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June 22, 2018

CBCP News - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 22:48
Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 KGS 11:1-4, 9-18, 20

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah,
saw that her son was dead,
she began to kill off the whole royal family.
But Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah,
took Joash, his son, and spirited him away, along with his nurse,
from the bedroom where the princes were about to be slain.
She concealed him from Athaliah, and so he did not die.
For six years he remained hidden in the temple of the LORD,
while Athaliah ruled the land.

But in the seventh year,
Jehoiada summoned the captains of the Carians
and of the guards.
He had them come to him in the temple of the LORD,
exacted from them a sworn commitment,
and then showed them the king’s son.

The captains did just as Jehoiada the priest commanded.
Each one with his men, both those going on duty for the sabbath
and those going off duty that week,
came to Jehoiada the priest.
He gave the captains King David’s spears and shields,
which were in the temple of the LORD.
And the guards, with drawn weapons,
lined up from the southern to the northern limit of the enclosure,
surrounding the altar and the temple on the king’s behalf.
Then Jehoiada led out the king’s son
and put the crown and the insignia upon him.
They proclaimed him king and anointed him,
clapping their hands and shouting, “Long live the king!”

Athaliah heard the noise made by the people,
and appeared before them in the temple of the LORD.
When she saw the king standing by the pillar, as was the custom,
and the captains and trumpeters near him,
with all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets,
she tore her garments and cried out, “Treason, treason!”
Then Jehoiada the priest instructed the captains
in command of the force:
“Bring her outside through the ranks.
If anyone follows her,” he added, “let him die by the sword.”
He had given orders that she
should not be slain in the temple of the LORD.
She was led out forcibly to the horse gate of the royal palace,
where she was put to death.

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD as one party
and the king and the people as the other,
by which they would be the LORD’s people;
and another covenant, between the king and the people.
Thereupon all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal
and demolished it.
They shattered its altars and images completely,
and slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars.
Jehoiada appointed a detachment for the temple of the LORD.
All the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet,
now that Athaliah had been slain with the sword
at the royal palace.

Responsorial Psalm PS 132:11, 12, 13-14, 17-18

R. (13) The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.

The LORD swore to David
a firm promise from which he will not withdraw:
“Your own offspring
I will set upon your throne.”

R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.

“If your sons keep my covenant
and the decrees which I shall teach them,
Their sons, too, forever
shall sit upon your throne.”

R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.

For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he prefers her for his dwelling.
“Zion is my resting place forever;
in her will I dwell, for I prefer her.”

R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.

“In her will I make a horn to sprout forth for David;
I will place a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but upon him my crown shall shine.”

R. The Lord has chosen Zion for his dwelling.

Alleluia MT 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Pope says no to women priests, yes to women in Curial leadership

CBCP News - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 19:55

Pope Francis meets with a woman at the general audience in Paul VI Hall on Jan. 13, 2016. DANIEL IBANEZ/CNA

By Elise Harris

Catholic News Agency

June 21, 2018

VATICAN— In an interview with Reuters, Pope Francis said more space has to be created for women to take on leading roles in the Roman Curia, but that priestly ordination is not an option.

Responding to a question about women’s ordination to the priesthood, the pope said “there is the temptation to ‘functionalize’ the reflection on women in the Church, what they should do, what they should become.”

“We cannot functionalize women,” he said, explaining that while the Church is referred to as a woman, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is out of the question “because dogmatically it doesn’t work.”

“John Paul II was clear and closed the door, and I will not go back on this. It was something serious, not something capricious,” he said, adding, “it cannot be done.”

However, Francis stressed that while the priesthood is out, women do need to be given more opportunities for leadership in the Roman Curia – a view he said has at times been met with resistance.

“I had to fight to put a woman as the vice-director of the press office,” he said, referring to his decision in 2016 to name Spanish journalist Paloma Garica Ovejero as the Vatican’s deputy spokesperson.

He said he at one point offered a woman the job of heading the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, but she turned it down because “she already had other commitments.”

Women in the Curia “are few, we need to put more,” he said, adding that it can be either a religious sister or a laywoman, “it doesn’t matter,” but there is a need to move forward with an eye for quality and competency in the job.

“I don’t have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery, if the dicastery doesn’t have jurisdiction,” he said, referring to the fact that some Vatican departments have specific functions in Church governance that require a bishop to do the job. Lay men are also ineligible to oversee offices that require the jurisdictional authority of a priest or bishop.

For example, the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy has jurisdiction, so it has to be led by a bishop, but for others, such as the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, “I would not have a problem naming a competent woman,” Francis said.

Women must continue to be promoted, but without falling into “a feminist attitude,” the pope said, adding that “in the end it would be machismo with a skirt. We don’t want to fall into this.”

Pope Francis spoke during an interview with American journalist Phil Pullella of Reuters, which took place Sunday at the pope’s Vatican residence, and was published June 20.

In the interview, the pope touched on a variety of topics, including a possible deal with China on the appointment of bishops, clerical abuse and the ongoing scandal in Chile, the reform of the Roman Curia, and criticism he’s faced.

On the topic of women, Francis said that in his experience, things are usually done better when there is a mixed group working on a task, rather than just men.

“Women have an ability to understand things, it’s another vision,” he said, noting that whenever he has visited prisons run by women, they “seemed to do better,” because women know how to be “mothers” and care for inmates and their needs in a unique way.

“Women know how to manage conflicts better. In these things, women are braver,” he said, adding, “I think it would be so also in the Curia if there were more women.”

Francis noted that some have said inviting more women into the mix might mean there is more gossip, however, he said he does not believe that would be the case, “because we men are also gossipers.”

Church marks Cardinal Sin death anniversary

CBCP News - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 19:13

By Joselle Dela Cruz

June 21, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A mass was held at the crypt of the Manila Cathedral on Thursday to remember Cardinal Jaime Sin on the 13th anniversary of his death.

Throughout the day, people paid tribute to the late Manila archbishop at his tomb.

In his homily, Msgr. Rolando dela Cruz said that throughout Sin’s priestly life, his episcopal motto “Serviam” has remained the cardinal’s guiding principle.

“Just one word and that was enough,” Dela Cruz said. “It did not take Cardinal Sin so many words to express his commitment, to express his dedication, to express his love and obedience to the church and to the Lord.”

“Even in the life of Cardinal Sin, word is dear, word is something you can hold on too because that word is sincere. All we have to do is to make sure that our words are sincere,” he said.

Cardinal Sin is credited in the Philippines as driving force behind two peaceful “people power” revolts that drove presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada from office in 1986 and 2001, respectively.

Appointed bishop in 1967 at age 38, he was the youngest member of the Philippine bishops’ conference, over which he presided from 1977 to 1981.

Nine years later, he became the youngest member of the College of Cardinals at age 47.

Cardinal Sin has served the Archdiocese of Manila for 29 years until his retirement in September 2003. He died in 2005 at the age of 76.

Should priests carry guns? ‘Bishops have the last word’

CBCP News - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 18:50

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan

By Roy Lagarde

June 21, 2018

Manila, Philippines

While the position of the Catholic hierarchy is clear, a church official said that priests cannot carry guns without the approval of their bishop.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan reminded priests who want to carry firearms that the local ordinaries have the last word.

“Let’s see if there’s a single bishop who would allow them to do so,” said David, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

“It is those priests themselves who are duty-bound to seek permission from their bishops to carry firearms. Even the priests serving in the Military Ordinariate need their bishop’s permission to carry firearms,” he said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said that more than 240 priests and pastors are applying for permit to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) from June 2017 to date.

