the first Asia Pacific dialogue on the theme “No Justice without Life.” But Mayor Benjamin Abalos Jr. and other speakers pointed out that much work remains for Filipinos to foster dialogue on the death penalty and ensure that the country’s laws do not again allow executions.

"No justice without life" Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

“No justice without life” Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Mayor Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos, Jr of Mandaluyong on the Global Campaign Cities for Life where his city is member at the anti death penalty rally Oct. 28, 2014 in Greenfields Square / NJ Viehland Photos

Mayor Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr of Mandaluyong on the Global Campaign Cities for Life where his city is member at the anti death penalty rally Oct. 28, 2014 in Greenfields Square / NJ Viehland Photos

Religions and the value of life symposium [l-r] Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, CBCP Committee on Public Affairs Chair, Grace Candol of Sant'Egidio Philippines, Abdulhusin Kashim, Former Dean and lecturer of Islam, Oct. 27, 2014 / NJ Viehland Photos

Religions and the value of life symposium [l-r] Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, CBCP Committee on Public Affairs Chair, Grace Candol of Sant’Egidio Philippines, Abdulhusin Kashim, Former Dean and lecturer of Islam, Oct. 27, 2014 / NJ Viehland Photos

Read full report  / Scroll down for photos

Aux. Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, Chairman, CBCP Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Aux. Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, Chairman, CBCP Permanent Committee on Public Affairs, Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Religions and the value of life symposium [l-r] Buddhist Monk Ryuji Furukawa of Japan Schweitzer Temple, Chair Sudheendra Kulkarni of observer Research Foundation in Mumbai, India, Oct. 27, 2014, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Religions and the value of life symposium [l-r] Buddhist Monk Ryuji Furukawa of Japan Schweitzer Temple, Chair Sudheendra Kulkarni of observer Research Foundation in Mumbai, India, Oct. 27, 2014, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Global Campaign for Abolition of the Death Penalty, Mario Marazziti, President of Commission for Human Rights of the Italian Parliament and co-founder World Coalition Against Death Penalty, Italy, Oct. 27, 2014, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Global Campaign for Abolition of the Death Penalty, Mario Marazziti, President of Commission for Human Rights of the Italian Parliament and co-founder World Coalition Against Death Penalty, Italy, Oct. 27, 2014, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

A Culture for Life in the Philippines, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

A Culture for Life in the Philippines, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Cambodia Justice Secretary Sotheavy Chan, Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Cambodia Justice Secretary Sotheavy Chan, Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III, Former Deputy Speaker, Phil. House of Representatives, Oct. 28, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Lorenzo “Erin” Tanada III, Former Deputy Speaker, Phil. House of Representatives, Oct. 28, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Arthur Laffin, founder of Murder Victims' Family for Reconciliation, USA talked about moving on after his brother's murder, Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Arthur Laffin, founder of Murder Victims’ Family for Reconciliation, USA talked about moving on after his brother’s murder, Oct. 27, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Alberto Quattrucci [rigtmost] with Sant'Egidio team, 1st Asia Pacific Dialogue on Human Rights and Respect for the Dignity of Life, Oct. 28, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Alberto Quattrucci [rigtmost] with Sant’Egidio team, 1st Asia Pacific Dialogue on Human Rights and Respect for the Dignity of Life, Oct. 28, 2014, Shangri-La Plaza Hotel, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

JC Mangmang [rightmost] and fellow freshmen of Don Bosco electronic communication / NJ Viehland Photos

JC Mangmang [rightmost] and fellow freshmen of Don Bosco electronic communication / NJ Viehland Photos

Cities for Life rally vs death penalty, Greenfields Square, Mandaluyong City, Philippines, Oct. 28, 2014 / NJ Viehland Photos

Cities for Life rally vs death penalty, Greenfields Square, Mandaluyong City, Philippines, Oct. 28, 2014 / NJ Viehland Photos

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Cities of Life rally "no justice without life" Oct. 28, 2014, Greenfields Square, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, Cities of Life rally “no justice without life” Oct. 28, 2014, Greenfields Square, Mandaluyong City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

USA Ridgefield Town Police Commissioner George Kain, Professor, Division of Justice and law Administration at Greenfields Square, Mandaluyong City, Philippines Cities of Life rally vs death penalty, Oct. 28, 2014 / NJ Viehland Photos

USA Ridgefield Town Police Commissioner George Kain, Professor, Division of Justice and law Administration at Greenfields Square, Mandaluyong City, Philippines Cities of Life rally vs death penalty, Oct. 28, 2014 / NJ Viehland Photos

 

Synod on the Family 2014: Commentary By Hector Welgampola

Hector Welgampola

Hector Welgampola

If synodal midwifery is to prevent hemorrhaging a familial Church …

There was a time when Africa was sneered at as the Dark Continent. But no longer. The recent Rome synod showed that now there is more to Africa than the stigma of Boko Haram, ISIS or Ebola.

Both theologian-Saint Augustine and his mystic mother, Saint Monica, would have felt vindicated by African voices at the Oct. 5-19 Synod on Family. Amid media-mediated efforts of deviant cultures, African synodists spoke up courageously for family values cherished by their peoples. As Augustine’s voice did in an earlier decadent era, African bishops’ stand helped prevent the synod’s gay abandon to effete post-Christian trends.

Some claim that it was pastoral realism that led German Cardinal Walter Kasper to canvass for permissiveness both sacramental and sexual. Whatever that may be, it brought into the open a reality less spoken of in public up until now: if pastoral policies need to suit the times, they need also to suit the climes.

As Hans Kung once wrote, this modern age too may “produce various and contradictory views of the Kingdom of God.” But every such view need not be imposed arbitrarily on all Catholics as universal Church teaching. Perhaps, that was why Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kagama held that, “the time has gone when we would just follow without question.” Also, that was why Guinean Cardinal Robert Sara recapped arbitrary moves to impose Western gender ideologies as a precondition for humanitarian aid to developing nations.

Some Asian synodists too echoed related sentiments. Their passivity did not always match the passionate pleas of African prelates. Yet, their interventions cited the unsung heroism of poor but virtuous families struggling to resist the imposition of secular values.

In a way, Cardinal Kasper’s disputed claim that “Africans should not tell us too much what we should do” did more than open a can of worms. It was a profound moment of truth. There was no need for others to make a big hue and cry about it.

After all, his plain-speak was an admission of the plurality of Catholics worldwide, who live in varied cultures while sharing a common faith. And of course, the converse also has to be true! Dechristianized societies should not dictate what Churches elsewhere should do. In particular, they should not project their secularized worldview as a universal Christian ethic.

If that realization emerges undiluted in the final document of the synod, then the consultation could claim a considerable achievement by way of preparation for next year’s synod proper. Hopefully, the recent synod had an opportunity to assess over-concerns about people’s sacramental and sexual life. And Pope Francis, who spoke very little during that process, seems to have said it all in his post-synodal remarks that the family is being “devalued”. Some translators of his remarks used the word “bastardized”!

In those frank words spoken Oct. 25 to members of a Marian movement from Cardinal Kasper’s own country, the Holy Father summed up the gut feeling of most Catholics about the trend to downgrade family life from a joyous vocation to a permissive social industry.

If those words are to hold out hope for the synod of 2015, that upcoming consultation will need active participation of more mothers, fathers and youths, but fewer celibates. Opening the synod to families will give voice to Church members who strive to live marital spirituality in family beyond what some may see as just a sacramental or sexual partnering. 

********************************

Hector Welgampola has retired as Executive Editor of the former Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) based in Hong Kong, then Bangkok. Before UCAN, Hector headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka. Since retiring Hector has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita. He authored the resource book Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook.  

Write him: welgampo@gmail.com 

But where was Asia? – Cardinal Tagle post-synod

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle hosted a media briefing on the recently concluded Synod on the Family at Arzobispado, Intramuros, Oct. 30, 2014. - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle hosted a media briefing on the recently concluded Synod on the Family at Arzobispado, Intramuros, Oct. 30, 2014. – NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in his first Philippines media briefing after the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family closed in Rome Oct. 19 spent a few hours with journalists today to report on the synod.

Here’s just one of many concerns, views, emotions and learnings he shared :

As a President Delegate, I attended so many press conferences in the Vatican because daily there was a press briefing and press conference.

On the second press conference that I attended, it just shook me – there was not a single Asian journalist among the hundreds and hundreds of international journalists. Sad to say there was not a single African journalist also.

The Sala Stampa, the press office, was really dominated by the West. So I asked myself, “Who will report on the concerns of Asia? Who will report on the voice of Asia being raised in the Synod hall?

And that is precisely the concern of the Synod – that the various and diverse situations and challenges surface.

So maybe your outfits could assign some of you full-time in the Vatican, so when things happen you don’t just rely on reports of others and you report these. Because the things you are reporting now, if they come from other sources are somewhat filtered already according to their concerns.

That’s why when I was interviewed by the Italian TV2000 and I expressed the concerns of Asia, the interviewer said, we have not heard that. I replied – because Europeans and people of the West are all who are in the press conference.

So I was a bit busy going to the press conferences just to be able to share our concerns in Asia.

I know for a fact that some people thought that the only topic discussed in the synod was divorce and gay union. I assure you, those were discussed. But I also assure you those were not the only concerns.

And for the Filipino media to have a more comprehensive reporting, I will give you the other concerns

[Note : Some words/sentences translated from Tagalog]

More to follow

Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka confirmed – Colombo archdiocese

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo, at the meeting of clergy of the Archdiocese of Colombo on Monday 27th October 2014 at the Archbishop’s House, confirmed Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka on Jan. 13 and 14, 2015, the archdiocese reported on its website.

A delegation from the Vatican is reportedly expected to arrive in Sri Lanka to work out the program me for the Pope’s visit.

Read Colombo archdiocese’s full report

Questions about the pope’s announced visit arose in recent weeks after news broke of possible elections in the country in January. 

In a letter to Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Cardinal Ranjith reportedly asking the president to inform the church about the date of election and informed the nation’s leader that it was not appropriate for the Pope to visit any country at times of national elections.

Sri Lanka government reportedly confirmed Oct. 26 that the government is taking necessary steps, including necessary infrastructure arrangements, as planned, to facilitate the arrival of Pope Francis.

 

 

“No justice without life”conference vs death penalty steps outside Italy

 

[l-r] Leonardo Tranggono of Sant'Egidio, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno, Philippines Secretary Leila De Lima, Philippines Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, Administrator Manuel Co of Parole and Probation Administration announce the first "No justice without life" Conference in Asia at the Oct. 23 press conference at the Department of Justice, Manila/ NJ Viehland Photos

[l-r] Leonardo Tranggono of Sant’Egidio, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno, Philippines Secretary Leila De Lima, Philippines Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, Administrator Manuel Co of Parole and Probation Administration announce the first “No justice without life” Conference in Asia at the Oct. 23 press conference at the Department of Justice, Manila/ NJ Viehland Photos

Rome-based international Christian Community of Sant’Egidio and the Philippines Department of Justice (DOJ) welcomed delegates to the October 27-28 conference on the death penalty that will be held in Mandaluyong City, east of Manila.

Philippines Justice Secretary Leila De Lima announced the “Asia-Pacific Congress on human rights, respect of human life, abolition of death penalty,”  and introduced her department’s co-organizers during a press conference conducted Oct. 23 at the DOJ in Manila as delegates arrived. 

On Monday, representatives of Asian governments, activists and witnesses from Asian countries and more than 30 mayors from around the Philippines will gather  there for two days to listen to and dialogue on issues and points tackled in talks concerning human rights, respect for life, abolition of every kind of death penalty in Asia. 

Countries expected to send representatives include India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines is also sending representatives from its commission on prison pastoral care.

 Leonardo Tranggono who serves in Sant’Egidio’s international affairs office told Catholic in Asia this is the first time the annual gathering launched in 2005 is being held outside Italy. Asia was selected primarily because majority of governments in the region still impose capital punishment, Tranggono said.

Tranggono and Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno thanked De Lima for accepting the invitation to host the “historic” conference and for the Philippine government’s “advocacy” for halting executions of persons. 

