ISIS, 21st century youth and the 2015 synod on family – Commentary

 Manila,NJ Viehland

Manila, NJ Viehland Viehland Photos

 

“Re-communing with the divorced world of youths is a priority task for next October’s second Synod on Family. Indeed, that will be a more realistic pastoral agenda than theological cud chewing about Communion to marital divorcees….”

 

Commentary: ISIS needs ‘Assisian‘ responses, not sniping crusades

By: Hector Welgampola

Amid ongoing Islam-bashing worldwide, comes a bit of good news from the Arab world. According to media reports, in April Qatar will name the recipients of that country’s WISE (World Innovative Summit for Education) Awards for 2015. Given by Qatar’s Education City, these awards have been described by BBC as an effort to recycle oil and gas into knowledge.

“The Emir of Qatar believes that a new golden age can be achieved through education and research coupled with creativity and development,” wrote James Martin, founder of Oxford University’s 21st Century School. The Qatar project would seed “a new Arab renaissance bringing multicultural tolerance, new ideas and education action across the Arab world,” he claimed. Others pin hopes on the project’s Faculty of Islamic Studies, despite lingering suspicion that Qatar funds reach jihadists.

While saluting the project, BBC noted how “events of the Arab Spring have shown the dissatisfaction of a young population with rising unemployment and lack of opportunity.” The Arab world’s youth frustrations have been aggravated by the post 9/11 frenzy to militarily intervene there with a fantasy to impose Western-style panacea for local problems.

Just as lack of social justice incubated communism, prolonged abuse of Arab countries as mere oil wells festered social ills that reignited Islamic militancy. A belated sense of guilt for such abuse led some developed countries to support the Qatar project. A similar sense of guilt should help affirm the inadequacy of military responses to curb frustration-fed jihadism.

Hired armies lack motivation to wipe out guerilla cults or jihadist passion. And eliminating Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi or Osama Bin Laden did not make the world any safer. If al Qaeda was a geographically diffused ad hoc network, its modern avatars like ISIS and Boko Haram showcase bin Laden’s dream caliphate still thriving and on martyrdom. The apocalyptic cult goes beyond self-immolation to the ruthless slaughter of those considered to be infidels. It now threatens West Asia, North Africa and beyond.

If Islamism’s extremist outreach has gone viral, it has also gone global. It attracts youths from two sources. Unsurprisingly, it volunteers youths from Islamic nations. Addressing a recent Christian-Islamic dialogue meet run by Nigerian bishops, an Islamic scholar attributed the rise of Boko Haram partly to “the impunity, bad governance and corruption of Nigerian elite.” Qatar-type projects may help replace such self-serving elite with socially committed cadres.

ISIS also draws youths worldwide. Its media-hyped fantasy appeals to listless young men and young women wearied by the depravity of secularized post-christian society. Maybe, an erratic society’s death-peddling obsession with abortion and mercy killing has so desensitized the young even to fancy jihad as an option. Frequent news reports confirm how the jihadist mirage attracts spiritually starved youths from all continents. But, sadly, such youths’ home countries fail to get the message. Their rulers try to prevent the outflow of youths with laws to muzzle social media, patrol borders or deny passports – all inept measures.

Instead, leaders of state, society and religion should heed the unspoken outcry of desperate youths fleeing parents, siblings, peers, churches and country to embrace jihad. The thousands of young men and women opting for jihad are our own sons and daughters. Their drift to ISIS speaks of our generation’s moral failure. Their spiritual thirst is an indictment of our ineptitude to offer them a meaningful goal of holistic life. So, let’s stop stigmatizing them as misled youths or blessing counter crusades. Today’s society needs to find solutions by re-examining our distorted faith-life, fractured family-life, consumerist lifestyles and counter values based on worship of money-culture.

