“Turn from Evil and Do Good,
Seek Peace and Pursue It” (Ps. 34:14)
TO ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL:
Greetings of peace in the Almighty and Most Merciful God.
We, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, wish to enjoin your assistance and collaboration. We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again! War in Marawi, no more! We therefore call for the return to normalcy and peace in Marawi and its environs as soon as possible. We wonder whether the continued state of Martial Law, much more its extension, will bring this about.
We believe that the war in Marawi is not religious. We have heard and read truly stunning stories of how Muslims have protected and helped Christians to escape from almost certain death. Even now Christians are assisting thousands of Muslims who have fled from Marawi for safety. These are indisputable signs that there is no religious war.
Condemnation of Terrorism and Violent Extremism
For this reason as Catholic religious leaders we condemn in the strongest terms possible, as did Islamic religious scholars in Mindanao, the violent extremist Maute group in Marawi. Its leaders and members have pledged allegiance to ISIS. They have contradicted the fundamental tenets of Islam by abducting and hostaging, maiming and killing the innocent.
Dialogue for Peace, the Common Word
Join us then, beloved people of good will, in conducting intra-faith dialogue among our respective co-religionists so that our various faiths may not be exploited and abused for the sake of terrorism or violent extremism. Let parents, schools, churches and mosques ensure that none may be lured by the recruitment efforts of terrorists. Let us teach the young and the old that our faiths are meant for peace. No religion teaches the killing of innocent people, simply because they belong to another religion.
Join us and let us continue the inter-religious dialogue called for by hundreds of Islamic leaders throughout the world. In 2007 they called for peace between Muslims and Christians when they wrote their famous open letter on “the Common Word” to Christian religious leaders. How true their words were! The Muslim leaders wrote:
The basis for peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God and love of neighbor.
This is the commandment of God in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.
Our Lord Jesus, who is also revered as prophet in the Qur’an, cited this scriptural text and elaborated on it in Mark 12:28-31.
One of the scribes … asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
He further commanded us: “Love one another as I love you” (John 15:12).
Praxis of Love and Gratitude
Loving our neighbor needs action. Let us together invest our resources to helping the thousands of people who have fled from the horrors of Marawi. Let us pray for the safety of trapped civilians and of those abducted and hostaged by the terrorists. Let us be vigilant and alert, helping our security forces thwart the threats of terrorism in other areas of Mindanao. Let us help the government rebuild the city of Marawi so that its citizens may return and restore their broken lives.
With profound gratitude we acknowledge the priceless generosity of kind donors from different faiths, both local and foreign, who promptly responded to meet the needs of the people of Marawi who have fled to safer areas. We appeal for more help especially for those home-based displaced people who are not yet adequately served.
Maryam, the mother of Jesus, is praised and honored in the Qur’an and by many Christians. Catholics believe that 100 years ago she appeared to three children in the village of Fatima, which is the very name of the daughter of the prophet Muhammad. To the prayers of Maryam, we commend our efforts for peace and harmony between peoples of different faiths.
“Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to one another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual good will” (see the Common Word letter).
May the God of peace be with you!
On behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,
+ Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
July 10, 2017
A visual aid about depression.
Posted at the Campus Ministry bulletin board of the
University of San Carlos-Cebu City.
To All People of Good Will:
We, Catholic Bishops of Mindanao, address this Statement to every Mindanawon. We originally intended to respond to the requests of our Catholic faithful who asked for pastoral guidance on the issue of Martial Law.
We pray for all the murdered innocent victims in Marawi and ask the Lord to protect all the families that have fled to safety.
We condemn the terrorist acts that have caused the loss of many innocent lives, the burning of homes, public buildings, including a Protestant school dormitory and a Catholic Cathedral.
We condemn the unconscionable kidnapping of teachers and church personnel.
We pray for the safety of all the kidnapped, of Fr. Teresito Suganob and his companions. We appeal to the hostage takers to release all of them unharmed. The victims fear death but they also have the courage to give ultimate witness to Christ.
In the strongest terms we condemn terrorism in its various forms. It is an ideology that is totally against the tenets of any religion of peace. Especially so when terrorism is perpetrated while our Muslim brothers and sisters are preparing for the holy month of Ramadhan. Terrorism distorts and falsifies the true meaning of any religion. It destroys harmonious relationships among peoples of different faiths. It creates a world of suspicion and prejudice, of hatred and hostility.
The President of the Philippines has responded to the Marawi crisis by declaring Martial Law in the entire Mindanao. Many criticise the decision as reminiscent of the horrors of a past dictatorship. Others support the decision as justified.
We are aware that the problems of peace and order, of the continuing disruptive activities of other rebel groups, the problems of criminality and drugs, of corruption and underdevelopment are in every nook and corner of Mindanao. Mindanao problems go beyond the city limits of Marawi.
Our Catholic faithful have asked for pastoral guidance regarding Martial Law. We are guided by the Sacred Scriptures and by the social teachings of the Church. St. Paul exhorts us to “pursue what leads to peace” (Rom. 14: 19).
Martial Law is a means of last resort. Are moral principles fulfilled? Were other means to resolve the deep and wide serious problems of Mindanao impractical and ineffective? Will the positive effects of Martial Law outweigh the negative effects? Will there be probability of success? Will it bring about a culture of accountability and end a culture of impunity? Will Martial Law increase human rights violations? Will Martial Law be abused for evil purposes?
The answers to many questions are speculative. We have many fears. But at present we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of Martial Law as morally reprehensible. But we are certainly agreed that Martial Law must be temporary.
We shall condemn any abuse of Martial Law and as in the past will condemn it outright if it goes in the way of evil. Let us be vigilant.
We exhort everyone to be calm in the face of Martial Law, to be obedient to the just commands of lawful authority, and not to provoke violent reaction. We urge the government to remove the causes of terrorism, such as poverty and injustice, through just and accountable governance focused solely on the common good.
The focus of every religion is peace on earth, peace in heaven. Let us pursue together what leads to peace. Let all religious teachers and leaders quell the tendencies towards the terrorist ideology. Together let us pursue what leads to peace. Let us pray for peace and work for peace.
God bless the people of Marawi. God bless all Mindanawons.
With the approval of the Bishops of Mindanao,
+Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
26 May 2017
Congratulations to the all the passers of the Board Exam! I am happy that four of our students from the University of San Carlos made it to the top 10.
1. Karen Mae Calam
3. Fiona Cristy Lao
7. Anne Margaret Momongan
8. Jefferson Gomez
As a reward, the 4 topnotchers from the University of San Carlos will be given a lifetime “gift of education,” which means that they can nominate a scholar, who, in turn, may choose any course he/she wishes to enroll in at the school.“He/she will let one finish the program then nominate again for the rest of her life,” said Atty. Joan Largo, Dean of the College of Law, University of San Carlos-Cebu.
Palm Sunday / Passion Sunday (A)
Psalm: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Matthew 26: 14-27,66
Welcome to the Palm and Passion Sunday!
Tandaan po ninyo, ang linggong ito ang isa sa mga may pinakamagandang second readings sa buong taon para sa akin. Ito ay galing sa book of St. Paul to the Philippians: at ang mensaheng ito ay produkto ng pagninilay ng first Christian communities. “Though he was in the form of God, Jesus did not deem equality with God something to be used for his own advantage.” (Philippians 2:6). Sa simula pa lamang, si Hesus ay talagang banal. Ngunit hindi tumigil si St. Paul doon. Sabi pa niya: “Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. Thus, he humbled himself, by becoming obedient to death, death on the cross!” (Philippians 2:7)
Ang Dios na banal ay naging tao, upang ang tao ay maging banal.
This is a special time of the year that we stop to remember and bring back the memories leading to our redemption and salvation. Yes, we remember Jesus’ dying and rising, but let us also remember our own dying and rising with him.
Let us ponder upon two questions for today:
- Do I have true sorrow for my sins?
Akin bang nararamdaman ang taus-pusong pagsisisi sa aking mga kasalanan? Ngunit hindi lamang iyan – ang pagsisisi ay hindi lamang iyong makaramdam ng kalungkutan, pananangis at pagtanggap ng parusa sa mga kasalanang nagawa ngunit ang pagbabagong-isip.
Ang tunay na pagsisisi ay yaong may kasamang paggawa ng mabuti (Luke 3:8). Samakatuwid, kung ako’y magdarasal, hihingi ng tawad sa Dios, ako ay tunay na nagsisisi kung ang aral ni Hesus ay akin ng isinasabuhay. It is impossible to change if the person cannot and will not change. Change will come if you change. Imposible ang tunay na pagsisisi kung walang bungang pagbabago sa ugali.
- Am I willing to carry my own cross?
May story ako na naalala ko pa mula sa aking auntie na aking guro noong high school. Sabi niya, one day, a man complained to Christ dahil masyadong mabigat ang krus na kanyang dala. Then dinala siya ni Hesus sa isang lugar na puno ng krus. sabi ni Hesus, pili ka ng krus mo dyan.
So, ibinaba nya yong kanyang krus at nagsimula siyang umikot. He saw a very small cross, binuhat niya, then sabi niya: ang gaan naman. So ibinaba niya at naghanap ulit. May nakita siyang malaking krus, binuhat niya, ngunit sabi – sobrang bigat naman!
So, hanap siya ng hanap ng krus na babagay sa kanya. Naikot niya ang buong lugar ngunit wala siyang mahanap na krus na sakto lamang sa kanya.
Then, all of a sudden, in a corner, may nakita isang krus, hindi masyadong Malaki, hindi rin masyadong maliit. He carried it, not so heavy, not too light. Kaya sabi niya kay Hesus, “yes, Jesus, ito na ang napili kong krus!”
Jesus laughed at him. Sabi ni Hesus, that’s the same cross you complained about!
Brothers and sisters, while we ponder on the sufferings of Christ, let us also be mindful to accept our own sufferings, knowing that God never gives us trials beyond our capacity. (1 Corinthians 10:13). His grace is always enough for us.
Have a meaningful and prayerful holy week po.
This is Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD. Witness to the Word.
Fifth Sunday of Lent (A)
Psalm 130: With the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption
Welcome to the fifth Sunday of Lent!
This Sunday completes the trilogy na nagsimula noong third Sunday. On the third Sunday of Advent, the desire for the living water; on the fourth Sunday, the desire to be healed of spiritual blindness; and this Sunday – the desire to share in the eternal life with the Risen Lord.
The Gospel for today is the Raising of Lazarus Back to Life. Dedbol na po si Lazarus noong dumating si Hesus. Ayaw nang pabuksan ni Marta ang kanyang libingan sapagkat for sure, maantsot na.Ngunit ng si Hesus ay sumigaw, “Lazarus, come out!” Lumabas nga si Lazarus. Siya ay buhay!
Today, may I invite you that we reflect on two things:
- Our hope of resurrection.
The Jews believed that the soul of a dead person remains with the body for three days. Then after three days, the soul departs from the body and will never return again. It is at this point that the corruption of the human body will set in.
Eh si Hesus dumating on the fourth day. Kaya, sabi ni Martha, “But Lord, by this time, there is a bad odor, for he has been there for four days.” (John 11:39) In short, Lord, hopeless na yan eh, umalis na ang kaluluwa niyan eh, di mo na maibabalik yan. Wala na eh.
But Jesus made the impossible. Jesus said in a loud voice, “Lazarus come out. The dead man came out.” (John 11:44)
This is a challenge for us never to give up hope even in hopeless situations as indiviiduals, as a church or as a nation. God will always make a way.
The raising of Lazarus back to life is already a symbolic narrative of Jesus’ victory over death and an anticipation of his resurrection. Ang malaking milagro ito assures us that we shall also be raised into eternal life after our battle with sin and death in the world.
- Our hope of being renewed.
The cave or the tomb kung saan nakahimlay si Lazarus is a place of darkness. When called out by Christ, Lazarus gropes his way out of the dark.
Ang muling pagkabuhay is not only something that we shall benefit sa dako pa roon. We can live it out every day by being hopeful. Hope will make a world of difference to those who have it.
Sabi ng isang kaibigan sa akin: You smoke, you die; you do not smoke, you die. You pray you die, you do not pray – you die. It is still the same. Mamamatay ka pa rin. So ano itong he who believes in Christ, will never die. Fr, Yong lolo ko, laging nagsisimba – namatay pa rin.
I told him, the difference is: when you believe and you have hope in your heart, you will endeavor to renew yourself everyday through the grace of God. Hindi ka latak! Hindi ka hopeless. Despite your darkness and many unbecoming behaviors, you too will never give up on yourself because God’s grace is always reliable.
Brothers and sisters, in hope we are saved. (Romans 8:24). With hope, our present, even if it is difficult, can be lived and accepted because we know our goal (eternal life) – and that is great enough to justify our effort for our journey.
The Psalm 130 for today reminds us: “With the Lord, there is mercy and fullness of redemption.”
This is Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD. Witness to the Word.