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.

Message on Ordination of three new bishops for Hong Kong diocese – Cardinal Filoni

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in a message to Hong Kong Diocese on the ordination of three new auxiliary bishops for the diocese reminds that service in the Church must be seen in the light of faith, which “takes place within the communion of the Church.”

Citing Pope Francis’ first encyclical on faith titled Lumen Fidei (Light of Faith), Cardinal Filoni wrote, “In fact, service in the Church must be seen through the eyes of faith, which “is not simply an individual decision, which takes place in the depths of the believer’s heart, nor a completely private relationship… between the autonomous subject and God… (but) always takes place within the communion of the Church” (Lumen Fidei, 39).

He recalled Pope Francis’ vision of service to Christ and to the Gospel presented in his apostolic exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world (Evangelii Gaudium) as demonstration of one’s love for the poor, common good, peace and missionary desire.

Read the full text of  Cardinal Filoni’s message published in the Sept. 6 issue of Sunday Examiner, the weekly news service in the diocese.

 

Good Shepherd Sr. Pilar Verzosa remembered with Pro-Life fund-raising party

Good Shepherd Sister Pilar Verzosa, pioneering head of Pro-Life Philippines, smiles from a picture as Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, retired Archbishop of Manila, blessed her ashes during her funeral Mass at the chapel in the RGS convent in Aurora Blvd, Quezon City, - NJ Viehland Photos

Good Shepherd Sister Pilar Verzosa, pioneer and long-time head of Pro-Life Philippines, smiles from a picture as Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, retired Archbishop of Manila, blessed her ashes during her funeral Mass at the chapel in the RGS convent in Aurora Blvd, Quezon City, – NJ Viehland Photos

Pro-Life Philippines is organizing a “Lugaw Party” (congee/soup party) on September 20, 2014, Saturday, 9:00 a.m-11:00 a.m. at its “new home” on 70 Main Horseshoe Drive, Horseshoe Village, Quezon City, coinciding with the birthday of its late foundress, Good Shepherd Sister Pilar Verzosa.

Cardinal Tagle lecture on Synod on Family – Photo

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-synod assembly being held in a row, which Pope Francis is convening this year and next year. – NJ Viehland photos

Today at Loyola School of Theology.

Five earthquake survivors to dine with Pope Francis – Tagbilaran Bishop Medroso

Bishop Leonardo Medroso of Tagbilaran at CBCP Plenary Assembly, Pope Pius XII Catholic  Center, Manila, 2012. - By Dave Viehland

Bishop Leonardo Medroso of Tagbilaran at CBCP Plenary Assembly, Pope Pius XII Catholic Center, Manila, 2012. – By Dave Viehland

Five survivors of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in central Philippines in 2013 will be among individuals who will meet and eat with Pope Francis when he comes to the Philippines for his pastoral visit in January, Bishop Leonardo Medroso of Tagbilaran said.

Bishop Medroso, whose diocesan territory covers quake-ravaged Bohol province, revealed the plan in an interview on Monday, Sept. 1 with Manila Archdiocese’s Veritas 846. 

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will visit the Philippines from Jan. 15-19 proceeding from his apostolic trip to Sri Lanka.

Bishop Medroso said he still hopes that the Holy Father would swing by Bohol, even for just a short time to visit with residents who suffered effects of the earthquake. Such a visit would inspire them, the bishop said.

“He (Pope Francis) will be going to Palo and we will be sending there some of my people here who were victims of the quake, five of them. They will eat with the Pope. It is also my dream he would come to Bohol, kahit mga (even for just) 1 or 2 hours to counsel our people,” Bishop Medroso said. 

More than 200 people died due to the earthquake and an estimated 300,000 individuals have been affected by the tremor that rocked Bohol, and sections of Negros Oriental and Cebu provinces.

Bishop Medroso reported that aside from 11 Heritage Churches, the earthquake destroyed at least 33 other churches in his diocese.  

He said the diocese has built “alternative churches” and temporary tents where Catholics could gather for Mass. He said the diocese faces the challenge of lack of funds and land to set up churches.

Bishop Medroso stressed, nonetheless, that the Church will continue with its services to the faithful.

The radio report in Tagalog language can be read here.

Filipino soldiers evacuated from Golan Heights – video conference with Manila

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Gregorio Catapang and journalists listened to the head of Philippines troops tell via video conference their story of how they escaped from Syrian rebels who tried to seize their firearms at their post in Position 68, the Golan Heights, and possibly hold them hostage.

Read the inside story of what Catapang has called the “great escape” from Golan of troops led by Captain Nilo Ramones.

In a message Catapang read to the troops, who he described as “warrior peacekeepers”, the AFP chief thanked the United Nations, governments of Israel and Syria and “God almighty” for their role in keeping the troops safe during the crisis.

 Following is the full text of Catapang’s prepared message:

 Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat dyan. (Good morning to all of you there!)

At the onset, let me say w are proud of your service to global peace.

As the eyes of the world and the Philippines were focused on what happening to our Philippine contingent in Golan Heights you have shown to the world and the Filipino people that you can hold on to your sworn duties to maintain the peace in Golan Heights and pursue your mandate – peace amidst adversary.

It was never easy but the calming courage and resolve you have displayed was undeniably world class and this will be forever remembered. Under the guidance and concern of our commander-in-chief along with the Secretary of National Defense and Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the AFP ventured to collectively do everything possible to bring all of you to safety.

With the United Nations at the forefront we also thank the host nations, Israel and Syria, for your support and unwavering commitment during that critical period of the crisis. Certainly the spirit of global “bayanihan” in the itnernational front was working.

Most of all we thank God almight for the successful effort to bring all of you out of harms way. I commend all of the Filipino warrior peacekeepers of the 7th Philippines contingent to Golan Heights for showing to the world what we are made of and for showing them what we can do in the service of peace.

We watched as you stood your ground against groups that seek to destroy the peace in this world. Indeed you have shown so much competence and professionalism during this crisis.

I join the Filipino nation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and your respective families in congratulating all of you for a job well done.

Mabuhay kayoing lahat! Mabuhay ang Armed Forces of the Philippines!

You are a source of national pride. Aas your Chief of Staff, I salute you all!

 

No surrender of “love of God” in educating Filipinos – DepEd Sec De La Salle Bro. Luistro

De La Salle Brother Armin Luistro, Secretary of Education - FaceBook Photo

De La Salle Brother Armin Luistro, Secretary of Education – FaceBook Photo

Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro, a member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle) denied reports that the department he leads has surrendered its vision of learners formed to be “God-loving,” as claimed in various media reports on the department’s revised statement of vision, mission and values (VMV.)

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) the same day  issued a statement lamenting the silence about God in the reworded version of the  vision statement.

Brother Luistro explained the new statement of the department’s VMV in a post on the DepEd’s website Friday, Aug. 29. He stressed that the statement of vision, mission and values must be taken in its entirety. Doing so would show that the term “God-loving” remains as a value that the department seeks to promote as stated in the word “Maka-Diyos”, its synonym in Filipino language.

He said specifying the formation of students who are  God-loving, pro-people, pro-environment and patriotic allows values education teachers to develop modules that will form persons of integrity who live out their faith and convictions, while avoiding pietism or ritualism.

“We do not have any fundamental disagreement therefore with the position of various groups who wish to promote the love of God among our learners.”

He also affirmed the constitutional principle of “benevolent neutrality” towards religion and spirituality. He said the department will continue to promote the spirit of inclusivity and remain open to dialogue.

Brother Luistro’s complete statement reads:

On 4 September 2013, I released DepEd Order No. 36 s. 2013 in order to update the Agency’s directions and further strengthen our capacity to fulfill our constitutional mandate.  The review of our Vision and Mission was anchored on the Filipino Core Values of *Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan and Makabansa as articulated in Section 40, Republic Act 8491. [*pro-God, pro-human being, pro-environment, patriotic]

Recent media reports have mistakenly attributed to me claiming, “the God-loving phrase was removed from the department’s vision to be fair to Filipinos who may subscribe to other beliefs and principles”. I had not issued any statement to that effect. This attribution is completely false.

Other articles refer to a Christian advocacy group whose spokesperson “aired the group’s dissatisfaction over what it believes is a rash decision on DepEd’s part that had been influenced by some members of the non-religious sector.”  Other local news articles referred to a group claiming to have pressured the Department based on an open letter that they posted on 5 February 2013 via their Twitter account.  I have not had the occasion to interact with any of these groups on this matter.

As early as 2010, discussions on the revision of the VMV were initiated within the department. A series of consultations was conducted with key persons in various levels of the organization, including the regions and school divisions.

It is important that the DepEd’s new VMV be regarded as one document to be appreciated in its entirety.

The term “God-loving” is synonymous with Maka-Diyos. The term Maka-Diyos is essentially connected with Maka-tao, Makakalikasan and Makabansa and allows our Values Education teachers to develop modules that will hopefully form persons of integrity.  It warns against pietism or ritualism and encourages persons of faith to live those convictions everyday, everywhere.

We maintain that the formation of God-loving learners is a vision that we have not surrendered. We do not have any fundamental disagreement therefore with the position of various groups who wish to promote the love of God among our learners. We affirm the long-established constitutional principle of “benevolent neutrality” towards religion and spirituality. We also affirm that the department will continue to promote the spirit of inclusivity and remain open to dialogue, as this is a part of learning to live together.

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

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines addresses a press conference at the end of the 2012 CBCP plenary assembly at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – NJ Viehland Photos

Following is the full text of Archbishop Villegas’ statement sent to Catholic in Asia 

CBCP President on the 2013 Version of the Vision Statement of the Department of Education

The Department of Education recently re-worded its Vision Statement.  In the past, the department tasked with the formation of our children once envisioned “functionally literate and God-fearing Filipinos”.  Unfortunately, in its 2013 version, there is no more mention of God, nor of the salutary fear of Him that, Scripture tells us, is the beginning of all wisdom.

A vision statement is not an empty platitude.  It guides the articulation of policy.  It orientates plans of action.  While maka-Diyos remains one of the Department’s core-values, we maintain that the formation of God-fearing pupils and students is a vision that cannot be surrendered.

“This Sacred Synod likewise declares that children and young people have a right to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God.”  This is what Vatican II teaches in “Gravissimum Educationis“. 

Children ride a jeep with their mothers in Pasig City, east of Manila, to enroll for school in June. - NJ Viehland Photos

Children ride a jeep with their mothers in Pasig City, east of Manila, to enroll for school in June. – NJ Viehland Photos

The right of a child to recognize God, to love him and to hope in him cannot be harmful to anyone else, believer or not.  Our pluralistic society indeed accords respect for the option of some to believe and for others not to. This respect for pluralism does not compel civil society to expunge the name of God from public life, especially when the majority of Filipinos continue to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to trust in Divine Providence. Furthermore, the attitude of our laws in the Philippines towards religion is characterized as’benevolent neutrality': the accommodation of religion whenever such accommodation does not offend law or public policy.

We exhort our Catholic laity in public elementary and high schools to be zealous in the apostolate of forming pupils and students. Do not get tired of teaching that God is the beginning and the end of all things, that he is the Father who wishes all to have life, and to have it to the full! 

This, our dear public school teachers, is your particular mission in the life of the Church, the dignity of your calling as evangelizers within the world and its concerns.  It is a challenge of particular urgency in this, the Year of the Laity. Stand up for God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

August 29, 2014, Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS   

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan  

President, CBCP

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

At least 20 million students enrolled in public pre-school to high school in school year 2011-2012 and 3 million reportedly enrolled in private schools for those levels.

 
 

 

UN officials hail role of cultural, religious dialogue in advancing peace, development

Muslim contestant delivers her speech during the elocution contest on peace on Jan. 30, 2014 as part of Zamboanga City's observance of 3rd World Interfaith harmony Week. - screen grab from video by Silsilah Dialogue Center on YouTube http://youtu.be/jIappGJ3V3k

Muslim contestant delivers her speech during the elocution contest on peace on Jan. 30, 2014 as part of Zamboanga City’s observance of 3rd World Interfaith Harmony Week. – screen grab from video by Silsilah Dialogue Center on YouTube

United Nations officials yesterday highlighted the important role played by the initiative known as the Alliance of Civilizations in building bridges to peace, especially amid the current instability in many parts of the world, as they kicked off a global forum in Bali, Indonesia.

