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June 29, 2017

CBCP News - 8 hours 17 min ago

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Mass during the Day

Reading 1 ACTS 12:1-11

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews
he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
–It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.–
He had him taken into custody and put in prison
under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made
to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,
Peter, secured by double chains,
was sleeping between two soldiers,
while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him
and a light shone in the cell.
He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,
“Get up quickly.”
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”
He did so.
Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
So he followed him out,
not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;
he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first guard, then the second,
and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,
which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley,
and suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
“Now I know for certain
that the Lord sent his angel
and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (5) The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.

R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Reading 2 2 TM 4:6-8, 17-18

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Alleluia MT 16:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Homilies Today's Readings

No church for old men: Cardinals called to be grandfathers, pope says

CBCP News - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 21:05

Pope Francis, center, arrives to celebrate Mass with about 50 cardinals in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican June 27. The Mass marked the pope’s 25th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop. CNS/L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO

VATICAN—  The Catholic Church is not a “gerontocracy” ruled by old men, 80-year-old Pope Francis said; “we aren’t old men, we are grandfathers.”

“We are grandfathers called to dream and to give our dreams to the young people of today. They need it so that from our dreams, they can draw the strength to prophesy and carry out their task,” the pope told about 50 members of the College of Cardinals.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop June 27, Pope Francis concelebrated Mass in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

Most of the cardinals present were officials of the Roman Curia or retired curial officials living in Rome. Many of them needed assistance up and down the small steps to the altar at Communion time.

The Mass was celebrated the day before Pope Francis was to create five new cardinals: Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali, 73; Archbishop Juan Jose Omella of Barcelona, Spain, 71; Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden, 67; Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos, 73; and Auxiliary Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador, El Salvador, 74.

With an average age of 71.6 years, the new cardinals would lower by two months the average age of the entire College of Cardinals. However, the new members would increase slightly the average age of the cardinal electors, the group of those under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

On the day of the pope’s anniversary Mass, the average age of the 116 cardinal electors was 71 years, four months and 15 days; the five new members would raise the average by 11 days.

Before the new members were added, the entire College of Cardinals had 220 members and an average age of 78 years, five months and 23 days. The five new members would lower the average to 78 years, three months and one day.

None of the new cardinals, though, are as old as the patriarch Abraham was when God called him to leave his home and set out for a new land.

The Bible says Abraham was 75 years old when he got the call, the pope noted at his anniversary Mass. “He was more or less our age. He was about to retire.”

At 75, “with the weight of old age, that old age that brings aches, illness,” Abraham heard God call him “as if he were a scout,” the pope said. God tells him, “Go. Look. And hope.”

God says the same thing to the pope and the cardinals, he said. “He tells us that now is not the time to shut down our lives or to end our stories.”

Instead, the pope told the cardinals, God continues to call each of them to keep moving forward and continues to give each of them a mission.

And every mission, he said, involves the three imperatives God gave Abraham: “Get up. Look. Hope.”

God tells Abraham, “Get up. Walk. Don’t stay still. You have a task, a mission, and you must carry it out walking. Don’t stay seated,” the pope said.

Abraham’s tent is a key symbol in the story, he said. The only thing Abraham built solidly was an altar “to adore the one who ordered him to get up and to set out.” His tent was his mobile shelter.

“Someone who does not like us would say that we are the gerontocracy of the church,” the pope told the cardinals. “He doesn’t understand what he is saying.”

The cardinals are not just old men, but are grandfathers in the church, the pope said. “If we don’t feel like we are, we must ask for that grace.”

As grandfathers, the cardinals should know that their grandchildren are watching them and looking to them, he continued. They must help young people find meaning in their lives by sharing their experiences.

For that to happen, the pope said, the cardinals cannot be focused on “the melancholy of our story,” but must be dreamers who continue to look to the future with hope, knowing that God continues to act in human history.

