Monday, November 30, 2009

Odds and Ends 11/30/09

Meanwhile, in the department of things I cannot understand...

Woods takes blame for 'embarrassing' crash

Well, he can't blame the fire hydrant nor the tree for blocking his way.
For one thing, he forgot to yell FORE!!!
But how can one cause such a disaster just by backing out of the garage?
PNP to seize Ampatuan’s 19 guns

What on earth does he need 19 guns for?
And why on earth does the government allow that many?
Arroyo can’t ignore "clamor to run"— ally

Why not?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Death penalty revival?

Death penalty revival sought over Maguindanao massacre

MANILA, Philippines—The carnage in Maguindanao that killed at least 57 persons, including members of media, has revived calls for the restoration of death penalty on heinous crimes.

Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante called on his colleagues in the House of Representatives to begin discussions on pending proposals for the return of the death penalty.

“To restore death penalty is to preserve lives of innocent people,” Abante said at the Serye forum in Quezon City Thursday.

Abante, a pastor, said criminals like those who murdered the 57 persons in Maguindanao do not recognize laws when they commit crimes. He said the death penalty will “deter” them from committing more criminal acts...

In June 2006, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the measure abolishing death penalty a few days before she left for the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

The issue has sharply divided the country between those who want to retain it and those who do not think it is a deterrent to criminality.

Whenever particularly sensational crimes are committed in this country, talks of reviving the death penalty are bound to resurface. The rationale is not entirely unfounded. My recent post elicited some well-informed arguments for and against imposing the death penalty. At this point, I would venture to suppose that capital punishment must be founded, if at all, on an impartial, extensive due process. Do we have such an extensive due process here in the Philippines where the playing field is level for the rich and the poor? Before we pose the question, it might be appropriate to ask first if the current police system is similarly impartial and effective in the enforcement of existing laws.

In 1999 when the death penalty was still in place, about a thousand inmates were in New Bilibid Prison's death row.
According to this report, a survey of 425 death row inmates showed that most earned less than $6 a day when they were arrested. Three-quarters of them were farmers, truckers, laborers and so on. Few can afford the $30 that attorneys charge to attend the death sentence hearings. It is estimated that only 12%-15% of those charged in capital cases can afford private representation. So much so for an enforcement system and "extensive due process" which appears to be missing its blindfold.

A similar thread transpired in this blog earlier this year when the death penalty issue was similarly revived due to notorious drug traffickers. From there I will quote from my good friend

"But one thing is sure. When God created your life it wasn't a temporal event, it was a divine one. Could it be that the temporal act of killing represents a divine problem which requires a divine solution? As Yoda would say, how would you address a disturbance in the Force?"
The Catholic position on capital punishment allows room for legitimate diversity in opinion. To quote Pope Benedict XVI:

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On the Maguindanao Massacre

Maguindanao massacre

Maguindanao massacre death toll rises to 46—police

Arroyo dared to act vs political allies in Maguindanao

Putting Maguindanao in Context


Incredibly gruesome.

If the government will not act decisively on this one, it will be denying justice to the entire Filipino people, to humanity.

May consciences prevail.

God help us.

Monday, November 23, 2009

USCCB - Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan

Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan is at once a refresher course, an inspired homily, a deeper exploration of marriage than you’ve ever seen in one place, and a call to turn away from false contemporary views in order to reinvigorate our culture through the vocation of marriage. It succeeds admirably on all counts. It should be required reading not only for marriage preparation but for all married couples, no matter how long their marriages have so far endured. -

Excerpt from the introduction:

"While marriage is a special blessing for Christians because of the grace of Christ, marriage is also a natural blessing and gift for everyone in all times and cultures. It is a source of blessing to the couple, to their families, and to society and includes the wondrous gift of co-creating human life. Indeed, as Pope John Paul II never tired of reminding us, the future of humanity depends on marriage and the family. It is just such a conviction that has led us, the Catholic bishops of the United States, to write this pastoral letter. "
1. Introduction: The Blessing and Gift of Marriage
2. I. What is Marriage
3. I. Male-Female Complementarity Is Essential to Marriage
4. I. The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage: Unitive
5. I. The Two Ends or Purposes of Marriage: Procreative
6. I. How Are the Two Ends of Marriage Related?
7. I. Fundamental Challenges to the Nature and Purpose of Marriage: 1. Contraception
8. I. Fundamental Challenges: 2. Same-Sex Unions
9. I. Fundamental Challenges: 3. Divorce
10. I. Fundamental Challenges: 4. Living Together Without Marriage
11. II. Married Life Affected by Original Sin
12. II. Marriage Restored in Christ
13. II. Christian Marriage as a Sacrament
14. II. Marriage as a Reflection of the Life of the Trinity
15. II. The Family as Domestic Church
16. II. Marriage as a Vocation
17. II. Growth in Christian Marriage
18. II. Growth in Virtue (introductory section)
19. II. Growth in Virtue: Chastity
20. II. Growth in Virtue: Gratitude
21. II. Growth toward Perfection
22. II. Marriage and the Eucharist
23. II. Marriage Fulfilled in the Kingdom of God
Download full text here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Odds and Ends 11/20/09

Comelec OKs 2 bets for president, 2 for Senate, nixes 4

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE 3) Six aspirants to the presidency have so far filed their candidacies, but only two were accepted by the Commission on Elections...

The poll body also approved the CoC of Rigoberto Madera, who identified himself as a “Messiah” and a member of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

Madera, who is nicknamed N.N.N. or Najananan, which means diamond general and commander-in-chief on earth, filed his CoC at 8:40 a.m. and was the first one to do so.
[Should have been nicknamed N.N.N.N. instead. The first N standing for Nuisance...the definition of which should be sent out to the Comelec.]
Jesse Jackson Says Black Men 'Can't Vote Against Healthcare'

If a prominent white man said all white men in Congress should vote for or against a pending piece of legislation, what do you think the media firestorm would be like?

As you ponder, consider that Reverend Jesse Jackson on Wednesday told a reception held by the Congressional Black Caucus, “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”...
[How I wish some Catholic bishops were as firm as Rev. Jackson.
But Matthew of CMR asks: I guess my only question is that excommunicated Catholics can always become Episcopalians, but where do former black people go?]
UN: Fight climate change with free condoms

LONDON – The battle against global warming could be helped if the world slowed population growth by making free condoms and family planning advice more widely available, the U.N. Population Fund said Wednesday...
[To which R.O. says: The UN should close down for the breathtaking diagnosis.
Agreed. At least the hot air will be reduced...]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On Noynoy and the RH bill (3)

Note: 3rd in a series.

Part 1.
Part 2.

The following article by Mr. Antonio Montalvan II appeared in the November 8 issue of the Inquirer, under his regular opinion column: "Kris-Crossing Mindanao".

Reprinted here with the permission of the author.
Conversations with Noynoy

By Antonio J. Montalvan II
Philippine Daily Inquirer

INCREDIBLE as it may seem for a son of Cory Aquino, has Noynoy Aquino seems to have made double-faced pronouncements on his stand on reproductive health? That question must be asked, much to the consternation, I know, of anti-life/pro-choice advocates. But on two separate occasions of recent knowledge, Noynoy has been heard to have said entirely contradictory positions on reproductive health.

One making the rounds of the short messaging world has since been disowned by Aquino’s Manila headquarters as “inaccurate,” but it has not denied that the conversation had indeed taken place. But for the sake of intellectual argument, let’s have the reprise of the conversation that Noynoy had supposedly made in Tagbilaran City after visiting the Bishop’s House there last October 16. The “excerpts” run this way:

MM (name of a Bohol Catholic monsignor): Is it true that you are for the reproductive health bill?

Noynoy: Yes, monsignor, it is the key to the ills in our country, especially overpopulation. I always remember the poor couples in Payatas with 11 children; they got to be helped with contraceptives that should be made available to them.

MM: You believe in overpopulation and contraception?

Noynoy: Yes, monsignor, it is what you see around us. Contraception per se is not bad, as what my Jesuit priest friends told me in the Ateneo.

MM: That’s the idea of the Jesuits. They are not the magisterium, they don’t represent the Pope.

Noynoy: But that’s what my conscience tells me.

MM: Are you sure? Consciences need to be formed under the teachings of the Church. If you insist on your pro-RH stand, I will assure you the entire clergy will campaign against you.

Noynoy: Thank you for the conversation, monsignor.

Now contrast that with a conversation Noynoy had with a family friend, a religious nun whose identity we shall not divulge, but whose connection with Cory’s family, beginning in 1986, remains intimate. The venue of the conversation alone tells you the close ties of the good sister with the Aquino family: on Cory’s grave side during the family gathering for the 40th day of the late president’s death.

The nun relates to me that conversation by summing up what Noynoy had said on the same issue of reproductive health: that he is against abortion, that he is against the legislation of artificial contraception and that couples cannot be coerced into contradicting their faith.

One thing in private, another thing in public. That about sums up Noynoy’s position on reproductive health. That is not just an enigma. That spells danger for the Filipino electorate who now count, as the survey demographics say, by probably the millions who now look up to the young senator as this country’s next president. We are hitching the future of this country to a man who, as the two conversations suggest, has seemed to have learned the crafty world of traditional politicians and their proclivity for double talk.

How now to explain that enigma? Search us please, but we do know that political statements are measured to please a myriad of interests. Perhaps he is only playing lip service to the “popularity” of artificial contraception as computed by survey numbers, as if to say that faith and morality are dictated by a count of heads. It is like saying that if more heads say abortion is okay, then it is truly okay and so it becomes the norm. The wisdom of Church magisterium is made of less fickle stuff.

What we do know, however, is that Noynoy Aquino, since his days as Tarlac congressman, is a member of PLCPD. That stands for Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development which is the main lobby for the legislation of artificial contraception in Congress. Noynoy is surrounded in his provincial sorties by PLCPD stalwarts, some of whom are the most militant advocates of reproductive health. Politics is more addition and less subtraction, and Noynoy is playing that game like a pro.

Last week, a blogger who is a regular in a talk show on national television made a plea to bishops and cardinals not to mobilize people to not vote for candidates who espouse reproductive health. Needless to say, that was said to the wrong people. Bishops and cardinals are not the only ones who constitute the Church. It is the right of lay people, who too want to see the Cory phenomenon sustained, to express contrary opinions to Noynoy Aquino the candidate.

There are three conditions for membership in the Church: baptism, communion of faith, communion with the Pope. Communion of faith means believing every truth the Church teaches. Anything less than those three conditions do not make one a Catholic. At best, one is only a nominal Catholic, but that is really a misnomer for one can only be a Catholic or not, no matter if you are a Jesuit priest, albeit a wayward one.

Having said that, we should not fear bishops and cardinals who do not “endorse” Noynoy Aquino. What we should fear instead are leaders who disperse our people into believing myths and fallacies that destroy the natural dignity of the human being. That is the real threat to the moral fabric of this already decadent country of ours that lives on lies.

I would rather see Noynoy go down in defeat than compromise his faith.
Antonio J. Montalvan II, PhD
Director of University Publications
Director-Curator, Museum of Three Cultures
Capitol University


Monday, November 16, 2009

Mabuhay si Manny Pacquiao!

Talent. Training. Discipline.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

YEHEY! Missionary priest released by kidnappers

Sinnott jokes about Philippine kidnapping

MANILA, Philippines-Elderly Irish priest Michael Sinnott may have been forced to live in mosquito-infested swamps during his month as a captive of Filipino Muslim rebels, but he had plenty to laugh about.

Speaking in a mixed local Filipino dialect and a thick Irish brogue after being released on Thursday, the 79-year-old priest chuckled as he recalled this time in the rough jungles of southern Mindanao island.

In a nationally-televised press conference, Sinnott said he was raring to return to his parish in Pagadian city, where he has served for decades and runs a foundation helping disabled children from impoverished families.

"I've been there for years working, that's where my work is," Sinnott said when asked why he wanted to return to the troubled south, adding with a smile he was not concerned about being abducted again.
And after his friends had repeatedly expressed concerns over the past month that he may die in captivity, Sinnott was keen to show that being a hostage had done nothing to diminish his energy or passion for missionary life.

"I've had no sleep since Tuesday, we have been travelling and hiking and I feel a bit tired. But otherwise, there is not a thing wrong with me," he said.

"And I hope to be able to continue my work, for another few years at least, here in the Philippines."

Honestly, who would want to harm a 79 year-old priest who runs a remote foundation helping disabled children from impoverished families? And he has been at it for decades! In a primitive, rebel-infested, impoverished, rural setting! And he is raring to go back to continue his work, for another few years! And through it all, even with the harrowing kidnapping, the good priest remains jolly with undiminished "energy and passion for missionary life" !!

Honestly, there are millions like these missionaries around the world. There is zero publicity for them, as they prefer to work silently. Of course the liberal, church-bashing press don't notice them at all. Until the kidnapping, the media was clueless as to the existence of missionary priests like this. I know, I know. There's nothing here to criticize and sensationalize anyway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Do we know what being a Catholic means?

Do we know what Catholics want?

The above title of Rina Jimenez-David's latest opinion piece in the Philippine Inquirer begs the question in a manner of speaking that what the majority 'Catholics' want, must surely be accorded superiority in the public sphere by weight of argument. If many of them want something, they must be right? Of course it goes without saying that it is a source of mystery as to what she means by the word 'Catholics'.

"One of the pending pieces of legislation in the House and the Senate is the Reproductive Health bill, now subject to the politics of brinkmanship as this Congress enters its dying days."

Just by her opening salvo, it is not difficult to predict where the rest of the column is leading to, going by her previous diatribes against the Catholic Church here, here, and here.

Again, she laments the involvement of the Church in the RH bill, going as far with an allegation that "there’s word that the Catholic hierarchy has talked to Arroyo and wrangled an agreement that in exchange for their continuing support, the President would prevent passage of the bill by talking to her congressional allies..". Never mind if it is plain hearsay because just after a few more sentences, Ms. David quickly reveals her foregone conclusion:

"And that’s our situation today: the greater good of citizens, but especially of women and children, held hostage to political accommodation and moralistic bullying".

In sum, Ms. David's idea of the Church's role is to flex political muscle and moralistic bullying at the expense of the 'greater good of citizens'. So, to Rina David, the Church is just a terrorist organization, being hostage-takers? But then again, it is another source of mystery as to what she understands by the word 'greater good of citizens', let alone the word 'moralistic'.

Ms. David now draws parallels with the health care debate in the United States. She devotes much of the rest of her column into extolling the advocacy of the US-based group "Catholics For Choice". This group, which calls themselves Catholics, advances the hotly-debated health care reform by the Obama administration. This group is also unabashedly pro-abortion, and that is why they label themselves as pro-choice Catholics: "for choice". That is, for choice of abortions. It's website states that: "Catholic support for legal abortion is grounded in core principles of Catholic theology, which respect the moral agency of all women". Apparently, this group has also invented its own catechism.

On a related note, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas J. Tobin has released an open letter to Congressman Patrick Kennedy, in response to the public statement of Congressman Kennedy that: “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues (read: abortion) does not make me any less of a Catholic” .

Here is an excerpt from Bishop Tobin's letter:

Congressman, I’m not sure whether or not you fulfill the basic requirements of being a Catholic, so let me ask: Do you accept the teachings of the Church on essential matters of faith and morals, including our stance on abortion? Do you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish? Do you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly? Do you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially? In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic?

The same question may be directed to our own sari-sari-store 'Catholics'.

Back to Rina David's column. She concludes her piece by saying:

"On the way to the eventual passage of the RH bill, do we know the answers to the question: Do we know what Catholics want?".

Well Rina, first of all: Do you know what being a Catholic means?.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My two cents on the poor widow

(x-posted in CatholicFriends)
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
(Mark 12:38-44)
November 8, 2009

As the story goes, a man being mugged by two thugs put up a tremendous fight. Finally, the thugs subdued him and took his wallet. Upon finding only two dollars in the wallet, the surprised thug said “Why did you put up such a fight?” To which the man promptly replied “I was afraid that you would find the $200 hidden in my shoe!”
The gospel account of the widow who offered two coins in spite of her poverty is well-known.
We still remember this nameless widow more than 2,000 years after she put her last two cents into the treasury.

"...Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents..."

Some say that this biblical account gives credence solely to the adage: Give until it hurts.

Does it? While it is certainly virtuous to sacrifice ones own interest in order to offer something for others, in this instance the account also points out the higher order in things. This is revealed by the contrast demonstrated between rich people giving large sums and the poor widow giving two small coins. It simply shows that generosity and devotion to God is not measured by the amount given but rather in what lies at the heart of the giver. Jesus confirms this when He said: "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.".

The rich might even have felt nonchalance and some reluctance in parting with their money, while the poor widow sincerely gives everything with all joy in her heart, in spite of her spare means. This is what St. Paul refers to when he said: "Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor 9:7)

God knows how much we can afford to give, as he knows all the money that we have (even those hidden in our shoe). It is the full devotion to God that the gospel speaks of, and it may not really matter whether one is rich or poor materially. The important thing is that one's heart must be for God -- selflessly, entirely, physically, and spiritually. Jonathan Swift put it nicely: “A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.”

The poor widow had God in her heart, and for that alone, she is infinitely rich.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

CFC Defines Guidelines for CFC GK Work

These guidelines were issued by the CFC International Council to define CFC's GK work. An article containing such guidelines was also reported in the CFC Ugnayan supplement of the recent CBCP Monitor issue for Oct 26-Nov 8, Vol 13, No. 22.

For informational purposes.

Jesus of Nazareth (3)

Part 1
Part 2

Chapter 2 of the book deals with the temptations of Jesus. (Mat 4:1-11)

The three synoptic Gospels tells us that after Jesus' baptism, he was led by the Spirit into the desert "to be tempted by the devil" (Mt 4:1). In relation, CCC 540 states: "Jesus' temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is the Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes". Pope Benedict also observes that it is a "descent into the perils besettling mankind" - for there is no other way to lift up fallen humanity. "Jesus has to enter into the drama of human bear it on his shoulders".

This leads into the Pope's very incisive reflections on how these temptations address what truly matters in human life.

"At the heart of all these temptations, as we see here, is the act of pushing God aside because we perceive him as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying, in comparison with all the apparently far more urgent matters that fill our lives..."

"Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil -- no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our 'illusions' and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world into a better place...".

Such is the true yet sad commentary for our times. Many people in the modern world - including some professed Christians - fall prey to the beguiling wiles of the devil, all the while thinking there is a better way than what divine revelation really tells us. Worse, many are lured into false "moral posturing", as we take note that the devil in the temptations took it upon himself to even essay and twist Scriptures according to his evil intent. Thus today around the world, we see many activist, "humanitarian" efforts in "making the world into a better place". The liberalization of abortion under the guise of protecting freedom of choice. Public funding of abortions and biased medical rationing under the guise of affordable, universal health care. Promotion of abortifacient contraceptives under the guise of managing population and helping the poor families. Redefining marriage to protect equal rights and "natural tendencies". Destruction of human embryos under the guise of medical research to save lives. Promotion of euthanasia, even child euthanasia, under the guise of compassionate, humane treatment. All of these and more succumb to panem et circenses - the false lure of earthly bread, power, and artificial spectacle that evil tantalizingly offers.

The account of Jesus' temptations ends with Jesus refuting the devil: "Scripture says: worship the Lord your God and serve Him alone", whereupon the devil left him.

Worldly activists might ask: but what did Jesus actually bring if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world?
The answer is very simple: Jesus has brought God.

Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. "Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope and love. It is only because of our hardness of heart that we think this is too little. Yes indeed, God's power works quietly in this world, but it is the true and lasting power."

The only thing that truly endures and saves.