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Is there Food in the Duterte Revolution?

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CELEBRATING the 50th anniversary of this magazine is a signal milestone. It has survived the media repressive martial law of Ferdinand Marcos. It has withstood the penury that is characteristic of most advocacy magazine that seldom attracts sponsors, except during the 70s when the print-run shoot up to thirty or so thousands per issue. It witnessed the ecclesiological progression of the Church that was triggered by Vatican II. It saw the Vietnam War, the collapse of the USSR, the tearing of the Berlin Wall and the splintering of the communist ideologies Through thick and thin, IMPACT Magazine has been zealous in pursuing the development of perspectives on social issues not

only within the confines of the Catholic Church but also in other Asian religions. Its editor, Fr. Cornelius Breed, wrote thus: “In spite of the defects inherited from the past, world religions have a most powerful influence far beyond their limited authority; yet often are

a great obstacle to renewal today. They are deeply respected and

cherished by most people, but today also more critically appraised, because of their fundamental tendencies and clutches to age-long traditions. Religions are so powerful, because these respond to the deepest aspirations of man, the quest for the infinite and eternal. Religions shape the interior life of individuals and communities, much more than governments do.” Browsing cursorily through past issues of IMPACT, one gets the impression that in many instances it may have been a lone voice crying in the wilderness as it tackled issues on war and armaments, population and health, ideologies and world religions, labor and social change, among many others. In his foreword to Fr. Breed’s compilation of Impact editorials, Antonio L. Ledesma opines: “To read these editorials as mere essays dealing with agriculture, development, population and human

rights is to miss their essential meaning. For these editorials have

a unifying framework—the conviction that the spiritual flows over

the material, so that the material and the earthly take on a spiritual and heavenly content. This perspective lies behind the meaning of IMPACT’s theme: ‘Raising the Consciousness towards One Mind, One Humanity, One Destiny.” It is a vision of Teilhard de Chardin… that mankind tends to become one towards someone who totally transcends humanity.” This anniversary edition is dedicated to IMPACT’s editor of 38 years, from 1965 to 2004. Fr. Breed was a visionary whose dream of “a new civilization” was visible in every issue of this monthly magazine. He was a Mill Hill Missionary who was ordained a Catholic priest in London, studied doctorate in Canon Law in Rome and took parish work in Antique in Western Visayas. His active participation in the Priests’ Institute for Social Action (PISA) in Hong Kong in 1965 resulted in his appointment as the first executive secretary of the newly established National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) whose nationwide network of diocesan directors of social action he organized. This issue is a thanksgiving for all that IMPACT has become albeit modestly in 50 years. This, too, is a statement of gratitude for all the staff and friends who worked tirelessly all these years. Deo Gratias!







Must the Church speak on socio-political issues?

16 | Must the Church speak on socio-political issues? 4 | Parishes as wellsprings of mercy



Parishes as wellsprings of mercy and renewal



It takes more than a President



The challenge of bridging the gap between word and praxis: Reflections on Catholic Social Doctrine



Basic Ecclesial Communities: Agents of communion, participation and mission



Stewards of God's creation



Human dignity is the right of all



NASSA/Caritas Philippines: Gains and pains in the past



News Features






From the Blogs






Asia News

quote in the act

"Human dignity is not negotiable or determined by national laws."

Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; in his intervention at the UN General Assembly during a committee discussion on the “Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

"If there is no substitute for victory in war, neither is there any substitute to preparedness in any emergency."

Crispin Varquez, bishop of the Diocese of Borongan; in a pastoral statement issued on the 3rd anniversary of super typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, warning of complacency in times of disasters.

"May our government officials take into consideration the life and future of our people and environment, not on profit or on materials convenience."

Ruperto Santos, bishop of the Diocese of Balanga in Bataan; on the issue of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly giving a green light to the activation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant which had been mothballed before it became operational by the Cory Aquino government.

"We cannot tell the Church to keep quite. It’s not in the nature of the Church to keep quiet because the Church must always proclaim."

Socrates Villegas, archbishop President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and president of the newly launched Aid to the Church in Need (CAN) Philippines; saying that another form of persecution is to silence the Church and not get involved in politics, culture, business or in integral human development.

"It remains a priority of the Church to make herself a “field hospital” for marginalized people who live in every existential, socio-economic, health-care, environmental and geographical fringe of the world."

Pope Francis, in his message to the participants of the 31st International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers held on November 10-12, 2016 at the Vatican.


Parishes as wellsprings of mercy and renewal

Pastoral exhortation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to open the Year 2017 as the Year of Parishes, Communion of Communities

BELOVED people of God:

We welcome the year 2017 in our “novena-years” of preparation for the grateful celebration in 2021 of the five hundredth anniversary of the first coming and first receiving among our people of the Gospel of Christ Jesus and of His holy Church. That forthcoming 2021 celebration, recalling the first Mass and first baptisms in our shores, should be a new and joyous explosion in our lives of faith, hope and love throughout our country. Surely such will be our response to the free and gracious gift from the heavenly Father which made the year 1521, for us Christians first of all, a memorable and incredibly significant “new beginning” in our history.

As we began this “novena” we raised a banner of hope and renewal for the Church in our land with the motto, “Live Christ, Share Christ!” That is the firm resolve with which we now open the Year 2017, and the cry of all of us, dear brothers and sisters is--“Live Christ, Share Christ!” This cry can rightfully be the motto for the now-ongoing “new evangelization”in thePhilippines, which the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines already proclaimed in 1991. To that “renewed evangelization” we brought with us all the hopes and dreams of our people” for a truly “renewed Christian society, life and culture … based on the Gospel Beatitudes, suffused with Christian values of love and peace, of joy and


FEATURE ARTICLE Filipino Catholics attend Mass at a parish Church in Manila. FILE PHOTO hospitality, of

Filipino Catholics attend Mass at a parish Church in Manila. FILE PHOTO

hospitality, of patience and justice.” Thus also did we resolve that the Church in our land would become truly “a church of the poor!” (from ‘The Message of the Second Plenary Council’) “Live Christ, Share Christ!” As we open the Year 2017, we pray that God may grant us abundant grace to make it a year of fuller fulfillment of that motto and that hope. 2017 has been programmed to focus on the parish, “a community of communities”. As a center and fountain of missionary discipleship and zeal for renewed evangelization, “a genuine center of constant missionary outreach.” in “EvangeliiGaudium”Pope Francis insists that the parish “is not an outdated institution and can possess great flexibility still,

depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community.” (EG, 28)

Live communion, share communion The Church is a mystery of communion. Our communion flows from the Trinity overflowing into humanity and sharing a common faith journeying together for the full unfolding of the Kingdom of God. This communion, made possible for us because of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, always has a double dimension—a vertical communion with God and a horizontal communion with our brothers and sisters. The Church’s life of communion is constantly open to ecumenical and missionary


action because this communion is always in a state of mission. The Church in the Philippines is a part of the communion of Churches which is the universal Church. We are a part of the one Church of Christ. In every particular Church "the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active" (Christus Dominus, 11). For this reason, the universal Church cannot be conceived as the sum of the particular Churches, or as a federation of particular Churches. Whoever belongs to one particular Church belongs to all the Churches; since belonging to the Communion, like belonging to the Church, is never simply particular, but by its very nature is always universal (cfr. Lumen Gentium,13).



The present efforts at Church renewal should center on the parish. Without parish renewal, the family and Basic Ecclesial Communities will not find strong supportive ambience, and will continue to feel isolated.

In celebrating 2017 as the Year of the Parish as a Communion of Communities we are challenged to more deeply discern not only the structures of governance of our dioceses and parishes but also of the quality of faith life in the parish, the fellowship, belongingness, and participation experienced by its members. In brief, our focus will be the building of a parish that is truly a faith community immersed in the lives of its people. (CBCP Pastoral Letter Live Christ Share Christ, 2012) In the Philippines our vision of the Church as communion is today finding expression in one ecclesial movement that is the movement to foster Basic Ecclesial Communities” (PCP II, 137). Usually emerging at the grassroots, Basic Ecclesial Communities consciously strive to integrate their faith and their daily life. They are guided and encouraged by regular catechesis. Poverty and their faith urge their members towards solidarity with one another, action for justice, and towards a vibrant celebration of life in the liturgy. (PCP II, 139). How can we work at renewing our parish communities so that they can better respond to the challenge of restoring all things in Christ?

Celebrate communion, listen to the Mother 2017 is the also the centennial year of the apparition of Our Lady to three children in Fatima. At Fatima, Our Lady asked her children to return to Jesus by the three fold paths of prayer, daily Communion and reparation. The message of Fatima still rings clearly and strongly for us. If we dream of Church renewal, let us return to prayer, let us receive her Son in Holy Communion and let us offer reparation for our sin. As we pursue the dream to make every parish community a family of families and a communion of

communities, let us avail of the message of Our Lady of Fatima to help us reach our vision. In the months of May to October 2017, Catholics all over the world, led by Pope Francis, will recall and celebrate the centenary of the six apparitions of Our Blessed Mother to the “three children of Fatima”- Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco Marto and his sister Jacinta. As we in the Philippines celebrate our parishes as communion of communities, we will also turn with prayer and devotion, deeper reflection and rededication to “the Fatima Message” of Our Lady. All these activities will enable us to learn or relearn “what Fatima was all about”; how important and relevant Fatima still is for our time, and how we can and should put into practice “what Fatima asks of us today”, so we can renew and reinvigorate our parishes in the Philippines.

The relevance of parishes, the call of Fatima “The present efforts at Church renewal should center on the parish. Without parish renewal, the family and Basic Ecclesial Communities will not find strong supportive ambience, and will continue to feel isolated.” (PCP II, #604). In the same vein, it would be a lost opportunity if the year of the parish as communion of communities would ignore the clarion call of Fatima for prayer, penance and communion. Pope Benedict XVI took pains to spell out the fundamental significance of the Fatima events and of the message of Our Lady of Fatima. He believes that the “point of Fatima” was not directed only to the emergence of the disastrous dictatorship of the twentieth century in Russia and Germany. No, it referred “to a critical moment in history … when the whole power of evil came to a head” not only in and through those godless regimes


The answer to the power of evil in the world of our time can only come from the transformation of the heart, through faith, hope, love; through penance and conversion.”

but “in another way is still at work today in our time, in the suffering of the Church and the weakening of the forces of good and of the work of God in our world.” If the nation needs healing, the healing will start in our parishes. If the nation needs to crush the forces of evil, it will start in our parishes. If the nation needs to strengthen the presence of God in society, the strengthening of the parishes is the only way. Pope Benedict has written, that “the answer to the power of evil in the world of our time can only come from the transformation of the heart, through faith, hope, love; through penance and conversion.” In this sense, the message of Fatima is precisely not a thing of the past. The Church continues to suffer … even now there is tribulation.” “There is the power which tries to trample down the faith.” What we beg and pray for is this: “that the power of evil be restrained, that the energies of good might regain their vigor. You could say that the triumphs of God and the triumphs of Mary are quiet, but they are real nonetheless,” said Pope Benedict XVI Pope Benedict tells us, then, that the framework and meaning of the message of Fatima is the struggle of the work of God in our world today and the struggle of the life of church and of Christians, that struggle in our own time against the massively-spreading, active

forces of evil and sin in today’s world, in our communities and societies, in our own homes, in our own lives.

