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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Updated: 48 min 6 sec ago

August 19, 2018

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 21:00
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 PRV 9:1-6

Wisdom has built her house,
she has set up her seven columns;
she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine,
yes, she has spread her table.
She has sent out her maidens; she calls
from the heights out over the city:
“Let whoever is simple turn in here;
To the one who lacks understanding, she says,
Come, eat of my food,
and drink of the wine I have mixed!
Forsake foolishness that you may live;
advance in the way of understanding.”

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

R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

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

R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

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. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

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. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2 EPH 5:15-20

Brothers and sisters:
Watch carefully how you live,
not as foolish persons but as wise,
making the most of the opportunity,
because the days are evil.
Therefore, do not continue in ignorance,
but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.
And do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery,
but be filled with the Spirit,
addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts,
giving thanks always and for everything
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

Alleluia JN 6:56

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 6:51-58

Jesus said to the crowds:
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Priest on Assumption feast: ‘There’s more after death’

Sat, 08/18/2018 - 11:27

ICMAS rector Fr. Emmanuel I. Cruz led the ICMAS community Eucharistic celebration at the ICMAS Graduate School of Theology Chapel on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, Aug. 15, 2018. ICMAS

By Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban/Ariz V. De Castro

Aug. 18, 2018

GUIGUINTO, BULACAN

At a Mass to celebrate Mary’s Assumption, a priest on Wednesday reminded Immaculate Conception Major Seminary (ICMAS) seminarians that life does not end with death.

“The reason for the celebration of Mary’s Assumption is because we see that there is something more than death,” said rector Fr. Emmanuel I. Cruz, who led the ICMAS community Eucharistic celebration at the ICMAS Graduate School of Theology Chapel.

He called on everyone present to uphold the value of human life and see the beauty of the Assumption’s promise to all believers.

Challenging death

Cruz challenged many people’s underlying beliefs that life is only about what they see at present. He said Mary’s Assumption disproves natural human thinking that life ends with physical death: “This is the challenge of Mary to death: ‘Where is thy sting?’ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:55) No. Death will not be the last chapter in human life.”

He also stressed the prominence of the feast in the life and liturgy of the Church. “We are not only remembering a lowly handmaid from Nazareth,” he said. He explained that as Eve’s actions brought about the fall of Man, Mary’s yes to God paved the way for Christ’s coming, undoing the fall. “Mary was assumed into heaven because of her active role in turning the promise of salvation in Christ a reality… This is why Mary became the recipient of the fruits of Jesus’ redemptive act,” Cruz added.

In conclusion, the priest invited the seminarians to always look at the Assumption of Mary in connection to Jesus. “Every Marian solemnity is Christological,” he told them.

Vigil for holy priests

The Mass culminated the Triduum held by the seminary in honor of Mary’s Assumption, from Aug. 12 to 14. The seminarians also attended a vigil with Eucharistic adoration dedicated for the sanctification of all ordained and consecrated persons, a tradition observed by the seminary for several years now.

August 18, 2018

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 21:00
Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 EZ 18:1-10, 13B, 30-32

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, what is the meaning of this proverb
that you recite in the land of Israel:

“Fathers have eaten green grapes,
thus their children’s teeth are on edge”?

As I live, says the Lord GOD:
I swear that there shall no longer be anyone among you
who will repeat this proverb in Israel.
For all lives are mine;
the life of the father is like the life of the son, both are mine;
only the one who sins shall die.

If a man is virtuous—if he does what is right and just,
if he does not eat on the mountains,
nor raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel;
if he does not defile his neighbor’s wife,
nor have relations with a woman in her menstrual period;
if he oppresses no one,
gives back the pledge received for a debt,
commits no robbery;
if he gives food to the hungry and clothes the naked;
if he does not lend at interest nor exact usury;
if he holds off from evildoing,
judges fairly between a man and his opponent;
if he lives by my statutes and is careful to observe my ordinances,
that man is virtuous—he shall surely live, says the Lord GOD.

