Tuesday, February 28, 2006

(A Talk delivered at the Institute for Solidarity in Asia on February 28, 2006)

The Catholic Bishops of the Philippines have been issuing pastoral letters to provide a moral compass for the decisions being made or proposed for the common good of our people. We can not stop doing what it is our duty to do: to remind our people and those who purport to lead them that core values drawn from natural law and the eternal law should serve as the moral foundations upon which we further build our nation.

Foundations securely a anchored on morals, and therefore on ethics, social responsibility and good governance make the institutions in our country strong; and such strong institutions can then work together to enhance the personal dignity of every individual as well as to promote the common good of our country. This happens, however, only if the agents of change and the transmitters of values in our society are empowered and invested with a deep sense of responsible citizenship. The family, the school, the business enterprise, and governance units at all levels should be at the forefront of our attention: through them we should ensure that all the programs we formulate, the projects we undertake, the targets we set, as one national community, are pervaded with the proper values that lead to the genuine development of our people.

Considering the social, economic, political and cultural imbalances and crises we are in, our vision of renewing Philippine public life is almost like a utopian dream. Both EDSA People Power I and II—successful and non-violent revolutions—stand in support of this dream. But we want this dream to become a growing passion and an obsession for every Filipino. To achieve this, we need to have at least a critical mass of nationalists who are willing to jump on to the beginning of a new political wave, to move into a new cycle of development, to operate with a social consciousness and conscience not for their individual or group safety and security, but for the good of the greatest number. We need servant-prophets of a new social order.

The scientist, Albert Einstein, offered a formula for solving the problems and crises that institutions, governments and churches are facing when he said: “The significant problem we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” We will not solve our problem by insisting on doing the things that have produced the problem. Jesus Christ began his public ministry with a similar message “The time fulfillment has come…Repent (i.e. change your mind and behavior), and believe in the Gospel” (Mk. 1/15). The great Apostle Paul gives his rejoinder: “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the kindness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4/23).

The National Roadmap that has been unveiled fortunately captures these core ideas and invites all sectors of our society to taken them into so serious and account as to actually try to observe them. It establishes a fundamental and essential link between core values and strategic programs. It calls for full consistency between our core values and the measures we take, the targets we set, and the initiatives we undertake. Moreover, it asks all the drivers of change—the family, the school, the business enterprise, the governance units, and I might add all sectors of our society—to begin posing this question: what can we do for the common good of our national community? And in trying to answer this question, it strongly suggests that whatever answer we give must be fully consistent with the vision and mission we should have for our country and the core values that should underlie all aspects of our national life.

The most seriously affected by the crisis of moral values in the country are the poor, the marginalized, oftentimes exploited and treated like commodities. Graft and corruption have been flagrant and endemic, breeding poverty. Widespread poverty in turn breeds graft and corruption. The crisis of leadership at the highest level is like the tip of an “iceberg.” There is a concatenation of corruption that goes down to the barangay level, up and down and up, infecting the whole body politic like a contagious cancer. It deprives the poor of permanent shelter, health benefits, liberating education, dignified employment and above all sufficient food. To cure this social cancer we need a new breed of leaders in our country.

We must be able to gather a critical mass of like – minded and good willed nationalists, with a passion and obsession for good governance and prophetic leadership. This critical mass will be the training ground of other nationalists who will lead our country with the values of honesty and justice, truth and integrity, credibility and accountability, transparency and stewardship. These are the values—criteria that citizens must use to raise up a new breed of statespersons.

I fully this approach, I commend it to every sector and institution of our country. Follow it and make sure core values permeate all programs, targets and initiatives proposed and subsequently taken, monitored, and scored! It is the link between core values and decisions as well as actions we have been taking that has been missing for too long in our country. For as long as that link remains missing, we end up with more than a few leaders who act more like a band of thieves rather than as a band of responsible statespersons deeply committed to the common good of all.

28 February 2006

Lent: A Call to Transformation

Ash Wednesday launches the Catholic Church into the season of lent. On Ash Wednesday we are given a grim reminder by the church “You are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” The liturgy allows the use of Jesus Christ’s inaugural message as he entered his public life: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:15). This is said as the ashes are imposed on the forehead.

It is season of Lent. “Quaresma,” it is also called. Season of penance and mortification. Season of “pabasa,” the common singing of “pasyon.” Season of the Stations of the Cross every Friday. The season leads to Palm Sunday… the Visita Iglesya on Holy Thursday…the Seven Last Words on Good Friday…the Empty Tomb on Easter Sunday.