According to PNP chief Oscar Albayalde, 188 of them are Catholic priests and 58 are ministers and pastors from other Christian churches.

Several members of the CBCP have already rejected the idea of arming priests to protect themselves amid recent killings against clergymen.

Even the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) was not amenable to the idea, saying that it would be contrary to their belief that society needs peace, not violence.

“That would only attract violence as violence attracts violence,” said Bishop Noel Pantoja, PCEC National Director. “Carrying guns won’t be necessary as it is the Lord who will protect us.”

Bishop Aseo formally takes over Tagum diocese

CBCP News - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 17:20

Catholic prelates greet Bishop Medil Aseo after his episcopal ordination and installation as the head of the Diocese of Tagum at the Christ the King Cathedral in Tagum City, June 20, 2018. PHOTO FROM THE DIOCESE OF TAGUM

By CBCPNews

June 21, 2018

Manila, Philippines

It began with a procession.

About 27 bishops and more than 100 priests solemnly walked into Christ the King Cathedral in Tagum City.

In all, around 2,000 came to witness the episcopal ordination and installation of Bishop Medil Aseo on June 20.

“This is the day that the Lord has made,” said Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, who served as the principal consecrator.

After receiving his episcopal ring, miter and pastoral staff, Aseo was officially ordained and installed as the fourth bishop of the Tagum diocese, the birthplace of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) in the Philippines.

The new bishop admitted that he is “unworthy” of such high office and is not without apprehensions at the enormity of the challenges that he will be facing.

This means, according to Valles in his homily, that the faithful must be with Aseo “all the more closely as he embarks on a new mission”.

“As you can see, our new bishop’s mission, any bishop’s mission, is not easy,” Valles said. “Bishop Medil must be teacher, shepherd and high priest in the place of Christ.”

In his message, Papal nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Caccia urged the faithful “to be better disciples of Jesus”.

“I invite all of you to offer this desire to be better — better men, better women, better workers, better disciples as a gift to the new bishop. And it will be sustained by prayer and by our own example,” Caccia said.

A priest for 39 years, Aseo has served the diocese in various capacities as pastor, seminary formator, and marriage and family counsellor.

His last assignment was off-shore, doing pastoral work in the diocese of Greensburg, in Pennsylvania, USA, where he received his appointment from Pope Francis as bishop of Tagum on April 7.

Aseo replaced retired Bishop Wilfredo Manlapaz who served the diocese for 32 years.

In his element

CBCP News - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 14:31

WE just celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus recently. There we were reminded of this very moving truth of our faith that it was from the pierced heart of Jesus that not only blood and water flowed but rather through them the nourishing sacraments and all the salvific means we need have been made available to us.

The Solemnity also happens to be the Day of the Sanctification of Priests, an intriguing coincidence meant to highlight the strict sacramental identification of the priests with Christ as head of the Church.

As such, we cannot overemphasize the need for priests to be truly holy as to be truly ‘another Christ,’ as all Christians are supposed to be. Priests should somehow take the lead in this duty. It has to be understood that to be ‘another Christ’ as head of the Church, priests should be willing to give their all, to the extent of willing to be crucified and pierced in the heart.

I would say that it is when a priest at least would pursue in earnest his own sanctification, his own duty to be ‘another Christ’ as head of the Church in spite of his defects, that he would be in his element when he gives his homily at Mass.

He would exude some kind of X factor that goes beyond whatever prowess he may have in terms of his knowledge in theology and philosophy, his ability at public speaking, and the fruitfulness of his pastoral work, etc. In a sense, he exudes a certain sacred aura that the people can easily perceive.

We, priests, should try, of course, to master as much as we can our theology and philosophy, our art of public speaking, our effectiveness in our pastoral work. But we have to understand that there is something more fundamental that is always needed. And that is the very spirit of Christ which we ought to acquire, develop, deepen and enrich.

We should aim to make as our own what St. Paul once said: “We have the mind of Christ,” (1 Cor 2,16) and “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2,20)

Even in our moments of rest and recreation, this awareness of our identification as ‘another Christ,’ head of the Church, should never be lost. Rather it should always be nourished, protected, defended and reinforced. Let’s remember that it is actually Christ who would give us the proper rest. (cfr. Mt 11,28)

In this way, we would be ready not only to show Christ but rather to be ‘another Christ’ at any given moment, knowing how to take care of the flock, the people of God, leading them to where they should be. We would be ready to give the proper answers and solutions to questions and problems at any given moment.

This is no easy task, of course. But the means are always there. Aside from the sacramental conformation to Christ in Holy Orders, we priests need to pray and make sacrifices daily, celebrate the Mass and avail of the sacrament of penance regularly, and study. The priestly formation never ends. The priestly discipline should be exercised constantly.

When we would be truly identified with Christ, then giving a homily would be no problem at all. Like the Boy Scouts, we would always be prepared. In fact, we would be in our element when giving the homily. We would not sound sophomoric, “trying hard, dilettantish, amateurish, etc. In fact, we would have the eloquence of the Holy Spirit. And the people will get convinced they are not only hearing Fr. so-and-so, but Christ himself.

Cardinal Tagle: ‘Welcome everyone despite differences’

CBCP News - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 09:35

Photo. Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle speaks during Mass to open the Share the Journey Campaign Global Action Week at the Binondo Church in Manila, June 17, 2018. PHOTO COURTESY OF ERIL PAUL GUANLAO/RCAM

By Joselle Dela Cruz

June 21, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has appealed to Catholics to welcome everyone regardless of nationality and differences of one another.

At a Mass to open the “Share the Journey Campaign-Global Action Week” at the Binondo Church on June 17, he emphasized that accepting a “stranger” is letting Jesus enter their lives.

“As we welcome the stranger, we welcome Jesus who said, ‘When I was a stranger you welcome me’,” said Tagle, who is also the president of Caritas Internationalis, the global network of Catholic charitable agencies.

“But as we welcome the strangers, let us also welcome each other because, after all, even if we are not foreigners, each one is unique, we need to welcome one another, [have a] personal encounter and promote human dignity,” he said.

Share the Journey is an initiative of Caritas Internationalis. It is meant to promote dialogue and understanding between communities and migrants and refugees.

Reinforcing the campaign, Caritas is promoting a global week of action with activities to help people really “get in touch” and take action as Pope Francis appealed, when he launched the initiative in September 2017.

The cardinal pointed out that there are 10 million Filipinos out of the 65 million forced migrants around the world “who often sail in dangerous circumstances” without even knowing if “there are people who will welcome them.”

“Every day we hear reports, we see images and we Filipinos we know there are, they say around 10 million Filipinos who have also migrated to other lands,” Tagle said.

“There are 65 million forced migrant and Pope Francis and Caritas is inviting all of us, go encounter a stranger, meet a stranger person to person, welcome [them], promote human dignity, protect their lives [and] their rights, and help integrate them into the community,” he added.

Cardinal Tagle said people were forced to migrate due to several unfavorable reasons.

“We have the right to migrate, to live where we want to live but many people in the world are forced to migrate, they go to countries, to other places because of poverty, because of violence, because of hunger, because of lack of work, because of conflicts, because of environmental distraction,” he said.

Truth has many layers

CBCP News - Thu, 06/21/2018 - 08:04

THERE’S an interesting episode in the gospel that tells us that truth indeed has many layers and we just have to be careful with our assertions especially when done as if we already know everything.

It’s in the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 7. “Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, ‘This is truly the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But others said, ‘The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family and come from Bethlehem, the village were David lived?’”

Somehow, everyone said something truthful, but not everyone was in the truth. This can happen to us in our exchanges and discussions. We can say something truthful in the sense that we can cite certain data and facts, but we need to realize that data and facts do not necessarily say the last word, and they can even be contradicted in the end.

Yes, we need to realize that truth has many layers, levels, dimensions and angles, and we just have to be careful and prudent when making our assertions given this character of truth. At the very least, we have to be cordial and civil with each other especially when we find ourselves in opposite sides in a certain issue or topic. We also need to realize that truth has its ultimate foundation in God who is the Creator of everything, and that every attempt we make to establish a truth should always have a clear reference to and respect for God. Otherwise, we would end up like the devil who is the father of lies and can only dish out lies, citing facts and data.

In fact, in that temptation of Christ in the desert (cfr Mt 4,1-11), the devil cited scriptural passages to supports his assertions. Indeed, the devil said something truthful, but in the end he was actually lying. We may not have the intention to lie or to deceive anyone with our statements, but we just have to see to it that our assertions are not made as if they have the final say about a certain issue, even if we have a plethora of data and facts to support our views. We should be open to the positions of others and continue to probe our views to see to it that we are not missing anything.

We should be open-minded and ready to revise or even change our views the moment we get hold of another piece of data that sheds better light on our position. As much as possible, we should avoid hardening our positions for the sake of protecting our personal views. Such attitude is what actually generates unnecessary contentions and controversies that are very toxic to all of us. In the end, what really matters is that all efforts to get to the truth about anything should start and end with God, and not just with facts and data alone. In fact, all efforts to get to the truth should be done in the context of love for God and for everyone, and for the salvation of mankind. Short of that, we would be playing with fire in our assertions.

We have to disabuse ourselves from developing a disordinate attachment to facts and data that ignores or even is hostile to God’s will and ways, and is detached from the ultimate context and perspective. In our discussions, it pays to have a good grip on our emotions and passions, as well as on our preferences and the many conditionings that we are subjected to—our temperaments, our physical condition, our cultural background, etc.

June 21, 2018

CBCP News - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 21:00
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

Reading 1 SIR 48:1-14

Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah
whose words were as a flaming furnace.
Their staff of bread he shattered,
in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens
and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You brought a dead man back to life
from the nether world, by the will of the LORD.
You sent kings down to destruction,
and easily broke their power into pieces.
You brought down nobles, from their beds of sickness.
You heard threats at Sinai,
at Horeb avenging judgments.
You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance,
and a prophet as your successor.
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with fiery horses.
You were destined, it is written, in time to come
to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,
and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.
Blessed is he who shall have seen you
And who falls asleep in your friendship.
For we live only in our life,
but after death our name will not be such.
O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind!

Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit,
wrought many marvels by his mere word.
During his lifetime he feared no one,
nor was any man able to intimidate his will.
Nothing was beyond his power;
beneath him flesh was brought back into life.
In life he performed wonders,
and after death, marvelous deeds.

Responsorial Psalm PS 97:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7

R. (12a) Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.

R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes round about.
His lightnings illumine the world;
the earth sees and trembles.

R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.

R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

All who worship graven things are put to shame,
who glory in the things of nought;
all gods are prostrate before him.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Alleluia ROM 8:15BC

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

You have received a spirit of adoption as sons
through which we cry: Abba! Father!

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’

“If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Pope criticizes Trump’s ‘zero-tolerance’ migrant policy

CBCP News - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 20:54

Pope Francis greets a migrant at a welcoming hub near Cesena, Italy on Oct. 1, 2017. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO

By Elise Harris

Catholic News Agency

June 20, 2018

VATICAN— In a new interview with Reuters, Pope Francis backed the U.S. bishops’ opposition to the separation of migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border, calling the move “immoral” and “contrary to Catholic values.”

“I am on the side of the bishops’ conference,” the pope said, referring to statements made by U.S. bishops earlier this month.

Francis’ comment was made in reference to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration, which was rolled out in May and, among other things, enforces the separation of children from parents who have been detained by border officials.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, issued a statement at during their bi-annual meeting in Houston last week criticizing the enforcement of separating migrant families at the Mexican border, saying “separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

He said later the bishops would consider the possibility of sending a delegation to the U.S.-Mexico border to see the detention centers for themselves and offer solidarity for incoming migrants and refugees.

“Let it be clear that in these things, I respect [the position of] the bishops conference,” Pope Francis said in the interview with Reuters.

When migrants arrive to a country, “you have to receive them, help them, look after them, accompany them and then see where to put them, but throughout all of Europe,” he said, noting that “some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure.”

No full text of the interview was available, however, the pope also touched on a variety of other issues, including the possibility of a deal with China on the appointment of bishops, the sexual abuse scandal in Chile, the reform of the Roman Curia and the criticism he’s faced.

The conversation with Reuters marks the the pope’s first on-the-record interview a major American news outlet.

During the 2-hour conversation, which took place in his residence at the Vatican’s Saint Marta guesthouse Sunday, Francis said the ongoing reform of the Vatican’s structures is going well, “but we have more work.”

In the latest reform move, the pope’s Council of Cardinals in their meeting earlier this month finished the first draft of a new apostolic constitution outlining the role and structure of the Roman Curia titled “Predicatae Evangelium.”

Francis voiced satisfaction at the status of the Vatican’s financial reform, saying the Vatican bank, which in the past lacked proper oversight and has now flagged and closed several suspicious accounts and transactions, “works well.”

Referring to criticism he has received throughout his papacy, the pope said he prays for those who have said “nasty things” about him.

Referring to the “dubia” letter sent to him by four cardinals, including American Cardinal Leo Raymond Burke, challenging him on excerpts of Chapter 8 of his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family, “Amoris Laetitia,” the pope said he found out about the letter “from the newspaper.”

This, he said, is “a way of doing things that is, let’s say, not ecclesial, but we all make mistakes.” Using the analogy of a river, he said “we have to be respectful and tolerant, and if someone is in the river, let’s move forward.”

On the Chilean abuse scandal, Pope Francis, who has already accepted the resignation of three bishops, including that of Juan Barros Madrid from the Diocese of Osorno, said he could accept more in the future.

He also voiced optimism about the Vatican’s ongoing discussion with China on the appointment of bishops, saying the discussions are “at a good point.”

Though he has been criticized for engaging China’s communist party for a deal which would give them a say on bishop appointments, Francis said “dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue.”

“As for the timing, some people say it’s ‘Chinese time.’ I say it’s God’s time. Let’s move forward serenely.”

CBCP Statement on  Sr. Patricia Fox’s keeping of missionary visa by DOJ

CBCP News - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 18:13

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Peace!

We sincerely appreciate the decision of our government authorities to keep the missionary visa of Sister Patricia Fox. We consider this a decision that comes across as wise, very understanding and kind to the 71-year old Australian nun of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, who for 28 years worked in the Philippines among the poor and marginalized.

In particular we convey our appreciation and gratitude to the officials of the Department of Justice (DOJ) who ordered that until the Bureau of Immigration rules on the pending deportation case or until her visa expires, Sister Pat may continue to do her ministry as a missionary in the country.

Thanks be to God!

