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PROCLAIM THE MESSAGE, IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON (cf. 2 Tim4:2)

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 1:35 AM

PROCLAIM THE MESSAGE, IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON (cf. 2 Tim4:2)

(A Pastoral Statement of the CBCP on Certain Social Issues ofToday)

 

Beloved Brothers and Sisters:

Our country continues to suffer grave crises, disasters andchallenges. We are reminded of the experience of the tempest at sea by theApostles when they feared for their lives. Jesus chided them for their lack offaith. (cf. Mk 4:35-41)

 

Our Problems as aNation

We have had our share of violent storms. Typhoons Sendong andPablo inflicted horrific damage – the loss of lives, the destruction ofproperties, the dislocation of thousands of families, the radical disruption ofhuman life and livelihood, and the severe trauma of survivors. We must listento expert environmentalists who declare that much of these natural disastersare due to the destruction of our natural resources, our forests and rivers, asa result of unabated logging and mining. These must lead us to examine andquestion the sincerity, quality and effectiveness of the governance of ourleaders.


But this is only one in a long litany of storms, not necessarilynatural. We can include:

·        the promotion ofa culture of death and promiscuity. This is due to the slavishness of our political and businessleaders to follow practices in Western countries that promote, in spite ofexamples that we clearly see in the West,

o       divorce, resulting in more break-upof families and the dysfunctional growth of children,

o       contraceptives, leading to moreabortions,

o       the use of condom, aggravatingHIV-AIDS infection, and

o       school sex education, bringing morepromiscuity and teenage pregnancy.

·        the continuingcorruption and abuse of power by public officials due tolack of information, or still worse, the possible hiding of information fromthe public. It is ironic that the government that prides itself of treading the daang matuwid fears the Right of Information (FOI)bill because of possible discovery of wrongdoing by public officials. Why arethey afraid to entrust the citizens with the truth of their governance?

·        the wideningpractice of political dynasties. As monopoliesin business, monopolies in politics limit the entry that can bring in new ideasand offer better services. Political dynasties breed corruption and ineptitude.We are aggrieved that lawmakers themselves defy the supreme law of the land bynot following the mandate of our Philippine Constitution given 26 years ago tomake an enabling law to ban political dynasties.

·         the issuesraised to the COMELEC on automated election concerns. Election is not a matter of speed but of trustworthiness andhonesty. If not properly addressed the present automated election system canlead to wholesale cheating. The integrity ofa pillar of our democracy – the election – is at stake.

·        the inability andunwillingness of those in power to take the road of social justice. This has resulted in failure to share the resources in thecountry to meet basic rights of the poor, such as secure jobs, decent housing,adequate medicine, ownership of lands that they till, and quality education.New “rights” are being pushed while the most basic rights are being ignored!

·        the deepening ofthe culture of impunity. Extrajudicial killings,unsolved crimes and kidnappings continue and the government is not able orlacks the political will to prosecute the perpetrators and touch powerfulpeople.

·        the unabatedsuffering of the poor in spite ofbright economic ratings. Growth itself, that is, more products and more money,should not be the sole aim of development but also equity. The huge gap betweenthe rich and the poor remains. There is little inclusive growth!

We note the above social and political storms that buffet ourFilipino life because they deeply touch the experiences of our people. We speakfor those who suffer. We bring these concerns to those who have responsibilityand hence accountability. These stormy situations need not be so!

 

The Position ofthe Church

Our position onthe above issues is based on our faith, afaith that is integral, a faith that surrenders to God in the intimacy ofobedience and love. Faith is not only concerned with doctrine but applies thatbelief in all dimensions of life – social, political, economic, cultural, andreligious. Such belief is synthesized in thesocial doctrine of the Church

Catholic moral and social teachings declare:

1.  “Humanlife must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.From the first moment of his existence a human being must be recognized ashaving the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of everyinnocent being to life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church or CCC, no. 2270). The use of artificialmeans to prevent human life from being conceived is evil (CCC, no.2370). Sexual acts are forbidden outside of marriage (CCC, nos.2390-91).

o       Therefore, we denounce the passage ofthe Reproductive Health Law, the political and financial pressures imposed onlawmakers, and the imperialism exercised by secularistic internationalorganizations in the legislative process.

o       We admire and commend the valiantefforts of lay people and lawgivers to prevent the passage of the law.

o       We support the efforts of our laypeople in challenging the RH Law in the Supreme Court and in other venueswithin the bounds of our democratic system.

o       We support and encourage the participationof the laity in electing competent and morally upright candidates who arefaithful to their correct and informed conscience.

o       Weshall be vigilant and act against moves that will be destructive of family andlife.

 

2.  Political corruption is oneof the most serious deformities of the democratic system because it rejectsmoral norms and undermines social justice, which is the justice of the commongood (see Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church or CSDC,no. 411). Freedom of information promotes integrity, transparency, andaccountability in the political order (see CSDC,nos. 414 – 416).

 

o       Therefore, we denounce thenon-prosecution of alleged perpetrators of corruption and strongly call uponthe government to pursue allegations and signs of corruption of power holdersnot only of the past but also of the present, even of friends and party mates.

o       We likewise call upon government togive due priority to the passing of the Freedom of Information Bill at thesoonest possible time.

