Friday, December 29, 2006
The greeting of everyone on the First Day of 2007 is “Happy New Year.” May 2007 continue to be under the shadow of Christmas. According to one popular song: “The real meaning of Christmas is the giving of love everyday.” According to the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II “It is always Christmas in the hearts of Christians.” We can do it! We can make it happen!
The first day of every new year since 38 years ago is a World Day of Peace. Peace does not mean only the absence of hostility, hatred and war, in the climate of violence and counter-violence. Peace, as a moral imperative, “is brought about by justice, requiring respect for human dignity and human rights, the promotion of the common good by one and all, and the constant practice in solidarity.” (PCP-II 307). “Peace is the fruit of love which goes beyond what justice can provide” (Gaudium et Spes 78). Unless there is work of justice and love in our situation, our peace will be in a precarious state. It is difficult. But together we can do it!
“The new name for peace is development” (Populorum Progressio). The promotion of development demands collective intervention and responsibility of government, churches, peace keepers and the entire society. This is best proven not only in time of calamities brought about by typhoons, fires and tsunamis but also in the normal times. Development must be seen in terms of food on the table of the poor, secure employment for the millions here in the country, low cost medicine for the families of workers, scholarships for the poorest, decent homes for squatters and slum-dwellers. Each one must ask what he/she can do to promote peace and development. We can do it!
Will 2007 be a better year—seven being “biblically” a perfect number? Hopefully and prayerfully it will be if we do not insist on doing the things that have produced our problems. Jesus of Christmas will be telling us “The time of fulfillment/perfection has come … Repent (that is, change your mind and behavior), and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1/15). “Clothe yourself with new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness” (Eph 4/23).
High hopes! Great hopes! It will be a better year when more and more of the marginalized and exploited are offered opportunities to work for and acquire their permanent shelter, genuine health benefits, liberating education, dignified employment and above all sufficient food. It will be for them a New Year.
+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro &
December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
May God bless all our leaders in government and military, in the Churches and many other groups and all the people they serve and are entrusted with. Under the guidance of Jesus the Savior, may leaders and followers pursue the way of moral integrity, political sincerity, honesty and transparency in relationship. May friendship and unity be restored where hostility and division reigned. May everyone correct his/her mistakes or sins with sincere humility and sense of humor. May everyone outdo each other in generosity and understanding.
“No one is so poor as to have nothing to give or so rich as to have nothing to receive” (PCP II 98).
+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro &
December 21, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Some people were trying to persuade the CBCP to call off this afternoon’s Prayer Rally, because, as they said, the plan for Con-Ass has been withdrawn. What more do we want? But because of what is happening around us and the crises we are in, we have all the more reasons to WATCH AND PRAY. How good God is to our country, even before we could utter a word, God has already answered our prayer. And so we THANK GOD for the signs of positive developments.
Did I hear it from an official of Catholic Education Association of the Philippines (CEAP) that more than a political CHA-CHA, we need first and foremost an educative, a moral CHA-CHA. That means, if our Charter Change is not preceded, accompanied and productive of Character Change, then it would be useless exercise.
In this thanksgiving Prayer Rally, we must avoid any feeling of triumphalism, even of anger, hatred, bitterness, because we know we cannot achieve anything in this world of religion, politics, business and social life, without the blessing of God. We therefore pray with humility and magnanimity of heart.
Because of so many prayers received by our country, in her history crises become Kairos, moments of grace and liberation, this prayer rally is needed. We do not want to be like the nine lepers in the Gospel who after they received what they were praying for forgot to return to thank Jesus, unlike the Samaritan.
We need more importantly and more urgently this educative and moral CHAracter CHAnge. Call it repentance from sin, call it reform of morals, call it renewal of values. All of it… and our nation will rise up with hope, right vision, and confidence
Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
Rally at the Luneta
December 17, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
How God answered our prayers even before we directly addressed it to him. And so the Prayer Rallies of Petition is now converted into Prayer Rallies of Thanksgiving. God has heard our un-articulated prayer. He loves the Philippines. He has converted our crisis-laden situation into Kairos, a moment of grace. Let us give thanks to God and exalt him above the heavens.
According to the report of our Social Action Center: Novaliches and Infanta have finished their prayer rally. The following have signified to “watch and pray”: Northern Luzon; in the Visayas all four dioceses of Negros; in Panay – Capiz and Iloilo; in Central Visayas, Cebu (a forum); in Mindanao: Kidapawan, Marbel, Cotabato, Ozamis and Digos. In Central Luzon: Malolos, Balanga, Cavite and the Dioceses of National Capital Region (NCR).
Only Manila will hold the Prayer Rally on December 17, Sunday.
Everything is in the hands of God. We express our discernment, sentiments and plans: God will touch peoples’ hearts. He perfects the work we begin. According to our liturgical ordo: the Aguinaldo Masses are offered “for the perseverance of our country in the faith” (Ordo page 10).
More than hastily changing our Constitution and shifting the system of our government, we have a number of crises (problems) to solve, together with the need for genuine electoral reform. The CON-CON can therefore be placed in the list of priorities, arranged according to importance and urgency. Haste must be avoided; because haste makes waste.
We thank God because our leaders heard the voice of the people. We hope and pray both leaders and people will persevere in their common concern for the country.
The convergence of so many institutions and groups – with the good of the country in their hearts – is a miracle of grace. It is a religious response to a political situation. Our government needs to be prayed for.
People do not – should not – pray against each other. They must pray for each other. God does not have enemies, only children. Whatever may be people’s place in the political and social spectrum, they are above all citizens of the same country and children of God.
+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
December 15, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
From Pope Benedict XVI’s Deus Caritas Est, we read: “The formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason. The Church has an indirect duty here, so that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor proved effective in the long run.”
“The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, they are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity” (DCE, no. 29).
The call for a WATCH AND PRAY GATHERING in the Dioceses stays because it is a call for the purification of reason, for the reawakening of the moral forces, for the just ordering of society: PAGMAMALASAKIT PARA SA BAYAN.
In response to the call of WATCH AND PRAY many Dioceses are preparing for the scheduled December 15 prayer gathering. In the Archdiocese of Manila, we are told, it will be on December 17. These gatherings will be one great occasion for the lay faithful in the Dioceses to express their love and concern for the good of our country. Our answer to the crisis of leadership in our land is prayer: that our leaders may be enlightened and may have moral force also to lead the country toward truth, justice, peace and love.
We join the sentiments of many people to put CHARTER CHANGE in the wider perspective of many concerns (social, economic, politics) that qualify our situation. As we have said before, if Charter change is really needed, or when such shall be decided to be held, the best option is to do it through a Constitutional Convention. Please, hold the CON-CON, purified from “negative impact” that accompanied People’s Initiative and CON-ASS. The Filipino people deserve the best of the best.
May the work of the CON-CON, if and when it shall be opportunely convoked, be the work of statesmen, whose concern will not be to fit it to a pre-determined framework, but who will discern, discuss, debate on what will be the best for our country.
Our lay faithful must take the greatest interest in praying and working for the greatest good of the Filipino People. As we have stated in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, “we as citizens of the this ‘earthly city’ need to be maka-tao, maka-bayan, and maka-Diyos. We need to exercise a healthy nationalism which would require the living of such values as: pagsasarili, pagkakaisa, pakikipagkapwa-tao and pagkabayani. (PCP-II 251)
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
December 11, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Today, with all advocates and victims of Human Rights, in this Year of Social Concerns, we are raising again our concern regarding practically the same issues: various killings without benefit of court-trials. Has the situation in fact improved or become worse? And why are advocates, defenders and beneficiaries of agrarian reform being harassed and killed? And how many prisoners are languishing in jail without the benefit of defense or beyond the length of time that will be imposed if their cases were heard on time.
The advocates of Human Rights and Peace have to forge a strong network of “social solidarity” as the moral bastion of the “power of the powerless,” who are “the least of our brethren.”
