Friday, December 29, 2006


A Better Year? We can make it happen!

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.

Archbishop of Jaro &
CBCP President
December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas Message

With this season’s celebrations we are more than recalling the Birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, but we are looking forward to his glorious return as King of the Universe and Judge of the living and the dead. More than anything else Advent-Christmas is a call to repentance from sin, reform of conduct, and renewal of life.

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).

Archbishop of Jaro &
CBCP President
December 21, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006


For the past few days and for the rest of the coming Novena of Masses before Christmas such as what we will do this afternoon it will be a Nation at Prayer with hundreds of thousands of people flocking to our Churches and barangay chapels praying for themselves and for the country.

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
Welcome Talk
Rally at the Luneta
December 17, 2006

Friday, December 15, 2006


We enter the immediate preparation for the joyful celebration of Christmas. The atmosphere is one of joy coupled even with a sense of humor.

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.

December 15, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006


– a sequel –

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

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
December 11, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006


As we celebrate the 1948 Universal Declaration of HUMAN RIGHTS, we recall what our country has been through and on account of which the Church in the Philippines has issued its statements and exhortations, such as against arbitrary arrests and detentions, liquidations and salvaging, secret marshals and para-military forces, persecution and killings of church personnel, ministers and journalists, extra-judicial killings of protesters and defenders of their rights, all committed and perpetrated in the name, in those days, of national security and development.

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 (

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.

Archbishop of Jaro &
President, CBCP
December 9, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006


Magmalasakit Para sa Bayan

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:


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.

Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP

December 8, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Watch and Pray for Self-serving Representatives

Despite the result of twelve hours of turbulent discussion leading to shouting at one another in the House of Representatives, we continue to hold that the way to change the Charter is not by way of a Constituent Assembly by way of a Constitutional Convention. We believe that the changing of House Rules for Congressmen of the Administration to convert themselves into a CON-ASS is fraudulently illegitimate and scandalously immoral. It is perceivably self-serving on their part. Why can’t they entrust the CHA-CHA to others? Why are our Administration Congressmen desperately in a hurry? The haste is questionable and suspicious.

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
President, CBCP

Monday, December 04, 2006

Please. No to Con-Ass, yes to Con-Con

THE church values the democratic system in as much as it ensures the participation of the citizens in making political choices, guarantees to the govern the possibility both of electing and holding accountable those who govern them, and of replacing them through peaceful means when appropriate.” (Pope John Paul II, Centessimus Annus, Encyclical # 46).

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
President, CBCP