3.  Politicalauthority exists for the common good. It is not to be exercised for the sake ofprivate and family interests or simply for the interests of a political party.When political authority is exercised merely for these narrow interests, itbetrays the reason for its existence. Moreover, such situation breedscorruption and inhibits general access to political power which is afundamental mark of democracy (see Gaudium et Spes orGS, no. 74; CSDC, e.g., nos. 393, 407,410).

o       Therefore,we denounce the continued existence of family political dynasties and thecontinuing delay of passing a law to implement the constitutional provisionbanning political dynasties.

4. “Every citizen ought to bemindful of his right and duty to promote the common good by using his vote” (GS,no.75). Such right and duty would be denied if obstructions are put in place toprevent its free and responsible exercise, such as dishonesty in elections.

o       Therefore, we call upon COMELEC toadequately address the issues and respond, place corrective measures ifnecessary, to the studies of technical experts to the alleged deficiencies ofthe present system and technology of automated elections. There can be notransparency in elections if the COMELEC itself is not transparent.

5.  Love ofthe poor who in the Gospel reflect Christ himself impels us to work for justicefor the poor (seeCCC, e.g., nos. 2447-48; CSDC, no. 184). This requires promotion ofsocial justice, not by targeting the reduction of the number of poor people.

o       Therefore, as Church of the Poor wedirect our social action services towards the development of the poor.

o       We shall provide moral guidance tothe better off in our society to be in active solidarity with the poor.

o       We call upon the government to beserious in implementing the asset reform laws that are in place in order tobring social justice such as CARPER for the farmers, UDHA for the urban poor,IPRA for the indigenous people and the FISHERIES CODE for the fisher folks. Theend of CARPER is only 1½ years away and agrarian reform accomplishment isdismal, being bogged down by bureaucracy, legal technicalities and poorgovernance.

 

ConsistentlyProclaiming the Truth

As pastors we heed the urgent appeal of St. Paul:

“Proclaim themessage: be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince,rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time iscoming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itchingears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires,and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As foryou, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry outyour ministry fully” (2Tim 4:2-5).

We remind all the faithful that what is popular is not necessarilywhat is right. What is legal is not necessarily moral.

Each has tofollow his/her conscience. But “conscience must be informed and moral judgmentenlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulatesits judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed bythe wisdom of the Creator.” (CCC, no, 1783).

 

Faith and Hopeamidst the Storms

In the midst of the country’s natural and social upheavals, wesee ourselves in the boat with the Apostles buffeted by stormy waves. We aretossed about by the waves created by the secularist spirit, which continues toreduce the role and place of religious faith in the public sphere. Ourcherished moral and spiritual values are at grave risk. We are overcome withfear and anxiety, perhaps also wondering if the Lord has fallen asleep, or ifthe Lord does not care that we are drowning (cf. Mk. 4:38).

We have to hear once again the Lord’s words: “Quiet! Be still!”(Mk. 4:39). He rebukes the winds and the storm ceases. He is the Lord who haspower over sea and sky. He has power over dark spirits. It is He who poses thequestion to us: “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mk. 4:40).

This is the Yearof Faith. Pope Benedict XVI challenges us to respond with faith to the eventsaround us. With our eyes fixed on Jesus (cf. Mt. 14:27-31), we will not drown but even launch deepinto the risky waters of modernity. We should not be afraid.  Our valuesare those of Jesus, of His Gospel, and of the Kingdom of God.

In spite of the storms we know that the kingdom of Godis already among us. The Divine Spirit continues to blow, also in our time.With the eyes of faith we thank and praise the Lord:

1.      for the growing consciousness amongmany of the lay faithful that they have to take seriously their politicalduties. We commend and support lay initiatives to form circles of discernmentto choose worthy candidates and even to run as candidates in order to bringvalues of God’s kingdom in the public discourse. We will help the people to knowthe stance of those who run for office on important issues of the country.

2.      for the many programs that promotethe Natural Family Planning methods. We commit ourselves to promote theseprograms in our local churches and to teach our people Christian values onfamily, marriage and the Gospel of Life.

3.      for efforts among the young to livechastely even in a world that does not value the sacredness of sex. We commendsuch movements as TRUE LOVE WAITS, LIVE PURE and similar initiatives ofeducation to chastity. Indeed, purity attracts!

4.      for the courage and steadfastness ofmany lawgivers to resist political and monetary pressures. For those who haveother opinions, we seek to understand them with patience and charity.

5.      for the effort and bold steps takenby the government in pursuing peace in the country. It is our hope that thesepeace initiatives will be matched by equally bold steps to bring about justice,for peace is the fruit of justice.

6.      for the great clamor among the peopleto do away with political dynasties. If congress is unwilling to act on this wesupport initiatives by the lay faithful to pass an enabling law againstpolitical dynasties through the people’s initiative which the Constitutionprovides.

With Jesus in the Ark of Peter wealways have hope. But with faith and hope, we must have love. Buffeted by thesame stormy winds are the poor with their many faces. Our pastoral statementaddresses the political and social issues that bring them deeper intohelplessness and hopelessness. We must voice out their concerns, be their moralguide, be with them – the unborn and “little ones,” the young, the women, thefarmers, the indigenous peoples, the slum dwellers, the workers, the fisherfolks, the migrants. Our love has to bring them the Good News – the Gospel –with all its social, political and ethical implications.

We entrust the mission of the Churchin these troubled times under the protection and guidance of the Blessed VirginMary,  Mother of Life and  Mother of the Poor. Mother Mary, pray foryour children in your beloved Philippines.

 

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

 

+ JOSE S. PALMA, D.D.

Archbishop of Cebu &

President,CBCP

January 28,2013

 

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