News Archive

Philippines Scraps Sex Education in Schools After Catholic Opposition

Manila, Philippines, June 19, 2006 ( – The Filipino government has backed off from its trial run of sex education on account of the strong resistance by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. The government had distributed the program to two areas of Metro Manila as part of the “pilot stage” of the Department of Education’s attempt to introduce it to the whole country.

The government was testing the reception of integrating the sex-education program into the general curriculum, including it among such subjects as health, Filipino, science, and livelihood education. In what the United Nations Fund for Population Activities called a positive step, the integration of sex education would have required teachers to educate about overpopulation and the dangers of pre-marital sex, including “unwanted pregnancies”.

“We are not tolerating pre-marital sex. We do not even encourage this. What we are doing is telling them the consequences of such acts and what should be done,” said the education department’s Acting Secretary Fe Hidalgo about the sex education program, which would begin in 5th grade.

Hidalgo maintained that the purpose of including sex education in the country’s high schools was for educating young adults on “their physical, mental, and social well-being”, and that the goal of the instruction of youth in the matters of sex, and the proper use of condoms and contraceptives was indeed “to discourage rather than encourage the act.”

However, the Filipino Bishops have objected that the introduction of sex education into the public schools would encourage teenagers to try premarital sex rather than remain abstinent, and emphasized that sex education is the parents’ responsibility, not the government’s. On top of that, the sex education program instructs youth in the use of artificial contraceptives and condoms, which stridently violate the Church’s solemn teachings on human sexuality.

Dr. Angelita Aguirre of Human Life International has said the sex education program is “devoid of full disclosure and truth telling”, pointing out that the manual fails to inform youth that condoms have will not protect them 100 percent of the time against sexually transmitted disease.

“[Acting Secretary] Fe Hidalgo ordered a stop to the distribution of the modules after getting the feedback. Before we circulate them, we needed to get feedback. So we’ve been receiving a lot of comments,” said Vilma Labrador the assistant secretary. The government has now ceased the program until it meets with representatives of the Catholic Bishops conference later this week.

City Council reminds Parish Priests to say the Angelus

By Dante M. Fabian

Wednesday, May 31, 2006; THE City Government of Angeles, through the City Council, recently moved to request leaders of the Catholic Church to tell again their parishioners to renew their faith by praying the Angelus everyday.

Upon a resolution authored by Councilor Jay Sangil, the City Council passed a move to urge parish priests of the Catholic Church to enjoin all parishes and churches to pray or play the "Angelus" over public address systems.

Sangil said that the observance of the Angelus will help renew and strengthen the faith of the Catholics and help them as they go about their daily lives.
"These are the trying times where one's faith is tested through trials and tribulations. The signs of the times call for a renewal, restoration and strengthening of faith as even the Bible predicts that the so-called last days will be marked by hardships and even apostasy," he said.

"The renewal, restoration and strengthening of faith can come in the form of daily reminders to actually pray; and the recitation of the 'Angelus' could be an effective reminder for the faithful to pray at an appointed time," Sangil added.

He said that the strength and unity of the Catholics in prayer may only be harnessed through the help of the Catholic Church priests, by sounding off their respective parishioners for the Angelus every afternoon.

The councilor said that almost all 33 barangays in Angeles City have Catholic churches or chapels.

Vice Mayor Ricardo Zalamea said that Sangil's proposal has been adopted into a resolution of the City Council and its appeal will soon be submitted to the concerned leaders of the Catholic Church in the city. SUNSTAR PAMPANGA;

Filipinos Face Potential Two-Child per Family Policy

By Terry Vanderheyden

MANILA, January 9, 2006 ( – In less than two weeks, one of the world’s most Catholic countries could face a mandatory two-child family limit. The Philippines parliament will vote January 16 on a controversial bill proposing the limit.

Disguised in clever language, HB 3773 is called “The Responsible Parenting and Population Control Act of 2005.” Elements of the bill include preference in education for two child families, free access to abortifacients, mandatory sex education for children as young as 10 years old and imprisonment penalties for health care providers who refuse to perform or provide sterilization services for a population that is 87% Catholic and 5% Muslim.

In November, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines called on Congress to quash 3773 in favour of a proposal by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. She proposes using United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) money to promote church-approved, scientifically-based natural family planning; she also stressed that population is not the reason for poverty, as the UN claims.

Despite the Philippine constitution that protects human life from the moment of conception, the anti-life movement is making gains there. In the declassified 1974 US government document, National Security Study Memorandum 200, the Philippines was included in a list of countries whose population growth and consequent growth in prosperity would threaten US security and overseas economic interests. The solution recommended was the imposition of radical population control measures through the United Nations aid programmes.

A similar one-child allowance in communist China has led to widespread infanticide, forced abortion and sterilization and a looming demographic disaster as fewer female children have been allowed to live since the policy was implemented in the 1970s.

Philippine Catholic MP Rene Velade called the proposed measure “absurd.” “The Responsible Parenthood and Population Management Act, better known as the two-child norm, should be annulled by the government together with another two laws which are destroying our nation, 1808 and 3422,” urged Velade, according to an AsiaNews report. “These laws prevent a good domestic economy and a patriotic and educated society. I find it simply absurd that the bill would give families a semblance of choice in planning but puts a limit on the number of children they want.”

“One must not lose sight of what is happening in the West, Japan and Korea,” Velade warned. “In those countries, rich and industrially well-developed, family planning is resulting in an aging population, which will destroy their economic achievements.”

“These countries now face many crises,” Velade continued. “They do not have young people. So they depend on immigrants for everything. No one pays social benefits to guarantee support for an ever ageing population. With less young people, without children, who will consume products made by the domestic economy? Who will buy national products?

“Some of us in the Philippines think of these countries as a model to follow but they do not realise that their experience only highlights the failure of a birth control policy. Human resources are our main hope,” Velade concluded. “We must make sure we give them maximum protection.”

Eileen Macapanas Cosby, Executive Director of the Filipino Family Fund, expressed outraged over the proposed bill. “Where did this come from? These are Western ideas, not Filipino, and they do not protect the dignity of Filipino women. In fact, they pave the way for the kind of human rights nightmare that is already in China, with its coercive sterilization and contraception practices,” she said. “This Philippine version is really just ‘China-light.’ This is not a policy growing from Filipino values, it is social engineering from the outside being imposed on the Philippine people.”

The Filipino Family Fund ( is mobilizing a grass-roots effort of pro-life leaders in the U.S. and the Philippines to build opposition to the social engineering bill. The Fund is sponsoring an on-line petition drive and education initiatives in the Philippines from contributions made by Americans who care.

Intense pressure is constantly placed on third world nations by the UN, other international aid agencies and first world governments offering trade or aid incentives or threatening economic sanctions against those not complying with population control targets. This is undoubtedly what is behind the introduction of such an unlikely measure being introduced to parliament in strongly Catholic Philippines. China has been complying for decades, India is now falling in line and the Phillipines is the obvious next major population target in the East to be brought in line.

Bishop bans Masons from entering church in Mati

Posted 10:17pm (Mla time) May 02, 2005
By Ferdinand Zuasola
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on Page A18 of the May 3, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

MATI, Davao Oriental-Bishop Patricio Alo asked Catholics who are members of Freemasonry to stay out of the church.

