Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
October 9, 2018
ESPECIALLY in our public
discourses regarding ticklish issues, we need to see to it that we
are most aware of a persona-non-grata that is called pride. We
should keep it at bay, exerting appropriate effort to resist its
many strong impulses and urges.
Pride always spoils
dialogue. It feeds on our self-interest to the point of making us
deaf and blind to the points, let alone, the valid points, of the
others. It usually sources its strength more from feelings than from
reason, more from our own estimation of things than from faith that
gives us the full picture of things and leads us to the common good.
Besides, pride usually has
bad manners and employs bad language. It always tries to dominate
the conversation, using bullying tactics. It is more interested in
scoring more points than in earnestly looking for what is true and
fair. Its logic clearly follows the path of selfishness. Charity is
a complete stranger in pride. Suffering and humiliations play no
positive role in pride.
When one, for example, is
accused falsely of something, pride would lead him to react very
badly, and even violently. He cannot stand being misjudged and
mistreated. His pride-stained sense of justice would immediately
give a knee-jerk response along the lines of the tooth-for-a-tooth
law of the wild.
Pride leads one to see
things superficially. There is no depth in its considerations. It
gets entangled in the externals and in the appearances. Besides, it
usually assumes a rigid attitude, unable to be flexible and to adapt
to different circumstances. It makes a person one-track-minded. A
proud person is always closed-minded.
Let’s remember what Christ
said about new wine in new wineskins. It is a lesson about the need
to adapt to different situations without forgetting that we have to
put wine into wineskins, that is, without losing focus on what is
essential and of absolute value. (cfr Lk 5,33-39) There are things
that need to change and things that have to remain unchanged. These
days there is a need to know which is which.
Pride is notorious for its
highly divisive effects. When pride dominates the discussion, it is
possible that both parties can also be both wrong, missing the real
point. They can dirty and destroy each other with no constructive
result in the end.
We have to be extremely
conscious of the workings of pride in us, because it is so embedded
in our systems that we often would not know we are being victimized
by it. A saint once said that pride is so strongly incorporated in
our life that it would only disappear twenty four hours after our
The antidote to pride is,
of course, the virtue of humility. In the context of our
discussions, humility is lived when one is strongly motivated to
find truth under God’s guidance. The search for what is true and
fair in our discourses cannot and should not simply be guided by our
own research and reasoning.
Allowing God to guide us,
always asking for the light of the Holy Spirit, will help us to find
truth and fairness in charity. With God, we would know how to react
to any situation in the course of our dialogues, whether things go
well or not. We would follow closely the example of Christ who is
“the way, the truth and the life.”
With Christ, our motives
will always be pure, and our ways prudent. With Christ, we would
know how to react properly to anything in the course of our
exchanges. We would be willing to suffer, and even to die, for the
truth. The negative things that we can experience in our dialogues
would not dampen our spirit, nor the positive things spoil us.
This kind of humility
should be earnestly pursued and developed to prevent pride from
spoiling our discussions of any issue.
PCID calls for
probe on deaths of 7 youths in Patikul
A statement by Philippine
Center for Islam and Democracy
September 19, 2018
The Philippine Center for
Islam and Democracy, a Muslim think tank based in the University of
the Philippines, is urging the Commission on Human Rights, the
Secretary of National Defense, and the Armed Forces Chief of Staff
to form a committee that would look into the deaths of seven young
men in Sulu and recent bombings in several parts of Mindanao.
PCID is also calling for
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to review the current implementation
of Martial law in Mindanao and investigate reported human rights
violations not just in Sulu but in other parts of Mindanao.
Rasul says government and
stakeholders should act proactively now and establish a national
plan that addresses violent extremism, bearing in mind potential
problems with the implementation of martial law.
Information indicate that
ISIS intends to form a big group composed of remnants of the Maute
Group and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a
break-away group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) while
taking advantage of situations like the Sulu killings.
PCID is proposing a
gathering of stakeholders with the AFP-SND, to create a plan that
aims to further improve coordination and relationships of assigned
troops in the region and those from the religious and the
Findings show that most
deaths in Mindanao are caused by several factors, among them, the
absence of coordination by the military with community leaders,
miscommunication or lack of information from AFP units operating in
Last Saturday, the AFP
reported the deaths of seven young men in Sulu. Based on reports,
the AFP tagged these teenagers as “terrorists” which run counter
with testimonies of members of the community. Information gathered
show that the youngsters were evacuees from a community in Patikul
who fled the area due to intense military operation against the Abu
Sayyaf Group (ASG).
The priest as
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
September 16, 2018
WE have to understand well
the role of a mediator. He is like a bridge that connects two ends.
A perfect mediator is one where he is both in the one end as in the
other. He just cannot be in one end but not in the other, though he
may orient or dispose himself to the other without reaching it.
Christ is a mediator
between God and man. In fact, he is the sole perfect mediator
because he is both God and man. St. Paul testified to this truth of
our faith. He said, “There is one God and one mediator between God
and men, the man Christ Jesus…” (1 Tim 2,5)
Christ is the perfect
mediator because he is not only God but is also man. And he is not
only man, but also God. As the Athanasian Creed would put it, Christ
is “perfect God and perfect man.” He is not half God and half man.
The two natures, divine and human, are together in him inseparably
without diluting each other. He is not a ‘mestizo.’
This truth of our faith
is, of course, a mystery. We cannot fully understand it. But we
believe it because Christ said so and this is what the Church now
teaches. “I and the Father are one,” Christ said at one time,
pointing to his divinity. (Jn 10,30)
As to his humanity, St.
Paul said these relevant words: “When the time had fully come, God
sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those
under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Gal
4,4-5) Only a man could be “born under the law.”
This little explanation
about the mediator is important and relevant because we, as human
persons, patterned after Christ, have to learn the ways of a
mediator. Of course, of all men and women, the priests are
especially meant to be mediators, because they are at the forefront
of the task of reconciling men with God.
With the sacrament of Holy
Orders, they are configured to Christ, head of the Church, and
participate in Christ’s task of mediation in a very intimate way.
That is why priests, of all men and women, have to be particularly
adept in this art of mediation.
While they are already
sacramentally configured to Christ as head of the Church, they have
the special, albeit very demanding, duty of truly assuming the mind
and heart of Christ. If everyone is meant to be “another Christ,”
the priests have to be particularly so. They have to lead the way.
This can mean many things.
Their mind and heart should be both on heaven even as they are on
earth. They should exude the fragrance of heaven even as they can
also have the odor of earth, just like what Pope Francis said about
priests as shepherds – they have to have the smell of the sheep
which they tend.
Like Christ, they have to
identify closely both with God and with men. Like Christ, they have
to pray constantly so as to be always in touch with God whose will
and ways they have to follow.
Let’s remember that Christ
said: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do
the will of him who sent me.” (Jn 6,38)
Like Christ, priests have
to mix well with the people, adapting themselves to them all the way
to assuming their sins without committing sin. In this regard, St.
Paul said: “God made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so
that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5,21)
Just imagine what
practical considerations can be made from this ideal of priests as
mediators like Christ!
A reminder on
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
September 5, 2018
BEFORE we get carried away
by the dynamics of our present life, it is good to remind ourselves
that whatever we do or whatever situation we may find ourselves in
any given moment, we are meant for communion with God and with one
another and that we should keep and foster it, and not just tolerate
or suffer it.
Always living in communion
with God and with everybody else is not an option that we are free
to choose or not. It is a necessity for us, although a necessity
that has to be pursued in true freedom. We should live it not
because we are told to live it, but because we just want to live it
(“me da la gana,” in Spanish) and because we are convinced it is
what is essential in our life.
While we will always have
some differences in our life and contend with all kinds of variety
and diversity, we have to remember that all these are not meant to
undermine our communion, but rather to foster it.
differences and conflicts are not meant to be divisive, but rather
to be instrumental in enriching our life as a communion. We just
have to find a way to live and develop that communion amid and even
through these differences and conflicts.
These differences and
conflicts are rich opportunities to mature and purify our love and
care for one another. They can occasion to develop in us the love
that is a reflection and participation of the love that God has for
Obviously, the basis,
source, power and end of communion is God who has also given us all
the means for this communion to be achieved. With God, who reveals
himself in full to us in Christ who in turn is made present in the
world today in the Holy Spirit, we would know how to enter into
communion with everyone including those who for one reason or
another we may consider to be our enemies.
It is only through Christ
that we can manage to love even our enemies. This is the dynamics of
communion. It is to know and to love God and everybody else. It is
to love one another the way Christ has loved us. For this purpose,
like Christ we should be willing to suffer and die in obedience to
God’s will. We have to be ready for suffering which will be
unavoidable in our life.
We have to be wary of our
tendency to react to some issues based on instincts alone, or on our
physical, emotional, psychological, cultural condition alone. We
have to find a way of reacting to things on the basis of our faith
which tells us that whatever we do, we should uphold the ideal of
being in communion with God and with everybody else.
In this regard, it would
be good if we spend some time processing this truth in our prayer,
in our intimate conversation with God from whom we can always ask
for the necessary grace and with whom we can start making the
appropriate strategies to attain the desired ideal.
Indeed, we have to go
through a process of persistent practice until the necessary
attitude and skills are acquired. All the effort needed, to be sure,
will always be worthwhile. In the end, we can see and judge things
better, and make fair decisions that will uphold our need for
communion despite our differences.
We have to remind
ourselves about the need for communion especially nowadays when we
are riven by all sorts of conflicts because of our differences in
political views, ideology and other preferences.
leave OK is PH investment for robust future Filipino workers
ALU Statement on passage
of 100-day Expanded Maternity Leave bill
September 4, 2018
Workers group Associated
Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP)
commends lawmakers for passing today Sept. 4, from third reading a
bill that expands the paid maternity leave from the current 60 and
78 days to 100 days for women workers in private and public sectors
and those working in informal economy regardless of civil status and
legitimacy of child.
ALU-TUCP Vice President
and Women' Committee head Eva Arcos said the passage of the House
Bill 4113 or Expanded Maternity Leave (EML) is a sweet victory for
Filipino women workers who have lobbied and belabored for the
mandatory welfare for more than a decade.
The bill will be
integrated in the bicameral committee meeting with Senate Bill 1305
or the 120-day Expanded Maternity Leave bill sponsored by Sen. Risa
Hontiveros which was passed the Senate third reading on March this
Arcos said the Expanded
Maternity Leave measure is the country's non-cash investment in
producing a healthy, intelligent and well-developed future breed of
Filipino workers without losing the wages and benefits of nursing
moms during maternity period and without sacrificing their health
and well-being, Arcos said.
