Cardinal Tagle: ‘Where Children Are Born, the Church Has a Future’

Manila archbishop, president of Caritas, gives book-length interview

cardinal_tagle_book_launch

“It was difficult for me to accept the proposal to do this book, because I’m a reserved person, who doesn’t like to place himself in the public eye,” said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila and President of Cartitas Internationalis, responding last week — at the headquarters of “La Civilta Cattolica” — to questions posed by Paolo Ruffini, Director of Tv2000, regarding his book-interview I Have Learned from the Least – My Life, My Hopes, published by Emi and edited by Gerolamo and Lorenzo Fazzini.

The Philippine Cardinal’s affirmation is not an exercise in false modesty; after all his genuine and simple style reveals a constantly joyful look and an amiable language. In the course of the presentation, introduced by Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., Director of “La Civilta Cattolica,” the Cardinal did not skimp on moments of lightness and amusing jokes.

He himself let it be understood several times that his attitude sinks its roots in his personal history, of a man of the people, who grew up in a fervent Catholic family, used to dealing with people by leaving aside any sort of formalism.

Every day in chaotic Manila, Cardinal Tagle immerses himself in a variegated humanity and brings it spiritual teaching. In fact, he explains, “when we take the Lord’s Word and His example seriously, we, as Church, become more human, and the encounter with Jesus becomes also an encounter with human beings.”

Material poverty is widespread in the Philippines, where however, hidden riches enable one to perceive a light of hope in the future.

The Archbishop of Manila stresses that the resource of the Church in Asia resides in fact in the “suffering of many Asian martyrs, of the simple people who know in a mysterious way the fortitude that only the Lord can give.” And he adds: “Unfortunately, in a Church used to great numbers, there is faith but there is also the temptation to depend on privileges, whereas in a minority Church, there is only the Lord.”

However, Cardinal Tagle says there is another good reason to hope in the future of the Church in Asia: “the presence of so many children, on average a young population.” He gives the example of the Philippines, in whose Churches “there are many, many youngsters.” And, “where there are children and youngsters, there is a future!” he exclaims.

Hope for the future coexists also with idols that constantly threaten modern man. The Cardinal points them out: riches, honor, ambitions, sex, luxury, but also the “desire <to fulfill only> our personal interests and to promote only the wellbeing of my family, my group, of my country.” He also stresses individualism, which is “a form of idolatry.”

None of us, he admits, is immune to the call of idols. Therefore, it is important to make a daily examination of conscience to see “what my idols are, what they have commanded me, and what I have obeyed.”

Moreover, for him every day is a harbinger of “a surprise,” because, the Cardinal reflects humbly, he almost “cannot believe that the Lord called a person like me to be a priest, a Bishop and now a Cardinal.” However, “in the mystery of this vocation, I am also certain that my hands do not work but rather those of the Lord.”

The figure of a Saint that constantly “points the way” to Cardinal Tagle in his ministry is that of Saint Joseph. “He is a silent Saint, an ordinary man, a worker, engaged, whose plan of life is interrupted with an intervention from on High. He is a just man, but also of profound faith. No word of his is preserved in the Bible, but he kept in himself the Word of the Lord.”  Continue reading

On the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

Position Paper of the Philippine Action for Youth Offenders (PAYO) and the Child Rights Network (CRN) on the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility

 

The Philippine Action for Youth Offenders (PAYO) and the Child Rights Network (CRN) vehemently oppose the proposal to lower the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) from 15 years old to 9 years old. This move undermines the best interest of the child and will not solve the problem of children committing crimes. It distracts us from the real reasons why children offend such as poor parenting and supervision, peer pressure, social isolation, family conflict, and poverty. Moreover, it is an impulsive reaction to public perception media hype that the number of crimes committed by children has increased since the enactment of the law. This perception is unfounded. There is no clear evidence to back this claim and no attempt has been made to analyze the possible factors that influence the crimes committed by children.

Lowering the age of criminal responsibility will result to negative consequences for children and the public. It will increase the number of children detained for long periods of time, making them more likely to become hardened offenders. Detention/ Jail conditions in the Philippines are not rehabilitative. They are harsh: children have been reported to experience torture, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse while in detention. Research also shows that detaining or incarcerating children is more damaging to them than beneficial. It has a profoundly negative impact on young people’s mental and physical well-being (i.e., depression and poor mental health), their education (i.e., learning disabilities not recognized or addressed), and their future employment (i.e., reduces their ability to remain in the workforce). Detention may also increase the likelihood that young people will recidivate, compromising public safety. 1

Incarcerating children goes against established principles of proportionality and fair treatment and contradicts the best interest of the child and the rights of the child to maximum survival and development. Lowering the MACR further reinforces the existing situation of syndicates using younger children in their criminal activities. Our focus should be on catching the adult syndicates instead of punishing the children, who are clearly the victims in this situation.

Emerging knowledge about cognitive, psychosocial, and neurobiological development in adolescence also provides evidence that young people should not be held to the same standards of criminal responsibility as adults. Steinberg, L., & Scott, E. (2003)’s study argued that “Adolescents’ decision-making capacities are diminished as they are less able to resist coercive influence and their character is still undergoing change.”2 Another study by Steinberg L. (2008) on adolescent risk-taking found that risk-taking increases between childhood and adolescence due to changes in the brain’s socio-emotional system.3 The immaturity of young people due to their brain underdevelopment influences their decision making and susceptibility to perform risky activities. This, along with the influence of criminogenic environments where children reside (i.e., many CICL live in communities where crimes are rampant) and the CICL’s personal circumstance (i.e., poor, lacking in education, neglect/ abandonment, poor parental supervision) can be considered mitigating factors in their criminal culpability.

Our Congress took thirteen years to craft the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (JJWA). In 2013, it was amended to improve provisions on the administration of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), handling repeat offenders and children at risk of offending, and providing intervention and rehabilitative services for CICL. The MACR was preserved at 15 years old. It is imprudent to cast aside all the years of diligent study and in-depth discussions to formulate a Restorative Juvenile Justice system in the Philippines without careful research and in consideration of the current facts and laws promoting and protecting the rights of children.

There are indeed challenges in implementing the JJWA and these must be effectively addressed. However, difficulties in implementing the law cannot be used to justify the amendment; otherwise, the rights of children will be compromised merely on the basis of expediency. This does not mean ignoring the complaints of duty bearers tasked to implement the law. There are legitimate concerns that must be attended to by means of thorough study of processes to assist CICL and children at risk. What is glaring, however, is the lack of evidence based information to support the moves to lower the MACR and the negative impact of criminalizing children. Lowering MACR is a violation of the right of the child to genuine protection

Any attempt to amend the JJWA should be carefully studied and must ensure consonance with the Philippines’ commitments to international agreements, such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (Beijing Rules) and the UN Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (Riyadh Guidelines). The CRC’s General Comment No. 10 clearly states that: “Rule 4 of the Beijing Rules recommends that the beginning of MACR shall not be fixed at too low an age level, bearing in mind the facts of emotional, mental, and intellectual maturity… From these recommendations, it can be concluded that a minimum age of criminal responsibility below the age of 12 years is considered by the Committee not to be internationally acceptable… At the same time, the Committee urges States parties not to lower their MACR to the age of 12. A higher MACR, for instance 14 or 16 years of age, contributes to a juvenile justice system which, in accordance with Article 40 (3) (b) of CRC, deals with children in conflict with the law without resorting to judicial proceedings, providing that the child’s human rights and legal safeguards are fully respected.” President Rodrigo Duterte, in his inaugural speech clearly said that “… Let me reiterate that the Republic of the Philippines will honor treaties and international obligations.” We will hold the President to this promise to ensure that the CRC and the other abovementioned international agreements are respected and upheld.

At this time, let us focus our efforts on fully implementing the JJWA, supporting and capacitating duty bearers so they can effectively execute their responsibilities under the law. Let us support programs that strengthen families and teach parents how to effectively raise their children without the use of corporal punishment and violence which have been found to increase delinquent behaviors in children. Moreover, effective programs and services to prevent young people from offending or re-offending, to facilitate diversion of CICL, and to restore those who have been harmed through restorative justice practices must be established.

In the true spirit of our Constitution, our legislators must recognize the vital role of the youth in nation-building and promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being.

1 The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities. A Justice Policy Institute Report by Barry Holman and Jason Ziedenberg

2 Steinberg, L., & Scott, E. (2003). Less guilty by reason of adolescence: Developmental immaturity, diminished responsibility,

and the juvenile death penalty. American Psychologist, 58(12), 1009-1018

3 Steinberg, L. (2008). A social neuroscience perspective on adolescent risk-taking. Developmental Review, 28, 78-106

The Philippine Action for Youth Offenders (PAYO) is a coalition of 16 civil society organizations and several individuals working together for the realization of a just and humane society for children in conflict with the law (CICL). Upholding the principles of Restorative Justice, it promotes and protects the rights of CICL through advocacy, lobbying, training, research, and networking.

The Child Rights Network (CRN) is an alliance of government and non-government organizations advocating for the passage of national laws that will protect and fulfill the rights of Filipino children. CRN member-organizations adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which was ratified by the Philippine government in July 1990. The Network aims to generate support for children’s issues among different stakeholders, including children, legislators and decision-makers in the national government.

Position Paper of World Vision Development Foundation

No to Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility from 15 to 9 Years Old

 

World Vision Development Foundation, Inc. is strongly opposed to any attempt of lowering the Philippine’s Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) from 15 to 9 years old, due to the following:

  • The Philippine government should instead fully uphold and implement RA 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, as amended by RA 10630 which upholds the principles of restorative justice.
  • Children should not fully bear the consequence of their committed crimes, which are usually or possibly influenced and exploited by the parents or abusive adults.
  • Children under the age of 18 should never be tried as adults and should always be dealt within the juvenile justice system. They should not be placed in adult prisons. Capital punishment and life imprisonment should not be imposed for offenses committed by children.
  • It will be a clear violation of the international human rights treaty bodies such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC), where the Philippines is a member state. UNCRC recommends that the minimum age of criminal responsibility should be set between 14 to 16 years old. Lowering it to 9 years old is simply not an option.

I.     Situationer

Last 2014, there are 14,993 cases of Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL) in the Philippines1. That is more than one child per hour being accused or adjudged of committing an offense under Philippine laws and they are vulnerable to abuse during arrest and detention. The Philippines is home to over 15,000 Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL) as of 2014 data from the Philippine National Police (PNP). Majority of these crimes were property-related wherein theft was considered the highest with the outstanding number of 5,886 cases per year.

II.    Policy Environment

With the new administration’s relentless war on crime, one of the most controversial issues in juvenile justice as of the moment is the lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR). In the Philippines, RA 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, as amended by RA 10630, Section 6 on the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility states that “A child fifteen (15) years of age or under at the time of the commission of the offense shall be exempt from criminal liability.”

With the current movement in the legislature to lower the MACR from 15 to 9 years old, World Vision supports and adheres to the implementation of the RA 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, as amended by RA 10630 that places the nation in the forefront of Asian progress on juvenile justice. The law, the first of its kind in Asia, was clearly passed to bring the country closer to its obligations as a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and pursuant to the provisions of the Philippine Constitution and Philippine special laws on protecting children.

Also, the UNCRC General Comment 10 (2007) clearly states that the minimum age of criminal responsibility below the age of 12 years is considered by the Committee not to be internationally acceptable.

The proposed amendment to the 2006 Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act would lower the age of criminal responsibility – the age in which children can be deemed criminally responsible for their behavior to 9 years old. This is also a direct contravention of the recommendation from the UNCRC, which has urged states to set the age of criminal responsibility at 14 to 16 in order to contribute to a juvenile justice system that is in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

This amendment also contradicts the statement based on Rule 4 of the Beijing Rules that recommends that the beginning of MACR shall not be fixed at too low an age level, bearing in mind the facts of emotional, mental and intellectual maturity.

III. Studies on Discernment

Scientific studies conducted by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) in 1997 and the Philippine Action for Youth and Offenders (PAYO) in 2002, have shown that the age of discernment (i.e. the ability to tell right from wrong and the consequences of actions) of in-school children (CWC and PLM, 1997) and out-of-school children (PAYO, 2002) are 15 years old and 18 years old, respectively2.

The issue on discernment is a crucial element in giving the verdict to CICL. In Roper, et. al. vs. Simmons, the United States Supreme Court gave three main points why CICL or juvenile offenders cannot with reliability be classified among worst offenders:

  1. a) Lack of maturity and an underdeveloped sense of responsibility are found in youth more often than in adults and are more understandable among the young. These qualities often result in impetuous and ill-considered actions and decisions;
  2. b) Juveniles are more vulnerable or susceptible to negative influences and outside pressures, including peer pressure. This explained in part by the prevailing circumstance that juveniles have less control, or less experience with control, over their own environment; and
  3. c) The character of a juvenile is not as well-formed as that of an adult. The personality traits of juveniles are more transitory, less fixed.

The susceptibility of juveniles to immature and irresponsible behavior means their irresponsible conduct is not as morally reprehensible as that of an adult. From a moral standpoint, it would be misguided to equate the failings of a minor with those of an adult, for a greater possibility exists that a minor’s character deficiencies will be reformed.

IV.    Calls to Action

We call on the Philippine Government to:

  1. Take all necessary and concrete measures to ensure that the age of criminal responsibility is not lowered, and to consider the crucial role of defining the age of discernment of children involved in crimes;
  2. Provide diversion or intervention program that is rights-based, age and developmentally appropriate to children in conflict with the law. Every municipality/province should have its own youth detention home for CICL that complies to standards and provide adequate budgetary allocation for it;
  3. Strengthen the monitoring of the plight of children in conflict with the law, especially those already detained or imprisoned. Children, particularly those who have committed minor offenses should be released immediately;
  4. Strengthen advocacy to properly implement RA 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act, as amended by RA 10630 among local officials, law enforcers, and service providers. Parents and children at the community should also be oriented on JJWA, Responsible Parenthood and Child Rights and Responsibilities;
  5. Solicit support from the Local Government Units to establish and make their Local Council for the Protection of Children/ Barangay Council for the Protection of Children functional; and;
  6. Strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council (JJWC), as the agency mandated to oversee the implementation of the JJWA as amended by RA 10630, and its Regional Juvenile Justice and Welfare Committee.

World Vision urges the Philippine Government to implement the principle of restorative justice, rather than retribution. Children’s delinquent past should not define their future.

“Our Vision for every child, life in all its fullness,

Our Prayer for every heart the will to make it so.”

Continue reading

Landless, harassed, and facing death threats, Iloilo farmers seek urgent help from DAR chief

tfm_banner

CLOA undistributed to farmers for 10 years
Former landlord still rules in CARP land
Farm illegally converted to a housing project

Peasant leader Jerry Navarro (right) points to the illegal conversion of a 74-hectare landholding distributed to CARP beneficiaries into a housing project (left). Photo by TFM, Nov. 18, 2016.

Peasant leader Jerry Navarro (right) points to the illegal conversion of a 74-hectare landholding distributed to CARP beneficiaries into a housing project (left). Photo by TFM, Nov. 18, 2016.

A group of farmers is urging Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary Rafael Mariano to intervene in a land conflict in Iloilo and stop the illegal conversion of an agricultural landholding in the province before the situation worsens into violence and death due to stiff landlord resistance.

“We appeal to you Ka Paeng to immediately address our plight. Our lives are now in imminent danger as the influential heirs of the former landowner have employed every means to stop us from occupying and working in our land – from illegal conversion to intimidation, harassment, and death threats,” said 53-year-old Jerry Navarro, farmer-leader of Bagacay Farmers Association, a member of national peasant federation Task Force Mapalad.

Since a decade ago, the association’s 57 farmers were already the owners of the 74-hectare landholding in barangays Bagacay, Manduawak, and Cubay in this province’s San Dionisio town.

However, the peasants didn’t know their legal rights to the land because the DAR, during the Arroyo administration, did not distribute to the farmers their certificate of land ownership award (CLOA).

A copy of the CLOA showed that the DAR was supposed to award the certificate to the farmers on November 28, 2006 and that the same was entered at the Registry of Deeds on November 29, 2006.

Navarro said that what made their case worse was when they found out only last year that they were supposed to be already the long-time owners of the 74-hectare landholding but the same property was being illegally converted into a housing project between the local government of San Dionisio and the National Housing Authority (NHA).

“In August of last year, then San Dionisio Mayor Peter Paul Lopez asked to meet us at the municipal hall where he told us about the housing project supposedly for our benefit as victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda and that we had to pay P500 monthly for each unit. He also incidentally told us about our CLOA,” said Navarro.

“We then checked with the local DAR office if indeed we were already the landowners of the 74-hectare property. We were able to secure a copy of the CLOA dated 2006 wherein we saw our names listed on the certificate as the landowners and beneficiaries of the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP),” he added.

Navarro said they were surprised to know that for a decade, the DAR withheld the CLOA and that when they found out about it, the local government and the NHA were already converting the farm into a housing estate without their knowledge.

“Kami na pala ang may-ari ng lupa pero hindi pinaalam sa amin sa loob ng halos sampung taon. At noong malaman na namin, iko-convert na pala ito sa housing project na wala rin kaming kaalam-alam. Saan ka nakakita ng may-ari ng lupa na tinaguan na ng titulo at ngayon ay may ibang nagdesisyon sa kanyang lupain? Nasaan po ba ang hustisya rito?” said Navarro.

Government records show that the Sangguniang Bayan of San Dionisio reclassified the 74-hectare property into non-agricultural use and that in August 2016, the municipal council authorized then Mayor Lopez to sign a memorandum of agreement with the NHA for the construction of a 3,400-unit housing project in the land owned by the farmers.

Threats, harassment

Lopez, former mayor of San Dionisio, who sought for re-election but lost in the May 2016 polls, is among the children and heirs of Carlos Lopez, the former landowner of the 74-hectare farm.

According to Navarro, the former mayor’s brother, Eugenio Eusebio “Bebot” Lopez, who is former barangay chairman of Bagacay and also Carlos’ heir, has been intimidating, threatening, and harassing farmers to stop them from claiming their rights over the 74-hectare property.

In August last year, Navarro said then barangay chairman Eugenio Eusebio, armed with a .45-caliber gun, went to their residence and to the houses of other CLOA holders and forced them to sign unknown documents, which they later found out served as waivers to the farmers’ right over their CARP-awarded land.

Navarro said that after the farmers disowned the documents that Eugenio Eusebio forced them to sign, the latter had a steel gate built along a supposedly public road in Bagacay that leads to the farm and houses of the CLOA holders.

“Hinaharang n’ya kami, pinagbabayad ng parang toll fee para makadaan kami sa gate. Mayroon pa ngang isang pagkakataon na nakamotorsiklo kaming mag-asawa at sinabihan n’ya kaming huwag dumaan dahil itutulak n’ya raw kami sa tulay,” said Navarro.

He said the barangay chairman continued to block the road despite the issuance of a right of way and injunction order by the Regional Trial Court-Branch 66 in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, ordering Eugenio Eusebio Lopez not to bar the people from passing through the area.

Suspension, illegal conversion

On April 28, 2016, the Office of the Ombudsman for Visayas suspended for eight months Eugenio Eusebio as chairman of Bagacay after the CLOA holders complained against Lopez’s threats and harassment.

Continue reading

Pope’s Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations

“I would like to reflect on the missionary dimension of our Christian calling”

pope_francis_nov28

 

Led by the Spirit for Mission

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the last few years, we have considered two aspects of the Christian vocation: the summons to “go out from ourselves” to hear the Lord’s voice, and the importance of the ecclesial community as the privileged place where God’s call is born, nourished and expressed.

Now, on this 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like to reflect on the missionary dimension of our Christian calling. Those who drawn by God’s voice and determined to follow Jesus soon discover within themselves an irrepressible desire to bring the Good News to their brothers and sisters through proclamation and the service of charity. All Christians are called to be missionaries of the Gospel! As disciples, we do not receive the gift of God’s love for our personal consolation, nor are we called to promote ourselves, or a business concern. We are simply men and women touched and transformed by the joy of God’s love, who cannot keep this experience just to ourselves. For “the Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy (Evangelii Gaudium, 21).

Commitment to mission is not something added on to the Christian life as a kind of decoration, but is instead an essential element of faith itself. A relationship with the Lord entails being sent out into the world as prophets of his word and witnesses of his love.

Even if at times we are conscious of our weaknesses and tempted to discouragement, we need to turn with God with confidence. We must overcome a sense of our own inadequacy and not yield to pessimism, which merely turns us into passive spectators of a dreary and monotonous life. There is no room for fear! God himself comes to cleanse our “unclean lips” and equip us for the mission: “Your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I, send me’” (Is 6:6-8).  Continue reading

Framers of the 1987 Constitution Condemn the Burial of the Dictator Marcos in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani

 

The overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship is the backdrop to the drafting of the 1987 Constitution.

The power of the people deposed a tyrant whose greed was boundless and whose cruelty was criminal to countless victims who were detained arbitrarily, tortured, made to “disappear” and “salvaged” during the martial law years.

The Constitution was written after nationwide consultations with a sovereign people whose valiant resistance to ruthless dictatorial rule and vision of a new social order are inscribed in its provisions.

The heart of the Constitution underscores in no uncertain terms: the primacy of human rights, the promotion of social justice in all phases of national development, strict adherence to the rule of law and never again to any form of authoritarianism.

It envisions a different future from the Marcosian nightmare of greed, intolerance, brutality and disrespect for democratic institutions. And we are inspired by the outpouring of protest by the youth who give life to our hope for generations of heroes who are the antithesis of everything that was Marcos.

We condemn the burial of the dictator Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, in shameless treachery, in disregard of the facts of history, in contempt of the grief and sufferings of the bereaved victims of martial law, and in defiance of the hopes of our people and their children to build a future based on the values of truth, justice, respect for human rights and caring for others.

November 24, 2016

framers_sig

To verify, please call
Christian S. Monsod
Cel no. 0917-844-6275

CBCP ECMI Christmas Message to our Beloved OFW

Inquirer Global Nation Photo

Inquirer Global Nation Photo

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Itinerant People

Christmas is a time for our Overseas Filipino Workers to come home to be with their families. This year this Season seems to bring to them a special bonus with the dollar at an all time high.

We at the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People wish to welcome our OFWs, at the same time we convey to them some friendly advice. All the malls are aglow with tinsel and glittering decorations and sales galore that are certainly enticing especially to our OFWs. But instead of succumbing to the sweet call of the malls and entertainment places, I invite our OFWs to bond with more meaningful activities that would allow them to deepen their relationships and family ties. I encourage them to spend time in Church, maybe participate in the Simbang Gabi and the traditional Christmas and New Year masses. I caution them to spend wisely and save money; to prioritize and make sure that money will be put to productive use, especially when they leave their families behind when they return to their overseas work. They should resist the temptation to show off and make luxury purchases that provide only empty gratification.

My dear OFWs spend quality time with your family. Go on picnics, museums and the beautiful destination spots in our country, share your stories.   Please practice the: spend time with your family; save your money and speak with your children by sharing stories.

Have a blessed and grace-filled to all our OFWs and may the Joy of Christ’s birth be in their hearts not only this Season but all the time.

SGD:

+Ruperto C. Santos
Bishop of Balanga
Chair, Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People

Pope’s Invitation to Sobriety and Vigilance as Preparation for Christmas

Rome Reports November 28, 2016

During his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis commented on the start of the liturgical season of Advent and how Jesus visits humanity. First, during the Incarnation and birth in Bethlehem, daily, with His “consoling presence” and finally, how He will come again in the last judgement.
He said the Word of God has the ability to reveal the contrast between the daily routine and the surprise coming of Christ, which could come any day or any moment.

POPE FRANCIS
“The Gospel does not want to scare us, but to open our horizon to another dimension, largest, which on one hand relativize things every day but at the same time makes them precious, decisive. The relationship with the God-who-comes-to-visit gives every gesture, every thing in a different light, a thickness, a symbolic value.”

The pope said this perspective and idea of being alert is an invitation to sobriety, not being governed by the material goods of the world, but rising above them.
POPE FRANCIS
“If, on the other hand, we allow ourselves to be overpowered by a concern for material things, we will not be able to perceive what is much more important: the final encounter with the Lord. It is an invitation to vigilance, because, not knowing when He will come, we must always be ready to depart.”
Pope Francis also said he is praying for those impacted by natural disasters, especially people in Costa Rica and Nicaragua who have been affected by hurricane Otto and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

POPE FRANCIS
“Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to assure you of my prayers for the people of Central America, especially Costa Rica and Nicaragua, affected by a hurricane, and the latter, also by a strong earthquake.”

The Sunday morning crowd was very lively, especially one group from Ecuador, who carried a statue of the Virgin Mary on a bed of white roses.