"We would like to inform our Freemason brothers and sisters that you are no longer allowed to enter the church because your group contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church," Bishop Alo said in a pastoral message read during masses here.

Fr. Medardo Salomia, spiritual director of the Diocese of Mati, said Bishop Alo and majority of the priests in the province have also agreed not to give Holy Communion to Catholics who are members of Freemasonry.

"The reason given why they are being barred from taking the Holy Communion was that they are being anti-Christ," Father Salomia said.

Salomia said however that he and several priests urged Bishop Alo and those supporting the ban against Freemasons "to reconsider their decision and to restudy this group."

"I have interviewed many Freemason Catholics here and they all said that there was no truth to allegation that their society is anti-Christ," Salomia said.

Former Davao Oriental Vice Gov. Cirilo Valles, a leader of the Freemasons here, said they were "very shocked" and "so disappointed."

"These people are close-minded, so unchristian," Valles said.

Bill 3773: The Catholic Church stands up against the government in the Philippines

AFP, April 5, 2005 published in many Philippino newspapers

The uncompromising birth control policies promoted by Pope John Paul II were embraced wholeheartedly by the church in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, which has one of the highest birth rates in Asia

While population control did not figure in last year's presidential election campaign nor was it included in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's 10-point reform program, the controversial issue is now before the nation's Congress.

A private bill, the Responsible Parenthood and Population Act (Bill 3773), proposes to restrict families to two children, introduce sex education and enable the distribution of contraceptives.

The legislation has so incensed the church that it has threatened not to give Holy Communion to any government worker promoting the bill.

Monsignor Jesus Dosado of the Ozamiz diocese on the southern island of Mindanao was quoted recently saying that any government worker who promotes what he called ``the bill's anti-life policies'' are ``not worthy to receive the body of Christ [Holy Communion] and will be refused. Those who privately support population control measures will not be denied Communion, but should in good conscience not present themselves.''

Observers say there is no way such a bill will become law while the church wields its extensive influence over politicians and policy in the Philippines. Nor would Arroyo, a devout catholic, dare take on the might of the church.

Rosy Alegria, spokeswoman for the Commission on Population, said: ``Most catholic countries today leave the issue of birth control to the elected government. But here in the Philippines the church still has a very strong voice on the subject.''

That voice reflects the late pope's conservative view on the issue. How the church's stand on birth control changes with a new pope remains to be seen.'' Commission executive director Tomas Osias said recently the country urgently needs a population policy to stop the worsening maternal and child deaths brought about by unplanned pregnancies.

Osias said the commission is supporting the bill, which has already passed the House Committee on Health although has not been officially endorsed by government, because it encourages couples to plan their family size.

Monsignor Hernando Coronel, secretary general and spokesman of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said that the church would not support any form of artificial contraception.

Monsignor Oscar Cruz, archbishop of Ligayen-Dagupan in the northern province of Pangasinan and an outspoken critic of artificial birth control, said: ``Contraceptives are a first step towards killing the unborn and are instruments that favor abortion.''

The Catholic Church in the Philippines encourages families to have as many children as they can raise and educate well and approves only natural family-planning methods.

Whether that view would soften if the successor to John Paul II as pope softens the conservative stance on birth control remains to be seen.

A Papal Paradox

By Jullie Yap Daza
Manila Stardard, April 5, 2005

A media-savvy pope. A pope with a sense of humor and a special fondness for the young, the “pope of the youth.” The most athletic pope. The travelingest pope. The youngest pope in so many hundred years. And now they’re calling him John Paul the Great.

No doubt an extraordinary pope who enjoyed his work. John Paul II unified the world and made ecumenism a hallmark of his 26-year reign. Ironically, as he was praised and honored for reaching out to Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and other non-Christian faiths, he will also be remembered by traditionalist Catholics as the pontiff who reduced them to a minority, a cult, almost a sect, a church within a church.

During the reign of the Pope who was something of a liberal and something of a conservative in unequal parts, the process of excommunication was initiated against a French Archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X, for the unauthorized ordination of a dozen missionary priests during what the archbishop felt was a critical time that could not wait for Rome’s slow-moving imprimatur.

As the Pope visited synagogues and mosques, the “new mass” crafted by Vatican II pushed aside the Latin mass that had been the only mass for centuries, the mass that produced generations of bishops, cardinals, popes, saints and martyrs, the Latin mass that Lefebvre and his SSPX wanted to preserve against the onslaughts of a liturgy that was hardly recognizable and was beginning to look more and more Protestant.


Traditionalist Catholics — the ones who wear a veil in church, go to confession before receiving the holy host of communion, and stick to the Latin rite — would have wanted John Paul to hold them close instead of abandoning them to the cardinals who were too eager to replace the old with the new, beginning with the Sunday mass that is the most elegant prayer of worship, petition and thanksgiving.

While he made friends with other religious groups, as the traditionalists would rue, why couldn’t John Paul II keep us in his fold? In the Philippine experience during the time of Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, the Society of St. Pius X was treated like a band of lepers. Letters were circulated warning Catholics against consorting with them and falling into the trap of believing in a group whose head had been “excommunicated” even as occasionally a feeble voice coming out of Rome would say that it was not a sin to attend the old traditional mass if that was what the faithful chose — the mass of their children.

That matter of “excommunication” continues to be a sensitive issue to the missionaries of SSPX and the parishioners who attend mass in a few SSPX churches and chapels throughout the islands. (In Metro Manila, the center is Our Lady of Victories church in New Manila, Quezon City.) For following the priest saying his mass prayers in Latin and wearing modest clothes — no sleeveless blouses, no tight jeans, no shorts for the women — in church, the traditionalists have been the laughingstock of priests as modern as Fr. Sonny Ramirez, OP, and he is just one example. Short of calling them lunatics, churchgoers who follow the new mass can’t see any merit in being old-fashioned when communion in the hand is faster and more practical, when Latin is a dead language, and what’s wrong with holding a stranger’s hand while praying the Our Father because fellowship is just as important as worship?


The paradox is that in many respects Pope John Paul II was a traditionalist more than modernist. He held the line and never lowered the bar. His moral standards in an increasingly amoral world were unwavering. No divorce, no condoms, no abortion, no priestesses, no easy way out of the Ten Commandments, the laws of the Church, and one’s conscience.

In the long history of the Roman Catholic Church, heresies and apostasies and false prophets have come and gone, and still the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Nostradamus, according to one translation, has prophesied that the end of the Church will start to happen after the reign of the Three Popes — Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II all in one year — even as one other version has it that John Paul II is “the second to the last pope” before the Church is destroyed or destroys itself.

Quoting the Blessed Virgin Mary who appeared to him in a dream or trance, a Marian priest has warned that “the smoke of Satan has entered the Church.”

In the solemn period between celebrating the life of a great pope who defined catholic in its broadest sense and the election of his successor, the world seems to be standing still, waiting for a sign from heaven. A reconciliation of the novo ordo (new mass) and the Latin mass? A miracle from John Paul II? A quick election to produce happy results, but earth-shaking ones? A successor who will be just like him or completely different from him, as the times would require, but in God’s own time?

From his newly won perch in heaven, John Paul II could always wish that the next pope would be able to do something to embrace once more the traditionalists who, despite their alienation from Rome, are praying for the eternal repose of his soul in special masses today and on Thursday, in English, Filipino and Latin, across this beautiful land blessed by a God who understands every language but specially that of the heart.

