Cardinal Tagle: Mary, truly a woman of our time, FABC papers no.134

Magnificat sign language YouTube

Magnificat song sign language demonstration, YouTube

Today’s Gospel story of the Annunciation when Angel Gabriel tells Mary she would be the mother of Jesus reminds me of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s talk to East Asia bishops, clergy, religious and laity gathered for the Institute on Lay Apostolate on Women II organized four years ago by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).

Our priest’s homily today focused on the important virtues of purity and obedience. In Cardinal Tagle’s reflection titled “Mary Truly a Woman of Our Times,” he reviews Biblical stories of Mary that show Mary’s courage and many other virtues that underscore her relevance to women and men today.

Cardinal Tagle’s theological reflections touch on:

1. Mary as a youthful disciple

2. Mary as a traveling woman

3. Mary as pregnant woman

4. Mary as oppressed and refugee woman

5. Mary as married woman

6. Mary as woman of celebration

7. Mary as the victim mother

8. Mary as prayerful community disciple waiting for the Holy Spirit

Cardinal Tagle’s talk on Mary, Truly a Woman of Our Time is published as FABC Papers no. 134

 

Students taught their parents, teachers to play music [video]

Students taught their parents and teachers how to play their instruments. 

Christmas orchestra parents teachers CBCP YouTube

This was the result!

Gearing up for Papal Visit 2015, Bl. Vaz canonization – pastoral letter

WELCOMING THE VICAR OF CHRIST ON THE OCCASION OF THE CANONIZATION OF BLESSED JOSEPH VAZ

PASTORAL LETTER ISSUED BY THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE OF SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Sri Lanka, screen shot

We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of His Holiness Pope Francis on our soil on January 13, 2015 as the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of Peter. It is with great joy that we welcome our Holy Father into our midst.

Already by the simplicity of his life, his sense of evangelical poverty and Christ like compassionate love, specially for the poor and the suffering, the Holy Father has become a much revered and loved spiritual leader of the whole world. The Pope’s visit therefore, is a great blessing not only to the Church in Sri Lanka but also to the whole Nation. All preparations are underway and are progressing smoothly to welcome the Holy Father.

The Holy Father will arrive on January 13, 2015 at 9.00 am at Bandaranaike International Airport and after the preliminary State Welcome, the Holy Father will proceed to the Archbishop’s House for a meeting with the Bishops. On the 13th at 5.00 pm, His Holiness will pay a courtesy call on the President of the country and at 6.00 pm the Holy Father will meet Religious Leaders of all faiths, at the BMICH. The highlight of the Holy Father’s visit undoubtedly will be the Canonization of our Beloved Apostle, at a Holy Mass to be presided over by the Supreme Pontiff, at Galle Face Esplanade on January 14, 2015 at 8.30 am. The same afternoon His Holiness will proceed to the Hallowed Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, for a prayer service. The following morning. after a short visit to the Chapel of Our Lady of Lanka at the Benedict XVIth Institute at Bolawalana, Negombo, the Holy Father will leave our shores at 9.00 am.

We, therefore, exhort all our faithful, Clergy and Religious, to flock to Galle Face Esplanade for the Holy Mass, during which we shall receive the First Saint of Mother Lanka, on January 14, 2015 in large numbers, as this is a unique occasion for all of us.

Our Joy of the visit of the Universal Shepherd is further enhanced by the decision of the Holy Father to Canonise our beloved Apostle, Blessed Joseph Vaz.

Joseph Vaz devotion card

We have prayed earnestly and yearned for this day to dawn. We thank God our loving Father for His unfailing providential care in saving the faith of our forefathers through the indefatigable labours of this great missionary.

We are deeply indebted to Blessed Joseph Vaz for his zeal, heroic sanctity and unquenchable thirst for souls that made him to come to our land and to help our forefathers to be strengthened in their faith.

We, therefore, exhort all our faithful, Clergy and Religious, to flock to Galle Face Esplanade for the Holy Mass, during which we shall receive the first Saint of Mother Lanka, on January 14, 2015, in large numbers, as this is a unique occasion for all of us.

In the coming weeks, we exhort all our faithful, Clergy and Religious to embark on a program me of deep spiritual preparation for both events, namely the Canonisation and the Papal Visit. For this purpose, we urge that all our parishes and Catholic institutions organize programmes of spiritual preparation:

a. The special thanksgiving prayer to be recited in our Churches and Institutions, after the Holy Mass. (If you do not have sufficient number of prayer cards for this purpose, each parish is requested to get them printed in the relevant languages and distribute it to all the faithful).

b. Exhort the faithful to light the altar lamp in every home and after the Family Rosary for the intentions of the Holy Father, recite the prayer of thanksgiving and sing the hymn of Blessed Joseph Vaz.

c. Encourage and provide opportunities for all our faithful to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and make a good Confession before the Papal Visit and the Canonisation.

d. Organise an hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on a chosen day of the week and urge the faithful to pray intensely for a deep renewal of our families and our Christian commitment to love, to serve and to proclaim the Lord by our lives and witness.

e. In the coming weeks in the Sunday homilies, make the faithful aware of the heroic sanctity and burning zeal and the life and ministry of the Apostle of Sri Lanka, Blessed Joseph Vaz.

f. During the period of preparation, encourage the faithful to visit the sick in the parish and pray with them and pay special attention to the poor and the marginalised. Let parishioners who can afford, assist financially those who have no
means to make the pilgrimage to Colombo on Januar 14.

g. Animate the faithful to be agents of peace and reconciliation in their own environment.

h. We exhort all our parishes to organise the joyous pealing of Church Bells in the whole Island, when the Holy Father makes the declaration of Canonisation during the Holy Mass.

i. Let us participate actively in the Holy Mass of Canonisation with great fervour and devotion by joining in the Mass prayers and the singing.

(Our spiritual preparation committee will be giving further directions for this purpose.)

The Assembly for the Holy Mass of canonization presided over by the Holy Father, would be a great manifestation of our gratitude to God Almighty and our profound gratitude to the Apostle of Sri Lanka, Blessed Joseph Vaz, who was sent to us by Our Loving Father through the intercession of Our Beloved Mother.

May this unique occasion draw down numerous blessings upon all of us and our families and our beloved Motherland by these precious events, which we eagerly await.

Signed

His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith
President – CBCSL, Archbishop of Colombo.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Rayappu Joseph
Vice President – CBCSL, Bishop of Mannar.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Valence Mendis
Secretary General – CBCSL, Bishop of Chilaw.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. J. Kingsley Swampillai
Bishop of Trincomalee.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Thomas Savundranayagam
Bishop of Jaffna.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Vianney Fernando
Bishop of Kandy.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. J. Winston S. Fernando, S.S.S
Bishop of Badulla.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Norbert M. Andradi, O.M.I
Bishop of Anuradhapura.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Harold A. Perera
Bishop of Kurunegala.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Cletus C. Perera, O.S.B
Bishop of Ratnapura.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Ponniah
Bishop of Batticaloa.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Raymond K. Wickramasinghe
Bishop of Galle.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Marius Peiris
Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. F. L. Emmanuel Fernando
Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo.
h Rt. Rev. Dr. Maxwell G. Silva
Auxiliary Bishop of Colombo.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady 8th December 2014.

[text of pastoral letter reprinted raw from Messenger, Sri Lanka’s weekly Catholic Newspaper, Dec. 14, 2014 issue]

Sri Lanka politicians pledge peaceful polls and papal visit, cardinal

We need to have faith and believe in what they both told us - Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of Colombo was quoted in Messenger, Sri Lanka’s Catholic newspaper.

The cardinal was sharing what he felt about the assurance he said leading candidates – incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, the common opposition candidate – gave Sri Lanka’s Catholic bishops that there would be no trouble after the Jan. 8 polls and that a peaceful atmosphere would prevail for the visit of the Holy Father.

Click image for full story on ncronline.org

NCR story Sri Lanka polls papal visit NJ Viehland

Related posts:

Sri Lanka Commentary: Blessed Joseph Vaz canonization

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

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

Samar youth orchestra in papal Mass – built to “touch life through music”

CKY orchestra playing Carl Bordeos

Contributed photo of Christ the King College Youth Symphony Orchestra in concert. From Carl Bordeos

The coordinator of a youth symphony orchestra in Samar province, Central Philippines, northwest of where Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) first hit land last year says the young musicians are gearing up to play in Pope Francis’ Mass at Luneta Park on Jan. 18.

Carl Bordeos, coordinator of the 60-member Christ the King College Youth Symphony Orchestra, from Calbayog, Samar, said his group is scheduled to arrive in Manila by January 9, for the general rehearsal with the choir on the 10th & 17th.

In his story of the orchestra sent to Catholic in Asia, Bordeos called the young musicians “missionaries of classical music”. 

Read on to know about this section of the orchestra for the Papal Mass.

Young Musicians from Samar to perform during Pope Francis’ mass in Luneta

By: Carl Jamie Simple S. Bordeos

The 60-member CHRIST THE KING COLLEGE YOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (CKC YSO) from the City of Calbayog in Samar will join other instrumentalists from Manila to provide music in one of the Eucharistic Celebrations when Pope Francis visits the country come January 2015. These young musicians from Samar Island, given the special privilege to perform in the papal mass in Luneta, are high school & college students of the Christ the King College, a Franciscan educational institution.

IEC Palma crucifix NJ Viehland

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu (left) / NJ Viehland Photos

Musical Journey & History

It was Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu Archdiocese who conceptualized the group when he was still bishop in the Diocese of Calbayog in 2005. Through the efforts of Fr. Prisco A. Cajes, OFM, the former CKC President, and the Calbayognons in the United States headed by Walter Rumohr and Tomas Gomez who donated most of the musical instruments, the CKC-YSO was inaugurated during the Solemnity of the Christ the King on November 25, 2007.

After a 5-month rigorous training of the first members by Fr. Marlowe A. Rosales, OFM, its Music Director and Conductor, the first concert was launched at the Poor Clare Monastery in Calbayog City. Since then, it has developed into a dynamic group performing in different places in the country. To date, it has performed at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA); New Port Mall of Resorts World Manila; Century Park Hotel; Concert at the Park at the Open-air Auditorium, Rizal Park-Manila; Sabin Resort Hotel in Ormoc City; outreach concerts in far-flung barangays in Calbayog City; and at the Paco Catholic School for the Pondo ng Pinoy upon the invitation of His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, DD.

CKC Youth Orchestra mash up Carl Bordeos

Contributed by Carl Bordeos

Sharing the Gift of Music

Funds raised from the concerts have also financed the Share God’s Gift of Music Program, which comprises the scholarships, values formation and music training of the young-member musicians, upgrade and maintenance of the musical instruments, and outreach concerts in far-flung communities.

Since 2007 and up to the present, Fr. Marlowe seemed marvelous and successful in training the youth of Samar. In fact, two particular life stories of its members were featured in Mel and Joey of GMA-7 last December 12, 2010; an article ‘Youth and Music’ written by a Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist last December 13, 2009; ‘Trip to Samar’ written by a travel writer for an online website-based in California, USA; another article ‘Franciscan Friar honored for Music that touches lives’ featured in [CathNews Philippines].

Touching Lives Through Music

Two (2) inspiring stories of its members were featured on national TV: one, was about an orchestra member, who, because of one of CKC-YSO concerts in Manila, met her mom after 10 long years; and, an orchestra member who planned to stop his studies to work for a bakery store in Catbalogan, Samar. Because of the priest-missionary’s encouragement and help, the young man continues his studies. Fr. Marlowe promised to keep him as a student scholar of CKC-YSO.

Because of these as well as other inspiring stories of the orchestra members, the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP, city council) of Calbayog passed a resolution in 2010 declaring Fr. Marlowe as ‘Adopted Son of Calbayog City’ for his dedication and zealous service in developing the orchestra.

In addition, the resolution says“, the City gratefully recognizes and appreciates Fr. Marlowe A. Rosales’ vital contributions to our youths for sharing his knowledge and skills in music, thus bringing pride and honor to the city….”

The Missionaries of Classical Music

The CKC-YSO has not only entertained people in big cities like Manila, Cebu, Tacloban, and Dumaguete. They also have visited remote barangays (barrios) through their music outreach program, bringing the orchestral music closer to the rural folks, who may not have the opportunity to experience it.

Profile of CKC YSO’s Music Director

Born in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, on October 16, 1972 to parents Nestor R. Rosales and Erma A. Rosales, Father Rosales graduated in 2001 from Conservatory of Music of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas (UST) with 2 degrees, Bachelor of Music in Music Education and in Conducting.

His previous assignments were at Saint Francis School in La Libertad, Negros Oriental (Central Philippines) in 2002, as Parochial Vicar of San Vicente Parish in Cebu City in 2003, and in Saint Mary of the Angels Parish in Santa Teresita in Cagayan Valley (northern Philippines) in 2004. In all these places, he organized choirs of high school students.

Currently, he is serving as Missionary of the Franciscan Province of San Pedro Bautista on Samar Island fulfilling his great mission for the youth, touching their lives through the music of his orchestra.

‘Put an end to the fossil fuel era,’ say bishops at climate conference

Marikina, NJ Viehland

Flooding in Marikina City during Habagat / NJ Viehland photos

A group of bishops attending an international climate-change conference in Peru called upon the international community “to keep the global temperature increase below 1.5 degree Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels, in order to protect frontline communities suffering from the impacts of climate change.”

“Central to this is to put an end to the fossil fuel era, phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in 100% renewables with sustainable energy access for all,” the bishops said.

X FABC group picture

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

The nine bishops include representatives of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM), the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC), and the French and Brazilian bishops’ conferences.

“We express…

Read full report

Mobile apps for Papal Visit Philippines 2015 launched

Papal Visit apps launching / NJ Viehland Photos

The Committee for the Papal Visit launched today through Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig the Papal Visit application for Android and IOS.

The software can be downloaded through Google Apps by typing papal visit 2015. When download is completed and the app is installed  the Philippines Papal Visit 2015 logo and Pope Francis’ photo appears on the phone’s screen as the official Papal Visit song and video play. Icons appear in the bottom of the screen which when tapped takes one either to Pontifex, Pope Francis’ Twitter account, the news, the event’s official website and the Papal Visit itinerary. The app can be used for a Tablet also.

“We want as best as we can to make sure that the information that we provide day by day and weekly updates are given to the public, especially those who are mobile,” said Bishop Vergara, who chairs the Episcopal Commission on Social Communications and Mass Media of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

He thanked people who “made sure these apps would come out a month before the visit of the Holy Father.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Manila from Sri Lanka for his apostolic visit Jan. 15-19, 2015.

Pope Francis thanks Filipina actress

 

 

Rita Avila YouTube

Rita Avila, actress  http://youtu.be/63Uus-v4BsY

MANILA, Dec. 11, 2014 – Pope Francis, through a high-ranking Vatican official, thanked Rita Avila, a local actress and book author, for recently sending him personal copies of her two books, CBCPNews reported.

What are the books about, why is this actress writing books, and what did Pope Francis tell Rita?

Read full report

Interview – Sri Lanka Church communication director on papal visit and elections

Fr Cyril Gamini Fernando SLC FB Photo

Fr Cyril Gamini Fernando photo on Sri Lankan Catholics Facebook 

https://www.facebook.com/slcatholics/posts/728540610544799

Manila – Catholic in Asia spoke briefly on the phone to Colombo with Father Cyril Gamini Fernando, National Director of Catholic Social Communication in Sri Lanka on Friday, Dec. 5, to get the local Church’s perspective of concerns raised by Catholics who are pushing for the postponement of Pope Francis’ January 2015 visit to their country.

Here’s what Father Fernando had to say: [excerpts]

Catholic In Asia : What was the outcome of the meetings with the Vatican papal visit team that went there after the schedule of early elections next year was announced ?

         Father Cyril Gamini Fernando: The Vatican team did not come here in connection with the elections. They have come here to check on the preparations for the papal visit. That is the normal thing. They do the same thing in Manila also. They arrived day before yesterday (Dec. 3) and they have left already. As of now there is no change in the schedule of papal visit events.

Vatican team Madhu Sri Lanka Papal Visit FB

Screen shot from Papal Visit 2015 Facebook account

What is the response of Sri Lanka Church officials to concerns of Catholics detailed in published letters and statements? What is Cardinal Ranjith’s response to these, and to “politicization” of the papal visit ?

We have requested all parties connected with these elections that they should not use these as election tools, whether  their pictures with the pope or anything showing the papal visit. So we have asked if there are already such pictures displayed outside or in online accounts, they should remove them all. We have told that to all parties.

What about anticipated violence around the time of the polls? How does the local Church see this?

Election day is on the 8th (January) we have about six days ‘til the 13th to open the ballot and count and declare the president before we will welcome the Holy Father for the visit.

What assurance can local Church organizers give for the safety of the pope and people who will be around the venue of papal visit events?

We have faith in God and we have asked the people to pray and prepare spiritually for the visit because it is primarily a spiritual event.

END 

Related post:

Sri Lanka politicians pledge peaceful polls and papal visit, cardinal

 

 

CBCP President to Catholic churches, schools: shelter refugees of looming typhoon

Hagupit JTWC image

JTWC image  http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC/

Typhoon Hagupit with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph on Wednesday afternoon and gustiness up to 184 mph, has been reported approaching the same area in central Philippines battered by Super Typhoon Haiyan Nov. 8 last year.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center of the U.S. Navy forecasts further strengthening of the storm with sustained winds possibly peaking at 185 mph.

As of Wednesday afternoon it was located about 148 nautical miles north-northeast of Koror in Palau.

As priests and parish workers reported over Church-run radio Veritas 846 that some rain had started in the Philippines eastern coastal communities in Samar and Leyte provinces, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), appealed to government to start evacuation and avoid disaster.

Archbishop Villegas also appealed to Catholic churches and schools to open up to refugees seeking shelter from the storm.

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

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

Following is the full text of the CBCP president’s letter on looming typhoon Hagupit.

My brothers and sisters in Christ:

Meteorologists inform us that HAGUPIT is now a super-typhoon and most predict that it will make land-fall over the very same areas hard-hit by Yolanda.  The CNN resident meteorologist has just characterized it as the strongest of super-typhoon this year.

Let us all first pray, and the Filipinos far from the danger-zone are asked nevertheless to join the entire nation for those in harm’s way.

I plead with government officials and NGOs to commence evacuation now.  To wait any longer may be disastrous.  There is no such thing as an excess of caution, especially when faced with a danger so severe.

I appeal to our Catholic churches and schools to open their doors to refugees and those badly in need of shelter, particularly those already displaced by Yolanda.  I request only that evacuees remember the sacred character of the churches they occupy, should they do so.

Together with my brother-bishops, I commend the entire nation to the mercy, love and providence of our Father.

Lord, spare our land from this typhoon!

December 4, 2014

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

CBCP President

Hong Kong police release Cardinal Zen, protest leaders after “surrender”

Three founders of Hong Kong’s Occupy protest movement, joined by retired Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, 82, have been released without restrictions after they “surrendered” to police yesterday, Dec. 3, Channel News Asia reported.

Protesters flocked to Hong Kong’s central district in late September and blocked three major intersections to demand free elections in the special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China after the government announced its decision to screen presidential candidates in the 2017 elections.

Cardinal Zen has been quoted telling a pro-democracy demonstration earlier this year that it is time for Hong Kong people to show that they “no longer want to be slaves.” Last Sept. 28, he urged protesting students who had gathered at a public square to go home and continue protesting in other forms after police sprayed the crowd with tear gas. 

Cardinal John Tong-hon of Hong Kong had appealed to the Hong Kong-SAR government to exercise restraint on the second day of the demonstration, after police sprayed tear gas on those protesters. He also appealed to the tens of thousands of protesters, including young students, to keep calm, as he urged Christians to pray for peaceful reconciliation of the conflicting parties in the protests. 

Hong Kong and Chinese authorities have not issued a warrant of arrest for protest leaders even after officials had called the protests illegal. 

What now for the quest for peaceful reconciliation and democracy in Hong Kong and China?

Read full report on police release protest leaders

 

 

Manila archdiocese asks Facebook:close down fake Tagle account asking for money

Papal Visit fake account RCAM
Beware: This is a bogus  FB account  using the name of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle and asking donations through this letter which bears the wrong address and wrong signature of the Cardinal. The Archdiocese of Manila calls on Face Book to close this account. It victimizes foreign Filipinos a number of whom in Switzerland responded to the appeal and made donations.
Papal Visit fake letter RCAMWe advise the people to make sure that the letters of solicitation they respond to, especially those purportedly signed by Cardinal Tagle and other officials of the Church, come from official sources. 
The official FB page of Cardinal Tagle which is managed by Jesuit Communications does not post appeals of this sort. Donations for the poor can be coursed through Caritas Manila, the social services arm of the Archdiocese of Manila.
Peachy E. Yamsuan 
Archdiocesan Office of Communications
Archdiocese of Manila  

Delhi police yield to Christians, special probe team for church burning

New Delhi:The Delhi police Tuesday bowed to the Christian community in the national capital after more than 15,000 people choked one of the most congested traffic junctions in India for more than two hours.

The crowd dispersed after the Delhi Police’s Special Commissioner for Law and Order Deepak Mishra agreed to a probe by a special team from crime branch into the burning of St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden, East Delhi, on Monday morning.

The commissioner has also agreed to launch departmental enquiry into the alleged inaction of the local police.

The Delhi administration has also agreed to renovate the church with the help of the Central Public Works Department starting Thursday.

Crowds began to collect in front of the Delhi Police Headquarters from morning hours, blocking all the roads to the Income Tax Office junction where the police headquarters is situated.

Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi, who led the rally…

Read full story...

 

Sri Lanka Commentary: Blessed Joseph Vaz canonization

Joseph Vaz devotion card

Contributed photo

Denigrating the holiest event Lankan Catholics awaited for 303 years

Sri Lanka has decided to hold a presidential election on Jan. 8 – just one week before Pope Francis visits the country. Such advancing of an election, not due for another two years, has deeply hurt the country’s Catholics.

Catholics invited the pope to canonize Blessed Joseph Vaz, the country’s first saint, not for a State visit. The event was set alongside the saint’s Jan. 17 death anniversary. Catholics wished it to be a religious event, with minimal State involvement just for routine protocol. With deep frustration, they now watch the political Trojan horse invade the sanctuary.

The spiritual upbuild for the canonization by groups such as the Joseph Vaz National Secretariat was first distracted with Church-State-planned pageantry for the papal visit. Thereafter political posters made it a tool for election propaganda. Election-related discord and violence may soon overshadow the event. Church leaders little realize the faith erosion caused by letting politics ruin the holiest event Catholics eagerly awaited for 303 years.

Much public distress about the event’s politicization has been expressed via social media and other public exchanges. Many Catholics have urged that the canonization be postponed. Others even say it could be held in Rome like the recent canonization of Indian Saints Chavara and Alphonsa. Some prefer such moves to political denigration of the name of Father Vaz who eschewed politics, and ministered to victims of political conflict.

Sri Lanka Papal visit FB screenshot

The Indian priest had arrived in the country in 1687 dressed as a beggar to avoid Dutch colonizers’ ban on entry of Catholic priests. For 10 years he was the only priest serving the entire country until confreres joined him. During his 24-year apostolate, he searched for Sinhala or Tamil Catholics living in hiding in the aftermath of political conflict between Portuguese and Dutch colonizers. Buddhists and Hindus valued his ascetic witness of treating king and commoner with equanimity.

Saint John Paul II, who beatified Father Vaz in 1995, once described him as the greatest missioner in Asia next to Saint Francis Xavier. It was an affirmation of Lankans’ acclaim of this holy missioner’s sanctity.

Since the missioner’s death in 1711, about 50 books on his life and service have been published in English, French, Italian, Konkani, Sinhalese and Tamil. Devotion to this Apostle of Sri Lanka has spread locally as well as in his Indian homeland. Since his beatification, 10 venues in four Sri Lankan dioceses hold novena devotions to Blessed Vaz. Nine dioceses have dedicated 23 churches and chapels in his honor.

Apart from such public veneration, the aura of his mission still survives in the pastoral field. Trincomalee and Kurunegala dioceses have named their minor seminaries after him. Colombo, Galle and Kurunegala dioceses have opened lay theologates to promote his pioneer mission of indigenization.

Amid such evidence of his living memory, Catholics countrywide have eagerly awaited the peak moment of the preparatory work by the Joseph Vaz National Secretariat, headed by Bishop Vianney Fernando of Kandy. But the spiritual benefit of these efforts will be lost if election-related rivalry and recrimination invade its final stage. Church leaders should make alternate arrangements if they cannot ensure Catholics a prayerful atmosphere to celebrate their first saint without being hassled by election unrest or militarized restrictions.

Hector Welgampola
welgampo@gmail.com 

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.

 

Pope issues letter for Year of Consecrated Life

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued a letter for the Year of Consecrated Life, which will start throughout the universal Church on the first Sunday of Advent, 30 November. The observance will end on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, 2 February 2016.

In his message, the Pope underlined the aims of the Year of Consecrated Life, namely to look to the past with gratitude, to live the present with passion and to embrace the future with hope.

Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci:

I.         AIMS OF THE YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE

1. Institutes of consecrated life will look to the past with gratitude…

Quezon City, NJ Viehland

Maryknoll Sister Helen Graham, Quezon City / NJ Viehland Photos

2.  To live the present with passion…

children watch priests march Ed Gerlock

Scavenger children watch seminarians march to  protest military bases / contributed by Ed Gerlock edgerlock@yahoo.com.ph

3. To embrace the future with hope 

Xuan Loc Seminary Grand Chapel

Xuan Loc Seminary Grand Chapel grounds fill up with people welcoming FABC delegates Dec. 2012 / NJ Viehland Photos

Tagaytay,NJ Viehland

Sister and aspirants from South Asia attended the AMOR meeting Mass in 2013, Tagaytay City/ NJ Viehland Photos

II.        EXPECTATIONS FOR THE YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE

1.        We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere; that the authentic fraternity found in our communities increases our joy; and that our total self-giving in service to the Church, to families and young people, to the elderly and the poor, brings us life-long personal fulfillment.

NJ Viehland Photos

Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia / NJ Viehland Photos 

NJ Viehland Photos

Good Shepherd Srs. Ailyn Binco and Anya Borbon, NJ Viehland Photos

NJ Viehland Photos

Sr. Pring and sacristans in Lingayen-Dagupan, NJ Viehland Photos

2.         I am counting on you “to wake up the world”, since the distinctive sign of consecrated life is prophecy. 

NJ Viehland Photos

NJ Viehland Photos

Muntinlupa prison / NJ Viehland

Muntinlupa prison / NJ Viehland Photos

3.         “to make the Church the home and the school of communion”

year of faith happy priest nun by n j viehland

Year of Faith launch, Paco Church / NJ Viehland Photos

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

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

4.         I also expect from you what I have asked all the members of the Church: to come out of yourselves and go forth to the existential peripheries.  “Go into all the world”…

Robert Reyes / NJ Viehland

Robert Reyes / NJ Viehland Photos

5.         I expect that each form of consecrated life will question what it is that God and people today are asking of them.

De La Salle Brother Armin Luistro from FaceBook

De La Salle Brother Armin Luistro Department of Education FaceBook

AMOR, N.J. Viehland

AMOR, N.J. Viehland Photos

HFSB, Sorsogon,contributed

Sr. Bernie de Silva HFSB, Sorsogon fishermen’s recollection, HFSB contributed photo

Read the full text of Pope Francis’ letter for Year of Consecrated Life, Official English translation

Resource: Database on killing of Filipino Journalists

Published by Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility

CMFR Database on the Killing of Filipino Journalists/Media Workers Since 1986

updated November 2014

See database

 Paco, NJ Viehland

Paco, NJ Viehland

 

How a “far-away” people’s theology groomed a pope for the Church of the Third Millennium

Book Review by Hector Welgampola

Francis: Life and Revolution by Elisabetta Pique

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

Pope Francis’ video message to the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization, 2013 / NJ Viehland Photos

“Francis: Life and Revolution” is more than a papal biography. Based on Jorge Bergoglio’s 76-year life and witness in his native Argentina, the book unravels the genesis of the Bergoglio papacy’s style and nuance.

With native Argentine wisdom and perspicacity of an investigative journalist, Elisabetta Pique helps readers understand the mindset of her compatriot who catapulted to the papacy as Pope Francis. Her familiarity with Argentine lore, long personal acquaintance with Padre Jorge and experience as a Vatican-based journalist have enhanced the well-documented biography with unique insights.

All the way from “Liber Pontificalis”, the papal book attributed to Saint Jerome, more often than not, papal biographies have been, a rather didactic genre of Church literature. Pique’s book, however, follows the lucid and investigative style of more recent papal biographies such as “Paul VI” authored by Peter Hebblethwaite, and “His Holiness” authored by Carl Bernstein and Marco Politi. The narrative style of this much-resourced book makes it addictively readable.

The book’s early chapters give a snapshot of the how and why of the 2013 conclave and the Argentine cardinal’s election to the papacy. Its mid-chapters are a flashback to the cleansing crucible of preceding years very appropriately designated by the author as Bergoglio’s “exile” in and outside Argentina. With uncanny candor, the book reveals the complicity or connivance of various levels of ecclesiastical leadership to thwart the Spirit’s role in grooming a future pope. Noteworthy is the harsh impact of the Sodano-Bernadini curial axis, which scarred the life of several other Third World Churches, as well.

Later on, the book evidences how the blend of a pragmatic Argentine version of people’s theology, Ignatian spirituality and intense Marian devotion sustained Bergoglio through such upheavals and local political unrest. It is reflective, if not predictive, of that blend’s potential for worldwide Church renewal under the leadership of the first pope from Latin America. The book reveals the rationale of the Holy Father’s open-minded approach to renew the Church for the still unfolding mission in the Third Millennium.

And up until now, Pope Francis has done well through the witness to Jesus-like personal austerity and evangelical simplicity he lived as archbishop of Buenos Aires. In recalling the extent of his practical commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, the book cites how his home for elderly priests cared even for Protestant pastors. “If we have to sell chalices, we’ll sell them,” the future pope is reported to have said while providing for a priest with multiple sclerosis.

No wonder the book describes Pope Francis as a tsunami. Even if curialists may not fear for the treasures of the Vatican, the book indicates that some of them worry about his keenness for curial reform. And so, perceptive Catholics worldwide eagerly watch his Francis-like zeal for ecclesia semper reformanda. As the cliche goes, even if the grinding be slow, it will grind exceedingly small, they hope.

However, as realized by some of his predecessors, ridding a two-millennia-old institution of layers of corrosive accretions is not easy. Hebblethwaite’s earlier cited biography of Blessed Paul VI has a prophetic line: “Montini, the first modern pope, tried to be the first Christian pope after (now Saint) Pope John. It broke him.” Like Bergoglio, Montini too had weathered his own “exile” after being packed off to Milan by curial intervention. But the papacy broke him. He ceased writing encyclicals after Humanae Vitae.

As embers of the Humanae Vitae debate emerge in-between the Rome synods on family, some sniping too has become evident. For example, a comment on a recent issue of the Catholic World Report made insinuative remarks about Pope Francis’ origin from “a destitute part of the world” where people are “poorly educated,” it alleged. Nonetheless, Elisabetta Pique’s book offers hope that such Third World origin itself has steeled the Holy Father with Francis-like faith and grit to “rebuild” the Church for the Third Millennium.

The book ends with two somber questions: One: will Pope Francis follow the trend set by Pope Benedict XVI and retire after a limited term of office? The other and more ominous question: will he be assassinated? Both are not unfounded questions, and are backed with quotes from concerned persons. And as the Holy Father prepares to travel longer distances and to trouble spots like Sri Lanka, greater would be people’s concern for his safety. The prayer call the sports-loving pope made six months ago to some athletes in Rome could be heeded by us too: “Pray for me that I may be able to play this game till the day that the Lord calls me to himself.” 

Perhaps, now is the time to revive the old papal anthem and sing with fervor: “God bless our pope, the great, the good!”

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.

 

Thanksgiving : one year after deadly typhoon

Baby Israel by Emylou Antigua

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

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

American Jewish Pins toys JDC photo

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

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

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

Read full story

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

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

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Sri Lanka, screen shot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*words in parentheses were provided by Catholic In Asia editor 

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

Korea - screen grab

Pope Francis in Korea YouTube screen grab.

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

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

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

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

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

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

IEC Cardinals Palma Nuncio NJ Viehland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Catholic in Asia, don’t stop at baptism

Bishop Claver baptizes Aaron Viehland NJ Viehland

Bishop Francisco Clave baptizes Aaron / NJ Viehland Photos

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

By NJ Viehland

AMOR, NJ Viehland

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

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

        

NCR PCNE tagle arevalo by NJ Viehland

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

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

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

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

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

FABC, Mapping Evangelization in Modern Asia

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

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

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

X FABC group picture

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

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

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

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

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

Local Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2 Triple Dialogue

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

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

published with permission, FABC Office of Social Communication Executive Secretary

Interview : Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS

by NJ Viehland

NJ Viehland Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more on RGS history

contributed by Ed Gerlock

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2

Sri Lanka: Making a chair fit for a pope

Sri Lanka, screen shot

Sri Lanka, screen shot

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

Read full report

 

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

Tagle Ochoa Pinto Papal press con NJ Viehland

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila to journalists 

Press Conference to announce the Philippines Papal Visit itinerary

From Q & A: 

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

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

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

man with leprosy on piano Ed Gerlock

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

Sri Lanka papal visit itinerary sites readied

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

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

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

Read full report

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

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

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

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

Read Pope Francis’ complete itinerary in Sri Lanka

 

 

Cardinal Tagle announces Papal Visit 2015 itinerary

Papal Visit itinerary press con NJ Viehlandjpg

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

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

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

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

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

NJ Viehland Photos

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

Papal Visit presscon Paynor NJ Viehland

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

Scroll down for photos or click to view complete itinerary

Papal Visit itinerary Tagle Giuseppe Pinto NJ Viehland

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

Papal visit press con Pantin NJ Viehland

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

Papal Visit itinerary Fr Marvin Mejia NJ Viehland

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

Related posts

CBCP Pastoral Letter to Prepare for 2015 Papal Visit

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

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

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

In what amounted to a rebuke …

Full reporby Interaksyon

 

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

Congress on the Filipino Family SMX NJ Viehland

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

Updated Nov. 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related post

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

Synod on the Family: Commentary by Hector Welgampola

 

 

Filipino peacekeepers from Liberia bus out to island quarantine for Ebola

Peacekeepers from Liberia in bus AFP release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

coffee farmers' cooperative, Laguna /NJ Viehland Photos

coffee farmers’ cooperative, Laguna /NJ Viehland Photos

AGRARIAN REFORM

AS A CONTINUING PROJECT OF SOCIAL JUSTICE

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

Laguna,NJ Viehland

Laguna / NJ Viehland Photos

Agrarian Reform as Moral Imperative

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

Some Concerns of Law Reform

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

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

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

Laguna,NJ Viehland

Laguna / NJ Viehland Photos

Family Fragmentation and the Vacuity of Land Reform

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

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

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

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

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas / NJ Viehland Photos

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS

   Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
   CBCP President

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

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

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

The CBCP President 

on the

REQUEST to MEDIATE IN THE GOVERNMENT-NDF DIALOGUE

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

The Situation

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

Our Mission

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

Communism and Capitalism

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

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

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

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

    Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
    President, CBCP

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

 

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

Farewell Sr Shalini D'Souza video

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

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

Read full report from Patna, India

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read full text of their statement and charts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Conversation about life Poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full interview with Sr. de Silva

Philippines called to lead campaign against the death penalty in Asia

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

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

Egidio anti death penalty rally singers NJ Viehland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read full report  / Scroll down for photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Synod on the Family 2014: Commentary By Hector Welgampola

Hector Welgampola

Hector Welgampola

If synodal midwifery is to prevent hemorrhaging a familial Church …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write him: welgampo@gmail.com 

But where was Asia? – Cardinal Tagle post-synod

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Note : Some words/sentences translated from Tagalog]

More to follow

Pope Francis’ visit to Sri Lanka confirmed – Colombo archdiocese

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

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

Read Colombo archdiocese’s full report

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Part I       

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

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

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

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

 

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

Blessed Joseph Vaz will be proclaimed Saint Jan. 14‎

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

Read full report

EU-wide crackdown on undocumented migrants condemned

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

Read full report

 

Post-Synod thoughts – CBCP President Villegas

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. - NJ Viehland Photos

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan / NJ Viehland Photos

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

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

INCLUSIVE AND FAITHFUL LOVE

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

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

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

HURTING FAMILIES

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

PERSONS WITH SAME SEX ATTRACTION

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

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

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

CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

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

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

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

Laguna,NJ Viehland

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

Father, grant to all families

the presence of strong and wise spouses

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

Father, grant that parents

may have a home in which to live

in peace with their families.

Manila,NJ Viehland

Manila,NJ Viehland

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

and that young people may have the courage

to forge life-long, faithful commitments.

Alabang,NJ Viehland

Workers packing coffee in Alabang,NJ Viehland

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

that they may enjoy serenity of spirit

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

Elderly people dance during party by Ed Gerlock

Elderly people dance during party by Ed Gerlock

Father, grant that we may all see flourish,

a Church that is ever more faithful and credible,

a just and humane city,

a world that loves truth, justice and mercy.

 

Rome, October 19, 2014

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan

CBCP President

 

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

Theologian Agnes Brazal, PhD by NJ Viehland

Theologian Agnes Brazal, PhD by NJ Viehland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippines hospital doctors, nurses and staff / NJ Viehland Photos

Philippines hospital doctors, nurses and staff / NJ Viehland Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘We welcome the pope” – LGBT party leader

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related reports

 Family synod midterm report   /CNS

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

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

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Nuns help rebuild people, lives and families broken by crime

by N.J. Viehland

Muntinlupa prison,NJ Viehland

Muntinlupa prison,NJ Viehland

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

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

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

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

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