On this occasion of Human Rights Day, we are invited to look at the big picture. In the Encyclical “Centissimus Annus” Servant of God, Pope John Paul II has drawn up a list of them for our individual and collective examination of conscience: “the right to life, an integral part of which is the right of the child to develop in the mother’s womb from the moment of conception; the right to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child’s personality; the right to develop one’s intelligence and freedom in seeking and knowing the truth; the right to share in the work which makes wise use of the earth’s material resources, and to derive from that work the means to support oneself and one’s dependents; and the right freely to establish a family, to have and to rear children through the responsible exercise of one’s sexuality. In a certain sense, the source and synthesis of these rights is religious freedom, understood as the right to live in the truth of one’s faith and in conformity with one’s transcendent dignity as a person.” (Centessimus Annus, 47: AAS 83 (1991)
Recalling the statement of Pope John Paul II before UNESCO in 1980, Pope Benedict XVI called for “a mobilization in defense of Human Rights” (June 2, 2005 (WNews.com).
Peace can only be attained in the atmosphere of a local and global advocacy of Human Rights, where the promotion and defense of which have become more complex and difficult. That is why there is need for an ever stronger solidarity among human rights advocates, peace advocates and all people of good will. It is in this atmosphere which includes the dismantling of self-interest, we can have genuine economic development, we have been longing for so long a time. It is in the atmosphere of political stability that economy and business prosper and develop.
May God who shows us the vision of a social order founded on truth, justice and love (Gaudium et Spes, no. 26), guide our steps in the way of peace.
+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, DD
Archbishop of Jaro &
December 9, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
“As Church, we need to respond not only individually but more collectively to our country’s social problems since they are deeply rooted in the social system.” (PCP-II, #240)
“But beyond its being a social and political resource, the Church is first and foremost a light that illumines a spiritual force that needs to critique the social, political and cultural fields in order to affirm, denounce, purify or reinforce in the light of the World of God.” (PCP-II, #248)
Premised on the above PCP-II Statements, in celebration of the Year of Social Concern within the Advent Season, we issue this Pastoral Exhortation: “Watch and Pray: Magmalasakit Para sa Bayan.” Asked and challenged by concerned people on how to respond to a perceived development of a “constitutional crisis, there is need to respond more collectively to the present crisis produced by the prospect of Charter Change by Administration Congressmen desperately bent on creating themselves into a Constituent Assembly.
We need to be vigilant. The temptation to manipulate and to hold on to power endangers the common good and the safety of the greatest number. We need to watch and pray, to offer sacrifice for the country.
In this spirit, we are proposing a NATIONAL WATCH AND PRAY GATHERING, in all major cities or dioceses in order to express our opposition to the hasty and manipulative way CON-ASS is being pursued or undertaken for Charter Change. Not only do we need to WATCH (critique, denounce, purify) but above all we need to PRAY for the enlightenment of our leaders in government.
It would be good if we can do this simultaneously in the AFTERNOON OF DECEMBER 15, 2006, FRIDAY, close to sunset, the EVE of the SIMBANG GABI. It will be about the same time the activity will be held in the Archdiocese of Manila in Luneta. As suggested, there should be no streamers or flags of any group allowed except streamers with the following message:
NO TO CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
YES TO CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
NO POSTPONMENT OF MAY 2007 ELECTIONS
The message shall be communicated in prayer and songs. No rowdy speeches. As PCP-II #240 has it, we are doing this as Church responding collectively to our country’s social problems, in particular the crisis-laden prospect of a hasty Charter Change.
The gravity of Charter Change and its perceived consequences for our country, the shift in the form of government demand rational discernment, discussion and debate, not in turbulence but in serenity, peace and unity.
In this Advent Season, may we the Filipino people be ready—at any time—to welcome into our hearts, our homes, our government institutions as well as Christian communities, JESUS CHRIST, THE RETURNING KING.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
December 8, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
We encourage our people in the parishes to be vigilant, to express their opposition to CON-ASS and to offer prayers for our government. Graft and corruption cannot be committed by the Constitution, but by the improper application of it. It is the people who are guilty of graft and corruption who need to change. God help us! God help our country!
+Angel N. Lagdameo, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
Monday, December 04, 2006
“The local churches are heavily involved in the formation of a civil conscience and in the education of citizens to a true democracy. Episcopal conferences of many countries have made interventions against corruption and on behalf of a society that is governed by law” (Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, President of Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, # 11).
The Social Doctrine of the Church, as stated above, behooves the Church to intervene in behalf of true democracy. The subject matter of Charter Change (CHA-CHA), is far more serious a matter than changing the names of streets and the creation of provinces which require both the House of Representatives and the Senate to separately vote for approval. Far more serious, because it will determine the future of our government and of the Filipino people. Hence, we disapprove a Constitution fabricated by only the House of Congress.
Understanding the gravity of CHA-CHA and its perceived consequences, the CBCP, in several Pastoral Statements this Year of Social Concerns, has expressed its negative judgment on the proposal of the House of Representatives converting itself into a Constituent Assembly (CON-ASS).
We sense through the media that the highest leadership of the land and of Congress in particular seem to be so “desperate” that they would even change the Constitutional Rules of Congress in order to speedily pursue and accommodate the Constituent Assembly (CON-ASS). If the term of our elected officials could be extended by six months to one year to institute the CHA-CHA by CON-ASS, such could further encourage a longer and longer term. The saying goes “when power corrupts, it corrupts absolutely.” NO TO CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY.
If the election would be postponed to accommodate the CHA-CHA by CON-ASS, what will stop congress to postpone it for another time and again for another time? We sense here a serious temptation to our elected officials to perpetuate themselves in power. NO TO POSTPONENENT OF MAY ELECTION.
O God, please deliver our elected officials from such temptation; give them the humility and courage to accept the demands of genuine democracy. And God, please deliver our country from the evil of Martial Law, never again Martial Law. We pray: NO TO MARTIAL LAW.
As CBCP earlier has said: while we agree that certain aspects of our Constitution may need amendments and/or revision, we do not support hasty effort to change this fundamental law without widespread discussion and participation of people who are not in congress but knowledgeable in law. We continue to believe that major shifts in the form of government require widespread participation of civilian society, and relative serenity allowing national discussion and debate. This is best done through a Constitutional Convention (CON-CON) where the members are elected by the people precisely for the purpose of framing a new Constitution. We have many illustrious and credible non-politicians who can help frame a new Constitution. A CON-CON might be very expensive, but it is worth spending much for something that is good for the greatest number. And so we say: YES, TO CHA-CHA through CON-CON.
+Angel N. Lagdameo, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
Thursday, November 30, 2006
This is an urgent and ardent plea addressed to our government officials from the local to the national level. It is also a straight and strong appeal to private individuals and corporate entities involved in the same serious moral issue with socio-political undertones.
Stop the Small Town Lottery or STL, please!
For those who do not know and those who refuse to admit it: STL is the legal cover-up for the illegal numbers game of jueteng. The endorsement of STL simply means the promotion of jueteng. We were well appraised that all intelligent computations mathematically show STL will not survive financially without jueteng behind it.
If fact, we are told both STL and jueteng have the same operators and collectors, the same poor victims and the same influential wealthy beneficiaries. With STL and jueteng, our poor people become poorer while the gambling payola recipients become twice enriched. STL and jueteng together is legal and illegal gambling combined. They are a dangerous and insidious pairing.
We ask: Is it not enough that there are already millions of poor people in the country? Is it not enough that there are men, women and children in the country who no longer eat what they need, when they have to? Is there not enough poverty in the country that the poor should have even less because of STL and jueteng?
It would be hard to find elected officials in the country who did not promise during elections that they would serve the poor, work for human development and attend to the common welfare. This is why it would be unconscionable for them to adopt STL and automatically allow jueteng that exploit their already poor constituencies. We pray: Would that our elected officers do not allow themselves to be instruments of poverty aggravation instead of poverty alleviation.
Even if STL is legal, does this make it necessarily moral? And when something legal as STL is paired with something illegal as jueteng, is this not in fact something illegal? And would our local and national officials dare promote any illegal operation in the country? With the adoption of STL, it would be next to impossible to stop jueteng.
And so we make this appeal: Stop STL please! It is another cause of corruption, another means of exploitation of the poor. The country has enough of these anti-social factors. Whatever economic development our government shall have proudly achieved will be diminished or negated by the corruption and exploitation that accompany STL and jueteng.