New wellsprings of prayer and mercy Let us move toward some proposals for a “program of action for our parishes and basic ecclesial communities”, a program which flows from the Fatima message. Pope Paul VI, in his own summing up of the Fatima message, defined it as “a message of prayer and penance”. So let it be for our parishes! Our communion of communities needs a renewed and passionate program of intense prayer and penance. Parishes and communities will be renewed only through personal and community prayer. Our first mission in the world is to be a leaven to teach our society how to pray. Our first duty in communion is prayer. The prayer of a shepherd for his sheep is always music to the ears of God. Prayer is an act of love. Every prayer whether of praise or contrition or petition is always a plea for mercy. Prayer is our parish anchor. Prayer is our cornerstone. Parishes and BECs will be renewed as oasis of mercy through reparation for sins, frequent confession and acts of mercy. Parishes and communities will be renewed by living the Eucharist whom we receive every day. The


Eucharist is the poverty of Jesus disturbing the complacency of the wealthy; it is the wealthy sacrificing house, family, and fortune to lift up the poor from their poverty. It is the Word of God inviting the confused, the lonely, the bored, the suffering to the joy of the Gospel. It is God’s life humanized in his incarnation; it is human life divinized in his suffering, death and resurrection. It is the compassion of the Father touching the life of the sinner; the conversion of the sinner practicing the compassion of the Savior. Let us envision parish renewal from the Immaculate Heart of Mary and through the means she gave us at Fatima--prayer and penance intensified in every parish. From every parish and basic ecclesial community, let us raise our voices in prayer “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls into heavens especially those in most need of your mercy.” May Our Lady of Fatima whom we also invoke as Mother of the Church pray that for us that every parish truly become oases and wellsprings of renewal and mercy! From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, November 27, 2016, First Sunday of Advent

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan President, CBCP



It takes more than a President

ARTICLES It takes more than a President President Rodrigo Duterte. FILE PHOTO By Charles Avila MY





By Charles Avila

MY good friend, Friar Louis Vitale, OFM, reminded me last week in Pace e Bene that it takes more than

a President to move the country to

a new culture of authentic change:

a country free of the yawning gap

between a very few rich and the very many poor, free of human rights abuses and environmental destruction. It even takes more than a village. It takes a mass mobilization of people moving together. This is what one sees clearly on reviewing five decades of IMPACT reports.

Culture and underdevelopment Some thirty years ago an article written abroad (in the Atlantic Monthly) became the subject of

controversy and attention here by its very title—“A DAMAGED CULTURE: A NEW PHILIP- PINES?” It was a time, right after EDSA I, when people thought a New Philippines had dropped down on them from heaven, or, in the very least and more positively: weren’t they now building one? The “evil Marcos” was out, the “saintly Cory” was in, and democracy marched on worldwide, re-member? The bloodless dethroning of the almighty Marcos made Filipinos feel good with a new dignity and pride but, also, with worse amnesia than they had ever had. The smug unconscious had merrily whistled the simplistic line: take away Marcos; have a new President and everything would be fine.

We plain forgot that most of the things that now seemed wrong

with the economy—such as gro- tesque extremes of wealth and poverty, land-ownership disputes, monopolistic industries in ca-hoots with the government—had been wrong for decades, even centuries, before there was a Marcos in Malacañang. You won’t believe who said the following while one issue of IMPACT followed on another:

"Here is a land in which a few are spectacularly rich while the masses

remain abjectly

land consecrated to democracy but run by an entrenched plutocracy. Here, too, are a people whose ambitions run high, but whose fulfilment is low and mainly restricted to the self-perpetuating

Here is a

elite.” The words were Ninoy Aquino’s, uttered long before Marcos’ martial rule. Many Filipinos just didn’t like it when the Atlantic Monthly article said that “in a sociological sense the elevation of Corazon Aquino through the EDSA revolution should probably be seen not as a revolution but as the restoration of the old order.” Of course the author did not, could not, deny that EDSA’s four days of courage “demonstrated a brave, national-minded spirit”, and “revealed the country's spiritual essence.” But to author James Fallows, nonetheless, the episode seemed “an exception, even an aberration.” He heard in Manila what Pandit Nehru heard much earlier in Delhi: “The more we change the more we re-main the same; we run twenty times faster just to stay in place.” Deeper in the Philippine reality was the damaged culture that led to a “tradition of political cor-ruption and cronyism, the extremes of wealth and poverty, the tribal fragmentation, the local elite's willingness to make a separate profitable peace with colonial powers”, old and new—all reflecting a feeble sense of national identity and a contempt for the common good. At the center of that damaged culture was a twisted view of the ownership of property which ensured the creation and development of oligarchy. That the Philippines is an oligarchy and how it historically became and continues to be an oligarchy is very little understood up to now—which leaves very little chance for the country to ever truly re-form and embrace authentic change. Presidents come and go but the oligarchy stays. Either enough number of us understands this or not. Till now, clearly, we haven’t; hence the incessant, stubborn development of underdevelop-

ment we see all around. Have we not come to accept the sad fact that the rule and sway of the few vs. the rule of the many is something impossible to abolish, that because it has been around for centuries we may already believe it is permanently here to stay, that the broad masses of our people must always stay poor and sick and malnourished and vulnerable to injustice while only a vibrant few keep outspending even the elite of more industrially advanced nations? Well, most of us (with one or two exceptions) revere good Pope Francis. What did he have to say about our situation? He reiterated the age-old insight into the “hierarchy of truth.” Any society can have any number of problems and crises, he said, but the task is to find the predominant one that determines and influences the existence and development of all the others (an application of St. Ignatius Loyola’s insight into tackling first one’s predominant fault). And in our time he said that the biggest scandal we must focus our attention on is the ever- growing gap between the rich and the poor. “The need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the prag- matic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises. Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary re- sponses. As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved … no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of so-cial ills.” (Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium, 202) “Growth in justice requires more than eco-nomic growth, while



We plain forgot that most of the things that now seemed wrong with the economy—such as gro-tesque extremes of wealth and poverty, land-ownership disputes, monopolistic industries in ca-hoots with the government— had been wrong for decades, even centuries, before there was a Marcos in Malacañang.

presupposing such growth (ibid.


In essence, the development of underdevelopment causes the poverty keenly felt by the majority populace. Peasants, agricultural workers, rural landless, fisher folk, indigenous peoples, workers, urban poor, students and professionals, patriotic businessmen and small entrepreneurs—all alike are victims of social injustice and the loss of economic sovereignty, which in turn cannot be changed unless we wake up to their root cause in our own minds’ notion of ownership, and its resultant social practices, institutions and structures—in other words, unless we first wage a te-nacious cultural revolution. We have to go back a couple of centuries quickly. It was the occupation of the Philippines by Westerners that brought a significant and negative change in the idea of property ownership. Heads of barangays were encouraged to individually own



what traditionally were regarded as communal lands of the whole barangay and to lay de facto claims to the lands of those indebted to him. For the first time ever people could and would now appropriate for themselves as their exclusive property the lands that had hitherto honestly in their mind and in actual practice truly belonged to all. This process of individual appropriation of land accelerated in the Philippines throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This is how oligarchy came about. If one has the time and the inclination one could telescope the evolution of property ownership from land ownership to the ownership of modern industrial, commercial, finance, political (yes, ownership of the state) and other forms of capital to this very day. It’s a tale of who owns what for how long a time now to the exclusion of the great majority. It’s a tale of elite families shaping and being shaped by the processes of change and the persistence of an unjust absolutist and ex-clusivist ownership concept designed to create this yawning gap between rich and poor. The problem of injustice in ownership is, first of all, a problem of philosophy or ideology. Without a clear-cut ideological alternative to the prevailing concept, rebellions and movements toward reforms, including changes in Presidential personae from Ramon Magsaysay to Rodrigo Duterte, no matter how many and how strong, ultimately fail. Without it, insurrections like we have seen in early Rome and latter-day Philippines will not necessarily result in genuine social revolutions. Thousands will be killed or die—for nothing. Thus the moral-philosophical view was advanced that human ownership of anything at all must be regarded in the nature of stewardship—not in the nature of an absolute and exclusivist

domin-ium, as in the Roman law

concept so prevalent till now. And

a “steward” (vs. a “dominus” or ab-

solute owner) is indeed, one, who has right and powers over property but not absolutely—not in any way he wants—but merely according to the will of the real or absolute Owner of all things. The Herculean task then and now is to confront this established ownership concept and stand it on its head with reformed policies, laws and strong governance backed up by even stronger peo-ple’s organizations—the type which are not merely for the people but of the people and by the people themselves. Simple? Yes, but not

quite, as the predicate for success

is precisely getting into existence

such vibrant organizations of the

people. Indeed, it takes more than

a President.

From being an instrument of exclusion and separation we would now want ownership to be one of inclusion and community

creation. Instead of an unlimited and absolute power it should be

a limited one, related to genuine

human values. Instead of being

considered an end in itself it must be considered a means to certain clear ends. For instance, if land ownership

is merely a means to the proper

use of land, what land use and land ownership programs would be realistic enough to follow a moral philosophy of having? What kind of land value taxation can or should be used for this purpose (right now – zero)? Clearly, the question is crucial if one expects to have peace and prosperity of being. A given community may agree among themselves, for instance, that the purposes of land use are food security for all, decent habitats for all, and an ecologically

harmonious economic regime for the common good. Many IMPACT issues the past 50 years clearly show how we adopted the kind of land distribu-tion

that often led to land destruction and never bothered to go for rural development and rural industrialization. Other countries, like South Korea and Taiwan, did— and they are prosperous nations today. There seems no end of reports regarding the perverted politics of money, personalities, patron-age. social connections and coercive violence practiced by the rent- seeking wealthy and power-ful who own the state and its agencies in various ways of sharing and altercation—all the while singing praises to any incumbent popular President’s obligatory commitment to the common good. Hence, so many of us know in our guts that a mere change of political personalities may only mean more of the same—the same oligarchy that has reigned the past few hundred years using the same money tactics to hold captive politicians exhibiting the same attitudes, doing the same practices with the same results that differ only as the years go by because they become smarter, and get to be worse and worse—which is not to deny the contradiction that somehow (with in-creasing difficulty now) some Presidents manage to maintain an image of good intention and in- corruptibility. The reality, however, is: it takes more than a President. The needed change we desire, for instance, the re-structuring of society into a modern indigenous network of rural industries and other community-based industries requires a strong people’s movement led by a spearhead of organized change makers (development workers or leaders), and supported by all kinds of direct and representative people’s actions—evidence of a trans- formed populace. Yes, indeed, it takes more than a President. It takes a new mind, a new culture, a new people. Can this ever be possible?