As evident in the recent Germanwings plane crash too, all youths blamed for atrocities are not jihadists. The crisis of today’s youths should alert society to our long abuse of social structures as a mask for power play. Churches and Nations need to return to a moral ethic and restore honesty in public life. The need to wipe out the scandal of duplicity in religio-ethical and socio-economic life was never more urgent. And Church youth apostolates and family apostolates should be so re-oriented as to attract, involve and inspire all levels of youth life and activity.

Meanwhile, initiatives like the March 24 Catholic-Muslim summit in Rome can offer further hope. Interestingly, Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, Vatican head for interreligious relations, told the meet of his wish to set up a more permanent mechanism for such interaction. For a moment, it brought to mind the environment of interreligious amity facilitated decades ago by the BIRA (Bishops Institutes for Interreligious Affairs) meets and live-ins organized by FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences). Such interfaith action-in-prayer fosters inclusive pluralism. And a response of relational sacramentalty can better facilitate social awakening than statements, episcopal or papal.

That sacramental mission has to awaken the 21st century Church to a Jesus-like embrace of all youths divorced from community by post-christian secular cults. Re-communing with the divorced world of youths is a priority task for next October’s second Synod on Family. Indeed, that will be a more realistic pastoral agenda than theological cud chewing about Communion to marital divorcees. And instead of premising the synod with a requiem for martyred Christians, let reflection on the waste of life of both jihadists and their victims inspire the synod to seed a Church of Assisian service to the human family.

Hector Welgampola
welgampo@gmail.com

Hector Welgampola

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

Catholic bishops dedicate feast of the Holy Cross Masses, collections to persecuted Christians in Syria, Iraq

Novaliches,NJ Viehland

Senakulo, Bagong Silangan parish, Quezon City, Novaliches diocese, Good Friday 2014 by NJ Viehland

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has set a day of prayer for peace in Iraq and Syria on Sunday, Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, has also appealed for a “charity collection”, which must be remitted to the CBCP Secretariat by September 30, 2014 so the aid can be “immediately” transmitted to the Apostolic Nunciatures in Iraq and Syria.

CBCP Archbishop Villegas 2012 NJ Viehland

 

Read Archbishop Villegas’  full statement  dated September 5 and posted Sunday on the FaceBook account of Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila.

‘People’s initiative’ petition-campaign against pork barrel – photos

Muslim girl at Luneta Park sat with Sister Cecilia Espenilia [front, in red hat] and close to 20 fellow sisters of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena during the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally Aug. 25, 2014. - NJ Viehland Photos

Muslim girl at Luneta Park sat with Sister Cecilia Espenilia [front, in red hat] and close to 20 fellow sisters of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena during the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally Aug. 25, 2014. – NJ Viehland Photos

MANILA, PHILIPPINES

The nationwide campaign for 10 million signatures to pass a bill that will abolish the pork barrel system kicked off here today with a rally in Luneta Park co-organized with the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP).
Police estimated some 5,000 people were at Luneta during the 7 a.m. Mass, but organizer Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of New Patriotic Alliance (“Bayan”) tweeted that 20,000 people came.

Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila - NJ Viehland Photos

Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila – NJ Viehland Photos

Nurses - Just one of the variety of sectors represented at the Aug. 25, 2014 rally dubbed as Stand up, sign up vs. all pork in Luneta Park, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Nurses – Just one of the variety of sectors represented at the Aug. 25, 2014 rally dubbed as Stand up, sign up vs. all pork in Luneta Park, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

La Salette Sr. Sonia Silverio (center in cream blouse and brown skirt) with ecumenical bishops, priests and lay Church leaders ring bells at the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 to call attention to the "evils" that arise from pork barrel fund allocations. - NJ Viehland Photos

La Salette Sr. Sonia Silverio (center in cream blouse and brown skirt) with ecumenical bishops, priests and lay Church leaders ring bells at the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 to call attention to the “evils” that arise from pork barrel fund allocations. – NJ Viehland Photos

Rallyist greets Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr.  before the bishop's speech at Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila Aug. 25, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Rallyist greets Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr. before the bishop’s speech at Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila Aug. 25, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

Religious and members of their institutions were prominent rally participants at Luneta, along with groups of nurses and health workers, teachers, lawyers, private and government workers – and even beauty queens.