The Forum hosted this past week for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region focused on the theme “Unity in Diversity: Celebrating Diversity for Common and Shared Values.” Discussions ran along the lines of  the UN’s post-2015 development agenda.

Launched in 2005 through the initiative of Spain and Turkey, under the auspices of the UN, the Alliance seeks to promote better cross-cultural relations worldwide.

“The Alliance is here for you to serve as a soft power tool for conflict prevention, reconciliation, and to advance sustainable development,” said the High Representative of the Alliance of Civilizations, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.

“Globally, there is a persistent need for the work of the Alliance if we really want to pursue the future we want,” he told the gathering of government officials, business representatives, faith leaders, media professionals and young people from around the world.

Nasser noted that the Alliance retains a strong commitment to innovative approaches. For example, it is working with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to promote digital games and apps as avenues for cross-cultural dialogue and conflict resolution.

It is also working with private sector organizations such as the BMW Group and others to promote dialogue and intercultural understanding, while making vital contributions to prosperity and peace.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his remarks noted that too many of the world’s worst crises are driven by those who exploit fear for power. “Too many societies are fracturing along cultural, religious or ethnic lines,” he stated, adding “We have much work ahead of us across a landscape of tension.”

In this context, the the alliance has supported grassroots initiatives, including encouraging Muslim-Christian volunteerism in Mindanao and helping Pakistani university students take the lead in healing sectarian divisions. 

Read the full report here

View video of Nasser’s speech here

CBCP President’s appeal for prayers, aid to suffering Christians in Iraq and Syria – Full Text

Most people who joined the 2012 Grand Mission Congress in Marikina City last April were students, teachers, professionals and workers from the youth sector. (N.J. Viehland Photos)

Youth hold hands in prayer at Mass, April 2012 Grand Mission Festival, Marikina Sports complex- NJ Viehland Photos

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Archbishop Socrates Villegas has called on Filipino Catholics to offer prayers and funds to aid people who are suffering in the hands of militant groups in Iraq and Syria.

Archbishop Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in a statement posted Aug. 27 on the portal of Manila archdiocese’s Veritas 846 radio said aside from displacing, killing and torturing people, the violence by Islamic State and other militants in Iraq and Syria supposedly to build an Islamic nation, has defaced religion.

He appealed to Filipino Catholics to “counter the defacement of religion” by practising mercy, compassion and love. He also appealed to Philippines bishops to collect money to help victims, assuring that the CBCP will see to their delivery to appropriate Church authorities in Iraq and Iran.

Following is the full text of Archbishop Villegas’ appeal posted on Veritas 846

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan walks back to the plenary hall at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center after a break in the 2012 plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines which he now serves as President. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan walks back to the plenary hall at Pope Pius XII Catholic Center after a break in the 2012 plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines which he now serves as President. – NJ Viehland Photos

Before a horrified world, militants, without compunction and in utter mercilessness, beheaded journalist James Foley. He may not have died for the faith, but he certainly died, a person of faith, we are told by those who were with him in his last days. Pope Francis sent his grieving family a personal message of condolence. We join our prayers to those of our Holy Father that James may find solace in the bosom of our Loving Father.
James is one of the thousands who now suffer because of the ruthlessness of ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and militant groups of like persuasion and brutality. We should be particularly appalled that children have not been spared. Among the bodies that the rampaging onslaught has left in its wake are those of hapless infants and children — they who are not deserving of any punishment or suffering at all! Thousands have been displaced and must now live as refugees in often squalid conditions because of those who take it upon themselves to kill and to terrorize in the name of God.
Not only then are helpless and defenseless persons the victims of the brutal imposition of a rigid and unforgiving version of faith. Religion is as much a victim, for those who kill and slaughter, wound and maim, destroy and burn in the name of God send the world the awful message that religion divides, that faith is oppressive, that belief can engender so much unkindness!
In the Philippines, we will do our part, first of all, to counter the defacement of religion. We will live as our Lord and Master has asked us to live: with love for each other, bearing each other’s burdens, ever forgiving and humbly asking to be forgiven, respecting the freedoms of all, particularly the right to religious belief. “By this shall all know that you are my disciples”; by this do we pray to convince the world that faith in a God of love and mercy can still heal our world, as we trust Him who can make all things new!
But that is not enough. I appeal to our Filipino bishops take up a collection for the needs of the suffering Christians in Iraq and Syria. These collections will be sent to the CBCP that will see to their remittance to the ecclesiastical jurisdictions of Syria and Iraq. While we have our own projects in the Philippines, we cannot put these ahead of the suffering of Christians in that troubled part of our world. They have not only been evicted from their homes.
Their places of worship — many of them, thousands of years old — have been razed to the ground by a godless rage with which no genuine religion can ever identify! For many, the food and drink that sustain life are daily issues. They rise from sleep each day to struggle just to keep themselves alive. We must be generous, and the fact that we have our own needs here in the Philippines does not excuse us from the Christian obligation of sharing with our suffering brothers and sisters from our own need.
Finally, let us be ceaseless in prayer, uniting ourselves with our suffering brothers and sisters, commending to the God who offers himself to us as our future their pains, their shattered lives and dreams, their bereavement and their loss. We pray that even as many of them now see no way out of the misery that has been visited on them, the God who opens paths through the sea and ways in the desert, may make a way for them to the future that can only be His gift!
August 27, 2014, Feast of Saint Monica
+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, CBCP

Related posts

Grieving Pope Francis phones family of slain U.S. journalist Foley
Strength from faith, Rosary – American journalist Foley slain by IS

Related reports:

Saudi Arabia Grand Mufti: terrorism has no place in Islam

Hong Kong Church calls for genuine dialogue, democracy as political tension rises

Hong Kong diocese has published a statement on universal suffrage and civil disobedience in response to the increasing discussion revolving around the Occupy Central Movement and growing dissatisfaction with the current governmental system in the diocese’s Sunday Examiner newspaper, and the Chinese-language Kung Kao Po on July 28, as well as in daily newspapers in Hong Kong on July 26.

The statement calls for genuine universal suffrage in the territory and an end to what it calls processes put forward by the government that are broadly representative in name only, but not in reality.

Earlier, on July 25, Father Michael Yeung Ming-cheung in a press conference on the statement held at the Diocese Centre explained that the Church in issuing “An Urgent Call for Earnest Dialogue and Responsible Action” did not mean to intervene in political affairs of Hong Kong, but only “wanted to support the universal value of democracy.”

Read the full report on the need for genuine dialogue in Hong Kong’s political polarization published in the diocese’s Aug. 23 Sunday Examiner newspaper issue …

Wish for Pope Francis’ visit to Madhu to reconcile Church and nation

Screen shot of the logo of Pope Francis' January 12-15 visit to Sri Lanka 2015 discussed on the website of the Archdiocese of Colombo http://www.archdioceseofcolombo.com/inner.php?news_id=369

Screen shot of the logo of Pope Francis’ January 12-15 visit to Sri Lanka 2015 discussed on the website of the Archdiocese of Colombo http://www.archdioceseofcolombo.com/inner.php?news_id=369

The reported visit of Pope Francis to the Shrine of Madhu in Northern Sri Lanka in January is seen as a logistical challenge,  an opportunity for the charismatic head of the Catholic Church to raise awareness of the plight of victims of the 26-year civil war in the country that ended in 2009, and a way to ease tension in a divided Church and nation.

The supposed planned visit revealed earlier this month by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka, awaits the Vatican’s official announcement.

Italian La Stampa newspaper’s Vatican Insider website discusses Cardinal Malcom’s announcement of the visit to the Marian Shrine, logistical problems surrounding such a journey and its significance to resolving division among Sri Lanka clergy and Church members as well as to people’s quest for national reconciliation.

More on this in Sri Lanka: Pope Francis will go among the Tamils

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Sri Lanka’s Buddhist-Muslim clashes reveal the evil of politicising religion, Hector Welgampola
Ruki Fernando out of detention – is he free? – Interview
 
 

‘People’s initiative’ petition-campaign against pork barrel – photos

Muslim girl at Luneta Park sat with Sister Cecilia Espenilia [front, in red hat] and close to 20 fellow sisters of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena during the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally Aug. 25, 2014. - NJ Viehland Photos

Muslim girl at Luneta Park sat with Sister Cecilia Espenilia [front, in red hat] and close to 20 fellow sisters of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena during the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally Aug. 25, 2014. – NJ Viehland Photos

MANILA, PHILIPPINES

The nationwide campaign for 10 million signatures to pass a bill that will abolish the pork barrel system kicked off here today with a rally in Luneta Park co-organized with the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP).
Police estimated some 5,000 people were at Luneta during the 7 a.m. Mass, but organizer Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of New Patriotic Alliance (“Bayan”) tweeted that 20,000 people came.

Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila - NJ Viehland Photos

Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila – NJ Viehland Photos

Nurses - Just one of the variety of sectors represented at the Aug. 25, 2014 rally dubbed as Stand up, sign up vs. all pork in Luneta Park, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Nurses – Just one of the variety of sectors represented at the Aug. 25, 2014 rally dubbed as Stand up, sign up vs. all pork in Luneta Park, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

La Salette Sr. Sonia Silverio (center in cream blouse and brown skirt) with ecumenical bishops, priests and lay Church leaders ring bells at the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 to call attention to the "evils" that arise from pork barrel fund allocations. - NJ Viehland Photos

La Salette Sr. Sonia Silverio (center in cream blouse and brown skirt) with ecumenical bishops, priests and lay Church leaders ring bells at the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 to call attention to the “evils” that arise from pork barrel fund allocations. – NJ Viehland Photos

Rallyist greets Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr.  before the bishop's speech at Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila Aug. 25, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Rallyist greets Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr. before the bishop’s speech at Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila Aug. 25, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

Religious and members of their institutions were prominent rally participants at Luneta, along with groups of nurses and health workers, teachers, lawyers, private and government workers – and even beauty queens.

Even beauty queens showed up represented by Maria Isabel Lopez (left, Bb. Pilipinas- Universe 1982) and Azenith Briones [rightmost, Mutya ng Pilipinas 2nd runner up and Miss Photogenic) rejected pork barrel allotments during the Aug. 25, 2014 Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Even beauty queens showed up represented by Maria Isabel Lopez (left, Bb. Pilipinas- Universe 1982) and Azenith Briones [rightmost, Mutya ng Pilipinas 2nd runner up and Miss Photogenic) rejected pork barrel allotments during the Aug. 25, 2014 Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Even doggies Winston (brown) and Cleo came to Luneta Park's Quirino Grandstand grounds where petition signing and a concert-rally were held Aug. 25, 2014 as part of a movement to stop all pork barrel fund allocations. - NJ Viehland Photos

Even doggies Winston (brown) and Cleo came to Luneta Park’s Quirino Grandstand grounds where petition signing and a concert-rally were held Aug. 25, 2014 as part of a movement to stop all pork barrel fund allocations. – NJ Viehland Photos

Read full report here on why the religious groups and Catholic bishops support the movement to stop pork.

Signing of the petition and the program during the rally followed a 7 a.m. Mass concelebrated by various priests. In his homily, Missionaries of Jesus Father Wilfredo (Freddie Dulay) reflected on the pork barrel controversy and people’s response in faith. 

Following are excerpts from  Father Dulay’s homily which are clear enough to be transcribed:

…..  Dear brothers and sisters,

Our country is not constituted by jaded populations. We are not cynical or impervious to change. Ours is a people of hope crafting and wanting to believe in the possibility of a better tomorrow.

We are a people who look forward to new beginnings – always desirous for a fresh start – may it be after an earthquake, a typhoon or disastrous government, and the Arroyo government could not be described in kinder terms.

No matter the folly of the previous administration, our people would always give the new one a chance expecting it could be no worse than its predecessor, hoping at least that it would do better.

We’ve had enough of the short lady from Lubao. Her greed for power and money had no measure and she was blatant about them. She really had to go.

But now that she’s gone from center stage, what do we have?

Many of us believed that we would have another shot at benevolent leadership, at least.

But why are we so angry after Janet Lim-Napoles got careless and fell into the gap – and now getting angrier when the PDAF reincarnated into the DAP?

Ask the people, especially those we have traditionally called the “common tao” – if a bit condescendingly and as if we haven’t all become so common in our ways – three simple and rather straightforward reasons are repeated time and again.

First was betrayal. *”Naisahan nanaman tayo. Nauto nanaman tayo. Nakuha nanaman tayo sa mga pangako. Tayo daw ang kanyang boss at magkasama nating tatahakin ang daang matuwid. Hindi naman palang totoo ang daang tinatahak ng nagtutuwid. kunwari lang pala. Hindi lamang bale ito at baluktot, masalimuot pa. kunwari lang pala. Ang daming tinatago – billion billion pala. Kung di pa natapilok si Janet, ang katotothanan ay di pa natin matatarok hanggang ngayon.” – betrayal.

*(We’ve been conned once again. We’ve been suckered-in again. We’ve been taken again by promises. He said we are his boss. This was just make believe, after all. It’s not true that the road we travel is the straight path. This isn’t nay broken and crooked, it is treacherous as well. There’s so much that is hidden – billions and billions. If Janet did not stumble, we would not be grasping the truth today.” – betrayal.)

The second simple reason is that now we know better. **”Wala naman palang dahilan upang maghirap ang nakararami sa atin. Wala naman palang dahilan upang sila ay magutom at magdusa. Ang dami palang pera. Mayaman ang bansa. Marami naman palang sapat na pera upang magpatayo ng napakaraming paaralan at hospital at tugunan ang ating mga pangunahing pangangailangan. Meron tayong kakayanang umabante at umunland.”

**(There’s no reason after all for many of us to be wallowing in poverty. There is no reason after all for them to be starving and suffering. There is so much money after all. The country is rich. There is so much and sufficient funds after all to put up so many schools and hospitals and to provide for our basic needs. We have the capability to advance and progress.”

There’s plenty to go around and a lot going for us. Where has it all gone?

Now at least we know where the money goes. We don’t only have leeches for leaders, with a few exceptions (but they are truly hard to find), there are also bottom-feeders, and their pockets much to our grief ***”talagang bottomless.”  ***(really bottomless)

My dear brothers and sisters,

Should anybody here be surprised that we are gathered to collect signatures for the abolition of the pork barrel system and all its manifestations and reincarnations?

Abolish the pork, and the true leaders would emerge – not those who are engaged full time in self-service, but leaders who would want to serve the people and build up the nation.

Maybe it’s not too late. Beloved and beleaguered leaders, listen and take heed to what the Lord declared more than 2,000 years ago: “I came to serve, not to be served.” He followed it up by telling us, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and get lost in a sulfurous non-airconditioned place?”

Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but the paraphrase fits the occasion.

Let us pray that our leaders would wake up.

 ***********

Renato Reyes, Jr. , Secretary General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) told Catholic In Asia, “We’re very pleased with the level of support from the Catholic Church. There’s a big boost coming from at least 73 bishops and we expect support from their diocese and parishes. 

He said the pork barrel controversy has managed to unite the population. “It has managed to unite the religious, the progressives, the unions, students, teachers.” Reyes considers this “a good sign that, hopefully, we’d be able to continue with the momentum in the coming days.”

How important is it for this cause to have the Catholic Church so actively behind it? Reyes notes, “Corruption is a moral issue, so it’s very good that they’re involved. They can mobilize their constituents. In gathering signatures, it’s also very nice that they’ve opened up their parishes and dioceses and invited the people to sign up for the People’s Initiative. The have that actual support of manpower and machinery.

Reyes explains that the movement’s measure of success is “if we are able to mobilize people and if we are able to raise awareness.

He stressed that activities over the weekend through Monday is just the beginning. “This is just the start – the attempt to get numbers – the signatures. The bigger indicator of success would be raising the consiousness of the people and making them more vigilant about corruption and holding the president himself accountable for all this corruption,” Reyes added.

 

 

 

 

Grieving Pope Francis phones family of slain U.S. journalist Foley

Pope Francis from a video screen grab after communion on the Mass at beatification of 124 Korean Martyrs.

Pope Francis from a video screen grab after communion on the Mass at beatification of 124 Korean Martyrs.

Pope Francis, himself grieving over relatives’ death and injury in an accident, phoned the family of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Syria.

James Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, in a television interview said the pope’s gesture was “so kind” especially since he was grieving the death of  the wife and two young children of his nephew, 35-year-old Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio, in a car crash Aug. 19 in Argentina. Bergoglio was critically injured, reports Catholic News Service (CNS).

Its story Pope Phones Family of Slain Journalist reported Pope Francis called because he wanted to console the family.

US intelligence judged as authentic a video released by Islamic State (IS) militants showing the beheading of Foley.

In June, al-Qaeda-inspired forces attacked Iraq areas and since then IS has taken control of territories in Syria and Iraq aiming to turn the entire region into a caliphate (Islamic nation). IS said beheading Foley, who had been seized in Syria in 2012, was retaliation for U.S.’s recent intervention in Iraq. 

Related stories

‘Even the Pope has a family': Grieving Pope Francis thanks well-wishers after nephew’s wife, 2 sons die in car wreck 
Grand Mufti: Terrorism has no place in Islam
Indonesia’s Counterterrorism Chief Concerned About Hate Speech

 

 

Pope Francis to visit Madhu Shrine, spend time with war victims, orphans? – Sri Lanka web news

Archdiocese of Colombo website photo

screenshot – Archdiocese of Colombo website photo

Pope Francis would visit the historical Madhu Shrine during his stay in Sri Lanka in January next year, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo reportedly announced in Madhu.

The Pope will arrive in Sri Lanka on the 13th of January 2015, and celebrate mass at the Galle Face Green on the 14th morning before heading to Mannar District in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, reported EyeSriLanka online newspaper.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in the district of Mannar is considered one the holiest Catholic shrine in Sri Lanka, and is a place of worship for both the Sinhalese and the Tamils and has been considered a symbol of unity between the two communities.

Bishop Rayappu Joseph, said Pope Francis would visit the Madhu shrine during his January visit and bless the war victims at a special mass at the shrine.

Bishop Joseph along with Cardinal Ranjith blessed thousands of pilgrims who gathered there from various parts of the island for the August festival last Friday, Aug. 15 . 

“Pope Francis will be the first Pope to travel out of Colombo,” Bishop Joseph is quoted saying. The Pope is expected to interact with the war widows, disabled persons and orphans, he added.

Read EyeSriLanka report

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Slavery, World Day of Peace 2015 theme – Why is it relevant today?

(Vatican Radio)  The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has announced the theme selected by Pope Francis for the upcoming World Day of Peace.  The theme, “Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters” will be the title of the Message for the 48th World Day of Peace, celebrated on 1 January 2015.  It will mark the second time Pope Francis celebrates the Day of Peace since he has risen to the papacy.

Read the note from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on why the theme is relevant today…

Asian bishops, clergy, pastoral workers and lay leaders through the tenth plenary assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences  (X FABC Plenary Assembly) in Vietnam in 2012 had expressed concerns over old and “new forms of slavery,” including the abuse of human rights of refugees and migrant workers, as well as age-old traditions and cultural practices involving women and the girl child.

Strength from faith, Rosary – American journalist Foley slain by IS

Photojournalist James Wright Foley who the US government confirmed has been executed by Islamic State captors had reportedly said his faith and praying the Rosary during captivity made him feel close to God and his family.

Stories about how their Catholic faith and the Rosary carried him and his family through agonizing days of his captivity spread after the the National Security Council announced on Aug. 19 that the U.S. intelligence community judged as authentic, a gruesome video of Foley’s beheading released Tuesday on social media by the Islamic State movement.

Read the full story of how faith and praying the Rosary gave Foley and his family strength in the face of death

Related sites

Find James Foley website

Find James Foley Twitter

Free James Foley Facebook

West India state bans Hindu vigilante groups

The government of Goa has banned a Hindu right wing group, which is infamous for its moral policing tactics, from entering the western Indian state.

“We have banned Sri Ram Sena,” Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar told the state legislative assembly on Wednesday.

Sri Ram Sena (the Army of Lord Rama) chief Pramod Mutalik had announced in June their plans to set up a branch in Goa in September.

Founded in the late 1960s, the organization won media attention in 2009 when its members attacked women for going to a pub in Mangalore, a coastal town in neighboring Karnataka state.

Read full report in Matters India

More than 35 percent of the 1.76 million people in the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman in a 2006 report were listed as  Catholics.

Pope Francis Mass for Peace and Reconciliation in Korea – Full Text

Bridge and mountains at Yosemite National Park. - NJ Viehland Photos

Bridge and mountains at Yosemite National Park. – NJ Viehland Photos

I ask you, as ambassadors of Christ and ministers of his reconciling love (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20), to continue to build bridges of respect, trust and harmonious cooperation in your parishes, among yourselves, and with your bishops. – Pope Francis

Full text of Pope Francis’ homily at the Mass for Peace and Reconciliation

Myeong-dong Cathedral, Seoul

August 18, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As my stay in Korea draws to a close, I thank God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon this beloved country, and in a special way, upon the Church in Korea. Among those blessings I especially treasure the experience we have all had in these recent days of the presence of so many young pilgrims from throughout Asia. Their love of Jesus and their enthusiasm for the spread of his Kingdom have been an inspiration to us all.

My visit now culminates in this celebration of Mass, in which we implore from God the grace of peace and reconciliation. This prayer has a particular resonance on the Korean peninsula. Today’s Mass is first and foremost a prayer for reconciliation in this Korean family. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us how powerful is our prayer when two or three of us join in asking for something (cf. Mt 18:19-20). How much more when an entire people raises its heartfelt plea to heaven!

The first reading presents God’s promise to restore to unity and prosperity a people dispersed by disaster and division. For us, as for the people of Israel, this is a promise full of hope: it points to a future which God is even now preparing for us. Yet this promise is inseparably tied to a command: the command to return to God and wholeheartedly obey his law (cf. Dt 30:2-3). God’s gifts of reconciliation, unity and peace are inseparably linked to the grace of conversion, a change of heart which can alter the course of our lives and our history, as individuals and as a people.

At this Mass, we naturally hear this promise in the context of the historical experience of the Korean people, an experience of division and conflict which has lasted for well over sixty years. But God’s urgent summons to conversion also challenges Christ’s followers in Korea to examine the quality of their own contribution to the building of a truly just and humane society. It challenges each of you to reflect on the extent to which you, as individuals and communities, show evangelical concern for the less fortunate, the marginalized, those without work and those who do not share in the prosperity of the many. And it challenges you, as Christians and Koreans, firmly to reject a mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition, and instead to shape a culture formed by the teaching of the Gospel and the noblest traditional values of the Korean people.

In today’s Gospel, Peter asks the Lord: “If my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” To which the Lord replies: “Not seven times, I tell you, but seventy times seven” (Mt 18:21-22). These words go to the very heart of Jesus’ message of reconciliation and peace. In obedience to his command, we ask our heavenly Father daily to forgive us our sins, “as we forgive those who sin against us”. Unless we are prepared to do this, how can we honestly pray for peace and reconciliation?

Jesus asks us to believe that forgiveness is the door which leads to reconciliation. In telling us to forgive our brothers unreservedly, he is asking us to do something utterly radical, but he also gives us the grace to do it. What appears, from a human perspective, to be impossible, impractical and even at times repugnant, he makes possible and fruitful through the infinite power of his cross. The cross of Christ reveals the power of God to bridge every division, to heal every wound, and to reestablish the original bonds of brotherly love.

This, then, is the message which I leave you as I conclude my visit to Korea. Trust in the power of Christ’s cross! Welcome its reconciling grace into your own hearts and share that grace with others! I ask you to bear convincing witness to Christ’s message of forgiveness in your homes, in your communities and at every level of national life. I am confident that, in a spirit of friendship and cooperation with other Christians, with the followers of other religions, and with all men and women of good will concerned for the future of Korean society, you will be a leaven of the Kingdom of God in this land. Thus our prayers for peace and reconciliation will rise to God from ever more pure hearts and, by his gracious gift, obtain that precious good for which we all long.

Let us pray, then, for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences, for continued generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people.

