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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Updated: 58 min 1 sec ago

More annulment processes done for free, Vatican statistics show

2 hours 48 min ago

Doves and interlocking wedding bands symbolizing the sacrament of marriage are depicted in a stained-glass window at Sts. Cyril & Methodius Church in Deer Park, N.Y. Implementation of Pope Francis’ abbreviated process for declaring the nullity of a marriage got off to a slow start, Vatican statistics showed, but his encouragement for making the annulment process free for petitioners fared better. GREGORY A. SHEMITZ/CNS

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

May 28, 2018

VATICAN— Implementation of Pope Francis’ abbreviated process for declaring the nullity of a marriage got off to a slow start, Vatican statistics showed, but his encouragement for making the annulment process free for petitioners fared better.

Many dioceses in the United States and Canada already had been subsidizing all or part of the costs involved in the process when, in 2015, Pope Francis issued documents reforming part of the annulment processes. The documents were: “Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus” (“The Lord Jesus, the Gentle Judge”) for the Latin-rite church and “Mitis et Misericors Iesus,” (“The Meek and Merciful Jesus”) for the Eastern Catholic churches.

The documents encouraged bishops to fully fund their marriage tribunals and not charge petitioners “so that, in a matter so closely tied to the salvation of souls, the church — by demonstrating to the faithful that she is a generous mother — may demonstrate the gratuitous love of Christ, which saves us all.”

Pope Francis, in the same documents, introduced an abbreviated process by which a diocesan bishop can issue a declaration of nullity.

The Vatican’s Statistical Yearbook 2016, completed in February and recently published, reported that over the course of the year, about 33.7 percent of the nullity cases handled around the world were handled at no charge to the person petitioning; in 23.3 percent of the cases, the person was asked to cover some of the tribunal costs of his or her case; and in about 42.8 percent of the cases, the petitioner covered all the costs.

Ten years earlier, the Statistical Yearbook 2006 reported only about 23.3 percent of cases were handled free of charge, 30.3 percent of cases included a partial charge and, in 46.3 percent of the cases, the petitioners were asked to cover the full cost.

In the country-by-country breakdown, the yearbook reported that in 2016, fully 50 percent of annulment requests in the United States were handled for free; 20.8 percent of cases in the United States involved a partial charge and about 29 percent included a full charge.

The dioceses of Canada reported in 2016 that about 40.7 percent of their cases were handled free of charge, 40.1 percent involved a partial payment and 19 percent included a full charge to the petitioner.

The new rules issued by Pope Francis in 2015 empowered a bishop to issue a decree of nullity when certain conditions are evident, for example, when it is clear one or both parties lacked the faith to give full consent to a Catholic marriage, or when physical violence was used to extort consent for the marriage.

Of the more than 50,000 marriage cases handled by the church worldwide in 2016, the yearbook said, fewer than 1,700 involved what the book described as the “briefer process before the bishop,” and only 1,118 of the cases were completed during the year.

Bishops in the Americas — North, Central and South — were responsible for clearing more than half of the completed cases. Of those, 289 were reported in the United States and 18 in Canada. Bishops in Asia completed 200 abbreviated cases while the bishops of Europe completed 196 cases. No cases were reported from Australia or New Zealand.

Parish turns garbage dump into mini zoo

Sun, 05/27/2018 - 14:55

In 2017, Santuario De San Vicente De Paul transformed a garbage dump on its grounds into a mini-zoo that houses peacocks, sheep, monkeys, and lovebirds, among others. OLIVER SAMSON

By Oliver Samson

May 27, 2018


Sheep, peacocks, native pigs, hamsters, chickens, lovebirds, and other animals thrive today in what used to be garbage dump inside a parish church compound in this city.

The area was first transformed from a rubbish dump into a garden in 2017, shared Fr. Roland Tuazon, Santuario De San Vicente De Paul parish priest.

“We started it last year,” he said. “It’s an effort of the parish in response to the challenge by Pope Francis.”

