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Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle urged participants on Sunday to become missionaries of mercy, in observance of the Jubilee Year of Mercy which is slated to end on November.

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Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle urged participants on Sunday to become missionaries of mercy, in observance of the Jubilee Year of Mercy which is slated to end on November.

“As the father has sent me so I send you,” Tagle said, quoting the Gospel of John in his talk, “Missionaries of Mercy” during the third Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE III) held at the Quadricentennial Pavilion.

Tagle emphasized the need for Catholics to pattern their missionary life after Jesus who patterned His life after God.

“Jesus was sent to be the face, the living presence of God’s mercy. As Jesus was sent, so are we not as signs of condemnation but signs of mercy,” he added.

Bannering the theme “Awa, Unawa, Gawa: The Filipino Experience of Mercy,” PCNE III aims to focus on discovering and understanding God’s mercy and the Filipino narratives of mercy.

The Cardinal later defined mercy as turning betrayals into gifts. He said that betrayals can be remedied through the restoration of the sense of gift, and that “[t]here is hope in someone who even betrayed Jesus.”

“We are all used to throwing away items, not realizing it is a form of betrayal,” Tagle said.

“This is our consumerist culture, the more you grow the more you throw. Why throw when you can share?”

He concluded by reiterating his call to continue the mission of mercy and to strengthen bonds that it may last even after death.

“In a world of broken ties, let not one mistake keep us apart,” he said.

Stories of mercy

Television personalities and non-government organizations shared their stories of mercy in a segment hosted by Tagle during the opening day.

Actress-turned-writer Rita Avila testified to delegates how God changed her life while growing up.

“I was physically and emotionally hurt when I was a kid. I asked the Lord why my life like this is (sic). But somehow, I knew that I would have better life (sic) when I grow up.  God became my Father then and He never failed me,” Avila said.

“As an adult, there were still trials but He will always be there. We should learn to forgive ourselves. Always face the pain. Just pray to God and you will be okay,” she added.

After her son died in 2006 due to heart failure, Avila remained hopeful and began to write children’s stories.

Maria Fatima Lorenzo, director of Kythe Foundation, a private organization that aims to provide social and psychosocial needs of children with cancer and chronic illness, shared how their patients motivate them to continue their work.

“Sometimes it’s not the children who are wary in pain but the adults. They draw strength from the children. That’s what we are asking kung saan kinukuha ng mga bata ‘yung lakas nila,” Lorenzo said.

“Bone cancer is the worst kind of cancer and maririnig mo ‘yung mga bata na humihiyaw pero after their treatment, you will see them smile again. I think it’s from the grace of God that they get their strength.”

“We as workers, we’re able to go on with what we do, kasi nakikita naming ‘yung mga bata na kinakaya nila ‘yung pain week after week,” she added.

In another session, comedian Melai Cantiveros-Francisco encouraged victims of bullying to remain positive and humble.

“Malimit akong ma-bully ako (sic) nung bata ako dahil kulot at maitim ako.  Para sa mga nabu-bully, wag kayong mag-self pity, ang kaawan niyo ‘yung mga nambu-bully,” she said.

“Sabi sa akin ng parents ko, magpakumbaba pa rin ako. Dapat ipakita ko sa iba na masaya pa rin ako. Para sa mga kabataan ngayon, wag kayong magself-pity bagkus pakitaan niyo sila ng magandang ugali dahil sila ang mapapahiya sa sarili nila,” Francisco added.

A youth concert featuring performances of Asia’s Got Talent finalist Gerphil Flores and Jay Durias of Southborder concluded the second day.

Other guests during the talk were Maria Lina Paulino of Ang Arko ng Pilipinas Inc. and Ben Mendoza of Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees.

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Thomasians urged to end apathy on persecution of Christians

According to a study by Center for New Religions, over 90,000 Christians were murdered in 2016.

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In line with the global campaign, several buildings and places in the campus were lit up in red lights. Photo by Mark Darius Sulit/TomasinoWeb.

A director of a pontifical foundation encouraged Thomasians to be more sensitive to the persecution of Christians in different parts of the world as the University celebrated “Red Wednesday.”

Jonathan Luciano, national director of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), said in a forum last Nov. 22 that people who are apathetic to their fellow persecuted Christians were contributing to their suffering.

“Through this Red Wednesday campaign, we would not only like to be in solidarity with Christians who were persecuted, but we also would like this opportunity to look into ourselves. We’re also somehow part of the persecution because of our indifference…That is not the attitude of a Christian,” Luciano said.

Red Wednesday is ACN’s global public awareness campaign which started last year in the United Kingdom. It aims to inform Christian communities and the general public that Christians are being persecuted around the world.

According to a study by Center for New Religions, over 90,000 Christians were murdered in 2016.

Luciano also reminded the students to support and help them through prayer, information dissemination and concrete action.

“It is our duty now to keep the world informed and with this information, comes awareness. When awareness comes, then we can do something about it,” he told student reporters on the sideline.

A mass at the Santissimo Rosario Chapel followed the forum which was presided by Asst. to the Vice-Rector Rev. Fr. Roberto Luanzon O.P.

“We are one with them [persecuted Christians] by celebrating this solidarity with them. Even though we don’t experience what they experience of being persecuted… is for us to continue to manifest and show our faith, our love to God in everything that we do,” he reminded the Thomasian community.

Vice-Rector for Religious Affairs Rev. Fr. Pablo Tiong O.P. led the candle lighting ceremony for Christian martyrs.

In line with the campaign, the Thomasian community were also encouraged to wear red and several buildings and places in the campus were lit up with red light at night. — B. Laforga

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

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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.

“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

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CBCP refutes reports saying they condemn Maute, Hapilon deaths

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denied circulating reports saying that bishops condemned the killing of Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, leaders of the Islamic State-linked Maute group.

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A screenshot of a satire article from blog site OKD2.com, published yesterday, Oct. 16, Monday.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denied circulating reports saying that bishops condemned the killing of Omar Maute and Isnilon Hapilon, leaders of the Islamic State-linked Maute group.

In a statement released earlier today, Tuesday, Oct. 17, CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said that the CBCP is “Once more, […] a hapless victim of fake news.”

“The CBCP never made such a statement,” Villegas said.

Several pro-Duterte Facebook pages and blog sites ran similar reports following the deaths of Maute and Hapilon in battle with military troops yesterday, Oct. 16.

A particular post from the Facebook page “Rodrigo Duterte Supporters”claimed of a particular pastoral meeting where Villegas supposedly said that “the photos of the killed leaders should not have been shown to public.”

The post has since reached more than 34,000 reactions and 31,000 shares as of press time after it was published 12:15 p.m. earlier today.

Word-for-word content of the post can also be read in a “humor and satire” article from blog site OKD2.com, which was published yesterday.

“On the contrary we laud the gallantry of our soldiers and the heroic efforts to free Marawi,” Villegas said further in the statement.

He also stated that the CBCP “will gladly join government in rebuilding the city in the measure we are able.”

The Duterte administration has been repeatedly accused of supporting propaganda pages and their proliferation of “fake news”, particularly in the appointment of the personnel behind them to key government positions.

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