"If corruption causes serious harm from a material point of view and places a costly burden on economic growth, still more harmful are its effects on immaterial goods, closely connected to the qualitative and human dimension of life in society. Political corruption, as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church teaches, 'compromises the correct functioning of the State, having a negative influence on the relationship between those who govern and the governed. It causes a growing distrust with respect to public institutions, bringing about a progressive disaffection in the citizens with regard to politics and its representatives with a resulting weakening of institutions.' (No. 411)." (The Fight Against Corruption, Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Vatican City, No. 4)
Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines,
Sgd) + ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
November 30, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
From the beginning, since January this year, the CBCP in several Pastoral Statements had expressed doubts on the People’s Initiative on account of the haste in the process and alleged deception or manipulation in securing 6.3 million signatures. From the moral standpoint, we should not on that account put the fate of more than 80 million people on such signatures. And so we prayed.
We have reasons likewise to doubt the process whereby some from the House of Representatives plan to convert itself into a Constituent Assembly. Please pardon the term, but Charter Change by Congress converted into a Constituent Assembly will have all the appearance of “self-service” and “lutong makao.” We will pray against that.
If Charter Change is really necessary, if a shift from the presidential to parliamentary form of government is really necessary, the CBCP had been recommending Constitutional Convention whose membership shall be elected democratically. We hope to get in it the respectable and acknowledged legal luminaries of the country together with people of integrity in civilian society. If we cannot stop the train of Charter Change, we suggest that we change the tract of this train to Constitutional Convention. We will pray for it.
What are the reasons given why we need to change the presidential system of government? Inefficiency of the system to bring progress and modernity, graft and corruption, economic poverty, social injustices, hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, unemployment of millions of our people. We must remember that the above reasons cannot be committed by the system of government nor by the present Constitution as such. It is people who cause them. If they will stop committing them, these problems will be solved, even before we change the constitution and shift to parliamentary system.
Neither the Constitution of the Land nor any form of government will work miracle for the good of the people, but the people who run all the institutions of government through honest work. Any system of government, Presidential or Parliamentary or Monarchy, will be good if the leaders in it are servant-leaders, men of credible integrity and transparent accountability.
(SGD) +Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
October 26, 2006
Monday, October 23, 2006
Muslims and Christians are one in the belief that the problems of our times, such as injustice, poverty, tensions and conflicts, can be resolved, if all men of goodwill will come together to work for the solution of hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, unemployment and sickness which continue to scourge millions of our brothers and sisters in the Philippines.
The regular dialogue between our bishops and the Ulama, between Christians and Muslims, is in furtherance of the vision of inter-cultural and inter-religious understanding. We are encouraged by the knowledge that these dialogues have also gone to support the promotion of social justice, moral welfare and mutual benefit.
On the occasion of the end of Ramadan and the celebration of the holiday of Id al-Fitr, we pray that the Almighty will bless our common efforts for the good especially of the poor in our country.
(SGD) +ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
October 23, 2006
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Our Conference of Bishops in several pastoral statements has already denounced the increasing number of extra-judicial killings of journalists, activists and militants over the years. What is alarming is that so far the actions that have been taken do not yet satisfy the demands of justice especially for the victims and their relatives. As is usually said: "Justice delayed is justice denied."
Will the case of Bishop Ramento be another reason for us to say that this country is no longer safe for those who announce the truth and denounce immorality? The command of God in the Bible is simple and straightforward "Thou shall not kill!"
Thursday, September 28, 2006
We do not wait for the future to come upon us. Rather we create the future and bring it to our present. We should not be satisfied with “cosmetic changes” or superficial changes, even if they appear good and make us popular. They are temporary. We need to do some “paradigm shift” or “value shift.” If we want dramatic or revolutionary transformation in the institution or organization, we need to start with our persons, we need to change our perspective, our mindset, our frame of reference, and operate with a new set of values.
In the CBCP’s January 29 Pastoral Statement, the Bishops said: the root of our debilitating situation (in the political, economic, social order) is the erosion of moral values. Its external manifestations are deceit and dishonesty, corruption, manipulation and a deadening preoccupation with narrow interests.” But the Bishops “also recognize that our situation is not one of utter darkness. We are encouraged and inspired to see so many good and decent Filipinos, of different faith traditions, working selflessly and sincerely to build up our nation. We see public servants struggling for integrity and the authentic reform of the corruption institutions they are part of…These people united by a vision of heroic citizenship, are reasons for hope, even in the midst of the political crisis we find ourselves in” (CBCP Renewing our Public Life through Moral Values, n. 7,8)
The Church in the Philippine has declared 2006 as a Year of Social Concern as our response to Pope Benedict XVI’s first Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est.” We pay special attention this year to the teaching, appropriation, and implementation of the social doctrine of the Church as contained in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
In our CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Building a Civilization of Love, we invite ourselves and the Filipino people to a threefold program of action. First, we must commit ourselves in continuing to build character. “To build the future,” we said, “we need to deepen our sense of honesty and integrity, service and responsibility, stewardship and solidarity…Transforming persons from self-centeredness to the life of virtue and social responsibility remains our primary task and contribution to nation building.” Second, we must build capacity. Poverty is all over the land. Poverty is right our very noses. “Poverty is not only about not having but also of not being able. Poverty is also a question of capability. We have to empower those who are needy to construct a better future…We therefore commend our institutions that are at the service of the most vulnerable of our society. We commend programs such as Pondo Ng Pinoy, Gawad Kalinga, and Tabang Mindanaw for empowering people to participate in their own development and in continuing work of creation. Third, we must build community. We must not simply focus our interest on the good of the small groups, such as, my family, my town-mates, my province-mates, my party-mates, etc. Let us widen the horizon of our interest. “The spirituality of citizenship fosters a sense of patriotism and of being responsible for our country.” We must be active and constructive participants in social and political life. To build community in a country battered by various kinds of conflict is to promote solidarity, dialogue among different and even opposing sectors, towards peace.
To strengthen and renew our Philippine institutions, we must lead an advocacy for principle-centered social relationship. Let me just enumerate some ten principles through which we can bring about personal, social and political transformation in our country.
1. The Principal of Human Dignity. Whatever is the status of a person, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, saint or sinner, he must be respected as a human being and subject of human rights,
2. The Pro-Life Principle. While we promote the culture of life, we condemn the culture of death that encourages homicide, abortion and euthanasia, and presently the unresolved extra-judicial killings of journalists, militants and activists.
3. The Principle of Association. Through meaningful and value-based association, we foster social institutions as well as family stability. We need to be vigilant against the attacks on family morality and stability.
4. The Principle of Participation. Everyone has a right and duty to participate in the life of society. Through work we participate in God’s continuing creation. Let us be honest and just in whatever work we engage in.
5. The Principle for the Preferential Protection for the Poor. “The common good dictates that more attention must be given to the less fortunate members of society. Preferentially, we opt for the poor and marginalized of society” (PCP-II 312).
6. The Principle of Solidarity. We belong to one human family. Solidarity means reaching out beyond one’s family and social group to caring for those “outside,” because we belong to each other as the “Body of Christ.”
7. The Principle of Stewardship. We are caretakers not creators, managers not owners. The earth’s resources are leased or loaned to us. We have a moral responsibility to care for this earth in the name of the Owner-Creator.
8. The Principle of Subsidiarity. The people must be allowed to do what they can legitimately do at their level, especially so, if they are closest to the reality of the situation or the problem.
9. The Principle of Human Equality. We must treat out neighbor according to his or her rightful due in accordance with his or her innate and essential dignity, avoiding social and cultural discrimination in fundamental rights.
10. The Principle of the Common Good. We must support or create structures that can promote the just development of the human community through the cultivation of awareness, concern and sensitivity to the needs of others.
Only a principle-centered life, inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, can bring about societal transformation, strengthen and renew our Philippine institutions. Essentially, according to Benedict XVI in “Deus Caritas Est,” it is conversion to God and our fellowmen in the “Community of Love.” Living according to these ten principles will characterize our relationships with one another. What will change the course of our country, worsened by massive poverty, political turmoil, moral corruption, scandalous inequality, is not wealth, power, prestige, politics, but conversion therefrom and a renewal of our public life through moral values.
In conclusion, let us take some guidance from prophetic theologians. Karla Rahner, one of the prophetic theologians in his time, more than 40 years ago, envisioning the Church of the future, facing the crisis of the Church in Europe, insisted that the members of the Church would have to be “mystics.” What did he mean? In a world of widespread secularism, consumer materialism, globalization and religious indifferentism, only those could survive in their faith who had a deep personal experience of God and who in their lives could make this experience accessible to a totally secularized world.
