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‘Bayanihan’ spirit moves post-‘Ompong’ recovery in Baguio

CBCP News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 22:59

Volunteers are working round the clock to help families particularly in highland communities severely affected by typhoon Ompong. BAGUIO SOCIAL ACTION MINISTRY FB PAGE

By Fr. Mickey Cardenas

Oct. 16, 2018

BAGUIO

On Indigenous Peoples’ Sunday, Oct. 14, the Social Action Ministry of the Diocese of Baguio gave an update on the ongoing rehabilitation efforts in the highland communities severely affected by typhoon “Ompong,” noting how the strong community spirit of “bayanihan” has been moving locals to help each other rise again.

“In our visits, we were able to see the destruction in the area of Itogon and hear the stories of the people’s struggles and their loss. Nevertheless, we get to witness hope with the ‘bayanihan’ spirit of the community in rebuilding their area,” said Fr. Manuel Flores, Jr., Social Action coordinator of the Diocese of Baguio. He gave the latest post-typhoon assessment of communities badly hit by the typhoon, particularly by landslides.

Temporary school buildings

The local community in Goldfield, Poblacion Itogon is working on a temporary school building with permission from the Local Government Unit and the Department of Education.

According to Flores, having contacted some donors, the Diocese of Baguio – through Caritas-Baguio in coordination with St. Charles Borromeo Parish as well as Barangay Poblacion, Itogon – will help in constructing the said temporary school building.

He also shared that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has lent 10 family-size tents to serve as classrooms while a sturdier temporary school building is being constructed.

The Social Action director called on the public to help address the school’s needs by donating the following:

  • Coloring books, reading materials for elementary pupils (Grades 1-6)
  • Writing, coloring, and drawing materials
  • Electric fans
  • Water dispensers
  • Food for work rations

Flores said a concern now is the suspension of classes in eight schools in Itogon due to the findings of Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Mines and Geosciences Bureau (DENR-MGB). “They need big tents to serve as temporary classrooms,” the Social Action director added.

Cash donations preferred

Flores further announced that the organization would be having its last week of relief operations, as efforts will be focused on rehabilitation work like providing shelter and livelihood assistance to affected families.

“We are open to donations for the rehabilitation phase. While we do not have a warehouse for donations in-kind (e.g. G.I. sheets, plywood, etc.), we have an area but [it] can store only so much,” he said, noting, however, that cash donations are preferred.

“We prefer monetary donations as we have a system in place to make family recipients and the local economy benefit as well,” he explained.

How to help

Those who wish to donate may send their donations to the Caritas-Baguio Office, Diocese of Baguio, Bishop’s Residence, Fr. Carlu St., Baguio City.

Monetary donations may be deposited to:

  • Bank of the Philippines Account Name: Diocese of Baguio
  • Account Number: 0571001764

October 17, 2018

CBCP News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 21:00
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

Reading 1 GAL 5:18-25

Brothers and sisters:
If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry,
sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy,
outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness,
dissensions, factions, occasions of envy,
drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I warned you before,
that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Against such there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh
with its passions and desires.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 AND 6

R. (see Jn 8:12) Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Alleluia JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 11:42-46

The Lord said:
“Woe to you Pharisees!
You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb,
but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.
These you should have done, without overlooking the others.
Woe to you Pharisees!
You love the seat of honor in synagogues
and greetings in marketplaces.
Woe to you!
You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.”

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply,
“Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.”
And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Synod. Message to young people from Cardinal Tagle

CBCP News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 16:40

Source:  Vatican News

“You are very much present here. Take our hand and together we work for a better future”. The Archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle speaks to young people from the Synod of Bishops.

Superiors general see no reason why women shouldn’t have vote at synod

CBCP News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 11:50

Protesters chant outside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before the opening session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct 3. Protesters demanded that women be given the right to vote at the synod. PAUL HARING/CNS

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

October 16, 2018

VATICAN— Although bishops should make up the majority of voting members at a Synod of Bishops, the fact that the body is only consultative means women should be included as full members just as priests and religious brothers are, said three priests who are voting members.

The superiors general of the Dominicans, the Jesuits and the Conventual Franciscans — all priests who are voting members of the synod — spoke to reporters at a Vatican briefing Oct. 15.

