Why CBCP “welcomes” UN Climate Change Conference 2015 [Document]

Farmers, Philippines - By Ed Gerlock [Published with permission] edgerlock@yahoo.com.ph

Farmers, Philippines – By Ed Gerlock [Published with permission] edgerlock@yahoo.com.ph

STEWARDS, NOT OWNERS

CBCP on the Climate Change Issue

In December, 2015, the nations of the world will gather at Le Bourget in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.  The representatives of the state-parties will endeavor to arrive at legally binding measures addressing the pressing challenge of climate-change.  From a broader perspective, the Paris Negotiations will be a welcome attempt to reach a consensus on responsibility for the future of the Earth and for generations yet to come.  It is not some futuristic matter with which state representatives and negotiators will be concerned, but with nothing less than social justice.

Climate Change Action is an Issue of Social Justice

The social encyclicals of the Church have referred to social justice as that part of justice that guarantees that all social classes and groups are benefited by the resources of earth and of society, and are advantaged equitably from the progress of nations.  Concern with the despoliation of the ecosystem and the deleterious disturbance of that delicate balance of everything that constitutes the human environment has brought home the point that social justice must, of necessity, include our responsibility for future generations.

Laguna,NJ Viehland

Farmer’s daughter plays in Laguna coffee farm, NJ Viehland Photos

Pope Francis’ celebrated encyclical, Laudato Si, anticipates the Paris Conference and urges Catholics and Christians to be passionate about the environment and with the concerns that will be taken up at Le Bourget.  It is a Christian obligation to be concerned with ecology and with climate change as a direct consequence of the moral concept of STEWARDSHIP and a concomitant of Christian charity.  All persons of goodwill must train their eyes on Paris, and by collective and communitarian action, make the issues that will be there discussed, the issues and concerns of all, for in truth, caring about climate change and its deleterious and devastating effects on all, but especially on impoverished and struggling nations and communities, is our way of attending to the needs of the least of our brothers and sisters; it is how, today, we must wash each others’ feet.

Marikina, NJ Viehland

Flooding in Marikina City during the monsoon, NJ Viehland Photos

Laudato Si teaches us that the core of the matter of climate change is justice.

The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. The Portuguese bishops have called upon us to acknowledge this obligation of justice: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next”.  An integral ecology is marked by this broader vision.” (Laudato Si, 159)

Climate Change Issue is an Intergenerational Responsibility

Quite significantly the Supreme Court of the Philippines in that case that has now become a classic in environmental law — Oposa v. Factoran — already characterized concerns of this category as matters of “intergenerational responsibility”.

We are not owners of the earth. We are its stewards, to keep and cherish and nurture its resources not only for ourselves but for future generations.  The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has not been remiss in its duty of instructing the faithful on the matter of the environment. We were honored when the Holy Father cited one of our letters in Laudato Si.

Pastoral Formation on the Climate Change Issues

We your bishops commit to organize symposia and conferences on the issues that will be taken up at the Paris around of the climate change negotiations, as desired by Pope Francis. Meaningful participation and debate are premised on sound information and adequate knowledge. In these matters it is part of moral responsibility to inform oneself.

But more direct and immediate action can and should also be taken. Our parishes and Basic Ecclesial Communities can make, as the theme of their collective discernment, situations in the locality that scientists have found to be contributory to deleterious changes in the environment as well as to the disruption of the ecosystem. Mining, incineration and landfills are among the local concerns that immediately come to mind. Here, advocacy of Church communities in behalf of the common good should influence policy makers and translate itself into community action as well.

Climate change has brought about suffering for nations, communities and peoples.  It is that kind of suffering that, in the words of Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est “cries out for consolation and help”. (n. 28) When they who are in need cry out, it is not an option to respond.  It is an obligation.

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, July 20, 2015

Archbishop Socrates Villegas. - NJ Viehland Photos

 -NJ Viehland Photos

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

 

Ecology encyclical and “far away” Churches – Commentary, Hector Welgampola 

Ecology encyclical presents collegial wisdom of “far away” Churches

Hector Welgampola

Laudato Si cover

Full text here

 

Quite unsurprisingly, Laudato Si (Praise be to you), has taken the world by storm. Its content and ecclesial nuances have taken a definitive stand for the welfare of all forms of planetary life.  

As the most recent social encyclical, it is a groundbreaker, even though categorized with Rerum Novarum and other seminal documents of Catholic social doctrine. And those documents dealt mostly with issues that concerned the Western hemisphere. Like other encyclicals, they too were addressed to bishops and other Church leaders, although their salutations did often include a mention of “ to all men and women of good will.”  

As instruments of the Church’s teaching authority, they were grounded in the Scriptures and Tradition. An occasional mention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as in Saint John Paul’s Centesimus Annus was an exception. Dante’s Divine Comedy was quoted by the same pope in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater. Apart from following suit quoting Dante, Pope Francis’s Laudato Si also quotes Patriarch Bartholomew and Sufi mystic Ali Al Khawas as well. 

But there is much more to the new encyclical than its content and genre of documentation.While wading through traditional gateways of encyclicaling, Pope Francis new encyclical makes a subtle shift.While inviting all humanity to a dialogue about our shared home, the document engages the wider Church in a new dimension of ecclesial magisterium. That futuristic move once more reiterates the Holy Father’s prophetic streak as an innovator.   

As noted earlier, in response to varied needs and circumstances, encyclicals have grown as instruments of papal teaching. Especially in more recent times, they have tended to articulate the primacy of the Petrine office as supreme teaching authority.It is no surprise that Pope Francis, who prefers collegial consultation to authoritarian imposition, should see a need to broadbase the paradigm of encyclicaling. In a Spirit-led move, the innovative pope has reached out to the people of God worldwide for the wisdom of the “diaspora” Churches. And beyond doubt, the Spirit must hover over him. 

Especially, as a product of Puebla, Medellin and Aparecide, the Holy Father would fail Churches worldwide if this encyclical put a lid on his home Church’s passion for the environment. After all, how could that document ignore the pain of a continent raped and plundered by industrial conglomerates? Apart from reflecting the thinking of Aparecide, the document refers to statements by Bolivian, Brazilian, Dominican, Mexican, Paraguayan and Patagonian bishops.  

These and other agonies of oppressed peoples have been cited from Africa too. In particular, the pope had not forgotten the African outcry against corrupting foreign aid heard at the recent Synod. Asian voices from the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences) and countries like Japan and the Philippines have been enhanced by echoes from Churches in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United States. 

This encyclical will go down in Church history as a genuine effort to integrate voices and values of the worldwide Church. And as the Spirit discerns, may it help evolve a collegial magisterium that resonates the pastoral wisdom and catholicity animating God’s people at the grassroots worldwide. 

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.

 

 

Young Filipino artists gear up for pope’s encyclical on climate with campus ‘wall’

Wall of Good Life 3 by Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR

Contributed photo:A section of the Wall of Good Life mural at University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos by Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR.

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines (Catholic In Asia) – Young local artists’ colorful paintings of trees, earth and other nature themes brighten up a wall of a central Philippines university run by Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) who have committed to raise the awareness and strengthen the responsibility of the school community to care for the earth.

“Wall of Good Life” project of DIHON group of artists intends “to raise social & ecological awareness among students and members of the school community, and in a way to prepare for the upcoming encyclical of the Pope on ecology,” OAR Brother Jaazeal Jakosalem told Catholic in Asia.

Wall of Good Life 9 Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR

Contributed photo of Wall of Good Life mural at University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos by Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR.

In March 2014 Pope Francis reportedly spoke of his concern for the environment during an audience in the Vatican with superiors from the Franciscan order whose advice he was said to have sought. The pope by then had spent months drafting his new encyclical on Creation, and respect for the environment, Rome Reports news service reported.

 Word spread that the pope would possibly release the encyclical in Tacloban City last Jan. 17 when he was to visit survivors of 2013’s “super typhoon” Yolanda (Haiyan), but Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila when asked at a forum organized by Inquirer media group ahead of the visit replied that Pope Francis would like to make sure all questions and contentious issues related to climate change are studied well before he releases a document.

“I do not want a papal encyclical being accused of spreading false data or data that are not yet verified even by scientists,” Cardinal Tagle quoted a remark he said he had heard the pope make to journalists. “I’m sure you all know that as we talk about climate change there is also a big group saying there is no climate change, and that is present even within the Church,” Cardinal Tagle told the Inquirer-organized public forum in Manila.

However, Pope Francis in an in-flight interview from Sri Lanka to Manila in January was also quoted saying he was convinced that global warming was “mostly” man-made and that man had “slapped nature in the face”. He expressed the hope that the upcoming Vatican encyclical – the most authoritative documents a pope can issue – on the environment, would encourage negotiators at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris Nov. 30-Dec. 11  to make courageous decisions to protect God’s creation, the report on The Guardian’s online newspaper said.

Contributed Photo: Jamilio Bayoneta and young artists of DIHON by Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR.

Contributed Photo: Jamilo Bayoneta (in black) and young artists of DIHON by Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR.

 Meanwhile, Bacolod diocese’s young artists, led by Jamilo Bayoneta have gone ahead with their awareness-raising project to paint University of Negros’ Wall of Good Life from Feb. 15-March 15. Students from elementary through college and Brother Jakosalem, himself an artist and mentor of the group, joined painting sessions.

Wall of Good Life by Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR

Wall of Good Life 8 Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR

Contributed Photos: Wall of Good Life by Jaazeal Jakosalem OAR
updated March 17, 10:38 pm (Manila)

Manila archdiocese assembly studies climate change, Lenten fasting movement

Yeb Sano, YouTube video

Yeb Sano, YouTube video  click photo to view

Manila archdiocese’s Ministry on Ecology has organized an orientation session, March 11, on the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Call to Fast for climate during Lent.

In the invitation to media, Ministry Coordinator Lou Valencia Arsenio expressed alarm over reported risks the Philippines faces due to climate change. Arsenio said results of the recent study of risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft is “alarming because the global temperature is … feared to increase up to 2-4 degrees centigrade before the end of this century.” 

The study found that eight of 10 cities most exposed to natural hazards are in the Philippines. Overall fourth are Metro Manila, Tuguegarao in Cagayan province, and Lucena in Quezon province. The study also shows that out of 100 cities with greatest exposure to natural hazards, 21 are in the Philippines, 16 in China, 11 in Japan and eight in Bangladesh.

Arsenio said these hazards are triggered by climate change and that scientists foresee the situation will worsen over the years if critical gas emission remains uncontrolled. “Very large amounts of methane gas are now being released with the massive melting of the ice caps especially in the Antarctica,” Arsenio said.

While many “well-meaning” and industry independent organizations, individuals, scientists, and members of faith groups have been advocating for decades for drastic and decisive decisions among governments to stop the ongoing rising of global temperature, the conference of parties held in various places discussing a solution to climate change remains very political because “industrialized countries do not like to give up their wasteful and luxurious lifestyle especially with the dictates of aggressive and destructive industries,” Arsenio said. 

 NJ Viehland Photos

Fr. Edwin Gariguez of CBCP-NASSA, second from right, at the launch of Climate Walk 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

Meanwhile, there seems to be lack of a solid Catholic voice in this debate, the ministry coordinator said. The March 11 orientation at the Manila chancery (Arzobispado) will be conducted by Columban priest Fr. John Leydon, a long-time missionary to the Philippines, and Commissioner Yeb Sano of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines 

The two resource persons represent the Philippines in the Global Catholic Climate Movement composed mostly of lay Catholics with few religious and priests, Manila’s ecology ministry coordinator said.

Aside from explaining in depth the objectives and bases for the Global Catholic Climate Movement’s Call to Fast for the Climate, the resource persons will also update participants on concerns and conditions related to climate change ahead of the next United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change meetings beginning in August.

 

 

‘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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quezon City press conference on climate change, NJ Viehland

Quezon City press conference on climate change, NJ Viehland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Caritas Manila, Ryan Cayabyab & foundations team up in “tribute to people’s faith”

In pictures

Caritas Manila Chairman Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Executive Director Father Anton Pascual (left) with renowned composer-musician and papal awardee Ryan Cayabyab and Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation present "RISE! Rebuild from the Ruins" benefit concert they organized to support Caritas Manila's rehabilitation of churches and chapels destroyed by Haiyan in Samar and Leyte provinces. By NJ Viehland.

Caritas Manila Chairman Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Executive Director Father Anton Pascual (left) with renowned composer-musician and papal awardee Ryan Cayabyab and Esther Santos, President of PLDT-Smart Foundation present “RISE! Rebuild from the Ruins” benefit concert they organized to support Caritas Manila’s rehabilitation of churches and chapels destroyed by Haiyan in Samar and Leyte provinces. By NJ Viehland.

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila was saying Mass in typhoon ravaged Palo cathedral at the close of the archdiocese’s diamond jubilee celebration last November when he witnessed with admiration the “unshakable faith” of people amidst suffering.

This, Cardinal Tagle told a press conference on Friday, was what the fund raising concert of sacred music of renowned composer and musician Ryan Cayabyab called “Rise! Rebuilding from the Ruins” on June 11 hopes to recognize. 

Cardinal Tagle recalled his Mass last year inside the church whose roof had been blown away by typhoon Haiyan. People just covered the top of the church with tarpauline material so when rain poured during Cardinal Tagle’s Mass, people and things inside got wet.

“At the end of my homily the wind blew. It rained and people panicked. They seemed allergic to the wind,” Cardinal Tagle told journalists, artists, co-organizers and partners for the concert. “One thing I appreciated was people stayed through the rain and finished the Mass,” added the cardinal who chairs the Board of Caritas Manila. 

“This is the church – the building – but this is also the living church which stays firm even when the roof blows away,” Cardinal Tagle remembers thinking to himself.

He said the “effort to rebuild the buildings made of stone and steel and iron sheets is actually not only a tribute to God or to the faith, but also a tribute to the living community and their living faith.”

Organizers, talents and supporters of the upcoming concert to be held in Manila Cathedral are also paying tribute to the physical church that serves as refuge, sanctuaries, evacuation centers and dormitories in times of crises like Haiyan, locally named Yolanda, Cardinal Tagle said.

Read full report 

 

Musician-composer Ryan Cayabyab is 60 years old and he has his "Philippines senior's card" to show journalists and guests at the May 30 press con at Arzobispado de Manila, in Intramuros to prove it. To show gratitude for his talent and to "give back to the church", Cayabyab is working with Caritas Manila, which is also celebrating it's 60th anniversary this year, to stage the June 11 benefit concert "RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins" at the Manila Cathedral that aims to raise 20 million pesos to help rebuild 20 churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar devastated by Yolanda (Haiyan). - NJ Viehland Photos

Musician-composer Ryan Cayabyab is 60 years old and he has his “Philippines senior’s card” to show journalists and guests at the May 30 press con at Arzobispado de Manila, in Intramuros to prove it. To show gratitude for his talent and to “give back to the church”, Cayabyab is working with Caritas Manila, which is also celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this year, to stage the June 11 benefit concert “RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins” at the Manila Cathedral that aims to raise 20 million pesos to help rebuild 20 churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar devastated by Yolanda (Haiyan). – NJ Viehland Photos

 

Ryan Cayabyab singers perform at press con at Arzobispado for RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins, a benefit concert of sacred music on june 12 at Manila Cathedral to raise funds for reconstruction of churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). - by NJ Viehland

Ryan Cayabyab singers perform at press con at Arzobispado for RISE! Rebuilding from the Ruins, a benefit concert of sacred music on june 12 at Manila Cathedral to raise funds for reconstruction of churches and chapels in Leyte and Samar destroyed by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). – by NJ Viehland

 

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Nun, Haiyan survivors hand over petition to Aquino’s office

Day of Lament and Hope in pictures

Nun, Haiyan survivors hand over petition to Aquino’s office

N.J. Viehland  |  Feb. 17, 2014  NCR Today

Manila, Philippines

Benedictine Sr. Edita Eslopor and fellow survivors of Typhoon Haiyan trooped to Malacañang Palace this morning to give President Benigno Aquino their petition for government relief, rehabilitation and financial assistance to survivors – but the president was a no-show.Eslopor is chairperson of People Surge, which claims 12,000 members. According to their Facebook page established Jan. 5, it is “a broad alliance of victims, organizations and individuals joined together in the common goal of helping the victims of super typhoon Yolanda.”Eslopor said she and her companions thought Aquino would meet them, but instead, an employee from the records office received her group’s petition.

Three representatives were allowed to enter the Malacañang gate.

read full story here 

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

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

AMOR XVI Conference in photos

"A mystic is a prophet in contemplation..." Asia-Oceania Meeting of Religious 16th Conference (AMOR XVI) final statement, Nov. 17, 2013, St. Scholastica's Center of Spirituality, Tagaytay City, Philippines . / By N.J. Viehland

“A mystic is a prophet in contemplation…” Asia-Oceania Meeting of Religious 16th Conference (AMOR XVI) final statement, Nov. 17, 2013, St. Scholastica’s Center of Spirituality, Tagaytay City, Philippines . / By N.J. Viehland

"A prophet is a mystic in action" - AMOR XVI Conference final statement. Participants listened to environmental and human rights activist Sister Stella Matutina, a Filipino Benedictine, share about her work and challenges she faces on Day 5 of the conference that gathered more than 70 nuns and representatives of partner groups in St. Scholastica's Center of Spirituality, NOV. 10-27 , 2013. / By N.J. Viehland

“A prophet is a mystic in action” – AMOR XVI Conference final statement. Participants listened to environmental and human rights activist Sister Stella Matutina, a Filipino Benedictine, share about her work and challenges she faces on Day 5 of the conference that gathered more than 70 nuns and representatives of partner groups in St. Scholastica’s Center of Spirituality, NOV. 10-27 , 2013. / By N.J. Viehland

TAGAYTAY CITY, Philippines – Sixty-five religious women from Asia and Oceania concluded an eight-day conference with a commitment to deepening their spiritual bonds and strengthening cross-cultural and international cooperation to better serve the needy.Held Nov. 10-17 at St. Scholastica’s Center of Spirituality here, the AMOR XVI (Asia-Oceania Meeting of Religious) conference’s theme, “The Mystic-Prophetic Dimension of Religious Life,” led the women to combine their spiritual and prophetic ideals.

[ Read full report here ]

Holy Spirit Sister Eden Panganiban, Chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines welcomed participants and guests to the 16th Conference of Asia-Oceania Meeting of Religious (AMOR XVI) during the opening Mass Nov. 11, 2013 in St. Scholastica's Center of Spirituality, Tagaytay City, Philippines  / NJ Viehland Photos

Holy Spirit Sister Eden Panganiban, Chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Women in the Philippines welcomed participants and guests to the 16th Conference of Asia-Oceania Meeting of Religious (AMOR XVI) during the opening Mass Nov. 11, 2013 in St. Scholastica’s Center of Spirituality, Tagaytay City, Philippines / NJ Viehland Photos

AMOR South Asia Postulants NJ Viehland Photos

Nuns of various congregations and territories in Asia and Oceania recited prayer petitions during the opening Mass of AMOR XVI Conference celebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila on Nov. 11, 2013 in Tagaytay City, south of Manila. /By N.J. Viehland

Nuns of various congregations and territories in Asia and Oceania recited prayer petitions during the opening Mass of AMOR XVI Conference celebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila on Nov. 11, 2013 in Tagaytay City, south of Manila. /By N.J. Viehland

AMOR nuns speak out NJ Viehland Photos

– More photos to come –

Wave of Destruction in the Season of Creation

By N.J. Viehland

(update 1 Sept. 23, 10:35 p.m.)

Photos and reports showing ravaged communities and people left homeless in Zamboanga City  have saddened viewers and left some aghast.

Was it only nine days ago when I woke up to the voice of Jesuit Father Nono Alfonso as he shared over Church-run radio Veritas 846  stories reaching Ateneo de Zamboanga of armed men massing up, and of gunfire that could be heard in places served by the cathedral parish in Zamboanga City,  roughly 1,102 kilometers southeast of Manila ?

Reasons for the fighting vary, depending on who is telling the story. In fact Filipino Muslims, called “Moro” have been fighting for centuries for self-determination.

Military officials reported on Sept. 9 that MNLF lieutenant Habier Malik, known to be based in Sulu, south of Zamboanga City, led hundreds of armed men into the city to hoist their flag as a symbolic declaration of independence.

MNLF leader Nur Misuari weeks earlier was reported to have declared an independent Mindanao, Palawan and Sabah to demonstrate his opposition to ongoing peace negotiations between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had split from the MNLF in the 1970s.

No MILF involvement in this Zamboanga crisis has been reported. Armed Forces of the Philippines officials in press conferences said when government troops prevented the MNLF faction from raising their flag at the city hall the rebels took hostages. Fighting was reportedly “contained” until Friday when the MNLF allegedly fired mortars on civilians and burned houses.

Mayor Beng Climaco of Zamboanga said she spoke on the phone with Misuari, who disowned Malik, but MNLF’s spokesperson told an interview with a tv station Climaco may have just misunderstood Misuari. He would not disown his lieutenant.

After the military launched its “calibrated attacks” Sept. 16 on “pockets of MNLF resistance” in the city, Zamboanga archdiocese’s social action director estimated the number of civilian evacuees grew beyond 100,000, including people who fled their homes to stay with family and friends, instead of evacuation centers

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Brig. Gen. Domingo Tutaan told a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo, just northeast of Manila, MNLF fighters left fighting in Zamboanga City could be just down to 75 men after the killing of 93 MNLF, and the capture of  179 others since Sept. 9.  Tutaan said 11 soldiers, three policemen and seven civilians were also killed in the fighting. Some 105 military men, 12 police and 67 civilians were injured. A total of 152 hostages had been rescued but less than 100 others remained captive.

Military operations were focused on Santa Barbara and Santa Catalina district, while at least four others have been affected by the conflict, Tutaan told reporters.

There are stories portraying the military as the aggressive party and human rights violations by both sides have been reported.

A few hours ago, the government reportedly claimed victory over the MNLF.

Victory? Who wins in these battles? For these people, the fight against sickness, hunger, homelessness, despair has just started.

Catholic groups have taken up the challenge with Muslim and other partners and neighbors to rebuild what was ruined, restore life in plantations, industry in communities and hope in people’s hearts.

Even Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila more than a thousand kilometers away, shared a prayer for softening of hardened hearts of aggressors and for generosity of prospective donors. He joined the people of the Philippines only in prayer for Zamboanga while he was in Rome during most of the crisis to attend meetings.

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

Imagine, barely two weeks ahead of the Zamboanga “siege,” Cardinal Tagle led the launch of Manila Archdiocese’s observance of “Season of Creation”  Sept. 1-Oct. 4 at San Fernando de Dilao Church and Paco Catholic School downtown Manila.  The “season” ending on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, hopes to remind people that all creation belongs to God, and that humans have been entrusted as stewards, not owners of all creation. Gifts of the earth have been created for all to share, Cardinal Tagle said.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in his homily for the launching Mass of the archdiocese's observance of "Season of Creation" Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013 reminded people at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila of their role as stewards of God’s creation, emphasizing that they are not owners who could rule over God's creation.  “We have to be reminded that we are mere stewards of creation. God created them and He is the rightful owner of everything,” he said. NJ Viehland Photo

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila in his homily for the launching Mass of the archdiocese’s observance of “Season of Creation” Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013 reminded people at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila of their role as stewards of God’s creation, emphasizing that they are not owners who could rule over God’s creation. “We have to be reminded that we are mere stewards of creation. God created them and He is the rightful owner of everything,” he said. NJ Viehland Photo

 Cardinal Tagle lamented the “arrogance, selfishness and greed” that deprive other people of basic needs and sentence them to a life of poverty. People need to stop abusing and neglecting nature, the environment and each other, Cardinal Tagle reminded people at the Mass.  He said all creatures are interrelated and interdependent.

Closing Mass at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila for the Aug. 31 launching seminar of Manila Archdiocese's observance of "Season of Creation" from Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. NJ Viehland Photo

Closing Mass at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila for the Aug. 31 launching seminar of Manila Archdiocese’s observance of “Season of Creation” from Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. NJ Viehland Photo

Fr. Georg Ziselberger, SVD, president of GeoChrisFoundation, concelebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the Mass at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila on the Aug. 31 launch of Manila Archdiocese's observance of "Season of Creation" that runs from Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013. At a forum before Mass, Fr. Georg shared his theological reflection on the theme: Caring for God’s Creation Is Our Moral and Spiritual Responsibility. Photo by N.J. Viehland

Fr. Georg Ziselberger, SVD, president of GeoChrisFoundation, concelebrated with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle the Mass at San Fernando de Dilao Church in Paco, Manila on the Aug. 31 launch of Manila Archdiocese’s observance of “Season of Creation” that runs from Sept. 1-Oct. 4, 2013. At a forum before Mass, Fr. Georg shared his theological reflection on the theme: Caring for God’s Creation Is Our Moral and Spiritual Responsibility. Photo by N.J. Viehland

He may not have had Bangsamoro issues in mind in that homily. Before fighting in Mindanao broke out citizen movements and anti-corruption advocates, including religious groups in Manila were fighting their own battle pressing for the abolition of alleged graft-laden pork barrel and Special Purpose Funds from the national budget. They have become like “weapons of destruction” of greedy officials against ordinary citizens they pledged to serve.

Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan joined women legislators, whistleblowers, students and other members of Babala (warning) movement for the abolition of pork barrel and prosecution of legislators and public officials guilty of graft, corruption and plunder. NJ Viehland Photo at St. Scholastica's College museum.

Benedictine Sister Mary John Mananzan joined women legislators, whistleblowers, students and other members of Babala (warning) movement for the abolition of pork barrel and prosecution of legislators and public officials guilty of graft, corruption and plunder. NJ Viehland Photo at St. Scholastica’s College museum.

Maybe gunfights will end in Zamboanga tonight,  tomorrow, next week. For sure, destruction of life, spirit and the future of this and coming generations will persist as long as people apply position and power to personal or political goals and neglect the common good.