27 February 2009

On being Pro-life and a Personal Sharing

by JC de los Reyes
Pro-life Convention
Quezon City
20 February 2009, Mon 10:32am

JC de los Reyes is a Councilor of Olongapo City, and member of Ang Kapatiran Party.

Good morning. Allow me to greet all those who work in the vineyard of the Lord. The pro-life / pro-choice controversy is jam-packed with issues but since I was tasked to speak on the issues confronting the pro-life movement I will begin with a background and history of the Philippine Population issue vis-à-vis my own experience which are drawn from these perspectives;

1. As a son of Sonny de los Reyes, former Executive Director of the Commission on Population.
2. As a graduate of theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville
3. As a member of the Ang Kapatiran National Political Party which has an explicit party platform to defend and uphold a consistent ethic of life I was in my pre teens when my father was appointed Executive Director of POPCOM in November of 1981. I remember how the family threw a party to celebrate his appointment. I remember the new car, his big office in Mandaluyong, his friends in government. Little did I know then that his stint at POPCOM would change our lives forever.

As a backgrounder, it was pursuant to the 1973 Constitution that depopulation policies started to gain momentum in our country. No less than the preamble of the 1973 constitution provided the fundamental principle which was "to manage population levels and growth rates" in our country. It was when Marcos signed Presidential Decree #79 that the Population Commission was created. It would be government's lead agency to spearhead an aggressive national population control program.

It is interesting that in the early days of POPCOM, even the Catholic Church was represented on its Board, until the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines decided to distance itself from the Government's gradual involvement in population control by withdrawing representation on the Board of Trustees.

POPCOM was to be the office for the flow of funds from three principal funding agencies: the World Bank, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities and the United States Agency for International Development. The Asian Development Bank subsequently became a significant player.

All these funding was pursuant to the infamous National Security Study Memorandum No. 200 by Henry Kissinger who authored it in 1965 – by now a classic in geopolitical engineering—mandatin g the creation and funding of massive population control programs in 13 countries identified as having high population levels and growth rates. The Philippines was one of these 13 countries.

A National Family Planning Office was created in the Department of Health. Two major private institutions were also created to support the government program: the University Of The Philippines ' Population Institute and the Population Center Foundation, which augmented the program with research utilization capability. As the program moved along, bilateral funding from Japan, Australia, Canada and a few European countries, and project funding from private agencies supplemented the population war chest.

POPCOM evolved to be a powerful mini-Cabinet formed among Trustees representing major government players in population control, namely, Health, Labor, Local Governments, Finance, Social Welfare and Economic Development.

What was its objective? To reduce the growth rate and level of population to what it believed to be manageable, conducive to "sustainable development. " This level and rate were determined by external agencies like the Population Council based in New York..

This is a prelude to set the stage for the present population controversy the personalities of which will be the Filipino people as a church and the government backed up by International Development/ Funding Agencies. With this stand off, there was no other way to achieve this in a country whose population was significantly Roman Catholic except to aggressively promote modern family planning methods.

On the promotion of modern family planning methods, there is a crescendoing debate probably now on its peak on whether or not such is safe to the health and wellbeing of the Filipino people.

Many of those who are critical of our advocacy would almost always automatically try to destroy our argument by stating the fact that the principle of no abortion is constitutionally guaranteed. This is one of two principles they argue to purposefully kill the debate, the other is the principle of no-coercion.

Simply put - information and availability of Modern Artificial Contraception is what they want and that an individual should rise above his or her religious convictions to be able to make an informed choice which is the rationale of no-coercion. These are the 2 cornerstone principles pro choice advocates argue to get their message across.

To elaborate, while the Philippine Constitution has never legalized the termination of the life of a living infant, a serious debate has centered on the question: At what moment does the fertilized egg become a viable fetus? When does contraception degenerate to abortion? This issue is a critical one which for a pro-choice advocate would be critical to answer because most family planning methods have been identified as abortifacient.

The principle of no-coercion is made the basis for the definition of reproductive rights and reproductive health care. This could be explained better in the context of a typical barangay health center where they offer the entire range of contraceptive methods and devices to the potential "acceptor," cafeteria approach. With ample information on the pros and cons of each family planning method, the
objective is to elicit an informed choice.

