God and evil
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, email@example.com
April 23, 2017
A usual question many people
ask is, If God is good, is goodness himself, if he is truly omnipotent
and provident, why is there evil? It’s definitely a very complex
question that is hard to answer. In fact, the Catechism recognizes
“To this question, as
painful and mysterious as it is”, the Catechism explains, “only the
whole of Christian faith can constitute a response.” (Compendium 57)
It hastens to reassure us that “God is not in any way – directly or
indirectly – the cause of evil. He illuminates the mystery of evil in
his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose in order to vanquish that great
moral evil, human sin, which is at the root of all other evils.”
Then in the next point, it
says: “Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit evil if
he did not cause a good to come from that very evil. This was realized
in a wondrous way by God in the death and resurrection of Christ. In
fact, from the greatest of all moral evils (the murder of his Son) he
has brought forth the greatest of all goods (the glorification of
Christ and our redemption). (Compendium 58)
We also know about the story
of Joseph, the son of Jacob, in the Old Testament who was sold by his
own brothers out of envy but who later became a prominent man in
Egypt. When that dramatic reunion between him and his father and
brothers took place, the brothers were very apologetic for what they
did to him and expected to be duly punished.
But Joseph, with utmost
magnanimity, the magnanimity of God, simply told them: “You intended
to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now
being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen 50,20) Once again, the
divine principle that God knows how to derive good from evil finds its
It’s important that when we
consider the very many different forms of evil that can come to us and
that we see around, we should immediately have recourse to our faith
and not stay too long in our merely human estimations that are usually
based on our emotions only, our prejudices, our sciences that cannot
fathom the many mysteries in life, etc.
We should not waste too much
time lamenting and complaining, and worse, drifting towards the loss
of faith. We need to go to our faith as soon as possible, and there
find some refuge for our troubled souls.
But for this to happen, we
need to practice some emotional and intellectual humility, otherwise
that faith cannot shed its proper light, and we would be held captive
by our limited ways of understanding things. We cannot deny the fact
that our emotions and our intellectual pride can easily dominate the
way we think and react to things.
We have to find ways of
embedding this attitude in the people and in our culture itself. We
should not be too afraid when some forms of evil come our way. We just
have to ask: “Lord, what do you want me to learn from these?”
What the Holy Week
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
April 9, 2017
MANY precious insights and
lessons can be derived if we enter into the spirit of the Holy Week.
Let us thank God for all of them and strengthen our resolve to go
through the Holy Week keeping our faith and piety as vibrant as
possible. That way, we can predispose ourselves to continually discern
these insights and lessons, refining, polishing and deepening them as
we go along.
Among these precious
insights and lessons is the idea of human and Christian perfection
which, I believe, is patently shown by Christ as we liturgically
celebrate his Passion, Death and Resurrection.
For many of us, our usual
understanding of what is perfect and complete is when we manage to
pass a certain test, conquer a certain battle, win in a certain
contest, all measured in human terms.
That is to say, that the
victory and conquest is measured in terms of points scored, wealth
earned, popularity gained, or in terms of mere physical and mechanical
Those standards of
perfection and completion obviously have their proper value and place
in the sun, but they definitely are still far from what is ideal to us
as persons and as children of God.
They are far too exclusive,
not inclusive, and are unable to find value in suffering, and reason
and meaning in the many human imperfections and natural limitations
that we all have.
It’s an understanding of
perfection that is not realistic, given our wounded human nature and
damaged condition. It fails to consider many other things that are
unavoidable in our earthly life.
In this Holy Week, from
Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, to his
death on the cross and resurrection, what we see is Christ’s
determination to perfect and complete his redemptive work by obeying
the will of his Father, no matter what it costs.
Our idea of human and
Christian perfection has to conform to that model shown to us by
Christ. It can be very strict and demanding insofar as the human and
natural standards are concerned, but all of that should not in any way
undermine the charity and mercy that has to be extended to everyone no
matter how they are.
We have to realize that our
human and Christian perfection is achieved to the extent that we
follow Christ all the way to the cross so that we too can share in his
resurrection. It is a perfection that will always involve suffering,
that is, the cross of Christ that paved the way to his resurrection.