Rescue center’

Known as the Laudato Si Community Garden, more animals were brought in after they put pigs to generate and provide the area with organic fertilizer, Tuazon recounted.

“When people saw some animals here, they started donating animals,” he said. “Soon, someone donated monkeys; another donated doves.”

One of the monkeys was donated by an individual who could not afford to give the animal optimal care, Tuazon noted. Today, the monkey is in good shape.

“It also serves as a rescue center,” he said.

It started with 3 native pigs, the priest pointed out. Now they have 23.

One has promised to donate a pair of ostrich, he said, noting that the area can be developed further.

A pond, a garden, a ‘mini-zoo’

“My dream is to make it really economically viable,” Tuazon said.

The garden and its “mini zoo” are open to the public for free, assures the priest.

“Everyone is welcome, if he is interested,” Tuazon said.

Vegetables, herbs, and ornamental plants are also grown in the garden.

Aside from the Laudato Si Garden, the parish’s fishpond is home to several fishes and a number of ducks.

According to the priest, people are also welcome to fish in the pond for leisure.

The parish also encourages, supports, and rewards families and communities that do urban gardening.

In 2016, the parish launched urban gardening contests, rewarding outstanding urban gardeners with prizes ranging from Php5,000 to Php20,000.

May 27, 2018

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 21:00
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Reading 1 DT 4:32-34, 39-40

Moses said to the people:
“Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
This is why you must now know,
and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22

R. (12b) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
For he spoke, and it was made;
he commanded, and it stood forth.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Reading 2 ROM 8:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

Alleluia RV 1:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
to God who is, who was, and who is to come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Today's Readings Homilies

Marriage proclaims ‘love is possible,’ pope says

Sat, 05/26/2018 - 15:50

A reliquary containing liquid from the famous Weeping Madonna of Syracuse, Sicily, rests on a table as Pope Francis gives the homily during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican May 25. CNS/VATICAN MEDIA

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service

May 26, 2018

VATICAN— Marriage is a sacrament not only for the bride and groom, but for the entire Catholic Church, because it proclaims that “love is possible,” Pope Francis said.

“It is true there are difficulties, there are problems with the children or with the couple themselves — arguments, fights,” he said May 25 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. Seven couples celebrating their 25th or 50th wedding anniversaries were among those present at the Mass.

But the witness of couples who continue in love, who overcome the difficulties, he said, proclaims the beauty of God’s plan for humanity.

In the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark, Jesus is asked by the Pharisees if it is lawful for a husband to divorce his wife.

Most members of the crowds who followed Jesus listened to him because they were thirsting for truth and for help in growing in faith, the pope said. But he said the Pharisees were interested only in trying to trip up Jesus by trying to reduce religion to a list of “yes you can” and “no you can’t” items.

But Jesus raises the bar, talking about creation and describing “marriage as if it were the most beautiful thing” that God made at the beginning of the world, he said.

Jesus tells them: “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Jesus “leaves aside the problem of separation and goes to the beauty of marriage, to the beauty of the couple who are united,” the pope said. “That which is one must remain one. That is what the Lord says.”

“Sometimes there is the misfortune that it does not work and it is better they separate to avoid a world war. But that is always a tragedy,” the pope said.

So often, he said, people seem to want to talk about separation and divorce, like the Pharisees did, but Jesus’ approach is to talk about the beauty of marriage and how it is a reflection of God’s love for humanity.

Pope Francis ended his homily praying that “the Lord would give the church and society a deeper, more beautiful awareness of marriage.”

The pope had begun the Mass with special prayers, too, prayers for the “gift of tears” for each individual’s sins and “for all the calamities that make the people of God and the children of God suffer.”

For the morning Mass, Pope Francis had placed a special reliquary on a small table to the left of the altar. The reliquary holds a cotton ball with the liquid from the famous Weeping Madonna of Syracuse, Sicily.

