Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On cooperating with evil (2) - UPDATE

(update to previous post)

Caritas terminates agreement with Celticare

The following statement was issued June 26 by Caritas Christi, withdrawing its participation in Healthcare agreement:

New Agreement Allows Caritas To Serve the Poor As a Provider in the Connector Program

Braintree, MA - Based on the decision of the Caritas Christi Executive Committee of the Board of Governor’s to relinquish its membership and equity interest in the previously established joint venture, CeltiCare Health Plan Holdings, LLC (formerly known as Commonwealth Family Health Plan Holdings, LLC) but maintain its important role as a provider of health care to many enrolled in the state’s Connector Program, the Archdiocese of Boston today expressed support for the new arrangement.

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley said, “I am pleased that Caritas Christi was able to achieve this outcome. Throughout this process, our singular goal has been to provide for the needs of the poor and underserved in a manner that is fully and completely in accord with Catholic moral teaching. By withdrawing from the joint venture and serving the poor as a provider in the Connector, upholding Catholic moral teaching at all times, they are able to carry forward the critical mission of Catholic health care.”...
Read the rest here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Children are beautiful

Note: The following article appeared in the 'Youngblood' column of the June 27, 2009 edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. The author is Ms. Maria Lovella P. Naces, 22, who is studying for her master’s in sociology and anthropology at Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. It is being posted here with her permission.
Children are beautiful
By Maria Lovella P. Naces
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:07:00 06/27/2009

“TITA GING, I’M SCARED,” said my niece who was standing beside me.

I was in the middle of a Facebook game, so I hesitated to entertain her at first. “Why are you scared?” I asked, without taking my eyes off the computer screen.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

I turned around to look at her and saw a little tear on her right eye. I smiled and tried to reassure her, “It’s OK, langga. I’m here.” I then logged out of my account and turned off my computer, hugged her tight and smiled.

I wasn’t this patient with kids before. I was more like the evasive adult. But now I am proud to say I am the good aunt.

I unexpectedly became a tita when I was still a teenager. My sister got pregnant at a young age, and got married soon afterwards. As was expected, the suddenness of everything left us quite unprepared for all the changes that was about to come. I was a teenager and I didn’t know what to expect or what to do with our new responsibilities. Nevertheless, I tried to manage.

Our new life was challenging. We had to take turns looking after the new baby, carrying her, feeding her, making her stop crying and putting her to sleep. But the bigger load of taking care of her fell on my sister and her young husband. I would see them trying to make the baby sleep in the wee hours of morning. Sometimes I would hear my sister singing a lullaby at 3 a.m. as her baby continued crying.

Some of our neighbors noted that life for us was not easy. They were partly right. My sister had to juggle school and work with taking care of the baby. At one point she had to stop schooling for a couple of semesters.

I could sense other people shaking their heads at our situation. One neighbor openly expressed her disapproval to my mother. But our family remained strong and we welcomed the new-born with open arms.

I was a teenager then. There was a time when I was still in denial about being a tita. Titas and titos were the siblings of my parents. They were old, while I was young. I can’t be a tita, I repeated to myself, shrugging off responsibility and often staying out of the house.

But one day out of curiosity, I decided to try to see what was in the child’s mind. That afternoon I was busy writing a school requirement when my niece interrupted me and talked to me. Instead of calling the child’s yaya (maid) or anyone else, I stopped what I was doing and faced her. Patience, I said to myself.

Little did I know that that single decision would change me. I looked into her eyes and instantly saw the beauty that was in her. It is the same king of beauty that I find in every child I encounter since then.

From that day, I simply listened with patience, talked with sincerity, played with her and read her stories. I was always excited to go home and see her by our door. This new-found feeling was different, and it was fun. I couldn’t believe the happiness and excitement I was feeling. This must be how it feels to be a mother, I thought to myself.

Sometimes when I think about her, I cannot contain my happiness and I would smile to myself. Sometimes when she is asleep, I would embrace her little body and would not allow even a mosquito to touch her skin.

Nobody ever told me that being a mother or just having a child was this beautiful. In fact, society said it’s extremely difficult and should be avoided until one is well prepared for it. Sometimes on TV or in the movies, I see characters who are scared of the responsibility of having a kid. I hear stories about fathers running away from their babies. Society seems to dislike the idea of parenthood to the point of referring to unplanned conception as an “accident.” I find it mean for people to consider someone so beautiful as an “unwanted person.” It is as if having a baby is a great misfortune that people should avoid.

