Sunday, April 30, 2006


Labor Day is an occasion to recognize how much society, government, industry, technology depend on labor as efficient cause of progress and development. Through work man cultivates the earth. Through work man perfects the earth through more and more highly improved machinery. Through work man enriches fellowmen. Unfortunately, in the Philippines those who are in the labor force are oftentimes deprived of the just share of the fruits of their work. The value of work is not derived simply from the material of work but from man himself. The dignity of work comes from man and his right to work. Ang dignidad ng trabaho ay galing sa nagtatrabaho.

Capital, which is controlled by capitalists, is the “historical heritage,” or product itself of human work. Developed through science and technology, capital is an instrumental cause of production. Capital represents the material and financial resources that are employed for further production. In any event there is no production without the application of human resources on material resources, on capital. In the PCP II the “priority of labor over capital” is recognized (318).

What then is the relationship between labor and capital, or more concretely between the worker and the capitalist? More than a century ago, Pope Leo XIII gave the classic statement of principle: “Capital cannot stand without labor, nor can labor stand without capital” (Rerum Novarum,109). Labor and capital depend on each other. Their relationship should be one of interdependence and complementariness, if they are to effectively serve the integral welfare of society. Economic progress is the joint work of both capital and labor. It would be unjust for either labor or capital to arrogate unto itself the contribution of both. This is stated by the “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.”

In the past, such as during the Industrial Revolution, and in our time through some extreme ideologies and totalitarian regimes, circumstances have led to the conflict between capital and labor. The relationship of conflict, competition and antagonism has proven disadvantageous to both and most especially to the poor. The victim of the conflict between labor and capital is likewise the economy. The principle of collaboration instead of class struggle must be the fundamental means for social change. The church stands on record that in any social question “the rights of the weak, the dignity of the poor and the obligation of the rich, the perfecting of justice through charity” must always be taken into account in the just ordering of society.

Pope John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Centessimus Annus affirmed “that serious social problems, (whether in economy or politics, in the relationship of capital and labor) could be solved only by cooperation between all forces” (CA 60). Labor Day, MAYO UNO, can be a happy occasion for labor and capital/government to express to each other how much they need each other and what they can give to each other for the good of the country.

+Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
April 30, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006


The CBCP welcomes the presidential commutation into life-sentence the judgment on some 280 convicts in the death row. The CBCP has been constantly opposed to death penalty.

According to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church “The Church sees as a sign of hope a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of legislative defense on the part of society. Modern Society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform… The growing aversion of public opinion towards the death penalty and the various provisions aimed at abolishing it or suspending its application constitute visible manifestation of a heightened moral consciousness” (#405)

It is therefore our prayer that it will not only be a presidential humanitarian act, but the Congress itself would abolish capital punishment by legislative act.

The control of criminality as well as the reform of society is a common responsibility of the government, church and civil society. Corruption, immorality and poverty breed criminality. Therefore, less of these would mean less criminality. Crime breeds crime. The rehabilitation and reformation of pardoned criminals must also be assured for the continuing peace and harmony in society.

+Angel N. Lagdameo
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
April 16, 2006, Easter Sunday

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Easter Message 2006


“If Christ has not risen from the dead,” St. Paul writes, “our faith is futile, and we have not been forgiven” (cf. I Cor. 15/17). Easter, the Resurrection of Christ, is the fruit of the tree of the Cross. Easter is the proof that what Jesus said on Calvary on that gloomy Good Friday will continue to be fulfilled in our life. This is the reason why we celebrate Easter. Each Word of Jesus on Calvary is guaranteed by his Resurrection. And so we can say “Your word, O Lord, is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119[118]: 105).

The first fruit of the Tree of the Cross is forgiveness. You and I have found forgiveness for our sins. “Father,” did not Jesus say, “forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Lk. 23/34). Uttered many times during his public ministry, this word of forgiveness has brought about many resurrections, like that of Mary Magdalene, Peter, St. Augustine, and countless sinners down through the centuries, including ourselves.

We may say that the repentant thief beside the crucified Saviour was the first to experience resurrection. He was the first fruit of Good Friday. To him our Lord said: “Today, you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk. 23/43). Today! So much for your suffering now! Today, you will be happy with me in Paradise. We will taste the happiness of God, when we understand the meaning of Jesus eating and drinking with tax collectors and prostitutes. The fruit of repentance is peace and happiness in God.