The challenge of bridging the gap between word and praxis:

Reflections on Catholic Social Doctrine

Fr. Eutiquio ‘Euly’ B. Belizar, Jr., SThD

ASK any ordinary Catholic, let’s say, any Filipino Catholic,

if he/she has heard about the

social teachings of the Church.

A positive answer would not be

a surprise. Bishops, priests and

catechists, after all, have been teaching or preaching on them especially since Vatican II. But a negative answer would be more likely than we are prepared to admit. The reason is that Catholic social teachings seem, to ordinary Catholics, to be matters that have more to do with official Church views on socio-economic-political matters, whereas their general Church life often means going to church on Sundays or raising funds for parish projects or going to prayer and Bible sessions with their faith community/ BEC cluster, if any. In a word, while the official Church may be strongly integral in its pronouncements on Christian

life, concrete parish life is mostly

a traditionally institutional and

cultic experience. Word and worship may be vibrant; Christian practice and lifestyle could be lagging behind. For instance, the social doctrine of the Church has been with us officially since Rerum Novarum (‘Of New Things, 1891) by Pope Leo XXIII till Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ (‘On the Care for our Common Home’, 2015). But the question that must not cease hounding us till it finds

a satisfactory answer is: How far has it really been received, taken to heart and made “criteria for reflection”, “principles of judgment” and “directives for action” (to borrow the important phrases from St. John Paul II in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, no. 8) among Catholics, particularly its lay faithful? Could the answer be easily forthcoming or, as a song says, “blowing in the wind”? There are aspects of the question that I believe we need to ponder.

Forming a practical moral social conscience As though anticipating the gap between teaching and practice, the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines recommended from the very start a vigorous formation of Filipino Catholics aimed at inculcating in them a conscience that moves from basic “love of good” and “avoidance of evil” to a “practical moral conscience” that makes persons or groups “turn aside from blind choice and try to be guided by the objective standards of moral conduct” (PCP II, 284, 286). We must wonder loudly how well have we been doing in this area of social conscience formation in the Philippine Church in ways that impact concrete parishes of concrete dioceses. Are our evaluations and assessments bearing fruit in terms of socially and morally formed leaders in our political, economic, social and cultural lives?


Papal teachings: Continuity and unique contributions It all starts with Pope Leo XXIII’s acute perception of the inhuman conditions of workers and the growing power of social movements. In response he champions the creation of a just society through his “just wage theory” and the protection of the workers’ rights (Rerum Novarum). Pope Pius XI is especially distressed by the specter of child and female labor tolerated and even promoted in authoritarian and dictatorial regimes which he also condemns (Quadragesimo Anno-On the Fortieth Year, 1931). His boldness in doing so is unique. Pope John XXIII keeps up the worker question by advocating worker participation and ownership, then focuses on international poverty rather than simply on that in industrialized countries (Mater et Magistra—Mother and Teacher, 1961), while condemning threats to peace in racism and the arms race (Pacem in Terris— Peace on Earth, 1963). The peace question also gets the attention of Pope Paul VI who goes further than condemning the arms race by advocating the integral development of peoples as the new name for peace (Populorum Progressio—The Progress of Peoples, 1967), reaffirming the priority of workers and urging Christians to look into their social realities for solutions in the light of the Gospel (Octogesima Adveniens—On the Eightieth



Year, 1971). Again Pope John Paul II reaffirms the workers’ dignity as participants in God’s creativity and productivity and promoted by solidarity (Laborem Exercens—Through Work, 1981), condemns the ‘structures of sin’ and the gap between rich and poor while upholding ‘preferential love for the poor’ (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis—The Social Concern of the Church, 1987). He condemns the excesses of capitalism, the ‘idolatry of the market’ and the ‘insanity of the arms race’ but affirms the ‘universal destination of earthly goods’ (Centesimus Annus—The One Hundredth Year, 1991), then promotes the sanctity of life and the ‘culture of life’ against its violations (Evangelium Vitae—The Gospel of Life, 1995). Pope Benedict XVI, for his part, meets head on the issues of social justice and poverty by affirming the inseparability of charity from justice as well as from truth (Caritas in Veritate—Charity in Truth, 2009). For Pope Francis, on the other hand, talks of the social question in terms of evangelization of which it is an important dimension (Evangelii Gaudium—The Joy of the Gospel, 2013), then takes up the ecological question by calling for a “swift and unified global action” and attention to the “cry of the earth” and the “cry of the poor” (Laudato Si—On Care for our Common Home, 2015). All these teach us how continuity of our social concern also means an openness to the new and concrete situations of the times we are in.

Universal principles locally applied Catholic social doctrine has seven pillars that are universally acknowledged and taught, namely:

Life and the Dignity of the Human Person; Call to Family,

Community and Participation; Rights and Responsibilities; Option for the Poor and the Rights of Workers; Solidarity; Care for God’s Creation (as articulated by the US Catholic Bishops Conference). On the other hand, PCP II takes a slightly different path when looking at the Church’s social teachings from the perspective of the Philippine situation. In its discernment certain truths or principles have greater relevance to the Church in the Philippines, such as Integral Development Based on Human Dignity and Solidarity; Universal Purpose of Earthly Goods and Private Property; Social Justice and Love; Peace and Active Non- Violence; Love of Preference for the Poor; the Value of Human Work; the Integrity of Creation; and the Empowerment of People (PCP II, 293-329). It is remarkable how differences of socio-economic-political situations in different places where the Church exists could also mean different perspectives on relevant principles to give weight to. For example, in the previous presentation by the US Bishops Conference of the seven pillars of Catholic social doctrine, it is remarkable that one does not find as much emphasis on the principle of the universal purpose of earthly goods as our PCP II does. In fact, it is not in the list. One inevitably asks: Is the wealthy socio-economic environment within which the US Church lies makes the importance of the universal purpose of earthly goods less perceived or appreciated than we do in the Philippines?

Stress on the social doctrine’s scriptural and spiritual roots One block that keeps separating the social doctrine of the Church from Christian praxis is the perception that it is basically social work that has little to do

with faith. A constant appeal to the God of the Scriptures is in order. God, as we are taught by the Bible, is a liberating God who created us in his image and likeness. This has tremendous consequences that we see in the acts of God himself. He frees us from non-existence, then frees his People from various slaveries, as in Egypt and in indebtedness and poverty to which prophets are sent as agents of his liberating message. Finally, he sends his Son to free us from the fundamental roots of slavery and decay: sin and death, Satan’s claws and chains on mankind and God’s creation. In other words, a profound linkage between catecheses on the social teachings and Scriptures will go a long way in connecting faith and social practice.

Parish and diocesan structures as examples of integral spirituality There are basic scandals we must acknowledge in our concrete lives are Catholics. I cite two: Catholics who are active in social action but not in spirituality-oriented acts or concerns; and Catholics who actively pray and participate in liturgies and spiritual concerns but scarcely see social action as part of faith life. The point is, both are only half right. The formation of social action workers towards deeply cultivating their prayer life and spirituality may well be a good lead for the many who are content with mere cultic Catholicism. On the other hand, by periodically doing catecheses on the Church’s social doctrine for the benefit of the ordinary Church-going Catholics together with encouragements that they involve themselves in concrete programs for the poor and other social-concerns-oriented activities, bridging the gap may not necessarily be achieved at once but will definitely get a good start.


Basic Ecclesial Communities:

Agents of communion, participation and mission

By Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, SThD

THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has declared 2017 as the Year of the Parish as Communion of Communities. The CBCP pastoral exhortation “On Era of New Evangelization” describes the focus of this year:

“This is a year when we more deeply discern not only the structures of governance of our dioceses and parishes but also of the quality of faith life in the parish, the fellowship, belongingness, and participation by its members. In a special way we shall probe into our efforts of making the parish a communion of communities, a communion of Basic Ecclesial Communities and of covenanted faith-communities and ecclesial movements. We shall discern and implement measures on how communities of consecrated life may be more integrated into the life and mission of the parish. In brief, our focus will be the building of a parish that is truly a faith community immersed in the lives of its people.” The priority for this year is forming and revitalizing of Basic Ecclesial Communities in every parish as agents of communion, participation and mission with the active participation of other faith communities, lay organizations, movements and associations (LOMAs). The theme of 2017 is in line with the PCP II vision of a renewed Church which is also based on the Vatican II vision of the Church: The Church as Community of Disciples that live in communion and that participate in the mission of the Church as a priestly, prophetic and kingly people and as the Church of the Poor. For PCP II, this vision of the Church finds expression in the Basic Ecclesial Communities. PCP II links communion with participation and mission. “Participation is a very important aspect of the Church as communion…In the Philippines, participation largely means enabling the laity to participate more fully in the life of the Church and in its task of mission.” (PCP II