TUCP Party-list rep.
Raymond Mendoza said the bill gives mothers a minimum of 100 days to
recover from giving birth and at the same time gives time to mother
and child bonding, care and nurture that the child needs to become
fully developed human being.
Arcos said the passage was
made possible after congressmen agreed to limit the maternity leave
benefits to four pregnancies instead of the bill’s initial provision
that the maternity leave benefits afforded to every pregnancy.
of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances: Powerlessness before
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
August 30, 2018
Today, the world
commemorates the International Day of the Victims of Enforced
Disappearances. Enforced Disappearances is one of the recurring
tragedies that is happening throughout the world. Many countries,
particularly less-developed countries, now adopt enforced
disappearances as the easiest way of dealing with problems that
Governments find difficult to cope with. The twin evils of enforced
disappearances and extra-judicial killings remain as the two major
problems in several Asian countries.
Bangladesh has recorded
several hundreds of enforced disappearances of political opponents
of the present Ruling Party within the last few months. The matter
has been well publicized. But there have not been any serious
interventions in order to bring an end to this iniquity. Other
countries such as Pakistan, several parts of India, Sri Lanka and
the Philippines are among the countries which are prominent in the
practice of enforced disappearances.
The complexity of dealing
with enforced disappearances is due to the many sections that are
involved in causing enforced disappearances. On the one hand, the
orders for clearance of the policy of resorting to enforced
disappearances involve the topmost layers of governments. Carrying
out its resort goes to the military, police and also para-military
sections. The moment a Policy of Disappearances is approved by a
Government, there begins to develop a secret state within the state.
With Government sanction, the open state comes to a standstill and
the secret state begins to operate.
Entire legal procedures
regarding arrest and detention are virtually suspended. Allowance is
made for secret arrests and secret detentions as well as secret
torture chambers. Basic functions within the State relating to the
judging of guilt and punishment comes to a halt. Judges totally lose
their role in dealing with matters of arrests, detentions, and fair
trial. The place of the Judges is taken over by ordinary Police
Officers, the military and even para-military. Secret decisions are
made about the LIFE of a person, and these decisions are IMMEDIATELY
claim that there will be inquiries into the matter and the guilty
will be prosecuted, this hardly ever happens. It is due to the
complexity of the operations and the many powerful persons who are
associated with these operations. A simple argument that develops at
this point is: the Government has authorized and even ordered us to
carry out such operations. How can they now demand that we should be
punished for carrying out such orders?
prevalent today has also failed to address this important issue.
Somehow a matter of such great importance goes virtually unnoticed.
Any amount of jurisprudential thought on these issues, and
international policy development in dealing with Governments which
are engaged or have been engaging in disappearances, IS NOT VISIBLE
As another year goes by,
there will be many additional victims of Enforced Disappearances.
Will there be an attempt, at both local and international levels, to
put up severe resistance to end this practice? This includes the
restoration of the other factors of: a fair trial and the role of
Judges in this equation. This remains as one of the major issues
that concern Human Rights in our world today. When the lives of so
many people are so blatantly destroyed, how can Human Rights be
spoken of with any kind of significance and importance?
THIS IS THE QUESTION THAT
PEOPLE ARE ASKING.
The fate of Victims of
Enforced Disappearances is one of the urgent concerns voiced today.
Victims should be given more protection. Victims should and need to
be heard by all sectors of society. A genuine response to their
cries for help is what is needed NOW.
honor our parents
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
August 23, 2018
LET’S never forget the
fourth commandment. In fact, with the current temper of the times,
we have to reintensify our observance of this commandment that seems
to be taken for granted nowadays for a number of reasons.
For one, there seems to be
a generalized weakening of family life in the world today. More
parents are getting alienated from their children and vice-versa due
to some developments whose impact on family life is not well
There are some laws that
actually undermine family life, such as the law on abortion, etc.
And there are now many aspects of our social and professional life
that contribute to this weakening of family life.
We have to remind everyone
that the honor, respect, obedience we owe to our parents is due
first of all by the fact that they are our first connection with
God. It was through them that God put us into existence.
We have to remember that
we all come from God, and not only from our parents. When we see our
parents, we have to learn to see God immediately behind them. They
are the first representative of God to us.
Yes, they all have their share of weaknesses, mistakes and sins,
some of them grave, but all these do not and cannot detract from the
fact that they are our procreators who cooperated with the Creator
in bringing us to life.
They may even beget
children through the commission of a crime, like rape. But that
again does not take away the truth that they have been an instrument
of God in putting a person into existence.
A child is not only a
biological being. He has a spiritual soul even while he is still at
the first stage of fertilization and gestation. That is why a
fertilized human egg is not just a matter of cells. He is already a
person with a human spiritual soul.
Parents, of course, should
try their best to realize deeply the dignity and the serious
responsibility they have. They should not play around with their
status as parents.
But as far as the children
are concerned, they are duty-bound to honor and love their parents.
St. Paul already spoke clearly about this duty: “Children, obey your
parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing
to do.” (Eph 6,1) And, “Children, obey your parents in all things,
for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” (Col 3,20)
Children should try their
best to make their parents happy all the time. They should avoid as
much as possible to give them problems, especially the unnecessary
ones. They should be quick to lend a hand in the house chores. They
should prepare themselves for the time when they will have to take
care of their parents in their old age.
Inculcating this duty in
the mind and heart of the children is crucial because this is the
first step that everyone learns how to obey other legitimate
authorities. Let’s remember that we as social beings, let alone
political ones also, always have to be subject to some authority,
and it is important that we know how to be subject to authority.
Everyone should be
reminded that any legitimate authority we have in this life is
always a participation in the authority of God. Consider the
following words of St. Paul:
“Everyone must submit to
governing authorities. For all authority comes from God and those in
positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who
rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has
instituted, and they will be punished…” (Rom 13,1-2)
So, it’s clear that the
commandment of honoring our parents, our first authority on earth,
paves the way to our proper submission to the other authorities in
On the return of the
joint statement by Linganay ng Kalayaan, Kilos na Para sa Makabayang
Edukasyon, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers
August 13, 2018
The Linganay ng Kalayaan
(Bells of Freedom), Kilos na Para sa Makabayang Edukasyon and
Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines welcome the news of the
impending return of the bells of Balangiga as a positive step
towards correcting the centuries-old historical injustice committed
by the United States against the Filipino people. This is a victory
achieved by the Filipino people that should be considered as part of
the long and arduous campaign in the assertion of Philippine
sovereignty and independence.
The Balangiga bells form
part of the large number of war booties that the American occupation
troops stashed away from the Philippines in the long and bloody
Filipino-American War of 1898-1913.
The war resulted in the
deaths of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, the large-scale
burning of villages and the pillaging of communities by American
troops that annexed the archipelago and robbed them of the fruits of
freedom that they already had after the Philippine Revolution
In the pretext of
“Benevolent Assimilation,” the American occupation transformed the
islands into their Asian outpost as part of their colonial design to
create an American Lake in the Pacific region. This they did by
creating a submissive colonial bureaucracy and political system,
institutionalizing a Western-type of American educational system,
and ensuring the continuous economic, political, and military
dependence of the Philippines to the United States even after the
granting of 'independence'.
In the half century of
colonial occupation and in the ensuing long campaign to suppress
Filipino resistance against American imperialism, the military
campaigns of the United States in the archipelago provided the
perfect opportunity for the systematic, organized, and institutional
plunder and pillaging of Filipino cultural and historical artifacts
and objects that were brought to the United States. A great number
of them are now deposited in museums, historical collections,
archives, and government and military installations scattered in
various American territories.
The Balangiga bells was
the most notable of these artifacts that was symbolic of the
tradition of collecting colonial war booty American aggression.
These should be returned to the Filipino communities that
legitimately owned them. The collection of war booties should also
be viewed as part of the historical injustice committed by the
occupation troops and should be acknowledged as such.
The United States should
complete the correction of historical injustice committed against
the Filipino people after the return of the bells, by ensuring that
all the other war booties be properly returned to the Philippines.
Most importantly, historical injustice resulting from the war crimes
committed by the United States in the colonial occupation of the
Philippines must finally be acknowledged by the American government
by way of formally apologizing to the Filipino people.
committed by American colonial institutions continues to this day by
way of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Enhanced Defense
Cooperation Agreement, and the Mutual Defense Treaty that ensures
the persistence of colonial ties between the two countries. These
provide yet another series of institutional mechanisms that make
available the conditions for the continuation of plunder and pillage
of local communities by foreign military troops. The lessons of
history must provide the Filipino people the right path of asserting
Filipino independence and sovereignty the way the people's
resistance in Balangiga heroically showed us. Never again should
another series of colonial wars of aggression be experienced in the
Return the Balangiga Bells
and all the War Booties Now!
Historical Justice for the
No to Another series of US
Wars of Aggression!
August 8, 2018
NOW that Pope Francis has
made it a Church doctrine that the death penalty is inadmissible, we
have to review the basis for the true value of human life.
We cannot exaggerate the
value of human life, since it is a life meant to have an eternal
relation with God, its creator. Even if that life is deformed
physically and morally, God will always love it and will do
everything to save it. That is why abortion and euthanasia or mercy
killing are wrong. They go against the fifth commandment: Thou shalt
And capital punishment,
while approved or at least tolerated in the past, is also wrong,
because no matter how bad or criminal a person is, his life can
still be saved by the infinite mercy of God. From the Book of
Ezekiel, we read: “As I live, said the Lord God, I have no pleasure
in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way
and live.” (33,11)
The reason behind its
approval or tolerance in the past is the protection of the common
good. But this reason does not hold water anymore since there are
many other ways the common good can be protected today without
resorting to the death penalty.
Besides, given the many
imperfections of our legal systems, we cannot risk the loss of life
just because of a guilty sentence of the judicial process. The
abolition of the death penalty would, of course, challenge us to be
more determined in reforming the offender. This may be the area
where many of us are still hesitant to tackle.
Human life is, of course,
not just any other life here in the world. Plants and animals also
have life but they do not have a spiritual soul as their principle
of life. Theirs is a soul that is simply a product of a combination
of earthly elements that would enable them to grow, move, act in
some manner. But it is a soul that disappears with their death.
Human life has a spiritual
soul as its principle, and as such, it can survive death. It is
immortal and is, in fact, meant for eternal life. It is a soul that
comes directly from God and is forever in a relation with God. It is
not a soul that is transmitted by human reproduction.