The Problem is field realities like unmotivated bureaucrats in the barangay health centers, the lack of resources to effectively reach the people as the Philippine Health system does not reach more than 40% of the total population, limitations on public utilities and infrastructure, unavailability of trained medical personnel, and often sheer incompetence, all are factors to conclude that this principle
does not work.

For practical reasons, contraceptive pills and intra-uterine devices are most frequently endorsed despite the fact that most contraceptive pills have abortifacient side effects, and that the IUD is a proven abortifacient.

Male vasectomy and female tubal ligation in the Philippine population program has capitalized on the vulnerability of people in poverty-stricken barangays. Declared legal by the Supreme Court during the martial law regime, sterilization has become a major program strategy for population control. It is `encouraged' by the RH Code.

It is culturally shocking that this permanent and irreversible surgical procedure was hardly resisted by Filipinos, considering that it was a major form of genocide in Europe and the Middle East, and the major cause of riots in India as a violation of their religious beliefs. The VSS is considered to be the most cost-effective method but the dangers, such as peritonitis and psychological depression, were hardly mentioned, and usually ignored when they arose.

We must be aghast that this is promoted as a minor and painless surgery when the ideal administration of surgical sterilization is of course, as in any surgery, in a well-equipped hospital with sanitized facilities.

What is more alarming is the manner in which the surgery is conducted. As many as 100together in any nearby clinic they would queue for their turn on makeshift surgical beds lined up side by side 10 to 15. Indonesians called this a "safari." A doctor and nurse would then conduct the mass surgery and finish them in a weekend. But besides the doctor's fees of about Php 500 per patient subsidized by the program, what they pay the patient as incentives are really bribes to undergo the procedure. The sterilization patients were granted an average of 5-days of no-work compensation (even if they were unemployed), free antibiotics for the convalescing period, and transportation allowances.

Finally, the "cafeteria approach" does not include all the methods of fertility regulation. It was only in (1995) when the population control program included a specific natural family planning process (NFP), as it tried to appease the Catholic Church - the Billings Ovulation, which is taught within the context of a matrimonial relationship and not merely as training on physiological manipulation.

These are the realities that expose the dirty tactics of the population control program. The thrust of these policies has expanded to address issues such as AIDS Education, Adolescent Fertility, Sex Education, Reproductive Health—all in the agenda proposed by the 1994 World Population Conference in Cairo and the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing. Population control propaganda is directed at surrounding the acceptor with messages and institutions that reshape their values, limit their freedom of choice and lead their preferences toward the more effective methods, particularly abortion.

Terminologies and statements contained in the two U.N. World Conferences have then been incorporated into new and recurrent legislation, RH Code, CSR Ordinance, GADA, Women's Code all these invoke words contained in the World Conference Statements, so that definitions and interpretations of these statements will be forced upon our interpretations of the law.

The object is to slowly desensitize by starting at it softly like the legalization of abortion for specific causes, the advocacy of divorce and same sex marriage. These moves in legislation are supported by Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD).

In regard to sex education, the Adolescent Health and Youth Development Programme adopted by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports seeks to develop a new breed of youth. The program was launched in 1995, and integrates a value-free approach to sex education in schools. Subtly it is to desensitize the youth to the intimacy and sacredness of sex. The program tends to reduce the youth's appreciation of sex: from an expression of love within the context of marriage, to merely a practical understanding of it as a function of the body that can be manipulated and used to achieve pleasure and to forego inner discipline.

With the election of President Obama, expect that the population control program will grow more visible and vocal in media, e.g., advertising of condoms, third sex celebrities, sexually explicit bill boards, available pornography – and it will still get worse.

The materialist and individualistic world view today which stems from human arrogance and materialistic greed will continue to negate and marginalize marriage and family where society sees pregnancy as a disease, childbirth as an aberration, and children as parasites. It is a pedophobia of the intense kind or a fear for children the world has never seen. The young men and women of today are being taught to be selfish hedonists rather than to be men and women for others. They are brainwashed to own and manipulate their world rather than steward it and share it such that all God's children especially His poor beloved could have the fullness of life, here and now.