When the men’s Union of Superiors General chose two religious brothers to be among their 10 voting delegates at the Synod of Bishops, they consciously made the choice to emphasize that men’s religious orders include both priests and laymen, the minister general of the Conventual Franciscans said.

“Obviously it wasn’t an accident” that two brothers were elected, Father Marco Tasca, the minister general, told Catholic News Service after the briefing. “Consecrated life is made up of priests and laypeople, so it is only right that there also be lay superiors general at the synod.”

When the superiors elected a brother to the 2015 synod, he said, “there were some doubts about whether or not the synod office would accept him, but the pope intervened and said, ‘Let him come.’ Case closed.

“This time we didn’t ask,” Father Tasca said.

Now, he said, that choice “should raise the question of the presence of the sisters, the women. That is the great challenge.”

The men’s USG and the women’s International Union of Superiors General are now asking that question together, Father Tasca said. “We had a meeting last week — a small group of superiors from both — and we asked, ‘How can we move on this together?'”

The two organizations of superiors, which hold a joint meeting each November, will get together again, he said, to try to move the question forward. “I think the correct path is to present this together, not ‘we men’ or ‘we women’ like children, but together.”

While rules for the Synod of Bishops provide for the men’s union of superiors to elect 10 voting members for the synod, there is no such provision for the women’s union of superiors. However, the pope does appoint women religious as observers or experts to the synods.

Several questions at the synod briefing Oct. 15 regarded the presence of women and their lack of a vote.

“It’s a Synod of Bishops,” said Father Bruno Cadore, master of the Dominican order. But, he said, the synod rules allow for “representatives” of religious life to participate, and they should be both men and women. “You know,” he said, “that 80 percent of consecrated people in the church are women?”

Because the synod “is not a deliberative body, so it is not tied to priestly ordination, I think in the future there will be a Synod of Bishops that says, ‘We want the participation of those who collaborate with us in pastoral work and, for this reason, we will invite representatives of consecrated life,’ knowing that — as I said — 80 percent of them are women. This should happen.”

In fact, he said, with this synod focused on “young people, the faith and vocational discernment,” it would have made sense to have more women religious participating, given their work in the field of education, faith formation and vocational promotion.

Father Arturo Sosa, superior general of the Jesuits, said he agreed with Father Cadore that “it is a Synod of Bishops,” but he also said he sees an effort by Pope Francis to “deepen the synodality of the church” and strengthen the vision of the church as “the people of God” by ensuring that men and women are treated equally and have an equal voice.

“I think this will help us move forward,” Father Sosa said.

The repeated questions about women’s participation and an international petition calling on the pope to give women a vote at the synod signify “discomfort, which is a sign that something’s wrong,” he said. “So one must listen and move forward.”

‘Respect for human rights begins at home,’ bishop tells gov’t

CBCP News - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 21:25

By CBCP News

October 15, 2018

Manila, Philippines

The Philippines must lead by example in the field of human rights, a ranking Catholic official said after the country won a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said the Philippines must stand up for human rights and “set a good example to the world”.

“I hope that our representation in the UN Human Rights Council is a positive thing and that means we have to start right at home,” said David, Vice President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

A vocal critic of the government’s bloody war against drugs, he, however, lamented the human rights record of the Duterte administration.

The bishop said he is saddened that the word “human rights” is seemingly “not so appreciated” under the present government.

“Human rights and human life cannot be separated from each other. The most basic human right is the right to life and you’ll expect the church to be at the forefront of the advocacy for the protection of human rights,” he added.

Several international human rights organizations have earlier campaigned for other countries to oppose the Philippines’ candidacy for the UNHRC.

Among them was the New York-based Human Rights Watch which cited the Duterte government’s “egregious human rights records”.

With the reelection, the Philippines will again serve the 47-member Council based in Geneva for the 2019 to 2021 term.

Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said it’s “ironic” yet he urged the government to take the necessary steps to raise its human rights standards.

“Now we have to prove ourselves that we value lives more than any material thing; we don’t sacrifice people over profit nor personal interest,” he said.

For his part, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said that the country’s election to another term in the UNHRC “can serve the cause of human rights advocates”.

“We can demand more respect for human rights from our government since we are part of the HR Council,” Pabillo said.

