Read story: Draft Law Brings Hope, Faces Challenge of Religious Extremism
Read story: Draft Law Brings Hope, Faces Challenge of Religious Extremism
Education Secretary Brother Armin Luistro, a member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle) denied reports that the department he leads has surrendered its vision of learners formed to be “God-loving,” as claimed in various media reports on the department’s revised statement of vision, mission and values (VMV.)
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) the same day issued a statement lamenting the silence about God in the reworded version of the vision statement.
Brother Luistro explained the new statement of the department’s VMV in a post on the DepEd’s website Friday, Aug. 29. He stressed that the statement of vision, mission and values must be taken in its entirety. Doing so would show that the term “God-loving” remains as a value that the department seeks to promote as stated in the word “Maka-Diyos”, its synonym in Filipino language.
He said specifying the formation of students who are God-loving, pro-people, pro-environment and patriotic allows values education teachers to develop modules that will form persons of integrity who live out their faith and convictions, while avoiding pietism or ritualism.
“We do not have any fundamental disagreement therefore with the position of various groups who wish to promote the love of God among our learners.”
He also affirmed the constitutional principle of “benevolent neutrality” towards religion and spirituality. He said the department will continue to promote the spirit of inclusivity and remain open to dialogue.
Brother Luistro’s complete statement reads:
On 4 September 2013, I released DepEd Order No. 36 s. 2013 in order to update the Agency’s directions and further strengthen our capacity to fulfill our constitutional mandate. The review of our Vision and Mission was anchored on the Filipino Core Values of *Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan and Makabansa as articulated in Section 40, Republic Act 8491. [*pro-God, pro-human being, pro-environment, patriotic]
Recent media reports have mistakenly attributed to me claiming, “the God-loving phrase was removed from the department’s vision to be fair to Filipinos who may subscribe to other beliefs and principles”. I had not issued any statement to that effect. This attribution is completely false.
Other articles refer to a Christian advocacy group whose spokesperson “aired the group’s dissatisfaction over what it believes is a rash decision on DepEd’s part that had been influenced by some members of the non-religious sector.” Other local news articles referred to a group claiming to have pressured the Department based on an open letter that they posted on 5 February 2013 via their Twitter account. I have not had the occasion to interact with any of these groups on this matter.
As early as 2010, discussions on the revision of the VMV were initiated within the department. A series of consultations was conducted with key persons in various levels of the organization, including the regions and school divisions.
It is important that the DepEd’s new VMV be regarded as one document to be appreciated in its entirety.
The term “God-loving” is synonymous with Maka-Diyos. The term Maka-Diyos is essentially connected with Maka-tao, Makakalikasan and Makabansa and allows our Values Education teachers to develop modules that will hopefully form persons of integrity. It warns against pietism or ritualism and encourages persons of faith to live those convictions everyday, everywhere.
We maintain that the formation of God-loving learners is a vision that we have not surrendered. We do not have any fundamental disagreement therefore with the position of various groups who wish to promote the love of God among our learners. We affirm the long-established constitutional principle of “benevolent neutrality” towards religion and spirituality. We also affirm that the department will continue to promote the spirit of inclusivity and remain open to dialogue, as this is a part of learning to live together.
Following is the full text of Archbishop Villegas’ statement sent to Catholic in Asia
CBCP President on the 2013 Version of the Vision Statement of the Department of Education
The Department of Education recently re-worded its Vision Statement. In the past, the department tasked with the formation of our children once envisioned “functionally literate and God-fearing Filipinos”. Unfortunately, in its 2013 version, there is no more mention of God, nor of the salutary fear of Him that, Scripture tells us, is the beginning of all wisdom.
A vision statement is not an empty platitude. It guides the articulation of policy. It orientates plans of action. While maka-Diyos remains one of the Department’s core-values, we maintain that the formation of God-fearing pupils and students is a vision that cannot be surrendered.
“This Sacred Synod likewise declares that children and young people have a right to be motivated to appraise moral values with a right conscience, to embrace them with a personal adherence, together with a deeper knowledge and love of God.” This is what Vatican II teaches in “Gravissimum Educationis“.
The right of a child to recognize God, to love him and to hope in him cannot be harmful to anyone else, believer or not. Our pluralistic society indeed accords respect for the option of some to believe and for others not to. This respect for pluralism does not compel civil society to expunge the name of God from public life, especially when the majority of Filipinos continue to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and to trust in Divine Providence. Furthermore, the attitude of our laws in the Philippines towards religion is characterized as’benevolent neutrality’: the accommodation of religion whenever such accommodation does not offend law or public policy.
We exhort our Catholic laity in public elementary and high schools to be zealous in the apostolate of forming pupils and students. Do not get tired of teaching that God is the beginning and the end of all things, that he is the Father who wishes all to have life, and to have it to the full!
