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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Updated: 31 min 50 sec ago

February 23 2019

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 21:00
Memorial of Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

Reading 1 HEB 11:1-7

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,
so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.
By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s.
Through this, he was attested to be righteous,
God bearing witness to his gifts,
and through this, though dead, he still speaks.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death,
and he was found no more because God had taken him.
Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him,
for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen,
with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household.
Through this, he condemned the world
and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.

Responsorial Psalm PS 145:2-3, 4-5, 10-11

R. (see 1) I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.

R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.

R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.

R. I will praise your name for ever, Lord.

Alleluia SEE MK 9:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered:
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 9:2-13

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
then from the cloud came a voice,
“This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Suddenly, looking around, the disciples no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Then they asked him,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He told them, “Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things,
yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man
that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt?
But I tell you that Elijah has come
and they did to him whatever they pleased,
as it is written of him.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Bishops at summit consider 21 action items to handle, prevent abuse

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 20:51

Pope Francis leads the opening session of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2019. CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

February 22, 2019

VATICAN— Immediately after asking bishops and religious superiors to be concrete in confronting the clerical sexual abuse crisis and the need to protect children in the church, Pope Francis handed them a list of 21 action items to consider.

From publicizing the contact information for reporting cases of abuse to cooperating with local law enforcement, the action items were drawn from suggestions made by bishops from around the world, the pope said, and should “assist in our reflection.”

The 21 items are “a simple point of departure,” he said, and “are not meant to detract from the creativity needed in this meeting.”

Several survivors of abuse, however, expressed surprise about and unhappiness with the list.

The first item on the list is “to prepare a practical handbook indicating the steps to be taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges.”

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta, who deals with abuse cases for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, later told reporters that his office is preparing such a handbook — in a simple question-and-answer format — and it should be ready for publication within a few months.

The archbishop said the 21 items “govern practically all the aspects of getting it right,” but they must be discussed by summit participants. “These are not decisions taken, otherwise we could go home today.”

The action items also included suggestions that dioceses have “trained and expert people” on hand for an initial “discernment” of accusations and insisted that the diocese “inform the civil authorities and the higher ecclesiastical authorities in compliance with civil and canonical norms.”

Archbishop Scicluna insisted on the importance of involving local police and other authorities, especially because while bishops exercise spiritual authority over their priests, they have no actual “coercive measures — and we don’t have any nostalgia for the coercive measures of the Inquisition” — to force priests to cooperate with investigations and obey when punishment has been imposed.

Another suggestion on the list was to establish “specific protocols for handling accusations against bishops,” a matter that was highlighted in 2018 when the public was informed of credible allegations made against then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick.

Participants at the Vatican summit Feb. 21-24 also were asked to discuss ways to “accompany, protect and treat victims, offering them all the necessary support for a complete recovery” and to offer healing and support to the communities where abusive priests ministered.

Perhaps more controversially, the possible action items also included considering “penitential and recovery routes for the perpetrators” and an insistence on the “presumption of innocence” found both in natural law and canon law.

To protect the rights of an accused, one suggestion said, “it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation.”

Archbishop Scicluna said being accused of abuse is not reason enough to release the person’s name publicly; there must at least have been a review of the allegation and determination that it is credible. A criminal court trial or full canonical process finding the person guilty would be what consists defining the allegation as “substantiated,” he said.

One item not on the list that Archbishop Scicluna said should be included is a clearer policy on keeping victims informed of the status of cases against their abusers. The canonical procedures of the church are not criminal trials, but he said the local church should assign someone to keep in contact with the victims as the process proceeds, and the victims have a right to be informed about the process’ conclusion.

“Many victims are hurt by the fact that they do not receive the final report,” he said. “It’s a lack of respect.”

Another suggestion on the list was that the church “observe the traditional principle of proportionality of punishment with respect to the crime committed,” including when deciding whether “priests and bishops guilty of sexual abuse of minors leave public ministry” or are dismissed from the clerical state all together.

Also on the list was the idea of changing the Code of Canon Law “to raise the minimum age for marriage to 16 years.” The current code says the minimum age is 16 for males and 14 for females, but bishops in many countries have passed particular laws, approved by the Vatican, that establish 16 as the minimum age for both.

Apparently in some parts of the world, the sexual abuse of a 14- or 15-year-old girl is not considered abuse of a minor since she is old enough to marry. However, in cases of clerical sexual abuse, current church law defines a minor as any person under 18 years of age.

Leona Huggins, who represents the survivor’s network, SNAP, in British Columbia, told Catholic News Service that she found the list of suggestions to be “absolutely shocking,” especially because she and the 11 other survivors who met with the summit organizing committee Feb. 20 were there to have their voices heard.

None of their suggestions made it onto the list, she said. Their No. 1 priority is to get the church to mandate a policy of zero tolerance for abusers and those who cover up their crimes.

Huggins said the list actually rolls expectations and protection efforts “backwards.”

She and another survivor were especially struck that the first item on the list was producing a “handbook” when “I think we all know what the right thing to do is” when an allegation is made that an adult has raped or assaulted a child.

Back in 1992, when Huggins found out the priest who had abused her was starting a youth group: “I knew to go to the police. I don’t have expert training. … I don’t have years of theological training that these men have. But I knew.”

Peter Isely, spokesman for the Ending Clergy Abuse coalition, said while some officials described the list as a “road map,” he saw it as drawing “a circle” leading the church back to where it started 20 years ago.

Asked if he was disappointed with the first day of the summit, Isely said: “Children don’t need for us to be disappointed, discouraged and hopeless, it just doesn’t matter. All that matters is zero tolerance so that I can say to those … children and families there’s zero tolerance now. That’s all that matters.”

Church must confront abuse crisis without fear— Cardinal Tagle

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 20:40

Pope Francis leads the opening session of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2019. CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

By Roy Lagarde

February 22, 2019

Manila, Philippines

The Catholic Church must confront clerical sexual abuse crisis without fear and reprisal, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said on Thursday.

