Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent – Christmas Message 2008

EVEN in Advent Season, we can already greet one another Merry Christmas, Malipayon nga Paskwa, Maligayang Pasko. Indeed we are not preparing for the arrival of God in our world, we are in fact celebrating the anniversary of his birth into our world more than two thousand years ago. Since then Jesus Christ has been with us, he has never left us. The present Advent and Christmas are indeed a continuation of our celebration.

The arrival of Jesus Christ into our world is called Advent, or coming. And so Advent is Christmas and Christmas is Advent.

Christmas is an invitation for us to experience what is untouchable, whereby you can hear what cannot be heard, see what cannot be seen and know what cannot be known. That is the presence of Jesus Christ in our world today, his presence in each and everyone. The presence of God, of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit, is like salt in the water. If you put salt in the water today, tomorrow morning it’s gone and dissolved. Taste the water at the top, it tastes like salt. Taste the water at the middle, it tastes like salt. Taste the water at the bottom, it also tastes like salt. The salt remains in the water even though you do not see it; and though you do not see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are fully present in you and everyone else, everywhere.

That is the essence of what Jesus Christ has said: Whatever you do, good or bad, to one another, you do unto me. Everyone becomes Christ! Everyone is the face of God!

It took Jesus Christ to be born more than 2000 years ago to make us realize and live that essential truth.

Advent - Christmas comes around to remind us that eternal truth.

Archbishop of Jaro
November 27, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Response to the Plan of former Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr.

IT has been said over the media that former Speaker Jose de Venecia is planning to hand over to CBCP the 500,000.00 pesos given to him by the Presidential Liaison officer. Decision on this matter on the part of CBCP would need consultation with the Permanent Council. But considering the source and intent of the money, which smacks of bribery, the CBCP will refuse to handle such amount as it is tainted with corruption.

It is praiseworthy of former Speaker Jose de Venecia to have revealed that he in fact was offered such amount. Since JDV may not be alone in this issue, I hope and pray that others too will have the same courage to expose similar conduct for the love of the country.

+Angel N. Lagdameo
Archdiocese of Jaro &
CBCP President
November 24, 2008

CBCP for Constitutional Convention

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has expressed in several pastoral statements that if ever our Constitution will be changed, it should be through a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, whose members shall be elected for that purpose by the people.

Understanding the gravity of Charter Change and its perceived consequences, the CBCP has expressed its negative judgment on the proposal of the House of Representatives to convert itself into a Constituent Assembly. We agree with members of civil society who oppose any proposal for elected public officials to extend their term and/or perpetuate themselves in power.

If the Constitution needs to be changed it should be by way of a CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION and after the 2010 Election.

To quote the Encyclical “Centessimus Annus”: “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.” The President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Martino, further states: “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 in behalf of a society that is governed by laws.”

The biggest problem that our country is facing is the global economic crisis, resulting in the growing number of poor people in the midst of corruption. The bayanihan spirit of pagtutulungan by both rich and poor will be a great help. But what our country more urgently needs is to look for and elect people who will govern us with honesty above all, with integrity, truthfulness, justice and accountability. More than change the form of our government, they are those who are guilty of graft and corruption who need to change or be changed.

In the spirit of Advent, everyone needs “cardiac conversion” from whatever is evil to everything that is good. This will be the best preparation for a meaningful Christmas season.

The citizens should watch, critique and denounce the manipulations of government; they need above all to pray for enlightenment to seek what is best for the country in order that she may rise up with right vision and hope.

Archbishop of Jaro
CBCP President
November 24, 2008