Even beauty queens showed up represented by Maria Isabel Lopez (left, Bb. Pilipinas- Universe 1982) and Azenith Briones [rightmost, Mutya ng Pilipinas 2nd runner up and Miss Photogenic) rejected pork barrel allotments during the Aug. 25, 2014 Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Even beauty queens showed up represented by Maria Isabel Lopez (left, Bb. Pilipinas- Universe 1982) and Azenith Briones [rightmost, Mutya ng Pilipinas 2nd runner up and Miss Photogenic) rejected pork barrel allotments during the Aug. 25, 2014 Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Even doggies Winston (brown) and Cleo came to Luneta Park's Quirino Grandstand grounds where petition signing and a concert-rally were held Aug. 25, 2014 as part of a movement to stop all pork barrel fund allocations. - NJ Viehland Photos

Even doggies Winston (brown) and Cleo came to Luneta Park’s Quirino Grandstand grounds where petition signing and a concert-rally were held Aug. 25, 2014 as part of a movement to stop all pork barrel fund allocations. – NJ Viehland Photos

Read full report here on why the religious groups and Catholic bishops support the movement to stop pork.

Signing of the petition and the program during the rally followed a 7 a.m. Mass concelebrated by various priests. In his homily, Missionaries of Jesus Father Wilfredo (Freddie Dulay) reflected on the pork barrel controversy and people’s response in faith. 

Following are excerpts from  Father Dulay’s homily which are clear enough to be transcribed:

…..  Dear brothers and sisters,

Our country is not constituted by jaded populations. We are not cynical or impervious to change. Ours is a people of hope crafting and wanting to believe in the possibility of a better tomorrow.

We are a people who look forward to new beginnings – always desirous for a fresh start – may it be after an earthquake, a typhoon or disastrous government, and the Arroyo government could not be described in kinder terms.

No matter the folly of the previous administration, our people would always give the new one a chance expecting it could be no worse than its predecessor, hoping at least that it would do better.

We’ve had enough of the short lady from Lubao. Her greed for power and money had no measure and she was blatant about them. She really had to go.

But now that she’s gone from center stage, what do we have?

Many of us believed that we would have another shot at benevolent leadership, at least.

But why are we so angry after Janet Lim-Napoles got careless and fell into the gap – and now getting angrier when the PDAF reincarnated into the DAP?

Ask the people, especially those we have traditionally called the “common tao” – if a bit condescendingly and as if we haven’t all become so common in our ways – three simple and rather straightforward reasons are repeated time and again.

First was betrayal. *”Naisahan nanaman tayo. Nauto nanaman tayo. Nakuha nanaman tayo sa mga pangako. Tayo daw ang kanyang boss at magkasama nating tatahakin ang daang matuwid. Hindi naman palang totoo ang daang tinatahak ng nagtutuwid. kunwari lang pala. Hindi lamang bale ito at baluktot, masalimuot pa. kunwari lang pala. Ang daming tinatago – billion billion pala. Kung di pa natapilok si Janet, ang katotothanan ay di pa natin matatarok hanggang ngayon.” – betrayal.

*(We’ve been conned once again. We’ve been suckered-in again. We’ve been taken again by promises. He said we are his boss. This was just make believe, after all. It’s not true that the road we travel is the straight path. This isn’t nay broken and crooked, it is treacherous as well. There’s so much that is hidden – billions and billions. If Janet did not stumble, we would not be grasping the truth today.” – betrayal.)

The second simple reason is that now we know better. **”Wala naman palang dahilan upang maghirap ang nakararami sa atin. Wala naman palang dahilan upang sila ay magutom at magdusa. Ang dami palang pera. Mayaman ang bansa. Marami naman palang sapat na pera upang magpatayo ng napakaraming paaralan at hospital at tugunan ang ating mga pangunahing pangangailangan. Meron tayong kakayanang umabante at umunland.”

**(There’s no reason after all for many of us to be wallowing in poverty. There is no reason after all for them to be starving and suffering. There is so much money after all. The country is rich. There is so much and sufficient funds after all to put up so many schools and hospitals and to provide for our basic needs. We have the capability to advance and progress.”

There’s plenty to go around and a lot going for us. Where has it all gone?

Now at least we know where the money goes. We don’t only have leeches for leaders, with a few exceptions (but they are truly hard to find), there are also bottom-feeders, and their pockets much to our grief ***”talagang bottomless.”  ***(really bottomless)

My dear brothers and sisters,

Should anybody here be surprised that we are gathered to collect signatures for the abolition of the pork barrel system and all its manifestations and reincarnations?

Abolish the pork, and the true leaders would emerge – not those who are engaged full time in self-service, but leaders who would want to serve the people and build up the nation.

Maybe it’s not too late. Beloved and beleaguered leaders, listen and take heed to what the Lord declared more than 2,000 years ago: “I came to serve, not to be served.” He followed it up by telling us, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and get lost in a sulfurous non-airconditioned place?”

Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but the paraphrase fits the occasion.

Let us pray that our leaders would wake up.

 ***********

Renato Reyes, Jr. , Secretary General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) told Catholic In Asia, “We’re very pleased with the level of support from the Catholic Church. There’s a big boost coming from at least 73 bishops and we expect support from their diocese and parishes. 

He said the pork barrel controversy has managed to unite the population. “It has managed to unite the religious, the progressives, the unions, students, teachers.” Reyes considers this “a good sign that, hopefully, we’d be able to continue with the momentum in the coming days.”

How important is it for this cause to have the Catholic Church so actively behind it? Reyes notes, “Corruption is a moral issue, so it’s very good that they’re involved. They can mobilize their constituents. In gathering signatures, it’s also very nice that they’ve opened up their parishes and dioceses and invited the people to sign up for the People’s Initiative. The have that actual support of manpower and machinery.

Reyes explains that the movement’s measure of success is “if we are able to mobilize people and if we are able to raise awareness.

He stressed that activities over the weekend through Monday is just the beginning. “This is just the start – the attempt to get numbers – the signatures. The bigger indicator of success would be raising the consiousness of the people and making them more vigilant about corruption and holding the president himself accountable for all this corruption,” Reyes added.

 

 

 

 

Iglesia ni Cristo anniversary draws ‘thank you’ from Aquino, guidelines from Catholic bishops

preached at the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and his creation as cardinal by Pope Francis  last Feb. 22. - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato preached at the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Cotabato’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and his creation as cardinal by Pope Francis last Feb. 22. – NJ Viehland Photos

President Benigno Aquino III  celebrated with a throng of members and friends in events related to the centennial of homegrown Iglesia ni Cristo (INC, Church of Christ) whose teachings contradict Catholic doctrine, a Catholic bishops’ primer on the INC says.

INC celebrated the centennial of its foundation on July 27 mainly in Philippine Arena, a 55,000-seater dome arena legally owned by its New Era University. 

Iglesia officials said more than 1 million people joined their celebration in the arena in Ciudad de Victoria (Victory City), a 75-hectare tourism complex it built in Bocaue town, Bulacan province just north of Manila.

Aquino in his address to  the July 22 gathering of members and friends for the arena’s inauguration thanked the group for the service the arena and the group provide Filipinos.

Officials of INC  endorsed the candidacy of Aquino and his vice president in the 2010 elections. Regarded among “influential” religious groups in the country, INC rules that its 5-8 million member voters  elect its leaders’ choices. 

Last week, House Representatives endorsed the third impeachment complaint filed against the president over use of discretionary funds that the Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional.

Iglesia Ni Cristo was registered in the Philippines on July 27, 1914 by Felix Y. Manalo, a Catholic who became a protestant preacher then established his own religion after claiming to be  the last Messenger of God. The group does not publicize the number of its members in the Philippines and abroad.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, who heads the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Commission on the Doctrine of the Faith had  issued in March a primer  explaining conflicting beliefs of the Catholic Church and Iglesia ni Kristo.

