Eagerness grows over papal visits to Asia

Updated May 29 11:15 a.m.

MANILA – Reports of Pope Francis’ inflight announcement of plans to visit the Philippines and Sri Lanka in January spread quickly in media here Tuesday, but Catholics are not the only Asian people excited for a visit from the pope.

Read full report here Eagerness grows over Pope Francis’ visits to Asia

The official website of the Archdiocese of Colombo also reported that Pope Francis’ announcement of the January 2015 visit has been received with delight in the south Asian country.  

Cardinal Ranjith, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka invited Pope Francis to visit his country during the Ad Limina visit of the Bishops’ Conference this month.

Eye Sri Lanka earlier this month had quoted Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Manna as saying that the papal visit to Sri Lanka “is scheduled for 13-15 January 2015.” 

Bishop Joseph was one of 13 Sri Lankan bishops who were in Rome May 2-3 for their ad limina visit. He reportedly told Asia News that Pope Francis in addressing the bishops of Sri Lanka encouraged the Church in its efforts towards national reconciliation. The pope reportedly said even though the nearly 26 year-old war ended in 2009, much needs to be done towards reconciliation, respect for human rights and true peace. 

Click here to read the full report Pope Francis will visit Sri Lanka in January 2015?

Related posts:

What can Asia expect of upcoming papal visits?

Papal visit to Korea motto and logo released

New Philippines bishops’ head: Church marches to the beat of Pope Francis

 Ruki Fernando out of detention – is he free?

Other voices:

Sri Lanka monks occupy ministry building – Buddhist nationalist group Ravana Balaya stages sit-in at religious affairs ministry against religious police unit.

 

 

Manila Cathedral reopens with thanks and warning on ‘false gods’

Sharing my notes from the homily of Cardinal Luis Tagle, Archbishop of Manila last Wednesday, when he led the celebration of the reopening of Manila Cathedral in Intramuros, Manila:

1. It just dawned on me that I took canonical possession of the Archdiocese of Manila on Dec. 12, 2011 and one of my first decisions as the new archbishop was to close my cathedral.

NJ Viehland Photos

NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Tagle, Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral, April 9, 2014, Intramuros - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Tagle, Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral, April 9, 2014, Intramuros – NJ Viehland Photos

2. The story is too long and profound to share with you. But let us realize that this is the 8th rebuilding in the more than 100 years of history of the Archdiocese of Manila. Buildings that have gone down because of fire, earthquake, wars, but a building that does not remain down. It just refuses to be dead. It rises.

Manila Cathedral door and barricade, April 10, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Manila Cathedral door and barricade, April 10, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

3. From what I’ve seen the past two years (of work on the cathedral) let me answer my own question, how does one rebuild a church? What does it take to rebuild a church?

a. generosity of the people – that’s how a church is reconstructed

Companies, individuals, simple faithful … people so many to mention. God knows who you are.

We cannot reconstruct, rebuild and strengthen the Church without generosity of spirit… Generosity with resources, expertise, dedication – they all need to be fueled by faith: love of God, love of the Church, devotion to Our Lady.

Henrietta de Villa, vice chair of the Manila Cathedral Basilica Foundation Board of Trustees, April 9, 2014, Reopening of Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila - NJ Viehland Photos

Henrietta de Villa, vice chair of the Manila Cathedral Basilica Foundation Board of Trustees, April 9, 2014, Reopening of Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila – NJ Viehland Photos

4. That’s why I know, especially for our brethren who are going through great trials brought by earthquake,  typhoons, people-made calamities like that in Mindanao in Zamboanga, people affected by Pablo, Sendong, those in Samar, Leyte, Iloilo, Cebu, Capiz, Aklan, Palawan, Nueva Ecija – I believe that in the same way Manila Cathedral collapsed into rubble, rose up and is now so beautiful again – the Filipino nation can rise up! (my translation from Tagalog)

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

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

5. We are celebrating the reconstruction, the retrofitting of Manila Cathedral, which is not just a building, but a living symbol of community of faithful that has journeyed through centuries.

Reopening of Manila Cathedral, April 9, 2014, Intramuros, Manila   - NJ Viehland Photos

Reopening of Manila Cathedral, April 9, 2014, Intramuros, Manila – NJ Viehland Photos

Banda Kawayan Pilipinas (bamboo band Philippines) swayed and shuffled while playing Filipino cultural staple music ahead of the Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral led by Cardinal Luis Tagle April 9, 2014 in Intramuros, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Banda Kawayan Pilipinas (bamboo band Philippines) swayed and shuffled while playing Filipino cultural staple music ahead of the Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral led by Cardinal Luis Tagle April 9, 2014 in Intramuros, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Cultural dancers drew people outside Manila Cathedral hours before Cardinal Luis Tagle led the Mass to reopen the church after 2 years of reconstruction work. - NJ Viehland photos

Cultural dancers drew people outside Manila Cathedral hours before Cardinal Luis Tagle led the Mass to reopen the church after 2 years of reconstruction work. – NJ Viehland photos

People of all ages watched musicians and dancers perform cultural numbers outside Manila Cathedral while waiting for the reopening Mass led by Cardinal Luis Tagle after 2 years of reconstruction and retrofitting work. - NJ Viehland Photos

People of all ages watched musicians and dancers perform cultural numbers outside Manila Cathedral while waiting for the reopening Mass led by Cardinal Luis Tagle after 2 years of reconstruction and retrofitting work. – NJ Viehland Photos

5. As we strengthen our place of worship, we learn how to truly worship, and I’m thankful to God that the readings for today are about true worship. Lo and behold, when I opened the missal, I said, Lord, the choice of the day was really yours, it was not ours. 

6. The essence of worship is just to worship because God deserves such worship.

students offer bottles of coins at Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral April 9, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

students offer bottles of coins at Mass for reopening of Manila Cathedral April 9, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

7. As we reopen this place of worship, let us commit ourselves to the worship of the true God, and let us commit ourselves to ignoring idols, for example, idolatry of money, power, lust…

8. Jesus tells us in the Gospel, “If you remain in my Word, you will know the truth and the truth will set you free – free from idols, free from inspiration of false gods – that’s the fruit of true worship: truth and wisdom in Jesus Christ.

Cardinal Tagle closes Day of Lament and Hope

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (center in white) lay prostrate before the altar after the procession of the cross during the 'Day of Lament and Hope' closing service at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila Nov. 16, 2013 for people who were killed, those who survived successive calamities in the country this year.- NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (center in white) lay prostrate before the altar after the procession of the cross during the ‘Day of Lament and Hope’ closing service at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila Nov. 16, 2013 for people who were killed, those who survived successive calamities in the country this year.- NJ Viehland Photos

A Day of Lament and Hope on Nov. 16 in the Archdiocese of Manila

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle has called for a “Day of LAMENT and HOPE: Solidarity in Prayer” (Panaghoy at Pag-asa: Damayan sa Panalangin) in the Archdiocese of Manila to express communion and solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are suffering, grieving and confused because of the successive calamities that afflicted the country.

In a letter to priests, religious and lay faithful, Cardinal Tagle invites all to spend the whole day in penance, recollection, and fasting.

 He will lead in a Prayer Service and Holy Hour to cap the Day at 8 p.m. at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish church, Paco, Manila, the temporary official church of the Archdiocese of Manila.

With Jesus, the Blessed Mother, the Martyrs, and Saints, the victims, the dead and creation, let us “groan inwardly while we await redemption… for in hope we are saved” (Romans 8:23).  “The Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). Lament and Hope: Solidarity in Prayer,” the Cardinal concluded his letter. #

Release from Archdiocese of Manila Office of Social Communication

[Part I]

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at First Gathering of Metro Manila Clergy [text]

By N.J. Viehland

POWER PLANT MALL, Makati City, PHILIPPINES – Let me share my transcript of the homily of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila for the closing Mass for the Oct. 3 First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila. It ended with priests singing “you are the answer to my lonely prayer.” This is what Cardinal Tagle said the priests are to their flock. He asked priests not to disappoint Church members.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila's homily for the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”,  October 3, 2013 celebrated with some 130 priests bishops in the chapel of Rockwell Tent, Power Plant offered points for priests' reflection of themes during the days activities at the Makati City mall, including mission of the Church, servant priesthood and discipleship. NJ Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila’s homily for the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 celebrated with some 130 priests bishops in the chapel of Rockwell Tent, Power Plant offered points for priests’ reflection of themes during the days activities at the Makati City mall, including mission of the Church, servant priesthood and discipleship. NJ Viehland Photo

Text of homily:

The Levites in the first reading declare to the people today is holy, we must not be saddened. I can only say, “Amen. Today is truly holy, and there is no room for a sad face and a sad heart.” I guess we can spend the whole night, if we ever fall asleep tonight, and even the whole day tomorrow reflecting on the significance of today. It’s only around 3:00 and already I can consider these past hours a real feast: a feast for all the senses – a feast for the mind, the spirit and the heart.

We have been fed not only by deep thoughts and wonderful words, not only by good food, but also the witness of the nobility of the human spirit – even through jokes – even through those two crazy men (see following photo)

Comedian Michael Angelo Lobrin, an ex-seminarian and author of Laugh with God [left] with Comedian/musician Brod Pete sent priests, bishops and guests at the Rockwell Tent in Makati on Oct. 3 for the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila” laughing for about an hour with their jokes and songs, including commentaries on seminary life and Philippine culture, language and society. N.J. Viehland Photo

Comedian Michael Angelo Lobrin, an ex-seminarian and author of Laugh with God [left] with Comedian/musician Brod Pete sent priests, bishops and guests at the Rockwell Tent in Makati on Oct. 3 for the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila” laughing for about an hour with their jokes and songs, including commentaries on seminary life and Philippine culture, language and society. N.J. Viehland Photo

Somehow I feel the Spirit could work through them. (laughter) And so, I don’t think I need to add to the possible spiritual indigestion that we might get.

But this Mass being offered for us and for all the ordained ministers of the Church and the readings  for today give us valuable lessons. Pardon me if I don’t expound on them. I will let the Holy Spirit just speak to us regarding these thoughts.

It is very clear from what we heard from Vatican II, from Bishop Mylo and the reflection on the Gospel presented to us also by Bishop Nes Ongtiocothat from the Bible up to the recent Ecumenical Council, there is a consistency of insight, of doctrine, even, that we the ordained inherited the apostolic mission. As Jesus sent the apostles so we are sent. And if we want to understand better what it means for us to act in persona Christi capitis,  [In the person of Christ, the head] I think we have to go to those very clear words of Jesus, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. If I your Lord and Master washed your feet, then you should wash each other’s feet.”

We can only act in the name of Christ in the area of mission and ministry. Yes there is sacred authority, but without mission and ministry, acting in persona Christi could end up being an ideology and not anymore the grace of ordination. We know from the history of the Church how fatal it would be whenever acting in the name of Christ, in the person of Christ is located on sheer power forgetting the sending, the mission, and the call to serve.

And that’s precisely the Gospel for today . They were sent. Aside from the 12, another 72. And let me just indicate another few things for our reflection.

First, he sent them in pairs – sacramental brotherhood. Yes, the calling and the sending are intimately personal, but because they are personal, they open our hearts to other people. And so the calling is also communal. We cannot walk alone. There is no room for lone rangers in Jesus’ view of the ministry. There are only pairs… sent in pairs.

More than 130 priests from the Metropolitan See of Manila concelebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle  the closing Mass for the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila” on October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

More than 130 priests from the Metropolitan See of Manila concelebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the closing Mass for the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila” on October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

“Kaya kung minsan, ang mga pari who cannot live and work in pairs, ang solution natin pag hiwalayin. Baka hindi tayo sumusunod sa mga turo ni Hesus. Parang gusto ko sabihin, [ That’s why sometimes, with priests who cannot live and work in pairs, our solution is to separate them. We might be violating the teachings of Jesus. I want to tell them…] ‘Work it out! Work it out, you were sent in pairs.'” Who are we to violate Jesus’ way of sending?

The second point is he sent them in pairs as lambs among wolves. He did not send wolves among lambs. The lamb of God sends his ministers and missioners as lambs. In persona Christi . If he is a lamb, then those who act in his person should also be lambs. In the way Jesus describes being a lamb, it is total vulnerability. No body bag, no sandals, not greeting anyone on the way because it is not my purpose to form a fans’ club. I have only my companion and the message of peace of the kingdom. And when you have your brother minister and the message of the Gospel you have all that you need.

Third is part of being lambs and laborers is eating and drinking what is offered to you for the laborer deserves his pay. Normally, we interpret this part, “for the laborer deserves his pay” in terms of we can demand something. But in the teaching of Jesus, “the laborer deserves his pay” means if you are given something to eat and drink, eat it and drink it and do not go to another house that will offer a better meal or a better drink. That is what you deserve – what the house is able to offer. Para bang ano ito? Good news ba ito o ano? [It’s like what’s this? Is this good news or what?] But it’s in the Gospel. I cannot change this.

It is surprising that what is often used to recall a principle of justice – a laborer deserves his payment – is actually, in the mind of Christ as “Whatever the people could give you for payment in terms of food or drink, accept . You do not set it. What they can offer, that is what you deserve.”

And finally, in the first reading, it is not enough to imitate Ezra in proclaiming the word of God to people. I think we should also imitate the people. They open themselves to the word of God and the people upon hearing the word of God were in tears. They were weeping when they heard the words of the Lord. They were mesmerized by the words that they had missed during their exile. And they probably repented for their lack of fidelity to the word.

I ask myself, countless of times I have been opening the book of the law of Moses, proclaiming. But how many times have I wept listening to the word of God. Have I allowed my heart to be vulnerable to this two-edged sword called the word of God? Do I allow myself to be affected by the word of God? Do I allow the word of God to judge me, to disturb me, to cause me discomfort, to lead me to repentance so that I do not only proclaim. I also listen and I am judged by the word of God – another form of vulnerability.

Let us thank God for the gift of this mission and ministry to ordained life. Let us appreciate our companion priests for we were sent in pairs. Let us be like lambs – vulnerable – if you want to embrace the person of the lamb of God who was persecuted by wolves.

Let us be simple, content with what people have to offer. What they can give us is what we probably deserve – a different type of measuring what we deserve.

And finally, we are not just proclaimers of the word, but real servants, hearers of the word, allowing ourselves to be hit, to be touched unto tears by the word of God.

We said this is a holy day. We should not be sad. I can see Jesus really happy and it goes with this: he said to them, to the disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few. So ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for the harvest.” We are mysteriously those laborers. But we are not just sent. We are the answer to the prayer directed to the Master. “Send laborers.” And the prayer was answered through us.

When I was much younger, there was the song – You are the Answer to my Lonely Prayer.  Yung nakakaalam po paki kanta lang yung tono… [Those who know it, please sing the tune] For the sake of the young ones. (laughter)

“You are the answer to my lonely prayer. You are an angel from above…”

(priests sang part of the song …)

We call the priesthood a gift, and for many people a priest or pairs of priests sent to the community is the answer to their lonely prayer. And then they see us, we are like angels sent from above. Let us not fail Jesus. May we be truly answers to the prayer sent by the community to the Lord of the Harvest. May it never be told that we will pray again because God sent the wrong answer. Let us be the answer to people’s prayer to God.

END

* Part II of III
 ( photos/articles available on request : newsdatabank@yahoo.com)
* Readers’ comments convey opinions, positions only of the posters

Cardinal Tagle to First Gathering of Metro Manila Clergy: “Let’s not fail our flock”

[updated Oct. 9, 2013 10:23 p.m.]
          “Let’s not fail our flock,” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila appealed to priests in his homily for the Mass that closed the First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila last Thursday at Rockwell Tent in Makati City.
          He reminded fellow clergymen, “For many people a priest sent to the community is the answer to their lonely prayer and when they see us, we are like angels sent from above. Let us not fail them. Let us not fail Jesus.”
           Some 200 priests belonging to and serving in the greater Archdiocese of Manila, or what is officially known as the Metropolitan See of Manila, gathered Oct. 3 at the Power Plant Mall for a special reunion to mark the 10th year of the new dioceses that were carved out of it.
           The Metropolitan See of Manila is now composed of the mother Archdiocese of Manila headed by Cardinal Tagle,
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila's homily for the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”,  October 3, 2013 celebrated with some 130 priests bishops in the chapel of Rockwell Tent, Power Plant offered points for priests' reflection of themes during the days activities at the Makati City mall, including mission of the Church, servant priesthood and discipleship. NJ Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila’s homily for the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 celebrated with some 130 priests bishops in the chapel of Rockwell Tent, Power Plant offered points for priests’ reflection of themes during the days activities at the Makati City mall, including mission of the Church, servant priesthood and discipleship. NJ Viehland Photo

            Diocese of Cubao led by Bishop Honesto Ongtioco,
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao Diocese laughing along with other participants watching professional comedians Brod Pete and Michael Angelo Lobin spoof priests and joke around at the "First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, on October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. NJ Viehland Photo

Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao Diocese laughing along with other participants watching professional comedians Brod Pete and Michael Angelo Lobin spoof priests and joke around at the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, on October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. NJ Viehland Photo

            Dioceses of Kalookan, Novaliches, Parañaque, and Pasig
Bishop Jesse Mercado of Paranaque, Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez of Manila, Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francisco de Leon, apostolic administrator of Kalookan during the procession to the altar for the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. NJ Viehland Photo

Bishop Jesse Mercado of Paranaque, Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez of Manila, Antipolo Auxiliary Bishop Francisco de Leon, apostolic administrator of Kalookan during the procession to the altar for the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. NJ Viehland Photo

Antipolo Auxliary Bishop Francisco de Leon, Administrator of Kalookan diocese, Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, Bishop Mylo Vergara of Pasig and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle celebrated Mass to close the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”,  October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. NJ Viehland Photo

Antipolo Auxliary Bishop Francisco de Leon, Administrator of Kalookan diocese, Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, Bishop Mylo Vergara of Pasig and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle celebrated Mass to close the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. NJ Viehland Photo

             Before the Archdiocese of Manila was divided in 2003, it had 272 parishes and 402 diocesan priests and almost 11 million Catholics under its care, the archdiocese’s office of communications reported. The late Jaime L. Cardinal Sin as archbishop of Manila initiated the split to allow priests to minister better to the region’s growing population due largely to migration from rural areas.  Today the Metropolitan See of Manila has 631 diocesan and religious priests.
More than 130 priests and bishops concelebrated at the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the chapel of Rockwell Power Plant Mall in Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

More than 130 priests and bishops concelebrated at the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the chapel of Rockwell Power Plant Mall in Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

More than 130 priests and bishops concelebrated at the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the chapel of Rockwell Power Plant Mall in Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

More than 130 priests and bishops concelebrated at the closing Mass of the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, October 3, 2013 at the chapel of Rockwell Power Plant Mall in Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

             Aside from Eucharistic adoration and reflections by Bishop Ongtioco, Pasig Bishop Hubert Mylo Vergara and group reflection and sharing among priests in the morning, lay professional artists shared their impressions of Filipino community life, culture, expression of faith and aspirations using music and humor. Performers included:
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila poses with Brod Pete (right) and ex-seminarian Michel Angelo Lobin (author of Laugh with God) after the professional comedians entertained the "First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila" with spoofs on priests, seminarians, Philippine culture and language and more on Oct. 3, 2013 at Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila poses with Brod Pete (right) and ex-seminarian Michel Angelo Lobin (author of Laugh with God) after the professional comedians entertained the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila” with spoofs on priests, seminarians, Philippine culture and language and more on Oct. 3, 2013 at Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

           Composer, singer, musician of inspirational music Noel Cabangon shared his music and his experiences as a man with a family, talent and aspirations for a full life for Filipinos and the world.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle poses with Noel Cabangon after the professional singer/composer sang inspirational songs at the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, on October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle poses with Noel Cabangon after the professional singer/composer sang inspirational songs at the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, on October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City. N.J. Viehland Photo

Priests at the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, on October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City laugh during the stint of professional comedians Brod Pete and ex-seminarian Michael Angelo Lobin, author of Laugh with God. N.J. Viehland Photo

Priests at the “First Gathering of the Clergy of the Metropolitan See of Manila”, on October 3, 2013 at the Rockwell Tent, Power Plant Makati City laugh during the stint of professional comedians Brod Pete and ex-seminarian Michael Angelo Lobin, author of Laugh with God. N.J. Viehland Photo

* Part I of III
 ( photos/articles available on request : newsdatabank@yahoo.com)
* Readers’ comments convey opinions, positions only of the posters

Cardinal Tagle calls for care for nature, appeals for solidarity amid flooding

By N.J. Viehland

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila reminded listeners of Church-run radio Veritas 846 to care for nature always to avoid devastation during typhoons and other natural conditions.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila closes the press conference on the October 2013 Philippine Conference on New Evangelization with a prayer.  N.J. Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila closes the press conference on the October 2013 Philippine Conference on New Evangelization with a prayer. N.J. Viehland Photo

The cardinal spoke two days after the start of torrential rainfall that flooded streets and houses in cities and provinces, including places in his home province of Cavite, just south of Manila. Typhoon Maring (international name Trami) swept northern regions of the Philippines, including Metro Manila, on Aug. 18. By today, the government weather authority reported Trami was outside of the Philippines, but the southwest monsoon was stirring up the rains.

Speaking in Filipino, Cardinal Tagle said:

When nature moves we feel how we are all members…all connected. That’s why our call, not only when these things happen, let’s take to heart and take seriously, as disciples of Christ, our vocation as stewards and caretakers of nature so that the bad impact of these rampages will be lessened and avoided if we serve as good stewards of nature.

With what is happening now, I’m calling on all first, keep in mind your safety, the safety of your families and your neighbors. Let’s show solidarity, let’s help each other in small and big ways.

Even if we cannot always control the movement of nature, we have a role as stewards and caretakers of nature so that in the right way we manage nature the effects of natural conditions will not be heavy and serious.

That’s why natural and ecological events are devastating at times is because of our poor management and abusive practices.

Not only during this calamity, but everyday, let’s take good care of nature and live like good stewards because it is us who will suffer.

Secondly, let’s take care of our families, our children, the sick and elderly, let’s help one another. Hopefully, nature’s battering will surface deep solidarity so that  the pain of homelessness, loss of things… generate overflowing love and understanding and cooperation among fellow humans and brothers and sisters.

What things do people fleeing their flooded community bring with them? Drinking water, cooking equipment, bicycles and game cocks. N.J. Viehland Photos

What things do people fleeing their flooded community bring with them? Drinking water, cooking equipment, bicycles and game cocks. N.J. Viehland Photos

Marikina River east of Manila overflowed its banks by afternoon of Aug. 20, 2013 when the local government raised the alarm to level 4 and implemented forced evacuation of endangered communities. N.J. Viehland Photos

Marikina River east of Manila overflowed its banks by afternoon of Aug. 20, 2013 when the local government raised the alarm to level 4 and implemented forced evacuation of endangered communities. N.J. Viehland Photos

Water spilled out gradually from Marikina River as La Mesa Dam let out water on Aug. 20 afternoon after 3 days of rain accompanying Typhoon Trami (Maring) and southwest monsoon. N.J. Viehland Photos

Water spilled out gradually from Marikina River as La Mesa Dam let out water on Aug. 20 afternoon after 3 days of rain accompanying Typhoon Trami (Maring) and southwest monsoon. N.J. Viehland Photos

The cardinal went on to appeal for donations to Caritas Manila to help typhoon victims around the country through dioceses, and led listeners in prayer of faith and trust in God. He also prayed for solidarity and for safety of all, especially victims.

“May our outpouring of solidarity and aid be as strong as this downpour of rain,” Cardinal Tagle said.

As of 5 p.m. Aug. 21, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported 60 people were killed in typhoon-related incidents, 15 of them in the Metro Manila region. Up to 163,868 persons were staying in 501 evacuation centers while 179,200 people opted to stay with relatives and friends.

Cardinal Tagle and “Superstar”

By : N.J. Viehland

“Looking forward to The Word Exposed Easter recollection with Cardinal Tagle this Sunday. 8am-12nn at Araneta @JesComPH.” This is what tv news anchor and correspondent Bernadette Sembrano tweeted on Friday.

It’s perfectly understandable, Bernadette. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle isn’t called “superstar” for nothing.

Long before Manila’s archbishop, Cardinal Tagle, drew raves as “possible next pope” in past months, he had already built a reputation as “speaker who will reach deep in your mind and heart”, and a broad following among retreat groups and congresses in the Philippines and other countries. No one I’ve spoken to after his talks has come out unmoved.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle explains to Catholics from around Manila and surrounding dioceses the theology and spirit behind the Year of Faith and what New Evangelization requires of all Church members during a seminar at Manila Archdiocese's Layforce center in San Carlos Seminary compound last Nov. 2012. [N.J. Viehland Photo]

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle explains to Catholics from around Manila and surrounding dioceses the theology and spirit behind the Year of Faith and what New Evangelization requires of all Church members during a seminar at Manila Archdiocese’s Layforce center in San Carlos Seminary compound last Nov. 2012. [N.J. Viehland Photo]

He is a charismatic speaker, many agree. More than that, I believe he is effective, even infectious, because he keeps his focus steadily on the true “superstar”, Jesus Christ, and fully commits to making Christ’s story relevant to the audience and to life. “Cardinal (Tagle) makes the most out of each interaction with people, no matter the length of time,” one catechist at last November’s Layforce seminar on the Year of Faith told me.

Cardinal Tagle marvels at the power of media, particularly, the Internet, and acknowledges the opportunity it presents to tell people about Jesus, and what he teaches us.

He asked us during his talk at the First Catholic Social Media Summit in Marikina City last July, “How many people can I reach with my homilies in church?” He recalled the story of an overseas worker who came up to him at the airport to tell him he likes to watch his The Word Exposed videos on YouTube especially because he cannot go to the few Masses held in Saudi Arabia where he works.

Weekly, Cardinal Tagle preaches on TV through The Word Exposed, whose producers organized tomorrow’s recollection. In front of the camera, the theologian bishop shares his reflections and insights on the First Reading, Second Reading and the Gospel for that Sunday.

The program, which uses illustrations, video clips, music and other media, is posted on YouTube after the TV show has been aired. It aims “to bring the Gospel closer to the lives of the audience,” explained New Media Manager Mari Bianca Orenciana.

Cardinal Tagle’s The Word Exposed is right at the “top of the list” of “success stories” of Jesuit Communications Foundation (JesCom) that produces the program, foundation director, Father Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, says.

“It is our answer to the need of Philippine media and society today for sound theology,” the Jesuit priest said in our interview last August.

Cardinal Tagle, a leading theologian in Asia has also served as consultant to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. He heads the Office of Theological Concerns of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, an association of bishops’ conferences in East, Southeast, Central and South Asia.

The Word Exposed episode : Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (bishop here) explains Church concerns about the Reproductive Health Bill with Jesuit Father Emmanuel "Nono" Alfonso, currently Director of Jesuit Communications Foundation, that produces The Word Exposed. (screen shot courtesy of JesCom)

The Word Exposed episode : Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle (bishop here) explains Church concerns about the Reproductive Health Bill with Jesuit Father Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, currently Director of Jesuit Communications Foundation, that produces The Word Exposed. (screen shot courtesy of JesCom)

In its August 12, 2012 episode in which Cardinal Tagle preached on the Sunday Gospel, YouTube user “elmsvd” commented, “I’m a priest here in New Zealand, and I have used the reflections as guide for my homilies.”

However, it took a winding path for the program to firm up and grow popular. Father Alfonso recalled that while still bishop of Imus, Cavite, Cardinal Tagle taught at Jesuit-owned Loyola School of Theology on the same campus where JesCom is based. JesCom got him for two-minute television prayer segments and, feeling it wasn’t enough, the organization experimented on an hour-long program called Light Talk  in 2008. The taped show featured the bishop talking about a subject with expert guests.

“Viewers commented and I, too, felt dissatisfied not to hear enough of the bishop, so we changed the format, and the rest is history,” Father Alfonso said.

Tony Boy Cojuangco when he owned the secular station TV5 approached JesCom to produce programs for the first three hours of broadcast on Saturday and Sunday morning. Light Talk was developed, but as the TV station changed management the show was cancelled.

“It was timely to experiment on another format, The Word Exposed, but we had no money, so we just appealed and people started giving,” Father Alfonso said.

“Very honestly, Archbishop Chito (Cardinal Tagle), in front of the camera, said that if you like our reflections you can help us continue this show if you can donate,” the JesCom director narrated.

Catechists, teachers, youth ministry, liturgical ministry and other workers for a "Church of the Poor" in Manila and neighboring dioceses listened to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle's presentation about the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization at Layforce center in Manila archdiocese's San Carlos seminary last Nov. 2012. [N.J. Viehland photo]

Catechists, teachers, youth ministry, liturgical ministry and other workers for a “Church of the Poor” in Manila and neighboring dioceses listened to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s presentation about the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization at Layforce center in Manila archdiocese’s San Carlos seminary last Nov. 2012. [N.J. Viehland photo]

Today, the show thrives in what the audience gives. “Individuals, rich and poor, Filipinos and non-Filipinos here and abroad,” pitch in what money they can give, Father Alfonso said. “There’s no funding agency, no corporations buying commercial spots. It’s really just the audience and some donations from organizations,” he added.

He said JesCom’s websitehas online donation features  , “but people also hand over bills to Jesuit priests after Mass in their parishes, even just 100 pesos (US$2.43), and tell them to please give the money to bishop (Tagle).”

The JesCom head attributes “overwhelming response” locally, from Australia, the US and other countries to people’s perception of Cardinal Tagle as a credible theologian, Church leader and a person of integrity. 

Even prominent personalities, such as Washington Sycip, founder of Sycip, Gorres, Velayo and Co., the Philippines largest multi-professional services firm were moved to send in what an SGV official told me was a “personal donation.” In sending his one-time donation, he wrote how hopeful he was that then Bishop Tagle would lead the Church to improve, Father Alfonso said.

He shared that Knights of Columbus had committed to a regular monthly donation of around 50,000 pesos. “We would like that, for donors to give regularly,” Father Alfonso said.

He estimates, “It costs at least 40,000 pesos to produce a show, and the biggest expense is for the crew.” He said Cardinal Tagle is given only “a small token.”

JesCom also produces other programs and multi-media materials for evangelization and education, and trains people in communication at The Garage creative technologies center.

The Easter recollection its The Word Exposed group organized can expect to gather another large and colorful crowd, including Bernadette, to come and listen to their brilliant, charming, funny cardinal from 8 a.m. to noon at the concert, circus, and basketball landmark: Smart Araneta Coliseum, in Cubao, Quezon City.

Hopefully, if candidates for the May 13 general elections join, it will be to worship God and reflect on leadership as caring and serving their people like the Good Shepherd does, and not to campaign for themselves.

END