Jesus Christ’s invitation of “Repent” in this season of lent takes on a peculiar perspective in the context of our national situation. It is a call to transformation. Considering the social, economic and political crises we are in, the vision of change and transformation becomes a growing passion and obsession. We want the Resurrection to new life brought by Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday observed and experienced not only on the spiritual level but also as a transformation in our economic, social and political life.

Lent as a call to transformation means that out of the repentance of believers in the Gospel, the slum dwellings are transformed to permanent shelters, the poor are given health benefits, the marginalized are offered liberating education, the exploited are given dignified employment and malnourished children sufficient food. Transformation of society is the fruit of repentance and reform of life.

While political priorities occupy many of our leaders, the most immediate and urgent priority of the common Filipinos is their daily struggle to earn their livelihood. Poverty, despite the professed development at the macro-level, remains the heaviest burden the country bears.

I repeat what the Bishops had said in their Pastoral Statement Renewing Our Public Life: “At the bottom of our political chaos is a crisis of moral values, a crisis of truth and justice, of unity and solidarity for the sake of the common good and genuine peace.” Renewal of moral values in the service of the common good means converting the energies that one used for graft and corruption into energies for better public service. We hope that from the “ashes” of political crisis and corrupted institutions will resurrect a transformed nation, a truly moral society, built up in truth, justice, freedom and love.

Archbishop of Jaro
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

February 28, 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pastoral Exhortation

Call to Patriotism

We have been informed that a segment of our Philippine Army had planned a “coup” on the occasion of rallies commemorating EDSA People Power I, a sign of withdrawing its support to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. As a result thereof the President has declared “a state of emergency”—among others prohibiting holding of rallies, and resulting in the arrest of some civilians. As the governance of President Arroyo continues to be haunted by questions of legitimacy and corruption, our life as a people is unavoidably affected.

In the meantime, as we discern the “signs of the times” we call upon all in civil society to exercise prudence, sobriety, patience and vigilance. Let us meet this event with calmness. We reject violence from whichever group that may come either in pursuance of its purpose or to take advantage of the crisis-situation. Remember “Tayo’y kapwa Pilipino, mahal ng Dios!”

To all parties concerned, we as Shepherds appeal to you to be open to reason and respect truth and the Rule of Law and to avoid creating the atmosphere of belligerency—because innocent people are likely to become involuntary victims of selfish interest. The situation is a challenge to magnanimously prove that your patriotism and concern for the poor and the suffering are of higher value than personal survival.

May the key players in this military and political unrest all listen to one another in a dialogue and come to agreement for the good of our country. May there be honesty, peace, freedom and justice in the pursuance of the democratic order. May the decision-makers and problem-solvers have the integrity and wisdom to put the total welfare of the suffering republic above party interest and ambition to power, and to soonest end our military and political crisis without bloodshed.

We invite all people of good will, especially the Church organizations and the contemplatives to have a chain of Holy Hours, where feasible, before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for our country.

We invoke the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary that they may help us in these trying times. Lord, deliver our country from further corruption and greater crisis.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


The CBCP gladly welcomes the news of Archbishop Rosales’ elevation to the College of Cardinals. The CBCP likewise profoundly thank His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for honoring one of its members, the Archbishop of Manila, with the dignity of a Cardinal. The CBCP joins the Archdiocese of Manila in its rejoicing over the promotion of Archbishop Rosales.

Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales joins the line of Filipino Cardinals which includes Rufino Cardinal Santos, Julio Cardinal Rosales and Jaime Cardinal Sin. The two living Cardinals are Jose Cardinal Sanchez, who is retired in the Vatican, and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, the Archbishop of Cebu.

The most important function of Cardinals in the Church is to elect the Roman Pontiff who usually comes from their rank. We enjoin everyone to pray for our new Cardinal in his new ministry in the Church.

+Angel N. Lagdameo, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Sunday, February 19, 2006


EDSA People Power I, in its 20th year, challenges the Filipino People anew to re-live the “sacred memory” of that event.

The Election of 1986, massive in its fraudulence, led to the turning point when people shouted to the Dictator that wielded the Martial Law. “tama na, sobra na,” (It’s enough, it’s already too much). On February 13, 1986, the bishops gathered at the CBCP in Intramuros, had a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament led by then CBCP President, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal. It was after that, that they passed judgment on the massive fraudulence of the election. They then declared: “In our considered judgment, the polls were unparalleled in the fraudulence of their conduct… According to moral principles, a government that assumes or retains power through fraudulent means has no moral basis.”