This is the trouble with the Reproductive Health Bill. Much as I try to understand, I am concerned over how the bill considers conception as a whole. I have read it for my school report and it disturbs me to think that society would be so reluctant to welcome a human being who is about to be born. The drive to promote “informed choice,” proper birth spacing, etc. in order to avoid unplanned parenthood seems to make having a baby something scary.

The proponents of the bill say that contraception (which is actually contra conception) is the solution to our economic problems. Because the country is overpopulated, they say, therefore we should have fewer children.

I don’t agree with their solution. Why should the people adjust to the economy? Let the economy adjust to the people.

I feel offended. As someone who loves her, I feel hurt for my niece. She is what they consider an “unplanned one.” The people promoting the bill look at my niece or all those born or about to be born like her as a burden to the country and a liability. They say we need this bill because it prevents people like her from being born.

Why would anybody prevent anyone as beautiful as a child to come into this world? Regardless of who the parents are or how the conception happened, a child is separate from the parents. Every child is beautiful.

The bill also wants to promote sex education to teach adolescents, mothers, fathers about “safe sex.” Safe from what? From conceiving a child? Why? But why give more importance to the pleasure of sex than the pleasure of becoming a parent? We are becoming more like the Westerners. We have forgotten that to Filipinos, a big family is a better family.

It is really nice to be a tita. I am now excited about becoming a mother myself and making my life more meaningful by giving love to the little ones who would come into my life. Becoming a parent is better than having a “carefree” existence. Becoming a parent is like finding true love, where anything you give is always reciprocated with little hugs and kisses. All this I have, and I couldn’t ask for more.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Talitha kuom

Jesus raises the daughter of Jairus
(Mark 5:21-43)
One of the synagogue officials,
named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
"My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live."...
He took the child by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum,"
which means, "Little girl, I say to you, arise!"
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.

As my youngest son was hospitalized early this week, today's Gospel story of Jarius and his daughter gives me more reason to reflect. If someone you love is desperately ill and in need of healing, you do what Jarius did. Drop everything else, set aside all concerns, swallow your pride, and go to Jesus. Jarius was the leader of the local synagogue, a position of no minor importance. He was known as a man who could get things done, but against the serious illness of his daughter, he was helpless and powerless. He knowingly risked the contempt of his peers by approaching Jesus for help.

It was not only Jarius' daughter that was healed. Jarius was cured himself, as his faith prepared him to be healed in spirit. Now he can see.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

CFC 28th Anniversary


June 27, 2009

Marriages are made in heaven

Our Family and Life Ministry coordinated a mass wedding early today. Well, it's not exactly a "mass" wedding, because we only managed to coordinate a grand total of two couples to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony. We hope and pray that more "live-in" couples respond to our frequent invitations. Anyway, it was a heartwarming sight to see the radiant and happy faces of the bride, the groom, ninongs and ninangs, ringbearers and sponsors. Our parish priest, who is always eager to administer free weddings, gave a touching and amusing homily. "Marriage has three rings: engagement ring, wedding ring, suffering... To the grooms, count your ribs, you are missing one...Christ died for the Church, are you ready to die for your bride?...No marriage is perfect, but when you pray often, the trials in your marriage will never be too heavy to bear... Do not focus on the trivial 10 percent that often leads to adultery, but focus on the 90 percent that you love and cherish... Let God be at the center of your union..."

A timeless and timely message especially at these times when God is often taken out of the picture in (non)marriages.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Come together, right now

Ah one, two, three, fah...

Thank God my son has now recovered (more on that later).

While whiling away the time at the hospital room, I picked up an old copy of Readers Digest lying around. There was this interesting article that featured 13 tips on how to cut greenhouse gases. One curious item says that what we choose to eat has the biggest impact on the environment. Rebecca Blackburn, author of "Green is good", says that farming uses more resources than any other industry. Farming also produces one-fifth of our greenhouse gas emissions, and that one-third of an average person's carbon footprint is due to the intake of animal meat.
Carbon footprint is defined in wiki as "the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product"

Now I recall
Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono were in the news lately for advocating "Meatless Mondays" precisely to help stop global warming. Strange bedfellows, these two coming together, but a laudable cause. Looks like a fashionable cause too.