Speaking at the opening of the Vatican meeting on the protection of minors, he said that the world needs “authentic and credible witnesses” to Christ who are “constantly in touch with the wounds of humanity”.

“We need to put aside any hesitation to draw close to the wounds of our people out of fear of being wounded ourselves,” Tagle said.

In an emotion-laden speech, the cardinal admitted that bishops are also blame why sex abuses in the church proliferate.

Over the years, he said that the problem blew up because church leaders failed to do their job by covering up for erring priests.

“Our lack of response to the suffering of victims even to the point of rejecting them and covering up scandals to protect perpetrators and the institution has injured our people leaving a deep wound in our relationship with those we are sent to serve,” Tagle said.

The cardinal urged bishops to “acknowledge our faults” and then take concrete measures to ensure all children and vulnerable people are safe in the church’s care.

In confronting the abuse crisis, Tagle also said that justice and forgiveness should go hand in hand.

“We focus on both. Regarding victims, we need to help them express their deep hurts and to heal from them,” he said.

However, he stressed that the church cannot just ask victims to forgive and move on.

“No, far from it,” Tagle said, adding that one can only receive forgiveness when it is bestowed as “a gift and grace in the process of healing”.

“Regarding the perpetrators, we need to serve justice, help them to face the truth without rationalization, and at the same time not neglect their inner world, their own wounds,” he added.

For the first time in the church’s history, Pope Francis gathered almost 200 Catholic leaders throughout the world at the Vatican to address the crisis.

The pope said that people, especially the abuse victims, are not just looking for condemnation but concrete actions.

“The holy People of God looks at us and expects from us not simple and obvious condemnations, but to prepare concrete and effective measures,” said the pope.

Challenged to love even the unlovable

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 19:22

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, (Luke 6:27-38)
February 24, 2019

By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB

JESUS does not seem tired of shocking his disciples. He has already jolted them with the “beatification” of the poor, the hungry, the despised and the persecuted, and the four “woes” addressed to the rich, the well-fed, the satisfied and those who enjoy the favor of the people. Now his shocking power reaches its climax, as he demands that his disciples love their enemies and do good to those who hate them.

This injunction is far more demanding than the well-established commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself. No leader has ever asked so much of his followers. Jesus did. And his whole life (and not just his praying for those who were insulting him on Calvary) was a constant living out of the command to love one’s enemies and do good to them for, as the Son of God, he had become a human being exactly to give his life for his very enemies—all sinners!

But now this command to love one’s enemies is addressed by him to frail human beings who already find it hard to constantly love even their own relatives and friends! . . . Hence the question: How can Jesus make such a demand? And the simple answer is: Because the command to love one’s neighbor includes also one’s enemies. Every human being, in fact, and not just my friends, or the members of my club, or my team or my race . . . , is my “neighbor.” We are expected to love all human beings, for they are all children of God and our brothers or sisters in Christ.

“Do to others what you would have them do to you,” continues Jesus in his “Sermon on the Plain” thereby proclaiming the “Golden Rule” which covers all aspects of our relationship with our neighbor. (See Lk 6:31.) And since everybody wants to be treated with respect, honor, care, understanding, and love, the conclusion is that we should treat everybody—including those who have deliberately hurt us—not the way they treat us, but the way we would like to be treated.

This, as well all know very well, is not a spontaneous reaction. Instinctively, when we have been hurt, we tend to retaliate and get even, or at least to withhold from those who have offended us those signs of love that we used to have for them. If we do not go to war, the least we are tempted to do is “to sever our diplomatic ties,” and learn to live as if that person did not exist.

Jesus is not satisfied with our refraining from belligerent actions, for a “cold treatment” fails to meet the demands of love. “Do good to those who hate you,” he presses us. “Bless those who curse you and pray for those who maltreat you.” Herein is the challenge to be heroic by loving in a practical manner even the “unlovable.”

This is the challenge to follow in the footsteps of our Model, Jesus himself, “the New Man” and “the life-giving spirit.” (See today’s Second Reading.) Being new creatures in him, we must love the way he did. In so doing, we will be learning to live and love in a God-like manner, for our common Father is always compassionate and continues to love even those who offend and reject Him. (See v. 35.)

This is a tall order, indeed, but if we really want to go to heaven, we do not have any alternative, for “the measure with which we measure,” says Jesus, “will in return be measured out to us.” (See today’s Gospel, v. 38.)

Today's Readings Homilies

Faith and science

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 15:21

THESE two should go together. They are not meant to go separate ways and, worse, to go against each other. A faith without science is prone to fall into superstitions, and a science without faith can only go nowhere.

Faith without science can only provoke suspicion, disbelief and criticism. And a science without faith might give an appearance of sophisticated achievement but it will certainly lead to getting confused and lost in itself, and can pose as a grave danger to us.  All of this because faith and science in the end come from the same source—God the Creator. This is what the Catechism says about faith and science:

“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict itself.  Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” (159)

Faith actually needs science to be able to demonstrate its truths, though faith transcends the powers of science and its scope goes far beyond what science can reach and cover.  Thus, being a sharing of what God the Creator knows about us and the world, faith is meant to give light and direction to science. We need to acknowledge this principle and allow our scientific work to be guided by faith.

A faith that is not aided by science is a faith that is out on a limb. It tends to fall into the anomaly of fideism. And a science that is not guided by faith is blind, or is blinded by its own light. It cannot cope with all the issues and questions in life and the realities of the spiritual and supernatural world. It tends to fall into the anomaly of scientism and technologism.

A faith without science tends to build an ivory tower, unable to have any impact on the things of the world. Its relevance and practicability in the world tends to fade away. Its spread and transmission, its viability in the world would be greatly hampered.

Faith does not undermine the objectivity and realism of science.     A science without faith can become a loose cannon. It is vulnerable to be exploited by ideologues, to get entangled in partisan politics, and to come out with biased data, etc. It would not know how to play along the providence of God, since it would be oblivious of God.