The link between communion and mission is further emphasized when PCP II asserts that “the Church is a communion in a state of mission.” Participation in Mission as Communion does not simply mean that everyone – from hierarchy to laity - participate in decision making process or in governance. Participation is linked to Mission—especially the three-fold prophetic, priestly and kingly mission. Thus, the Church is communion that participates in mission. The BECs which is considered as a new way of being Church is likewise the locus and agents of communion, participation and mission. In this article, I wish to expound what BECs are and in what way they are agents of communion, participation and mission. In referring to the parish as communion of communities—the primary reference is to the BECs although not exclusively. The BECs are local communities of Catholic Christians at the neighborhood and villages within the parish. The members are close to one another and relate to each other as friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord. They gather regularly to share the Word of God and live it in their daily life, to pray and celebrate their faith. They share their resources and find ways to help and serve one another and those who are poor and address their problems. They are known by many local names (GKK, GSK, MSK, Gimong, SISA, etc.). There are various forms and shapes: Chapel-centered communities—40 to 100 families; Chapel- centered communities with family groupings or cells (composed of 7-15 families per FG); Family groupings/cells without chapels (link all FGs as one community/BEC) PCP II recognizes the BECs as expression of the vision on a renewed Church which includes communion: “Our vision of Church as communion, participation and mission, Church as Priestly, Prophetic and kingly people, and as Church of the Poor, a Church that is renewed, is today finding expression in one ecclesial



movement. This is the movement to foster Basic Ecclesial Communities.” (#137) “They are small communities of Christians, usually of families who gather together around the Word of God and the Eucharist. These communities are united to their pastors but are ministered to regularly by lay leaders. The members know each other by name, and share not only the Word of God and the Eucharist but also their concerns both material and spiritual. They have a strong sense of belongingness and responsibility for one another.” (PCP II 138) St. John Paul II describes BECs as part of the effort to decentralize the parish community and regard them as expressions and means for a deeper communion: ““These are groups of Christians who, at the level of the family or in a similarly restricted setting, come together for prayer, Scripture reading, catechesis, and discussion of human and ecclesial problems with a view to a common commitment. These communities are a sign of vitality within the Church, an instrument of formation and evangelization, and a solid starting point for a new society based on a “civilization of love.” These communities decentralize and organize the parish community, to which they always remain united. They take root in less privileged and rural areas, and become a leaven of Christian life, of care for the poor and neglected, and of commitment to the transformation of society. Within them, the individual Christian experiences community and therefore senses that he or she is playing an active role and is encouraged to share in the common task. Thus, these communities become a means of evangelization and of the initial proclamation of the Gospel, and a source of new ministries.” “Because the Church is communion the new ‘basic communities,’ if they truly live in unity with the Church, are a true expression of communion a means for the construction of a more profound communion. They are thus cause for great hope for the life of the Church.” (RM 51) How can BECs be genuine expression of communion? The members experience the bond of unity which is based on shared faith, celebrated in the breaking of the bread, concretely expressed in the sharing of material goods (Acts 2:42ff). In the BECs the members know each other, they have a strong sense of belonging and responsibility for one another. They live as brothers and sisters, as community of friends— kapuso, kapamilya, kaibigan and kapitbahay.

of friends— kapuso, kapamilya, kaibigan and kapitbahay. The Catholic families are linked to other families in

The Catholic families are linked to other families in the neighborhoods and organized as family groupings or BECs cells. The neighborhood cells or family groupings are linked to each other and comprise the chapel-level or area level BECs. These BECs are linked to other BECs. There are lots of celebration and table- fellowship in BECs—with simple common meals to fiesta celebration. The celebration of the Eucharist is more meaningful because it expresses and celebrates the life of communion—of unity, friendship, sharing and participation among the members. The sharing of time, talent and treasure is an essential expression of communion. This means practicing a spirituality of stewardship. This generates a spirit of volunteerism (sharing of time and talent). Some BECs adopt a modified tithing system (sharing of treasure) which is


Thousands of people fill the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City for the Mass to end the 3rd CBCP Basic Ecclesial Community National Assembly, November 14, 2015. ROY LAGARDE

voluntary by nature. There are also mutual aid systems and income generating projects designed to help the members who are needy and even those who are not members of the community. Some BECs in the rural areas have set up communal farms. Many have organized cooperatives. In the BECs, the members express their communion more fully as they unite and actively participate in fulfilling their threefold mission. This is the prophetic mission—of proclaiming and giving witness to the Word of God, the Good News, as well denouncing the manifestation of evil in society. This is the priestly mission— through active participation in the liturgical celebration. This is the kingly/servant mission— of working for the kingdom, for justice, peace and the integrity of creation. This is a mission of social transformation.

The BECs carry out their mission within the parish, starting in their own neighborhood, in the barangay or village, in nearby communities. They go to the peripheries in the parish and reach out to those who are baptized but not evangelized, those who are nominal or seasonal Catholics and those who are alienated from the Church. They engage in dialogue with Christians from other denominations and those who belong to other religions. Many BECs have not yet realized this vision of a renewed Church. The task of the clergy and the lay faithful during and beyond the Year of the Parish as Communion of Communities is forming and revitalizing BECs so that they truly become agents of communion, participation and mission. In this way, they will indeed become what Pope Francis calls “Communities of Missionary Disciples.” (EvangeliiGaudium).




Stewards of God’s creation

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THIS might be too big or too abstract an issue for a newspaper column to tackle, but I think it is worthwhile to bring it out if only to remind ourselves of our responsibility as stewards of God’s creation whose integrity we have to uphold, enhance and defend. The world today is developing very fast, and we just have to get a handle on these developments that clearly are not all that right. There are many questionable things taking place, like the issue of climate change etc. That’s why we now have a graver concern over how we are taking care of our environment, with Pope Francis, for example, issuing an encyclical on it entitled, ‘Laudato si.’ As God’s image and likeness and redeemed children of his through Christ, we are tasked to take care of God’s creation. “Be fruitful and increase in number. Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen 1,28) That was God’s clear mandate to our first parents. It continues to be ours too, till the end of time. The world has been given to us by God as the place for us to do our life’s test of whether to love him in


return or not. As such, it comes to us with a certain order, direction and unity. It comes to us with laws that we try to discover and follow. As the masterpiece of that creation, we are made its stewards who have to take care of it, always with the mind of God and never just with our own ideas. That’s why we need to always be in God’s presence, asking for his guidance. We can never overemphasize our need for prayer, for studying the doctrine of our faith, so we can discern God’s will and ways as we go through our earthly affairs. Offhand, the catechism tells us some basic indications of how we can respect the integrity of creation. “Animals, like plants and inanimate beings,” it says, “are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives.” (CCC 2415) It continues by saying that “man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the equality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.”



for the integrity of creation.” IMPACT NOVEMBER 2016 In following these indications with prudence, I imagine

In following these indications with prudence, I imagine that aside from prayer and study, a lot of consultation among concerned parties should be done. This is especially so when dealing with legitimate interests and values that compete and collide against each other. Let’s hope that we develop the appropriate attitudes, skills and structures to put these ideals into practice. Leaders from various sectors—church, politics, business, culture, etc.—should come together to develop this greater sensitivity toward our duty to


ARTICLES Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles leads thousands of anti-coal groups in marching around Batangas City to

Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles leads thousands of anti-coal groups in marching around Batangas City to protest the proposed coal plants in their province, May 5, 2016. Around 8 proposed coal-fire powerplants is set to be constructed around the province, countering the Philippines' climate initiative of reducing car- bon emissions as part of the COP21


Let’s hope that we develop the appropriate attitudes, skills and structures to put these ideals into practice.

respect the integrity of creation. St. John Paul II once remarked:

“It is the Creator’s will that humans should treat nature not as a ruthless exploiter, but as an intelligent and responsible administrator.” We need to have a clear idea of what would comprise keeping and enhancing the integrity of

God’s creation and what would harm it. In this regard, the Church is offering her social doctrine to give some guidance. “The Church receives from the Gospel the full revelation of the truth about man.

When she fulfills her mission of proclaiming the Gospel, she bears witness to man, in the name of Christ, to his dignity and his vocation to the communion of persons. She teaches him the demands of justice and peace in conformity with divine wisdom.” (CCC 2419) It is important that the voice of the Church be heard and considered with utmost respect. While human ideologies will always have something valid to offer, it is our God-given faith that at the end of the day contains all the truth about how we have to

carry out our duty toward the integrity of creation. It is our God-given faith that puts everything in order, in unity and with proper direction. It covers all the needs of man and provides the resources for any eventualities that can take place in our earthly affairs, including our mistakes. This God-given faith, together with its necessary complement of hope and charity, should serve as the spirit behind all our temporal affairs that would need all the helpful contributions of our sciences and technologies.




Human dignity is the right of all

By Fr. Shay Cullen

WE are bombarded daily by the news and images of violence and mayhem. The bombing of Yemen and Aleppo, the horrific war in Iraq and Syria, conflicts in Sudan in Africa and with the deaths and suffering of migrants and refugees fleeing violence and war. It gives us urgent reason to feel the human suffering and to think and act about our humanity. What are we as a species that we do violence to each other? As a species, are we more animal than human, more violent than peaceful? Has our intelligence brought greater, more efficient means of killing and exterminating others than building equality and peace, ending hunger and poverty of hundreds of millions of people? It seems we, humans with the big brains and intelligence, are damaging ourselves and our planet beyond repair and recovery. Are we not like a shipload of humans fighting among ourselves and causing the ship to sink? The aggressors tend to demonize their opponents, to take away their self- worth and self-respect and deprive them of their dignity. They do so to exert superiority over them. Racial hatred is the result and it is on the rise in the world today. The human has evolved as the most aggressive and destructive species on the planet to the extent of one more powerful group in a community or country striving hell-bent on dominating or even exterminating others they dislike and whom they consider to be inferior, different or dangerous to them. When two or more groups feel threatened by others, they arm themselves and are ready for aggression or self-defense, violence, war and retaliation.

aggression or self-defense, violence, war and retaliation. Peaceful community life and co-existence is possible when

Peaceful community life and co-existence is possible when the universal human rights of all members of a group are recognized, cherished and protected from those who

all members of a group are recognized, cherished and protected from those who would deny them.

would deny them.

Crime scene investigators inspect an image of Jesus Christ that belonged to a suspected drug

Crime scene investigators inspect an image of Jesus Christ that belonged to a suspected drug pusher who was killed and dumped along EDSA in Pasay City, November 10, 2016. VINCENT GO

Doing nothing is to forfeit our rights and dignity. We are in this planet together and we must work together to live in peace and harmony with equality and justice. Dialogue, discussion, talking over differences, getting to know and understand those who are different from us in race, religion and economic status can bridge the gap. It is when we engage and look each other face to face and listen to each other that there is a chance for peaceful negotiation and understanding can be reached. Troops and weapons are being sent to Eastern European countries by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to counter the threat of Russia to wage war by proxy as it did in Crimea and Ukraine. The Russian leadership feels threatened by the increasing number of states joining the NATO and intends to assert itself. Diplomacy and persuasion is the road to peace. Violence in a family, a community or between nations can begin when some members are considered to have less rights and dignity than another. One group will dominate another and deprive them of freedoms and rights. Motives differ, some want to exploit and grow rich on the backs of the poor; others want to take over the nation’s natural wealth. It is the greed and will to have power over others that drive the violence in our world. Peaceful community life and co-existence is possible when the universal human rights of all members of a group are recognized, cherished and protected from those who would deny them. That’s why awareness of these rights and dignity is essential to defend and promote them and that is to promote peaceful living together in cooperation and mutual respect. The most successful nations are built on the respect and adherence to the rule of law that establishes and defends human



rights and dignity. These rights declared by the United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and specified in various international conventions are the bedrock upon which people of the world are supposed to live lives of dignity and harmony with justice and equality. They are also at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching, which traces as its source of wisdom and enlightenment the faith and belief in a loving greater power that exists within and beyond the physical universe and imbues every creature with value and worth. It is a belief that every human being comes to life no matter their condition, status, race, religion, disability, rich or poor. They have equal value and rights that is established in the image and likeness of universal goodness and love. This is inherent self-value and worth of every individual and the recognition that they have equal human dignity that cannot and should not be taken away from them. From this universal recognition of human dignity of each person by all nations derives all other rights. We ought to recognize and respect in all others that which we want to be recognized and respected in us, too. At the very least such universal rights, based on the dignity of each human person, is a shared strategy for survival and success. At its highest level it brings about a well- ordered peaceful and prosperous, united community where the dignity of each is respected and protected. It has to be this recognition of the dignity, integrity and empowerment with equality of the human person that has to be highly valued above all else. It is not the strongest that ought to survive at the expense of the weaker but respect for human dignity of each person is what will bring about just, peaceful communities and nations.



