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to persuade the CBCP to call off this afternoon’s Prayer Rally, because, as they said, the plan for Con-Ass has been withdrawn.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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Church leaders,

I would just like to express my full agreement with what Inquirer columnist Rina Jimenez David wrote last Dec 19 2006, the full text of which I am posting below.

Also, to view further reactions and get a pulse on how people are viewing the Church right now, kindly see:


Whose party was it anyway?
By Rina Jimenez-David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
EVEN AS Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo were calling for “character change” among Filipinos instead of Charter change, operatives were moving among the crowd at the Rizal Park distributing flyers announcing that Sen. Franklin Drilon would give free foodstuffs to anyone who attended the rally.
When his attention was called to the flyers, by his driver and some of his staff who got their hands on the spurious material, the senator was driven to denounce the “dirty trick” that had been played to discredit him before the public and perhaps throw suspicion on the motives of everyone who came to Rizal Park last Sunday. “Obviously the call for character change is not going to affect these people at all,” the senator said, referring to the brains and financiers of this “black ops” tactic.
So when Malacañang spokespersons said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would heed the prelates’ call and conduct an examination of conscience to see how she might need to change her “character,” some sectors of the public could be forgiven for responding to this news with raised eyebrows. If she were sincere in her intentions, she already knows what she needs to do: tell the truth about the conduct of the 2004 elections and its results, and step down from office.
But in calling for a different kind of “cha-cha” among the populace, I’m afraid the Catholic bishops have managed to dissipate the collective anger roused by the congressional leadership’s mule-headed attempt to ram a constituent assembly through. Granted both the House and the executive have backed down and rescinded their foolish attempts at forcing their way through legal blockades. Still, the evil intent, the arrogant behavior and the undemocratic conduct that so riled the public deserved a proportionate response, not the subdued, half-hearted protest that took place in Rizal Park.
* * *
BY MOST accounts, the turnout in Rizal Park was disappointing, a far cry from the promised half-a-million crowd that organizers said they were expecting to attend.
Perhaps the lack of focus -- prayer? thanksgiving? moral indignation? -- had something to do with the tepid response. When bishops tell us that “character change” is what this country needs, they are deflecting our focus from what should have been the real targets of public anger: the administration congresspersons and their political patrons.
When the bishops call on all the faithful to change their ways, they are saying the country’s deteriorating political situation is everybody’s fault -- and therefore nobody’s.
But excuse me, I refuse to share responsibility for that railroading attempt carried out in the dead of night. Innocent bystanders have no need for an examination of conscience, except perhaps as voters for allowing the wrong people to sit in the House. But the real fault lies squarely on the shoulders of those men and women who plotted against the national interest and rode roughshod over public sensibilities.
The organizers had also wanted to transform the rally from a protest to a “thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving for what? That Congress and the President finally saw the light? They did so only because their eyelids were forcibly yanked open. Thanks but no thanks -- the time for a mea culpa has long passed, and today is not the time for painless, self-serving atonement.
* * *
I REALLY don’t know what happened between the first, angry reactions issued by Bro. Mike Velarde of the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai and Bro. Eraño Manalo of the Christian denomination Iglesia ni Kristo, and the staging of that rally last Sunday in Rizal Park.
True, Archbishop Lagdameo had been unusually swift in his denunciation of the Con-ass, questioning whether it had been truly “for the common good.” But was this enough justification for the CBCP to hijack what had been planned as a multi-sector, multi-faith demonstration and turn it into an exercise in pious futility?
Wasn’t it rather ungracious of the organizers to decree that no politicians and non-bishops, including non-Catholic leaders, would be allowed onstage? And that no “political” banners be displayed at the venue itself?
I mean, who called for this rally anyway? It’s like a latecomer barging into party preparations and then demanding that the guest list be amended, that the décor be torn down, and that the guest of honor be excluded. Whose party was it anyway?
* * *
ONCE again, the institutional Catholic Church in this country confronted a moment to turn the tide of history and -- blinked.
Commenting on the turnout in Rizal Prk, a friend quoted from Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink,” where the author declared that when you make a snap decision, based on your experience, your knowledge and your instincts, the best option is to stay the course. It’s when you start trying to explain yourself that you get bogged down in justifications and motivations. That’s when you lose the momentum.
Perhaps, stunned by the wave of public indignation that they managed to catch when they reacted with all the righteous courage of biblical prophets, the Philippine bishops began to backtrack in haste. Perhaps, uncomfortable with finding their feet on the path of activism, they began to scramble for safer ground by mouthing the usual pieties.
But the bishops -- and the pro-Gloria politicians -- will soon find out that the simmering resentments that boiled over the other week are still around and gathering steam, and will find expression one way or the other. Whether these are manifested through the ballot or through extra-parliamentary regime change, the guardians of the status quo should realize that you thwart popular will at your peril. And redistributing blame or guilt is not the way to assuage anger that demands to be redressed.