The old still have a lot to offer young people, Pope Francis says

CBCP News - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 20:58

Pope Francis at a Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 22, 2016. DANIEL IBAÑEZ/CNA

VATICAN— On Tuesday Pope Francis said that the older generation should not stop striving in their spiritual lives, but that God calls them to be spiritual ‘grandparents’ to young people, who can learn from their experiences.

“And this is what the Lord today asks us: to be grandparents. To have the vitality to give to young people, because young people expect it from us; to not close ourselves, to give our best: they look for our experience, for our positive dreams to carry on the prophecy and the work.”

“I ask the Lord for all of us that he give us this grace,” the Pope said June 27.

Pope Francis said a special Mass June 27 in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination as an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992.

The Mass was attended by the cardinals in Rome. This was the Pope’s final morning Mass before the start of the usual summer break from morning activities. They will resume in September after he returns from his apostolic trip to Colombia.

For his homily, Francis preached on the day’s first reading, which contains the continuation of a dialogue between God and the now elderly Abraham. In this dialogue we hear three imperatives, the Pope said: “Get up! Look! Hope!”

Abraham, he said, was more or less the same age as those present when God called him.

“He was going to go into retirement, in retirement to rest… He started at that age. An old man, with the weight of old age, old age that brings pain, illness…. But you, as if you were a young man, get up, go go!”

“And to us today the Lord says the same: ‘Get up! Look! Hope!’ He tells us that it’s not time to put our life in closure, not to close our story, not to compile our story. The Lord tells us that our story is open, still: it is open until the end, it is open with a mission. And with these three imperatives tells us the mission: ‘Get up! Look! Hope!’” Francis emphasized.

The Pope reflected that there are some people who might not want the older people around, maybe calling them a “gerontocracy of the Church.” These people don’t know what they are saying, he explained: “we’re not geriatrics, we’re grandparents.”

And if we don’t understand this, we should pray for the grace to do so, he said.

This is because we are “Grandparents to whom our grandchildren look. Grandparents who have to give them a sense of life with our experience. Grandparents not closed in the melancholy of our story, but open to give this. And for us, this ‘get up, look, hope’ is called ‘dreaming,’” he said.

“We are grandparents called to dream and give our dream to today’s youth: they needs it.”

Pope Francis explained what these three words mean. To get up, he said, means you have a mission, you have a task. Just like Abraham walked, not making a home anywhere but only taking a tent, we are called to continue forward, all the way to the end of our lives.

In the second command, to “look!” God tells Abraham set his gaze on the horizon, always looking and moving ahead. There is a mystic spirituality to the horizon, the Pope said. It doesn’t end, but the further forward you go, the horizon continues to recede into the distance.

The third imperative was to have hope. Just like Abraham should not have been able to have children because of his age and because of the sterility of his wife, the Lord promises him offspring as numerous as the stars and Abraham has faith in the word of God.

This is the kind of hope in God’s promises we are called to have, Francis said.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis thanked Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, for his kind words, as well as everyone for their well-wishes and for celebrating Mass with him on his anniversary.

“Thank you for this common prayer on this anniversary, asking forgiveness for my sins and perseverance in faith, hope, charity,” he said.

“I thank you so much for this fraternal company and ask the Lord to bless you and accompany you on the road of service to the Church. Thank you very much.”

Cardinal Napier lauds CFC’s work for poor

CBCP News - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 16:53

MANILA— Prominent South African Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier lauded the work of the Couples for Christ (CFC) in providing shelter to homeless and underprivileged Filipinos.

The cardinal said he was impressed how the CFC, thru its Answering the Cry of the Poor (Ancop) program, was responding “to the graces and vocations that God has given to you”.

“I’d like to express my appreciation to all those who are part of the program and the role of the CFC in creating communities where God’s love can be felt in practical ways,” Napier said.

The Durban archbishop was in the country for the CFC’s 36th anniversary and visited an Ancop village in San Mateo, Rizal on June 23.

The village has 84 housing units, 74 of which have already been awarded to families who used to live in danger zones or sleeping along the city streets of Metro Manila.

