PROPHETS OF TRUTH, SERVANTS OF UNITY

Pastoral Appeal in the Spirit of Our for Love of God and Country

 

My dear countrymen:

 

We address you as we get nearer the crossroads of our journey as citizens of this land and citizens of heaven. We bring to you a message of truth that may be painful but hopefully liberating. We offer you a hand to unite and our prayers to the Lord to heal our land and people divided by politics.

 

This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about Church pronouncements on political issues: It is a part of the Church’s mission “to pass moral judgments even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it. The means, the only means, she may use are those which are in accord with the Gospel and the welfare of all men according to the diversity of times and circumstances.” (CCC 2246)

 

Discerning our Choices

 

The nationally telecast debates as well as the publicized utterances and actuations of our candidates, particularly those who vie for the high office of President of the Republic, have given us all a glimpse of who they are, what they represent and the causes they champion – or reject.

 

There is a fundamental difference between right and wrong, and not everything is fair game in politics.  A choice for a candidate who takes positions that are not only politically precarious but worse, morally reprehensible, cannot and should not be made by the Catholic faithful and those who take their allegiance to Christ and his Kingship seriously.  One cannot proclaim Christ as King and at the same time accept the governance of one whose thoughts, speech and demeanor are diametrically opposed to the demands of submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

 

The desire for change is understandable.  Our people have suffered from incompetence and indifference.  But this cannot take the form of supporting a candidate whose speech and actions, whose plans and projects show scant regard for the rights of all, who has openly declared indifference if not dislike and disregard for the Church specially her moral teachings.

 

The Catholic Church has never asked any political candidate to seek its endorsement, but the Catholic Church has always demanded of Catholic voters that they cast their votes as an act not only of citizenship but also as a public declaration of faith.  We ask this most earnestly of all of you, Catholic brothers and sisters, in the forthcoming election.

 

A Nation at Prayer

 

We commend the various initiatives of our Catholic laity and other youth associations to come together and pray for guidance in choosing the right leaders. In particular, we encourage you to pray the rosary every day and receive Holy Communion starting May 1 until May 9. In this novena of rosaries and Masses, we claim from the Lord the gift of a godly electoral process. With the permission of the bishops, the Blessed Sacrament may be exposed for public adoration to beg the Lord for the gift of peaceful elections.

 

To you our dear candidates, we plead.

 

In less than two weeks, the sovereign people will choose who should govern them.  It is this that makes us a free people.  We, your bishops of this country, therefore ask of you to allow each Filipino the free and untrammeled right to an informed choice.  This means, among other things, that you cannot deceive or mislead the people by proffering them falsehoods, much less defraud the nation.

 

 

 

The campaign period has been rancorous.  This is regrettable.  Many wounds have been inflicted.  This is true not only of candidates but also of their supporters.  Even close friends have parted ways because of differences in political persuasion and in the choice of candidates to support. As we advise our voters, so we also say to you dear candidates: Pray! Pray not only to win but pray that the Lord may show by His signs His chosen leader for this nation, this nation who calls on Him at the crossroads of its national life.

 

Time to Unite

 

When the elections shall have been concluded and winners proclaimed in accordance with law, we beg you all, in the name of Jesus Christ, to be instruments of peace, reconciliation and healing.  Let those who prevail rise in nobility above the hurtful words that may have been uttered by opponents, and draw them rather into a government of unity, but unity that firmly rests neither on expediency nor compromise, but on truth and justice.

 

We ask all who shall be sworn in to remember that when they take the oath that the law requires of them, they call on God as their witness — and even if they may not expressly do so, they swear in the sight of God’s People.  Every public official swears to uphold and to defend the Constitution and to do justice to every man and woman.  Not whim then, nor arbitrariness, not vendetta nor revenge, but the rights of God’s people enshrined in the Constitution and their demand for justice, unity, progress and peace to which every law must respond!