What the Holy Week teaches
us is to train ourselves to suffer with Christ, to take up the cross
of Christ without fear. We should be reassured of the victory that can
be the consequence of this attitude, banking also on the reassurance
that was once expressed by St. Paul:
“No temptation has overtaken
you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful. He will not
let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,
he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor
Our CAB. Our Peace.
A Press Statement by All-Out
Peace (AOP) & Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) on CAB’s 3rd Anniversary
March 27, 2017
As we commemorate today’s
3rd Anniversary of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro
(CAB), the All-Out Peace (AOP) and Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW) renew
and further strengthen our support for this historic peace agreement,
and reiterate our collective resolve for a genuinely inclusive peace
roadmap that secures the present and the future not just of Bangsamoro
but of the whole nation.
AOP and MPW believe that
CAB, an instrument of genuine peace, “embodies and recognizes the
“justness and legitimacy of the cause of the Bangsamoro people and
their aspiration to chart their political future through a democratic
process that will secure their identity and prosperity, and allow for
meaningful self-governance”. It is in this context that we register
our support and call for the immediate enactment of a Bangsamoro
enabling law that reflects all principled and meaningful solutions to
seek a final answer to the Bangsamoro question and resolve the
decades-old Mindanao conflict.
Today, we re-affirm with
utmost urgency, our commitment to contribute, more significantly, to
peacebuilding – a strategy crucial to finding a viable peace formula
to help see through the conclusion of the Bangsamoro peace process
that would finally seal the democratic aspirations of the Bangsamoro
for their inherent right to self-determination towards a meaningful
and enduring peace.
Despite the setbacks
suffered by the CAB in recent years, starting with the unfortunate
incident in Mamasapano and the failure of the 16th Congress to pass a
BBL, we believe that the CAB, and those who believe in it, have
weathered the storm. Believing that the CAB is a product not only of
political negotiations between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine
government but of the peacebuilding communities’ decades of
peacemaking, we are here today, stronger and with a firmer resolve to
persevere and defend the political promise and peaceful vision of what
we claim as Our CAB.
In the immediate, we
respectfully urge the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the
implementing peace panels, the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC)
to fast track the peace process as we cannot afford anymore delay. The
strategy of the new administration to actually build on what has been
accomplished in the past and to continue previous commitments,
including the implementation of signed agreements from past
administrations is a welcome development.
Already, even if an enabling
law is yet to be hammered by the BTC and enacted by Congress, a
Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission mandated by the CAB
has delivered on its major task by issuing a report and proposing
recommendations primarily based on extensive consultations in the
Bangsamoro areas. We urge President Duterte to heed its
recommendations particularly of establishing a Transitional Justice
and Reconcilation Commission for the Bangsamoro (NTJRCB) that shall
ensure the implementation of the ‘dealing with the past’ framework and
promote healing and reconciliation.
Now, more than ever, we are
optimistic and hopeful that in the spirit and principles of the CAB
and other related peace agreements, history will be on our side and
will offer a new round of golden opportunity for the enactment of a
Bangsamoro enabling law to rectify the injustices committed not just
against the Bangsamoro, the indigenous peoples of Mindanao, but for
all the oppressed peoples of our nation. We are determined to win this
‘war’ against war. In the success of the peace process rests our
peaceful and democratic future.
in the Philippines – complicity in murder
Executive Director, Front Line Defenders
March 10, 2017
On Thursday, 2 March, Jimboy
Tapdasan Pesadilla was contacted by a neighbour to go to his parents’
house urgently. When he got to the house, he found several neighbours
outside the house and a team of police inside, taking pictures. His
father and mother had both been shot dead.
Ramon Dagaas Pesadilla and
his wife Leonila Tapdasan Pesadilla were both active members of the
Compostela Farmers’ Association (CFA). The CFA has been vocal in its
opposition to major mining projects in the area, and as a result their
members have been regular targets for the security forces and thugs
hired by the mining companies. Ramon and Leonila had recently donated
land for a Lumad (the non Muslim indigenous people of the southern
Philippines) community school. This had made them a particular target
for attack as the security forces accuse indigenous community schools
of fostering support for the New People’s Army, the NPA. Human rights
groups have reported an upward trend in human rights violations
against indigenous people ever since fighting resumed between
communist rebels and government forces following the termination of
both parties' unilateral ceasefires early last month.