On a more personal note, my father once had that world view; in fact he was once, one of those who zealously propagated it once upon a time. He was enslaved and blind to the ways of such deadly antinatalist ideology.

As I mentioned in the beginning of my talk, his short stint at POPCOM changed our life. I could vividly remember how the guest rooms in our house at Makati would serve as warehouses for Tahiti Brand condoms, thousands of them, as well as contraceptive pills which looked like m&m candies. I, my brother and sisters would casually play with these as if there was nothing wrong with them. Perhaps, in our innocence, they were simply toys and we would fill the condoms with water and throw it at each other.

Hindsight makes me tremble at the thought that papa opened the doors of our house to these inventions of man to engineer and manipulate life at any cost. He allowed his own children exposed to things that symbolized man's desire to disobey God and to choose modern day idols that debased the sacredness of the sexual act. No doubt it invoked some destructive force as it was the culture of death that my father was promoting.

In March of 1982, under severe pressure from international funding agencies, he led POPCOM to issue the call to "Stop at 3." This was cheered by the more than 50,000 full-time population workers and volunteers deployed in over 70 Philippine provinces and funded by USAID.

My father, in his later public confession had a sense of discomfort... He was leading a government program chanting Stop at 3! Stop at 3! But we were…4. How could he ask the nation's families to call for a family size of 3 when he were 4.

The terrible answer came swiftly; a month later, April of 1982, as she was visiting my mother-in-law for summer, my 10-year old sister Maricris was murdered. A man high on drugs had broken into our lola's house in Olongapo to rape Maricris' yaya who slept with her. My sister woke up; and to silence her, the man hit her on the head with a lead pipe.

During later years, my father reflecting on Maricris' death confessed publicly that just as Christ died for us in the cross for sins he did not commit, Maricris or Christine, her real name was his `little Christ,' the one who bore his sins, who suffered the pain that he deserved because of his hardheartedness. It was the spiritual force of his sins that got her killed.

His quest for worldly glory and his intellectual arrogance failed him in seeing simple truths…that human life transcends statistics or economics, human life cannot stagnate at the material level, it transcends this too. He saw that it was only when you grasp to some extent the nature of the giver of life that you will gain a human
appreciation of life….And he is God, the instrumental and mediative cause of creation …he is the author and usher of all life…life which is the first and fundamental good, without which no other good is possible.

My father's life and conversion from population czar to pro-life champion is itself a victory of life. Grace always overcomes sin and like the conversion of Saul, my father metamorphosed into one of the most aggressive defenders of life in the country. For even in the most violent poverty of spirit or of situation, it is not beyond the hope of being transformed, where there is life, it is always said…there is hope. Conversely, where there is no life, there is no hope. These are to me the firmest foundation of all that we do for pro-life.

Yes, there is hope that this movement will prevail…that this country will prevail. As long as there are willing vessels, saying yes to the Lord, there will be defenders of life in congress, in local governments, in our schools, in our parishes….in our nation. The garden of vocations still for pro-life work is a pro-life family as the garden of vocations for future political leaders who will work for
pro-life is a pro life political party.

To end let me declare that life is purposeful and let me quote God in Genesis 9:5 `From man, in regard to his fellow man, I will demand an accounting for human life.'

22 February 2009

Cebu archdiocese to implement new accounting system

something to think about for the diocese of legazpi...



CEBU CITY, February 21, 2009—Archbishop Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal said a new accounting system for parishes will be implemented soon.

In his message to the local clergy during the monthly recollection February 17, the prelate called on his priests to respond positively and generously to this new system as it will ensure transparency and better accounting of the income and expenditures of the parishes.

But more than a matter of fiscal responsibility, he reminded his priests to embrace this reform as something that will promote a healthy lifestyle of the clergy.

“A strong structure of accountability will result in a healthy lifestyle among my priests,” Cardinal Vidal stressed.

For the past few years, Cebu has instituted reforms in the remittance system of parishes to the archdiocese through the Office of the Economic Affairs, and the implementation of a new accounting system is its latest feature added.

Last January a series of seminars was conducted by the economic affairs office to parish priests, parish secretaries and bookkeepers to introduce the new system, wherein a detailed recording of income and expenses, among other things, was given stress.

This new accounting system complements the earlier reform instituted by the archdiocese wherein each parish is to remit 20% of its gross income to the archdiocese as a form of a solidarity fund, in lieu of the fixed quota per parish that was the norm for a long time.

The increased remittance called Priests’ Solidarity Fund (PSF), which was started in 2006, was intended not just to shore up the resources of the archdiocese, but to upgrade the social services to its clergy like the hospitalization program and subsidies to poor parishes.

The PSF also shoulders a big chunk of the budget for the ongoing formation of priests, like monthly recollections, annual retreats and ongoing formation of the young clergy.

All these fiscal reforms instituted by the archdiocese are concretization of the long-sought implementation of the norms of the Fourth Diocesan Synod of Cebu in 1986, and the resolutions of the Cebu Congress of the Clergy on this concern last 2001. (Fr. Marnell S. Mejia)

The Story behind CBCP's Senate Walk-out

Today's PDI headline: Bishops quit RH bill talks. The Inquirer made a banner story of the walk-out of three CBCP representatives (there was no bishop among them, by the way) from the technical working group hearing of the senate's committee on health. The reporter/s took pains to repeatedly insinuate it was because of the Church's stand against artificial contraception.

The fact is many times more enlightening than the spin. The discussions have yet to reach the issue of artificial contraception. What the CBCP reps were trying to inject was a more nuanced and clarified stand of the senate bill on two basic matters: following the constitution and the anti-abortion provision of the bill, something which the bill's proponents have repeatedly used to claim pro-life groups got them wrong. But this never merited even a passing mention in the news report. The CBCP reps complained of not being heard, the report says. But what was it that the TWG refused to hear from them? The reason for the walk-out was lost in the reporting.

To add a semblance of fairness, Sen. Biazon extended an almost hollow offer of continuous invitation to the next hearings. At least, Cong. Lagman was consistent in his Church-bashing: "The Catholic Church will be isolated, sooner or later." On the matter of defending the constitution and upholding RH bill's much-publicized anti-abortion stand? Come on!

The email below is most likely from Atty. Jo Imbong, CBCP's Legal Counsel. I got it from the ECFL Luzon egroup.


[ECFL_LUZON] Thoughts before the walk-out (Senate Hearing)
Fr. Ric Eguia

- On Fri, 2/20/09, fides vera wrote:
From: fides vera
Subject: [buhayatpamilya] Thoughts before the walk-out
To: buhayatpamilya@ yahoogroups. com
Date: Friday, February 20, 2009, 11:43 PM

Hi everyone,

The Senate Subcommittee on Population invited the CBCP to a Technical Working Group to do a line-by-line study of the RH substitute bill last February 19. CBCP had registered three representatives: Fr. Melvin Castro, Exec. Sec. of ECFL, Atty. Jo Imbong of the Legal Office, and Dr. Zenaida Rotea, Exec. Sec. of the Office on Women. Ms. Marita Wasan of Prolife Philippines, and Atty. Dindo Garciano, President of ALFI and former Mayor, were both there, having also received an invitation.

Arrayed against us were at least ten (10) pro-RH advocates, the likes of which we have confronted during the hearings on 4110, 3773, 17, and 5043. That count includes about 3 from government line agencies.

And so CBCP pushed for amendments based on purely legal grounds.

I invite each of you to ponder how it went:

#1. To Section 2 (b) which speaks of "protection of women's human rights", CBCP proposed modifying the phrase by inserting , "in acordance with Philippine law" so that any such rights of women will not be against our Constitution. Can anything be more reasonable than that? If adopted, the entire sentence would then read as follows:

The advancement and protection of women's human rights in accordance with Philippine law shall be central to the efforts of the State to address reproductive health care.

After all, the Philippines is a sovereign nation. And the Constitution is the highest law of the land, and this highest law protects life, parenting, family, children. Right?

Wrong! They objected to that phrase. They said that the Philippines is bound to obey the terms of CEDAW in everything, including the funny definition of "reproductive health" that we have repeatedly challenged.

Question: Isn't national sovereignty the paramount consideration in our foreign policy decisions? Isn't national interest another paramount consideration? (See Article II, Section 7, Constitution) .

What is it then in the pro-RH agenda that disowns these constitutional principles; what lurking RH agenda would be endangered if the phrase is inserted in Section 2? What women's 'right' would be hindered by our Constitution? That should be easy to figure out, friends.

#2. Since Section 2 already speaks of reproductive health care, CBCP proposed that the group tackle Section 4 on the definition of reproductive health. From hereon, the discussions became contentious. The RH agenda was adamant in insisting on the present definition, which is lifted from ICPD.

CBCP maintained that health as written in the Constitution by those who drafted it in 1986 simply meant, well . . . health! And reproductive health was not among their noble intentions at all Hence, RH as it is defined in ICPD is alien to our legal system. I don't seriously think that ICPD amended our Constitution

But the RH proponents stuck to their position that since the Philippines is a signatory to ICPD, any reference to the Constitution will be powerless to overturn the ICPD "commitment" . Really now. Any student of public governance knows otherwise.

The group took a brief lunchbreak, a 'timely' excuse welcomed by everyone, more to defuse the tension that was slowly building up.

But as the working committee resumed, CBCP figured out that majority of the participants of the TWG were bent on finishing their task that afternoon along the language of the substitute bill.

At this point, CBCP asked to read its Statement, placing on record its refusal to have any further part in the deliberations and disclaiming any hand on the part of CBCP in the group's final output which would contain provisions that assault inherent and inviolable human rights—of the unborn, of parents and of families. Then we walked out.

#3 Even as we did, Jo had made sure earlier that another amendment be introduced by an ally who remained at the meeting. . What was that amendment?

Remember that phrase in the House version to the effect that "nothing in this Act changes the law on abortion" ? You will recall, this sentence is their shield against a charge that the bill prepares the way for abortion.

The proposed amendment is a test of the sincerity of that disclaimer. It goes this way:

"Nothing in this Act changes the law on abortion. Abortifacient devices and substances shall not be a part of reproductive health services."

Anyone will see that the above amendment naturally flows and follows from the disclaimer on abortion and that therefore it is a logical consequence of it.

The amendment was outvoted. The defeat of that proposal affirms our long held suspicions. Go figure the implications.

Finally, #4. Hear this, good Fr. Joe- According to a witness, as the discussion approached the part on "Prohibited Acts", a proposal was heard to penalize any priest or religious who speaks against everything on reproductive health in the bill. The crime of "malicious disinformation" punished in the House version does not appear in the Senate version.

Luckily, another lawyer ally in the meeting mercifully reminded the proponent that there is still such a thing as freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of religious belief in this country.

Folks, as of this writing, we are awaiting a copy of the final output of the February 19 TWG meeting. I have the feeling you will not surprised when you read it.

By the way, before our group left earlier, the Chair of the meeting asked CBCP to submit its point-by-point position on the substitute bill. I said we will.
Allow me to acknowledge all your prayerful intentions and vigils. We all must continue because to tell you the truth . . . it all works!

Have faith,

- JO

19 February 2009

Why we love

this article was solicited by Fr. Ipe Sinco (Diocese of Jaro) for his parish paper. and i thought i was done with Valentines the moment the day passed...


It is February, which many people now calls the “love month”. This sociological itch to extend the celebration of certain events that people can’t get enough of – February 14 in this case – makes for an interesting study.

This heightened interest also provides an opportunity to reflect on the theme of love – beyond the mushiness, hopefully.

First, let's cover the basics.

Wikipedia, the iconic resource of knowledge of almost everything in the information age (which made our search for answers democratic, pluralistic, and, more than one cares to admit, oftentimes reliable) defines love as “any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection and attachment. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure to intense interpersonal attraction.”

St. Thomas Aquinas describes love as a “concupiscible passion”, i.e., a feeling evoked by being drawn to a beloved, which does not only mean a romantic interest, but also extends to things, ideals and, of course, God.

Pope Benedict XVI’s first papal encyclical is an extended discourse on the centrality of love in Christianity, Deus caritas est, “God is love”. He sought to clarify and reconcile two Greek words and ideas on love: eros, which has a possessive nature expressed in the desire of the lover to possess the beloved, and agape, self-sacrificing love, in which the lover offers himself for the good of the beloved.

For Pope Benedict, genuine Christian love does not seek to eliminate eros, which is good in itself, but to complement and complete it with agape. The best model for agape is God Himself in Jesus Christ, who lay down His life on the cross to save humanity. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3,16).

Elizabeth Barrett-Browning asked in her classic love poem, “How do I love thee?” Now, let us count some of the ways by which we love.

Love of God. The two great truths shared by Christianity, Judaism and Islam are (1) that we have only God, and (2) this God loves us. And so the most apt response for us humans is to love God back. Thus, to the question “What is the greatest commandment?”, Jesus replied, quoting the Jewish prayer Shema: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt. 22,37).

Let me share with you what I consider the most stirring words ever written on the theme of loving God, words popularly attributed to have been written by the saintly Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ:

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

Love of Neighbor. The greatest commandment is not complete without the next verse: “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22,38).

Apart from self-love, love of neighbor is peculiarly informed by yet another virtue: justice. The compassion of love is thus extended especially to the weak and disadvantaged, and to the assurance that fairness and equality should be given to everyone. Love of neighbor is also extended to the larger community, to nations and to the rest of creation.

Among the most sublime lines written on the love of neighbor via the aspirations for national unity and freedom is Andres Bonifacio’s exuberant nationalistic paean Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa:

“Áling pag-ibig pa ang hihigit kaya,
sa pagkadalisay at pagkadakila,
gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa?
Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga, wala.”

Love of Family, Friends, Romantic Interest. There is a need to distinguish between the more universal love of neighbor and the love that governs special relationships. There are degrees to our relationship with people; some we love more than others. This is not being unfair. This reality actually refers to the very nature and logic of our being relational beings. Even God, in order to bring about universal salvation, elects first His “Chosen People”.

The virtue that informs this expression of love is fidelity. The virtue ethicist, Fr. James Keenan, SJ, describes fidelity as “the virtue that nurtures and sustains the bonds of those special relationships that we enjoy whether by blood, marriage, love, or sacrament. Fidelity requires that we treat with special care those who are closer to us.”

The drama and finality of fidelity is most profoundly expressed in the Christian marriage rite:

“I take you, for my wife/husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

Love of Self or self-care is different from being selfish or self-centered. It is more than just possessing self-esteem or self-respect. Self-care is rooted in our genetic and natural predisposition for self-preservation and survival. Jesus Himself recognizes its importance when he taught about the second greatest commandment as based on one’s love for oneself. Indeed, a healthy love of self is the basis for all our loving relationships.

One of the most celebrated case of child abuse and survival is that of David James Pelzer. His story is chronicled in the three books he wrote: A Child Called It, The Lost Boy, and A Man Named Dave. As a child, Dave was abused by his mother, who thought of it as a game. Among other things, he was starved, forced to drink ammonia, and was once stabbed in the chest. His teachers finally stepped in when he was 12, and he was placed in foster care. Dave Pelzer narrates in his books his struggle to trust people and engage in loving relationships, seeing himself as broken and lacking in initial experience of loving affirming relationships.

The point is without a healthy sense of self-love, it is difficult to love others in a healthy affirming way as well. I remember a saying I learned in a high school Latin class: nemo dat quod non habet, “one cannot give what one doesn’t have”.

Why we love. So why do we love? Why do we embrace this complex beguiling and consuming emotion, sometimes with all the human energy that we can muster?

As the song says, “We are made for lovin'.” If God is love, and the Trinity is a communion of love, and if we are created in the image and likeness of God, then the way towards self-fulfillment and self-actualization, indeed, towards our destiny, is to love.

18 February 2009

Proposed Program for On-Going Formation for Young Clergy (1-5 years in the Priesthood) in the Diocese of Legazpi

1. To provide the young clergy with an integral introduction to the values and practical realities of the life and ministry of ordained ministers
2. To prepare the young clergy for greater positions of responsibility in the Church

1. To create and implement an On-Going Formation Program for young clergy, that is
a. sustainable;
b. effective and efficient; and
c. fitted to the needs, gifts and schedules of young clergy


The young clergy of the diocese values and wants to grow in skills in
1. building intimate and affirming relationships with brother-priests and lay people;
2. living a healthy lifestyle; and
3. facing the joys and challenges of priestly celibacy.

To respond to these needs the following policies are proposed:
1. Organize the young clergy and elect and/or appoint a Coordinator for Young Clergy from among them.
2. Institutionalize the forming of support groups, by seminary/ordination batch, and whenever applicable, according to common interests such as sports, passion, etc.
3. Arrange talks and seminar-workshops on healthy living, celibacy, relationships, etc.
4. Encourage more informal gatherings among the clergy.
5. Give special attention to those who don’t regularly attend clergy gatherings.


The young clergy of the diocese values and wants to grow in aptitude through
1. theological, liturgical and canonical updating;
2. training in pastoral skills for a more effective ministry; and
3. sufficient preparation for assuming greater responsibilities in the future

To respond to these needs the following policies are proposed:
1. Develop, in partnership with Aquinas University of Legazpi, an MBA in Pastoral Management, especially designed for clergy, religious and lay Church leaders.
2. Develop a Preparatory Course for Pastors, defined as an informal series of seminar-workshops to be provided for those preparing to become pastors and parish administrators, and those already holding the office, but cannot take the formal MBA Course. Hopefully, after undergoing these basic module, participants may be drawn towards taking the more in-depth and comprehensive treatment of these disciplines in the MBA Course. The following are suggested modules of seminar-workshops comprising the course:
a. Pastoral Leadership
b. Strategic Planning for Parishes and Organizations
c. Financial Management & Fund Sourcing
d. Human Resource Management
e. Canonical & Diocesan Statutes and Policies
f. Homiletics
g. Theological Updating (may also cover Socio-Political and Economic issues)


The young clergy of the diocese values and wants to grow in
1. their relationship with God;
2. fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours; and
3. apostolic spirituality, expressed in the desire for regular renewal to better serve God’s People.

To respond to these needs the following policies are proposed:
1. Schedule an annual retreat for the entire presbyterium of the diocese; and another retreat within the year, exclusively for young clergy.
2. Institutionalize giving some days off for priests to go into personal retreat.
3. Require every young priest to engage in spiritual direction regularly.
4. Encourage common morning prayer among the clergy in their places of assignment.


The young clergy of the diocese values and wants to grow in skills in
1. becoming more effective ordained ministers;
2. relating with the People of God and pastoral sensitivity; and
3. getting the most out of the lessons and experiences gained in their pastoral assignments.

To respond to these needs the following policies are proposed:
1. Institutionalize a “mentoring relationship” between young clergy and the pastor/senior clergy in their places of assignment.
2. Recommend to the Bishop and the Vicar for the Clergy to each conduct a colloquium with every priest, at least once a year. Prior to the colloquium, each priest may be asked to submit a short reflection paper expressing his experiences, hopes and views on his personal life, ministry and the Church.
3. Implement a systematic formation program, incorporating the pastoral assignments of young clergy. Below is a suggested Formation Schedule for Young Clergy.

1st-2nd year: Introduction to the Priestly Ministry. This period entails regular meetings by ordination batch, for processing and discussion, to be facilitated by a Mentor, an older priest. They will have one-year term assignments to two parishes. There will be no seminary or curia assignments at this time for clergy in this age group.

3rd-4th year: MBA Executive Clergy Track or Preparatory Course for Pastors. All young clergy will be asked to undergo either one of these courses. At this time, they will also have their third pastoral assignment, with a term of two years.

5th year: All young clergy will be encouraged to take further studies or specializations, taking into consideration their talents and interests, and the needs of the diocese. They will also have their fourth pastoral assignment.

06 February 2009

Obama as Pro-Life poster boy

Unfortunately this was rejected by NBC for its Super Bowl broadcast. An NBC exec explained it was because they "didn't want to run political or advocacy ads".

Here's the text of the spot. The visual backdrop is of an unborn child in his mother's womb. With violins playing in the background, the following text appears on the screen:

"The child's future is a broken home.
"He will be abandoned by his father.
"His single mother will struggle to raise him.
"Despite the hardships he will endure,
"This child will become
"The first African American President."
The tag line is, "Life: Imagine the Potential."

Fortunately, the logic of the people Obama hangs with and supports six days a week and twice on Sunday, was not applied to him.

To read more on this commentary, click here.