But if he begets a son who is a thief, a murderer,
or lends at interest and exacts usury–
this son certainly shall not live.
Because he practiced all these abominations, he shall surely die;
his death shall be his own fault.

Therefore I will judge you, house of Israel,
each one according to his ways, says the Lord GOD.
Turn and be converted from all your crimes,
that they may be no cause of guilt for you.
Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.
Why should you die, O house of Israel?
For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,
says the Lord GOD. Return and live!

Responsorial Psalm PS 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.

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. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.

R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

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. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Alleluia SEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 19:13-15

Children were brought to Jesus
that he might lay his hands on them and pray.
The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said,
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

Today's Readings Homilies

The challenges the Church in the Philippines faces (Part III)

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 16:58

THE family remains a cause for concern. How to develop truly Christian families is a challenge for the Church when the family as an institution has been weakened due to migration, reduced size, and the influence of a globalized culture and technology. Family evangelization programs need to be developed as well as marriage-enrichment programs for couples. Pre-marriage/pre-Cana seminars needs to be updated.

In promoting communion and carrying out her mission – especially the prophetic evangelizing mission, the Church must make use of technology – whether in mass media and social media. The cyberspace or the internet is helpful in developing communion – connecting the members of the Church with one another and with their pastors no matter how distant they are physically. The Church needs to avail of technology to not just in imparting the teachings and doctrines of the Church but in the formation of conscience.

The participation of young people in liturgical celebrations and youth activities at the parish and diocesan levels remain high. But we cannot be complacent as the globalized secular and materialistic culture continue to influence young people. Formation/Evangelization programs for young people that will include formation of conscience and involvement in the prophetic and servant mission of the Church should be emphasized. The Church should not forget to address young people’s need for meaning and direction as well as appropriate spirituality. Hopefully, from among them will come the future priests and religious, as well as lay leaders.

Finally, the Church must address the issue of leadership in the Church which is a reflection of the crisis of leadership in society. The quality of leadership is very important if the Church is to survive and thrive and if society is to be transformed. So far, the models of leadership have been inadequate and so is the leadership-formation for clergy, seminarians, religious and lay people. Many of the clergy who are ordained are not prepared to exercise leadership roles in the parish and diocese although they may have adequate theological, spiritual and liturgical formation. Many continue to associate leadership primarily with power, privilege and status—influenced by the prevailing dominant cultural models. Thus, they turn out to be incompetent figureheads, or petty tyrants, or bureaucrats, or administrators operating in a maintenance mode. Worst of all, some become involved in sexual misconduct and corruption, lacking in conscience, failing to exercise with integrity ethical leadership.

This is the kind of leadership that will weaken the Church and block Church’s renewal. Thus, the model of leadership promoted by Vatican II and PCP II must be imbibed—leadership motivated by humble and loving service (servant-leadership), being a compassionate good shepherd with the smell of the sheep. This leadership style is more participative, consultative, collegial or collaborative and inspired by vision (the vision of a Church renewed)—hence, visionary leadership. This type of leadership demands scrutinizing the signs of the times—viewing reality from a broader perspective—looking at the big picture and the long view. This type of leadership is more concerned with building up the Church as a living community rather than in building expensive churches or cathedrals. To avoid maintenance mode, this requires planning and strict implementation yet characterized by flexibility.  This kind of leadership requires courage—the courage to speak out, to confront the wolves that threaten or wound the flock and to accept suffering and martyrdom if required. Without this kind of leadership, the vision of a renewed Church of Vatican II and PCP II will remain an empty dream—forgotten beautiful documents relegated to the archives.

We should not expect that we can fully achieve the vision of a renewed Church in our own lifetime. It is a continuing effort, an ongoing journey. The Church, after all, is constantly reforming and renewing herself – ecclesia semper reformanda. Like the Kingdom of God, it is an “already-not-yet” reality. Hence, we must always be patient and do what we can. After all this is the work of the Spirit and we should rely on the guidance and the dynamism of the Holy Spirit. Vatican II was seen as a new Pentecost. It was just a new start. Those who started have already gone before us and it is our duty and obligation to continue what they started just as we hope the next generation will continue to do so. There is no turning back.