Must the Chu socio-politica

Priests and seminarians light candles to oppose the government’s plan to bury the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani during a protest action held a day before the 44th year of Martial Law declaration in Quezon City, Sept. 20, 2016. MARIA TAN

rch speak on l issues?

By Lope C. Robredillo, SThD

ON the November 8, 2016 decision of the Supreme Court to allow the remains of Ferdinand Marcos to be interred at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, published a quote from Abp Socrates Villegas, CBCP President: “I am very sad. The burial is an insult to the EDSA spirit. It mocks our fight to restore democracy. I am puzzled and hurt and in great grief. It

calls for greater courage to make the full truth of the dictatorship known.” Comments were mixed. But typical of those who were against the Archbishop’s statement was a netizen of the social media who goes by the name of Salty Nooblet Cyrus. Far from arguing on the merits of the quotation, she/he zeroed in on authority and right to make such a statement

on a political issue, opining that the separation of Church and State must be observed, and that Church authorities must confine themselves to the spiritual realm.

Contra arguments on Church’s socio-political involvement Must Church leaders not speak on social and political issues? It might be of help to take a look at




the separation

of Church and State, is probably one of the least understood principle in Church-State relations. Quite often, ordinary people take it to mean simply that the Church should not interfere in the affairs of the State, just as the State should not meddle in the concerns of the Church.

the most common objections. Separation of Church and State. The first one, the separation of Church and State, is probably one of the least understood principle in Church-State relations. Quite often, ordinary people take it to mean simply that the Church should not interfere in the affairs of the State, just as the State should not meddle in the concerns of the Church. Thus, when some Church officials denounce government policies, some immediately call the denunciation a violation of the separation of Church and State. If anything, they expect Church officials to be silent when it comes to poli-tics, social and political policies and programs. This is far removed from its meaning. The principle, enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitu-tion, Art II, Sec 6, finds its explication on the bill of rights in Art III, Sec 5, stating that no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting its free exercise. It guaran-tees free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights. Phil-ippine jurisprudence has long interpreted the principle along this line, and has never construed it to signify suppression of public voice of the Church. Which things are Caesar’s? Oftentimes, people object to the Church’s interference in political and societal affairs on the ground that Jesus himself clearly forbade it. Tacked to that claim is the saying, “Render to Caesar the thing that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). This has been interpreted in various ways by exegetes, ranging from those who take it as counselling obedience to political authorities

to those who see it as an advise on non-payment of taxes (see my book, Jesusological Foundations for a Theology of Social Transfor- mation). But for many defenders of the status quo, the interpretation of S. Dummellow is repre- sentative: Jesus so sympathized with the Roman imperialism that loyalty and submission to civil power are a duty binding in conscience. Today, no exegete worth his salt would take it that way. Practitioners of historical-critical meth-od have shown that, interpreted in its historical context, the emphasis of the saying is on the se-cond segment. Writes Richard Horsley in his book, Jesus and the Spiral of Violence: The key in the saying “must lie in what is Caesar’s and what is God’s… Jesus would appear to be consistent with later rabbinic teaching in this regard… that everything is God’s.” Dorothy Day is quoted to have said that if we render to God everything that belongs to God, there would be nothing left to Caesar. Clearly, the passage cannot be taken as a proof-text for the separation of Church and State. At least, no respectable exegete, either Catholic or Protestant, would invoke the saying to silence the public voice of the Church. Religion as a private affair. A third objection to the Church’s public voice in matters of social and political issues is the idea that religion should be confined to individual morality, that it should only be about private faith and personal piety, church worship and affairs of the sacristy. For some, especially those influenced by Lutheran tradition, the Church should be concerned on-ly with individual’s reconciliation with God, it has to prioritize salvation of the soul, and only discuss the Bible, not social and political questions. In effect, the Church cannot apply any reli-gious

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo leads prayers for the victims of extrajudicial executions at the

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo leads prayers for the victims of extrajudicial executions at the Baclaran Church and condemned the increas- ing number of vigilante-style killings of suspected drug pushers and users, August 10, 2016. MARIA TAN

teaching on political and social life, much less in a critical way. It cannot challenge the existing public order. But that is a caricature of religion. At the heart of Christian religion is the Gospel that has to be announced as good news, but as Gustavo Gutierrez argues in his A Theology of

Liberation, “the annunciation of the Gospel, precisely insofar as it is a message of total love, has an inescapable political dimension, because it is addressed to people who live within a fabric of social relation-ships, which, in our case, keep them in a subhuman


always a direct consequence for social and political life. For this reason, religion cannot be confined to purely private affair nor entirely to other-worldly concerns.

The Gospel has

The Church and socio-political issues of the day That brings us to the role of the Church in social and political affairs. For, if the Gospel has an immediate effect on the life of society, the Church, being herald of the Gospel, cannot ignore the socio-political issues of the day. Its involvement, as noted in the CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics (41-42), can be looked at from different angles. The Gospel and politics. In the Bible, gospel refers first of all to the Kingdom of God, which summarizes the mission of Jesus. According to the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:10), it means doing God’s will on earth; God’s will has to be done not only in the religious, social and economic life of the people, but also in their political life, because politics is an activity in the world. The kingdom-values of


peace, justice, freedom, mercy and reconciliation that the prophets spoke of have to be made visible, if not prevail, in all these aspects of life. But if Jesus has commanded his disciples to bring the gospel to all the world, there is no legitimate reason why it cannot pro-claim it in the field of social and political life, since there is no aspect of human life that cannot be a field of evangelization. Politics has to be transformed and nurtured in the light of the Gos-pel. The mission of the Church and politics. Probably no one disputes that the mission of the Church is one of salvation. But what is salvation? It is regrettable that the term is often taken to mean salvation of the soul, because a correct understanding of the word must take into account the whole person; what is saved is not only the soul but also the



body, and all the dimensions of the human person as a being in the world: spiritual and material, eternal and temporal. That is why, the Second Vatican Council, in Apostolicam Actuositatem, says: “Christ’s redemptive work, while of itself directed toward the salvation of all, involves the renewal of the temporal order. Hence, the mission of the Church is not only to bring to everyone the message of grace of Christ, but also to penetrate and perfect the temporal sphere with the spirit of the Gospel.” Since politics is part of the temporal order, the Church cannot therefore exempt politics in the work of salvation. The moral dimension of politics. All human activity, as it comes from the intellect and will of man, has always a religious and moral dimension. The reason for this is that any human action may lead either to grace or to sin. Since politics, the art of governance and public service, is a human activity, it always has religious

and moral dimension. There is always a moral aspect in the administration of public resources, in the governance of people, and in the dispensation of justice. And inasmuch as the religious and moral dimension of life is the competence of the Church, it cannot therefore overlook politics in the fulfillment of its mission to preach the Gos-pel.

The CBCP’s intervention on social and political issues Papal social encyclicals. It is on account of these various dimensions in relation to politics that the Church has been engaged in the social and political life of the people. But contrary to what many people may think, there is nothing new in this. The Church has been long involved in con- temporary issues of society. In its current form, its intervention finds expression in the series of social encyclicals, beginning with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891 on labor and capital and on the condition of workers, then with

Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno in 1931 on various themes treated in Rerum Novarum, including dignity of labor, rights of workers and the principle of sub-sidiarity. John XXIII took up the themes of private property and social justice in his 1961 Mater et Magistra, while Paul VI’s 1961 Populorum Progressio proposed a pluralistic approach to eco-nomic problems. John Paul II’s Laborem Exercens in 1981, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis in 1987 and Centissimus Annus in 1991 treat of such social and political topics as work as both humanizing and dehumanizing, authentic human development, critique of capitalism and communism, eco-nomic development as enslavement, and option for the poor. Benedict XVI took up various themes in Populorum Progressio, and spoke of layers of development, including inequality, re-spect for life and use of technology in Caritas in Veritate in 2009, and Francis describes our world as a common home that we must care for in Laudato Si in 2015.

a common home that we must care for in Laudato Si in 2015. Caritas Philippines chairman

Caritas Philippines chairman Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona together with the leaders of other faith-based groups and civil society organizations ask President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to adopt its develop-ment and ecological agenda for the poor during a press conference at the Pius XII Center in


The CBCP speaks. Unknown to some many Catholics, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and its predecessor, Catholic Welfare Organization (CWO) have issued more than two hundred pastoral letters and statements, many of which were meant to guide the faithful in relation to the relevant social and political issues of the day. In general, one might classify these latter into three: (1) those that pertain to internal concerns that have to be clarified or restated or explained in the light of new realities in the country in relation to the work of CBCP Commissions. Examples:

“Religious Instruction in Public Schools: An Opportunity and a Challenge” in 1987; “To Form Filipino Christians Mature in their Faith” in 1990; “Save the Family and Live” in 1993. (2) Those that respond to moral and political issues of the day are so numerous, among them be-ing: “CBCP Post Election Statement” in 1986 on the conduction of the February 7 Elections; “Thou Shalt Not Steal” in 1989; “Guiding Principles of the CBCP on Population Control in 1990; “CBCP Statement on the Debt Problem” in 1990; “On Renewing the Political Order” in 1991; “On the Non-Restoration of the Death Penalty” in 1992; “Pastoral Letter on Human Rights” in 1998; “Shepherding and Prophesying in Hope,” in 2006; and “I will turn their mourn-ing into Joy” in 2016. (3) Those that expound its social and political teaching are best represent-ed in “Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Politics” in 1997; “Catechism on Church and Politics” in 1998; “Pastoral Exhortation on the Philippine Economy” in 1998; “Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Culture: in 1999.

Principles that apply in social and political life All these exhortations, statements

and letters show that the Philippine Hierarchy is in touch with the life the people and concerned with the

common good.

they may be, yet they all flow from principles that the Catholic Church have underscored as a result of its reflec-tion on the Word of God in relation to the socio-economic and political realities all through the centuries. Which is why, though one may not be able to read all these documents, it would not be difficult for him to understand the position of the Church if they are read in relation to the principles on which they are based. After all, they embody the CBCP application of these prin-ciples to the issues that confront the Church and the Filipinos. Admittedly, the principles are many, but the following have been emphasized in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) 1991 in its Acts and Decrees (292-329), in the CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Philip-pine Politics (43) 1997, in the CBCP Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Economy (37-85) 1998, and, more recently, in CBCP Pastoral Letter on Social Concerns (18-20) 2006:

Numerous though

Human dignity and solidarity. The human person is made in the image of God, and is called to share life with him. This dignity is the basis and source of all the rights and duties (social, eco-nomic, political) of the human person. All must promote that dignity and denounce whatever oppresses it. The equal dignity of all brings them into mutual solidarity, that is to say, solidarity is built up on the recognition of the dignity of all. Extrajudicial killings and death penalty tram-ple on that dignity. Because of solidarity, one cannot exploit other people or treat them as less than human. Universal purpose of earthly


The human person is made in the image of God, and is called to share life with him. This dignity is the basis and source of all the rights and duties (social, eco- nomic, political) of the human person.

goods and limits to private

property. According to John Paul

II in his Solicitudo Rei Socialis,

one of the greatest injustices in the world is the poor distribution of the goods and services originally intended for all. Thus, the use and ownership of the goods of land must be diffused for the

benefit of all, not confined to a few families. That is why there is a limit to private property; this has

to be subordinated to the universal

destination of goods. Crony capitalism is wrong. Preferential option for the poor. Being an option of Jesus himself who became poor and had compassion for them, this is an obligatory, essential choice. As PCP II puts it, “the common good dictates that more attention should be given to the less fortunate members of society.” It behooves

us to be more concerned with those who are at the margins of human, social and politi-cal life:

the unemployed, poor fisher folk and farmers, street children, slum dwellers, tribal Fili-pinos,



victims of typhoon, drought and earthquake, etc. Social justice and love. True

development is not possible without social justice and love. It demands, among other things, consideration for the common good, and equitable distribution of wealth among different regions and groups. It rejects concentration of wealth, plunder of gov-ernment coffers, graft and corruption, among others. But since justice

is the minimum of love, it has to

have its inner fullness in love. Love

creates solidarity and brotherhood and therefore can help overcome hostilities that divide ethnic, religious and political groups. Peace and active non-violence.

Armed struggle as a method to create transformation of society finds no justification in the teaching

of Jesus. As John Paul said in his

visit to the Philippines, “the road

to total liberation is not the way of violence, class struggle or hate; it is the way of love, brotherhood and peaceful solidarity.” The adage of Jacques Mallet du Pan is lapidary:

“Revolu-tion devours its children.” Integrity of creation. No authentic development is possible without a passionate care for the earth and the environment. Natural resources are limited and cannot be exploited as though they were inexhaustible, as their destruction can be irreparable and irreversible. That they bring enormous sum to the government coffers should not made to justify and trivialize ecological dis-asters that can result from human greed. Priority of labor over capital, workers’ right over profit. John Paul

II enunciates this princi-ple in his

encyclical Laborem Exercens: “We must first of all recall a principle

that has always been taught by the

Church: the principle of the priority

of labor over capital. This principle

di-rectly concerns the process of production: in this process labor

is always a primary efficient cause,

while capital, the whole collection

primary efficient cause, while capital, the whole collection Archbishop Socrates Villegas hugs a mother of a

Archbishop Socrates Villegas hugs a mother of a suspected drug pusher killed by alleged vigilantes after a Mass for the victims of extrajudicial killings at the Dagupan Cathedral, Sept. 14, 2016. GLENN


of means of production, remains a mere instrument or instrumental cause” (12). Since capital is an

instrument, it must serve the common good. For this reason, profit cannot be the main motive of any economic enterprise; it is more intended to serve the community of persons, including the dignity and right of workers. These are but few of the many principles that are fleshed out in the encyclicals of the Popes and in the pastoral letters, statements and exhortations of the CBCP, but sufficient enough to show that when the Church speaks on social and economic issues, it is not its intention to subvert the State. On the contrary, precisely because both Church and State have the same constituents, its intervention should be seen as a service exercised for the good of all. With more reason there-fore should the State guarantee the rights of the Church, but also protect and promote its mission.

If anything, both of them should

rather engage in dialogue, while

maintaining and respecting their proper competence.

Unfortunate development in Philippine Christianity Cultic Catholicism. It is to be

deplored that, in the history of Philippine Christianity, these so- cial teachings are almost unknown

at the level of the lay people. No

wonder, Philippine Catholi-cism is still largely cultic with little bearing on socio-political and economic realities. It is not an exaggeration to say that the number of those who would attend a lecture by the Cardinal on the defense of human dignity would pale in comparison with those who would make it to the proces-sion of the carroza of the Poon Nazareno.

Decalogue-confined morality.

A number of reasons could be

adduced, but part of them is that, for centuries, our teaching on morality has been largely confined

to the memorization of the Ten Commandments. Moreover, their social implications are almost never expounded in the pulpit. While it is true that priests do study the social encyclicals in the seminary at the college level, yet they are not part of the curriculum in the general course of theology. As they become priests, very few ever recall, still less study, the social principles. It is not surprising that in the sacra-ment of reconciliation, social sins are almost never heard of in the confessional. Absence of social principles in catechism. But the absence of social principles in the preaching and teaching of the ordinary parish priest is matched by their absence in catechetical booklets published by dioceses. It seems that in many parts of the country, not much improvement has been done on the content on the Baltimore Catechism or in the Doctrina Cristiana. Dearth of references to CBCP’s wisdom and scholarship in CFC. In addition, it is even a bit ironic that the Catechism for Fiipino Catholics (CFC) issued by the Bishops of the Philippines, while containing social principles (1160-1195), did not draw much from their wisdom and schol-arship that one encounters in their pastoral statements, letters and exhortations. Of the more than 200 of them, only the 1975 Pastoral Letter on the Mahal na Birhen is cited as source from the Philippine Hierarchy. The CFC would have been more Filipino had it cited many times from the documents of the Philippine Hierarchy. That way, the social and political teachings of the CBCP would have been widely disseminated. One has to congratulate the effort of the CBCP Media Office is putting the collection of these documents in the internet. For it is also important that the bishops’ teaching is accessible in the social media. For if the bishops do not speak, who would?


Conclusion It is fitting, before closing this piece, to recall the memorable words of a German at the time of the Nazis. Martin Niemöller,

a Protestant pastor who became

so outspoken in his public criti- cism of Adolf Hitler--easily remembered for his murder of more than 6 million Jews-- that he had to spend 7 years in the Nazi concentration camps. Probably because it had been delivered in several fora, it has several versions, but the meat of the quote is that, for him, the leaders of the Protestant Churches have been complicit in the transmogrification of Hitler

in their silence, espe-cially in the persecution, imprisonment and pogrom of millions of people by the Nazi. Goes the quotable quote: “First, they came for the Socialists, and

I did not speak out because I was

not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Of course, not to keep one’s mouth shut is dangerous. It is no joke to be courageous especially

if one knows that, in a few

moments, he will be six feet below

the ground. In the social media,

a critique of the establishment

will certainly result in a tsunami of trolls posting responses that are, among others, replete with half-truths, inflammatory, ad hominem, off topic, annoying, and full of hatred. But in the real world, being liquidated is not a remote possibility. Jesus himself pointed out: “They will hand you over to persecution and they will kill you. You will be hated by nations because of my name. And many will be led into sin, they will betray and hate one another” (Matt




NASSA/Caritas Philippines:

Gains and pains in the past

FIFTY years ago, the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) was born in the bosom of the Philippine Catholic Church that was swept by the tide of change initiated in the 1960s by Vatican II –an aggiornamento that opened the windows of the Church to the world. Set up in 1966, it began its journey under the guidance of the Philippine Catholic Church which, for the first time in centuries, allowed herself to be challenged by the human condition of poverty and injustice and placed herself at the service of the Filipinos. Throughout the 50 years of its existence, NASSA has been rocked by challenges amid political and economic conditions that threatened to cripple its initiatives, natural and man-made calamities that wreaked havoc on the lives of the people, and internal organizational doubts that chastise its unsuspecting but honest intentions. Like any human organization, NASSA has been affected by the changing social situation and subjected to the push and pull of conflicting social influences even as it tried to cling to the teaching and inspiration of Christ. NASSA/Caritas Philippines’s

preferential option for the poor is reflected in its alternative social development thrust that includes:

• Socio-Economic Agenda

- Rural development through

cooperative, livelihood and micro-

finance projects - Sustainable agriculture and food security

- Ecological and Environmental Resource Conservation and Management

• Socio-Political Agenda

- Political reforms for efficient

and participatory governance

- Electoral reforms for clean

and honest elections - Political/ government transparency through efficient system of monitoring public officials

• Socio-Cultural Agenda

- Efficient and adequate social

services (health care education)

- Social consciousness and value

formation As NASSA/Caritas Philippines entered into the second decade

of the 21st Century, it finds itself

involved in a number of advocacy efforts such as honest electoral politics, anti-trafficking in humans, anti-mining efforts, HIV-AIDs awareness, and a host of other promotional activities.

#REACHPhilippines: The stories of true heroes No words can match the utter despair and absolute wretchedness Typhoon Yolanda spread in November 2013 in central Visayas.

Nations around the globe initially expected that it will take a long time for Filipinos to come to terms with such a great loss. One of the first organizations

to respond to the humanitarian

emergency, NASSA/Caritas

Philippines, through the Caritas Internationalis (CI) confederation, was able to launch three successful emergency appeals. With additional and different forms

of assistance from numerous CI

Member Organizations (CI MOs),

the over-all Caritas response since

2013 totalled already to at least 4.6 billion pesos, reaching more than 1.8 million individuals. The overwhelming support from 42 CI MOs and the

CI enabled NASSA/Caritas

Philippines to implement the

#REACHPhilippines (Recovery Assistance to Vulnerable Communities Affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines)

Program. Partnering with the nine most affected dioceses – Antique, Borongan, Calbayog, Capiz, Cebu, Coron, Jaro, Kalibo and Palo – the

program was able to complement the services and interventions provided by the government and other international and national humanitarian organizations. More important to note, all 166 communities under the #REACHPhilippines Program endeavour to integrate across all sectors the principles and framework of Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) and community organizing to maximize the impact of the program, especially to the most at risk communities. Institutional capacity building initiatives also have been formalized to ensure that the national Caritas and the diocesan social action centers are equipped with the core competencies that will enable them to sustainably continue on with the programs even beyond the 3-year appeal period. Considered as one of the largest, most comprehensive and wide- ranging humanitarian program by Catholic charities worldwide, the #REACHPhilippines was able to implement a full scale emergency, recovery and rehabilitation program which by now, has started to be linked with numerous development and advocacy agenda by the church, the government and the civil society groups, and recognized as a milestone in local humanitarian sector on its own. NASSA/Caritas Philippines has already gone so far on difficult paths. But through the pains and the gains of the past, and down the 50 years of its journey with the people, it has remained ready to rise to the call of the situation.

