Parañaque youth to conduct leaders’ conference

MANILA, Feb. 28, 2013—The Diocesan Commission on Youth of Paranaque will hold a leaders’ conference for youth commission leaders’ focusing on ministering the youth.

Around a hundred youth leaders from 52 parishes in the diocese are expected to attend the DCOY Shepherd’s Conference themed “Uniting Around Christ’s Redeeming Cross,” on March 9. 

According to Peter Pardo, diocesan youth coordinator, the annual leaders’ conference is set to tackle project management program implementation techniques and will equip all youth leaders with the right knowledge on proper ministering the young.

“The whole day conference is also one way of going back to the basics in doing youth ministry,” Pardo added.

He also reminded the leaders to continue serving the young people with a mindset of a pastor, promote unity in building strong relationships, empower fellow youth by inspiring them to commit to excellence for the “Lord deserves nothing but the best from us”.

“Continue serving your parish because by doing so, you help to strengthen the foundation of our diocese,” he furthered.

Aside from the youth commission leaders, youth representatives from organizations, transparochial groups and campuses are also attending the conference. (Jandel Posion)


Choose candidates wisely, life advocates urge laity

MANILA, Feb. 28, 2013 – As the celebration of Pro-life Month comes to a close, a pro-life stalwart and a priest called on the lay people to be more stringent in choosing candidates to vote for in the nearing midterm elections, saying that the foremost issues faced by the country are brought by the “wrong choices on who runs the government and who makes laws.”

Dr. Ligaya Acosta, Human Life International (HLI) regional director for Asia and Oceania, justified this call and stressed the importance of voting for candidates who align their political ideologies with the moral teachings of the Church.

“I think our first criteria in the coming elections and in every election for that matter, should be what is the candidate’s stand on God, life and family, because if they can’t stand even on these very basic issues, we can’t expect them to push for true welfare and development,” she said.

Need for rightful legislation

Acosta also called out the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) law, which was secretly signed in December 2012, and said that population control measures are not what the country needs as a solution to poverty.

“Everyone needs to understand that this is a global anti-life agenda funded by mind-boggling amount of money, which allows them to advance their agenda by penetrating practically all sectors of society.  The attack against faith, life, and family can be so subtle—like in the guise of poverty alleviation—that many fall into the trap,” Acosta said.

She noted that the passage of laws that will truly eliminate the cause of poverty and strengthen the family will bring a stronger nation and a more stable social order.

“What our lawmakers need to promote are laws that will eliminate graft and corruption, which is the real cause of poverty in this country,” she said. “They also need to craft laws that will promote education and genuine livelihood opportunities for the poor, and those that will strengthen marriage and the family, the basic foundation of the nation.  As goes the home, so goes the entire social order.”

Acosta lambasted the moral corruption taking place in the country as it greatly affects and diminishes the spiritual beliefs and principles the laity upholds.

“This is the worst corruption ever—because this is not only corruption of money, but corruption of faith, life, family, the youth, and our very core values.  What happened was also a corruption of democracy and an open mockery of the constitutional provision of separation of powers,” said the HLI regional director, who worked for the Department of Health (DOH) for more than 20 years and who witnessed the agency’s execution of its population control programs.

Back to basics

Acosta said that going back to the basic teachings of the church pertaining to catechesis, life, sexuality, and marriage will make the public understand more clearly the logic behind church teachings.

She added that unearthing the negative scientific facts behind contraception and abortion, scrutinizing the implications of sex education, and studying the real agenda behind the clamor for divorce, abortion, population control, and same-sex “marriage” will help educate Catholics and bring back the old conservatist nature of the church.

“True progress has for its purpose the development and not the destruction of man, who is the center of God’s creation and the subject and object of development.  Thus, on the contrary, if people will only follow the teachings that Christ Himself taught, as well as the commandments given by God, this world would be a better place to live in,” she said.

“We need to continue opening the eyes of our people for them to understand the double-speak, what this is all about, how it develops, and how it destroys the moral foundation and the very life of a nation,” she continued. “We need to expose the deception and fight against it.”

Opposing the ‘culture of death’

Meanwhile, Fr. Vicente Cajilig, OP, member of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, said the success of building a pro-life nation depends on how the lay people, especially the lawmakers who legislate controversial measures, recognize their lapses for promoting the “culture of death” in the country.

“The future of life in this country depends on how we recognize our disgrace due to laws against life that favor the culture of death. Together, let us build a pro-life nation. A pro-death nation does not promise glory and eternity,” he said in his homily at this month’s Pro-Life Convention at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center, Manila.

He noted the presumed sinfulness of people for supporting anti-life agenda that violate Catholic morals.

“It is the sinfulness of us all, individual or societal, that we bring to the altar of God. We ask for forgiveness. For we believe that the love of God for mistaken leaders and followers is everlasting,” Cajilig said.

