Pursue What Leads to Peace (Statement of the Mindanao Bishops on Marawi and Martial Law)

Photo Credit: CBCP News Website

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

Second Sunday of Lent (A)

This is a Promise!

Second Sunday of Lent (A)

Genesis 12:1-4a

Psalm: Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

2 Timothy 1:8b-10

Matthew 17:1-9

 

Welcome to the second Sunday of Lent!

 

Recently I watched the movie Logan. The movie was in 2029 when the mutant population was already disbanded, and Wolverine was left to take good care of Charles Xavier or Professor X. Wolverine lived a hidden life, siya ay naging simpleng taxi driver na lamang. But everything changed when a young girl named Laura, a mutant, came into his life. This girl had his DNA, and she also possessed powers like Wolverine. He needs to help the girl cross the border. I will not mention spoilers, but in this movie, you will a transformed Wolverine, a wolverine with a heart. The greatest movie about Wolverine is not about the mutant, but about the man Logan.

 

Today’s readings center on transformations. In the first reading, Abram was called by God to leave his homeland. Nabago ang kanyang buhay ng sinunod niya ang Diyos. Abram became Abraham, the Father of Faith.

 

In the second reading, sabi ni St. Paul, “We are called to a holy life, not according to our works, but according to the grace bestowed in Christ.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

 

At ang ebanghelyo ay tungkol sa Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus took Peter James and John into a high mountain and he was transfigured before them.

 

What are the reminders for us today?

 

  1. We have our vocation.

 

Andito tayo sa mundo hindi lamang para magkaroon ng career. Tayo ay may bokasyon. Tinawag tayo ng Dios upang maging bahagi sa Gawain ng paglikha. You are here for a reason, that reason is not only that you become a professional but that you contribute to the holiness of the world.

 

Masasabi mo bang ikaw ay may positibong naiambag sa kabutihan ng lipunan?

 

Father, sasabihin ninyo, mabait naman ako. Wala akong ginagawang masama. Ngunit hindi lamang mabait na walang ginawang masama, kundi ang kailangan natin ngayon ay yaong mabait na may ginagawang mabuti.

 

Sabi sa movie na Logan, “A soldier who will not fight is useless.” Ang sundalong hindi nakikipaglaban ay walang silbi. In the same way, “A Christian who doesn’t serve is useless.” Ang Kristyanong walang ginagawang masama at wala ring ginagawang  mabuti ay walang silbi.

 

I have a beautiful classmate at devcom. She is organizing an outreach program for the indigenous people of Pampanga. She is doing it this season of Lent.

What good will you do this season of Lent?

What sacrifices will you make for the benefit of others?

 

We have a vocation.

 

  1. We go down.

 

During the Transfiguration, sabi ni Peter, Lord, we shall build three tents: one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah. Sabi ba ni Jesus – go!

 

No, they went down the mountain. Because the living out of service is not in the mountain. Kailangang bumaba because the action is there in the lowland. They need to go back to reality. That is where the action is.

 

When we become knowledgeable, when we become leaders, when we achieve high status in the society – we go down. We serve.

 

As Christians, we cannot transform the world by mere prayers in our convents, in our chapels, in our churches. We go out, we move out, of our homes, of our comfort zones – to get in touch with the realities of the people in our families and communities.

 

We go down.

 

Brothers and sisters, in the second Sunday of lent, we are reminded that everybody has a vocation. What happened to Jesus in the mountain will also happen to us. But before that, like Jesus, we have to embrace first our realities, the realities of life, of suffering, of sacrifices, of joys, of pains. Then, if we share in the cross of Christ, we shall also share in his glory. That’s a promise!

 

This is Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD. Witness to the Word.

 

 

 

 

SVD Mission in Surigao Affected by Earthquake

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

The lone SVD parish in Surigao was badly affected by the Northeastern Mindanao earthquake with a moment magnitude of 6.7 and a maximum intensity VII (very strong) last February 10, 2017, 10:03 pm. “There are cracks all over the place,” reported by Fr. Yohanes Dua Dani Bao, the Indonesian parish priest.

 

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

 

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

 

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

 

Even the mission school founded by the parish back in 2003 was not spared. “Some of the cabinets fell flat, many of the academic materials destroyed,” he added.

 

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

 

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

 

Few weeks ago in a separate interview, Fr. Yohanes relayed his enthusiasm that many parents approached him wanting their children to enroll in the mission school. “Many of our pupils became outstanding students when they go to Surigao West, Pilot School, CV Diez and St. Paul College.”

Photo Credit: Fr. John Dua, SVD

Photo Credit: Fr. John Dua, SVD

At present, the parish mission school has 48 pupils composed  of 3 levels of Nursery 1, Nursery 2 and Kindergarten.

 

Earlier, the Surigao City government had declared the entire city under the state of calamity.

 

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

Photo Credit: Hershey Bason Surada

 

 

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Because “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of God dwells in you.” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Because “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of God dwells in you.” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Leviticus 19:1-2,17-18

Psalm: The Lord is kind and merciful!

I Cor 3:16-23

Matthew 5:38-48

 

Welcome to the seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time!

 

Noong May 13, 1981 binaril po si Pope John Paul II at himalang naka-survive sa assassination attempt. Sa kanyang paggaling, there was a feeling of wanting to meet his would-be-assasin. At noon pong December 27, 1983, nagulat ang buong mundo sa ginawang pagbisita ni Pope John Paul II sa selda ni Mehmet Ali Agca, ang taong bumaril sa kanya. Ang dalawa ay nag-usap, and personally, binigay ni Pope John Paul ang kanyang patawad kay Ali Agca. Wala pang social media noon, ngunit ang kanilang larawan, considered as historical moment of forgiveness, landed on the first pages of the newspapers around the world.

 

Our readings for today are very clear about their assertion on what truly makes us Christian

 

  1. Vengeance must not reign in the heart of a Christian. Love does.

 

Jesus in the gospel said that “you shall love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:44) why? …ang sagot po nyan ay nasa karugtong lang nyan: “so that you may be children of your heavenly Father.”  (Matthew 5:45)

 

Bulls-eye! Upang tayo’y maging anak ng Dios, vengeance must not reign in our heart. Love does. Instead of hatred, love; instead of retaliation, forgiveness; instead of cruelty, mercy. – for what??? “so that you may be children of your heavenly Father.”

 

Sabi nga ni Martin Luther King, “we shall learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we shall perish together as fools.” Kung hahayaan natin ang karahasang manatili sa ating puso, karahasan din ang ating aanihin.Ngunit kung pag-ibig – laging mamayani ang pag-asa na sa dako pa roon, matatamo din natin ang kaligtasan.

 

Vengeance must not reign in the heart of a Christian. Love does.

 

  1. A Christian must not desire destruction, but perfection.

 

At the end of the gospel, Jesus said “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

 

Question: Fr, di ba, only God is perfect? Why desire to be perfect?

 

The Greek word na ginamit dito ay telios, which means “brought to its end or completed.” So, to be perfect in this sense means to be completed in Christ. Philippians 1:6 says that completion is the work of God.  He created us, saved us, and is faithful to perfect us.

 

Question: when you look at yourself, what do you see?

Nakikita nyo ba ng inyong mga eye-bugs?

Nakikita nyo ba ng inyong mga wrinkles?

Nakikita nyo ba na ang taba-taba nyo na?

 

Minsan baka naitanong nyo na rin sa inyong mga sarili:

Pangit ba ako? Kapalit-palit ba ako?

 

How do you feel about it?

 

The good news is – that is not the way God sees us.

 

St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians said: “You are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The spirit of God dwells in you.” (1 Corinthians 3:16) Templo ka ng Espiritu Santo. Ang Espiritu ng Dios ay nananahan sa iyo.”

 

With Christ, we are complete. Complete forgiveness. Pinatawad ka ng Dios. Matutuo ka ring magpatawad.

 

Brothers and sisters, ang kasabihang “lintik lang ang walang ganti” ay hindi gawaing Kristyano at hindi naayon sa layon ng Dios. God wants us to be brothers and sisters to each other. Not plotting revenge, but loving and praying for one another.

 

In reality, this is easier said than done. But, if we many Christians, and even non-Christians have done it, you and I can also do it. In God’s grace.

 

This is Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD – Witness to the Word!

 

 

Misericordia et Misera in Smokey Mountain

The Parish of Risen Christ

The Parish of Risen Christ

Many thanks to the faithful of the Risen Christ Parish in Smokey Mountain, Tondo who came para sa aking talk on Misericordia et Misera (Mercy and Misery), the latest apostolic letter of Pope Francis. Salamat din sa aking classmate na si Fr. Jhonatan Letada, the parish priest. The photo above was taken when I arrived before the 6 pm Holy Mass.

 

Fr. Jhonatan Letada, SVD and some of the parishioners

Together with Fr. Jhonatan Letada, SVD and some of the parishioners

This is the first time for me to give a talk about the latest apostolic letter of Pope Francis within the Archdiocese of Manila. The deal started during the ordination last week when Fr. Jhonatan invited me to come to his parish so that we could celebrate our 8th sacerdotal anniversary together. However, I told him that I could not be available on December 6, our anniversary, because I would have a talk at the San Antonio de Padua Parish in Los Baňos on the same topic.

 

 

I then suggested to him that I give a talk about Misericordia et Misera. He immediately set the date: December 13. I said yes immediately with the condition that it must be free. #fortheSVD. And yes, the rest is history.

 

 

After the talk, we had dinner together. Then, he gave me a cellophane of chocolate as a token of appreciation. LIKE! I went back to Christ the King Seminary in the evening with a very wide smile. It was a very wonderful day.

 

 

 

 

Immaculate Conception Parish of Kiblawan Circa 1969

Immaculate Conception Parish of Kiblawan, Circa 1969

Immaculate Conception Parish of Kiblawan, Circa 1969

A rare photo of the old Immaculate Conception Parish of Kiblawan (Davao del Sur), Circa 1969 during a seminar dated September 12-14. Encircled here is my uncle/lolo Bonifacio Fiel, cousin of my Lolo Feliciano, who became the vice-mayor of the town as a result of the snap election in the 80s. Pangitaa pod inyong mga lolo diria.

 

Kiblawan in the Christianization of Davao

1848 – The Recollect Fathers were the first missionaries who started the work for evangelization in the Davao region. Father Francisco Lopez, a Recoletos priest, with the aid of the Spanish lawyer and adventurer Jose Oyanguren, baptized many natives.

 

December 1949 – Davao became a Prelature Nullius.

 

1952 – Father Paul Gravel established St. Michael Parish of Padada.

 

1963 –  Father Jean-Louis Breault founded the St. Michael Parish of Matanao.

 

1964 – The Immaculate Conception Parish of Kiblawan was founded by Father George Courchesne.

 

1966 – The Prelature of Davao became a diocese.

 

1970 – The Diocese of Davao became an Archdiocese.

 

Nov. 8, 1979 –  Digos became a diocese.