Vatican wants accountability for abusers, those who protected them

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 16:13

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, is seen with Pope Francis aboard the flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Rome Dec. 2, 2017. PAUL HARING/CNS

By Catholic News Service

August 17, 2018

VATICAN— In the wake of a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania, a Vatican spokesman called the abuses described in the report as being “criminal and morally reprehensible.”

“Victims should know that the pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent,” said Greg Burke, head of the Vatican press office, in a written statement Aug. 16.

“Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur,” he wrote.

“The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors,” Burke wrote and, as such, “the Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm.”

“The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements,” he added.

The statement, sent in Italian with unofficial English and Spanish translations, came after the Pennsylvania attorney general held a news conference Aug. 14 announcing a 900-page report detailing decades of child sexual abuse by 301 priests, who harmed more than 1,000 victims.

In response the report, Burke said, “there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow.”

“The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all of society,” the spokesman said.

‘Shame and sorrow’ – Holy See responds to Pennsylvania report

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 16:06

Pope Francis. DANIEL IBANEZ/CNA

By Catholic News Agency

August 17, 2018

VATICAN— The Holy See on Thursday denounced sexual abuse and called for accountability for both perpetrators and leaders who covered up their crimes, following the release of a report detailing alleged clerical abuse in Pennsylvania.

“The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible,” said the statement, released Aug. 16.

“Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.”

The statement responded to a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that was released earlier this week following an 18-month investigation into alleged instances of abuse spanning several decades. The report detailed allegations against some 300 priests, from more than 1,000 victims, in the dioceses of Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

Pope Francis takes the subject of abuse seriously, the statement said, stressing that “The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.”

“The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the Church and in all of society,” it said.

“Victims should know that the Pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent.”

The Holy See noted that most allegations mentioned in the report are from before the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the US bishops in 2002 to prevent clerical abuse.

“By finding almost no cases after 2002, the Grand Jury’s conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse,” the Holy See said.

The statement encouraged “continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm.” It also emphasized the importance of adhering to civil law, including abuse reporting requirements.

August 17, 2018

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 21:00
Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 EZ 16:1-15, 60, 63

The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations.
Thus says the Lord GOD to Jerusalem:
By origin and birth you are of the land of Canaan;
your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.
As for your birth, the day you were born your navel cord was not cut;
you were neither washed with water nor anointed,
nor were you rubbed with salt, nor swathed in swaddling clothes.
No one looked on you with pity or compassion
to do any of these things for you.
Rather, you were thrown out on the ground as something loathsome,
the day you were born.

Then I passed by and saw you weltering in your blood.
I said to you: Live in your blood and grow like a plant in the field.
You grew and developed, you came to the age of puberty;
your breasts were formed, your hair had grown,
but you were still stark naked.
Again I passed by you and saw that you were now old enough for love.
So I spread the corner of my cloak over you to cover your nakedness;
I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you;
you became mine, says the Lord GOD.
Then I bathed you with water, washed away your blood,
and anointed you with oil.
I clothed you with an embroidered gown,
put sandals of fine leather on your feet;
I gave you a fine linen sash and silk robes to wear.
I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms,
a necklace about your neck, a ring in your nose,
pendants in your ears, and a glorious diadem upon your head.
Thus you were adorned with gold and silver;
your garments were of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth.
Fine flour, honey, and oil were your food.
You were exceedingly beautiful, with the dignity of a queen.
You were renowned among the nations for your beauty, perfect as it was,
because of my splendor which I had bestowed on you,
says the Lord GOD.

But you were captivated by your own beauty,
you used your renown to make yourself a harlot,
and you lavished your harlotry on every passer-by,
whose own you became.

Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl,
and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you,
that you may remember and be covered with confusion,
and that you may be utterly silenced for shame
when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord GOD.

Or:EZ 16:59-63

Thus says the LORD:
I will deal with you according to what you have done,
you who despised your oath, breaking a covenant.
Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl,
and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you.
Then you shall remember your conduct and be ashamed
when I take your sisters, those older and younger than you,
and give them to you as daughters,
even though I am not bound by my covenant with you.
For I will re-establish my covenant with you,
that you may know that I am the LORD,
that you may remember and be covered with confusion,
and that you may be utterly silenced for shame
when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord GOD.