“Ours as this period is a profession of faith in the creator who is the author and master of things. Remove the role of creator in creation and what we will have is pure evolutionism,” he added.

Attack of relativism

He also bemoaned the failure of some Catholics to strictly uphold the ideals of the Catholic Church, further noting that morality is absolute and should not be affected by relativism.

“Relativism dominates the un-evangelized or poorly-evangelized minds and hearts of quasi-believers who profess they are Catholics but who never took seriously the moral truth and the saving doctrine contained in the rich documentation on family life and its role in a country or society,” Cajilig said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)

WYD organizers issue ‘lectio divina’ for delegates

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Feb. 28, 2013—Organizers of the upcoming World Youth Day (WYD) have released “Lectio Divina” (translated as “Divine Readings”) for delegates to study as part of their preparation for the global youth gathering.

Printable handouts on meditation are accessible through the portal under the “Lectio Divina” page. At least two handouts themed “The Master who loves you” and “The Master who calls you,” are already made available for download at the portal.

According to Fr. Arnaldo Rodrigues, director of the Pastoral Preparation for WYD 2013 which Brazil will host on July, groups of delegates who will attend the WYD can organize a gathering to read the “Lectio Divina” and pray together.

Rodrigues urged priests to inform parish youth about the “Lectio Divina” and encouraged them to use the handouts in preparation for attending WYD.

“It’s a way for the young to participate in the organization of the Journey. It is also a way to speak and pray in the same intention, to prepare equally… This channel is more a tool for the WYD…, ” he said.

The handouts on “Lectio Divina” include praise and worship hymns, invocation, Biblical Readings, and various points and questions for reflection. (YouthPinoy)

‘For better, but not for worse’: Why we don’t need divorce

ANTIPOLO City, Feb. 27, 2013—Every bride and groom would probably cringe at the words, but if divorce is to be legalized in the Philippines, wedding day vows might as well be downgraded to befit a truly conditional contract, Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan, said.

“There’s [declaration of] nullity, there’s annulment, legal separation, then you still want to add divorce, why marry in the first place?” he asked hundreds of participants to a family life conference this morning.

There are already existing recourses for truly “impossible” marriages like legal separation, declaration of nullity and annulment, thus making the legalization of divorce not only superfluous, but dangerous, Cruz explained in his talk on church law and civil law on marriage, divorce and annulment.

Divorce is simply rewarding bad behavior, Cruz, who is also the Judicial Vicar of the CBCP National Tribunal of Appeals, said.

With divorce, he explained, anyone who is simply “tired” of how his or her spouse looks or acts can have an affair, for example, to get a divorce.

He said if violence, infidelity or abandonment are to be recognized as valid grounds for divorce, then, all a spouse needs to do to escape a “bad marriage” is to engage in any of the said bad behavior.

Cruz said, he doubted the legalization of divorce would help address domestic violence, infidelity and abandonment, the top three reasons for the breakdown of marriages, according to statistics.

According to him, finding out why marriages are failing should be the real focus of the Church and, even of the state.

He even went as far as suggesting as requiring those who want to get married to take psychological tests.

According to Cruz, troubled couples have the option of a declaration of nullity or saying that a marriage is void or never existed in the first place.

Second is annulment, which applies to valid marriages that are made void.

Lastly, there is legal separation, which is a mere physical separation of a married couple’s “roof, table and bed”. In short, they simply do not live together, but are still married in the eyes of the Church and of society.

More than 200 family and life coordinators and lay leaders are currently participating at the 4th National Conference organized by the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) at the St. Michael Retreat House in Antipolo City. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]

SSVP community condemns Ati leader killing

MANILA, Feb. 27, 2013—The religious family of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) in the Philippines has added its voice denouncing the killing of Boracay Ati leader Dexter Condez.

Condez, who spoke for the Atis in their fight to reclaim their ancestral lands, was also the youth conference president of the SSVP in the area.

Karl Michael Hila, the director for youth development of SSVP-National Council of the Philippines said in an interview that they are calling for justice and continued support on the cause that Condez was fighting for.

“It is not just a piece of land that they are protecting but their identity and dignity as an indigenous community,” Hila said.

Hila added that those who knew Condez from the Vincentian family were saddened and shocked to hear about his sudden death and expressed their continued support on the cause that he and his fellow Atis’ are fighting for.

Tuguegarao Bishop Sergio Utleg, earlier this week, has denounced the killing of Condez and urged the government to act swiftly and bring perpetrators to justice.

Utleg, who is the chairman of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Indigenous People, urged the Aquino administration to take all possible means to solve the case of Condez and other victims of extra judicial killings.

Condez was shot dead on the evening of February 22 by unidentified gunman while on his way home to the Atis’ ancestral domain in Brgy. Manoc-Manoc after attending a meeting.

He was the spokesperson of the Ati people against those who oppose their claims on ancestral domain in Boracay and a teacher on Indigenous Peoples Education among Ati-children. (Jandel Posion)