Another prophetic theologian, Segundo Galilea, 20 years ago, made a similar observation regarding the future of the Church in Latin America. “The ‘contemplative’ women or man today is the one who has an experience of God, who is capable of meeting God in history, in politics, in his brothers and sisters, and most fully in prayer. In the future you will no longer be a Christian without being a contemplative and you cannot be a contemplative without having an experience of Christ and his kingdom in history. In this sense, Christian contemplation will guarantee the survival of faith in a secularized or politicized world of the future” (Galilea, Following Jesus, 1981).
What do they want to say? In the task of strengthening and innovating Philippine institutions, we must open ourselves to God who lives in our passion. Opening ourselves to God, we do not turn our back on the suffering Filipinos. The closer we are to God, the closer we are to the voiceless multitude of wounded in our country. If we are not their voice, who are?
Saturday, September 16, 2006
To cite some statistics of diasporic Filipinos: 85,000 Filipinos yearly migrate to the United States to be added to the more than 4 million who are already there with documents. Two million Filipinos have already made the Middle East their home. Would you believe that 30% of the entire population of Malaysia, that is 900,000 are Filipinos? Of the 140,000 in Hong Kong, majority are Pinay domestic helpers. In Italy, only one half of the more than 1 million Filipinos are listed; the same is said of the 1 million in Japan. These few examples are only a portion of the migrant Filipinos we find present from America to Asia, from Africa to Oceania, from Russia to Australia and also from Jordan to Saipan.
Add to this phenomenon of global migration of Filipinos is the quality of the new OFWs. We are exporting not only housekeepers and domestic helpers but also, contributing to the phenomenon of brain drain, skilled workers, doctors, accountants, nurses, engineers, etc. This phenomenon is not without problems both for the migrants and the families they temporarily leave behind. They become part of our social concern. How many of them are made to suffer because they are deprived of employment rights, their salaries and/or travel documents unjustly withheld? How many of them, mostly women, are abused, assaulted or sexually harassed by employers? How many of them suffer the pain of isolation, alienation and discrimination? And need we talk about the innumerable cases of broken families and conjugal infidelities? These are far from being considered problems of the State which is simply bent on sending them as “super domestic helpers” because they bring in to our country between 10 to 12 billion dollars to help our local economy. And so we say these are problems of the Church, the sending Church. These are one aspect or the challenges of the Filipino diaspora. (I hope you have discovered some answers to these concerns and at least discussed how to address them).
But I would like to draw your attention to a positive aspect of the global migration of Filipinos. I am not referring to the 10 – 12 billion dollars they send to our country, inspite of which we are still considered among the poorest countries. Are we really? More than contributing to the work-force in 193 countries, our diasporic Filipinos have something else, more important, to offer to the world. Along with our smiling faces, we are offering to the receiving countries or Churches, our Christian Faith lived in the context of different cultures and religions. According to one study “The Filipino diaspora has put one out of every five Filipinos in a more multi-ethnic and multi-religious milieu.” This positive aspect is likewise the new challenge of the Filipino diaspora. It is both a challenge and a concern.
Our Filipino migrants go to other countries in search of work and livelihood to support themselves and their families back home. Before we were sending missionary priests and religious sisters expressly to be in mission, to evangelize; but their number has started to dwindle. And what a providential coincidence! Coming from a predominantly Catholic Christian country, these migrant Filipino workers in search of livelihood could be equipped with the disposition and skills of lay missionaries, who will not necessarily preach, but live the Gospel of Jesus in the context of cultural and religious pluralism. They are Filipinos in dialogue with other cultures and religions, which for them would be a new way of being Church and a new way of being in mission, beyond adding to the number of church-goers in the receiving Churches which have fallen victims of materialism and secularism.
The new situation of our compatriots in diaspora is an opportunity to redefine our notion of becoming migrants and our understanding of being church and in mission. What we said in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines find some practical application here: “In the Church, nobody is so poor as to have nothing to give, and nobody is so rich as to have nothing to receive.” (no. 98). This offers the Filipino Catholic Christian migrant a new focus, a new vision.
For both the sending poor country and the receiving wealth country, there is something to give and to receive. What is received and given may be different in quality and quantity, but that is not to be measured. Work and livelihood on the one hand, faith and the new way of being church and of being in mission on the other: how do we compare them? It is just they are both given and received by one and the other. A new focus and vision for both the giver and receiver.
(Homily of Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo at the closing Eucharistic Celebration on the occasion of the Fifth International Consultation on Filipino Ministry Worldwide
held in Tagaytay City on September 11-15, 2006)
Thursday, September 14, 2006
(A Pastoral Exhortation)
From the moral standpoint, we, your Bishops, continue to express our concern over the kind of democracy that we are practicing, whether this leads us to attain the common good. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church states:
“The Church values the democratic system inasmuch as it ensures the participation of the citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the governed the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate.” (Centessimus Annus, #46)
Charter Change, changing our Constitution, is such a serious matter for the entire country, because it will determine the future of our people. Thus we must make the widest consultation on it for adequate information, discussion and education. That is why we disagree with the so-called “people’s initiative” which appeared only as a “signature campaign” without focus on the real intention. The CBCP subscribes to the allegation that the “people’s initiative” is an initiative of the ruling power, and not genuinely of the people. From the moral standpoint, it is clothed with suspicion. And so we ask: is it really for the people and the common good? We leave to our well-informed lawyers the legal arguments.
Holding a Constitutional Convention will be very expensive, as it will cost several billion pesos. But it is worth spending that much for something that is good for the greatest number. A Constitutional Convention will be a better political exercise than convening congressmen as a Constituent Assembly which is something that can easily become self-serving. The government has spent enormously to cheating and graft and corruption
We maybe spending or losing much much more than that through government overspending and cheating and graft and corruption, which are very difficult to assess and account. If it is worth several billion pesos, it is worth spending in an honest way. A Constitutional Convention will be a better political exercise than the present powers-that-be, our Congress, making themselves a Constituent Assembly that can easily become self-serving.
It is said that the presidential form of government is a source of corruption among other things. We should ask a different question: Is it the presidential form that is the source of corruption, or the people in authority who corrupt and abuse the system? Any form of government will have its positive and negative characteristics; but the people who run the government are very crucial; they can either corrupt it or make it serve the common good. Any system or form of government in the hands of honest, just and incorruptible people will be a source of good for the governed. Will the parliamentary- unicameral form of government not be corrupted by the people who will create it?
It is in this light that we have made our position clear on Charter Change from the
moral standpoint, and we reiterate it:
“Changing the Constitution, involving major shifts in the form of government, requires widespread participation, total transparency and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate. This is best done through a Constitutional Convention.” (CBCP, January 2006)
Heeding the exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est that the Church “is called to contribute to the purification of reason” (# 29), we would like to ask these and similar questions to guide the discussion, discernment and debate on the charter change. Are you convinced that the Charter Change as presently presented by our governing politicians is really for the common good? Are you convinced that the “people’s initiative” is genuinely the people’s activity, and has its real source in the people? Do you want our legislators to convert themselves into a Constituent Assembly where they alone will rewrite our Constitution, and have it only approved by us in a plebiscite? Is it enough to say YES to Charter Change?
We are in a democracy. Should not then the citizenry be made to participate by electing their delegates to a Constitutional Convention?
These are the questions we would like our people in our dioceses and parishes to participate in answering regarding so serious a matter as Charter Change.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
September 14, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
Protocol No. 5624/2006
August 28, 2006
To: The Clergy of the Archdiocese and the Parish Pastoral Councils
Re: THE BUNKER OIL SPILL IN NUEVA VALENCIA, GUIMARAS
Nueva Valencia, Guimaras, is the center of social concern not only of Iloilo Province but also of the entire Philippines, because of the sinking of Solar I ship that was carrying more than 500,000 gallons (2,720,000 liters) of bunker oil of Petron. It has sank to some 600 (?) meters deep under the ocean, several kilometers off Nueva Valencia. More than 200,000 liters have been poured into the sea causing almost unimaginable damage to environment and fisherfolks.
