REITERATING CBCP POSITION ON FAMILY
With the introduction of the Reproductive Health Bill 5043, a.k.a. Reproductive Health Bill, in Congress, truth and morality, the value and dignity of life, family and marriage are sadly made to depend on human laws. That is what is implied in the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill presently under discussion in Congress.
It appears that Congress even plans to shorten the discussion in order to have the R.H. Bill passed before the end of October. We hope that the normal process of discussion and interpellation be observed, that the Congressmen who have signified to interpellate on the R.H. Bill be honored and given the opportunity to interpellate. To shorten the period of interpellation would give the impression that the passage of RH Bill is “lutong makaw”, not judiciously and sufficiently discussed.
As Catholics and Christians we are against the passage of the RH Bill 5043 of Congress for reasons we have already enunciated and I now summarize:
We thus reiterate our categorical and unequivocal opposition to any attempt at controlling the exercise of the God-given rights of human persons to enter into married life, procreate and raise families according to the provisions of the Constitution and their religious convictions.
We appreciate and are grateful to the members of the Legislature who seek to understand the will of the Supreme Lawgiver whose laws are beyond our limited human competence to repeal or amend. We recognize and likewise thank the individuals and groups who support our pro-life, pro-women, pro-marriage and pro-family advocacy. We raise in prayer all their efforts for continued guidance and strength from the Lord and Giver of Life.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
Statement of Appeal to the Government of the Philippines
“You deceived the workers who harvested your fields but now their wages cry out to the heavens. The reapers’ complaints have reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts.” (James, 5.4)
We rejoice with thousands of small farmers, civil society groups and bishops who lobbied for the pas-sage of the extended and reformed Agrarian Law. On June 1 and 4, the Senate and House respectively passed their versions of the CARP with Extension and Reforms (CARPer) Bill. The Bicameral Committee finally passed a consolidated version on June 9, which President Arroyo will sign into law on August 8 (with retroactive enforcement from July 1).
But the CARP with Extension and Reforms (CARPer) legislation cannot bring about tangible and last-ing benefits to the small farmers without an effective Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) with specific targets, demonstrating the Government’s clear political will to see the law brought to fruition.
We, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, assembled in our Biannual Plenary Conference, appeal to the Government on behalf of our small farmers.
We most respectfully submit the following appeal:
1.Counter attempts to derail CARPer, such as the proposal through Con-Ass to allow foreigners and foreign corporations to own and control agricultural lands and other natural resources of the country.
2.Counter the secession of 600,000 hectares of public lands in Northern Luzon (more than one half of the entire land reform target of CARPer) to Pacific Bio-Fields Holdings Inc. for bio-fuel to be exported to Japan.
3.Favour the serious implementation of Land Acquisition and Distribution (LAD) over large and contentious agricultural estates immediately after CARPer is signed into law (with retrospective enforcement from July 1).
“The problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed within a long-term perspective, eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries…. All this needs to be accomplished with the involvement of local communities in choices and decisions that affect the use of agricultural land..…At the same time, the question of equitable agrarian reform in developing countries should not be ignored. The right to food, like the right to water, has an important place within the pursuit of other rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life. It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or dis-crimination…” (Encyclical Letter, Caritas In Veritate, Of The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, On Integral Human Development In Charity And Truth, N◦ 27, Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, 29 June 2009)
For the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
(SGD)+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D
Archbishop of Jaro
July 12, 2009
A CBCP Pastoral Statement on Lay Participation
(SGD)+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D.
YEAR OF THE TWO HEARTS
Beloved people of God,
As we conclude the year of St. Paul which the Holy Father inaugurated on June 29, 2008, we invite the Filipino faithful to start preparing spiritually for another crucial transition in the life of our nation—namely, the elections in May 2010. For this purpose, we are declaring the post-Pauline year (from June 2009 until June 2010) as a year of Prayer and Work for Peace-building and Lay Participation in Social Change. By way of transition, we can draw our inspiration from St. Paul’s timeless reflections on “Christ as Ambassador of Peace and Reconciliation” (2 Cor 5: 18-20 & Eph 2:12-18) in order to dispose ourselves for the next thematic year.
CONSECRATION TO THE TWO HEARTS
We will launch this new thematic year by consecrating our country to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary when we celebrate their feast days on June 19-20, 2009—a few days before the formal closing of the Pauline Year on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2009. This Year of Prayer and Work for Peace-Building and Lay Participation in Social Change will begin and end with the feasts of the Two Hearts (June 2009- June 2010).
From the wounded Heart of Jesus flowed the grace of healing and reconciliation. Let this grace flow through us, the community of Christ’s disciples, into the bloodstream of our nation. Let it find a concrete expression in serious advocacies for peace and dialogue, healing and reconciliation amidst conflict-situations in all possible circumstances of life. Let us all actively pray and work for peace, following the inspiration of that popular prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy,” seeking at each time, not so much “to be consoled as to console, to be understood, as to understand, to be loved as to love…” and believing firmly that “It is in giving, that we receive; …in pardoning, that we are pardoned; …and in dying, that we are born to eternal life.”
While we go on with our pastoral programs in all Church units and organizations, basic ecclesial communities, parishes, dioceses, and regions throughout the country, we also ask that all ecclesial entities all over the country strive to establish and form groups that can effectively focus their ministry or apostolate on peace-building and genuine reconciliation through dialogue, drawing encouragement especially from St. Paul’s profound insights on these topics. Let us consciously lay the moral foundations on which we can build a more stable, more mature Philippine society. Let this foundation be not just a change of leaders or a change of social and political structures, but above all, a radical change of heart, commending ourselves to Jesus and his Blessed Mother as we entreat them to “…make our hearts so like to (theirs) that we may holy be!”
LAY PARTICIPATION IN SOCIAL CHANGE
For the past few months now, we have noted a mounting call for “moral regeneration” in our country. Not only do we welcome this; we your pastors are encouraged by the fact that this call has been coming mainly from the laity. You know that we have sounded this call too many times already in the past. Perhaps because this task is expected of us, there has been a tendency to take it for granted that we are also to carry it out by ourselves. One journalist wrote in a commentary recently, “The task of moral regeneration is too big to entrust to religious leaders alone.” We couldn’t agree more.
As your pastors, we exercise spiritual and moral leadership as regards our communal and ecclesial life in our parishes and dioceses throughout the country. But we cannot just extend that leadership into the spheres of politics and governance, in business and economics, in the sciences and the mass media, etc., without running the risk of being misconstrued as engaging in power-play or over-extending our sphere of influence beyond our offices. The participation of the laity in moral leadership pertaining to every specific discipline and institution in the Philippine society is most essential, if we want the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church to have a tangible and positive impact at all on our life as a nation.
We challenge our Catholic laity, in particular, to take the lead in the task of moral renewal towards a deeper and more lasting change in the Philippine society. We challenge all lay people involved in politics to renounce corruption and bond together in the task of evangelizing politics for effective governance and the pursuit of the common good. We challenge the laity involved in legislation to unite themselves and consciously allow their actions to be guided by the truth of the Gospel and the Christian faith. We urge the Catholic lay people involved in legitimate business to organize themselves and consciously practice their trade with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility informed by the social teachings of the Church. We enjoin all Catholic law enforcers to form associations among themselves that consciously renounce violence, respect basic human rights, and truly work for the preservation of peace and social order. We call upon the Catholic laity involved in social communications and the modern mass media to form networks among themselves that can articulate a genuinely Christian ethics in their practice of their profession. We urge every Catholic lay person to give a concrete expression to Christian discipleship through responsible citizenship.
In closing, may we ask that we start praying the following prayer at least every Sunday after communion in all Catholic churches and chapels all over the country from June 2009 to June 2010:
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, the reality of our deeply wounded and broken country impels us to respond with new urgency to the most pressing problems of our times.
Love of the Heart of Jesus, give us courage and patience. Wisdom of the Heart of Jesus, teach us to pray and to act with hope and charity at all times. Amen.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
May Jesus, the Source of Divine Mercy, and His mother Mary accompany us in our work of peace-building, and social and moral regeneration.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,
+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, D.D.
Feast of Divine Mercy
May Hostilities Cease and Peace Prevail
KIDNAPPINGS have been going on in our country. We join people of good will in condemning these kidnappings, such as those that recently happened in Jolo, Zamboanga and Ipil, even as we sympathize with the victims and their families and beg the Lord to touch the hearts of the kidnappers.
(SGD)+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro & CBCP President
April 1, 2009
No to Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
We join the Environmentalist Group Greenpeace and the Diocese of Balanga headed by Bishop Socrates Villegas in opposing the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.
God Hears the Cries of the Poor (cf. Exodus 3,7-9)
Concluding Statement of the CBCP on the Second National Rural Congress
Poverty is a reality that pervades our beloved country. It is experienced all over the land but is especially felt in the rural sector. Poverty in the Philippines remains predominantly rural and development projects have not significantly improved the lives of the rural poor. In fact we can never solve poverty in the urban centers unless poverty in the countryside is seriously and systematically addressed. Hence 40 years after the National Rural Congress of 1967, we bishops in our pastoral statement “The Dignity of the Rural Poor” of January 2007 called for a Second National Rural Congress (NRC II) to hear the cries of the poor in the rural areas. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us in his message on the World Day of Peace of this year that fighting poverty is a means of building peace. So to address poverty benefits not only the poor but the whole nation.
The Journey of NRC II
The Second National Rural Congress (NRC II) consisted of more than 50 Diocesan and 13 Sub-Regional Consultations conducted through November 2007 to March 2008. Afterwards, five Regional Rural Congresses were convened in April – June 2008. These consultations led up to a National Conference on 7-8 July 2008 held in San Carlos Seminary, Makati. All these activities gave the opportunity to the rural poor to articulate their concerns and for the Church in various levels to listen and discern her specific role in accompanying them on their journey.
A parallel track of several researches, seminars, and high-level caucuses was completed during the same period. These activities involved the academe, media, civil society, government officials and the bishops themselves. Various position papers and statements were compiled to aid and supplement the consultations that came about in the NRC II process.
We thank all the groups who participated and who contributed to the realization of the long process of the congress. This is a great sign of common concern for the rural poor who unfortunately are among the least noticed and least served in our society.
Voices of the Rural Poor
The researches, consultations and dialogues unearthed several causes of rural poverty. Foremost is the lack of serious implementation of laws and policies designed to address asset reforms to promote social justice. Inadequate resources and capacities to provide basic services were also mentioned. Other major concerns were the prevailing graft and corruption and a sense of helplessness – that there is nothing anyone can do to change the situation. The extensive presence of extractive industries, foremost of which is large scale mining, destroys the environment which directly impacts the poor. On the other hand, it was recognized that the rural poor need to discern more their rights and responsibilities as citizens and as children of God. Five basic sectors articulated the complex challenges they face today.
Small Farmers and Landless Workers: They are the rural sector that today has the single most urgent claim on the conscience of the nation whose most pressing need is land reform. Academic studies and numerous documentations by civil society have attested to the significant contribution of agrarian reform in reducing poverty, creating opportunities for growth leading towards sustainable development. These gains must not only be protected and sustained, but expanded to cover all legitimate beneficiaries of agrarian reform. Despite efforts to raise these concerns we are saddened to find that elected representatives do not heed the voices of their poor constituents.
The small farmers call for basic services in the development of the countryside, such as irrigation systems, farm to market roads, lending facilities, and access to the market. The farmers in many places are suffering from large scale mining and the continuous conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural use to avoid being covered by the land reform program.
Fisherfolk: They call for the strict implementation of the Fisheries Code, including its review to address loopholes in its implementation. The fisherfolk also identify specific issues such as limited access to municipal waters, pollution of our waters, the practice of destructive and illegal fishing methods, and the encroachment by commercial trawlers into municipal waters. They further call for more programs that would enhance the capacities of their sector. They reiterate the need to promote the sustainable utilization of natural resources in our seas, rivers and lakes, including the establishment of sanctuaries where marine life can regenerate itself.
Indigenous People : They demand the recognition of the customary laws and culture of the indigenous people (IP) communities, the intensified implementation and review of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA), the recognition of the continuing threat to their communities posed by destructive mining and logging activities, by armed conflict between the rebels and the military and by the entrance of companies causing their displacement, the watered-down application of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, and the strengthening of the National Commission of Indigenous People (NCIP) so that it truly represent the interests of the indigenous peoples and not the foreigners and big business enterprises.
Rural Women: They insist on the need to protect and uphold the welfare and rights of women through the enhancement of Filipino values of family and moral responsibility. They also appeal to all concerned agencies to provide more support to respond to the special needs of women, such as the issues of domestic violence, access to basic social services, livelihood, health, natural family planning, continuing formation of conscience in regard to the right to life, and awareness building on women’s rights.
Rural Youth: They seek more effective pastoral care to strengthen the moral and spiritual foundations of the youth. They ask that the Church and academe reinforce their programs on spiritual and values formation, in order to equip the youth with proper guidance and opportunities to lead them in their growing and maturing years. They request that we promote education in terms of tertiary or technical-vocational training to prepare them for meaningful livelihood or employment.
Scripture warns us: “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard” (Prov. 21,13). Impelled by the voices of the rural poor and guided by the social teachings of the Church on justice, preferential option for the poor and the common good, we make the following resolutions:
We continue to put in place venues for dialogue, where the poor can interact with the Bishops and other leaders of the Catholic Church. We shall activate specialized desks within church structures that would help the rural poor at the parish, diocesan, regional and national levels.
We shall intensify our engagement with our public officials in the legislation and implementation of social justice measures, as we did with a letter addressed to Congress asking for CARP extension with reform.
We shall capacitate the people in the rural areas by the continuous work of organizing Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) and groups that are conscious of their rights and duties and help each other to work for integral development in the light of the Gospel of Christ.
We shall encourage our lay faithful to intensify their fight against graft and corruption, and accompany upright public officials in their efforts to serve the people in transparency and truth.
We shall direct Church institutions and organizations to be more engaged in works of solidarity, justice and charity for the poor in rural areas. We shall also call on them to be more actively engaged in protecting and promoting the integrity of creation.
Finally, we shall strive to be faithful to live out our mission as the Church of the Poor—a Church which is both engaged in the work of integral evangelization, as well as in Social Reform. Such actions emanate from the Pauline vision of “uniting all things under Christ” (Eph 1:10) — to engage the world as we bear witness to the plight of the poor, through profound conversion and renewal as People of God.
We are a people of hope. Our faith bids us to rely on Our Father who is Lord of History. His Kingdom will surely come when “love and truth will meet; justice and peace will embrace” (Ps 85,11).
Therefore sustained by our faith that God loves the poor, we entrust these commitments under the care and guidance of Mary, the Comforter of the Afflicted and Mother of Hope.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,
(SGD)+ ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO, DD
Archbishop of Jaro
January 25, 2009