The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) / Caritas Philippines is the development, advocacy and

The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) / Caritas Philippines is the development, advocacy and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. With funding from Caritas Internationalis (CI) and Caritas Internationalis Member Organizations (CI MOs), NASSA/Caritas Philippines in partnership with the social action centers and relief and rehabilitation units of the dioceses in the Philippines were able to build transitional and permanent shelters to victims of various calamities during the past eight years. The map shows the location of the dioceses and the disasters it responded to together with NASSA/Caritas Philippines.

Tropical Storm Violeta (Merbok)

No. of Shelter Units

Project Cost

and Tropical Depression Winnie 2004



Diocese of Cabanatuan

200 units

Php 14,000,000.00

Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) and Typhoon Pepeng (Parma) 2009



Diocese of Antipolo

250 units



Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan

25 units

Php 1,671,620.00


Diocese of San Fernando (La Union)

50 units

Php 2,089,578.00


Diocese of Urdaneta

40 units

Php 1,812,070.00

Typhoon Sendong (Washi) 2011


6. Diocese of Dumaguete

165 units

Php 6,599,984.00

7. Diocese of Iligan

262 units

Php 11,249,992.00

8. Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

150 units

Php 18,250,020.00

Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) 2012



Diocese of Mati

800 units

Php 17,654,989.00


Diocese of Tagum

190 units

Php 17,654,989.00

Bohol Earthquake 2013


11. Diocese of Tagbilaran

75 units

Php 2,302,797.00

12. Diocese of Talibon

35 units

Php 898,986.00

Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) 2013


13. Archdiocese of Palo

480 units

Php 50,019,850.00

14. Diocese of Calbayog

133 units

Php 18,762,550.00

15. Diocese of Borongan

501 units

Php 22,620,700.00

16. Archdiocese of Jaro

760 units

Php 41,034,500.00

17. Diocese of San Jose de Antique

351 units

Php 27,084,250.00

18. Archdiocese of Capiz

275 units

Php 24,453,200.00

19. Diocese of Kalibo

365 units

Php 31,705,900.00

20. Archdiocese of Cebu

445 units

Php 39043,100.00

21. Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay

300 units

Php 28,133,950.00



Typhoon Nona (Melor) (2013)


Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan

125 units

Php 4,875,000.00


PH gets serious about helping persecuted Christians

AS the only other majority Catholic nation in Asia, the Philippines concretizes its commitment to help the persecuted Church with the opening of Aid to the Church in Need’s Philippine office.

A Pontifical foundation, which

aims to support the needs of

Catholics and other Christians in high-conflict areas, Aid to the Church in Need now has

a national office headed by its

national president, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president Archbishop

Socrates Villegas, together with its national director Jomar Luciano. “The national office [of ACN Philippines] also will create a pool of benefactors that would support the worldwide effort of ACN. For

a very long time, the Philippine

Church has been a beneficiary of donors worldwide, now it’s time for us to also participate in this mission and extend our help to our brothers and sisters,” said Luciano in an interview.

Evangelization support According to him, it is ACN’s mission “to give support to the suffering Church around the world and to help in the propagation

of the faith, especially to places where the Church in persecuted.”

“It supports efforts of

evangelization and mission,” added Luciano. The idea of opening a Philippine ACN office came about when ACN executive president Baron Johannes Heereman von Zuydtwyck of the Knights of Malta in Germany, came to the Philippines to attend the 1 1st International YOUCAT Congress in Tagaytay, revealed Luciano. Since ACN is the mother

in Tagaytay, revealed Luciano. Since ACN is the mother Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President of Aid to

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, President of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines, and bishops Antoine Chbeir of Latakia in Syria and Montfort Stima of Mangochi in Malawi arrives for a press confer- ence at the CBCP headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, November 14, 2016. ROY LAGARDE

foundation of YOUCAT International,

it was during this visit that

Heereman von Zuydtwyck presented to Villegas the plan of creating

a national section of ACN in

the Philippines. Currently, the Philippines is the 23rd national section of ACN.

Religious Freedom Report According to Luciano, ACN, which was initially established in 1947 as a Catholic aid foundation for war refugees, is guided by three principles: prayer, information, and charity. “Through these principles, ACN aims to create awareness of the reality of our suffering brothers and sisters in order for us to extend our support to them. ACN will give us the chance to show our compassion

and solidarity with our persecuted brethren through our help: prayer, information, and charity,” he explained. Villegas will celebrate a Holy Mass on Nov. 15, Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. at the Manila Cathedral right before the blessing of the ACN Philippines Office located at 2/F Arzobispo wing, CBCP Building 470 Gen. Luna, Intramuros, Manila. After the Mass, the ACN will also launch the Religious Freedom Report, which aims to give “an in-depth analysis of the situation of religious exercise in different countries where religious intolerance in reported” every two years, will be read. The Report will also be launched by ACN International in Rome, 6:00 p.m., Philippine time. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz/CBCPNews)


PH youth release statement before COP22

MANILA, Nov. 8, 2016 – A total of 137 Filipino youth from different parts of the country issued an official statement on climate change on the 3rd anniversary memorial Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) that devastated parts of the Visayas in 2013, ahead of the 22nd Conference Of Parties (COP 22) in Marrakesh, Morocco. Led by Climate Reality Project Philippines, the young leaders gathered during the Youth Beyond Paris and Future Negotiators’ Training held in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, from September to October 2016.

Not just a mere paper Dubbed the “2016 Philippine Youth Statement on Climate Change”, the document will be submitted to Philippine negotiators and other youth delegations at the ongoing COP22, from Nov. 7 to 18. “The statement is not a mere paper with words. It carries the aspiration of the Filipino youth of their future. It carries the dream of millions [of] Filipino people, that should never be taken for granted. This statement is a reflection of voices being threatened by climate change, and the only solution is climate justice. This paper upholds our right to develop and most of all, live,” said Ruzzel Morales, representative from the Visayas. The youth statement emphasized “the Philippines’ extreme vulnerability to climate change as well as the need to properly address the plight of communities such as women, children, people with disabilities, indigenous groups, and the marginalized rendered twice vulnerable by the devastation of such natural calamities. The document also recognizes that the employment of the human rights approach to the negotiations is an imperative

for securing the most ambitious commitments from all parties.” The statement also demanded that parties at “the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change seek to address the worsening effects of climate change through the immediate ratification of the Paris Agreement in light of the goal to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The youth also stressed the need to strengthen existing mechanisms on mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, technology transfer, capacity- building, and finance” to help climate vulnerable countries such as the Philippines cope.

‘Non-negotiable’ future Filipino youth also reiterated that the future of the Filipino youth is “non-negotiable”, calling on the Philippine government to strongly consider the ratification of the Paris Agreement. Presently, there are 10 out of 33 certificates of concurrences for ratification that have been submitted to the Climate Change Commission as of Nov. 3, 2016. These government agencies include the Department of Education; the Department of Social Welfare and Development; the National Economic and Development Authority; and others. Headed by Country Manager Rodne Galicha, Climate Reality Project (CRP) Philippines is also guided by Policy Research and Advocacy Director Beatrice Tulagan, who also leads the Philippine youth delegation in Morroco. CRP Philippines is under the bigger non-profit organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate change established in July 2011 by Nobel laureate Al Gore. (Carl Jamie Simple S. Bordeos / CBCPNews)


3 years after Yolanda, bishop warns vs complacency in disasters

MANILA— As recovery continues almost three years after typhoon Yolanda’s devastation, a Catholic bishop called on the public to always be prepared for disasters. In a pastoral letter issued for the third anniversary of Yolanda, Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan said there is no room for complacency, which leads people to ignore disaster warnings. “The third anniversary of Yolanda cannot lead us to complacency. It should and must lead us to watchfulness and preparedness marked by informed resilience,” said the prelate.

marked by informed resilience,” said the prelate. Survivors of typhoon Yolanda remember their loved ones who

Survivors of typhoon Yolanda remember their loved ones who died in the tragedy three years ago during a visit to a mass grave at Holy Cross Memorial in Tacloban City, November

9 , 2016. ROY LAGARDE



“If there is no substitute to victory in war, neither is there any substitute to preparedness in any emergency,” he said. An estimated 16 million people were affected and 1.4 million homes were damaged when Yolanda struck the Visayas region on Nov. 8, 2013. The disaster also brought “horrific” destruction of people’s livelihood, farms, churches, government facilities, infrastructures, among others. “We pray in a special way for those who are still in the process of recovery,” the bishop said as he urged the faithful to continue praying for the thousands of people who died during the onslaught of Yolanda. He lamented the many families who are still living in temporary shelters which already need replacements “that are stronger against any possible emergency.” “I am deeply concerned that these shelters are built mostly of coco lumber,” said Varquez. “Resilience also requires us to build houses and infrastructures able to stand against super typhoons, flooding and earthquakes.” “Equally important, we must cultivate livelihoods and sources of income resilient to calamities, that is, we must be able to support our families despite acts of nature beyond our control,” he added. The prelate also reiterated his call for the people to care for the environment and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. He said efforts are needed to care for the integrity of creation such as planting, recycling, better use of renewable energy, and reduction of energy consumption through austere and simple lifestyle. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)

Bishops slam court ruling on Marcos burial

MANILA– Catholic bishops have deplored a court decision that allows a hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. In a strongly-worded statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines hit the Supreme Court’s verdict, which dismissed all the petitions against the government’s plan to bury Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery. “The burial is an insult to the EDSA spirit. It mocks our fight to restore democracy. We are puzzled and hurt and in great grief,” said CBCP president Archbishop Socrates Villegas. “It calls on us for greater courage to make the full truth of the dictatorship known,” he said. Voting 9-5 with one inhibition, the High Court on Nov. 9 said the petitions had no merit, adding that there is no law that prohibits the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly said his decision would help bring “healing” among the Filipinos. But the bishops warned that Duterte’s move will not bring peace and unity to the country. They also made it clear that peace can only come if there is justice. “Justice demands recognition of the harm done to the people and restitution to the victims,” Archbishop Villegas said. Since his demise in 1989, Marcos’ burial at the heroes’ cemetery had been strongly opposed because of human rights abuses committed during the Martial Law years. The bishops said the dictator had made many people suffer by arbitrary torture and death. “He has deprived many poor people of their basic needs while his

has deprived many poor people of their basic needs while his Protesters display placards during a

