Friday, June 30, 2006


The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI gave our President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo a copy of his Encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”—the same which he gave to all Bishops much earlier this year.

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

Couples for Christ Silver Anniversary

THE BOAT caught in the storm with Jesus and his disciples in it is an apt symbol to represent you and me in the context of our life. Every now and then we feel we are being tossed around by storms on the ocean of life. A storm may arise because of some problem or some economic or health crisis. A storm may arise because of unexplainable event, because of some anxieties about the future. The boat in the Gospel can also represent the Church, the community of believers, to which we also belong. The disciples’ struggle with the storm on the sea is symbolic of the struggle that the Church of Christ today is facing in its mission to overcome suffering, and evils in the world. But the stilling of the storm by Christ is a guarantee that the Church will also come out successful in its mission, because of the presence of Christ in it. Whether the storms we encounter be in our lives as individuals or as a Church, we will triumph over them provided we rely on God’s power and not on own. Like the terrified disciples, let us cry out to God in our stormy moments. But remember that it is so easy to cry out and yet remain in the storm and in so doing still feel engulfed. As we cry out, we need to keep our focus fixed not on the storm but on God. Within his encircling power we always stand and on every side we feel his hand. If our faith in the Lord’s presence is strong enough, we can make it through any storm and regain our equilibrium. (Dasan, SJ Cylwicki, CSB)

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


We celebrate today the Philippine Independence Day with gratitude for everything that has been in our history. We honor the heroes big and small, known and unknown, who have worked for our liberation as a nation.

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


Our Conference expresses deep appreciation for the June 6, 2006 decision of Philippine Congress to repeal or abolish death penalty. This decision is consistent with our long standing and on-going advocacy for the sacredness of human life whose Creator is God Himself. Human life, whose ever it is, is sacred.

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