A Rome parish was hosting the reliquary for a special celebration, and Pope Francis had asked that it be brought to the Vatican for a day, reported L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

May 26, 2018

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 21:00
Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest

Reading 1 JAS 5:13-20

Is anyone among you suffering?
He should pray.
Is anyone in good spirits?
He should sing a song of praise.
Is anyone among you sick?
He should summon the presbyters of the Church,
and they should pray over him
and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
The prayer of faith will save the sick person,
and the Lord will raise him up.
If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another
and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.
Elijah was a man like us;
yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain,
and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land.
Then Elijah prayed again, and the sky gave rain
and the earth produced its fruit.

My brothers and sisters,
if anyone among you should stray from the truth
and someone bring him back,
he should know that whoever brings back a sinner
from the error of his way will save his soul from death
and will cover a multitude of sins.

Responsorial Psalm PS 141:1-2, 3 AND 8

R. (2a) Let my prayer come like incense before you.

O LORD, to you I call; hasten to me;
hearken to my voice when I call upon you.
Let my prayer come like incense before you;
the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice.

R. Let my prayer come like incense before you.

O LORD, set a watch before my mouth,
a guard at the door of my lips.
For toward you, O God, my LORD, my eyes are turned;
in you I take refuge; strip me not of life.

R. Let my prayer come like incense before you.

Alleluia SEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 10:13-16

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them,
but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them,
“Let the children come to me; do not prevent them,
for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Amen, I say to you,
whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a child
will not enter it.”
Then he embraced the children and blessed them,
placing his hands on them.

Today's Readings Homilies

Humanae Vitae needs no update, commission chair says

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 19:49

A view of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. BOHUMIL PETRICK/CNA

By Andrea Gagliarducci

Catholic News Agency

May 25, 2018

VATICAN— The professor who chaired a Vatican study group on Humanae Vitae stressed that the Bl. Paul VI’s encyclical “needs no updating.”

Professor Gilfredo Marengo, of the Pontifical Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, spoke with CNA at the presentation of his latest book, “Chiesa senza storia, storia senza Chiesa” (Church without history, history without the Church), which explores the implications and consequences of Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world.

Professor Marengo told CNA that, according to his studies, “one of the biggest knots in drafting Humanae Vitae was really that of going beyond the polarization between doctrine and pastoral issues.”

Professor Marengo added that Blessed Pope Paul VI “focused on this knowledge, and worked a lot to take the encyclical out of that polarization.”

Unfortunately, he said, polarization has increased in recent years, but, added that “the question cannot be solved by imagining a new doctrine or a new pastoral activity, but by going beyond the polarization.”

Professor Marengo stressed that “Humanae Vitae is an authoritative document of the Catholic Church, and it is part of the tradition. We are called to welcome it as it is, and to apply it with an intelligent pastoral plan.”

However, despite being “the most discussed encyclical in the last 50 years,” there is “no need to update it,” Professor Marengo stressed.

In the end, all that discussion might be framed into a general debate that took place after the Second Vatican Council, he said.

Professor Marengo heads a study group undertaking a historical-critical investigation into the drafting of Humanae Vitae. The aim is to reconstruct, as well as possible, the whole process of drafting the document.

As is widely known, the drafting of Humanae Vitae endured several pressures before its publication and even after its publication.

Beyond Professor Marengo, the study group on Humanae Vitae is reportedly composed of Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, head of the John Paul II Institute, Philippe Chenaux, a professor of Church history at the Pontifical Lateran University, and Msgr. Angelo Maffeis, head of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia.

In 2017, Professor Marengo told reporters that the group was given access to the Vatican Secret Archives for mid-1960s, the time of Humanae Vitae’s drafting.

Professor Marengo told CNA that “the Second Vatican Council has facilitated the resolution of polarization between pastoral and doctrinal issues.”

He added that Pope Francis “is investing a lot in this resolution,” as “one of the most meaningful aspects of Pope Francis’ biography is that he is the first post-conciliar pope: all the [recent] previous popes participated to the Council, but this pope did not, and so he can look at the Council with a less emotional viewpoint.”

Report: Pope Francis affirms Church practice against admitting gay men to seminary

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 19:45

Pope Francis meets with the Italian bishops’ conference in the Vatican’s Synod Hall, May 21 2018. CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY

By Elise Harris

Catholic News Agency

May 25, 2018

VATICAN— In a closed-door speech to Italian bishops on Monday, Pope Francis spoke about the number and quality of seminary candidates, including concerns about their sexual orientation.

At the start of his May 21 audience with Italian bishops, Pope Francis voiced three areas of concern for the Church in Italy, the first of which was the lack of vocations.

Francis’ brief remarks on his concerns, which also touched on evangelical poverty and transparency and the incorporation of Italian dioceses, were televised; however, his discussion with the bishops afterward was not.

In his public remarks on vocations, Pope Francis lamented the culture of the provisional, of relativism, and of the dictatorship of money, which hinder young people from discerning consecrated life. He also proposed that Italian dioceses with an abundance of vocations lend some of their priests to those Italian dioceses lacking in priests.

But in the discussion that followed the pope told the bishops to care more for the quality of seminary candidates than the quantity. Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, president of the Italian bishops’ conference, confirmed Francis’ comments about homosexuality in a May 24 press conference.

The Pope touched on the topic of homosexuality, particularly when it comes to individuals with “deep-seated tendencies” or who practice “homosexual acts”, yet who want to enter the seminary.

In these cases, “if you have even the slightest doubt it’s better not to let them enter,” Francis said, according to Vatican Insider, because these acts or deep-seated tendencies can lead to scandals and can compromise the life of the seminary, as well as the man himself and his future priesthood.

Pope Francis’ comments were made during the opening May 21 session of the 71st general assembly of the Italian bishops’ conference.

However, the pope’s statements on the issue of homosexuality and the seminary reflect the Church’s teaching on the topic.

In the 2016 edition of the Congregation for Clergy’s ratio on priestly formation, the dicastery had written that “in relation to people with homosexual tendencies who approach seminaries, or who discover this situation in the course of formation, in coherence with her own magisterium, ‘the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture”.’”

The ratio quoted from the Congregation for Catholic Education’s 2005 instruction “Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”

The instruction noted that those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the gay culture “find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

It distinguished those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies from those “with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem – for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded.”

Men with transitory homosexual tendencies could be admitted to seminary, the congregation wrote, though “such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.”

The instruction drew, in turn, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a 1985 memo from the Congregation for Catholic Education, and a 2002 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Though Pope Francis has not addressed the topic publicly, he alluded to problems of homosexuality in seminary formation during a recent meeting with Chilean bishops.

In a letter written to the bishops which was leaked to Chilean media, the pope issued a sharp correction of his brother prelates for a systematic cover-up of clerical abuse in the country.

One footnote in the letter noted how abuses were not limited to just one person or group, but was rather the result of a fractured seminary process.

In the case of many abusers in Chile, Francis noted how problems had been detected while they were in seminary or the novitiate, but rather than expelling these individuals, some bishops or superiors “sent priests suspected of active homosexuality to these educational institutions.”

New Iba bishop’s marching order: Keep the churches ‘clean’

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 18:55

Bishop Bartolome Santos speaks during his installation as the new bishop of the Iba diocese at the Saint Augustine Cathedral in Iba City May 25. TV MARIA SCREEN GRAB

By Roy Lagarde

May 25, 2018

Manila, Philippines

The new bishop of the Diocese of Iba urged the faithful to treat their churches with respect and keep them “clean”.

That was the first message Bishop Bartolome Santos Jr., preached as the new spiritual leader of thousands of Catholics across Zambales province.

“There are many definitions of clean and I will leave it up to all of you to expound,” Santos said during his installation Mass at the St. Augustine Cathedral May 25.

The church must be kept clean and neat at all times, according to him, “because that’s the most beautiful place where we can gather and meet together, in God’s house”.

“Beautiful or not, old or new, if our church is clean, we know that our God of mercy and compassion will always be with us,” he said.