So far, as of August 20, 2006 the affected barangays are the following:
LIST OF BARANGAYS AFFECTED OF OIL SPILL
Barangays Affected Registered Fisherfolks Additional as of 20-Aug, 2006 TOTAL
1. La Paz 298 2 300
2. San Roque 79 121 200
3. Dolores 62 27 89
4. Tando 104 136 240
5. Lucmayan 41 180 221
6. Cabalagnan 41 41 82
7. Panobolon 116 37 153
8. Canhawan 46 41 87
9. Igdarapdap (Lanipe) 73 32 105
10. San Antonio (Calaya) 85 5 90
11. Guiwanon 96 47 143
The most heavily damaged is barangay La Paz. Fr. Maloney Gotera, V.F., some priests of the Vicariate of St. Bartholomew and I saw some of the affected areas. Fisher folks were scraping the shore of oily sand and putting them in sacks. Hundreds of sacks of oily sand have been piled. Sand, stones, wood, seaweeds and mangroves have been irretrievably blackened by the tanker oil. They need truckloads of palay stalks or “uhot” to help absorb the oil.
The causes of this tragedy need to be fully and honestly investigated in order that justice may be served.
Various individuals, groups and institutions have started to generously respond to this grave social and environmental destruction which may take years to rehabilitate.
For our part in the Archdiocese of Jaro, let the response coming from our parishes be coordinated by our Diocesan Social Action Center (JASAC) and our Jaro Archdiocesan Pastoral Secretariat (JAPS). As one “Body of Christ,” the tragedy suffered by one part is felt too by the entire body. Please, coordinate your help with JASAC and JAPS. – We cannot be responsible for the refloating of Solar I or for the siphoning of the oil from the sunken Solar I; but we can reach out immediately to the families of the affected barangays in terms of material help, because they have lost their livelihood in the sea. Let us be in solidarity with them through whatever organized help we can extend to them.
+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Contrary to allegations, the 6 bishops in the news report did not have any meeting together with any group—including any member of the Magdalo group—in order to bring down the PGMA administration unconstitutionally and in a violent manner. It is very possible that an accusation is being leveled against the credibility of the Bishops, because of our stand on issues which are not pleasant to certain groups. As Bishops we always promote peaceful, non-violent and constitutional means of reform in government.
If I, or any of the Bishops, have spoken against or criticized the conduct of anyone or any group—in favor or against the government—it was for the interest of the common welfare. Because people look at issues from different perspectives and with different values, we Bishops accept that our statements—individually or corporately—may not be agreeable to everybody.
We feel sad that the stories related to the report of overthrowing of government are being fabricated without proof as to their veracity. I appeal that the sources of such stories will clarify themselves for the sake of the common good. I invite them to prove their statements involving us, six bishops.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
July 19, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
When the CBCP gathered in conference to discuss their Pastoral Letter, especially on the “burning issues,” the hottest of which was about the impeachment, the bishops knew that their guidance would not sit well with all sectors. But they must proclaim the message “whether favorable or unfavorable…to itching ears” (2Tim. 4, 2-3). The Pastoral Letter needs to be read in its entirety especially the paragraphs on the hottest issue. When we were discussing the issue of the impeachment, the bishops were concerned with proclaiming a message which would serve the country best according to the light of their discernment, prayer and discussion.
Tough problems can be solved neither by force nor by the force of number nor by offering just one solution as if that were the only solution. Tough problems are a challenge for all parties—pro, con, and center—to think, talk and act together, to see new realities and create meaningful change. Each party or sector holds in part the solution to tough problems.
The Pastoral Letter “Shepherding and Prophesying in Hope” is meant to give some guidance to the lay faithful on the subject of social issues and on the burning issues. How this guidance is to be followed or put into effect is beyond the intention of the Letter. Whatever each individual or group decides to do, by God, do it well and don’t sacrifice the common good.
On the question of envelopes or gifts allegedly being distributed and of dinners offered by Malacañang to some bishops, since these were privately done, there was no consensus among the bishops whether to accept or not, whether to go for the dinner or not. Each bishop was completely free.
Truth to tell, the bishops did not have any knowledge of the alleged plan of Malacañang to use these gifts or envelops for political ends. It was only later that they realized the implication of the offer. Some, we know, returned their envelopes.
The bishops were told that the envelopes were for the poor. But how must the poor be help institutionally? On the one hand, bishops with the limited resources of their dioceses are already trying to respond to the needs of the poor, v.g., through their social action programs. On the other hand, must not the government use better its powerful institutions to help the poor? If the powerful institutions are not effective and efficient in the work of poverty alleviation, the question that must be asked is “WHY?” But must it be channeled to the bishops at this time?
+Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
July 14, 2006
Friday, June 30, 2006
The Pope writes in that encyclical “The just ordering of society and the state is a central responsibility of politics. As St. Augustine once said, a state which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves.” (No. 28a) It is a strong statement worth remembering. This is what Bishop Deogracias Iniguez has quoted in presenting his personal position of siding with the Kapisanan ng Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME). He clearly states that he is not bringing the CBCP in this personal option regarding the issue of impeachment.
Therefore, the CBCP respects Bishop Iñiguez personal option and will not go with the suggestion of Malacañang to sanction him because he also agrees with CBCP statements on Politics and Moral Values.
The pertinent statement of Pope Benedict XVI worth quoting is the following: “The Church’s social teaching argues on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being. It recognizes that it is not the Church’s responsibility to make this teaching prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest. Building a just social and civil order, wherein each person receives what is his or her due, is an essential task which every generation must take up anew. As a political task, this cannot be the Church’s immediate responsibility. Yet, since it is also a most important human responsibility, the Church is duty-bound to offer, through the purification of reason and through ethical formation, her own specific contribution towards understanding the requirements of justice and achieving them politically.
The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which will always demand sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet promotion of justice through the efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.” (Deus Caritas Est, No. 28)
Too often the “Separation of the Church and the State” is invoked. This separation should not be used as an argument against the participation and involvement of the Church in shaping the politics of our country. Concretely this means that the Bishops, Clergy and Laity must be involved on the area of politics when moral and Gospel values are at stake (cf. PCP II 344). The Pope says “the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “It is part of the Church’s mission to pass moral judgments even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it” (#2246).
Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
June 30, 2006
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Couples for Christ. We cannot tell nor describe how many and what kind of storms have been encountered by CFC through the years, by individual members or by the community. But this much we can say: many storms have passed and you are still around. That you are still around is reason for thanksgiving and rejoicing. The celebration is reason too for gratefully recalling the many stories that make up CFC today.
Twenty-five years ago, in 1981, sixteen young and daring couples attended the Life in the Spirit Seminar conducted by Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon. The group eventually became an outreach program of LNP for couples and was baptized Couples for Christ, under the guidance and supervision of LNP. Young and daring, CFC went out of Manila base for the first time in 1984 to Bukidnon. Young and daring, CFC went outside of the Philippine for the first time in 1985 to India. Inspite of the many small and big storms the community had to face, CFC is found in 78 provinces and chartered cities of the Philippines. Today, glory and honor be to God on high, CFC world map includes 153 countries.
In the Philippines, they went from one parish to another, from one diocese to another, to conduct Life in the Spirit Seminar and Christian Life Program, bringing simply the credential of their zeal and dedication, and the assurance of the bishop from where they are coming to the bishop to where they are going. Migration for employment or livelihood became their natural access to many countries; that is how the CFC came to be known by foreign priests and bishops, and got their permission for LSS and CLP. This is attested by the many priests and bishops here present for the celebration.
On March 25, 1993, Feast of the Annunciation, CFC ceased to be an outreached program of LNP and was definitively separated from its mother institution, the LNP. From that time on it was complete on its own. It was at that time that the celebrant of the Eucharist, in his homily, announced “There is fire in this room. How I wish it would become a conflagration.” It did, because there was fire in the hearts of every one present at that time, from the leaders to the members. And the fire which comes from the Holy Spirit continues to be contagious and contaminating.
Here is a group which strives to make a difference in their response to the call of Christ. As Frank Padilla prophetically says: “His is a call to radical Christianity. Radical Christianity is normal Christianity. It is the only type of Christianity that the Lord has called all His followers to live out. There is no other.” Essentially it is a life rooted in Christ. This rootedness in Christ is what is discovered in the “womb-to-womb” family renewal ministry. Now CFC has branched out to include Kids for Christ, Youths for Christ, Singles for Christ, Handmaids of the Lord (for widows and unmarried women adults), and Servants of the Lord (for widowers and unmarried men adults).
When St. Ignatius of Loyola was sending St. Francis Xavier to his mission of evangelization, he had only this to say: “Go, Francis, and set the world on fire.” This, I believe, is what keeps the CFC leaders and members on the go in their various social ministries: renewing the lives of different sectors of society, advocating socio-economic renewal, environmental renewal, socio-political renewal, and sustainable development. Their ministries are empowering them to set the world on fire “ad maiorem Dei gloriam”—for the greater glory of God. “Radical Christianity is normal Christianity…There is no other.”
One of CFC’s ministries that is setting many provinces in the Philippines “on fire” with the contagious and contaminating Spirit of Community is the project GAWAD KALINGA 777 with its vision and commitment to build 700,000 homes for the poor, in 7000 communities or sites, in 7 years. Many of you are witnesses to this work of faith, hope and love. Many of you have heard about this “good news.” Many of you have worked in some GK. Many of you have in some way contributed, and will still contribute to some GK. Because there is “that fire” in you, you are indeed part of that mighty force that is called GK one-million BAYANI, GK one million HEROES. But that is only the start…the first one million. Because the movement of the Spirit is unstoppable.
I have read it somewhere…that today the 25th anniversary of your foundation, you proclaim: “We in CFC count our blessings, and are profoundly grateful to God for his faithfulness. We in CFC are now even more determined to give our all in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ.” Rather than simply look back at the beautiful tapestry of 25 years, you are looking to the future, to the next 25 years in order to relish all the more, to know, experience and live more completely, and bear witness to the depth and the height, the breadth and the width of the love that God has for you and for the world.
Mabuhay kayong lahat. Purihin ang Dios magpakailanman. Amen.
(Talk delivered by Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, DD, Archbishop of Jaro and President of CBCP, on the 25th anniversary celebration of the Couples for Christ, June 25, 2006; at the Quirino Grandstand, Luneta)
Monday, June 12, 2006
But while we succeeded in breaking the yoke and chain of Spanish, Japanese and American colonizers, are we succeeding in breaking the yoke and chain of fellow Filipinos? Ang masakit na karanasan ng mga Filipino ngayon ay bagamat nakalaya na tayo sa pang-aalipin ng mga banyaga, ay mayroon namang mga kapwa Filipino na umaalipin sa kanilang kapwa Filipino.
Gathered in the atmosphere of prayer, we invite ourselves to pray that we may be delivered from the many “unfreedoms” that we are experiencing.
In 1998 during the Centennial Celebration of our Independence, the CBCP already stated that “our liberty is eroded not so much by foreign invaders, as by inequality and lack of participation, injustice and exploitation, deficient cultural values and mindset, destruction of the ecosystem, and deterioration of peace and order.” Alas, what we said then we can say again.
We have freed ourselves from the punishment of death penalty. But we still have to free ourselves from drug addiction and drug lords, from jueteng addiction and jueteng lords, from the temptation to extort and to bribe, from exploitation of women and children, from the killings of militants, labor leaders and journalists without the benefit of just trial, from torture and maltreatment of every kind, from graft and corruption and subtle dictatorship. Without these the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day in this Year of Social Concerns would be more meaningful.
Civil society is moving on with a growing social consciousness for what is truly good and just for the nation. We recall what Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est wrote: “The formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason.”
What is the duty of the Church? “The Church has an indirect duty (says Benedict XVI), in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of the moral forces.” What is the duty of the civil society? “The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society, on the other hand, is proper to the lay faithful. As citizens of the State, the Pope says, “they are called to take part in the public life in a personal capacity… in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas…for the common good.”
The CBCP has already expressed in former Pastoral Exhortations (“Building a Civilization of Love” and “Renewing Our Public Life”) its recommendations which I now briefly summarize as follows: 1) that the reform and modernization of our electoral process be continued; 2) that the election of 2007 be pursued in order to offer our country a new breed and brand of leaders; 3) that if charter change is to be pursued, it should be through a Constitutional Convention, whose delegates are elected by the people. We are not against charter-change per se; but we are against charter-change by the present congress converting itself into a Constituent Assembly. From history we learn that dictators are products of and supported by parliamentary forms of government.
Philippine Independence Day is an occasion to promote “a spirituality of citizenship” which fosters a sense of patriotism and of being responsible for our country. “It develops Filipinos into becoming active and constructive participants in social and political life. It enables the laity to take their rightful leadership role in the social transformation of our country” (CBCP Pastoral Exhortation, “Building a Civilization of Love”).
Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
June 12, 2006
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Today’s abolition of death penalty recalls a little bit of history. In 1971 the United Nation declared that to fully guarantee the right to life as provided by the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, death penalty be progressively restricted “with a view to the desirability of abolishing this punishment in all countries.” Since then more and more countries have actually abolished the death penalty. With the decision of our Congress we are now included in their number.
It must also be recalled that through the 1986 Philippine Constitution (after Martial Law) the death penalty had already been abolished but only to be restored in 1994. The CBCP at that time opposed its restoration. We hope that the abolition of death penalty in the Philippines will now be a permanent one.
We have consistently believed that human life and the right to life are better defended by the non-imposition of death sentence as well as by the reform of our law enforcement and justice system towards the establishment of an atmosphere of peace and order.
We sadly observe that our justice system is so partial that those who deserve to be in jail continue to be out of jail, and those who deserve to be out of jail continue to be in jail. The system is perceived to be biased against the poor and powerless. There is a great need to guarantee truly equal justice for all in our justice system.
A program of rehabilitation through values formation and income generating projects must be pursued for the prisoners in order to generate the sense of humanity and usefulness among them.
Better ways of curving criminality need to be discovered and advocated: such as the CBCP has advocated before: the solving of economic poverty of the majority of our people, the reform of our law enforcement and penal system, combating the causes of drug dependency and gambling syndrome, values formation in the police and military, the elimination of violence propagated by media, the enforcement of the law on gun ban.
The other side of the abolition of death penalty and the curving of criminality is the improvement of the quality of life.
+Angel N. Lagdameo
June 7, 2006
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
We are concerned not only for the victims, who have not been or are not given a chance to defend themselves in court, but also for their immediate families suddenly and unhappily left orphans. Whoever are the perpetrators, and whatever is the cause, the victims—irrespective of any ideology they profess—are still subjects of human rights and are entitled to due process in an unbiased court.
In defense of human life, the Church through Pope John Paul II clearly teaches: “There exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object.” Therefore, “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide …; whatever violates the integrity of the human person such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as …arbitrary imprisonment … all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation to the honor due to the Creator” (Vatican II Gaudium et Spes, 27; Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 80). The Pope reiterates: “If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice” (Veritatis Splendor, 81).
It is not right that people be killed simply because they have different “political beliefs” or are suspected of being “subversive” or of plotting against the government. The killings leave deep scars on the memory of people especially members of their families which no amount of talk about national security will completely erase. This is a sin against life, a sin against human dignity. Human life, whose ever it is, is sacred. Retribution and vengeance simply perpetuates the cycle of violence.
If we are to work out our salvation and transformation as a nation, we must begin with our Gospel faith which tells us what our perspective on human life and our task in its regard. We would like to quote again from the late Pope John Paul II who emphatically stated “Do not kill! Do not prepare destruction and extermination for men! Think of your brothers and sisters who are suffering hunger and misery! Respect each one’s dignity and freedom!” (Redemptor Hominis, 16).
May Mary, Mother of Life, help us and intercede for us that we may together work to keep life ever sacred.
Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
May 31, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Jesus’ saying “The truth will make you free” (Jo. 8/32) is the key to clear moral behavior. “According to Christian faith and the Church’s teaching,” Pope John Paul II wrote, “only the freedom which submits to the Truth leads the human person to his true good. The good of the person is to be in the Truth and to do the Truth” (Veritatis Splendor, 84).
Human life from one perspective is a warfare between good and evil. We must do good and avoid evil. Now the Church teaches that “there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object” (VS 80; Reconcilatio et Poenitentia 17). Vatican II, in Gaudium et Spes, gives a number of examples of such acts: “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat laborers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons; all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honor due to the Creator” (GS 27; VS 80). The Pope reiterates: “If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstance can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice” (VS 81).
The CBCP has entitled one of its recent Pastoral Statements as “Renewing Public Life through Moral Values!” Taking its suggestion, we can say that values formation is an urgent and necessary step towards social transformation. In order to achieve or acquire values in life, other values are required, the absence of which renders the acquired values immoral or at least questionable.
1. The value of wealth must be supported by the value of work. Wealth without work means getting something for nothing. One earns but he does not work for it. In this situation, one starts telling rational lies to justify his wealth taken from graft and corruption. Rather wealth must be the fruit of honest work, not of deception, lies or plain theft. St. Augustine said: “A state which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves.” (Deus Caritas Est, 28).
2. The value of pleasure must be accompanied by the value of conscience. To be avoided, therefore, is pleasure without conscience. Pleasurable activities without social responsibility or accountability surely leads to degradation of integrity and living a life of double identity. Example of this is prostitution and trafficking of women and children.
For the protectors of peace, there is always the struggle to maintain consistency in the truth of our identity both in our public life and in our private life. As we search for the truth and integrity in our leaders today, we have to strive to be credible prophets as well… let us protect and check our ranks!
3. The acquisition of knowledge must lead to development of character. To be avoided, therefore is knowledge without character. When one closes himself to listen to the knowledge or suggestion of others, believing that he has the monopoly of knowledge and of truth, there lies the danger. He will have a myopic view of the situation and his decision will be less grounded. Present studies today show that a person need not only have IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional quotient) but also AQ (adversity quotient). Adversity quotient is the capacity of the person to deal with the adversities of his life (Paul Stoltz, Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities.) Character is the capacity to face the truth regarding the consequences of the choices that one has made in life.
There are times in the service we thought we had made the best decision, because the matter was thoroughly analyzed, but later it was found out that it was not correct. Will we have the character to face and accept the truth… the truth that we made a mistake?
4. What about business and morality? Economic and political transactions must ultimately be based on moral foundations. People get into trouble when elements in the transaction are covert, hidden, secret. When they keep hidden agenda and they rationalize even the wrong or immoral activities, when it is business without moral values it will soon be bad economics or bad politics. Morality in business leads to trust, confidence and transparency.
5. Science and technology must serve the common good. However when it is developed for the advantage only of some groups or individuals, then it does not serve the good of society. Science without humanity can also be exploitative of people and natural resources. Those who want to gain from scientific technologies may present bias information giving emphasis on the benefits but not pointing out the negative effects to environment and to people, such as happening with some mining industry.
6. What about religion and sacrifice? When the purpose of doing religious ritual like prayer and offering Mass, is only to save oneself, then such a religious act is wanting and not a product of true religion. True religion produces life giving relationships and maintains this relationship by sacrifice. It takes sacrifice to serve the needs of other people – the sacrifice of our own pride and prejudice, the sacrifice of our comfort and pleasure, the sacrifice of our time and treasure … the sacrifice of our life. Religion without sacrifice is not a genuine religion
7. The same may be said about politics. Politics must be governed and guided by the values of principle. Politics without principle is very dangerous: it can be exploitative and is a disservice to the welfare of the people it is to protect and serve. The key to a healthy society is to get the social will, the value system aligned with correct principles. Principle-guided politics will always be purpose-driven politics and that is the welfare of the greatest number.
What I have outlined are some seven ways to truth and peace, some seven ways of renewing public life through the corresponding values. The combination of wealth and work, pleasure and conscience, knowledge and character, business and morality, science and humanity, religion and sacrifice, politics and principles. Keep the pairs together. The first in the enumeration must not be without the other. In the way to peace, personal, communitarian or national, the truth of one must be guided by the truth of the other.
(A Talk delivered to the Philippine National Police, by Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, May 15, 2006.)
Monday, May 15, 2006
As Ambassador of the Vatican to the Philippines, Archbishop Filoni represents His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Having been a counselor to the two former Apostolic Nuncios to the Philippines for several years before he became Nuncio to Iraq, he has already some experience and understanding of our situation in the country. In this sense, we are welcoming an old friend to our country.
On the part of the CBCP we are welcoming Archbishop Filoni as a brother and a colleague sharing our Episcopal concerns with the heart of the Pope Benedict XVI whom he represents. A pastor and a diplomat, Archbishop Filoni will reflect and dialogue with the Philippine Bishops on the pastoral and social concerns that today characterize our local church.
We look forward to a fruitful adherence and collaboration with our new Apostolic Nuncio.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
May 15, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
BUILDING A “CIVILIZATION OF LOVE”:
A Pastoral Exhortation for the Year of Social Concerns
Beloved People of God:
Last January we, your Bishops, declared this year 2006, Year of Social Concerns.” We pay special attention this year to the teaching, appropriation, and implementation of the social doctrine of the Church as contained in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
We are called to build a “society more human, more worthy of the human person,” (Compendium, 582). This is a mission that we your Bishops have frequently urged all the faithful to do. Even now we continue to urge everyone to study, pray over, and apply the four Pastoral Exhortations—on Philippine Politics (1997), economics (1998), culture (1999), and spirituality (2000)— that we wrote for the Year of the Great Jubilee 2000.
Two new factors make the focus on social concern this year more urgent. First, the whole Church is powerfully reminded by the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, that the social concern “is as essential to her mission as the ministry of the sacraments and the preaching of the Gospel. The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word.” (DCE, 22). Secondly, our present Philippine situation calls us to be more actively committed to living out the social teaching of the Church. Political turmoil, moral corruption, and environmental degradation have worsened massive poverty and scandalous social inequality. We are today especially concerned about a pervasive sense of weariness, cynicism, and hopelessness among many of our people.
What can we, must we, as Church do to heal this terrible malaise of spirit? What more can we do to help our people, especially the poor, believe that there is hope?
Our Commitment as Church
We believe that today the Lord’s commandment of love, the social teaching of the Church, and the urgent needs of our people are calling us to intensify our commitment to build in our land “a civilization of love” (see, e,g. Centesimus Annus, 10). “Love builds up,” St. Paul teaches (1 Cor. 8:1). With love the Church builds up by prophetically critiquing and denouncing injustice and by prompting “positive activity” that will “promote a society befitting mankind because it befits Christ” (Compendium, 8, 63).
How shall we do this? We commit ourselves to a three-fold program of pastoral action:
1. The Church will continue to build character. Through the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, through the ministry of Catholic education, through programs of formation and spirituality, we shall seek, with the help of God’s grace to build persons of faith and virtue. To build the future, we need to deepen our sense of honesty and integrity, service and responsibility, stewardship and solidarity. Corruption is rooted in a fundamental self-centeredness or selfishness, an evil that contravenes the human responsibility to exist “with” others and “for” others (see Compendium, 165). Transforming persons from this self-centeredness to the life of virtue and social responsibility remains our primary task and contribution to nation building.
2. The Church must build capacity. Poverty is not only about “not having” but also of “not being able.” Poverty is also a question of capability. We have to empower those who are needy to construct a better future. Our social action programs, training programs and institutions, research centers, schools, charitable agencies and organizations, religious orders and congregations, lay organizations and movements, Basic Ecclesial Communities, need to help people grow in capacities, such as the capacity to govern themselves, the capacity to develop their abilities, the capacity to find meaningful and fruitful employment and work, the capacity to care for our environment, the capacity to make leadership accountable. We, therefore, commend our charitable institutions that are at the service of the most vulnerable in our society. We commend programs such as Pondo ng Pinoy, Gawad Kalinga and Tabang Mindanaw for empowering people to participate in their own development and in continuing work of creation.
3. The Church must build community. Fifteen years ago we pointed out that the ruinous divisiveness in our country is rooted in a culture “too focused on the good of small social groups” (Acts and Decrees of Second Plenary Council, 21), on the good of those we identify with, our families, our town-mates, our province-mates, etc. Through formation and education, through various means including the use of the media of social communications, we need to promote, at every level of society and Church, a spirituality of citizenship, which is a concrete way of living out in our country the “ fundamental social virtue”: solidarity (see Compendium, 193). This spirituality of citizenship fosters a sense of patriotism and of being responsible for our country. It develops Filipinos into becoming active and constructive participants in social and political life. It enables the laity to take their rightful leadership role in the social transformation of our country.
To build community in a country battered by various kinds of conflict is to promote peace. This “requires the establishment of an order based on justice and charity” (Compendium, 494). Concretely we need to foster dialogue among Christians, between Filipinos of different faiths, and among different sectors of society. For this reason we commend the efforts of many peace advocates, parishes, NGOs, religious groups, the Bishops-Ulama Conference, and others that actively dialogue for peace.
A Call to Action.