In some passages of the
Bible, there is a reference to a distinction between soul and
spirit. This is mentioned for example in 1 Thessalonians 5,23: “May
your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
My take in this
distinction between the spirit and the soul is that the spirit
refers to our spiritual soul that needs to be nourished by its union
with God, while the soul refers to those aspects of our soul that
are akin to the soul of the plants and the animals with whom we also
To be sure, we only have
one soul, and it is spiritual, though that soul may be affected and
conditioned by the similarities it shares with the plant and animal
soul. It is this spiritual soul of ours that makes for the basis of
the real value of human life.
Having said that, we can
also say that out of love for God and for all men, human life can be
sacrificed as what happens in the cases of martyrdom and in the
crucifixion of Christ himself. As Christ said, this is the greatest
proof of love. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s
life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15,13)
In fact, we have to look
forward to our own death and somehow give our life up little by
little by denying ourselves and carrying the cross to follow Christ
Stop the attacks
A press statement by the
Promotion of Church People's Response
June 29, 2018
The Promotion of Church
People’s Response (PCPR) raises utmost concern and registers our
strong criticism of the Duterte administration’s harsh and
inhospitable treatment of United Methodist Church (UMC) foreign
As President Duterte
attacks God and disrespects the religious persuasions of the people,
foreign missionaries are being maligned under his leadership. The
three missionaries from UMC came to the Philippines in response to a
calling of God to missionary service with the people. They have
immersed themselves with the ordinary people, learning and working
with them, and journeying with them towards their aspiration and
dream of God’s promise of peace and justice.
Chandiwana Tawanda, Adam
Shaw and Miracle Osman are missionaries assigned by General Board of
Global Ministries (GBGM) to missionary service in Mindanao.
In February of 2018,
Tawanda and Adam Shaw were part of an international fact-finding
team looking into human rights issues in the Mindanao. They were
aboard a truck that was stopped by police at a checkpoint in
Barangay (village) Palian in Tupitown, South Cotabato. Their
passports and immigration cards were seized by police and they were
detained temporarily, but later released.
Tawanda was arrested and
detained on May 9, 2018 in Davao City and later transferred to the
Bureau of Immigration Warden Facility (BIWF) in Bicutan, Taguig City
on June 4, 2018. While Tawanda has “no derogatory record” according
to stamps on immigration papers, he is reported to be the subject of
the “Watch List Order.” Tawanda’s detention is excessive, as he has
been in detention for seven weeks already.
Also wholly unacceptable
is the treatment of Adam Shaw, who was issued an Order to Leave (OTL)
due to alleged violation of his missionary visa provisions, when he
participated in the International Solidarity Mission. Defending and
upholding human rights is an honourable action for any persons –
all-the-moreso for a missionary – wherever and whenever in the
world. Shaw participated in a mission to look into reports of human
rights abuses. As a missionary and a Christian, he is guided by a
faith imperative requiring him to uphold the rights and dignity of
human beings and communities. The parable of the Good Samaritan
demonstrated the universality of compassion, care and the upholding
of human rights.
What happened to Miracle
Osman was a deliberate and hostile violation of her right as a
missionary and a foreign national: her passport was confiscated by
the Bureau of Immigration. She is also now said to be the subject of
a “Watch List Order.”
We find all these
incidents of harassment exacted on foreign missionaries who have
faithfully tried to integrate themselves with those seeking justice
and respect of their human rights, as morally unjustified and
ethically questionable. Theirs has been a humble expression of
solidarity with the poor and marginalized.
As the church sends people
to different parts of the world, a powerful message of being light
for the world and salt of the earth is affirmed. Aiming to build and
nurture a global community founded in understanding for one another
and respect for human rights, missionaries like Tawanda, Adam and
Miracle have simply sought to help build peace based on justice in
the areas where they are assigned, while also nurturing a global
community and solidarity network committed to working to create a
We remind President
Duterte to stop attacking God, whom he does not see, and to stop
attacking missionaries, most particularly those whose good works for
the poor and marginalized are evident. Missionaries are not perfect
individuals, but they have committed their lives to service to
others – any shortcomings can be nurtured and remolded as they
accompany the Filipino people in their desire for a just and lasting
Stop the attacks on
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
June 28, 2018
WITH all the toxic
environment we are having these days, especially in the area of
politics, and most especially when some political characters
recklessly comment on religious topics, to get angry is a very
likely reaction we all can have.
We just have to be wary of
our anger because as St. James already warned us in his letter,
“man’s anger does not bring about the righteousness of God.” (1,20)
We always tend to go overboard, and our anger can already go beyond
the scope of charity and righteousness.
Let’s never forget that we
have a wounded condition here in our earthly life. We may appear
strong and clearly endowed with powerful talents and resources, but
all these good things can blind and intoxicate us also and can
plunge us into a very subtle form of pride, vanity, arrogance and
We can feel that we have
all the truth and fairness in our side, but just the same all that
can still be held outside of charity. And let’s remember that
charity is the fullness of knowledge, truth, justice. Where there is
no charity, the charity of God, all the other virtues can at best be
only apparent. They can look and feel like virtues, but in reality
While we can try to
reflect God’s anger on certain occasions in our own brand of anger
over some issues, we should be most careful, because with our
wounded condition, we can easily fall into hatred and other forms of
lack of charity.
Yes, anger is one of our
God-given emotions, locked into our nature as persons. It has its
legitimate use. But precisely because of our precarious human
condition here on earth, we have to be wary of it. In fact, anger is
also considered one of the capital sins, along with pride, envy,
greed, lust, gluttony, sloth, that can beget many other sins.
If ever we have to be
angry, let’s try our best to be angry in the spirit of Christ who
showed anger over the self-righteous Pharisees and scribes, and over
those who turned the temple into a market place. Christ’s anger is
what is called righteous anger, one that is done always in charity
and in the truth, and not just due to opinions and biases. It’s an
anger that is meant to correct, purify, heal.
Besides, Christ’s anger is
only momentary. It does not last long. As a psalm would put it, “his
anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Weeping
may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (30,5)
He is slow to anger, and quick to forgive.
Again, St. James tells us
that “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to
become angry.” (1,19) And a proverb warns us that “a hot-tempered
man stirs up strife, but a slow to anger calms a dispute.” (15,18)
We really have to learn
how to hold our horses, especially when we feel provoked or incited.
We have to lengthen our patience, our capacity to suffer. We have to
broaden our mind so we can we can quickly and easily capture the
more important things in a given issue rather than react immediately
to things that are only incidental to that issue.
It’s always good to have a
pro-active attitude in this regard, that is, that we always think
well of everyone even if there are differences among us. We should
not wait for everyone to prove that they deserve our good
consideration. We give it at the start, and keep it all the way, in
spite of some conflicts.
We have to turn those
moments when we are tempted to get angry to deepen our love for
others out of our love for God.
Lies and filth
are no conversation
BASIL FERNANDO & AVINASH PANDEY
June 8, 2018
The world has seen a lot
of debate over falsehood being spread in the name of facts recently.
This, though, is not a chance encounter. There is a very definite
method in this madness. Lowering the quality of the conversation has
always been a very well working mean of creating an environment of
instability and violence.
20th century is full of
such experiences in which deliberate degeneration of language and
lowering of the quality of the social and political conversations
was used as a method of garnering support for organisations creating
anarchy, instability and violence. Bertolt Brecht, the great German
playwright, once said that it is the (television) antenna that
brings the violence to every doorstep.
Now the sophistication in
means of the communication has gone far beyond that period of the
antenna. Today people having mobile phones and other equipment can
participate in debates all around the world even while sitting
within the space of one room. Yet, if the quality of these
conversations is allowed to degenerate and the kind of conversation
that usually belong to the criminal and mafia elements in the
society is allowed to become the common language experience of the
people; the kind of chaos that would arise could be far worse than
anything humankind has seen so far. It might in fact be worse than
the worst days of conflict in the 20th century.
Benito Mussolini, Adolf
Hitler and Joseph Stalin were all masters of the manipulation of the
language in order to create the confusion that they could exploit to
achieve their own ends. The kind of lowering of a language was not a
result of some natural causes. It was a deliberate work in which
political leaders employed highly educated people with the best
communication systems of the times. They would relentlessly do
things by which meaning of every known word would be put into doubt,
every known idea of decency would also be relegated into something
of insignificance and every attempt to raise the consequence to
higher rational level would be resisted by thousands of means and
the conversation. It all was done to pull the conversation down to
the level at which these leaders wants the society to engage in the
Let us clear that we are
not merely talking about lies even as lies, of course, play a big
role in any attempt of lowering of the quality of the conversations.
However, what often appeared in the society was not so much a direct
cause for violence. The violence was rather facilitated by the kind
of the statements that create considerable doubts about the validity
of the ideas that humanity has held as valid for very many
centuries. Lowering of quality of the conversation is essentially
challenging the collective wisdom of the humanity by irrational
means. It was done by investing overwhelmingly into particular
channels of (mis)information and then making all these outlets
create confusion. It was not aimed at bringing any positive results
for anyone, not even the people in whose name such chaos was created
and who, in turn, were directly involved. Sole purpose of such
efforts was to bring about so much of dissention and conflict within
the society that ultimately rational conversation itself becomes
almost impossible to pursue.
The gigantic leap in the
means of communication has made such efforts far easier and common
place nowadays. Now people do not need governments and massive funds
to spread falsehoods, they can do it even from within their
bedrooms, all by themselves.
The triumph of Donald
Trump in the American politics is an indication of the extent to
which the lowering the level of conversation can affect politics. It
successfully altered the political landscape of the United States
itself. The vocabulary of politics in the U.S before trump basically
followed the liberal democratic framework, basically a civil
engagement even if there were differences of opinion. It was the
normal characteristic of the Democratic Party and also to the some
extent of the Republicans. It was directed mostly towards the
middles classes and particularly more educated section of the middle
class. The basic assumption was that these middles classes and their
more educated sections in particular ultimately determine the
outcome of the elections.
However, Donald Trump
abandoned that whole methodology and began to speak to the people
who were normally outside the political discourse. He targeted in
particular the poor among Whites, the unemployed youth, the lesser
paid sections of workers and so on- basically those who were
hitherto not taken seriously in the political discourse in the
In order to appeal to
them, he chose language and political strategies which did not play
much emphasis on truth. Whether he told the truth or if he even
wanted to tell the truth in the first place became relevant. Whether
the promises he was making could be fulfilled or if he even intended
to fulfill at all was also irrelevant to this strategy. Only thing
relevant was that a new language was being spoken to new people
engaged in political conversation. These ‘new people’ engaged in
political conversation had changed the very site of political
discourse. They virtually brought down the old vocal political
groups and silenced them. All this while, new conversations took
place among a larger body of people, conversations which were not
meant to reveal the truth or what is really going on or what would
be there in future. Truth was dispensable for this conversation.
What really mattered was having a language that appealed to those
who lived at the margins of the site of political discourse. The
chaos it caused is evident today.
Similar situation arose
also in the United Kingdom in terms of Brexit and other issues in
which truth has hardly, if any, role to play. We can see again that
new groups are doing all they can to create newer and newer methods
of diverting the political debate into matters which are not really
significant but have mass appeal. The attack on the Labour leader
Jeremy Corbyn on the issue of alleged anti-Semitism was one such
conversation. Most of what was said against him hardly had any
truth. However, it did have the emotional content capable of
creating a massive conversation in which large bodies of people
engaged in, mostly against him.
Closer in Asia, India had
its Trump moment much before he got elected to US presidency. The
tale of Narendra Modi’s rise to power is in fact also an account of
both- lowering the level of conversation and rise of fake news and
views. Mr. Modi himself indulged in using language insinuating
insults for communities and people. He always referred to Congress
government as Delhi Sultanate- a clear insinuation to erstwhile
Muslim rulers of India. His supporters also spread other falsities
relentless, to the extent that he is often referred to as a WhatsApp
What is common to these
three examples is that other than ever increasing fake news and
language getting filthier by the day, nothing else was delivered to
people in any of them. The jobs promised are nowhere to be seen. The
peace is illusive. The economies daydreamed into rapid growth are
still moribund. The people are still what they are- discontent and
Thus, in understanding as
well as dealing with the political crises in our times, it is
essential to look into the deliberate modes by which language
degeneration and lowering of the conversation has become a highly
specialized subject in almost every country. It is only way ahead
for seeing futuristically into what positive changes could be
Say NO to
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
June 5, 2018
LET’S be clear about this.
We obviously are entitled to our rights but we should not feel
entitled to privileges and favors that are above our rights and
needs. If they come and we cannot avoid them, then let’s be
But let’s be reminded that
these privileges, favors and blessings are meant for us to
strengthen our desire to serve and not to be served. But as it is,
we should try to avoid them, since they tend only to spoil and
We have to be most wary
when we happen to enjoy some privileged positions or status in life
because we tend to think that we deserve more entitlements. And not
only would we expect them. We may even demand them for us.
That gospel episode where
the two brother-apostles, James and John, asked Christ that they be
seated one on his right and the other on his left in the Kingdom,
reminds us of this point. (cfr Mk 10,32-45) These two brothers were
already close to Christ, but they were not contented with that. They
This, sad to say, seems to
be a common phenomenon these days. It can affect everyone, of
course, but it especially affects the young ones who appear to be
more privileged than those in the previous generations because of
the many new things they are learning and enjoying now. And they
We should banish this
temptation as soon as it makes its appearance felt in us. On the
contrary, we should follow the example of Christ who, in spite of
who he is, just wanted to serve.
In that gospel episode
cited above, he reminded his apostles that “whoever wishes to be
great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first
among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come
to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for
many.” (Mk 10,43-45)
The request of the two
brothers really smelled of a brattish mind, since it was made just
after Christ talked about his impending death on the cross. It was
so insensitive of them, to say the least. And they were already two
of the closest apostles of Christ!
To make his point
stronger, Christ insisted in the Last Supper that he washed the feet
of their apostles. Peter at first refused but Christ insisted, if
only to give them an example that what he did to them should be done
among themselves and everybody else. And he reassured them that they
would be blessed if they do it. (cfr. Jn 13,15-17)
Should that reassurance of
Christ to his apostles not reassure us also to do the same? We
should indeed instill in our mind and heart simply to serve and not
to be served. We should try to avoid entitlements, or the pursuit of
Remember what Christ said
once: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of
others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from
your Father in heaven.” (Mt 6,1)
We need to acquire the
mentality of a servant which is actually the mentality of Christ
himself. Let us readjust our human standards to conform to what is
actually proper to us as taught and lived by Christ. We usually look
down on the status of servants. This has to change! We should be
convinced that by becoming a servant we would be making ourselves
Let’s say NO to
entitlements. Let’s just focus on how to serve God and others more
and better. This should be the motto of our life: SERVE, SERVE,
We tend to
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
May 29, 2018
WE have to be most careful
with this tendency of ours. We like to make ourselves our own God,
defining what is good and evil, as if we were the ones who created
the universe and established the law that governs the whole of
It started with our first
parents who, in their devil-instigated illusion that by eating the
fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they by their
own selves would know what is good and evil, thought they didn’t
have to refer to God to know about what is truly good and evil.
And it has grown worse
from then on. Even if the Redeemer has already repaired the damage
caused by it, this tendency continues to hound us. That is why we
cannot exaggerate the need to be most careful with this intoxicating
tendency of ours.
This phenomenon is somehow
dramatized in that gospel parable about a man planting a vineyard
and leasing it out to tenant farmers who did not remit the proceeds
to the owner. (cfr. Mk 12,1-12) They even killed the son of the
owner who went to collect the earnings. In spite of the favor given
to them, they decided to make the vineyard their own.
The precious lesson to be
learned here is that of deep humility and gratitude. That’s because
we get easily drunk by the many good things God has given us such
that we can think that these good things can just be ours. They do
not have to be referred to the giver or owner of these good things.
In the case of our first
parents, they enjoyed tremendous privileges. They were not supposed
to die. They suffered no pain. They enjoyed complete integrity in
their own lives and harmony in their relation with the other
And even if it was told to
them clearly that while they can enjoy all things in Paradise except
to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they
thought that at the suggestion of the devil they can do away with
that prohibition because the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil was enticing to the eyes.
In other words, they
thought they can know on their own what is good and evil without
having to bother God. In short, they expropriated for themselves
what belongs to God.
This is what is happening
these days in many places. Abortion is now ok. Pre- and
extra-marital sex is now ok. Divorce too. Some countries have
legalized euthanasia. Pornography is now considered normal and
natural. Corruption is presumed to be standard procedure. And a
lengthening list of etceteras.
We need to recover the
right and original order of things. Everything that is true, good
and beautiful can only come from God. Outside of him, we have the
opposite no matter how convincing they may appear to be true, good
and beautiful to us.
Let’s hope that we can
make it a habit to refer whatever piece of data, information, skill,
etc. we acquire to God, using it to give glory to God and for the
good of all. This is what is called as having rectitude of
intention. Otherwise, these otherwise good things will sooner or
later fall into the play of our weaknesses and the tricks of the
devil. They will soon be used for the sake of pride, greed, lust,
This habit should be
acquired as early as possible in one’s life. Better if even in
childhood, this habit is already learned. The world would be much
better off that way, keeping itself well rooted on the source and
foundation of reality instead of drifting away to its own fantasy
From ignorance to
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
May 2, 2018
I WAS happy to read an
article recently about why we are increasingly unaware of our
ignorance and why it is a big problem. It caught my attention
because that is also my observation. In fact, in many of my columns,
I have expressed that fear at least implicitly.
The main argument of the
article is that we in our time are becoming so sure of our opinions
that they now become our convictions and our core beliefs, as if
other opinions are completely regarded as wrong.
In other words, opinions
now are considered to be absolute such that there cannot anymore be
a variety of legitimate and differing and even conflicting opinions.
A person’s opinions are now held as gospel truths.
The article went on to say
that opinions considered as gospel truths can obviously attract
like-minded people, and when they acquire a critical mass, that is
when these opinions become the absolute truths for them. That is
when ignorance of the absolute truth who is God becomes invincible
and can easily fall into arrogance.
We have to be most careful
about our opinions. We have to learn to distinguish between what
merely is an opinion that can never cover everything about a
particular issue and much less about the whole reality, and what is
a matter of absolute truth that can come only from God through our
faith, as revealed in full by Christ, and that touches on what is
truly essential in our life.
Especially these days when
we are bombarded with an increasing number of issues to tackle, a
profusion of data and information, and a growing number of means of
communication and exchanges of ideas, we need to have a good hold of
our horses so as to avoid mixing opinions with absolute and
We have to practice a
certain detachment from our opinions, no matter how strongly we feel
about them, so that we can give due attention to other opinions,
especially those that are not only different from ours but are also
opposed to ours.
In our exchanges and
discussions, let us always try to be civil and courteous. Opinions
are no absolute truths. They don’t deserve to be promoted and
defended at the expense of charity.
The usual problem we
encounter is that we tend to make our opinions the only position
that is right. This is outright wrong. We would be falling into what
St. Paul once said of those who are “ever learning but never able to
come to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim 3,7) We can feel that we
have the truth because of the amount of data and information we
have, but we still would miss the point.
We have to be wary of what
looks like a common world trend now to assert our opinions to death.
And this is not only in the field of politics, but more so in the
area of faith and morals. We need to be protected from the subtle
and silent osmotic effect that this trend can come to us.
We have to know, for
example, how not to be quickly taken by the easy accessibility and
speed of the Internet in giving us data and information and in
sharing our views and opinions.
In this regard, we have to
strengthen our virtues of prudence and tact. But, alas, how many are
really thinking about these virtues today? In fact, in many talk
shows especially in the US, bashing and mudslinging have become a
standard practice. Disagreements are not anymore civil.
In homes and schools, let
us teach the young ones the true art of opinion-making and of civil
and charitable discussions. We need to teach the kids how to
distinguish between mere opinion and absolute truth, and where we
can have the former and where to find the latter.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
April 26, 2018
ANOTHER form of fake
holiness mentioned in Pope Francis’ “Gaudete et exsultate” is what
is known as Pelagianism that also includes its mitigated but still
erroneous idea of holiness that is labeled as semi-Pelagianism. It
is a heretical doctrine attributed to a British theologian,
Pelagius, who lived circa 360-418 AD.
Pelagianism is the belief
that holiness can be achieved mainly if not exclusively through
man’s effort alone, with hardly any help of the divine grace. It
goes against what St. Paul said clearly that everything, especially
sanctity itself, “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God
who shows mercy.” (Rom 9,16)
Not that human will and exertion are irrelevant in the pursuit of
holiness and everything that is good and proper to us. They are, in
fact, indispensable, but only as means, as evidence and consequence
of the working of God’s grace and his mercy.
This clarification is
crucial especially nowadays when there is a lot of religious
indifference, confusion and ignorance. We may, in fact, see a lot of
people who are doing a lot of good things, but still missing the
real thing. And that’s simply because their idea of anything good is
mainly subjective rather than objective. It depends on their own
understanding of what is good rather than the good that truly comes
Due to such understanding,
the consequent actions would not be truly inspired by the love that
comes from God. They would simply come as a result of their own will
and effort. And a will and effort exercised in this way, that is,
without God’s grace and inspiration, would only be proud and vain.
It is indeed very
important that we examine closely the motives of our actions and the
source from which they spring as well as the end to which they
proceed. That’s because we can do many of what may look like good
acts but which are motivated by self-love, by pride and vanity,
rather than by the real love that comes from God alone and is lived
only with God.
A Pelagian person is
actually a very proud and vain person. He is like a wolf in sheep’s
clothing, faking holiness through his seemingly good works that may
include many acts of piety, like praying in a showy way, making a
lot of sacrifices, being active in church functions, etc.
He personifies what St.
Paul once said about the importance of charity in our lives and
about how charity can be distinguished from seemingly good works:
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all
knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not
have love, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13,2)
A Pelagian person cannot
stand the test of true love in spite of the many good things he
appears to be doing. This truth was practically established by
Christ in that encounter he had with a rich young man. (cfr Mt
The rich young man
appeared to be doing a lot of good, to be following the
commandments. But when Christ asked for his whole heart by asking
him to sell all he had and to just follow Christ, the rich young man
went away sad.
A Pelagian person, in the
end, has his own self to love rather than God. He can be exposed to
be such when the true and ultimate demands of God’s love are made on
him. Before this, he somehow can be known when problems,
difficulties, mistakes and failures he can experience in his life
would make him angry and frustrated, rather than willing to suffer.
Indeed, it’s time that we
examine ourselves closely to see if traces of Pelagianism, so subtle
in its ways, are marring our desire and pursuit for holiness.
We need to be
with Christ always
April 26, 207
CHRIST himself said it so
clearly. “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not
gather with me scatters.” (Lk 11,23) “I am the vine, you are the
branches.” (Jn 15,5)
There is no way we can
have a life that is proper to us other than to be with Christ and to
work with him. After all, Christ is actually the pattern of our
humanity and the redeemer of our damaged humanity. We cannot be what
we ought to be outside of Christ.
Without Christ, everything
will be vanity. “Vanity of vanities,” as the Book of Ecclesiastes
says. Without Christ, we would simply be falling into
self-indulgence which can be mesmerizing for a while, even a long
while. But in the end it would lead us nowhere.
This is a truth of faith
that has to filter down to the ends of the world. We may have to do
it slowly and with great effort, but also steadily, never stopping
because of certain difficulties and resistance. To be sure, this is
a truth of our nature, let alone, a truth of faith. Our nature is
not just biological, social, etc. It is first of all spiritual that
relates to the supernatural world in a knowing and loving way.
Yes, we have to respect
the freedom of men, but we also have to make everyone realize that
we need to respect freedom itself. And that can only mean that we
have to conform ourselves to Christ because he is the very author
and personification of freedom. This is a natural truth that should
lead us to the spiritual and supernatural world.
Remember Christ saying, “I
am the way, the truth and the life. No one goes to the Father except
through me.” Well, if Christ is the truth, then he is also freedom,
since it is the truth that will set us free. (cfr. Jn 8,32)
In other words, we cannot
be in the truth and be free if we are not with Christ. Let’s
remember that truth and freedom are not self-generated things. They
are not our inventions. They come from our Creator.
We have to strive all our
life that we be with him. That is why, in the Mass, we always are
reminded, “The Lord be with you. And with your spirit.” It is to
make us realize that we cannot be without God.
For his part, he already
reassured us that he will always be with us. “Behold, I am with you
everyday, even unto the end of time,” he said. (Mt 28,20) And we can
be sure that his omnipresence in us is never passive. It is a
presence that is full of love, of solicitude.
The challenge and the task
are enormous, indeed. Convincing people about this truth, especially
those who are not inclined toward things like religion and faith,
can seem impossible. But it simply has to be done.
We may have to start from
very basic things without mentioning anything yet about faith, God
and the spiritual and supernatural realities. The so-called classes
on apologetics really have to be carried out without let-up. Let’s
hope that the task of catechesis and evangelization never stops.
There has to be a gradual
process of introducing the indispensable role of faith, of God and
of spiritual and supernatural realities to the people, making them
understand that these are essential elements in our life.
We need to demonstrate the
validity and necessity of faith and the spiritual and supernatural
realities. Obviously, a lot of prayer and sacrifice should be done
before, during and after every effort we make for this purpose.
But we cannot deny that
talking about faith and the spiritual and supernatural realities
will always involve some mysteries that can overwhelm what our
senses can discern and what our intelligence can understand. We need
to help everybody develop a sense of mystery in life.
Witness under the
Statement of the Ecumenical
Bishops’ Forum (EBF) on the arrest and detention of Australian
Missionary Sr. Patricia Fox
April 18, 2018
“Be alert and vigilant.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for
someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (1 Peter
The Church in the
Philippines lives in perilous times as an increasing number of
clergy, religious and church workers face unspeakable violence and
whose rights are violated by President Rodrigo Duterte’s
administration. Church people who join the pilgrimage of poor
communities and support their struggle for justice, peace and human
dignity suffer state-perpetuated political persecution.
The assault against Sister
Patricia Fox, who is an Australian religious missionary and the
regional superior of the Our Lady of Sion Sisters in the
Philippines, is the most recent blow against church workers and
religious institutions. For the past 27 years, she has immersed
herself in the arms of the toiling Filipino masses and worked
hand-in-hand with farmers, supporting through her prayers and
selfless service their struggle for land and life.
Sr. Pat, as she is known
in the ecumenical community, was illegally arrested by elements of
the Bureau of Immigration at her residence in Quezon City. She was
detained for two days, from April 16 to 17, following allegations of
her participation in political actions against the Philippine
government. The soft-spoken and good-natured missionary nun was
released, following the strong condemnation of faith communities,
the human rights defenders, and members of civil society groups and
The Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum strongly denounces this absurd action
taken by Duterte’s administration against Sr. Pat. We express
outrage at this evil-doing and demand that all politically motivated
harassment against human rights defenders, peace and justice
advocates, political activists, and church workers be put to stop.
We cannot comprehend why
church people become targets of political persecution. When has it
become a crime to accompany the poor and the oppressed in their
struggle? When has it become a crime to preach the words of God and
live-out the works of Christ?
Recent events manifest a
systematic state-sponsored attack on church people. On December 4
last year, Catholic priest Marcelito Paez was killed after
facilitating the release of a political prisoner. On May 11, 2017,
Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop and peace advocate Carlo
Morales was arrested, detained for nearly a year, and was recently
released upon the granting of his bail plea.
We hold the Duterte
government accountable for the many cases, documented or otherwise,
on the persecution of church people. This situation only reveals the
hands of a despotic government that seeks to suppress the Church’s
role as a moral compass of the society.
We vehemently condemn the
mounting cases of political and religious persecution under
Duterte’s tyrannical and dictatorial rule. We demand that this
administration stop the increasing and increasingly hostile attempts
at silencing church people who accompany those that experience far
more greater historical and structural injustices.
The plight of Sr. Pat
sends a chilling message to everyone. The persecution of church
people does not only reveal the sword of a despotic government that
seeks to suppress the Church’s role as a moral compass of society.
It is a demonstration of this administration’s noxious attempts to
criminalize legitimate dissent. This serves as a prelude to more
intensified state perpetuated violence against those who work for
peace, justice and the promotion of human rights.
We, therefore, call upon
all Christians and to all people of good will to boldly resist state
violence and political oppression, and continue to stand up for and
work in solidarity with the poor, deprived and oppressed, so that
justice and peace may reign and life, in all its sanctity and
dignity, can be enjoyed.
Statement on the
arrest and detention of Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS
A press statement by the
Promotion of Church People's Response
April 17, 2018
The Promotion of Church
People's Response indignantly condemns the Bureau of Immigration's
arrest and detention of Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS, without due process
and respect for her fundamental rights and rights as a Church
Sr. Pat belongs to the
religious congregation of Notre Dame de Sion. Her congregation sent
her here as a missionary in 1990.
Impelled by the Christian
faith and the mandate of the Church, she has obediently accepted the
mission of preaching the Good News and be in solidarity with the
poor. Inspired by Church teachings and especially encouraged by Pope
Francis' admonition to be Church of the Poor and be present at the
periphery, Sr. Pat "gave food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty.
She visited the sick and those in prison". She lives simply and
works tirelessly with the poor.
Yesterday afternoon, April
16, agents from the Bureau of Immigration arrested her in her
convent and brought her to the BI detention room without any court
order. She was shown pictures of herself joining rallies and present
in fact-finding and mercy missions among the indigenous peoples and
the plundered ecological environment.
When has it become a crime
for Church people to exercise their right to preach the Gospel and
be in solidarity with the poor?
The PCPR is most deeply
thankful for the support accorded to Sr. Pat by the poor peasants,
the urban poor, the lay movements and human rights advocates and
Church people, especially the consoling presence and inspiring
intervention of Bishop Broderick Pabillo, D.D. and of the Papal
Nuncio through his representative.
The PCPR calls on Church
People to stand our ground, assert our rights to preach the Gospel
and be in solidarity with the poor and to pursue the Gospel
imperative to respond effectively to human needs and to the cry of
creation with love and compassion, truth and freedom in the pursuit
of and Peace.
The PCPR calls on the
Philippine Government through its Bureau of Immigration to set Sr.
Pat free so she continue to bless the people and our country with
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
April 14, 2018
THAT is one thing for
sure. Never think that to be a saint, one has to be spotlessly clean
from beginning to end. We need to disabuse ourselves from this false
idea of holiness.
In fact, the opposite is
quite true. To be a saint, one has to be prepared to be hounded by
all sorts of temptations and to be buffeted by all kinds of
weaknesses. And yes, from time to time, he might fall and commit
even a grave sin. But he also knows how to bounce back.
This is the real secret of
becoming a saint – his capacity to begin and begin again, never
allowing himself to get discouraged by his defects and sins, always
quick to go back to God asking for forgiveness and for more grace,
and also fast to learn precious lessons from his mistakes and sins.
In fact, in a certain way,
his defects, the temptations around, and the sins he may commit
would constitute as a strong urge to go back to God as quickly as
possible. He does not allow them to separate him from his Father
And on the part of God, we
can be sure that he would be filled with tremendous joy when we come
back to him after we fall. This is what we can conclude from those
very consoling parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the
Pope Francis, in his
latest Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate, echoed the same
truth. “Not everything a saint says is completely faithful to the
Gospel,” he said. “Not everything he or she does is authentic or
perfect. What we need to contemplate is the totality of their life,
their entire journey of growth in holiness, the reflection of Jesus
Christ that emerges when we grasp their overall meaning as a
On our part, we should try
our best to be very faithful. But it is also understood that our
best efforts can sometimes fail us. We can still commit errors and
even grave ones. But there’s always hope. God does not abandon us.
He is willing to go through the complicated process of becoming man
and dying for us on the cross and remaining with us for all time in
the Church and with the sacraments just to bring us back to him.
This truth of faith should
fill us with joy and confidence, and instead of mainly worrying
about how to avoid sin, we should be more interested in doing what
is good, what God wants us to do and to accomplish in this world.
True sanctity is not so much a matter of being too concerned about
sin as of doing the will of God. Sanctity is more joy than worry,
more action than caution, although the latter have their role to
Let us remember that God
wants all men to be saved. (cfr. 1 Tim 2,4) He created us for that
purpose, to be like him and to be with him for all eternity. And
even if we spoiled the original design God had for us, he has
repaired so well that we can say that we are better off this time
after sin than before sin.
That’s because with our
sin, God became man and gave us a better deal of how to be with him
in spite of our tendency to go against him. Somehow our dignity as
children of God enjoys a greater status since by becoming man God
shares our nature so we can more intimately share with his divine
It goes without saying
that we should not trivialize our tendency to sin. We should fight
it as much as we can. But that reality should not undermine God’s
will that he is bent on saving us – of course, with our cooperation
Duterte has power
to ban all forms of contractualization
A Counter-statement by
Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino to Deputy Executive Secretary
Menardo Guevarra deceptive claim
April 5, 2018
Deputy Executive Secretary
Menardo Guevarra’s statement that President Duterte has no power to
ban contractualization because Congress must first amend the Labor
Code is an April Fool’s joke.
This is a joke for the
controversial provisions of the Labor Code on contractualization –
Articles 106 to 109 – explicitly delegates the power of prohibition
to the Secretary of Labor (who is directly under the President).
Article 106 states: “The
Secretary of Labor and Employment may, by appropriate regulations,
restrict or prohibit the contracting-out of labor to protect the
rights of workers established under this Code.”
Since Labor Secretary
Silvestre Bello is a mere alter ego of President Duterte, this means
that Duterte himself has the power, through the issuance of an
Executive Order, to ban all forms of contractualization.
BMP and all other labor
groups in the Philippines has submitted said Executive Order on the
very day Duterte took power as President – an Executive Order that
does not merely “regulate” contractualization, but an Executive
Order that bans contractualization in its entirety, which entails
the immediate closure of all third-party labor contractors –
agencies, cooperatives, manpower companies – like PALSCON, AsiaPro,
Paramount, and many more whose only business is to sell workers to
with these “agencies” is by nature contractual, hence, they deserve
to be closed. DOLE’s Department Order 174 (D.O. 174) is a farce
because it legitimizes contractualization even more by allowing
“agencies” with ‘’substantial capital” to operate. This
capitalization – P5 million – is too small and is equivalent to a
small restaurant, that is why under this order, “agencies” will
proliferate. It is also not enough to “regularize” workers under
agencies for they will inevitably lose their jobs as well if the
principal company opts to terminate or end contract with the
“agency.” Hence, D.O. 174 is a farce.
What workers want is
direct hiring without these “agencies,” then regularize workers
after six months of continuous or intermittent work.
If DOLE can regularize
thousands of workers with just one directive, just like how it
regularized more than 6,000 workers of Jollibee last April 4, 2018,
why can’t it regularize all contractual workers in the Philippines?
regularization only shows that DOLE and the President have the power
to end contractualization even without the amendment of the Labor
Code, precisely because the Labor Code allows them to do so.
Regularization of all would be easier if Duterte will fulfill his
promise of ending contractualization and this is through an
While we demand this from
Duterte, BMP will not stop from calling on Congress to junk Articles
106 to 109 of the Labor Code for it allows contractualization
(though it also allows its prohibition through the Executive
branch). Deletion of these Articles will ensure that
contractualization will no longer exist.
But the process of
amending this law will be slow considering that our lawmakers will
focus on the campaign for next year’s election. In short, we have
nothing to expect from them at this point.
While Congress is slow on
this, an Executive Order for the total ban of all forms of
contractualization and the closure of all third party manpower
agencies and cooperatives from Duterte no less is a “quick-quick
solution” to regularize all downtrodden contractuals in the
ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
March 7, 2018
NO, it’s not the Visayan
way of pronouncing the word, “upscaling.” It’s really a legitimate
word, coined, I suppose, recently in view of the many new
developments around, especially in the digital world.
It means “to teach
additional skills” or to upgrade one’s skills. It is closely related
to the word, “reskill,” which means “to teach new work skills
especially to those who are unemployed.
I suppose these are
nowadays the ‘in’ words in the labor world, given the many new
developments today. Let’s hope that many people, both young and old,
take up the challenge of upskilling and reskilling. It’s never too
late to do these things.
But let us also remind
ourselves that more than just upgrading and learning new work or
technical skills, we need to upgrade our skills in the spiritual and
moral aspects of our life.
These, in fact, are the
more necessary things to learn, given the way the world is
developing today which, while giving us many good and beneficial
things, also occasion many and worse evils. It’s in the spiritual
and moral sphere of our life that would give meaning and direction
to all the practical skills that we have to learn.
For example, we have to
upskill or reskill our ability to pray such that we can keep an
abiding conversation with God while immersed in the things of the
world. We have to learn to see God in all things and to turn all
these worldly and temporal things into means and occasions, not
obstacles, in our loving dialogue with God.
For this, we have to
remind ourselves that God is actually in everything because he is
the giver and the maintainer of the very existence of these things.
We have to overcome the myth of thinking that there are things where
God is not present.
This can happen when we
think that our new inventions are just ours, and that God has
nothing to do with them. That’s wrong simply because the very
material and laws that allow us to discover and invent new things
come from God. God is right there at the very core of all things
that we work on or discover and invent.
We certainly would be
confused and lost if we fail to pray while handling the things of
the world. When we pray we avoid what St. Paul once warned us about:
“We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,
and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the
cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (Eph
Another area to upskill
and reskill is in our moral struggle against the many subtle evils
of the modern world. These modern evils are subtle because they are
usually dressed as good, charming, practical and the like. We need
to upgrade our combat skills that definitely would include the
ability to smell dangerous occasions that can lead us to big sins,
the strength to say no to temptations, etc.
In this regard, we also
have to upskill the different virtues that we always need. Order is
one of the more urgent virtues to upgrade, since we really have to
have a strong sense of priorities, given the many competing options
posed before us.
Besides, nowadays we are
always pressured to do multi-tasking since there are just so many
things to attend to and to orchestrate, and there are only 24 hours
in a day and 7 days in a week. We are in an age of urgency, and we
just have to learn to cope with it. So, there’s no choice but to
upskill and reskill.
cooperate with ICC in line with international obligations
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
February 13, 2018
On 8 February 2018, Fatou
Bensoula, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at
the Hague announced her decision “to open a preliminary examination”
into the Philippine government’s war on drugs, which ‘potentially
falls within the Court’s jurisdiction’ (read full text of her speech
here). The Republic of the Philippines is State party to the Rome
Statute, which established the ICC to investigate international
crimes, since 2011.
The Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) welcomes Prosecutor Bensoula’s decision to
“analyse crimes allegedly committed in the context of the war on
drugs”. Her “preliminary examination” could provide a platform to
initiate an impartial and independent inquiry into allegations of
extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals, drug dealers and
addicts in the context of war on drugs. Bensoula has stated that
this preliminary examination is not an investigation, but a “process
of examining the information available” to ascertain if “there is a
reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation”. In other words,
it is the equivalent of an investigation by a public prosecutor with
the mandate to determine whether or not there is “probable cause”
that a crime has been committed.
It is of concern however,
that President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, has
described the ICC’s decision as “a waste of the court’s time and
resources”. If the Philippine government is committed to clearing
its name and ending allegations of extrajudicial killings, it should
fully cooperate with the ICC. Roque’s remark is not helpful as it
undermines the international human rights mechanism, which the
Philippines has a duty and obligation to support.
Bensoula has said that the ICC’s examination still acknowledges the
national jurisdiction’s primary responsibility to investigate and
prosecute those responsible for international crimes, it must be
asked whether an impartial and independent investigation is possible
in the Philippines. It is already widely reported that President
Duterte has openly intimidated the Supreme Court, the Commission on
Human Rights and the Office of the Ombudsman. The Department of
Justice, the agency with power to prosecute, has openly defended
President Duterte’s war on drugs, and denies there were
extrajudicial killings. It is under these circumstances, with the
repressive political climate and the politicization of ordinary
criminal procedures, that intervention by international human rights
bodies seem to be necessary.
The AHRC has already
observed that even if there are national investigations and
prosecutions, as in the case of teenager Kian delos Santos, who was
last seen alive on CCTV on 16 August 2017 being taken by policemen
in Caloocan, they can occur only after strong local and
international condemnation. But what about the cases in which the
arrest and killings were never captured by CCTV? To clear the
government of its alleged involvement, either through the direct
actions of the security forces, or through actively endorsing the
killing of criminals so President Duterte could fulfill his election
promise, it is imperative that the government fully cooperates with
the ICC. The ICC should be allowed to examine allegations to
determine whether or not the government has criminal liability.
The Philippine government,
as party to ICC and numerous international covenants on the
protection of human rights, should demonstrate its full commitment
to the international human rights system. Any remarks that go
against the intention of the ICC will only indicate that the
government is either unwilling or incapable of conducting an
impartial and effective investigation and prosecution of
constitutional change ignores protection of rights
A Statement by the Asian
Human Rights Commission
February 6, 2018
As widely reported, the
Philippines House of Representatives (Congress), the country’s
legislative body, is lobbying to change the political system by
amending the 1987 Constitution. President Rodrigo Duterte’s
political allies in Congress are proposing to change from a
presidential form of government, to a federal one. The main reasons
given for this are twofold: first, to devolve power to local
government; second, a federal state would allow equal distribution
of wealth among local government units.
According to the
proponents of federalism, their constituencies have been neglected
by “Imperial Manila”. This supposed governmental neglect and unequal
distribution of resources by the national government is being blamed
for poor performance. This argument is not entirely accurate, as a
Local Government Code empowering local government units already
exists. As former chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. had said, to
amend the distribution of resources from the national government
does not require amending the Constitution, only the Local
The Asian Human Rights
Commission (AHRC) is thus curious as to why President Rodrigo
Duterte’s political allies are so bent on changing the 1987
Constitution within his term. The 1987 Constitution contains the
aspirations of the Filipino people in reaction to the Marcos
dictatorship: notably the Bill of Rights, and provisions on social
justice. Ignored by Marcos, these were inscribed and explicitly
written down afterward. It is unfortunate that over three decades
after Marcos’ dictatorship ended, these aspirations are yet to be
realized. In fact, the current debate on the proposed constitutional
change is silent on constitutional rights. Moreover, the
institutions built to protect these aspirations are being
The Commission on Human
Rights (CHR) and the Office of the Ombudsman, two independent
constitutional bodies created by the 1987 Constitution, have
recently been targeted by President Duterte’s political allies in
Congress. The Congress attempted to deprived the CHR of its
operational budget by funding it only P1,000 pesos. Had it not been
for the protests against it, the lawmakers would not have
reconsidered the funding. Since assuming office, CHR chairperson
Jose Luis Martin Gascon has been a target of President Duterte’s
harsh critics, for standing in his way on the drug war. Meanwhile,
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales recently locked horns with
President Duterte as she refused to implement his order suspending
her Overall Deputy Ombudsman, Melchor Arthur Carandang. He
reportedly leaked the bank transactions of Duterte and his family
without their consent.
Whether or not President
Duterte’s allies will succeed in their plan to change the political
system from a presidential to federal one, the current debate
excludes any discussion on how constitutional rights should be
protected. This is hardly surprising, given President Duterte’s
rejection of human rights as values, and his intimidation of
institutions that check abuses. The current administration and its
political allies have no thoughts of protecting the constitutional
rights of their constituencies. This can only worsen in a federal
state, with local bosses lording over their constituents in complete
disregard of their rights.
Any debate on
constitutional change must include discussion on the protection of
constitutional rights. Where are Filipinos to turn to seek
protection for their yet to be fulfilled aspirations? Those
proposing amendments to the constitution owe an explanation to the
people they intend to rule in a federal state. Those who oppose
constitutional amendments, also owe it to the Filipino people, to
discuss what it means to overhaul the Constitution without any
dialogue on the protection of constitutional rights. The pain,
suffering, insights, and aspirations of those who suffered the
dictatorship must be taken into account in any political change.
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 4, 2018
HELL, of course, is one of
the eternal last things, together with death, judgment and heaven,
which we are encouraged to consider every so often, if only to
derive some appropriate resolutions as to how we ought to live our
life here in this world.
The considerations of the
so-called last things would give us a global picture of things that
should guide us better in our choices and decisions. Let’s hope that
we understand this point well and take it to heart and to practice.
With respect to hell,
however, we have to understand that it truly exists in spite of all
the goodness and mercy of God. It is the place, or better said, the
eternal state of those who are all-out against God, their opposition
to God not only incidental but formal.
But we need to talk about
hell with great delicacy. It is not meant to scare us, to bully us
to behave properly, although some fear would be good for us. But it
should be a fear that is out of love of God, not simply because of
the punishment. We should be driven by filial fear, not servile
God must have thought of
hell when he decided to create. And that’s simply because there is
nothing that exists that was not thought of by God from all
eternity. Otherwise, God would not be God. Just the same, God
decided to create in spite of that possibility because he also knows
that good will in the end triumph. God, in his own wisdom and ways,
will always have the last word.
Hell came to be because of
some angels who chose to be by themselves instead of being with God.
Being pure spirits, their choice is instantaneous and has eternal
effects. When they are good by choosing God, they would really be
good always. And when they are bad by rejecting God, they would
really be very bad always. There’s no state of in-between in them.
They are either very good or very bad.
With us, since we are body
and soul, our choices are always conditioned by many factors. In
fact, as long as we live, our final choice, either to be with God or
to be by ourselves simply, is always a work in progress.
The choices that we make
in life should always be viewed in this context of being
conditioned. That’s why even if we make a bad or sinful choice,
there is still hope because we can still correct it. And we should
not forget the all-powerful and abiding mercy of God. Remember St.
Paul saying, “Where sin has abounded, God’s mercy has abounded even
more.” (Rom 5,20)
Besides, we really cannot
deny the fact that our proneness to sin is such that it will need
only God’s grace to combat it. We do our part, but we know our
efforts would not be enough. St. Paul dramatized this when he said:
“I delight in the law of
God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war
with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin
which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver
me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ
our Lord!” (Rom 7,22-25)
Before God, we are like
little children who try to behave well but who cannot avoid bumbling
down. The consideration of hell is not meant simply to scare us, but
to encourage us to go always to God.
PMPI statement on
the appointment of charter change consultative committee
January 26, 2018
On January 25, President
Rodrigo Duterte finally named 19 out of the 25 members of the
Charter Change Consultative Committee on amending the 1987
constitution, after several months of the committee’s establishment.
We, the Philippine
Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), a network of NGOs,
religious/church-based organizations, and people’s organization,
welcomes this new development. Finally, and soon we will stop
groping in the dark; there will be concrete and real proposals for
charter change that we can discuss and reflect on. This is also
positive as it gives us a glimpse of the character of the group that
was given the huge responsibility to re-write our current
constitution, fashioned to strengthen democracy and social justice,
and prevent a dictatorship to ever happen again.
The changing of the new
constitution is touted and being framed by the current government as
a way to usher the development that the 1987 constitution allegedly
failed to effect.
While we believe that
there are sections in the current constitution that needed updating,
we do not agree in fast-tracking the process of changing the
constitution within 6 months as per instruction from the President.
We are deeply concerned of its effects as failures and instability
in governance from the past continue to plague our nation.
The constitution is the
heart of any government and of any institution for that matter. It
is the fundamental law that governs and prescribes the life of a
people. Thus, there should be a recognition that changing the
constitution would require that every citizens’ concerns, every
epoch’s milestone, and every historical experiences are considered
and studied thoroughly.
Every Filipino needs to
know the following:
- What is the current
national situation that warrants a change in the constitution?
- Is the current political
condition a good environment to carry out this process?
- Is constitutional change
the ONLY way to address the identified current national situation?
Have we exhausted all options that will bring the same change we
- Is 6 months enough to
disseminate information, carryout conversations, and install
mechanisms that will ensure that transparency and accountability in
the process of constitutional change?
- Is the Constitutional
Assembly the best form to change the current constitution? Is the
composition of the current congress carry the aspirations of the
majority of people?
- How is the common
Filipino being engaged and informed on the change issues that will
affect his/her future?
conversation should be encouraged for every Filipino to understand
the context of the proposed processes, thereby owning it.
We call on the government
not to take the charter change process in haste. We urge the
government to involve various stakeholders from different sectors of
society in crafting the needed change in the constitution and take
part in policy making.
The participation of
various sectors will ensure that these changes in the constitution
meet expectations for equal rights, effective delivery of resources,
protection of lands and indigenous territories, provision of social
services, stop political dynasty and corruption with respect to the
rule of law.
We reject the
Constitutional Assembly as a way to change the constitution. We do
not trust that the current lower house will represent the genuine
voice of the people by the way they have repeatedly conducted
themselves in addressing social issues since the assumption to power
of President Duterte.
We say NO TO CHARTER
CHANGE IN HASTE. We say NO TO CON-ASS.
great treasure in the Sto. Niño
January 13, 2018
WE really have to be most
thankful that even up to now we as a people still have a great
devotion to the Sto. Niño. Instead of waning through the years, this
popular piety we have toward the Child Jesus has grown.
Yes, there are still
things that should be made right and purified, (I suppose we will
never run out of them), but we cannot deny that this devotion has
helped us greatly in a world and in times that are increasingly
secularized and paganised. Think of the many so-called liberal
people in the world who have considered faith, religion and piety as
Thanks to God the image of
Christ as both a child and king has truly so captured the Filipino
heart (especially the Cebuano heart) that whatever situation we may
find ourselves in, whether good or bad humanly speaking, we still
keep our Christian faith and try our best to live by it.
Let’s hope that this
devotion continues to develop and to spread more widely, especially
among the young ones who are most vulnerable to the faith-killing
and piety-numbing ways of the world today. In this, we have to use
both the human and supernatural means of prayer and sacrifice, and
to involve as many people and institutions as possible.
That the Sto. Niño is both
child and king somehow reminds us that we need to be like a child to
attain our ultimate kingly goal of human maturity and Christian
perfection. As we grow older, more exposed to the world and gaining
a lot of experience, we need to be more like a child, deepening and
enriching our spiritual childhood in Christ.
Let’s always remember what
Christ himself said: “Unless you change and become like little
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 18,3)
Yes, children and heaven
are almost synonymous to each other. No wonder we feel like we are
in heaven every time we see children around. Every time a baby is
born, we are very happy because we somehow know that he just did not
come out of his mother’s womb, but rather from the very hands of God
who created him before the parents procreated him.
In spite of the many
limitations of children, what makes them always desirable is their
pure, innocent heart, incapable of malice, ambition, pride and
haughtiness. They are a source of many other good things.
Their heart is always
trusting in the Lord always, just like a little kid is always
confident with his father. Faith and hope easily grow and acquire
strength when nurtured in a child's heart. It's this attitude that
leads them to go on and move on no matter what, for life to them
could only be an adventure of discoveries.
It's this kind of heart
that makes them transparent, sincere and simple, not afraid to be
known as they truly are. They may still lack the subtlety of
prudence and discretion, and be prone to spontaneity, but they
hardly mind these deficiencies.
They are only interested
in doing what they think is good and enjoyable. Suggestions and
corrections do not humiliate them. Rather, they welcome these
suggestions and corrections.
Children are humble,
teachable, flexible and docile. You can tell them anything, and they
always tend to believe and obey. Attainments, achievements and
successes do not spoil them. Neither do difficulties, temptations
and failures crush them and plunge them to sadness or bitterness.
They are easy to motivate,
to be consoled, to be optimistic. Falls and mistakes are easily
forgotten. They only leave a mark that becomes a source of precious
lessons for them to learn. They are quick to heal when wounded.
Christmas Message by the Asian Human Rights Commission
December 23, 2017
Thinking purely in
symbolic terms, Christmas celebrates a fascinating event. Jesus was
born in a cattle shed. This was where sheep slept. From a power
point of view, it was so completely different from the way other
religious or political leaders are presented to the world. Links to
royalty or nobility, or at least some affluence, and education, were
considered qualities of leaders. But here, none of those symbols of
power was present.
From the point of view of
value systems, this symbolic birth presents very different
appreciation of values than what we see in many other models. A
human being is born the midst of cattle. Human beings are part of
nature, and that is more important than any symbols of status and
This is a message that has
been largely lost. Perhaps, at the heart of the moral crisis in the
world is this problem of being unable to consider that human beings
are a part of nature. As St Francis wanted, genuine relationships
should be established with ‘Brother Sheep and Sister Bees’.
This symbolism is even
more important for the new world, which began with the first testing
of the atom bomb in New Mexico in 1941, a test which was nicknamed,
quite inappropriately, Trinity. The success of the explosion that
happened on that day posed a moral crisis which baffled the most
talented scientists, and changed their own views on their
achievements. Robert Oppenheimer and, later, his counterparts in
other countries, like the Russian Andrei Sakharov and others like
them, all lived to regret what they initially thought was the
highest achievement of their lives. The plea to end this experiment
was their final message.
The dilemmas posed on that
day by Trinity remain not only unresolved, but appear to be
unresolvable. The creative capacity of human beings resulted in a
situation where they became their own annihilators.
In terms of political
civilization, this “achievement” of Trinity also posed the greatest
threat to liberal democracy itself. The value of the political was
diminished, creating a higher place for those who manage security
apparatuses. This is now reflected everywhere, including those
places that were considered the most developed democracies in the
Now, on the one hand,
security agencies, including intelligence agencies, have truly
become the final arbiters of human destinies. On the other hand,
this has become an unacceptable situation for everyone, including
the persons in these agencies. Yet there is no way out to be seen.
Human intelligence is trapped within this great contradiction.
In creating the atom bomb,
the argument in the United States was that this was essential in
order to save western civilization. However, the achievement of the
dream has posed not only a threat to western civilization, but to
human civilization as a whole. Yet, to those who are most powerful
in the world, the crisis of human civilization as a whole has not
been taken as seriously as it should be.
The Christmas symbolism
must be treated a powerful reminder of humanity’s link to the
totality of the world. That realization should transcend all
considerations of wealth and power. This is no longer a sentimental
aspiration. The practical survival of the world depends on the
capacity to bring back the natural link between human beings and the
rest of creation. This has become the challenge of ‘to be or not to
be’ for everyone.
expecting any return
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 16, 2017
THIS is how we should give
if we want to follow the example of Christ. We have to give to
others not only things but also our own selves without expecting any
recognition nor any reward.
This was clearly taught by
Christ when he said that when we hold a banquet, we should not
invite those who can invite us in return, but rather those – “the
poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” – who are unable to invite
us in return. (cfr Lk 14,12-14)
“Blessed indeed will you
be because of their inability to repay you,” he said, “for you will
be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (cfr Lk 14,12-14)
Let’s always keep these words of Christ that assure us of what we
are going to receive in heaven if we are generous with others here
We have to make an effort,
always asking, of course, for the grace of God first of all, so that
we can learn to assume this attitude with respect to our
self-giving. In the end, this will make us to be like Christ who
gave himself totally to us, including giving his life for our sins.
Let’s remember what he
told his disciples: “Freely you have received, freely you have to
give.” (Mt 10,8) Gratuitousness should characterize our self-giving
to God and to others, just as gratuitousness characterizes God’s
love for us. Such gratuitousness will gain us much more than what we
In this regard, we have to
do some continuing battle against our unavoidable tendency to be
calculating in our self-giving. Not only do we have to contend with
our personal weaknesses in this regard. We also have to contend with
a tremendous cultural environment, so prevalent these days, that not
only is not conducive to this attitude of Christian generosity but
is also hostile to it.
We constantly have to
rectify our intentions when we have to give to others – be it
things, a service, or matter of attention and affection. This is
especially so when our giving is for God. Let’s never forget that
God cannot be outdone in generosity.
Remember that episode of
the couple Ananias and Sapphira as recorded in the Acts of the
Apostles. (cfr 5,1-11) They sold a piece of property, but instead of
giving the whole proceeds to the apostles, they gave only a part and
kept the rest, lying to the Holy Spirit in the process. For this,
they met sudden death.
We should see to it that
our gestures of self-giving is whole-hearted and is inspired by true
love that can only come from the love of God for us. We have to
avoid playing games in this regard, for God knows everything and
would deal with us the way we deserve.
We have to learn to be
truly generous, neither counting the cost nor expecting any return.
This obviously is not easy to do, given our wounded human condition.
But if we always go to Christ to get inspired by his example and to
ask for his grace, we can do it. The impossible becomes possible!
Everyday, we have to find
opportunities to practice and grow in this virtue of generosity,
always aware that Christ is always with us and is showing us the way
and how to behave and react to any situation we find ourselves in.
So when we find ourselves
in some difficulties or are hounded by temptations, let’s never
delay in going immediately to him to ask for help and guidance.
Mary of the
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 4, 2017
WE once again celebrate
this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin
Mary on December 8, a holy day of obligation in our country. With it
we are reminded of the great privilege given to one of us, Mary of
Nazareth, who was chosen many centuries ago to be the mother of the
Son of God who had to become man to save us and to bring us back to
God, our Father.
With this celebration, we
are told that Mary was conceived without original sin. This is how
the Eucharistic preface of the solemnity explains the reason why.
“For you (referring to God
the Father) preserved the Most Blessed Virgin Mary from all stain of
original sin, so that in her, endowed with the rich fullness of your
grace, you might prepare a worthy Mother for your Son and signify
the beginning of the Church, his beautiful Bride without spot or
The Eucharistic preface
continues: “She, the most pure Virgin, was to bring forth a Son, the
innocent Lamb who would wipe away our offenses; you placed her above
all others to be for your people an advocate of grace and a model of
It’s good that we go
through these words, this prayer, slowly if only to savor the
tremendous, awesome truth of faith that should richly nourish our
souls and inspire us to pursue holiness wholeheartedly no matter
This truth about Mary in
relation to us should fill us with joy and a great sense of
confidence that what seems to us to be impossible to reach and
attain can indeed be achieved.
We may not have the
privilege that Mary had of being conceived sinless and remaining
sinless all throughout our life, but it’s good to look at Mary, now
our Mother as given to us by Christ himself, so we can be inspired
and consoled to pursue holiness in our vale of tears here on earth.
To be sure, Mary, though
conceived without sin and sinless all throughout her life, was
exposed to all the temptations and the sins of men, because she was
and continues to be most close and most identified with her Son who
bore all the sins of men.
Her sinlessness was not
one of a blissful ignorance of the reality of sin. Her closeness and
complete identification with her Son made her know the very core of
evil and sin in the world. But like her Son too, she knew how to
handle all those. And that is by suffering the way Christ suffered
for our sins. That’s why she’s referred to also the Mother of
It’s true that she was not
crucified the way Christ was crucified. But her suffering perfectly
mirrored the extreme suffering of her Son. In fact, we can consider
her suffering a very heroic since it was experienced in a quiet and
While all of us who try to
follow Christ can be regarded as co-redeemers with Christ in the
sense that we also have to suffer, die and resurrect with Christ,
Mary can be described as the co-redemptrix par excellence.
Deepening our devotion to
Mary of the Immaculate Conception can only help us to effectively
handle the reality of evil and sin in this world as we pursue the
real and ultimate purpose of our life. And that is to be holy as our
heavenly Father is holy.
Deepening our Marian
devotion should be a task that we carry out daily. We lose nothing.
Rather we have everything to gain!
We always need
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
December 2, 2017
MAKE no mistake about it.
We always need God’s grace. On our own, we can only do evil.
Whatever good we think we can do without God’s grace is only
apparent. Sooner or later, that good will have no other fate but to
degenerate into something evil.
Actually, God’s grace – at
least what is known as the actual grace – is always available. But
we need to be aware of it by constantly asking for it so that our
actuations will always be according to God’s will and ways even as
they are also according to ours.
Let’s always remember that
our life is always a life with God. Considering that we have been
created in God’s image and likeness and are children of his,
everything in our life is infused with God’s spirit which we have to
learn to be aware of and to correspond to as best as we can.
Christ affirmed this truth
when he said he is the vine and we are the branches. “If you remain
in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can
do nothing.” (Jn 15,5)
We have to overcome our
strong tendency to think that we can be just on our own, wrongly
thinking that this is how we exercise our freedom. Our freedom can
only be true freedom when it is exercised with God who is its
source, its power and its end.
The autonomy that we enjoy
in this life, especially in our temporal affairs where we are
legitimately allowed to have different views and opinions, should
never be understood as being totally independent of God such that we
can even go against God’s will.
Without corresponding to
God’s grace, we are bound to misuse our human powers. If our first
parents, still in their state of original justice, managed to sin
because in a moment they lapsed into forgetting God and following
the suggestion of the devil, how much more us who have been born
already with the handicap of the original sin.
Without corresponding to
God’s grace, the use of our human powers will be distorted and will
just convert into all kinds of isms. Our intellectual activity, for
example, will fall into intellectualism, the exercise of our will
into voluntarism, the joy of our sentiments into sentimentalism.
These human powers become easy prey to the wiles of our wounded
flesh, the deceptive charms of the world, and the tricks of the
Our will, for example,
which is what enables us to be the image and likeness of God and is
therefore our most powerful human faculty, can be misused such that
instead of becoming like God, we can choose to become like the
For us to correspond
properly to God’s grace, we need to be always humble, always feeling
the need to be in his presence and to know his will in an abiding
manner. May it be that no moment passes without being with God and
interacting with him.
We have to regularly
examine ourselves to see how we can plug the hole that takes us away
from God’s presence. This hole usually takes the form of the pride
that we can derive from enjoying our God-given endowments. Instead
of thanking God for them and using them for God’s purposes, we
simply enjoy them on our own, using them entirely according to our
will and designs.
May we always be desirous
of God’s grace!