Cory Aquino became the undisputed rallying point of the People Power democratic aspiration. Both Cory Aquino and Imelda Marcos had a separate dialog with Cardinal Vidal. Mrs. Aquino flew to Carmel of Cebu while Mrs. Marcos started to pack her maletas. On February 22, General Fidel V. Ramos, Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and a significant segment of the army withdrew their support to President Ferdinand Marcos. The bloody encounter of the divided army was aborted by the call of Cardinal Jaime Sin through Radio Veritas. He summoned the people to gather in EDSA and prevent a possible civil war.

There were no cell phones yet in those days. The thousands of civilians who responded to the call through telephone barrage brought not weapons, but their children, their youth… and pandesal…and their rosaries and crucifixes. For several days between February 22-24, the people of Luzon were at EDSA, while the people in the Visayas and Mindanao prayerfully cheered with them before their television sets. And they saw how at EDSA the people waged a peaceful unbloody revolution to drive the dictatorship. Thousands gathered, there was a multiplication of charity. Pandesal and biscuits were shared “like Eucharist,” observed Fr. Arevalo, SJ. Rosaries in the hands of the Sisters pressed against tanks. The image of our Lady of Fatima was brought in procession. Flowers were given to soldiers. Priests, sisters, seminarians and civilians unabashedly knelt on the road to pray for the country. Who could have made these happen? It was inspired “from above.”

The Dictator must have also been watching the television. How could he order the first shot? Goodness too has softened his heart. He also had made a heroic decision. He left Malacañang hastily and quietly without a shot ringing in EDSA.

I am sure many more of the people who gathered at EDSA are holding similar stories. To recall such stories is to be grateful…to be challenged once more…not to sit on the laurels of its successes, but to relive the principles and values that are left behind, as a lasting legacy.

EDSA I’s lasting legacy is the visio0n of good governance characterized by justice, honesty, credibility, accountability and integrity. We failed to pursue that vision, and allow it to bear fruit kin all levels of society. Graft and corruption started to creep in again. Or have they really left? Graft and corruption breeds poverty and poverty breeds graft and corruption.

But something good has happened and is happening today. People know what they are looking for: good governance, characterized by justice, honesty, credibility, accountability and integrity. They should not stop until they get it. The dry wood needs only a spark for it to become a conflagration! The agents of graft and corruption will be irrelevant once the spark of social transformation through moral values has become a fire that burns in the hearts of just a critical mass of renewed Filipinos who will relentless pursue the spirit of EDSA I.

February 24, 2006

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Statement of Sympathy and Concern

“My soul seeps because of grief;
strengthen me according to Your Word.” (Ps. 119:29)

The sad news about the most tragic landslide in Guinsaugon, Saint Bernard in Southern Leyte has moved us to our knees in prayer. We contemplated on the unfathomable ways of God in the face of misfortunes that has befallen our country in the last couple of weeks.

Even as we grieve, we already hear in the media a number of comments about our carelessness and onslaughts against our environment. We hear some people lamenting the delays in the implementation of reforestation programs that should have restored our denuded forests. We look up to citizens and groups who have committed themselves to defend the environment against those who plunder our national patrimony and safety in pursuit of economic returns that neither alleviate the national economy nor improve the plight of the poor in this country.

In our pastoral statement released after the Bishops’ Plenary Assembly in January this year, we proclaimed 2006 as a “Social Concerns Year”. This disaster in Southern Leyte is our first challenge towards this end. In view of this, we are calling all the social action centers in all dioceses throughout the country to coordinate all efforts and resources under the leadership of the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) and collaborate with the Bishop of the Diocese of Maasin, Most Rev. Precioso D. Cantillas, SDB. This way we can more efficiently harness our disaster response programs and rehabilitation initiatives for the families of the victims of this calamity.

With profound sympathy and concern for the families of the victims, we invoke the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary to console us in these trying times and bestow eternal rest unto those who perished.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President

Saturday, February 04, 2006

CBCP Pastoral Statements, A Reflection

A Talk Delivered to Simbahang Linkod
Loyola House of Studies

Ateneo de Manila University
February 4, 2006

What I would like to share with you is the story of the two CBCP Pastoral Statements: the July 10, 2005 Statement and the January 29, 2006 Statement. Inspite of their differences, both were expressions of the bishops’ communion and collegiality. In both, the bishops spoke their minds. Like the Twelve Apostles, they shared their diversities, distinctions and differences, they argued their points passionately like Peter and Paul; but in the midst of all this, at the end of the day they would go back to the roots of their identity as bishops who are successors of the apostles. A community of brothers and servant-leaders whose passion for the Lord is greater than all the forces of division. A community of shepherds who choose to remain steadfast to the truth of their vocation and mission. Bishops who in every celebration and gathering in the Conference manifest agape and koinonia even in difficult circumstances.