Easter is the birth of a new family in the Risen Christ. But its birth pangs started at the foot of the Cross, when Jesus said to his Mother: “Woman, behold you son…Son behold your mother” (Jn 19:26-27). At the foot of the Cross, an Easter People is born, from which no one is excluded. In the Resurrected Christ we are brothers and sisters of each other. Easter invites us to overcome all boundaries and hostilities, to become a communion of communities, family of families, an Easter people.

If it is true that the Passion of Christ is not yet over, then even in Easter and after Easter, we will hear again and again about the sufferings of man abandoned by God: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But this time it is a lot different, because it is born of a realization that God too is in compassionate solidarity with man. Even when we find life ruined and senseless, God is there sharing our darkness and pain. Even God has entered deeply into our suffering that we may “easter” in him.

Another fruit of the Cross which brings about the sense of resurrection is friendship. When Jesus cried out “I thirst”, we encounter the sufferings of God abandoned by man, and longing for his friendship. God makes friendship with us by coming to us as one who needs, as one who begs for what we have. When Jesus said to the Samaritan woman “Give me water to drink,” that was the start of a friendship. When we answer a need, we create a lasting friendship which holds untold promise.

On Easter Sunday, we prepare to go back to work. The work of God is finished: “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). But is our work finished? Is the work of working for the resurrection of our country finished? I think it has only began! Christ has finished the foundation. We must build upon it. After Easter, we still have a country to build, because our people are still in the mire of Good Friday. Our people continue to be crucified by abuse of human rights, by the negligence of its leaders, by government graft and corruption. We still have a work to finish.

On Easter, the word of Christ on the cross has a different meaning: “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46). Not only does Christ entrust himself to the Father, but he entrusts us into God’s hands. Surrender. Entrustment. Once we entrust ourselves to God as Jesus did, more than half of the work, or even all of it will be in God’s hands. Even if what we are afraid of or worry about does happen, we can hear the Lord telling us, “Fear not! I am here!” We can face Good Friday within Easter time.

There was never a preacher like the dying Christ, because his message went far beyond the time of its delivery. His message continues to be fulfilled bringing about a continuing procession of Easter people, who are enlivened in their zeal and dedication. The message from the cross, unlike the words of dying men, never died. They continue to echo waking even the dead from their graves. We can go back again and again to the message of Christ on the Cross to discover in them how we can lead ourselves to the resurrection life that he is offering.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palms and Crosses in Christianity

The two most important symbols of Holy Week are the Palms of Palm Sunday and the Cross of Good Friday. The palms and the cross speak about Jesus Christ. They tell us about ourselves. With a normal population of about 50,000 at that time, Jerusalem may have easily gathered several hundreds of people carrying palm or olive branches to welcome the Rabbi or Teacher from Galilee, Jesus Christ. It was a kind of “people power” drawing into some kind of climax the secret or silent aspiration of the Jewish people for a new leader from their ranks. The scene was a very spontaneous show of support for a new leader. The singing of an ancient victory song was also spontaneous “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Palm or olive branches have been the traditional emblems of joy and victory over enemies, likewise the red attire of victorious leaders. In Christianity, the palms and the red vestments of martyrs are the signs of their victory over the flesh and the world. The Resurrection of Christ and the empty tomb proved the success of Palm Sunday and Good Friday. The universal celebration shows the universality of the salvation he brought.

That first Palm Sunday brought Jesus into collision course with the religious and political authorities, represented by the Scribes and Pharisees, the Sanhedrin and the Roman Governor. They had been conspiring against Jesus. According to records, of seven instances to plot against Jesus, two were efforts to arrest him, and three to assassinate him. But as Jesus was saying “the hour has not yet come.” There was a political reason why Jesus was considered dangerous. His preaching and actuations were destabilizing the precarious balance of authority. He might lead an uprising against the status quo. A religious reason made Jesus a dangerous item too. He was regarded by the many poor Jews, whom he has helped with food, healing, attention and teaching, as “more than a man,” in fact as “Son of God.” Economic motives were also included in opposing Jesus: by driving the dealers and animals, Jesus was destabilizing the economic agenda of the authorities of the temple. These made the leadership of Jesus dangerous.

