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CBCP calls for end to extrajudicial killings in ‘Lord, Heal Our Land’ Sunday



Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines President Archbishop Socrates Villegas celebrates the mass at the EDSA Shrine, Nov. 5, for the “Lord, Heal Our Land” Sunday. Photo grabbed from Sen. Bam Aquino’s Facebook page.

The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on the laity to pray for the ‘healing’ of the country amidst rampant extrajudicial killings (EJK) and violence committed in the name of the President Rodrigo Duterte’s vicious anti-drug campaign.

In a mass celebrated at the EDSA Shrine for the “Lord, Heal Our Land” Sunday earlier this afternoon, Nov. 5, outgoing CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas warned of punishment if the killings do not end.

“Kapag hindi natin itinigil ang patayan, may sumpang parusa ang bayang pumapatay sa sariling kababayan,” Villegas said.

The Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop addressed various sectors during his homily. Villegas first slammed his fellow priests and church leaders “for keeping quiet when we should speak and blabbering when what is needed is silence” as he asked for God’s forgiveness on their behalf.

He then urged politicians to turn away from “destructive politics” and party loyalty.

“Let the institutions of democracy be revered and safeguarded. Let dialogue prevail over the many reasons for division,” Villegas said, adding “Walang gobyernong forever. Walang politikong forever. God lang ang forever.”

Likewise, the CBCP president called for the military and police to “stop the violence and uphold the law,” reminding them that “power belongs to the people, not to the weapon holder.”

Nonetheless, Villegas also urged drug users as well as the laity to repent and change their ways.

“Magbagong buhay na tayo, kasama ako. Bumalik tayo sa Panginoon. Naghihintay ang Diyos. Ang Simbahan ay handang umalalay sa inyo.”

After the mass, Villegas led families of EJK victims and various religious and political groups in a candle-lit procession with the image of Our Lady of Fatima from the EDSA Shrine to the People Power Monument, where opposition group Tindig Pilipinas held a cultural program.

No rallies, just prayer

Villegas made it clear in a Facebook video posted last Thursday, Nov. 2, that the activity will not be a political rally.

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“The Nov. 5 activity has no colors […] We won’t be there to shout and hold a rally. We will pray and whisper to Jesus’ heart to ask for forgiveness,” the CBCP president said.

There were no political speeches during the program. Nonetheless, various political groups and figures have expressed their support for the activity.

Opposition senators Risa Hontiveros, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Benigno Aquino IV, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Rosales, and Vice President Leni Robredo attended the event.

Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) Convenor Teodoro Casiño and fellow former Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares also joined the mass and procession.

MAT said in a statement released Nov. 3, Friday, that they hope the activity “will contribute to our people’s growing clamor to end the extrajudicial killings and increasing tyranny of the Duterte administration.”

Likewise, the Liberal Party expressed support for the Church’s initiative as they urged the public to “stand together, set aside our differences, and affirm the importance of life and human rights.”

Meanwhile, acting Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said, in a statement, that the Palace is “one in the true healing” of the nation.

“We wish to build better rapport with the Catholic Church […] to pro-actively help government in our anti-illegal drug campaign, particularly in the rehabilitation and treatment of drug dependents,” the statement further read.

Tindig Pilipinas claims around 20,000 individuals joined the event, while police estimate the numbers to be only around 5,000.

“Lord, Heal Our Land” Sunday marks the end of the Church’s 40-day mourning period for EJK victims, where churches tolled their bells every 8 p.m. from Sept. 23 to Nov. 1.

This afternoon’s mass and procession starts a 33-day “period of healing” which will culminate in the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8.

by Philip Jamilla



The promise of change can save a ‘fallen’ relationship, Rector says



Photo by Abbie Vinluan/TomasinoWeb

UST Rector Fr. Hermino Dagohoy, O.P. said the promise of change can save a fallen relationship during the Ash Wednesday Mass, which concurred with the Valentine’s Day.

“Kung tayo ay nasasawi sa pag-ibig, the best way we can actually return and save the fallen relationship is to promise to our loved one that we are going to change,” he said during the University mass held at Plaza Mayor.

Dagohoy reminded Thomasians that Ash Wednesday is not just a day to remind us of our mortality but a day that we proclaim that we belong to God.

“As we remember our love ones, today, by giving them roses, chocolates, or balloons, today God imposes on us the sign of his cross as a sign of the greatest love ever told.”