Faith and science should go together. Scientific studies, for example, about the origin of the world and of life in general reinforce the truths of faith about these questions. Of course, there are differences in the language used by faith and science, but they somehow are in agreement about the core of these questions.

It is important that we always maintain the strong and intimate relation between faith and science. We have to avoid the extremes of “too much faith” with hardly any reference and support from science, and of “too much science” that practically ignores the light of faith.   Sad to say, these two extremes can be found in many places today. We need to correct the situation by undertaking an abiding catechesis, adapted to the different mentalities of the people, about the mutual relation between faith and science.

The Smell of the Sheep: Knowing their pain and healing their wounds is at the core of the shepherd’s task | By Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 14:40

Presentation of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila at the start of the 3-day Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church that kicked off on Feb. 21 in the Vatican.

DOWNLOAD PREPARED TEXT

February 22 2019

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 21:00
Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

Reading 1 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.

Alleluia MT 16:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church;
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.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Vatican summit opens with acknowledgement of evil committed

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 19:51

Pope Francis leads the opening session of the meeting on the protection of minors in the church at the Vatican Feb. 21, 2019. CNS/EVANDRO INETTI, POOL

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

February 21, 2019

VATICAN— Opening the Vatican summit on child protection and the clerical sexual abuse crisis, Pope Francis said, “The holy people of God are watching and are awaiting from us not simple, predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures” to stop abuse.

The summit meeting Feb. 21-24 brought together almost 190 church leaders: the presidents of national bishops’ conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches, superiors of some men’s and women’s religious orders and top Vatican officials.

In his brief opening remarks, the pope prayed that with “docility” to the Holy Spirit, the bishops at the summit would “listen to the cry of the little ones who ask for justice.”

The pope’s main address to the assembly was scheduled for Feb. 24 after the discussions, a penitential liturgy and a concluding Mass.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines, gave the first formal talk of the gathering, acknowledging how church leaders for so long ignored the suffering of the victims of clerical sexual abuse and covered up the evil crimes of the priest-perpetrators.

Sometimes, he said, bishops were simply afraid to look at the wounds caused by their priests, but he insisted that one cannot profess faith in Christ while ignoring the wounds inflicted on the people Jesus loves.

Using the Gospel stories of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to the disciples, especially the story of Jesus inviting St. Thomas to put his hands into the wounds on Jesus’ hands and side, Cardinal Tagle told the bishops, “Those who are sent to proclaim the core of our Christian faith — the dying and rising of Christ — can only do so with authenticity if they are constantly in touch with the wounds of humanity.”

The Christian faith itself and the ability of the Catholic Church to proclaim the Gospel is “what is at stake in this moment of crisis brought about by the abuse of children and our poor handling of these crimes,” the cardinal said.

But, he asked, “how do we as bishops, who have been part of the wounding, now promote healing?”

First, the cardinal said, the bishops must “draw close to their wounds and acknowledge our faults” and then take concrete steps to ensure all children and vulnerable adults are safe in the church’s care.

Justice for the victims is an absolute necessity, he said, but justice by itself “does not heal the broken human heart.”

The church can never ask victims to forgive and move on — “no, far from it,” the cardinal said.

But, knowing that forgiveness often aids healing, he said, church leaders must “continue to walk with those profoundly wounded by abuse, building trust, providing unconditional love and repeatedly asking forgiveness in the full recognition that we do not deserve that forgiveness in the order of justice, but can only receive it when it is bestowed as a gift and grace.”

Survivors Speak: What Vatican summit must do to stop abuse

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 19:45

Barbara Dorris, an abuse survivor and former executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, attends a news conference at the Foreign Press Club in Rome Feb. 19, 2019. At left is Zuzanna Flisowska. The news conference was held to talk about the abuse of women as the Vatican prepares for its Feb. 21-24 meeting on the protection of minors in the church. PAUL HARING/CNS

By Carol Glatz

Catholic News Service

February 21, 2019

VATICAN— Abuse survivors and support groups were very clear about what they want the world’s bishops, religious superiors, the pope and the Vatican to do to protect children and end clerical sexual abuse.

In fact, the amount of input, insight and recommendations coming out of the various press events organized by survivor and support groups before the Vatican’s Feb. 21-24 summit led Doris Wagner, a former nun who accused a priest of rape, to say, “it might not be the summit of the bishops, but it might be the summit of survivors that makes the difference.”

“So much is at stake this week,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, a researcher and co-director of BishopAccountability.org at a news conference Feb. 19.

“Catholics of the world are grieving and disillusioned,” she said, because “thousands of our children, our brothers and sisters, our friends have been sexually assaulted by clergy for decades now. Popes and bishops have promised, ‘Never again. We’re going to stop it, this time.'”

But what is needed to do that, she and many victims have said, is a clear, universal definition of “zero tolerance” and its full, transparent implementation.

“Canon law has to be changed. Not tweaked, not modified, but fundamentally changed so that it stops prioritizing the priesthood of ordained men over the lives of children and vulnerable adults who are sexually assaulted by them,” Doyle said.

She said she has been “disheartened to hear the pope’s emphasis on this being an opportunity for conversion. You change the laws and then you let the hearts and minds follow. You don’t wait for hearts and minds to change before you prohibit priests absolutely from sexually abusing children.”

Phil Saviano, a board member of BishopAccountability.org, said mandatory reporting of abuse to civil authorities or local law enforcement is very important.

Not turning over abusers is seen not only as a way of “protecting them,” but it suggests the church is “still treating this problem as a sin as opposed to what it really is which is a criminal act against children,” he told reporters in Rome Feb. 19.

The names of church members who have been found guilty or who have credible allegations against them and the names of bishops who have been proven to have failed to protect children must be made public, he said.

Releasing the names and related records of thousands of credibly accused people must be part of the church’s “new era of transparency,” he said in a written statement to summit organizers.

