CBCP Pastoral Exhortation in the Year of Consecrated Life
As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Col 2:6-7)
Our Holy Father Pope Francis has dedicated the year 2015 for Consecrated Life. This special Church event started on the First Sunday of Advent and will end on February 2, 2016, the World Day of Consecrated Life. The purpose of this event according to the Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Cardinal Joao Braz De Aviz, is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past while embracing the future with hope.”
The year 2015 also marks the fiftieth anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, the Vatican II Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life,
Concurrent with the aforementioned events is our observance in the Philippine Church of the Year of the Poor as part of our nine-year preparation for the Great Jubilee 2021. Thus, our observance of the Year of Consecrated Life and the Year of the Poor in 2015 serves as our ecclesial horizon in our “grateful remembrance of the past and hopeful embrace of the future”.
In the middle of our nine year preparation for the Great Jubilee 2021 celebrating the first Mass and first baptism in the Philippines, we invite you to celebrate kaplag, the discovery on April 29, 1565 of the image of the Santo Niño in an abandoned house in Cebu. The finding occurred just a day after the arrival of the Legazpi-Urdaneta expedition in Cebu, and was greeted as a marvelous portent of the success of the missionary endeavor. Effectively, this day marked the formal beginning of the continuous proclamation of the Gospel to us Filipinos.
It must be noted that when the Santo Niño was found, there were evidences that it had been treated as an object of veneration. Its original garments had been replaced by local material; it had a necklace of peculiar make, but with a cross probably also from Magellan; flowers were found before the image. The Cebuanos had made sacrifices in front of the image and had anointed it with oil. This image of the Santo Niño is believed to be the same one given by Magellan to the native queen who was baptized Juana in 1521. Thus seven years from now we shall be celebrating the five hundredth anniversary of the first recorded Mass and baptism in the Philippines.
The First Missionaries
Our Christian faith was brought to our shores by selfless men and women from many countries. During the first three centuries they came initially from Spain and Mexico, but also from Italy, Germany, and Central Europe. They were formed and sent by religious Orders, which at that time were the most organized to send missionaries. They braved the seas in ships, with each batch or shipload called a barcada (whence the popular name for our peer groups). It pleases us to recall their institutions in an honor roll, in their order of arrival:
In the first century of evangelization these were: the Augustinians (OSA), 1565; the Franciscans (OFM), 1578; the Jesuits (SJ), 1581; the Dominicans (OP), 1587; the Japanese beatas, 1602; the Augustinian Recollects (OAR), 1606; the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God (OH), 1611; and the Poor Clares (OFM), 1621.
Members of the Third Orders for women of these congregations, now called the Lay Orders, also formed their own institutions of consecrated life in the Philippines. In order of their foundation, these were: the beatas of Bolinao, 1659; the Dominican Tertiaries (OP), 1682 and 1750; the beatas de la Compañia, ancestors of the RVM sisters, 1684; the beatas of Babuyanes, 1719; the Augustinian Recollect Tertiaries (OAR), 1719; and the Augustinian Tertiaries, ancestor of the ASOLC sisters, 1740.
In the second half of the 19th century came more congregations: the Vincentian Fathers (CM) and Daughters of Charity (DC), 1862; the Augustinian Tertiary Sisters from Barcelona (OSA), 1883; the Capuchin Friars (OFM Cap), 1886; the Assumption Sisters (RA), 1892; and the Benedictines (OSB), 1895.
During this same time religious groups of women were also formed: the Hermanitas de la Madre de Dios, Cebu, 1877; the beatas de Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, 1880; and the beatas de Santa Maria Magdalena, La Paz, Iloilo, 1887.