Faith-based humanitarian groups raise concern over Bautista as DSWD chief

CBCP News - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 21:15

Retired Army Chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista. RTVM SCREENSHOT

By CBCP News

October 15, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Faith-based humanitarian organizations have expressed concern over the looming appointment of a retired military official as the next social welfare secretary.

In a statement, the Philippine FBO (faith-based organizations) Forum said the background of former Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista is contrary to the mandate of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“Bautista has no proven track record and experience on social protection programs, social development work, and poverty reduction,” the PFF said.

“Moreover, his military principles may possibly compromise the independence of social services and humanitarian action in poor communities and environment in conflict,” it said.

The PFF is composed of Caritas Philippines and the humanitarian arms of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.

As FBOs delivering services to vulnerable communities, the social welfare agency, according to them, is something they cannot entrust to a military man whose background is “counter-terrorism”.

The organizations, being accredited humanitarian agencies by DSWD, asked the Commission on Appointments to ensure that the agency’s humanitarian principles are upheld and will not be tainted by any military or political objective.

“We constantly pray that the government will do its responsibility to respect, promote, protect and uphold human rights, especially in the midst of conflict and disasters,” they added.

The PFFs also urged the humanitarian community and other faith-based groups to speak up and assert the universally-accepted principles of humanitarian action in the discourse.

“We call on our churches, social action centers and ministries, congregations, and partners to stay vigilant in these critical times, when our mission to serve the least of our sisters and brothers, is being threatened and undermined,” they added.

October 16, 2018

CBCP News - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 21:00
Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 GAL 5:1-6

Brothers and sisters:
For freedom Christ set us free;
so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

It is I, Paul, who am telling you
that if you have yourselves circumcised,
Christ will be of no benefit to you.
Once again I declare to every man who has himself circumcised
that he is bound to observe the entire law.
You are separated from Christ,
you who are trying to be justified by law;
you have fallen from grace.
For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness.
For in Christ Jesus,
neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything,
but only faith working through love.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48

R. (41a) Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.

Let your mercy come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise.

R. Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.

Take not the word of truth from my mouth,
for in your ordinances is my hope.

R. Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.
And I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever.

R. Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.

And I will walk at liberty,
because I seek your precepts.

R. Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.

And I will delight in your commands,
which I love.

R. Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.

And I will lift up my hands to your commands
and meditate on your statutes.

R. Let your mercy come to me, O Lord.

Alleluia HEB 4:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The word of God is living and effective,
able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 11:37-41

After Jesus had spoken,
a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home.
He entered and reclined at table to eat.
The Pharisee was amazed to see
that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal.
The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees!
Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish,
inside you are filled with plunder and evil.
You fools!
Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside?
But as to what is within, give alms,
and behold, everything will be clean for you.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Drug war orphans among ‘one million children praying the rosary’ for peace

CBCP News - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 15:29

From left, ACN Philippines National Director Jonathan Luciano, ACN Philippines’ Chief Operating Officer Amb. Henrietta de Villa and Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan hold posters during the launching of the “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” campaign in Manila, October 15. CBCPNEWS

By CBCP News

October 15, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Several children orphaned by the government’s war against drugs are joining a worldwide campaign to pray the rosary for peace on October 18.

In the Philippines, around 1,200 parishes and 700 Catholic schools from 41 dioceses are participating in year’s prayer campaign organized by the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

ACN Philippines will highlight the celebration at the San Jose Academy in Navotas and will be led by orphans who are scholars of the Diocese of Kalookan.

“The Lord listens to the children and their prayers are very powerful,” said Kalookan Bishop Pablo David, adding that the rosary is “really a power tool for peace.”

The Kalookan diocese is active in helping form support groups for widows and orphans, and raise funds for children left behind by fathers killed in the drug war.

The diocese has also been providing assistance, through counseling and material support, to bereaved families.

Activities will be held at 9am through the initiative of the dioceses and religious communities all over the country.

Also joining the prayer video are selected children from Syria, Korea, Australia and Marawi City in Mindanao.

ACN Philippines’ National Director Jonathan Luciano said one of the highlights of the campaign is the “concrete expression” of support by Filipino kids to other children in countries where Christians are persecuted.

He said the Filipino children will offer a portion of their allowance to the kids in Iraq, Syria and Africa.

“Their donations will be used for projects that would help children in persecuted Christian communities,” Luciano said.

The “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” campaign was initiated in 2005 in Venezuelan capital of Caracas. Since 2006, the ACN has been doing the campaign on a global scale.

“We would like to have these children lead to rosary as a gesture of peace and reconciliation which the world badly needs today,” Luciano said.

October 15, 2018

CBCP News - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:29
Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Reading 1 GAL 4:22-24, 26-27, 31–5:1

Brothers and sisters:
It is written that Abraham had two sons,
one by the slave woman and the other by the freeborn woman.
The son of the slave woman was born naturally,
the son of the freeborn through a promise.
Now this is an allegory.
These women represent two covenants.
One was from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery;
this is Hagar.
But the Jerusalem above is freeborn, and she is our mother.
For it is written:
Rejoice, you barren one who bore no children;
break forth and shout, you who were not in labor;
for more numerous are the children of the deserted one
than of her who has a husband.
Therefore, brothers and sisters,
we are children not of the slave woman
but of the freeborn woman.

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm
and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Responsorial Psalm PS 113:1B-2, 3-4, 5A AND 6-7

R. (see 2) Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever.

R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

From the rising to the setting of the sun
is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.

R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Who is like the LORD, our God,
who looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor.

R. Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.
or:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Alleluia PS 95:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If today you hear his voice,
harden not your hearts.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Today's Readings Homilies

South Korean bishop: Before Pope Francis plans a trip, ‘some things in North Korea should change’

CBCP News - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:22

Bishop Yoo Heung Sik at a Vatican press briefing, Oct. 11, 2018. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

By Courtney Grogan / Catholic News Agency

October 15, 2018

Vatican City

There must be “some sort of religious freedom” in North Korea before a papal visit to Pyongyang, a South Korean bishop said Thursday.

Bishop Yoo Heung Sik of Daejeon, who has made multiple trips to North Korea on behalf of the South Korean Bishops Conference, originally welcomed the news that South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and Chairman Kim Jong Un had discussed inviting Pope Francis to visit the DPRK during their meeting in late-September.

“It would be a giant step forward for peace on the Korean peninsula,” Bishop Yoo told reporters at an Oct. 11 Vatican press conference.

The bishop cautioned that “in order for him [Pope Francis] to go there, some things in North Korea should change.”

“For example, there are no priests in North Korea,” he continued.

Pyongyang was once referred to as the “Jerusalem of the East” and was considered a center of Christianity in Northeast Asia.

Just before the Korean War broke in 1950, most of the priests in North Korea were captured, killed, or disappeared, according to the Korean Bishops Conference. The beatification process has begun for 40 monks and sisters of Tokwon Benedictine Abbey who were martyred by the Communists.

In 1988, the “Korean Catholic Association” created by the Communist government registered 800 members. This association is not recognized by the Vatican, but is one of three state-sponsored churches that operate in North Korea under strict supervision of the Communist authorities.

Mass is occasionally celebrated in Pyongyang’s Changchung Cathedral when a foreign priest is on an official visit to the country, but on Sundays a liturgy of the word is usually celebrated by state-appointed layperson. The Catholic See of Pyongyang is vacant and the last bishop was appointed in March 1944. There are no native Catholic clerics in North Korea.

North Korea has consistently been ranked the worst country for persecution of Christians by Open Doors. Christians within the atheist state have faced arrest, re-education in labor camps, or, in some cases, execution for their faith.

A United Nations investigation in 2014 produced a 372-page report that documented crimes against humanity, including execution, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, forced abortions, and knowingly causing prolonged starvation.

The U.S. State Department estimates that there are currently an estimated 80,000 to 120,000 people in North Korea’s six political prison camps.

On June 12, President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un met in Singapore and signed a joint-statement making commitments “to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”

Human rights were “discussed relatively briefly compared to denuclearization,” according to President Trump, who also said that North Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens and the regime’s persecution of Christians were brought up in his 45 minute conversation with Kim.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong Un in North Korea to discuss details for a second summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim to continue negotiation of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, according to the State Department.

If President Trump helps Koreans achieve “a peaceful, united Korea” then “he will become an American president who makes history working for world peace,” Bishop Yoo told CNA.

The South Korean bishop said that the de-escalation of nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula this year is “thanks to the Holy Spirit.”

Blessed Oscar Romero’s legacy of charity in El Salvador

CBCP News - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 14:19

rchbishop Oscaro Romero with young people in El Salvador in this undated file photo. Photo courtesy of Arzobispado de San Salvador/Oficina de la Causa de Canonizacion.

By Jonah McKeown / Catholic News Agency

October 15, 2018

San Salvador, El Salvador

Oscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdamez, better known as Blessed Oscar Romero, once said that if El Salvador’s military oppressors killed him, he would “arise in the Salvadoran people.”

On March 24, 1980, Romero was assassinated in the middle of celebrating Mass, likely by a right-wing death squad. Not long afterwards, the country devolved into a devastating civil war that would last twelve years and claim more than 75,000 lives.

Though Romero’s earthly life may have ended, his love for God and the principles for which he stood— care and dignity for the poor, freedom from oppression— have been far from forgotten. Romero, along with Paul VI and Fr. Franceso Spinelli, will be canonized Oct. 14 at the synod of bishops taking place in Rome. The Vatican had recognized him as a martyr in 2015.

Romero’s words have a prophetic resonance today with the people of El Salvador, according to Rick Jones, technical advisor for policy in Latin America for Catholic Relief Services.

“You go into poor neighborhoods and everybody has a little card, a poster, a picture of Romero. He is in those poor communities, and he’s still the signpost for the Church and what they hope for,” Jones told CNA.

“He was the voice of those voiceless people who were suffering the violence and repression in the ’70s, and now people still look to him as the beacon and as the example,” he said.

“Canonizing someone in the Church is to hold them up as an example: ‘This is what we want people to be like.’ And so I think, still today, that’s who the poor point to for hope and for a sense that there is meaning and purpose, and a different way to do things.”

“A voice of those voiceless people”

Romero became Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 and was perceived as a “safe choice” who wouldn’t cause too much trouble. At the time, right-wing military death squads were terrorizing many of the citizens of El Salvador, especially the poor, mainly because of protests over the extreme economic inequality that marked the country in the 20th century.

Just three weeks after Romero’s appointment as archbishop, a death squad ambushed and killed his friend, Father Rutilio Grande, who was an outspoken defender of the rights of the poor. Five more priests from the archdiocese would be assassinated during Romero’s time as archbishop.

Romero’s weekly homilies, broadcast across the country on radio, were a galvanizing force for the country’s poor as well as a reliable source of news. He railed against the killings and urged the government to let people live in peace.

A military junta seized the government of El Salvador in 1979, with training and financial backing from the United States. Romero criticized the US government for backing the junta, and even wrote to Jimmy Carter in February 1980— a month before his death— asking him to stop supporting the repressive regime.

The Carter and the subsequent Reagan administrations in the US continued their support in the hopes that El Salvador would not fall to the communist revolutions that had already engulfed Cuba and Nicaragua. All told, the United States had provided more than $1 billion in aid to El Salvador’s government by 1984, while in 1980 alone the Salvadoran armed forces killed nearly 12,000 people. The casualties were mostly peasants, trade unionists, teachers, students, journalists, human rights advocates, priests, and anyone perceived to be a part of the popular leftist movement.

“Both the victims of violence and the perpetrators”

The civil war between military-led governments and left-wing guerilla groups officially ended in 1992, but El Salvador remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

In light of the Synod on Youth taking place this month in Rome, Jones said a number of factors, including hardline policies meant to curb gang activity, have led to the rise of devastating violence among young people in El Salvador.

“It really has a lot to do with the lack of opportunities,” Jones said. “Kids get in gangs primarily because of dysfunctional families, and living in marginalized neighborhoods where they don’t have any other opportunities. Young people, coming out of a situation where there’s domestic violence, walk out their door onto the street and there’s a gang waiting to recruit them, saying, ‘We’ll be your family.’ And so kids join gangs to get a sense of power, belonging, and identity, and a lack of hope for any other alternatives.”

Jones said after the United States began deporting large number of Salvadorans from Los Angeles after the civil war ended, many of the young people who returned were already involved in gang activity.

“You have a situation where in the mid-1990s most young boys were out of school and unemployed, and only made it to 6th grade. And so they started organizing and [the gangs] spread through the metropolitan area,” he said. “Then, in 2003, the government decided to put out the ‘Iron Fist’ policy. Meaning zero tolerance. Meaning any kid with baggy clothes, tattoos and a hat on backwards could get picked up and thrown into prison.”

These hardline policies backfired, however, as the homicide rate continued to increase despite the changes.

Canonization at St. Peter’s Square

CBCP News - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 11:27

By Paul Haring
Catholic News Service
October 15, 2018

Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for seven new saints in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 14. Among those canonized were St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero.

Devotees join La Naval procession

CBCP News - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 23:20

By Maria Tan
October 14, 2018

The image of Nuestra Señora del Santisimo Rosario is carried during a procession marking the feast of La Naval de Manila in Quezon City on Sunday. The procession followed a Mass presided over by Bishop Honest Ongtioco of Cubao at Santo Domingo Church.

Saints risk all for love of Jesus, pope says at canonization Mass

CBCP News - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 18:48

The banners of new saints Oscar Romero and Paul VI hang from the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica as Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for seven new saints in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 14. PAUL HARING/CNS

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

October 14, 2018

VATICAN— Carrying Pope Paul VI’s pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church.

Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints’ home countries — Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany — were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints.

Carolina Escamilla, who traveled from San Salvador for canonization, said she was “super happy” to be in Rome. “I don’t think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the ‘official’ canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive.”

Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism — including from within the church — but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily.

The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19.

“All these saints, in different contexts,” put the Gospel “into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

The pope, who has spoken often about being personally inspired by both St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero, prayed that every Christian would follow the new saints’ examples by shunning an attachment to money, wealth and power, and instead following Jesus and sharing his love with others.

And he prayed the new saints would inspire the whole church to set aside “structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world.”

Among those in St. Peter’s Square for the Mass was Rossi Bonilla, a Salvadoran now living in Barcelona. “I’m really emotional, also because I did my Communion with Monsignor Romero when I was eight years old,” she told Catholic News Service.

“He was so important for the neediest; he was really with the people and kept strong when the repression started,” Bonilla said. “The struggle continues for the people, and so here we are!”

Claudia Lombardi, 24, came to the canonization from Brescia, Italy — St. Paul VI’s hometown. Her local saint, she said, “brought great fresh air” to the church with the Second Vatican Council and “has something to say to us today,” particularly with his 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” on human life and married love, especially its teaching about “the conception of life, the protection of life always.”

In his homily, Pope Francis said that “Jesus is radical.”

“He gives all and he asks all; he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart,” the pope said. “Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?”

Jesus, he said, “is not content with a ‘percentage of love.’ We cannot love him 20 or 50 or 60 percent. It is either all or nothing” because “our heart is like a magnet — it lets itself be attracted by love, but it can cling to one master only and it must choose: either it will love God or it will love the world’s treasure; either it will live for love or it will live for itself.”

“A leap forward in love,” he said, is what would enable individual Christians and the whole church to escape “complacency and self-indulgence.”

Without passionate love, he said, “we find joy in some fleeting pleasure, we close ourselves off in useless gossip, we settle into the monotony of a Christian life without momentum where a little narcissism covers over the sadness of remaining unfulfilled.”

The day’s Gospel reading recounted the story of the rich young man who said he followed all the commandments and precepts of Jewish law, but he asks Jesus what more he must do to have eternal life.

“Jesus’ answer catches him off guard,” the pope said. “The Lord looks upon him and loves him. Jesus changes the perspective from commandments observed in order to obtain a reward, to a free and total love.”

In effect, he said, Jesus is telling the young man that not doing evil is not enough, nor is it enough to give a little charity or say a few prayers. Following Jesus means giving him absolute first place in one’s life. “He asks you to leave behind what weighs down your heart, to empty yourself of goods in order to make room for him, the only good.”

“Do we content ourselves with a few commandments or do we follow Jesus as lovers, really prepared to leave behind something for him?” the pope asked people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, including the 267 members of the Synod of Bishops and the 34 young people who are observers at the gathering.

“A heart unburdened by possessions, that freely loves the Lord, always spreads joy, that joy for which there is so much need today,” Pope Francis said. “Today Jesus invites us to return to the source of joy, which is the encounter with him, the courageous choice to risk everything to follow him, the satisfaction of leaving something behind in order to embrace his way.”

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