President Gloria Arroyo approved in 2006 the law abolishing death penalty in the Philippines.

This week’s conference host, Mandaluyong City, has also declared its opposition to the death penalty, along with more than 2,000 “Cities for Life” in some 50 countries, Tranggono said.

End of Part I       

Pope’s Visit On Track So Far – Sri Lanka Church spokesperson

Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to Sri Lanka in January next year is still on track as the Government has not made any official announcement of a Presidential Election, Catholic Church Spokesman Rev. Cyril Gamini said.

Although there was confusion earlier over the Pontiff’s visit because of an impending Presidential Election in January, Fr. Cyril Gamini said that the scheduled itinerary will not be changed as the Church has not been informed of an election in January.

Meanwhile it is learnt that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has not responded to…

 

Full report http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2014/10/26/popes-visit-on-track-so-far/

Blessed Joseph Vaz will be proclaimed Saint Jan. 14‎

Pope Francis announced on Monday that Blessed Joseph Vaz, the Apostle of Sri Lanka, will be declared saint on Jan. 14, 2015, Vatican News reported.

Read full report

EU-wide crackdown on undocumented migrants condemned

Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International condemns in strongest terms the ongoing crackdowns resulting in the criminalization of undocumented migrants and refugees being implemented by the European Union.

Read full report

 

Post-Synod thoughts – CBCP President Villegas

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan / NJ Viehland Photos

THE SPIRIT BLOWS WHERE HE WILL!
Random Thoughts at the Close of the Synod

I have just finished attending the Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, convened by the Holy Father, Pope Francis.  It was my privilege not only to listen to the debates and interventions.  I also had the privilege of addressing the assembly on the role of the clergy in family renewal.  Much has been written and reported on in respect to this event, truly momentous in the life of the Church.  It is my duty, as President of the CBCP, and as a Synodal father, to share with you these thoughts at the conclusion of the synod.  It is, as has repeatedly been underscored, only the prelude of more complete discussions in the future that we all eagerly await.

INCLUSIVE AND FAITHFUL LOVE

There are two concerns of the Church: first, the Church must be able to extend to all that hospitality, that care, that mercy that Jesus ordained would be the mark of his community, his Body, the Church.  None should be systematically excluded because of circumstances personal to the individual.  All should be aided in the path of constant conversion and renewal.  All should be offered the hope of the Gospel.  All should be comforted by the love of brothers and sisters in the One Body of Christ. In this regard, Pope Francis warned us of the temptation to be simply “do-gooders”, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots.

In the name of misplaced mercy Pope Francis said we face the temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

The other concern is as legitimate as the first: that the Church must preach a message that is not just a concession to popular demand, but is truly Christ’s, and that the Church must remain constantly docile to the prompting of the Spirit.  This is the reason that the Church must be unceasingly devoted to that discernment by which we all seek out the will of God and read from the Gospels, as interpreted by the Tradition of the Church in a living faith, a response to the questions of our time. There is also a temptation, according to Pope Francis, of  hostile inflexibility that is, wanting to close oneself within the written the letter and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises; within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous.

HURTING FAMILIES

Filipinos who presently find themselves in irregular relationships — live-in unions, de facto separation from spouses and partnerships with other persons — must be helped by pastors particularly by the Sacrament of Penance, to follow the demands of true and unselfish love in the Spirit of the Gospel. We cannot presume to judge and condemn.  Rather, the presumption should be that there is a genuine effort on their part to live according to the demands of our faith.  The danger of scandal should never stand in the way of genuine charity, and the Catholic faithful must be reminded that much of what Jesus did was scandalous to the ‘righteous’ of his time.  Where, however, in the pastoral assessment of bishops and priests, the full and unqualified admission of persons in irregular unions to the life of the Church causes charitable and sincere Catholics to doubt and misunderstand the teaching of the Church, then some prudent arrangement must be worked out that will be beneficial to all.

PERSONS WITH SAME SEX ATTRACTION

Persons with homosexual orientation are sons and daughters of God; no less than any of us is.  Discrimination against them is contrary to the Gospel spirit. Verbal and physical violence against them is an offense against the good Lord Himself.  Through honest dialogue and pastoral accompaniment, it should be our goal to assist them to respond to the demands of chastity and that purity of body and heart that Jesus, in the Gospels, calls ‘blessed’.  When they wish to make an offering to the life of the Church according to their talents, abilities and gifts, the Church as mother provides for them.

To the legislators who consider giving legal recognition to same sex unions, the Church declares there is no equivalence or even any remote analogy whatsoever between marriage between a man and woman as planned by God and the so-called same sex unions.

We can be tempted to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing, said Pope Francis.

CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

In facing our Catholic brethren in painful broken marriage situations or our brothers and sisters with homosexual attraction quietly struggling to be chaste, Pope Francis said we must avoid two temptations: The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast; and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick, add to their already unbearable burdens.

Our Filipino Catholic laity must be fully engaged in the apostolate of the family for the family is precisely the competence of lay persons.  Active Catholic couples are asked to lead in initiatives that assist couples in living the reality of the sacrament of matrimony, and in the rearing of their families according to the spirit of the Gospel.  Our bishops and pastors encourage and support these lay initiatives.

I wish to borrow this prayer at the end of the Message to the People of God at the conclusion of the synod:

Laguna,NJ Viehland

Husbands, wives serve in farmers’ cooperative in Laguna,NJ Viehland

Father, grant to all families

the presence of strong and wise spouses

who may be the source of a free and united family.

Father, grant that parents

may have a home in which to live

in peace with their families.

Manila,NJ Viehland

Manila,NJ Viehland

Father, grant that children may be signs of trust and hope

and that young people may have the courage

to forge life-long, faithful commitments.

Alabang,NJ Viehland

Workers packing coffee in Alabang,NJ Viehland

Father, grant that all may be able to earn bread with their hands,

that they may enjoy serenity of spirit

and that they may keep aflame the torch of faith even in periods of darkness.

Elderly people dance during party by Ed Gerlock

Elderly people dance during party by Ed Gerlock

Father, grant that we may all see flourish,

a Church that is ever more faithful and credible,

a just and humane city,

a world that loves truth, justice and mercy.

 

Rome, October 19, 2014

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan

CBCP President

 

Church in Asia: the importance of women’s voices – Interview

Theologian Agnes Brazal, PhD by NJ Viehland

Theologian Agnes Brazal, PhD by NJ Viehland

Women theologians in Asia have been sustaining the process of reflection and dialogue on feminist issues and concerns through conferences, symposia, artistic exhibits and publications.

Out of this movement came an association of theologians called Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA) that formed 12 years ago. Theologian Agnes Brazal, director of the Office for Research and Publications and coordinator of the graduate program at St. Vincent School of Theology in Quezon City was among participants of the first conference, and has served as joint treasurer since 2005.

The association is calling for papers and presentations for its Seventh Biennial Conference in Manila in January 2016. The conference will be the association’s first under Pope Francis, who has issued a call to make room for a more incisive role for women in the church.

Read Brazal’s description of the founding of EWA and discussion of the importance of feminist voices in the Church.

In 2013, Pope Francis issued his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), detailing the church's primary mission of evangelization in the modern world. / NJ Viehland Photos      [ View video on the exhortation by Rome Reports]

In 2013, Pope Francis issued his first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), detailing the church’s primary mission of evangelization in the modern world. / NJ Viehland Photos [ View video on the exhortation by Rome Reports]

In Rome CBCP President reflects on poverty, migration, Filipino family

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (right) /NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (right) /NJ Viehland Photos

POVERTY, MIGRATION AND FAMILY
Archbishop Socrates B Villegas
CBCP President, October 16, 2014

Rome – Because the family is also an economic unit, poverty impacts on it — more often than not (though not necessarily), negatively.  While inspiring stories are told of families that have emerged stronger after having been tested in the crucible of poverty, more often, poverty inflicts terrible wounds on members of the family and sadly, many times, there is never a complete recovery!

Of the nations of Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranks among the highest in the dispersal of its citizens throughout the world.  In fact, there is hardly a corner of the world that one will not find a Filipino.  In Rome alone, there is a sizable and vibrant Filipino community.  And it would be a case of undue generalization to make the claim that it is poverty that drives Filipinos from their homeland to seek their fortunes elsewhere. 

We are not the poorest nation, but those who rank lower than us in the economic scale are not as dispersed as we are.  This compels us, if we are to understand the phenomenon of the Filipino family in the 21st century better, to look elsewhere for plausible explanations.

Many Filipinos who are abroad are nurses, teachers and other professionals, among these, engineers and agriculturists.  They are therefore not at the bottom of the economic scale. In fact, as professionals they would not have really been hungry had they remained home in the Philippines.  In dialogues with Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), it has become clear that many who have sought employment abroad have done so because they feel, rightly or wrongly, that in the Philippines, they do not get what they deserve. 

Philippines hospital doctors, nurses and staff / NJ Viehland Photos

Philippines hospital doctors, nurses and staff / NJ Viehland Photos

The phenomenon of the nursing profession makes for an interesting case study.  At one time, the Philippines fielded nurses all over the world, and till the present, many nurses in the United States and in Europe are Filipinos.  And as schools of nursing proliferated in the Philippines, we overstocked the labor market with nurses and really killed the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg.  There has been a deleterious slump in the demand for Filipino nurses.  Many schools of nursing have closed down, and graduates of the nursing curriculum have had to seek employment as call-center agents, sales representatives, etc.

The point seems to be clear: In the Filipino psyche is a romanticized notion of the West as the land of opportunity accompanied by a deprecatory assessment of the Philippine situation.  It is not really poverty alone, nor perhaps principally, that sunders families.  It is rather the idealization of the West — and, for non-professionals, or manual laborers, the Middle East — as the land of promise.

Many marriages are threatened by the separation of couples owing to overseas employment of one or the other spouse; this peculiarity of the national social psyche is threatening for it can only mean that not even the family is powerful enough a factor to keep Filipinos home, especially when, we observe, the Filipinos who pack their bags and seek employment abroad are not really impoverished Filipinos.

There is no doubt that the unprincipled aggressive recruitment policies of many Western corporations and business establishments, eager for cheap labor, induce Filipinos with dreams of immediate, though unrealistic, prosperity.  Talk to any OFW and you will be impressed at the grasp he or she has of terms relating to placement fees, payment schemes, salaries, benefits, wages, privileges…all this, obviously the result of sweetened deals packaged so as to attract cheap Filipino labor to country’s where a successful birth-control program has a very thin younger sector to take care of an increasingly aging population! 

This takes us to a more involved sociological issue that the Philippine church must resolutely and studiously confront: Does the family still matter to the Filipino, and does it matter sufficiently to come before every other consideration that may sacrifice the unity of the family? To cling to idyllic pictures from the past of members of the family cohesively constituting an economic unit working not only in proximity to each other but living under the same roof will be a disservice to a Church that is sparing nothing to be more effective in its pastoral care for members of the family.

It would be presumptuous to offer any definitive answer to this question, but the matter has to be raised, and the problem addressed.  Does the Filipino find in family ties and bonds a value so high that others, including the prospect of higher salaries and more comfortable living, can be sacrificed for it?  And if the Filipino’s valuation of the family has suffered a downturn, what can the Philippine Church do about it?

Obviously, the Philippine phenomenon is also symptomatic of a universal phenomenon: a re-thinking and a re-shaping of elemental units, the family principally among them.  And while many Filipino OFWs will declare that the sacrifice of living apart from spouse and children is one they willingly make ‘for the sake of the family’, one wonders what notion of family life and what norms of family membership Filipinos have when they willing forego conjugal cohabitation, they miss out on the childhood and adolescence of their children, they become strangers to their own families — while they make a pile abroad.

If, as Gaudium et Spes boldly proclaimed, the Church is the expert on humanity, then this anthropological and sociological question has to be something that merits the Church’s serious reflection, the debates and studies of its scholars, and the guiding voice of its shepherds.

‘We welcome the pope” – LGBT party leader

Bemz Benedito of Ladlad Party List, by NJ Viehland.
Bemz Benedito of Ladlad Party List, by NJ Viehland.

