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February 12, 2017 – MT 5:17-37

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 17:46

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 SIR 15:15-20

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

Responsorial Psalm PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34

R. (1b) Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
Blessed are they who observe his decrees,
who seek him with all their heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
You have commanded that your precepts
be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
of keeping your statutes!
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Be good to your servant, that I may live
and keep your words.
Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
Instruct me, O LORD, in the way of your statutes,
that I may exactly observe them.
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!

Reading 2 1 COR 2:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,
this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

Alleluia CF. 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 MT 5:17-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife – unless the marriage is unlawful –
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”
Or MT 5:20-22A, 27-28, 33-34A, 37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with brother
will be liable to judgment.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.
But I say to you, do not swear at all.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

February 11, 2017 – MK 8:1-10

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 17:44

Saturday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 GN 3:9-24

The LORD God called to Adam and asked him, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden;
but I was afraid, because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked?
You have eaten, then,
from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!”
The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with meB
she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.”
The LORD God then asked the woman,
“Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”

Then the LORD God said to the serpent:

“Because you have done this, you shall be banned
from all the animals
and from all the wild creatures;
On your belly shall you crawl,
and dirt shall you eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
He will strike at your head,
while you strike at his heel.”

To the woman he said:

“I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing;
in pain shall you bring forth children.
Yet your urge shall be for your husband,
and he shall be your master.”

To the man he said: “Because you listened to your wife
and ate from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat,

“Cursed be the ground because of you!
In toil shall you eat its yield
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you,
as you eat of the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
shall you get bread to eat,
Until you return to the ground,
from which you were taken;
For you are dirt,
and to dirt you shall return.”
The man called his wife Eve,
because she became the mother of all the living.

For the man and his wife the LORD God made leather garments,
with which he clothed them.
Then the LORD God said: “See! The man has become like one of us,
knowing what is good and what is evil!
Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand
to take fruit from the tree of life also,
and thus eat of it and live forever.”
The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden,
to till the ground from which he had been taken.
When he expelled the man,
he settled him east of the garden of Eden;
and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword,
to guard the way to the tree of life.

Responsorial Psalm PS 90:2, 3-4ABC, 5-6, 12-13

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Before the mountains were begotten
and the earth and the world were brought forth,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Alleluia MT 4:4B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,
Jesus summoned the disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
because they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.
If I send them away hungry to their homes,
they will collapse on the way,
and some of them have come a great distance.”
His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread
to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”
Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
They replied, “Seven.”
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd.
They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them
and ordered them distributed also.
They ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.
There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples
and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

New Palawan bishop welcomed into the ‘fraternity of hypocrites’

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 12:44

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb. 10, 2017– A new bishop for Catholics in Palawan  has been ordained and installed at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral here on Friday.

More than 2,000 bishops, priests, religious men and women and lay people attended the ordination and installation of now Bishop Socrates Mesiona.

In his homily, CBCP President Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan welcomed the new prelate to the “fraternity of hypocrites, to the fraternity of shameless leaders.”

The archbishop did not mention President Rodrigo Duterte, but “warned” Mesiona on being called names “and maligned while some throw mud at you.”

In several occasions, Duterte launched vulgar attacks against the Church for criticizing the extrajudicial killings as a result of his bloody war on drugs.

He also lambasted the Catholic Church as “the most hypocritical institution.”

The CBCP head said Bishop Mesiona should “remain firm because God alone is our judge.” 

“In the sunset of our lives, it is not the peoples clap that would qualify you to the Father’s house as it is what the Father says about you that truly makes us who we are,” Villegas added.

Villegas added that  everyone is expected to be faithful and that faith “does not grow in the garden of comfort and convenience.” 

He also said that faithfulness grows in the Via Crucis as it grows best on the path to Calvary.

Born in Tagbilaran City on Sept. 17,1963, Mesiona was ordained priest of April 14,1989 at age 25 as a member of the Mission Society of the Philippines, where he also served as its former Superior General.

Bishop Mesiona also acquired his Licentiate in Missiology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Italy in 1996.

The 53-year old bishop also served as executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on Mission and national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in the Philippines.

Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales was principal consecrator with Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, SVD, and Apostolate Vicar of Taytay Bishop Edgardo  Juanich as con-consecrators.

Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI and some 30 archbishops and bishops attended the three-hour rites.

Government functionaries led by Palawan Gov. Jose Ch. Alvarez, military and police commanders along with local government unit leaders, the clergy and religious in the Apostolic Vicariate also gave their homage and obedience to the new bishop. (Melo M. Acuna/CBCPNews) 

Here’s the perfect V-Day. Volunteer for candy-giving with a twist

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 19:34

MANILA, Feb. 9, 2017 – Single on Valentine’s day? Fret not, you can still make the day of hearts meaningful by volunteering to be part of Filipinos for Life (F4L)’s candy-giving project on Feb. 14 at the Dangwa flower market in Sampaloc in this city.

A tradition organized by Prolife Philippines, YouthPinoy, LoveLife Philippines, and F4L every V-day, the candy-giving project was organized specifically to counter the Department of Health’s move to give away free condoms to passersby in the busy Dangwa market.

