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Archive for June 2015

On the US Supreme Court Ruling on Same Sex Marriage

The US Supreme Court was asked whether banning same-sex marriages was in accord with the Constitution.  It has recently ruled that such a ban is unconstitutional.  That is the gist as well as the significance of the ruling of the US Supreme Court.  Its reference is the US Constitution.

 Fortunately for human persons, there is so much more to us and to our dignity than what the law prescribes.  While human positive law is the distillation of human experience of orderly and organized life, it does not exhaust human wisdom, nor does it have room for the wisdom of which God makes us participants.

The Church continues to maintain what it has always taught.  Marriage is a permanent union of man and woman, in the complementarity of the sexes and the mutual fulfillment that the union of a man and a woman bring into the loftiness of the matrimonial bond.  If there is an undeniable difference between man and woman, there is also an undeniable difference between the permanent union of a man and a woman. This is the way the Church has always read Sacred Scriptures.

This is the way it has live its faith, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in that living normative found called Sacred Tradition.  We will continue to teach the sons and daughters of the Church that marriage, transformed by The Lord Jesus and by His Church into a sacrament — a means by which the Risen Lord encounters his people — is an indissoluble bond of man and woman. There is much that the Church receives that is part of the “depositum fidei.…the deposit of faith” of which she is not maker but guardian and steward.

As President of the CBCP, however, I reiterate our commitment to the pastoral solicitude of all, and no bishop, priest, deacon, religious or lay leader actively serving the Church will ever demand to know of a person his or her orientation before serving the person, as The Lord Jesus commands all his disciples to serve.  All will continue to find welcome in the Church, while, under command from The Lord himself, will continue to teach what the Church has unceasingly taught.

The US Supreme Court decision will not go unheeded.  We shall study it with assiduousness, and revisit our concepts and presuppositions, always with an eye to being faithful to the Gospel and to the mission of the Church.

June 27, 2015

(SGD)+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan President, CBCP

Circular 2015-12: Annual Clergy Retreat

June  15, 2015

Circular 2015-Fill up this number

RE: Annual Clergy Retreat

Dear brothers in the priesthood:

As agreed during the clergy meeting, the clergy retreat for the year 2015 will be a personal directed retreat at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City under the direction of Father Jun Bugtas, SJ.  Each batch begins in the evening of Day One and ends after lunch on Day Eight.  Here are the batch schedules:

August 24 to 31

September 1 to 8

September 10 to 17

September 21 to 28

Please inform the Chancery before June 30, 2015 regarding your chosen retreat schedule.  Kindly take into consideration the sacramental needs of the parish during your spiritual retreat such that you coordinate with the priests in the neighboring parishes or Catholic schools so that you do not join the same retreat batch and the parish schedule may be easily attended to in your absence.

The obligation of making an annual spiritual retreat binds all priests as indicated in Canon 276 par.2 # 4 of the Code of Canon Law. This retreat is obligatory for all diocesan priests. Religious priests ministering within the archdiocese are most welcome to join any of the batches.

The clergy who cannot join any of the aforementioned retreat groups must seek the permission of the Local Ordinary.

Oremus pro invicem.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Elections and the Duty of the Christian

It is not difficult to feel the election fever — even if the 2016 elections are still so months away.  It has always been complained that the efforts of the Church and other non-political groups to educate voters come too late.  It is the reason for this letter, this early — so that it may never be again said that we spoke too late.

The exercise of the right of suffrage is not only a political right.  It is also a moral obligation.  For the Christian it is one of the most meaningful and effective means of contributing to the flourishing of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice, peace and love.  And so while politicians plan and strategize, and, this early, find ways of circumventing the law against pre-mature campaigning, the Church cannot be remiss in its obligation of forming the consciences of Catholic and Christian voters.

Vote for the right reasons.  Vote, not because you have been paid, or promised bounty, not because you or your relatives have been promised employment or privilege but because you trust a person to lead the community and to lead the country.  Just as the discerning voter will not be easily won over by all the flattery in favor of one candidate, neither should a voter allow ‘demolition jobs’ to dissuade him from choosing a person who is truly fit for office.

Reject the notoriously corrupt, but neither should one readily jump on the bandwagon of condemnation in the absence of incontrovertible evidence, for, these days, one’s reputation, so painstakingly built by sincerity and honesty over the years, can so easily be tarnished by the truly evil work of “spin-doctors” in the payroll of one or the other political aspirant!

End political dynasties.  Do not vote for family members running for the same positions as family members before them to perpetrate the family’s hold on public office.  When it is clear that one politician clings to public office, seeking election to some other position after he has run the length of the permissible number of terms in one elective office, the Christian voter should prudently choose others who may have However, no specific interactions with equal if not superior abilities and competencies for the position.  There is no monopoly on ability for government, and truly no one in government is indispensable!

Ask the right questions as  basis of your selection among candidates.   Do not demand to know of a congressman or a senator what his or her local projects have been.  Legislators are not supposed to have local projects.  They are supposed to legislate, to attend congressional sessions, rise to debate and actively take part in committee hearings.  Ask, rather, whether or not they have attended the sessions of the Lower House or of the Senate diligently and regularly.  On the other hand, do not make ‘kapit sa taas’ a criterion for the choice of local elective officials, because a local official leads by his own charisma and leadership skills.  We reject a government by patronage!

A person who aspires for high office but who, because of inexperience, will be totally dependent on advisers is not the best possible candidate for national positions, but we should be willing to repose trust on those who, we are convinced, are capable of leading and of serving with probity, high above suspicion and with skill, competence and wisdom that comes from abiding faith.  That a person is a firm believer, and that he or she practices her faith should be a crucial consideration for the Catholic voter.

Every vote a Christian casts is not only an instance of the exercise of those liberties and rights we have as free citizens.  Because the Kingdom of God is God’s gift, inaugurated, as Lumen Gentium teaches, in the world by the life, ministry, death and Resurrection of Jesus, The Lord, we are commissioned to do what is within our ability to make God’s Kingdom a living experience for all of his people. And a vote wisely and virtuously cast is a fulfillment of that commission!

+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan President, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines

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