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

+ROMULO G. VALLES, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
President, CBCP

June 19, 2018

Questions on sexuality loom large ahead of youth synod

CBCP News - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 17:33

Pope Francis at the Vatican’s pre-synodal youth meeting in March 2018. DANIEL IBANEZ/CNA

By Elise Harris

Catholic News Agency

June 20, 2018

VATICAN— According to the official working document for the upcoming synod of bishops on youth, the major questions for young people ahead of the October discussion surround issues of sexuality and gender, the role of women and the desire for a Church that knows how to listen.

The “instrumentum laboris” for the Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation,” was published June 19, and includes contributions from both young people themselves, and bishops conferences.

Key issues highlighted in the document are not only increasing cultural instability and violent conflicts, but that many young people, both inside and outside of the Church, are divided when it comes to topics related to sexuality, the role of women, and the need to be more welcoming to members of the LGBT community.

The document pointed to a “metamorphosis of the human condition” some analysts say the world is undergoing due to the rapid pace at which cultural and anthropological changes are happening.

In this regard, challenges for the Church the document cited are topics related to the human body and human sexuality. The body, the text read, has always been at an “intersection between nature and culture,” yet new biomedical technologies have given rise to different concepts of the body.

On one hand, the document pointed to the trend of technological experimentation, saying there is an increasing push for the integration of “body and machine, between neuronal and electronic circuits, which find their icon in the cyborg, favoring a technocratic approach to the body.”

But on the other hand, the trend of manipulating one’s body goes beyond the technical realm, and also touches on issues related to biology, the text said, pointing to surrogacy and egg donation as examples.

Things such as precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, pornography, displaying one’s body online and sexual tourism, the text said, “risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life.”

Bishops, the document continued, recognize the importance of the body and of sexuality, particularly the differences and complimentary of men and women, but are often not able to communicate the Church’s teachings well.

Church teaching on issues such as abortion, contraception, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage for many youth are up for debate, both in the Church, and in society at large.

While there are young Catholics who find Church teaching to be “a source of joy” and who wish to follow this teaching despite how unpopular it is in the public eye, others want more clarification on these and other major issues, and have asked Church authorities not to be afraid to talk to them about “taboo,” topics such as gender and women.

“No bishops’ conference offers solutions or recipes” to these issues, the document said, but they are convinced that “the question of sexuality must be discussed more openly and without prejudice.”

On the issue of homosexuality, the document emphasized the need to be open and welcoming to everyone, including non-believers, those of other faiths, and also the LGBT community.

Some LGBT youth who participated in the online questionnaire or offered contributions through social media, the document read, said they want to experience “greater closeness and greater care on the part of the Church.”

In their responses, bishops conferences also questioned how to respond to young people who have chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle, but who also want “to be close to the Church.”

In comments to journalists at the June 19 presentation of the synod’s working document, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, said the reason the Church is engaging with members of the LGBT community is because “we are open. We don’t want to be closed in on ourselves.”

In the Church, “there are many areas, there is freedom for people to express themselves – on the right, left, center, north and south – this is all possible,” he said, adding that “this is why we are willing to listen to people with different opinions.”

Young people, the document said, are also concerned that at times the Church can seem distant, and have voiced a desire to have a Church that is close, transparent and up-to-date, and which is not afraid to talk about the tough issues.

Divided into three parts plus framed by an introduction and conclusion, the document offers an overview of the state of young people throughout the world today and possible pastoral responses.

The document is a compilation of contributions from four primary sources: a questionnaire sent out to bishops conferences in June 2017; a website for the questionnaire and social media accounts where youth were able to leave testimonies and answer questions; a September 2017 seminar on youth that took place in Rome; and the final document of the pre-synod meeting which took place in Rome in March.

The structure of the working document follows a methodology frequently insisted upon by Francis in the process of discernment: recognizing, interpreting and then choosing.

Recognize

The text noted that there are some 1.8 billion people throughout the world between the ages of 16-29; however, the demographic, economic and social conditions of each country are different. Whereas youth are the majority in some countries, in others youth are a minority. In some places, lifespan does not exceed 60 years of age, whereas in others it extends well over 80.

Added to this is the disparity between rich and poor nations, and the access young people therefore have to education, healthcare and a stable home. In some areas they also face pressures such as drugs, corruption, violence and the challenges brought on by an increasingly globalized world.

For what regards the role of the family, the document said that responses to the online questionnaire showed that mothers are a key reference point for youth, while the subject of fatherhood requires a deeper reflection due to the “ambiguities and voids” left as a result of the lack of father figures, particularly in the west.

According to the document, family will be a key topic of discussion, especially in light of the conclusions on the 2014-2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family.

Bishops also noted that religion no longer holds the same weight that it did in the past, and that for many young people, simply being “spiritual” is enough.

In terms of the Catholic Church itself, the document noted that many youth are committed to the Church through different activities, and bishops conferences have affirmed that youth outreach is a key priority in most parishes.

However, on the flip side, the text also noted that in the pre-synod meeting, youth had voiced concern about feeling as if they were being put into a corner, and felt that generally they were not taken seriously, especially when it comes to leadership.

The document also touched on both the risks and benefits of technology and social media, including the dangers of the “dark web,” and the role of music, art and sport as forms of expression.

Work, young migrants, and discrimination were all touched on in the document, along with racism, discrimination against women, and religious persecution, especially for Christians in areas where they are a minority.

Discrimination against women, even in ecclesial environments, was also addressed in the text, and was a key concern raised by youth themselves during the pre-synod meeting in March, during which they questioned how and where women can really, fully participate in the Church and in society.

The Church, according to the document, “can face these problems with a frank dialogue and a mind open to different ideas and experiences.”

The document also cited a growing paralysis on the part of young people when it comes to making a decision for their lives, whether it is due to a lack of opportunity, economic instability, or, at times, a the lack of a sense of meaning and purpose.

It also spoke of the need to listen to youth, who frequently lack good role models, and who want a Church which is “authentic” and which is capable of talking to them about the issues that matter.

Interpret

In the second section of the document, the text spoke of “the blessing of youth” from a biblical standpoint, emphasizing the importance of accompaniment in the discernment process.

To follow Christ, it said, “is a call to risk, to lose what has already been acquired, to trust. It is a provocation to break with the planning mentality which, if exasperated, leads to narcissism and the closing in on oneself.

The section placed a heavy emphasis on the need to accompany young people in determining what path is best for their lives, saying the task of accompaniment “is not an option with regard to the task of educating and evangelizing youth.”

Rather, “it is an ecclesial duty and the right of every young person,” the document said, adding that only the presence of a “prudent and wise” guide can help youth to correctly interpret God’s will for their lives.

The text then offered a brief reflection on the different vocational paths, including the vocation to the family, to ordained ministry and to consecrated life. However, it also touched on the increasing number of people who opt to stay single, without making a move toward consecrated life or marriage.

No concrete answer to the question of “singles” was given, but due to the growing number of singles in the Church and in the world in general, the document said “it is important that the synod reflect on this question.”

In terms of discernment, the document noted that it goes “well beyond” simply deciding whether to get married or live a consecrated life. Rather, discernment is a broader concept, and also includes helping youth to determine their profession and what sort of social or political commitments to make.

But to discern well, accompaniment is needed, the document said, noting that youth themselves have voiced their desire for an accompaniment which is both free and authentic, while bishops said they wanted to provide a “broad” and varied accompaniment for young people equivalent to a sort of “Christian coaching” in life.

The text emphasized the need to provide both spiritual and psychological accompaniment, and a formation which reaches the family, educational and social aspects of life.

Those who accompany youth ought to be able to respect each person and what God is already doing in their lives, and should be able to influence “with who they are, before what they can do or propose.”

For youth in particular, the document said it is important that those who accompany them are committed in the Church and on the path to sanctity, but it is also crucial that they are able to recognize their own limits and able to walk with young people, rather than being put “on a pedestal.”

The document also stressed that accompanying young people is not a task limited to priests and religious, but is also something laity can do.

Choosing

In terms of helping youth to make concrete choices that are right for their lives, the document stressed the need for an integral formation and education, and emphasized the role that Catholic schools and universities can play in helping to mold young people.

It also emphasized the importance of finding new models of development in terms of generating employment, fostering a better economy, and caring for creation. It also called for innovation in the technical sphere and for greater collaboration so that everyone has access to the resources and opportunities they need.

Faced with the challenge of modern society, bishops said it is increasingly important to form youth in politics and in how to be active citizens. Particular attention, the document said, ought to be paid to professional competence, opportunities for service, care for the environment and a better understanding of the Church’s social doctrine.

Emphasis was also placed on the role of the internet and digital media outlets as a means of evangelization, and the need to accompany prisoners, and young people who live in war zones or areas of conflict, especially women and migrants. The document also called for a greater attention to and accompaniment of young people who are sick or dying.

In terms of pastoral care, the document stressed the role of family and the education and formation of children. In this regard, bishops also presented their “best practices,” underlining the need to set aside daily times of prayer and silence for personal devotion, as well as pray in one’s community.

Catechesis and opportunities to practice charity are also important, the document said, especially through mission trips, retreats with movements and associations, all of which the document said help provide space for vocational discernment.

The document also stressed that those living a consecrated life live under the same cultural and societal conditions as other people their age, so a pastoral approach adapted to different local situations is needed.

It warned against the tendencies toward narcissism and self-sufficiency, particularly in consecrated vocations, which have a common root in “a potentially pathological concentration on oneself.”

It cautioned against the dangers of individualism, which is “centered on the autonomous subject, which excludes recognition, gratitude and the collaborating action of God,” and “emotionalism,” which the document said “closes the person in the virtual world an in a false interiority, where the need to deal with others and the community is excluded.”

The document closed emphasizing the universal call to holiness and inviting young people to become saints.

“Jesus invites each of his disciples to the total gift of life, without calculation or human self-interest,” the text said, and spoke of the need to highlight not only young Saints in the Church, but also the “youth of the Saints,” who all passed through the phase of being young.

Doing this, the document said, would make it possible “to intercept many youth situations which are neither simple not easy, but where God is present and mysteriously active.”

“To show his grace is at work through torturous paths of the patient construction of a holiness which matures in time through many unexpected ways,” the document said, “can help all young people, no one excluded, to cultivate hope in a holiness which is always possible.”

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery

CBCP News - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 16:09

Pastoral reflection on the occasion of World Day of Refugees on June 20, 2018

By Bishop Ruperto Santos

Diocese of Balanga

Introduction

In our modern world the mere mention of the word traffic conjures inconvenience. Traffic on the road can lead to delay or that there’s trouble ahead. But when we apply this word traffic to travel and transportation, it would describe movement, whether moderate or very slow; ongoing or at full stop.

And when traffic is used to refer to persons, such as in “human trafficking,” it no longer simply refers to delay but to destruction and even death; no longer just inconvenience or trouble ahead but agonizing pain and recurrent problems.

Human trafficking leads to nowhere but to the total destruction of persons and properties. It is all wrong and all evil. Why?

Human trafficking is most cruel and brutal act a man can inflict to his fellowman. The man, woman or child who is trafficked or illegally recruited is taken not as a person, not as a human being but as an object for profit or for pleasure. The person is regarded as mere commodity.

Human trafficking violates a person’s dignity and human rights. His or her life is placed in danger of death and destruction. His or her family suffers separation and agonizes over the uncertainty of its illegally recruited family member.

Human trafficking is a major scourge in our society. It is exploitation to the highest degree because it destroys lives especially of the vulnerable children and of women, who should be accorded protection, caring and security. His Holiness Pope Francis affirms that “human trafficking is an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the Body of Christ. It is a crime against humanity.”

Who are the human trafficked

In the words of our Holy Father, those who are trafficked are the vulnerable and the voiceless. Who are these vulnerable? They are those in situations which they have no control of; that they are helpless to avoid and that leave them with very little option but to face and accept. This pressing condition leave them defenseless, powerless and helpless. And so against their will they can become easily influenced and forced. They succumb. They yield. They fail prey to human traffickers.

Let us meet Marissa. She is the eldest of four children. Her ailing parents are always in dire need of medicine. Her sister and brothers want to study. With a promise of good job and advanced payment for the hospitalization of her parents, she eagerly agreed and consented to be recruited for a job to Taiwan. And there she has to work eighteen hours a day, seven days a week.

What can we do about human trafficking?

We can and must do something! Our response comes in these action words: prevent, protect and prosecute.

The Church and the government must both increase their efforts in educating our people about the temptation of easy money. Our first act should always be to prevent persons from being illegally and falsely recruited. Prevention includes informing and urging them to be more careful, attentive and always make background check on the deployment agency or recruiting entity. They should find out if these recruitment offices are licensed, or allowed and recognized by the duly government agencies.

To prevent human trafficking is to make our immigration officials at the port and airport terminals to become more strict, straightforward and dead serious about their works and duties.  Let me cite and example. If the purpose stated by the traveler is tourism, the immigration official should ask for the specific attractions that he or she wishes to see, the amount of traveling money, and the address of the hotel or whatever lodging he or she is staying in. If the traveler fails to name the tourist spots, or has very little money to sustain the tour, or is just staying with a friend, that person could be trafficked or illegally recruited.

If a traveler has not visited any beautiful place and any landmarks outside his province and around the Philippines, and yet will be tourist to another country, the likelihood of trafficking exists.

The Church and the State both have a common duty to remind our people not to be taken in by any ideology which sow violence and hatred. Affiliations to these harmful and dangerous groups will only lead to a sinful and fatal end. Our citizens must always be reminded to avoid anything and anyone that propagates destruction and death. So before accepting anything or conceding to anything, they should always ask themselves: will this lead me and loved ones to safety and security? Will this make me and my family happy and at peace? And finally are all these right, legal and moral?

Our people will be well prevented from being trafficked if their government can provide and create more jobs for them at home. These jobs should provide stability and security; they should be more humane, just and dignified. With sufficiency of jobs, working abroad becomes an option and not a last resort. The papal encyclical Rerum Novarum states that “if people are paid just wages then they do not migrate”.

For example a person is recruited with the promise of a high paying job or a successful career. But once in the foreign country he or she ends being used for illegal activities or worse is forced to prostitution. Every person has dignity; every person is human being, endowed by God with rights and dignity. Each person is special to God. He or she is valuable and important. He or she should not be used for any purpose nor abused for personal advantage. Pope Francis asserts that “things have a price and can be for sale. But people have dignity that is priceless. And worth far more than things.”

Who are the voiceless? They are those who because of threat or indebtedness cannot express their opinion or exert a decision. They remain silent and become submissive.

Marissa was rescued from forced labor of eighteen hours a day. How can she did not do anything. Why she did not protest or ask for any information before agreeing to travel to Taiwan. She said she did not know anything. She was just told ,“may trabaho, may malaking suweldo, basta sa Taiwan, at basta may tao na susundo sa airport.” And when she asked and insisted what kind of work, how much is the salary, where in Taiwan and who is the employer, she was told “kung gusto mo, huwag ka nang magtanong-tanong,” “if you want work, don’t ask question, just follow and there are many out there waiting for you.”

These vulnerable and voiceless-women, children and the poor- are not numbers. They are not statistics. They are not with price tags or with labels. All of them, whoever and whatever, are special. All are important. They are not commodities. They are not objects. They should be treated humanely, with respect and as person. Our Holy Father made this appeal, urging us “together we can and we must commit ourselves so they may be freed and this horrible trade can be put to an end.”

The “How” of human trafficking

There are three essential elements to this deplorable crime. These are movement, means and motives. First is movement. This is what the traffickers do to their victims. The traffickers recruit and receive. They offer and obtain. They hire or harbor and maintain. They transport and transfer those they traffic. And from the victims they get money, services or material pleasures.

The traffickers are always moving, on the go in order to search for prey or to get away from government authorities.

Second is their modus operandi, the means. With non-violent means the traffickers make use of fraud, deception and dangling of money or gifts. For example, a victim is sweet talked with of huge amount of money so he or she would agree to carry a suitcase and hand it over to a designated person waiting at a certain arrival area. Without being aware of it, the victim has already succumbed to their modus operandi that make him or her a drug mule which is a serious crime that has the extreme consequence of a death sentence in that country. Other violent means of human trafficking are threat, force or coercion and abduction. A Filipina was trafficked in Malaysia and ended up in a KTV Bar. Fortunately she was rescued. At the embassy she was asked why she did not escape. She revealed that her passport was kept by her employer. She was told that she cannot go to the Police, because they will just bring her back to her employer and she will be branded as runaway and a thief. And what she feared most was the threat of harm and death not only to her but also to her family in Zamboanga.

The Third element is the motive. Human trafficking is solely about exploitation: sexual, labor and human organ exploitation. In human trafficking, sexual exploitation involves prostitution, pornography and sex tourism. Forced labor, debt bondage and slavery are all labor exploitation. For example when this Filipina came to work in Kuwait, she was told that she will not receive any salary for a year. She was surprised and asked “How come I would not get any monthly salary?” The employer replied “I bought you from that person of that agency. And you have to pay me with your labor for a year.” It was slavery.

Our Second is to protect. A trafficked person is a victim. And there is no willing victim. He or she must be protected. To protect our people is to make them well-informed about working abroad. They should be made aware of their rights. These should be imparted to them: Be extra conscious and be watchful about the jobs being offered through the internet. Be reminded that if those offering jobs ask for money as reservation or registration fees, they should be suspicious that they are just after your money.

Always report to proper authorities any under the table procedures from those processing your papers to work abroad. An example is this: they will tell you that you have to travel first to an Asian City and from there, your visa will be processed for your final destination, or wait for a certain person who will facilitate everything for you. This is surely human trafficking.

Always have a complete knowledge of the names and addresses of our Embassy officials in those foreign countries. Know also the name and place of our Filipino chaplaincies. They must know that it is against the law for an employer to ask and to keep passports of their workers. It is the workers themselves who have to take hold and keep their own passports.

The Church stands by and always sides with her people. The Church welcomes them and they can find a home in her. The Church sees and realizes their everyday struggle, sacrifices and even sufferings. The Church prays hard for their deliverance from those who have evil plans and selfish motives, and seeks to provide them with the assistance they need and works to bring them back home safely. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis urges us to “provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life.”

And lastly is to prosecute. Human trafficking is a major scourge in our society which deserves nothing but serious prosecution and severe punishment. It is modern-day slavery. Those illegal deployment and recruitment agencies should be closed, their properties sequestered and money should be returned and used as reparations to the victims.

A case against trafficking should be filed in the proper court that has to try and decide on the case swiftly and firmly. No one should influence a victim to desist from a court case, nor force the victim to issue an affidavit of desistance. And lastly, the privacy of the trafficked person must be recognized, observed and fully respected.

His Holiness Pope Francis made this appeal, “how I wish that all of us would hear God’s cry: where is your brother (Genesis 4,9). Where is your brother or sister who is enslaved?” Heeding the call of our Holy Father we must search out for them and rescue them from the slavery of human trafficking. We must help them to rebuild their lives and give them hope by reintegrating them to our family and to our Church. With our acceptance and caring, we restore to them their dignity and self-worth. Following what Jesus did, who “has come to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19, 10) let us now do the same.

Let us free them from the shackles of this abominable crime of slavery and lead them to the embrace of their families, their communities and their native land, and to the mercy of Jesus, our Lord.

Bishop Ruperto Santos is the Chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

Kiss kiss bang bang

CBCP News - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 14:00

AFTER kissing a married woman on the lips in public, what will Chief Executive Digong do next? I didn’t get the details when I first heard of that “historic kiss” over the radio, and so I dismissed it as just another Du30 gimmick. He was probably fishing for approval from the OFWs during his visit to South Korea, so what’s new? But when station after station rattled on about “the kiss”, and I learned soon after that the kiss was on the lips, and that the woman was married, and that our showman-of-a-president demanded the kiss in return for a scandalous book, I thought, “Uh-oh, that’s a material for my next column.”

And then came the videos, and the blasts from social media, pro and con. I had to watch the video before I could judge the act (without being judgmental). I saw the lady’s reluctance, the president’s insistence, and the kiss which, truth to tell, wasn’t intimate enough to spread a virus, but why did it go viral just the same? Why did CNN, BBC, Time, CBS, Washington Post among others think it was newsworthy? The head of state who is known for getting into hot water because of his mouth has done it again—this time not because of cussing but because of kissing; caused not by a joke, but by a joke of a kiss.

The uproar was like thunder rolling from east to west, north to south—why? Because—as the song goes, “You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh… The fundamental things apply, as time goes by…” A kiss is a kiss is a kiss, and a kiss on the lips is big time in our culture. See how a lips-to-lips kiss caps our wedding ceremonies, where the groom waits until the priest/minister says “You may now kiss the bride” before lifting her veil and kissing her lips? Suddenly you have this mischievous president soliciting a kiss from somebody else’s wife. What the ….! That would have constituted sexual harassment in the corporate world!

But besides the fact of the kiss, it’s the public reaction to the president’s intention that needs examination. The audience shrieked and hooted their approval of the act—why? Was it okay that their country’s leader turned a kiss into live entertainment? Is it more important to be “made happy” than to be made proud of your well-mannered president? True to form, Digong said of his critics, “Inggit lang kayo!” while his spokesman said that kiss is an “act of endearment” to show the president does love the OFWs. (OmG, roll your eyes and chuckle, it’s Mediocrity Unlimited.)

I’m sorry for the lady—Bea Kim, married to a Korean national, mother of two—who seemed to think she had no choice. There were two Filipinas on stage reportedly; the first one offered her cheek which the president kissed without a fuss. But Bea, upon Digong’s insistence, relented and allowed him to do as he’d wanted. That’s what’s pathetic. Well, maybe she is not old enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the president. She could have said, smiling, “No way, Mr. President, my husband will divorce me! Sapisngi na lang po!” Or she could have given her hand to be kissed instead. I wonder what Mr. Kim feels now, or how that viral video of his wife being kiss by a notoriously womanizing president will affect their marital life from now on. I also wonder what Sarah Duterte or Honeylet or ex-wife Elizabeth think of it? Or what Kitty feels among her schoolmates talking behind her back. What’s even more regrettable is how Mrs. Kim apparently felt obliged to defend the president’s temerity by telling media that there’s no malice in that kiss which “didn’t mean anything except to entertain and make other Filipinos in the gathering happy.”

Okay. “no malice” then. But is anyone asking about the choice of the book the president gave away to Overseas Filipino Workers in South Korea? “Altar of Secrets: Sex, Money and Politics in the Philippine Catholic Church”—a pathetic rehash of the author’s previously published articles which didn’t quite make the cut due to its glaring lack of depth. Why did the president choose to spread this “book” instead of giving the overseas Pinoys something really useful and constructive? Like maybe a coffee table book about the beauty of the Philippines to show off to their non-Filipino friends. Or maybe a volume on Workers’ Rights to educate and empower the OFWs. Or perhaps an Etiquette Book that may help them deal smoothly with their employers and other people they meet abroad? Why of all books, this one? No malice? Giving that book to people and then asking for a kiss in return—hello, presidential advisers, do you love your country? It’s like giving rotting fish for people to eat and then ordering them to pay a steep price for it. All in the name of “making them happy”?

And so the fuss over the kiss went on, overshadowing much more important issues. On the same day of “the kiss”, June 6, Beijing must have bristled as a US military ship—the USNS Milinocket, which can transport troops, boasts of a helipad and has loading ramps for military vehicles—was reported to have docked in Palawan, which faces the South China Sea. On top of that, two nuclear-capable US bombers flew near Spratly Islands, in the wake of the accusation by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis of China’s “intimidation and coercion” in the South China Sea. Do Pinoys care about that?

On the same day, a 64-year-old Catholic priest, Fr. Rey Urmeneta of St. Michael the Archangel parish in Calamba was on his way to a church meeting when two would be assassins shot him. He sustained two gunshot wounds but survived the attack. More shootings: also on June 6, police gunned down two suspected robbers in separate incidents in Cavite—the first was one of two motorcycle-riders who tried to steal from a convenience store in Silang; the second was a trespasser in a subdivision in Tagaytay.

Because we Pinoys love circuses, we have become deaf to the gunshots around us, or even to the threat of war. A kissing here, a shooting there—made me title this piece “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”, although this has nothing to do with the Hollywood black comedy bearing that name. I’d like to echo the women’s sentiments during their Independence Day march last June 12. Enraged over the kissing incident in South Korea, the marchers—bearing a huge streamer that said “Babae Ako, Lumalaban!”—protested Duterte’s “misogynistic” ways, recalling his unabashed admission of his womanizing, his rape jokes, and his ordering soldiers to shoot rebel women in their private parts, the over a thousand women said “We have had enough”. For your own good, Mr. President, enough of kiss kiss bang bang—and do be careful. Next time you kiss a woman in public, they might just take you down with a bang. And that’s the truth.

Synod working document: Young Catholics need church that listens to them

CBCP News - Wed, 06/20/2018 - 09:44

Pope Francis prepares to take a photo with young people at a presynod gathering of youth delegates in Rome March 19. The Vatican has released the working document for the October Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment. CNS/PAUL HARING

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Catholic News Service

June 20, 2018

VATICAN— Young Catholics are looking for a church that listens to their concerns, accompanies them in discerning their vocations and helps them confront the challenges they face, said a working document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on young people.

The synod’s “instrumentum laboris” (working document), published by the Vatican June 19, stated that young people “want to see a church that shares their situations of life in the light of Gospel rather than by preaching.”

Quoting a presynod gathering of young people who met at the Vatican March 19-25, the working document said young Catholics “want an authentic church. With this, we would like to express, particularly to the church hierarchy, our request for a transparent, welcoming, honest, attractive, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive community.”

The working document is based mainly on comments solicited in a questionnaire last June from national bishops’ conferences around the world as well as the final document of the presynod gathering.

An estimated 305 young adults participated in the weeklong presynod meeting, which allowed practicing Catholics and others to provide input for Pope Francis and the world’s bishops, who will meet at the synod in October to discuss “young people, faith and vocational discernment.” Some 15,000 young people also participated in the presynod process through Facebook groups online.

The meeting, the working document said, “highlighted the potential that younger generations represent” as well as their “hopes and desires.”

“Young people are great seekers of meaning, and everything that is in harmony with their search to give value to their lives arouses their attention and motivates their commitment,” it said.

Presenting the “instrumentum laboris” to journalists at a press briefing June 19, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary-general of the synod, said the synod’s goal is that young Catholics may find “the beauty of life, beginning from the happy relationship with the God of the covenant and of love” in a world that often robs them of their “affections, bonds and prospective of life.”

“The synod dedicated to young people gives us the opportunity to rediscover the hope of a good life, the dream of a pastoral renewal, the desire for community and passion for education,” he said.

Divided into three parts, the working document outlines the church’s need to listen to young people, to help guide them in the faith and in discerning their vocational calling, and to identify pastoral and missionary paths to be able to accompany them.

The responses collected by bishops’ conferences around the world cited a need for ways to help young men and women confront the challenges of cultural changes that sometimes disregard traditions and spirituality.

The working document also states that while the church highlights the importance of the body, affection and sexuality, many young Catholic men and women “do not follow the directions of the sexual morality of the church.”

“Although no bishops’ conferences offer solutions or indications, many (conferences) believe the issue of sexuality should be discussed more openly and without judgment,” it said.

Young people attending the presynod meeting said issues such as contraception, abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and marriage are often debated both by young Catholics and non-Catholics.

The working document also highlighted the need to reaffirm church teaching on the body and sexuality at a time when biomedical advancements have pushed a more “technocratic approach to the body,” citing examples such as egg donation and surrogacy.

“Moreover, precocious sexuality, sexual promiscuity, digital pornography, the exhibition of one’s own body online and sexual tourism risk disfiguring the beauty and depth of emotional and sexual life,” the “instrumentum laboris” said.

Church leaders, it said, must “speak in practical terms about controversial subjects such as homosexuality and gender issues, which young people are already freely discussing without taboo.”

Also, “LGBT youths, through various contributions received by the secretariat of the synod, want to benefit from a greater closeness and experience greater care from the church,” while some bishops’ conferences are asking what they can recommend to young people who enter into a homosexual relationship, but want to be closer to the church, the document said.

Regarding the use of the initials “LGBT” in a major church document, Cardinal Baldisseri told journalists that it was a term used in one of the documents given by the bishops’ conferences “and we quoted them.”

“We are open. We don’t want the synod to be closed in itself,” Cardinal Baldisseri said. “And in the church, there are many areas, there is freedom for people to express themselves — on the right, left, center, north and south — this is all possible. That is why we are willing to listen to people with different opinions.”

The working document also said young Catholics would like more initiatives that allow further dialogue with nonbelievers and the secular world to help them integrate their faith in their dealings with others.

Young men and women from primarily secularized areas “ask nothing from the church” and “expressly asked to be left in peace, because they feel its presence as annoying and even irritating.” These feelings, the document stated, do not come from contempt but rather due to “serious and respectable reasons.”

Among the reasons are the church’s sexual and economic scandals, priests who do not know how to engage with young people, and the way the church justifies its doctrinal and ethical positions to modern society.

Young men and women are also hoping the church can help them “find a simple and clear understanding of the meaning of vocation,” which is often misinterpreted as referring only to priesthood and consecrated life.

While the church has confirmed that marriage is also a vocation, the document confirms the need for “a youth vocational ministry capable of being meaningful for all young people.”

“Called to holiness and anointed by the spirit, the Christian learns to grasp all the choices in existence in a vocational perspective, especially the central one of the state of life as well as those of a professional nature,” it said.

“For this reason, some bishops’ conferences hope that the synod will find ways to help all Christians rediscover the link between profession and vocation in all its fruitfulness … and in view of the professional orientation of young people with a vocational perspective,” the document said.

Bishop seeks stronger Church voice against killings, abuses

CBCP News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 22:10

Faith leaders hold an ecumenical prayer service for the slain Catholic priests outside Quiapo Church in Manila, June 18, 2018. RICHARD DE LEON

By Richard de Leon

June 19, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic bishop is grateful for the growing dissent against killings and human rights abuses in the country, but wants the Church to do more.

In a Mass to mourn the killing of priests on Monday, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the Church cannot remain silent or passive as the death toll continues to rise in the government’s war on drugs.

“People are asking why is the Church silent? They don’t expect the church people to have guns but they expect us bishops, priests, nuns and lay groups to speak out,” Pabillo said in his homily at Quiapo Church.

At one point in his sermon, he scored President Rodrigo Duterte for supposed high crimes and abuses of power.

“The law is being used to have a sense of legality in whatever he does,” he said.

The bishop said the Church leaders must make their voices heard and stop making excuses when it comes to issues in the wider society.

“Let us break our silence and fight the lies, terror, and abuses of this administration,” said Pabillo.

He then urged the public not to resort to violence when tackling the problem besetting the country.

“If we use the weapon of evil, even if we win we still lose because we became evil as well,” he said. “We will only drive away the evil spirit in Malacañang through prayer with faith.”

The liturgical service was preceded with a candle lighting protest and to call for justice for killing of Fr. Richmond Nilo and other priests.

Archbishop calls to bring ‘Laudato Si’ to life

CBCP News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 22:08

Archbishop Rolando Tirona, Caritas Philippines national director, delivers his homily during Mass to mark the third anniversary of Laudato Si at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila, June 18, 2018. TATIANA ANYONYEVA CRUZ

By Tatiana Antonyeva and Noemi Ann Perez

June 19, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment was not written to be put on a bookshelf, but to held be in one’s hand, to be read, and then to take action, a church official said.

Three years after the release of the encyclical, Caritas Philippines national director Archbishop Rolando Tirona said it’s about time for action in the spirit of Laudato Si.

The archbishop on Monday presided over a Mass before the start of a symposium to mark the third anniversary of Laudato Si at St. Scholastica’s College in Manila.

“Laudato Si doesn’t deserve to be simply on our bookshelves. Laudato Si should always be in the deepest of our person, of our being,” Tirona said in his homily.

Organized by the Global Catholic Climate Movement-Pilipinas, the symposium was aimed to raise people’s awareness on the current environmental concerns in the world.

“There is a need to redirect our life because the greatest sin we do is the exploitation of the world,” said Tirona.

According to him, pollution of the environment started because the “people’s hearts are also polluted”.

He said that Laudato Si acts as a reminder to redirect the people’s lives back to God by protecting the environment.

The event ended with the signing of the pledge of commitment for environmental responsibility.

June 20, 2018

CBCP News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 21:00
Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 KGS 2:1, 6-14

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind,
he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here;
the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan.”
“As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,
I will not leave you,” Elisha replied.
And so the two went on together.
Fifty of the guild prophets followed and
when the two stopped at the Jordan,
they stood facing them at a distance.
Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up
and struck the water, which divided,
and both crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha,
“Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.”
Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.”
“You have asked something that is not easy,” Elijah replied.
“Still, if you see me taken up from you,
your wish will be granted; otherwise not.”
As they walked on conversing,
a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them,
and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
When Elisha saw it happen he cried out,
“My father! my father! Israel’s chariots and drivers!”
But when he could no longer see him,
Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two.

Then he picked up Elijah’s mantle that had fallen from him,
and went back and stood at the bank of the Jordan.
Wielding the mantle that had fallen from Elijah,
Elisha struck the water in his turn and said,
“Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?”
When Elisha struck the water it divided and he crossed over.

Responsorial Psalm PS 31:20, 21, 24

R. (25) Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.

How great is the goodness, O LORD,
which you have in store for those who fear you,
And which, toward those who take refuge in you,
you show in the sight of the children of men.

R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.

You hide them in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of men;
You screen them within your abode
from the strife of tongues.

R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.

Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
The LORD keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly.

R. Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord.

Alleluia JN 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Today's Readings Homilies

CBCP lauds return of Sr. Fox’s missionary visa

CBCP News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 19:13

Sr. Patricia Fox lights a candle during a prayer vigil for the slain Catholic priests outside Quiapo Church in Manila, June 18, 2018. RICHARD DE LEON

By CBCPNews

June 19, 2018

Manila, Philippines

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has lauded the decision of the Justice department to let Sr. Patricia Fox continue her missionary work in the country.

Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President, said it was a “wise, very understanding and kind” decision so that the 71-year old Australian nun can continue serving the country’s poor and the marginalized.

“We sincerely appreciate the decision of our government authorities to keep the missionary visa of Sister Patricia Fox,” Valles said.

“In particular we convey our appreciation and gratitude to the officials of the Department of Justice (DOJ) who ordered that until the Bureau of Immigration rules on the pending deportation case or until her visa expires, Sister Pat may continue to do her ministry as a missionary in the country,” he said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in a resolution issued on June 18, reversed the order of the Bureau of Immigration that forfeited Fox’s missionary visa over alleged “political activities”.

Guevarra argued that the BI order was “without legal basis,” adding that the Bureau did not have the power to order the forfeiture.

For the nun, however, the fight continues as the BI could still have Fox deported if it can build a case against her.

“I will continue (doing missionary work) because that’s the expression of my mission,” she said. “I’m not doing anything wrong anyway.”

Few hours after the release of the DOJ decision, the nun yesterday showed up at the solidarity Mass for the slain priests in Quiapo Church.

“I’m here to express solidarity, sorrow and indignation over the killings of Father (Richmond) Nilo and other priests,” Fox said. “The killings of priests should stop. These killings degrade the dignity and value of life.”

Archdiocese opens own probe of priest tagged as ‘person of interest’ in slay case

CBCP News - Tue, 06/19/2018 - 18:03

As the investigation into the killing of Jeraldyn Rapinan continues, the Archdiocese of Caceres said it has been cooperating with law enforcement. PHOTO FROM THE ARCHDIOCESE OF CACERES

By Melo Acuña

June 19, 2018

Manila, Philippines

The Catholic Church in Camarines Sur is holding its own investigation after one of its priests has been identified a “person of interest” in the killing of a 28-year-old woman.

The Archdiocese of Caceres said they are “deeply troubled” by the allegations and they want to get down to the bottom of the issue.

“The archdiocese, at the moment, is conducting its own investigation and will take appropriate action in accordance with the Code of Canon Law,” said archdiocesan chancellor Fr. Darius Romualdo.

“At this time that we are searching for the truth, we ask for prayers and prudence,” he said.

As probe into the killing of Jeraldyn Rapinan continues, the archdiocese said it has been cooperating with law enforcement.

“The archdiocese supports and will fully cooperate with the thorough investigation of the case by the proper authority,” Romualdo said.

Rapinan’s lifeless body was dumped in a grassy roadside along Maharlika Highway at Del Pilar, San Fernando in Camarines Sur on June 15.

The victim reportedly sustained several stab wounds and her hands and feet were tied with nylon cord.

Romualdo assured the family of the victim of their prayers and support in their search for justice.

“We sympathize with the family and we are one with them in the search for truth and justice,” he said.

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