The July 10, 2005 Statement “Restoring Trust: A Plea for Moral Values in Philippines Politics” was a product of a two-day reflection-discussion of the bishops. Although the bishops were perceived and presented as divided, the Statement remained the Conference’s common position, a product of 122 interventions from the bishops. It was criticized and praised by different groups: the Pro-GMA were happy; the Anti-GMA were disappointed. What became the center piece of the statement was: “In a spirit of humility and truth, we declare our prayerfully discerned collective decision that we do not demand her resignation. Yet neither do we encourage her simply to dismiss such a call from others.” The rest of the statement seemed to have been forgotten or ignored.

EDSA I and EDSA II People Power were peaceful, nonviolent and successful. The Bishops agreed with many people that EDSA-type of people power could not be repeated because the circumstances are different from those of EDSA I and EDSA II. There seems to be an absence of a credible alternative or rallying point that would unite the divided opposition. That was what the bishops seemed to have been looking for: that the opposition offer a credible, viable alternative through a process that would be peaceful, nonviolent and with hope of success.

In the Statement, the CBCP rejected measures that are counter-constitutional or unconstitutional, such as juntas and revolutionary councils. At the bottom of the rejected measures were questions like: will it not produce new injustices? How protracted will be the inter-regnum? Will it not result into a civil war? Admittedly the July Statement contained the desideratum for restoring moral values, but it did not elaborate the ways and means of renewing our political life. Lacking that the July Statement was centered on the merits and demerits of political strategies like the Truth Commission, the Impeachment Process and the Resignation decision.

Evaluating the response of the government and sentiments of the people, the Bishops felt that there was a need to elaborate the “plea for the moral values in Philippine Politics.” The January 29, 2006 Pastoral Statement “Renewing Our Public Life Through Moral Values” has a different story and process. The preparation for the statement included a dialogue with the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP) and the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) in January 23. The following day, January 24 was assigned as A Day of Listening, during which the bishops listened to inputs given by Bishop Francisco Claver, SJ, Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Atty. Christian Monsod, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, Fr. Danny Huang, SJ, Fr. Jojo Magadia, SJ, and Mr. Ricardo Saludo (Presidential Deputy Spokesperson). We may also include in this list the input given by General Samson Tucay of PNP Values and Leadership School. The general topic of all the inputs was “How to restore or promote moral values in Philippine Political Life.”

January 25 was a Day of Discerning and Discussion. The bishops grouped themselves for either regional or metropolitan meetings during which they listened to one another, discerning and discussing their respective local situation vis-à-vis moral-political values. The whole afternoon of January 25 was devoted to discussion on the national situation vis-à-vis moral-political values. Some bishops were previously assigned to draft from the inputs and discussion a possible Pastoral Statement. They were Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, Bishop Francisco Claver, Bishop Antonio Ledesma, Bishop Nerio Odchimar.

January 26 was the Day of Consolidation. For a whole day the bishops discussed the draft of the pastoral Statement which would be officially submitted to and discussed by the 92nd CBCP General Assembly. It took another two days, the 28th and 29th to discuss the draft and finally come out with what is now A Pastoral Statement: Renewing our Public Life Through Moral Values.” It is the fruit of 177 interventions from the bishops. The statement was discussed paragraph by paragraph. The story behind the making of the Pastoral Statement show the binding force of communion and collegiality among the bishops.

It follows a general outline: See, Judge, Act. In Part I, the bishops discuss the pastoral situation: what the people are saying about the political and economic crisis in the country. In Part II, they present as the root cause of the crisis: erosion of moral values. In Part III are proposed the actions and advocacies recommended. Concretely, they recommend the relentless search for truth to resolve allegations of cheating in the last election, the pursuance of electoral reforms and of the election in 2007, widespread participation of the people in “amending the Constitution” through a constitutional convention, the adoption of a more systematic program of promoting moral values, the promotion-formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities, the promotion of a spirituality of public life, integrity and stewardship, the mobilization of citizens’ groups to check graft and corruption, the observance of the year 2006 as a “Social Concerns Year”.

After EDSA People Power I and II, apparently both Church and State sat on the laurels of success. There was very little or no follow up to institute renewal of public life and public service. Cardinal Ricardo Vidal has remarked: “If there is so much incompetence in our government today, it is because people who have been successful in one field tend to think that they would be successful in all other fields. Entertainers cross-over to politics when their competence is limited only to dramatics. Politicians, on the other hand, become television and movie personalities. Basketball players make a rebound all the way to the halls of the Senate.”

To renew our public life through moral values, we need to go back to the roots of renewal as have been proposed in the 1991 Plenary Council of the Philippines, the 1993 National Pastoral Plan, and the 2001 National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal. We need to plot the journey to the future by implementing the PCP-II Vision-Mission Statement. These would have contributed to the complete success of EDSA I and II.

