Pope Francis begins a series of catecheses on the works of mercy

ossrom134131_articolo(Vatican Radio) After reflecting on the mystery of God’s mercy, from the actions of the Father in the Old Testament to those of Jesus, Who in the Gospels demonstrates by His words and gestures that He is the very incarnation of mercy, the Pope announced in this Wednesday’s general audience that he will dedicate a new cycle of catechesis to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

“It is not enough to experience God’s mercy in our lives”, the Pope observed. “It is necessary for those who receive it also to be a sign and instrument for others. … It is not a question of making great efforts or superhuman gestures. The Lord shows us a far easier path, made up of little gestures but which, in His eyes, have great value, to the point of saying that it is on these that we will be judged. … Jesus says that every time we give something to eat to a hungry person and give something to drink to one who thirsts, we dress the naked and welcome the stranger, or we visit the sick or imprisoned, we do this also to Him. The Church calls these gestures ‘corporal works of mercy’, as they assist people in their material needs”.

However there are also, as Francis recalled, another seven spiritual works of mercy, that respond to other equally important needs, “especially nowadays, as they affect the most intimate aspect of the person and often make them suffer more. We all surely remember one which has entered into common parlance: to bear patiently those who wrong us. … It may seem to be of little importance, or indeed make us smile, but instead it contains a sentiment of profound charity; and it is the same also for the other six, which are good to remember: to counsel the doubtful, to instruct the ignorant, to admonish sinners, to console the afflicted, to forgive offenses, and to pray for the living and the dead”.

“It is better to start with the simplest ones, that the Lord shows us as the most urgent. In a world that is unfortunately afflicted by the virus of indifference, works of mercy are the best antidote. They educate us, indeed, in attention towards the most elementary needs of ‘the least of our brothers’, in whom Jesus is present. … This enables us always to be vigilant, avoiding that Christ may pass by us without us recognising Him. St. Augustine’s phrase returns to mind: ‘I fear Jesus will go by’, and I will not recognise Him, that the Lord will pass by my side in one of these little people, in need, and I will not realise that it is Jesus”.

The works of mercy “reawaken in us the need and the capacity to make faith live and work through charity. I am convinced that through these simple daily gestures we can effect a true cultural revolution. … If each one of us, every day, did one of these, this would be a revolution in the world! But all of us, every one of us. How many saints are still remembered today not for the great works they performed but for the love they knew how to transmit! Mother Teresa, for example, recently canonised: we do not remember her for the many houses that she opened throughout the world, but because she stooped to all the people she met in the street to restore their dignity to them. How many abandoned children she held in her arms; how many dying people she accompanied on the threshold to eternity, holding their hands!”

“These works of mercy are the features of the countenance of Jesus Christ, Who cares for the least of His brothers to bring God’s tenderness and closeness to every one. May the Holy Spirit help us; may the Holy Spirit kindle in us the desire to live in this way. Do at least one of them a day, at least! Let us learn again by heart the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, and ask the Lord to help us to put them into practice every day and at the moment in which we see Jesus in a person in need”.

With people of different religions

focolareThe School of Dialogue for Oriental Religions (SOR) has an invitation to a Pan-Asian course on “Harmony Among Peoples and Religions Today” to be held at the Mariopolis Center, Tagaytay City on March   2-5, 2017. The course will highlight the inter-religious experience of the Focolare with some major religions of Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.

SOR was born out of the inspiration of the Focolare Movement’s founder Chiara Lubich to establish a center for inter-religious dialogue.

In view of the current world scene which is profoundly transforming itself into an increasingly multicultural and multi-religious society, the Focolare Movement is committed to promoting dialogue between religions, because the religious pluralism of the world should not be a cause of division and war, but contribute to the building of brotherhood and world peace.

Various thousands of faithful from different religions share, in as much as possible, in the spirit of the Movement, and collaborate for its goals.

The spreading of the Focolare Movement has, in fact, contributed to opening a dialogue with all the main religions of the world through its contacts with the followers of these religions, but also in contact with their leaders and members of vast movements. For some years now, there has been fraternal collaboration between the Focolare Movement and the Buddhist movement, Rissho Kosei-kai and its 6 million adherents in Japan; with an African American Muslim movement in the United States; and with various movements inspired by Ghandi in the south of India.

The origin

In 1977, in London, Chiara Lubich was awarded the Templeton Prize for progress in religion. She presented her experience before leaders of different religions and had the deep sensation that everyone present, although from different faiths, were like a single family. As she left, it was precisely the people from other religious traditions (Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindu, etc.) who were the first to step up and offer their warm congratulations. This appeared to be evidence that the spirituality of the Movement could be shared not only by Christians, but, to some measure, even with persons of other faiths. For Chiara, these events were a sign from God, showing that the Movement had to open itself to this dialogue with the people of all religious traditions.

The foundation

The dialogue that the Movement promotes is founded on the spirituality and, in particular, on the central importance of love. Love has an immediate echo in the other religions and cultures, because of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It is precisely by implementing the Golden Rule that fruitful dialogue  is able to be established.

The effects of dialogue

There is a rediscovery of one’s own religious roots, of what unites us, a living experience of fraternity. These are just a few of the effects of dialogue lived in this spirit of communion which contributes to the unity of the human family. We strengthen our common commitment to be builders of unity and of peace especially where there is violence, such as racial and religious intolerance, that would cause a rift between members of society.

Last year’s course  from  26th February to 1st March, at the Pace Citadel (Tagaytay) hosted about 300 people, mostly from the Philippines but with delegations also from Pakistan, India, Myanmar,   Continue reading

SWS survey: self-rated poverty at new record low

Manila Bulletin
by Ellalyn De Vera
October 13, 2016

The number of Filipino families who considered themselves poor and “food-poor” hit a new record low, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey results show.

42 percent of Filipino families—equivalent to 9.4 million families—rated themselves poor in the past three months, based on the nationwide survey conducted last September 24–27 among 1,200 respondents and first published on BusinessWorld.

This is down from 45 percent or about 10.5 million households in the June survey, and the lowest self-rated poverty rate since the survey commenced in April 1983.

The previous record-low, 43 percent, was recorded in March 1987 and March 2010.

The pollster also pointed out that the self-rated poverty result “has been either steady or declining for eight consecutive quarters” as follows:

  • 52 percent in December 2014
  • 51 percent in March 2015 and June 2015
  • 50 percent in September 2015 and December 2015
  • 46 percent in April 2016
  • 45 percent in June 2016, and
  • 42 percent in September 2016.

SWS said there were fewer Filipino families claiming they are poor in the rest of Luzon (from 41 percent to 34 percent) and Mindanao (from 54 percent to 49 percent).

However, self-rated poverty increased in Metro Manila (from 32 percent to 36 percent) and Visayas (from 52 percent to 56 percent).

The same survey found that 30 percent or 6.7 million families considered themselves “food-poor,” compared with 31 percent or an estimated 6.9 million households three months ago.

“Food-poor” means families consider the food they eat as poor.

SWS noted this is slightly lower than the record-low 31 percent reported in April and June 2016.

Young People to Be Heart of October ’18 Synod of Bishops

Theme for XV General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops Is “Expression of Pastoral Concern of Church for Young People”

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Christ’s Youth in Action

“Young people, faith and vocational discernment” is the theme Pope Francis has selected for the XV General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops taking place October 2018 in the Vatican.

According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office this morning, the upcoming Synod’s theme is an “expression of the pastoral concern of the Church for young people, and is in continuity with what emerged from the recent synodal assemblies on the family and the contents of the post-synodal Apostolic ExhortationLaetitia Amoris.

Through this theme, the Church– the statement noted–wishes to “accompany youth in their existential path to maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life plan and realize it with joy, opening the encounter with God and with men and actively participating in the building up the Church and society.”

As is customary, the Pope’s decision followed consultations with the episcopal conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches and the Union of Superiors General. The Holy Father had also heard suggestions made by parents taking part in the last synodal assembly and the opinion of the XIV Ordinary Council.

The Synod of Bishops is an assembly of bishops from various regions of the world. On September 15, 1965, it was created by Pope Paul VI  in order to respond to the desire of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council to keep alive the good spirit born of the conciliar experience.

General Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops may be ordinary and extraordinary. The Synods’ extraordinary assemblies address issues that require rapid resolution, and appoint fewer members, in order to facilitate rapid discussion of the issues.

The last Synod on the family received much media attention. Moreover, as explained on several occasions by Pope Francis, it was a journey that lasted two years, and its fruit was Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on the family Amoris Laetitia.

October 6, 2016 Deborah Castellano Lubov POPE AND HOLY SEE

Do Not Offend the Lord our God Anymore

Joint Pastoral Statement of the Four Dioceses of Negros Island on Extrajudicial Killings

“Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”
(Our Lady of the Rosary to Lucia at Fatima, October 13, 1917)

We, the Bishops of Bacolod, Dumaguete, and San Carlos, and the Diocesan Administrator of Kabankalan, are deeply saddened and greatly disturbed by the following happenings in our country today:

  • The ever-increasing spate of extrajudicial killings in connection with the anti-drug campaign.
  • The inadequate action on the part of government to check the extrajudicial killings and to bring their perpetrators to justice.
  • The incendiary statements of the administration which tend to encourage the killing of drug addicts.
  • Most of all, the seeming apathy and indifference of the general public in the face of these extrajudicial killings. We are deeply concerned that this alarming insensitivity could lead to a deadening of conscience and the dawning of a culture of death.

While we commend the government for its political will and determination in addressing the terrible drug menace that has long plagued our country, we strongly urge that this be done within the bounds of law and with full respect for human rights, for we believe that:

  • Man is created in God’s image and redeemed by the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. Hence, human life is sacred.
  • As God is the author of life, he alone has power over life.
  • “The commandment, ‘You shall not kill’, has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and the guilty… It must not be forgotten that the inviolable and God-given right to life also belongs to the criminal.” (Pope Francis)
  • God does not take any pleasure in the death of the wicked but wishes that they rather turn from their ways and live. (cf. Ezekiel 18:23)   

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Palayain ang mga matatanda at maysakit na bilanggo

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Veritas

Hiniling ng CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison and Pastoral Care na sa unang 100 araw ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte na palayain na ang mga matatagal ng nakakulong sa New Bilibid Prison.

Ayon kay Bro. Rodrigo “Rudy” Diamante, executive secretary ng komisyon, panawagan nila sa Pangulo na partikular na palayain ang mga nasa 30 taon ng nakabilanggo na mga maysakit, matatanda at yung mga wala ng dalaw.

Sinabi ni Diamante na nagsumite na sila ng listahan sa Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) ng mga pangalan ng mga matatagal ng bilanggo subalit tila ito ay nababalewala.

Umaasa din ang kalihim ng komisyon na ibabalik ni Pangulong Duterte ang tradisyon na nagbibigay ng parole tuwing kapaskuhan na hindi naipatupad ng nagdaang administrasyong Aquino.

“Panawagan sa 100 days ni Duterte, palayain na ang mga nakakulong ng 30 years, mga maysakit matatanda na mga walang dalaw, may listahan na kaming ibinigay sa Board of Pardons and Parole, eh hindi natututukan yun eh…tradisyon naman ang presidential clemency tuwing pasko, sana ibalik ito kasi sa time ni PNoy walang binigyan ito,” pahayag ni Diamante sa panayam ng Radyo Veritas.

Sa record ng Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) noong September ng 2015, nasa 94, 320 ang mga bilanggo sa buong bansa kung saan nasa 321 ang mga bilanggo na may edad 71 pataas.

Veritas News

Philippine social workers gather to discuss disaster preparedness

Focus of this year’s general assembly is church readiness to meet challenge of natural disasters

Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Nueva Caceres (second from right) and Father Edwin Gariguez, head of Caritas-Philippines, lead the opening of the general assembly of Catholic social action workers in the country. (Photo by Elmer Recuerdo)

Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Nueva Caceres (second from right) and Father Edwin Gariguez, head of Caritas-Philippines, lead the opening of the general assembly of Catholic social action workers in the country. (Photo by Elmer Recuerdo)

Disaster preparedness and developing community resiliency in times of calamities are the main focus of this year’s general assembly of the Philippine bishops’ social action secretariat.

The meeting, which opened on Sept. 19 in the town of Palo in Leyte province, coincided with the 50th anniversary of the social action secretariat’s founding.

The four-day gathering will discuss Caritas-Philippines’ “roadmap on sustainability and resiliency,” said Jing Rey Henderson, program development manager of Caritas-Philippines, the social action arm of the country’s Catholic bishops.

She said the assembly will also be an opportunity for a “concrete partnership” between the government and the Catholic Church in responding to disasters.

Henderson said the focus of the church’s social action programs will be community-managed disaster risk reduction that will include, livelihood, self-recovery, shelter, and ecosystem, among others.

“Most dioceses still have to work on disaster preparedness,” she said.

“We need to make sure that the projects we are implementing are really responding to the needs of the people,” she told ucanews.com.

“There are dioceses that still need accompaniment in terms of funding, resources, and capacity-building,” said Henderson.

The social action secretariat is also expected to address the issue of drug-related killings in the country.

The general assembly is a biennial gathering of all Catholic social action workers in the Philippines.

Credit: UCAN News

Church, academe partner for drug crisis intervention

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DAVAO City, Oct. 3, 2016—In response to the widespread drug problem in the country, the Archdiocese of Davao and the University of Southeastern Philippines (USeP) have forged a partnership through the Sagop Kinabuhi Program (SKP) to help address the ongoing crisis .

SKP is the concrete response of the Church to the mass surrender of drug users and pushers, now known as Voluntary Submission for Reformation (VSR) persons, resulting from the government’s ongoing war on drugs.

The Church through its Archdiocesan Social Action Center (ASAC) and USeP have designed SKP to contribute to the multi-sectoral efforts of reconciling and reunifying VSRs with their respective families and communities.

Celebrating the Word

Using a framework advocated by the Department of Health, SKP wants to address drug dependency and carry out interventions to bring back VSRs’ lost self-confidence, self-respect, and self-worth and to enable them to become productive members of their families and communities once again.

The program also aims to create a functional working relationship with the barangays and parishes through its Gagmay’ng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK) situated within the SKP program site. In the GKK, VSRs celebrate the liturgy of the word in different GKK chapels every week together with members of the community.

Previously identified as a strategic geographical location being a rural-urban area, the Talomo district is the chosen pilot site for the implementation of SKP.

It is worth mentioning that SKP is not intended for Catholics alone but for all drug dependents and drug pushers who want to participate in the program.

Responding to the crisis

Only mild and moderate cases of drug dependency, however, will be catered to by the program. Severe and mentally-ill dependents will be served by other agencies like rehabilitation centers and hospitals.

It can be recalled that before Davao Archbishop Romulo G. Valles’ efforts to revive the program, SKP had already begun in Davao City in 2003, running until 2011.  Continue reading