I wonder if it occurred to today's current crop of meatless campaigners that abstaining from meat is old, old hat as far as Church history goes. Cultivating spiritual discipline in the journey to holiness does not appear to be as trendy a cause as stopping global warming, but I guess two birds are hit as far as religious
abstinence goes. Apparenty, there's more wisdom in periodic meat abstinence than meets the eye. When St. Paul said in 1:Cor 9:25 that "everyone striving for the mastery must abstain from all things", greenhouse gases must be farthest from his mind.

While environmentalists are at it, I hope that eliminating food wastage ranks high up there in today's trendy causes. For instance, the magazine reports that the UN Food Programme declares that just 5% of food leftovers in the U.S. alone can feed 4 million people in Africa. Once while travelling in North America, I personally witnessed with some shock that all good leftover food after meals in households are immediately flushed down the food compactor. Now if we can only save all our excess food and somehow channel it to the starving people, then world hunger will be eradicated. Oh, and greenhouse gases will be greatly reduced too. It is of no minor importance that after the multiplication of the loaves of bread, Jesus directed that all leftover food are gathered and saved. Again, there's more there than meets the eye.

Now I hope all people will sing: "Come together, right now". This time, with feeling.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Perfect Strikes

June 21, 2009
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Mark 4:35-41)

Jesus calms the storm
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?"
When my brother and I were very young, we used to be absolutely terrified of storms. During one particularly stormy and thunder-filled night, our mother calmed us by saying: "Huwag kayong matakot mga anak, wala yun, nag bo-boling lang si San Pedro sa langit!". (Translated: "Do not be afraid my children, it's just St. Peter playing a bowling game in the heavens!") Thereafter, when rumblings and thunderclaps occur, my brother and I just imagined St. Peter scoring a perfect strike somewhere up there. We were not afraid anymore.

In today's Gospel, Jesus was abruptly roused from his sound sleep by the terrified disciples. I can imagine that Jesus was far from a light mood (who wouldn't be?) after his sleep was unceremoniously interrupted by the panicking disciples. So, we wouldn't expect Jesus to play around by saying something like the Father was just playing some bowling game high above. Jesus took matters in his own hands by calming the storm himself. Then the wind ceased and there was great calm.

Jesus is not surprised of the disciples' fear of the storm, but he was surprised by their lack of faith. After all, prior to this incident with the storm, Jesus already showed His power by expelling demons and healing many illnesses. Now, they realize that even the wind and sea obey him. There can be no doubt about God's majesty and power over all. We realize that Jesus may be sleeping at the time, but he is still in full control - all the time.

When we encounter our own storms in our lives, we may sometimes feel that God is sleeping, and our private world is sinking. In reality, it is our faith that is slipping. When we trust in God, our faith calms our fears. God can calm all storms. If God allows the storm to rage, He will simply calm the person instead. We should never be afraid. God's power and justice always prevails, because He rolls perfect strikes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Odds and Ends - 6/18

Australian police review Taser use after man dies

BRISBANE (AP) – Police in Queensland state are reviewing their use of Tasers in connection with the death of a man last week who was stunned up to 28 times during a standoff with police.

Stunned 28 times! Mate, that's no elephant out there.
PETA wishes Obama hadn't swatted that fly

WASHINGTON (AP) – The group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants the flyswatter in chief to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he's bedeviled by a fly in the White House.

[The President swatted a fly dead when it bothered it during a recent interview]

PETA is sending President Barack Obama a 'Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher', a device that allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside.

"We support compassion even for the most curious, smallest and least sympathetic animals," PETA spokesman Bruce Friedrich said Wednesday. "We believe that people, where they can be compassionate, should be, for all animals."

Compassion...to the smallest..animals. Oh sure, sure. Now if we only had a group such as PETU (People for the Ethical Treatment of the Unborn) to similarly petition Obama.
Erap: I was just joking on congressional bid

MANILA, Philippines -- Former president Joseph Estrada clarified today that he was only kidding when he said he will run for a congressional seat in 2010 if President Arroyo does the same.

"Alam mo yung napalabas yan, biro-biro lang yun. Bakit ako kakandidatong congresman eh di naman matutuloy ang con-ass (constituent assembly) na yan?" Estrada said in a radio interview.

Tumpak! (lol!)