 

Whoever wins honestly, whoever takes the oath of his or her office seriously, whoever strives to heal the wounds of the divisiveness of politics, whoever respects the rights of all and is earnest in his or her fear of God and is zealous for his precepts has the support of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and we will do everything together with our priests so that all our people, to the remotest barangays to which we minister, may rally around a just and God-fearing government that visits no vengeance on foes but is characterized by mercy and compassion for all, not only for allies!

 

Prayer

I invoke the Blessed Mother to cover our nation with her maternal love and to beseech her Son to grant us all the favor of meaningful, peaceful elections and a government thereafter that unifies our people in the sight of God and in accordance with His will.

 

Lord heal our land. Lord heal our land.

 

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, May 1, 2016

 

 

(SGD)+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

CBCP Message on the deaths of Missionaries of Charity Sisters

The CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF THE PHILIPPINES joins Catholics everywhere in mourning the deaths of the Missionaries of Charity, the sisters, who died the death of martyrs in Yemen.  With the rest of the world, we express our profound regret at this outrage.  The Sisters were defenseless.  They were neither combatants, nor were they acting in behalf of any government.  They were serving God’s people, and were fulfilling the precepts of charity, living the lives of consecrated persons, when they were brutally cut down.
In this respect, the CBCP also calls on all governments to agree on the characterization of the attacks on Christians by extremists as “genocide”.  The assault on Christians is born out of hatred for their religion and is by no means sporadic and isolated.  More than enough Christian blood has been shed in this troubled part of the world to make it clear that the assailants are determined to decimate Christian populations and to make living conditions next to impossible, if not impossible for them.  By all recognized standards of international law, this is genocide, and should be dealt with the governments of the world as genocide.
We your bishops ask all Filipino Catholics to pray for the Sisters of Bl. Teresa’s order, but also to invoke their own prayerful intercession, for our faith teaches us that those who lay down their lives for the faith immediately share in the reward of the just.
+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
President, CBCP

The Dignity and Vocation of Homosexual Persons

Greetings in our Creator on this World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation!
 
We share with you recent documents published by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines concerning a reality many of us live with in youth ministry: homosexual persons and ministering to and with them.
 
We trust that with and through these documents, along with the Word of God and teachings of our Church (in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example), we become equipped for the good work of accompanying persons living with homosexual desires and even behavior towards our common and constant call to conversion, faith and holiness.

ECY-Philippines Group Orientation

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“ECY-Philippines”, the official delegation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)-Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) to the World Youth Day (WYD) 2016, formally met in the persons of its Delegation Secretariat and its Group Leaders and Assistant Leaders through a Group Orientation last 2015 August 15 in the Santa Isabel College along Taft Avenue, Manila.  The orientation was led by the Delegation Head, Rev. Fr. Conegundo B. Garganta, who is also the Executive Secretary of the ECY.
There were twenty-nine groups present in the orientation, namely:

From particular churches and their diocesan youth ministries:
Archdiocese of Caceres
Archdiocese of Davao
Archdiocese of Lipa
Archdiocese of Palo
Diocese of Antipolo
Diocese of Bangued
Diocese of Butuan
Diocese of Cabanatuan
Diocese of Dumaguete
Diocese of Kalibo
Diocese of Maasin
Diocese of Malolos
Diocese of San Jose (Antique)
Military Ordinariate of the Philippines

From member organizations of the Federation of National Youth Organizations (FNYO)
Chiro Youth Movement
CFC-Singles for Christ
CFC-Singles for Family and Life
CFC-Youth for Christ
CFC-Youth for Family and Life
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul – Youth
Youth for Mary and Christ

From educational institutions
Assumption Antipolo
Assumption College, SLV (San Lorenzo Village)
School of Saint Anthony
St. Scholastica’s College-Westgrove

From other communities
Holy Trinity Community
Light of Jesus Family-The Feast Makati
Order of Augustinian Recollects
YouthPinoy

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In the orientation, Fr. Garganta, together with other members of the Delegation Secretariat, led the attendees in understanding the application procedure set for the ECY-Philippines, the required preparations after acceptance, and an overview of the pilgrimage from the Philippines to Poland and back.

From this initial encounter, these Group Leaders and Assistant Leaders have been commissioned to start the preparation of their groups in their respective settings, both in the practical and pastoral aspects.

PIMAHT holds General Assembly

Pimaht

Photo Credits: PIMAHT Facebook Fanpage

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking (PIMAHT) held their General Meeting last 23 March 2015 at the Philippine Bible Society, Ermita, Manila.

Representatives from different organizations and member-churches of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) were present during the annual meeting of the members. Atty. Alexandrino Malililin of the Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking (IACAT) presented a short talk about Human Trafficking.

A testimony of actual human trafficking cases was given by Mr. Garry Martinez, Migrante Chairperson. He shared several accounts of human trafficking which he encountered in his work with migrants and told his own experience of being trafficked when he worked abroad, which ignited his passion in the fight against trafficking.

Reviewing the activities they have done in the last three years and looking at the direction the movement is going, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, DD of the CBCP said that the efforts of various groups must be in collaboration with other groups in order to foster a more organized and wide-spread advocacy against human trafficking.

 

~ Nikko Delaine Sebastian
ECY Secretariat Staff

Moral Ethical Dimensions of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform

The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform will expire on June 30.

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Where do we go from here?  We cannot remain oblivious to the plight of the poor famers.  It is useful to review some of the guiding principles that come from the treasury of Church social teaching.

 

Basic Principles

First, capital (including land) exists for the sake of labour, because the human person is a ‘labouring being’ who fulfills his vocation in the dignity of human labour.

Second, the human person is more important than material things. Human beings must not be placed second to the land that they till.

Third, the private ownership of the world’s resources cannot and should not be the reason that God’s sons and daughters are denied access to these resources for the achievement of their full stature as human persons.  In other words, in the ethical order, the right to use precedes the right to own and private ownership is justified only to the extent that it allows for the more efficient use of the world’s resources.

 

The Situation

The hard facts are disturbing.  In 2011, the Agrarian Reform Communities Level Development Assessment (ALDA) showed that 54% of households among agrarian-reform beneficiaries fell below the poverty line.  Due to this, we now have a class of newly-landed Filipinos, the majority live below the poverty-line.  This is what prompts observers to recognize a new class of farmers: “the landed poor“.

What is clear is that distributing expropriated land to beneficiaries and leaving them to their own resources does not serve the purpose of agrarian reform, for it is very well possible that the beneficiaries, lacking the wherewithal and the skills render of their new holdings that were hitherto productive now unproductive.  The generous allocation of funds for farm inputs, unless accompanied by an uncompromisingly rigid system of accounting and transparency, will only line the pockets of those who have remorselessly profited from public funds!

In this respect, the Church will do its share, and dioceses and other ecclesiastical jurisdictions are urged to activate their social action commissions to police, observe and report on the allocation, distribution and application of public monies and funds targeting farm productivity.

Regrettably, some farmer-beneficiaries of agrarian reform have had recourse to the subterfuge of alienating their newly-acquired property in the underground market in an attempt to make quick money, frustrating the very purposes of land distribution.  In this respect, legal reform towards allowing farmer-beneficiaries to lease or mortgage their property when such contracts should hold out the promise of higher productivity for the land and higher standards of living for our farmer-beneficiaries must receive serious study.  But we, your pastors, must warn against every scheme that would have land that has already been distributed, gathered in the hands of those would once more amass tracts of land in contravention of the equitable purpose of land-distribution.  What this problem points to is the importance of the formation of our farmer-beneficiaries, including their Christian formation as ‘stewards’ of this world’s resources, particularly land.

And where a farmer-beneficiary regrettably chooses to leave his holding idle, to abandon it or to leave it unproductive, there has to be some legal mechanism by which the land reverts to the scheme of re-distribution so that it may be awarded to farmer-beneficiaries who have the willingness and capacity to render it more productive and to serve the common good.

There is finally, the problem that 70% of Certificates of Land Ownership Awards issued are, thus far, collective.  These involve one million farmers and two million hectares.  In effect, the legal rights of the individual beneficiary are not yet settled.  Consigned to a state of uncertainty, this acreage cannot be productive, nor can the supposed beneficiaries enjoy the rights that the law intends them to have.  This is a matter to which the Department of Agrarian Reform must turn, with urgency and resoluteness.

 

The Moral Reponse

In summary, while the task of re-distribution is apparently done, the government’s efforts — in tandem with the initiatives to the private sector, particularly our Catholic laity — should go into rendering these new holdings productive.  A more responsible system of allocating, distributing and applying government funds and resources towards farm productivity must be set in place coupled with people’s efforts at rendering transactions transparent and responsible officials, accountable.  Where legislative reform is necessary to enable leases and mortgages of acquisitions towards higher levels of productivity and a rise in the living standards of farmer-beneficiaries, these must be enacted.  But the Philippine Church must, with all haste and diligence, involve itself in the formation of our farmer-beneficiaries so that rather than devising ways of circumventing the law by alienating their holdings and contradicting the purposes of land-distribution, they may be true stewards of this world’s goods.

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, June 6, 2014

+ SOCRATES VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayan-Dagupan
President, CBCP

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

The 4th Sunday of Easter, is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Pope Francis has written a beautiful message for this. The CBCP-Episcopal Commissions on Vocations and on Youth are working together to bring you portions of this message each day.

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Our common vocation: to live with and in God who is our fullness
Something to think about…
How do you nurture your relationship with God? Are there challenges and even obstacles? How do you enable grace to see you through these so that you can continue to remain in Him?

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We belong to Christ

Something to think about…
How do you experience belonging to Jesus? In your choices, engagements and way of life, how do you manifest the centrality of the Lord in your journey?

vocations

The God who calls us is with us in making our response

Something to think about…
Do you recognize God’s companionship in your journey? How do you walk with Him? What fruits does your togetherness produce?

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Our vocation is a gift to be shared

Something to think about…
How do I see others, especially the least, in relation to my vocation? Do I see others as necessary and helpful in my own vocation story? What kind of participation do I give in the Body of Christ which is the Church?

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We are called to witness to holiness: nothing less

Something to think about…
Do you see your vocation as your “gameplan” for holiness? What difficulties and challenges do you encounter? How does the abiding presence of the Lord console and strengthen you in this daring and noble adventure?

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Something to think about…

How do you participate in your own “training in holiness”? In what ways does your local church promote this among the youth? How can these ways be made more fruitful?

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Something to think about…

Whether you are already living your vocation or still searching for it, how do you maintain your heart to become “good soil” in order to “bear much fruit”? What are you doing, and what more can you do, in response to the abundance of the harvest? What truth does your life give witness to?

Statement of the CBCP President on the Supreme Court Decision on the RH Law

Our office shares with you this Statement of the CBCP President on the Supreme Court decision on the RH Law.
May this help guide our next efforts for our young people, especially in formation (taking particular care of young people antagonistic to Church teaching), inter-ministeriality (collaboration with other ministries, especially that of the family, BEC’s and Christian education) and engagement with others (in social media, for instance).
Let us take this situation as a summons from our Lord to choose to be brave and to clearly and unstintingly proclaim His Good News while bringing His mercy and compassion.
Statement of the CBCP President on the Supreme Court Decision on the RH Law

‘Be contemplative shepherds’, Villegas urges fellow bishops

MANILA, Jan. 25, 2014—President of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas called on fellow bishops to be “contemplative shepherds” who seek only the good for their flock.

He said it is only through a life “soaked” in prayer and contemplation that bishops would be able to teach their flock in full freedom, “freedom from the fascination of political or social gain, freedom from the insane and unreal attraction of popularity in the world.”

“To be contemplative bishops is to become truthfully honest, cheerfully loving and passionately zealous teachers of the flock, bishops serving the Lord in total freedom detached from vainglory,” Villegas said in a speech at the opening of the bishops’ 108th plenary assembly at Pius XII Center, Jan. 25.

