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.

 

 

‘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…

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Thanksgiving : one year after deadly typhoon

Baby Israel by Emylou Antigua

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

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

American Jewish Pins toys JDC photo

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

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

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

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“United in Grief” over Malaysia Airlines 17 crash – Najib Razak

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking at a press conference televised from Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, July 17, expressed shock and sadness over  Malaysian Airlines flight 17’s crash allegedly after being shot down over eastern Ukraine.

Following is the text of Razak’s statement in which he vowed thorough investigation into the tragedy that has thrown people of various nationalities together in grief…

Yesterday evening, I was informed of the terrible and deeply shocking news that a Malaysia Airlines jet went down in eastern Ukraine.

Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that the jet was Malaysia Airlines flight 17, which was on a scheduled flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The flight departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm, local time. It was scheduled to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6.10 am, local, Malaysian time.

The aircraft was a Boeing 777-200.

The aircraft’s flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

And International Air Transportation Association has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.

Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that the aircraft did not make a distress call.

The flight was carrying a total number of 295 people – comprising 280 passengers and 15 crew members.

Malaysia Airlines is in the process of notifying the next-of-kin of the passengers and crew. All possible care will be provided to the next-of-kin.

The Government of Malaysia is dispatching a special flight to Kiev, carrying a Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, as well as a medical team.

According to information provided by Kiev Air Traffic Control, the location of the plane’s emergency locator beacon is 48 degrees 7 minutes and 23 seconds North; and 38 degrees 31 minutes and 33 seconds East.

The Ukrainian authorities believe that the plane was shot down.

At this early stage, however, Malaysia is unable to verify the cause of this tragedy.  

But we must – and we will – find out precisely what happened to this flight.

No stone can be left unturned.

If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice.

Emergency operations centres have been established. In the last few hours, Malaysian officials have been in constant contact with their counterparts in Ukraine and elsewhere.

And I will be speaking to a number of world leaders over the coming hours.

I have had several conversations with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

I have also spoken to the President of Ukraine. He has pledged that there will be a full, thorough and independent investigation, and Malaysian officials will be invited to take part.  

The Ukrainian president also confirmed that his government will negotiate with rebels in the east of the country, in order to establish a humanitarian corridor to the crash site.

Just now, I received a call from President Obama.

He and I both agreed that the investigation must not be hindered in anyway.

An international team must have full access to the crash site.

And no one should interfere with the area, or move any debris, including the black box.

This is a tragic day, in what has already been a tragic year, for Malaysia.

As we work to understand what happened, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those on board the flight.

I cannot imagine what they must be going through at this painful time.

The flight’s passengers and crew came from many different countries.

But today, regardless of nationality, we are all united in grief.

A bulletin posted by Malaysia Airlines listed the number of passengers and crew according to nationality as follows:

Nationality Total
Netherlands 154
Malaysia 43 (including 15 crew & 2 infants)
Australia 27
Indonesia 12 (including 1 infant)
United Kingdom 9
Germany 4
Belgium 4
Philippines 3
Canada 1
Unverified 41
Total 298

 

 

Will Pope Francis come to the Philippines for the Eucharistic Congress?

Four Philippines cardinals with nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto (in black) helped Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, 51st IEC Chairman, and his team present the congress to media at the June 10 press conference in Arzobispado de Manila, Intramuros. - NJ Viehland Photos

Four Philippines cardinals with nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto (in black) helped Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, 51st IEC Chairman, and his team present the congress to media at the June 10 press conference in Arzobispado de Manila, Intramuros. – NJ Viehland Photos

This is question #14 in Frequently Asked Questions {FAQ) on the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) scheduled to be held in Cebu on Jan. 24-30, 2016.

Traditionally, the Pope doesn’t attend International Eucharistic Congresses, and sends instead a Papal Legate to represent him in this gathering, the printed FAQ handed out at the June 10 press conference in Manila says.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI's video message announcing last year the 51st International Eucharistic Congress venue would be in Cebu was screened at the June 10 press con in Arzobispado de Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI’s video message announcing last year the 51st International Eucharistic Congress venue would be in Cebu was screened at the June 10 press con in Arzobispado de Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

IEC is a Church event where people from different parts of the world gather together to celebrate the Eucharist; to reflect the richness of the Eucharist and to pray before the Eucharist, organizers explained.

Eucharist is the Sacrament in which Jesus Christ gives himself – his body and blood – for us, so that we too might give ourselves to Him in love and be united with him in Holy Communion (YOUCAT, 208)

The first time delegates came to Asia for an IEC was for the 1937 congress held in Manila.

Philippines' most senior cardinal amused guests at the June 10 press conference in Arzobispado de Manila, Intramuros, with stories of his first communion at 6 years old during the 1937 International Eucharistic Congress in Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Philippines’ most senior cardinal amused guests at the June 10 press conference in Arzobispado de Manila, Intramuros, with stories of his first communion at 6 years old during the 1937 International Eucharistic Congress in Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, 57, said he had no personal experience to share about the 1937 International Eucharistic Congress when his parents were only 7 years old. He shared instead his reflections on the theme of the 51st IEC, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, 57, said he had no personal experience to share about the 1937 International Eucharistic Congress when his parents were only 7 years old. He shared instead his reflections on the theme of the 51st IEC, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” – NJ Viehland Photos

"Eucharist is the unique prayer of Jesus, he is just taking us along. It is the 'ruruk' (summit) of our Christianity," retired Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales explained, teaching some a new Tagalog word. - NJ Viehland photos

“Eucharist is the unique prayer of Jesus, he is just taking us along. It is the ‘ruruk’ (summit) of our Christianity,” retired Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales explained, teaching some a new Tagalog word. – NJ Viehland photos

At the press con to formally present the IEC to media, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, Congress chairman replied to a request for confirmation of Pope Francis’ attendance at the congress:

 “We have heard of reports he’s coming next year, we pray he will come to the Eucharistic Congress, but until we have definite word he is coming we are not sure.

  “Meantime we can pray because we believe the holy father loves us. The fact is he has sent many cardinals to come over to manifest his love for the people especially those affected by typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan)…

Meanwhile, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato said:

“If the holy father is coming to visit disaster areas, there are two kinds of disaster – natural and man-made. I hope…I wish that he will also visit the disaster area called Central Mindanao. But that will depend on the nuncio, the pope, Archbishop (Socrates) Villegas (Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president), perhaps the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front.”

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato answers reporters at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress press con in Arzobispado de Manila, Intramuros on June 10, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato answers reporters at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress press con in Arzobispado de Manila, Intramuros on June 10, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

After the press conference Cardinal Quevedo explained:

“I was simply wishing that perhaps for the Holy Father when he comes to the Philippines to visit Yolanda victims he can have a side trip if his time allows to go to Cotabato City and perhaps push the peace process there.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato summarizes CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas' letter as Bishop Antonieto Cabajog of Surigao and retired Cardinal Vidal listen to him answer a reporter's question on the pork barrel controversy. - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato summarizes CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ letter as Bishop Antonieto Cabajog of Surigao and retired Cardinal Vidal listen to him answer a reporter’s question on the pork barrel controversy. – NJ Viehland Photos

Dulce and her son sang the International Eucharistic Congress theme song at the June 10 press conference at Arzobispado - NJ Viehland Photos

Dulce and her son sang the International Eucharistic Congress theme song at the June 10 press conference at Arzobispado – NJ Viehland Photos

 

(more)

 

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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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?

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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.