Cito Beltran’s Logic

Cito Beltran’s Logic

By Carlos Antonio Palad

In his column for the June 17, 2009 issue of The Philippine Star (“The great pumpkin”, p. 14), Cito Beltran writes about some of his impressions about the Netherlands and Europe in general; his pen ranges from pigeons as big as chickens to the zeal with which hidden wealth is denounced in the United Kingdom. In the finest tradition of Filipino self-deprecation, Mr. Beltran also uses his impressions to reflect in a generally unfavorable manner upon certain aspects of Philippine society.

Towards the end of his column, Mr. Beltran observes that after centuries of being devoutly Protestant, the Dutch are no longer a churchgoing people due to “various influences, war and disillusionment.” Yet he maintains that the Dutch people remain imbued with Biblical values in their daily conduct. Indeed, that he can’t resist comparing the formerly Protestant Dutch people with the still-Catholic Filipino people in order to make a point at the expense of the Catholic Church.

Mr. Beltran writes:

“Even the staunchest Dutch atheists end up stammering when I point out that their character and conduct reflect the core values of the very faith that they reject. In the many days I spend just walking around The Hague, it became clear that the respect, courtesy, work ethics, social conduct of ethnic Dutch people reflect biblical conduct.

They are not religious or pious but centuries of Protestantism has (sic) resulted in generations of people who are sensitive to others, responsible for themselves and for their surroundings.

In contrast, 400 years of being “the only Catholic Country” in Asia has produced a religious society but not necessarily one where people live in their lives based on biblical standards. In other words we do the talk but we don’t walk the walk.

Who was it that said, “one has faith that does not bear fruit, the other bears much fruit, but has no faith. Who then is better than the other”?

Thus saith Mr. Beltran, the self-proclaimed Born Again Christian.

First, we are astonished that someone who considers himself to be a Born Again Christian would consider it better to have no faith but have much fruit, than to have much faith and yet no fruit. Neither state is ideal, and surely even Born Again Christians consider both faith and good fruit to be essential to being Christian. However, since Born Again Christianity stands precisely on the embrace of faith alone as the path of salvation and the rejection of the view that good works -- good fruit -- have any bearing on one’s salvation, one would think that Mr. Beltran would still consider someone who has faith to be better than someone who has no faith at all.

On the other hand, we are elated that Mr. Beltran concedes that Filipino Catholics have faith – after all, that is something that many of his fellow Born Again Christians refuse to even concede. At least there is hope for us Catholics!

Second, according to Mr. Beltran, the “social conduct of ethnic Dutch people reflect biblical conduct” due to their Protestant past. Is Mr. Beltran aware that the Netherlands has gay marriage, euthanasia even of children, and some of the world’s most liberal abortion and drug laws? Does he consider these to be reflective of biblical conduct as well? Or is he just so dazzled by Holland’s economic prosperity and neatness and the social graces of its inhabitants that he could no longer see that moral aberrations have struck deep roots in that same country? Using Mr. Beltran’s line of reasoning, we must also consider Protestantism to be the source of the Dutch people’s acceptance of gay marriage, euthanasia, drug use, abortion, and the abandonment of church-going. After all, as Mr. Beltran declares, their social conduct is due to Protestant influence!

Mr. Beltran would like to attribute to Protestantism the virtues of the Dutch people while remaining silent on the moral situation of the Netherlands. Why then would he link Catholicism to the lack of biblical conduct among the Filipino people? By what standard of reasoning does he apportion praise and blame? How convenient for him to attribute the virtues of a formerly Protestant country to Protestantism, while attributing the vices of a still-Catholic country to Catholicism! We have a term for this: double standard. The fact is that no country is perfect, and Protestant and Catholic countries alike have their peculiar strengths and weaknesses, their singular virtues and vices.

Neither Catholicism nor Protestantism claims to be able to eradicate sin completely from this world, and by that same token no Christian society can ever be a perfect image of the particular form of Christianity that it by and large espouses. No Christian society will ever be free of blemishes, blemishes that should not always be blamed on the principles upon which that society stands, for no society exists that can perfectly replicate Christian principles.

Before we leave this topic behind, Mr. Beltran should be corrected on one important point: the Netherlands' positive attributes are not due entirely to Protestantism. It has had a Protestant royal family since the 16th century, and until the 20th century it had a Protestant majority, but Holland has always had a large Catholic minority, and the roots of its prosperity and work ethic go back to the high medieval ages – when Holland was still one of the most devoutly Catholic nations in the whole world.


Thanks, Carlos. You are spot on.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Expect wisely

Panlilio urges CBCP to endorse candidates

MANILA, June 15, 2009—Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio called on the Catholic bishops’ leadership Monday to endorse specific candidates in the coming 2010 presidential elections.

Panlilio, a suspended Catholic priest, said it’s about time for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to be effective in giving political advice.

He said naming specific “model” candidates would surely make a difference than just telling the voters to “vote wisely.”

“I believe that the most the CBCP can do is to present certain candidates as good based on their track records, on their personal knowledge,” Panlilio said over Church-run Radyo Veritas...
Father/Governor Panlilio is actually asking the CBCP to come up with a partisan endorsement in the political arena, which of course would be a fallible position regardless who the CBCP picks...

Let's see..

The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) states in section 76:

"It is very important, especially where a pluralistic society prevails, that there be a correct notion of the relationship between the political community and the Church, and a clear distinction between the tasks which Christians undertake, individually or as a group, on their own responsibility as citizens guided by the dictates of a Christian conscience, and the activities which, in union with their pastors, they carry out in the name of the Church.

The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified in any way with the political community nor bound to any political system. She is at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person".

Further, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life" which states in section 6:

"By its interventions in this area, the Church’s Magisterium does not wish to exercise political power or eliminate the freedom of opinion of Catholics regarding contingent questions. Instead, it intends - as is its proper function - to instruct and illuminate the consciences of the faithful, particularly those involved in political life, so that their actions may always serve the integral promotion of the human person and the common good."...

So, Father Panlilio, if you're looking for the CBCP to endorse specific candidates for 2010, the odds are it just won't happen, and its not "wise" to expect so.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jesus inside

Corpus Christi Sunday
June 14, 2009

"Take it; this is my body."
(Mk 14:12-16, 22-26)

The apostle John recounts in chapter 6 that Jesus said: "My flesh is really food and my blood is drink.", whereupon many of Jesus' followers said: "This language is very hard! Who can accept it?". Only in that narrative of John do we see an account of some followers of Jesus abandoning Him for theological reasons. If this abandonment was based on a simple misunderstanding, Jesus would certainly have assured them that He was speaking metaphorically. But Jesus did no such thing. On the contrary, He reiterates his hard teaching no less than four times ! (Jn 6:54-58)

Even today, the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist is much misunderstood by non-Catholics (and many Catholics as well). Jesus' physical and substantial presence in the Eucharist does not negate other types of spiritual presence. Rather, as Pope Paul VI reiterates in Mysterium Fidei, it is "real" in the fullest possible sense of the word. The writings of the early Fathers was further cited by Pope Paul VI in that document, all of whom assert the real presence in no uncertain terms. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. John Chrysostom, Cyril, the Bishop of Alexandria, St. Ambrose... In fact the early church apologist St Justin Martyr (a permanent fixture in this site's sidebar) wrote: "......And this food is called among us Eukaristia...for not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation...". That was written in the year 150 AD.

Finally, the Council of Trent in its Decree Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist (of 1551), defined the following tenets - which we see has always been the prevailing beliefs throughout Church history - as absolutely binding on all Catholics:

First of all, the holy council teaches and openly and plainly professes that after the consecration of bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is truly, really and substantially contained in the august sacrament of the Holy Eucharist under the appearance of those sensible things...For thus all our forefathers, as many as were in the true Church of Christ and who treated of this most holy sacrament, have most openly professed that our Redeemer instituted this wonderful sacrament at the last supper, when, after blessing the bread and wine, He testified in clear and definite words that He gives them His own body and His own blood...But since Christ our Redeemer declared that to be truly His own body which He offered under the form of bread, it has, therefore, always been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy council now declares it anew, that by the consecration of the bread and wine a change is brought about of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood. This change the holy Catholic Church properly and appropriately calls transubstantiation...There is, therefore, no room for doubt that all the faithful of Christ may, in accordance with a custom always received in the Catholic Church, give to this most holy sacrament in veneration the worship of [latria], which is due to the true God. Neither is it to be less adored for the reason that it was instituted by Christ the Lord in order to be received. For we believe that in it the same God is present of whom the eternal Father, when introducing Him into the world, says: And let all the angels of God adore him; whom the Magi, falling down, adored; who, finally, as the Scriptures testify, was adored by the Apostles in Galilee.

From The Inside Out - by Hillsong united

...Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades,

Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame,
In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give you control,
Consume me from the inside out Lord,
Let justice and praise become my embrace,
To love You from the inside out...

Friday, June 12, 2009

On our Independence Day

Remembering June 12, 1898

"...Spanish Manila [in the sixteenth century] was a cozy world of waiting for the yearly galleon from Mexico, the next Chinese massacre (for which the Chinese migrants provided most of the services for the colony but were under constant suspicion of disloyalty), the proceeds from the tobacco monopoly or the new set of governors from Madrid. Spanish rule was based on Spanish Catholicism and on a brutal racism which divided the world into those who had come from the Iberian peninsula, those who had been born on the islands, Chinese, Spanish half-breeds, quadroons, octoroons, with rigid social codes of dress and behavior to mark off once caste from another.

Meanwhile, some of the rich Indios' sons had gone off to friar schools and European colleges and had developed odd ideas of racial equality, freedom, independence, and nationhood. They were tantalized by the French and American revolutions and one of them, the brightest and purest, Jose Rizal, began to write heretical novels and another, Juan Luna, the one whsoe grandson would design the baroque house on Roxas Boulevard, won medals for is paintings in the salons of Paris.

It was a poor warehouseman, however, who had a job in a British firm in downtown Manila, Andres Bonifacio, who put the Indios on course when he took a Spanish garisson in San Juan with one rifle and a few knives and lances. The battle was, of course, lost before night fell; but in less than two years, the revolution, for what it had become, succeeded in wrenching power from the Spaniards.

The victory was so sudden that the new governor-general sent hurriedly from Madrid had no time to warm his seat. General Emilio Aguinaldo (a provincial school teacher and merchant) and his Filipino army were suddenly at the gates of the Spanish Walled City. Earlier, standing in the makeshift balcony of his country in Cavite, he had hurriedly proclaimed his country's independence, raising a curious, hand-sewn flag in three colors.

Ah, but both the Spaniards in their wrecked fleet in the bay and the Indio generals and ilustrados on the balcony, were, that very afternoon overshadowed by a tall American lieutenant who had come, he said, merely to observe the ceremony. From observer, the American shadow became first a self-avowed ally, then a new master, and despite their show of civility, the Filipinos knew in their hearts, that the American had come, not to witness, but to betray their independence..."

- Carmen Guererro-Nakpil: Once over lightly

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On cooperating with evil (2)

Sometime last year, I posted something about the ethical principles concerning
cooperating with evil. More recently, I posted some key passages from Vatican II on unity and cooperating with non-Catholics (of course I'm not saying they are evil) as the concept of 'collaborating for the common good' has taken my interest lately. Now we have this recent development in the Boston Archdiocese which puts these very concepts in the limelight.

Boston Catholic health agency in partnership providing abortion coverage
(Catholicculture.org) - June 08, 2009

Caritas Christi, the health-care system affiliated with the Archdiocese of Boston, has entered into a partnership that will provide coverage for abortion, sterilization, and contraception under the terms of a state government contract. Celticare Health Plan-- a new offering, which describes itself as “a partnership between Celtic Group, a subsidiary of Centene Corporation, and Caritas Christi Health Care”-- is now offering several options for health-care coverage, with all of the available plans advertising abortion coverage...The state contract-- and with it, the involvement of Caritas Christi in the Celticare plans-- goes into effect on July 1.

Back in March, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of the Boston Archdiocese has released the following statement, which partly reads:

"In recent days concern has been raised about the proposed arrangement involving Caritas Christi Health Care with the Commonwealth Care Program. I understand and support the desire of Caritas Christi to serve as a health care system collaborating with this program. If it can happen without compromising the Catholic identity of the system it would benefit both civil society and especially the poor in our community.

At the same time, as Archbishop I have the responsibility to insure that Caritas Christi Health Care adheres to the Ethical and Religious Directives established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and that in every aspect of the hospital system the teachings of the Church are protected and maintained.

Consistent with this responsibility I want to confirm for the Catholic community and the wider interested public that Caritas Christi Health Care has assured me that it will not be engaged in any procedures nor draw any benefits from any relationship which violate the Church’s moral teaching as found in the Ethical and Religious Directives. Caritas Christi has been consistently faithful to these standards in the past and will continue to do so in the future."

LifesiteNews calls the partnership "Caritas Christi’s Deal with the Devil", saying that:

"If there is a morally acceptable justification for all of this, the archdiocese has not disclosed it, notwithstanding three months of raging public scandal. Not only that, but regardless of public opinion that there is little the archdiocese could do in this situation, our perspective is that there is plenty they could do, starting with revocation of the contract itself."

Although it was stated that Caritas will not be directly participating in abortions, there appears to be a double-referral system in the agreement wherein Caritas will refer to Centene, and Centene will refer to an abortion provider. Such a referral system is the subject of charges of material cooperation.

The Catholic News Agency sought further comment from the Archdiocese of Boston and was told the matter was “under review.”

Meanwhile, some moral theology experts have weighed in on the matter and this Boston News item reports on their supportive views towards Cardinal O'Malley's position and the Caritas partnership.

One Leslie C. Griffin, professor of legal ethics of the University of Houston Law Center, says:

"It is hard for me to see, on the facts given, that there is a problem of cooperation with evil. I don’t see any formal cooperation; Caritas is not engaging in any of the 'intrinsically evil acts' complained of, and it doesn’t share in the intention of providing those evil services. Caritas could easily say here that its moral purpose is to provide health care services, which is a moral good, and it is not formally cooperating in any of the prohibited services. It has set up the program so that it does not provide intrinsically evil services and it is vocal that it will not do so.

Now could this be material cooperation? Again that seems a stretch to me. If joining a joint venture is material cooperation, then just about any participation in the American health care system would be. Insurance companies and the government provide abortion services, does that mean you can have no contact with them? From the facts given, it doesn’t seem that Caritas is keeping abortion providers afloat who would otherwise be out of business. Mere association with abortion providers doesn’t seem contact enough to become material cooperation to me.

There is always the argument about scandal—but this seems to be a created scandal. The church seems quite clear that it is against abortion, etc., and not involved in it. Could anyone doubt that?

If you push the cooperation principle too far you wind up with a sectarian church, which is not at all consistent with the Catholic tradition.

It seems to me the state has more to worry about here than the church!"

Lately, it was reported here that Cardinal O'Malley said he would seek a second opinion about the proposed deal from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, a Philadelphia-based think tank with conservative credentials.

John M. Haas, the center's president, was reported to have said in an email exchange:

"One thing we have found about these collaborative arrangements is that when you have seen one collaborative arrangement, you have seen one collaborative arrangement,...they are generally quite complex and really have to be studied individually."

I am wondering if it is high time for the Vatican to weigh in on the matter. For one thing, it would be up to the local ordinary (in this case Cardinal O'Malley) to provide direction on matters of morals and the grave issue of scandal within his diocesan jurisdiction -- on the presumption that his directives are in line with the norms of the Catholic Magisterium. It is on this last point that divergent opinions arise. Whatever the final outcome of this controversy, it would certainly be a major point in clarification and would provide a significant precedent.

May the Spirit of Truth guide one and all.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Upgradum Ad Infinitum

No, it's not the title of a new encyclical. Although I wish the moral aspect of PC upgrades should be addressed somewhere...

When I started tinkering with PC's in the old days, it was plain character-based MS-DOS 2.0.

Then there was Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows for WorkGroups, Windows NT Workstation, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows XP Home, Windows XP Pro, Windows Vista...

With each new upgrade, you need to junk your old (but perfectly working) hardware, unless your idea of productivity is staring at a tumbling hourglass for hours on end. Need I mention that the newer programs (read: games) just won't work on your old PC? Your kid will do the explaining here, you do the paying.

Now it says here that the new version (again) of Microsoft Windows (Windows 7) is set to be released on October 22 this year.

..."For the 88% of computer users whose machines are powered by Microsoft Windows, upgrading to the latest version - or even choosing the right computer to buy - got a lot more confusing in 2007 with the release of Windows Vista because it was sold in four versions: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate.

This was one of the major drawbacks that led to the failure of Vista (the writer has previously written about the other reasons) and I certainly hoped that this would be one of the mistakes corrected in Windows 7. Unfortunately, it’s gotten worse. There are now six planned versions of Windows 7: Starter Edition, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate."...