There is a shift of symbol on Good Friday. With the Cross and the crucifixion of Jesus, the hideous becomes beautiful, the hateful becomes loveable, defeat becomes victory. The Cross is the symbol of suffering turned into sacrifice, of despair transformed into hope, of death converted into life. If we ask John the Beloved Disciple, where did you see the glory of the Christ? He will reply: “I saw his glory as he was hanging on the cross; I saw his glory shining from his lacerated body, from his wounds, from his pierced side. And then I saw his glory in the empty tomb.” Hence, Palms are now given the shape of a Cross; or the Cross decorated with palm or olive branches. The son of God saved mankind not through any show of power-play but by sharing our human suffering, making our crosses, together with his Cross, the door of our redemption.

During the coming Holy Week, “as we look on him whom we have pierced” (cf. Jo. 19/37), we bring the symbols of the palms and the cross to our life experience. Whoever you are: crucified or crucifier, Christ died for you. Lifted up from the earth, he draws us all to himself (cf. Jo. 12/32), in order that in his embrace we may break all hostilities, enmities, brutalities and animosities, and give witness to the “power of love.
08 April 2006

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Path of the Youth to Credibility

One of our society’s important and urgent concerns is the on-going formation of our youth, the formation of young women and men who will become carriers of moral values in our complex crisis-ridden globalized society, yes, young women and men from whose group will rise up a new generation of leaders which our country today urgently needs.

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, continuing the tradition of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, has issued his message to the Youth of the World on the occasion of the 21st World Youth Day which will occur on April 9 Palm Sunday. According to Pope Benedict XVI, our youth today “are often held captive by the current ways of thinking” which are contrary or opposed to “God’s way of thinking.” “They may think they are free but they are being led astray and become lost amid the errors or illusions of aberrant ideologies.”

Thus, there is need above all to save the young from among whom we hope a new generation of leaders will rise to lead our country to the path of justice, honesty, truth and freedom. If we lose the young, we lose the hope on which our future hangs. There is reason why for the past quarter of a century the Pope and the Church have been calling for the celebration of “World Youth Day.” It is to continue rekindling the flame of hope that the world has on the youth.

Pope Benedict hands on to the youth a biblical mantra: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (PS. 119 [118]: 105). This is the theme of the 21st World Youth Day which will be celebrated in the local churches on Palm Sunday. “Word” in Hebrew language is “Dabar,” which conveys both the meaning of the word and act. The Hebrew “dabar” refers to both word and action. Hence, when we say “We believe in God” we mean to say that “God says what he does and does what he says.” Now Christ is the Son of God, the Word made flesh, the Word, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. “The loving presence of God,” Benedict XVI states, “through his Word, is the lamp that dispels the darkness of fear and lights up the path even when times are most difficult.”

In our country today, we have a crisis of credibility; we find it difficult to believe in one another or to believe in our leaders. We say that God is credible because God says what he does and does what he says. Unfortunately we fail to become images of God in this regard. When Judas betrayed our Lord, when Peter denied him, when the disciples failed to follow Jesus along the way, … they all failed in credibility. They failed to act according to what they said they are, his followers. There was no congruence between their word and their act.

When a leader says one thing and acts differently from what he had said he would do: that is a failure in credibility. And we are created in the image and likeness of God, who “says what he does and does what he says.” To be credible then is to be an image of God.

Pope Benedict XVI in his World Youth Day Message presents a program for young people of the Third Millennium: how to build their life on Christ, how to put his Word/teachings into practice/life. This is in answer to the need for the emergence of a new generation of Christian disciples/leaders. First, the young must be acquainted with the Word of God in the Scriptures through bible-reading (lectio). This means they have to lessen TV watching and shorten recreation. Second, the young must learn to study and meditate on the Word of Christ (meditatio). “Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ” say the Latin Fathers. Third, the young must learn to talk with God in prayer (oratio). The more we pray to him, the more we realize he is a friend and a father, and vice versa. Finally comes the living attention to the presence of God/Christ in our life like “a lamp shining in a dark place” (contemplatio). These are the stages to become “doers of the Word and not merely hearers.”

God is credible simply because he truthfully says what he does and faithfully does what he says. Jesus Christ is his witness to this: to prove his testimony, he did not back out from it, inspite of difficulties, trials and the passion that he was made to undergo.

To us and to our youth is presented the life of Jesus Christ as a model and a program. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them” Jesus said, “will be like a wise man who built his house on rock” (Mt. 7/24). It will not collapse, the Holy Father comments, in his message to the Youth, when bad weather comes.

Credibility. Credibility. I say it again credibility. This is the challenge we give to our new generation of leaders. Yes, people whom we believe because “The Word of God is a lamp to their feet and a light to their path.

*A homily of Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, DD, delivered to the graduates of Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, Iloilo, March 31, 2006.