The new community settles on a 4-hectare land donated by the Diocese of Cubao and was built through the support of the CFC-Ancop USA and Canada, and the Rotary Club of Commonwealth.

“This has been a dream for our home partners who want to have their own house,” said Jimmy Ilagan, outgoing chairman of Ancop.

“They’ve been living along riverbanks, under the bridge, and some were even sleeping in pushcarts,” he said.

To date, the Ancop has built more than 2,200 houses in at least 42 communities located in various parts of the country.

As part of community development efforts, Ancop will also continue to conduct values formation, community organizing as well as spiritual enrichment activities for the residents.

Currently, Ancop also runs a scholarship program to support the education of thousands of indigent students in the Philippines. CBCPNews

June 28, 2017

CBCP News - Wed, 06/28/2017 - 00:01

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr

Reading 1 GN 15:1-12, 17-18

The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

“Fear not, Abram!
I am your shield;
I will make your reward very great.”

But Abram said,
“O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be,
if I keep on being childless
and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?”
Abram continued,
“See, you have given me no offspring,
and so one of my servants will be my heir.”
Then the word of the LORD came to him:
“No, that one shall not be your heir;
your own issue shall be your heir.”
He took him outside and said:
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him,
“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession.”
“O Lord GOD,” he asked,
“how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
He answered him,
“Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought him all these, split them in two,
and placed each half opposite the other;
but the birds he did not cut up.
Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,
but Abram stayed with them.
As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,
and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark,
there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,
which passed between those pieces.
It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: “To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations—
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.

R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia JN 15:4A, 5B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them.”

Homilies Today's Readings

Cardinal Turkson: Marijuana debate ignores ethical questions

CBCP News - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 20:46

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. DANIEL IBANEZ/CNA

VATICAN— The Vatican’s top personality on social justice issues has voiced his concern for the increased demand for drugs, including recreational marijuana, saying debate on the plant’s usage doesn’t take ethical concerns into account.

In a June 26 letter on the occasion of the U.N. International Day against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs, Cardinal Peter Turkson lamented the fact that narcotics “continue to rage in impressive forms and dimensions” throughout the world.

“It is a phenomenon that is fueled – not without concessions and compromises on the part of institutions – by a shameful market that crosses national and continental borders, intertwined with mafias and drug trafficking,” he said.

Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Turkson noted that compared to the recent past, drugs have now become “a consumer product made compatible with everyday life, with leisure activity and even with the pursuit of well-being.”

Pointing specifically to cocaine, he noted that the drug is linked to the spread of heroin, which at 80 percent represents the highest number of new requests for opioid-related treatments in Europe.

However, despite the high numbers for heroin and opioid treatment requests, the cardinal noted that “the most commonly consumed recreational drug is cannabis.”

The current, raging international debate on the use of the drug “tends to overlook the ethical judgment of the substance, by definition negative as with any other drug,” he said, pointing to the current focus on its possible therapeutic uses.

This, he stressed, is “a field in which we await scientific data to be validated by monitoring periods, as for any experiment worthy of public consideration.”

According to September 2016 report from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which compared marijuana-related statistics from previous years in Colorado to data from 2013-2015, the first years after the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state, the prospects of the drug’s increased use are grim.

Not only have the number of marijuana-related deaths, hospitalizations and traffic accidents increased since the drug’s recreational use was legalized, there has also been growing concern over marijuana-related crime and a decrease in the IQ of youths who use it.

But before making a firm decision on the issue that is perhaps based on various prejudices, Cardinal Turkson said it would be better to first “understand trends in the use of cannabis, related damages and the consequences of regulatory policies in the various countries.”

It’s especially important to recognize the factors “which push the illegal market to develop products intended to affect patterns of consumption and to reaffirm the primacy of the desire that is compulsively satisfied by the substance.”

On this point, concern has grown for many that the recreational use of marijuana is often a gateway for youth to become addicted, and eventually move on to other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, or meth.