- Jason Hinner, Editor in Chief, TechRepublic
Six versions. One would probably need a new souped-up quad core computer to run the new O.S.
I wonder how many upgrades/ patches would be released for each version?


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Until the end of age

Sunday - June 7, 2009
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Mat 28:16-20
..."Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
In the Great Commission, Jesus directs His disciples to "Go and make disciples of all nations", and assures them that "I am with you always, until the end of the age". It was a commission that was destined to be fulfilled throughout the ages. In addition to this, we must remember from last Sunday's Gospel that Jesus promised "I will send you the Spirit of Truth" (Jn 15:26). In conjunction with these, we must also remember that Jesus promised "the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it (my church)". (Mt 16:18). So, when some people claim that the church that Christ founded apostatized sometime after the death of the last apostle, they simply refuse to pay attention to Jesus' words. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church persists and will continue to persist to the end of days simply because Jesus said so, whether some people like it or not. We cannot just skip over some key verses in the scriptures, or else we will be in deep trouble.

To illustrate, there is this story of the preacher whose worn-out bible was missing some pages in the book of Genesis. One Sunday, he faced his congregation to read his text that was missing one page from the story of the great flood.
"Noah took unto himself a wife," he began, "and she was"...
- he turned the page to continue -
..."three hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty nigh."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Online HH

CFC’s first online missionaries’ get together, a success

MANILA, June 2, 2009—Physical proximity is no longer an impediment for prayer meetings and spiritual get together as internet made the first online international missionaries’ household meeting of the Couples For Christ Global Mission Foundation, Inc. (CFC) a success.

At least 24 CFC missionaries from the United States, Trinidad & Tobago, Seychelles, Kenya, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, St. Martin and the Philippines simultaneously went online to participate in a pioneering intercontinental sharing last May 28.

Through videoconferencing via Yahoo Messenger, the CFC missionaries met online for three hours and shared their stories of victory, challenge, and realization about being out of the country on mission...
A virtual meeting of geographically dispersed but spiritually united hearts, minds, and souls in cyberspace. What an uplifting moment. Certainly, whenever two or more are gathered in His name, even in cyberspace, there is Jesus in their midst, with the ultra-fastest bandwidth one can ever imagine.

Question: How do you make beso-beso in cyberspace?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pareto in reverse

The Pareto principle.

This is a common enough concept being used by problem-solving teams in our manufacturing plant. Simply put, the concept states that 80 percent of the problem is most likely caused by 20 percent of the validated causes. Consequently, managing the critical 20% would yield significantly desirable results. This is not to say that we must ignore the rest that fall outside the 80/20 rule, but the methodology tells a lot about the proportionate allocation of scarce resources towards producing significant results.
Having said that...

According to this report, the number of H1N1 cases in the Philippines stands at 21 confirmed cases, with some thirty-six people placed on home quarantine by the DOH. Health Secretary Duque has a point however, in saying that the public should actually dread the dengue virus more than the A(H1N1) virus. The dengue virus has actually claimed 57 lives in the Philippines for the first four months of 2009, while H1N1 which has a less than one percent "case fatality rate", has not resulted in a single fatality to-date. It comes as a puzzle though, that the government has stocked at least 600,000 capsules (enough to treat 60,000 patients) of Tamiflu, the medication that is supposed to be used to treat H1N1 cases. Are we expecting 60,000 or so H1N1 infections in the immediate future? Each capsule reportedly costs P150 each at retail drug stores. Let's do the math. 600,000 capsules. Just how much did the government pay for the Tamiflu stock? If even a fourth of that amount was allocated to preventing and/or treating dengue, could we have prevented the 57 (and counting) dengue deaths?

I think the matter calls for a legislative inquiry. That is, if the Senate is not too busy investigating the Kho-Halili sex video scandals. To this end, Senator Pangilinan was quoted as saying that: lawmakers have better things to do. "The CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform) extension, abrogation of Visiting Forces Agreement treaty, pushing for Right to Information - all these and more demand the attention of the senate," said Pangilinan. Killjoy, isn't he.

Meanwhile, the global economic downturn, which has pulled the Philippines down to its slowest growth in a decade, will result in the country’s failure to meet its poverty-reduction goal by 2010 and is expected to increase the number of poor Filipinos. The solution? Reset the poverty reduction target.

Vilfredo Pareto must be turning in his grave.