Christmas: time for solidarity, peacebuilding

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Displaced residents take shelter in an evacuation center in Davao Oriental provincial covered court, Dec. 7, 2012.

MANILA, Dec. 24, 2012—At this period of suffering for many Filipinos still reeling from the devastation caused by natural calamities, Christmas is a time for solidarity and peacebuilding, a ranking Church official said.

In a Christmas message, Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma urged the faithful to express their solidarity with the victims of typhoon Pablo that devastated Compostela Valley and surrounding areas earlier this month.

He said parishes from his diocese “have sent a solidarity fund to the Diocese of Mati along with several volunteers from various organizations” as a concrete way of helping the affected families.

Last year, Cagayan de Oro also was devastated by Typhoon Sendong that killed thousands of people and displaced hundreds of families.

A year after the tragedy, many families have yet to be given proper housing despite joint humanitarian efforts by national, local and international agencies to normalize the life of the victims.

“While more than half of the Sendong evacuee families have received permanent housing units within the city, many others are still waiting to rebuild their lives and means of livelihood,” Ledesma said.

Another contingency

Aside from the natural calamity, he also pointed out the passage of the RH bill as another kind of contingency that merits an urgent response from the faithful.

He said the approval of the RH bill with its promotion of contraceptives urges the Church to be more active in educating couples on natural family planning methods.

“While we continue to say no! to the widespread promotion of contraceptives, we are all the more challenged to push forward our All-Natural Family Planning program.  Even now, media surveys indicate that most couples prefer Natural Family Planning,” he said.

Ledesma has been active in the promotion of NFP even when he was still the bishop of Ipil.

He said his “pastoral experience over the past six years shows that not only Catholic couples but also those from Muslim, indigenous people, and Iglesia Filipina Independiente communities appreciate and want to adopt our All-NFP program.”

The archbishop also cited the collaboration of local government units and national government agencies like DOH, PopCom, and DSWD, which he said, “have indicated their readiness to promote NFP.”

“The ‘enemy’ is not so much the government, but the lack of information on all NFP methods, including the simplified ones, for the majority of couples today,” Ledesma said.

A lot to thank God for

But despite the setbacks, the Jesuit prelate also noted that still there are a lot to be thankful to the Lord.

He mentioned the recent ordination of three priests and two deacons in the archdiocese as great blessings especially in this year that the Church celebrates the ‘Year of Faith.’

“The gift of vocation offered and answered during this Year of Faith is a special blessing for our local church,” he said.

He also mentioned as another grace the signing of the GPH-MILF Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro that can bring long lasting peace in Mindanao.

But he said “the agreement requires our own proactive efforts to forge inter-religious harmony at the personal level.”

“Peace on earth was the message of the angelic choir to the shepherds in Bethlehem.  May that same message resonate throughout the island of Mindanao and the rest of the country,” Ledesma said.  (CBCPNews)


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