Protesters display placards during a rally against outside the Supreme Court against the proposed burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes cemetery, August 31, 2016. ROY LAGARDE

family and cronies were enriched,” said Archbishop Villegas. “We do not forget this!” “We will not allow that this be forgotten by the future generations in order that the same strong-hand oppression may not happen again,” he added. The CBCP head also said that “those who do wrong should be made accountable.” However, according to him, this is not being recognized by the Marcos family and his cronies up to now. “Then the victims of human rights abuses have not been properly compensated for,” Archbishop Villegas lamented. “This is a matter of justice.” “We see this as another step to build the culture of impunity in the country. Marcos is no hero! He should not be presented as one,” he said. The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) earlier said that Marcos’ burial at the heroes’ cemetery will dishonor the efforts of those who fought the dictatorship. The CEAP also said “it will invalidate all that many heroes have spent their lives fighting for.” (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)


Statement on the Supreme Court decision to allow the burial of former President Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

of former President Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani Various groups hold protests in front

Various groups hold protests in front of the Supreme Court in Manila to oppose the hero’s burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, August 31,


WE do not forget! We are saddened by the decision of the Supreme Court to allow the burial of former President Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. We see this as another step to build the culture of impunity in the country. Marcos is no hero! He should not be presented as one. During Martial Law he had made many people suffer by arbitrary torture and death. He has deprived many poor people of their basic needs while his family and cronies were enriched. We do not forget this! We will not allow that this be forgotten by the future generations in order that the same strong-hand oppression may not happen again.

Those who do wrong should be made accountable. First they should admit the wrong they have done. Up to now this is not being recognized by the Marcos family and his cronies. Then the victims of human rights abuses have not been properly compensated for. This is a matter of justice. Burying Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani will not bring peace and unity to the country. Peace can only come if there is justice. Justice demands recognition of the harm done to the people and restitution to the victims. We as Church work for peace and unity that is based on truth and justice for all, especially for the poor and the victims.


We are very sad. The burial is an insult to the EDSA spirit. It mocks our fight to restore democracy. We are puzzled and hurt and in great grief. It calls on us for greater courage to make the full truth of the dictatorship known. Yes, we do not forget and we will not forget!

From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, November 9, 2016

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines



“Be strong in the Lord” (Eph 6:10)

BELOVED People of God:

Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ! Three years ago Super Typhoon Yolanda hit our area and many parts of the Visayas region, bringing horrific destruction on our homes, livelihood, farms, churches, chapels, government facilities, infrastructures, and others. Most of all, many lives were lost in one terror-stricken sweep. All of these we cannot and must not forget. May I congratulate you all for the courage and sacrifices that you have shown in our common efforts to rise from the depths of such a tragedy. I believe it was our common faith and trust in God that gave us all the hope and the inspiration to live and move on. We pray in a special way for those who are still in the process of recovery. And, without diminishing the memory of their lives, let us continue to pray for our beloved dead that they may find peace in God's heavenly kingdom. Please allow me to address the families who are still living in temporary shelters. In two or three years your temporary homes need replacements that are stronger against any possible emergency. I am deeply concerned that these shelters are built mostly of coco lumber. Seeing how obviously helpless these shelters are against another Yolanda or Ruby, I urge you to find suitable remedies to your homes that need them. We all have seen how even foreigners were awed by our resilience after Yolanda. But we must all acknowledge the fact that our faith in God has made individuals, families and communities resilient in the aftermath of climate change

and communities resilient in the aftermath of climate change NUNS light candles and pray for those

NUNS light candles and pray for those who perished during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda at a memorial dedicated especially for those whose bodies were not recovered in Tacloban City, November 8, 2016. Thousands of candles were also lined up along major roads in the city to mark the third anniversary of Yolanda. ROY LAGARDE

disasters like Yolanda. Therefore, let us treasure and keep our faith burning. To do so we must live and share that faith with others. Resilience also requires us to build houses and infrastructures able to stand against super typhoons, flooding and earthquakes. Equally important, we must cultivate livelihoods and sources of income resilient to calamities, that is, we must be able to support our families despite acts of nature beyond our control. There are other challenges we must hurdle together:

• The restoration to normalcy of our ecological order;

• The protection and

conservation of our environment;

• Planting of trees and the

greening of our surroundings;

• Reuse and recycling of goods

and products;

• Continuing and better use of renewable energy; and

• Reduction of energy consumption through austere and simple lifestyle.

Conclusion The third anniversary of Yolanda cannot lead us to complacency. It should and must lead us to watchfulness and preparedness marked by informed resilience. In this regard I urge everyone to be ever attentive to official news and information sources, such as PAG-ASA on crucial details as the location, path, strength and projected effects of typhoons, storm surges (tidal waves) and other calamities or emergencies. If there is no substitute to victory in war, neither is there any substitute to preparedness in any emergency. May Mary, our Mother, intercede for our deliverance from all evil.

Yours in the Lord, +CRISPIN VARQUEZ Bishop of Borongan


‘Human dignity is not negotiable or determined by national laws’

MADAM Chair, Last year marked fifty years since the adoption of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. At the time, it was a landmark adoption, signaling the conviction of the international community that racism of any kind cannot be tolerated. However, as we look at the world today, especially in the context of global migration and displacement, we must admit that much of the progress on eliminating racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia is in serious risk of being eroded, sometimes intentionally. In this regard, my delegation welcomes the recent report of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, in which he outlines in stark detail the threat that the spread of extremist political parties, movements and groups in many parts of the world pose to the realization of the peaceful, just and inclusive societies that the Member States of the United Nations have committed themselves to realizing through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. It is, in particular, a grave cause for concern that, according to the report, there has been a marked increase in the number of racist and xenophobic incidents of violence, especially in the public sphere. This resurgence, in many instances politically motivated, seems to be driven by fear of the other, in particular, the fear in front of our responsibility to care for the marginalized and vulnerable, for those in desperate need of our compassion and solidarity. This year alone, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) calculates that, even with still two months left in the calendar year, the number of deaths of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean has already reached a record high. Despite a significant decrease in the number of people seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, the UNHCR reported that 3,740 lives have already been lost

the UNHCR reported that 3,740 lives have already been lost The human rights of every individual,

The human


of every


rooted in

the innate

dignity of

the human

person, are





in 2016, just short of the 3,771 reported for the whole of 2015. Madam Chair, migrant or resident, human dignity is not negotiable or determined by national laws. The human rights of every individual, rooted in the innate dignity of the human person, are inviolable, without distinction. This is not only a founding principle of the United Nations Charter and affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: it is also enshrined in human experience, and represents an enduring truth that we must not only recognize when convenient but at all times. As Pope Francis reminds us, “from this perspective, it is important to view migrants not only on the basis of their status as regular or irregular, but above all as people whose dignity is to be protected and who are capable of contributing to progress and the general welfare. This is especially the case when they responsibly assume their obligations towards those who receive them, gratefully respecting the material and spiritual heritage of the host country, obeying its laws and helping with its needs.” Madam Chair, alarmed by today’s many manifestations of racial discrimination and other forms of intolerance, the whole human family must reaffirm once more its common determination to fight all forms of discrimination and intolerance as contrary to the dignity and equality inherent in all human beings, and remain resolute to adopt all necessary measures to eliminate them in all their forms and manifestations. Thank you, Madam Chair


(Below is an IMPACT Editorial in August 1976)

(Below is an IMPACT Editorial in August 1976) Building communities A COMMUNITY is more than the

Building communities

A COMMUNITY is more than the sum total of individuals who compose the community, because it comprises the intricate network of social relations among the members. Without his intertwining network of social support to one another there is only a group of individuals; with this support network there is a real and viable community much more powerful than the sum total of each person’s strength. Without the group a person lives for himself, is weak and vulnerable. In a group or community a person lives for others and even the weakest member shares the strength of the group, provided they are committed and faithful to the group. This is such a self-evident truth, that it is really amazing to see how little it has been

understood, and how the implementation of it is more conspicuous by its absence in actual life than by its vital presence. This not only applies to rural village communities, it is even more applicable to urban groups with the same interests, and even to religious communities who by their very calling have banded together to prove to the whole world that unity of love and understanding is the pearl in exchange for which they readily sold and parted from all earthly possessions. Did we do everything possible to obtain this treasure? Each one has to start and transform his immediate surrounding into a living community. For those who believe everything is possible. What is wrong is in not really trying.

EDITORIAL IMPACT is FIFTY. It was born in August of 1965 as a simple newsletter


EDITORIAL IMPACT is FIFTY. It was born in August of 1965 as a simple newsletter with

IMPACT is FIFTY. It was born in August of 1965 as a simple newsletter with the sole purpose of maintaining contact among the 150 participants of the Institute for Social Action in Asia (PISA) that was held in Hong Kong of the same year. But there is more to this than meets the eye. IMPACT eventually developed into a monthly Asian magazine which pursued the passion for human development and social transformation. According to the late Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen OCD, who co-founded Impact with Fr. Cornelius Breed, “IMPACT was founded to serve as the voice of the social action program in every realm of our society. We wanted to motivate and inspire those in the leading positions in Asia to focus on ways and means of attaining human, social and economic transformation and development.” The overall landscape of the 60s was suffused with the aggiornamento of the Second Vatican Council that clamored for a paradigm shift of socio-political engagement even in the deepest

recesses of the Catholic Church. The issuance Populorum Progressio, an encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the development of peoples, in March 1967, made the roadmap of emerging social teachings of the Church—that, anyway, was already on the road with Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891—even more pronounced. Or so it seemed. Because, today, 50 years after, the social teachings of the Church—which, painfully, has been regarded by some as the most kept secret of the Church—is still alien to most church-goers. A cultic Church, such as the diminutive parish that devotes most of its pastoral work to celebrating the sacraments but anemic in the work of caring for the needy and serving those in the peripheries, is most prevalent. Until today, the Church is maligned and reviled as mundane whenever she speaks of social justice or sociopolitical concerns, especially in social media. This is a tremendous challenge to the Philippine Church that in a few years will be celebrating 500 years of Christianity.