Bill 3773: It is a massive population control program

Posted 00:36am (Mla time) Mar 27, 2005
Editor's Note: Published on page A16 of the March 27, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
By Ligaya B. Anacta-Acosta
Inquirer News Service

I WAS an avid promoter of contraceptives when I was with the Department of Health (DOH). Promoting contraceptives is a very big part of DOH programs. There was, and still is, a lot of money for family planning.

For a long time, we have been told that contraceptives prevent conception. However, during the training I had undergone with Mercedes Arzu-Wilson, president of the Family of the Americas Foundation (FAF), it became clear to me that intrauterine devices (IUD) work essentially as an abortifacient. It does not prevent conception but causes constant inflammation and infection in the uterus. Thus, the newly conceived baby cannot implant in that kind of environment. No wonder then that the most common side effect suffered by IUD users is severe menstrual bleeding.

As our trainer said emphatically, "that was not ordinary blood, it was the baby being aborted in what is called micro-abortion." For pills and Depo-Provera, we learned that they make the endometrial lining and uterus dry and barren like a desert, thus, the newly conceived baby cannot implant as well.

Natural vs artificial

After my training in Manila, I conducted 10 batches of training for more than 300 midwives, nurses, doctors and parish pastoral workers. After watching the video titled "Natural vs Artificial" produced by the FAF, participants came one by one to testify (they were sobbing) that indeed all these things were happening to them and their clients.

I heard very dramatic testimonies of deaths (particularly due to pills and IUDs), ailments (most common of which were high blood pressure, ovarian cysts and cancers due to pills, and pelvic inflammatory diseases and infections brought about by IUDs), and couples and families being drawn apart by contraception and sterilization, which caused depression and reduction in libido. Some women using pills also reported mood disorders.

Health workers even shared, without my asking, the fact that tetanus toxoid immunization was indeed causing abortions. I was shocked. I remembered that during the height of the tetanus toxoid controversy, when former health secretary Juan Flavier first ran for senator, I was constantly on radio and TV defending it, since I was Flavier's campaign manager for Region 8 back then.

Losing babies

Today, I hear a lot of testimonies of women, who are between two to four months pregnant, losing their baby because they had been injected with that drug. Also, a lot of single women who had been injected with it can no longer achieve pregnancy.

I constantly gave this feedback to the health secretary and to my regional director in Region 8 but they didn't seem to care. It seemed that they were more concerned about our targets than the health of our people.

Through research, I discovered that the Philippines received an annual budget of $144 million in the mid-1990s for population control. The money was "used primarily in media, the House of Representatives and Senate affairs to help change people's views regarding contraception and family planning." Today, that amount has even increased.

I kept quiet for a long time. I knew too well that being an insider, and a spokesperson for the DOH, I would cause a scandal if I made an expos‚. The last straw, however, was Ligtas Buntis.

Deceptively named

Ligtas Buntis is a masked population control program, targeting men and women 15 years old and above—regardless of marital status. I found it very unusual that we just had our orientation on Jan. 17 but the program was ready for implementation by Feb. 1.

I also felt nauseated with the fact that we were partnering with Marie Stopes, an agency the DOH did not even accredit in the past, because it knows too well that the group is into abortion in the guise of menstrual and fertility regulation. Very deceptively named, Ligtas Buntis is nothing but the provision of contraceptives and sterilization services house to house. It is apparent that the DOH now considers pregnancy a disease like tigdas and polio. When I objected, my director told me to "separate [my] morality and [my] work."

I never thought that at my age I would be saying goodbye to government service. However, I thought I have only one life to live, so if I could offer this one life to make a difference in this world, so be it.

The DOH tries so hard in telling people that contraceptives are safe and that it is not true that these are abortifacients. But I have a copy of their bible, "The Essentials of Contraceptive Technology: A Handbook for Clinic Staff" published by the Johns Hopkins Population Information Program (March 2003), and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

That book details the possible side effects of each and every contraceptive and sterilization service. And even if that book makes horrible side effects look normal in a very deceitful way, on pages 12 to 14 for IUD, it says, "possibly could prevent egg from implanting in the wall of uterus." Let us not be deceived. That is synonymous to abortion.

The DOH is even trying to redefine human life to start from implantation rather than from conception as very clearly stated in Article II, Section 12 of the Philippine Constitution.

As I told the health secretary when he called me last January (right after I was relieved as natural family planning program manager because of my change of heart regarding contraceptives), I now know exactly why, despite spending billions of dollars over a period of more than 35 years, we only have a 35 percent contraceptive prevalence rate. It is because our products are intrinsically defective. However hard we promote them, people don't buy them because of the horrible side effects they experience.

Men and women are forced to resort to sterilization because they are not aware that it too has a lot of ill effects. In fact, the Matching Grant Program implemented by the DOH through a grant from the USAID-funded Management Sciences for Health is massively promoting vasectomy.

DOH people vow that they are pro-life. In fact, one of the four principles of the DOH family planning program is "respect for life." But when you promote contraception, you can never call yourself pro-life. That's why it's called contraception. It is against conception or against the birth of human life.

Abortion mentality

The DOH also fondly argues that it is anti-abortion. But I have found in my research that it is common knowledge around the globe except at the DOH that many contraceptives are indeed abortifacients. I have also found that the Church statement that a contraceptive mentality leads to an abortion mentality is true.

Because women who take contraceptives don't like to have a child, when they get pregnant (since no contraception is 100-percent effective) it is very easy for them to go to the next step of having an abortion. The womb, which should be the safest place on earth, has become a tomb for countless number of children. As Mother Teresa of Calcutta puts it, "if we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?"

Obviously, there is a need to revisit and overhaul government priorities, particularly its continuing effort to promote population control despite overwhelming evidence that there is no overpopulation.

Political pressure

The roots of the government's family planning program are deep, with a tangle of branches entwined in public programs. The intricate complex of power and money, fed by an annual flow of millions of dollars in grants, not only supports population programs but also finances lobbying to sustain the programs.

The claim that the poor lack access to family planning services is untenable. If the poor "lack access and want more birth control," why should government programs like Ligtas Buntis need to exert such tremendous pressure on them? Why go to the extent of conducting a house-to-house campaign? And why go to the extent of harassing health workers like me who choose not to support the program?

I'm not saying that couples should not plan their families. You must know, however, that there is a tremendous difference between family planning and population control. Family planning implies that the decision is made by the couple, taking into account their own belief and circumstances-financial or otherwise-regarding the number and spacing of their children. Population control measures, in contrast, are implemented by governments and international agencies after they have determined the number of children per couple.

Gift of love

Genuine family planning gives couples control over their reproductive behavior. Population control relinquishes this right to the government and international agencies. As Mother Teresa puts it, "The way to plan the family is natural family planning not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self.

"This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gift of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed, abortion easily follows."

Shifting public health policy from contraceptives to natural family planning will considerably bring down the expenses of our cash-strapped government and will rid us of graft and corruption brought about by the multimillion dollar grants. Natural family planning will truly promote health because there are no side effects. It can also be taught and learned by anyone. More importantly, it will bring back the needed sense of values and morality not only in government but also between and among couples and families.

(Acosta is a former information officer of the Department of Health and its regional program manager for natural family planning for Eastern Visayas.)

Philippine Bishop Opposes Proposed Two-Child Policy

Denies That Numerous Families Cause Poverty

MANILA, Philippines, AUG. 27, 2004 ( The president of the Philippine bishop’s conference said the proposed two-child law presented last week in parliament is a "coercive system against couples."

"The Church appeals to the government to eradicate corruption and poverty before attacking the sanctity of each family with the control of births," said Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao in a statement as reported by AsiaNews.

“The two-child law is not necessary, it is prejudicial and it is not practicable," asserted the archbishop on Friday.

The controversial bill, submitted by Congressman Edcel Lagman to the parliament last week is called the "Reproductive Health Act." The bill is intended to curb the Philippine’s growth rate of 2.36 percent per year, the highest in the world.

The bill is written to encourage birth control by giving families financial incentives if they limit the number of their children to two. The incentive package includes tax advantages, preference in the granting of scholarships at the tertiary level and a number of discounts.

Under the bill, "the state shall adopt an integrated and comprehensive policy on reproductive health in connection with sustainable human development and effective population management."

The bill encourages "the limitation of the number of children to an affordable level of two children per family ... to attain the desired population growth rate."

Far from having its origin in the high number of births—a "simplistic" thesis—"the reasons for the poverty of so many Filipinos are others: governmental corruption, lack of quality of educational and health services, unjust and unbalanced distribution of land and natural resources, high unemployment and the great burden of the external debt," said Archbishop Capalla.

"The Church is ready to work with the government to combat the roots of poverty and to ensure the authentic development of the people, and not to bring down the people for the purpose of development," the statement continued.

"The two-child law is a veiled coercive system that destroys the freedom of conscience and natural right of couples to choose the number of children," the prelate specified.

Moreover, "the two-child law spreads the mentality of contraception and abortion that is in opposition to the culture of life."

Attorney Jo Imbong, executive secretary of the legal office of the Philippine bishops’ conference, had said earlier that the bill "defies the state's constitutional mandate to value and protect the institution of marriage, strengthen the family and foster its solidarity and full development."

In Imbong's opinion, in addition to being "an offense for the rights of the family," the proposed bill "violates the spouses' right to religious belief, which does not only mean the freedom to believe but also includes the freedom to act on one's belief."

The Philippine has a shortfall of 25,000 priests, a bishop said yesterday.

Sex scandals as well as materialism have contributed to the decline in the ranks, with the youth seen as not interested in entering the priesthood, said Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle.

"We are seeing a decline," Tagle told a news conference on the sidelines of a "moral renewal seminar" for some 4,000 priests in Manila.

"The environment creates circumstances that makes a person less receptive to this kind of life," Tagle lamented.

The current ratio of one priest per 15,000 parishioners is "far from ideal," he said, adding that the country needs 25,000 more priests if it was to serve the people better.

However, he said the Philippines was better off than in the United States and Europe, where dozens of churches have closed in recent months due to a spate of scandals or lack of parishioners.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
Thursday, July 8, 2004

Philippine Episcopate Opposes Lifting of Death-Penalty Ban

Moratorium Ended in the Wake of Rash of Kidnappings

MANILA, Philippines, DEC. 10, 2003 ( The Philippines' Catholic bishops are opposing the cancellation of the moratorium on the death penalty and reaffirmed their stance against capital punishment.

Their position was articulated at a public meeting by Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, president of the bishops' conference, AsiaNews reported.

The bishops voiced their view as news arrived of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's ending of the moratorium. Only a few months ago Arroyo was received by the Pope in the Vatican, where she reiterated her position against capital punishment and promised to abide by moral principles.

"We do not believe it will deter crime unless there is a general breakdown of law and order," said Archbishop Capalla, in a statement issued Monday.

Arroyo lifted the freeze on the death penalty last Friday after a recent rise in kidnappings-for-ransom.

"As much as I am averse to the taking of human lives, as a matter of principle, the president must yield to the higher public interest when dictated by extraordinary circumstances," Arroyo said. She added that she would not oppose prisoner executions scheduled for January.

Two men face execution by lethal injection on Jan. 30, said Dionisio Santiago, warden of the State Bureau of Corrections.

There are 25 criminals on death row, guilty of kidnappings and drug-related crimes, say officials. The Philippines is said to be the Asia's kidnapping capital, with an average of one abduction every three days.

This year alone, 158 incidents have been reported. Some cases remain unreported for fear of retaliation by kidnappers on the victim's families.

Monsignor Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary for the bishops' Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, believes that Arroyo was pressured into lifting the ban in order to appease the country's Chinese community, whose members have been gravely affected as victims of kidnapping incidents in Manila.

The president's move is purely political while "succumbing to pressure from a group from which she needs assistance," the monsignor said.

Archbishop Capalla said that "as citizens of this country, we respect the president's right and prerogative to protect public order as well as the right to change her mind."

Yet, he said, "the Roman Catholic Church must claim and uphold her right and freedom to speak on moral issues while respecting the rights and freedom of the state government or of anyone dissenting or disagreeing with her."

more on the death penalty

Filipinos continue kissing holy images despite SARS warnings

PARANAQUE CITY, Philippines (CNS) -- Catholics in the Philippines have continued to kiss holy images in churches despite warnings from church leaders to stop because of fears of SARS. At Our Mother of Perpetual Help National Shrine in Paranaque City, south of Manila, Angelita Casasis pressed her lips on the image of Christ crucified, just as she has done for many years, reported UCA News, an Asian church news agency based in Thailand. "I am unafraid of SARS," said the 37-year-old mother, now pregnant with her fourth child. Casasis declared that her faith is stronger than SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome. By May 21, the pneumonia-like disease had killed nearly 670 people, including two in the Philippines, but most deaths were in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

Migration Gravely Affects Filipino Families, Says Bishop Arguelles

MISNA (10/3/2003) It is unfortunate that migration of Filipinos is being promoted by government, Bishop Ramon Arguelles, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) said in his homily during the celebration of the 17th National Migrants' Sunday at the EDSA Shrin yesterday. "The Church knows that the disruption of family life (with the absence of one or two of the parents) adverse the proper growth of their children and, sooner or later, the whole Philippines society will awake from the horrible state of wounded relationships of family life." For this reason, the Holy Father himself expressed his concern for the Filipino families. Thus, "he chose our country to be the venue for the 4th World Meeting of Families," Bishop Arguelles said. The National Migrants' Sunday, celebrated every first Sunday in Lent, expresses the Church's concern for the millions of Filipinos, scattered in more than 190 countries around the world, who have left their families to look for employment overseas. Around 10 percent of the country's population are migrants and at least 70 percent are migrant related. "The Philippine Church recognizes that the grave risks confront a big part of Filipino Migrants in the Middle East," says Bishop Arguelles. "Having sacrificed practically everything to land a job abroad, especially in the Middle East, not even the threat of widespread conflict does not disturb them anymore. They have risked everything and are willing to risk still more." The occasion, Bishop Arguelles added, is also to bring into mind the internal refugees in Mindanao who have left their homes, due to the on-going conflict between the government forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. As earlier stated, a major concern of the Church is the impact of migration on their families. For this reason, ECMI and the government's Overseas Workers Welfare Administration have forged yesterday, a Memorandum of Agreement enabling "families of overseas workers to maximize the economic benefits of the sacrifices of the overseas Filipinos and provide possibility of reentry mechanism for them when they return." Likewise, the Church declared March 2003 to March 2004 as the Year of Overseas Filipino Workers' Families. In a related issue, Father Robert Reyes, a known human rights activist and parish priest of the University of the Philippines, asked the government to review its guidelines in sending out entertainers, particularly women, to Japan.

"Although the performers are screened by a government agency before they are given an "artist's record book" (a requirement in applying for a visa in Japan), the screening committee requires them to dress in short dresses. They are also asked to sing though they cannot sing," the priest to church-based reported today. The women, as young as 18 years old or younger because their birth certificates are falsified, are sent to Japan and eventually end into forced prostitution. The criteria for passing the test is more on showing their bodies, rather than their talent in the arts. Father Reyes, together with several "survivors" (women who survived sexual maltreatment in Japan) rallied at the Department of Labor this morning, to protest the sending of so-called performers to Japan. Such a practice is legitimizing sex-trafficking of our women, says Father Reyes. (by Sonny Evangelista)

President Corazon Aquino tells Fides Service: "praying the rosary we become better people"

Manila 9/7/2002 (Fides Service) - "I want to promote the Holy Rosary prayer. I hope the students will learn to pray it regularly. Since 1972 when martial law was declared and many problems began for our country, I have prayed the Rosary every day. I firmly believe that I have survived and become a better person thanks to the Holy Rosary. Soon I will celebrate 30 years of daily rosary." Fides Service was told this by former Philippine President Corazon Aquino. Ms Aquino is leading Philippine Catholic youth in prayer rallies in several churches in Metro Manila as well as in the nearby provinces as part of a Prayer Power Campaign 2002 for peace among the families and the nation, in preparation for the 4th World Meeting of Families in Manila in January 2003.

The prayer rally began on June 19 and it will continue until December. It has the full support of Manila archdiocese. "When I launched the campaign - the former Philippines President told Fides Service - I called on the over 3,000 students present to pray for our families, for peace in our country, peace in the world. The purpose of the Campaign is to consecrate at least one million families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in January 2003, when we hope Pope John Paul II will come to the Philippines for the World Meeting of Families." "We also aim to promote devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the main patroness of the Philippines - Ms Aquino concludes - invoking her special protection for the families of the Philippines and for all unborn children".

Terrorists Attack Philippines St. Joseph Festival

MANILA, May 1, 02 ( - Three people were killed and almost 100 injured when suspected Muslim militants threw grenades into a celebration of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on Wednesday in the southern Philippines.

Officials said the attack occurred in the village of Notre Dame near Cotabato City in a region of the country where Muslim rebels are waging terrorism to win a separate homeland. "There are three confirmed dead and there are many wounded," regional police chief Colonel Bartoleme Baluyout said. "I suspect this was done by Muslim terrorists."

A series of bomb blasts 10 days ago in General Santos city, south of Cotabato, killed 15 people and wounded dozens more. The attack was claimed by a man who said he was a spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf Muslim guerrillas, a group which has been linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Quaeda terrorist network

Philippine Groups Sue "Catholics" For A Free Choice, Charging Media Lies

Deceptive International Campaign Funded by U.S. Foundations is Challenged

MANILA, 19-Apr-2002 (c-Fam/ - The latest media campaign of "Catholics" for a Free Choice (CFFC) has finally garnered attention, but it may not be the attention CFFC desired -- CFFC is being sued for deceptive advertising. For the past few months, CFFC has purchased billboards and newspaper advertisement in cities worldwide, which claim that Catholic bishops "ban" condoms, and that the Church is responsible for the deaths of millions of people due to HIV/AIDS. In response, a group of pro-life and pro-family advocates in the Philippines has lodged a court complaint against CFFC, stating that CFFC's campaign breaches the country's code of ethics in advertising.

According to the complaint, the CFFC advertisements are guilty of two separate infractions, "dishonest advertising" and "open and direct disparagement" of religious beliefs. The complainants allege that the campaign is dishonest for a number of reasons, including the simple fact that CFFC "is not Roman Catholic." In their charges, they ask, "Can a movement be called Catholic, that openly rejects and distorts Catholic teachings, especially respect and protection of defenseless unborn human life?" Referring to CFFC's unsuccessful "See Change" campaign at the United Nations, they ask, "Can a movement be called Catholic, that masterminds, promotes, and wages a relentless agenda using all means necessary to expel the Holy See from the United Nations?"

The complainants also cite Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, President of the [U.S.] National Conference of Catholic Bishops, who has stated, "CFFC is not a Catholic organization.CFFC is, practically speaking, an arm of the abortion lobby in the United States and throughout the world."

According to Jo Imbong, a member of Catholics in Law, a Philippine nongovernmental organization involved in the suit, the CFFC media campaign "was just too much. We want to get the message across: not on our shores." He also hopes that, through this suit, people "in other countries where similar campaigns are waged will be inspired to stem this insidious affront to our religion."

Fr. Pierantoni: "My Captors Always Claimed To Be Members Of Abu Sayyaf"

8 Apr 2002 (MISNA); "My captors always claimed to be members of the Islamic extremist Abu Sayyaf group and lead me to believe that we were on Basilan Island". This was the revelation made in a telephone interview with MISNA by Fr. Giuseppe Pierantoni, the 45 year-old Italian missionary freed today after 172 days in captivity in the southern Philippines, explaining that he had just discovered that many of the facts were not exactly as his kidnappers had lead him to believe. In regard to their identity the missionary was only able to say that they were "ordinary people responding to the commands of a leadership that I was not able to individuate. However - explained the missionary - I managed to open dialogue with them regarding political and religious problems on the Island of Mindanao. They claimed to be very religious and that the observance of the law of God is the means to the resolution of all problems". The missionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (known as Dehonians) was however not able to effectively say whether his captors were in reality members of the Abu Sayyaf (small radical group linked to the Al-Qaida terrorist network of Osama Bin Laden) or, as believed by the Philippine authorities, former rebels of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), an extremist movement currently engaged in peace negotiations with Manila. "I am starting to have some doubts and suspect that my captors kept many things from me", commented the priest. He however reiterated his "gratitude to the Lord for the privilege" he was conceded of living the experience of the abduction, though frankly admitting: "I do not think I would do it again". The Dehonian missionary confirmed his excellent physical condition and stated that he never suffered from amoebic dysentery during his captivity. "I had it years ago: when I was abducted I had a simple cold, which degenerated into a light form of bronchitis, nothing more". He also denied having lived off lizards and snakes, as claimed by some press sources, but having eaten iguana meat, which he commented was particularly tasty. Fr. Pierantoni said that he does not know if a ransom was paid for his liberation. Philippine authorities claim that nothing was paid, while reliable sources say that 10-million pesos (around $20-thousand) were paid. In conclusion, in answer to the question why you?, the priest responded: "being a foreigner their intent was to cause international embarrassment to the Philippine government and because I was an easy target, given that the Dimataling parish is poor and therefore without army or police protection". The Dehonian missionary will return to Italy for a week and then return to Mindanao. "I want to return to the Philippines - he stated - due also to the fact that statistics are on my side: it is improbable that they kidnap the same priest twice". (CO)


Like a solid married couple in total agreement, President Macapagal-Arroyo and Jaime Cardinal Sin on Friday spoke with one voice to blast a divorce bill presented to Congress, attacking it as un-Filipino, immoral and unconstitutional. Despite the failure of previous divorce bills, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon filed the new one earlier this week as a way out for married individuals who have been mentally or physically abused by their spouses. But Ms Macapagal described divorce as a plague visited on children of divorcees and its effects on children as ugly as a nightmare. And Sin, the influential archbishop of Manila, said in a statement: Divorce is immoral. It is un-Filipino. It is absurd. I trust that we have enough sensible and intelligent legislators to fight this insane proposal.

Other divorce bills in Congress have failed because of the strength of the Roman Catholic lobby. An estimated 82 percent of the population is Catholic.

Source: Dave's Digest (


Mgr Jean-Louis Tauran, secretary of state of the Vatican for relations with the other countries, stated on June 4th, at a meeting with the leaders of other religions, in the apostolic nunciature of Manila: "The two elements, i.e. harmony between peoples and justice within society, are principles that guide our relations with all religions... It would be a mistake to consider the faithful of other religions as someone to convert. He is rather a person that it is necessary to understand, while letting to God the role of illuminating his conscience. Religions must not enter in competition one with another, but must rather be like brothers and sisters who walk hand in hand in order to construct havens of fraternity, while building a beautiful world in which it is possible to live and to work". Here, at the editor board of RU news service, we are simply appalled. Already cardinal Cassidy stated in 1999 at Augsburg, at the time of the common declaration with the Protestants, that Rome doesn't aim any more at the other Christians to return to the Catholic Church. Do we no more need to work for conversions? We start to drain to the dregs the cup of "religious liberty" invented at the council Vatican II. We dare to ask: St Paul, apostle of all missionaries, would he have been completely mistaken? Saint-Louis, would he have been wrong? Would Saint-Francis Xavier have left towards Asia for nothing? Would Saint-Theresa of Lisieux have sacrificed herself for the missions in vain? And the Benedictine Fr. Michel Pascal who left France at the age of 70 in April 2001 for becoming missionary in Cameroon "in order to announce the gospel", would he lack intelligence ? We don't dare to imagine what Msgr Tauran may think about O.L. Jesus Christ who ordered: "Go all over the world and teach all peoples, and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Saint Spirit !" Someones in Rome are getting delirious ! - (ru; cf. ZEN June 6)


Roman Catholic bishops in both Germany and the Philippines have condemned all forms of human cloning, either for reproductive or so-called therapeutic purposes. In a document approved at the end of their plenary assembly last week, the German bishops stressed that so-called therapeutic cloning "degrades the human embryos turning them into simple biological material for other human beings. Alternatives must be found." The bishops of the Philippines also condemned human cloning, stressing that it could never be justified in any
circumstances. Archbishop Leonardo Legaspi of Neuva Caseras, chairman of the bioethics office of his country's bishops' conference, listed six reasons why human cloning was inadmissible. These included the
points that it went against nature, involved the destruction and manipulation of human beings, and reduced the human person to an object. [Zenit news agency, 11 March; EWTN News, 10 March]


The new president of the Philippines has signalled her intention to pursue population policies in line with her Catholic faith. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said: "We will push for responsible parenthood and a population policy that is in keeping with our culture ... I do not think there should be a specific budget for contraception." It was reported that workers for the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund in Manila were outraged by the president's refusal to promote abortifacient birth control or condoms. [LifeSite and Financial Times, 2 February]


Kidapawan (Fides) – Kidapawan diocese is in middle of the civil war on Mindanao Island. It comprises 11 towns in Cotabato province, 3 in Maguindanao Province, one in Sultan Kudarat. The places most affected by the fighting are Carmen and Kabacan in Cotabato; Pagalungan and Datu Palas in Maguindanao.

The diocese has opened refugee centres in each of these towns for Christian and Muslim families forced to flee their homes. The first were opened in November 1999. Fighting at present is "chaotic and confused; a series of attacks, killings, destruction at random" the local Bishop Romulo Valles told Fides. The situation has been like this since July 9, 2000 when Salamat Hashim the leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ordered his men to undertake a Jihad holy war.

In May this year the diocese was assisting 1,670 displaced families, 11,000 people in all. But as violence increased the number grew to 85,000. The centres have makeshift shelters with roofs of bamboo and banana leaves. There is urgent need of food and building material. Working with Kidapawan diocese is NGO Tabang Mindanao which sends food supplies, provides some medical assistance and runs a programme of reconstruction. (22/12/2000)


Cotabato (Fides) – Refugees, peace process, economic development, transparency in government, dialogue and culture of peace: There are the crucial points for Mindanao, listed by Fr Eliseo Mercado, Oblate missionary of Mary Immaculate, director of the Notre Dame University in Cotabato. In a report sent to Fides, Fr Mercado identifies the main problems to be solved to put an end to the conflict in the southern Philippines.

The first problem that of refugees. These people - NGOs speak of 600,000 while the government says they are 350,000 - are not numbers: they each have a name, a family, and before the conflict they had a home and a piece of land to cultivate. "These people must be resettled" says Fr Mercado.

Peace process: It is hardly possible to speak of a peace process in the political climate of total war adopted by the government and applied since April 28, 2000. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF replied with a Jihad Holy War and the army's "strong arm" resulted in a nightmare, Fr Mercado reports. The army offensive against the MILF caused displacement of whole populations, increased the polarization of Mindanao society in a confessional sense, plunged the region into economic disaster and crushed people’s confidence in the peace process. The conflicting parties set different conditions for resuming negotiations: the government wants the MILF to renounce all idea of independence; stop all terrorist acts, hand over their arms, in other words an unconditioned surrender. For its part the MILF, since the police issued warrants for its leaders, demands negotiations outside Filipino territory, and talks to include forms of autonomy. The MILF, Fr Mercado says, seems to be flexible and the idea of an independent Muslim state would appear to be more a slogan than a real request. In fact it is not listed among the points for discussion. "A formula for a just peace must be reached" the missionary says.

Development and devolution of power: Conflict in Mindanao has aggravated poverty and underdevelopment, largely through the destruction of infrastructures and consequent economic paralysis. The central government approved a "Plan for the reconstruction of Mindanao" (June 2000), set up a Council of Coordination for Mindanao and an Executive Presidential Force for Central Mindano. Fr Mercado says these "super bodies" are useless and harmful: "they all have the same function and only complicate the situation. They were set up by the central government without any participation on the part of the people of Mindanao and are simply the result of an internal struggle for power. "Development plans must give power to the local people" Fr Mercado says "Like peace, development cannot be imposed".

Government and transparency. What is needed is good government with good projects, working in transparency. Local leaders of the Autonomous region of Mindanao are subject to economic lobbies. Development funds are exchanged for votes. Corruption paralyses any possibility of economic growth. Service of the public and transparency are attitudes quite foreign to the ‘owner-client’ relationship existing between the autonomous region governor and local government officials. The context is a semi-feudal or semi-colonial climate, aggravated by a sort of "imperial Manila", relationship with the capital.

Lastly, it is urgent to encourage dialogue and a culture of peace, Mindanao has always been a place of peaceful encounter of cultures. The original native people here were Lumad highland villagers and thirteen different groups of Bangsamoro tribals with particular customs. In the mid nineteenth century Christian groups from the islands of Luzon and Visayas began to arrive and today they are the majority. Cultural and religious differences have required a constant effort to develop tolerance. "Today prejudice and cultural stereo-types dominate and this leads to hostility and animosity, particularly in relationships between Christians and Muslims" Fr Mercado explains. Widespread presence of Geographical Unit of the Citizen’s Armed Forces paramilitary, increases religious fundamentalism and anti-Muslim hatred. Fr Mercado concludes: "Ours is not a path of war, it is a path of dialogue and united efforts build a culture of peace." (22/12/2000)

Background: Thirty years’ war escalates

Manila (Fides) – The second half of 2000 saw an escalation of violence in Mindanao (see Fides 21, July 2000, and 6, October 2000). But the present conflict has deep roots, which can be traced to disputes between Muslims and Christians under Spanish colonial rule (1565-1898) that failed to subside during American administration (1898-1946) or with the advent of the Republican government. At the beginning of the 1970s the Muslim minority on Mindanao re-launches the struggle for Bangsamoro, that is, an independent Islamic State. This movement comes mainly from the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanano and a few towns in the bordering provinces of North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat at the centre of the Island. The regime, led by dictator Ferdinand Marcos, responds with force, sending the army to put down the rebels.

After an agreement signed in Tripoli December 23, 1976, which includes partial autonomy, in 1978 fighting resumes. But the Muslim front is divided: the initial group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) claiming more autonomy, splits and a more radical secessionist wing is formed, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

After years of guerilla warfare, in 1989, Corazon Aquino’s government offers administrative autonomy to the 13 provinces but only 4 accept, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and bordering archipelagos Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. In September 1996 the MNLF reaches an accord with the Fidel Ramos government for a Mindanao Autonomous Muslim Region, which includes the four autonomous provinces. Many rebel militia are absorbed by the army or police forces and Nur Misuari, MNLF leader, becomes governor of the Autonomous Region.

But the 15,000 men strong MILF rejects the accord, refusing to hand over its weapons. It starts a new recruitment campaign, forming mujaheddin in guerilla training-camps, and launches terrorist attacks, massacres, kidnapping, extortion involving civilians, including a number of missionaries. In July 2000 Philippine President Estrada opts for strong arm tactics against the MILF launching a massive army offensive causing an escalation of violence and a wave of new refugees (more than 300,000).

Throughout the conflict in Mindanao the Catholic Church has worked to promote Christian-Muslim dialogue. In 1996 Christian and Muslim leaders formed the Bishops-Ulama Forum to mediate difficult situations. Since 1986 a Catholic run Institute, started by the Silsilah movement, has offered courses in interreligious dialogue and peace-making for laity and religious, Christians and Muslims.

Mindano island has a population of about 14,500,000, Muslims are 25%. However Muslims are a majority in the Autonomous Muslim Region which has a population of 2 million, although there are also sizeable Christian communities. Government sources estimate that in a conflict lasting almost thirty years at least 120,000 have been killed. (22/12/2000)


Manila (Fides) – All eyes are on the political case of President Estrada and war-torn Mindanao is forgotten. As media and pubic opinion concentrate on the President’s trial for corruption, the conflict on the largest island of the archipelago has disappeared from the newspapers, although it has not diminished in violence and intensity. This protest was sent to Fides by Bishop Romulo Valles of Kidapawan diocese, at the centre of the war zone.

In a report to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Valles says an increasing number of families have been displaced. "We have at least 15,000 families sheltering in camps opened by the diocese. About 8000 came after clashes between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerillas and the army troops at the beginning of November at Columbio", Bishop Valles writes in his report entitled "The never ending war".

In Columbio, a town in the centre of the diocese Geronimo Eleccion, the head of a Basic Christian Community and five members of his family were killed on November 12 by a group of ten armed men. Fides sources report that the parish priest of Columbio, American Fr Steve Baumbusch, member of the PIME Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, has also been threatened by fundamental Muslim, more precisely by the Norberto Manero paramilitary group (which murdered another PIME missionary Tulio Favali, in 1985). Several times gangs of armed men were seen searching for the priest at his residence. Bishop Valles, who urged Fr Baumbusch to leave Columbio, launches a call for peace: "We are all children of the same God. Let us unite our voices and work for peace".

In July, when President Estrada launched his "total war" tactic against the MILF in Mindanao, in a few weeks Kidapawan diocese registered more than 11,000 evacuated families. When a cease-fire seemed near in August, about 200 families returned home. New violence and killings in the successive months forced the families to go back to the refugee-centres where they feel more protected. (22/12/2000)


Manila (Fides) – Catholic and Lutheran Philippine Bishops prayed together at the residence of Cardinal Jaime Sin in Manila, on October 31, to mark the first anniversary of the signing of the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification".

Addressing the high officials of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines, Cardinal Sin said: "In a gathering like this I can feel the intense presence of Jesus Christ our Lord who on the night before his passion prayed to his Father for the unity of his followers, that they may be one, as you Father are in me and I in you". "The Declaration," the Cardinal added, "Is the natural climax of the burning desire of our hearts to come to unity and understanding, to acceptance and forgiveness to love and service."

Cardinal Sin concluded echoing Pope John Paul II, asking forgiveness "for the part which the Catholics of Manila have played in fomenting disunity and distrust between Catholics and Protestants. Unity among Christians, which is a gift of Jesus Christ, can only be attained if our hearts are free from prejudice, hatred and pride", he added.

The "Joint Declaration" was signed in Augsburg, Germany on October 31, 1999, by Cardinal Edward Cassidy representing the Catholic Church and Bishop Christian Krause, President of the World Lutheran Federation. (S. E.) (10/11/2000)

Calls It "Do-It-Yourself Murder Kit"

MANILA, Philippines, OCT. 8, 2000 ( The mayor of Manila warned of arrests and warehouse raids if anyone tries to ship the abortion pill RU-486 into the city.

Manila City Mayor Lito Atienza, president of Prolife Philippines, said last week he will arrest any government official and raid any importer's warehouses if they should bring in RU-486.

Atienza dubbed the abortion bill the "do-it-yourself murder kit."

Atienza stressed that as chief executive of Manila, he is sworn to uphold the constitution and the laws of the country.

Since the Philippine Constitution explicitly states that it is the duty of the state to protect the unborn from the point of conception, any attempt by any government official to use the drug on pregnant women is "a lame attempt at legalizing abortion on demand," he said.

Atienza was referring to the announcement made by the Philippine secretary of health who said he would authorize RU-486 for victims of rape and incest.

Earlier, Philippine Senate Majority Leader Francisco Tatad urged the Department of Health to ban the abortion pill, which recently won U.S. government approval for sale in the United States. ZE00100824


MANILA, Oct. 5, 00 ( - The Philippines, the mostly Catholic Asian country where protection for the unborn is enshrined in the constitution, may legalize the abortion drug RU-486.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that "Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez was quoted earlier as saying that RU-486 is not an abortive drug." The paper also said, "He was reported as saying that if the drug's manufacturer filed for registration with the Bureau of Food and Drugs, the application would be treated like any other and would not be blocked."

Romualdez' claim has sparked massive reaction in the country. The Philippine Bishops' Conference noted that all those who take RU-486 are automatically excommunicated. Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, spokesman for the bishops' conference, corrected Romualdez, noting that RU-486 is not only an abortifacient, but is abortion itself. "Ipso facto excommunication. It does not have to be announced anymore. It is automatic," Msgr. Quitorio said in a news briefing.

On Monday, Philippine Senate Majority Leader Francisco Tatad urged the Department of Health to ban RU-486. "RU-486 is the equivalent of a miniature chemical bomb detonated inside a mother's womb," he said. He told the Senate that the US FDA approval of the drug allows American women to wage chemical warfare against unborn children "in the name of the so-called right to choose and the right to privacy." Romualdez admitted to the press that the country's Department of Health had recently registered levonorgestrel, an abortifacient "morning-after" pill.


MANILA, 7-Sep-2000 ( - The life of Catholic Bishop Romulo De La Cruz of Isabela in Basilan province, is in serious danger, according to the Vatican news service Fides.

The Abu Sayyaf terrorist group could target the Catholic member of the Crisis Unit set up by the government to find a solution to the April 23 kidnapping in which a number hostages are still detained on Jolo island. The alarm was raised by Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, president of the Philippine bishops' conference.

This comes after an August 16 pastoral letter in which Bishop De la Cruz called on the military forces to "remain vigilant and alert to continue to flush out the Abu Sayyaf so that they will never again wreak havoc on Basilan." Misinterpreted by a major newspaper, the statement was reported as saying that the bishop wants the group "wiped out" or killed, causing angry reactions and threats from the Muslim extremist group of kidnappers.

Archbishop Quevedo said that Bishop De la Cruz based his pastoral statement on moral condemnation of all kinds of crime and banditry, similar to previous bishops' conference statements that condemned syndicates in gambling, kidnapping, drugs, smuggling, among others. "Bishop de La Cruz has applied that moral condemnation to the Abu Sayyaf group considering the experience of the people of Basilan, both Muslims and Christians," Archbishop Quevedo said.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) has likewise condemned the action of Abu Sayyaf as "barbarous and un-Islamic." The bishops of Mindanao, Protestant leaders, and Muslim Ulama in the Bishops-Ulama Forum have made a clear distinction between the MILF and the Abu Sayyaf. "Bishop de La Cruz expressed his own moral stand and a courageous one, but his pastoral pronouncement has placed his life in even more danger than before," said Archbishop Quevedo.


AMBON (6/10/2000) (Fides) – The situation is ever more critical. The escalation of violence denounced by the Catholics Bishops (cfr Fides July 21, 2000) has intensified in the last three months. "Innocent people continue to die, many are children but no one speaks about it, not even the media" Bishop Romulo Valles, of Kidapawan, in Mindanao, a diocese in the midst of the conflict, was speaking to Fides.

"The circle of violence we pointed out earlier, is real, brutal and evil" the Bishop continues. "Time seems to have stood still in favour of war and violence. Quiet, fearsome violence. Violence whose sounds are muted by angry grieving and utter helplessness. The continuing violence comes in varied forms of stealthy massacres, perpetrated at times least expected and among unsuspecting civilians. Even the media seems to be muted. As muted as our sensitivities?" the Bishop asks.

The list of unpunished massacres is unending. Mgr Valles recalls only the worst episodes. On September 26 grenades were thrown at a cluster of makeshift homes at an evacuation centre in Kabagan, Cotabato. A grenade instantly killed two children, a three-year-old boy and his five-year-old sisters. The father died later in hospital while the mother is seriously wounded. The day before a bomb exploded at the university of Southern Mindanao where five students were killed and eleven seriously wounded.

On September 18 armed men in military uniform fired at the people inside houses in Palanggalam town, Carmen area. Seven persons were killed. Immediately 1,300 families of the town departed to nearby evacuation centres. But even these centres are insecure. On September 11, three homes at the Tawantawan Centre in Carmen were strafed, killing two and wounding eight residents. On the same day another strafing took place in Tungnolen town, Carmen area, killing three including a 14-year-old girl and her mother.

"The situation here is very far from being normal" - Bishop Valles said. Death and violence seem to be just anywhere near, ready to strike at any moment. One wonders if we truly understand the grim and extreme fear that countless civilians in our area are living."

Meanwhile in the nearby island of Jolo, news black-out, imposed by the government after the launching of the army’s September 16 attack, has remained with the banning of media personnel. However some telephone lines were opened and Oblate Bishop Angelito Lampon of Jolo was able to report to Archbishop Orlando Quevedo the happenings in his city. "It is clear from reports from our own church people in Jolo, that what we as Bishops feared is taking place: summary executions of suspected Abu Sayyaf men, bodes mutilated, mosques raided and sacked by the army in search of Muslim extremists".

Archbishop Quevedo, who said he was against the news black-out, suspecting it was to cover up illegal acts (cfr Fides August 29, 2000), reiterated the Church’s call to lift the new ban and he appealed to both the military forces and the Abu Sayyaf group "to religiously respect the rights, properties and lives of non-combatants, including the hostages". He appealed to the government to ensure that food and medicines be allowed to reach the people of Jolo. Likewise he called for "cooperation between the government, Church groups and NGOs for a massive relief of the thousands of evacuees displaced by the war". (S. E. )

Pope Will Beatify Second Filipino

MANILA, MAR 3 ( "Pedro Calungsod is a model for the youth of Visayas. The youth of the region need examples. They turn to consumerism, they are attracted by worldly culture and tend to neglect the traditional values of devotion and religiosity, values held in contempt by a secularized style of life," Fr. Vidal Gornes said to the Vatican agency "Fides." Pedro Calungsod is in the group to be beatified this Sunday.

Pedro is the second Filipino who will be raised to the altars, following Lorenzo Ruiz, canonized about a decade ago. But young Pedro touches the heart of Philippine people even more. "In the first place, because he has a really Philippine name. His surname, Calungsod, indicates his origin: the city of Cebu. A person with such a surname can only be a native of the Visayas region, so that we consider him as something of our own. We feel a kind of interior pride, because this Blessed comes from my own people and I can easily identify with him," the priest said.

Last January 30, when concluding a Marian congress in Manila, Cardinal Jaime Sin announced to the faithful: "I have splendid news for the Philippine Church: the Pope has opened the way for the beatification of Pedro Calungsod." About 2 years ago, Cardinal Sin had entrusted Jesuit Fr. Catalino Arevalo with the writing of the history of Pedro Calungsod for the diocesan faithful. The history narrates the life of this boy who, in the 17th century, helped Jesuit Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores in the task of evangelizing the Marianas Islands, which at the time were under Cebu's jurisdiction.

Pedro Calungsod was born in the region of Visayas. There are no certain documents on his birth. It is know that he worked as a catechist from 1668 to 1672. His name is mentioned in the cause of the martyrdom of
Jesuit missionary Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores. Pedro was martyred at the age of 14 with the Jesuit, and their bodies were thrown into the ocean. Both were evangelizing the natives of the village of Tumhom, San
Juan Island, present day Guam. Two aborigines attacked them and killed them with spears. Pedro tried to defend the priest. The Church remembers his martyrdom on April 2, 1672. Fr. de San Vitores was beatified on October 6, 1985. He was the first apostle and founder of the Catholic community of the Marianas Islands.

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