Moreover, Dagohoy said the greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live although there is “no human reality that scares us the most.”

“Ang kamatayan daw ay hindi ang pinaka malaking kawalan sa tao, ang pinaka malaking kawalan ay ang pagkamatay ng ating loob hanbang tayo’y nabubuhay. Kaya yung mga tao na namamatayan ng kalooban ay mukha nang patay kahit sila ay buhay,” he said.

Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent season, a 40-day period of fasting, abstinence from meat, giving alms, and penance as to recall Jesus’ being taunted by the Devil in the desert for 40 days. – H.M. Amoroso 


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UST vice rector: Partial truth must find its place



Since the truth will not contradict itself, even partial truth must find its place in this age of fake news, said the University vice rector on Friday, Jan. 26.

“Pope Francis has this to say: education for truth is important. It would help people discern, evaluate, and understand, the news. Personally, I believe the truth is a form of charity,” said Rev. Fr. Richard Ang, O.P during the Eucharistic celebration for the feast of the University’s patron saint, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Ang reminded that today’s digital age could negatively affect everybody as unverified information easily proliferates nowadays.

“This is an era when fake news and propaganda proliferate in cyber thoughts, which may cause irreparable damage to someone’s self-esteem and reputation,” he said in his homily.

“It helps to see the bigger picture, it pays to scope a hole”, he added. “St. Thomas Aquinas was in a constant search for truth because it [also] was a constant search for God.”

UST will celebrate St. Thomas’ feast day on Jan. 28, with the theme, “Non Nise Te, Domine (Nothing but Thyself, Lord): Celebrating with St. Thomas Aquinas the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.”

by Heather Marian Amoroso


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Tagle says free speech is Church’s conviction

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle stressed the promotion of upright social communication in evangelization, truthful information dissemination and social development through the help of technology.



Screen grabbed from TV Maria Facebook live of the forum "Catholic Media in Challenging Times."

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle emphasized the Church’s “conviction” that freedom of speech is significant amid concerns over the cancellation of online news organization Rappler’s license.

Tagle cited the Vatican II in stating that while people are entitled to freedom of sharing and receiving information, the press is likewise part of that right, during the forum “Catholic Media in Challenging Times” on Friday, Jan. 19.

“Walang question dun ‘no… hindi na ito opinion,  it is our conviction that there should be freedom of people to share information and the right of people to receive,” he said, answering the question of a reporter on his take on the current issue of Rappler.

While firm on their stand on the freedom of speech, both Tagle and Mylo Hubert Vergara, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Commission on Social Communications head, refused to answer the question directly, stating that facts, implications and further understanding of the issue is still needed for them to respond appropriately.

“Ito aaminin ko na po sa inyo, kasi minsan hindi ko nasusundan lahat pati detalye. Ako ay ayokong basta magbigay ng opinion sa isang bagay na hindi ko napag-aralan kasi pag nasabi na, hirap namang bawiin,” Tagle said.

The decision of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revoke Rappler’s license to operate on January 11 was due to the news agency’s “deceptive” violation of the Foreign Equity Restriction of the Philippine Constitution mandating 100-percent Filipino control and ownership of local mass media entities.

Rappler accepted over $1 million from foreign investor Omidyar Network Fund LLC through Philippine Depository Receipts (PDR) in 2015 which secured two-thirds of all the PDR holders on corporate matters.

PDRs are derivative instruments that permits foreign bodies to purchase into private agencies for financial returns but don’t grant ownership or any control in the company.

Also, Tagle mentioned points in the Vatican II, an ecuminical council in 1960s which tackled relations of the Church and the modern world.

He stressed the promotion of upright social communication in evangelization, truthful information dissemination and social development through the help of technology.

“Since public opinion is at stake through information and more seriously the involvement of human being in societal development, each person must be given the opportunity to be formed in the use of social communications,” Tagle added.  

Tagle also warned of the arising threats of the means of communication specifically the new form of “noise”, evasiveness, quest for stimulation and exploitation.

“Some people are proposing the digital detox, detoxification… through silence, a return to reflection and prayer life. At a time where we have multiplied the means of social communication, people are looking for silence,” he said.

SEC’s ruling has raised concerns from local and international groups, as well as from some politicians, stating that the move is an attack on press freedom, whereas the government has denied the accusations (READ: Media groups protest attacks on press freedom).

The news agency currently continues to operate since the decision of SEC was not yet final and executory.—B. Laforga


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