The CBCP president also stressed the important role of the laity to pray for their bishops so that they will transformed into contemplative pastors.

He also asked Religious sisters and seminarians, as well as lay devotees to pray for the bishops as they meet for the plenary assembly.

Villegas had a small chapel put up beside the plenary hall so prayer warriors can take turns in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for the whole duration of the CBCP plenary assembly, which will end on Jan. 27.

“They are praying for us their pastors. The flock is praying for their shepherds. The lambs and sheep are praying for us their pastors,” Villegas told fellow bishops.

“This is the Church of the new evangelization. Let us allow our flock to transform us their pastors into contemplative shepherds of the people,” he said.

Inclusive celebration

Villegas said the celebration of the Year of the laity should not be an exclusive affair for those who are supportive of the Church.

But it should include “the critical and distant ones more importantly those who disagreed with us on the RH law, those who hurl accusations at us fairly or unfairly. They are children of God too, our brothers and sisters, members of our flock also,” said Villegas.

“We can do this if we are soaked in prayer as contemplative shepherds of the people freed from fear and rejection, carrying the mark of Christ scourged, crucified yet risen,” he said.

Villegas pointed out that it is also important to discern that their movement towards contemplation is not merely an escape from pastoral realities.

He said it is important to always look for the fruit of prayer, as true prayer will always lead to “greater charity for the poor” and an “increase of love”.

“If contemplation does not lead to action for justice and charity, it might have really become the “shabu” of the bishops, an addictive flight from reality,” the CBCP president said.

A life that has truly encountered Jesus in prayer, said Villegas, must guide the bishops’ response to the poor in today’s society.

“The poor are not just curious ciphers on a statistical report. The poor are not just the unlettered, the unwashed, the uninitiated, the uneducated, the unhealthy, the naked, the exploited, the trafficked, and the infirm gazing into our eyes for human recognition,” he said. 

Reach out sincerely

He encouraged fellow bishops to heed the advice of Pope Francis in planning church programs and projects, especially in this year of the Laity, “to resist the temptation” of talking and acting “like spiritual masters and pastoral experts who give instructions from on high.”

He said it is important to “stay focused on the Lord and reach out sincerely to the distant poor and the wayward children of God.”

“We cannot allow the Year of the Laity to create more circles of elite and closed-in lay groups sometimes called mandated organizations,” Villegas said.

“We need to reach out to those who are angry at us bishops, those we have disillusioned and those we have misled or confused by our excessive misplaced prudence or unbecoming lifestyle,” he said. 

‘The best of times, the worst of times’

Noting the many calamities and scandals that happened in the country in the past six months since the last plenary assembly, Villegas couldn’t help himself but quote Charles Dickens by saying it has been “the best of times” and “the worst of times.”

“We were visited by the strongest typhoon in the world two months ago but the Lord has blessed the Church in Mindanao with its first Cardinal, Cardinal Orly Quevedo, OMI,” Villegas said.

“Thousands died from the storm surge in Leyte but it also brought us an admirable surge of charity worldwide,” he added.

But he also said it is important to look with the eyes of a contemplative the recent devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda and the massive destruction wrought by the earthquake.

“We must look at these events with the eyes of the Lord, feel with the heart of the Lord and act with the hands and feet of the Lord. Our best contribution to the rehabilitation in Samar or Leyte, Bohol or Zamboanga is Christ,” Villegas said.

“We send help because of Christ, in Christ and through Christ,” Villegas told fellow bishops. “Our task is not just to build new homes that can be washed away again by the next storm surges. Our mission is not just to send food for the hungry and give water to the thirsty.”

“The Christ that is in me reaches out to the Christ that is suffering. It is Christ reaching out to Christ,” he said. “We will miss this point if we are not contemplative bishops. We can even reduce NASSA and the CBCP into just another philanthropic institution and we are not. We are Christ’s,” Villegas said.

 

Source: CBCPNews