These latest killings bring
to 17 the number of HRDs killed since the start of 2017.
When President Benigno
Aquino III of the Philippines left office in June 2016, he could at
least claim some credit for a significant drop in the number of
extra-judicial executions, even through the activities of
government-backed death squads still remained a major cause for
concern. Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, killings are
once more on the increase. These crimes are rarely investigated or the
perpetrators held to account. According to Human Rights Watch's 2016
Annual Report “Among the reasons are lack of political will to
investigate and prosecute abuses by state security forces; a corrupt
and politicised criminal justice system; and a traditional “patronage
politics” system that protects officials and security forces”.
In its 2016 Annual Report,
Front Line Defenders reported 281 killings of human rights defenders (HRDs)
around the world. Thirty-one of those killings took place in the
Philippines, the largest number of killings of HRDs in any country
outside the Americas. By calling for the extra-judicial killing of
those involved, or suspected of being involved, in the drug trade,
President Duterte has sent a signal that murder is an acceptable way
of dealing with certain social problems. The ending of the peace talks
and the ceasefire has made an already volatile situation even more
dangerous, especially for indigenous peoples or environmental HRDs who
object to mining or other polluting industries.
The Philippines is now one
of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a HRD and
the government of President Duterte must act urgently to break the
cycle of violence, ensure the security forces operate within the rule
of law and bring the perpetrators to justice or stand accused of
complicity in murder.
The recent decision to
involve the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the war on drugs,
especially in the lands of indigenous peoples, is a dangerous
development which will do nothing to solve the drug problem or resolve
the decades-old conflict, but will certainly increase the death toll.
Since the beginning of
February there has been a catalogue of killings of Lumad community
leaders. On 3 February, Matanem Lorendo Pocuan and Renato Anglao, were
gunned down in separate incidents. On 6 February, Emelito Rotimas was
shot eight times by suspected military agents, while later the same
day Glenn Ramos, was shot dead by personnel of the Crime Investigation
and Detection Group (CIDG). On 16 February, Edweno ‘Edwin’ Catog, was
shot by two men, believed to be linked to the 46th Infantry
Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA). He had previously been warned by a
relative that he should go into hiding because he was on a military
hit list. On 19 February, Willerme Agorde of Mailuminado Farmers’
Association Incorporated (MAFAI) was shot by suspected members of the
Bagani paramilitary group.
According to Cristina
Palabay of human rights organisation Karapatan, “There is a consistent
pattern in these killings. Every political killing is justified by the
military with claims that victims are members of the New People’s Army
(NPA), and have been killed during ‘legitimate’ encounters’. In the
cities, we are being fed a similar narrative – with the police
justifying drug-related killings during ‘legitimate’ police
operations. These killings are perpetrated by state security forces
who seem to think that they have been granted the right to kill
President Duterte has
encouraged the killers and must be held responsible for his actions.
The international community must challenge President Duterte’s
endorsement of murder. Failure to do so will send a signal to
dictators everywhere that they can wage war on their own people with
The number of killings is
not just a measure of entrenched violence, but an indicator of the
failure of successive Philippine governments to deal with issues of
poverty, corruption and discrimination, as well as the lack of
economic or social opportunities for the vast majority of the people
of the Philippines. A key step towards addressing this issue is for
the government to recognise the key role of HRDs in helping to create
a more just and equal society in the Philippines.
Why do we fast?
March 9, 2017
CHRIST was once asked this
question. The disciples of John the Baptist and of the Pharisees
wondered why they had to fast much while those of Christ did not. (cfr
The answer came immediately.
“Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and
then they will fast.”
I suppose Christ was
referring to himself as the bridegroom. In fact, in his Letter to the
Ephesians, St. Paul referred Christ as the groom of the Church, that
is, us. (cfr 5,22-32)
Christ can be regarded as
the bridegroom who actually is with us always, but also not yet fully
with us, given our human and temporal condition as of yet. We are
still on our pilgrim way on earth toward our eternal destiny in heaven
where Christ will be fully with us.