Bemz Benedito, founding member of Ladlad political party of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, told reporters at Fernandina Forum today, “We welcome the pope. Actually, kami sa LGBT (we in the LGBT) community, even if we are non-practicing (their various religions) anymore, we welcome this pope.”

Benedito said Pope Francis “has been very liberal, very embracing, very accepting.”

However, the LGBT leader lamented that “the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines does not reflect Pope Francis’ attitude.” 

Bendito addressed the regular Wednesday forum at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan on the topic “Hate Crime and Violence Against Transgenders.”

The forum discussed the killing of Jeffrey “Jennifer” Laude who was strangled in a hotel room in Olongapo City, northwest of Manila Oct. 11. A U.S. marine is reportedly detained in a U.S. navy ship in the country as part of an agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines governments to have American military forces in the country. 

Related reports

 Family synod midterm report   /CNS

Catholic Church leads fight against gay discrimination in Nigeria–Archbishop    /CBCPNews

 Synod: Bishop from Malawi Says His Countrymen Need to Resist Western Influences   /Aleteia

 Related  posts

Cardinal Tagle highlights issues, concerns in pre-Synod feedback

Nuns help rebuild people, lives and families broken by crime

by N.J. Viehland

Muntinlupa prison,NJ Viehland

Muntinlupa prison,NJ Viehland

The Servants of the Holy Eucharist in the Philippines are solely focused on restorative justice.

Through this charism they work with Caritas Manila to help inmates return to community life by supporting their families and providing transition services.

Last year through painstaking research and legwork, their paralegals were also able to help free 108 people who were wrongly imprisoned…

     Nuns help rebuild people, lives broken by crime
Global Sisters Report
National Catholic Reporter
The grateful bride chose Sr. Zenaida Cabrera to be her wedding sponsor after the nun and fellow members of Servants of the Holy Eucharist had helped to free her father from prison.
Muntilupa prison,NJ Viehland

Sunday Mass with families at Maximum Security Prison, Muntilupa City, NJ Viehland

Prayer for the Filipino family

Last month’s Symposium on the Filipino Family: Catholic and Women’s Perspectives organized by the Theology Department of the Jesuit-owned Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City opened with a moving prayer-slideshow prepared and led by theology instructor Maria Elisa A. Borja.(rightmost in photo).

Speakers and organizers of the Symposium on the Filipino Family: Catholic and Women's Perspectives. Extreme right is Maria Elisa A. Borja - NJ Viehland Photos

– NJ Viehland Photos

The inter-disciplinary event involving women sociologists and theologians was inspired by Pope Francis’ encouragement and the upcoming synod on the family to dialogue about the situation of Filipino families and Church teaching on women and the family, organizers said.

Following is the text of the prayer for all who wish to join in praying for a fruitful Synod on the Family to run in Rome Oct. 5-19.

A Prayer for The Filipino Family by Maria Elisa A. Borja, Ph.D. cand.
(inspired by A Prayer for Children by Ina C. Hughes)

Heavenly Father, we come to you. Listen to our prayer for the Filipino family.

We pray for Filipino families filled with selfless love and joy,
but also for families that are plagued with hatred and selfishness

We pray for Filipino families who live by OHANA…
where “nobody gets left behind or forgotten”
but also for families who leave each other behind,
who alienate and forget one another

We pray for Filipino families who come to church and say their daily rosary together,

Children and relatives of inmates greet priest after Sunday Mass at Maximum Security prison chapel - NJ Viehland Photo

Sunday Mass, maximum security prison chapel,Muntinlupa City           – NJ Viehland Photos

but more so, for families who do not celebrate Sunday mass together,
and those who do not pray at all

We pray for Filipino families who eat together and share stories and laugh,

By Ed Gerlock

– Ed Gerlock Photos

but most especially for families who do not eat together,
who do not share, and who do not laugh

We pray for Filipino families bonded and whole,
but also for families broken and fragmented

broken by separation or divorce
broken by alcoholism or drug abuse
broken by physical, verbal or psychological abuse

We pray for Filipino families who live comfortably
but more so, for those who have nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep,
who cannot work or study
who suffer in poverty

Quezon City, NJ Viehland

We pray for Filipino families whose love sees through
the struggle of caring for a special child or aging parent,
but also those who are tired and feel so burdened by it

We pray for Filipino families who have a father, a mother, children and relatives
and those who have no fathers, no mothers,
whose parents are working far away in another country,
whose mothers mother other children
so they cannot mother their own

Airport by NJ Viehland

Boy at airport                   – NJ Viehland Photos

We pray for two-parent Filipino families,
but most especially, for single parents,
for solo mothers and those who live in dire poverty
because they have to raise a family alone

We pray for families who do outreach
and reach out to the bigger human family,
but more so for those who are exclusive, who separate,
who don’t care about any other family but their own,
who discriminate against those who aren’t part of their family

We pray for Filipino families who build each other up,
but also for families who tear each other down

We pray for Filipino families who have lost their faith in You, Lord,
and lost faith in each other
Filipino families dealing with painful memories that haunt them at night
Filipino families struggling to make it through another day
Filipino families consumed by material goods but empty in spiritual things

We pray for every Filipino family,
with two parents or one
for widows/widowers and orphans

Iriga, NJ Viehland

Fatima Center for Human Development, Iriga City         – NJ Viehland Photos

We pray for stronger fathers
stronger mothers,
greater bonds of love

Man and baby - NJ Viehland Photos

Man and baby       – NJ Viehland Photos

We pray for the bigger Christian family, who is Church,
that all may feel welcome, loved and at home in it,
especially the least, the last and the lost

Listen to our prayer, Lord

May the Holy Family of Nazareth be our strength and our guide,
May the Blessed Mother who is Mother of Jesus
and therefore, mother of us all, intercede for every Filipino family

We ask this in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Savior of us all,
in unity with the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

A Synod on the Family! But where are the families? – Commentary

Muntinlupa prison,NJ Viehland

Maximum security prison chapel, Muntinlupa City                        – NJ Viehland Photos

 

Latin hymns are a distant memory today. They had been thrown out with liturgical solemnity. Nonetheless, a few sacred masterpieces remain etched deep in people’s psyche. “O esca viatorum” is one such hymn with a sacramental impress. 

That Eucharistic song reminds us of how Jesus broke bread as esca viatorum — wayfarers’ food – with two disciples en route to Emmaus. The manna-like role of the Eucharist was especially evident at the Last Supper.

Sustenance to the harried

When Jesus shared bread with his Apostles, he was not unaware of the imminent betrayal by Judas or the denial by Peter. Jesus communed with them, nonetheless. He was not unaware that almost all of his fellowship members would desert him that same night. Yet, he also knew such communing would sustain most of them in faith — food for the onward journey.

That healing effect of the Sacrament of love may have been very much in Pope Francis’s thoughts when he addressed Eucharistic congress organizers at September-end. He spoke of the Eucharist’s role “in bearing hope, forgiveness, healing and love to all in need, in particular to the poor, the disinherited and the oppressed …walking with them in search of an authentic human life in Christ Jesus.”

Walking with people?

Sadly, the great Sacrament’s role in “walking with” people on their search through life’s problems has been thwarted often by efforts to distort the Eucharist into a disciplinary tool. The ongoing debate about denying Communion to couples in troubled marriages is an example of such intervention.

Already, some laypersons have been driven away from the Sacrament of Reconciliation by abuse of the confessional or its reduction to a disciplinary tribunal. Such misadventures should caution pastors against denying the Eucharist to some faithful just when they need the Sacrament for spiritual sustenance in fellowship.

Marikina, by NJ Viehland

Mission sending, Couples for Christ, Marikina                                          – NJ Viehland Photos

Much evident vacuum

Some theologians’ efforts to distract the upcoming synod with disciplinary issues are not unlike half-century-ago moves to hijack Church renewal with cosmetic liturgical reform.

The Synod on the Family is already hassled with lack of genuine lay participation. Very much like earlier synods on family and laity, this assembly too appears to be overcrowded with bishops and experts. Hence, it is likely to ventilate perceived views on family issues more than the genuine views of families. In fairness to Christian families, such an unrepresentative assembly should not be further abused as a referendum on divorce.

A lesson for the next synod

Providentially, this two-week synod is to be followed up next year by a month-long synod on family-related matters. The experiences of the upcoming assembly should encourage Church leaders to provide for genuine representation of families at the follow-up synod. Such a synod with active participation of families should be left free to discuss real problems troubling modern families. Also, families should be left free to find faith-based solutions suitable to their specific cultural realities.

No doubt, such a family synod would need wise counsel, not impositions, from pastoral fora experienced in “walking with” families in the Eucharistic role noted in the earlier cited papal discourse. Regional family ministries and regional episcopal bodies will be more competent to offer such counsel than quirky lobbies with a kink to tamper with the ethos of local family life. 

END

Hector Welgampola
welgampo@gmail.com

Veteran Asian Church journalist Hector Welgampola from Sri Lanka has retired as Executive Editor of the former Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) based in Hong Kong, then Bangkok. Before UCAN, Hector headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka. Since retiring Hector has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita. He authored the resource book Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook.

Veteran Asian Church journalist Hector Welgampola from Sri Lanka has retired as Executive Editor of the former Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) based in Hong Kong, then Bangkok. Before UCAN, Hector headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka. Since retiring Hector has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita. He authored the resource book Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook.

Cardinal Tagle highlights issues, concerns from pre-Synod feedback

Nuns were among people who attended Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle's lecture at Loyola School of Theology Sept. 3, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Nuns were among people who attended Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s lecture at Loyola School of Theology Sept. 3, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, one of three presidents of October’s Synod on the Family, presented to professors, students and guests at the Sept. 3 Theological Hour of Loyola School of Theology highlights of the responses to a pre-synod survey of dioceses that are incorporated in the synod’s working document or Instrumentum Laboris.

Following are excerpts of this section of his lecture, from a personal recording of his lecture (words in parentheses are the reporter’s)… Cardinal Tagle said: I just have to enumerate some of the topics and I hope you don’t look at them simply as a list of concerns. Give yourselves time to ponder and see whether these concerns are part of our experience. If not then they might be speaking of concerns of other people.

In our Council (of the Synod of Bishops) of 15 persons, the discussion could be at one time heated, at another hilarious. We from Asia and from Africa would say, “Wait, wait wait, that is again a north Atlantic concern. That’s not our concern in Asia and Africa. Let me tell our stories…” They would say, “Wait, wait wait, that is the concern in Asia, not in Europe.” It’s good that we are able to listen to one another, and I tell you, those were tiring discussion, but moments of pure reflections.

I would always come home from Rome attending those meetings with my mind, my imagination ready to explode just trying to enter into the world of some people – the stories I heard from Africa, stories that I heard or testimonies from refugee camps and the impact of war on families. Sometimes I said to myself, “Oh, our concerns are really cute, really cute.” Couples separate because, “I don’t like ube (purple yam) ice cream.” Then we have stories about families really torn apart by war. How do you minister to families among the stateless people? Many of them are in Asia.

DSC_0014

 In the past, when we talked of interreligious dialogue, theologians came to mind…but now it seems to be happening worldwide. Interreligious dialogue must happen in the families. And how it worked? Our people were getting married to engage in interreligious dialogue on a daily basis not just in the classroom. The dialogue in the classroom ends, but if you’re married to someone who does not belong to the same faith or religion, how do you engage in that for life? Are we equipping, are we preparing our Christians and families to be agents of interreligious dialogue? It’s a different type of communication skill….

What one of the writers of this Instrumentum Laboris (working paper) did was to organize this narrative of responses into three main sections. I think there were 12 people who worked on the collation and the summary of the responses – half of them women, half of them males so that the different perspectives would be there.

Communicating the Gospel of the Family in Today’s World

Ed Fermin of Miriam College hands to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the working document of the Congress on the Filipino Family convened by school family councils, PTA particularly from Catholic Schools - NJ Viehland Photos

Ed Fermin of Miriam College hands to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the working document of the Congress on the Filipino Family to be convened by school family councils and parent-teacher-associations particularly from Catholic Schools – NJ Viehland Photos

The first section was titled Communicating the Gospel of the Family in Today’s World. Remember, the synod of bishops is about evangelization. It is the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization. The latest synod was on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith. So the theme continues but now focused on the challenges of and to the family.

When we think of family, does evangelization enter our mind? Do we connect the pastoral care of the family to evangelization? This is the one big chunk. The responses affirm that the family is mostly Good News. The family is Gospel. It is Good News. The Gospel of the family – and I guess all of us can resonate with that. We in Asia our joys are always connected to the family. Our pride and also our sorrows are always connected to the family.

The family is Gospel – especially because the family is part of God’s plan for humanity, for revelation and even for salvation. This plan of God for the family, for marriage is contained in the Scriptures and the many documents of the Church. It is intimately related to the vocation of the person and, in the tradition of the Church, to natural law.

Now, I pick up some of the concerns and what I think will be applicable for a school of theology and for people engaged in pastoral work. One big concern that emerged in this section is related to the knowledge and acceptance of the faithful – by the faithful – of the teaching of the Church and the Bible regarding the family.Responses show that the level of knowledge and acceptance varies from place to place. Generally speaking, the Biblical teaching regarding the family is quite widespread but there is much work that remains to be done in terms of appreciation of the Biblical teaching regarding marriage and family.

How about the documents of the Church? – Gaudium et Spes, Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, and all the many statements of the episcopal conferences, homilies of the pope, etc.? The knowledge of conciliar and post-conciliar documents does not seem to have taken a foothold in the faithful’s mentality. In some parts of the world, they have no knowledge of those documents. This came up in the survey.

So, our commentary on it is this: While the content is important – family and marriage – it seems that in this first portion, the question is really that of evangelization. In a school of theology, I think you’d be interested in addressing some of the concerns that surfaced in the discussions. Aside from the dissemination – they say, oh, priests do not even know those documents, how can they talk about it? The responses say our parish priest never mentioned any of those documents, probably he does not know those documents exist. But not our graduates of LST !You know it’s a joke!

How about our pastoral workers? Our catechists? Our family life ministers? Do they know of these documents? Have they studied those documents? From where do they draw their so-called teaching about marriage and family? Do they come from Scripture and from their immersion to the will of God? Are these as contained in Scripture and the documents of the Church?

Another concern – the language of Church documents. The language of Church documents probably must shift as cultures and mindsets shift and we have here a test case – natural law. We did a survey in the Council – what do people think now when they hear the word “natural”? It’s quite different from the philosophical use of the word “natural” in natural law. For some people, natural is spontaneity. If I don’t like you, and I tell you, “I don’t like you,” that’s natural. I’m not going against my nature. So they say, if we quote Church teaching using the language of natural law, some people might say, “Oh, natural law, so if this is spontaneous to me I’m following natural law.” “Ah, what a beautiful girl. She’s married. Uh – natural law – I’m attracted to her so I’m obeying natural law.”

So the challenge is we experts presume that our language which is clear to us is absorbed by others in the same way that we understand it. Not anymore, so we have to review the language of the Church. In fact, there’s a proposal already – instead of talking of natural law – can we be more Biblical? Narrative – the use of narrative, the use of symbols – and we speak also to peoples of other faiths and cultures for how many people still get formal training in natural law theory? Related to that is the question of evangelization – related to the language of the Church.

Do we consciously, deliberately factor in the emerging mentalities of the time and how these emerging mentalities, perspectives and culture influence our people’s view of reality – people’s view of themselves, people’s view of family and relationships?

Another area, they say, we should look into – training, the formation of the clergy, the religious, the pastoral workers. Why are they incapable of communicating effectively the Gospel of family? They say, how come the media are more powerful? They are able to penetrate minds and hearts of people whereas the Sunday homily does not. So one of the recommendations is – please review the whole section of Evangelii Gaudium on the homily.

So, we’re not even talking about the content of the Gospel, but we are talking here about evangelization and we, of course, are put on the spot. And then they also say, maybe we should also take the path of beauty – the world of the laity – by witnessing to the beauty, the joy of married life. Maybe people will be attracted to marriage and Christian marriage, especially.

Without negating the role of the clergy in teaching.. they say, when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel of the family and of marriage, the lay people, especially the married ones, should assume the main role. I attended years ago a whole-day congress of the family. The first speaker was a religious woman. The second speaker was a priest. The third speaker was a bishop. The fourth was the bishop again – in the homily of the Mass. No one realizes, where are the lay people? Where are the married people? I said if you will invite me again for the same congress and this is the same line-up of speakers I will not attend. Of course they got mad at me. That’s the reason they did not invite me again.

We’re making a statement. It’s about marriage. It’s about family life. If I may expand this – what do the bishops say about charter change? Why us again? What do the lay people who took political science and the constitution – why not speak up? Why us again and again and again? So we talk about marriage. We talk about the things that lay people know better…I’m just giving some example.

Pastoral Program for the Family in Light of New Challenges

The second section is titled The Pastoral Program for the Family in Light of New Challenges. So, the Holy Father has been stressing we cannot avoid doctrinal and moral discussions, but the whole thrust of the extraordinary assembly is really the pastoral care of the family. So in this whole second section, new challenges – I don’t know if some of them are really new. Some of them have been with us for centuries – but the challenges that our contemporary families are facing, what are these then?

The first to be identified is the crisis of faith and its impact on family life. But it seems that this crisis of faith is not confined to the Catholic Church. We got a report that among some countries in Europe, while the practice of Catholic faith has declined dramatically, it has declined more dramatically among the Protestant Churches. And among the Jews, there’s an increasing number of what they call “cultural Jews” or not practicing – in the same way that we have cultural Catholics – baptized, with certificates, married in Church, confirmed, received the First Holy Communion from the archbishop, but all of it cultural.

Now the big question for us here is when people come to us for sacramental marriage, is faith a consideration? When people continue living in marriage, sustaining their family, is faith the motivation? In a context of a world where faith is considered as superfluous, even irrelevant, does faith still influence people’s choice about marriage and staying in marriage? Is marriage simply a social or cultural event? This question arises not only for people who come to us for marriage, but even in the day to day living of commitment. Is faith the reason why they remain committed to one another? So the question to ask is how can we make faith again one of the primary motivations for entering into sacramental marriage and to remain committed to married life?

Here, some questions about sacraments – the theology of sacraments and the pastoral approach to the preparation and the post-sacramental guidance that we give to people who are married post-marriage. I think we can all tell stories about how, not only marriage, but the other sacraments as well, have become social and cultural events and not anymore events of faith. So the question is how does it impact marriage and family life?

You start your married life with faith as the one significant factor. Do you expect people to remain faithful to each other in marriage and to the family because of faith? So even in our theology of sacraments… a big part is pre-sacramental preparation. There are a lot of seminars for baptism, confirmation, first confession, first communion, marriage. But the question is: Is there a pastoral program post-sacramental? How do we guide the newly baptized? How do we guide the newly confirmed? How do we guide the newly married? I do not know of any viable post-sacramental program existing in parishes and in dioceses. We spend so much time in the preparation, and afterwards there’s no sustaining guidance. If we look at the catechesis, the catechetical guidelines of the Fathers of the Church, some of them are post-sacramental: Do you recall the oil that was poured on you and how the oil felt as it flowed on your cheeks, etc… It is a reflection in life now of the grace of the sacrament received. So – there is the crisis of faith.

The second area here is very real. I don’t have time to explain everything, but these are some of the critical situations that have been identified pertaining to marriage and family.

1. Communication difficulties. This is not new. But I think what is lamented here is that we have many means of communicating – we have the cellphone, we can text, we have the Internet, we have the e-mail, but the question is have these means and gadgets really taught us how to communicate or are they merely means of transferring information swiftly? Just that, but no communication is happening. Even on an international level, we see a breakdown in communication – countries, heads of state, who don’t know how to communicate. Of course they have access to the most modern means of communication, but they are not communicating.

Priests and their superiors – when I want to talk to a priest I don’t use a cellphone. Because I say, where are you? I’m in the chapel. How do I know? I use the landline. I call Father, he’s not here. If you use the cellphone – where are you? I’m in the adoration chapel. Why did you answer your phone if you’re in adoration?

2. Another: violence and abuse – especially of women and the girl-child.

3. Different forms of dependence and addictions – we know the effects of these on relationships.

4. The uncritical use of media, and the values being communicated by media.

5. Now here – work and the competitiveness of the consumerist world. People work work work. They don’t have time to have coffee or tea with their spouses. They don’t “waste time,” as they say, with their children. They excuse this by saying, “We have to work” and they are “working for you.

6. Migration, of course. We were talking about divorce, when the Council asked me, “Do you have legal divorce in the Philippines?” I said no. Do you have legal separation in the Philippines? Well, there is legal separation. But many couples are separated not because they hate one another, but because poverty pushes them to leave their families. It’s a different type of separation. It’s not separation that’s “good riddance” but separation with pain. I became a bit dramatic discussing that.

Then I asked them, do you have Filipino migrants in your dioceses? They said yes. Do you have pastoral programs for those migrants so they will remain faithful to the families they’ve left? They say no because the only type of separation they know is divorce.

7. Poverty, consumerism, individualism and the scandals in the Church. The scandals in the Church, especially those committed by the clergy, some responses say these have had a big impact on the family and how the family has even justified the breakdown. Some say, how can they judge us, when they’re unfaithful. Look at our priests, they’re also unfaithful. So the counter-influence of infidelity.

Manila,NJ Viehland

Manila,NJ Viehland

8. Societal expectations – Some children don’t have a time for leisure. They don’t enjoy games on weekends. They have to work, even during summer breaks. They expect it.

9. Wars, the refugee problem, disparity of cult. These are some difficult situations, but connected to them are the difficult pastoral situations that are confronted by the Church.

10. Co-habitation, living together ad-experimentum, and there’s no more wedding because they say, we are poor, the government does not give us housing, and so why marry and become miserable? De-facto unions, which is connected to co-habitation – “Let us live together “- and in some countries those de-facto unions, without marriage or civil recognition now enjoy some rights.

11. And of course, the separated, the divorced and re-married divorced people. Here, the children are left alone.

12. Teen mothers, who often end up being single mothers.

13. Canonical irregularities in the reception of the sacrament. This has been discussed over and over again – divorced and remarried whether they can receive Holy Communion

14. The canonical procedures for the declaration of nullity of marriage – There’s a call to simplify the process or to de-centralize the process for the declaration of nullity of marriage and to make it cost-friendly. They are too costly.

15. What do we do with non-practicing Catholics – baptized, but non-practicing Catholics – who get married sacramentally, when you know they are not practicing, but they’re Catholics?

16. Same sex union, and the pastoral care of the children, because some of them have adopted

Challenges to a school of theology

These are some of the critical and difficult situations. What are some of the challenges to a school of theology?

The survey indicated a fluidity – the fluidity of a temporary understanding of family and marriage. In the past, we had a stable understanding of marriage. A man and a woman. Now it’s fluid, and in fact, some reports said, there are moves to delete or remove the word “marriage” because the word is too confining. The word marriage involves only a man and a woman, so they say remove that and replace it with union because it is more open – a man and a man, a woman and a woman, a man and a woman, a man and a chair ! We don’t want to be restricted. We want to use marriage and then find a man, but we’re limited by that word to choose a woman, but if we use the word union – ahhh – it’s now open.

This is related to the shifts in anthropology – understanding the human person, the understanding of freedom, the understanding of conscience. How can the Christian institutes of learning contribute to the whole discussion?

Going to our pastoral responses – it was also indicated that the Holy Father was deeply touched by this. In most of the reports, we were told that couples in irregular marital situations feel shamed and even condemned by the Church. They feel that because of the irregularity of their situation they don’t belong to the Church and the Church does not have room for them so they distance themselves.

So the question arose then – how do we reach out to them and assure them that in the Church they still find a community and home? How can we pastorally guide them, especially their children? How can we help them draw hope especially in their painful situation? And the Holy Father even list some questions because in some Churches children are denied Baptism when the pastors learn that the parents are in an irregular canonical situation.

So for theologians, the question raised for us to reflect on is what are sacraments? Are sacraments rewards to the righteous? Are sacraments to be used as punishment – in this case -of innocent children? Can we deny sacraments to children who belong to families that are in irregular canonical and sacramental situations? How do we blend these formulas in Christian teaching yet showing the hope that God offers to people in painful situations?

Let me go to the last portion. This is supposed to be a theological hour, so the third section is titled Openness to Life – the transmission of life and parental responsibility in upbringing of children. This section I think is very much welcome. It talks about openness to life. Openness to the transmission of life – the whole issue of contraception, the whole question of individualistic mentality, that is brought into our attitude about life and the transmission of life were very much present in those questions.

Related to the issue of contraception and individualism are also what we have already mentioned are the difficult shifts in anthropology and the understanding of the human person, the gender ideology, and so the questions therefore of fatherhood and motherhood….and the entry of the gender issue and same sex marriage and what happens to concepts of fatherhood and motherhood. I remember there was a movie titled “Ang Tatay kong Nanay” something like that. So what happens to motherhood? Is that concept still valid? Is it an empty concept? What happens to fatherhood?

Responses also said that the teaching of Humanae Vitae and other documents of the Church should be captured and transmitted in its fullness for they are not teachings about contraception and natural methods, but about the decisive human experience of love. This is the main context and should be the main context in our discussion of the openness to life and the transmission of life. It’s not just about a method, it’s about an experience of a radical and decisive experience of loving that makes you generous to life.

This section included the transmission of the faith in the transmission of life. So the whole question of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist – and they ask the question why are parents hesitant to transmit the faith? Why do they pass on the responsibility to Catholic schools and catechists? If you run a Catholic school, you hear parents say this often: “That’s why I sent my child to your school for you to teach him or her about the faith!” I say, “Well, what are you doing better? That’s part of transmission of life, you transmit the faith also. Why are you making us the surrogate transmitters of life and faith?” It seems to be a universal experience. They hire a catechist, they hire tutors, they send their children to Catholic schools and say, that’s your mission – transmit the Catholic faith to them while the parents do nothing. The question is why? Why are they hesitant to do that?

Manila catechists and Catholic school teachers -NJ Viehland Photos

Manila catechists’ and Catholic school teachers’ conference on family -NJ Viehland Photos

Transmission of life and faith must be a concerted effort of the wider Christian family – of the schools, the parishes, the lay movements with special attention to the godparents. They said if the child comes from a family with an irregular situation, maybe we can tap more fully the godparents for the transmission of the faith. But then again, the question is how do we choose godparents and are godparents still aware of their role in the transmission of faith? Parang (As if) it’s a whole review of the whole sacramental practice also.

And because of migration, we said we should take care of the grandparents who are now parenting their grandchild. In fact some grandparents are requesting for seminars on parenting their grandchildren. They said I’m supposed to be a grandfather, not a father to these children. How do I conduct myself as a father when I am a grandfather? I don’t know whether it is an academic question or an existential question. That’s why grandparents spoil their grandchildren – because they’re behaving like grandparents, not as parents. What do you say to the children, and what pastoral program do we have to equip grandparents as parents?

And finally they say, in all of this, can we be creative and joyful in our approach to the family? This is the complexity of the issue. Any person, any group who claims they have clearly defined answers to all of these questions and difficulties are deluding themselves. That’s why this synod in October will be spent on how, and serious listening, and entering worlds that are not familiar to us – the complexity of issues, the diversity of cultures and situations.

When we engaged in one discussion of the canonical nullity of marriage the Holy Father pointed to the full will. He said maybe many marriages are not valid because of lack of will. Playing devil’s advocate, I said, what do you say to this: In Asia, there are some cultures that arrange marriages and spouses meet each other a few days before marriage, or the day before marriage. I know a couple of Chinese descent. Their marriage is arranged. They just celebrated their 40th anniversary of marriage. The four children, their marriages were not arranged. They were free to court anyone, they were free to get married to anyone, unfortunately, three of those marriages ended up in separation. Which is the valid marriage? Will we declare arranged marriage as invalid for lack of will? And declare those separated as marriages still valid because you chose and while they chose, they separated.

That question of mine ilicited a response from an African bishop. That bishop said that is happening in some sub-cultures in Africa. He said the key is with arranged marriage, clans intervene when there are problems and they help the couple to sustain their marriage. So the complexity of the issue – it’s just fascinating to listen to each other – and the invitation to institutes of higher learning to contribute through research and pastoral creativity to resolve our debate.

The whole spirit, according to the Holy Father, is that of pastoral solicitude – pastoral solicitude that upholds doctrinal integrity, yet mindful of the imperfection of the human condition. Yes, we have the ideal. But how do we guide and lead people broken and weak and sinful to the ideal? How do we give hope to those who have missed the ideal? Part of the spirit is to celebrate the heroism and the beauty that we find in couples who have remained committed to their marriage and to their families.

The Holy Father, from the beginning of his pontificate, has emphasized that “the Lord never tires of forgiving: never! It is we who tire of asking his forgiveness.” (Angelus, 17 March 2013). This accent on mercy has had a great impact even in matters relating to marriage and the family, in that, far removed from every kind of moralism, it confirms the Christian outlook on life and opens new possibilities for the future, no matter what the personal limitations or the sins committed. God’s mercy is an opening to an ongoing conversion and a continuous rebirth.

========

END OF NOTES [for official transcript, contact Loyola School of Theology, Theological Hour]

Hong Kong Cardinal Tong appeals to SAR gov’t, protesters – Document

Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong has appealed to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government to exercise restraint on the second day of Occupy Central protests after police sprayed tear gas on people who had massed up in Hong Kong’s Central district and surrounding neighborhoods for the civil disobedience movement. 

Cardinal Tong also appealed to the tens of thousands of protesters, including young students, to keep calm, as he urged Christians to pray for peaceful reconciliation of the conflicting parties in the protests. 

Earlier on Monday, Assistant Commissioner of Police Cheung Tak-Keung told a press conference that around 41 people, including 12 police were injured when protesters charged through police cordon lines yesterday in what media called the “Umbrella Revolution” because people carried umbrellas for protection against tear gas.

Cheung said police warned oncoming protesters and gave them time to comply with orders. He said police used tear gas 87 times in nine locations yesterday. They also resorted to using pepper spray and batons to keep their distance and prevent injuries, the commissioner said. He said police used “minimum force.”

By paralyzing Hong Kong’s financial hub, Occupy Centeral with Love and Peace protests aim to press for democratic change, mainly in allowing citizens to freely choose their top leaders.

Media around the world have been following the protests since they began on Sunday.

 

 

Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong appeals for Hong Kong-SAR government restrain and calm from protesters - Hong Kong Church Document

Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong appeals for Hong Kong-SAR government restrain and calm from protesters – Hong Kong Church Document

Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong appeals for Hong Kong-SAR government restraint and calm from protesters - Hong Kong Church Document

Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong appeals for Hong Kong-SAR government restraint and calm from protesters – Hong Kong Church Document

CBCP statement on the proposed Bangsamoro law – Document

Sr Cecilia Espenilia OP with Muslim girl in Luneta. - NJ Viehland Photo

Sr Cecilia Espenilia OP with Muslim girl in Luneta. – NJ Viehland Photo

Following is the CBCP President’s statement sent to Catholic in Asia in Manila, Sept. 27, 2014

PEACE BE WITH YOU! ASSALAMU  ALAIKUM! 

CBCP Statement on the Bangsa Moro Proposed Law

 

When Jesus, the Lord, breathed his Spirit and his peace on the apostles, he did so as the fulfillment and summation of all that he had been sent to be and to do for the world!  Peace is therefore God’s gift.  We must cooperate with God, for we can and often do stand in the way of peace.  But we must pray for it and never, for a moment, think that we can, by our cleverness, calculation and strategic craft win it for ourselves!

Hopes for Peace

The Executive Branch has submitted to the Legislature a bill that, if passed, will become the organic law of the political entity already called “Bangsamoro”.  Many in Mindanao — and the government itself — pin their hopes on this latest attempt at what is hoped will be a definitive solution to the beautiful land of Mindanao that has, unfortunately, seen so much violence and has had so much of Filipino blood — Muslim and Christian alike — spilled on its soil!  The CBCP stands with the government and with all earnestly seek and strive after peace.  It commends the efforts not only of the present peace panel that, together with representatives of Muslim Mindanao, has hammered out the accord that presaged the introduction of the bill, but also those of earlier peace panels under prior administrations.  The dream of peace in Mindanao has been a common national aspiration for a very long time now.

Dialogue and Debate with Charity

The CBCP now urges the Legislature to do its part: To study the measure assiduously, to debate it vigorously and to place the interests of the nation and the vision of lasting, principled peace before every petty consideration.  Let those who have reservations to the proposal, or even those who oppose it, speak their minds freely, coherently and without reserve, and let those who advocate it argue as strenuously in its defense, for only in the context of intelligent — but charitable — discourse can we hope for a reasonable outcome and resolution.  The lessons we have learned from the painful conflicts that now rend apart the troubled nations of the Middle East should leave no doubt that, to be enduring and acceptable, any settlement, any organic act, any piece of constitutive legislation must be as inclusive as possible.  We particularly insist on the participation in the exchange and debate of the members of the indigenous cultural communities and the indigenous peoples in Mindanao.  It would violate the tenets of social justice to ignore them under the pretext of going by the desires of the majority!

Inclusive and Embracing

The effort the government has taken to arrive at an agreement acceptable to all Filipinos underscores the premium that must be placed on the political and territorial integrity of the entire country.  History — guided by The Lord of History — has fashioned our nation as one.  Let us keep it one — in that variety of ethnicities, cultures, languages and peoples that makes it one of the most alluring pieces of Divine workmanship in the world.

The emergence of Bangsamoro should not mean the exclusion of any Filipino from any part of the country by reason of religious belief, ethnicity or language.  Our Muslim brothers and sisters have found their way through various parts of the archipelago, settling in many provinces heretofore almost exclusively peopled by Christians.  As far as we know, they have been welcomed, received and respected.  It is our hope that Christians too may receive hospitality in those parts of the one Republic that, by legislation, may be marked out as Bangsamoro.

Let every Filipino turn to the same God, the one Father of us all with the fervent prayer: Make me an instrument of your peace!

September 28, 2014, San Lorenzo Ruiz Feast

 

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. – NJ Viehland Photos

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
    Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
    CBCP President

Cardinal Tagle on laying the ground for synod on family, Part I

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, and one of three presidents of the Oct. 5-19 extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, explained the first 2 synodal assembly being held in a row, which Pope Francis is convening this year and next year. - NJ Viehland photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, and one of three presidents of the Oct. 5-19 extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, explained the first 2 synodal assembly being held in a row, which Pope Francis is convening this year and next year. – NJ Viehland photos

[unofficial transcript of Cardinal Tagle’s Lecture at the Theological Hour of Loyola School of Theology at Ateneo de Manila University, Sept. 3, 2014]

Good morning to everyone.

Thank you for heeding the invitation of Loyola School of Theology for us to reflect on the Instrumentum Laboris of the upcoming Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

To give you a bit of background, this is a first in the history of the Church and the Synod of Bishops. Why?

This is the first time that two synod assemblies will happen in a row.

I was elected a member of the Council of the Synod of Bishops in 2012 and in our meeting we were planning already the Synod of Bishops on 2015 for the general assemblies usually take place every three years, and next year will be special. It would mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Synod of Bishops.

But the surprise already came – Pope Francis – and he said, “I want a synodal process, not just a synodal assembly, a process.” So – two assemblies to be held successively. The first would be an extraordinary assembly and followed here by the ordinary assembly.

That caused a lot of confusion in our Council. How do you relate an extraordinary assembly to an ordinary assembly? Will the participants of the extraordinary assembly – who by the way, will be restricted to the presidents of the episcopal conferences – will they agree to be simply the introduction to the ordinary assembly that will happen in 2015?

The Holy Father gave us the direction. The extraordinary assembly to be held this October will analyze information, testimonies, and recommendations in order to respond more accurately to the new challenges to the family.

In the year 2015 the ordinary assembly will reflect on the analyses and the points emerging from the extraordinary assembly in order to formulate appropriate pastoral guidelines.

So the assembly this October will focus on the status quaestionis (state of investigation, survey results) . It’s really a bit more descriptive and next year in 2015 there we find a more directive approach in terms of pastoral guidelines to be given.

So the Holy Father says we cannot in three weeks do everything – listen in one week and the next week give directives. So we will spend time listening, analyzing and entering the complexity of the concerns of the families and let it simmer, let it percolate and then after a year let us gather again and with more representation of the bishops, lay people and the religious, after a long period of listening, maybe we can indicate pastoral directives.

So this is the first time a synodal process will be held this way. So please pray for it. The Holy Father was not fazed when we presented him questions about the identity and the foresight of both assemblies. He said, how will you issue directives and guidelines if you do not first study, listen, enter the world of the families?

Now, for some dates:

This process of listening started in Oct. 2013. A set of questions was sent to episcopal conferences – nine questions.

What do they cover?

The 1st set of questions concerns the diffusion of the teachings on family in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s magisterium:

- How is the teaching of the Church disseminated?

- How is it proclaimed and how is it received?

The 2nd set of questions is on marriage according to the natural law. For so long in time, it is through the Natural Law Theory that the Church hopes to dialogue with people of other faiths – other religions.

The 3rd is the pastoral care of the family in evangelization. Let us not forget that. It’s not only pastoral care of the family, but pastoral care of the family in the whole mission of the Church on evangelization.

The 4th is the pastoral care of families in certain difficult marital situations.

The 5th, on unions of persons of the same sex.

The 6th, the education of children in irregular marriages

The 7th, the openness of married couples to life and the transmission of life.

Eighth, the relationship between the family and the person – so the anthropological dimension of the whole concern

and the ninth is other challenges and proposals

So the episcopal conferences who had concerns not covered by the eight questions were free to indicate – and, I tell you – the list of that ninth item was longer than the responses to the first eight.

We were told to work fast so that by Jan. of 2014 the responses would have reached the secretary of the Synod of Bishops for analysis.

I don’t know what your dioceses did, but we were encouraged to bring the questionnaire to the grassroots, like to make the questions the matter for discussion in the Basic Ecclesial Communities or family gatherings so that we cull responses not only from bishops, priests and religious, but also from lay people – most especially from lay people.

And we were happy to note that while we were gathering and synthesizing the reports from the different dioceses from the Philippines we realized that a good number of lay people on their own responded to the questions and said they submitted their responses. So even if they did not belong to any Church organization, BEC or were not part of the parish consultation, they submitted their responses. So they were incorporated in the report on responses coming from the Philippines. But of course in the process, we have to summarize and summarize so the details got “blended in the juice.”

So on Jan. 2014, the Vatican offices got the responses and on June 24, 2014, the summary came out in the form of an Instrumentum Laboris, which is the instrument for the work of the synod.

As I said the primary participants are the presidents of episcopal conferences, but the Holy Father appointed as auditors and even experts a lot of lay people, even couples…. They would even give some conferences to the bishops so that the practitioners of marriage could witness to the happy celibates about the reality of marriage. So it’s a good strategy of our Holy Father – of listening …

With that as background, I would like to present to you, to highlight to you, some of the responses we got, and are incorporated in our Instrumentum Laboris.

End of Part I

Read Part II

Philippines debating the law to give more autonomy to Islamic south

Read story: Draft Law Brings Hope, Faces Challenge of Religious Extremism

Tapatan sa Aristocrat - Bangsamoro Law, (l-r) Melo Acuna, Retired Commodore Rex Robles, Atty. Anne Basman, former DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan III - by NJ Viehland

Tapatan sa Aristocrat – Bangsamoro Law, (l-r) Melo Acuna, Retired Commodore Rex Robles, Atty. Anne Basman, former DILG Secretary Rafael Alunan III – by NJ Viehland

 

Bangsamoro table Basman 2014 09221

Bangsamoro table Rex Roblesm2014 09221

Manila’s street children to Pope Francis : We’re waiting for you

 

Last Sunday, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle left Manila for Rome.

He will hand over to Pope Francis around a thousand letters from children of Tulay ng Kabataan (TNK, bridge of the youth), and a video made by TNK Foundation, a media release from the foundation reported.

What is this  foundation and what is it inviting people to do in the run-up to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines in January? Find out  on the foundation’s website.

Click Dear Holy Father photo to watch their video.

A new Silk Route to world peace and beyond? – Hector Welgampola

Veteran Asian Church journalist Hector Welgampola from Sri Lanka has retired as Executive Editor of the former Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) based in Hong Kong, then Bangkok. Before UCAN, Hector headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka. Since retiring Hector has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita. He authored the resource book Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook.

Veteran Asian Church journalist Hector Welgampola from Sri Lanka

China’s President Xi Jin Ping has just wrapped up a South Asian tour targeting a new Maritime Silk Route. And a papal letter reportedly invites him to retread Marco Polo’s original Silk Route, this time East to West.

A papal invitation

The news of Pope Francis inviting President Xi to visit the Vatican was reported by well-informed Rome journalist Gerard O’Connell. According to O’Connell, whose Argentine-born wife Elisabetta Pique has just published the recentmost papal biography, Pope Francis has sent the invitation through an Argentinian emissary.

The papal letter, reportedly, offers to meet with the Chinese president even in Beijing. It is a sequel to Pope Francis’ earlier-expressed readiness to “visit China tomorrow.” The unprecedented papal initiative independent of the Curia is reminiscent of Saint John XXIII’s innovative moves to build contact with then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Those prophetic moves can have subtle lessons for today as well.

Pope John XXIII and Khrushchev

Pope John was the only recent pope with wide diplomatic experience in Eastern Europe and Western Europe. He also had pastoral wisdom to act decisively and discreetly amid curial dithering. Then curial heavyweights like Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani said contact with the USSR would weaken the faith of Eastern bloc Catholics and give wrong signals to Western nations. 

Despite such curial misgivings, the pope welcomed Khrushchev’s daughter Rada and her husband Adzhuberi to the Vatican. The visitors conveyed warm greetings from the Soviet leader and his appreciation for the pope’s work for world peace. But when Adzhuberi proposed diplomatic relations between the Holy See and USSR, the pope was slow to respond. He used a metaphor, “God did not create the world in just one day!”

Diplomatic relations?

The onetime diplomat intimated his rustic Roncalli bias for people’s pastoral welfare over diplomatic links. “The Vatican has two hands, and we want to shake the two hands of the USSR, that of the State and that of all the members of the Russian Church,” he said.

Pope John’s gutsy pastoral foresight has much wisdom for today, especially for those who consider diplomatic links more important than China Catholics’ welfare.

His informal invitation, “I hope that if Mr Khrushchev visits Rome, both of us will find time for a meeting,” never worked out. Nonetheless, the two genial giants had taken the first steps toward the thaw. It was bigger than man’s first steps on the moon. History was in the making, and the world would never be the same again.

Patriotic Associations

The breakthrough following that thaw helped ease Church-State tensions in the USSR. Already, there had been token actions like the freeing of Ukranian Archbishop Josyf Slipyj from detention. Over time, other similar moves followed within the Soviet bloc.

Improved Church-State relations weakened patriotic Catholic associations such as Hungary’s Opus Pax, and Czechoslovakia’s Pacem in Terris. When Yugoslavia’s Church-State dialogue grew, groups like Cyril Methodius Society lost their grip over religious affairs.

Confucian insights

What started with Khrushchev greetings for Pope John’s 80th birthday launched a momentum in Eastern Europe. Its worldwide impact endures still even though the two leaders never met. Will Pope Francis’ letter to President Xi open another historic chapter in world history?

The leader of China’s 1.3 billion people may need time and space to reflect on and respond to the humble gesture by the leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. Whatever may be its outcome, the papal letter was a Jesus moment like Matteo Ricci’s overtures to Confucian culture. Once more, history is in via, with an invitation to leaven world peace with Confucian insights. The Lord of history knows that its ultimate end result lies beyond the control of either pope or president.

****************

Hector Welgampola has retired as Executive Editor of the former Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) based in Hong Kong, then Bangkok. Before UCAN, Hector headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka. Since retiring Hector has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita. He authored the resource book Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook.  Write himwelgampo@gmail.com 

Tagle: Responses to synod on family survey reveal ‘much work’ left to do

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, and one of three presidents of the Oct. 5-19 extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, explained the first 2 synodal assembly being held in a row, which Pope Francis is convening this year and next year. - NJ Viehland photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, and one of three presidents of the Oct. 5-19 extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, explained the first 2 synodal assembly being held in a row, which Pope Francis is convening this year and next year. – NJ Viehland photos

 

Quezon City – The situation of families presents “an invitation to institutes of higher learning to contribute through research and pastoral creativity to resolve our debate,” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle told professors, students and guests at the Loyola School of Theology’s Theology Hour lecture series on Sept. 3.

Read full report 

Cardinal Tagle to lead Manila’s “Walk for Climate”

Cardinal Luis Tagle with two young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) after his dialogue with People Surge survivors' group at his residence in Intramuros, Manila April 8, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Tagle with two young survivors of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) after his dialogue with People Surge survivors’ group at his residence in Intramuros, Manila April 8, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Tagle will show solidarity with Global March for Climate by leadIng the “Walk for Climate” on  Friday, Sept. 19,  after the Mass at the Manila Cathedral at 6:30 a.m., the archdiocese’s office of communications announced.

Walk for Climate highlights the Season of Creation observed in the archdiocese and 11 dioceses around it from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4.

The archdiocese through the activity calls for urgent action against climate change. Parish stations will carry messages on the environment calling  government to take urgent steps to reduce climate risk by stopping the use of coal plants for energy generation, and by stopping aggressive and destructive developments such as reclamations, agricultural land conversions, and mining.

Quezon City press conference on climate change, NJ Viehland

Quezon City press conference on climate change, NJ Viehland

Participants will walk from the Cathedral stop at the Our Lady of the Pillar Church (Sta. Cruz Church), to proceed to other churches in the city, in a relay manner: St. Vincent de Paul in San Marcelino, San Fernando de Dilao in Paco, St. Joseph the Worker in Palanan, Santa Clara de Montefalco in Pasay. It will end at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church).

Bishops and priests of the ecclesiastical province will celebrate the Mass then join the walk along with environment officials from the government led by Commissioner Yeb Sano.

Participants are expected to come from Archdiocese of Manila, the Dioceses of Malolos, San Pablo, Imus, Antipolo, Novaliches, Cubao, Caloocan, Parañaque, Pasig and the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa and Tanay.

The archdiocese through the activity calls for urgent action against climate change. Parish stations will carry messages on the environment urging government to take urgent steps to reduce climate risk by stopping the use of coal plants for energy generation, and by stopping aggressive and destructive developments such as reclamations, agricultural land conversions, and mining.

Participants will walk from the Cathedral stop at the Our Lady of the Pillar Church (Sta. Cruz Church), to proceed to other churches in the city, in a relay manner: St. Vincent de Paul in San Marcelino, San Fernando de Dilao in Paco, St. Joseph the Worker in Palanan, Santa Clara de Montefalco in Pasay. It will end at the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (Baclaran Church).

Bishops and priests of the ecclesiastical province will celebrate the Mass then join the walk along with environment officials from the government led by Commissioner Yeb Sano.

Participants are expected to come from Archdiocese of Manila, the Dioceses of Malolos, San Pablo, Imus, Antipolo, Novaliches, Cubao, Caloocan, Parañaque, Pasig and the Apostolic Vicariates of Puerto Princesa and Tanay.

 

 

Cardinal Quevedo: Church’s shared mission of portraying God’s love, justice and peace

 

Quevedo Ateneo Award NJ Viehland

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop of Cotabato in southern Philippines accepted Sept. 16 the Bukas Palad (open hands) Award from the Jesuits’ Ateneo de Manila University. In his response, he reminded people attending the special school convocation that every member of the Church shares in the “common mission” of showing others that God loves them and plans to let truth, justice and peace prevail.

Following are excerpts from Cardinal Quevedo’s message delivered after he accepted the citation from Ateneo President Father Jose Ramon Villarin,

 

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Sept. 16, 2014, Quezon City - by NJ Viehland

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Sept. 16, 2014, Quezon City – by NJ Viehland

… Most profoundly I thank the Ateneo de Manila University, its Board of Trustees, its distinguished president Fr. Villarin, and the Awards Committee for this meaningful award. I am deeply humbled by the award.
Quevedo citation Ateneo NJ Viehland
For forming me to be a missionary to the poor, my vocation which is the basis of this award, I thank my religious congregation, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI). To portray the Lord’s Gospel to the poor, to be specialists in difficult missions… that is the charism handed down to every Oblate by our founder Saint Eugene de Mazenod. 
This is the reason that we Oblates of Mary Immaculate have chosen to work among the people of Maguindanao, Tawi-tawi and Sulu.

Quevedo Ateneo Bukas Palad NJ Viehland

Most of all I thank the Lord, the giver of all good gifts. Everything that I am, everything that people say I have merited because of certain modicum  of skill or talent, everything is simply and absolutely God’s gratuitous gift.
All is grace, said Saint Therese, and that quotation also was given also by our mathematician.
I’m afraid to sit beside her …after…if I pass addition, then I can do the rest….She quoted Rahner – quite understandably, she quoted a Jesuit … 

Quevedo Ruiz Ateneo Awards NJ Viehland

Yes, everything is grace. There are no surprises. There are no coincidences. And if coincidences are really signs of God’s providence, then truly providential it must be to be made an Oblate cardinal and receive honors in this year of the Lord 2014, the 75th year of Oblate missionary presence in the Philippines. We will wait for our own suppression. Then we will celebrate restorationIt is also the 50th anniversary this year of my priestly ordination.
But from a wider perspective, this award reminds us of our common mission to portray God’s reign of salvation. God’s reign of justice and peace, of truth and love, particularly for the poor and the marginalized. Let us all keep our mission focus as priest and bishop. “The reign of God,” “the reign of justice and peace.” That perspective is indeed deeply related to the Christian identity – my identity and yours. To be Christian is nothing more and nothing less than to be disciple in mission.
This is the emphasis given to the Christian identity by our own pope – Pope Francis [another Jesuit. At least we now know that there is an infallible Jesuit.]
For being a missionary disciple is to tell the story of Jesus – the God made poor for our sins. Jesus who walked and lived among the poor, Gentile or Jew, to be ultimately their peace.
The dialogue of Jesus with a non-Jew, the double negativity of being a Samaritan and a woman…
I’m very happy that there is finally a woman awardee for Lux in Domino Award for the Ateneo. It’s a good beginning for the Ateneo. (I am a Jesuit product, so I can make jokes about them…)
The dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman has to be a paradigm for building harmony and peace in our country today. We live in the cusp of Philippine history where just and lasting peace in Mindanao is in the final stages of realization – of mutual respect and understanding, persistence, patience, the wisdom of peace negotiators the past thirty years are God’s gifts for the peace process.
Cardinal Orlando Quevedo's birthday guests included former Muslim autonomous region officials - by NJ Viehland

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo’s birthday guests included former Muslim autonomous region officials – by NJ Viehland

When finally peace will have been realized, whatever contributions I may have given to it, and to the integral development of indigenous peoples and poor farmers in my own Archdiocese of Cotabato, all those are God’s gifts that we may be in solidarity with one another day by day, my dear friends – solidarity among us peoples of different cultures and beliefs as we live. Saint John Paul II has observed, “The fruit of solidarity is peace.”
Once again, thank you very much.

Catholic Women educators weigh in on discussion of Filipino family ahead of synod

From left: Father Ruben Tanseco, SJ, Eleonor R. Dionisio, Agnes Brazal, PhD, Mary Racelis, PhD, Emma E. Porio, PhD gave presentations and a reaction at the Symposium on the Filipino Family: Catholic and Women's Perspective, Sept. 13, Ateneo de Manila University. - By NJ Viehland

From left: Father Ruben Tanseco, SJ, Eleonor R. Dionisio, Agnes Brazal, PhD, Mary Racelis, PhD, Emma E. Porio, PhD gave presentations and a reaction at the Symposium on the Filipino Family: Catholic and Women’s Perspective, Sept. 13, Ateneo de Manila University. – By NJ Viehland

Inspired by Pope Francis’ challenge to the Church to “broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church,” the Theology Department of the Jesuits’ Ateneo de Manila in Quezon City organized a symposium to  allow women to voice out their perspectives on issues in their field of expertise relevant to situations Filipino families face today.

Symposium organizers said the discussions are timely as the Church prepares to hold the Synod on the Family in the Vatican October 5-19, 2014 and in 2015 .

Leaders in various disciplines tackled the concerns, new trends, and experiences Filipino families undergo in a “patriarchal context wherein patriarchy is still hardly articulated,” organizers wrote in their symposium description. They said using the  interdisciplinary approach aims to bridge gaps and intensify present connections between religious beliefs and the wealth of knowledge from culture, the secular arts, and sciences.

Presenters and their topics included:

• “The Catholic Church in the Philippines: Some Perspectives on Gender and Public Policy on the Family” by Eleanor R. Dionisio 

• “Women, Family and the Church in a Changing Society: An Introduction to the Socio-Cultural Issues” by Mary Racelis, Ph.D

• “Gender and Family Dynamics: Building Climate Resilience Among the Urban Poor” by Emma E. Porio, Ph.D

• “Gender Roles in the Context of Feminization of Migration: Challenge to Papal Teachings?” by Agnes M. Brazal, Ph.D

• Reaction: Fr. Ruben Tanseco, SJ from the Center for Family Ministries (CeFam)

[more]

Sri Lanka Cardinal Ranjith: Don’t politicize pope’s visit

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo has urged the government and the opposition to refrain from using Pope Francis’ visit as a political tool, amid speculation that snap presidential polls will be declared early next year.

Full report in Daily FT

Bishops’ Conference president hails national basketball team, values in sports

Gilas Pilipinas vs Senegal - screengrab YouTube

Gilas Pilipinas vs Senegal – screengrab YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cD36kglSyE

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) praised the Philippines basketball team that competed in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain for their teamwork, for fighting fairly and spreading goodwill and hope.

Archbishop Villegas’ statement was posted on Veritas 846 website Sept. 11, two days after the GILAS Pilipinas contingent arrived in Manila from winning one out of five games in its group. The team that won in overtime against Senegal 81-79 after losing to Argentina, Croatia, Greece  and Puerto Rico is preparing to leave for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, minus its towering American-born center, Andray Blatche, a naturalized Filipino.

Gilas in Tagalog language translates to gallantry or mettle among other things in English.

Read the full statement of CBCP’s president On the Lessons from GILAS PILIPINAS

For the first time in forty years, a Filipino basketball team, GILAS, a name that has captured the imagination as well as carried the hopes of our countrymen, represented the country in the FIBA competitions. We may not have reaped a harvest of victories, but GILAS certainly won the admiration of many, Filipinos and foreigners alike.

The CBCP commends the members of the team and joins an ecstatic nation in hailing their admirable endeavour! Our victories have been sweet, our defeats, honorable!

FAIRNESS. Sports can and should be a promising vehicle of evangelization, for fairness is its fundamental rule. Fairness that goes by the sublime name of justice is the fundamental aspiration of our nation. It is the hope of the CBCP that as the nation understood the necessity that games be fairly played, it also learned the precious lesson that whether in the life of the individual or of the community or of the State, things ought to be fair just at all times.

UNITY. The players came from different nations — different in race, language, belief and ideology — but these differences did not stand in the way of the camaraderie and the sportsmanship that gave sports-lovers the world over a welcome respite from the cruel realities that hound us daily. We can overcome the differences that set us apart when we set our hearts to it. When we choose to be friendly towards each other, even if we must compete, we can all have fun. Happier and fuller lives come with the acceptance of others and with a healthy respect for differences. GILAS and the other teams that joined FIBA learned this. So did we!

GILAS has sowed seeds of goodwill, understanding and friendship. Let all nurture their flourishing with hearts of goodwill, thoughts of peace and feet firmly treading the ways of friendship. Mabuhay ang GILAS!

September 11, 2014

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
CBCP President

Aquino sends Bangsamoro draft law to congress, kicks off stakeholders’ dialogues

Cotabato,NJ Viehland

Cotabato,NJ Viehland

President Benigno Aquino III has submitted to the Philippine Congress the proposed law providing for the establishment of the Bangsamoro political entity that is seen as key to establishing and promoting peace and development in the southern Philippines.

Bangsamoro entity created by the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)

An update from the Institute on Autonomy and Government (IAG) reported that the Senate and House of Representatives can now proceed to deliberate on the draft law. 

Congressman Rufus Rodriguez will chair the Special Committee that will take up the proposed law in the Lower House. The House of Representatives will create a 75-member ad hoc committee to “review, evaluate and propose legislation” based on the draft BBL.

Its functions include:

* Study, deliberate on and act upon all measures referred to it inclusive of bills, resolutions and petitions, and recommend for approval or adoption by the House those that, in its judgment, advance the interests and promote thr welfare of the people;

* Establish appropriate system and procedures to ensure that constituencies, sectors and groups are given sufficient opportunities to be heard;

* Pursue dialogues and consultations with affected sectors and constituencies;

* Require the submission of studies, research and position papers;

* Engage the services and assistance of experts and professionals from the public or private sector as may be needed;

* Conduct hearings and inquiries in aid of legislation on matters within its jurisdiction;

* Act on measures referred to it and render a report to the plenary for its consideration.

Senate discussions will be led by the Committee on Local Government, chaired by Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. Members include Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (Vice chair) and member Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino, Pia Cayetano, Manuel Lapid, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III, Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, Grace Poe. Senators Ralph Recto, Alan Peter Cayetano and Juan Ponce Enrile are Ex-Officio members.

IAG in an e-group notice said with the NGO Philippine Center  for Islam and Democracy (PCID) it will continue to report on deliberations on the BBL in Congress.

In Cotabato City, southern Philippines, the institute will collaborate with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines political foundation, Notre Dame University of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation (NDBC) and launch a series of talk shows to foster understanding of the proposed BBL.

The talkshop series will bring together members of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), experts, civil society leaders, and key stakeholders to discussions, analysis and debates on the salient features of the BBL certified as urgent by the President for approval by Congress.

IAG senior policy adviser, Oblate Fr. Eliseo Mercado Jr., meanwhile will reconvene the Bangsamoro Study Circle group in a series of special sessions to study the draft bill for greater participation of stakeholders in the discussion of the issues that confront the general public.

Concerned people are invited to study the proposed law and submit their views and opinion on the draft law to info@iag.org.ph , which will publish  comments on its website’s opinion section. 

IAG will also publish updates on Facebook and Twitter @IAGorgph using hashtag #BBLWatch 

Remembering Sri Lankan Catholic cinematographer Andrew Jayamanne – Hector Welgampola

Andrew Jayamanne - screen grab, YouTube, Anura Amarasingha

Andrew Jayamanne – screen grab, YouTube, Anura Amarasingha

A Catholic cinematographer’s unscreened trail of service and travail

“My faith is my life and I will never betray it,” said Andrew Jayamanne in a message to friends soon after leaving Sri Lanka over two yeas ago. It clarified the truth about media distortion of an interview he had given before joining his sons working in Italy.

Witness to truth was the consistent criteria in the life and work of this Catholic cinematographer and media guru, who passed away recently in Italy, at age 71. After colleagues, pupils and fans farewelled him at Colombo’s National Art Gallery, his remains were interred in his native village on Sept. 7.

Though values of truth and transparency are not too popular in today’s media world, the late Jayamanne had assimilated them as part of faith life. Heir to a value heritage so eminently evidenced by the life of his granduncle, the late Cardinal Thomas Cooray, his spirituality was nurtured in Periyamulla parish. His father, Vincent Jayamanne, led the parish as lifelong Church warden. Beatrice, his gracious mother, was a model of Catholic motherhood, and their home was a stoic school for life.

Jayamanne had his early education at the village Catholic School and Colombo’s Minor Seminary. He began honing cinematic skills under the guidance of another great son of Periyamulla, Father Ignatius Perera, founder director of Radio Electronics, Colombo. The priest’s home-grown holistic spirituality had made him equally at ease in conducting the Vatican choir as in solving technical problems of then Radio Ceylon. And Jayamanne was blessed with the privilege of assimilating the techno-artistic versatility and simplicity of that many-talented genius.

As young Jayamanne graduated from cameraman, to scriptwriter, filmcritic cinedirector and media guru, his Christian simplicity and genuine humanity outshone all talents and attributes. Even as a top cinematographer, he was equally available to high-brow professionals as to no-brow amateurs.

Being very much a people person, he drew no distinction between classical cinema and popular cinema. His professionalism echoed what Pope Francis said recently about film culture. Antonio Spadoro’s book “Pope Francis” summed up the preferred papal view of media in these words: “The classic work is the one that everyone can somehow feel as their own, not something that belongs to a small group of refined connoisseurs,” That indeed was part of the media values Jayamanne sought to cultivate through the pioneer media training courses he ran for OCIC. His teaching skills came to be much valued throughout the country as well as beyond.

Andrew Jayamanne - screen grab, YouTube, Anura Amarasingha

Andrew Jayamanne – screen grab, YouTube, Anura Amarasingha

From the 1970s onward, his career peaked over three decades. With some 30 movies and an equal number of teledramas to his credit, Jayamanne’s accolades included a dozen media awards. But accolades never went into his head, and his heart never swayed from his steadfast value base. His reluctance to trade principles for opportunism, however, gradually undermined his career. Bowed but not broken, he found much rewarding experience as a media guru until he decided to take a break away from the local media minefield.

Jayamanne’s decision to leave Sri Lanka did cause a major flutter in local filmdom as well as in political circles. A sense of guilt prompted attempts at last-minute remedial measures. But they were too little too late. The cancer of professional undercutting and opportunism had already begun to erode his spirit. His final ailment was only its physical manifestation. However, the million dollar question remains whether both his welfare and the training of future artistes could not have been better achieved if Church and State media agencies had continued to better harness his energies. Therein also lies the cue to this media mahatma’s unscreened saga of witness to truth.
May the Divine Artiste unravel its lessons while Andrew Jayamanne returns to the heavenly embrace of his ancestors.

Hector Welgampola

Veteran Asian Church journalist Hector Welgampola from Sri Lanka retired Executive Editor of the former Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) based in Bangkok. Before joining UCAN, Hector headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka. Since retiring from UCAN Hector has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita. He authored the resource book Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook.

Veteran Asian Church journalist Hector Welgampola from Sri Lanka has retired as Executive Editor of the former Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN) based in Hong Kong, then Bangkok. Before UCAN, Hector headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka. Since retiring Hector has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita. He authored the resource book Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook.

 

 

Catholic bishops dedicate feast of the Holy Cross Masses, collections to persecuted Christians in Syria, Iraq

Novaliches,NJ Viehland

Senakulo, Bagong Silangan parish, Quezon City, Novaliches diocese, Good Friday 2014 by NJ Viehland

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has set a day of prayer for peace in Iraq and Syria on Sunday, Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, has also appealed for a “charity collection”, which must be remitted to the CBCP Secretariat by September 30, 2014 so the aid can be “immediately” transmitted to the Apostolic Nunciatures in Iraq and Syria.

CBCP Archbishop Villegas 2012 NJ Viehland

 

Read Archbishop Villegas’  full statement  dated September 5 and posted Sunday on the FaceBook account of Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila.

Why Pope Francis’ supposed “revolution” isn’t new for some in Asia, Part 2

“The FABC movement in this new world should go faster, especially in that the bishops and lay people begin to be really and truly Catholics who can dialogue.” – Fr. Catalino Arevalo, SJ

children watch priests march Ed Gerlock

Manila scavenger children watch priests rally / contributed by Ed Gerlock edgerlock@yahoo.com

continued from Part 1 

Evangelization through “Triple Dialogue”

According to the statement issued by the first plenary assembly, “Evangelization is the carrying out of the Church’s duty of proclaiming by word and witness the Gospel of the Lord.” The assembly resolved to use dialogue as the approach to evangelization in Asia where Christians comprise only two to three percent of the population in most countries.

This thinking has persisted through the decades and infused programs and initiatives that have gained recognition from inside and outside the organization. Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, a Salesian who served for many years in India’s troubled northeast region and currently chairs the FABC’s Office of Evangelization, is widely quoted for advocating an approach that involves “whispering the Gospel to the soul of Asia.”

FABC X Menamparampil Capalla

Indian Archbishop Thomas Meamparampil [front leftmost] sits next to retired Filipino Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, Dec. 2012, Vietnam / NJ Viehland Photos

In the same spirit of dialogue, FABC-sponsored Radio Veritas Asia  today broadcasts programs with Gospel and moral values that attract non-Christian listeners. The station’s program director says its Myanmar service’s Burmese-language section listeners are predominantly Buddhists.

Asian Family buddhist hindu catholic NJ Viehland

Asian Conference on the Family 2014, Manila / NJ Viehland Photos

FABC documents have detailed an approach to evangelization through dialogue at three levels: with a people’s culture (inculturation), with a country’s religions (interreligious dialogue), and dialogue with the poor.

Subic,NJ Viehland

Indigenous Aeta youth at Franciscan sisters’-run school in Zambales, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

Children share corn Philippines Ed Gerlock

Philippines children share corn / contributed by Ed Gerlock edgerlock@yahoo.com

Fruits and challenges

 The FABC has explored various visions of how to deliver the Gospel to Asia. Apart from its Central Secretariat, it addresses regional concerns in a more focused way largely through its nine offices. Each of them shines the spotlight on a particular concern: evangelization, human development, theological concerns, interreligious dialogue, social communication, education and faith formation, clergy, consecrated life, and laity and family.

 Over the years, the FABC offices have organized activities addressing concerns related to the formation of basic communities, and the situation of youth and women. Last year, it conducted a seminar on climate change and produced FABC Climate Change Declaration.

Legarda BEC prayer by NJ Viehland

BEC members of Legarda urban poor community pray the rosary before meeting to discuss their housing and relocation concerns / NJ Viehland Photos

Marikina, NJ Viehland

Flood in Marikina, NJ Viehland Photos

“The most important fruit of the FABC so far is the gathering of all the bishops of Asia and providing them with a venue where they could share joys and problems,” Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, the emeritus archbishop of Manila who worked with the former FABC commission on the missions, said in an Aug. 25 interview before the assembly.

FABC X / NJ Viehland

from left Cardinal Pham Minh Man of Ho Chi Minh, Indian Archbishop Thomas Menamparampiln and Philippines retired Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales who served as Pope Benedict XVI’s papal legate in Vietnam, 2012 / NJ Viehland Photos

FABC offices organize seminars and formation programs of various types and content, including some that are called Bishops’ Institutes. Many involve exposure trips to host countries. Cardinal Rosales quoted fellow bishops from India and Indonesia who expressed appreciation for such trips, especially those whose dioceses cover areas troubled by armed conflict. He also cited problems with clergy in areas where local Churches could use the FABC’s help. “Without the FABC, individual local Churches would find it hard to solve problems that are shared by other Churches,” he said.

 NJ Viehland Photos

Former officials of the Autonomous Region on in Muslim Mindanao under Moro National Liberation Front leaders joined celebrations for the birthday of Cardinal Orlando Quevedo in Cotabato City and his confirmation as cardinal / NJ Viehland Photos

The cardinal also acknowledged the help that the FABC offers in the formation of priests. “Instead of sending seminarians to Rome and other places in Europe, we were able to arrange through our contact in the FABC further studies of Asian priests and training of seminarians in the Philippines and other countries,” he pointed out.

Theologians have praised the scope and depth of theological reflection documented in FABC publications and FABC Papers. The challenge Father Felix Wilfred presented in volume 1 of the book “For All the Peoples of Asia,” remains “implementing the grand vision of the FABC.”

Pabillo, Egidio / NJ Viehland Photos

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila with lecturer in Islam Abdulhusin Kashi at Sant’ Egidio-organized anti-death penalty dialogue in Mandaluyong City, 2014/ NJ Viehland Photos

Change has already been “very large,” Father Arevalo observed. “I have seen the changes and I am happy with the changes. Now we have many bishops who are very much alive to the problems of the country. Before, it was always in the devotional area only. Not that that is bad. It is very good. But it is not enough anymore in the modern world,” he said.

The renowned theologian acknowledges it is a waste to keep valuable FABC theology in books. “The books have to be read. The books have to be studied. The books have to be lived. The FABC movement in this new world should go faster, especially in that the bishops and lay people begin to be really and truly Catholics who can dialogue.”

END

Interview : Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS, Part 3

 

RGS Sr Borbon NJ Viehland

Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS / NJ Viehland Photos

“It’s a matter of prioritizing, planning. The big resource is attitude. One cannot allow herself to get too bogged down by the many demands.”

Q & A Sr. Borbon continued from Part 2 : Religious life and vocation 

With all your assignments, where do you live?

When I’m in Manila, at night I stay in Ruhama. When I have a meeting that reaches until night time, I do not go there and sleep in RGS Provincial house. In a week I stay at Ruhama about 3-4 nights. But I find time within the week to stop by there. I also talk to the girls every now and then.

The past few weeks I was in the Visayas. We have a big project in Samar to provide boats to fishermen, houses, there is parish work to do and advocacy for ecological justice. This is not a ministry of our congregation but a special project in the sense that typhoon Yolanda suddenly came about and we had to respond.

I am the one coordinating it since the context of this action is within our ecological justice ministry. I am there at least five days a month. This last trip, I arrived here at the end of the month, so I rushed my report because if I don’t submit one for the month, I will not get my budget.

When you were in school work, did you ever imagine you would be doing these lines of work?

Before my graduation from my Masters in Educational Administration in 1996 in Ateneo, I was already in the Euphrasian residence as program coordinator for the youth services that we offered in the past. I was there for two years and I enjoyed it very much.

I had 24 girls with me who were behaviorally disturbed. It felt like there were a hundred! I was very energized by it because I think that’s a passion that I have as a Good Shepherd Sister.

The young women were from broken families and some youths who needed help in dealing with issues of being adopted as children. I found that my training in education and my own personal interest in this kind of work helped to prepare me – in terms of my way of managing, my way of handling and dealing with people, my way of listening, my way of networking with people. After that assignment I was asked to teach in our school in Batangas. I taught for several years and eventually I became the dean. I also studied for a PhD in Educational Leadership and Managment from DLSU. I graduated in 2008.

Did that interest in your younger days point you to RGS?

I graduated from college at 20 years old then at 22 I entered the congregation in 1989. I was in high school when I told myself I will become like one of the sisters of the Good Shepherd school I went to in Batangas. I watched the sisters. I was amused by the way they dealt with us and I wanted to be one of them. I told myself then that one of these days I will be like them.

Before then I taught for two years and as a classroom teacher I wanted so much to listen to the students and I acted on what they would tell me. For example, when they confided that their parents were quarreling, I called for the students and asked them more about their days.

I did not know then that that was already preparation or part of my vocation. I don’t know if that’s my personality at that time. I just wanted to listen more and assist more.

How do you manage all these tasks and look so unfazed?

It’s a matter of prioritizing, planning. The big resource is attitude. One cannot allow herself to get too bogged down by the many demands. There are many things I still have to do, like writing up funding proposal for Ruhama. But first, I am going on a five-day retreat. That helps me also.

END