The critical condition of the Philippine Church at the beginning of the 20th century in the light of the Philippine revolution against Spain and the Philippine-American War led the bishops to call for other congregations. First to respond were the Sisters of St Paul of Chartres (SPC), 1904. From here up to the convening of the First National Eucharistic Congress in Manila on 11-15 December 1929, there arrived the Redemptorists (CSsR), 1906; the Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM), 1906; the Benedictine Sisters (OSB), 1906; the Fathers of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM), 1907; the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), 1908; the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD), 1909; the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM), 1910; the Brothers of the Christian Schools (FSC), 1911; the Franciscan Missionariers of Mary (FMM), 1912; the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS), 1912; the Holy Spirit Sisters (SSpS), 1912; the Oblates of St Joseph (OSJ), 1915; the Pink Sisters (SSsPAP), 1923; the Discalced Carmelite Nuns (OCD), 1923; the Maryknoll Sisters (MM), 1925; the Maryknoll Fathers (MM), 1926; the Columbans, 1929; and the Franciscan Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (now SFIC), 1929. During this period another congregation for local women was also established, the Dominican Sisters of Molo (OP Molo), 1925. In the ensuing decades up to the present, many more congregations of men and women, local and international, have come to assist in the continuing evangelization of the Church in the Philippines.
They Lived Christ and Shared Christ
To each and every one of these men and women, “known or unknown,” the Papal Legate Cardinal Ildebrando Antoniutti said, “the Church devotes a grateful and heartfelt thought, as does also the fatherland which they helped to establish.”
Apart from the obvious apostolic work such as catechizing, preaching, and building churches, these men and women lived their religious lives in community.
The legacy of these religious congregations to Philippine life is staggering. Histories of peoples were written down or may be gleaned through neatly kept canonical books, records of income and expenses, and inventories of church goods and property, all of which were dutifully turned over by every incoming and outgoing personnel and kept in archives and libraries. Members of religious congregations were sent as emissaries to foreign countries such as Japan, China, Cambodia, and Siam. They contributed to the defence of the islands against pirates and slave-raiders, helped in pacifying revolts, and extended assistance during natural calamities such as famines, wars, plagues, floods, earthquakes, and typhoons.
The Promotion of Filipino Culture
The arts and sciences flourished under their care. In terms of cultural heritage alone, the country is the richer not just for solid and artistic churches and conventos but also schools, hospitals, orphanages, leprosaria, dams, fortresses, watchtowers streets, bridges, plazas, and even marketplaces like the market of Baclayon, Bohol and town halls like the tribunal of Paoay, Ilocos Norte.
Philippine languages were preserved in grammars and dictionaries. Local plants were documented and promoted for their medicinal and economic value. The Augustinians introduced the European-style weaving loom, and brought in trapiches from Mexico to extract sugar. As early as 1669, the Franciscans had introduced a hemp-stripping machine in Bacon, Sorsogon which presaged Bicol’s abaca industry[i].
Explorations of new territory were preserved in maps, duly printed in the presses which the religious orders established. The Villaverde Trail opened a route that connected Pangasinan with Nueva Vizcaya via the Caraballo mountains (1890s). The most famous Philippine map is that by the Jesuit Pedro Murillo Velarde, printed by Filipino engravers in Manila in 1734. The Dominicans established a printing press in 1593, the present UST Publishing House, possibly the second oldest running publishing house in the world.
The Jesuit Meteorological Observatory established in 1869 pioneered in predicting tropical disturbances. In Minuluan (now Talisay) Negros Occidental, Fr Fernando Cuenca OAR promoted the sugar industry by inventing the hydraulic pressing machine for milling cane in 1872[ii]. Electricity and Edison’s phonograph were introduced through the University of Santo Tomas in 1880[iii]. Fr Felix Huerta OFM facilitated the realization of the water supply for Manila in 1882.
Pope Francis in his homily at the Manila Cathedral rightly said: “As the Church in the Philippines looks to the fifth centenary of its evangelization, we feel gratitude for the legacy left by so many bishops, priests and religious of past generations. They labored not only to preach the Gospel and build up the Church in this country, but also to forge a society inspired by the Gospel message of charity, forgiveness and solidarity in the service of the common good.”
EMBRACING THE FUTURE WITH HOPE
Hail Our Valiant Religious Men and Women
The commemoration of the discovery of the Santo Niño leads us to embrace the future with hope as we observe a truthful review of the contribution of the religious orders and congregations. We are called forth to a renewed commitment of their following of Christ through the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. May every religious be led to a joyful response with the people of God in the work of evangelization today!
First, a truthful review should be based on historical evidence of the religious groups who came to the Philippines, especially the friar orders of the Spanish colonial period. The ghosts of the Black Legend and even of our own Propaganda Movement and its supporters have conditioned our thinking towards these friars, with the backlash that the key to the understanding of so many sources to our history—our knowledge of the Spanish language—has unfortunately deteriorated. Unfamiliarity with primary sources has led significant sectors of the Philippine Church—hierarchy and seminary professors included—to regard the role of the religious in the Spanish colonial chapter of Philippine church history in a negative light. Shadows there were aplenty, for sure, but these seem to obscure the lights that are so much more illuminating.
Second, the call to follow Christ through the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience must be renewed and deepened in religious life. As described in the Essential Elements of Religious Life, living the evangelical counsel of chastity is their testimony to hope since it is “a sign of the future life and a source of abundant fruitfulness in an undivided heart for the Kingdom of God”.[iv] The evangelical counsel of poverty, in imitation of Christ who lived a life of poverty and who showed preferential love for the poor, invites those in consecrated life to a deeper integration of how they embody this vow in fact and in spirit as religious during this Year of the Poor. The evangelical counsel of obedience calls them to pattern their lives after Christ who surrendered His whole life following the will of the Father until death. Thus, the evangelical counsels express not only their public consecration in the Church, but also form their identity, lifestyle and mission as religious today.
A Joyful Response
Third, a joyful response with other Church groups in the work of evangelization must characterize religious life. Pope Francis observed that “wherever there are consecrated people, seminarians, men and women religious, young people, there is joy, there is always joy! It is the joy of freshness, the joy of following Jesus; the joy that the Holy Spirit gives us, not the joy of the world.”[v] This joy which sustained our missionaries in the past continues to this day as our religious participate in the ministries of the various dioceses: schools, parishes, orphanages, hospitals, youth centers, catechetical centers, etc. The religious in our country are not only active in the administration of the various spiritual and corporal acts of mercy but are courageous in defending human rights, as their predecessors did before them. Increasing number of religious are now sent as missionaries to other countries, including places where their institutions were born in Europe and the Americas.
Fourthly, an important service of consecrated people to the church is their witness to the importance of Christ in our life as based in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. May all the faithful be challenged by the religious that Christ can fill up our life with joy and he is the reason of service to the world.
So as we remember with gratitude the past and embrace the future with hope, we look toward Mary, model of consecrated life who remembered the great acts of salvation and who always hoped in God’s gracious providence in her heart. May she who gave birth to the Holy Child Jesus (the Santo Niño) in Bethlehem and who followed Jesus to Calvary be the constant inspiration and guide of our men and women in consecrated life as they live out joyfully their religious consecration in the Church today!
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, January 22, 2015
(SGD)+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
[i] Fernandez 1979, Chapters 25, 26, and 27.
[ii] Simonena 1974.
[iii] Villarroel 1984, p.74. Electric lighting for the Ateneo and the Escuela Normal also enhanced the Golden Jubilee of Leo XIII in 1888. Another Edison’s grafófono was bought from Chicago and introduced to the Ateneo in 1894 (de la Costa 1997).
[iv] Essential Elements in the Church’s Teaching on Religious Life as Applied to Institutes dedicated to Works of the Apostolate, Sacred Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes, May 31, 1983).
[v] Pope Francis, Meeting with Seminarians and Novices, Rome, 6 July 2013.
Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on the Draft Bangsamoro Basic Law
To All People of Good Will:
Peace be with you! With this greeting of peace we as religious leaders share with you our thoughts on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Our Perspective as Religious Leaders
Our first stance is to listen and discern. We will especially listen to those who are directly affected by the BBL, those living in the Bangsamoro, the Muslim majority and non-Muslim minorities. We will listen to those who support the BBL and to those who oppose it. We will listen to those who believe that there has been a lack of consultation. Further, we will listen to those outside the proposed Bangsamoro territory — Muslims, Christians, Indigenous Peoples, peoples of other religious persuasions.
What we receive we shall present to officials concerned.
Our overriding concern is the common good of all Filipinos. We believe that concern for the common good is also that of the negotiating panels, MILF and government. After so many years of grave discussions replete with turns and stops, they have finally reached an agreement which they believe is the basis of a just and lasting peace.
We do not propose any specific political or ideological blueprint for peace. We are not political negotiators or political officials. We are not constitutionalists or lawyers. We refrain from delving into the constitutional issues raised by many. We leave those to constitutional experts to argue and to the Supreme Court to decide.
Our mandate as religious leaders is altogether different. Ours is to proclaim, as Jesus did (Eph. 2:16), “glad tidings of peace.” Our specific concerns are the religious and moral imperatives of peace. That perspective is as always our viewpoint as religious and moral teachers.
Peace is God’s Gift
And this is the most fundamental religious teaching about peace that we share with you. Peace is God’s gift. It is given to those “among whom his favour rests” (see Lk. 2:14). It is “through the tender mercy of God” that we are led to peace by “the dawn from on high” (see Lk. 1:78=79). And Jesus himself said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives” (Jn. 14:27).
Because peace is God’s gift, we need constantly to pray for peace, the peace that God desires for all of us, the peace that reconciles us with one another, with God, and with all His creation. This is the kind of peace that we wish and pray for when we greet one another: Peace be with you. Salaam. Shalom.
Peace is in and of the Heart, Peace is Harmony
Peace is fundamentally in the heart, of the heart. Peace is harmony. Peace is unity. Peace is reconciliation. Peace is mutual forgiveness among peoples.
A peace agreement may be signed between the government and the Moro National Liberation Front (MILF). Armed conflicts may cease. But if hatred or desire for revenge or dislike or aversion consumes the heart, if deep historic biases and prejudices remain, the eruption of violent conflict is simply simmering below the surface of apparently peaceful co-existence.
Peace Comes with Justice
Peace is not the fruit of a mere handshake or an embrace. Peace comes with justice. Peace is the assurance of respect for fundamental human dignity and human rights. For the Bangsamoro, justice means the recognition of their centuries-old aspiration for self-determination, their right to chart their own destiny in dignity and freedom. For the whole country justice requires the acceptance of the overarching right of national sovereignty and national territorial integrity. For Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro, justice means respect for and protection of their right to their ancestral domain already officially recognized by the Indigenous Peoples Right Acts (IPRA). For non-Muslim and non-indigenous inhabitants in the Bangsamoro, justice is a recognition and protection of their fundamental human rights, such as religious freedom and property rights. Pope Francis in his message at Malacanang emphasized this when he said: “I express my trust that the progress made in bringing peace to the south of the country will result in just solutions in accord with the nation’s founding principles and respectful of the inalienable rights of all, including the indigenous peoples and religious minorities.”
Some Concerns of Justice
Some of these rights may be inadequately or inappropriately articulated in the BBL. Many believe, for instance, that a time-free 10% requirement to have a referendum for inclusion into the Bangsamoro will effectively expand the Bangsamoro territory through the years because of the sheer force of population immigration. Others see the need for a clear elaboration of the Bangsamoro exclusive right over education so as not to endanger the nature and purpose of Christian religious educational institutions. Still others are concerned about the ambiguous concept of contiguity by water, and see dangers of a Bangsamoro territory slowly expanding through time.
Many are also disturbed that there is a lot of misinformation and misinterpretation with regard to certain provisions of the BBL, as for instance, the provisions on land. Presently attempts to grab land or drive away their lawful owners by force of arms and even by murder, under the pretext of ancestral domain, are creating fear and tension, among certain communities in the Bangsamoro. The reported rise of shadowy civilian militias for self-protection recalls the tragic past of “Ilagas” and “Blackshirts” in the 1970s. This is totally unproductive and ironic when we understand the BBL as a promise of peace and harmony.
Such concerns we bring to the attention of MILF and government peace negotiators, as well as of legislators who are tasked with refining the draft BBL.
Peace Comes with Fairness and Equity
We all desire that the provisions of the BBL express fairness and equity. For this reason we hope that the BBL will ensure equal opportunity for integral human development for all the peoples in the Bangsmoro. We desire a BBL that will respect various cultures, religious beliefs and traditions. We wish to be assured that the BBL will provide equal access to educational, economic, political benefits and resources.
It would be a travesty of fairness and equity if, for instance, jobs are denied to capable persons simply because of ethnic, cultural, religious or gender considerations. Discrimination would be a direct contradiction to the fundamental Bangsamoro aspiration for self-determination that responds to deep feelings of neglect and marginalization.
Peace is Unity through Dialogue
Isaiah the Prophet spoke of a messianic time when the Word of the Lord shall come to the people. “They will beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Is. 2:4).
We are at the cusp of a new Mindanao history when arms of destruction are replaced by productive tools for human development, when men trained for war are trained for wise and prudent governance. In some countries innocent civilians are persecuted or even killed, their homes devastated, places of worship destroyed. May this not be so in our country.
We, therefore, commend the consensus decision of both negotiating sides for the decommissioning of military forces and arms. We also pray that the form of government in the Bangsamoro will unite the different cultures together for the common good. We appeal to emerging political parties that they effectively remove the neglect and isolation of the poor from decision-making and make them active partners for their integral development. We ask legislators to ensure that the provisions of the BBL as well as their implementation will be forces of solidarity and not of division.
We make a special appeal to all sectors, groups, and political movements of the Bangsamoro to come together in dialogue towards a consensus position on the BBL.
Dialogue is the way to peace, not the use of arms. This has been the experience of successive negotiating panels on both the MILF side and the government’s. From hostility to openness, from aggressive one-sidedness to mutual respect and understanding, from contestation to trust and friendship – this is the road of authentic dialogue. When the encounter of persons from opposite sides is authentically human, it is the Spirit of the Lord that draws them together finally as friends. And friendship is an expression of love — “the common word” for Muslims Christians, and peoples of other religions.
Final Pastoral Observations and Recommendations
In the light of the above moral and religious considerations:
1. We commend the perseverance of the negotiating panels of both the government and the MILF that, even with changes of key personnel through the years, persevered in the peace process, changing the nature of tense and troubled negotiations into trustful dialogue for peace.
2. We commend the realism of the MILF vision to dialogue towards self-determination while respecting and preserving national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
3. We appeal to Congress to sift objectively and wisely through the results of their Mindanao-wide consultation and ensure that the fundamental Bangsamoro aspiration for self-determination be effectively enshrined in the final BBL, together with the twin national principles of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
4. We strongly recommend that the fundamental human rights and freedoms of the non-Muslim peoples in the Bangsamoro – Christians, peoples of other faiths, and Indigenous peoples — be respected and promoted as already enshrined in existing laws, such as property rights and the IP ancestral domain.
5. We recommend the inclusion of a provision in the BBL that would make it impossible in the future for any radical extremist group to exploit or change the democratic framework of the Bangsamoro government so as to deny both the doctrine and practice of religious freedom.
6. We pray to our Lord God for wisdom for our legislators so that they would keep in mind the good of the Bangsamoro and the common good of all Filipinos.
We believe that regarding the centuries-old conflict in Mindanao we are, with a significantly improved BBL, truly at the threshold of a just and lasting peace.
We place our concerns of peace in the hands of our Blessed Mother Mary, the Queen of Peace, so that through her maternal intercession her Son, Jesus who is himself our “Peace” (Eph. 2: 14), may always be with us “to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
For and on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
(SGD)+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
January 22, 2015
To be prayed after Post Communion Prayer from January 22 to February 22, 2015
We come together before the Lord in the spirit of thanksgiving for the apostolic visit of Pope Francis. Everywhere the Pope went he asked us to pray for him and each time he asked for prayers we gave him our promise. Fulfilling our promise now, we gladly and humbly present our prayers for the Pope.
Let our response be: Bless and protect Pope Francis.
That the message of Pope Francis for mercy and compassion may find resonance in the hearts of all people, we pray
Bless and protect Pope Francis.
That all who exercise leadership may learn to blend courage with tenderness according to the example of Jesus and reflected in the life of Pope Francis, let us pray
Bless and protect Pope Francis.