Before leaving Korea, I wish to thank the President of Republic, the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and all those who in any way helped to make this visit possible. I especially wish to address a word of personal appreciation to the priests of Korea, who daily labor in the service of the Gospel and the building up of God’s people in faith, hope and love. I ask you, as ambassadors of Christ and ministers of his reconciling love (cf. 2 Cor 5:18-20), to continue to build bridges of respect, trust and harmonious cooperation in your parishes, among yourselves, and with your bishops. Your example of unreserved love for the Lord, your faithfulness and dedication to your ministry, and your charitable concern for those in need, contribute greatly to the work of reconciliation and peace in this country.

Dear brothers and sisters, God calls us to return to him and to hearken to his voice, and he promises to establish us on the land in even greater peace and prosperity than our ancestors knew. May Christ’s followers in Korea prepare for the dawning of that new day, when this land of the morning calm will rejoice in God’s richest blessings of harmony and peace! Amen.

[as published in NEWS.VA]

 

Update: video – Augustinian Recollects stay in Sierra Leone mission facing Ebola threat

Updated Aug. 21

View video of Interaksyon’s online interview here
Augustinian Recollects in mission in Sierra Leone - Photo courtesy of Recoletos Communications Inc.

Augustinian Recollects in mission with children in Sierra Leone – Photo courtesy of Recoletos Communications Inc.

 Augustinian Recollect missionaries are staying put in their Sierra Leone mission that is under the order’s Philippines Province to offer people there encouragement, accompaniment and help in battling the lethal Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), the Order announced.

Father Lauro Larlar, Order of Augustinian Recollects Philippines Provincial told Catholic in Asia its Sierra Leone mission members serve in two separate parish communities in the Diocese of Makeni in West and northern Africa, one of the high risk areas of the country for Ebola infection.

“We are appealing to everyone to pray for our brothers in Sierra Leone, for all people working to stop the spread of the Ebola virus, and for people they serve, especially in high-risk places” Father Larlar said on Aug. 18.

By then, the World Health Organization (WHO) had reported at least 1,145 people have died from the outbreak of the disease among 2,127 confirmed probable and suspected cases recorded by ministries of health of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The actual number of cases could run much higher, the WHO statement added. 

Father Larlar said the Recollects working in Kambai and Kamalo communities arrived at the decision to stay after they discussed the situation and needs of the people with the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Makeni.

He said four of the missionaries are Filipinos – Brother Jonathan Jamero and Fathers Roy Baluarte, Dennis Castillo and Russell Lapidez. The two other missionaries are Spanish priests Fathers Jose Luis Garayoa and Rene Gonzales.

“They are a young group, with one of the Spanish priests as the eldest – around 60 years old,” Larlar said. “The youngest would be two years ordained, so around 27 or 28 years old. The rest would be around 35-40 years-old.”

Three other Recollect missionaries who were on vacation in the Philippines could not re-enter Sierra Leone because of travel prohibitions, the Provincial added.

African government and airline authorities have restricted travel after cases of Ebola heaemorrhagic fever were reported on the continent. According to WHO Ebola outbreaks’ case fatality rate has reached 90 percent. 

Outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests where the virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. There is no licensed specific treatment or vaccine is available for use in people or animals, WHO added.

Apostolate of presence

Father Larlar said while the missionaries have been watching the crisis for months, they waited for Makeni Apostolic Administrator Xaverian Father Natalio Paganelli to return from Rome so they could discuss with him and other clergy about the situation and needs of the Church in Makeni.

Philippines-based Recollects advisers “simply asked them to first dialogue with the Apostolic Administrator, be sensitive to the needs of the people, and pray for the light of the Holy Spirit. So they gathered, met and prayed until they arrived at this decision,” Father Larlar said.

He said Paganelli gave the missionaries freedom and respected the decision of the group. The missioners decided not to leave because they believe they can help more by remaining with the people, Father Larlar said.

“They are attending to the people, they administer the sacraments, hold daily prayer with the people. That’s what we call the apostolate of presence – so people will feel they are not abandoned,” the Provincial Superior explained.

“People who are exposed to this virus will feel they are accompanied, that the Church suffers with them, the Church works for them,” he added.

Missonary’s experience of outbreak

In a report to their provincial headquarters in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, Father Lapidez shares his own experiences and those of people he encounters in missio . 

The missionary said people directly involved in caring for the sick and other sources have noted government’s delayed imposition of strict control of movement of people in the borders of Sierra Leone after the first Ebola infection from Guinea and Liberia were reported. He said he first heard of an outbreak of Ebola infection in April.

People also disregarded warnings against eating monkey or bush meat saying ancestors and elders have eaten these meat over time and they never got sick with Ebola disease.

They only began to recognize the fatal effect of the virus after Sheik Umar Khan, the only virologist in Sierra Leone and the head of the task force fighting EVD outbreak, died from infection last July, Father Lapidez observed. 

Traditional washing or ritual cleansing of dead bodies in people’s homes left family members susceptible to infection, Lapidez added citing the 16 year-old boy who took care of his sick mother then got infected and died of Ebola virus disease.

Later, three medical doctors and over 20 nurses who cared for patients caught the infection and died also. Father Lapidez said poor health facilities and shortage of trained personnel for handling Ebola infected patients contributed to these deaths. Medical staff said they left the work in protest of government’s neglect.

Because of stigma against people infected or suspected to be infected patients turned away from hospitals in favor of traditional healers. As a result, they transmitted the disease to healers, Father Lapidez reported.

He also wrote about family members of a woman who was admitted to a hospital in Freetown and confirmed to be carrying the Ebola virus who tried to forcibly take their relative out of the hospital. In the Ebola treatment Centre at Kenema, a group of people rioted outside the facility after a woman declared that Ebola does not exist.

Mission context

Recollect mission in Sierra Leone started sometime in 1997, but was cut off by the civil war. “After the war, when things were calmer, we returned – around 2004,” Father Larlar recalls.  

The two parish communities Kamabai and Kamalo entrusted to the order are located in the interior isolated areas. “One is 45 minutes drive from the capital, the other is about 2 to 3 hours from the capital depending on the road, whether it’s raining or not,” the Philippines head explained.

The parish has numerous chapels, even though Catholics are the minority. Majority of the population is Muslim, Father Larlar said, adding they live poorly and their relations with the mission have been “very peaceful”.

He said Recollect missionaries were concerned that if they left the people would feel abandoned and rejected because there is no other priests’ community there to take on their work. “Native priests are few. Most of the priests attending to the parishes are religious, many of whom also decided to stay,” Father Larlar said.

“There is so much intramurals among the tribes,” Father Larlar added. For years, the diocese has had no bishop “because they (locals) live there by rules of tribes, and after the bishops’ consecration they wouldn’t let him enter because he comes from a different tribe and hails from southeast of Sierra Leone,” Larlar explained.

Strong tribal practices are evident even at Mass and other Church activities. For example, when the priests celebrate Mass in a chapel, people of various faiths come. “We welcome them because Mass is a gathering of people, and in Africa the people are fond of gatherings. They just do not receive communion,” Father Larlar said.

Holy Spirit’s work

The Order’s head admitted their missionaries’ decision to stay “surprised us.”

“We appreciate and recognize that this must be the work of the Spirit inspiring them. We did not expect this decision. We had told them that if they feel they have to evacuate the place, we are ready to assist them with that.” Instead, “they surprised us and we are very happy with the decision and the readiness to suffer with the people, though we are worried.”

To show support, fellow Recollects in the Philippines keep constant contact with the missionaries. “We assured them of that, and to send financial assistance, just in case they would need more funds.

“Of course we offer our prayers and our sacrifices for them, tell people about their work and ask for their prayers as a way of accompanying our brothers in Sierra Leone,” Father Larlar continued.

END

Read also 

Ebola can’t drive Philippines missionaries from Sierra Leone

Updated: Pope backs use of force vs Islamic militants attacking religious minorities in Iraq – Fox News

Read full AP report from Fox News about what Pope Francis says about stopping an “unjust aggressor“, Aug. 18, 2014

A Vatican-approved transcript of Pope Francis’ airborne Press Conference from Korea records the pope saying, “It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor.  I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means.”

Pope Francis Philippines visit : Pope wants to eat with the poor – Bishop Du

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Bad news for politicians and rich people who hope to rub elbows with Pope Francis during his first visit to the Philippines in January.

Here’s what Inquirer says about preparations for the January papal visit and plans to have a typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivor who lost his whole family stand beside the pope so he will feel he is not alone…

Charity and Compassion is the theme of Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines.

Haiyan survivor Mark Anthony Lacanaria who joined People Surge alliance of typhoon survivors told Catholic In Asia in Manila in April how he survived the "super typhoon" that flattened communities in Leyte, central Philippines last Nov. 8, 2013. NJ Viehland Photos

Haiyan survivor Mark Anthony Lacanaria who joined People Surge alliance of typhoon survivors told Catholic In Asia in Manila in April how he survived the “super typhoon” that flattened communities in Leyte, central Philippines last Nov. 8, 2013. NJ Viehland Photos

Juan Gagarino and wife Eugenia returned to their hometown of Guiuan, Samar to stretch his pension of 6,000 pesos. They are back in Estero urban poor community in Legarda after typhoon Yolanda ( Haiyan ) wrecked their Samar house and small store last November. By NJ Viehland

Juan Gagarino and wife Eugenia returned to their hometown of Guiuan, Samar to stretch his pension of 6,000 pesos. They are back in Estero urban poor community in Legarda after typhoon Yolanda ( Haiyan ) wrecked their Samar house and small store last November. By NJ Viehland

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Pope Francis’ Homily at Concluding Mass for 6th Asian Youth Day – full text

Pope Francis at the Mass near Gwanghwamun Gate, central Seoul, South Korea on Aug. 16 during the beatification of 124 martyrs who were killed between 1791 and 1888, because of their faith. - screenshot from live stream coverage

Pope Francis at the Mass near Gwanghwamun Gate, central Seoul, South Korea on Aug. 16 during the beatification of 124 martyrs who were killed between 1791 and 1888, because of their faith. – screenshot from live stream coverage                                       

  “Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love!”

              – Pope Francis at Concluding Mass for 6th Asian Youth Day

                 Haemi Castle Square, South Korea, Aug. 17, 2014

 

Dear Young Friends,

The glory of the martyrs shines upon you!

These words – a part of the theme of the Sixth Asian Youth Day – console and strengthen us all. Young people of Asia: you are the heirs of a great testimony, a precious witness to Christ. He is the light of the world; he is the light of our lives! The martyrs of Korea – and innumerable others throughout Asia – handed over their bodies to their persecutors; to us they have handed on a perennial witness that the light of Christ’s truth dispels all darkness, and the love of Christ is gloriously triumphant. With the certainty of his victory over death, and our participation in it, we can face the challenge of Christian discipleship today, in our own circumstances and time.

The words which we have just reflected upon are a consolation. The other part of this day’s theme – Asian Youth! Wake up!– speaks to you of a duty, a responsibility. Let us consider for a moment each of these words.

Participant leads prayers of the faithful at Mass presided by Pope Francis on the closing of 6th Asian Youth Day Aug. 17, 2014. - screen shot of news coverage.

Participant leads prayers of the faithful at Mass presided by Pope Francis on the closing of 6th Asian Youth Day Aug. 17, 2014. – screen shot of news coverage.

First, the word “Asian”. You have gathered here in Korea from all parts of Asia. Each of you has a unique place and context where you are called to reflect God’s love. The Asian continent, imbued with rich philosophical and religious traditions, remains a great frontier for your testimony to Christ, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). As young people not only in Asia, but also as sons and daughters of this great continent, you have a right and a duty to take full part in the life of your societies. Do not be afraid to bring the wisdom of faith to every aspect of social life!

screen grab live coverage of the Mass closing 6th Asian Youth Day in Korea Aug. 17, 2014 led by Pope Francis.

screen grab live coverage of the Mass closing 6th Asian Youth Day in Korea Aug. 17, 2014 led by Pope Francis.

As Asians too, you see and love, from within, all that is beautiful, noble and true in your cultures and traditions. Yet as Christians, you also know that the Gospel has the power to purify, elevate and perfect this heritage. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit given you in Baptism and sealed within you at Confirmation, and in union with your pastors, you can appreciate the many positive values of the diverse Asian cultures. You are also able to discern what is incompatible with your Catholic faith, what is contrary to the life of grace bestowed in Baptism, and what aspects of contemporary culture are sinful, corrupt, and lead to death.

Returning to the theme of this Day, let us reflect on a second word: “Youth”. You and your friends are filled with the optimism, energy and good will which are so characteristic of this period of life. Let Christ turn your natural optimism into Christian hope, your energy into moral virtue, your good will into genuine self-sacrificing love! This is the path you are called to take. This is the path to overcoming all that threatens hope, virtue and love in your lives and in your culture. In this way your youth will be a gift to Jesus and to the world.

Religious men and women joined the closing Mass of the 6th Asian Youth Day led by Pope Francis Aug. 17, 2014 in Korea. - screen grab from live coverage.

Religious men and women joined the closing Mass of the 6th Asian Youth Day led by Pope Francis Aug. 17, 2014 in Korea. – screen grab from live coverage.

As young Christians, whether you are workers or students,whether you have already begun a career or have answered the call to marriage, religious life or the priesthood, you are not only a part of the future of the Church; you are also a necessary and beloved part of the Church’s present! You are the present of the Church. Keep close to one another, draw ever closer to God, and with your bishops and priests spend these years in building a holier, more missionary and humble Church – a Church which loves and worships God by seeking to serve the poor, the lonely, the infirm and the marginalized.

Delegate prays for Churches in Asia during Prayers of the Faithful of the Mass led by Pope Francis at the close of 6th Asian Youth Day Aug. 17 in Korea. - screen grab live coverage

Delegate prays for Churches in Asia during Prayers of the Faithful of the Mass led by Pope Francis at the close of 6th Asian Youth Day Aug. 17 in Korea. – screen grab live coverage

In your Christian lives, you will find many occasions that will tempt you, like the disciples in today’s Gospel, to push away the stranger, the needy, the poor and the broken-hearted. It is these people especially who repeat, today, the cry of the woman of the Gospel: “Lord, help me!” The Canaanite woman’s plea is the cry of everyone who searches for love, acceptance, and friendship with Christ. It is the cry of so many people in our anonymous cities, the cry of so many of your own contemporaries, and the cry of all those martyrs who even today suffer persecution and death for the name of Jesus: “Lord, help me!” Let us respond, not like those who push away people who make demands on us, as if serving the needy gets in the way of our being close to the Lord. No! We are to be like Christ, who responds to every plea for his help with love, mercy and compassion.

Thousands of young Catholics from around Asia gathered for Mass led by Pope Francis at the close of 6th Asian Youth Day, Aug. 17, 2014 near Haemi Shrine, South Korea. - screen grab from live coverage.

Thousands of young Catholics from around Asia gathered for Mass led by Pope Francis at the close of 6th Asian Youth Day, Aug. 17, 2014 near Haemi Shrine, South Korea. – screen grab from live coverage.

Finally, the third part of this Day’s theme – “Wake up!” –Wake up! speaks of a responsibility which the Lord gives you. It is the duty to be vigilant, not to allow the pressures, the temptations and the sins of ourselves or others to dull our sensitivity to the beauty of holiness, to the joy of the Gospel. Today’s responsorial psalm invites us constantly to “be glad and sing for joy”. No one who sleeps can sing, dance or rejoice. It’s no good when I see young people who are asleep. No! Wake up. Go. Go. Go ahead. Dear young people, “God, our God, has blessed us!” (Ps 67:6); from him we have “received mercy” (Rom 11:30). Assured of God’s love, go out to the world so that, “by the mercy shown to you”, they – your friends, co-workers, neighbors, countrymen, everyone on this great continent – “may now receive the mercy of God” (cf. Rom 11:31). It is by his mercy that we are saved.

Dear young people of Asia, it is my hope that, in union with Christ and the Church, you will take up this path, which will surely bring you much joy. Now, as we approach the table of the Eucharist, let us turn to our Mother Mary, who brought Jesus to the world. Yes, Mother Mary, we long to have Jesus; in your maternal affection help us to bring him to others, to serve him faithfully, and to honor him in every time and place, in this country and throughout Asia. Amen.

Young people, Wake Up!

Bombay’s Cardinal Gracias’ Greeting to Pope – full text and photos

India's Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, President of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) led the opening Eucharist for the 10th FABC Plenary Assembly . The Holy See approved the statutes of the voluntary association of episcopal conferences in South, Southeast, and East Asia Nov. 16, 1972. The federation has been created 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. Later, Churches in Central Asia also joined FABC. Filipino Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales (rear) served as Pope Benedict XVI's official representative to the 10th Plenary assembly in Xuan Loc and Ho Chi Minh City from Dec. 10-16, 2013 (N.J. Viehland Photo)

India’s Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) led the opening Eucharist for the 10th FABC Plenary Assembly Dec. 10-16, 2012 in Xuan Loc, Vietnam. The Holy See approved the statutes of the voluntary association of episcopal conferences in South, Southeast, and East Asia Nov. 16, 1972. The federation has been created 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. Later, Churches in Central Asia also joined FABC. – N.J. Viehland Photos)

[updated Aug. 18, 2014, 4:45 p.m.]

…in many ways Asia is very central for the future of the world and for the future of the Church…”

                                                             – Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai (Bombay)

                                                             President, Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences

                                                             Pope Francis’ meeting with Asian Bishops, Haemi Shrine

                                                             Aug. 17, 2014

Most Holy Father,

At this moment, our minds and hearts go back to that historic occasion forty four years ago when the Bishops of Asia met together in Manila on the occasion of Pope Paul VI’s historic visit to the Philippines in 1970. It was the first time that so many Bishops from Asia – around 180 were present – came together to exchange experiences and to deliberate jointly on pastoral issues facing this vast continent rich in its diversity.

Thrilled by this experience, the Founding Fathers established the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) with the blessings of Pope Paul VI. FABC today has 19 member conferences comprising 27 countries, and 9 associate members besides: Churches which do not yet have Episcopal Conferences.

Bishops, staff and office heads comprising clergy and lay people posed during the Xth FABC Plenary Assembly held in Xuan Loc, Vietnam  from Dec. 10-16, 2012 - NJ Viehland Photos

Bishops, staff and office heads comprising clergy and lay people posed during the Xth FABC Plenary Assembly held in Xuan Loc, Vietnam from Dec. 10-16, 2012 – NJ Viehland Photos

Asia is a continent experiencing the hopes and joys of a constant rebirth in the Spirit. Sixty percent of the world’s population lives in Asia.

It is a young continent with a majority of the population young. Hence in many ways Asia is a very central for the future of the world and for the future of the Church.

Before Mass, Vietnamese Catholic youth cheerfully await a delegation of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) visiting their parish as part of X FABC Plenary Assembly activities in Dec. 2012. - NJ Viehland Photos

Before Mass, Vietnamese Catholic youth cheerfully await a delegation of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) visiting their parish as part of X FABC Plenary Assembly activities in Dec. 2012. – NJ Viehland Photos

Globalization has impacted Asia and this has brought new challenges to the Church: Asian people are religious by nature, yet a spirit of secularism and materialism is creeping in. Family ties once considered so important and so deeply rooted in Asian society are slowly being eroded.

Our Lady of Vietnam on wood. By NJ Viehland

Our Lady of Vietnam on wood. By NJ Viehland

Again, while the Asian soul treats life as sacred, there are rising threats to life that are disturbing in many ways. The Asian seeks and enjoys community. Now this too is being impacted upon with a strong sense of individualism.

We are in this beautiful land of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and his companions. During this week 124 more martyrs are being beatified. It is the blood of these holy martyrs that has been the seed for the growth of the Church here.

The Asian Youth Day has shown how vibrant and enthusiastic the Korean youth are. Korea is a land where the laity has played a special role in Evangelization and this becomes a model for many of our Churches. We wish to be touched by the infectious passion of the Korean Church as we go back to our dioceses.

Young Catholics listen to Pope Francis' homily for the Mass at the close of the 6th Asian Youth Day, applauding when he declared, "You are the present of the Church!" - screen grab, live stream coverage

Young Catholics listen to Pope Francis’ homily for the Mass at the close of the 6th Asian Youth Day, applauding when he declared, “You are the present of the Church!” – screen grab, live stream coverage

Most Holy Father we thank you for this visit to Korea, your first to Asia. You have brought the person of Jesus to us by your Message. You have inspired us by your example. We thank you for your leadership and we pray for the continuous assistance of the Spirit to you and God’s protection on your Petrine ministry. While we ask you to bless and pray for us, we commit ourselves to make the person of Jesus and His Message continuously more known, more understood, more loved and more followed. This we will do by our word, by our lives and by our work. Bless the Church in Asia, bless us the leaders of the Church. May Mary the Star of New Evangelization, our Mother and the Mother of Asia continue to guide, protect and intercede for us.

Thank you.

Pope Francis’ address to Asian bishops in Korea – full text

A Vatican translation of the text of the address Pope Francis gave today, Aug. 17, during his meeting with Asian bishops at the Haemi Martyrs’ Shrine 

Dear Brother Bishops,

I offer you a warm and fraternal greeting in the Lord as we gather together at this holy site where so many Christians gave their lives in fidelity to Christ. Their testimony of charity has brought blessings and graces not only to the Church in Korea but also beyond; may their prayers help us to be faithful shepherds of the souls entrusted to our care. I thank Cardinal Gracias for his kind words of welcome and for the work of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in fostering solidarity and promoting effective pastoral outreach in your local Churches.

On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all. Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29).

But in undertaking the path of dialogue with individuals and cultures, what should be our point of departure and the fundamental point of reference which guides us to our destination? Surely it is our own identity, our identity as Christians. We cannot engage in real dialogue unless we are conscious of our own identity. Nor can there be authentic dialogue unless we are capable of opening our minds and hearts, in empathy and sincere receptivity, to those with whom we speak. A clear sense of one’s own identity and a capacity for empathy are thus the point of departure for all dialogue. If we are to speak freely, openly and fruitfully with others, we must be clear about who we are, what God has done for us, and what it is that he asks of us. And if our communication is not to be a monologue, there has to be openness of heart and mind to accepting individuals and cultures.

The task of appropriating and expressing our identity does not always prove easy, however, since – being sinners – we will always be tempted by the spirit of the world, which shows itself in a variety of ways. I would like to point to three of these. One is the deceptive light of relativism, which obscures the splendor of truth and, shaking the earth beneath our feet, pulls us toward the shifting sands of confusion and despair. It is a temptation which nowadays also affects Christian communities, causing people to forget that in a world of rapid and disorienting change, “there is much that is unchanging, much that has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Gaudium et Spes, 10; cf. Heb 13:8). Here I am not speaking about relativism merely as a system of thought, but about that everyday practical relativism which almost imperceptibly saps our sense of identity.

A second way in which the world threatens the solidity of our Christian identity is superficiality, a tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions, rather than attending to the things that really matter (cf. Phil 1:10). In a culture which glorifies the ephemeral, and offers so many avenues of avoidance and escape, this can present a serious pastoral problem. For the ministers of the Church, it can also make itself felt in an enchantment with pastoral programs and theories, to the detriment of direct, fruitful encounter with our faithful, especially the young who need solid catechesis and sound spiritual guidance. Without a grounding in Christ, the truths by which we live our lives can gradually recede, the practice of the virtues can become formalistic, and dialogue can be reduced to a form of negotiation or an agreement to disagree.

Then too, there is a third temptation: that of the apparent security to be found in hiding behind easy answers, ready formulas, rules and regulations. Faith by nature is not self-absorbed; it “goes out”. It seeks understanding; it gives rise to testimony; it generates mission. In this sense, faith enables us to be both fearless and unassuming in our witness of hope and love. Saint Peter tells us that we should be ever ready to respond to all who ask the reason for the hope within us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). Our identity as Christians is ultimately seen in our quiet efforts to worship God alone, to love one another, to serve one another, and to show by our example not only what we believe, but also what we hope for, and the One in whom we put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:12).

Once again, it is our living faith in Christ which is our deepest identity; it is from this that our dialogue begins, and this that we are asked to share, sincerely, honestly and without pretence, in the dialogue of everyday life, in the dialogue of charity, and in those more formal opportunities which may present themselves. Because Christ is our life (cf. Phil 1:21), let us speak “from him and of him” readily and without hesitation or fear. The simplicity of his word becomes evident in the simplicity of our lives, in the simplicity of our communication, in the simplicity of our works of loving service to our brothers and sisters.

