17TH NATIONAL BIBLICAL WORKSHOP
Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate
Theme: God's Word: Source of Justice, Reconciliation and Peace
Cha-Li Beach Resort
Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City
February 11-15, 2008
For the 17th National Biblical Workshop of the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (ECBA-CBCP), some 218 Bible workers from all over the country gathered at Cagayan de Oro City, the City of Golden Friendship, in Northern Mindanao. They were joined by 24 delegates from ten(10) South East Asian countries who would participate in the 5th South-East Asia Catholic Biblical Federation.
The ECBA Workshop held on February 11-15, 2008 was followed immediately by the CBF Workshop (February 16-17). Venue to both events was the Cha-li Beach Resort in Zone 3, Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City.
While the participants were arriving, the weather was turning inclement, delaying the flights of some participants and preventing others from coming. Outside the venue, angry waves were pounding the sea walls. It is as if nature itself, still groaning in the travails of the children of God, was mourning if not lambasting, the brewing political crisis in the country as the Senate was investigating the NBN-ZTE corruption scandal involving the officials in the highest echelons of the government. The encircling gloom played like a prelude to the theme of the workshop: “God’s Word: Source of Justice, Reconciliation and Peace.” More than ever, the power of God’s Word is needed to break darkness’ spell that threatens not just the political fabric but the very soul of the nation.
In his introductory remark, Bishop Arturo Bastes, ECBA Chairman, placed the two workshops in the context of several biblical events that would rightly make 2008 the Year of the Bible. On June 24-July 3, 2008, the Catholic Biblical Federation will hold its 7th Plenary Assembly in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Africa. Then, the biggest biblical event of the year follows in October - the 12th Ordinary Synod of Bishops which has as theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.” No less significant is the celebration of the Year of St. Paul marking the bi-millennia of his birth which will be celebrated on June 28, 2008—June 29, 2009. The letters of St. Paul, considered the first “Christian theologian,” comprise the earliest New Testament writings.
The conferences elucidated the different dimensions of justice, reconciliation and peace. On the first day, Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ spoke on “The Transformative Power of God’s Word in the Struggle against Corruption.” He was followed by Sr. Bernardita Dianzon, FSP who developed a theme with Pauline and ecological color: “St. Paul and the Groaning of Creation.” The Keynote Speaker, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, was prevented by bad weather from coming. But he sent his reflection on the theme “The Word of God—Source of Justice, Reconciliation, and Peace” and this was delivered with, “rabbinic” commentaries, by Bishop Arturo Bastes in the morning of the second day. Another speaker, Ambassador Tita de Villa, did reach Cagayan de Oro in the afternoon and she spoke on “Challenge 2010: Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.” Bishop Virgilio David was not as successful, so his prepared conference on the Lineamenta of the Synod of Bishops was presented by Bishop Renato Mayugba.
The main conferences were supplemented by sharing and workshops. The convention appreciated the National Catholic Family Bible Quiz, now in its 3rd edition. It has branched out to other countries and has given birth to a TV talk-show, “Power to Unite.” On the third day, the participants had several workshops to choose from: Bible Translations and the Challenge of Justice, Reconciliation and Peace (Fr. Marc Jacobson and Dr. Annie del Corro); Justice, Reconciliation and Peace in the Bible and the Qur’an (Msgr. Elmer Abacahin and Ms. Aminah Mambuay); Promotion of Justice, Reconciliation and Peace in the Military and Police (P. Supt. Romy Inway Palgue and P. Supt. Warren Tolito); Catholic Faith Defenders as Promoters of Justice, Reconciliation and Peace (Atty. Mike Abas); and Bibliodrama and the Biblical-Pastoral Ministry (Fr. Rudi Poehl,SVD).
Indeed, the participants were offered a wealth of materials to ruminate upon, a veritable banquet for the mind and spirit. The organizers have really done a magnificent job. The workshop would not have been successful without the efforts of our wonderful hosts who showed us the best of the province’s hospitality and golden heart. Our gratitude goes to Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, SJ, and his team headed by the Diocesan Bible Director Fr. Alan Pulgo. Thanks to generous individuals and groups who prepared food and entertainment for us. Thanks also to Fr. Iluminado Rojo, the Regional Director for Mindanao. With our thanks goes our felicitation to the whole Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro which is currently celebrating its Diamond Jubilee as an independent diocese.
Finally, we would like to thank our speakers and workshop animators for sharing with us the fruits of their own “wrestling with the Word” and for braving the inclement weather in order to join us.
In this workshop, we felt more intensely the travails of the workers for justice, reconciliation and peace. Creation “groans” with us as we try to live up to our dignity as children of God. Although we realize how deeply we have fallen into the spell of corruption, and how difficult and how hopeless the situation may seem to some, we are full of hope for we know that the grace of God in Christ Jesus is more powerful than darkness and our human frailty. Our hope and our strength comes from the Word, “inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in holiness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In the power of the Word, we shall strive to implement the following lines of action, the fruit of our 17th National Bible Workshop:
1. Our struggle for Justice, Reconciliation, and Peace
1.1. We reiterate our resolve in the Bontoc Workshop: that we shall, in our personal capacity, reject corruption in all its forms. We shall begin with our personal values, the values of our family, parish, basic ecclesial communities and religious institutions.
1.2. We shall apply ourselves to more organized actions to fight corruption, form or join “circles of discernment,” and support those who forsake corruption to redeem their dignity/soul.
2. Challenge 2010
2.1. We shall respect and help others respect the dignity of the ballot. We shall help expose in a Christian way the evils of CORRUPTION which has become imbedded in the electoral process and in our social life.
2.2. We shall help the PPCRV in the formation of conscience and the mobilization of volunteers to disseminate its roadmap, to monitor the conduct of elections, and to carry out electoral reforms.
3. Bishops’ Synod on the Word of God
3.1. We shall pray for and follow the developments in the Synod on the Word of God. Once the Apostolic Exhortation on the Word of God comes out, we shall make it one of the principal guides for our Bible apostolate.
4. Jubilee of St. Paul
4.1. We shall strive to know, love, and imitate the great Apostle of the Gentiles. We shall reflect on his letters and pray for a share of his zeal for the Gospel. We shall support the various initiatives of the Church for the celebration of the Pauline Year 2008-2009 and her concern for ecology.
5. Bible Celebrations
5.1. We shall participate more actively in the different Biblical initiatives, celebrations, and causes: Family Bible Quiz, National Bible Month/Week/Sunday, Bible symposia/sharing.
6. Five-fold area of Biblical Pastoral Ministry
6.1. We shall integrate our biblical pastoral ministry under five areas: Formation, Celebration, Translation and Distribution.
7.1 We shall network with the CBF and the Biblical Pastoral Workers in South East Asia and North Asia. We shall make use of media technology in coordinating our efforts and in spreading the Good News.
Approved this 14th of February 2008,
MOST REV. ARTURO M. BASTES, SVD, DD
Bishop of Sorsogon
In the name of the participants