The document hoped to offer guidance particularly to catechists and Catholic educators and formators.

“The respect we give to the religious beliefs of others should motivate us to get to understand those beliefs deeply, as this is demanded by the requirements of sincere dialogue. Differences in what we believe in do not make us distant from those who hold those beliefs, because as J. Maritain put it, among ideas contradictions are inevitable, but not among persons,” Cardinal Quevedo wrote.

Notheless, he stresses, “We cannot close our eyes to the fact that there are serious and deep differences between the Christian Faith and the doctrines of the Iglesia ni Cristo.”

Read A Primer on the Beliefs of Iglesia ni Cristo with the full text of Cardinal Quevedo’s introduction

Malaysia Airlines MH17 – more than a story of political strife

Youth sitting in front of the altar in the candle-lit San Fernando de Dilao church, Paco where Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila led the archdiocese's Day of Lament and Hope prayer service for victims and survivors of recent calamities in the Philippines. By NJ Viehland

Youth sitting in front of the altar in the candle-lit San Fernando de Dilao church, Paco where Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila led the archdiocese’s Day of Lament and Hope prayer service for victims and survivors of recent calamities in the Philippines. By NJ Viehland

Social media offer the public a peek into the hearts and minds of people who were on the doomed Malaysian airlines flight that crashed in East Ukraine  on Thursday reportedly killing all 298 passengers and crew.

Malaysia Airlines released the full flight manifest Saturday of the persons on board the flight MH17 that was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and urged family members and friends to contact the airline.

View MH17 flight manifest here

Passenger Ariza Ghazalee posted on Facebook  a picture of 15 pieces of luggage on a sidewalk about to be loaded into a car that would take her family to Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands for the flight to Malaysia and a new life, a July 18 post on the Wallstreet Journal blog reports.

The blog describes photos, the story of the Ghazalees’ European vacation, plans to migrate from Kazakhstan to Malaysia, and even reports a Taylor University’s (Malaysia) confirmation that her son was on the flight that was believed to have been downed by a surface-to-air missile.

Read the WSJ full blog here

Their plane that reportedly left Amsterdam at 12.15 pm, local time was believed to have been shot down by the missile causing it to crash into grasslands and flower fields in eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russia rebels.

As authorities investigate the alleged attack, relatives and friends of passengers anxiously await information on their loved ones.

Filipino fatality Irene Pabillon Gunawan was reportedly traveling with her husband, Hadiono, and their two children to join a family reunion in Quezon Province, northern Philippines. Her family is reportedly waiting anxiously for instructions from the Department of Foreign Affairs on the remains of their  loved ones.

Relatives in the Philippines have spoken with Rappler social news network about their grief and sense of loss in the death of a loving, generous and caring person.

A text message that came in to her sister-in-law’s cell phone had Irene signing off as passengers were boarding the plane. “Be careful always that the trees won’t fall on you…” she added in her text message in Tagalog language.

Parts of the Philippines was suffering from the effects of typhoon Glenda (International Name Rammasun) then. 

Irene who had spent around 30 years in the Netherlands with her Indonesian husband who worked for Malaysian Airlines was reportedly sending siblings and a nephew through school. Kim, the nephew, recalls one of Irene’s Facebook posts in which she comments on relatives plans for a night of drinking and videoke. She reportedly asked them to wait for her so they can have a videoke concert and go drinking.

Reading WSJ and Rappler’s full story on MH17 passenger Irene Pabillon Gunawan and family pinches the heart, and reminds one that MH17 is not just a story of geopolitics , but is more so a story of persons, many of whom are ordinary, non-politicized people who are unfamiliar with issues and conflicts outside their own context. 

Sadly, missiles and weapons of war in this age strike down more than just their physical targets. They shatter countless lives, hopes and future of innocent people and their families across the globe, far away from the center of the conflict.

To join “Prayers Are Awesome’s” Facebook prayer for MH17 Ukraine victims, click prayer sharing

CBCP mourns student death in hazing, stresses challenge to Catholic educators

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) issued July 6 its Letter on the practice of violent initiations (hazing) that has led to deaths of students seeking membership in school-based fraternities.

At the time the Letter was released, Philippine National Police and Philippine National Bureau of Investigation were probing the death of 18 year-old Guillo Cesar Servando on June 28,  due to hazing. Three other students suffered bruises and other injuries in the hazing incident in connection with their application for membership in Tau Gamma Phi-College of St. Benilde Chapter.

St. Benilde is a college of De La Salle University owned and administered by Brothers of the Christian Schools.  

Following is CBCP’s Letter to Catholic Colleges and Universities on fraternity hazing sent to Catholic in Asia …

“Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Gen 4:10) 

LETTER
TO OUR CATHOLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
ON THE PRACTICE OF HAZING
IN SCHOOL BASED FRATERNITIES
 
My brothers and sisters in Christ in our Catholic schools:
 
Once more we must, as a nation, mourn the demise of a student of a Catholic school who lost his life at the hands of his supposed ‘brothers’ in a fraternity.  After Cain had lifted his hand against his brother, Abel, God called out to the murderer: The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. It is one of the most detestable ironies of our time that we must so often real from the devastation of brother killing brother in clandestine organizations like many fraternities are!
 
If, as the Church has always insisted, our Catholic schools are to be heralds of the saving news, there is nothing more contradictory to the message our schools exist to teach than the senseless loss of young lives because of ‘initiation rites’.  We therefore condemn in the strongest possible terms all officers, members and abettors of fraternities and sororities — and other organizations by whatever name they may call themselves — that, with disordered reason, believe that violent initiation rites assure loyalty and solidarity!  To incur this moral culpability, it is not necessary to have actually hurt, maimed or killed anyone.  The preparedness and willingness to participate in violent rites of initiation is in itself already a moral wrong!
 
Aside from the vigilance that is incumbent on all schools, however, it is important to understand somehow why youngsters seek membership in clandestine organizations.  Often students who find themselves adrift in our campuses, or lost in their new environments will seek the assurance of ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ who will be there for them — to protect and to aid them in time of need.  They become easy prey for recruiters of fraternities and sororities. 
 
What this should tell our Catholic school administrators is that the licit organizations and recognized affiliations that we presently offer them are not interesting enough and do not give them that sense of security and solidarity that fraternities and like organizations seem to offer.  The Catholic school itself ought to be the community where each member finds the welcome, acceptance, affirmation and empowerment that we all need.  And the school must nurture those forms of association that strengthen bonds of friendship and love, mutual support and care, among members, so that none in the academic community may be lured to seek acceptance in shady societies.
 
The challenge therefore to our Catholic school administrators is to foster those organizations where there is genuine care, where the charity of Christ truly prevails, and where each is concerned that none is in want of anything that can be supplied!  The success of our World Youth Day celebrations amply demonstrates that such youth organizations inspired and founded on the Gospel and its values are possible.
 
But the hazing phenomenon has yet another ugly facet: the delight in the exercise of raw power.  Even the title by which some of the overlords of clandestine organizations — Master — are called already suggests that it is the unprincipled arrogation of power that leads to such condemnable displays of ascendancy over others as the violence that comes with many initiation rites.  All teachers and professors who recruit students for secret societies that include violence of any form in their initiation rites should be dismissed from our Catholic schools, after observing the demands of due process.  A Catholic school ought to be a basic ecclesial community.  But whoever has murder, injury or indignity in his heart for his brothers or sisters has thereby severed himself from such a community!  It is not acceptable for school administrators and faculty members to be members, much less officers, of societies that practice violence — especially when this is known to their students.  Not only does such membership lend a semblance of legitimacy to clandestine organizations; it is also a counter-sign of the evangelical values that ought to manifest themselves in the conduct and deportment of our Catholic school teachers who are called to be “salt of the earth, light of the world”.
 
“I no longer call your servants but friends…” and if we are friends of the Lord Jesus, we cannot but be friends towards each other, and one never kills or hurts or maims a friend!
 
“What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.
 
From the CBCP, Intramuros, Manila, July 6, 2014
 
 
 
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
   Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
   CBCP President

Filipino families torn apart by migration hold together through communication tech

Filipino Family Series Part 1 :Cell Phone Mom

Graphics from the presentation of Religious of the Cenacle Sister Malen Java on Faces of the Family: The Overseas Filipino Workers Challenge at the Asian Conference of the Family's May 13 Conference for Educators and Catechists. - NJ Viehland Photos

Graphics from the presentation of Religious of the Cenacle Sister Malen Java on Faces of the Family: The Overseas Filipino Workers Challenge at the Asian Conference of the Family’s May 13 Conference for Educators and Catechists. – NJ Viehland Photos

Manila (CiA) – Hong Kong domestic worker Emilie Gaje said a prayer of thanks after hearing her eldest daughter tell her on the phone that she was to graduate from college last month.

Gaje’s whole family has lived such a “poor and rugged life”. She could not think the graduation of the little girl she left behind 15 years ago to work overseas as anything but “a blessing from God.” Her daughter can now have a chance at a decent and productive life in her central Philippines home in Iloilo province, or anywhere her bachelor’s degree in tourism will take her.

Gaje, 38 year-old mother of four spoke with CiA from her employer’s home in Tai Po, New Territories, about her overseas work, her family and her faith. She paused periodically then apologized for sobbing.

Her family, she said, consists of her mother, father, grandmother, siblings and four children. Her husband has not been in touch with the family since she moved their children from their house in Badiangan barrio to her parents’ house in 2001 after learning they were not getting fed enough, that he was holding drinking sprees in their house and hurting the children.

Though far away, she kept in touch. The overseas mother explained:

All the years I was working here, I regularly called my children every week on my day-off. I was focused on them. My eldest was six when I left my two daughters and our son with their father in 1999. Our youngest was only three so I left her with my mother. From here I would call my husband’s cell phone and then my mother’s.

I would have a heavy heart after calling my husband because the children would say they do not eat. My husband was eaten up by his vice – drinking with friends. When he got drunk he got violent with the children.

The children would tell me when we talked that they do not eat and that their father is hurting them all the time. Neighbors told me about this also, so I went home to get the children out of there and brought them all to my parents’ house.

Transnational families

Transnational families and parenting have evolved over the 40 years of the Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) phenomenon, reported Religious of the Cenacle Sister Malen Java.

The former Cenacle regional superior and current counselor, spiritual and retreat director to priests religious men and women, and lay Catholics of various nationalities lectured on the theme Faces of the Family: The Overseas Filipino Workers’ Challenge on the first day of the May 13-16 Asian Conference on the Family.

Close to 1,000 delegates attended the Conference for Educators and Catechists at the start of the May 13-16 Asian Conference on the Family in Paco Catholic College. - NJ Viehland Photos

Close to 1,000 delegates attended the Conference for Educators and Catechists at the start of the May 13-16 Asian Conference on the Family in Paco Catholic College. – NJ Viehland Photos

Mar Bautista of Kidapawan Diocese told a session on transnational parenting that he chats with his children working overseas on Facebook and via cell phone about their problems and successes, how to cook adobo and monggo, and  shared a "self-centering prayer." - NJ Viehland Photos

Mar Bautista of Kidapawan Diocese told a session on transnational parenting that he chats with his children working overseas on Facebook and via cell phone about their problems and successes, how to cook adobo and monggo, and
shared a “self-centering prayer.” – NJ Viehland Photos

Read the full article on Sr. Java’s presentation on transnational families here

[Working on: Filipino Family Series Part 2, Splendor of OFW Family]