Responsorial Psalm ISAIAH 12:2-3, 4BCD, 5-6

R. (1c) You have turned from your anger.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.

R. You have turned from your anger.

Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.

R. You have turned from your anger.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!

R. You have turned from your anger.

Alleluia SEE 1 THES 2:13

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Receive the word of God, not as the word of men,
but, as it truly is, the word of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying,
“Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?”
He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning
the Creator made them male and female and said,
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?
So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
They said to him, “Then why did Moses command
that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?”
He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts
Moses allowed you to divorce your wives,
but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife
(unless the marriage is unlawful)
and marries another commits adultery.”
His disciples said to him,
“If that is the case of a man with his wife,
it is better not to marry.”
He answered, “Not all can accept this word,
but only those to whom that is granted.
Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Christian leaders buck Charter change

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 17:25

Thousands of demonstrators rally along Commonwealth Avenue — the road leading to the House of Representatives in Quezon City — as President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address, July 23, 2018. MARTINA SUMMER DAGAL

By CBCP News

August 16, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A group of Christian leaders is raising the alarm about what they say an aggressive push for charter change even if majority of Filipinos oppose the shift to federalism.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines, including its 13 regional ecumenical councils, pointed to a number of reasons they said would create bigger problems for the country.

“We are deeply concerned that the proponents of the Charter change have a misconstrued understanding of development that will benefit only a selected few,” they said.

The faith leaders expressed concern that the proposed revision of the Constitution seeks to allow foreign businesses to own larger shares of various ventures that were safeguarded by the present Charter.

According to them, it can also expand and strengthen the power of political dynasties and “constrict the democratic space in our society further”.

“This move to shift the form of government will push our people further into the margins as more taxes will be imposed on the people to support new structures and officials,” they said.

Allowing the 1987 Charter to be changed, they emphasized, will only worsen the current predicament of Filipinos.

“While the 1987 Constitution is far from perfect, moves to change the Constitution that will undermine our national sovereignty, the Bill of Rights, and other checks and balances for a truly democratic society will surely be for the worse,” they added.

RECs are ecumenical fellowships of churches of different denominations in the provinces and regions.

The NCCP, meanwhile, is the country’s largest fellowship of mainline protestant churches.

Care for the orphans and widows in distress

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 16:52

SVST Statement on the Challenges of our Times

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress…” (James 1:27)

 

15 August 2018

Feast of the Assumption

 

We, the students, staff and faculty of St. Vincent School of Theology, composed of lay people, religious and clergy, are disturbed and alarmed by certain events that beset our present society.

We condemn and say NO to…

  • the thousands of people killed in the “war on drugs” and the government program that implements it. We feel the chilling effect and traumatic impact this program inflicts on their left-behind mothers, orphans and widows. We have journeyed with them and listened to their deep pain and harrowing stories;
  • the whole climate of impunity since not one murder is solved to date, no one drug lord is made accountable and the international syndicate still continue to operate in our land unchecked by government agencies;
  • the harassment and incarceration the poor people experience as they try to eke out a living on the streets and sidewalks, many of whom were charged for fabricated crimes;
  • the militarization of the schools and communities of our lumad brothers and sisters whom we have met in our apostolates and immersion programs;
  • the denigration of human rights; the silencing of dissent against those in power and the denial of due process which is the basic right of all;
  • the use and approval of violent language in “high places” in our government hierarchy up to the level of the Presidency; the proliferation of fake news and historical revisionism in social media, some of which are paid with the people’s money;
  • the inaction against the promised end of contractualization; the inroads of the capitalist agenda – that which Pope Francis calls “the economy that kills” – through mining in protected areas, watersheds and lumad communities;
  • the many people who call themselves “Christians” (priests, religious, lay leaders) but who approve of one or all of the above.

 

All these developments fall contrary to the values of the Gospel and the Church’s Social Teaching. As Christians, we need to say No! This cannot be!

 

But we also affirm and say “Yes” to…

  • the widows, mothers and orphans who struggle to go on with life despite the pain and fight for justice. We feel they are real victims whom the perpetrators want to silence but they resist by their mere resolve to survive;
  • the many church people who searched for and take care of the widows and orphans of the war on drugs;
  • many conscientious young people who continually seek the truth, resist violence and care for the earth;
  • many honest Christians who resist the violation of human rights and of human lives.

The Letter of James (1:27) reminds us that real religion is shown neither in our erudite mastery of doctrine nor in the impeccability of our liturgies but in “taking care of orphans and widows in distress”. Pope Francis, echoing the prophet Isaiah, affirms the same in Gaudete et Exsultate 79: True justice is “shown especially in justice towards those who are most vulnerable: ‘Seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow’ (Is 1:17).

At the start of this academic year, we the members of the SVST academic community, commit ourselves to be in solidarity with them whom this present society excludes, in whatever way we can, “by the strength of our arms and the sweat of our brow” (St. Vincent de Paul).

 

Students, Faculty and Staff

St. Vincent School of Theology

Adamson University

Much ado about a video?

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 16:41

FOR a rather longer than the usual time period the Assistant Secretary to the Presidential Communications Office once more made the headlines on the heels of another controversy. She and a colleague produced a video meant to promote federalism using colloquial references to female body parts. I think I need not mention her name. What is more important is what this whole issue says about us as a people and as a purportedly Christian nation.

For one, if the video was meant to get people’s attention drawn towards federalism, to my mind the results were a mixed bag. It truly generated more than plenty of attention but not really for federalism as a better alternative form of government for this our benighted republic. The attention unfortunately shifted to the seemingly growing body of evidence showing the Assistant Secretary’s penchant for testing the limits of free speech and for an unapologetic resistance to admitting incompetence. I am saying this as objectively and as respectfully as the growing number of such instances on record allow me. That she continues to enjoy the trust of the highest powers of the archipelago may, in turn, test many people’s patience; and yet this is also another instance of those regrettable consequences people can ultimately only attribute to themselves and their own past election choices. They picked up the cake; now they must eat it too, together with its improperly cooked ingredients.

A friend of mine, reacting to this controversy unfolding on national television, remarked that by now Filipinos should know better things to do than protesting too much. “After all,” he added, “politics and pornography have very thin demarcation lines.” He may have a point there. For instance, both politics and pornography often “use” people, sometimes trampling their dignity and humanity underfoot, for often unacknowledged selfish and power-driven ends and purposes. For politicians therefore to complain about the video’s crassness and vulgarity sounds like the kettle calling the pot black.

This is not to say that the video and all the efforts that went with producing and airing it nationwide are worthy of the nation’s backing or adulation, as the Assistant Secretary’s supporters extend her. On the contrary, we need to join the voices of true protest. But far from seeing only its vulgarity, tastelessness and incompetence, its real harm lies in the implied legitimizing of the degradation of human dignity, particularly of women. In this we share the view of the director general of the Philippine Information Agency Harold Clavite. Ignoring his own security of tenure, he strongly declared that “a public apology from the PCOO official (i.e., the said Assistant Secretary) is paramount”. He also suggested that she take “a leave of absence to reflect on these matters” without stating whether or not such a leave be made permanent.

I believe that by taking such a risk of exposure to a possible job dismissal in standing up against a high government official so close to the chief executive, PIA director general shows the better side of the Filipino. He expressed, in fact, a criticism of the video presentation in a way rooted in a Christian mindset: “This is not only a seeming insult to our profession in communication and public office but also degrading to the women and mothers in our communities.” He further elaborated himself: “My stand on this issue defends the integrity and intelligence of all government information officers, volunteers and partners—many of whom are women and mothers—across the nation.”

Integrity and intelligence are qualities that can only point to every person’s dignity. Perhaps it is about time we acknowledged, and not be ashamed of, the real source of this sense of rightful indignation. For how many times do we prefer to ignore the Scripture’s words: “So God created the human being in his image; in the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). Reducing the human person, God’s image and likeness, whether female or male, to his or her body parts and making fun at their expense betrays gross disrespect.

No love exists without the element of respect. No Christian exists without love of God and neighbor. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:30-31).

This administration, from the outset, always has had a problem with recognizing the human dignity of all Filipinos, real or alleged lawbreakers included. In refusing to change its course, it casts aspersion on no one but itself.

Valuing life

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 16:28

NOW that Pope Francis has made it a Church doctrine that the death penalty is inadmissible, we have to review the basis for the true value of human life.

We cannot exaggerate the value of human life, since it is a life meant to have an eternal relation with God, its creator. Even if that life is deformed physically and morally, God will always love it and will do everything to save it. That is why abortion and euthanasia or mercy killing are wrong. They go against the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill.

And capital punishment, while approved or at least tolerated in the past, is also wrong, because no matter how bad or criminal a person is, his life can still be saved by the infinite mercy of God. From the Book of Ezekiel, we read: “As I live, said the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” (33,11)  The reason behind its approval or tolerance in the past is the protection of the common good. But this reason does not hold water anymore since there are many other ways the common good can be protected today without resorting to the death penalty.

Besides, given the many imperfections of our legal systems, we cannot risk the loss of life just because of a guilty sentence of the judicial process. The abolition of the death penalty would, of course, challenge us to be more determined in reforming the offender. This may be the area where many of us are still hesitant to tackle.

Human life is, of course, not just any other life here in the world. Plants and animals also have life but they do not have a spiritual soul as their principle of life. Theirs is a soul that is simply a product of a combination of earthly elements that would enable them to grow, move, act in some manner. But it is a soul that disappears with their death.  Human life has a spiritual soul as its principle, and as such, it can survive death. It is immortal and is, in fact, meant for eternal life. It is a soul that comes directly from God and is forever in a relation with God. It is not a soul that is transmitted by human reproduction.

In some passages of the Bible, there is a reference to a distinction between soul and spirit. This is mentioned for example in 1 Thessalonians 5,23: “May your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

My take in this distinction between the spirit and the soul is that the spirit refers to our spiritual soul that needs to be nourished by its union with God, while the soul refers to those aspects of our soul that are akin to the soul of the plants and the animals with whom we also share characteristics.  To be sure, we only have one soul, and it is spiritual, though that soul may be affected and conditioned by the similarities it shares with the plant and animal soul. It is this spiritual soul of ours that makes for the basis of the real value of human life.

Having said that, we can also say that out of love for God and for all men, human life can be sacrificed as what happens in the cases of martyrdom and in the crucifixion of Christ himself. As Christ said, this is the greatest proof of love. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15,13)  In fact, we have to look forward to our own death and somehow give our life up little by little by denying ourselves and carrying the cross to follow Christ daily.

Gov’t urged to declare Rizal ‘no quarry zone’

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 15:18

Residents wade through floodwaters in Rodriguez, Rizal which was submerged by floods. PHOTO FROM MDRRMO RODRIGUEZ

By CBCP News

August 16, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic priest is calling on the government to declare Rizal a “no quarry zone” after recent rains triggered massive flooding that submerged several areas in the province.

Fr. Noeh Elnar of San Rafael the Archangel Parish in Rodriguez town claimed the quarrying has long been a problem in the area, causing siltation of rivers.

“I hope they (government) would wake up to the truth,” Elnar said over church-run Radio Veritas.

The Department of Environment of Natural of Resources (DENR) on Monday ordered a halt to quarrying in the towns of San Mataeo and Rodriguez.

The suspension was fueled by mud-colored floods in low-lying villages of both towns prompting its local governments to declare a state of calamity.

“I hope this stoppage to quarry operations will not just be a press release. They should really implement it,” the priest said.

Elnar has been a vocal critic against quarrying in Rodriguez and admitted receiving death threats.

Floods triggered by monsoon rains over the weekend also inundated Marikina City and other parts of Metro Manila, displacing thousands of families.

Father of Knights of Columbus in the Philippines

 

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