In addition to voicing his concerns on marijuana, heroin, and the dangers of using them to improve one’s “wellbeing,” Cardinal Turkson also pointed to the risks of other addictive behaviors such as gambling, saying its legalization, even in cases aimed at unmasking its criminal managers, “exponentially increases the number of pathological players.”

“Moreover, taxation by the state is to be considered incompatible from an ethical standpoint and contradictory in terms of prevention,” he said, adding that the development of “models of intervention and adequate monitoring systems, associated with the allocation of funds, is highly desirable to tackle the phenomenon.”

The cardinal noted that as the array of addictions continues to diversify, “indifference and at times indirect complicity in this phenomenon contributes to diverting the attention of public opinion and governments, focused on other emergencies.”

Plans to fight the increasing demand for drugs often collapse, he said, explaining that the present-day state of addictions shows “gaps in planning, policies and prospects,” which in turn is a sign of “sluggish progress” in the face of the drug market, “which is highly competitive and flexible to demand, and always open to novelties such as recently-created, extremely powerful synthetic opiates, ecstasy and amphetamines.”

“It is precisely the growing and widespread consumption of ecstasy that may serve as an indicator of how the use of illicit substances has now spread into everyday areas of life,” he said, adding that it could also be an indication of how the ecstasy user no longer identifies with the heroin addict, but “with the new profile of the user of multiple substances and alcohol.”

Because of this, strategies of intervention can’t depend solely on reduced damage, “nor can drugs still be considered as a phenomenon that is collusive with social disorder and deviance.”

Rather, damage reduction “must necessarily involve taking on board both the toxicological aspect and integration with personalized therapeutic programs of a psycho-social nature, without giving rise to forms of chronic use, which are harmful to the person and ethically reprehensible,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Turkson stressed the importance of not seeing the addict as a problem to be solved or as being beyond the hope of rehabilitation.

To consider people as irrecoverable, he said, “is an act of capitulation that denies the psychological dynamics of change and offers an alibi for disengagement from the addict and the institutions that have the task of preventing and treating.”

“It cannot be accepted that society metabolizes drug use as a chronic epochal trait, similar to alcoholism and tobacco, withdrawing from exchange on the margins of freedom of the state and the citizen in relation to substance use,” he said.

The cardinal recognized that there is no singular cause of drug use, but rather a panorama of causes including the absence of a family, various social pressures, the propaganda of drug dealers, and even the desire to have new experiences.

“Every drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified,” he said.

“We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorizing drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed.”

For the cardinal, part of this process means finding effective means of prevention, beginning with education.

“The scenario which we must all face is marked by the loss of the ancient primacy of the family and the school, the emptying of authority of adult figures and the difficulties that arise in terms of parenting,” he said, stressing that this is not time for “protagonism,” but rather for “networks” that are capable of “reactivating social educational synergies by overcoming unnecessary competition, delegation and forms of dereliction.”

“To prevent young people from growing up without care, bred rather than educated, attracted by ‘healing prosthetics,’ as drugs appear to them, all social actors must connect and invest in the shared ground of basic and indispensable education values aiming at the integral formation of the person.”

In this regard, educational aspects “are crucial,” he said, especially during adolescence, when youth are more vulnerable, and at the same time curious and prone to periods of depression and apathy.

Youth look for the “vertigo that makes them feel alive,” he said, quoting Pope Francis. “So, let us give it to them! Let us stimulate all that which helps them transform their dreams into plans, and that can reveal that all the potential they have is a bridge, a passage towards a vocation.”

“Let us propose broad aims to them, great challenges, and let us help them achieve them, to reach their targets. Let us not leave them alone.”

In order to combat the ephemeral happiness of addictions, a “creative love” is needed, Cardinal Turkson said, as well as the presence of adults capable of both teaching and practicing healthy self-care.

“A spiritual vision of existence, projected towards the search for meaning, open to the encounter with others, constitutes the greatest educational legacy that must be handed down between generations, today more than ever,” he said.

Bishop shares hopes as Antipolo diocese turns 34

CBCP News - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 19:54
Guests, bishops, and Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle are joined by the clergy of the Diocese of Antipolo. JUN FIGUEROA

MANILA – As the one of the largest dioceses in the Philippines in terms of Catholic population marked its 34th year on June 25, its chief shepherd shared his hopes for the future

“I pray for the spiritual upliftment of the clergy, laity, and seminarians of the diocese,” said Antipolo Bishop Francisco M. De Leon D.D., expressing hope that Antipolo’s priests will “smell like their flock.”

According to the prelate, the local church also needs to foster a “spirituality of stewardship” as well as to inspire more young men to the diocesan priesthood.

Originally part of the Archdiocese of Manila, the diocese was created Jan. 24, 1983 and was formally established on June 25 of the same year through a Papa Bull. “Then Pope John Paul II, saw the vast and growing population of the Philippine Catholic faith and was heedful of the need of the ministry,” reads an aranzazushrine.ph article.

Four bishops have since shepherded the diocese: Bishops Protacio Gungon, Crisostomo Yalung, Gabriel Reyes, and the current bishop, Bishop Francisco de Leon. From three vicariates and 21 parishes the diocese has since grown to nine vicariates and 64 parishes with more than 3 million faithful.

For more than three decades, the diocese has continued to nurture piety among the faithful through various devotions like its famous “alay-lakad” every Holy Week; promote Christian values and education through diocesan and religious education centers; encourage vocations through seminary and vocation programs; assist in addressing social issues through institutions for the elderly and orphans, and through poverty alleviation projects. (With reports from Emman Velasco/aranzazushrine.ph)

Marawi prelate leaves fate of Maute captive priest to gov’t

CBCP News - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 16:14
Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob, who is being held by the Maute group for more than a month now, is seen in a screen grab from a Facebook video that surfaced on May 30.

MANILA— A Catholic prelate tossed the ball in the government’s court in ensuring the freedom of the priest and other civilians held by the Islamic State-linked Maute group.

Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña said it’s up to the government to decide whether or not to enter negotiation with the militants.

“It is the government’s call to decide to enter to negotiation or not,” Dela Peña told Church-run Radio Veritas on Tuesday.

“Let us all just wait for the government’s next move. The ball is in their court,” he said.

The military yesterday reported that Fr. Teresito “Chito” Suganob is still alive as relayed by a civilian that was rescued from the war zone over the weekend.

An Inquirer report said that Maute leader Abdullah Maute offered to release Suganob in exchange for the freedom of his parents who are both under police custody in Metro Manila.

The prelate said he was elated over reports that Suganob is still alive along with several other hostages.

“We are happy with the report. That is good news for us, not just because of Fr. Chito,” Dela Peña added.

“But we should not forget that there are other hostages with him, whom we also know,” he said. CBCPNews

‘Church of steel’ repair enters next phase

CBCP News - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 15:41
Interior of San Sebastian Church. CBCPNews

Work is underway on the second phase of a roughly P300 million renovation project launched five years ago for the country’s iconic and only all-steel church.

The extensive restoration of the Basilica Menor de San Sebastian, more known as San Sebastian Church, includes excavation to repair the structure specifically the damaged columns.

Experts from the San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundations, Inc., said the safety of churchgoers is a paramount concern before moving on to other structural issues.

“These problems are unseen and not perceptible to the general public since these are below the ground,” said Samantha Pacardo, project manager of the foundation.

Started in 2012, the process may take a 10-year restoration in at least three phases: diagnostic, design and construction.

The first phase revealed many shocking conditions: the church has over 300 leaks, large holes in critical areas, and pools of water in its columns causing rusts and weakening the structure.

“Fortunately, structural engineers calculate that despite the significant corrosion, its original strength override current weaknesses, for now,” Pacardo said.

During this phase, according to her, the team also conducted many emergency repairs.

The corrosion is also flaking the church’s interior paintings and warping the stained glass windows.

“The leak has affected the structural elements of the church, and has affected other parts of the building, including the art and stained-glass windows,” she added.

Now on its design phase, the technical team has been designing “unique solutions” to all the damages in the church, particularly structural and architectural repairs.

As of January this year, the team has identified and repaired the five most damaged columns with metal plates that were partially eaten away by corrosion and contained up to 2 meters of water.

The team also hired a corrosion and paint specialist to implement the designs and repairs.

However, much work still needs to be done to 132 other columns, original wall paintings, and stained glass windows.

“Each of these require their own unique repairs which have to go through a similar process of designing and international peer review before implementation,” Pacardo said.

Pacardo said she is appealing to the community to help in the preservation of the country’s “Church of steel” designed by Gustave Eiffel, a French engineer behind the Eiffel Tower.

“As Catholics, we should help each other to restore our church,” she said. “Not only that it’s a church but it’s also a work of art.”

“At the same time, for us Catholics this is one way of expressing our faith that it’s as strong as steel,” Pacardo also said.

Under the care of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects (OAR), the San Sebastian Church is the Philippines’ oldest basilica.

It is also the location of the first shrine to the Our Lady of Mount Carmel, housing its first image since 1617.

Since the said year, the OAR stewarded four San Sebastian masonry churches, which were destroyed by earthquakes or fire, and subsequently rebuilt.

Following an earthquake in 1880 that the destroyed another church, the Augustinians designed and built an earthquake-resistant structure made of steel.

Since its inauguration in 1891, the building has become an example of the revival of Gothic structure in the Philippines.

To date, it remains the only all-steel church in Asia and the only prefabricated steel church in the world.

The restoration project is being funded by grants from the United States Department of State through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, and the US-based heritage preservation group Bakas Pilipinas. With reports from Maria Katreena Saguid and Aizha Anne Asiwagan/CBCPNews

June 27, 2017

CBCP News - Tue, 06/27/2017 - 10:27
Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time Reading 1 GN 13:2, 5-18

Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.

Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents,
so that the land could not support them if they stayed together;
their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.
There were quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock
and those of Lot’s.
(At this time the Canaanites and the Perizzites
were occupying the land.)

So Abram said to Lot:
“Let there be no strife between you and me,
or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are kinsmen.
Is not the whole land at your disposal?
Please separate from me.
If you prefer the left, I will go to the right;
if you prefer the right, I will go to the left.”
Lot looked about and saw how well watered
the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar,
like the LORD’s own garden, or like Egypt.
(This was before the LORD had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain
and set out eastward.
Thus they separated from each other;
Abram stayed in the land of Canaan,
while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain,
pitching his tents near Sodom.
Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked
in the sins they committed against the LORD.

After Lot had left, the LORD said to Abram:
“Look about you, and from where you are,
gaze to the north and south, east and west;
all the land that you see I will give to you
and your descendants forever.
I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth;
if anyone could count the dust of the earth,
your descendants too might be counted.
Set forth and walk about in the land, through its length and breadth,
for to you I will give it.”
Abram moved his tents and went on to settle
near the terebinth of Mamre, which is at Hebron.
There he built an altar to the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm PS 15:2-3A, 3BC-4AB, 5

R. (1b) He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.

R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.

R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.

R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Alleluia JN 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 7:6, 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”

Homilies Today's Readings

Filipinos asked to join in praying for peace

CBCP News - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 17:00

An interreligious movement has appealed for prayers and nationwide participation in the “Prayer for Peace in the Philippines” initiative to be held July 7 at 12:00 noon.

The convenors believe that prayer for unity changes things, so they are asking all Filipinos from every faith and sector of society to pray with them for peace in the country.

“Anywhere, everywhere. Filipinos are urged to pray wherever they are,” said the Pasa Lord Prayer Movement.

Organizers said people can come together with family, friends or their communities and churches in their usual prayer venues, or gather in groups at their work places or their schools.

The movement is composed of ordinary citizens from various faiths and denominations including Catholics who are mostly from Charismatic groups, Muslims, Protestants and Evangelicals.

“We are also asking people to echo the call to prayer to their contacts, friends and family members, and to urge them to do the same so that the call will reach every Filipino in the country and the world,” they said.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is also inviting the faithful to join in praying for peace.

“The CBCP was invited and we joined,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President.

The call to prayer for peace comes amid the month-long hostilities in Marawi City, which has promoted the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. CBCPNews

Cardinal Quevedo stands in solidarity with Muslims at Ramadan’s end

CBCP News - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 15:37

MANILA— Mindanao’s lone cardinal has called for more harmony between Christians and Muslims in time for the Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato took the usual step of personally expressing his “greetings of peace” as Muslims mark the end of the Ramadan fast.

While it is a long-established practice for Catholic leaders to send message to Muslims, the cardinal this time can’t help but share his sentiments on the ongoing siege in Mindanao.

He particularly lamented the attacks launched by ISIS-linked armed groups against civilians and the desecration of a Catholic cathedral in Marawi City and a chapel in Pigcawayan, N. Cotabato.

“I have wondered if the killing of the innocent, the deliberate destruction of a Catholic cathedral, the burning of a Protestant college, the kidnapping of civilians, would desecrate the holy month of Ramadan,” Quevedo said.

“Yet deep and genuine religious faith is always optimistic. It is full of hope. It dreams that the meaning of Ramadan might become a reality for all of us,” he said.

Muslim religious and political leaders have condemned such acts as “unIslamic”.

“If all of us strive towards the same objectives of purification, reconciliation, and charity in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and in the Catholic season of Lent, if all peoples of different religions would do this, what a truly wonderful world we would have,” Quevedo added.

“It would not be a world of terror, but one of peace and harmony; not a world of bias and prejudice, but a world of mutual respect and love. That is a world that comes as gift from God. Together with God let us build that world,” he also said. CBCPNews

Chinese bishop forcibly removed from diocese still missing

CBCP News - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 12:43

Chinese pilgrims attend the World Youth Day in Kraków, Poland in 2016. ROY LAGARDE

VATICAN— On Monday the Vatican issued a statement on the situation of the Chinese Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, who has not been returned since being forcibly removed from his diocese by the Chinese state May 18.

“The Holy See is observing with grave concern the personal situation of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, forcibly removed from his episcopal see some time ago,” read the June 26 statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke.

The Catholic community of the diocese and his family and friends remain with no news of the bishop’s whereabouts or of the reason for his removal, the statement continued.

The Vatican-approved Bishop Shao, who is not recognized by the Chinese government, was summoned by their religious bureau on May 18 and has since not been heard from or returned, La Croix International reports.

Following canon law, the Vatican confirmed Bishop Shao as the successor of the Wenzhou diocese on Sept. 21, 2016, following the death of his predecessor, Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang. Since then he has been removed from the diocese or detained on four different occasions.

He is not a part of the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and is therefore part of the underground church not recognized by the communist government.

The Vatican’s statement was issued in response to questions from journalists. There were reports last week claiming that the bishop had been spotted in the local airport with government officials, though the claim has not been substantiated and his present whereabouts are still unknown.

“In this respect, the Holy See, profoundly saddened for this and other similar episodes that unfortunately do not facilitate ways of understanding, expresses the hope that Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin may return as soon as possible to the diocese and that he can be assured the possibility of serenely exercising his episcopal ministry,” the Vatican statement continued.

“We are all invited to pray for Bishop Shao Zhumin and for the path of the Catholic Church in China.”

Bishop Shao was first detained, along with three other priests, following the death of his predecessor, Bishop Zhu, preventing him from presiding over the funeral Mass.

He was also detained just one month prior to this current detainment, from April 12-17, which ostensibly was to prevent him from celebrating the Triduum and Easter liturgies, which would have been his first time as head of the diocese.

He is not the only Chinese bishop or Christian to be detained. Persecution of Christians in China varies by province, but certain provinces have seen an uptick in recent years.

In Zhejiang province, where the Diocese of Wenzhou is located, more than 1,500 churches have been desecrated or demolished. Churches in Zhejiang have been ordered to stop displaying crosses and Christians there have been detained.

Overall, the situation of religious freedom in China has deteriorated even more in recent years, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom noted in its 2017 annual report, as the country’s leader Xi Jingping has “further consolidated power” and worked to promote the “sinicization” of religion.

Journ workshop set to fight fake news

CBCP News - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 11:03
Union of Catholic Asian News national correspondent Joe Torres. JHUN DANTES

MANILA – With the spread of fake news and bogus websites, the Asian Catholic Communicators Inc. (ACCI) invites the public, particularly the faithful serving in the parishes to a journalism seminar entitled “Parish Ko, i-Share Ko!” on July 22 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Lagerwey Hall, Communication Foundation for Asia, 4427 Old Sta. Mesa Road, Sta. Mesa Manila.

“With the advent of social media and the proliferation of fake news, we believe that it is our responsibility to animate our parishes and its leaders and arm them with the proper tools to spearhead the spreading of truthful communication towards fruitful communion,” said the ACCI in its invitation.

Award-winning journalist and current Union of Catholic Asian News national correspondent Joe Torres will be facilitating the seminar. Torres is also a two-time recipient of the Philippines’ National Book Award for Journalism.

Topics to be discussed during the seminar include “Understanding the Media and the Role of Media in the Church”, “Introduction to Social Media and How to Use it as a Tool for Evangelization”, “Writing Fundamentals”, and “Visual Literacy.”

For inquiries, interested parties may contact Madz Araña (02) 921-3984 loc. 103 or email aranamariamagdalena@gmail.com

The ACCI, an association of Catholic book publishers in the Philippines originally organized by Jaime Cardinal Sin, is “committed to promoting the reign of God through communications media in line with the teachings of the Catholic Church.” CBCPNews

Priests who ‘enrich’ themselves slammed

CBCP News - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 10:43
Fr. Rey Romero blesses his father during the offertory of a Mass to mark the priest’s 25th sacerdotal anniversary at the Parish of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr, San Fabian, Pangasinan, June 24, 2017. CHANDA PASCUA

SAN FABIAN, Pangasinan – In a stirring message given at a priest’s 25th sacerdotal anniversary on June 24 in this town, Lingayen – Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said priests should not use their ministry to enrich themselves.

“The story of a priest cannot be a story from rags to riches…because if the story of a priest is from rags to riches then that priest is a Judas who enriched himself with 30 pieces of silver,” said the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president, who gave the homily during a Mass at the parish of St. Fabian, Pope and Martyr in this town, to mark the silver anniversary of Fr. Rey Romero, head of the archdiocesan commission for social communications.

“We may start rich and we should die poor,” stressed the prelate, saying the role of the priest, just like St. John the Baptist, is “to diminish.”

During his homily, Villegas said priests should emulate St. John the Baptist whose feast day was celebrated on Saturday, and how he discerned God’s voice and diminished to give way to Jesus.

Ending his message, he thanked Romero, who was ordained in 1992, for his faithfulness to his ministry.

Poking fun at his weight, Villegas said: “Fr. Rey, thank you for being that discerning man of God. After 25 years, your weight seems to be the same and we thank you that you have not enriched yourself. You have not become a wealthy priest.”

“Stay with us, Fr. Rey, and allow the Lord to constantly shine through you,” he added.

Lingayen-Dagupan Auxiliary Bishop Elmer Mangalinao was also present at the event together with hundreds of parishioners, friends, family, relatives, as well as Romero’s batch mates, priest friends, and religious sisters. CBCPNews

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