Initiatives for the renewal of our public life have been started. They need to be pursued with greater and greater fervor. Let me just name a few: NAMFREL, PPC-RV, Barug Pilipino, Gawag Kalinga, Citizens’ Graft Watch, Value Formation.

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP

Value Formation and Value Shift

A Talk given at the
Loyola House of Studies
February 4, 2006

All institutions, governments, and churches suffer from problems, crises and decline of some sort, big and small. Albert Einstein said “The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” We will not solve our problem by insisting on doing the things we have been doing before, just because that is the way we have been doing things here.

We do not wait for the future to come upon us. Rather we create the future and bring it to our present. And how do we do it? We should not be satisfied with “cosmetic changes” or superficial changes, even if they appear good. They are temporary. We need to do some “paradigm shifting” or “values shift.” If you want dramatic and revolutionary transformation either in your person or in the institution or organization, you need to change your perspective, your mindset, your frame of reference, and operate with new set of values. This is called “metanoia”.

My references for this talk are two books: “Values Shift” and “The Genesis Effect” (Personal and Organizational Transformation), both by Brian Hall. This author defines “values” as “the ideals that give significance to our lives, that are reflected through the priorities that we choose, and that we act on consistently and repeatedly” (Values Shift 21). Values are learned, oftentimes unconsciously imbibed, and transmitted. Values are caught and taught. I have been affected, influenced and changed by the values and/or virtues of people who have been in contact with me through the years. In similar ways, my values and/or virtues have also touched other people’s lives. In this sense, values are both tools and goals for social transformation, for the renewal of public life, for the renewal of both church and society.

The research of Brian Hall identifies some 125 distinct values (BH 32). Personal renewal and social transformation would mean the ability to experience a new sense of values by changing or modifying former set of values because they have proven inadequate to face emerging challenges or produced negative results.

There have been identified some eight stages of values formation: 1) safety, 2) security, 3) family, 4) institution, 5) vocation, 6) new order, 7) wisdom, and 8) world order—in that sequence. In each stage there are values that serve as its goals and means to achieve it. The values found in each stage have a corresponding leadership style and organizational development.

Personal renewal and social transformation means going beyond the survival phase of life whose concern is to simply secure ones safely and security with their attendant goals and means. Value-shift would mean here living with a sense of belonging to a family or an institution with their attendan6t goal-values and means-values. Further transformation or renewal would mean entering a still higher phase of life: this involves initiating oneself to participate in the development of one’s vocation (i.e., charism or profession) in view of constructing or renewing the social order. This again requires new meaning and formation of other values. Finally, renewal and transformation leads to learning the values of interdependence which brings the relationship of people on a global scale. This is the stage were values of prophetic wisdom and world order are acquired and developed.

A person’s values, world-view and mindset are indicators of his leadership style. For example: one who is too much concerned with personal safety and security will tend to have values which can develop in him the character of autocratic, authoritarian/paternalist leader, a dictator. Such a leader would like to keep his subordinates poor, dependent and deprived of progress. On the other hand, one whose primary concern is the protection of his family and/or the promotion of some institution, he would have to shed off his authoritarian/paternalist style of leadership and develop the managing, enabling or mentoring style of leadership. As one’s circle of influence widens to include other vocations or services and the prospect of a new social order, the style of leadership shifts to one that is collaborative, participative and service-oriented. Finally, when people become genuinely independent and consequently interdependent, the corresponding style of leadership with focus on communion and harmony will be servant and prophetic (visionary) leadership.

More concretely, how do we envision the Church of the future? How will the Church look in the near future? Karl Rahner, one of the prophetic theologians in his time, more than 40 year 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 their 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’ woman 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 more 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).

Personal renewal and transformation is possible when the person and the group (congregation or corporation) have the courage to shift from one meaning to a new meaning, to coordinate or integrate their values, and “to jump out of the descending wave to a new wave.” Each style of leadership suits a particular set of circumstances that make that style the necessary style for that given set of circumstances. Any style of leadership is the consequence of values of the individual leader in relation to the corporate (institutional) setting and its membership” (BH 165).

Condolences to Ultra Victims

May we extend our condolences to the families of the victims of the stampede that happened early this morning at the Philsports Arena (Ultra) in Pasig City. Our hearts bleed in sorrow for the victims who, coming from the poorest of the poor, had no other intention but to be entertained and probably get some prizes given out by the show.

While we pray for the eternal repose of their souls, we ask people of goodwill to console the mourning and extend whatever temporal assistance to the families of the victims.

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP