Gov’t-Communist Party Christmas ceasefire “welcome” but… – peace advocates

Star hangs in Vietnam diocesan complex hosting FABC assembly

Vietnam diocesan complex, Xuan Loc, Vietnam / NJ Viehland Photos

 

STATEMENT ON CHRISTMAS CEASEFIRE 2014

December 20, 2014

May the Christmas ceasefire bring the gift of peace!

As citizens longing for lasting peace, we welcome the respective announcements by the Government and by the Communist Party of the Philippines of limited ceasefires for the Christmas period that covers the Papal Visit. We pray that there will be good will and effective compliance by the parties.

Indeed the visit of Pope Francis is an important event for many Filipinos that we hope will inspire them to live humbly and justly, to serve others and respect all creation.

We also urge the parties to consider the possibility of a humanitarian pause beyond the Papal visit, to give respite to victims of humanitarian disasters in different parts of the country, and to encourage the country as a whole to refocus thoughts on healing and on rebuilding vulnerable communities.

Our sincere wish is that this interval from armed confrontations can build confidence for the resumption for formal peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP at the soonest time, towards the forging of a just and enduring peace.

We believe that the peace negotiations will be sustained and less fragile if priority will be given to improving the situation of human rights, particularly of communities in conflict areas including those of indigenous peoples. Far too many indigenous people continue to become victims of extra-legal killings, harassment and other human rights violations.

The peace negotiations should be boosted by more concrete socio-economic reform efforts that make a difference in the lives of rural and urban poor communities. Electoral and political reforms must also be undertaken to ensure meaningful participation of people and the practice of good governance.

The public constituency will broaden around peace negotiations that can provide safety and security to communities by effectively reducing the violence on the ground. 

As citizen peace advocates, we commit to do our part by renewing and re-energizing our engagement with the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations. We will try to bring timely inputs of more stakeholders to the peace table. We will create other tables so that more voices of those directly affected by the protracted conflict can be heard.

Again, we are truly thankful to the Government and to the Communist Party of the Philippines for the gift of a Christmas ceasefire. May it establish a good beginning, a season of peace and grace in the New Year!

Signatories:

Center for Peace Education – Miriam College * Generation Peace Youth Network * GZO Peace Institute * Initiatives for International Dialogue * Koalisyon ng Mamamayan para sa Reporma *Pax Christi Institute *Philippine Council for Peace and Global Education * Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. * Waging Peace Philippines

Manila, screen shot

Manila, screen shot

Government announces unilateral ceasefire on holidays, Pope Francis visit

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Dec. 15 announced a month-long unilateral truce with the communist New People’s Army, as it usually did during the Christmas and New Year’s season.

Key points of the ceasefire:

* starts midnight of Dec. 18 and will last until the midnight of Jan. 19.

* recommended by the military, concurred by the Philippine National Police, endorsed by the Department of National Defense to Malacanang, approved by President Benigno Aquino III
* Longer than usual truce lasts until Jan. 15 in keeping with the agreement reached by government and communist negotiators during a meeting in Netherlands.
* Authorities will continue serving arrest warrants against NPA rebels during the truce period. They said they are liable to courts that issued the warrants of arrest. – Catapang
*Military operations against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters will continue during the holiday season – Catapang
PEPP photo release

PEPP photo release

Ceasefire Declaration for traditional holidays, Communist Party of the Philippines anniversary, Pope Francis’ visit
By CPP Central Committee
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) hereby issues this ceasefire declaration to all commands and units of the New People’s Army (NPA) and people’s militia to take effect during the following periods:
12:01 am of December 24, 2014 to 11:59 pm of December 26, 2014;
12:01 am of December 31, 2014 to 11:59 pm of January 1, 2015; and
12:01 am of January 15, 2015 to 11:59 pm of January 19, 2015
During the aforementioned days, all units of the New People’s Army and people’s militia are ordered to desist from carrying out offensive operations against units and personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the various armed paramilitary groups attached to the Government of the Philippines (GPH).
This declaration is being issued in solidarity with the Filipino people in their observance of traditional holidays which coincides with the CPP anniversary celebrations on December 26.
This ceasefire declaration is also being issued in deference to the upcoming visit of Roman Catholic patriarch Pope Francis which the Filipino people look forward to as an opportunity for religious celebration and to raise outstanding issues …
 
[The full text of the CPP announcement was posted on the website of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines information office.]

Cardinal Tagle: Christmas Message 2014

By Ed Gerlock

contributed by Ed Gerlock edgerlock@yahoo.com.ph

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the name of the Archdiocese of Manila, I extend to all of you, especially to your families my prayerful wishes of a Blessed Christmas. For the Church in the Philippines, November 2104 up to November 2015 has been designated as the Year of the Poor. So Christmas 2014 falls within this most important event centered on the poor of the land and of the world.

Jesus, though truly Son of God, emptied himself of his glory and prerogatives and became human, one of us. This is the mystery of Christmas: God becomes poor and lowly so that we could become rich in God’s life. By becoming human, Jesus has identified himself with every human being, especially the poor whose only strength is God. Christmas is never truly Christmas if we do not accept and imitate Jesus’ self-emptying poverty. Christmas is a season to shed off illusions of grandeur, pretensions to self-importance, and the wickedness of self-interest. Christmas is never truly Christmas if we do not practice Jesus’ solidarity with the poor, the weak, and the neglected. Christmas is a season to see our own poverty, to see a companion in every person who suffers and to see Jesus in a needy brother or sister. Christmas frees the poor from inhumanity and degradation. Christmas proclaims the good news that the poor are loved by God, that they possess the dignity that has its source in God, that they could take their rightful place in shaping society as protagonists. May Christmas 2014 give us greater zeal to combat trafficking in human persons, new forms of slavery, neglect and abuse of children and violence against the helpless!

As we also prepare to welcome Pope Francis with his message of mercy and compassion, we pray that the celebration of Jesus’ birth bring much love and peace, especially to the poor of the land.

+ Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle

Archbishop of Manila  

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!

Merry Christmas to FABC delegates from Saigon, Chuc Mung Giang Sinh

By: N.J. Viehland

A Catholic volunteer from the Deanery of Peace in Binh An village in Ho Chi Minh archdiocese in his Christmas greetings described the visit of delegates of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC) to his village last  Dec. 15 as “significant.”

Welcoming delegates and guest journalist for the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) to Binh An deanery, one of the sites selected for the Asian bishops' exposure to local Vietnam Church situations held Dec. 15, 2012. Plenary Assembly activities celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Holy See's approval of FABC's Statutes and examining challenges to the Asian Church took place Dec. 10-16, 2012 in Xuan Loc and around Ho Chi Minh. FABC delegates and participants also proposed responses that included those addressing demands of evangelization in this Year of Faith. Photo from Tien Thuy.

Welcoming delegates and guest journalist for the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) to Binh An deanery, one of the sites selected for the Asian bishops’ exposure to local Vietnam Church situations held Dec. 15, 2012. Plenary Assembly activities celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Holy See’s approval of FABC’s Statutes and examining challenges to the Asian Church took place Dec. 10-16, 2012 in Xuan Loc and around Ho Chi Minh. FABC delegates and participants also proposed responses that included those addressing demands of evangelization in this Year of Faith. Photo from Tien Thuy.

Tien Thuy in his Christmas greeting emailed Dec. 23 to the FABC’s Binh An exposure group, including bishops from Japan, the Philippines, Timor Leste, south Asia and Vietnam shared pictures of the exposure visit saying the images “captured all significant moments” that day in the deanery.

FABC bishops prepare for Mass with Vietnamese Catholics photo from Tien Thuy

Clergy, religious women, youth, officials of Ho Chi Minh parish pastoral councils, and other Catholics of various sectors welcomed the FABC delegation. One journalist covering Church in Asia for more than two decades accompanied the group.

Some delegates and a guest journalist of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) discussed with religious women during a visit to Binh An Deanery on Dec. 15, 2012. Photo from Tien Thuy

Some delegates and a guest journalist of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) discussed with religious women during a visit to Binh An Deanery on Dec. 15, 2012. Photo from Tien Thuy

They prayed with the people, who filled the church during the Mass concelebrated by Asian bishops with local clergy, they mingled with the people and posed for photos with them after Mass and dined with local clergy and Catholic officials.

FABC bishops journalist praying in Binh An Vietnam from Tien Thuy

FABC bishops say Mass at Deanery of Peace Binh An

“I hope all of you will not forget and keep in your heart those moments always,” Tien wrote.

His message said:

“May God’s Grace blanket on all of you with happiness and joy in your family and deanery. God will bless everything you do for people in mission through this Christmas season and Wonderful New Year. I hope to see you someday in somewhere.”

A group of bishop delegates and a journalist who visited local Vietnam churches met Catholic leders in the Deanery of Peace in Binh An on Dec. 15, 2012. Photo from Tien Thuy

A group of bishop delegates and a journalist who visited local Vietnam churches met Catholic leders in the Deanery of Peace in Binh An on Dec. 15, 2012. Photo from Tien Thuy

Vietnamese Catholics flock to the church for the Mass concelebrated by local clergy with delegate bishops to the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences (FABC) who visited Ho Chi Minh archdiocese's Deanery of Peace in Binh An village on Dec. 15, 2012. Photo from Tien Thuy

Vietnamese Catholics flock to the church for the Mass concelebrated by local clergy with delegate bishops to the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) who visited Ho Chi Minh archdiocese’s Deanery of Peace in Binh An village on Dec. 15, 2012. Photo from Tien Thuy

Young Vietnamese Catholics welcome Asian bishops and a journalist attending the10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) to Binh An deanery of Ho Chi Minh archdiocese. The exposure to local Church situations on Dec. 15 was part of the  December 10-16, 2012 plenary assembly. Photo from Tien Thuy.

Young Vietnamese Catholics welcome Asian bishops and a journalist attending the10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) to Binh An deanery of Ho Chi Minh archdiocese. The exposure to local Church situations on Dec. 15 was part of the December 10-16, 2012 plenary assembly. Photo from Tien Thuy.

FABC delegates and guest journalist get a view of Vietnam Church's journey in faith during their visit to the Deanery of Peace in Binh An village in Ho Chi Minh archdiocese. The exposure trip was among activities of the 10th FABC Plenary Assembly held in Xuan Loc diocese and Ho Chi Minh from Dec. 10-16. Photo from Tien Thuy

FABC delegates and guest journalist get a view of Vietnam Church’s journey in faith during their visit to the Deanery of Peace in Binh An village in Ho Chi Minh archdiocese. The exposure trip was among activities of the 10th FABC Plenary Assembly held in Xuan Loc diocese and Ho Chi Minh from Dec. 10-16. Photo from Tien Thuy

Bishop delegates of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences shared a meal with clergy and other Catholics of the Deanery of Peace of Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese in Binh An village. Photo from Tien Thuy

Bishop delegates of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences shared a meal with clergy and other Catholics of the Deanery of Peace of Ho Chi Minh City archdiocese in Binh An village. Photo from Tien Thuy

Bishop delegates and a journalist attending the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences in Vietnam Dec. 10-16, 2012 joined a lunch prepared for them by Catholic leaders of Binh An deanery of Ho Chi Minh archdiocese on Dec. 15. Photo from Tien Thuy

Bishop delegates and a journalist attending the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences in Vietnam Dec. 10-16, 2012 joined a lunch prepared for them by Catholic leaders of Binh An deanery of Ho Chi Minh archdiocese on Dec. 15. Photo from Tien Thuy

A group of delegates of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences and a guest journalist met clergy of Binh An Deanery Ho Chi Minh archdiocese ont he second to the last day of the Dec. 10-16 plenary assembly. Photo from Tien Thuy

A group of delegates of the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences and a guest journalist met clergy of Binh An Deanery Ho Chi Minh archdiocese ont he second to the last day of the Dec. 10-16 plenary assembly. Photo from Tien Thuy

A deanery is a subdivision of a diocese, consisting of a number parishes, over which presides a dean appointed by a bishop. The duty of the dean is to watch over the clergy of the deanery, to see that they fulfill the orders of the bishop, and observe the liturgical and canon laws. He summons the conference of the deanery and presides at it. Periodically he makes a report to the bishop on conditions in the deanery.

Binh An is one of 14 deaneries of Ho Chi Minh.

More to come on the FABC website: Features on 10th FABC plenary assembly and Vietnam local Churches.

Cardinal Tagle tells what the Year of Faith can contribute to the Christmas spirit

By N.J. Viehland

In his second Christmas message as Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle connected the spirit of Christmas to  the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013.

Manila Archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle blesses the faithful who joined the Mass last November launching the archdiocese's commemoration of Year of Faith at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila. (N. J. Viehland photo)

Manila Archbishop Luis Cardinal Tagle blesses the faithful who joined the Mass last November launching the archdiocese’s commemoration of Year of Faith at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila. (N. J. Viehland photo)

Cardinal Tagle highlights God’s action of coming to believers and initiating the relationship with them both as faithful, as well as in the Christmas story. Jesus’ invitation to a relationship, and one’s acceptance of the invitation carries a commitment and responsibility to share in God’s saving mission, Cardinal Tagle said.

Following is the text of Cardinal Tagle’s message emailed to journalists by Manila archdiocese’s office of communication on Dec. 20.

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2012

This year we celebrate the Christmas Season within the Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI. What can the Year of Faith contribute to the Christmas spirit? Faith is a living and sustained relationship with God. It is the Triune God who initiates this relationship by coming to us. Faith becomes complete in our response to God in trust and love, transforming our relationship with other people, society and creation.

Children join a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary's search for a room in the inn carrying streamers that plead, "Christmas, stop demolitions" of shanty homes built by migrant settlers on government of privately-owned land. (Ed Gerlock photo published with permission)

Children join a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for a room in the inn carrying streamers that plead, “Christmas, stop demolitions” of shanty homes built by migrant settlers on government of privately-owned land. (Ed Gerlock photo published with permission)

In a real sense, Christmas is all about faith. To remove faith from Christmas is to empty it of its meaning. It is a season born of faith and a privileged time to renew our faith. On the one hand, Christmas vividly recalls the coming of the Savior Jesus Christ, incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit. He comes as one like us except in sin, because as the Savior he cannot participate in humanity’s rejection of God. He opens the door for us to enter God’s life. His obedience and fidelity is the door to God. He is the way.  On the other hand, every Christmas season invites us to receive Jesus as the true Son of God become flesh, to accept him as our Savior and to enter the door to life in the Holy Spirit. Faith in God leads us to solidarity with our neighbors, especially the poor whom Jesus loves. Faith makes us sharers in Jesus’ saving mission and heralds of true freedom from all that enslaves us.

Children in impoverished communities around Manila survive with very little food and other basic needs. (Ed Gerlock photos published with permission)

Children in impoverished communities around Manila survive with very little food and other basic needs. (Ed Gerlock photos published with permission)

I pray that all Christians may appreciate more the precious gift of faith during this Christmas season. As we behold the Christ Child, humble and poor, let us thank God for his great love for us and let us respond with all the love we could give. Only pure divine love can save us! I wish all you and your loved ones a Blessed Christmas and a Peaceful New Year!

+ LUIS ANTONIO G. CARDINAL TAGLE

Archbishop of Manila