That is why Christ can be
considered somehow as not yet with us, and that’s the reason why we
have to fast. It is to train ourselves to seek him. It is to make us
realize we need him, and that we actually will find our true and
lasting joy with him. At the moment, we are still kind of mourning, as
Christ said, because we are not yet fully with him.
We have to be clear about
the reason why we fast. We should not just fast because we have been
commanded to do so. We have to fast because, especially at these times
when we are easily carried away by earthly pleasures, we need to
sharpen our longing for Christ.
Fasting has a dual effect.
One is the passive or the negative effect, which is that of
disciplining ourselves – especially our senses and our other bodily
faculties. This is the self-denial part. And the other is the active
or the positive one, which is that of honing our hunger for Christ.
This is the following part, as illustrated in the very words of
Christ: “If any man wants to follow me, he must deny himself, carry
the cross, and follow me.”
This two should go together,
mutually affecting each other. One without the other would distort the
true character and purpose of fasting.
And nowadays, we have to
understand that fasting should not be limited to matters of food and
drinks. It has to be extended now most especially in the use of the
many conveniences that we now enjoy, like our new technologies, that
have an effective way of enslaving us and blunting our love for God
and for others.
We need to concretize our
resolutions with regard to this need for fasting. This may mean that
we have to set aside our cellphones from time to time, that we use the
gadgets with clear rectitude of intention, that we refrain from
complaining when these same gadgets give us problems as they often do
We have to understand that
everyday, the element of fasting as a sacrifice is actually a
necessity to all of us.
PMCJ’s statement on
President Duterte’s signing of the Paris Agreement
March 6, 2017
The Philippine Movement for
Climate Justice (PMCJ) welcomes President Duterte’s signing of the
Paris Agreement as a step towards the Philippines commitment to the
1.5 degree aspirational goal laid out in the Paris Agreement.
However, signing the Paris
Accord still will not ensure a world beyond the climate crisis and the
Philippines climate-proofed from extreme weather events. However, the
Philippine Government will once again lead the various countries in
demanding the historical responsibilities of rich countries and the
higher commitments in polluter countries in mitigation action. As of
now, the NDCs submitted by all countries which ratified the Paris
Agreement falls short of preventing catastrophic climate change.
With this, PMCJ stands firm
that the Paris Agreement is not enough to enact effective and genuine
climate actions. The group calls for stronger and concrete policy
actions that can directly address and develop programs towards
Philippine economy achieving growth not tied with increased
consumption of coal.
We demand the president’s
full support in implementing policies to reduce the dependence of our
country to the use of dirty fossil fuels and spearhead the transition
towards 100% renewable energy. Moreover, we call on the President to
use its mandate to ensure that government agencies will be working
hand-in-hand and will serve and protect the interest of the people who
are being directly hit by the impacts of the exacerbating global
So far, the Philippines
energy consumption exhibits an increasing CO2 emission due to
undesirably increasing number of existing coal-fired power plants (CFPPs)
in the country – counting 26 operational and 36 more CFPPs in the
pipeline. In fact, President Duterte himself has inaugurated 3 CFPPs
in his term.
The Philippines still
remains as one of the most vulnerable countries. According to the 2016
Global Climate Risk Index our country ranked 4th globally after being
visited by strong typhoons like Typhoon Yolanda for the past decade
and the succeeding typhoons. As a result it exacerbated further
poverty, massive inequality due to the extent of damage and
dislocation. The continued burning of coal and other fossil fuels
globally will be detrimental to most climate vulnerable countries like
the Philippines where economic growth are being eaten up by
destruction and devastation.
Typhoon Yolanda’s effects
and impacts include high percentage of destruction of framed homes,
total roof failure and wall collapse, isolation of residential areas
due to fallen trees and power poles and power outages (NOAA, 2013c),
and left the country with 6,201 dead, 1,785 missing and 28,626
injured. All of these resulted to P296 million total damages in
agriculture and infrastructure which caused a 1% total decrease in
gross domestic product (GDP).
Lent, seeing the light in
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
March 5, 2017
WE are now again the in
season of Lent. It’s important that we know how to see the good,
bright and happy side of this season that otherwise is usually
considered as dark, and also associated almost exclusively with pain,
suffering and sacrifice.
We need to confront the dark
reality of our sinfulness as well as the reassuring reality of God’s
mercy. These two realities should go together, and the Lenten period
is the good time to strengthen our conviction about the helpful
relationship these two should have with each other.
Whenever we feel the sting
of our weaknesses and sinfulness, together with their antecedents and
consequences, their causes and effects, let’s never forget to consider
also God’s mercy that is always given to us, and, in fact, given to us
We have to avoid getting
stuck with one while ignoring the other. Our sinfulness should be
viewed in the context of divine mercy. And vice-versa: God’s mercy
should be regarded in the context of our unavoidable sinfulness.
And from there, let us
develop the unshakable conviction that no matter what sins we commit,
no matter how ugly they are, there is always hope. God’s mercy is
May it be that while our
sinfulness would have the understandable effect of making us feel bad
and sad, we should not allow it to scandalize ourselves to the point
of running away from Christ rather than going back to him contrite.
Let’s strengthen our
conviction that Christ has a special attraction to sinners, that he is
ever willing to forgive us as long as we show some signs of repentance
that he himself, through his grace, will stir in us.
Let’s play the part of Peter who, after denying Christ three times,
realized his mistake and wept bitterly in repentance. Christ looked
kindly on him and forgave him and even made him the prince of the
But we have to learn how to handle our weaknesses and temptations. And
the secret is always to be with God. The more we are stirred and
bombarded by them, the more we should be with God. That’s the secret.
To distance ourselves from him can only mean disaster.
Truth is, we always need God in our battle against temptations. We
should disabuse ourselves from the thought that with our good
intentions and our best efforts alone, we can manage to tame the urges
We cannot! That’s the naked truth about it. We only can if we are with
God. And we have to be with him in a strong, determined way, not in a
passive or lukewarm way. Do flies flock on a hot soup? No. But they do
on a cold or lukewarm soup.
We need to do everything to be with God. Our mind and heart should be
fully and constantly engaged with him. We always have reason to do so
– at least, we can thank him for what we are having at the moment:
health, food, air, work, etc. Let’s never leave him!
God yes but
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
February 22, 2017
WE have to be clear about
this. We cannot have God without religion. They go together as far as
we are concerned. Religion is precisely our relationship with God.
It’s an unavoidable thing, whether we like it or not. It has its laws
and requirements that flow from God himself and that ought to be
followed. Without religion, what would God be to us?
There are some people who
profess that they believe in God but not in religion. Perhaps what
they mean is that they indeed believe in God but do not want to be
hampered by certain “requirements” that religion demands from them. Or
they do not want what they call as “organized religion” with its
doctrine and practices.
It’s like saying that they
want a God that is according to their own liking, their own designs,
their own terms. They do not want to be told what to do in their own
so-called relation with God.
Of course, they are quick to
say that these “requirements” are simply man-made, or are mere
legalisms that really have nothing to do with the essence of our
relation with God. They seem to be the only ones capable of knowing
how their relation with God should be. No one should intervene.
Worse, they are quick to
point out the many inconsistencies that people who occupy positions in
the Church and those who call themselves as pious, holy and religious
make, to justify their rejection of their own idea of religion. They
are deflecting the issue, as if the mistakes and sins of these men and
women detract from the objective need for religion.
This is unfortunate because
such understanding of God and religion is fatally flawed. While
religion is personal in the sense that it is unique to each
individual, it is also personal in the sense that it is by definition
relational and subject to the laws of God and the laws that the
divinely founded Church stipulates.
To be personal is not only
to be a unique individual but also to be related to God and to
everybody else. A person is always a religious and social being. That
is how a person is wired, and in these relations, there are universal
God-given laws that need to be followed.
Of course, these laws are
articulated in human terms and therefore cannot fully capture the
mysterious laws of God. That is why they need to be updated, improved,
polished, enriched, etc. as time goes on. But they have to be followed
just the same, unless it’s clear that a particular law does not apply
to a concrete situation of the person.
Some people say that they
believe in God but they do not want to do anything with the Church.
But God without the Church is not God. He would be a man-made god. The
bishop-martyr St. Cyprian expresses this truth well: “You cannot have
God as your Father if you do not have the Church as your mother.”