“Do it to break the code of silence,” he wrote. “Do it out of respect for the victims of these men and do it to help prevent these creeps from abusing any more children.”

Declan Murphy, who was abused by two Christian Brothers in Dublin in the 1960s, told Catholic News Service that too often “the church refers more to the ‘sins of the abusers’ and the ‘damage to the church’ rather than the lives of survivors. Until this core and fundamental mindset changes there will be little real change.”

Catholics at every level of the church must take action, he said in an email. Those steps must include:

  • Listen to survivors and tell the truth “and see what a difference it makes.”
  • Stop putting survivors “through stressful and costly legal technical battles without any attempt to talk, listen and offer some help.”
  • Improve child protection procedures and processes while also taking care of those already abused over decades. “There should be services in place to help these people as an automatic right,” Murphy wrote.

Mark Vincent Healy, an Irish survivor and campaigner, told CNS by email that the church must “reach out to survivors providing a true pastoral care program” of support.

Survivors not only face the lifelong nightmare of their past abuse, Healy said. “Survivors of clergy child sexual abuse are overrepresented in the most harrowing social statistics in homelessness, mental health, self-harming, suicide, low income, repeated to long-term unemployment, imprisonment, broken relationships and families, social isolation, shorter life expectancy” and so on.

In fact, his research has shown that, in Ireland, survivors — and not the sexual abusive clergy who abused them — were more likely to have ended up in prison.

Helen L. McGonigle, a retired attorney from Connecticut, said in an email that “all predator priests and their accomplices” must be removed from military bases and installations and not be allowed to minister to military personnel, which is what her and her late-sister’s abuser, Father Brendan Smyth, had been free to do.

She said national security concerns would be at risk with “these kinds of predators,” who were known to have engaged in solicitation in the confessional and had the power to extract “sensitive information under the pretext of the confessional.”

Bishops and other church leaders should be ordered “to cease lobbying efforts against legislative reforms that extend the criminal and civil statute of limitations” on reporting and prosecuting child abuse, she said.

Saviano and Doyle said it is critical that all information and accusations about alleged abuse are flagged and get to the right people in the church. Officials could even do simple searches or set up daily alerts tracking “‘Bishop’ and ‘abuse’ or ‘church’ and ‘abuse,’ it works,” Doyle said.

Just as the Vatican Library collaborated with IBM to digitize its archives, she said, the Vatican “could hire a few researchers to construct a database” that tracks all bishops and priests “who have been reported to the church or reported to the news media.”

Referring to their Massachusetts-based organization — BishopAccountability.org — which makes available several hundred thousand pages of public records and documents online, Doyle said, “if a few people in Boston can do that on a shoestring budget, imagine what the Vatican could do.” WITH REPORTS FROM LIAN McINTYRE AND CINDY WOODEN IN ROME

The narrative of faith

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 17:57

THE word, ‘narrative,’ today has acquired a bad connotation because it now is made to refer to attempts to conform our views according to a preconceived storyline that would already suggest bias and prejudice. It’s like things are scripted and controlled, and as a consequence objectivity is compromised.

This is especially so in the area of public opinion where different ideological and political groups defend their views according to their ideological and political principles and doctrines.

Those concerned simply have to stick to the narrative of their ideology and politics. Thus, you can have the liberals and the conservatives defending their views according to the narrative of their ideological and political position.

Of course, this is a very understandable phenomenon. One sees and understands things according to how he is, conditioned as he is by so many factors and elements. A gospel passage somehow says as much. “The heart speaks out of the abundance of the heart.” (Mt 12,34)

Unfortunately, the word, ‘narrative,’ with its negative connotation is also applied by many people today to the Christian faith. They say that because of some people’s faith, they cannot be objective, and thus, cannot see the wisdom behind the things like abortion, divorce, same-sex marriage, etc.

This is, of course, a blatant misconception of faith, regarding it as one more man-made ideology and political platform. To be sure, all man-made ideologies and political platforms have many things that can do good to all of us. But they cannot capture everything that is proper to us. To be sure also, they cannot by themselves bring us to our spiritual and supernatural goal.

Yes, it can be said that the word, ‘narrative,’ can also be applied to our Christian faith. But it is a narrative that should not be understood the way we understand it with respect to our ideologies and politics, etc.

The narrative of faith does not control and script things the way the narrative of the ideologies and politics does. It is not something that is limited the way the latter are limited. It has infinite ways of adapting itself to any situation we can find ourselves in, so that it can help us to attain our ultimate end which is not only natural but also supernatural.

And what is the nature and purpose of our Christian faith? As the Catechism teaches us, our faith is meant to bring us back to where we came from, that is, to be with God for all eternity.

“It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom,” says the Catechism, “to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature.” (51)

The Christian faith is revealed and taught to us in full by Christ. It has been entrusted to the Church for its integral transmission to the different generations until the end of time. Its light is constant and always relevant

But we have to understand the Christian faith is not so much pure doctrine alone as a vital union with Christ. The doctrine serves as a path to be with Christ, but it does not replace Christ. It is not one more ideology whose light is not constant and not always relevant.

The narrative of faith is a living thing that knows how to adjust and adapt to the different situations we can find ourselves in. Being divine and redemptive in nature and purpose, it has infinite possibilities of adapting to all our possible situations and conditions and of giving us the means to attain our ultimate goal in life.

It does not get lost along the way, no matter how messy we make our life here on earth. In good times and bad, it shows us the way to attain our ultimate goal.

No fast forwards for me

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 16:40

MY passion for truth won’t tolerate forwarded social media messages that sound too good or too bad to be true—whether they’re plain news items or videos from netizens.  I won’t forward messages just because they make me feel noble, or even just useful, as I suspect many Facebook friends of faith do.  While I appreciate the senders’ good intentions in spreading supposedly informative or uplifting posts, my kneejerk reaction is to ask them, “What/who is your source?”  When the answer is “it’s forwarded by a friend”, I first verify and validate it if I think it’s worth the trouble.  And almost always, the post is fake news, propaganda in disguise, religious intolerance masked as righteous indignation, or hatred posing as a cry for justice.  My nose for news usually warns me, and I heed it because I know that once I carelessly hit the forward button, I’d be caught in the viral spiral to spread lies—a mortal sin for a writer.

I could name a few netizen-friends who are in the habit of thoughtlessly forwarding such unchecked posts, and I used to respond to each and everyone of them once I got the facts straight, but now I’ve grown tired of it, because they don’t seem to learn, or care, or care to learn.  Sometimes I even fear they resent me for bursting their bubble. Maybe the old adage “you cannot teach old dogs new tricks” applies here.  I’d hate to be known as “Pambansang Kill Joy”, so… let it be.  But lately I got two posts on the same day that raised the alarm bell several notches higher.  The first one is plain text with a photo of Pope Francis titled “Gentle reminders from Pope Francis”; the second is a video accompanied by a caption “Hindu girl burned alive in Madhya Pradesh for attending Christian prayer service”. 

Reading the “Gentle reminders…” I saw that some advice made sense, but as a whole, I thought, “No, this couldn’t have come from the Pope.  The style, the content, the references—it may have been written by a woman aching to be liberated from drudgery and with no strong religious affiliations.  Why for heaven’s sake would the Pope advise us to “Look for the person that makes you happy. If you make a mistake, let it go and keep seeking your happiness…. Don’t save your favorite perfume, use it to go out with yourself; wear out your favorite sport shoes,” etc.So unbiblical.

So I went to Snopes.com, my go-to verification site, and combining my findings there with more Google results and other fact-checking sites, my hunch was validated.  The original release was written in Portuguese and posted by one Marcela Tais (the Brazilian singer?) in April 2016, and only after several months was the attribution to Pope Francis added.  Then it went viral.  This happens often—when a meaningful text by a nobody is attributed to a celebrity, it gets a share boost; meanwhile, no one cares to check its veracity.  Later on it was posted by a pilgrimage agency, perhaps capitalizing on the line “Enjoy, travel, enjoy your journeys, see new places, give yourself the pleasures you deserve…” to sell package tours.  When a Catholic community posted the “Gentle Reminder…”, and it got so many “Amens” from faithful FB friends, the lie was sealed, so to speak.  Snopes.com added that the “Gentle reminders” could not be found in any of Pope Francis’ writings.  So you see—that’s one way the Catholic catechism gets bungled up.

The second one, the video that says a Hindu girl was burned alive for attending a Christian prayer service in Madhya Pradesh (India), is simply heart-wrenching. It was a lynch mob that actually led to a young girl’s being burned alive to death—a nightmare almost five minutes long.    I watched it intently against my better judgment for it showed how beastly and murderous humans can become. I wanted to believe it was a movie clip, but no, it looked real from every angle. Despite the pain I felt experiencing the violence in the entire video, reason didn’t desert me.  I heard familiar-sounding words—puta, fuego—which evoked scriptural visions.  How different was this from the bloodthirsty crowd gathered around the woman caught in adultery?  There is no Jesus in this video—just men brutally beating the unresisting girl, and people who looked not quite Indian, but more like…. South Americans? Even the girl’s facial features didn’t look Indian.  And did she really come from a church service wearing short shorts and spaghetti-strapped blouse?

So I Googled again, accessing fact-checkers and major international news sources and came upon the real news item. The incident is real, it happened in Guatemala, and the victim is a 16-year old girl whom the mob captured as she tried to run away from the murder of a 68-year old taxi driver. The police reportedly could not get past the 250-strong mob that cheered as the girl screamed and writhed in pain until she died.  Guatemala is almost 100 percent Christian (65 Catholic, 35 Protestant), with but 1,200 Muslims (0.008percent of the population). How can this heinous crime happen in a Christian country?  How this sickening video got to be spread around as being about a Hindu girl killed for attending a Christian service—no one yet knows.  But the accompanying text—“Please send this around so that the whole world may see India, the real Hell on planet Earth.  Just see the ugliest face of Incredible India!!!”—may be something worse than just slinging mud on India’s tourism campaign.  Could it have been deliberately distorted to foment hatred between Hindus and Christians?  It is not an impossibility.

If you care to look at the two websites best representing the results of my search, please go to https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/did-pope-francis-write-the-gentle-reminder-message/ and girl    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3093163/Shocking-moment-girl-16-surrounded-beaten-mob-burned-death-involved-murdering-68-year-old-taxi-driver-Guatemala.htmlAnd please, I invite you to share my passion for truth.  Share this column with your soc-med friends, especially those who like to “fast-forward” things.  Spreading the truth won’t cost you anything—but it can bring priceless rewards from The Way, The Life, and The Truth we serve.  And that’s the truth.

We speak for the Children on the MACR (Minimum age of criminal responsibility)

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 16:36

THE  House of Representatives under the Speakership of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is now rushing for the approval of the act amending and expanding the RA 9344 “The Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006” which will LOWER DOWN THE MINIMUM AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY OF CHILDREN FROM 15 YEARS OLD TO 12 YEARS OLD. This is House Bill No. 8858, which has been approved on 2nd reading by the Lower House last January 23, 2019

The proposed bill was introduced with the following objectives:

  • To protect minors from being exploited by syndicates and unscrupulous persons that use minors to escape liability for crimes and other illegal activities.
  • To provide adequate intervention and diversion measures for children in conflict with the law.
  • To increase the penalties for the exploitation of children for the commission of crimes.

We oppose this bill on the following grounds:

  1. We now have the Juvenile Justice Welfare Act (JJWA) or RA 9344

In this Law the CHILDREN IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW (CICL) who are below 15 years of age should have age – appropriate interventions from the DSWD. Those who are 15 years old till 18 years are to be put in rehabilitation centers and not to be mixed with other prisoners. They should undergo rehabilitation programs in these centers. The whole purpose of the JJWA for CICL and for CHILDREN AT RISK (CAR) is  Prevention,    Diversion,   Rehabilitation,  Re-integration,   Aftercare.

  • The law is not property implemented since 2006.
  • There are not enough rehabilitation centers and those that have are not properly staffed and there is not enough program to rehabilitate the children.
  • The DSWD does not have enough personnel to handle the CICL and CAR in the municipalities.
  • The barangay officials are not oriented or are not doing anything to take care of the CAR although they have a mandate for this.

The government has a very poor record of implementing laws. We call for full implementation of this law which already addresses many concerns brought out by the new bill. If the government now is not able to build rehabilitation centers of CICL since 2006, what guarantee we have the that proposed Bahay Pangarap of this bill will be built and properly staffed?

  1. CICL account for less than 2% of criminality in the country and many of these are petty crimes due to hunger, influence of peers and lack of parental guidance. CICL may be used by syndicates and adults to do crimes. This means that they are victims. Criminalizing them will not solve the problem unless we go after the syndicates. The Police shows its failure to get the syndicates and instead would run after victims of these syndicates. When this bill becomes a law, the police will tap its shoulders for having put children in jail and not bother to look for the syndicates and adults who use the children, as they tap their shoulders for having killed small time users of drugs instead of getting at the big drug lords!
  2. Science tells us that children below age 18 are not fully developed intellectually, emotionally and psychologically. This is why they are not allowed to vote and are not allowed to enter into legal contracts. The argument that the bill will act as a deterrent does not hold water because the kids do not see the full implications of the law nor of their actions. The users of these kids will continue to use them since there are many vulnerable kids anyway because of widespread poverty.
  3. Once a child of 12 is criminalized, his/her record for life is already a criminal. We destroy his/her future without him/ her knowing fully what he/she has done. This brand or stigma as a criminal in his/her records will close a lot of doors for his/her future.
  4. The Philippine government is party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) which prohibits criminalization of children. According to the Committee on the Rights of the Child General Comment No. 24 replacing General Comment No. 10 of 2007 (Child Rights’ in Juvenile Justice), “State parties are encouraged to increase their minimum age to at least 14 years, while those with 15 or 16 years of age are commendable. Further, the Committee recommends that State Parties should under no circumstances reduce the minimum age of criminal responsibility, if its current penal law sets the minimum age of criminal responsibility at an age higher than 14 years.”
  5. Lastly, a very dangerous section (Section 43-A) was inserted which in effect will prevent any appeal or reconsideration or correction in the judgements given to these young offenders, to wit:

SEC 43-A. PENALTY FOR VIOLATION OF CONFIDENTIALITY OF RECORDS- ANY PERSON WHO HAS BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF DIVULGING, WILFULLY OR THROUGH GROSS INEXCUSABLE NEGLIGENCE, THE RECORDS OR ANY INFORMATION RELATION TO THE PROCEEDINGS INVOLVING CHILDREN IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW, SHALL SUFFER THE PENALTIES IMPOSED IN TITLE VII, CHAPTER 3 OF THIS ACT.”

Simply put, once a child has been arrested, the court, within 72 hours, has to make a decision for the petition for an involuntary commitment to these specialized facilities. The initial period of the placement of the child shall not be less than one year. After that 72 hours, no person can have access to the records or any information in relation to the proceedings. Therefore, No DSWD, NGO or Charitable Institution can help these children because NO ONE WILL GIVE OUT ANY RECORD OR INFORMATION UNDER THE PAIN OF STIFF PENALTIES.

  • What should we do as Church?
  • We promoted Positive Discipline and Responsible Parenting in our family ministries.
  • We should also join the advocacy to stop corporal punishment.
  • We set up programs for the protection of children and vulnerable adults. Programs on this kind are already in place, such as the one being promoted by the Salvatorian Sisters which the diocese of Novaliches has adopted and pursues.
  • Most important is the effort to end poverty. Poverty is the reason why many children are out of school, are not cared for by their parents, resort to substance abuse, and are easily lured by human traffickers and syndicates.
  • We should raise our voice against this amendment to MACR as Church. Our strong devotion to Sto. Niño urges us this. If we make enough noise this bill will not be considered by Senate which in general is very sensitive to public opinion and public clamor. This is part of our advocacy to protect the least, the last and the lost and to speak for those who are voiceless. This is another piece of legislation that is against the poor and the very vulnerable.

 

Vatican summit on sex abuse

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 15:27

POPE FRANCIS has called to Rome Catholic leaders from over a hundred bishop’s conferences throughout the world for a landmark meeting on sexual abuse.  Gathering from February 21- 24, 2019, this will be the first time in history that a pope has convened senior bishops to discuss clergy sexual abuse after decades of scandals that have finally brought the Church to her knees or so it seems.

In June 2016, Pope Francis issued Motu Proprio an Apostolic Letter titled “As a Loving Mother” (Come una madre amorevole) which underlines in 5 articles the possibility of removal from ecclesiastical office for “grave reasons”, especially “in the negligence of a bishop in the exercise of his office, and in particular in relation to cases of sexual abuse inflicted on minors and vulnerable adults.”

But it seems the provisions of this apostolic letter have been over taken by the heavy scandals that lately surfaced.  Among hundreds recent cases, the most outrageous is the one of Theodore McCarrick who have been sexually abusing children and adults, including seminarians and priests all the from being a mere priest in the Archdiocese of New York to being Archbishop of Washington D.C. and finally to being elevated to the college of cardinals.  It escapes comprehension how was he able to rise to the highest echelon of ecclesiastical stature undetected.  Or was he?  Latest reports showed that Church leaders in the US and Vatican officials were aware of McCarrick’s behavior, or at least his proclivities, for decades.  On February 16, 2019, the Holy See has convicted McCarrick on charges of sexual abuse of minors and adults and imposed on him a penalty of laicization.

Cover-ups and the seeming culture of silence within the Church may have become the seedbed that fanned the proliferation of sexual abuses among priests and bishops. Several years back, the attitude was to keep things under the rug in order to possibly arrest the spread of scandal or protect the reputation of the priest.  But at the end of the day, it has bred more scandals. Moreover, as some church leaders tried to shield the priest they ended up betraying the reputation of the Church and even the work of evangelization—and, of course, the sense of justice for the victims.

This Vatican summit maybe a big step towards a cleansing journey within the church.  But people are praying that this will focus on making Church leaders seriously aware of their responsibilities, accountability, and transparency.

February 21 2019

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 21:00
Thursday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 GN 9:1-13

God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them:
“Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.
Dread fear of you shall come upon all the animals of the earth
and all the birds of the air,
upon all the creatures that move about on the ground
and all the fishes of the sea;
into your power they are delivered.
Every creature that is alive shall be yours to eat;
I give them all to you as I did the green plants.
Only flesh with its lifeblood still in it you shall not eat.
For your own lifeblood, too, I will demand an accounting:
from every animal I will demand it,
and from one man in regard to his fellow man
I will demand an accounting for human life.

If anyone sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
For in the image of God
has man been made.

Be fertile, then, and multiply;
abound on earth and subdue it.”

God said to Noah and to his sons with him:
“See, I am now establishing my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
and with every living creature that was with you:
all the birds, and the various tame and wild animals
that were with you and came out of the ark.
I will establish my covenant with you,
that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed
by the waters of a flood;
there shall not be another flood to devastate the earth.”
God added:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign
of the covenant between me and the earth.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 AND 22-23

R. (20b) From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.

The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.

R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.

Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
“The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”

R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.

The children of your servants shall abide,
and their posterity shall continue in your presence,
That the name of the LORD may be declared in Zion,
and his praise, in Jerusalem,
When the peoples gather together,
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

R. From heaven the Lord looks down on the earth.

Alleluia SEE JN 6:63C, 68C

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 8:27-33

Jesus and his disciples set out
for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”

Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Chilean whistleblower to meet with bishops, victims ahead of abuse summit

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 20:29

Pope Francis meets with the Chilean bishops in the sacristy of the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, Jan. 16, 2018. VATICAN MEDIA

By Catholic News Agency

February 20, 2019

VATICAN— Juan Carlos Cruz, a clerical sex abuse whistleblower and a victim of Fr. Fernando Karadima, will meet with bishops and with fellow victims of clergy sexual abuse Wednesday, one day before the start of a Vatican summit on the topic.

“I am very proud that I am entrusted with such a task,” Cruz said, according to Chilean newspaper La Tercera.

Cruz said he was invited to the meeting by Vatican officials in charge of organizing the abuse summit, which will gather bishops from all over the world for three days in Rome to discuss the importance of handling cases of sexual abuse properly at all levels of the Church’s hierarchy.

The summit is a result of months of revelations of clerical sex abuse scandal in the United States and other countries. One of the most high-profile cases in the United States involved Theodore McCarrick, former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington, who was publicly accused last year of sexually abusing at least two adolescent boys, and of engaging for decades in coercive sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians.

McCarrick was laicized by Pope Francis last weekend, just days before the summit.

Cruz was a key whistleblower in highlighting the extent of clerical sex abuse in Chile. Last year, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, regarded as the Vatican’s top abuse investigator, traveled to the United States and Chile in February to investigate allegations of sex abuse cover-up within Church hierarchy in Chile.

Scicluna’s trip resulted in a 2,300-page report, the laicization of multiple priests and bishops, the en masse proffering of all Chilean bishops’ resignation, and a major “mea culpa” from Pope Francis, who had originally expressed doubts about the allegations against Chilean Bishop Juan Barros.

Pope Francis met privately last May with Cruz and fellow whistleblowers and abuse survivors James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo. The pope expressed his apologies and sorrow for having been “part of the problem” and resolved to do better on abuse.

Scicluna was one of the Vatican officials to invite Cruz to the pre-summit meeting, and asked him to give his testimony and to help facilitate much of the meeting.

Cruz told La Tercera that the meeting will be “very important for the Catholic world, for many people. This is a meeting where many people in the world should give their testimony, which is impossible because of the volume.”

Instead, Cruz said, there will be a group of 12 people to give voice to this issue and to impress its seriousness on the leaders of the Church.

“I sincerely hope that the Church will take it for what it is, something very serious…it deserves zero tolerance once and for all,” he added. “These people [the abusers] cannot hide in the institution anymore.”

Cruz also expressed doubts about Bishop Luis Fernando Ramos Perez, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago and president of the Chilean bishops’ conference, who is representing Chile at the meeting.

Cruz told La Tercera that Bishop Ramos “has no empathy with the Chilean victims and I do not know what his contribution can be in this important meeting.”

There will be 190 participants in the Vatican summit, most of whom are presidents of national bishops’ conferences.

Religious superiors admit denial, slowness to act against abuse

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 20:25

A Dominican nun and Jesuit priest are pictured in a combination photo. “Pope Francis rightly attacks the culture of clericalism which has hindered our fight against abuse and indeed is one of the root causes,” said a statement Feb. 19 from the women’s International Union of Superiors General and the men’s Union of Superiors General. CNS FILE

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

February 20, 2019

VATICAN— Twisted ideas of power and authority in the Catholic Church have contributed to the clerical sexual abuse crisis, leaders of religious orders said, but sometimes the positive “sense of family” in their own communities also made them slow to act.

“Pope Francis rightly attacks the culture of clericalism which has hindered our fight against abuse and indeed is one of the root causes,” said a statement Feb. 19 from the women’s International Union of Superiors General and the men’s Union of Superiors General.

But, they said, “the strong sense of family in our orders and congregations — something usually so positive — can make it harder to condemn and expose abuse. It resulted in a misplaced loyalty, errors in judgment, slowness to act, denial and at times, cover-up.”

The superiors, who represent a combined total of almost 850,000 women and men religious, stated, “We still need conversion and we want to change.”

“We want to act with humility. We want to see our blind spots. We want to name any abuse of power. We commit to engage in a journey with those we serve, moving forward with transparency and trust, honesty and sincere repentance,” said the statement from the two organizations of superiors general.

The two groups were to send 22 superiors general to the Vatican’s summit Feb. 21-24 on child protection and the abuse crisis.

“The sexual abuse of children and the abuse of power and conscience by those in authority in the church, especially bishops, priests and religious” is “a story stretching back for decades,” the statement said. It is “a narrative of immense pain for those who have suffered this abuse.”

The superiors general said, “We bow our heads in shame at the realization that such abuse has taken place in our congregations and orders and in our church” and that the response of congregational leaders “has not been what it should have been. They failed to see warning signs or failed to take them seriously.”

The religious superiors said they hoped that with the Vatican meeting “important processes and structures of accountability can be started and the ones already in place can be supported.”

Acknowledging an oft-repeated observation that different approaches may be necessary for uncovering and ending abuse in different cultures, the superiors said one thing must be clear: “The abuse of children is wrong anywhere and anytime; this point is not negotiable.”

In the statement, the leaders of Catholic religious orders vowed “to listen better to survivors” and to “implement what is decided at this meeting in terms of the accountability required of those in authority.”

The superiors of men’s and women’s orders also asked Catholic parents, especially mothers, to assist them in responding to the abuse crisis.

“It is fair to say that if women had been asked for their advice and assistance in the evaluation of cases, stronger, faster and more effective action would have been taken,” the statement said. “Our ways of handling allegations would have been different, and victims and their families would have been spared a great deal of suffering.”

This Vatican meeting in February was to focus on protecting children, but the religious superiors acknowledged recent media attention “on the abuse and exploitation of religious sisters, seminarians and candidates in formation houses.”

“This is a matter of grave and shocking concern,” they said. “We pledge ourselves to do all in our power to find an effective response. We want to ensure that those who generously apply to join religious orders or who are trained in seminaries live in places of safety where their vocation is nourished and where their desire to love God and others is helped to grow to maturity.”

The superiors promised to strengthen safeguarding programs in the schools and hospitals they run and to ensure all formation programs have a strong child-protection component.

The superiors also asked that the spirituality and retreat centers their orders run “develop special outreach to any survivor who wishes to find help in their struggles with faith and meaning.”

“Those who have been abused by priests or religious may want to stay far distant from the church and from those who represent the church,” they said. But others may want to attempt a “journey of healing and we will try humbly to journey with them.”

Ozamis prelate backs martial law extension in Mindanao

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 17:16

By CBCP News

February 20, 2019

Manila, Philippines

“Mindanao needs martial law.”

Without reservation, Archbishop Martin Jumoad of Ozamis supported the third martial law extension in the southern region.

“This is good for us here. Others may not understand us but if you live in Mindanao then your eyes will be opened why,” he said.

So far, he said that the military rule has helped ensure peace and stability at least in his archdiocese.

The prelate said they continue to trust the government security forces as peacekeepers in Mindanao.

Archbishop Jumoad also expressed hope that everybody, regardless of religion, will work for peace.

“May the people of Mindanao – Muslims, Lumads and Christians – work for peace and harmony,” he added.

“Let us respect one another regardless of faith convictions,” Jumoad also said.

Voting 9-4, the Supreme Court on Feb. 19 upheld the constitutionality of the extension of the martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2019.

This is the third time that the SC affirmed the legality of the martial law, dismissing the petitions filed by four different groups.

In 2017, most bishops in the south backed martial law in Mindanao following an attempt by Islamic State-linked rebels to seize Marawi City.

But they said that martial law “must be temporary”, as they vowed to condemn any abuses and “if it goes in the way of evil as in the past”.

Bishop welcomes FDA move, urges gov’t to run after execs in vaccine mess

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 17:00

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga. CBCP NEWS

By CBCP News

February 20, 2019

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic bishop welcomed the ban on selling, distribution and marketing of Sanofi’s dengue vaccine in the country.

The Food and Drug Administration has permanently banned the Dengvaxia vaccine after the French pharmaceutical giant failed to meet its directives.

But Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the move is not enough, urging the government to run after those behind the controversy.

“It is good and right decision of FDA, yet more is to be done especially its after effect,” Santos said.

Those who implemented the Dengvaxia program, according to him, should be made accountable.

“The government must investigate more and prosecute those who introduce and propagate Dengvaxia,” he said.

He also urged health authorities to closely monitor the school-age children who were vaccinated with the controversial anti-dengue vaccine.

The controversy erupted in late 2017 when Sanofi said that the Dengvaxia could worsen the disease in children who had never been exposed to the virus.

This prompted the government to suspend the immunization program where more than 700,000 children had already been vaccinated.

The Dengvaxia mess is also blamed for the deadly measles outbreak as vaccine confidence declined in the country.

“Remember trust is not freely given, it should always be earned,” Santos said.

PPCRV is Comelec’s citizens’ arm in May polls

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 13:16

By CBCP News

February 19, 2019

Manila, Philippines

The Commission on Elections granted accreditation to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting as its citizens’ arm for the May 13 midterm polls.

In accrediting the PPCRV, the Comelec en banc cited the group’s reliability in poll watching activities in the past elections.

“We have taken into account the petitioner’s track record particularly its participation in the past electoral exercises and in subsequent similar election-related activities both local and national,” the Comelec said.

As an accredited poll watchdog, the Catholic group is tasked to conduct voters’ education program nationwide.

Its duties also include providing assistance to voters and reporting campaign violations, among others.

“The Commission would accordingly need all the help of all advocates of orderly and honest elections to assist it in the upcoming elections,” the poll body added.

The poll watchdog group is currently headed by Myla Villanueva, a PPCRV trustee since 2010.

Villanueva is considered a pioneer for women in the local and global technology industry.

Father of Knights of Columbus in the Philippines

 

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