I would now touch on one further aspect of our Christian identity. It is fruitful. Because it is born of, and constantly nourished by, the grace of our dialogue with the Lord and the promptings of his Spirit, it bears a harvest of justice, goodness and peace. Let me ask you, then, about the fruits which it is bearing in your own lives and in the lives of the communities entrusted to your care. Does the Christian identity of your particular Churches shine forth in your programs of catechesis and youth ministry, in your service to the poor and those languishing on the margins of our prosperous societies, and in your efforts to nourish vocations to the priesthood and the religious life?

Finally, together with a clear sense of our own Christian identity, authentic dialogue also demands a capacity for empathy. We are challenged to listen not only to the words which others speak, but to the unspoken communication of their experiences, their hopes and aspirations, their struggles and their deepest concerns. Such empathy must be the fruit of our spiritual insight and personal experience, which lead us to see others as brothers and sisters, and to “hear”, in and beyond their words and actions, what their hearts wish to communicate. In this sense, dialogue demands of us a truly contemplative spirit of openness and receptivity to the other. This capacity for empathy enables a true human dialogue in which words, ideas and questions arise from an experience of fraternity and shared humanity. It leads to a genuine encounter in which heart speaks to heart. We are enriched by the wisdom of the other and become open to travelling together the path to greater understanding, friendship and solidarity. As Saint John Paul II rightly recognized, our commitment to dialogue is grounded in the very logic of the incarnation: in Jesus, God himself became one of us, shared in our life and spoke to us in our own language (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 29). In this spirit of openness to others, I earnestly hope that those countries of your continent with whom the Holy See does not yet enjoy a full relationship, may not hesitate to further a dialogue for the benefit of all.

Dear brother bishops, I thank you for your warm and fraternal welcome. When we look out at the great Asian continent, with its vast expanses of land, its ancient cultures and traditions, we are aware that, in God’s plan, your Christian communities are indeed a pusillus grex, a small flock which nonetheless is charged to bring the light of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. May the Good Shepherd, who knows and loves each of his sheep, guide and strengthen your efforts to build up their unity with him and with all the members of his flock throughout the world. I commend all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.

[Translation by the Vatican]

 

Asian bishops, youth pitch in to build, renew Church

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, Secretary General of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) walking during the welcome procession for delegates of the X FABC Plenary Assembly in Xuan Loc Pastoral Center compound Dec. 11, 2012. - N.J. Viehland Photos

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) greets Vietnamese welcome team during the procession for delegates of the X FABC Plenary Assembly on opening day, Dec. 11, 2012 in Xuan Loc Pastoral Center complex. – N.J. Viehland Photos

[updated Aug. 18, 2014, 1:15 pm] 

Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias of  Mumbai (Bombay), who serves in the 9-member Council of Cardinal Advisers Pope Francis established in April 2013, carries out official tasks in the 6th Asian Youth Day (AYD) that closes near Haemi Castle, South Korea today because he is also President of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).

The Youth Desk of the decades-old voluntary association of Bishops’ conferences in the continent has coordinated the overall AYD events since the gathering of youth ministers and Catholic youth in Asia was launched in the 1990s. The host for AYD, however, serves as the team coordinating implementation of activities and events, explained Father Ramond O’Toole, a Scarboro missionary priest who serves as FABC’s Secretary General.

Cardinal Gracias was to address several of the events during the Korea visit, including AYD’s Aug. 15 Mass at 6:30 a.m. when he was to deliver the homily, Father O’Toole told Catholic in Asia on Aug. 10.

“The cardinal will also speak when the Holy Father meets with the Asian Bishops, and also at the closing mass of AYD to thank the Holy Father and to announce the venue of the next AYD,” FABC’s Secretary General added. Both of these events are scheduled today.

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle who has chaired the FABC’s Office of Theological Concerns since 2007, Hong Kong’s bishop Cardinal John Tong-Hon, the only Chinese cardinal to be born in Hong Kong, and a host of other bishops serving as presidents of bishops’ conferences in their countries, as heads of various dioceses around the region, or in the Vatican are also expected to join the pope’s meeting with Asian bishops.

For AYD, however, Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Bishop Chairman of the Office of Laity and Family (OLF) will represent the FABC Youth Desk, which comes under OLF. Filipino Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, member of OLF responsible for Youth Desk, and Bangladeshi Fr. Patrick Simon Gomes FABC Youth Desk Secretary also form part of the FABC’s delegation to AYD 2014.

Father O’Toole who is now with the FABC team in Korea had told Catholic in Asia organizers invited 2,000 people from across Asia to attend Youth Day activities, “but with the Pope’s visit, this number may increase.” 

A report from the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), for example, estimated a crowd of 6,000 youths joined the Aug. 15 AYD gathering which Pope Francis addressed.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Seoul wrote:

There is something in the manner of Pope Francis that seems to win people over, Catholics and non-Catholics, wherever he goes. And he has done it again here in South Korea.
His lack of formality has shone through. On Friday he stopped in the middle of a prepared speech to a gathering of young Catholics and said he wanted to “speak directly from his heart, without reading from a piece of paper,” but that his English was not good enough”. “No!” shouted the 6,000 teenagers in one voice.

FABC’s statutes as a voluntary association of bishops’  conferences in the region approved by the Holy See in 1972 established the association to foster among its members solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in the region that now includes Central Asia in addition to the original membership from southeast, south and east Asia.

“The Asian Church, especially under the leadership of the late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan of Seoul, wanted to have the local Churches of Asia in the various countries, first of all to appropriate the Second Vatican Council, (Vatican II1962-1965) and what were the new initiatives and the new directives of that Council with regard to the local Churches. That was the main purpose,” Filipino Jesuit theologian Father Catalino Arevalo said in a 2012 interview for FABC’s 40th anniversary.

Father Arevalo recalled Cardinal Kim, other bishops and priests at an initial meeting wanted to set up a permanent structure where the leaders of the Asian Churches, beginning with the bishops, but not just the bishops, would gather together regularly to share their experiences, to develop within the group itself what the local Churches (Churches in every country) would do to bring the realities of Vatican II into action in the Asian region.

“That was the beginning purpose of it. Therefore also, to find what was the vision in the Asian Churches precisely with regard to how to make the Second Vatican Council as effective and as creative within the local Churches of Asia and that the local Churches of Asia would begin also to see what they had in common,” Father Arevalo added. They also looked into how they could collaborate with each other in bringing the movements inside the Church that they had in common flourish to make Vatican II a reality in the local Churches of Asia.

Members of Missionaries of Charity, which is among those whose houses of charity were ruined by Typhoon Haiyan in Palo archdiocese, Leyte filled many pews on the Day of Lament and Hope service led by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in San Fernando de Dilao Church, Paco, Manila Nov. 16. NJ Viehland Photo

Philippine community members of India-based Missionaries of Charity joined prayers on the Day of Lament for victims of calamities led by Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila in San Fernando de Dilao Church, Paco, Manila Nov. 16. NJ Viehland Photo

He considers that meeting held when Pope Paul VI was making his first visit to Asia as the foundation of FABC, “and then it took about 2 or 3 years for it to come into realization, in the first meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Taipei in 1974.” 

By 1991, during the World Youth Day in Czestochowa (Poland), representatives from over 30 Asian countries attended the Third International Youth Forum during which they expressed their hopes of establishing different channels and networks for various kinds of exchanges and organizing activities especially designed for Catholic youths in Asia.

Later, youth representatives at the 1993 youth consultation conference in Bangkok, Thailand suggested that a youth working group be formed as a parish-based subsidiary of FABC to gather support for youth leaders within the organization and to enhance mutual cooperation and links among youth parish groups from Asian countries.

FABC’s Youth Desk was officially established in 1994 forming the team that has since  then organized a series of activities for Asian youths and youth leaders, including the Asian Youth Gathering during the World Youth Day, Asian Youth Ministers’ Meeting and AYD.

Multi-media publications and documentation of activities of Philippine Conference on New Evangelization were produced daily with help from young volunteers. By NJ Viehland

Multi-media publications and documentation of activities of Philippine Conference on New Evangelization were produced daily with help from young volunteers. By NJ Viehland

 

AYD is the coming together of Catholic youths from different Asian countries in weeklong activities including formation programs, workshops, prayer and worship, Bible sharing and sharing with people from other religious groups.

This year’s program centers on the theme: “Asian Youth! Wake Up! The Glory of the Martyrs Shines on You.” 

Asia and the Pacific are reportedly home to 45 percent of the world’s youth amounting to 700 million young people, but disparities exist. For example, South Asia is home to 26 percent of the world’s entire youth population representing up to 20 percent of the south’s population, but in East Asia, only 17 percent of the population fall in the youth sector.

 

“Moving” beatification of Korean martyrs by Pope Francis – Cardinal Tagle

On Saturday morning, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Beatification of 124 Korean Martyrs who were killed between 1791 and 1888 because of their Catholic faith

Here’s what Pope Francis said in his homily for the Mass

Pope Francis at the Mass near Gwanghwamun Gate, central Seoul, South Korea on Aug. 15 during the beatification of 124 martyrs who were killed between 1791 and 1888, because of their faith. - screenshot from live stream coverage

Pope Francis at the Mass near Gwanghwamun Gate, central Seoul, South Korea on Aug. 16 during the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs – screenshot from live stream coverage

Among those at the Mass was the Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle who told Vatican Radio he was  “very much moved [when I realized] we had Asian ancestors here who were willing to pay the cost of being a Christian, and if needed they would offer their lives. This is an inspiration for all of us.”

Some of the thousands of people who came to join the Mass presided Aug. 15 by Pope Francis in Seoul, South Korea during the beatification of 124 Martyrs received common from scores of priests on the ground. - screenshot from live stream

Some of the hundreds of thousands of people who came to the Mass presided Aug. 16 by Pope Francis in Seoul, South Korea during the beatification of 124 Martyrs received communion from priests on the ground. – screenshot from live stream

Listen to Vatican Radio’s interview with Cardinal Tagle:

 

Sri Lanka Court stops deportation of Pakistanis

[updated Aug. 16, 11:41 p.m.]

Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal has ordered the suspension of deporting Pakistani asylum seekers back to their country, until  August 29, Colombo Gazette reported.

 Most asylum seekers from Pakistan belong to religious minorities – including Ahmadiyya Muslim, Christian and Shia – who are often discriminated against and subjected to violent attacks, UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, is quoted telling the Gazette.

The asylum seekers flee their country in South Asia along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, and head southeast beyond India to the island country of Sri Lanka. 

Last year, 687 persons belonging to religious minorities were reported killed in over 200 attacks in Pakistan. 

However, Sri Lanka government reportedly deports them despite being registered with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and having their first instance interviews still pending.

Read the full report on the court decision here 

Refugees from Pakistan reportedly obtain a 30-day tourist visa to Sri Lanka online and stay on after registering with UNHCR, which reviews their case.

 The Sri Lankan government says the Pakistanis are part of an influx of economic immigrants in the past year who have become a burden on the country’s resources and potentially compromised state and regional security.

Receiving no help from Sri Lanka’s  government, Pakistani families are driven to seek aid from the Catholic church or a mosque in the area.

Various human rights activists have written about the plight of asylum seekers in Pakistan and in Sri Lanka.

Earlier this week, Sri Lankan human rights activist Ruki Fernando decried his government’s “inhumane” response to asylum seekers and shared his personal experiences with Pakistani families in Sri Lanka.

Aside from the government, people in Sri Lanka who support repatriation of these asylum seekers “are just as deplorable,” the Catholic human rights defender added.

Read the full text of Fernando’s commentary posted on Ground Views citizen journalist blog site.

Fernando is a Sri Lankan human rights activist who participated in the protective fellowship scheme at University of York’s Center for Applied Human Rights in 2012-2013. He has been involved in international advocacy and protection of human rights defenders who are facing risk, and worked on issues such as freedom of expression and enforced disappearances. 

Pope Francis’ Address to South Korean Authorities – Full Text

“…diplomacy, as the art of the possible, is based on the firm and persevering conviction that peace can be won through quiet listening and dialogue, rather than by mutual recriminations, fruitless criticisms and displays of force…” – Pope Francis 

Read full text of the pope’s address to South Korean authorities on Aug. 14, after he celebrated  a private Mass at the apostolic nunciature of Korea and made a courtesy visit to President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea. 