We end our reflection with a call to decisive action. The late Pope John Paul II reminded us that “the social message of the Gospel must not be considered a theory, but above all a basis and a motivation for action” (Centesimus Annus, 57). Our action must not be merely seasonal or ad hoc or crisis driven. It has to be action that is a sustained “ministry of charity exercised in a communitarian, orderly way” (DCF, 21).
In particular, we reiterate the call to action from a moral standpoint expressed in our CBCP statements last January and April. We need to restore trust in our political institutions “which are perceived by many to be corrupted”:
*We commend the Supreme Court as an independent institution of government for clarifying the constitutional parameters for E.O. 464 and P.P. 1017.
*We continue to view with alarm the signature campaign for the People’s Initiative which many of our Social Action Centers have reported as being deceptive, lacking in adequate information and discussion, and not initiated by the people.
*We continue to call for a thorough reform of the Commission on Elections to restore trust in our electoral process. In particular, the Ombudsman’s investigation of COMELEC officials involved in anomalous contracts worth P2.3 billion should be completed as soon as possible, as directed by the Supreme Court.
*Other investigations conducted by other institutions of government should be followed up in the proper forum and fully reported to the public. We refer to the Senate hearings on the fertilizer fund appropriations which concluded that hundreds of millions of pesos remain unaccounted for. With other citizens’ groups, we also ask for the full disclosure of the Mayuga Report on the conduct of certain military officers in the last elections.
We urge the faithful and all our institutions: first, to evaluate what they are presently doing to build character, capacity and community; and secondly, to pray and discern over what more we can do to promote a “civilization of love”. We offer a few possible concrete steps:
*Family associations for justice and peace;
*Education and formation sessions and study weeks on Catholic Social Teachings;
*Bantay-dagat, bantay-kalikasan movements
*Training programs for good governance;
*Formation programs for good citizenship;
*Election monitoring, voters’ education
*Research-based social and political advocacies.
Such tasks are some of the steps to build a civilization of love. They may seem small and insignificant, but without doubt they build hope. And the ripple effect of hope is incalculable. “Christian hope…generates confidence in the possibility of building a better world” (Compendium, 579).
Beloved People of God, we have declared this “Year of Social Concerns” “under the auspices of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” We are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (instituted in 1856 by Pope Pius IX) and the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s encyclical on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Haurietis Aquas). Ultimately all Christian social concern and social action flow from and participate in the boundless love of the Heart of Jesus. We thank God that so many individuals and groups in the Church witness by their life and work to the socially transforming love of Jesus.
May the Blessed Mother bring us all closer to the Heart of Jesus. We fervently pray that through our service of love the Heart of Jesus might rekindle our hope, heal and transform our society into a civilization of love.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
May 11, 2006
Homily of Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo on the Occasion of the
Celebration of the Year of Social Concerns
May 11, 2006
Cathedral of Manila
The Gospel just proclaimed to our hearing is both consoling and frightening. Jesus Christ is warning us that we will be judged by our love. We will be judged at the end of our life by our response to the social concerns of the least of the members of God’s family. The Lord Jesus reminds us of the warning that he had given us, whether we go to our reward or go to our punishment: “Whatever you did or did not do to the least of my brethren, you did or did not do to me.”
More than just to remind us of this Gospel message, the CBCP in its January Pastoral Statement “Renewing Our Public Life Through Moral Values,” has declared this year 2006 as a “Social Concerns Year,” a year to remind ourselves that we can renew our nation, we can transform our country as well us our social relationships through the concerns we show to the least of our brethren.
At the same time, we would like to celebrate the 40th year of the end of the Second Vatican Council and the 40th anniversary of the foundation of our National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), the CBCP’s arm in the social action ministry. Down through the years, since its beginning in 1945 as Catholic Welfare Organization, the CBCP has issued more than 200 pastoral letters, statements, and exhortations, some 80% of which have been responding to social issues, questions and concerns. This was the way the CBCP as a conference has guided the Filipino People. This year is likewise the 15th anniversary of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II), that historic event which has helped the bishops in the pastoral plans. The PCP-II was our official way of accepting the Second Vatican Council.
The Church offers moral and spiritual guidance in the development of social consciousness and social conscience. The social doctrine that we declared in PCP-II are as urgent and necessary today as then, probably even more urgent and necessary. That is why in this Year of Social Concerns, I would like to recommend that we return to the social doctrine that we have outlined there, if only to get some ideas or inspiration for particular social action in our respective Christian Communities or organizations.
What I humbly intend to do is to recall in an outline form the Social Doctrine of the Church which we have already declared in PCP-II, the basis and foundation of our social concern.
On the subject of human dignity and solidarity, we said at the PCP-II that “Each person no matter how poor and uneducated is endowed with an inalienable dignity as an image of God, a child of God, redeemed by God and entrusted with an eternal destiny..” How can this principle be violated? We said: “The concentration of economic wealth and political power in the hands of the few is an affront to human dignity and solidarity.” Human dignity and solidarity are fundamental values from which our development as a people must proceed” (cf. PCP-II, 296).
On the universal purpose of earthly goods and private property, we at PCP-II declared, with St. Ambrose: “You are not making a gift of your possessions to the poor person. You are handing over to him what is his. For what has been given in common for the use of all, you have arrogated to yourself. The world is given to all, and not only to the rich.” Private property is therefore subordinated to the universal destination of goods. “This would dictate, for instance, not the hoarding of capital nor its flight (in another country), but its use to create jobs for the unemployed” (cf. 301; 303).
On social justice and love, we declared that justice rejects such situations as dishonesty in the market place, graft and corruption in private and public life, and unjust wages for employees. “Nationalist desires, ecological concerns, issues of integrity and transparency in public and private life, rampant gambling with its attendant evils affecting the family, the youth and public authorities, conflicts created by favoring short term benefits for the few which can only bring long term disaster for the many are issues that involve social justice” (304). While the demand of justice is implied by love, still justice “attains its inner fullness only in love.”
On active non-violence, the PCP-II declared: “Peaceful but persuasive rallies, assemblies, marches, demonstrations, strikes and acts of ‘passive resistance’ to unjust laws can be very effective even if non-violent. A strategy of non-violence requires solidarity of spirit as well as of action…. The move towards a ‘gunless society’ advocated by many concerned Filipinos is illustrative of the strategy and of the spirit of active non-violence” (309).
The love of preference for the poor “is a basic attitude that must pervade all plans and legislation for development, long skewed to favor the better sectors of our society. In the Scriptures, the prophets were known for their denunciations of injustices against the poor. … It urges us to be more concerned about the substantive issues concerning street children, the unemployed, poor fishermen, farmers and workers, exploited women, slum dwellers, sidewalk vendors and beggars, Tribal Filipinos and others at the margins of human and social life” (314).
On the value of human work. “The twin principles of the dignity of human work and the priority of labor over capital need to be urgently applied to our situation where workers’ rights are too often sacrificed for profit and workers discarded as chattels according to the demands of capital” (319). Likewise necessary is just legislation to ensure the entire range of workers’ rights. Without such assistance, a just development in the world of work will not take place.
On the integrity of creation: “a true and just development must fundamentally be concerned with a passionate care for our earth and our environment. Fishing, mining, and logging contribute enormously to the national coffers, but when done with inadequate safeguards for ecological integrity, moral issues are involved. Our natural resources are not to be exploited as though they were inexhaustible. Destruction can be irreparable and irreversible.” This is what the bishops with mining concerns in their respective diocese have been saying.
On “People Power” as People Empowerment. No social transformation is genuine and lasting where people themselves do not actively participate in the process. No integral development of people is possible without their corresponding empowerment. ”Today we understand ‘people power’ to subsume basic ideas that go beyond the mere gathering of people in support of a cause. We understand ‘people power’ to include greater involvement in decision-making, greater equality in both political and economic matters, more democracy, more participation” (326). We need to encourage the emergence of people’s organizations, sectoral associations and the like, inspired by the principle of solidarity and empowered by the principle of subsidiarity.
“The possibilities of people power are enormous in the economic and political fields, such as in determining the directions of change, deciding policies, implementing projects and monitoring them so that the common good may be truly served” (328). Empowering people is thus a prerequisite in the renewal of our country. Without it, our destiny as a people would remain in the hands of the few.
In this year of Social Concerns, I encourage a return or a review of what the Church has been teaching when it held the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines….