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VolVol 41,41, NoNo 77 JULYJULY 20072007

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“To change Philippine society, we have to change Philippine politics; in one sense, it may mean politicians must change; in another sense, we must change the politicians.”

Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, in his recent talk delivered to Manila-based Latin American Ambassadors.

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“I still can’t believe it took me so long to come here.”

“I always tell our rulers: Look at China. It is

Barbra Streisand, a Jewish American entertainer who at last performed a

2-1/2 hour concert in Germany after turning down repeated invitations in the past; finally overcoming a deep-seated resentment over the


really developing and joining the rest of the world but

has remained backward as far as the Church is concerned. If China wants to open up to the world, it must open itself to the Church. If this problem is solved, everything else will be solved. Otherwise we shall always be a step behind other countries.

Bishop Luke Li Jingfeng of Fengxiang, commenting on the recent letter of Pope Benedict XVI to China; says a sincere dialogue between Beijing and the Holy See is a key element to China’s development.

“West Bank residents will feel that choosing the path of dialogue leads to a better life.”

Ehud Olmert, Israel Prime Minister; after announcing the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners who are members of the Palestinian Authority

Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement; hoping to pursue a

relationship of peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians.

“I have no idea. I’m just living my life.”

Paris Hilton, when asked by Larry King at “Larry King Live” what is it about her that everybody keeps following her around.

“At the end of my 70th year of age, I would have liked it very much if the beloved John Paul II would have allowed me to dedicate myself to the study and research of the interesting documents and items you carefully safeguard.”

Pope Benedict XVI, to the employees of the Vatican Library and Vatican Secret Archives on his visit last June 10.

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Cover photo by Denz Dayao

IT’S almost a month now since the abduction of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, a PIME missionary

IT’S almost a month now since the abduction of Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, a PIME missionary (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) for working for the Prelature of Ipil in Mindanao. The Philippine Army has been in pursuit operations from day one; and so were the forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), who a couple of days ago gave up the search, reportedly, for “political reasons”. The Italian gov- ernment, too, through its ambassador has been mov- ing the high heavens in search of the Italian priest. Even the Pope and the local hierarchy have released statements pleading for the priest’s release. But nothing has mattered, so far. To date, no one has said a word. No group has claimed responsibility. And the government is not making any dent except that it keeps talking to the media about buying or begging more huey helicopters to modernize its army—which has been accused lately of killings and disappearances. The mother of ab- ducted Jonas Burgos did not blink in frontally accus- ing the military for the disappearance of her son of

late. Speculations are on the rise. Whether the govern- ment is playing a political agenda or simply incompe- tent—or all of the above—it always merits the center- piece of the accusations. And quite reasonably so, because why in the world would it tract down mili- tants or government critics with arrests warrants issued 20 or so years ago but brush off latest abduc- tions with “the military has nothing to do with it” alibi? If really the military has nothing to do with the disappearances, is it any license to just sit back, relax and watch the world go by while nursing the big bellies of generals with people’s taxes? Quis custodiet Custodies is not even the issue here. It is just that people are finding it even harder to distin- guish between the perpetrators and their supposed protectors. This issue of Impact Magazine is devoted to the discussion on Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC). We got the top three experts to share their views on the topic: Fr. Sim Sunpayco, SJ, writes the cover story that traces the roots of the BEC as a model of being Church; Fr. Amado Picardal, CSsR, on the problems and pre- scriptions in promoting and forming basic ecclesial communities; and Msgr. Elmer Abacahin, Executive Secretary of the CBCP Office on BEC, about the new way of being church. Except for people who are involved in the BEC itself, and there are not a heap of them, the main- stream Filipino does not know anything about it. And this has been the perennial snag among church work- ers: the inability to put the lamp on the lampstand. If the BEC is indeed the new way of being Church as canonized by PCP-II of 1992, why is it that majority of Church people does not know anything about it? Read on.


July 2007 / Vol 41 • No 7



Bloodall over the land



7 CONTENTS EDITORIAL Bloodall over the land 23 COVER STORY BEC– AModel of Being Church 16

BEC– AModel of Being Church



MakingEndsMeet:Excellence,Economics, Evangelization In Philippine Catholic Schools PromotingandFormingBasicEcclesial Communities:ProblemsandPrescriptions B.E.C…“ANewWay of Being Church”




ThePecuariaDevelopmentCooperative:Tastingthe Fruits of AgrarianReform “Dearestpastorsandall thefaithful oftheCatholic ”






















Making Ends Meet:

Excellence, Economics, Evangelization In Philippine Catholic Schools

By Fr. Roderick C. Salazar, Jr., SVD

F our years ago, the Catholic Educa-

tional Association of the Philippines

(CEAP) met in convention under the

theme, “MAKING ENDS MEET: Excel- lence, Economics, Evangelization, in Phil- ippine Catholic Schools”. CEAP is the national association of Catholic schools, colleges, and universi- ties. It has more than 1,200 members from all over the country, and every year it meets at a designated place in Luzon or Visayas or Mindanao to discuss issues of mutual concern. In 2003, it was the turn of Luzon to host the convention, and the Manila Hotel was chosen as the venue. Initially, plans were for us to discuss the



• July 2007



prophetic role of Catholic schools. To stir the minds, hearts, and imagination of the participants as well as of the bigger soci- ety that would know about the conven- tion, one proposal was to have as theme, What Does It Profit? Prophecy and Profes- sionalism in Catholic Schools. The idea was to challenge CEAP schools which may have, over the years, developed into excellent and economi- cally sound educational institutions, to ask if that was all there was to their exist- ence? For what does it profit a Catholic school if, while it may indeed regularly produce graduates who find success in society, it did not instill in those same graduates the mission to transform them- selves and the society in which they lived? What would it profit a student or a school if temporal success did not translate into eternal salvation? As Jesus once asked, “What does it profit a man if he gains the

whole world but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (Mt. 16, 26) Phrased differently, what would it profit a school to be profes- sional academically and profitable eco- nomically but neglectful of its prophetic role? This was the intention of the pro- posed theme. But in the discussions that followed, a fear, if not just a hesitation, cropped up: people outside the conven- tion reading flyers and announcements about it might wrongfully conclude that economic profit was all that Catholic schools wanted. They might not know or remember that the very phrase, What Does It Profit? is attributed to Jesus himself. So the proposed theme as formulated in that way was scrapped. The thinking shifted to making the convention look at whether Catholic schools were achieving their goals as Catholic schools. Were they teaching the

© Denz Dayao / IMPACT

Excellence, Economics, Evangelization In Philippine Catholic Schools

Catholic faith? Were they producing aca- demically prepared graduates? Were they sound and solid enough financially to be able to meet their objectives? A happy phrase leapt to mind. At the same time that it would be understood in an economic sense, it would invite thought towards the pursuit of goals and objec- tives in general. The phrase was: Making Ends Meet, (the alternative idiom being “making BOTH ends meet.”) It means, as we know, to make one’s income cover expenses; to manage to live without get- ting into debt. If we took the phrase, we thought, then as a sub-title we could con- sider the different “ends” or objectives of Catholic schools: to be excellent in its delivery of education, to be consistent in its role of evangelization, and to be finan- cially and economically sound to do both. From the Vatican document, “The Catholic School” came the provocative reminder:“A Catholic school cannot be a Catholic school unless it is first of all a school”. It sounds trite, but it is to the point. For indeed the presence of religious or priests in the administration of a school or the naming of a school after a saint is not enough guarantee that the school is Catho- lic. Anybody can be Catholic—an indi- vidual, an association, a corporation. But if one is to be a Catholic school, it must perforce first be a school. The teaching- learning process which is the heart of education must be there. Otherwise, the institution may indeed be Catholic in name or in administration, but it would not be a “school”. But, more fundamentally, if the school is not financially sound, then no matter how excellent it is or wants to be academically, no matter how Catholic it is or may be in orientation and character, it would not live or it would soon cease to exist. So the theme of the CEAP National Convention in 2003 at the Manila Hotel became MAKING ENDS MEET: Excel- lence, Economics, Evangelization, in Phil- ippine Catholic Schools. Using the same theme as title for this article is saying that the concerns of four years ago remain even to this day. Eco- nomic viability and sustainability are con- tinuing issues for Catholic schools. But they must always be considered together with the other ends of Catholic education:

evangelization and excellence. One problem that Catholic schools share with other private schools in the Philippines is the public perception that tuition is high, even much too high. So, every year there is the debate about tuition

too high. So, every year there is the debate about tuition increase—should there be one? By

increase—should there be one? By how much should the increase be? Is it justi- fied? For a country such as ours, always loud about so-called “global competitive- ness”, always concerned that we are among the lowest in academic performance among even just our Asian neighbors— never mind by comparison with other parts of the world—I find it strange that we are so scrimpy with regard to tuition and school fees. Many bills in Congress and the Sen- ate are about “freezing” tuition at a certain level. Or, allowing only a certain percent- age increase in a given year, pegging it, say, to the level of the inflation rate for the year. Parents and students complain about tuition increases, columnists denounce private schools as capitalist and profit- oriented, government officials make laws and ordinances on tuition increases. Ev- erybody wants a decent education; few want to meet the proper cost of it. The perennial desire of government to limit tuition increase to the level of inflation and have that same rate followed across the whole nation is so uncreative and economically unsound if not just strange. If inflation is the rate by which the value or the purchasing power of money is adjusted, then making that rate the limit for tuition increase actually means there is no

real increase at all: there is only an adjust- ment. Of course, this would mean paying more pesos now than last year. But it is only because the value of the money has changed. So, all the loud noises about “tuition increase” should really be exam- ined to see if they should be raised at all. Making the same rate of allowable increase applicable to all schools for the whole country is also wrong. For tuition differs from school to school, from place to place. A big university may charge


Applying the same percentage increase, say 10%, to both makes the first get P10,000, and the second only P1,000. Where’s the fairness there? It may be the second, the smaller school that needs a bigger increase but because of its small tuition base, it cannot get more, following government policy. On the other hand, the bigger school, already presumably finan- cially stronger, gets more per student be- cause of its bigger tuition base. How can we fail to see the folly of such a policy or principle of allowing one rate of tuition increase for all schools in the whole na- tion—without considering the tuition base of each school? The policy is supposed to be for education, but sadly it is itself not even educationally sound. And we are so ambitious for “global competitiveness”?

Excellence, Economics, Evangelization In Philippine Catholic Schools

Fortunately for private schools, the proposed policy of setting the same level

of percentage increase for tuition for higher educational institutions for the whole coun- try has recently been changed. Now, based on its economic condition and its develop- mental plans, and upon the required con- sultations of students and their parents, each school may charge fees as it sees fit. Private schools are happy with this devel- opment as it finally recognizes the unique- ness of each school, and allows the school the flexibility to manage its resources. The country must realize that private schools are already hard up even with present government regulations on tu- ition increase. Seventy percent of the in- crease in tuition goes outright to salaries and benefits of per- sonnel. Twenty per- cent goes to opera-

tional expenses, and ten percent is allowed as return on invest- ment. For many Catholic schools even the ten percent for return on invest- ment goes back to the school, sometimes to the salary and ben- efits package, some- times for operational expenses. Very often, there is little money left over for develop- ment.

Given the situa- tion, it is commend- able that schools, es- peciallythesmallhigh schools and elemen- tary schools, continue to exist. Admirable too are the teachers and school personnel in such schools who would surely appre- ciate bigger salaries but receive with grati- tude what they see is all their schools can afford because the funds are all that the students can pay. This is not to say that things should remain as they are. There is the continuing challenge for schools to not just manage well what they have from school fees but to explore other resources. To meet this challenge, it is important that other sectors of society pitch in—alumni, private indi- viduals and corporations, government it- self. As to the latter, it should be a healthy reminder that our very Constitution de- clares that private schools play a comple- mentary role to government in giving edu-

cation to the country. Thus, legislation

and government policy should support rather than negate that principle. Too of- ten, regulations that private schools are required to follow seem so different from what government schools and state col- leges and universities are allowed to do that one feels the principle being followed is not “pantay-pantay”—equal—but “pantay-patay”—one level for govern- ment schools, another level for private schools leading to their death. It is also important for students of Catholic schools, or of any school for that matter, to understand that the term “non- stock, non-profit” when used to describe some if not just many Catholic school corporations, does NOT mean that the school is not supposed to have any

of “stock-holders”—for there are none— but back to the school, for its operations and development. This is how schools are run; this is how they are to be understood by its clientele. Sustainability of Catholic schools is a communal concern, not an issue for ad- ministrators alone. Students and their par- ents, as well as faculty and school person- nel need to have a sense of ownership of their school—not necessarily in the legal sense, but in the social sense: this is OUR school. We make or break it. What hap- pens to it is what happens to us. We take care of it, and it flourishes. We don’t and it dies. And our community is at a loss for the death of the school. In a Catholic uni-

versity in the Visayas which had to close because of labor prob- lems, this truth, was realized by the com- munity only much later, when it was too late. The attitude of “we” against the ad- ministrators led to the thinking that “we” should get what we want, never mind what the administrator could afford. When the university was forced to close, then the community real-

ized what a loss it was. The business sur- rounding the school lost their clientele. With no more students around, who were the jeepney and tricycle drivers to transport, who were the banana cue vendors and peanut sellers to sell to, who would buy the papers and pens and books the educational stores were pre- pared to serve? The Catholic school could not be sustained. The bigger community suffered. And so it is that the issue that Catholic Schools always face of Making Ends Meet—not just in economics, in academ- ics, or in its thrust of evangelization—must be seen and accepted as a communal con- cern. For if those ends are not met coopera- tively and successfully, then for the school and the community, it would be, what we

pray would not happen, the end.


it "

is that the issue that

Catholic Schools always face of Making Ends Meet—not just in economics, in

academics, or in its thrust of evangelization—must be seen and accepted as a communal


“profit” at the end of a fiscal year or that it is wrong for it to register an income. No. The phrase simply means that there are no “stocks” in the ownership of the school, and that the school does not exist for the sake of profit. But for it to remain stable, for it to deliver the goods, for it to continue year after year through summer months when there are no classes and therefore no income, it is necessary that the school should have a “profit” after paying for operations; that it should have more in- come than expenses. Otherwise, the school would collapse. And where would con- tinuing students go when they are ready for school after summer? What “non-stock, non-profit” means is that a financially healthy school should aim at earning more than it spends, but the extra income should not go to the pockets

Fr. Roderick C. Salazar, Jr., SVD, is the president of the University of San Carlos, Cebu City, and Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP).


ARTICLES O ne of the significant developments in the Church after Vatican II is the emergence

O ne of the significant developments

in the Church after Vatican II is the

emergence of Basic Ecclesial Com-

munities (BECs) in various parts of the world including the Philippines. In his encyclical Redemptoris Missio (51), John Paul II considered BECs as “signs of vital- ity in the Church… a cause of great hope

for the Church and a solid starting point for

a new society based on the civilization of love.” The promotion and formation of BECs

is one of the means of renewing the Church

which was the aim of Vatican II. The communitarian vision of the Church as Communion and as People of God—a priestly, prophetic kingly people—has made it possible for BECs to emerge. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, echoing the Vatican II vision of a renewed Church, recognized this when it declared:

“Our vision of the Church as com- munion, participation and mission, the Church as priestly, prophetic and kingly people, and as the Church of the Poor—a church that is renewed—is today finding expression in one ecclesial movement. This is the movement to foster Basic Ecclesial Communities.” (PCP II, 137) PCP II has further decreed that the formation of BECs be “vigorously pro- moted in urban and rural areas in the Phil-

Promoting and Forming Basic Ecclesial Communities:

Problems and Prescriptions

Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR, STD

ippines for the full living of the Christian life.” (PCP II, Acts and Decrees). PCP II views the ordained ministry in relation to the Christian community—a ministry of presiding over a community that is priestly, prophetic and kingly (serving) in nature. PCP II also recommended that training and formation of those preparing for the or- dained ministry should be oriented to the formation of BECs. The presence and vitality of BECs in the dioceses and parishes may be one of

the indicators for evaluating how ecclesial renewal promoted by Vatican II and PCP II is being implemented. For some dioceses the BECs as envi- sioned by PCP II is already a reality. For others it remains a dream. In the course of promoting and forming BECs, a lot of prob- lems and concerns have emerged that need to be addressed. Problems and Concerns 1. Sustainability. Many BECs that have



been formed could not be sustained, especially when the parish priests who initiated them were transferred and those who took their place were not supportive. This was also the case, when external pastoral agents who helped form BECs were gone. Some BECs have a ningas cogon mentality. The members were very enthusiastic

at the start but they lost interest after a while.

2. Attendance and participation. There are BECs, where only a few actively participate in the ongoing activities


sharing). Most of those who attend are women. The men and young people are seldom seen. Attendance and par- ticipation may increase during com- munity masses and during fiesta, Christmas and Holy Week.

3. Policies and Sanctions. In order to ensure maximum attendance and par- ticipation, some dioceses especially in some parts of Mindanao, have resorted to policies and sanctions. Only active members of BECs can avail of the sac- raments (baptism, confirmation, matri- mony). Communities without active BECs or those who fail to pay their monthly dues cannot have fiesta masses. So, many participate due to

coercion. But this has also driven oth- ers away and some have transferred to other Christian denominations.

4. Leadership. Some BECs have leaders who are incompetent and lacking in commitment. Others have leaders who are very authoritarian and dictatorial. Some are acting like “pari-pari” or little-priests, falling into a new form of clericalism of lay leaders. The leaders lack team-work. Many don’t go out of their way to reach out to the members and to encourage them. Others resort to policies and sanctions to assert their authority.

5. Relations with Lay Organizations,




(LOMAS). In many cases the relation- ship between BECs and lay organiza- tions, movements and associations (LOMAs) tend to be problematic. Some members of LOMAs regard BECs as just another organization and because of this there is no need to participate in the BECs since they already belong to an organization. Others claim that their organizations can be considered as BECs—so again there is no need to be members of the BECs in their neigh- borhood or village. In some cases,

members of BECs who become mem- bers of LOMAs stop participating in their BECs. Consequently, a spirit of antagonism and competition prevails between BECs and LOMAs.

6. Responding to Social Concerns and Issues. Many BECs remain inward- looking communities that lack social concern. Their activities revolve around bible-sharing and liturgical celebrations. They do not respond to social problems and issues that they face—e.g. poverty, hunger, criminal- ity, injustice, armed conflict, the de- struction of the environment, etc. These BECs feel helpless in the midst of poverty and armed conflict. They are either incapable of addressing these concerns or they think that BECs should only focus on spiritual con- cerns.

7. Understanding the vision and nature of BECs. Many practitioners and mem- bers of BECs do not have an adequate understanding of the vision and na- ture of BECs. There are many who associate BECs exclusively with the small group or cell, composed of six to ten members, who gather weekly to reflect on the word of God. The BEC becomes just an activity (bible-reflec- tion) or that small ex- clusive group. With this understanding of BECs,anysmallgroup can be considered as BECs—thesmallcells in the neighborhood, inside the classrooms, within the seminary, a small prayer group (SPG) or the CFC household unit. The focus is on the small- ness, rather than com- munity dynamics and ecclesiality. Most of these prob-

lems and concerns are in- terrelated. The problems of sustainability and poor participation in BECs may be the result of problem- atic leadership, the use of coercive policies and sanctions, problematic re- lationship with LOMAs, failure to respond to so- cial concerns and inad- equate understanding of the vision and nature of BECs.

10 Prescriptions for Forming Sustainable BECs In view of the problems and concerns, the following prescriptions may be helpful in the more effective promotion and forma- tion of BECs. These are based on the les- sons learned from the setbacks as well as the successes of BECs for the last four decades. These may be helpful for those who are just starting to form BECs and also

those who want to revitalize BECs that have become stagnant or dormant.

1. The promotion and formation of BECs should be adopted as the thrust of the local Church, the diocese and the par- ish. It has to be regarded as a means of renewing the local Church in the spirit of Vatican II and PCP II. Thus, the formation of BECs is not merely op- tional. It is the obligation of the bishop, the clergy, religious and lay faithful in every diocese to promote and form these communities. The diocesan com- missions (especially worship, educa- tion, social action, youth) should be orientedinimplementingtheBECthrust.

2. A leveling off regarding the vision and nature of BECs needs to be done. The PCP II provides a holistic vision of BECs—community of disciples, living

and Forming Basic Ecclesial Communities: Problems and Prescriptions

in communion, participating in the mis- sion of Christ as a prophetic (evange- lizing), priestly (worshipping), and kingly (serving) communities and the Church of the Poor. The BEC must be understood as a way of life or culture—


tian life where there is communion (a sense of belonging, participation and sharing) among the members, where they come together regularly to reflect on the Word of God and to celebrate their faith in the liturgy, and where they work together for social transforma- tion—for total human development, peace, justice and the integrity of cre- ation. The BEC should be understood as the community in a locality which may be composed of cells and family groupings that are interconnected. It has to be seen as the most local expres- sion of the Church at the grassroots, village and neighborhood. 3. A BEC parish formation team has to be formed for each parish. Imbibing the BEC culture, filled with missionary dy- namism and adequately trained, this team can assist the parish priest in the formationofBECs.Team-workbetween the priest and the members of the forma- tion team is very important. They need

to regularly come together for plan- ning, monitoring and evaluation.

4. A Pastoral/Strategic Plan for the parish must be drawn up by the parish priest, parish formation team and selected lay leaders. This pastoral plan includes the vision-mission, an external and internal analysis of the parish (SWOT analy- sis), goals, strategy selection, opera- tional plans, monitoring, and evalua- tion mechanism.

5. A renewed evangelization is an essen-

tial component in the formation or revi-

talization of BECs. The BEC is the fruit of evangelization and corresponding personal conversion that the members need to undergo. The parish should not rely on coercive policies and sanc- tions to evoke the active participation of the lay faithful in the BECs. An evangelization program for communi- ties, families, men and youth should be drawn up. 6. Lay organizations, movements and associations should be given orienta- tion on BEC and encouraged to ac- tively participate in the formation of BECs in their village or neighborhood.

7. BEC Core groups should be formed in each village or barangay. They will

function as light, leaven and salt in the midst of the community. Filled with missionary dy- namism they can help in the ongoing evangeliza- tion and in the expansion of the BEC. From among them will emerge the lead- ers of the community. A leadership formation pro- gram should be set up at the parish level. This pro-


ticipatory type of servant-

leadership. The commit- ment and competence of the leaders should be de- veloped as well as their teamwork. They should eventually function as the council of leaders. 8. In large villages or barangays, as the BECs expand and more people become active, it may be helpful to subdivide the community into cells or familygroupings.Thiscan facilitatecloserelationship among the members. The cellsshouldhavetheirown regular gatherings. The

cells should be linked together and understood as part of the BEC. 9. Regular/sustainable activities and struc- tures should be introduced to facilitate the growth of BECs as witnessing, wor- shipping,andservingcommunities.This may include weekly bible-reflection in the homes for cells or family groupings, weekly bible-service or liturgy of the word in the chapel for the whole commu- nity, monthly or bi-monthly BEC mass, monthly general assembly, etc. These regular activities should help deepen the bond of unity and friendship among the members and help develop the BEC culture. The WESTY (worship, educa- tion,service/socialaction,temporalities, youth) committees may be set up at the BEC/Barangaylevelaswellastheparish level.NeighboringBECsshouldbelinked as zones. The BEC zones should be represented in the Parish Pastoral Coun- cil. 10. The BECs should eventually be mobi- lized to engage in renewed social apostolate.Thismeansdevelopingtheir social awareness and their capability to respond to the pressing social concerns (poverty, injustice, armed conflict, de- struction of the environment, etc.). If necessary, the BECs should help de- velop livelihood projects that can help in poverty-alleviation, set up peace zones in areas of armed conflict, resist logging and mining operations, help in refores- tation projects, participate in prayer ral- lies in support of the CBCP or NASSA- initiatednationwidecampaigns,change the political culture at the grassroots level. In this way John Paul II’s vision of BECsbecomesareality:“Theytakeroot in less privileged and rural areas, and become a leaven of Christian life, of care for the poor, and of commitment to the transformationofsociety”(Redemptoris Missio 51). Ultimately, BECs can only be sus- tained if they truly become a way of life for the lay faithful and if they can truly re- spond to their needs—whether material, social, spiritual. These communities can makeadifference—inrenewingtheChurch

and transforming Philippine society.


(Fr. Amado L. Picardal is a Redemptorist priest who has extensive experience in promoting and forming BECs. He holds a licentiate in theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, California and a Doctorate in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. His doctoral dissertation is entitled: An Ecclesiological Perspective of the Basic Ecclesial Communities in the Philippines. He has published several books on BECs and gives talks and seminars on BECs to dioceses and groups all over the country. He is professor and dean of academics at St. Alphonsus’ Theologate in Davao City.)


B.E.C… “A New Way of Being Church”

By Msgr. Elmer S. Abacahin, SSJV

I n 1991, the Church in the Philippines held its Second Plenary Council (PCP II) in order to evaluate the national

pastoral situation and set directions for a renewed integral evangelization. PCP II realized that “a new evangeliza- tion” had to take place in view of the “lights and shadows” of the cultural, reli- gious, political and economic situation of the country. It recognized that the Church has been a potent but “flawed” instrument of evangelization. The Church in the Phil- ippines has to be a more credible and more effective bearer and proclaimer of the Lord’s gospel. Therefore, toward the integral renewal of the Church, PCP II drew up a formidable vision of a renewed Church. The Church in the Philippines has to be truly a commu- nity of authentic disciples of the Lord, prayerful, participatory and committed to social transformation in the light of faith, inculturated and a Church of the Poor. This vision directly addressed the prob- lems within the Church as well as its rela- tionship to Philippine society. From 1992 to 1997, a flurry of renewing activities took place in all dioceses of the Philippines. Moved by the vision of the Church drawn up by PCP II and encour-

aged by the pastoral thrust of the local churches in Mindanao, more dioceses in Luzon and in the Visayas opted to build Basic Ecclesial Communities as “new way of being church”. But many observers perceived a de- cline of interest five years after PCP II. The work of renewal was found quite exhaust- ing. The challenge of renewing parish struc- tures and pastoral methods was very dif- ficult. There was no single approach to renewal that could easily be followed step by step. Most of all the implications of renewal with regard to lifestyles and pas- toral mentalities—the personal dimensions of renewal—were too demanding. Therefore, many efforts of renewal began to dissipate and fade. For this rea- son the 10 th Anniversary of PCP II in 2001 became an opportune moment for the church in the Philippines to review the 10- year period after PCP II. Hence, the Catho- lic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) decided to hold the National Pas- toral Consultation on Church Renewal (NPCCR). NPCCR took a deep look at the re- newal done in many dioceses by way of BEC building. PCP II had described the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) as a “re-

described the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) as a “re- flection of a renewed and renewing church”.

flection of a renewed and renewing church”. The dioceses that started and persevered in building BEC’s were very much advanced in the efforts of integral renewal toward integral evangelization, including social transformation. In these dioceses, the BEC at the grassroots was, indeed, an effective and credible expres- sion of a “new way of being church” in accord with the vision of PCP II. Guided by the vision of the Church that PCP II had articulated and drawing lessons from the 10-year experience of renewal, NPCCR drew up nine major pas- toral priorities for the Church in the Philip- pines. NPCCR strongly revived the move- ment of renewal. It stirred up the impulse of becoming a “new way of being church”

B.E.C… “A New Way of Being Church”

B.E.C… “A New Way of Being Church” by way of BEC. However, it soon became evident

by way of BEC. However, it soon became evident during and after NPCCR that a more systematic and coordinated effort to build BEC was required. There had been some BEC assemblies, but these had been called by CBCP-NASSA, whose interest was on the dimension of the BEC as an agent of social transformation. NASSA 2006 annual report says: The year 2006 features concrete strings of achievements for the BEC based Integral Evangelization Program. “After five years of implementation a total of 30 arch/dio- ceses, prelatures and vicariates serving 70,731 families in 1,135 Basic Ecclesial Communities and 150 parishes have ben- efited from the program by batches. In an attempt to draw definition of a BEC, NASSA organized the National Consulta-

tion of BEC Promoters on the Social Con- cerns of BEC’s in the Philippines in June 1996" (cf. NASSA 2006 Report). Much more was needed. An assem- bly had to be called to reflect on the inte- grallife(social,political,cultural,religious) of the BEC and plan on the building of BEC’s themselves. This in fact was the conclusion of the national consultation on Basic Ecclesial Communities in 2003. More than 100 del- egates from different dioceses in the Phil- ippines attended the national consulta- tion. They made two major recommenda- tions to facilitate the building of Basic Ecclesial Communities in the different dio- ceses:

That the CBCP set up a national office to serve as a resource and coordinating

center for the building of BEC’s; That a BEC national assembly be held periodically to exchange experiences in BEC building, identify strengths and weak- nesses, evaluate efforts at BEC building, share resources and plan for the future. Subsequently, the CBCP approved the first recommendations. It also ap- proved the appointment of Bishops for the Board of the BEC National Office. The newly established Board in turn approved the recommendation to hold the First BEC National Assembly under the auspices of the CBCP-BEC National Office, in Septem- ber 2005. CBCP-BECNATIONALBOARD

Chairman: Abp. Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI Vice-Chairman: Bp. Socrates Villegas Members:

Bp. Gabriel Reyes – On the Laity Bp. Socrates Villegas – On Catechesis and CatholicEducation Bp. Arturo Bastes – On the Bible Apostolate Abp. Paciano Aniceto – On Family and Life Bp. Leonardo Medroso – On Canon Law Bp. Joel Baylon – On Youth Bp. Dinualdo Gutierrez – On Social Action, Justice and Peace Abp. Romulo Valles – On Liturgy BEC National Executive Secretary - Msgr. Elmer S. Abacahin

The CBCP-BEC National Assembly will convene every three years. The First BEC National Assembly was held last Sep- tember 19-22, 2005 at DECS-Ecotech Cen- ter, Lahug, Cebu City acting on the theme “Creating a Culture of Sustainability in BEC’s” with the assistance of the Ad Hoc Consultative and Resource Team: Msgr. Manuel Gabriel, Diocese of Parañaque; Ms. Estela Padilla, Bukad Tipan, Antipolo; Msgr. Jomari, Archdiocese of Jaro; Fr. Picardal; CSSR, Davao and Cebu. We are looking forward to work with them and other experts in preparation for the 2008 National Assembly. Our new BEC National Office is now in full operation. We are located at the 3 rd Floor, CBCP Building. This office is to help the bishops and their dioceses realize the vision of a renewed Church through the building of BEC. This will serve as the facilitating center providing information on logistical support for BEC’s, to assist in animating and strengthening BEC initia- tives in different dioceses, to coordinate national BEC activities, to coordinate with other CBCP Commissions relative to BEC

matters. We welcome you!


(Msgr. Elmer S. Abacahin, SSJV, of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is the Executive Secretary of the CBCP-BEC National Office)

© Denz Dayao / IMPACT


Pecuaria Development Cooperative, Inc. (PDCI) is an association of more than 400 agrarian reform beneficiaries
Pecuaria Development Cooperative, Inc. (PDCI) is an
association of more than 400 agrarian reform beneficiaries of the
817.33 hectares of the sprawling Hacienda Pecuaria in the
Municipality of Bula, Camarines Sur. Its members collectively
envisage a progressive and united AR community “for ecology
and gender equality through a participatory and democratic
process.” The awarded land now supports a diversity of livelihoods-
rice, livestock, bamboo, and sugar.

The Pecuaria Development Cooperative:

Tasting the Fruits of Agrarian Reform

By Ms. Lea Fenix

E n route to Pecuaria, a sight of undulat-

ing green hills with a river snaking

through greets the visitor. As the ve-

hicle tires screech to a halt, an imposing steel sign proudly bearing the words “Home of


metrewalkpastthismainbarangayentrance leadstoacoolmini-forestnexttothePecuaria Development Cooperative, Inc. (PDCI) of- fice.InsidetheofficeareMillerBicaldo,coop manager and marketing person for organic rice, Efren Arroyo, Chair of the Board of Directors,TootsJollado,secretary-treasurer, and 3 female management staff. These are the frontliners of PDCI who work hono- rarium-based.

Securing the 817.33 hectares of Pecuaria land that is today managed by the PDCI, and in a broader sense, waging the war on agrarian reform, has been far from easy. Yet has it been worth it? Looking again at the careworn faces of these present-day heroes, now older than those in faded file photos, one sees that they remain undaunted by more than 15 years of challenges. TriPARRD’s Humble and Chaotic Beginnings in Pecuaria The vast expanse of Hacienda Pecuaria was voluntarily offered for sale in 1988 by landowners Severo Tuazon and

Teresa de Gonzales-Lao. TriPARRD (Tri- partite Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development) entered the pic- ture in 1990 through the Camarines Sur Partnership for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (CSPARRD), the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and other gov- ernment agencies. This partnership suc- ceeded in getting agrarian reform off the ground. The first step was the formation of a screening committee that finalized the list of identified Agrarian Reform Beneficiary (ARB) among 3 batches: the Pecuaria Employees and Farm Workers Associa-

© Denz Dayao / IMPACT

Tasting the Fruits of Agrarian Reform

tion (PEFWA) and landless Lanipga resi- dents; landless Pawili and Fabrica resi- dents; and Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) members. The DAR officially fa- vored the first 2 batches. After DAR paid FFF members to relocate, former PDCI general manager Pablito Dante was stabbed to death. This happened after a land dispute debate where Dante argued that they had prior right to the land. While the issue on how the land could be divided between the different claimant groups was waiting resolution, Dante was stabbed to death, an event that sparked violent conflict. It also led to a confronta- tion between PDCI and FFF that could have cost more lives. CSPARRD created a peace council to address this. The DAR stepped up the land occupation activity dubbed as Operation Dagang Ipinangako (Operation Promised Land). On 11 May 1994, Pecuaria land was finally turned over to PDCI despite the presence of hardcore illegal occupants refusing to vacate. The Tripartite Partnership also final- ized and approved the Area Development Plan for 1992. Finally, and most impor- tantly, it consolidated PEFWA and inte- grated 3 barangays into a formal, SEC- registered organization on 5 April 1991 as Pecuaria. Five months later, on 31 Septem- ber 1991, it was registered with the coop- eratives development authority (CDA) as PDCI, the name it has retained until now. When CSPARRD wrapped up its organiz- ing assistance, DAR, helped in fast-track- ing documentation towards issuing Cer- tificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to PDCI until 1992.

Getting the Show on the Road As the land finally came into their possession, the natural next step was for PDCI to make it productive. Pillars of the TriPARRD model were addressing land tenure improvement (LTI) and social infra- structure building and strengthening (SIBS), coincident with productivity sys- tems development (PSD). The stage was set for PSD. PDCI leadership itself took decisive land productivity measures not only to detour itself from the dismal fate of its contemporaries but also to contribute significantly to genuine AR program en- hancement and continuity. Thus, from 1991-1994, lead agencies under Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) spearheaded projects such as cattle breeding and re-lending, with a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines, rice and palay trading with the

Development Bank of the Philippines, and the construction of a 3.5-km. road from PDCI warehouse to Lanipga proper. In the years that followed, many projects were undertaken to enhance ex- isting SIBS and PSD endeavors. Several were ventures with Pensumil Peñafrancia SugarMillingCorporation(Pensumil),such as sugarcane production assistance and loans for palay trading. The Philippine Development Assistance Programme (PDAP) and PhilDHRRA helped PDCI engage in muscovado sugar production. Under the DA’s pasture development and production/maintenance of livestock pro- gram, a regional livestock breeding and training centre was constructed in Pecuaria. The DA also helped link PDCI with the Fertilizer Pesticide Authority for the regis- tration of PDCI’s bioorganic fertilizer (BOF) products. The National Irrigation Admin- istration-CARP(NIA-CARP)rehabilitated the poorly maintained irrigation used by PDCI. With the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), PDCI implemented a mini-forest project. Bamboo production, jumpstarted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) capitalized on the abundance of bamboo in the area. PDCI entered into poultry- growing contracts with suppliers such as Bounty. In addition, roads were con- structed and additional post-harvest fa- cilities were built.

Finding a Niche in Organic Rice Mention the name “Pecuaria” and the man on the street will associate this Agrar- ian Reform (AR) community with organic rice. Indeed, being an organic rice hub for the domestic market had long been PDCI’s dream. PDCI’s fame as an organic rice producer precedes it, and can be attrib- uted to that fateful and fortunate decision in 1996 to explore organic farming technol- ogy. PDCI has joined forces with organic rice producers in the country, adhering to the principles of sustainable agriculture. The technology spread among farmers; from a 1.5 hectare pilot farm, organic rice is now cultivated in more than a hundred hectares. The cooperative steadily ac- quired an organic fertilizer plant, tractor, cornsheller,andotherfarmmachines.From selling in sacks and sando bags, red, white and brown organic rice are now vacuum- packed and branded.

The Long and Winding Road It was never smooth sailing for PDCI. Since the beginning, problems kept aris- ing, one after another. The cattle breeding and relending program, for example, came in the form of a P1.8M debt and 85 heads of heifer. This Australian breed of cows did not acclimatize properly, resulting in a high mortality rate. The disposed infertile cows enabled PDCI to pay back P373000, and the interest and penalty on the remain-

infertile cows enabled PDCI to pay back P373000, and the interest and penalty on the remain-


ing loan were condoned. The principal loan was restructured for a period of 10 years. The project yielded 92 offspring in 5 years, but still left PDCI with obligations amounting to P1.655M. The rice and palay trading activities of PDCI was an SPO-AIDA project intro- duced by DAR-DBP, where their 459-ha. Mother CLOA would be used as collateral. This P3.18M project constituted irrigation system, post-harvest facilities, warehouse, rice mill, and administrative funds, among others. The infrastructure and capital com- prised 75% of total cost. PDCI took this project as a grant in the context of the AR program where support services were pro- vided alongside the awarded land. A major concern of PDCI has been the low rate of land cultivation, a critical input to its business operations. The reasons behind this land tilling problem were the lack of interest, lack of knowledge and capacities particularly on organic farming technology, and lack of capital to finance rice production, including the payment of irrigation fees. Given PDCI’s policy of re- quiring ARBs to make the land productive, farm takeover by PDCI was becoming in- creasingly tedious for the cooperative, to the extent that in April 2006, a substantial number of lots were already voluntarily offered by PDCI for takeover. This was perceived to be both right and wrong— right because what members find difficult were made easier by the cooperative; but wrong because it deprived each member of direct responsibility that is concomitant with an awarded land. The enthusiasm and hard work of its members sadly never materialized as prof- its, thus debt began to follow PDCI closely. Many loans were left unpaid. A task force collection from DAR in Manila started to collect loan payment in 1996 from PDCI business operations that ironically only began to register net income in 2003. In fact, from 1992-1996, PDCI had kept post- ing net losses of about 88%, only salvaged in part by inflow of funds from grants. PDCI made the news in October 2006 when the government announced its fore- closure of the land because of the amount that ballooned to P17.59M. In a flash, all those years of hard work in making Pecuaria a thriving agrarian reform community were threatened. PDCI managed to secure a temporary restraining order and subse- quently a status quo order or “no auction sale” of land, farm facilities and equip- ment.

Looking Inside

Simply, the profound lack of organiza- tional management skills and entrepre- neurial orientation were major causes for the periodic losses borne by the coopera- tive. PDCI had realized that it could better tackle the challenges come their way through proper change of management within the cooperative. The problems were formidable. PDCI was dependent on external resources, par- ticularly on financial and technical assis- tance. There were no monthly performance reviews of its organic rice and fertilizer production, as well as its lending opera- tion. Documentation during meetings was inefficient, while the filing was unsystem-

atic. Systems, policies and procedures, particularly on financial and cash han- dling of large cash advances by employ- ees, were absent. Accounting was weak— unrealized income was taken as actual income. Because only one bookkeeper was employed, it was arduous to prepare quarterly and annual budgets, and track substantial receivables. There was no busi- ness plan. Project implementation tended to be bara-bara or haphazard. Manage- ment had to improve its financial condi- tion, and increase member participation.

Turning PDCI on its Head In 1999, PDCI therefore embarked on revising its organizational structure. It re- aligned certain committees and processes to better suit present circumstances. Fur- thermore, professionalizing PDCI opera- tions entailed hiring professionals to con- tribute to the labor force of PDCI member- working staff. PDCI was especially keen on attaining its key result areas, namely:

restoration of natural resource base, sus- tainable and integrated enterprise, gen- der-based and equitable management poli- cies and financial system, enhanced PDCI, delivery of basic support services and facilities, land security, awareness on de- velopment issues, and finally, sustained partnership and linkage work. PDCI suffered from poor and ineffec- tive information dissemination to its mem- bers. It experienced many incidents of members not properly understanding, thus, not adhering to policies. Communi- cation links had to be improved. In time, PDCI began to be recognized for its con- tribution to local popular agricultural edu- cation, as evidenced by the many visitors coming to Pecuaria to learn about this success. In terms of human resources, adjust- ments also had to be made. PDCI allowed

the phasing out of its program coordinator in the full management of PDCI opera- tions, to be replaced by an all-PO team. Honorarium-based non-degree holding ARBs were favored over highly paid pro- fessionals, because of PDCI’s financial situation. This presented yet another chal- lenge—the leadership vacuum. In response, PDCI more proactively engaged in institution building and capac- ity building of individual members. PDCI staff are now regularly trained to enhance existing capacities and knowledge on SA and ecology, financial accountability, gen- eral office administration, and enterprise development and management through local agricultural schools, CARP line agen- cies, and by like-minded NGOs. Getting Business-Smart Businessmen are not born, but made. When PDCI began to see that it could not compete head-on with the existing rice monopoly, it began to wise up. The take- over was good, business-wise. It allowed for an increase in revenues. At the same time, organic rice and sugar were finding

in revenues. At the same time, organic rice and sugar were finding 14 IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT • July

© Denz Dayao / IMPACT

Tasting the Fruits of Agrarian Reform

their way onto the shelves of groceries and display areas in trade fairs and exhib- its. PDCI partnered with Upland Market- ing Foundation, Inc. (UMFI) for marketing its produce outside Bicol region. The strat- egy was effective. PDCI also increased investments to obtain credit line for much needed revolving capital. Beginning 2004, PDCI posted a 30% increase, followed by a 45% increase in income the next year. Pecuaria gained rec- ognition as a genuine organic rice pro- ducer. Furthermore, it was able to stan- dardize organic farming practices at the national level through the Organic Certifi- cation Centre of the Philippines (OCCP). Beyond the direct business marketing in- terventions, institution and capacity-build- ing made perfect sense as positive contri- butions to this remarkable turnaround. Ripples of Changes Nowadays, it is much easier for PDCI rice farmers. They used to make long jour- neys to remote milling facilities, but the establishment of the PDCI grains centre and farming facilities changed that. Their

milling machine can already produce un- polished rice. The organic rice business is gently flourishing. Sugarcane workers, numbering about a hundred, were not excluded from partak- ing of the benefits of AR, of course. Be- sides increased incomes, they benefited from the Sugar Amelioration Program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Farmer laborers were transformed into owner-cultivators. Their families relocated with them and live on-site. Because busi- ness was generally doing well, in a modest sense, the children of ARBs leave school at a later age. Members enjoyed diversi- fied livelihoods, ranging from poultry, backyard animal-raising, livestock, sari- sari store, food vending, and farming ac- tivities outside Pecuaria. Accomplishments The Bula Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer (MARO) and the PDCI worked in tandem to realize LTI target goals. The former placed third in LTI implementation at the provincial level, with a 91.45% ac-

implementation at the provincial level, with a 91.45% ac- complishment rate to boot. The MARO has

complishment rate to boot. The MARO has settled many a land dispute in Pecuaria. A notable contribution of PDCI to AR program enhancement is its monitoring of members who have violated CARP provi- sions, particularly relating to land cultiva- tion and abandonment. PDCI is admired as the most progressive among Bula-Munici- pal Development Council (MDC) entities for its host of programs that have raked in “millions” of pesos and have won the support of many organizations and insti- tutions. Bagging awards such as “Out- standing ARC” from Malacañang in 1996, “OutstandingSmallFarmersOrganization” in Region 5 in 1997, and “Best Livelihood Project, Provincial Category” in 2001, PDCI continues to be a source of inspiration and information to those interested in agrarian reform, cooperatives, and participation. Two of its leaders, Efren Arroyo and Miller Bicaldo, have been duly recognized for their service. Arroyo has been a regular recipient of several awards as best farmer leader at the regional and national level, while Bicaldo has been given recognition for his dedicated work as PO Chairman in PDCI and as the most successful ARB at the provincial level. Moving On PDCI is moving closer towards its vision of a progressive and united AR community characterized by productiv- ity, sustainability, stability and equitability. Shaped by its many years of experience, PDCI is all the wiser now and prepared to face anything. In hindsight, it would not have gone this far had it not been for the many friends along the way, whose names num- ber the stars. Nonetheless, special thanks are in order to DAR, the MARO, LBP, PDAP and PhilDHRRA—the corner- stones of the TriPARRD program—for their unwavering commitment and sup- port to PDCI. Given the political economy environment in the country, it is partner- ships like the TriPARRD that can give resource poor farmers a fighting chance to carve out better lives for them and their families. Thus, even if the protracted struggle with the land—making it their own and making it productive—has been difficult, Miller, Efren, Toots, and the rest of the members of PDCI will say, perhaps with a hint of a smile, that it has been definitely

worth it.


(Ms. Lea Fenix works for the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas, PhilDHRRA)



O ur discussion is about the Church

itself and not merely about a Church

organization. We are familiar with

the Church in its units: the parish with priests as pastors, the diocese with the bishop, then the universal Church with the pope as chief shepherd. The Vatican II document on the Church [Lumen Gentium] presents it as a mystery. Mystery is a truth and a reality that cannot be fully understood or ex- plained by the human mind. But God gives us a glimpse or some understanding of a mystery. We look at two dimensions of the Church to help our understanding of, and the way we tell people or explain to them the mystery, that is, the Church. First, the nature, life of the Church, presented in three ways or aspects [mod- els]: (a) Mystical Body [refers to the





• July 2007


– A Model of Being Church

By Fr. Sim Sunpayco, S.J.

BEC – A Model of Being Church

interior or spiritual life of the Church. We are all like living parts of the BODY with CHRIST as the HEAD]. (b) People of God [clergy and laity: are the members of the Church in the world] (c) Institution of religion, with its own creed [body of doctrine and beliefs], code [laws and regulations administered by the hierarchy, pope, bishops and priests], cult [way of worship, and ceremonies]. The Jesuit theologian, Cardinal Avery Dulles, calls these aspects models of the Church.There are other models, other ways of presenting the mystery of the Church. We choose these three commonly used descriptions in this discussion about the life and nature of the Church. Second, the work or mission of the Church. The Church shares and carries out the same mission as the mission of Christ. This is to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God. We

call it evangelization. The Church carries out this mission in all kinds of situation: in different places and at different periods of history. Each situa- tion is different from the others; needs, problems and chal- lenges are different. Blocks to the estab- lishment of the of God are also not the same. The Church em-

ploys different meth- ods, structures, priori- ties in its mission of


wise it will not be rel-

evant or effective: different questions, dif- ferent answers, different sickness, differ- ent medicine. And there is analysis before solutions, like diagnosis before treatment! The different forms and methods as- sumed and used by the Church to be effective in carrying out its mission with and for Christ are also called by a theolo- gian from Latin-America, Fr. JoseMarins, model” or way of being Church for its mission of evangelization. The model of church described by Avery Dulles, S.J. refers to the life and nature of the Church. This is always the same in all places at all times. Anywhere, everywhere, at any period of history the Church is always 1) the Mystical Body of Christ, 2) the People of God, 3) an institu- tion of religion to articulate, regulate and

celebrate the Faith. But the same Church must assume different ways of being Church, live and use new ways and methods of evangeliza- tion. These models of evangelization are changed to meet different situations in different places and at different periods of

AGlimpseatSignificantModelsAssumed by the Evangelizing Church in History 33 – 100 After Pentecost the early Christians formed a Church of small com-

munities of love and sharing, written about in the Acts and Pauline letters [e.g. Acts 2:41–47]. The precursor and paragon of our Small Caring Groups and B.E.C.

100 – 300 During the persecution the

most heroic way of proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom [evangelization]

write, to pray. This was the Monastic Model of being Church. 1300 – 1600 When most of Europe became Christian, culture became the field for the Church’s mission of evangeliza- tion: architecture in imposing cathedrals, establishing universities, other arts in museums. Call this model ‘‘Christendom’:

the powerful popes sponsoring explora- tion of new territories, crowning emper- ors, organizing the Crusades. This was

also the age of St. Benedict, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas.

1600 – 1960 With power came wealth,

that, brought corruption into the monas- teries, and up to the papacy. There was rebellion: the so-called Reformers pro-

tested against the power of the bishops, got rid of the sacraments, denied Catholic doctrine, founded their own sects. The very existence of the Church was threat- ened. In reaction to

this, the Church closed itself and be- came defensive against the Protes- tants [katoliko- sarado]. Uniformity was imposed all over the world: the Church became “Roman”, Latin was its language even in the liturgy. People all over the world; liturgical vest- ments and style were as they were in Rome:

[even nuns in the trop- ics put on habits for wintry Europe]; change was consid- ered sinful. Whereas

in past ages evangelization was to bring the good news to the economic, political

and cultural life of the people, at this time the main preoccupation was the creed, code, cult, of religion, the domain of the clergy, controlling activities mostly inside churches. Colonization that accompanied evangelization developed for it a favored clientele, [mga suki] the well-to-do, those in position of power and authority, school- educated elite. Such are the characteris- tics of the Parish model of being Church that lasted 400 years and still in tension with aggiornamento’s renewal and reform.

1960 till the end of time. The Holy

Spirit of the Risen Lord blows and inspires the People of God where and how it chooses. It was in 1958 that Giuseppe Angelo Cardinal Roncalli who never left

"The Church employs different meth- ods, structures, priorities in its mis- sion of evangelization. Otherwise it will not be relevant or effective: differ- ent questions, different answers, dif- ferent sickness, different medicine. And there is analysis before solutions, like diagnosis before treatment!"

was to give witness to the Faith unto death. This was the Church of the Mar-

tyrs; prominently found in the Catacombs.

300 – 600 After the persecution the

Christians came out from hiding and orga-

nized their creed + code + cult; the begin- ning of the Institutional model of Church, hierarchical, bringing gospel values, evan- gelizing Rome’s political structures: ex- ecutive, legislative and judicial branches.

600 – 1300 The tribal “barbarians” of

Northern Europe descended on and dev- astated much of Roman civilization. Con- verted to Christianity the evangelizing work of the monks focused on the eco- nomic life of the nomadic people: teaching them in the monasteries how to settle down, to build their houses, to raise do- mestic animals, to plant crops, to read and



his grassroots orientation, was elected Pope and convened Vatican II in 1962. But for many years before that he had ob- served “the women liberation movement”, witnessed colonies clamoring for inde- pendence, labor and peasant unions de- manding fair treatment and justice from their employers, participation in the affairs that affect their life. Pope John XXIII read in them the signs of the times: women and men aspiring for dignity, for a share in the fruit of their labor, for freedom and justice to be fully human: for social transforma- tion, not merely personal conversion and salvation of souls. But in all this the Church was “locked up in the sacristy” in endless war with Protestants over the creed-code- cult of religion, over the mysteries of the faith which were beyond their human un- derstanding. Then in spite of progress in means of travel, of communication, in the social and psychological sciences, advance in tech- nology [or because of them] humanity suffered in two world wars, was trembling in the Cold War between the East and the West. There were two Koreas, two Germany’s, two Viet Nams, the Iron Cur- tain, millions were homeless and refugees! But did He not promise “I will be with you till the end of time”; hence, Pope John’s optimism. Pope John XXIII ordered the katoliko-sarado Church to open up, to bring in fresh air and new inspiration of the Holy Spirit, urged on dialogue with non- Catholics, cooperation with all people of good will for peace and unity, for total human development; for enculturation, adaptation of the expression and celebra- tion of faith-life to the culture and lan- guage of the people: aggiornamento [re- turn to the sources, renew inspiration, reform methods, update the Church], [ecclesia simper reformanda]—in an era of permanent change The hour has come! The Holy Spirit unleashed its power over human resistance to change. Inspired by Pope John’s optimism other people in and outside the Church introduced move- ments that over the years updated the Church and made its evangelizing mission more effective: New approaches to biblical studies, Catholic Action, Legion of Mary, Cursillo, Better World Movement, Family Life Apostolate, Charismatic Renewal. In the Philippines in the mid 50’s President Magsaysay aroused great enthusiasm among the barrio people and in 1967 a little heralded Catholic Rural Congress in Cagayan de Oro City ushered the Church to pay them special attention.

Oro City ushered the Church to pay them special attention. Parish and BEC—Two Ways of Being

Parish and BEC—Two Ways of Being Church Independently of one another Small Communities began to appear in some countries of South America, Africa and in Mindanao with these characteristics: 1) composed of lay people in small communi- ties, 2) mostly from the poor and lower class, 3) coming for fellowship—friend- ship, sharing and caring, 4) listening to the Word of God, 5) planning action to attend to their needs and the needs of others and 6) praying together. Not all of them profess or live up to all

the six qualities mentioned above. Some carry strong religious or liturgical orienta- tion, others with more projects [develop- mental], still others adding justice issues, with or without ideologies. They also are called by different names:

B. C .C. - Basic Christian Community

BCC-Co - Basic Christian Community – Community Organizing

B. E. C.s - Basic Christian Communities [plural, many small units]

M. S. K. - Munting Sambayanang Kristiyano:

M. P. K. - Munting [Mumunting] Pamayanang Kristiyano

G. K. K. - Gagmay [Ginagmay]

Kristohanong Katilingban KRIS-KA - Kristohanong Kasilinganan,

- Cebuano ; [Kasilingan - Ilongo], Kistiyanong Kapitbahayan – Taga- log; Christian Neighborhood Commu- nity These are small units, no exact size but small enough for easier sharing, big enough to have enough resources for their needs in their life and work as small com- munities: “igo-igo ka daku”.—just the right size!”— “katamtaman ang laki.” They are SMALL COMMUNITIES that also are COMMUNITIES of the “SMALL” not in stature but in status, the marginalized poor in economic, political, cultural and religious institutions. We identify three types of these Small Caring Groups:

1) Six to nine families in the same neighborhood called in some places KRIS- KA ‘selda’; since it’s not monastic or the prison cell, better if “celula” is used— living cell of an organism! 2) Six to 12 individuals from the same SECTOR, students, teachers, vendors, drivers [sectoral]. 3) Prayer Groups: some of them in remote chapels gathering for Liturgy of the Word. The 1968 Medellin Conference of the Latin American Church gave approval to their Commuinidades Cristianas de Base. Groups in the Philippines adopted the

BEC – A Model of Being Church

nameB.C.C. from the American translation Basic Christian Communities. But a more accurate translation of de base was from

the roots, the base of society. Instead of B.E.C. Fr. Jose Marins used the term “Church from the roots”. Following the lead of the 1975 Synod on Evangelization, the 1979 Puebla Con- ference in Mexico stressed the ecclesial nature of the small communities. In 1983 the 5th Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Confer- ence convened in Cotabato City. There


munity] the more acceptable name of the small communities in Mindanao. When these Small Caring Groups gather together, coordinate their activities and ministries in the PARISH, they consti- tute the NEW WAY of BEING CHURCH. The LOCAL CHURCH in its new MODEL:

new structure, new leadership, new priori- ties—a B.E.C. The Parish becomes a Christian Com- munity of many Small Christian Communi- ties. In Cebuano: G. K. S. Gagmay’ng Katilingbang Simbahan G. S. K. Gagmay Simabahanong Katilingban. In English: B. E. C. Basic Ecclesial Com- munity - - - - [singular] In Tagalog: S. M. S. Simbahang Maliliit na Sambayanan o kaya M. S. S. Maliliit na Sambayanang Simbahan Their essential elements: 1) commu- nity 2) ecclesial, 3) new way of being Church. 1) COMMUNITY – KATILINGBAN – SAMBAYANAN: Not just people living or working together in a place, but Chris- tian Community, people knowing, caring for one another as friends in the Lord: a socialization of Trinitarian life, thus be- coming truly God’s likeness. 2) ECCLESIAL – CHURCH (SIMBAHAN in Tagalog and Cebuano). (1) Faith-life in Christ: (2) Filled with Gifts of the Holy Spirit, (3) Listening to the Word of God (4) Nourished by the Sacra- ments & the Eucharist (5) With Bishops [& priests] as Servant–Leaders [Pastors] (6)

under the tender care of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Both Church models, parish & new way must be community and church [ecclesial]. But one of them is “BASIC” and the other “traditional PARISH”. Most parishes now display some of the characteristics of the new way of being Church. But take note: B.E.C. is CHURCH, “sacrament” of the KINGDOM OF GOD which is “ALREADY-BUT-NOT-YET”,

naa na apan wala pa, nandirito na ngunit wala pa. Christ has begun the Kingdom

and was perfect [love] in Him on the Cross; but among us it is still in

Aggiornamento, resulting in B. E. C

Parishes follows a similar process: already- but-not yet! The Dream: Confusion and Problems:

The Challenge This article has no more pages left to say something about the spirituality of B.E.C. or to return to the 1991 PCP II crafted Vision-Mission of the Church of the Phil- ippines which now seems to be a “hidden secret”, pinakatagong lihim, in the Church. Ten years later in 2001, The Na- tional Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal evaluated and lamented our fail- ure to implement PCP II Acts and Decrees. But the N.P.C.C.R. also failed to ignite our fervor to do so. For brevity the confusions and prob- lems will be presented as challenges and what obviously are the responses [perspi- ration with inspiration] will hopefully bring about the ideal [aspiration] 1) B.E.C. is considered as an organi- zation and worse, carrying with it a “new canonicalism” or legalism: “those who are


not members of our B.E.C. may not have their babies baptized nor may they stand as baptismal sponsors.”—more Catholic than the pope—when the new way of being Church should be more compas- sionate, and more friendly, even with non- Catholics. 2) “But the rich are also poor”. There are three kinds of poor: (a) the morally poor [sinner vs. saints], (b) the marginally poor [the least, last, lost, helpless, hopeless— Christ’s preferences and our priority], (c) the evangelically poor [no luxury, with less wants while attending to basic needs, diligent in work, generous in sharing, avail- able for service, dependence for effectiv- ity on the power of the Word and the Holy Spirit, not on one’s own expertise, or latest gadgets.] 3) Newly ordained priests are invited by well-to-do friends to bless, offer Mass, give talks, etc. How can they refuse good people asking them to do good things? No such invitation from the marginalized poor. Sooner or later one has no more time, nor energy, nor desire to go to the poor for their conscientization, evangelization and formation into Small Caring Groups. 4) Seminarians are trained to pray in the seminary setting; assisted by sched-


• centered in the Poblacion church Town / parish center

• big with thousand of members

• hardly knowing one another no com- munity

• “elitist” prominent are the well to do

• Leadership: Priest is the authority and close cooperators are prominent in society

• poor are recipients of charity from rich

• Activities: religious, liturgical

• Example: Binyag sa bata: faith, love in child’s baptism in the church; religion

• Avoid

non-Catholics clerical: cultic -

religious functions

• closed and defensive vs. non-Catho- lics


• in neighborhoods (outside church) where people actually live and work

• small communities of love and sharing Small Caring Groups: friends in the Lord

• "nakangiti at masaya pag nagkita pag hindi nakita,: miss-na-miss kita"

• and communities of the "small" not in stature but in socio-economic life po- litical, cultural institutions

• Leadership: Lay people, Parents with ordinary women and men [also youth]

• poor participate in decision making evangelized & evangelizer; agents of change

• Activities: living and working in the family & livelihood

• Paggawa ng bata: love, faith, fidelity of husband & wife marital embrace Proper upbringing of children

• Ecumenical friendship with everybody in bringing gospel values in daily life

• In friendly cooperation w/ non-Catho- lics

BEC – A Model of Being Church

BEC – A Model of Being Church ules, routine atmosphere conducive to silent study and reflection

ules, routine atmosphere conducive to silent study and reflection with duly ap- pointed spiritual directors and rector to look after their formation. After ordination they are on their own, with people and relatives claiming their attention and time:

in conventos at times full of relatives, with annual retreats that at times look like jam- borees or spiritual tourism. Nobody de- nies that solid prayer life is essential to a dedicated priesthood, but too often it is taken for granted; only presumed to be all right. Hence crisis of faith, of celibacy, of authority, of permanent commitment, pro- ducing stray shepherds for the “assist program.” 5) To live and act as shepherds of the Small Caring Groups priests must always renew a deep commitment to the person of Christ and involvement in His mission and priorities. If only they join their flock in regular and consistent dialogue of life [with the poor and youth as priority] instead of merely waiting for them in the church to be “hatched”, “matched”, “dispatched”— bunyag, kasal, lubong. Time and perse- vering efforts are needed for the training of

Parish Formation Teams and Small Caring Group leaders. Prayer Life of the priests and of the people will be a real Spirit-given gift when Small Caring Groups have their regular prayer sessions joined in by their pastors who go around the neighborhoods visiting and joining them. 6) Dangers: (a) the bishop’s priority of providing inspiration, guiding forma- tion and coordination gives in to his be- coming a decoration in festive events. (b) When reshuffled in the parishes, the first thing a new pastor does is to erase the memory of his predecessor—thus sowing again confusion among the people. 7) Needed is the political will of the bishop to implement the Acts and Decrees of PCP II. The Vision-Mission Statement of the Philippine Church must be resusci- tated and not replaced by another vision- mission. All his priests must agree to study, to implement the same vision-mission, the same triple thrust: (a) to become a commu- nity of disciples, (b) a Church of the poor, (c) engaged in integral evangelization in every parish, assisted by all the schools, organizations and movements in the dio-

cese without exception—even by the nuns in cloister. Together they produce the essentials of a Christ-centered, holistic, ongoing formation process. Every priest is assigned to a vicariate or deanery or district, primarily to organize a Parish For- mation Team in his own parish. Once a month the deanery with all its priests and a couple of lay formators gather for a whole day recollection-meeting for sharing re- ports of pastoral priorities, reflection and evaluation, planning and praying as part- ners of Christ in His mission of Evangeli- zation by means of Small Caring Groups. Irony: good priests with good people doing good things are blocks to B.E.C. if the good they do are according to the Council of Trent, not according to Vatican

II and PCP II!


Fr. Sim Sunpayco, S.J. has been working on B.E.C. formation since 1971-74 as executive secretary of the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference, as Director of the B.E.C. Service Office 1975-94 at the Manila La Ignaciana Apostolic Center and in 1994-2000 as Rector of San Jose Major Seminary. At present he is in the staff of the Jesuit Retreat House in Malaybalay, Bukidnon still fully convinced that evangelization in the Philippines today is best carried out by the implementation of PCP II focused in the formation of Small Caring Groups of B.E.C.

© San Tu/epa/Corbis


R oma, June 30, 2007 – The Holy See

today released the text of the letter

written by Benedict XVI “to Bish-

ops, Priests, Consecrated Persons and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China.” The letter bears the date of May 27, 2007, the feast of Pentecost. ExplanatoryNote By his “Letter to Bishops, Priests, Consecrated Persons and Lay Faithful of the Catholic Church in the People’s Re- public of China”, which bears the date of Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI wishes to express his love for and his closeness to the Catholics who live in China. He does so, obviously, as Succes- sor of Peter and Universal Pastor of the Church. From the text two basic thoughts are clear: on the one hand, the Pope’s deep affection for the entire Catholic commu- nity in China and, on the other, his pas- sionate fidelity to the great values of the Catholic tradition in the ecclesiological field; hence, a passion for charity and a passion for the truth. The Pope recalls the great ecclesiological principles of the Sec- ond Vatican Council and the Catholic tra- dition, but at the same time takes into consideration particular aspects of the life of the Church in China, setting them in an ample theological perspective.

A - The Church in China in the last fifty years The Catholic community in China has lived the past fifty years in an intense way, undertaking a difficult and painful jour- ney, which not only has deeply marked it but has also caused it to take on particular characteristics which continue to mark it today. The Catholic community suffered an initial persecution in the 1950s, which wit- nessed the expulsion of foreign Bishops and missionaries, the imprisonment of al- most all Chinese clerics and the leaders of the various lay movements, the closing of churches and the isolation of the faithful. Then, at the end of the 1950s, various state bodies were established, such as the Of- fice for Religious Affairs and the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics, with the aim of directing and “controlling” all religious activity. In 1958 the first two episcopal ordinations without papal man- date took place, initiating a long series of actions which deeply damaged ecclesial communion. In the decade 1966-1976, the Cultural

ecclesial communion. In the decade 1966-1976, the Cultural “Dearest pastors and all the faithful of the

“Dearest pastors and all the faithful of the Catholic ”

Church in China

by Sandro Magister

Revolution, which took place throughout the country, violently affected the Catho- lic community, striking even those Bish- ops, priests and lay faithful who had shown themselves more amenable to the new orientations imposed by government au- thorities. In the 1980s, with the gestures of openness promoted by Deng Xiaoping, there began a period of religious tolerance with some possibility of movement and dialogue, which led to the reopening of churches, seminaries and religious houses, and to a certain revival of community life. Theinformationcomingfromcommunities of the Catholic Church in China confirmed that the blood of the martyrs had once again been the seed of new Christians: the faith had remained alive in the communi- ties; the majority of Catholics had given fervent witness of fidelity to Christ and the

Church; families had become the key to the transmission of the faith to their members. The new climate, however, provoked dif- ferent reactions within the Catholic com- munity. In this regard, the Pope notes that some Pastors, “not wishing to be sub- jected to undue control exercised over the life of the Church, and eager to maintain total fidelity to the Successor of Peter and to Catholic doctrine, have felt themselves constrained to opt for clandestine conse- cration” to ensure a pastoral service to their own communities (No. 8). In fact, as the Holy Father makes clear, “the clandes- tine condition is not a normal feature of the Church’s life, and history shows that Pas- tors and faithful have recourse to it only amid suffering, in the desire to maintain the integrity of their faith and to resist interfer- ence from State agencies in matters per-

© Peter Turnley/CORBIS

“Dearest pastors and all the faithful of the Catholic Church in China ”

taining intimately to the Church’s life” (ibid.). Others, who were especially con- cerned with the good of the faithful and with an eye to the future “have consented to receive episcopal ordination without the pontifical mandate, but have subse- quently asked to be received into com- munion with the Successor of Peter and with their other brothers in the episco- pate” (ibid.). The Pope, in consideration of the complexity of the situation and being deeply desirous of promoting the re-es- tablishment of full communion, granted many of them “full and legitimate exercise of episcopal jurisdiction”. Attentively analyzing the situation of the Church in China, Benedict XVI is aware of the fact that the community is suffering internally from a situation of conflict in which both faithful and Pastors are in- volved. He emphasizes, however, that this painful situation was not brought about by different doctrinal positions but is the result of “the significant part played by entities that have been imposed as the principal determinants of the life of the Catholic community” (No. 7). These are entities, whose declared purposes – in particular, the aim of implementing the principles of independence, self-govern- ment and self-management of the Church – are not reconcilable with Catholic doc- trine. This interference has given rise to

seriously troubling situations. What is more, Bishops and priests have been sub- jected to considerable surveillance and coercion in the exercise of their pastoral office. In the 1990s, from many quarters and with increasing frequency, Bishops and priests turned to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Secre-

tariat of State in order to obtain from the Holy See precise instructions as to how they should conduct themselves with re- gard to some problems of ecclesial life in China. Many asked what attitude should be adopted towards the government and

The interventions of the Holy Father were well received, creating a desire for unity, but sadly the tensions with the authorities and within the Catholic community did not diminish. For its part, the Holy See has provided directives regarding the various problems, but the passage of time and the rise of new situations of increasing complexity required a reconsideration of the overall question in order to provide the clearest answer possible to the queries and to issue sure guidance for pastoral activity in years to come.

B - The history of the Papal Letter

towards state agencies in charge of Church

life. Other queries concerned strictly sac-

ramental problems, such as the possibility

of concelebrating with Bishops who had been ordained without papal mandate or of receiving the sacraments from priests ordained by these Bishops. Finally, the legitimizing of numerous Bishops who had been illicitly consecrated confused some sectors of the Catholic community. In addition, the law on registering places of worship and the state require- ment of a certificate of membership in the Patriotic Association gave rise to fresh tensions and further questions. During these years, Pope John Paul II on several occasions addressed messages and appeals to the Church in China, calling all Catholics to unity and reconciliation.

Salvaging our Politics

The various problems which seem to

have most seriously affected the life of the

Church in China in recent years were am- ply and carefully analyzed by a special select Commission made up of some ex- perts on China and members of the Roman Curia who follow the situation of that com- munity. When Pope Benedict XVI decided to call a meeting from 19-20 January 2007 during which various ecclesiastics, includ- ing some from China, took part, the afore- mentioned Commission worked to pro- duce a document aimed at ensuring broad discussion on the various points, gather- ing practical recommendations made by the participants and proposing some pos- sible theological and pastoral guidelines

China p24

proposing some pos- sible theological and pastoral guidelines China p24 22 IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT • July 2007


Blood all over the land I t seems not enough that human rights are violated

Blood all over the land

I t seems not enough that human rights are violated and human dignity is degraded. In the Philippines even its own citizens are used as labor export in

exchange for dollar remittance to keep the country economically afloat. But worse is the lamentable fact that human persons are summarily dispatched to the hereafter. Human blood is being spilt all over the land. It is not enough that the young and the old are abducted, and remain disaparecidos. There are the internationally infamous extrajudicial killings not to mention the downright political murders. The killings go on and the killers just simply fade away. There are killings not only because of drugs and gambling. There are also killings even in the demolition of little houses and poor shanties. Meantime, what is usually done is simply to count the bodies and launch a media cam- paign to deny that the military or its instrumentalities have something to do with the disappearances or killings. The truth of the matter is when even human life is cheap in a country, there is nothing really precious in it—especially in so far as those in tenure of power and authority are concerned. When this ruling political

class does not value human life, the conclusions are frightening. They see people as mere materials for their per- sonal gains, mere instruments for their egoistic ends. They view human persons simply in terms of their usefulness or uselessness to political goals—and are thus accordingly kept or discarded. They look at the population as mouths to feed and bodies to house even as chattel to negotiate with. All these simply prove the big hypocrisy behind the repeal of the death penalty law that goes hand-in-hand with the tolerance of downright murders given the technical nomenclature as “extrajudicial killings”. An administration that devalues human life, devalues it- self—thus asking for its own devaluation and eventual dissolution by the very people it is a curse to. Statistics of people killed or disappeared count by the hundreds since 2001. Daily reports of killings seem to have numbing effect on people so that these otherwise serious injustices have simply become rou- tine and apathetic. Each day unfolds and people carry on their chores—some go on with the irony of being religious as blood continue to spill all over the land.

© Wang Changshan/Xinhua


China from p22

for the Catholic community in China. His Holiness, who graciously took part in the final session of the meeting, decided,

among other things, to address a Letter to the Bishops, priests, consecrated persons

and lay faithful.

C - Content of the Letter “Without claiming to deal with every detail of the complex matters well known to you”, writes Benedict XVI to the Catholics

of China, “I wish through this letter to offer some guidelines concerning the life of the Church and the task of evangelization in China, in order to help you discover what the Lord and Master Jesus Christ wants from you” (No. 2). The Pope reiterates some fundamental principles of Catholic ecclesiology in order to clarify the more important problems, aware that the light shed by these principles will provide as- sistance in dealing with the various ques- tions and the more concrete aspects of the life of the Catholic community. While expressing great joy for the fidelity demonstrated by the faithful in China over the past fifty years, Benedict

XVI reaffirms the inestimable value of their

sufferings and of the persecution endured for the Gospel, and he directs to all an earnest appeal for unity and reconcilia-

tion. Since he is aware of the fact that full reconciliation “cannot be accomplished overnight”, he recalls that this path “of reconciliation is supported by the example

and the prayer of so many ‘witnesses of

faith’ who have suffered and have for- given, offering their lives for the future of the Catholic Church in China” (No. 6). In this context, the words of Jesus, “Duc in altum” (Lk 5:4), continue to ring true. This is an expression which invites “us to remember the past with gratitude, to


the present with enthusiasm and to


forward to the future with confidence”.

In China, as indeed in the rest of the world,

“the Church is called to be a witness of

Christ, to look forward with hope, and – in proclaiming the Gospel – to measure up to the new challenges that the Chinese people must face” (No. 3). “In your country too” the Pope states, “the proclamation of Christ crucified and risen will be possible to the

extent that, with fidelity to the Gospel, in communion with the Successor of the Apostle Peter and with the universal Church, you are able to put into practice the signs of love and unity” (ibid.). In dealing with some of the more ur-

gent problems which emerge from the que-

ries which have reached the Holy See from

Bishops and priests, Benedict XVI offers guidance regarding the recognition of eccle- siastics of the clandestine community by the government authorities (cf. No. 7) and he gives much prominence to the subject of the Chinese Episcopate (cf. No. 8), with particular reference to matters surrounding the appointment of Bishops (cf. No. 9). Of special significance are the pastoral direc- tives which the Holy Father gives to the community, which emphasize in the first place the figure and mission of the Bishop in the diocesan community: “nothing with- out the Bishop”. In addition, he provides guidance for Eucharistic concelebration and he encourages the creation of diocesan bodies laid down by canonical norms. He does not fail to give directions for the training of priests and family life. As for the relationship of the Catholic community to the State, Benedict XVI in a serene and respectful way recalls Catholic doctrine, formulated anew by the Second Vatican Council. He then expresses the sincere hope that the dialogue between the Holy See and the Chinese government will make progress so as to be able to reach agreement on the appointment of Bish- ops, obtain the full exercise of the faith by Catholics as a result of re- spect for genuine religious freedom and arrive at the nor- malization of relations be- tween the Holy See and the Beijing Government. Finally, the Pope revokes all the earlier and more recent faculties and directives of a pastoral nature which had been granted by the Holy See to the Church in China. The changed circumstances of the overall situation of the Church in China and the greater pos- sibilities of communication now enable Catholics to fol- low the general canonical norms and, where necessary, to have recourse to the Apos- tolic See. In any event, the doctrinal principles which in- spired the above-mentioned faculties and directives now find fresh application in the directives contained in the present Letter (cf. No. 18). D - Tone and outlook of the Letter Withspiritualconcernand using an eminently pastoral

language, Benedict XVI addresses the en- tire Church in China. His intention is not to create situations of harsh confrontation with particular persons or groups: even though he expresses judgments on certain critical situations, he does so with great understanding for the contingent aspects and the persons involved, while upholding the theological principles with great clarity. The Pope wishes to invite the Church to a deeper fidelity to Jesus Christ and he re- minds all Chinese Catholics of their mission to be evangelizers in the present specific context of their country. The Holy Father views with respect and deep sympathy the ancient and recent history of the great Chinese people and once again declares himself ready to engage in dialogue with the Chinese authorities in the awareness that normalization of the life of the Church in China presupposes frank, open and con- structive dialogue with these authorities. Furthermore, Benedict XVI, like his Prede- cessor John Paul II before him, is firmly convincedthatthisnormalizationwillmake an incomparable contribution to peace in the world, thus adding an irreplaceable piece to the great mosaic of peaceful coex-

istence among peoples.

piece to the great mosaic of peaceful coex- istence among peoples. I 24 IMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACTIMPACT • July



Do Not Come, Please

T he person of the Holy Father is very

dear and endearing. His papal office

is most appreciated as it is also most

respected in the Catholic world. That is why his presence cannot but be much desired and treasured. More than once, the Philippines was blessed by the visit of the Holy Father. Those singular occasions are still remembered with genuine love and lasting inspiration. That is why when it was recently reported that Pope Benedict XVI was in- vited to make papal visit to the country, the common and immediate reaction appeared to be joyful anticipation and expectation. And this is very understandable, consid- ering that majority of the Filipinos are Catholics and the Holy Father is the Su- preme Pontiff of the universal Church. But on second thought, it might be more prudent if he would waive the pre- sumed honor and seeming pleasure of accepting the invitation. There are good reasons for entertaining this reservation. There are many serious “caveat” arguing the non-acceptance of the proposed visit. There is the matter of one travel advi- sory after another issued by a good number of foreign governments to their citizens advising them formally that the Philippines is not a safe place to go to. Killings and abductions. Angry rallies and their violent dispersals. Terrorist threats. Syndicated crimes. These are but some of the dated dangerous happenings in the country. The truth is that even a local Aglipayan bishop was killed. Pastors were also killed or are in hiding. Even foreign Catholic priests are not spared from unceremoni- ous murder and sudden abduction. Re- cently, an Italian Catholic priest disap- peared. More than the question of who did the killing and abduction, the fact remains that these uncivilized deeds continue to happen in the country. Furthermore, the administration is not exactly known for integrity and honesty in the handling of funds especially when staging big public events. The truth is that it has become an expert in graft and corrup- tion—such that the Philippines was re- cently given the shameful and disgusting title of being the first placer in corruption in the whole Asian region. A case in point was the much trumpeted 12 th Asian Sum-

mit held but January last—right after which

T he ghost of the “Hello Garci” tapes simply refuses to go away, to be

T he ghost of the “Hello Garci”

tapes simply refuses to go away,

to be laid to rest. The scandalous

phenomenon brought forth such one big evil spirit that this continues to haunt the election process in the coun- try—especially the now sitting national leadership. Truth to say, elections in the Philippines were never really that peaceful, orderly and credible. But the national electoral process became worse in honesty and integrity with the omi- nous advent of the “I am sorry” confes- sion with much doubted sincerity. Three long years have passed. An- other national election took place. It was held 14 May last. More than a month has already passed. Yet, all those who really won or lost are not yet known, much less proclaimed. One of the over- riding causes can be traced to the exist- ence of a close kin of “Hello Garci” in the form of some kind of a “Hello Bedi” event. The central figure in this electoral disaster may be innocent or guilty of electoral fraud—until otherwise pro- nounced by the proper court of the land. But that notwithstanding, the ridiculous disappearance and appear- ance of both the original COCs and the Comelec official concerned are any- thing but a tribute to the electoral sys- tem in the Philippines. There must be a better way of knowing the real will of the electorate, of determining the true winners of elec- tive positions. There must be a more bearable way of having the votes



counted, posted and accepted. In a word, there must be a genuinely de- pendable and trustworthy Comelec. Three short years from now a rather significant as well as critical national election process is scheduled—unless national leadership so behaves that something unprogrammed and unfore- seen destroy the schedule. Would that the 2010 elections definitely be much better, not only in reality but also in the perception of the general public. It is not perhaps realistic to ask and expect a perfect electoral process in terms of saintly candidates, angelic elec- torate, heavenly Comelec officials. But neither is it unrealistic to seek and have reliable and tenable elections. One thing is very certain more than new laws, expensive machines and many other possible ways and means for assuring better elections. The most important and necessary ingredient in the im- provement and reform of the local and national elections in the country is the renewal of the group of persons upon whom the conduct of election is re- posed. There is nothing like God-fearing and country-loving, honest and honor- able Comelec people from top to bottom of its organization, who can and who will affirm and promote genuine refor- mation of the electoral process in the Philippines. It is persons who do and undo good systems, great machines, excel- lent operational manuals.


came the reported “Cebu lamppost scam.” No less than some 1,800 lampposts were purchased and installed for the occasion. While each only costs from 7 to 9 thou- sand pesos, the government was reported to have spent no less than 300,000.00 per lamppost! That is why a papal visit to the coun- try might be neither wise nor prudent these

times. The country is anything but safe and crime free. The visit will give the gov- ernment officials the salivating occasion to make money for themselves. Further- more, a papal visit would dignify a national leadership that is suffering from dire lack of moral ascendancy not to mention its big socio-political liabilities.




MILF stage “strategic” retreat but search for Fr. Bossi goes on

“strategic” retreat but search for Fr. Bossi goes on ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, July 3, 2007—The guerrillas of

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines, July 3, 2007—The guerrillas of the Moro Islamic Libera- tion Front (MILF) are con- ducting a “strategic retreat”, giving up their search for Fr Giancarlo Bossi “for politi- cal reasons, certainly not be- cause of anything to do with the kidnapping”. AsiaNews heard this from a brother priest of the missionary, Fr Luciano Benedetti, who has followed developments in the kidnapping of Fr Bossi from the start. Fr Bossi, a priest of the Pontifical Insti- tute of Foreign Missions, was kidnapped on 10 June in Payao in the southern prov- ince of Mindanao. Announcement of the withdrawal, made today by a spokesman for the separat- ist group, sparked specula- tion in Italy and in the Phil- ippines that the MILF retreat spelled an end to hopes in the search for Fr Bossi. In

reality, said Fr Benedetti, “this retreat has nothing to do with Fr Giancarlo. Rather, it is very likely that the MILF wanted to give way to the Filipino army and navy, which now feel more prepared to manage the matter of the kidnapping.” The move to retreat is also a “de- nominational sign: the departure from the scene of Islamic separatists makes one think that the kid- nappers of Fr Bossi are not Muslim militants, but rather common bandits in search of money. Another thing that must be considered is that shortly a new anti-ter- rorism law will be enforced in the country and thus the guerrillas want to avoid di- rect contact with the army.” Meanwhile, “there is no real news: searches are con- tinuing in different areas of the province, with special attention focused on Zamboanga Sibugay. In any case, as happened in the kid- napping of Fr Pierantoni [a Dehonian missionary kid- napped in the same prov- ince in 2001 and kept hos- tage for six months], we must prepare ourselves and wait for word from the kidnap- pers, which may take a long time.” (AsiaNews)

68,000 march for democracy in Hong Kong

HONG KONG, China, July 2, 2007 – More than 68,000 people took part in the march for democracy yes- terday. The rally, the third such event, took place in the afternoon from 2.30pm onwards. Setting out from Victoria Park, the march snaked through the streets of the city centre to reach, after four hours, the Cen- tral Government Offices. Of all the gatherings held in the territory to mark 10 years since the return of Hong Kong to China, the march was the event that drew the most people. Among the prominent personalities who at- tended, there was Cardinal Joseph Zen, who for the first time decided to walk with the demonstrators for the entire route. Other dig- nitaries included Anson Chan, former secretary general of the government, Democrat Martin Lee Chu- ming and Catholic busi- nessman Jimmy Lai Chee- ying, chairman of the Next Media Group. Tens of thousands of participants defied the tropical heat, carrying flags, placards and ban- ners. The most popular slogans included calls for full democracy for the ter- ritory: “fight for democ- racy”; “improve liveli- hood”; “trust the Hong Kong people” and “return power to the people”. The slogans contend China’s approach: the Ba- sic Law (the mini-constitu- tion of Hong Kong) pro- vides for universal suf- frage after 2007; however

Beijing has blocked all de- velopments towards de- mocracy, taking on itself ways and means of ruling, in contravention of pacts signed with Great Britain in the handover of power on 1 July 1997. Many people joined the march to criticize the policy of the government of Hong Kong and grow- ing poverty. Others joined to call for the liberation of the journalist Ching Cheong, arrested and con- demned by China for “spy- ing”. The journalist’s wife, Mary Lau Man-yee, at- tended the march. The head of the orga- nizers, Jackie Hung Ling- yu of the Civil Human Rights Front, thanked all those present for their at- tendance, the highest in three years, and called on the government to listen to the voice of the people. A government spokesman said: “The head of the executive [Donald Tsang] has de- cided to resolve the ques- tion of universal suffrage before his mandate runs out.” Gao Siren, head of the Liaison Office (that main- tains China’s relations with Hong Kong on behalf of the former), underlined:

“After 10 years, Hong Kong still enjoys freedom of the press and of expres- sion”. The Chinese presi- dent Hu Jintao, who at- tended celebration events in the territory for the first time, left Hong Kong two hours before the march started. (AsiaNews)



Pope’s letter is key to China’s development, says Msgr. Li Jingfeng

FENGXIANG, China, July 1, 2007—Benedict XVI’s letter to the Chinese Church “is a great

cepts the Pope’s words we would all be happy, leaders in- cluded. Otherwise things might

message for the whole of China,

get worse. We know that it won’t


message that is very pro-

be easy to reach a compromise

found about the principles of the Catholic Church, based on

the ecclesiology of the Catho- lic tradition. Its publication

because both the Church and the government have their own principles. Let us hope that Beijingstartsadialoguewiththe

came just in time to save the


See and reaches an agree-

Chinese Church.” This is what 87-year-old Msgr. Luke Li Jingfeng, bishop

ment that accepts ecclesiastic principles.” “I pray the Lord that the


Fengxiang (central province

Chinese government may un-


Shaanxi, toldAsiaNews with

derstand the Pope’s message

regard to the Letter of the Pope

and I hope that it does so for


the bishops, priests, conse-

the good of China,” the bishop

crated persons and lay faithful

added. “I always tell our rulers:


the Catholic Church in the

Look at China. It is really devel-


itself to the Church. If this

People’s Republic of China that was published yesterday by the Holy See. Msgr. Li is one of the four bishops Benedict XVI had in- vited for the Synod of the Eu-

oping and joining the rest of the world but has remained backward as far as the Church is concerned. If China wants to open up to the world, it must

charist in October 2005 whom

problem is solved, everything

the government banned from


will be solved. Otherwise


we shall always be a step be-

The letter and its appeal to


other countries. I pray for


and that the Pope’s letter

all Chinese priests “go in the right direction,” the bishop said. “Those who follow the Catholic tradition are reas-

sured, whilst those who do not felt the great call from the suc- cessor of Peter to God’s flock.” The call for unity between the two halves, official and underground, of the Chinese Church is therefore “very im- portant.” They want to “find the right way to get closer to one another and join together to become one even though

might reawaken the Chinese Catholic Church.” Till 2003 Fengxiang was perhaps the only diocese in the People’s Republic where only the ‘underground’ or non-gov- ernment recognized Church existed. In 2004 Msgr. Li was rec- ognized by the government as bishop of the Church without

having to join the Patriotic As- sociation (PA), the agency in charge of the Catholic Church

the ‘more underground’


was set up by Mao and is

Church will have a hard time trying to back away from the issue of the communion with the Pope.”

managed by members of the Communist Party, many of whom are atheist. The year after Benedict

According to the bishop it


invited Msgr. Li to Rome


also important to stress the

for the Synod of the bishops

‘political’sideoftheletter.“From that point of view, it is funda- mental because it addresses ev- eryone. If the government ac-

on the Eucharist but the gov- ernment prevented him from leaving. (Joseph Wang / AsiaNews)

China continues to be inflexible in its anti-Catholic demands


A new spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has reiterated the Communist government’s unacceptable terms for re-establishing diplo- maticrelationswiththeHolySee. According to a report by the state-run news agency, Xinhua, ministry spokesman Oin Gang said, “We sincerely hope to im- prove relations with the Vatican and we hope the Holy See will contribute to this process.” In a clear message to the Vatican, which is preparing to publish a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to the 12 million Catholics in China—most of whom practice their faith in se- cret—Gang said, “China hopes the Vatican can appropriately see the fact that the Chinese enjoyreligiousfreedomandthat there have been a number of advancesforCatholicsinChina.”

The statements are a warn- ing to the Vatican to omit any

reference to persecution, harass- ment or even death suffered by bishops and priests who do not adhere to the official “patriotic church” created and controlled by the Communist party.


ditions demanded by the Chi- nese government for re-estab- lishing diplomatic ties: “The Vaticanshouldbreakdiplomatic relations with Taiwanese au-

thorities and should not inter- fereintheinternalaffairsofChina

in the name of religion.” This last

demand is a euphemism that meanstheChinesegovernments intends to name Catholic bish- ops, a right the Pope cannot renounce. China broke ties with the Holy See in 1951 after the rise to power of the Communist regime of Mao Tse Tung. (CNA)

Whipping, prison and fines for anyone who tries to convert Muslims

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, July 2, 2007—The only state in Malaysia run by an Islamist party, the opposition Pan-Ma- laysia Islamic Party (PAS), has approved stiffer penalties to deter people from trying to con- vert Muslims to other faiths. Under the revised law passed by the northern Malay- sian state of Kelantan, anyone found guilty faces a maximum

penalty of six lashes with a rattan cane, five years in prison and a


viousmaximumpenaltywastwo years in prison and a fine of RM


Hassan Mohamood, who headsKelantan’sIslamicaffairs committee, told the Associated

Press on Wednesday that the

stiffer laws are useful “as a form of deterrence”. Proselytising of Muslims is forbidden under federal laws, but the recent case of Line Joy,

a Malay-Muslim woman who

sought legal recognition of her righttopickherreligionofchoice, raised fears among some in Malaysiaovermassconversion. Kelantanauthoritiesarenot new to taking extremist steps. Last year the PAS government passed a law giving Muslims a cash bonus worth US$ 2,700,


free housing and a car if they married and converted indig- enous animist people. (AsiaNews/Agencies)



Tragedy, or a Blessing?

Y ears ago in Scotland, the

Clark family had a dream.

Clark and his wife worked

and saved, making plans for their nine children and themselves to travel to the United States. It had taken years, but they had finally saved enough money and had got- ten passports and reservations for the whole family on a new liner to the United States. Theentirefamilywasfilledwith anticipation and excitement about their new life. However, seven days before their departure, the young- est son was bitten by a dog. The doctor sewed up the boy but hung a yellow sheet on the Clarks’ front door. Because of the possibility of rabies, they were being quarantined for fourteen days. The family’s dreams were dashed. They would not be able to make the trip to America as they had planned. The father, filled with dis- appointment and anger, stomped to the dock to watch the ship leave— without the Clark family. The father shed tears of disappointment and cursed both his son and God for their misfortune. Five days later, the tragic news spread throughout Scotland—the mighty Titanic had sunk. The un- sinkable ship had sunk, taking hun- dreds of lives with it. The Clark family was to have been on that ship, but because the son had been bitten by a dog, they were left be- hind in Scotland. WhenMr.Clarkheardthenews, he hugged his son and thanked him for saving the family. He thanked God for saving their lives and turn- ing what he had felt was a tragedy into a blessing. Although we may not always understand, all things happen for a reason.



Rebellion Against the Stomach

O nce a man had a dream in which his hands and feet and mouth and brain all began to rebel against his stom-

ach. “You good-for-nothing sluggard!” the hands said. “We work all day long, sawing and hammering and lifting and carrying. By evening we’re covered with

blisters and scratches, and our joints ache, and we’re covered with dirt. And meanwhile you just sit there, hog- ging all the food.” “We agree!” cried the feet. “Think how sore we get, walking back and forth all day long. And you just stuff yourself full, you greedy pig, so that you’re that much heavier to carry about.” “That’s right!” whined the mouth. “Where do you think all that food you love


one who has to chew it all up, and as soon as I’m finished you suck it all

down for yourself. Do you call that fair?” “And what about me?” called the brain. “Do you think it’s easy being up here, having to think about where your next meal is going to come from? And yet

I get nothing at all for my pains.” And one by one the parts of the body joined the complaint against the stomach, which didn’t say anything at all. “I have an idea,” the brain finally announced. “Let’s all rebel against the lazy belly, and stop working for it.” “Superb idea!” all the other members and organs agreed. “We’ll teach you how important we are, you pig. Then maybe you’ll do a little work of your own.” So they all stopped working. The hands

refused to do lifting and carrying. The feet refused to walk. The mouth promised not to chew or swallow a single bite. And the brain swore it wouldn’t come up with any more bright ideas. At first the stomach growled

a bit, as it always did when it was hungry.

But after a while it was quiet. Then, to the dreaming man’s surprise, he found he could not walk. He could not grasp anything in his hand. He could not even open his mouth. And he suddenly began to feel rather ill. The dream seemed to go on for several days. As each day passed, the man felt worse and worse. “This rebellion had bet- ter not last much longer,” he thought to him- self, “or I’ll starve.” Meanwhile, the hands and feet and mouth and brainjustlaythere, getting weaker and weaker. At first they roused themselves just enough to taunt the stomach every once in a while, but before long they didn’t even have the energy for that. Finally the man heard a faint voicecomingfrom the direction of his feet. “It could be that we were wrong,” they were saying. “We suppose, the stomach might have been working in his own way all along.” “I was just thinking the same thing,” murmured the brain. “It’s true that he’s been getting all the food. But it seems he’s been sending most of it right back to us.” “We might as well admit our error,” the mouth said. “The stomach has just as much work to do as the hands and feet and brain and teeth.” “Then let’s get back to work,” they cried together. And at that the man woke up. To his relief, he discovered his feet could walk again. His hands could grasp, his mouth could chew, and his brain could now think clearly. He began to feel much better. “Well, there’s a lesson for me,” he thought as he filled his stomach at break- fast. “Either we all work together, or noth- ing works at all.”


his stomach at break- fast. “Either we all work together, or noth- ing works at all.”



The Mystery of God’s Word

Raniero Cantalamessa

on the word that comes from silence and acceptance as in someone that hails from the desert or from the great soli- tude and poverty of Nazareth. Published by St. Pauls, this book is a good read.

New Every Morning, New Everyday

This book is a collection of daily meditations on the Word of God presented according to the chronological order of liturgical readings. Bishop Teodoro Bacani gives this foreword: “Fr. Domie has a gift of presenting his reflec- tions in a clear, refreshing, and gentle manner. You can feel him talking to you as you

read his reflections, and talk- ing with a love of the Lord whose word he explains and of you to whom he explains it. His reflections are a very fitting, congenial, and in- sightful companion to the daily mass readings.” Before he entered the seminary, the author was pursuing a de- gree in journalism at the Uni- versity of the Philippines, Diliman. But the Word of God got an upper hand on him before the word of men, that is hollowed in the secular media; offered him a prom- ising career. Says Fr. Domie, “In the light of personal and community experiences that

I process, in the wisdom of

the Holy Spirit, in the shadow of my daily silent study, and prayer with Jesus Master, I realize that the daily Gospel is actually not just a basic food, a daily bread, but an elixir for life and ministry. In the Gospel, there is always something new every morn- ing, new everyday: an excit- ing insight, a spiritual discov- ery, a hidden treasure, a pearl of great price.” Which is true.

What’s great with Father Cantalamessa is that he serves as the preacher of the papal household, a position which he held from the time of Pope John Paul II until the present pontiff, Benedict XVI. A prolific writer and preacher, this Capuchin Father gives weekly commentaries on the liturgical readings and, as in last week, on the book of the Holy Father, “Jesus of Nazareth”. But what is good with this present volume is that it goes beyond the aca- demic categories of exege- sis; it does not confine itself with the givens of biblical in- terpretation, but sinks deeply into the spirituality of the Word of God which “should not be chained” so that to carry it, “the Church must at once be consistent and humble,” simple and poor. This book is only 88 pages sparingly rendered in 8 short chapters, so that when you get to the last page you feel like rebel- ling for having been a victim of an injustice of a luxury that should have been savored and lasted some pages more. But one gets tempered when he realizes that, as the author suggests, the itiner- ary of Christian life is based

Under the Torrent of His Love

Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP


Therese of Lisieux, a Spiritual Genius

Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD

This Philippine edition came out of the press just a couple of weeks ago through the initiative of St. Pauls of Makati. But this has long been in circulation in the United States some years back, translated from the original FrenchTon amour a grandi avec moi: Un Genie Spiri- tuel Therese de Lisieux. An avid fan of St. Therese of Lisieux, Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus is a Carmelite priest who founded the secular institute Notre Dame de Vie, which has found its way to the Philippines some decades ago. He is widely known as a scholar and interpreter of the doctrine of St. Therese, giving talks and re- treats of the saint until he died in 1967. A jump-off of his earlier work

which has been considered a clas- sic of Carmelite spirituality, this present volume is actually the text of two conferences he gave in 1965 and in 1947 on the occasion of the golden anniversary of the death of St. Therese. What makes this book so inviting is the way Marie- Eugene, whose cause for beatifi- cation is underway, unfolds the central message of the Theresian message: to know love and make love known, “not only in the world of monasteries, but in cities, on the streets, wherever there are souls called by God to divine inti- macy.” The simplicity of the au- thor speaks for itself; it brings with it a very endearing theme of Theresian life and spirituality.

From the Sacramental to Societal

Oscar V. Cruz

If my count is right, this is the 24th book of Archbishop Os- car Cruz—and still counting. It would seem that at the start of his writing career, he was wont to writing with the pen of canon law where he is an au- thority, in fact the best we have in the country today. But of late we read him, especially in his thrice-a-week blogs, writing about almost anything under the sun which is mostly criti- cal commentaries of the present dispensation where he earned the moniker of an arch-critic of the, to use his eu- phemism, “Malacañang resi- dent”. This present volume is different. He orchestrates the

meaning of the sacrament of reconciliation from the scrip- tural, to the theological and canonical then finally to the societal. Short of saying that the fruit of sacramental rec- onciliation is a sincere social concern, the books closes

with “specifically in the politi- cal community, it is an alarm- ing phenomenon and a big farce when a liar, a cheat and

a thief all rolled into one, for- gives or condones his or her own composite gross mis- deed. This is especially true, offensive and destructive when the same ‘self-forgiven’ party is in tenure of an office of power and influence.”


ENTERTAINMENT STRANGE things are happening in different parts of the globe: a coastline somewhere in Japan

STRANGE things are happening in different parts of the globe: a coastline somewhere in Japan freezes, a snowstorm bewilders tourists in the Egyptian Sahara, Los Angeles experiences total power fail- ure, etc. In the Fantastic Four’s observa- tory, a comet like alien presence is photo- graphed zooming over Earth. Through all this furor caused by the strange events, Dr.ReedRichardsa.k.a.Mr.Fantastic(Ioan Gruffudd) and Susan Storm a.k.a. Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) try to get married. In the middle of the ceremony, the “comet” zooms dangerously close, forcing Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Torch (Chris Evans) to chase the “comet.” The torch discovers that the “comet” is a silver-coated human figure riding a silver coated surfboard. All three, joined by Ben Grimm a.k.a. The Thing (Michael Chiklis), put their heads together and hatch up a plan to stop the Silver Surfer and his master, the planet-eating Galactus, from destroying Earth. Entertainment comes easy as Fantas- tic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a light-

as Fantas- tic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a light- C ATHOLIC IN ITIATIVE






Running Time: 195 min. Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Wash- ington, Andre Braugher, Lawrence Fishburne Director: Tim Story Producer: Avi Arad Screenwriter: Don Payne

Music: John Ottman Editor: Peter S. Elliot Genre: Fantasy/Action Cinematography: Larry Blanford Distributor:20th Century Fox Technical Assessment: •••½ Moral Assessment: ½ CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

hearted blend of CGI and real- ity, of fantastic characters and flesh and blood people. It’s a good story told without frills— that is the main strength of this movie. Digital enhancement advances the story well by serving as support mechanism to the character development of each role. Thus, while the characters work on their all- too-human issues—to the ex- tent of balking over ill-timed calls—they as superheroes nonetheless must set aside even personal concerns to res- cue those in distress. Care is also taken not to overdo things—a something fantastic tales using CGI can’t resist. Superhero stories are of course always about good and

evil, but here there’s a plus: not only is evil thwarted in the end by the superheroes’ feats— evil’s final defeat is facilitated by an evil character’s conver- sion. That can’t be said of all superhero films. The main mes- sage in Fantastic… is softly inserted in the dialogue be- tween Susan Storm and the cap- tured Silver Surfer: man has a choice. The Silver Surfer is sleek, graceful, cold, and, pos- sessing almost endless power, can destroy anything at will. But here it is somebody else’s will at work, as the Silver Surfer is but a servant. Mature and God-loving viewers will reso- nate with him who discovers the power of decision in the end.



QUOTES IN QUIZ Booklets available at BOOKSALE stores in SM, Robinsons and selected malls in Manila. For mail order text 0919 2803036.




Law set 1 year term for animal cruelty

The Legislative Yuan approved amendments to the Animal Protection Law that would impose a jail term of up to one year for people convicted of animal abuse leading to death. The amendments stipulate that perpetrators of various of- fensive acts against ani- mals that result in severe injuries or the death of ani- mals could be punished by up to a year in prison. These include pet owners who allow their pets to be harassed, abused, or harmed; pet owners who desert their pets; and any person convicted of ha- rassing, abusing, harming or abandoning animals.


Japan kicks off coastal whaling season

With knives sharpened and school kids watching, one of Japan’s coastal whaling towns butchered its first catch of the season recently—and defended the practice against inter- national criticism. The team in the village southeast of Tokyo pulled two Baird’s beaked whales caught the day before onto a landing station with pulleys and ropes, and chopped them into bricks of meat and blubber for sale. It was Wada’s first catch since the International Whaling Commission rejected a Japanese proposal in May to grant its coastal whalers rights to expand their catches, and the whalers here were angry.


Israel marks anniver- sary of war with Leba- non

Several Israeli families recently held a series of emotional memorials marking the first anniver- sary of the Lebanon war, including a harrowing pil- grimage to the spot where the conflict began. Tour-

ing key sites of the war, the mourners visited the patrol road running along Israel’s border with Leba- non, where Hezbollah guerrillas attacked two army vehicles, killing two soldiers and capturing two more on July 12, 2006. Many mourners dis- played anger at the gov- ernment and demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who was heavily criticized

by an interim report about

the conflict.


Iranian soldiers behind deadly attack: US

A secret force at- tached to Iran’s Revolu-

tionary Guard carried out

a sophisticated attack

that killed five American

soldiers in Iraq, the U.S. claimed yesterday, for the first time laying out evidence allegedly show- ing an Iranian hand be- hind a specific assault.

In the past, the U.S,. and

Britain, its chief partner

in Iraq, have only made

general accusations of Iranian support for in- surgents. Tehran has vig- orously denied the charges.


Poultry industry faces another huge struggle

The Pakistan poultry industry is struggling once again, as devastat- ing heat waves, frequent load shedding and power breakdowns are proving fatal for poultry. Breed- ing flocks, commercial broilers and laying birds have suffered unprec- edented mortality in re- cent weeks. Some farms experienced mortality rates as high as 25%. A drop in the production of hatching eggs, table eggs and broiler weight gain has caused huge economic consequences for the in- dustry. Experts said there would be a significant re- duction in the supply of poultry in Pakistan throughout the coming months.


Burmese AIDS Activist Freed

Free at last. An outspo- ken Burmese AIDS activ- ist jailed since May for advocating the release of

the country’s top political prisoner has been freed. The release reportedly fol- lows a scathing report on Burma’s human rights abuses from one of the world’s best-known hu- manitarian organizations. Phyu Thin’s release re- cently comes six weeks after her arrest for attend- ing prayer services aimed at gaining freedom for Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader.


6 killed by rebels in Thai Muslimsouth

At least six people were killed in a string of at- tacks in Thailand’s Mus- lim-majority south, as Thailand’s junta leader, General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, toured to the troubled region along the southern border with Malaysia. According to reports, more than 2,300 people have already been killed in three years of separatist unrest. Sonthi grabbed power from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup last year. Despite his many attempts to bring peace, the political unrest continues to upset the nation.


RP ban on sale of dog meat now a law

Congress has passed a law banning the trading in dog meat and promot- ing the elimination of ra- bies through mandatory dog immunization. Presi- dent Gloria Arroyo signed the law, the ‘Anti-Rabies Act of 2007,’ and allo- cated P100 million to implement it. “We have become more animal-con- scious now,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said. Republic Act 8845, passed in 1998, bans the trading in dog meat, but its implemen- tation has been selective as most provinces in the north of the country hide behind ‘tradition’ to jus- tify eating dogs.


BurmeseAIDSActivist Freed

Free at last. An outspoken Bur- mese AIDS activist jailed since May for advocating the release of the country’s top political prisoner has been freed. The release reportedly follows a scathing report on Burma’s human rights abuses from one of the world’s best-known humanitar- ian organizations. Phyu Thin’s re- lease recently comes six weeks af- ter her arrest for attending prayer services aimed at gaining freedom for Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s democracy leader.


UN: No end to land-grabbing in Cambodia

The United Nations accused the Cambodian authorities of letting elites to continue grabbing land ille- gally. The government, however, denies the allegation and said it’s doing everything to stop the prac- tice. Soaring property prices have resulted in an explosion of land- grabbing in Cambodia, leaving tens of thousands of people destitute. A report by the UN’s Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia said that land-grabbing has “a devastating impact” on the poor. It says that almost 15 percent of the land in Cambodia is now owned by a tiny elite.

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