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February 22, 2018

CBCP News - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:00
Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Reading I 1 PT 5:1-4

Beloved:
I exhort the presbyters among you,
as a fellow presbyter and witness to the sufferings of Christ
and one who has a share in the glory to be revealed.
Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3A, 4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Verse Before The Gospel MT 16:18

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

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

Thirsty souls are quenched by God, not world, priest tells pope, Curia

CBCP News - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 19:12

Pope Francis arrives Feb. 18 at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat and conference center in Ariccia, a town about 20 miles southeast of Rome. The pope and senior members of the Roman Curia were having their annual Lenten retreat Feb. 18-23. CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

By Junno Arucho Estevez

CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

February 19, 2018

VATICAN CITY

The yearning for one’s soul to be quenched must not be confused with longing for worldly desires, a Portuguese priest told Pope Francis and senior members of the Roman Curia during their Lenten retreat.

The spiritual significance of thirst is a reminder that all Christians must distinguish between a true desire to satisfy their spiritual needs and the false satisfaction given by worldly possessions where “pleasure, passion and joy are exhausted in a wild consumerism,” Father Jose Tolentino de Mendonca, vice rector of the Catholic University of Lisbon, said Feb. 19, according to Vatican Radio.

“Let us not confuse desire with need. Desire is a lack that is never completely satisfied, it is a tension, a wound that is always open, an endless” need for something from outside oneself, he said.

The 52-year-old Portuguese priest was to deliver 10 talks on the theme “In Praise of Thirst” during the retreat Feb. 18-23 at the Pauline Fathers’ retreat center in Ariccia, 20 miles southeast of Rome.

Before boarding a bus with the Curia officials for the drive out to Ariccia, Pope Francis had asked pilgrims for prayers during his Sunday Angelus address Feb. 18.

“I ask all of you to remember in your prayers myself and my collaborators of the Roman Curia who will begin the week of spiritual exercises this evening,” the pope said after praying the Angelus prayer with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

In his main talk, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. Mark, which recalled Jesus’ temptation in the desert.

Like Jesus, he said, Christians also must fight against temptation during Lent, which is a “time of spiritual challenge, of spiritual struggle.”

“We know it, evil is unfortunately at work in our existence and around us, where violence, rejection of the other, closures, wars and injustice are manifested. These things are works of the evil one, of evil,” Pope Francis said.

Although Lent is a time of prayer and penance, he added, it is not “a sad time of mourning” but rather time for “a joyful and serious commitment to strip ourselves of our selfishness, of the old person within us and renew ourselves according to the grace of our baptism.”

On the retreat’s first full day, Feb. 19, Father Tolentino’s morning meditation was titled, “The science of thirst,” and he cited Jesus’ invitation in the Book of Revelations (22:17) to “let the one who thirsts come forward and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.”

Christians, Father Tolentino said, must first acknowledge their thirst and know “just how much we thirst.”

Through the gift of pure grace, he said, Jesus quenches the souls of Christians who thirst and “comes to meet our history as it is, in its incompleteness, emptiness or failure.”

In the afternoon, Father Tolentino reflected on the theme, “I realized I was thirsty.” Christian life hinges on the acceptance of one’s own thirst, otherwise, “spiritual life loses its grip on reality,” he said.

“The opposite of thirst, which appears at times in our lives, is apathy. It is this thirst for nothing, which more or less assails us imperceptibly, that makes us ill,” Father Tolentino said.

According to the retreat schedule published by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, the retreat began with vespers, the first meditation by Father Tolentino and eucharistic adoration.

From Feb. 19 to 22, the pope and his top aides were to begin their day with Mass, breakfast and a meditation by Father Tolentino. After lunch at 12:30 p.m., the program gave retreat participants free time until another meditation at 4 p.m., followed by vespers, adoration and dinner.

On the final day, Feb. 23, the retreatants were to celebrate Mass together, have breakfast, listen to the last meditation, and then leave for the Vatican at 9:30 a.m.

AMRSP’s statement on Federalism and Charter change

CBCP News - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 17:56

WE as a Filipino nation are again at a crossroads. We are facing a big challenge to change or not to change our form of government from present unitary system to federalism.

We in the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) call on all concerned Filipino citizens to discern well the will of God for us and for the generations to come. Reckless decisions will surely lead our nation into chaos and a bleak future.

On January 29, 2018 at the Institute for Religious Formation and Studies (IRFS), forty two religious superiors and one hundred consecrated men and women with their lay and mission partners reflected on these questions: Why the rush to have a federal form of government? Why now? Why change the 1987 Philippine Constitution which is a product of the people’s long struggle for democracy, good governance and social justice?

The train of Charter Change and Federalism is gathering speed at the congress and threatens to ram through the shift to federalism even without widespread, thorough, sane, and sober discussion and debates on the issue.

We are deeply bothered by the partisanship that has now taken over the reins of  charter change and federalism. A shameless proposal to extend terms of office has been inserted to the legislative draft at the lower house. Threats have been lured at local government units who will not toe the line. This does not augur well for a free and informed discussion on the issues at hand.

We are concerned that the push for charter change and federalism train will divert our legislators and people’s attention from the more pressing problem of poverty and humane quality of life; of empowerment and entrenched political dynasties; of integrity of creation in the midst of a murderous rampage to pillage and desecrate the environment; of the continuing diaspora of our fellow Filipinos to distant lands and the wholeness and well-being of the family; of the assaults on our national sovereignty and the need to safeguard what is rightfully ours; the systematic massacre of alleged drug addicts and pushers and our right to life; the defiance of the rule of law and the weakening of our democratic institution; and the insidious attacks on human dignity and human rights.

We are one with our bishops in declaring that “the solution we seek is ultimately the transformation of our political culture… Without conversion of mindsets, the new political wine of Charter change will remain in old political wine-skins, and merely end up bursting the hope for a new political culture.”

We therefore, during this Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, call on all the members of our congregations to help facilitate the discernment of the citizenry, making use of our school, convent and church facilities and premises, to make a wise collective decision in this historic moment. As prophets and mystics of our times, we encourage all Filipino people, with their hearts and minds purified, to engage in a lively discussion to ensure that it is us, not just a few, who are charting the future of our nation. To wit,

  1. Create and widen Circles of Conversations on the current situation and to amplify awareness on the 1987 Philippine Constitution, human rights, human dignity, justice and peace for an informed and enlightened faithful.
  2. Disseminate the CBCP Pastoral Statement to our communities and encourage discussions and reflections from our fellow religious, consecrated persons, lay partners and students and all who take part in our ministries.
  3. To prepare our communities for calls to action when we are called upon to defend dignity and democracy.

Knowing our limitations as servant leaders, political or religious, we pray for guidance,

“God of our ancestors, Lord of mercy, you who have made all things by your Word and in your wisdom have established humankind to rule the creatures produced by you, and to govern the world in holiness and righteousness, and to render judgment in integrity of heart, give us Wisdom, the consort at your throne, and do not reject us from among your children, for we are your servants, the children of your maidservant, persons weak and short-lived and lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws.” (adapted from Wisdom 9,1-5)

 

Signed this 31st day of January 2018, for the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines:

 

Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM

Sr. Regina Kuizon, RGS

A call for responsibility

CBCP News - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 17:52

A nickel mining site in Surigao del Sur. JUN SANTIAGO III, CSsR

THE recent tropical storm, Basyang, that hit Surigao del Sur last February 13, 2018 brought untold suffering among the people, especially in the areas of Cantilan and Carrascal where a flash flood swept a few houses, destroyed several hundred hectares of ricelands and caused death with the initial count of 5 people including children, and injured many others.  There is no doubt that the typhoon with waning signal number 2 was the immediate cause of the devastation.

However, many residents whose lives and livelihood have been severely affected, are calling for an investigation into the reasons why the flood came so fast, and that in some areas, a number of logs and felled trees were swept downstream, destroying houses and other physical structures along the way.

There are claims that siltation ponds have collapsed in some mining sites, causing the rush of floodwaters downstream.  Social media is now filled with pictures showing the extent of devastation in several barangays, especially Barangay Babuyas, Gamuton, and Panikian in Carrascal and Barangay Buntalid, Cabas-an and Parang in Cantilan.

Some sectors have also pointed out that the flooding in Cortes, Lanuza, Carmen and Madrid were qualitatively different from the inundation that devastated Cantilan and Carrascal.  The downpour during Basyang was way below compared to the people’s experience of walo-walo or eight (8) days of raining without letup.

Could the reason be due to massive mining operations that denuded the natural forested mountains and critical watersheds of Cantilan and Carrascal?

The Provincial Government of Surigao del Sur, in their press release, made no mention on the extent of the effect of the calamity; let alone its root cause.  It only mentioned its relief and rescue operations with the help of mining companies some of which are allegedly owned by the high-ranking government officials of the province.

For this reason, we call for an immediate and independent investigation on the flooding in CARCANMADCARLAN, particularly on the much-affected parts of Cantilan and Carrascal.  We therefore call on the DENR, regional and national offices, Civil Society groups and organizations, and other relevant institutions and government agencies to organize a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary team that will look intently into the matter.

We continue to pray for the victims of the calamity.  We seek justice for the economic wreckage on agriculture.  We seek the constant intervention of Mary the Mother of God in all our prayers.

 

+NEREO P. ODCHIMAR, DD. JCD, MBA

Bishop of Tandag

Faithful called to 3 ways of ’emptying’

CBCP News - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 14:56

Fr. Alfredo Meneses, Jr., parish priest of St. Mary Magdalene Parish blesses the image of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo during its visit to the St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Pililla, Rizal, Feb. 18, 2018. JECK MASINSIN

PILILLA, Rizal – Preaching during the thanksgiving Mass for the 11th visit of the image of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo to the St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Pililla, Rizal on Sunday, a priest reminded the faithful that all Christians are called to empty themselves in three ways in imitation of Jesus’ example.

“The greatest sacrifice that anyone could give to Jesus is in imitating Him, to empty oneself as He did,” said Fr. Alfredo E. Meneses, Jr.

Explaining the Greek term kenosis or self-emptying, he told devotees of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno that because Jesus emptied Himself for humanity in His sacrifice on the Cross, so are Christians called to do the same.

The Nazareno’s face

“In order for us to be able to imitate His sacrifice, we give Him three things: we empty ourselves with fidelity, we empty ourselves with our loyalty and we empty ourselves with our humility,” said Meneses.

He said the image of the “Nazareno has a face and that face is that of a person who has submitted Himself to the will of God.” The Nazareno’s example of following the Father has made him an instrument for the faithful’s “reflection and conversion.”

Meneses noted that obedience is not easy but emptying oneself is the only way to fully surrender. “Yes, it is difficult to be faithful. Yes, it is difficult to be loyal. Yes, it is difficult to turn down one’s ego in order to listen rather than force yourself on other people. Yet it is only in turning from ourselves, to empty ourselves that God can take control of our lives.”

Annual visit

The second day of the three-day visit featured a thanksgiving Mass held at the Stairs of Faith Monument in the parish patio and a procession around the town proper. Devotees and pilgrims from nearby towns flocked to the church to venerate and touch the Nazareno.

Meneses thanked Quiapo Church rector Msgr. Hernando Coronel for once again approving the request for the visit of the pilgrim image, one of many replicas of the Black Nazarene brought to different parts of the country.

The image’s three-day visit to the parish is scheduled annually, usually between February to March during the Lenten season. CBCPNews

Former Manila street kids ‘awed’ by St. Thérèse’s relics

CBCP News - Wed, 02/21/2018 - 10:01

Former street kids and children from the slum areas of Manila experienced a “rain of roses” as the relics of St. Thérèse pays the Tulay ng Kabataan main office a visit, Feb. 17, 2018. GRÉGOIRE MÉTEYER

QUEZON City – Greeting the relics of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus with an “impressive silence,” children and young people from the metro’s depressed areas got a chance on Saturday to deepen their devotion to the young saint also known as the “Little Flower.”

“The kids were really looking forward to welcoming St. Thérèse and her arrival was particularly remarkable as an impressive silence reigned. Even the toddlers remained very quiet and meditative during the Mass. Most of them were impressed by the relics and being able to touch the reliquary was a striking moment for them,” said Grégoire Méteyer, TNK partnerships coordinator, in an interview with CBCPNews.

Some 300 former street children and 50 kids from the metro’s slum areas celebrated a Mass presided over by TNK executive director Fr. Matthieu Dauchez at the TNK main office in this city. Afterwards, they approached the reliquary and touched it, “forming a meditative and joyful procession,” he shared.

According to Méteyer, the visit also had a funny side as some kids were wondering why “there were only the bones of St Therese and not the rest!”

He shared he believes the French saint will intercede for the needs of TNK’s “daily mission.”

“More specifically, I asked her to open the hearts of our youth to let them receive the amazing faith she showed during her life. I am quite convinced that even a little part of that faith would be a huge support for all the kids to bring love in their existence and restore their hope in the future,” said Méteyer.

ANAK-TNK has been helping care for street children, slum-dwellers, scavengers and disabled children of Manila since 1998.

For those interested to donate or assist the foundation, more information is available on their FB page. CBCPNews

February 21, 2018

CBCP News - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 21:00
Wednesday of the First Week in Lent

Reading 1 JON 3:1-10

The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time:
“Set out for the great city of Nineveh,
and announce to it the message that I will tell you.”
So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh,
according to the LORD’s bidding.
Now Nineveh was an enormously large city;
it took three days to go through it.
Jonah began his journey through the city,
and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing,
“Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,”
when the people of Nineveh believed God;
they proclaimed a fast
and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

When the news reached the king of Nineveh,
he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe,
covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes.
Then he had this proclaimed throughout Nineveh,
by decree of the king and his nobles:
“Neither man nor beast, neither cattle nor sheep,
shall taste anything;
they shall not eat, nor shall they drink water.
Man and beast shall be covered with sackcloth and call loudly to God;
every man shall turn from his evil way
and from the violence he has in hand.
Who knows, God may relent and forgive, and withhold his blazing wrath,
so that we shall not perish.”
When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way,
he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them;
he did not carry it out.

Responsorial Psalm PS 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19

R. (19b) A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Verse Before The Gospel JL 2:12-13

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart
for I am gracious and merciful.

Gospel LK 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Homilies Today's Readings

Black Nazarene of Quiapo visits Pililla parish for 11th time

CBCP News - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 20:23

The image of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo came to the St. Mary Magdalane Parish, Pililla, Rizal for its 11th annual visit. Traditionally, the image’s visit is made during the season of Lent. ANGELO TERNATE

PILILLA, Rizal – The renowned image of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno or the Black Nazarene of Quiapo visited the St. Mary Magdalene Parish in this town for the 11th time this Saturday, Feb. 17, with pilgrims from neighboring areas joining the celebration.

The Nazareno was brought to, Pililla on Saturday mid-morning from the municipal hall with a procession around the town center. Pililla’s image of St. Mary Magdalene (callejara) joined in the procession, leading the faithful to the parish church.

In his homily during the image’s arrival Mass, Fr. Alfredo E. Meneses, Jr., parish priest reflected on how the Nazareno has become “a sign of faith” for the people of Pililla.

He stressed during the many years the image has visited the parish, so many people came to simply pray and touch the hem of the image’s clothing as a way of entrusting their problems to the “Suffering Christ.”

According to him, the image of Mahal na Poong Nazareno shows the faithful three things: “first, as Jesus has painstakingly held on to the cross, we are also called on to trust Jesus and hold on to Him; second, despite our sufferings, it is Jesus who bears us and our failings and so we strive to imitate Him in being generous to others; and third, the sufferings Jesus bears simply show us that He is one with us in our journey towards becoming holy people.”

Activities that followed the visit included catechetical lectures, a serenade, testimonies of devotion, and cultural presentations. One of the highlights of the event was the thanksgiving Mass at the Stairs of Faith Monument in the parish patio attended by hundreds of devotees from Pililla and nearby towns.

According to this year’s oversight committee chairman, Councilor Dindo M. Abueg, the annual visits of the image of the Black Nazarene to St. Mary Magdalene Parish began in 2008 during the tenure of Fr. Reynante U. Tolentino.

He explained: “Through the visit, we aim to promote the devotion and strengthen the Christian faith of each individual here in Pililla.” This was affirmed by Quiapo Church’s Fr. Douglas Badong during his Mass on Sunday morning at the church saying, “The visits of the Nazareno show us that Jesus wills to be with His people. That is why you may flock to Quiapo, but today Quiapo comes here. It is Jesus coming here to be with you.”

The three-day visit is scheduled annually in the parish usually between February to March in observance of the Lenten season. CBCPNews

From North Korea to Catholicism: Mi Jin’s answered prayer

CBCP News - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 14:22

North Korean defector Mi Jin Kang, with the Korean sisters who taught her about the Catholic faith. Courtesy photo.

Seoul, South Korea  (CNA/EWTN News).- During her childhood in North Korea, Mi Jin Kang never believed in the existence of God, until one person began to spark her curiosity.

“From school education, I learned that religion is a drug,” Mi Jin told CNA, “However, I heard the story of God from a girl that I met in North Korea before my escape. This was the first step to belief.”

“Before escaping North Korea, the story of God was a curiosity and miraculous,” said Mi Jin who decided to escape North Korea in 2009, at the age of 40.

“When I escaped from North Korea, I prayed with my two hands,” remembered Mi Jin, “When my prayer to God at the moment of escape was answered, I decided to be a child of God.”

“It was especially this prayer to God at the moment of escaping from North Korea that led me to be a believer during the process of settling in South Korea.”

Though she did not share details of her escape, many North Korean defectors are helped to South Korea by a network supported by Chinese Christians.

In South Korea, an order of Korean religious sisters taught Mi Jin and other North Korean defectors about the Catholic faith. Mi Jin learned about Saint Therese the Little Flower from the sisters.

At her baptism, Mi Jin took a new Christian name, as is the custom for Korean Catholics. She became Teresa.

“I wanted to be like Saint Teresa, who lived a faithful life,” Mi Jin said.

When Pope Francis visited South Korea in 2014, Mi Jin was invited by the Korean bishops to see Pope Francis face-to-face, in the front row of the beatification Mass for 124 Korean martyrs. She also attended to Pope’s Mass in Seoul’s historic Myeongdong Cathedral.

“I got to experience the glory of a Mass close to the Pope,” said Mi Jin.

Mi Jin now works as a journalist in South Korea at the Daily NK, helping others to understand what life is like inside the world’s most opaque country.

Mi Jin told CNA that American Catholics can help North Koreans. “I think it is necessary to provide humanitarian assistance for people who are in need in North Korea. I also hope that support for organizations who are broadcasting to reach out to residents in North Korea, such as Daily NK, can help it go smoothly.”

Mi Jin especially encouraged prayer for North Korea. “I hope that Kim Jong Un’s regime in North Korea realizes economic democratization for North Korean’s true freedom and life by giving up nuclear weapons.”

She also “hopes to see the unification Korea as the relationship between North and South Korea has developed in a positive way like recently.”

Mi Jin told CNA that she has been watching the Pyeongchang Olympic Games everyday. Her favorite event to watch is skiing.

Abortion bill on Isle of Man raises multiple concerns, critics say

CBCP News - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 14:20

The flag of the Isle of Man. Credit: Natanael Ginting

CNA/EWTN News

February 20, 2018

Douglas, Isle of Man

Douglas, Isle of Man (CNA/EWTN News).- Amid efforts to legalize abortion on the Isle of Man, critics of a new abortion bill have spoken out in defense of human life, saying the proposal would introduce a number of dangers.

“Every abortion is an act of desperation,” stated Monsignor John Devine, Dean of the Catholic Church on the Isle of Man, in a letter to the island’s Chief Minister Howard Quayle, according to IOM Today.

“The Catholic Church wishes to be supportive of those who find themselves contemplating an abortion, whatever decision they take,” Devine continued, noting his overall concern with the new abortion bill on the island.

He noted his concern that the bill cites “’serious social grounds’ or ‘impairments like to limit either the length or quality of the child’s life’ as justification for a late abortion.”

“The former could be cited if an unplanned pregnancy was considered to be inconvenient,” the priest wrote. “The latter is already being used in the UK to abort children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome or even cleft palate, a condition routinely corrected surgically at a later date.”

The Abortion Reform Bill, which would allow elective abortion up to 14 weeks and up to 24 weeks if medical reasons were presented, was in the clauses stage at the House of Keys last week and has passed the first two initial readings.

Abortion policy on the the Isle of Man, a crown dependency located between England and Northern Ireland, is currently governed by the Termination of Pregnancy Act 1995, which allows abortion only in cases where the mother’s life is endangered or if the baby has a low survival rate.

Since 2011, about 40 abortions have been performed under the island’s current law.

Devine noted his concern with the proposed abortion provision, saying that “premature babies delivered at 24 weeks can now survive.”

Devine additionally distanced the Catholic Church from some ongoing reform protests around the island, which have included graphic images and “explicit material,” saying these demonstrations do not represent the Church.

Other critics of the reform, including Lord Brennan QC, said the bill would introduce other discrepancies that would include “profound consequences.”

Brennan’s first concern was the bill’s allowance for only one doctor to approve an abortion. This, he said, could open the door to certain abuses within the practice, and recommended that abortion should remain the decision of two physicians.

If the abortion bill passes, Brennan also said that other provisions need to be set in place that would protect against sex-selective abortions and abortions where the baby has a deformity or disability.

Jasvinder Sanghera, founder of the charitable organization Karma Nirvana, also advocated for more protections against sex-selective abortions on the island, noting that the new legislative provision could further endanger women in abusive situations.

“I think the failure to address sex selection and coercive abortion is a problem which I believe has to be addressed through amendments, because that in itself will send out a very direct, clear message,” Sanghere said, according to IOM Today.

Some other pro-life advocates said they have experienced discrimination amid the introduction of the abortion bill.

Sue Richardson was attending the second reading of the abortion reform bill when she was asked to remove her pro-life logo sweatshirt before entering the chamber.

“There were a lot of ladies and men dressed in red, the Handmaids colour, which is all right,” Richardson recalled, according to IOM Today.

“But when I reached security I was asked if I could take my sweatshirt with the LIFE logo off,” she continued, noting that security had been informed to not allow pro-life logos through.

Richardson noted her concern with the bias, saying that other attendees were allowed to showcase their stance on the issue.

According to the Humanity and Equality in Abortion Campaign, if the abortion reform bill is passed on the Isle of Man, it will represent the most permissive abortion legislation on all of the British Isles.

Here’s why same sex-attracted persons are called to chastity

CBCP News - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 12:49

Courage – Philippines president Edwin Valles gives the “Courageous Love: Helping persons with same sex attraction” workshop on the second day of the CFC – Singles for Christ International Conference 2018 at Our Lady of La Paz parish, Makati, Feb. 17, 2018. NIRVA DELACRUZ

MAKATI City – While many view the Catholic Church’s call to chastity to persons with same sex attraction as impractical if not downright impossible, a speaker reminded the faithful that chastity is for all believers.

“What the Church is saying is very simple, all are called to lead a chaste life. Homosexual persons are called to chastity as well,” said Edwin Valles president of Courage – Philippines, a Catholic apostolate that supports persons with same sex attraction (SSA), during the “Courageous Love: Helping persons with same sex attraction” Singles for Christ International Conference (SFC ICON) 2018 workshop at the Our Lady of La Paz church.

He quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2348, which says that all Christians are
“called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states of life.”

Integrity of the person

According to Valles, nothing less is expected of persons with SSA.

By stressing the “integrity of the human person,” he challenged the modern view that divorces the body’s significance from that of the soul.

“Everything we do to our body, we do to our soul, and since the soul is eternal,
everything we do with our body has eternal consequences,” he said.

Valles also connected the demands of chastity to love.

“Charity or love is to give of ourselves to others. Are we okay to give or receive a gift that is sloppily wrapped or has been used already? Chastity ensures that the gift of ourselves is pure, valuable, and wrapped beautifully,” he explained.

‘Law of gradualism’

Valles stressed, however, that the Church understands that chastity will not come overnight for persons with SSA.

“…It’s not like suddenly, they (persons with SSA) will do a 180 degree change. The Church understands that. In fact, the concept of the Church is the law of gradualism. You have to be realistic that this will take time. This work requires apostolic endurance,” he added.

As persons with SSA struggle to live out chastity, meaning they do not engage in homosexual acts, Valles said the Sacrament of Reconciliation continues to be “open for everyone.”

Some 7,000 SFC delegates from the Philippines as well as countries like Singapore, the U.K., Japan, China, the U.S. attended SFC ICON 2018, which also marked the silver anniversary of SFC. CBCPNews

PPCRV opposes postponement of barangay, SK polls

CBCP News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 22:36

The last barangay elections were held on Oct. 28, 2013. FILE PHOTO

MANILA— The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) opposed calls to postpone for the third consecutive times the nearing barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.

PPCRV chairperson Rene Sarmiento said another suspension of the elections, which was originally set in 2016, is no longer reasonable and would deny citizens of their right to suffrage.

“Postponement of elections done with frequency may become a habit and it will not be good for the Philippines and democracy,” Sarmiento said.

“Heaven forbid that postponement of elections becomes a habit and a habit our destiny,” he said.

The former poll commissioner asserted that electoral exercise must be done with regularity under a democratic process.

“Periodic election is a must to give the electorate an opportunity to retain performing elective public officials and repudiate the non-performers,” Sarmiento said.

“Grassroots democracy thru barangay elections is a must for local good governance and there is no substitute,” he added.

Leaders of the House of Representatives earlier said they want another suspension of the May 14 elections following the government’s talk on the amendment of the 1987 elections.

House Justice Committee chair Rey Umali said that the plebiscite for a new Constitution is better if done simultaneously with the May 2018 barangay and youth polls. CBCPNews

February 20, 2018

CBCP News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 21:00
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Reading 1 IS 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm PS 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19

R. (18b) From all their distress God rescues the just.

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. From all their distress God rescues the just.

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. From all their distress God rescues the just.

The LORD has eyes for the just,
and ears for their cry.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.

R. From all their distress God rescues the just.

When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.

R. From all their distress God rescues the just.

Verse Before The Gospel MT 4:4B

One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

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

Homilies Today's Readings

Bishop bucks drug users aren’t human claim

CBCP News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 17:21

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan delivers his homily at a Mass during the Singles for Christ International Conference in Makati City, Feb. 17, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

MANILA— Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan lashed out at Catholics who agree that drug users and pushers are not part of humanity.

Speaking emphatically at a gathering of young people over the weekend, he lamented the seeming apathy and indifference of the general public in the face of drug-related killings.

“I hope you understand why my heart bleeds when I hear about Catholics who agree that addicts are not human,” he said in his homily at a Mass during the Singles for Christ International Conference in Makati City.

“My heart bleeds when there are Catholics who agree that criminals cannot be reformed, that they deserved to die and be exterminated if we are to have a peaceful Philippine society,” David said.

The prelate told the more than 7,000 young people present at the event, which also marked the SFC’s 25th anniversary, about the needs for a different approach that sees the drug problem as a public health issue.

He emphasized that intimidation and killings will not stop the problem, as he again chided the government’s drug war that has led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos, mostly urban poor.

The Church, according to him, is not saying that the drug problem should not be fought. “But our question is how are you fighting this war?” David said.

“I know they have declared a war. But my question is war against whom? Before declaring a war, are we not supposed to identify first who our enemies and allies are? That’s all we are asking,” he pointed out.

As bishop of a diocese that has become a “killing field”, David said he cannot remain silent on issues affecting his pastoral territory which has the biggest population of informal settlers in Metro Manila.

Slum dwellers, he added, experience environmental and psychological adversity that increases their vulnerability to depression “that’s why they need to cope but I’m not justifying it”.

“It’s a spiritual and a psychological disease. In their struggles with fear, with insecurities, with depression, and isolation many people resort to the negative way of coping and they become enslaved,” David added.

If only to stop the drug trade, he said the government must go after the manufacturers or syndicates rather merely prey on poor addicts and small-time pushers.

“It is those who victimize the sick whom this government should run after,” he said.

The prelate also said that drug addicts need help, not scorn and hateful revenge from the public, as Christians are called to follow the way of the Lord which “is not avoidance”.

“It’s not going to be easy. We took a stand and our advocacy is to stop the killing and start the healing and now we are in bad company because we are trying to save the addicts, the people you are told to avoid,” David said.

“But please do not forget that the Eucharist is not bread only for the righteous. It’s precisely because we are sinners that we need the Eucharist. The Eucharist is bread broken for broken people like you and me,” he said. CBCPNews

Pope hears confessions in Lenten service

CBCP News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 17:10

Pope Francis hears confession during his annual Lenten meeting with the pastors of Rome parishes Feb. 15, 2018. The meeting, occurring in Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran, included prayer, confessions and a question-and-answer session with the pope. CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

Acknowledge sin, but look for signs of God at work, pope tells priests

CBCP News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 16:40

Pope Francis holds his annual Lenten meeting with the pastors of Rome parishes Feb. 15. The meeting, occurring in Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran, included prayer, confessions and a question-and-answer session with the pope. CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

ROME— While it is true that the world is full of sin and sinful behavior, priests must learn to scrutinize the “signs of the times” for new trends and attitudes that are good and healthy and holy, Pope Francis told pastors from the Diocese of Rome.

While there is “moral conduct that we aren’t used to seeing,” such as the normalization of living together before marriage, there also is a greater awareness of human rights, a push for tolerance and equality and appreciation for the values of peace and solidarity,” he said Feb. 15.

“We should not be frightened of the difficulties, but discern the signs of the times, the things that come from the Spirit” and then “help with the others,” he said, according to RomaSette, the diocesan newspaper.

As is customary on the day after Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis spent the morning with the pastors in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Rome cathedral. The session began with a penitential liturgy and with the pope spending almost an hour hearing confessions.

Afterward, he responded to some of their questions. The event was closed to the press, although the Vatican Media website and RomaSette provided some information later in the day.

The questions were submitted by groups of priests according to how long they had been ordained.

The younger priests asked how they could fully live their vocation. Pope Francis has three recommendations: first, learn to balance commitments; second, “find your own style”; and finally, spend time in private prayer and find a good spiritual director with whom to talk over what arises in prayer.

While forgiveness always is available, the pope said, a person needs to learn how to examine the things that lead to sin in their lives and, especially for that reason, a mature spiritual guide is necessary.

To priests who are 40 to 50 years old and have been ordained a bit longer, Pope Francis said theirs is a time when ideals tend to become weaker and when the weight of ministry and administrative duties start to be felt.

The approach of middle age is a time of “many temptations,” he said, but also the time of a “second calling from the Lord,” a call to greater realism about ministry and greater maturity.

“One cannot continue without this necessary transformation because if you keep going like this, without maturing, making a way for crisis,” the pope said, “it will end badly. You’ll end up living a double life or leaving everything.”

The older group of priests, those ordained more than 35 years ago, asked the pope about handling change, saying “we cannot always draw on our experience to respond to new questions” raised by society. They also asked the pope how he handled that mature phase of his ministry.

While the pope said he understood their unease with the fast-changing culture, he insisted that what people need most today are things they are more than able to provide: a smile, a listening ear and “offering pardon without condition in the sacrament of reconciliation.”

Elderly priests, he said, know the trials of life and the difficulties and pain that people experience. They don’t have to talk much, but they should listen a lot.

In his own life, when he faced big changes in his ministry, he told the priests, what helped most was to spend more time in prayer and adoration before the tabernacle. CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

Daily missal for Holy Week features Cardinal Tagle’s reflections

CBCP News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 16:12

Fr. Bernard Holzer, Superior of the Philippine delegation of the Augustinians of the Assumption. PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE REYES

MANILA – With the aim of making the Eucharist and God’s Word the focus of the faithful during the Lenten season, Bayard Assumption Media Foundation released the March 2018/Holy Week edition of Living with Christ, featuring reflections by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

“’Living with Christ’ helps us to savor the Word of God day to day, to deepen it by commentaries and questions, by the examples of the saints and by the call of Pope Francis. Cardinal Tagle helps us specially during the Holy Week by his reflections and questions,” shared Fr. Bernard Holzer, Superior of the Philippine delegation of the Augustinians of the Assumption, in an interview with CBCPNews.

According to him, the daily missal published monthly aims to form “better disciples” by giving the faithful access to the texts of the liturgy and to the daily readings.

“The liturgy and the Word of God are our guide and educator,” explained the French priest.

‘The center of our lives’

“’Living with Christ; is our daily companion for praying and living the Eucharist, to make the Eucharistic the center of our lives,” added Holzer.

Choosing Tagle to write for the Holy Week edition seemed like an obvious choice, the head of the Archdiocese of Manila being one of the most recognizable personalities in the Church in the Philippines. “It’s a grace to work with the Cardinal.

He is a lover of the Bible. He is a marvelous story-teller, bringing us closer to God. … He listens and takes care of his flock.

He is attentive to his sheep. I admire his way of acknowledging people, addressing them using nice words, asking them for news, encouraging them… always with a smile,” shared Holzer, who is also the general manager of Bayard Assumption Media Foundation.

Spiritual preparations

Expressing hopes that more Filipinos can spiritually prepare better this Lenten season, he noted how Lent “is a time to accompany Jesus on His way to Jerusalem, to know Him and to love Him more.” Interested parties may subscribe or order “Living with Christ” by bulk for discounts by contacting Bayard Philippines at (02) 927-1052 or visiting their office at Bayard Assumption Media Foundation, Inc., No. 17 C. Salvador Street, Varsity Hills, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

More information is also available on their Facebook page. Those interested in buying individual copies may visit National Bookstore, Tanging Yaman Stores (Jesuit Communications), Catholic Trade Manila, or the Catholic Book Center.  CBCPNews

Speaker explains how Christians should treat same sex-attracted persons

CBCP News - Mon, 02/19/2018 - 12:27

Courage – Philippines president Edwin Valles gives the “Courageous Love: Helping persons with same sex attraction” workshop on the second day of the CFC – Singles for Christ International Conference 2018 at Our Lady of La Paz parish, Makati, Feb. 17, 2018. NIRVA DELACRUZ

MAKATI City – Far from the image of the Bible-quoting Christian, a person who has genuine compassion for persons will recognize the woundedness of persons with same sex attraction (SSA), inviting him or her to encounter Jesus through the Church.

This is what a lay speaker told hundreds of delegates attending the “Courageous Love: Helping persons with same sex attraction” Singles for Christ International Conference (SFC ICON) 2018 workshop Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Our Lady of La Paz church.

“’I see you’re wounded, you’re bleeding. Let me apply first aid. I know of a great healer, let me lead you to Him’… This is the genuine voice of the Catholic Church,” said Courage – Philippines president Edwin Valles, describing the attitude Christians should have towards persons with SSA.

Affirming friendships

According to him, this is totally different from the tendency of some Christians who expect persons with SSA to “fix themselves” first before they can be invited into the Church.

It is also radically different, he said, from what the LGBT movement tells persons with SSA, which in effect tells them: “’See, I also have that. That’s not a wound. Let’s celebrate what we have.’”

It is no surprise then, noted Valles, that persons with SSA are more drawn to the latter’s celebratory message than to many religious people’s condemnatory stance.

Aside from actively inviting persons with SSA to be part of the Church, he encouraged the faithful to have deep and meaningful friendships with them.

“The base calling of the Church for everyone is friendship,” said Valles.

No name-calling

He also stressed the need to treat persons with SSA with respect.

“I hope we [in the Church] won’t be the first ones to call them gay or tomboy.. We call them by their baptismal name.. and we look at them as our brothers and sisters. It’s very important. We have to provide a counter witness to what the world would want us to believe,” explained Valles, noting the power of words.

Founded in 1980 in New York City in the U.S., Courage is a Catholic apostolate that supports persons with SSA.

According to Valles, the organization was the brainchild of Terrence Cardinal Cooke, Archbishop of New York, who started to set up the group in the late 1970s around the time when the first HIV cases appeared in the U.S., in New York in the East Coast and in San Francisco in the West Coast.

In the Philippines, Jaime Cardinal Sin started Courage – Philippines in 1995.

“It’s really a concrete expression of the Catholic Church’s care for persons struggling with same sex attraction,” said Valles.

Other SFC ICON 2018 workshops focused on topics like evangelization through social media and Theology of the Body, among others.

Some 7,000 SFC members and leaders from all over the Philippines and other countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Guam, among others, gathered at Circuit Makati for the main sessions of SFC ICON 2018. CBCPNews

Enhance protection of OFWs, bishop urges gov’t

CBCP News - Sun, 02/18/2018 - 22:47

OFWs in Hong Kong. FILE PHOTO

MANILA— The Catholic Church offered prayers for overseas Filipino workers on National Migrants’ Sunday, reiterating its call for better treatment and protection of OFWs in their host countries.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP’s Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, said the government must boost the welfare of OFWs especially domestic workers under vulnerable conditions.

“Our migrant workers should be safe. They should not be threatened or exploited. Their rights must be protected and their dignity respected,” Santos said.

“A migrant is a person. He has feelings, emotions, and a history. He is created by God, gifted by God with specific talents and individual skills. Thus, he is not a tool for profits nor an instrument for pleasure,” he said.

The prelate’s appeal comes on the heels of a deployment ban imposed by the Philippine government to Kuwait due to the many cases of abuses against OFWs.

There is currently an estimated 10 million Filipino workers in different countries, most of them are in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Kuwait, and Qatar.

These OFWs have contributed to the economic growth of the country through their foreign remittances that saved the Philippines from financial crisis in previous years.

The Church is also hopeful that host countries will welcome Filipinos into their communities, and step up efforts to combat intolerance and discrimination against migrants.

“When migrants go to another community, it is not only for labor but also to share their knowledge, skills, and expertise,” Santos added.

“Let them live fully and fruitfully with one another. There should be no attempts to eradicate their ethnicity. This calls for their adoption by or absorption into the community. It is communion with all, in contrast to exclusivity or isolationism,” he also said.

The Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines declared in 1987 every first Sunday of Lent the “National Migrants Sunday” to honor the sacrifices and heroism of OFWs and their families. CBCPNews

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