North Korea, hours before the pope arrived in Korea, reportedly fired three short-range rockets into waters off the country’s east coast leading journalists to connect the missile firing to either a visit by Pope Francis or upcoming U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

 

Korean martyrs’ descendants feel pride and burden

Korean martyr Paul Yun Ji-chung screenshot from Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea's website. http://www.koreanmartyrs.or.kr/sbss124_en_view.php?num=1

Korean martyr Paul Yun Ji-chung screenshot from Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea’s website. http://www.koreanmartyrs.or.kr/sbss124_en_view.php?num=1

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — They died well over a century ago, but the 124 Korean Catholic martyrs who will be honored by Pope Francis this week still have a hold over many of their descendants — even some who learned of their sacrifices only in recent years, or whose families are now Buddhist or Protestant.

Read what it’s like to be descendant of a Korean martyr

Resources – Papal visit to Korea to be broadcast live for 124 hours

[updated Aug. 117, 2014, 3:40 a.m.)

Screen shot of slide from main page of host broadcaster for 2014 Pastoral visit of Pope Francis to Korea - http://pope.kbs.co.kr/pc/eng/main/main.php

Screen shot of slide from main page of host broadcaster for 2014 Pastoral visit of Pope Francis to Korea – http://pope.kbs.co.kr/pc/eng/main/main.php

The official Korean broadcast site Station KBS will be covering Pope Francis’ Korea visit Aug. 14-18, 2014.It begins broadcasting coverage of the event at 4:00 PM, Aug. 14 Korea time. 

Screen shot of slide from main page of host broadcaster for 2014 Pastoral visit of Pope Francis to Korea showing the theme of the papal visit inspired by Isaiah 60:1 - http://pope.kbs.co.kr/pc/eng/main/main.php

Screen shot of slide from main page of host broadcaster for 2014 Pastoral visit of Pope Francis to Korea showing the theme of the papal visit inspired by Isaiah 60:1 – http://pope.kbs.co.kr/pc/eng/main/main.php

Screen shot of main page of Station KBS that will broadcast beginning Aug. 14  its coverage and updates on Pope Francis' 2014 pastoral visit. - http://pope.kbs.co.kr/pc/eng/main/main.php

Screen shot of main page of Station KBS that will broadcast beginning Aug. 14 its coverage and updates on Pope Francis’ 2014 pastoral visit. – http://pope.kbs.co.kr/pc/eng/main/main.php

The US- based CathoicTV has included the Visit to South Korea in its Papal programming broadcast over various Catholic television networks in the world.

Tom Fox, author of Pentecost in Asia: A New Way of Being Church, will also be posting updates on National Catholic Reporter’s Francis in Korea section.

Catholic News Service provides analyses and perspective in addition to news coverage.

Official information from the Korea Catholic Church is posted on its  popekorea website

Information on the 6th Asian Youth Day, which Pope Francis will join will be included in AYD2014 website 

 

Seoul cathedral: site for papal reconciliation Mass

Seoul’s cathedral is a 19th-century Gothic structure that seats an estimated 1,000. It sits on top of a small hill, one of the many in the capital city of South Korea. The cathedral, known locally as the Myeong-dong Cathedral, was the first parish in Korea.

National Catholic Reporter’s Tom Fox gives a feel of the cathedral and grounds as Korean Catholics await Pope Francis’ arrival.

Korea’s Arirang News in this video reports on the last leg of preparations for the visit.

 

Text of CBCP President’s call to a day of prayer for peace in Iraq

Most people who joined the 2012 Grand Mission Congress in Marikina City last April were students, teachers, professionals and workers from the youth sector. (N.J. Viehland Photos)

Students, teachers, professionals and workers from the youth sector joined in prayer at the 2012 Grand Mission Congress in Marikina City – N.J. Viehland Photos

The President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, echoing Pope Francis’ recent Angelus prayers, has asked his fellow prelates to offer all their Masses on August 18 for peace in Iraq. 

Following is the text of his appeal sent to Catholic In Asia:

This Monday August 18, 2014 at the conclusion of his apostolic visit to Korea, Pope Francis will preside at Mass at the Myeong Dong Cathedral for Peace and Reconciliation. In recent days, we have been made aware of the perilous and life threatening situation that our Christian brethren in northern Iraq are going through.

At the Angelus prayer on July 20th, Pope Francis cried with pain: “Our brothers and sisters are persecuted, they are pushed out, forced to leave their homes without the opportunity to take anything with them.  To these families and to these people I would like to express my closeness and my steadfast prayer. Dearest brothers and sisters so persecuted, I know how much you suffer; I know that you are deprived of everything.  I am with you in your faith in Him who conquered evil!”

The Pope also appeals to the conscience of all people, and to each and every believer he repeats: “May the God of peace create in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation.  Violence is not conquered with violence. Violence is conquered with peace! Let us pray in silence, asking for peace; everyone, in silence …. Mary Queen of peace, pray for us!”

Therefore as a gesture of spiritual unity with our persecuted brethren in northern Iraq and in response to the call of the Holy Father that all the faithful in the whole Church raise a voice of ceaseless prayer for the restoration of peace, I request my archbishops and bishops in the Philippines to offer all our Masses on August 18 as Votive Mass for Peace and Reconciliation in Iraq. It is humbly requested that the archbishops and bishops also disseminate this information to all the priests and mandate the priests to offer the same prayers in all their Masses on August 18. 

It would be opportune for our school children to be asked to pray the rosary in school on August 18 for the healing of Iraq. Let us be united with Pope Francis in this quest for peace. 

Let there be peace!

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Manila, August 12, 2014 

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

 Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

 CBCP President

 

 

Concern about Pope Francis’ Sri Lanka visit mounts with militant climate vs. religious minorities

Militant actions of an ultra-nationalist group of ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists against minority religious groups in Sri Lanka are raising concern among sectors involved in Pope Francis’ visit to the island country next year, a report from Italy says.

Paolo Affato in an article for Vatican Insider online newspaper revealed growing concern over the papal visit as he discussed recent “disturbance” reportedly created by extremist Buddhist monks with other protesters against a workshop organized by Families of the Disappeared people in the 26-year ethnic Tamil separatist war that ended in 2009. 

Center for Society and Religion, an institution of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate’s (OMI)  Colombo Province hosted the workshop. Organizers invited about 30 families to the Center for a “sharing” with members of civil society groups, NGO and foreign diplomats on the disappearance of their relatives in connection with the war.

A joint statement of embassy officials of France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland posted on the UK government website reported that “an organized group including monks…made forced entry into the room where the discussions were taking place, shouting violently.” 

Their country’s representatives were in the  workshop venue with family members who had travelled from the Northern Province where the war with minority Tamils centered. “All those present felt that their security was under threat,” the officials at the meeting reported.

Affato in his article discussed the incident in the context of a “climate of hostility and revenge” fueling anti-Christian propaganda and violence blamed on radical Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS, Buddhist Power Force). For example, days after official announcement of dates of the 2015 papal visit, the group’s leader Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara Thero demanded that the pope during his visit apologize to Buddhists for attrocities committed by Christian colonial rulers of the island.

However, the national movement to protect the Catholic religion in the country days later said the demand for apology is part of a plan to disrupt the papal visit, and listed other features of the alleged scheme.

The Holy See announced July 29 that the Pope would make his apostolic visit to Sri Lanka Jan. 12-15, 2015.

“These radical Buddhist groups – whose actions are fueled by fervent nationalism colored by faith and culture – have been targeting Muslims and also Christian Evangelicals and Pentecostals for some time now,” Affato wrote.

He explained, “These religious (Christian) groups are seen as advocates of a strong religious proselytism. Now, these groups (radical Buddhists) seem to be targeting Catholics as well.”

According to Affato, “This has sparked concern among bishops, civil authorities, the Nunciature of Colombo and other European embassies ahead of the Pope’s visit.” 

His article details how Buddhist extremists oppose Pope’s visit to Sri Lanka 

In their joint statement, the foreign officials declared, “The embassies of France, Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland strongly condemn the disruption,” of the Aug. 4 meeting.

“We strongly urge the government to ensure and respect freedom of assembly and expression in Sri Lanka,” they added. They  also expressed their hope that the government would assure meeting participants from the North of their security during their return travel.

Sri Lanka’s Cabinet spokesman , however, has reportedly accused the Western diplomats of “double standard” citing the foreigners’ condemnation of the protests against the meeting by people equally entitled to  freedom of assembly and speech.

“There is a feeling that one sector of people are being taken care by some interested parties with western interests,” Minister Keheliya Rambukwella is quoted saying.

Father Rohan Silva, Superior of OMI Colombo Province,  explained in a media statement that the meeting was part of the Center’s commitment to promote the values of democracy, defend social justice, peace and equality for all citizens. The Center has also worked to promote dialogue among Sri Lankas and non-Sri Lankans, the priest added.

Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, has urged Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar where they are the majority of the population, to stop violence against Muslim minorities. BBS rejects the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader. 

====================

Full text of Father Silva’s statement on the Aug. 4 meeting disruption follows:

As the Provincial Superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Colombo Province), I wish to express my feelings of deep disappointment and frustration over the deplorable and despicable incident that transpired at the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR), at 281, Deans Road, Colombo 10, on Monday, August 4, 2014.

CSR is the social justice arm of the Oblate religious order and has always championed the cause of the poor and the marginalized, whatever be their race or creed. It has fearlessly raised its voice on behalf of the voiceless victims of injustice during more than 40 years of its existence. CSR’s unwavering concern has always been the liberation of the poor and marginalized people and it always remained open to whatever was good and true irrespective of its source. Its discussion forums on vital issues have always been open to diverse views. Freedom of expression has been one of CSR’s hallmarks. Since its inception, the Centre has been an open forum for all ethnic communities and religions, a haven for opinion makers and academicians, and politicians of all hues to express their views and be heard on the most crucial issues affecting the Nation and her people. It was and continues to be a centre for research and a meeting place for both the powerful and the powerless on equal grounds without fear or favour.

The said incident occurred at a workshop organized by the Families of the Disappeared with the intention of listening to and learning the agonies of those whose loved ones had been the victims of involuntary disappearance irrespective of whether they were from the North or the South. It is also worthy of note that this gathering was reserved for invitees only and a number of foreign diplomats were in attendance at this meeting.

The fact that this meeting had been organized at the CSR is of special significance in this instance. The CSR, founded by the late Fr. Tissa Balasuriya, OMI, has earned the respect and recognition of all political parties and all religious denominations as an institution that promoted the values of democracy and for years had stood for the defence of social justice, peace, equality for all citizens in every sphere of life. Even during some of the darkest moments of the Nation’s history, the CSR remained an oasis where a modicum of sanity prevailed.

It is indeed most unfortunate that these time tested values of the CSR were transgressed and its hallowed precincts violated by a group that forced itself into the premises uninvited and instilling fear and intimidation among those participating in a meeting on purely humanitarian grounds. The CSR is an organization that has created democratic space for dialogue among Sri Lankans and non-Sri Lankans as well and such space has often proved beneficial to generate discussion on social, political and economic issues and clear the air of bias and false rumours that may prove detrimental to society in general and to governments in particular. That democratic space has now being sullied by elements that contribute little to demonstrate to the world that Sri Lanka is a land where kindness and compassion are hallmarks of our national identity. We live in a world where humanitarian concerns transcend national boundaries, hence the presence of non-Sri Lankans should not be construed as external interference.

The CSR premises lie contiguous to a place of worship. Trespassing such sacred space by the use of force and unbecoming and destructive behaviour is simply a violation of the Church’s guaranteed fundamental rights and of those who use those premises for humanitarian and peaceful purposes. The CSR has always held in high esteem all religions and those espousing their values and welcomed all organizations working for humanitarian concerns. In this context, those responsible for the CSR strongly condemn the illegal intrusion into its premises and urge, in no uncertain terms, the law enforcement authorities to bring the law of the land to bear on those who have acted contrary to its tenets, irrespective of their social status.

We also appeal to the leaders of the Church and other peace loving organizations to send out a firm call to the powers that be to bring to a halt the blatant violations of the fundamental and civic rights of the citizens of this country.
Very Rev. Fr. Rohan Silva OMI
Provincial Superior,
Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Colombo Province)

Pope Francis sends ex-Philippines nuncio Filoni on mission of support, aid to Iraq Church

Pope Francis has sent  former nuncio to the Philippines, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to Iraq to deliver a message of support and aid to Christians suffering amid sectarian violence there.