That the love of Jesus exemplified in ministry of Pope Francis for the forgotten and the neglected, the ignored and the marginalized may be lived by all, let us pray
Bless and protect Pope Francis.
That Pope Francis may continue to enjoy the grace of pastoral wisdom, of health of mind and body and of fortitude against all difficulties, let us pray
Bless and protect Pope Francis.
Let us pray.
Lord Good Shepherd, bless and protect Pope Francis. Safeguard the Church from all harm. Guide us in the path of truth and charity forever and forever. Amen
Post Papal Visit Statement of the CBCP President
From euphoria to reality! This will be the mood after the papal visit. How long will the glow last? The media are still in a religious-reflective mood; but maybe not for long. Already there are controversies simmering in the media pot, the Malacañang-bishops tiff for example, revived, they said by the rather “inappropriate” reference of the President to the bishops who criticized him while keeping quiet about the past administration’s questionable actions. There is the all too trivial “bashing” of the priest-emcee at the pre- and post- Mass event at the Luneta, who was called a barker by netizens, when the poor priest had been seen clearly as merely performing the heroic task of “ministering” to the waiting crowds, all on their toes and later on pelted by the rain.
The focus is being turned towards the surface and not the substance. As expected there were much interest on what the Pope ate; the type of chairs he sat on; the vestments he wore; the vehicles he rode in. Clearly the Holy Father was not paying attention to all that. All he wanted was to be nourished so he would have the strength and energy for the demands of the events, and to have the proper transport for his interaction with the people lined up in the streets that he passed by. He even wore a plastic raincoat over his vestments!
Of course we are greatly grateful for the media for a very comprehensive coverage of the Apostolic Visit of Pope Francis, with many TV stations preempting shows so that the papal events could be shown live. Their efforts to provide in-depth and substantial commentary from Church experts were very commendable. Throughout the five days of the visit the media performed their task with professionalism, and in most cases, with enthusiasm and heartfelt emotion.
We have seen the people in the streets; everywhere the Pope turned he saw multitudes of people, the children, the elderly, the families, young men and women, even the disabled. They happily cheered, clapped their hands, waved their handkerchiefs or bandanas, raised their children, and shrieked, and cried.
The Holy Father spoke to us with his heart, in his beloved language. In the following days we will collate all these words in very readable form and send them out to all parishes, schools and communities, where, led by their pastors, the faithful can reflect on them as a community or with their families and friends. For example, what does it mean to “cry”; to be open to surprises; to love; to dream; to have no words to say; to be silent?
We will encourage that from their reflection they come up with “actions”. Pope Francis was very emphatic, he would often say, to priests at the Cathedral, and to the people in other events, “act!” “Acts” are important he said.
Our beloved Pope Francis also constantly asked us, “Pray for me.” We all promised to pray for him, but in the days and weeks ahead we will pray as the Church of the Philippines, through this prayer for Pope Francis, that we will request to be prayed in all Masses in all parishes, shrines, chaplaincies, communities and schools. Individuals can pray them by themselves as their own fulfillment of their promise of prayer for Pope Francis.
The glow will fade slowly in the media, especially in the social media (where millions of selfies have sprouted!). But if we continue to reflect on the words he left us, if we continue to etch in our memory his loving smile, his tender of selfies embrace for the children, the sick, the elderly, the destitute; if we continue to act on his words, the glow will ever remain in our hearts, giving us the joy, the hope, the faith and the peace that comes from Jesus, our Lord, whom he brought to us in those five glorious, grace-filled, joyful, jubilant, ecstatic days in January.
From the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, January 22, 2015
(SGD) +SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
A few days before the pastoral visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino has exercised his constitutional power to grant executive clemency in favour of elderly, sick and long interned prisoners.
The CBCP lauds the President’s action and sees it as a signal that we are indeed trying our best to be a nation of mercy and compassion as Pope Francis urges all nations to be.
The highest achievement of the penal and correctional system cannot be the suffering of the offender but his reintegration into society after he has owned up to his responsibility. We pray for the maturation in our land of truly restorative justice.
CBCP, January 5, 2015
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan