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Official News Service of the Media Office of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
Updated: 39 min 8 sec ago

November 23, 2017

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 21:00
Thursday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 MC 2:15-29

The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy
came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices.
Many of Israel joined them,
but Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart.
Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias:
“You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city,
supported by sons and kin.
Come now, be the first to obey the king’s command,
as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah
and those who are left in Jerusalem have done.
Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King’s Friends,
and shall be enriched with silver and gold and many gifts.”
But Mattathias answered in a loud voice:
“Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him,
so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers
and consents to the king’s orders,
yet I and my sons and my kin
will keep to the covenant of our fathers.
God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments.
We will not obey the words of the king
nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree.”

As he finished saying these words,
a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all
to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein
according to the king’s order.
When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal;
his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused;
he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar.
At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king
who was forcing them to sacrifice,
and he tore down the altar.
Thus he showed his zeal for the law,
just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu.

Then Mattathias went through the city shouting,
“Let everyone who is zealous for the law
and who stands by the covenant follow after me!”
Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons,
leaving behind in the city all their possessions.
Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom
went out into the desert to settle there.

Responsorial Psalm PS 50:1B-2, 5-6, 14-15

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.

R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

“Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his justice;
for God himself is the judge.

R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

“Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.”

R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Alleluia PS 95:8

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

Gospel LK 19:41-44

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
“If this day you only knew what makes for peace–
but now it is hidden from your eyes.
For the days are coming upon you
when your enemies will raise a palisade against you;
they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.
They will smash you to the ground and your children within you,
and they will not leave one stone upon another within you
because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

Homilies Today's Readings

Bishops of Africa, Europe voice hope for upcoming summit on youth

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 14:47

World Youth Day in Brazil, July 28, 2013. Michelle Bauman/CNA

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNA/EWTN News).- In preparation for the fifth summit of the African Union and the European Union, the Catholic bishops’ conferences of both continents issued a joint statement of support.

“The Commission of Bishops’ Conferences in the European Union (COMECE) and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) … welcome this event and the decision to focus on ‘Youth’ as its central theme,” the bishops said.

“The Catholic Church is deeply rooted in both continents and as bishops we wish to address the spiritual expectations of people, and especially the youth.”

Taking place on Nov. 28-29 in Abidjan, capital of Ivory Coast, the summit will draw political leaders to discuss future partnerships between the continents. The bishops observed that youth will also be a major theme of the 2018 Synod of Bishops, held next year at the Vatican.

“At this particular moment in the history of the long-standing relations between Africa and Europe, the summit presents the political leaders of both continents with the unique opportunity to initiate an authentic mutual partnership,” the bishops said.

The two continents are connected by historical roots, they observed, citing the presence of the Christian faith that has developed in both continents over centuries of theologians, martyrs, and saints.

On a more negative note, past and present injustices also tie the two regions together, the bishops said. They acknowledged challenges including migrant issues, political unrest, and religious violence, which oppose the dignity of the human person. They also recognized the need to address current ideologies negatively affecting the youth.

“Coherent answers must be provided for the youth as they face new, wayward ideologies regarding culture, the sanctity of human life, marriage and the family, and loss of spirituality in a world where a materialistic culture is dominant.”

The statement said the summit should promote economic and sociological growth on both continents by developing opportunities for better education, career training, and jobs.

This should be aided by public policies allowing for private investment and infrastructure projects, they said. Policies should be just and ensure fair trade, they said, addressing intercontinental strains over migration concerns and African resources.

“New local industries and sustainable development of agriculture may furthermore help to reduce the stress which forces young people to leave,” the bishops said, referencing the poor economic policies and proxy wars that have displaced thousands of African migrants.

Corruption problems must be countered by institutional transparency, they said, noting a general lack of trust from the people toward politicians.

The statement also encouraged joint projects and regular conferences between the continents, stating that respectful discussion must be procured to bring “inter and intra-continental healing” where transgressions have sown ethnic strife.

Conference such as the upcoming one “should bring to light different forms of disillusionment, especially among the youth, and identify ways of addressing them in a spirit of mutual respect for persons and for different cultures,” the bishops said.

A wake-up call for the pastors

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 14:38

CBCPNews

Juridic implications of the M.P. Come una Madre Amorevole

After the recent scandal involving a priest in the Diocese of Antipolo, a very serious question was brought to my attention: What happens if allegations are made of sexual abuse of minors (e.g., some Knights of the Altar or altar boys) by one of their senior coordinators (a layman). Since the alleged perpetrator of the act is not a cleric, strictly-speaking, this would not fall under the provisions for the so-called delicta graviora contained in the M.P. Sacraentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (30.IV.2001) of John Paul II and amended by Benedict XVI in 21.V.2010. Can the Church—i.e., the Bishop—do anything to remedy the situation? Should he?

IT has been a year since Pope Francis’s motu proprio, Come una Madre Amorevola (“Like a Loving Mother”), entered in force. Promulgated on 4 June 2016, it is very clearly a piece of legislation from the Supreme Legislator of the Canonical Ordering. What is important is to realize that beyond the tender note of the document’s title—Like a Loving Mother—lies very serious and strong provisions against those Pastors who fail to act like a loving mother towards their flock, as regards the more serious crimes (delicta graviora) previously outlined in the M.P. Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela (30.IV.2001), particularly—but not limited to—cases of sexual abuse inflicted on minors and vulnerable adults. In effect, Francis stated that “Canon Law already provides for the possibility of removal from ecclesiastical office ‘for grave reasons’ [of] diocesan Bishops … and those who are by law equal to them (cf. c.193, §1 of the CIC).”  It is in the light of that document that the hypothetical problem stated above can be addressed.

The purpose of the motu proprio:  To implement the M.P. Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela

The Holy Father clearly stated the purpose of the motu proprio in the third introductory paragraph: “With this Letter my intention is to underline that among the aforesaid ‘grave reasons’ (for their removal from office) is the negligence of a Bishop in the exercise of his office, and in particular in relation to cases of sexual abuse inflicted on minors and vulnerable adults, as stated in the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela promulgated by St John Paul II and amended by my beloved Predecessor, Benedict XVI.”  Thus, if hitherto the M.P. Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela had focused on the graviora delicta, the prosecution of which was reserved to the Holy See, the present document puts the burden for making sure that such cases are brought to the attention of the Holy See for proper prosecution squarely on the shoulders of the local ordinaries under pain of removal from office. This is clearly stated as follows:

 

Article 1

  • 1. The diocesan Bishop or Eparch, or one who even holds a temporary title and is responsible for a Particular Church, or other community of faithful that is its legal equivalent, according to c.368 CIC or c.313 CCEO, can be legitimately removed from this office if he has through negligence committed or through omission facilitated acts that have caused grave harm to others, either to physical persons or to the community as a whole. The harm may be physical, moral, spiritual or through the use of patrimony.
  • 2. The diocesan Bishop or Eparch can only be removed if he is objectively lacking in a very grave manner the diligence that his pastoral office demands of him, even without serious moral fault on his part.
  • 3. In the case of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults it is enough that the lack of diligence be grave.
  • 4. The Major Superiors of Religious Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right are equivalent to diocesan Bishops and Eparchs.

Three points need underlining. Firstly, this is a penal norm, directed to bishops, whose neglect has caused grave harm—physical, spiritual or economic—to either physical persons or to the community as a whole. As a penal norm, it typifies the crime and attaches the penalty—i.e., removal from office.

Secondly, the present legislation is not limited to cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. In fact it applies to all cases of serious neglect by bishops and their equivalents in what pertains to cases of delicta graviora, as outlined in the aforementioned M.P. Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela, especially as amended by Benedict XVI.

Thirdly, the scope of the aforementioned legislation does not seem to be limited to sexual abuse of minor by clerics, but includes other cases of sexual abuse of minors that fall under the purview of the bishop as pastor of his flock. It is under this possible scope that the aforementioned hypothetical case can be considered—i.e., since altar knights are clearly under the care of the parish and eventually of the bishop, for such alleged sexual abuse of such minors to go unexamined by the bishop would clearly constitute neglect, making that bishop liable to be prosecuted according to the present motu proprio.

  How will the bishop be prosecuted?

The motu proprio contains the mechanics for the prosecution of the negligent bishop, as follows:

            Article 2

  • 1. In all cases in which there is serious evidence of what is contained in the previous article, the competent Congregation of the Roman Curia can open an inquiry into the case, informing the subject involved and giving the accused the possibility of providing documentation and testimony.
  • 2. The Bishop will be given the possibility to defend himself, something he can do by the means provided for by law. All stages of the inquiry will be communicated and he will always be given the possibility of meeting with the Superiors of the Congregation. This meeting will be proposed by the appropriate dicastery even should the Bishop himself take no initiative.
  • 3. In view of the arguments presented by the Bishop, the Congregation may decide to open a supplementary investigation.

            Article 3

  • 1. Before making a decision, the Congregation may meet, when appropriate, with other Bishops or Eparchs belonging to the same Bishops’ Conference or Synod of Bishops of thesui iuris Church as the Bishop or Eparch in question, with the purpose of discussing the said case.
  • 2. The Congregation will adopt its determination when gathered in an Ordinary Session.

            Article 4

Whenever the removal of a Bishop is held to be opportune, the Congregation, depending on the circumstances of the case, will establish whether:

1º. to issue, and in the briefest possible amount of time, a decree of removal;

2º. to fraternally exhort the Bishop to present his letter of resignation within a period of fifteen days. If the Bishop does not give his response within this period of time the Congregation can proceed to issue the decree of removal.

 

            Article 5

The decision of the Congregation as stated in articles 3–4 must be submitted for the specific approval of the Roman Pontiff, who before making a definitive decision will take counsel with a special College of Jurists designated for this purpose.

 

Conclusion

The bishop can definitely initiate an investigation. In fact, in the light of the aforementioned motu proprio, it would seem that he should, to avoid possible prosecution and removal from office. In any case, just like in the case of a cleric accused of such sexual misbehavior, a preventive suspension of the lay coordinator from his work and contact with altar boys seems indicated. Finally, should the allegations be substantiated, that suspension should become permanent.

We can end with the opening paragraphs of the motu proprio, which put in proper context the otherwise stern note of the new norms:

The Church loves all her children like a loving mother, but cares for all and protects with a special affection those who are smallest and defenseless. This is the duty that Christ himself entrusted to the entire Christian community as a whole. Aware of this, the Church is especially vigilant in protecting children and vulnerable adults.

This duty of care and protection devolves upon the whole Church, yet it is especially through her Pastors that it must be exercised. Therefore diocesan Bishops, Eparchs and those who have the responsibility for a Particular Church must pay vigilant attention to protecting the weakest of those entrusted to her care.

Corruption is the scourge of the nation

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 14:34

Militant groups call for government reform during a rally at Mendiola Bridge near the presidential palace, July 17, 2017. ROY LAGARDE

THE apparent triumph of evil is what troubles so many in the world today. Reports of crime, bribery, wrongdoing, exploitation and frame-ups appear on almost every news bulletin. Evil reigns supreme when people in power abuse their position for their personal or family gain. In business, in politics, in the judiciary they defraud and steal, smuggle, peddle drugs and hide behind a mask of innocence. This is what we call corruption. Sadly, the Philippines in 2016 ranked low, 101 out of 176 countries, on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. Scandinavian countries ranked in the top five.

It is a brutal and painful reality that we live in a corrupt society. That may be pessimistic perhaps but also very true. Politicians are considered the most corrupt of all. Even senators are on trial in the Philippines for looting the public coffers. They allegedly set up false charities and foundations to hide the public money given to them for development and community projects and then channeled the billions into their private accounts. One was able to get a Supreme Court decision to post bail for a crime for which there is no bail allowed. The decision was a miracle of compassion, some said. The accused have every opportunity to present evidence and a strong defense and benefit by the rule of law, due process and plead innocent until proven guilty. Not so the suspected drug users that are killed daily on the spot with no evidence needed.

The judiciary is open to corrupt practices. A recent case in the Philippines is that of a female US national who kept five Filipino children in her house illegally and severely neglected them and when rescued and they were medically examined and it was found that they had been sexually abused and used in making pornography. Despite strong evidence of guilt, the judge dismissed the case on the slim and questionable grounds the rescue of the children by government social workers and police was illegal. Massive bribery was suspected to have been involved.

Now the suspect is hiding in the USA and attacking online the child defenders who exposed her crimes against the children. She will likely be charged under the US Federal law that provides “extraterritorial jurisdiction” over certain sex offenses against children. According to the US Justice Department, “extraterritorial jurisdiction is the legal authority of the United States to prosecute criminal conduct that took place outside its borders. Section 2423(c) of Title 18, United States Code, prohibits United States citizens or legal permanent residents from traveling from the United States to a foreign country, and while there, raping or sexually molesting a child or paying a child for sex.”

The good people who would never pay a bribe or act in a corrupt manner are disadvantaged as they are inhibited and prevented by their good conscience from doing wrong, taking advantage of others, committing an injustice, stealing, lying or cheating. They are the silent majority of good Filipinos but they must not remain silent. They are Filipinos of integrity and honesty. They are the moral people with a conscience built on knowledge of right and wrong. When temptation presents itself, they resist. But when threatened, they fear for themselves and their families.

The corrupt person has no conscience and is continually looking out for a way to exploit others, advance his ambitious goals of greed and dominance. In any situation where the official has power to give or withhold anything to which the member of the public has a right to receive- a driving license, a business permit or a police clearance- the official will be thinking, “Aha, what’s in this for me?”

We are challenged and called upon to speak out and expose corruption wherever we suspect it is happening. Pope Francis is calling on us to say “No” to corrupt practices and to take a stand for integrity, honesty, human dignity, justice, good governance and human rights. Exposing corruption is dangerous as the powerful will silence the whistle-blowers and the human rights advocates who take a stand against corruption. In the Philippines, the president has said he will order the police to shoot human rights advocates.

However, corruption in developing countries is on a different level. It permeates all levels and all branches of government. Child abuse is widespread as government officials look the other way and issue permits to the sex bars where teenagers are trafficked and exploited by the local and foreign sex tourists. Everyone makes money and the children and young women, victims of human trafficking, are sexually exploited and held in slavery by debts, which they can never pay off. Corruption is so widespread that even police and officials frequent the sex bars and protect them from investigation for crimes against women and children.

Saying “No” to corruption can cost you your life. Over a hundred journalists and human right workers have been killed for exposing the corruption and injustice in the Philippines. Yet the people of conscience and integrity need to take the risk and stand up and say “No More Corruption” and act to expose and oppose all such evil practices

The killing of children

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 14:30

Fr. Robert Reyes and Fr. Flavie Villanueva pray at the spot where 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos was allegedly murdered by policemen in an anti-illegal drugs operation, August 25, 2017. MARIA TAN

THE President is having a very successful campaign against suspected drug dealers and drug users. The killing of a 17-year old Grade 11 student, Kian Loyd delos Santos, by police in an anti-drug operation last week during which as many as 94 people were shot dead by police was just one too many. The police claim that all the dead, including the boy, resisted arrest and fought back. However, witnesses and CCTV footage of the incident show that the boy was dragged and shot dead.

There is no conclusive evidence that any of these 94 people were drug dealers and had resisted arrest or had fought back. Many in the Philippines are shocked at the news that as many as 31 minors have been shot dead during the past twelve months of the President’s war-on-drugs. The tough-talking and feared President strengthened his determination to pursue the war-on-drugs and said that it would continue relentlessly and warned drug pushers that they will face “either jail or hell.” “Illegal drugs are the root cause of much evil and so much suffering that weaken the social fabric and deters foreign investment from pouring in,” he said.

Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David spoke out against it and condemned the killing of Kian Loyd Delos Santos. “This is one very specific case where an innocent individual, who happens to be just a boy, a Grade 11 student, you snuff out the future of a child,” David said in a phone interview with Rappler on Friday, August 18. “That really crushes my heart as bishop. I cannot possibly keep quiet about this,” said David, the incoming vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). He is one of the most outspoken bishops against the extrajudicial killings (EJKs).

The targeting of children is not unusual. The authorities look down upon them. The move by the authorities to change the juvenile justice and welfare law and reduce the minimum age of criminal liability to nine years old is still pending in the congress. In a speech to the Boy Scouts, the President said children in conflict with the law have criminals’ minds.

Without evidence against the suspects, their names are listed by local officials and are thereby judged guilty and arrested, jailed or even executed. The President praised the big “success” of the operation. The rule of law and due process is ignored and for many Filipinos of conscience, it is extrajudicial killing. The police vigorously deny it. Some commentators say that as many as ten thousand suspects have died in the war on drugs killed by police and vigilantes. The vigilantes, some say, are police in disguise and they are paid a bonus for every killing. This cannot be confirmed. The owners of the funeral parlors where the bodies are brought pay the police to bring them more bodies, some reports say. The families of the victims have to borrow heavily to pay for the expensive funeral. A report by Reuters last June 29 revealed that some police bring the dead bodies to hospitals as part of a cover up.

The amazing thing is that for a so-called Catholic country that is the Philippines, surveys say the tough talking president has approval ratings as high as 80 percent of those polled. Some say many Filipinos give approval in a survey out of fear. The president who apparently enjoys wide popularity said he would kill human rights advocates too to show them what human rights violations were. Later his communications officials said he didn’t mean it.

In the Archdiocese of Dagupan, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, former head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, ordered that the church bells in his diocese be rung for 15 minutes every day for three months to protest the killings. This is needed, he said, to arouse the people who have become “cowards in expressing anger against evil.”

“The sounding of the bells is a call to stop approval of the killings,” Villegas said in a statement read last week in churches in his archdiocese in Pangasinan province. “The country is in chaos. The officer who kills is rewarded and the slain get the blame. The corpses could no longer defend themselves from accusations that they ‘fought back,’” he said. “Why are we no longer horrified by the sound of the gun and blood flowing on the sidewalks? Why is nobody raging against drugs that were brought in from China?” Villegas asked, referring to a huge drugs shipment that managed to pass through Manila’s ports under the watch of customs officials appointed by Duterte.

And so it is that the voices of the outspoken, vocal bishops are being heard. In Caloocan City, Bishop David organized walk for peace. In the Archdiocese of Manila, Archbishop Cardinal Tagle issued a pastoral letter that did not condemn the killings but said “We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives.”

This is a time for people of conscience to know and speak the truth, to be prophetic, to proclaim the value of every life, to stand for the truth, justice, human dignity, due process and the rule of law so that all people will be protected and safe from home invasion and the arbitrary killing of innocent people.

Deficiencies of the Family Code of the Philippines (part 1):

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 14:26

FILE PHOTO

Psychological incapacity vs. lack of due discretion as ground for marriage nullity

Time and again, I have been confronted with cases of marriages, which have been declared null in a Philippine civil court on the ground of psychological incapacity of either or both of the spouses. In fact, this seems to be the most common ground for such declarations of nullity, to the point of being abused. While such abuses have been exposed by the Supreme Court, the fact is they continue to proliferate. What could be the reason for this?

Deficient juridic structure of marriage in Philippine civil law

In a number of articles in this column over the years, we have considered the juridic structure of marriage—in the Law of the Church—as standing on three pillars: (1) the capacity to marry of the spouses, (2) matrimonial consent and (3) the canonical form. In this scheme, the different factors that can vitiate the coming about of marriage (marriage in fieri) can be neatly considered and—even more important in the juridic world—subjected to judicial verification.

For example, under this scheme, it would be a relatively simple matter of documentary proof to show a defect of capacity due to the presence of any of the so-called diriment impediments (no less than 12 of them to be sure). In the same line, the lack of the needed canonical form (the external formal requirements for the celebration of marriage) is also easily proven.

In contrast, the provisions of the Philippine Family Code for void and voidable marriages (Title I, Chapter 3 of the Family Code) do not show such a clear juridic structure—despite the quite obvious provenance of its norms from the corresponding canons of the Code of Canon Law. Thus, absent the juridic framework, the civil law provisions for the declaration of marriage nullity give the impression of being legalistic: the process is reduced to a case of lawyering to get a marriage annulled. In a recent briefer process I was involved in, for example, one of the spouses blurted out during deposition that the allegations of the other spouse, in the civil process for the declaration of nullity of their marriage, that he was psychologically incapacitated due to homosexuality was pure invention; in fact their marriage had broken down in part due to his philandering with women. When confronted with that observation by his estranged wife, the man admitted that he just hired a civil lawyer who made up a case and he just signed off on it.

However, the real advantage of the canonical laws on marriage becomes evident when it comes to the matter of consent—i.e., the lack of a valid consent as a ground for the declaration of marriage nullity. In effect, given the great understanding and appreciation of the human person—as a spiritual being with intellect and will—that canonical doctrine has, the provisions of Canon Law as regards the genesis of a valid matrimonial consent is far superior to what the civil legislation and jurisprudence has on this matter.

 

Psychological incapacity vs.  incapacity to assume the essential obligations of matrimony due to causes of a psychic nature

The problem with the notion of psychological incapacity as ground for marriage nullity, enshrined in Art.36 of the Family Code of the Philippines, becomes apparent even with a cursory reading of the legal text:

“Art.36. A marriage contracted by any party who, at the time of the celebration, was psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage, shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.” (Philippine Family Code, as amended by E.O. No.227.)

In contrast, the corresponding provision in the Code of Canon Law, which inspired the framers of the Philippine Family Code in this regard, clearly states:

“Can.1095, 3º: They are incapable of contracting marriage, (those) who are not capable of assuming the essential obligations of matrimony due to causes of a psychic nature.”

In effect, what is at bar should not be the mere existence of a psychological anomaly but rather its connection to an incapacity to comply with the essential marital obligations. Such essential marital obligations, to the credit of the Family Code, have been typified in the same Family Code as follows:

“Art.68. The husband and wife are obliged to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support.”

The problem, in practice, is that in most cases of marriage nullities granted in Philippine civil courts, such incapacity to assume the essential obligations of marriage is not really proven beyond reasonable doubt, but rather presumed when a psychological anomaly is proven. In other words, the cause has transitioned from the incapacity to assume the essential marital obligations to a psychological anomaly, which has conveniently been labeled psychological incapacity. This is not the venue for demonstrating this observation, but it could be a good topic for a licentiate thesis in Canon Law (if not simply for a serious case of investigative journalism) to review some recent declarations of marriage nullity in civil court to demonstrate this point.

 

Grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning essential matrimonial rights and duties

The reason, to my mind, why Philippine civil courts tend to abuse the notion of psychological incapacity is the absence in the Philippine Family Code of another ground for nullity, which its framers failed to import from Canon Law. This is the notion of grave lack of due discretion (loosely referred to as LDD), enshrined in c.1095, 2º of the Code of Canon Law:

“Can.1095, 2º. They are incapable of contracting marriage (those) who suffer from grave lack of discretion of judgment concerning the essential matrimonial rights and duties, which are to be mutually given and accepted.”

In effect, the genesis of matrimonial consent has been the object of canonical doctrine and jurisprudence for many centuries, and especially in the last decades (since the promulgation of the Code of 1983) has yielded veritable gems of Rotal Jurisprudence. As we have had a chance to consider on several occasions in this column, matrimonial consent—the most important of the three pillars on which the juridic structure of marriage stands—is a human act which demands the intervention of both the intellect and the will. Aside from the obvious grounds of violence (whether internal or external) that vitiates the act of the will, and of ignorance or error (especially due to fraud) that vitiates the act of the intellect, Canon Law gives a lot of importance to the discretion of judgment as a necessary element for the validity of matrimonial consent. Now is not the time to delve deeper into the notion, but in broad strokes we can understand discretion of judgment as that quality of the intellect that allows a person to know what marriage means and what a specific marriage to the specific person in question here and now means, together with its consequences.

Definitely such discretion of judgment can be conceptually taken as an act of the intellect (since judgment is an act of the intellect), but it cannot be dissociated from the influence of the will and the passions, since in the last analysis the one who consents is the person—making use of his intellect and will.

 

Psychological incapacity vs. grave lack of discretion

The problem with using the so-called psychological incapacity, or more accurately in canonical terms incapacity to assume due to causes of a psychic nature as a ground for nullity is its radical nature: in effect, what is being alleged is an intrinsic incapacity on the part of the party. Such incapacity is at least semi-permanent, which therefore affects the person also as regards any future marriage. Thus, a sentence of nullity due to this ground in an Ecclesiastical Tribunal normally carries with it a provision (caveat) to the effect that the party who is suffering such incapacity is barred from contracting any future canonical marriage, unless he proves to the satisfaction of the competent authority that he/she has overcome whatever psychic reason there was that was causing such incapacity. Indeed, it seems anomalous that while civil courts are so liberal in declaring marriage nullities based on this ground, most of the people involved proceed to another marriage—indeed that was the motive for getting the declaration in the first place—after the previous one has been declared null.

In contrast, grave lack of discretion of judgment is specific to the genesis of a particular consent, even if it may have been caused by psychological factors. In effect, when using c.1095, 2º as ground for nullity, what is proven is the momentary (or at least temporary) condition of grave lack of discretion of judgment in making the consent to marry, and not an incapacity to assume the essential marital rights and obligations. This presents a wider margin of possibilities, other than the strictly psychic reasons that would render a person incapable of assuming the essential rights and obligations of marriage. Unfortunately, as stated earlier, this ground is not present in the Philippine Family Code.

Will God judge us on the basis of our attitude to Christ’s representatives?

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 14:23

Solemnity of Christ the King, Year A (Matt 25:31-46)
November 26, 2017
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD

WHEN the parable of the sheep and the goats was used in the early Church, it  became an allegory of the last judgment, as the shepherd came to be identified with the king (v 40).  Matthew is probably responsible for the addition of apocalyptic features to the parable, as when he speaks of the coming in glory of the Son of Man who is identified with the king.  But as it stands in Matthew, how is one to understand it?  Many exegetes think that the parable has two fundamental questions that influence one’s interpretation: who are the nations being judged, and who are “the least of the brothers”.  According to one interpretation, it is really about judgment of Christians on the basis of their attitude toward the needy members of the Christian community.

But in recent years, Liberation Theology popularized an interpretation that sees it as a judgment of all persons—Jews, Christians, pagans, grounding on their treatment of any person in need, both Christians and non-Christians.  Says Gustavo Gutierrez in his A Theology of Liberation: “Our encounter with the Lord occurs in our encounter with others, especially in the encounter with those whose human features have been disfigured by oppression, despoliation, and alienation… The salvation of humanity passes through them; they are the bearers of the meaning of history and ‘inherit the Kingdom’ (James 2:5).  Our attitude towards them, or rather our commitment to them, will indicate whether or not we are directing our existence in conformity with the will of the Father.”  In other words, all individuals and nations will be judged on the basis of their attitude toward the poor, the deprived, the oppressed and the marginal.  This goes beyond the traditional corporal works of mercy under which rubric the acts toward others have been placed, for, in this theology, working on the side of justice for the poor is an essential task of salvation.  Some groups even interpreted this to mean that faith is not necessary for salvation, not even the Church, since all that one needs is preferential option for the poor.

However attractive such an interpretation, it is not consistent, though, with the theology of Matthew.  If one reads the whole gospel, he will notice, as Donald Senior points out, that Matthew envisages three forms of judgment: first, the leaders of Israel will be held accountable for their rejection of Jesus and his message (Matt 23); second, the Christian community and its leaders will be judged on the basis of their response to God’s offer in Jesus (Matt 24-25); and third, the nations to which the mission of the Church is directed, will be convicted on their refusal to accept the messengers and their message (Matt 25:31-46)—which is the Gospel today. These different forms of judgment may be compared with Paul’s teaching in Romans 2:5-10 (see also 1 Pet 4:17).  In other words, the basic question that the parable addresses is this: How shall non-Christians share in the Kingdom of God?  For Matthew, the Gentiles will be judged according to how they responded to the proclaimers of the Gospel, namely, the disciples of Jesus.  They are, for Matthew, the “least brothers” of Jesus (Matt 10:42; 11:11; 18:6; 10,14).  The reason for interpreting this parable as a judgment on non-Christians is that when Matthew speaks of nations, he usually means the Gentiles (Matt 4:15; 6:32; 10:5, etc.)  Moreover, in the Gospel, they are pictured as ignorant of Jesus: “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or away from home or naked or ill or in prison and not attend to your needs?” (Matt 25:44; see also vv 37-39).  Hunger, thirst, nakedness and imprisonment—these refer to the sufferings of the disciples who proclaim Jesus’ message of salvation.

One who does not treat well the representative of Jesus is hardly qualified to join the family of God, for in point of fact, he rejects Jesus himself.  The same thought is found elsewhere in Matthew: “He who welcomes you welcomes me, and he who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me” (Matt 10:40).  Underlying this logic is the shaliach principle according to which the rejection or acceptance of an envoy involves the rejection or acceptance of the sender, and in this principle, such acceptance or rejection will be validated on judgment day.  Clearly, the situation-in-life that this parable presupposes is the missionary activity of the disciples.  But at the present moment, this means that nations and individuals will share in the Kingdom of God on the basis of their attitude toward the Church, the proclaimer and sacrament of Jesus.

Homilies Today's Readings

What will make the difference at the Last Judgment

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 14:21

Solemnity of Christ the King, Year A (Matt 25:31-46)
November 26, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB

A PERSONAL judgment at the end of life and a universal judgment at the end of time come as no surprise. Man was created free but also “accountable.” Everyone will have to account to the Eternal Judge for the way he/she has used His gifts and opportunities.

The “personal judgment” takes place as soon as one dies. This judgment is the most obvious because everyone is accountable for one’s behavior and must receive the deserved reward or punishment. But since we are all linked in a web of communion and solidarity, it is also appropriate that each human being should know the effect of the behavior of everyone on all others, whether for good or bad. The Universal Judgment will bring to everyone’s knowledge everybody’s deeds and their effects. This also is fair and proper for during our earthly life our knowledge is very limited in many ways.

However, what comes as a surprise in the dramatized account of the Last Judgment presented by Jesus is the “limited scope” of accountability. Though granting that the instances mentioned by the Judge are not exhaustive, the fact remains that they are all and only about our attitudes/actions toward people. Not a single question about our attitude toward God.

This is surprising indeed for—after all—wasn’t Jesus himself who stated that the greatest commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind? (See Mt 22:37-38.) And was he not the one who taught his disciples to pray, and who wanted them to pray at all times? (See Lk 18:1.) He himself spent hours in prayer. (See Mt 6:9 and Lk 6:12.)  And yet, today, we seem to learn from him that what will matter in the end will be only the way we treat our neighbor, especially the needy! Only the second set of commandments seems to hold . . . .

Reflecting further, however, the surprise ceases. Actually, we find that it could not be otherwise. With the Incarnation, God has become a brother to every human being. It is not just a matter of proximity and relation, but a matter of effective identification. We have to see, love and serve God in our neighbor. As Jesus himself states in today’s Gospel, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me!” (See Mt 25:40.)

The Last Judgment is the mystery of the Incarnation brought to its utmost practical consequences. It is not that God and our love for Him have been “left out.” They are “in,” and in the most concrete and challenging manner, embedded as they are in the very people that we usually avoid: the hungry, the sick, the unpleasant, the convicts . . . . These are some of the categories of people in whom it is so difficult to see Christ, the all-holy God-man.

To see and serve Christ in them demands not only mercy and generosity, but also an immense faith. The Final Judgment will be a judgment on our practical acceptance of the Word who became “flesh,” a judgment on our “Yes” to the God steeped not only in our nature, but even in our very needs.

Homilies Today's Readings

Our creative response to God’s gift of salvation

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 13:46

33rd Sunday of Year A (Matt 25:14-30)
November 19, 2017
By Msgr. Lope C. Robredillo, SThD

THE parable of the talents, like last Sunday’s, is clearly allegorical, although as Jesus himself told it, it probably had a different point. Most likely, it was intended for the Jewish religious authorities, such as the scribes and the Pharisees, who like the third servant, were so much concerned with the preservation of the religious tradition they had been entrusted with that they refused to hear the new message that Jesus brought.  But this main point has given way to allegorization.  As it stands in Matthew, the master’s invitation “Come, share your master’s joy” (Matt 25:21b) obviously refers to the messianic banquet in the Kingdom of God.  The servants (v 14b et passim) stand for Christians who, through baptism, accept Christ as their master.  The silver pieces (v 15) represent the faith that God gives them through baptism. And the “going away” and the long absence of the master (v 15b, 19a) refer to the journey of Christ to heaven and his physical absence from the world.  His coming home (V 19) is the parousia, the second coming of the Lord.  The early Church moralized the parable with the addition of the saying, “Those who have will get more until they grow rich, while those who have not will lose even the little they have” (v 29).  Concerned with the coming eschatological event, it is now a parable of judgment.

While it is true that in this allegorization the story revolves around the three servants to whom the master disbursed his silver pieces, it gives far greater attention on the third servant.  In the dialogue between the master and this servant, the former sharply rebuked the latter for his failure to do something with the silver pieces entrusted to him.  This unproductive servant is held up as an bad example of one who, having been entrusted with capital, was more concerned about himself and thus about keeping the money intact—an attitude which, in Matthew’s redaction, shows his lazy and sterile life.  Because his desire was security, however false, he was unable to obey the master in a very creative way, unlike the two other servants who made capital gains.  If Matthew dwells at length on this lazy and unproductive servant, it is because the parable is meant to teach us that the gift of faith given to us at Baptism must grow while we await Jesus’ second coming so that, upon his return, we can give a good account on what we have done to the faith we received.  This growth of faith is our creative response to the offer God has given us, while living in the period between now and Christ’s arrival at the end of time.

What does this mean?  Like the first servants who, having received five thousand silver pieces, went to invest it and made another five, so we must be believers whose faith grows and bears fruit.  Or, if we look at the parable as an allegory on the membership of the Kingdom at the end-time, we are supposed to work out our salvation in the same way that the first two servants invested the master’s money.  Of course, salvation is God’s grace (Titus 3:5), but our part is to make a creative and proper response to it.  In the second reading (1Thess 5:16), Paul expresses this in terms of being “awake and sober” (v 6)—“We who live by day must be alert, putting on faith and love as breastplate” (v 7).  A productive faith is one that bears fruit in love.  Thus Paul: “Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good.  Love one another with the affection of brothers.  Anticipate each other in showing respect.  Do not grow slack but be fervent in spirit; he whom you serve is the Lord” (Rom 12:9-11).  The first reading makes the same emphasis when it speaks of works: “Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates” (Prov 31:31).  Of course, Paul himself makes a laconic expression of the growth of faith in love, when he says that in Christ what counts is “only faith that expresses itself in love” (Gal 5:6).

If the master was harsh with the third servant because he was concerned only with his own security, this implies that the growth of faith must benefit others.  This brings to mind James’ assertion about unproductive faith: “If a brother or a sister has nothing to wear and no food for the day and you say to him, ‘Goodbye and good luck!  Keep warm and well fed’, but do not meet their bodily needs, what good is that?  So it is with faith that does nothing in practice.  It is thoroughly lifeless” (Jas 2:14-17).  Obviously, the parable stresses that like any gift, faith, no matter how small, is precious, and has to bear fruit for others.

Homilies Today's Readings

Street dweller to student: How a parish is sending homeless youth to school

Wed, 11/22/2017 - 12:32

Immaculate Conception parish priest Fr. Alfredo “Jun” Pascual and Rosario Pante, in charge of the scholariship program

QUEZON City – A parish in Project 8 in this city is supporting students, several of whom used to live on the streets, to finish their studies by fundraising through the help of generous individuals.

“Most of these students are active members of church organizations,” said Rosario Pante, in-charge of the program. “Some were former beggars. We have taken them from the street and reintegrated them [into] the church.

According to the catechist, the parish is currently helping 19 elementary, high school, and college students. Four are in college, 5 in elementary, the rest are high school students.

Active in church

“The program recipients should be active members of the church,” said Fr. Alfredo “Jun” Pascual, parish priest. “Basically, the recipient should be a member of any church organization.”

The Immaculate Conception parish is calling on charitable people to share their blessings with students who have financial difficulties.

“The young should never stop dreaming,” he said. “The Church is around to help them,” Pascual added, noting that the number of recipients depends on pledges from sponsors.

Free school supplies, allowance

In operation for the past four years, the program gives free uniforms, school supplies, and a monthly allowance to scholars.

According to her, each beneficiary also receives Php 500 annually for uniform and Php 500 for school supplies.
Meanwhile, the monthly allowance for elementary pupils is Php 300, Php 400 for high school students, and Php 600 for college students.

One scholar already graduated from a maritime course in March 2017, Pascual said. The student, who is a sacristan, is currently undergoing on-the-job training.

Kicking off in 2013, the program initially had 3 high school and 2 college students. CBCPNews

PH churches to ‘go red’ for persecuted Christians

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 22:24

The façade of the Manila Cathedral is ready for #RedWednesdayPH. ACN PHILIPPINES

MANILA – As a sign of solidarity with the millions of persecuted Christians all over the world, selected churches and universities in the country will light their façades in red on Nov. 22 and celebrate late afternoon Masses as part of the #RedWednesdayPH campaign. The faithful are also encouraged to wear red.

“I hope that through this campaign, more Filipinos will be made aware of the reality and the severity of persecution of their fellow Christians and that this awareness leads to concrete actions of support through prayer, information, and charity,” said Jomar Luciano, national director of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Philippines, the lead organizer of the said campaign.

According to a briefer released by ACN Philippines, the #RedWednesdayPH campaign aims to achieve the following:

  • Educate the public including the youth about the nature and scale of Christian persecution;
  • Create awareness among Filipino Christians of their membership within a bigger global Christian family;
  • Encourage Christians of all ages and traditions to stand up for faith and freedom and the right of Christians to practice their faith without fear or obstruction

The said campaign is just one of simultaneous Red Wednesday campaigns in countries like the U.K, Australia, Ireland, Italy, and France.

The faithful may join late afternoon Masses on Nov. 22 as part of the #RedWednesdayPH campaign in the following churches/dioceses:

  • Apostolic Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe
  • Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo
  • Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa
  • Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay, Palawan
  • Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose in Mindoro
  • Archdiocese of Caceres
  • Archdiocese of Capiz
  • Archdiocese of Davao
  • Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan
  • Archdiocese of Lipa
  • Archdiocese of Manila (Manila Cathedral)
  • Archdiocese of Ozamiz
  • Archdiocese of Palo
  • Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga
  • Archdiocese of Zamboanga
  • Basilica of Our Lady of Charity (Agoo, La Union)
  • Basilica of Our Lady of Piat (Cagayan)
  • Basilica of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Manaoag
  • Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo Church)
  • Basilica of the Black Nazarene (Quiapo Church)
  • Diocesan Shrine and Parish of Our Lady of Salvation (Tiwi, Albay)
  • Diocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Jude Thaddeus (Lucena)
  • Diocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Vincent (Albay)
  • Diocesan Shrine of Maestra Senora de los Dolores of Turumba (Laguna)
  • Diocesan Shrine of Mahal na Señor Sto.Cristo de Burgos (Sariaya, Quezon)
  • Diocesan Shrine of Mary Queen of Peace (EDSA Shrine)
  • Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Aranzazu (San Mateo, Rizal)
  • Diocesan Shrine of San Geronimo (Nueva Ecija)
  • Diocesan Shrine of St. Joseph (Cubao)
  • Diocesan Shrine of St. Peregrine Laziosi (Parañaque)
  • Diocesan Shrine of Sto. Nino (Butuan)
  • Diocesan Shrine of the Holy Cross (Catanduanes)
  • Diocesan Shrine of the Holy Face of Jesus (Nampicuan, Nueva Ecija)
  • Diocese of Antipolo
  • Diocese of Bacolod
  • Diocese of Baguio
  • Diocese of Balanga
  • Diocese of Borongan (all parishes)
  • Diocese of Cabanatuan
  • Diocese of Calbayog
  • Diocese of Cubao
  • Diocese of Digos
  • Diocese of Dipolog
  • Diocese of Gumaca

For more information, interested parties may check out the ACN Philippines Facebook page CBCPNews

#RedWednesdayPH: Call for more committed Catholics

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 21:51

An Iraqi soldier re-installs a crucifix on top of a Christian church after the liberation of Qaraqosh, which was Iraq’s largest Christian city. ACN

BAGUIO – With the launching of the Red Wednesday campaign in the Philippines on Nov. 22, a Church official in this diocese expressed hope that the initiative will encourage greater awareness among Filipinos about the severity of the Christian persecution abroad but will also move them to stand up for the faith in their own country.

“Filipinos might think that Christians are persecuted only in some areas of Mindanao, as shown by the relentless attacks of terrorist groups or the recent siege of Marawi. Many are not even aware of the scale of Christian persecution in the rest of the country,” lamented Fr. Manuel G. Flores Jr., director of the Diocesan Commission for Promoting Integral Human Development, in-charge of the Red Wednesday campaign in the Diocese of Baguio.

“Filipino Catholics cannot rest on the fact that our country is predominantly Christian which can make them complacent [about] a ‘creeping persecution’ against the faith and the basic rights of the human person,” warned the priest.

Modern, hi-tech persecution

The Social Action Ministry coordinator pointed out that many Christians in the country today, as in the days of the early Church, cannot fully practice their faith without fear or obstruction.

To prove his point the priest cited issues currently affecting Philippine society: extra-judicial killings, destruction of the environment, corruption, gambling, the approval of contraceptives, the push for divorce in the guise of “Dissolution of Marriage”, undermining the institution of the family through same-sex unions, and the blurring the definition of man and woman in the name of equality.

According to the priest, practicing the faith, defending human rights, or upholding basic truths about the human person “exposes the Christian to lawsuits, threats, bashing, name-calling, or ridicule.”

“Persecutors of Christians,” he added, “instead of dialogue, resort to personal attacks or to the obfuscation of the issues through ‘fake news’ generated by ‘trolls’.”

#RedWednesdayPH

The Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Pontifical charity dedicated to serving the needs of persecuted Christian communities worldwide, launched the Red Wednesday campaign to raise awareness about the persecution of Christians who have suffered and died for the faith.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) endorsed the Red Wednesday campaign by inviting all cathedrals, minor basilicas, and national and diocesan shrines to illuminate their façade in red on Nov. 22.

The faithful are also encouraged to wear red clothing or markers on the same day.

In Baguio City, the main celebration of Red Wednesday will be a 5:15 p.m. Holy Eucharist, to be presided over by Bishop Victor B. Bendico, at the Our Lady of Atonement Cathedral.

Aside from the Mass, parishes and other institutions are invited to offer the holy Eucharist and pray the Angelus Prayer for Persecuted Christians from Nov. 22 until 24. CBCPNews

November 22, 2017

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 21:00
Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

Reading 1 2 MC 7:1, 20-31

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.

Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother,
who saw her seven sons perish in a single day,
yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage,
she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
“I do not know how you came into existence in my womb;
it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man’s beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.”

Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words,
thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him,
not with mere words, but with promises on oath,
to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs:
he would make him his Friend
and entrust him with high office.
When the youth paid no attention to him at all,
the king appealed to the mother,
urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time,
she went through the motions of persuading her son.
In derision of the cruel tyrant,
she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language:
“Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months,
nursed you for three years, brought you up,
educated and supported you to your present age.
I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth
and see all that is in them;
then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things;
and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner,
but be worthy of your brothers and accept death,
so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”

She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said:
“What are you waiting for?
I will not obey the king’s command.
I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses.
But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews,
will not escape the hands of God.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 17:1BCD, 5-6, 8B AND 15

R. (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Alleluia SEE JN 15:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I chose you from the world,
to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 19:11-28

While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
“A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
‘We do not want this man to be our king.’
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’
He replied, ‘Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.’
Then the second came and reported,
‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’
And to this servant too he said,
‘You, take charge of five cities.’
Then the other servant came and said,
‘Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.’
He said to him,
‘With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’
And to those standing by he said,
‘Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.’
But they said to him,
‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’
He replied, ‘I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.'”

After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Homilies Today's Readings

Public invited to ‘pure inspiration’ event

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 18:17

The 2016 Catchfire Rally CATCHFIRE FB PAGE

MANILA – Are you down and out? Or maybe needing a personal boost? This year’s Catchfire Rally, carrying the theme “Fearless”, to be held on Nov. 26, 2:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City is for you.

“The music, the videos, the performances, the testimonies and the preaching are all meant to inspire people to get to know this amazingly fantastic God who loves us very much,” said Bobby Quitain, the main preacher of the Catchfire Rallies and one of the leaders of the Catholic community Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP).

He said one thing attendees will surely get from the event is inspiration. “[Catchfire has] inspiring music, life-giving testimonies, powerful preaching, uplifting performances. All rolled into one afternoon.”

Closer ties

A brainchild of four charismatic communities with a common history namely: Ligaya ng Panginoon, Couples for Christ (CFC), Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP), and FAMILIA Community, Catchfire first started in 2011 to forge a stronger bond among the organizations.

This year, however, Catchfire has the twin objectives of evangelization and edification, said Quitain.

Aside from aiming to strengthen devout Catholics, the event aims to inspire nominal Catholics or “those who have lost their faith, particularly the youth, to recover their faith and to become more vibrant in their walk with God.”

Concert-prayer meeting-show

According to Quitain, Catchfire has a little bit of something for everyone. “Catchfire is unique in the sense that it has no category. Is it a worship concert? Yes, it is. Is it a prayer meeting? Yes, it is. Is it a show? Yes it is,” he explained.

There will be a healing session at 12:30 p.m. before the main event, followed by a Mass, to be celebrated by Cubao Bishop Honesto Ongtioco and Caloocan Bishop Pablo David at 2:00 p.m.

Interested parties may visit the event website for information on how to join or contact Ligaya ng Panginoon at (02) 519 9910 – 12; Familia at (02) 715 9407; 0917 500 1140; CFC at (02) 709 4868; or BCBP at (02) 819 0051. CBCPNews

Church exec calls for end to ‘dole-outs’ on World Day of the Poor

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 21:26

Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary

MANILA – As the Catholic Church in the Philippines joined the rest of the universal Church in celebrating the First World Day of the Poor on Nov. 19, as marked by Pope Francis, a Church official called for an end to the “dole-out mentality.”

“The poor cannot be treated as beggars of our assistance. They should be regarded with dignity, with the same importance we give ourselves. And we can only do so by improving our service delivery, by doing away with dole out mentality, and by engaging the most vulnerable during decision and policy making,” said Fr. Edwin A. Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary.

According to the priest, NASSA/Caritas Philippines strive to strengthen its advocacy for the integration of humanitarian responses and development programming, just like in the organization’s work in Marawi. “We cannot continue to be blinded [to] this injustice.”

Not ‘business as usual’

“It cannot be business as usual when dealing with our poor brothers and sisters. The government and the church must combine its resources to truly improve their plight. We can start by establishing better coordination lines during disaster response, and by being more accountable to our people,” stressed Gariguez.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, NASSA/Caritas Philippines’ national director, recognized that “with over ½ of the world’s population (over 3 billion people) living in extreme poverty, the Pope’s initiative to honour the poor is both a challenge and a celebration.”

“The initiative is a challenge for us Christians to be mindful of our actions towards the less fortunate, the underprivileged, the vulnerable, and marginalized. Let us examine how our words and inactions affect those without voice and power,” said the prelate.

#AlayKapwa

On another note, the Archbishop of Caceres also stressed that “the World Day of the Poor is essentially a time for #AlayKapwa – a celebration where we are called to offer and empty ourselves for the sake of our neighbour.”

In the Philippines, farmers, fishermen, and children (21.9 million Filipinos) are consistently found to be the poorest sectors according to the 2017 poverty report of the Philippine Statistics Authority.

NASSA/Caritas Philippines is currently implementing a Php 14-million humanitarian response program in Marawi for over 3,000 affected families which includes relief distribution, capacity building, livelihood support, community organizing, and psycho-social intervention.

Caritas Philippines is also one of the convenors of the Philippine FBO (faith-based organizations) Forum, a platform for greater coordination among FBOs in the country, especially those doing humanitarian response in Marawi.

NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. CBCPNews

November 21, 2017

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 21:00
Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading 1 2 MC 6:18-31

Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes,
a man of advanced age and noble appearance,
was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork.
But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement,
he spat out the meat,
and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture,
as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food
which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life.
Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately,
because of their long acquaintance with him,
and urged him to bring meat of his own providing,
such as he could legitimately eat,
and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice
prescribed by the king;
in this way he would escape the death penalty,
and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him.
But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner,
worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age,
the merited distinction of his gray hair,
and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood;
and so he declared that above all
he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God.

He told them to send him at once
to the abode of the dead, explaining:
“At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense;
many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar
had gone over to an alien religion.
Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life,
they would be led astray by me,
while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age.
Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men,
I shall never, whether alive or dead,
escape the hands of the Almighty.
Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now,
I will prove myself worthy of my old age,
and I will leave to the young a noble example
of how to die willingly and generously
for the revered and holy laws.”

Eleazar spoke thus,
and went immediately to the instrument of torture.
Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed,
now became hostile toward him because what he had said
seemed to them utter madness.
When he was about to die under the blows,
he groaned and said:
“The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that,
although I could have escaped death,
I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging,
but also suffering it with joy in my soul
because of my devotion to him.”
This is how he died,
leaving in his death a model of courage
and an unforgettable example of virtue
not only for the young but for the whole nation.

Responsorial Psalm PS 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (6b) The Lord upholds me.
O LORD, how many are my adversaries!
Many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“There is no salvation for him in God.”

R. The Lord upholds me.
But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
he answers me from his holy mountain.

R. The Lord upholds me.
When I lie down in sleep,
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.

R. The Lord upholds me.

Alleluia 1 JN 4:10B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God loved us, and sent his Son
as expiation for our sins.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 19:1-10

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
“He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
“Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over.”
And Jesus said to him,
“Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost.”

Homilies Today's Readings

Faithful reminded: ‘Give with love’

Mon, 11/20/2017 - 20:35

One of the many feeding programs funded by Pondo ng Pino JONAS DELOS SANTOS

TACLOBAN City – As the Tacloban vicariate launched anew Pondo ng Pinoy, a priest called on the faithful to practice the virtue of generosity with love.

Giving donations, no matter how small, that is from 25 cents to one peso daily, if done with love, is a virtue that will bring one to God’s kingdom, said Msgr. Manuel Damayo in a homily on Nov. 19 at the Sto. Niño parish church here.

While it may be true that one can give without love, Pondo ng Pinoy promotes “giving out of love.”

Leading to heaven

“A good act, no matter how small, if done often, will eventually lead to heaven,” said the priest, stressing a well-known Filipino saying.

Damayo, priest-in-charge of the said project of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Palo, further explained that good deeds that develop into habits eventually become virtues.

He also mentioned that there were families affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013 who were assisted by the Church through Pondo ng Pinoy.

The Archdiocese of Manila introduced Pondo ng Pinoy in 2005 to raise funds for the less fortunate, especially indigent families and orphaned children.

Livelihood assistance, scholarships

It was intended to send poor children to school and to provide livelihood assistance to economically struggling families.

Damayo said, clean empty water bottles will be given to the faithful for them to put in their daily Pondo ng Pinoy donations.

“Every fourth Sunday of the month, you return this bottle so that the money you have saved in it will be turned over to the chancery,” he explained.

The launching was held during a Holy Mass Damayo concelebrated with Sto. Niño Parish priest Fr. Ronel Taboso and St. John the Evangelist School of Theology (SJEST) formator Fr. Irwin Gavilo. CBCPNews

Pope Francis: the poor are our ‘passport to paradise’

Sun, 11/19/2017 - 22:48

Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the World Day of the Poor Nov. 19, 2017. DANIEL IBAÑEZ/CNA

VATICAN— On the first World Day for the Poor, Pope Francis said caring for the needy has a saving power, because in them we see the face of Christ, and urged Christians to overcome indifference and seek ways to actively love the poor that they meet.

“In the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor,” the Pope said Nov. 19. Because of this, “in their weakness, a saving power is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.”

“They are our passport to paradise,” he said, explaining that it is an “evangelical duty” for Christians to care for the poor as our true wealth.

And to do this doesn’t mean just giving them a piece of bread, but also “breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them,” Francis said, adding that to love the poor “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material.”

Pope Francis spoke during Mass marking the first World Day of the Poor, which takes place every 33rd Sunday of Ordinary time and is being organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

Established by Pope Francis at the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, the World Day for the Poor this year has the theme “Love not in word, but in deed.”

In the week leading up to the event, the poor and needy had access to free medical exams at a makeshift center set up in front of St. Peter’s Square.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Council for Evangelization, led a Nov. 18 prayer vigil at Rome’s parish of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls the night before the big event. After Mass with Pope Francis, the poor will be offered a three-course lunch at different centers and organizations around Rome, including the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

According to the Council for Evangelization, some 6-7,000 poor from around Europe, as well as some migrants from around the world, were estimated to attend the Mass along with the organizations that care for them.

In his homily, Pope Francis said no matter our social condition, everyone in life is a beggar when it comes to what is essential, which is God’s love, and which “gives meaning to our lives and a life without end. So today too, we lift up our hands to him, asking to receive his gifts.”

Turning to the day’s Gospel passage from Matthew recounting the parable of the talents, the Pope noted how in God’s eyes, everyone has talents, and consequently, “no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others.”

“God, in whose eyes no child can be neglected, entrusts to each of us a mission,” he said, explaining that God also gives us a responsibility, as is seen in the day’s Gospel.

Francis pointed to how in the day’s passage only the first two servants make their talent profitable, whereas the third buries it, prompting the master to call him “wicket and lazy.”

Asking what sin the servant had committed that was so wrong, the Pope said above all “it was his omission.”

Many times we believe that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so are content with the presumption that we are good and righteous, he said, but cautioned that with this mentality, “we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong, he didn’t waste the talent, in fact he kept it carefully hidden in the ground.”

However, “to do no wrong is not enough,” Francis said, adding that God is not “an inspector looking for unstamped tickets.” Rather, he is a Father that looks for children to whom he can entrust both his property and his plans.

“It is sad when the Father of love does not receive a generous response of love from his children, who do no more than keep the rules and follow the commandments,” he said, noting that someone who is only concerned with preserving the treasures of the past “is not being faithful to God.”

Instead, “the one who adds new talents is truly faithful…he does not stand still, but instead, out of love, takes risks. He puts his life on the line for others; he is not content to keep things as they are. One thing alone does he overlook: his own interest. That is the only right omission.”

Omission, Francis said, is also a big sin where the poor are concerned, though it has a different name: indifference. This sin, he said, takes place when we feel that the brother in need is not our concern, but is society’s problem.

The sin typically shows up in our lives when we choose to turn the other way, or “change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it.”

“God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good,” the Pope said.

Asking those present how we can please God, Pope Francis said when we want to give someone a gift, we first have to get to know them. And when we look to the Gospel, we hear Jesus say “when you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

These brothers, he said, are the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned.

In the poor, “Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love,” he said, adding that “when we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren,” only then are we being faithful.

An example of this attitude is seen in the woman who opens her hand to the poor in the day’s first reading from Proverbs, he said. In her, “we see true goodness and strength: not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord.”

Choosing to draw near to the poor among us “will touch our lives” and remind us of what really counts, Francis said, explaining that this is love of God and neighbor.

“Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away,” he said. “What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes.”

Pope Francis closed his homily saying the choice we all have before us is whether “to live in order to gain things on earth, or to give things away in order to gain heaven.”

“Where heaven is concerned, what matters is not what we have, but what we give,” he said. “So let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us.”

Father of Knights of Columbus in the Philippines

 

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