Cardinal Filoni served as nuncio to the Philippines from 1992 to 2001. He served much of this term from Hong Kong where he also participated in the Holy See’s “Study Mission” that reached out to China’s bishops, official and non-official Churches and bishops, reconciling the vast majority to the Holy See.

“My mission in Iraq is to give moral, spiritual and psychological support” he is shown saying in Italian in an interview with Rome Reports.

What is happening in Iraq?

Pope Francis has repeatedly decried the violence in Iraq and Gaza, and called Catholics to pray for peace in these places.

Archbishop Louis Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, offers this prayer to help Catholics worldwide join their  brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq in daily prayer

 

Retired Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi, former CBCP president, dies

Retired Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi of Caceres, a member of the Dominican order who had served as president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, here with emcee, movie and tv actress and host Boots Anson-Roa during the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization at Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila Oct. 17, 2013  talked about his prayers to Our Lady of Penafrancia while he battles cancer. NJ Viehland Photo

Retired Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi of Caceres, a member of the Dominican order who had served as president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, here with emcee, movie and tv actress and host Boots Anson-Roa during the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE) at Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila Oct. 17, 2013 talked about his prayers to the Lady of Penafrancia while he battles cancer. NJ Viehland Photos

Former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Caceres Archbishop Emeritus Leonardo Z. Legaspi of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), 78,  passed away at 5am Aug. 8,  Feast of Saint Dominic, at University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital after losing his battle with cancer, CBCP News reported.

Archbishop Legaspi underwent chemotherapy after doctors found tumors in his lungs in January 2009 and said he had stage three lung cancer, the prelate had announced.

In a press conference organized by Caceres Archdiocese in the Archbishop’s residence in August 2010, the ailing archbishop reported that the tumors had disappeared. He said the Lady of Penafrancia, patroness of the Bicol region where his archdiocese lies, healed him of his tumors.

Read the full Philippine Daily Inquirer report on Bicol’s ailing archbishop claims to have been healed by Virgin Mary 

Last October, Archbishop Legaspi told thousands of participants gathered in the campus of the Dominican-run UST for the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization the story of his devotion to the Lady of Penafrancia, its impact on his life and ministry, especially in surrendering to the Lord and preparing to join his creator. 

This, he said, he continued to do at UST where the prelate lived after turning over leadership of Caceres to his successor, Archbishop Rolando Tria-Tirona, in Nov. 2012.

Following announcement of his death,  colleagues in the CBCP cited among notable endeavors his leadership in Philippine Church renewal after taking over as CBCP president  the year after the 1986 “People Power” uprising that deposed the late President Ferdinand Marcos and restored democratic institutions in the country.

CBCP News quotes Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani, Jr. describing Archbishop Legaspi as “A giant among bishops – a leader with vision and integrity and with huge achievements, especially initiating and leading the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II).”

Legaspi presided over  PCPII, a gathering of more than 470 Church leaders and members – bishops, religious, laity from Jan. 20-Feb. 17, 1991 in  San Carlos Pastoral Formation Complex in Makati, Metro Manila to study changes brought about by Vatican II, the context of Church in the Philippines and discern a path to reform and renewal.

Rest in peace and pray for us, Archbishop Legaspi.

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Commentary: Beatification of Martyrs may intensify Koreans’ reunification hopes – Hector Welgampola

The division of Korea into two countries was never the work of Korean people. It was a cruel accident of history. In the aftermath of World War II, it was imposed on them as part of the division of war spoils. American control of Japan spilt over to Korea’s southern region, while the Soviets’ influence via north Asia got stuck alongside their ideological control of the northern region. The divided country’s political elites did not take long to fall victim to the ideological syndromes.

Despite political estrangement in and after the long prolonged Korean War, the people’s yearning for togetherness still becomes quite palpable whenever families from North and South are permitted to reunite. Seniors from both sides of the sad divide still cherish memories of the past. But as they age, lingering memories begin to weaken. So do hopes of reunification, except for few shared links such as the Catholic Church.

Up until this day, the Korean Catholic Church has known no North/ South divide. The divided nation’s Catholics belong to the Catholic Church of Korea, not of North Korea or of South Korea. And as a symbol of that unity, the archbishop of (South Korea’s) Seoul archdiocese has been the administrator of (North Korea’s) Pyongyang archdiocese.

Whenever possible, the Church prefers to give leadership responsibility to local people. And in consonance with that policy, in 1943, the administration of Pyongyang was delegated to a Northerner: Bishop Francis Borgia Hong Yong-ho. In 1962, despite the 56-year-old apostolic prefect’s disappearance, Saint John XXIII elevated him as head of the diocese.

The one-time flourishing diocese, known as Jerusalem of the East, had some 50,000 Catholics. But while estimates now vary from zero to about a thousand, the bishop and clergy have gone missing since the Korean War. They are assumed to have been martyred under the rule of Kim Il-sung, grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong-un.

Pope Francis’ visit and upcoming beatification of 124 Martyrs, have revived questions about the fate of the long-disappeared Bishop Hong, who would have been 108 years old if still alive. While the Korean Church has asked Rome to beatify the bishop and his companions, faith links across the Demilitarized Zone border keep fanning people’s dreams of reunification.

Even if the hope of seeing such recent martyrs raised to the altar may be remote as of now, the long litany of early martyrs includes several Northerners. 

The social dynamics of such realities will continue to contribute toward upbuilding the Korean Nation’s collective consciousness. They can be part of a process of resource building toward the goal of national reunification that Christians have long desired and strived for. The build-up goes on slow, yet steady. It gathers momentum at its own pace – rather at God’s own pace. As much as that momentum is blessed by the Martyrs’ fragrance of sanctity, it continues to be sustained by everyday witness of God’s people. The laity-founded Korean Church’s now flourishing lay network of Small Christian Communities may offer a timely grace of outreach to Northern compatriots.

A Korean friend recently wrote to me about another small but prophetic move, though some may consider it controversial. He wrote to me about poet Kim Chi-ha‘s reported change of political stance. The dissident Catholic Korean poet is well remembered for his faith-inspired poems as well as for his life witness through imprisonment and harassment under the rule of strong-man Park Chung-hee since 1974. However, reportedly, the literary giant has come out in support of the strongman’s daughter, current President Park Guen-hye. The former prisoner of conscience has claimed that he now wishes to help reunite the politically divided country. No doubt, Kim has drawn inspiration from the faith saga of his nation’s ancient Martyrs as from the witness of his faith contemporaries such as late Catholic president Kim Dae-jung and late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, whom Koreans called “the conscience of the Korean Nation.”

Cardinal Kim persistently promoted the Church’s liberative role in Korean society. A regular patron of people’s rights, he supported groups such as the Korean Catholic Farmers’ Movement as part of an ecumenical church of the people, popularly known as“Hyonjanj” (field) church. His focus was always on the broad picture of Church role in the Nation, not on the numbers game that often fantasised Korea’s growing Catholic population. He was quite dismissive of that phenomenon, whenever I asked him about conversions. “They come, they go!” was his unenthused reply. Even as his country now prepares to beatify 124 more Martyrs, his enduring legacy would still be the event’s spiritual impact on reunification hopes of God’s “minjung,” the struggling masses of the still divided nation.

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 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

Vietnam’s new bishop of My Tho acknowledges laity’s role in vibrant Church

Catholic women's groups members prepare to welcome a delegation of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) assigned to visit their parish during the Xth FABC Plenary Assembly in Xuan Loc on Dec. 2012. - NJ Viehland Photos

Catholic women’s groups members prepare to welcome a delegation of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) assigned to visit their parish during the Xth FABC Plenary Assembly in Xuan Loc on Dec. 2012. – NJ Viehland Photos

Newly appointed Vietnamese Bishop of My Tho, Peter Nguyen Van Kham, has acknowledged the need for formation for lay Catholics who he said must play  a “greater role” in the Church.

Laity bring about vibrancy for the life of the Church, Bishop Kham, former Ho Chi Minh diocesan pastoral center director, was quoted saying in a report of Catholic News Agency (CNA).

Before Mass, Vietnamese Catholic youth cheerfully await a delegation of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) visiting their parish as part of X FABC Plenary Assembly activities in Dec. 2012. - NJ Viehland Photos

Before Mass, Vietnamese Catholic youth cheerfully await a delegation of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) visiting their parish as part of X FABC Plenary Assembly activities in Dec. 2012. – NJ Viehland Photos

Bishop Kham reportedly shared this reflection on his ministry in Ho Chi Minh in an email to CNA after Pope Francis appointed the former auxiliary of Ho Chi Minh as bishop of My Tho in the Mekong Delta on July 26.

Read CNA’s full report on Vietnamese bishop joyful to lead, evangelize new flock

My Tho diocese covers the provinces of Long An and Tiền Giang and two thirds of Đồng Tháp province spread across a land area of 9,262 square kilometers, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam reported on its website.

As of December 31, 2010, the diocese’s 120,300 Catholics among its total population of 4,776,036 were living in areas within its 85 parishes and 34 subparishes and mission stations. Some  124 priests, 242 religious, 41 seminarians, 10 seminary candidates and 366 catechists serve in the diocese.

Xuan Loc was created in 1965 from places under the pastoral care of Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese. In 2010, more than 35 percent of the 2.34 million people living in the diocese had been baptized Catholics. Today, more than 1,700 women religious are helping in Church ministries diocesan officials say. Many of them contributed to discussions, services and operations in support of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences Dec. 10-16, 2012. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

Many of the thousands of Vietnamese religious women contributed to discussions, services and operations in support of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Dec. 10-16, 2012. (N. J. Viehland Photo)

 

Pope Francis to visit PH Jan. 15-19, 2015 after Sri Lanka – Cardinal Tagle

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

MANILA – Pope Francis will visit the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19.

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila announced the schedule of the visit in a press briefing Tuesday at the Manila archdiocese headquarters in Intramuros.“Accepting the invitation of the Civil Authority and the bishops, His Holiness, Pope Francis, will make an apostolic visit to Sri Lanka from January 12 to 15 and to the Philippines from January 15 to 19, 2015,” Cardinal Tagle said.Following the cardinal’s announcement, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. welcomed the news of the pope’s visit, especially since it will mark the 20th anniversary of the World Youth Day in the country in 1995.

“President Aquino is calling on all concerned government offices and the citizenry to work closely with the papal visit committee in ensuring the success of the apostolic visit of Pope Francis,” Coloma added. He said the president designated Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. as the government’s lead person for the visit.

Read full report

Empowering Asia’s laity – new book

Screenshot of cover of recently published book on Catholic laity in Asia by Charles Bertille.

Screenshot of cover of recently published book on Catholic laity in Asia by Charles Bertille.


Charles Bertille, the former director of Institute of Formation Fondacio Asia (IFF Asia) recently published his book “Empowering Asia’s Laity”.
Missiologist Father James Kroeger of the Maryknoll Fathers who has spent most of his 40 years as a missionary  in Asia based in the Philippines, described the book as a “labor of love, written by a dedicated Christian layman who has a deep missionary commitment, particularly to the emergence of a dynamic laity within the local Churches in Asia.”
Father Kroeger found in the book solid theology, Asian perspectives on ecclesiology, concrete approaches to evangelization, a vision of ministries–especially lay ministries–in the Churches. The book also offers insights into formation for missionary evangelization, Father Kroeger added.
Since 1997, the American missioner has taught and been engaged in formation work at the Jesuits’ Loyola School of Theology and Mother of Life Catechetical Institute in Quezon City, northeast of Manila. He also has served as a visiting professor at the Major Seminary in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Bertille’s book is sold at Claretian Communications Inc. in the Philippines and Herald Publications SDN BHD in Kuala Lumpur. Proceeds from sales will go to formation of laity and youth.
Young lay Church workers sing at their program closing their formation and leadership training program organized by Fondacio Christians for the World, in their former center in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. (N.J. Viehland Photo)

Young lay Church workers sing at their program closing their formation and leadership training program organized by Fondacio Christians for the World, in their former center in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. (N.J. Viehland Photo)

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