Santos, a priest from the Malolos diocese praised for his pastoral care and administrative experience, was installed as the fifth bishop of Iba.

While he did not deliver the homily for the service, Santos assured during his first address that he is going to do his best to serve the public.

The bishop also asked the faithful to pray for him and the clergy that they will strive to live their mission even during moments of weakness and anxiety.

“Please love us your priests despite our shortcomings,” he appealed.

Santos, 50, was appointed by Pope Francis back in February. He was ordained to the episcopacy on April 30.

The diocese has been without a bishop since October 2014 when Archbishop Florentino Lavarias was installed as head of the Archdiocese of San Fernando in Pampanga.

About a hundred other bishops, priests, religious and more than two thousand well-wishers filled the cathedral throughout the entire ceremony with Lavarias as the installing prelate.

In his homily, the archbishop reminded the congregation that priestly ministry is about Jesus.

“It is Jesus who is the essence of our very own vocations as priest,” said Lavarias.

“Let us continue to pray for Bishop Bart not only so that he can do many things but for him to be more like Jesus,” he added.

Sr. Fox appeals leave order before DOJ

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 18:46

By Roy Lagarde

May 25, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox asked the Department of Justice to overturn the expulsion order issued against her by the Immigration bureau.

Accompanied by her lawyer, nuns, priests and other supporters, Fox petitioned the DOJ to reinstate her missionary visa and be allowed to stay in the country.

The 71-year-old nun, who spent the last 27 years in the Philippines, said she wants to remain in the country and continue her ministry for the poor Filipinos.

“My wish is to be able to continue my mission work together with the poor and I hope this will be the result of my petition,” Fox told reporters.

The BI on April 23 revoked the nun’s missionary visa and gave her only until May 25 to leave the country or else she will be deported.

The bureau clarified that Fox can still visit the country, provided she apply for a tourist visa.

But Fox’s counsel lawyer Kathy Panguban the petition puts the BI order on hold.

“We filed an appeal today. Base on the Omnibus Rules of Immigration, the execution of the Bureau of Immigration is stayed,” said Panguban of the National Union of People’s Lawyers.

“We also call on the DOJ to recognize our own laws,” she added.

The BI yesterday made final the order for the nun leave the country for allegedly engaging in political activities, violating the terms in her missionary visa.

Sr. Mary John Mananzan of the Movement Against Tyranny said that to deprive Fox of a review is a violation of her right right to due process.

“It is injustice to order Sr. Pat’s deportation with no clear outline of what she has done against the interests of the Philippines and the Filipino people,” Mananzan said.

Women invited to confab on ‘feminine giftedness’

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 18:35

Participants at the first Jewels Conference in 2016 learned more about God’s special design and plans for them as women. SVRTV

By Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz

May 25, 2018

Aiming to gather thousands of women to empower them to see how “they are meant to shine and bless the world,” Shepherd’s Voice Radio & TV Foundation, Inc. (SVRTV) invites women of all ages to the RADIANCE: Jewels Conference 2018 on June 2, 2018 (Saturday) from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Manila.

“Women have to play different roles all at the same time. The Jewels Conference will inspire them how to manage these roles altogether and allow them to see the beauty of these roles the way God designed it to be,” said Ruby Jean Albino, marketing director of SVRTV, in an interview with CBCPNews.

Since Jewels is open to women of all ages, the conference’s content was designed to be relevant to young professionals but also to grandmothers.

“In whatever season women are in, they are called to be a blessing to others. That’s innate in them. Jewels Conference is going to be a venue for them to be reminded of that again,” added Albino.

According to a press release, the event also “seeks to empower women in their personal journey of balancing their roles, careers, relationships, and dreams.”

A one-day event, the conference will feature lay preacher and international speaker and author Bo Sanchez, Rissa Singson-Kawpeng of Kerygma Magazine, Sr. Eppie Brasil of Regina Rica, TV actresses Dimples Romana and Ai Ai De Las Alas, and worship leader Veia Lim-Vinas.

Interested parties may choose the kind of ticket they want online at www.jewelsconference.com or at The Feast near them. Freebies like a Jewels journal plus reserved seating area for premium buyers (ticket priced at Php1,400.00) await them. Regular tickets are at Php995.

St. John XXIII’s body goes on pilgrimage in his homeland

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 13:13

By Paul Haring

Catholic News Service
May 25, 2018

The body of St. John XXIII is carried in procession from the diocesan seminary to the cathedral in Bergamo, Italy, May 24, 2018. The body of the late pope left the Vatican early May 24 to be displayed in his home region until June 10.

Hagonoy’s 116th priest-son celebrates thanksgiving Mass

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:50

Fr. Niño Jomel Halili De Leon, who has roots in Hagonoy town, celebrated his thanksgiving Mass at the National Shrine and Parish of St. Anne in Hagonoy, Bulacan in celebration of novena in honor of the Blessed Mother as Virgen delas Flores, May 22, 201. TRISHA ROSE ANN VEGA

By Kendrick Ivan B. Panganiban and Vince Joseph L. Inocencio

May 25, 2018


A priest with roots in Hagonoy, Bulacan on Tuesday celebrated a Mass in thanksgiving for receiving the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Fr. Niño Jomel Halili De Leon, 26, led a Eucharistic celebration at the National Shrine of St. Anne at 6:00 p.m., coinciding with the novena in honor of Nuestra Señora de la Purisima Immaculada Concepcion de la Asociada de Hagonoy (Our Lady of the Most Pure, Immaculate Conception of the Association of Hagonoy), a title of the Blessed Mother special to the hearts of the faithful in this town.

Hagonoy roots

Fr. De Leon is the eldest son of Napoleon De Leon, who originally lived in Hagonoy and Susana Halili-De Leon of Sta. Maria, Bulacan. Despite having been raised in a different town, his paternal lineage places him in a list of several priests with roots in the town, further cementing its reputation as a “Levitical town”.

Also, De Leon served Hagonoy during his assignment at the National Shrine and Parish of St. Anne and St. Anne’s Catholic School during his pre-diaconal program late last year.

The blessing of vocations

Reflecting on the Gospel on Jesus’ love and service, the young priest said, “Love must be expressed. It’s not just about words. It’s about [imitating Jesus] with one’s actions.”

He reflected that in beginning his ministry as a priest, it has always been important to choose to love everyone as God does. De Leon said, “God’s love is not choosy. He loves everyone. The Holy Spirit comes in his special way [to each of us] because you are preciously loved.”

According to him, it is this grace of choosing to love everyone that brings meaning to the way of life a priest lives, “in the service of the community, guided by the spirit of the Gospel.”

A town’s heritage

Priestly and religious vocations have been known to come from this town ever since the first known ordination of one of its townsfolk, Fr. Sebastian Dela Rosa De Lara in 1765. Research confirms Hagonoy town has produced 116 priest-sons, 68 of which are alive and assigned in different parishes and communities both in the Diocese of Malolos, other dioceses, and in other parts of the world.

According to Msgr. Sabino A. Vengco, Jr., “Despite the difficulties in producing priests in today’s age, it has been such a blessing for the town of Hagonoy to continue having an abundance in such vocations.”

He further said this wealth of vocations could also be attributed to the intercessory power of the local patroness, St. Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

With Fr. De Leon’s addition to the roster of the town’s priest sons, he is automatically a member of the Kapatiran ng Kapariang Taga-Hagonoy, Inc., the priest-sons’ association founded in 1971. He follows Fr. Daniel M. Coronel, who was ordained in the Diocese of Malolos on March 20, 2017.

De Leon finished his primary studies at St. Paul School of Sta Maria and had his secondary studies and priestly religious formation at the Immaculate Conception Seminary (Minor) and Immaculate Conception Major Seminary in Guiguinto, Bulacan.

Priest: Ireland’s vote on ‘right to life’ could affect Filipinos

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:30

The Liffey River in Dublin, Ireland. FR. AYUYAO’S FB ACCOUNT

By Fr. Mickey Cardenas

May 25, 2018

DUBLIN, Ireland

As the people of Ireland decide today in a referendum whether to uphold or repeal a provision which gives equal rights to the life of the mother and the unborn child, a Filipino missionary in Ireland believes the decision will have a great impact on Filipinos and the Philippines.

“The issue is very serious for the reason that it will change not only the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland but also what the Irish people and other pro-life nations represent,” said Fr. Leonard S. Ayuyao, SSS, currently assigned to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in Dublin, Ireland.

According to the priest, the Irish people’s decision on the 8th Amendment of their Constitution can have repercussions for pro-life Filipinos and their nation, sending it “a message.”

‘Right to life’

The 8th Amendment reads “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

“Another point that is critical in this issue,” Ayuyao expounded, “is that when abortion is legalized, those who work in the health care sector will be obliged to perform abortions whenever they are demanded.”

“Many nurses here in Ireland are of Filipino descent with Catholic background, so, they will be bound by law to assist in abortions even if it is against their consciences,” the priest disclosed.

He also noted the essentially “Catholic and family-oriented” values of the Irish and how the choice to legalize abortion will “destroy their identity,” officially making them a “secular country.”

More vibrant Church in Ireland

As the Church in the Philippines prepares to commemorate 500 years of evangelization, the Filipino missionary appealed to the Catholic faithful “to stand firm in the faith that we received five centuries ago for God has a plan for us for being the Christian nation in Asia.”

In connection to this, Ayuyao shared his experience as part of the Filipino community in Ireland.

“Filipinos make the Church in Ireland more vibrant. They are very active in their different parishes.”

“The Irish people are fond of them when they celebrate popular devotions here, like the Sto. Niño, Nuestra Señora de la Peñafrancia, San Miguel, and the Simbang Gabi, because they express their faith even when they are in a foreign land, which is not being done by the Irish Catholics nowadays,” he revealed.

“Our countrymen there at home can be more prayerful and strive more to understand the Church’s teaching in faith and morals because people who promote the ‘pro-choice’ agenda are ignorant of the truth,” Ayuyao added.

Everyone must have affordable health care, Vatican official says

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:27

Mercy Sister Karen Schneider, assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, examines a boy in 2017 at a makeshift clinic in a remote area of Guyana. Everyone should have access to essential health services and no one should have to fall into poverty to obtain needed care, a Vatican representative said. BOB ROLLER/CNS

By Carol Glatz

Catholic News Service

May 25, 2018

VATICAN— Everyone should have access to essential health services and no one should have to fall into poverty to obtain needed care, a Vatican representative said.

“For many poor communities, families and individuals, access to the much-needed health care services remains an unachieved objective,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

“We are all daunted by the disquieting fact that half the world’s population is still unable to obtain many essential health services,” he said. “At the same time, hundreds of millions are pushed into extreme poverty because they have to pay for health services entirely from their own meager resources.”

“Since everyone should have the possibility of benefiting from necessary health services without falling into poverty, the virtue of solidarity urges us to work toward this goal,” said the archbishop.

Archbishop Jurkovic spoke May 23 at the World Health Assembly, a meeting of the member states of the World Health Organization to set W.H.O. policies and programs.

The need for universal health care coverage was a major topic at the May 21-26 meeting, and Archbishop Jurkovic thanked the U.N. leadership “for keeping it as a top priority on the agenda of the World Health Organization.”

Over the past decades, there have been great strides taken toward the achievement of universal health coverage, he said. “Nevertheless, we are still far from the desired result,” he said in his speech, which was sent to Catholic News Service in Rome.

“Progress on universal health coverage requires a strong political will and a commitment to concrete steps that improve health for all people,” he said.

Each country will have to strengthen systems “to deliver effective and affordable services to prevent ill health and to provide health promotion, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and palliation services” that place the human person at the center, he said.

“Countries must fruitfully engage with the private sector, whose contribution to this universal health coverage is crucial,” he said. Faith-based institutions play a major role, he said, and they very often guarantee access to care “even in very remote and inaccessible areas.”

Archbishop Jurkovic also praised the assembly’s “road map” for a greater global response to the negative effects of air pollution on human health and lives.

“Avoidable environmental risk factors cause at least 13 million deaths every year and about one-quarter of the global burden of disease,” he said, according to the W.H.O. report. “Air pollution alone causes about 6.5 million deaths a year or one in eight of all deaths, placing it among the top global risks to health,” he continued.

“Efforts to advance health for all people must take account of the essential nexus between environment and health, which involves also the management of environmental determinants of health,” he said.

“Currently, environmental changes and extreme weather events are occurring at an unprecedented pace,” the archbishop said. “Many countries with vulnerable populations are experiencing the heavy burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases.”

All sides need to dialogue about the issues since everyone is affected by current environmental challenges, he said, citing Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” on the environment.

Cheating workers out of just wages, benefits is mortal sin, pope says

Fri, 05/25/2018 - 12:21

Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 23. PAUL HARING/CNS

By Carol Glatz

Catholic News Service
May 25, 2018

VATICAN— Loving wealth destroys the soul, and cheating people of their just wages and benefits is a mortal sin, Pope Francis said.

Jesus did not mince words when he said, “Woe to you who are rich,” after listing the Beatitudes as written according to St. Luke, the pope said in a morning homily.

If anyone today “were to preach like that, the newspapers the next day (would say), ‘That priest is a communist!’ But poverty is at the heart of the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae May 24, Pope Francis focused his homily on the day’s first reading from the Letter of James (5:1-6) in which the apostle scolds the rich. Not only has their wealth “rotted away,” the decay and corrosion of their material possessions “will be a testimony against you” on judgment day, the passage says.

James criticized employers who withheld wages from their workers, the pope said, and those workers’ cries reached the ears of the Lord.

People today mistakenly might think James is “a union representative,” Pope Francis said, but he is an apostle whose words were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Even in Italy, there are those who leave people out of work to protect their assets, but whoever does this, “Woe to you!” not according to the pope, but according to Jesus, he said.

Jesus, he said, is the one who says, “Woe to you who exploit people, who exploit labor, who pay under the table, who don’t pay pension contributions, who don’t offer vacation days. Woe to you!”

Wage theft, like “skimming” from people’s paychecks, “is a sin; it is a sin,” the pope said, even if the employer goes to Mass every day, belongs to Catholic associations and prays novenas.

When an employer doesn’t pay what is due, he said, “this injustice is a mortal sin. You are not in God’s grace. I’m not saying this, Jesus says it, the Apostle James says it.”

The condemnation is severe because “wealth is idolatry” that seduces people, and Jesus knew people could not serve two masters — they must choose either God or money, Pope Francis said.

Wealth “grabs you and doesn’t let you go, and it goes against the first commandment” to love God with all one’s heart, he said.

It also goes against the second commandment to love one’s neighbor, he said, because a love of wealth “destroys the harmonious relationship between us” and “makes us selfish,” he said. It “ruins life, ruins the soul.”

“Preaching about poverty is at the heart of Jesus’ preaching. ‘Blessed are the poor’ is the first beatitude,” he said, and poverty is central to how Jesus identifies himself when he returns to Nazareth and preaches in the synagogue: “The Spirit is upon me, I have been sent to proclaim the Gospel, the Good News, glad tidings to the poor.”

“But throughout history we have always had this weakness of trying to remove this teaching about poverty, believing it to be a social (issue), politics. No! It is pure Gospel,” the pope said.

Wealth can turn people into slaves, Pope Francis said, therefore, “pray a bit more and do a bit more penance” for the rich.

“To be free before wealth you must step back and pray to the Lord,” he said. “If the Lord gave you wealth, it is for giving it to others, to do many good things for others in his name.”

Father of Knights of Columbus in the Philippines


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