“We plan to counter this culture of premarital sex and contraception that corrupt the true meaning of romantic love, by giving away repacked candies that contain written messages about chastity and true love, and by exchanging them with the condoms that people have received,” said AJ Perez, head of this year’s candy-giving project.

According to Perez, former president of F4L, the group is looking for volunteers who will:

  • Repack candies and ballers;
  • Distribute them on the day itself
  • Post on social media and on blogs about the said activity before, during, and after the event

In a social media post weeks before the event, he noted the need for volunteers to take an official leave from work, as Feb. 14 is a weekday.

Aside from donors, F4L also called on the public to:

  • donate candies, ballers, and posters
  • lend a spacious place for candy donations drop-offs as well as for repacking
  • replicate the said event in their location (specifically for youth groups, church or civil organizations)

Parties interested to volunteer or donate may message Perez on Facebook or contact him at 09291733558. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCPNews)

Solons told: Make conscience vote on death penalty

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 15:30

MANILA, Feb. 9, 2017— A Catholic prison ministry official called on lawmakers not to be swayed by political pressures and vote on the death penalty bill according to their conscience.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said they are hoping legislators will follow their conscience in voting against “the taking away of the life of the person.”

“They should not sacrifice their principles in measure that will only satisfy the ego of the present leaders in the house,’ he said.

Railroading the bill

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez yesterday said members of the ruling party who are against the death penalty must resign.

He also warned those in the House leadership that they risk being ousted from their posts as deputy leaders and committee heads if they oppose the proposed measure.

Diamante also called on the House leadership not to railroad the passage of the bill and to allow more discussions on capital punishment.

“It is not worth it to pass a law that will not really serve justice to people concerned,” he said.

Plunder not included

The Catholic Church strongly opposes moves in Congress to reinstate the death penalty in the country.

The proposed bill seeks the death penalty for several crimes categorized as “heinous”, including some forms of murder, rape, and drug offenses.

Plunder was originally included among the crimes punishable by death, but the lawmakers in the majority bloc reportedly agreed to remove it from the list. (Roy Lagarde / CBCPNews)

Archbishop wants Church’s ‘housecleaning’

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 15:13

MANILA, Feb. 9, 2017— The Catholic leadership must take President Rodrigo Duterte’s criticisms against the Church seriously by initiating intense hierarchal housecleaning, an archbishop said.

Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz, head of the Church’s dispensation desk, said it’s a “golden age” for the bishops to be more alert and brave in dealing with cases of clerical offenses.

“The bishops should be now more attentive. You just don’t keep your eyes closed to these matters. If you do, there will be more,” said the prelate.

The former Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop said it’s a “very positive issue” when someone attacks the Church’s lapses for its leaders to have a firm stand against offenders.

Duterte has repeatedly cursed the bishops and priests for lambasting the increasing cases of extrajudicial killings and his brutal campaign on drugs.

He also questioned the Church’s moral ascendancy to criticize his drug war when it needs to police its own ranks.

“Of course, it is painful. But if it is the truth, what can you do?” said Cruz.

The archbishop said the Church needs to be more vigilant and failure to address its problems would only scandalize the laity, disorient other members of the clergy, and deform the seminarians.

“This is aside from the continued tirades from the President,” Cruz warned.

The bishops have earlier “acknowledged and repented [of]” their own shortcomings but said they need to speak out against summary killings and urged Church people to continue programs to help uplift the poor. (CBCPNews)

February 10, 2017 – MK 7:31-37

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 11:29

Memorial of Saint Scholastica, Virgin

Reading 1 GN 3:1-8

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
that the LORD God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
“Did God really tell you not to eat
from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'”
But the serpent said to the woman:
“You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized that they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together
and made loincloths for themselves.

When they heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden
at the breezy time of the day,
the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God
among the trees of the garden.

Responsorial Psalm PS 32:1-2, 5, 6, 7

R. (1a) Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
For this shall every faithful man pray to you
in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
they shall not reach him.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.
You are my shelter; from distress you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom you will ring me round.
R. Blessed are those whose sins are forgiven.

Alleluia ACTS 16:14B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 7:31-37

Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Genuine Loving Brings True Joy

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 09:31

James H. Kroeger, M.M.
LIVING MISSION

 

Pope Francis, as Filipinos witnessed during his 2015 pastoral visit, could rightfully be called “the pope of tenderness, mercy and joy.” This same message is revealed in his The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia) where Francis notes that “tenderness … is a sign of a love free from selfish possessiveness…. Loving another person involves the joy of contemplating and appreciating their innate beauty and sacredness, which is greater than my needs” (127).

In a world that often focuses on external appearances, authentic love “contemplates other persons as ends in themselves, even if they are infirm, elderly or physically unattractive…. Love opens our eyes and enables us to see, beyond all else, the great worth of a human being” (128).

Thus, in the context of daily family life, “the most intense joys in life arise when we are able to elicit joy in others” (129). As an example, Pope Francis cites the generous cook in the film Babette’s Feast whose joy and consolation are found in bringing delight to others, in seeing people enjoy themselves.

This same joy grows “through sorrow and pain” in married life. As a result, “after suffering together, spouses are able to experience that it was all worth it” (130). Such is authentic love and joy, true mercy and compassion!

Growing in True Friendship and Conjugal Love. Pope Francis creatively explores the meaning of marital love in his The Joy of Love. Conjugal love is “the love between husband and wife, a love sanctified, enriched and illuminated by the grace of the sacrament of marriage. It is an ‘affective union,’ spiritual and sacrificial, which combines the warmth of friendship and erotic passion, and endures long after emotions and passion subside” (120).

The Christian vision of marriage with its lofty ideals needs to be concretely integrated within the challenges of daily life. For Francis, “there is no need to lay upon two limited persons the tremendous burden of having to reproduce perfectly the union between Christ and his Church” (122). In reality, marital love needs to be cultivated, grow and mature amidst all kinds of concrete challenges and limitations.

Thus, the Church realistically accepts that “marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspires married couples to care for one another” (126).

True, Committed Love Manifested in Marriage. Pope Francis goes on to address the issue that today some young people fear entering into marriage, due to its many demands and challenges. Francis encourages them, noting that their fulfillment is not jeopardized when their love finds expression in marriage” (131).

“To opt for marriage … expresses a genuine and firm decision to join paths, come what may. Given its seriousness, this public commitment of love cannot be the fruit of a hasty decision, but neither can it be postponed indefinitely. Committing oneself exclusively and definitely to another person always involves a risk and a bold gamble. Unwillingness to make such a commitment is selfish, calculating and petty” (132).

Listen to Francis’ practical wisdom. “In the family, three words need to be used. I want to repeat this! Three words: ‘Please,’ ‘Thank you,’ ‘Sorry.’ Three essential words…. In our families when someone realizes that he or she did something wrong and is able to say ‘Sorry!’ our family experiences peace and joy. Let us not be stingy about using these words, but keep repeating them, day after day” (133).

Out of touch

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 09:24

 

A palace functionary was quoted recently as saying, “The officials of the (CBCP) are apparently out of touch with the sentiments of the faithful who overwhelmingly support the changes in the Philippines—turning the nation into a safer place for families, working people, especially young night shift workers, far from the ‘terror’ the bishops paint rather dramatically.” This was obviously a reaction to the pastoral letter on extrajudicial killings read in all parishes nationwide on February 5.

The government secretary may actually be right. The only rub is, he must have based his observation in social media where the bishops or most church people are irrefutably out of touch. Social media in the country today is heavily populated by supporters of the Duterte administration. The Mocha Uson Blog alone boasts of 4.7 million followers, as of this writing. That’s definitely way above the “likers” of mainstream media networks that are also migrating into social media. Without delving into the issue of how they have exponentially gathered millions of social media content providers and rabid supporters in so short a time, suffice it to say that this state of things has made the current dispensation dominate the Philippine socio-political landscape—and, more significantly, the crafting of public opinion.

To drive home a more terrifying point, when one, for instance, makes a negative comment against the Duterte government, which is needed in a healthy democratic process, expect a relentless bashing that are dished in social media from “ad hominem” arguments to manufactured “half-truths”. The CBCP has always been a favorite target of a bashing routine. Since the CBCP is not keen on correcting conjectures and propaganda pieces, half-truths and wrong perceptions become, in the long run, “true” in the eyes of the receiving public. The accusation viralling in social media lately that the reason why CBCP issued a pastoral letter against extra juridical killings is because of the closure of 23 mining operations, implying that the Catholic Church has a stake in some of them. This is absolutely false on all counts, of course. Since no correction was made in social media, millions of netizens seemingly believe this now as true.

While admittedly the bishops and their priests are mostly out of touch with the virtual world of the internet, they are definitely not with the real world. Being the most immersed servant-leaders in the country, there is no barrio in the Philippines today that is not covered by a parish priest. There is simply no way that these priests will not know the deepest sentiments of their parishioners. But, of course, there are quite a few of them who find it hard to live by Pope Francis’ pastoral directive of becoming “shepherds with the smell of sheep.”

One does not need mastery in rocket science to know that an average of 35 or so people killed daily or over 7,000 people murdered in barely 6 months is not a reign of terror. With not a single case really investigated or brought to justice or a killing spree fueled, how could one in his right senses declare that people are safe. If the bishops are out of touch, then so are Time magazine, New York Times, the BBC and other reputable media outlets who were ahead of the bishops in reporting this 6-month reign of terror in the Philippines. If the Palace is right, the Amnesty International, a Nobel Prize awardee, will belong to the same “out-of-touch” category.

In the same statement quoted above, the Palace functionary continues his piece, “The efforts of these Church leaders might be put to better use in practical catechetics that build strong moral character among the faithful, and so contribute more to the reign of peace felt by ordinary citizens everywhere, especially those who are innocent of illegal activities.” Simply put, this says that exercising citizen’s democratic right to denounce a wrong in government is not to put ones lot “to better use.” Also, not to say something against the murder of over 7,000 poor Filipinos “contribute more to the reign of peace” and by doing “practical catechesis” without any bit of relevance to the daily problems on the ground, build “a strong moral character.”

One may just exclaim with Roman Senator Cicero of old, not on social media, of course, for fear of being bashed, “O tempora, O mores!”

God’s ‘tokhang’ is mercy, not judgement

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 08:55

JARO, Feb. 9, 2017 – “No sinner, in whatever depth of sin he finds himself, is excluded from God’s promise of new life.”

This affirmation was given by Msgr. Jose Marie Delgado, Epsicopal Vicar for Pastoral Affairs of the Archdiocese of Jaro, during the homily of the pontifical Mass to celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord presided over by Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles on Feb. 2.

To illustrate the point, Delgado alluded to the government’s fight against illegal drugs through the so-called “Oplan Tokhang” and the attempt to restore the “death penalty”.

“God’s calls sinners to surrender to Him. In His own version of tokhang, no one is bad enough to be a candidate for tokbang!”

“Tokhang”, is a neologism coined from two Cebuano words, “toktok” (“knock knock”), and “hangyo” (“beseech”).

“Oplan Tokhang” is a program implemented by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its campaign to admonish illegal drug dealers and users to stop their activities. But the alarming rise in fatalities linked to the “war on drugs”– both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style killings- has prompted some to call it “Tokbang”, short for “knock knock” and “bang, bang”.

Towards an inclusive way of life

In this context, and in the light of the CBCP’s celebration of the Year of the Parish, the priest reminded the faithful that one’s encounter with the merciful Lord takes place in the life of the community.

“In the Lord’s wheat field we all are growing together – like the weeds growing side by side with the wheat.”

“This desire for union with God starts with His gaze of mercy – His ‘tokhang’- that makes it possible for us to acknowledge our miserable state and realize that, together with others, we have paddled away from God’s ocean of love.”

Healing: possible only with God’s grace

Delgado underlined that healing can take place even in the worst sinner, but only by cooperating with God’s grace.

“His welcoming, merciful gaze, empowers us to recover our bearings and cooperate with the divine grace of healing as we put our life’s broken pieces together again!”

“His mercy is the only balm that can penetrate into that part in our life that is most diseased, suffering and alienated – where the wheat is almost dead. These corners of darkness within us – unreachable by human effort -, if not washed by God’s love, turn our hearts of flesh into hearts of stone.”

Understanding, not judgement

“We can only become bearers of communion,” Delgado stressed. “On bended knees, tears in our eyes with our hands folded in prayer before Him who is crucified and from whose love our dead dried bones shall have sprung anew with life!”

“Our stance before another human face, saint or sinner, virtuous or criminal, is what we beautifully say in Tagalong, ‘pag-unawa’, ‘una ang awa’ (primacy of mercy) and not judgement in which we end up feeling ‘holier than others’,” the priest warned. (Fr. Mickey Cardenas / CBCP News)

“The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift”

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 21:12

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR LENT 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply. I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.

1. The other person is a gift

The parable begins by presenting its two main characters. The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21). The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.

The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means God helps. This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.

2. Sin blinds us
The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19). Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).

The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.

The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).

The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight. The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.

Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).

3. The Word is a gift
The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man. When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died, and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife. The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).

We too see what happens in the afterlife. There the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God. In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.

The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25). In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.

The parable goes on to offer a message for all Christians. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive. But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).

The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore. At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbour. The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.

Dear friends, Lent is the favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favour the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.

From the Vatican, 18 October 2016

FRANCIS

Global lay movement backs CBCP against death penalty

Wed, 02/08/2017 - 20:11

MANILA, Feb. 8, 2017–A worldwide movement of laypeople has thrown its support behind the Philippine Catholic Church’s campaign against moves to revive the death penalty in the country.

In a letter to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the Community of Sant’Egidio (CSE) said that Christian teachings provide no support for the capital punishment “in all forms”.

“And we feel the importance to affirm the right to life of anybody, to profess and communicate a culture of mercy, as also recently stated by our Pope Francis,” wrote Prof. Marco Impagliazzo, CSE President.

“Therefore we stand at your side and would like to express to you our full availability to any form of support and cooperation you may indicate to us,” he said.

Prof. Impagliazzo said they are hoping that “the reasons of life will win over the unreasonable efforts to impose a law which is against the main principle of human life”.

The Rome-based lay Catholic group is well known and highly respected for its work with the poor and refugees and has earned numerous awards and even a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The CBCP has earlier criticized the “strident efforts” in Congress to restore the death penalty.

The bishops said that the use of capital punishment is no different from the crime it punishes.

“When we condemn violence, we cannot ourselves be its perpetrators, and when we decry murder, we cannot ourselves participate in murder, no matter that it may be accompanied by the trappings of judicial and legal process,” they said.

In a separate statement, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila also warned that the proposed measure is legitimizing violence as a solution to problems.

“There is a danger that the death penalty might legitimize the use of violence to deal with every wrongdoing,” Tagle said.

He added that penalties are “not (to) be imposed for vengeance but for correction of offenders and for the good of society.” (CBCPNews)

February 9, 2017 – MK 7:24-30

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 16:17

Thursday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 GN 2:18-25

The LORD God said:
“It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a suitable partner for him.”
So the LORD God formed out of the ground
various wild animals and various birds of the air,
and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them;
whatever the man called each of them would be its name.
The man gave names to all the cattle,
all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals;
but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man.

So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man,
and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs
and closed up its place with flesh.
The LORD God then built up into a woman
the rib that he had taken from the man.
When he brought her to the man, the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called ‘woman,’
for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother
and clings to his wife,
and the two of them become one flesh.

The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.

Responsorial Psalm PS 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. (see 1a) Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Alleluia JAS 1:21BC

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 7:24-30

Jesus went to the district of Tyre.
He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it,
but he could not escape notice.
Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him.
She came and fell at his feet.
The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth,
and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter.
He said to her, “Let the children be fed first.
For it is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She replied and said to him,
“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go.
The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed
and the demon gone.

February 8, 2017 – MK 7:14-23

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 16:10

Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 GN 2:4B-9, 15-17

At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—
while as yet there was no field shrub on earth
and no grass of the field had sprouted,
for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth
and there was no man to till the soil,
but a stream was welling up out of the earth
and was watering all the surface of the ground—
the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.

Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and he placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The LORD God then took the man
and settled him in the garden of Eden,
to cultivate and care for it.
The LORD God gave man this order:
“You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden
except the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
From that tree you shall not eat;
the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 104:1-2A, 27-28, 29BC-30

R. (1a) O bless the Lord, my soul!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!
You are clothed with majesty and glory,
robed in light as with a cloak.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
All creatures look to you
to give them food in due time.
When you give it to them, they gather it;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!
If you take away their breath, they perish
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
R. O bless the Lord, my soul!

Alleluia SEE JN 17:17B, 17A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Your word, O Lord, is truth:
consecrate us in the truth.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 7:14-23

Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them,
“Hear me, all of you, and understand.
Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person;
but the things that come out from within are what defile.”

When he got home away from the crowd
his disciples questioned him about the parable.
He said to them,
“Are even you likewise without understanding?
Do you not realize that everything
that goes into a person from outside cannot defile,
since it enters not the heart but the stomach
and passes out into the latrine?”
(Thus he declared all foods clean.)
“But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him.
From within the man, from his heart,
come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,
adultery, greed, malice, deceit,
licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.
All these evils come from within and they defile.”

4 CBCP agencies team up against modern slavery

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 14:41

Bishop Ruperto Santos (Photo by CBCPNews)

MANILA, Feb. 7 2017– Catholic bishops continue to tackle the problem of human trafficking as four Church agencies have teamed up in a renewed effort to work together in the fight against modern slavery.

Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI), said the collaboration was critical to combat a booming illegal industry of human trafficking.

“Through this (collaboration), we will have the ways and means to rebuild their (victims of human trafficking) lives,” Santos said.

The bishop made the call on Feb. 6 at a consultation and training workshop attended by leaders of the Commissions on Social Action, Youth, Women and Migrants.

Held two days before the feast day of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of victims of human slavery and trafficking, the meeting was also attended by representatives of some dioceses in Metro Manila and different religious groups who are working in the migrants ministry.

Read: Bishop calls for redoubled efforts against human trafficking

He emphasized that through complimentary action the Church could maximize resources and make a united effort against the traffickers.

The initiative will also focus on broader education campaign about human trafficking and wider support for victims through spiritual and social services.

“Pope Francis is urging us to ‘provide victims with welcome, human warmth and the possibility of building a new life’ and that is what we are doing today,” said Santos.

Read: Look into migration’s human face, Vatican official urges world leaders

Fr. Conegundo Garganta, executive secretary of the bishops’ youth ministry, said they are committed to fight the problem in a country which have been a known source of trafficked persons in the world.

Most of the victims including women and children are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.

“We all have to work together to totally remove this from our society,” Garganta said. (R.Lagarde/CBCPNews)

When Church, academe, and drug users become friends

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 11:00

DAVAO City, Feb. 7, 2017 —Theirs was an offer of friendship, an invitation to get to know each other better, and to help one another in their shared desire to curb the drug menace.

Drug users in Davao City now have another chance to reform their lives thanks to the intervention of the Archdiocese of Davao and University of Southeastern Philippines in Davao City through the Sagop Kinabuhi (Save Lives) Program 2, a program for the reformation of drug users who want to become productive citizens of the country. (Photo: John Frances C. Fuentes)

Instead of condemning them for being drug users, the local church of Davao and a state university here have offered hands of friendship to those many consider to be problems of society.

Through the Sagop Kinabuhi Program 2 Fun Day, drug users have experienced new hope, that they too can become productive citizens of the country. The Archdiocese of Davao, the University of the Philippines Mindanao, and different partners joined in the fun to foster friendship.

Different sports activities, parlor games, team-building activities, moments of reflection were organized to strengthen the bond of camaraderie among the partner agencies and the drug users who voluntarily submitted themselves for reformation and participated in the two-day event from Jan. 27 to 28 at Eden Nature Resort in Toril, Davao City, headed by the University of the Southeastern Philippines (USeP) and the Archdiocesan Social Action Center of Davao.

Every life is sacred

ASAC director Fr. Leonardo Dublan, Jr. said every life is “a gift of God” and is sacred.

According to the priest, like the mustard seed that falls to the ground, every life is bound to undergo a process before it can bear fruit, and the same is true for everyone, regardless if one is a drug user, a priest or a religious.

“No one is bound for waste. Walang pa-tapon,” Dublan said in his homily during the opening Mass, adding that every endeavor can succeed, but it becomes more fruitful with the help of God.

This same reason also prompted USeP to finance the SKP 2, knowing that drug abuse has become a major problem in the country. Sagop Kinabuhi is a Cebuano term which means “save lives”.

Dr. Danilo Pacoy, vice president of the Research Division Extension of USeP, said the academe wants to volunteer its expertise to help address the drug crisis.

Helping them are heads and representatives from the Davao City Police Office, Philippine National Police Talomo, City Social Services Development Office, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Education, barangays and their officials who accompanied the drug users, as well as other partners who also believe that drug users deserve a chance to reform themselves through different activities.

Change starts within

Perry (not his real name), one of the participants during the SKP 2 Fun Day, said though society wants them to change for the better, it is only they who can decide for their future and whether or not they will get killed in one of the police’s anti-drug operations.

“I did not promise to others that I will change. I promised to myself, only to myself, that I will have to change for my own good,” Perry said.

ASAC coordinator Sr. Ma. Marissa Arado, TDM said the activities lined up for the drug users have just begun as they are expecting to run SKP 2 in the parishes and in their respective barangays.

Mervin Gascon, SKP 2 project director said the program can only push through with the cooperation of the reformists and the help of the different partners.

He said he also looks forward to the fruits of SKP 2, which will run for three years, and how it could help former drug users recover and become more productive. (John Frances C. Fuentes / CBCP News)

Vatican releases updated guidelines for bioethical questions

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 10:06

Msgr. Jean-Marie Mate Musivi Mupendawatu, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers (Photo: Vatican Radio)

VATICAN, Feb. 6, 2017– To offer clearly and accurately the Catholic Church’s positions on abortion, contraception, genetic engineering, fertility treatments, vaccines, frozen embryos and other life issues, the Vatican released an expanded and updated guide of the church’s bioethical teachings.

The “New Charter for Health Care Workers” is meant to provide a thorough summary of the church’s position on affirming the primary, absolute value of life in the health field and address questions arising from the many medical and scientific advancements made since the first charter was published in 1994, said Msgr. Jean-Marie Mupendawatu.

The monsignor, who is the secretary delegate for health care in the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said the charter “is a valid compendium of doctrine and praxis” not only for those directly involved in providing medical care, but also for researchers, pharmacists, administrators and policymakers in the field of health care.

The charter “reaffirms the sanctity of life” as a gift from God and calls on those working in health care to be “servants” and “ministers of life” who will love and accompany all human beings from conception to their natural death, he said during a news conference at the Vatican Feb. 6. The Vatican released the charter in Italian.

While the charter does not offer a completely “exhaustive” response to all problems and questions facing the medical and heath fields, it does add many papal, Vatican and bishops’ pronouncements made since 1994 in an effort to “offer the clearest possible guidelines” to many ethical problems facing the world of health care today, said the charter’s preface, written by the late-Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The council and three others were merged together to create the new dicastery for human development.

One issue partially dealt with in the new charter is vaccines produced with “biological material of illicit origin,” that is, made from cells from aborted fetuses.

Citing the 2008 instruction “Dignitas Personae” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a 2005 paper from the Pontifical Academy for Life, the charter said everyone has a duty to voice their disapproval of this kind of “biological material” being in use and to ask that alternatives be made available.

Researchers must “distance” themselves by refusing to use such material, even if there is no close connection between the researcher and those doing the illicit procedure, and “affirm with clarity the value of human life,” it said.

However, the charter doesn’t specifically address the situation of parents who are often obligated to consent to vaccines for their children that use human cell lines from tissue derived from aborted fetuses.

When asked for clarification of the church’s position, one of the experts who helped revise the new charter — Antonio Spagnolo, a medical doctor and bioethics professor at Rome’s Sacred Heart University — said, “there is an acceptable distance” from cooperating with the original evil of the abortions when people use the vaccines to prevent the “great danger” of spreading disease. He said the Vatican academy’s “Moral Reflections on Vaccines Prepared From Cells Derived From Aborted Human Fetuses” made the church’s position clear.

Many of the issues added to the updated charter were dealt with in the doctrinal congregation’s 2008 instruction on “certain bioethical questions,” such as the immorality of: human cloning; artificial reproduction and contraception; freezing of human embryos or of human eggs; use of human embryos and embryonic stem cells for research or medical use; pre-implantation diagnosis leading to the destruction of embryos suspected of defects; and therapy that makes genetic modifications aimed at transmitting the effects to the subject’s offspring because it may potentially harm the offspring.

Other guidelines mentioned in the new charter include:

– Ovarian tissue banking for cancer patients with the aim of restoring fertility with the woman’s own tissue “does not seem to pose moral problems” and is, “in principle, acceptable.”

– Ectopic pregnancy can lead to “serious danger” to the life of the woman and the embryo usually does not survive. “Directly suppressive measures” against the embryo are prohibited while procedures exclusively aimed at saving the life and health of the woman are justified.

– Organ transplantation must be at the service of life and involve free consent by the living donors or their legitimate representatives. Ascertaining the death of the donor must be diagnosed with certainty, especially when dealing with a child’s death.

– Research in transplanting animal tissues into humans is licit as long as it does not affect “the identity and integrity” of the person, it does not carry “excessive risks” to the person, the animals involved are not subjected to unnecessary suffering and no damage is done to biodiversity.

– Not all human organs can be transplanted, such as the human brain, testicles and ovaries, which are organs inseparably tied to a person’s unique and procreative identity. (Carol Glatz/Catholic News Service)

Pope Francis ‘serene’ after critical posters plastered around Rome

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 10:01

Pope Francis at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square, Sept. 21, 2016. (Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

VATICAN, Feb. 6, 2017– While the Pope has in the past been depicted as a superhero or peace advocate, this weekend set a much different tone as Rome woke up Saturday to see the walls of the city center plastered with some 200 anti-Pope Francis posters.

However, after hearing about the posters, the Pope himself was reportedly unfazed, and didn’t make a big deal out of the incident.

According to Italian news agency ANSA, Pope Francis received the news of the posters with “serenity and detachment.”

Depicting a dour Pope Francis, the posters read: “Ah Francis, you’ve taken over congregations, removed priests, decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans of the Immaculate, ignored Cardinals…but where’s your mercy?”

After a short time, many of the posters were covered with signs reading “abusive posting.” The majority of the posters had been taken down by Sunday morning, and as of Monday nary a one was to be seen.

The brief phrase included on the posters was written in “Romanaccio,” or the Roman dialect, and indicates the culprit is someone who comes from more conservative sectors of the Church, many of whom have been in sharp disagreement with the Pope regarding his decisions and ongoing reform of the Curia.

By saying the Pope had “decapitated the Order of Malta,” the author was making a clear reference to the Pope’s recent request for the Order’s former Grand Master, Matthew Festing, to resign while ousted Grand Chancellor Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager be reinstated.

The reference to taking over congregations and removing priests is likely a reference to recent allegations that Francis had fired three priests from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith with no notice or reason.

On ignoring cardinals, the point was a clear reference to a letter written to Pope Francis in September, asking for clarification on five points – called “dubia” – in Amoris Laetitia. The letter was subsequently published in November, after the Pope did not respond.

The signatories of the letter were American Cardinal Raymond Burke, Patron of the Order of Malta, as well as German Cardinals Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner and Italian Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, all of whom are widely considered to sit on the right of the Church.

The reference to the Franciscans of the Immaculate referred to the fact that Francis made some changes to the order early on in his pontificate, restricting their use of the Latin Mass used prior to the Second Vatican Council.

However, while the Pope’s lack of concern over the posters might seem surprising to some, he said in an interview with Italian paper Avvenire in November that he doesn’t “lose sleep” over his critics, and has said on several previous occasions that resistance is a normal part of any reform.

In a lengthy speech to members of the Roman Curia Dec. 22, the Pope outlined three different types of resistance, saying the phenomenon is “normal (and) even healthy.”

He spoke of “open resistance,” which often arises “from good will and sincere dialogue,” but noted that there is also a type of “hidden resistance” that comes from “fearful or petrified hearts content with the empty rhetoric of a complacent spiritual reform.”

These are the people “who verbally say they are ready for change, but want everything to stay as it was before,” he said.

However, the Pope also highlighted a third type of resistance, which he said is a “malicious resistance, which often sprouts in misguided minds and appears when the devil inspires bad intentions.”

This type of resistance, he said, frequently “hides behind words of self-justification and often accusation; it takes refuge in traditions, appearances, formalities, in the familiar, or else in a desire to make everything personal, failing to distinguish between the act, the actor and the action.”

An absence of a reaction “is the sign of death,” he said, and because of this “good resistances – and even those not as good – are necessary and merit being listened to, welcomed and encouraged to express themselves.” (Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN News)

Pope Francis: each life is sacred. Abandon no one.

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 09:56

Pope francis kisses a child in St. Peter's Square for the general audience Dec. 9, 2015. (Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

VATICAN, Feb. 5, 2017– On Sunday Pope Francis stressed the sanctity of life and encouraged Christians to fulfill Jesus Christ’s command to be salt of the earth and light of the world.

“May no one be left alone and may love defend the sense of life,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus remarks Feb. 5 to thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

He cited the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “Life is beauty, admire it. Life is life, fight for it.”

“Each life is sacred,” Pope Francis continued. “Let’s pray together for those children who are in danger of interruption of pregnancy and for those who are nearing the end of life.”

The Pope linked his comments to the Italian observance of the Day for Life, which fell on Sunday.

He also reflected on the Sunday gospel readings, in which Jesus tells his disciples to be salt and light in the world.

“We Christians are recognizable as true disciples of Christ in our actions,” he said. “Thanks to the light of faith, the gift that we have received, we have the duty and the responsibility not to keep it to ourselves as if it were our property, but to allow it to shine in the world and give it to others through works of charity.”

“The world is much in need of the light of the Gospel that transforms, heals and gives salvation to him who embraces it,” he continued. “Jesus invites us to be a reflection of his light, through the witness of good works.”

“We are the salt of the earth,” the Pope said.

“The mission of Christians in society is that of giving ‘flavor’ to life with the faith and the love that Christ has given us,” he said, encouraging Christians to reject “the polluting germs of selfishness, envy and gossip.”

“These germs ruin the texture of our communities that must be places of welcome, solidarity and reconciliation,” Pope Francis warned. “To fulfill this mission, it is necessary to be free from the corrupting degeneration of worldly influences that are contrary to Christ and to the Gospel.”

He asked the faithful not to let their guard down. Rather, they should seek to purify themselves continuously and regenerate the spirit of the gospel each day. (CNA/EWTN News)

Pope Francis explains why your money won’t save you

Tue, 02/07/2017 - 09:53

Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter's Square during the Wednesday general audience April 16, 2014. (Daniel Ibanez/CNA

VATICAN, Feb. 4, 2017– Pope Francis warned of the “hidden victims” of capitalism, the idolatry of money and false philanthropy, telling a Saturday gathering of entrepreneurs they must act to change a system that creates victims, not simply help people after the fact.

“An entrepreneur who is only a Good Samaritan does half of his duty: he takes care of today’s victims, but does not curtail those of tomorrow,” he told a meeting of the Focolare Movement’s Economy of Communion project Feb. 4.

“The first gift of the entrepreneur is of his or her own person: your money, although important, is too little,” he said. “Money does not save if it is not accompanied by the gift of the person. Today’s economy, the poor, the young, need first of all your spirit, your respectful and humble fraternity, your will to live and, only then, your money.”

About 1,100 collaborators of the Economy and Communion project from 49 countries attended the audience with the Pope.  The project was launched by Focolare founder Chiara Lubitch in 1991 in Brazil as a response to the poverty of Sao Paolo’s favelas. She invited entrepreneurs to set up companies that could help lift up the poor and create a culture of giving.

Pope Francis reflected on the positive nature of this work, which he suggested provided a path to remember the poor.

“When capitalism makes the seeking of profit its only purpose, it runs the risk of becoming an idolatrous framework, a form of worship,” he said.

“The principal ethical dilemma of this capitalism is the creation of discarded people, then trying to hide them or make sure they are no longer seen,” the Pope continued. “A serious form of poverty in a civilization is when it is no longer able to see its poor, who are first discarded and then hidden.”

He pointed to airlines that plant trees to compensate for the environmental damage of aircraft and gambling companies that pay to care for gambling addicts.

“And the day that the weapons industry finances hospitals to care for the children mutilated by their bombs, the system will have reached its pinnacle,” the Pope said.

“Capitalism knows philanthropy, not communion,” Pope Francis charged. “It is simple to give a part of the profits, without embracing and touching the people who receive those ‘crumbs’. Instead, even just five loaves and two fishes can feed the multitude if they are the sharing of all our life. In the logic of the Gospel, if one does not give all of himself, he never gives enough of himself.”

The Pope recommended the practice of the “economy of communion” that cares for the victims of the economic system and builds a system where there are fewer victims.

“Therefore, we must work toward changing the rules of the game of the socio-economic system,” he said. “Imitating the Good Samaritan of the Gospel is not enough.”

When anyone who encounters a victim must take care of him or her, it is important to act before the crime or tragedy “by battling the frameworks of sin that produce robbers and victims.”

Pope Francis also had hard words for the idolatry of money.

“The ‘goddess of fortune’ is increasingly the new divinity of a certain finance and of the whole system of gambling which is destroying millions of the world’s families, and which you rightly oppose,” he said. “This idolatrous worship is a surrogate for eternal life. Individual products get old and wear out, but if I have money or credit I can immediately buy others, deluding myself of conquering death.”

“We cannot understand the new Kingdom offered by Jesus if we do not free ourselves of idols, of which money is one of the most powerful,” the Pope continued.

He praised the Economy and Communion project for its decision to pool profits.

“The best and most practical way to avoid making an idol of money is to share it with others, above all with the poor, or to enable young people to study and work, overcoming the idolatrous temptation with communion,” Pope Francis said.

This is a way to tell money “you are not God.”

While there are new efforts to combat poverty and aid the poor, the Pope warned that it can never be said enough that capitalism “continues to produce discarded people whom it would then like to care for.”

The pontiff cited the parable of the Prodigal Son. One must imitate the father of the parable and wait for those who have done wrong to return to show them mercy. One must not be impeded by the “meritocracy” Pope Francis said is invoked by the parable’s older son and by “many who deny mercy in the name of merit.”

“An entrepreneur of communion is called to do everything possible so that even those who do wrong and leave home can hope for work and for dignified earnings, and not wind up eating with the swine,” he said. “No son, no man, not even the most rebellious, deserves acorns.”

He said the 25 years of the Focolare project’s existence show that a spirit of communion and business can grow together.  Though the project is relatively small on a global scale, it is the quality of the salt not its quantity, that matters for taste.

“Every time people, peoples and even the Church have thought of saving the world in numbers, they have produced power structures, forgetting the poor,” the Pope said. “We save our economy by being simply salt and leaven: a difficult job, because everything deteriorates with the passing of time.”

He stressed the role of reciprocity in life. Communion is both the sharing and the multiplying of goods.

“By introducing into the economy the good seed of communion, you have begun a profound change in the way of seeing and living business,” Pope Francis told the gathering. (CNA/EWTN News)

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