Saturday, February 14, 2015

Message to the Filipino people - NTC, Faith community

“We cannot be apathetic. In the face of attempts to glorify evil and undermine the life of grace, Pope Francis spoke to us as individuals and as a nation in these words.
“Today, the Philippines, together with many other countries in Asia, face the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society – a society respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights,and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions. As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitments to the common good. In this way, they will preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country. Thus will they be able to marshal the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace.” - NTC and Faith Community

This is the joint statement made by Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and leading bishops of Catholic and other Christian churches. Cardinal Vidal was joined by the following Catholic bishops and archbishops: Fernando Capalla, Davao Archbishop Emeritus; Romulo de la Cruz, Archbishop of Zamboanga; Ramon Arguelles, Archbishop of Lipa; Filomeno Bactol, Bishop of Naval; Jose Palma, Archbishop of Cebu; and Father Carlito Clase (on behalf of Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos, Bishop of Butuan). Other Christian churches represented were Bishop Butch Belgica, Christians Bishops of the Philippines and Pastor Arthur Corpus, United Church of Manila.

Feb. 13, 2015

AN NTC AND FAITH COMMUNITY MESSAGE TO THE FILIPINO PEOPLE 
January 2015 was a period of intense unexpected grace for all Filipinos. The apostolic visit of Pope Francis challenged our people, Catholic and non-Catholic, Christians and non-Christians alike, to unify in deep faith, tremendously experiencing God’s presence as the Holy Father guided the people in the journey of mercy, compassion, love and peace. People followed him with joy wherever he went, intently listened to every word he uttered and made the slightest contact with him a never-ending moment. The spirit of the Lord was definitely upon us.
And yet, not many days later, in the midst of a deluge of grace, like a sudden blast of thunder and lightning, tragedy struck, tearing the nation apart.
On the 25th of January, forty-four (44) members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force met horrible death which could have been avoided but instead became a heart-breaking nightmare for the entire nation. The SAF commandos were mowed down, not just by enemy fire, but by deliberate and in-deliberate failure of government to provide support.
The response from the government as mis-articulated by the executive himself, deeply saddened the whole country, especially the bereaved of the 44 forsaken heroes. It extremely affected and angered the Filipino people due to continuous cover-ups and untruths. After past experiences of the usual indifference of the President in his reaction to crisis moments, the tragedy compelled many to demand his immediate stepping down for the sake of the nation’s future.
We, bishops of the Catholic and other Christian Churches, have often been asked if there is moral basis to this growing demand. Even long before the unfortunate events, the National Transformation Council (NTC) has strongly articulated that the President step down. Recent developments have made the call even more urgent and imperative.
Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, states that “The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified in any way with the political community, nor does she claim competence in proposing solutions to concrete political and economic problems.” It counsels the laymen “not (to) imagine that his pastors are always such experts, that to every problem which arises, however complicated, they can readily give him concrete solution or even that such is their mission. Rather,enlightened by Christian Wisdom and giving close attention to the teaching authority of the Church, let the layman take on his own distinctive role.”
On the other hand, Gaudium et Spes also made it emphatically clear that “at all times and in all places, the Church should have the freedom to teach her doctrine and to pass moral judgment in those matters which regard the common good and fundamental rights and freedoms.” The Church and her pastors must never abandon their duty to denounce evil and to guide men, women and children in their active search for the truth and the good. Moral evil must be removed from the political and social system. This task, the Church and the political community cannot just leave them in the hands of politicians, no matter how virtuous they might be.
“We cannot be apathetic. In the face of attempts to glorify evil and undermine the life of grace, Pope Francis spoke to us as individuals and as a nation in these words.
“Today, the Philippines, together with many other countries in Asia, face the challenge of building on solid foundations a modern society – a society respectful of authentic human values, protective of our God-given human dignity and rights,and ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions. As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitments to the common good. In this way, they will preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country. Thus will they be able to marshal the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace.”
The Pope’s words inspire us as we listen to the call of God to “pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it”; (Heb. 2:1), to“approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16); and to struggle against sin,even to the point of shedding our blood (cf Heb 12:1-4). 
This is the challenge to answer the call of our Christian faith and life. We must let go o four comfort zones, go to the peripheries and find the poor, the powerless, the marginalized and the neglected. With courage, we confront the seat of power and privilege. No doubt, the call on Mr. Aquino to step down is profoundly a moral issue that can no longer be ignored. 
The January 25 incident is the summit of many mishandling of the President’s obligations, revealing the subterfuge of illegal, unconstitutional and immoral foundation of the present regime are now evident. The urgent call from the NTC for the stepping down of the president and his cohorts resonates the general feeling of the people. His misrule clearly indicates his illegitimate claim to the position. His continuing stay endangers the lives of our people and adversely affects the moral landscape of the nation.
In our honest desire to protect our people from further degeneration, disasters and armed conflicts,we strongly demand that the whole government step down so our country can transform through a new and fresh start. Let the National Transformation Council, in a caretaker capacity, embrace the responsibility of forming a new government in anew system and context. 
We appeal to our fellow bishops and religious leaders of faith-based communities to join us in praying to God for his guidance for the renewal of the nation that is deeply rooted in faith values, love of country and respect for human life and environment.



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