This, our dear public school teachers, is your particular mission in the life of the Church, the dignity of your calling as evangelizers within the world and its concerns. It is a challenge of particular urgency in this, the Year of the Laity. Stand up for God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
August 29, 2014, Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist
+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
At least 20 million students enrolled in public pre-school to high school in school year 2011-2012 and 3 million reportedly enrolled in private schools for those levels.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Archbishop Socrates Villegas has called on Filipino Catholics to offer prayers and funds to aid people who are suffering in the hands of militant groups in Iraq and Syria.
Archbishop Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in a statement posted Aug. 27 on the portal of Manila archdiocese’s Veritas 846 radio said aside from displacing, killing and torturing people, the violence by Islamic State and other militants in Iraq and Syria supposedly to build an Islamic nation, has defaced religion.
He appealed to Filipino Catholics to “counter the defacement of religion” by practising mercy, compassion and love. He also appealed to Philippines bishops to collect money to help victims, assuring that the CBCP will see to their delivery to appropriate Church authorities in Iraq and Iran.
Following is the full text of Archbishop Villegas’ appeal posted on Veritas 846
Pope Francis, himself grieving over relatives’ death and injury in an accident, phoned the family of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Syria.
James Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, in a television interview said the pope’s gesture was “so kind” especially since he was grieving the death of the wife and two young children of his nephew, 35-year-old Emanuel Horacio Bergoglio, in a car crash Aug. 19 in Argentina. Bergoglio was critically injured, reports Catholic News Service (CNS).
Its story Pope Phones Family of Slain Journalist reported Pope Francis called because he wanted to console the family.
US intelligence judged as authentic a video released by Islamic State (IS) militants showing the beheading of Foley.
In June, al-Qaeda-inspired forces attacked Iraq areas and since then IS has taken control of territories in Syria and Iraq aiming to turn the entire region into a caliphate (Islamic nation). IS said beheading Foley, who had been seized in Syria in 2012, was retaliation for U.S.’s recent intervention in Iraq.
Pope Francis would visit the historical Madhu Shrine during his stay in Sri Lanka in January next year, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo reportedly announced in Madhu.
The Pope will arrive in Sri Lanka on the 13th of January 2015, and celebrate mass at the Galle Face Green on the 14th morning before heading to Mannar District in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, reported EyeSriLanka online newspaper.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in the district of Mannar is considered one the holiest Catholic shrine in Sri Lanka, and is a place of worship for both the Sinhalese and the Tamils and has been considered a symbol of unity between the two communities.
Bishop Rayappu Joseph, said Pope Francis would visit the Madhu shrine during his January visit and bless the war victims at a special mass at the shrine.
Bishop Joseph along with Cardinal Ranjith blessed thousands of pilgrims who gathered there from various parts of the island for the August festival last Friday, Aug. 15 .
“Pope Francis will be the first Pope to travel out of Colombo,” Bishop Joseph is quoted saying. The Pope is expected to interact with the war widows, disabled persons and orphans, he added.
Read EyeSriLanka report
[updated Aug. 16, 11:41 p.m.]
Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal has ordered the suspension of deporting Pakistani asylum seekers back to their country, until August 29, Colombo Gazette reported.
Most asylum seekers from Pakistan belong to religious minorities – including Ahmadiyya Muslim, Christian and Shia – who are often discriminated against and subjected to violent attacks, UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, is quoted telling the Gazette.
The asylum seekers flee their country in South Asia along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, and head southeast beyond India to the island country of Sri Lanka.
Last year, 687 persons belonging to religious minorities were reported killed in over 200 attacks in Pakistan.
However, Sri Lanka government reportedly deports them despite being registered with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and having their first instance interviews still pending.
Read the full report on the court decision here
Refugees from Pakistan reportedly obtain a 30-day tourist visa to Sri Lanka online and stay on after registering with UNHCR, which reviews their case.
The Sri Lankan government says the Pakistanis are part of an influx of economic immigrants in the past year who have become a burden on the country’s resources and potentially compromised state and regional security.
Receiving no help from Sri Lanka’s government, Pakistani families are driven to seek aid from the Catholic church or a mosque in the area.
Various human rights activists have written about the plight of asylum seekers in Pakistan and in Sri Lanka.
Earlier this week, Sri Lankan human rights activist Ruki Fernando decried his government’s “inhumane” response to asylum seekers and shared his personal experiences with Pakistani families in Sri Lanka.
Aside from the government, people in Sri Lanka who support repatriation of these asylum seekers “are just as deplorable,” the Catholic human rights defender added.
Read the full text of Fernando’s commentary posted on Ground Views citizen journalist blog site.
Fernando is a Sri Lankan human rights activist who participated in the protective fellowship scheme at University of York’s Center for Applied Human Rights in 2012-2013. He has been involved in international advocacy and protection of human rights defenders who are facing risk, and worked on issues such as freedom of expression and enforced disappearances.