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Daily Archives: January 29, 2013

(A Joint Pastoral Letter of the Philippine Hierarchy
On the Life of the Unborn Child)


The United Nations has declared the year 1979 as the International Year of the Child. The late Pope Paul VI gave recognition to this event in his allocution of June 28, 1976, 15th anniversary of his elevation to the Pontificate.

In the declaration of the United Nations, the right of the unborn child has been ignored.  In view of this, Pope John Paul II, in several of his speeches, focused attention on the basic human right of the unborn child:  his right to live.

In communion, therefore, with the mind and heart of the Holy Father, and shocked by the UN statistical report that more than 50 million abortions are procured each year,* we, the Bishops of the Philippines, hereby declare the year 1979 the Year of the Unborn Child.  We focus on the right of the unborn child, with a deep sense of urgency, because abortion is now widespread and a shocking reality in our country too, both in the rural and in the urban areas.

Abortion in the Philippine Setting

In a rural sampling — admittedly inadequate — one out of six mothers have already undergone abortion at least once; about a half approve abortion and more than one-half of the said mothers believe abortion to be licit.  (Philippine Population Program, FHC, Washington, D.C.)

Some physicians, by profession committed to the defense of life, have become agents of death in destroying foetal human life.  Others have maintained discreet silence over abortion perpetrated by medically untrained practitioners, popularly known as “hilots”.

A good number of clinics and hospitals, all over the country, are notorious for their being slaughter-houses of unborn children.

While abortion is contrary to our civil laws, public authorities have accepted the inclusion of abortion in the training of public health officials, have permitted the entry of sophisticated instruments of abortion into the country, continue the spread of abortifacient IUDs and encourage the promotion of abortifacient injectibles.

The Mass Media have been instrumental in dissentizising public opinion to look with indifference on abortion and in numbing sensitivities to the abomination of the crime.

Environment Factors

Leading to this sad situation are the following factors:

  1. Contraceptive drive :  Anti-life in intent, it has created the anti-life mentality in our people, with a built-in intolerance for failure.  Logically and irreversibly it leads to radical measures  such as sterilization and then abortion.  Unless stopped, the Contraceptive Drive in the long run will lead our society to the eventual acceptance of euthanasia or mercy-killing.
  2. Violence , as a pattern, lowers the esteem for life. Kidnappings, forcible ejection of the poor and the powerless, sudden disappearance of people, torture and many others are not always reported in the newspapers, but they are common knowledge.  In a climate that devaluates life, what chances do the helpless have, whose lives have just begun, powerless to cry out in protest?
  3. Manipulation breaks down esteem for people as human beings.  It is now subtly structured into our own social and health services.  In the case of industrial physicians, government workers like midwives, nurses and medical health officers; and in the training programs for them, there are manipulative practices that violate conscience and hamper the exercise of one’s freedom.  (Dr. Vicente Rosales on the Philippine Population Program, April 18, 1978)
  4. Discrimination in setting price tags on human lives.  Some lives are more valuable than others.  The unconditional value due to every human life is thereby destroyed.  Thus the deformed and the handicapped become candidates for sterilization and abortion.  Every child is merely a consumer and can be looked upon as a liability to our society and hence, may become, unwanted.

This outlook on life is reflected in the system of priorities set up by financial institutions.  Thus, more funds are allocated for hotels, amusement resorts and parks at the expense of the real needs of our people:  such as hospitals, leprosaria, and mental institutions, school buildings and  facilities.

  1. Commercial Trafficking of people reduces them to the level of products for consumption.  We make much of the beauty and grace of the Filipina.  But is this to make the exploitation of her flesh in the tourist market, more enticing?

All these factors lead to the devaluation and eventual disregard of human life.  This is a tragedy.  But a deeper tragedy is the gradual extinction of the capacity to love and to care.  Every refusal to accept new life is a refusal to love.  And this dying of unselfish love in the heart of man, constitutes a most serious crisis in our society today.

Doctrinal Portion

The whole of mankind bears constant testimony to the sacredness of human life not only after birth but from its inception.  Man in fact is born with this reverence for life, for nature has imbedded in his heart an instinct of reverence for new human life.  This instinct is a distinctive trait of man, and history testifies how people who smothered this instinct lapsed into degradation.

The earliest recorded laws enacted by men attest to this profound reverence for human life from the first known moments of its presence.  The Sumerian (2000 BC) and the Assyrian (1500 BC)  Codes protected foetal life from abortion with most severe sanctions.  We could say that the Geneva Declaration for Physicians in 1949, proclaiming “I will preserve the utmost respect for human life from the time of conception” is a clear echo of the Hipocratic Oath in a symphony of human reverence for life in all its stages.

Neither was this reverence for life an empty doctrine.  It carried with it the severest sanctions that were enshrined in the laws of civilized nations.

The sad fact that lately some nations deviated from this universally felt reverence for life, to the extent of approving abortion, only proves the presence of evil and good in this world.  Falsehood and evil could prevail, at least for some time, over truth and virtue.  Moreover, as stated above, skillful manipulation by some organized groups could distort issues and create an environment that could present a moral evil as a desirable economic good. Moreover, wherever abortion has been approved and practised, in defiance of nature and of God’s law, it did not take long before the evil seed contained in this practice, surfaced with disastrous results, prompting responsible leaders and peoples to admit their humiliating error.

This universal pro-life conviction deriving from reason and from the natural instinct of man finds its fullest basis and support in God’s command:  “Thou shalt not kill.”  This law of God somehow found its place in all human codes of conduct.

The Church, on the other hand, has consistently applied this divine law to human life in all its stages.  Through her whole history, the Church has regarded reverence for human life as a divine command and with unequivocal insistence applied it to human life at its inception.  This is reflected in her constant teaching and in her Canon Law which punishes with excommunication those who practise and participate in abortion.  This is reflected in her Liturgy enjoining that aborted foetus be baptized as a human person.  She reminds us that human life has something divine in it, “for human life and the task of transmitting it are not realities bound up with this world alone, … but always have a bearing on the eternal destiny of man.”  (Church in the World Today, #51)  With uncompromising firmness she declares the nobility of transmitting life and condemns abortion saying:  “God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves.  Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception:  abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”  (Church in the World Today, #51)  This clear teaching of the Catholic Church is taken up in a chorus of voices representing not only Christian religions but all major religions yesterday, today and always.

Action to be Taken

After reviewing the situation on life in the light of history, reason and Faith, we your Pastors feel that there is an urgency for everyone to get involved in the fight for life, especially for the life of the unborn.

Therefore, we would like to appeal to our people who in the past had always shown deep respect and reverence for the sacredness of life:

  • We appeal to responsible public officials to see to it that government official policies on respect for human life are consistently implemented in all levels.  We commend those who, inspite of all kinds of pressures, courageously stand by their convictions.
  • We appeal to parents, especially to mothers, to treasure the new life as a gift from God.  We commend especially those who, having less of material comforts, are more generous and self-sacrificing in embracing life — sometimes at the cost of terrible embarrassment.
  • We appeal to physicians, nurses and midwives to be always faithful to their sacred oath and to live out the courage of their moral conviction.  We commend those who do not compromise the integrity of their profession even under harrassment and persecution.
  • We appeal to all teachers and school officials to be more dedicated to their vocation as real educators.  We commend those who stand by their conscience in imparting human values and attitudes to the youth in spite of questionable incentives.
  • We appeal to those who care for the physically, mentally and socially handicapped to be more patient and selfless in their work.  We commend those whose dedication is an inspiration for greater respect for life itself.
  • We appeal to the vast majority of the population — our youth — to take life seriously.  We commend with admiration the courage of those who are able to resist the presures of being exploited for anti-life propaganda.
  • We appeal to the Mass Media to respect the delicate sensitivities of our people in forming public opinion.  We commend those who, inspite of the allure of money, fearlessly communicate the truth about life.

In this Year of the Unborn Child, our attention is directed to the abuses against life, to the anti-natalist from which these abuses arise, and to the atmosphere which makes these abuses possible.  Does not the future, therefore, look dark for the child, especially the unborn in our country?  We would despair did we not have the eyes of Faith to perceive other realities that awaken hope.

We already cited and commended the different sectors of our society which have stood and continue to stand for life in spite of overwhelming odds.  And there are many others whose lives we may overlook but in whom respect for life is very much alive.  But all these proclaim the hope that in this Year of the Unborn Child the commitment to life will find its roots in our people.


Throughout this year, let us continually reflect on how Jesus identified himself with the life of all men.  Let us reflect on how He chose to be particularly identified with those lives that are at the mercy of others, with the helpless, the defenseless, the children whom he loved and invited:  “Suffer the little children to come to me for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  (Matt 19:14)  Let us reflect on how His own life in its caring demanded sacrifice.  And finally, let us reflect on how all sacrifice in the caring of every human life, is a sharing in the mystery of Him who called Himself Life (Jn 11:25).

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Manila

January 29, 1979
Manila, Philippines
Demography Yearbook (U.N. Statistical Office)

Back to: CBCP Documents


Message of the Philippine Bishops on Migration Sunday

On August 19 the whole world will celebrate Migration Day.  The existence of such a universal observance indicate the existence of a universal problem.  Two world wars and frequent changes of government in many nations have sent people fleeing across borders in frantic waves of escape.

It happens that this problem which is highlighted in Migration Day is especially acute here in the Far East, due to the Vietcong conquest of South Vietnam and other subsequent red power plays.  The Philippines, because it is situated close to the scene of disturbance, is especially affected.

The problem here in the Philippines is twofold:  first and especially that of unauthorized migration to the Philippines, mostly from South Vietnam; and secondly the problem of Vietnamese legally admitted and settled here, but confronted with grave problems of assimilation.

It has been estimated that there are 13 million refugees in the world, a large part of them in Southeast Asia.  In Thailand alone there were at a recent date 100,000, who had fled from Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.  Malaysia and Indonesia have received large numbers of refugees from their neighbors to the north.  Countries outside Asia have also absorbed many.  The United States has received the greatest number absolutely speaking; but France has been more generous in proportion to its population.  Canada, Australia, Israel, West Germany, New Zealand, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Great Britain have all accepted refugees in various numbers.

The Philippines has on the whole pursued a generous policy with regard to them.  President Marcos said; “The Philippines is willing to extend all possible aid to the refugees within its resources.”  Ours is one of the few countries in Southeast Asia that allows “boat” cases to land, though on an unofficial basis and only after some delay.  Those who arrive must undergo a processing which runs from several weeks to several months.  The very sick however are allowed to disembark for treatment in local hospitals.  This position of the Philippines has not been well-known since for reason of public policy it has not been widely publicized.  After being processed the “boat” cases are taken to Jose Fabella Center in Mandaluyong, Rizal while the Philippine Government negotiates with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and with the various countries throughout the world to obtain a permanent home for the refugees.  But the Center remains filled to capacity, for as soon as refugees leave, others quickly take their place.

The Catholic Church meanwhile is cooperating fully with the civil authorities and is also extending aid on its own initiative.  The Center for Assistance to Displaced Persons (CADP), an arm of the Counselling Agency for Migrants, which in turn is a kind of secretariate for the Episcopal Commission on Migration and Tourism, cooperates closely with government agencies handling the problem.  Between arrival at Philippine shores and temporary acceptance into the Philippines, two weeks to three months may elapse.  The government does not during this period provide for the material needs of the refugees who all arrive in great destitution.  This is especially true of those who have been picked up in the open sea.  The CADP provides, at least in part, for these “boat” cases during the processing.

After the refugees have been admitted to Fabella Center where they number more than 2,000, they continue to be the object of the Church’s concern during their four months there.  Father Pietro Nguyen Van Tai, a Vietnamese priest, is their chaplain.

Another category of Vietnamese immigrants, different from the “boat” people, consists of those who have come to the Philippines as dependents of Filipinos.  They are mostly women and children, seeking a husband and father.  Upon arrival they may find the man whom they are looking for married to a Filipina with a family here also.  The CADP is more involved with this class of immigrant than with the “boat” cases, offering them a variety of services:  training, employment, housing, education, document translation, etc.  The Archbishop of Manila has had a housing unit constructed inside Caritas Manila Compound in Pandacan for their benefit.

The total refugee picture suggests some salutary reflections.  There has been much real charity brought out by this phenomenon.  Those unnamed ship captains who stopped to pick up shipwrecked refugees adrift on the high seas; the citizens of the neighboring and remote countries who opened their shores to them and relieved their distress; the International Catholic Migration Commission at Geneva which in the past 26 years has disbursed 47 million dollars in interest-free loans; these are encouraging examples of true humanity shown in confronting the problem.  There has been much inhumanity too.  First there is the callous cruelty of the Communist regime that causes and even exploits this misery.  Then there are the pirates who attack, rob and kill the unfortunate people at sea.  Also there are the countries that have refused to admit them under any conditions.  Finally there are the nations that agree to accept them but then exercise an inhuman discrimination in their choices.

The problem presents a challenge to Christians.  And that should mean to the Philippines.  Admittedly the acceptance of numerous refugees can create problems with regard to employment, short resources, and even perhaps to law and order.  But it seems that Christian charity should be able to surmount any obstacles that arise from these sources.  If we are to admit only those who demand no sacrifice on our part, who are contributions to our economy and assets to our national life, what is there in this to make it Christian charity.  The pagans do as much!

So our assistance must be supported with a willingness to make sacrifices.  Help must be given in a spirit of faith and charity, faith that God will not allow the Philippines to suffer because of generosity in helping these wretched people, charity because they are children of God and brothers of Jesus Christ.

In other countries aid to the refugees has been in an extraordinary measure the work of churches, of private agencies and private individuals, substantially supplementing the government efforts.  We appeal here to our government to be generous and self-sacrificing in helping these people.  But we appeal also to all, private individuals, private agencies and churches to extend help to these victims of injustice.  Finally we appeal to our fellow Catholics, and to governments and men of good will throughout the world to meet this challenge in a big spirit of generous self-sacrifice, confident that God will not allow himself to be outdone in generosity.  No country will experience economic distress because of help it may give to the victims of cruel oppression.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Manila
President, CBCP

19 August 1979

Back to: CBCP Documents

My dear People of God in the Philippines:

During the semi-annual meeting of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines held in Baguio on July 7-9, the bishops and archbishops present made an assessment of the conduct of the elections for the Batasang Pambansa on April 7.  As a result of this assessment, they have authorized me, as the CBCP Secretary-General, to write this letter to you.

After comparing notes and impressions on how the election was conducted, they reached a consensus that, in many places in the country, there was ample evidence of fraud and deceit, of connivance between government officials and some teachers to tamper with the results and to frustrate the will of the people.

While the bishops expressed their admiration for those teachers who resisted bribes and intimidation — even at the risk of losing their jobs — they voiced their deep concern over the apparent willlingness of other teachers to defile the sanctity of the ballot and thereby make a mockery of the right of suffrage which all freedom-loving people hold dear.

Deceit in all its forms, particularly those whose commission bears grave consequences on society and its history, must be denounced and condemned.  The bishops do hereby denounce and condemn it.  They believe also that every act of deceit is but a symptom, a sign of an even more serious malady.  It is the mark of an egoistic heart, of an extremely individualistic outlook.  And it is this outlook that must be changed if deceitfulness is to be banished.

Deceit cannot be combatted except through truth, and injustice cannot be set right except through acts based on the tenets of justice.

For this reason, the bishops of the Philippines, acting unanimously, voted to endorse the Open Letter issued by His Eminence Jaime L. Cardinal Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, which he issued on April 13, after it became clear to him that the conduct of the elections in Metro Manila left much to be desired.

Permit me to quote some pertinent excerpts from this Open Letter:

“The post-election atmosphere has been beclouded by a welfare of charges and counter-charges.  Partisan feeling continues to run high and the unity which (should have been) achieved seems to be more inaccessible than ever.

“An atmosphere such as this is dangerous and something must be done to clear it.  We must not allow passions to be inflamed, dissatisfaction to foster and tensions to intensify.

“For the air to be cleared, and for the process of normalization to be hastened, two things must be done:

“First, all citizens, regardless of party affiliation, who were witnesses to the commission of electoral frauds, must substantiate and document those frauds and then file charges against the person or persons involved; and

“Second, all the duly constituted authorities, the members of the Commission on Elections particularly, must give a respectful hearing to these charges, conduct an unbiased and impartial investigation, and then, after due process, punish the guilty and absolve the innocent.

“Unless this is done, the emotionalism will continue to rage on, and there will be no peace.  Unless this is done, the faith of the people in the sanctity of the ballot, and their confidence in democratic processes will be shaken.

“I call on all concerned citizens, therefore, to reaffirm their faith in democracy by coming forward with first-hand information of election irregularities.  I urge them to present their charges before the Commission on Elections whose sworn constitutional duty is to uphold the cause of clean and fair elections.

“I also call on all lawyers to manifest their concern for truth and freedom, justice and peace, by offering their services to such citizens who may need their help.

“Finally, I call on the Commission on Elections to open its doors to all those who may wish to seek redress for their electoral grievances.  I urge it to investigate all charges brought to its attention, to give everyone a fair and public hearing, and to punish the guilty regardless of position in life and society, and regardless of party affiliation.”

My dear People of God in the Philippines:  Your bishops have spoken.  We must all join hands to fight the injustice that was committed against us during the last election.  Just as important, we must all, individually and collectively, strive to change our outlook so that, in the future, we may not stand by impassively while injustices are being committed.

For us to be able to do this, there must be a change in our outlook–a change that can come only after a real education–an education for justice which consists in the overcoming of individualism, the conversion of heart, the capacity of criticism and reflection about situations with regard to the dignity of the person and the sense of universal brotherhood.

To this end, the CBCP, wishing to rise above what is destructive and disruptive, will shortly issue a pastoral letter on Education for Justice so that the people may be awakened to the principles of justice, truth and love, and which are the foundation of all true democracy and freedom.

Secretary General
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

July 10, 1978
Manila, Philippines

Back to: CBCP Documents

A Pastoral Letter
of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Justice and Peace!

The Philippines is a developing country and, as such, its national leadership has been harnessing all available resources, among other purposes, to hasten the process of development.  It may happen that, in the rush towards progress, violations of certain human rights are committed.

Such violations run counter to the principles of truth and justice and have a detrimental effect on freedom.

It is in the light of this situation that the Bishops of the Philippines are issuing this Pastoral Letter, for it is their deep conviction that the Church’s mission of preaching the message of salvation must include the mission of giving witness before the world on the need for love and justice.  While this Pastoral Letter is primarily directed to our Christian faithful in the various institutions of our life, we would like to share our vision with all those who are similarly concerned.


The Church exists for one purpose, to continue Christ’s salvific work through the preaching of the message of salvation (GS, 3 ).  This message contains a call to man to turn away from sin to the love of the Father, to universal brotherhood in Christ and a consequent demand for justice in the world.  (Justice in the World, IPS, Vol. 16, 1971, pp. 382-383).

The Church knows that no renewal in Christian life would be true without a corresponding renewal in the area of justice.  For the simple reason that man’s relationship to his neighbour is bound up with his relationship to God, his response to the love of God, saving us through Christ, is shown to be effective in his love for and service to men.  Christian love of neighbour and justice cannot be separated.  For love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely, recognition of the dignity  and rights of one’s neighbour.  Justice attains its inner fulness only in love.  Because every man is the truly visible image of the invisible God and a brother of Christ, the Christian finds in every man God himself and God’s absolute demand for justice and love.”  (Synod, Justice in the World, TPS, Vol. 16, 1971,p. 382.)

Because Christian life and the practice of justice, as understood in the light of Revelation, are one and the same in the context of God’s plan, the Church “has the right, indeed, even the duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustice, when the fundamental rights of man and his very salvation demand it.  The Church, indeed, is not alone responsible for justice in the world; however, she has a proper and specific responsibility which is identified with her mission of giving witness before the world of the need for love and justice contained in the Gospel message, a witness to be carried out in  Church institutions themselves and in the lives of Christians.” (JW, TPS, Vol. 16, 1971, p. 383.)

Since love begets justice, the greatest injustice is the refusal of love to God and to our brother.  The foundation of all  justice is the merciful love of God for men in Christ Jesus, who is the center of history and God’s plan (GS 45; LG 42).  Injustice then is the denial of love to God Incarnate (Mt.  24, 31-46 ),  man’s refusal to adore and to obey.  In the same way, injustice is the refusal to love, to serve and to be in fellowship with our brothers.

Justice is authentically Christian when there is a loving conversion of life to the Father, a radical turning away from sin against God and our brother, a sincere openness to love and an acceptance of all men.

If we want to see love and justice in our midst, then we should respect the human person.  This respect for the human person without discrimination of age, sex, social standing, political color, race or nationality, requires the acceptance of the vision of man as the center and master of all creation (GS, 12; PT, 10) because by his origin and destiny he is far superior to all of creation (PT, 11).

As a human person, every man has the right to life and to the means necessary to living it with dignity.  (G, 27; PT, 11 ).  This right, flowing directly and simultaneously from his condition as a human person, is universal, inviolable and inalienable (PT, 9).  To this right is the ineluctable correlative duty of society and individuals.  Without the right to life and to a life worthy of the human person, all the other rights of the human person would be meaningless.  Without respect for human life, justice is inconceivable.

There is however an attempt against human life not only when life of persons is taken (homicide, direct abortion ), but also when, either by action or omission, man’s physical integrity is jeopardized.   Human life, whether our own or others, is a good of which we are merely the adminsitrators and for which we can not arbitrarily dispose of, without violating justice.

It is in the light of respect for human life that we should find the reason why the Church rejects vehemently the road of violence as a solution, the only solution, to contemporary injustices and sufferings.  Rejection of violence does not mean “solidarity with abuses and egoisms, individual and collective, unjust oppressions…  Its whole action aims at bracing the moral forces of individuals and groups, at promoting their education, the elevation of their human and Christian values …  to prepare…  in collaboration and peace…  the desired and necessary social changes.”  (To the Ambassador of Brazil, 14.11.68. O.R. 15.11.68 ).  She knows only too well that the establishment of justice is the most effective way of making violence disappear from our midst.

Neither is a claim for a just cause — defense of the oppressed–sufficient justification to use or advocate “violence and terrorism” as normal means to overthrow the established order, even when that order assumes an open, violent and unjust form of oppression that cannot be overcome or reformed by other means.  (Paul VI, General Audience, 21.10. 70. O.R. 22.10.70).  The more basic reason is stated in Populorum Progressio (n. 31 ):  “We know, however, that a revolutionary uprising — save where there is manifest longstanding tyranny which would do great damage to fundamental personal rights and dangerous harm to the common good of the country–produces new injustices, throws more elements out of balance and brings on new disasters.  A real evil should not be fought against at the cost of greater misery.”

The Church, therefore, because of its evangelical principle of “non-violence” will not accept as even possible a situation where her theological hope would see no other outlet except the destruction of other fellowmen.  For her “the solution to the sad, and even very sad situations,” of our times, is “neither revolutionary reaction nor recourse to violence…  For us, the solution is love.  Not weak and rhetorical love, but love which gives itself…  love which sacrifices itself.”  (Gen. Audience, 21.8.68. O.R. 22.8.68).

For the human person, the communitarian dimension of man is as essential as its individuality.  Man is born, is fulfilled and is saved within a community.  That is why, to live justice is to build the community.

The Christian message requires a love which results in collaboration and solidarity.  “As God did not create man for life in isolation, but for the formation of a social unity, so also it has pleased God to make men holy and save them not merely as individuals without bond or link between them, but by making them into a single people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness.”  (GS, 32).

The Christian should know by Revelation that the true community is the one which is united with the head, Christ, from which flows out through joints and ligaments the vital impulse which supplies the body with energy, ensures its cohesion and produces its harmonious growth.

There is one important term of reference within this community:  the categorical acceptance of the priority of the human person over any other temporal reality. In the ultimate analysis, it is human nature which evaluates results and indicates all the roads to progress.  Social relationships can transform human groupings into a true community only when there is “a mutual respect for the full spiritual dignity of the person.” (GS, 23).

This mutual respect is certainly not merely the avoidance of transgressing the rights of others; it is, above all, the positive obligation of an efficacious love.  Efficacious because it continuously strives to create the proper condition where every man and all men can realize his personal and social vocation (MM, p. 23).

The tendency to join together to attain objectives which are beyond the capacity and means at the disposal of single individuals has given life to a wide range of groups, movements, associations and institutions with economic, cultural, social, sporting, recreational, professional and political ends, both within single national communities and on an international level (MM, 21).  In view of the growing importance of associations, Christians should strive to promote the various forms of associations in order to develop their social responsibility as individuals and to help insure the inviolability of liberty and human dignity which sometimes suffer due to an exaggerated sense of loyalty to the group.

More than ever before, the citizens of the political community should feel equally responsible for the realization of the common good among the various sectors of society (MM, 33).  “The Christian has the duty to take part in the search for developmental models and in the organization and life of political society…  It is for cultural and religious groupings, in the freedom of acceptance which they presume, to develop in the social body, disinterestedly and in their own ways, those ultimate convictions on the nature, origin and end of man and society (OA, 24).

In virtue of these principles of solidarity and its demands, human perfection requires solidarity with the entire humanity.  There is this universal dimension when, within the same country, there is a just equilibrium between works and benefits among the various sectors of production and among the different regions.  In the international order, there is solidarity when “nation meets nation, as brothers and sisters, as children of God” (PP, 43); when “through mutual cooperation, all people should be able to become the principal architects of their own economic and social development;” and when “people, as active and responsible members of human society should be able to cooperate for the attaining of the common good on an equal footing with other peoples.”

The reality of human solidarity, which is a benefit for us, also imposes a duty, both to men of today and to those who will come after (PP, 17).

The Church is fully aware that if she is to be credible in her preaching of justice, she should precede all others in the living example of a just institution, just in her word, in her sacraments and in her pastoral action.  Service to the cause of unity demands before hand signs of unity.

The Christian community finds in the Eucharist a permanent call to realize that unity in justice, in peace and in love.  For the Church the Eucharist is not only a sign of unity; it is also and above all, a source and cause of unity.  It will be the ultimate contradiction therefore to celebrate the Eucharist and remain at the same time unmoved and unconcerned in the midst of injustices and hatred.

The practice of justice should positively integrate all the relationships of man with authority, his liberty with his social responsibility.  Subsidiarity is precisely the norm by which relationship between authority and liberty are regulated.

“Just as it is wrong to withdraw from the individual and commit to the community at large what private enterprise and industry can accomplish, so too, it is an injustice, a grave evil, and a disturbance of right order for a larger and higher organization to arrogate to itself functions which can be performed efficiently by smaller and lower bodies (MM, 53).”  Thus Mater et Magistra describes the principle of subsidiarity.

Accordingly, the State should not take away from the parents the right and duty to educate their children, because such right belongs primarily to the parents.  However, in virtue of the same principle of subsidiarity, it is the obligation of the State to complete the educational work when the efforts of parents and other private entities are not sufficient, provided that the parental will is always considered (GE 3, 6).

One of the fundamental duties of civil authorities is to coordinate social relations in such fashion that the exercise of one man’s rights does not threaten others in the exercise of their own rights nor hinder them in the fulfillment of their duties.  Civil authorities should likewise maintain a careful balance between coordinating and protecting the rights of citizens, on the one hand, and promoting them, on the other.  It should not happen that certain individuals or social groups derive special advantage from the fact that their rights have received preferential treatment.  Nor should it happen that government in seeking to protect these rights, becomes an obstacle to their full expression and free use.

Justice and common good are indissolubly linked; this is so because of the condition of human society.  Common good touches the whole man, the needs both of his body and of his soul.  Hence, viewed in the light of the principle of totality, it includes not only those which are economic in character but also those which promote the spiritual well-being of the citizens.  For this reason, Mater et Magistra says that “the common good of all embraces the sum total of those conditions of social living whereby men are enabled to achieve their own integral perfection more fully and more easily.”  (MM, 65)

Therefore, social order has  a dynamic character:  “it is in constant improvement.  It must be founded on truth, built on justice and animated by love; in freedom it should grow everyday toward a more humane balance.”  (GS, 26)  The dynamism of a society in continuous search for new forms of realizing justice, of practicing liberty and of achieving the common good — all these are therefore also in the divine plan:  “God’s spirit, who with a marvelous providence directs the unfolding of time and renews the face of the earth, is not absent from this development.” (GS, 26)

Material reality, because it affects the concrete human existence, should also be the object of justice.  Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it and becoming in turn the true victim of this degradation.  Not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace– pollution and refuse, new illnesses and absolute destructive capacity –but the human framework is no longer under man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable.” (A Call to Action:  Apostolic Letter of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, May 14, 1971).

One of the demands of justice is the conservation and construction of our physical environment.  Justice requires that man’s earthly city be truly a habitat worthy of man.  As the center and master of all creation, man is the administrator of the things of the world.  Any neglect or outright misuse of the material things strikes directly against his vocation and threfore is unjust.  Man should urgently be convinced that the world was made for him and for his community.

Earthly goods are meant to promote the total perfection of man.  Consequently, the egoistic appropriation of created goods, of the goods of production by individuals or by any group, is unjust.  Material goods then have a universal destiny, and this is the basis of the right to work and to property.

Work is a badge of liberty and not of slavery.  Every man has a right to work and to human conditions for development .  He is entitled to exercise this profession and live from it for himself and his family.  He has furthermore the right to self-defense, to protest against injustices.  But at the same time he has the obligation to be responsible in his work.  For there can be injustice on the part of the employer as well as on the part of the worker:  the first by exploitation, the second by being irresponsible.  (GS 26, 67, 71; OA, 14, 15, 18).

It is unjust to create conditions which result in unemployment or force the workers to accept any employment at whatever price.

While it is true that man has a natural right to property, it is also true that, by its very nature, private property has a social quality which is based on the law of the common destination of earthly good.  “The right of every man to use material goods for his own sustenance is prior to every other right of economic import and so is prior to the right of property.  Undoubtedly, adds Our Predecessor, the right of property in material goods is also a natural right.  Nevertheless, in the objective order established by God, the right to property should  be so arranged that it is not an obstacle to the satisfaction of the unquestionable need that the goods, which were created by God for all men, should flow equally to all, according to the principle of justice and charity.” (MM, 43)

There is also injustice when some of the major phenomena of our time like urbanization, industrialization and utilization of the biosphere are at the service of only a handful of people.  The injustice is then committed not only against the men of today but also against the men of tomorrow.

Urbanization affects society to a large degree.  While it brings with it technology, planning, and industrialization, at the same time, it causes mass exodus from the countryside, concentration of populations, and serious social disequilibrium.  Far from being a means of development, urbanization is turning out to be simple business.  Frequently it becomes an occasion to exploit the natural anxiety of having a house of one’s own.

Our urban plans do not always take into account the proper human environment which permits family growth.  On the contrary, urban plans are used in a number of occasions to force into the people the means of birth control.  Our urban laws — if justice is to be a reality in this field  — should take into account the vital environment.

Industrialization is another modern phenomenon with ambivalent consequences for society and men.  While new forms of culture are brought about, thereby creating certain conditions which enable man to live a life in accordance with his dignity, at the same time, it brings about also a new and worse slavery and exploitation of men. It is just when industrialization leads to a reasonable degree of economic independence for the country.  Finally, industrialization is just when there is respect for the inalienable rights of the person. (OA, 8).

Real action for justice calls for a change in outlook.  To bring about this change, it is necessary to promote an efficacious education to justice:  the overcoming of individualism, the conversion of the heart, the capacity of criticism and reflection about situations, with regard to the dignity of the person, the sense of universal brotherhood, etc.

This education takes place within the family and other social institutions.  It is important to reactivate the principles of justice that are found in the social teaching of the Church.


In this part, “Education for Justice”, we intend to make some remarks of a practical order, in keeping with the doctrine expounded in the previous section, as regards those levels which we deem more expressive and decisive in the life of the people of God in the Philippines.

We have kept in mind the principles and orientations of the Church in Vatican II, of Mater et Magistra  and Pacem in Terris ,  of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, of the Encyclicals, “Populorum Progressio” and “Octogesima Adveniens,” of the Synodal Document, “Justice in the World,” and the “Document on the Evangelization of the Modern World,” for the 1974 Synod.  It is thought that the foregoing reflects the basic contents.

The abovementioned sources are by no means exhaustive; rather they are indicative of action and they lean towards those points more strongly emphasized or more obvious in the Documents.

Some criteria or basic objectives for the development of “Education for Justice” have been indicated; a specific vocabulary to facilitate a better understanding and application of the Documents, has been intended.  Moreover, it should be noted that we have chosen some levels — human groups or institutions  — which better represent and are more influential of our society and are instrumental — or else provide the ground — for an education for justice:  such are the family, the school, the parish community, labor, public authority and the means of social communication.

For each of those levels or sectors the following procedural approach has been followed:  statement of some specific objectives, interrelations with each one of the other sectors or levels; practical suggestions for the education of justice on the respective level or sector.

The following are general objectives of the education for justice:

  • Formation as regards the dignity of the human person, with the concept  of the whole of man’s life and the human values in their  transcendental dimension (cfr. GS, 1).
  • The christian notion of ownership which implies the right use of riches in keeping with its social dimension.
  • That human activity should aim at the common welfare.
  • The growth of the Christian into manhood according to the mature measure of Christ (GS, 2; Eph. 4, 13).
  • Justice as an expression of charity.


Specific Objectives in the Family Education for Justice

The family is the structural cell of any society; therefore the constitutive elements of both the civil society and the Church are the families that compose them.  Organized society has certain duties towards the family, protecting her identity and enabling her to reach self-fulfillment.  Those duties become rights on the part of the family.  Conversely, the family, as the generative cell of the society, has duties towards both the social and the ecclesial societies.

The specific objective of family education for justice is to create family awareness as to her rights and duties towards both the civil society and the Church.

The individual has a right to set up a family through free and legitimate choice, once a sufficient degree of human and christian maturity has been achieved, as will enable the person to take up the pertinent commitments (cfr. GS 50 ); responsible parenthood also is a personal right.  Each family has a right to education, to improvement and to self-rule; a right to be respected by any government and by any other society concerned, as to her essence, her values and the normal exercise of her activities as a family.

It is a duty of the family to aim at the total welfare of each member and also at the welfare of the whole community — be it household, ecclesial or civil community — and to provide its members with a life in keeping with their human dignity and with their dignity as children of God; also to deal equitably with all members and to avoid discrimination.

The Family Interrelated with the Other Sectors

The family maintains an interrelatedness with other sectors of society.  These sectors are the school, the parish, the labor world, the means of social communication, and the public authority.

The Family and the School

As regards the school, the family has the following rights and duties:  to assume primary responsibilities for the education of the children (GS, 3) and to get integratred into the educative community (GS, 8 ); to choose such a type of education as may, in conscience, be deemed suitable for the children and therefore to demand from the State a fair distribution of economic resources.  (GS, 6); also to demand that education takes the faith into account (GS, 7; DH, 5).

The school should respect the primary right of the family to the education of the children; it should cooperate with the family, acting within its subsidiary capacity (GS, 3), should lend the family its technical knowledge so that the latter may be able to improve her educational task.  It should offer the family practical and adequate means of participation in the management of the educative process.  With a spirit of cooperation the school should consider the christian formation of the students in their homes.

The Family and the Parish

The family is duty-bound to educate the children with a view to the christian community, a community of faith, hope and love.  The parish is expected to encourage the family so that this should be the real educator of the children in their faith.  The faithful have a right to demand spiritual goods for the full development of their faith.  The parish has the right and the duty to defend the basic rights of the family whenever they may come under attack.  The parish should promote and help the family in the latter’s duty to foster the christian communitarian spirit.

The Family and the Labor World

In its relationship with the labor world, it is a duty of the family to educate for work in such a manner that the latter be given its Christian meaning; also to educate in the rightful use of material goods and to encourage habits of thrift.  The family should strike a sense of responsibility, of solidarity and of dialogue with the enterprise.  It should convey social awareness, a sense of service, of understanding and of dialogue in everything pertaining to labor unions.

On the other hand, the enterprise, besides recognizing the dignity, the capacity and the right of the worker to participation and to a just salary, should facilitate the promotion of the human and the transcendental values of the worker’s family.  Labor unions should not limit their action to purely personal matters of the worker but rather should orient him towards the family and family values.  They should favor intermediate institutions such as cooperatives, etc., for the benefit of the family.

The family holds the inalienable right and duty to educate man integrally and to prepare him for a worthy, free, responsible life as a person and as a member of society.

The family should educate man for work.

It is a fundamental binding duty of the family to acquire and own the indispensible  means for the support of its members.

The family has a right to work and to the ownership and administration of her resources.

The family has a right to demand from the world of labour the respect due to the dignity of her members and to the inner essence and nature of the same family.

The family, through example and education should train the members to understand the nature, the dignity, the value and the christian meaning of work, of material resources and their social dimension.

The family should train her members even in their childhood in habits of work and in the right use of material goods; this should be done in keeping with the sex of each person and with the social sphere where they live; the family should encourage her members to seek to promote both their individual and communal well-being.

The Family and Mass Media

As regards its interrelationship with the means of social communications, the family should demand that their dignity be respected, especially considering that the family is consistently decried by the means of social communication.

The family should receive such a formation as to make her perceptive; as to enable her to take an active participation in the process of social communication.  Thus she will be able to defend herself from the harmful influences that come to her through mass media and at the same time she will be ready to exact from those media a product of quality and demand respect for its own dignity.  Otherwise the family will be prey to the vested interests that motivate many of the owners and directors of Mass Media.

The Family and Public Authority

Lastly, as regard the family and public authority, the following are the basic principles that must guide their mutual relationship:  any authority must respect the rights of the family; the State with  its laws and institutions should encourage the legal constitution and the estability of the family; it should never support the breaking of the same through indiscriminate application of the law.  The family should be the first school to teach the right sense of authority as a service; the authority of the family should be viewed in terms of a sevice to the household community in a climate of corresponsibility.

Civil authority should make education accessible to all citizens, while at the same time avoiding monopoly over the school it should foster and accept the cooperation of all the citizens and institutions who are ready to cooperate in the task of education; it should support equitably and without discrimination all schools, public or private, aiming always at a fair distribution of financial support; finally, it should view the initiatives and the creativity of educators with respect and avoid imposition of inflexible rules and uniform programs which only serve to stunt the rich potentials of a creative pluralism and impoverish the school.

Therefore, civil authority should regard teachers as necessary elements in the education for justice of the people; thus civil authority should deal with the teachers with respect in keeping with dignity of their mission; they should be compensated adequately and offered opportunities for professional growth.

Means to Educate for Justice within the Family

The whole doctrine as well as the suggestions and the principles that have preceded should materialize in concrete study guides easy to understand; these should be conveyed through the already existing means within our disposal:  such as preaching, catechetics, systematic teaching, types and methods, education for mass-media, broadcasting, continuing education, work-teams and action teams.

The family should be helped to acquire the true communitarian spirit and to promote vital experiences.

The education of the family should primarily and fundamentally be carried out through a basic formation in love and for love — for love is a unique source of redemption and of justice within the Church.  In order to achieve this it is imperative to prepare the layman, to trust and give responsibility to the laity as the only way to reach every possible milieu.  It is also necessary to integrate the programs of family education of the various schools and colleges in the preacher’s programs and the catechetical schemes.


Specific Objectives of the School as Regards the Education for Justice

The school should foster the true education whose objectives are the formation of the human person towards his ultimate goal and for the good of societies (GS, 1 ).  While imparting an integral education, the school should spell clearly the meaning of justice and the practice of the same; it should foster a spirit of service to the community among the students (GS 5).  The school should direct intellectual as well as technical knowledge towards service to the community; and not solely for personal gain.  In her curricula the school should present a total vision of man so that the student may understand the dignity of the human person, his relations and his duties to the society in which he lives; this will equip him with useful and practical tools that will enable him to contribute towards the harmonious development of the national community (GS 50).

The school should help to develop in the students a healthy critical attitude such as will evolve fair solutions within society and will be conducive to a truly human maturity.  The school should educate in the exercise of political rights and duties; it should train concerned citizens able to share in the service of the community (GS, 5)

The Catholic School and Education for Justice

The Catholic school should educate in the faith and for the faith; in love and for love; it should be a model of education for justice both in her organizational and academic structures (GS, 2 and 8).

The organized teaching of the social doctrines of the church, the training in the true christian social awareness, the direct contact with national realities in order to know and transform them, should ever be present in the school plan.

In order to impart a complete and totally christian education, the school should provide apostolic training even from primary level, for “christian educators are expected also to train their students for apostolate” (AA, 30).

The Catholic school should serve the community; it should be open to dialogue and it should project itself towards the local community which she should animate culturally, socially and spiritually (GS, 8).

The Catholic school must endeavor to make education the servant of youth so that it becomes for him, through assimilation of the best examples and teachings of his elders, a force that would liberate his creative capacity and orientate his vast strength towards the configuration of his country as to contribute towards the strengthening of her national identity and the realization of her full development.  Because it is through the exercise of his intelligence and will that man becomes more truly a man, because it is through them that he enhances his human worth and renders himself relevant and integrally fulfilled, this liberating task of education should also be, for the youth, a personalizing force.  Founded as it is on love and dialogue and counting on the active participation of those who compose the educative community, this it must be, thereby, also communitarian. Being personal and communitarian, genuine liberation consists of coming out from less to more human conditions until the faith which calls all to share in the life of the living God is attained.

The catholic school should create a proper atmosphere conducive to the formation of a christian community (GS, 8).

In view of the great needs confronting education in the Philippines, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the Church calls on the Christians and men of good will to work in unison for the democratization of education whereby all cultural, scientific, and religious values are placed within the reach of all men irrespective of condition and social status.

The School in its Relation to other Sectors

The school, as discussed above, has an interrelationship with the family.  Aside from this, however, it maintains an interrelatedness with other sectors of society, the parish, the means of social communication, with the labor world and, with the public authority.

Interrelations with the parish

The school should seek a working connection with the parish as a means to help educate the students live up to the christian spirit of community imparted by the parish.  The school should be considered as a privileged ground for the development of the pastoral action of the parish since it is the meeting point of young and adult christians with different connections and interests.

The parish expects the school to impart such formation as may be conducive to communitarian life and to an adequate sharing of community goods both spiritual and material.

The Parish should lend its help in the preparation of teachers so that they may be able to live up to the exigencies laid down in the section that deals with the objectives of the school as regards education for justice.

Interrelations with the Means of Social Communication

The school should understand the educational value and the influence of mass media in the modern world.  Consequently, it is imperative to impart to the young a proper formation towards mass-media so that they may approach those Means of Social Communication with a positive frame of mind and with the right critical attitude.  The school should integrate the study of the Means of Social Communication into the curriculum in a practical way in order to enable the students to take advantage of those means all throughout their lives for their own intellectual and spiritual improvement.  Moreover, the school should encourage the youth to actively participate in Mass Media and to avail themselves of such means especially as regards creating public opinion.

The school should recognize that the Means of Social Communication is also adequate to impart knowledge and formation.  Therefore, Mass Media should be organized into an educational system of its own holding the same rights and prerogatives as the traditional systems.  That will provide a swift way to reach the whole population and especially to educate the underprivileged areas.

Both civil and ecclesiastical authorities should direct their efforts towards helping the Means of Social Communication to fulfill the social function they are called to perform and to be ruled by the common welfare in their development and in  their performance.

Public authority should demand respect for the dignity of man and his need for total growth, from mass media owners, publishers, editors, producers, artists, etc.  This should give rise to pertinent services to the community such as:  systematic progress aimed at total education as regards professional training; programs where national values of all kinds are extolled, programs that would encourage general cooperation; programs of civic training.

Mass media educational programs should be supported and especially fostered.

The christian family should be made aware of the fact that the greater bulk of the contents offered at present by the instruments of social communication are by no means favorable to the moral and spiritual structure of the family, that is to say, they have a highly disruptive quality.  Therefore christian families should organize themselves under the leadership of the Pastors of the Church in order to defend themselves against this conspiracy.

The people of God has the legitimate aspiration to demand that the means of social communication be instrumental to their total education as well as honorable channels of their own Christian values and ideals.

The means of social communication enjoy the possibilities of reaching people of different ages, different cultures, and different social conditions; therefore they cannot dispense with due caution and rightful practices, and they must avoid offending the dignity of people by manipulating them as if they were commodities; they should respect peoples’ personalities and idiosyncracies.

The means of social communication should collaborate with the school so that the students may acquire a critical attitude towards the manifold contents transmitted by such media.

Therefore, it is necessary to educate:  in the proper understanding of the language of Mass Media; in order to turn them into instruments of creativity, and in order to convey the realization that the means of social communication constitute an efficient instrument for change of which man should be not only beneficiary but also the agent.

Interrelations with the Labor World

The school should intend to prepare the citizen for work, intellectual as well as manual, by inculcating in him the appropriate work habits and values.

The school, at all levels, should integrate into its curricula such activities as may encourage the development of skills useful to the community and the rational use of natural resources for the common good and to foster attitudes of mutual cooperation and solidarity.

The school should seek connections with local enterprises so that the students can acquire working habits and experience.

The school should complement the family in its task of educating in the sense of the value and the transcendence of work; the school should encourage creativity and responsibility through the performance of work itself; the school should favour the kinds of work that make study possible and compatible with it; she should prepare men for the choice of a profession or trade in keeping with his possibilities and with the exigencies of the respective social milieu.

Interrelations with Public Authority

The school has a right to organization as well as the right to impart the kind of education that is in keeping with such trends that are favorable to and encouraging of the particular characteristics of the Filipino people.

As a necessary instrument for the development and improvement of the people, the school should be able to count on the support of public authority and should be accorded preferential treatment as regards the allocation of public funds.

The school should enjoy a certain amount of autonomy to enable her to provide various solutions and alternatives to meet the needs of the country and different peoples.  Therefore the school should not be subjected to a single, maximal, inflexible program but rather be allowed to developed her own initiatives based on minimal programs.

As promoter of the common good, civil authority should encourage effective cooperation and participation among all the active forces of the country; it should provide adequate channels so that every one may get the benefits of education.  To achieve this is a fair allocation of public funds that should be made according to the following criteria:

  1. to  guarantee  the  families  and the  individuals  the  right to choose the type of education;
  2. to  encourage  democratization of education and integration of all social classes within every institution;
  3. to provide incentives for the institutions which disinterestedly wish to share in the task of educating the people.

Taking into account the existing socio-religious context of the Filipino people and especially the existence of parish organizations, civil authority should respect the same and give the consideration due them as community-serving institutions helping promote the common welfare.

Means within the Scope of the School towards the Education for Justice

It is essential to integrate the social teachings of the Church within the school curriculum.

It is urgent to reintroduce the Catholic social doctrines in all the Catholic schools.  This practice seems to be on the decline nowadays.

The school should train in a communitarian spirit and promote a vital experience of the same.  To that end the Educational community, the Parents’ Association should be created; also courses for teachers of all educational levels should be organized in order to impart the contents and the methodology of the social doctrines of the Church.  Textbooks and study-guides for students and for teachers should be published in keeping with the programs approved by the Bishops for the education for justice.

It is necessary to work out TV and radio scripts on the basis of the programs approved by the Bishops for the education for justice.

Generally speaking it would be advisable that all possible means towards the education for justice follow the programs approved by the Bishops for the purpose; thus the safety of the trends and the criteria to be followed will be assured.  Each means will have to use its own methodology, respecting however, the doctrinal contents suggested in the programs.


Special Objectives of the Parish Community as Regards Education for Justice

The Parish Community has the following rights and duties:

The right and the duty to proclaim evangelical justice at all levels with a view to educating in the faith, to training for the communitarian life and to promoting the apostolic spirit.  The right and the duty to the free exercise of her ministry for the benefit of the whole community.  The right and duty to provide the spiritual goods necessary for the development of faith for all the faithful without discrimination.  The right and duty to give a testimony to justice in her dealings with her employees, in her communitarian life and in her concern for the poor and  the needy.  The right and the duty to own such financial means as may be necessary for the proper performance of her ministry and to use them adequately in agreement with canon and civil laws.

Mutual Relations between the Parish and the other Sectors

Besides maintaining a relationship with the family and the school the principles of which have been discussed above, the parish also has an interrelatedness with other sectors of society like the labor world, the means of social communication, and the public authority.

Interrelations with the world of labor

Through the whole of her pastoral activity, the parish should educate about the meaning of work, the right utilization of material goods and  on the social dimension of ownership.

Depending on the variety of millieus the parish should emphasize both the responsibility of labor and the sharing in the enterprise.

The local enterprises should be given attention by the parish which in the light of evangelical justice will promote solidarity and dialogue between employers and employees.

The interpersonal relationship created through pastoral activity especially in the working class districts, provides opportunities for the training of the workers in the service-dimension of their work and for the creation of strong attitudes regarding their rightful demands as well as an attitude of understanding and dialogue without neglecting the sense of fidelity to their duties.

The enterprise should help the pastoral activity of the parish by facilitating for the professional and spiritual formation of the workers.

It is the mission of the Church within the parish to educate the People of God in the Theology of Work so that the people may show the world the christian meaning of work.

The parish is duty-bound to guide and to train men in their responsibilities as individuals as well as members of the human family and to foster in them the genuine notion of the transforming power of work for the benefit of the world and also as an instrument of the common welfare.

The Church should convey her social doctrines through all the means within her reach.

Moreover, the Church should set an example and a living testimony in her dealings with her workers, and in the use and administration of her resources.

Interrelations with the Means of Social Communication

The parish has a right to be respected as a community and, therefore, to demand from the instruments of social communication honest information about itself; any false or erroneous utterances about the parish can be seriously damaging.

All throughout its action, the parish should inculcate in the faithful a critical attitude towards the means of social communication thereby enabling them to remain free from any harmful influence that such means may have.

The parish should be present in the process of mass media and should encourage the parishioners to participate creatively in such process.  For this purpose it should be necessary to train Christian Speakers.

Hence, the parish has the right and the duty to use the means of social communications of cine-forums, TV-forums, etc., for educating to justice.

Interrelations with the public authority

The parish should convey the christian meaning of authority as a service rather than a power of dominating and enslaving.  At the same time the parish should teach obedience to the rightful authority.

The parish has a right to be respected by public authority both as to its existence and pastoral mission.

The parish has a duty to denounce — with due evangelizal courage and prudence — the injustices against the whole community or against any of its members done by public authority.

Means within the Scope of the Parish in the Education for Justice

The people have a right to expect from Christians, the genuine example of justice and charity, rather than words, both within and without the Church; the teaching of the doctrine which forms the conscience and guides social awareness; this should be carried out through catechetical activities about the sacraments, and through the liturgy; the true commitment to the people revealed through the permanent concern to promote lay people able to multiply the work of education for jsutice in all possible spheres.


Specific Objectives of the World of Labor as regards the Education for Justice

While keeping into account christian philosophy and theology of work, the education for justice should favor the christian meaning of work through all possible means and at all possible levels.

In the task of education for justice within the labor world the following statements should always be considered:

Work is dignifying; it is an eminently human activity.  Through work man grows and becomes mature.  Through work he develops both the material world and himself.  Work expresses human personality and human greatness.  Work should not be regarded as a commodity.  Hence the preeminence work should be given over the capital and the enterprise.  Man has a right to work, to look for it, to find it, in keeping with his dignity and his capacity; he has a right to fair pay.  Work should be regarded as a special calling and mission handed down by nature and by God Himself.

Work and ownership:  Work should be considerd as a genuine natural source of procurement and possession of goods.

Ownership and freedom :  Ownership is the basis for a certain amount of independence and freedom.  However, the fact should be realized that the desire to own could go wrong in practice.  Often a man believes himself to be worthier than others not precisely for what he does but for what he owns.

Work binds men together:  Work is also performed for the benefit of others.  Human work creates unity and solidarity among men.

Work and mankind :  Mankind collectively owns the world.  Balance between ownership and common welfare is achieved by a fair distribution of goods.  Justice demands that the resources of this world be reasonably and equitably shared and distributed.

Material goods and the fact of owning them should humanize men:   Ownership holds a risk for man:  the risk of becoming owned by the things themselves and the risk of wanting to own what belongs to others.

Work has a religious projection :  In addition to its human sense, work has a definite religious projection.  Man fulfills himself by developing the world.  Work makes a man’s life meaningful and happy.  To rule the world means to make it human and inhabitable.  This is a God-given task.

Christianity has given a dimension to work :  In the realm of economics, love means fairer distribution of resources, a more reasonable use of the same, a more responsible and better shared solidarity and a more determined and generous help to the needy.

The World of Labor and its Relationships with the other Sectors

The world of labor has an interrelationship with the family, with the school, with the parish as discussed above.  Moreover, it maintains relationship with the means of social communication and with public authority.

The Means of Social Communication are the result of technical work and of a culture belonging to all mankind.  Therefore they should be at the service of all men.

The Means of Social Communication plays a decisive role in the world of work, a role of information and formation which is of the highest importance.

The Means of Social Communication should maintain their independence and preserve their freedom in order to avoid being manipulated by any agents of power such as the capital, the enterprise or the labor force.

Those responsible for mass media should avoid the two dangers threatening them:  to become accomplices of a consumer society which oppresses man through fake needs or else to become instruments of anarchy.

The means of social communication reach both employers and employees; therefore they should collaborate by encouraging reciprocal dialogues, provide for the formation, orientation and information of everyone; and offer opportunities for intercommunication and for expressing the various opposing points of view.

The means of social communication are duty-bound to promote and help general education especially for the underprivileged classes.

The directors of mass media have the duty to promote and take care of the technical improvement and the better professional preparation and practice of the mass media people.

The workers should be aware of their right to voice their opinions through mass media, and that theirs is an active voice within society, so that they may not be possibly exploited.

Interrelations with authority

It is the right as well as the duty of public authority to see the development of a proper employment policy which is affecting all citizens according to their respective capacities; public authority should also evolve a policy where the rights of man regarding work are respected and where the performance of work and the administration of its benefits are in keeping with human dignity; appropriate attention should be given the area of social security and fair distribution and access to material goods; also to fair interaction within the enterprise; to a wider participation of all the different sectors which are part of the enterprise itself; to an honest administration and use of public funds; public authority should also see to it that the right of association is respected; the same holds true for the means conducive to any fair demand.

Civil authority is duty-bound to respect every citizen’s right to work, to diversify work, to further it by providing appropriate mechanism of contributions and loans, and advisory services; to supervise the interrelations existing among the enterprise administration, the financing body and the labor force while at the same time keeping a balance so as to avoid undue State interference.  As the arbiter of common welfare, civil authority  should supervise the preservation of natural resources so that the national economy does not need to depend wholly on foreign aid which, though apparently beneficial at first, may be a dangerous commitment in the long run.  Civil authority should also watch so that the trades, the profession, and the country’s wealth may fulfill their special function and not be exploited simply for private gain and become dehumanized.

Means of Education for Justice as regards the World of Labor

Among the means of education for justice in the labor world the following should be considered:

Publications on the social doctrine of the Church for the consumption of both employers and employees; also specialized courses on the same topic in order to make it known and deeply understood.  Advisory services offered to the labor institutions, such as unions, associations, etc., in order to orient them in the practice of the principles of social justice.  To celebrate Labor Day with a properly Christian orientation.

It should be realized by those concerned that, in order to further the continuous education of the workers, the very space where they work should be utilized; as to the time, both the enterprise and the workers jointly — should be willing to make available a portion of their time.


Specific Objectives of Public Authority as regards the Education for Justice

Authority ultimately comes from God.  And because it comes from God and is accountable to God, it should be exercised by the one legitimately chosen to wield it in accordance with the laws of truth and justice.  Because it is a duty it cannot be given up without incurring irresponsibility.  Authority should always consider the close implications it bears to justice.

The evangelical notion of authority as a necessary element in any society should be developed and practised.  The just exercise of authority is a service (Mt. 20, 26 ).  “To let things go their way” is to give up that service.  It is the purpose of authority to aim at the common good dynamically (GS, 66).  Authority should be exercised as a service to everyone without any distinction, respecting the dignity of the human being always.  Authority should seek for peace and for true order in society; both are bases for genuine justice.

Coordination of all sectors of society is an important factor in the satisfactory exercise of authority.  To avoid the serious harm that might derive from lack of coordination, all the people who are charged with authority must seek coordination, all the people who are charged with authority must seek coordination among themselves.

Public Authority and Her Relations to other Sectors

The relationships of public authority to the family, the school, the parish, and the world of labor and the principles governing such relationship have been discussed above.

In its relationship with the means of social communication civil authority has the right and inalienable duty to preserve the freedom of thought and of speech through mass-media as demanded for truthful information conforming to justice, charity and reliability, yet within the prudent limits of discretion, honesty and character formation.  It should also see to it that the respect due both to individuals and to groups and institutions as regards their integrity, their national and international reputation is safeguarded; it must also see the equal apportionment of opportunities of access to mass media for all members of society, always within the framework of public order, justice and equality; to demand from the Means of Social Communication the timely correction of misinformation whenever truth, or the reputation of either of people or of institutions has been damaged.

As promoter of society, therefore, civil authority should channel the means of social communication towards the common welfare.

Civil authority should see to it that communication keeps its essential requirements such as:  truthfulness, sincerity, honesty; it should also supervise the quality of mass media so that moral and cultural values may be promoted and respected.

All those concerned and influential in the means of social communication have a serious responsibilty towards the formation of sound public opinion.  Civil authority must respect this responsibility.

Means of Education for Justice as Regards Authority

Public authorities should present a living testimony of justice in the performance of its functions.

Civil authority should gear programs or curricula proposed for the various levels in education, especially those pertaining to social studies and philosophy, towards education for justice.

Civil authority should respect the responsible action of citizens and their participation in affairs that concern their role both in the spiritual and in the temporal order.  Christian citizens, in particular, enjoy this right as a consequences of the existing correlation between rights and duties conferred together with christian initiation in Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.


Specific Objectives of the Means of Social Communication

The Church has a right as well as a duty to utilize all means of social communication for the purpose of evangelization.  The word of God cannot be chained.

It is necessary to promote and coordinate the means of Social Communication available to the Church.  It is also necessary to seek ways to secure the Church’s active and full presence in the human and christian orientation of all mass media and to train the christians in a critical spirit so that they may take advantage of those means and yet not be manipulated by capricious commercial interests or by ideologies alien to the Christian Spirit.

The means of social communications should have as their fundamental objective their educative and cultural function through a genuine formation and an honest information that cannot be limited to the political and economical fields such as has been the case up to the present.

Moreover, the means of social communication should act as integrating elements of the community, ecclesial as well as civil, and should promote the creativity of the person and the community.

This will only be possible when the criteria governing the education for justice is the objective truth, dignity and respect to the person within the framework of charity and evangelical prudence.

The Means of the Social Communication and their Relations with other Sectors

The principle governing the relationship of mass media to the other sectors of society — the family, the school, the parish, the world of labor, and authority have been discussed above.

Means of Education for Justice within the Scope of Mass Media

The presence of  Church in the means of social communication is justified because of the message she is bound to convey and because of the decisive and efficacious influence mass media has today.

“Since the means of social communication (press, cinema, radio, TV, etc.) shape and control modern public opinion to a very great extent, the Church should be present in those fields.  The use of such media generally includes:  a)  pre-evangelization, that is to say the right information about the christian doctrine, christian ethics, relationship between the Church and the world which is prior  to faith;  b) cooperation in the work of evangelization so that catechetical and preaching activities may be accompanied by audio-visual means that will help a better grasping through images as is appropriate to modern culture;  c)  direct evangelization so that this may reach even those spheres or millieus that are normally beyond the scope of the preacher; and this with such a frequency as would not be possible through direct preaching.”  (Synod of Bishops, ‘Evangelization in the Modern World’ part 3, I.e).

Systematic education should include the study and practice of mass media with the purpose of training minds to critical thinking and fostering creativity.  Therefore, the use of audio-visuals should be taken into account when the programs for preaching and catechetics are being elaborated.

It is desirable that the Seminaries, Universities, Colleges, Schools and other educational centers be concerned with the formation of critical thinking as regards the means of social communication.

The Church is aware that she is not alone in the responsibility for the promotion of justice in the Philippines.  We believe, however, that she has a proper and specific responsibility — a responsibility which is identified with her mission of giving witness to love and justice in accordance with the Gospel message.  And this witnessing, if it is to be effective, must be carried out in Church institutions and the lives of all Christians.

May the merciful love of God for men in Christ Jesus, Who is the foundation of all justice, remain with all of you.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Manila

September 14, 1978
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

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A Joint Pastoral Letter to Our People

Our dearly beloved People of God:

“I must proclaim the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom of God.” (Lk. 4:43)

“It is a duty that has been laid on me (preaching the Gospel); I should be punished if I did not preach it.”  (I Cor 9:16)

“The task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.” (Synod 1974, n. 36)

A.  Evangelization

This is Evangelization: the proclamation, above all, of salvation from sin; the liberation from everything oppressive to man; the development of man in all his dimensions, personal and communitarian; and, ultimately, the renewal of society in all its strata through the interplay of the Gospel truths and man’s concrete total life (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 9, 29).

This is Our Task.  This is Our Mission.

With the help of the Holy Spirit and in communion with one another, we undertake to analyze with sincere objectivity our present Philippine situation in the light of the Gospel,  and therefrom draw principles for reflection, norms of discernment and guidelines for action (Octogesima Adveniens, n. 4).

While we are well aware of the vastness and complexity of the situation particularly in matters involving basic human rights and obligations, at the moment we consider the following as more urgent and deserving of our pastoral concern.

B.  Philippine Situation

Family Life :  We readily appreciate the efforts of the Government to improve the quality of family life.  However, we detect a marked tendency to implement this endeavor at the expense of God-given rights.  Parents are at least indirectly denied the right to determine by themselves the size of their family through socio-economic legislations.  Anti-natalist programs are openly promoted with the concerted use of Government resources:   employing coercive measures, violating consciences and even destroying the innocence of children under the guise of sexual education.  In  fact, abortion is fast becoming a practice, gradually losing its criminal character.

National Minorities :  People have a right to the integrity and enrichment of their cultures.  In this context, we praise the intent of the Government in behalf of the National Minorities. Nevertheless, the otherwise laudable program is defeated by the way it is implemented.  We regret in particular the prevention of their growth and development through a false notion of cultural authenticity.

We refer here specifically to the Presidential Arm on Cultural Minorities (PANAMIN).  It has been given the special task of protecting and uplifting the various non-Muslim minorities of the nation.    But, as we have indicated in a letter of protest to the President, the actual implementation of its programs destroy rather than preserve the cultures of the people PANAMIN works with.  And men and women working for the rights and development of cultural minorities precisely as cultural communities have been harassed and intimidated, arrested and jailed.  This we strongly deplore and condemn.

Mindanao Situation :  We recognize the delicate situation obtaining in the Government’s effort to solve the centuries-old problem in Mindanao.  This compelling desire to have peace in that area has led the  present Administration to enter into dialogue with Muslim groups.  We pray and hope that these negotiations lead to a happy and just solution.

In our prophetic role, we voice our people’s apprehension lest basic human rights be ignored in the attempt to resolve the problems.  We stand solidly for the protection of equal rights for all.

Workers for Evangelization :  The final stage in the process of Evangelization is reached when an Evangelized Community becomes an Evangelizing Community.  The implantation of a Local Church that is self-reliant, is a sign of that maturing process.  In this spirit, Local Churches have consistently prepared their members, both the Clergy and the Laity, precisely to participate actively in the work of Evangelization.  The establishment of Basic Christian Communities, whose members are united in one Faith and Hope, and bound together by Love and Service, springs from the mandate of Evangelization.  And our lay workers are essential in the implementation of this mission.  We thank them and give them our pledge of support.

It is most unfortunate that in many cases, this evangelizing work of forming and strengthening Basic Christian Communities has been misunderstood, and led to the arrests of priests, religious and lay workers, and even the deportation of foreign missionaries.

Throughout her whole history, the Church has always upheld the right of the State to protect itself any threat to its existence.  This we have never doubted.  The Church has likewise upheld the unalterable validity of the Lord’s solemn command to preach the Gospel to all men at all times.  This right deriving from that Divine Command has been generally respected by all Nations.  Our own Nation bears that salient distinction.  But like other God-given rights, this right should not be denied in the name of National Security.

Due Process :  Times of crisis such as the present one produce tensions that disturb the otherwise harmonious relationship between the Workers of Evangelization and the Guardians of Peace.  The missionary work of building Basic Christian Communities is now not infrequently suspected of subversion.  Sometimes this suspicion may be the work of insidious instigators.  At times it may be conjured by exaggerated fears.

Sobriety, goodwill and openness of mind can minimize, if not totally prevent this lamentable situation.  Our missionaries, specially the foreign ones who came to our shores at the impulse of the Holy Spirit, are caught in the dilemma of obeying God in serving man and being suspected of subversion with its untoward consequences, or avoiding such suspicion by giving up altogether their missioanry task.

We are searching for that happy understanding where the Workers of Evangelization and the Protectors  of National Security can understand and consider one another as promoters of the common welfare.  The least we ask therefore, is that at all times due process be observed in all cases of arrests and deportations of Workers of Evangelization, be they priests, religious or lay workers.

C.  Unity

We plead that we all raise our minds and hearts to Him who has called us to be His People so that we may resolve our misunderstandings particularly between the Workers of Evangelization and the Guardians of National Security, and start anew the common task of uniting our People for progress and peace.  Let us remove the painful irony that while we share common aspirations, we have nevertheless looked at each other with suspicion and mistrust.

To our Co-Workers for Evangelization, we say this:  Our evangelizing zeal must spring from true holiness of life, and, as the Second Vatican Council suggests, preaching must in its turn make the preacher grow in holiness.

The Church embraces all men as brothers under the Fatherhood of God.  She is not partial to any group.  She has a motherly sympathy for the poor and voiceless.  She has love for all, no malice towards any one.

Finally, we express our profound gratitude to you, the countless men and women and children who kept praying and offering sacrifices for us during our Meeting.  The many communications we received assuring us of your prayers that the Spirit of light and truth would enlighten our deliberations expressed not just our solidarity but that vital truth that without Him we can do nothing, and that when we are gathered in His Name, the God of Truth and Justice will abide in us.  These expressed your unity with us.  These manifested your deepest concern for our unity.  You inspired us.  You strengthened us.  We sincerely thank you.  We put in God our trust.  We ask for no greater blessing than that the unity signified in these prayers remain a permanent reality.

Your concerned Pastors,

(Sgd.)+JULIO R. CARDINAL ROSALES                     (Sgd.)+JAIME L. CARDINAL SIN
Archbishop of Cebu                                               Archbishop of Manila

(Sgd.)+PATRICK H. CRONIN                                    (Sgd.)+ANTONIO Ll. MABUTAS
Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro                                       Archbishop of Davao

(Sgd.)+ARTEMIO G. CASAS                                   (Sgd.)+ANTONIO FRONDOSA
Archbishop of Jaro                                                    Archbishop of Capiz

(Sgd.)+FRANCISCO R. CRUCES                             (Sgd.)+RICARDO J. VIDAL
Archbishop of Zamboanga                                         Archbishop of Lipa

(Sgd.)+TEOPISTO V. ALBERTO                              (Sgd.)+TEODULFO S. DOMINGO
Archbishop of Caceres                                           Archbishop of Tuguegarao

(Sgd.)+FEDERICO G. LIMON, SVD                         (Sgd.)+MANUEL S. SALVADOR
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan                             Coadjutor Archbishop of Cebu

(Sgd.)+JOSE T. SANCHEZ                                     (Sgd.)+CIRILO R. ALMARIO, JR
Bishop of Lucena                                                     Bishop of Malolos

(Sgd.)+CIRPRIANO V. URGEL                               (Sgd.)+VICENTE T. ATAVIADO
Bishop of Palo                                                      Bishop of Maasin

(Sgd.)+RAFAEL M. LIM                                         (Sgd.)+GERARD MONGEAU, OMI
Bishop of Laoag                                                          Bishop of Cotabato

(Sgd.)+PEDRO N. BANTIGUE                               (Sgd.)+ANTONIO Y. FORTICH
Bishop of San Pablo                                                Bishop of Bacolod

(Sgd.)+TEOTIMO C. PACIS                                  (Sgd.)+MIGUEL C. CINCHES, SVD
Bishop of Legazpi                                                       Bishop of Surigao

(Sgd.)+JUAN N. NILMAR                                      (Sgd.)+VICENTE P. REYES
Bishop of Kalibo                                                 Bishop of Cabanatuan

(Sgd.)+JOSE C. SORRA                                     (Sgd.)+ANGEL T. HOBAYAN
Bishop of Virac                                                  Bishop of Catarman

(Sgd.)+EPIFANIO B. SURBAN                            (Sgd.)+MIGUEL PURUGGANAN
Bishop of Dumaguete                                              Bishop of Ilagan

(Sgd.)+CELESTINO R. ENVERGA                      (Sgd.)+RICARDO TANCINCO
Bishop of Daet                                            Bishop of Calbayog

(Sgd.)+FELIX Z. ZAFRA                                     (Sgd.)+FELIX PEREZ
Bishop of Dipolog                                             Bishop of Imus

(Sgd.)+CELSO N. GUEVARRA                          (Sgd.)+JESUS B. TUQUIB
Bishop of Balanga                                         Bishop of Pagadian

(Sgd.)+NICOLAS M. MONDEJAR                       (Sgd.)+ONESIMO C. GORDONCILLO
Bishop of Romblon                                             Bishop of Tagbilaran

(Sgd.)+PORFIRIO R. ILIGAN                             (Sgd.)+JESUS Y. VARELA
Bishop of Masbate                                            Bishop of Ozamiz

(Sgd.)+VICTORINO C. LIGOT                            (Sgd.)+CARMELO D.F. MORELOS
Bishop of San Fernando of La Union                                Bishop of Butuan

(Sgd.)+JOSEPH W. REGAN                             (Sgd.)+HENRY BYRNE
Prelate Ordinary of Tagum                                Prelate Ordinary of Iba

(Sgd.)+ODILO ETSPUELER, SVD                     (Sgd.)+JOSE MA. QUEREXETA, CMF
Prelate Ordinary of Bangued                                 Prelate Ordinary of Isabela

Prelate Ordinary of Bayombong                       Prelate Ordinary of San Jose

(Sgd.)+REGINALD ARLISS, CP                        (Sgd.)+FEDERICO O. ESCALER, SJ
Prelate Ordinary of Marbel                                   Prelate Ordinary of Kidapawan

Prelate Ordinary of Malaybalay                           Prelate Ordinary of Iligan

(Sgd.)+JULIO X. LABAYEN, OCD                    (Sgd.)+PHILIP F. SMITH, OMI
Prelate Ordinary of Infanta                                Vicar Apostolic of Jolo

Vicar Apostolic of Palawan                        Vicar Apostolic of Mountain Province

(Sgd.)+SIMEON O. VALERIO, SVD                (Sgd.)+JUAN B. VELASCO, OP
Vicar Apostolic of Calapan                        Vicar General for the Chinese in the Phil.

(Sgd.)+FERNANDO R. CAPALLA                   (Sgd.)+EMILIANO MADANGENG
Auxiliary Bishop of Davao                         Auxiliary Bishop of Mountain Province

(Sgd.)+LEOPOLDO A. ARCAIRA                   (Sgd.)+IRENEO A. AMANTILLO, CSsR
Auxiliary Bishop of Malolos                          Auxiliary Bishop of Cagayan de Oro

(Sgd.)+CONCORDEO SARTE                       (Sgd.)+SALVADOR L. LAZO
Auxiliary Bishop of Caceres                          Auxiliary Bishop of Tuguegarao

(Sgd.)+GAUDENCIO B. ROSALES                (Sgd.)+OSCAR V. CRUZ
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila                        Auxiliary Bishop of Manila

Auxiliary Bishop of Cotabato                   Auxiliary Bishop of Jaro

Titular Bishop of Girba

Bishops’ Annual Meeting
January 29, 1977
Cebu City

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With Special Reference to Catechetics for Children and Adults

The local Church of the Philippines views Catechetics as a vital and timely concern in our times.  The theme of the forthcoming Roman Synod, “Catechetics in Our Time,” comes in as a logical sequence of the deliberations of the last Synod in 1974, and of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi.  The Bishops of the Philippines, in line with the renewed stress on Catechetics, faithful to the guidelines contained in the General Catechetical Directory as well as in the Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World, and reaffirming their solidarity with the Universal Church and with their own people, propose the following observations for serious study and consideration.

Underlying these observations is the desire to be of assistance in the deepening and strengthening of the Church’s “supreme and absolutely necessary function” of making more easily understood the “message of salvation” by men of all times “in order that they may be converted to God through Christ that they may interpret their whole life in the light of the faith,… and that they may lead a life of faith in keeping with the dignity which the message of salvation has brought them and that faith has revealed to them.”1

I.  General Observations

  1. Catechesis is a clear and faithful presentation of the content of  God’s  revelation as taught authoritatively by the Church and having  as  its  aim  the clarity, maturity and vigor of the faith.2 Modern theological and catechetical explorations may prove to be sources  of catechetical  clarity;  but this will just result in the  confusion  of  the faithful  unless  they are made coherent with the  fundamental  doctrines  of the Church  as proposed by the Magisterium.
  2. Without neglecting the traditional catechetical work carried out in school and out of school, there is urgent need to move more decisively in the direction of Adult Catechesis, in such a  way  as  to steer up the evangelizing resources inherent in family life.
  3. Since  the  majority  of   our  people  have  already   been baptized, a certain number of them have also been instructed, but  very  few indeed have been truly converted to the Lord Jesus and the practical demands of His Gospel, priority must be given in all our catechetical efforts to the creation of various models of the Catechumenate.3
  4. The establishment of small Christian communities which are imbued with truly ecclesial quality, constitutes nowadays one  of  the  most  challenging  developmental thrusts of our pastoral ministry.  The Pope speaks of these communities, if they  are  genuinely  ecclesial,  as  “sharing the Church’s life, nourished  by  her  teaching  and  united  with her pastors.”4 There  are  five  essential  elements  which  identify the local Christian   community   as   ecclesial,   i.e.,  the  Gospel,   the Eucharist,  the  Church,  the Bishop and  the Spirit.  If one of these marks is missing, or is not at least  inchoately  present, the assembly may be made up of Christians, but  it is not (or is not yet) truly an ecclesial community.  In the present position paper, whenever small Christian community is mentioned it should be understood in the above context.  In this sense also we find the importance of the small Christian community:  it can help in the Christian renewal of the faithful,  it  foments the  creation  of  new  lay  ministries  and  fosters  more  lay participation  in  and  dedication to the evangelization of the whole community.

Hence, in the light of these observations, we make the following proposals.

II.  Proposals

A.  Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis in Catechesis

  1. We see a need of catechesis formulating its teaching in such  a  way  as  to  be properly and effectively received and absorbed by the catechized  in  the  language  of the present situation but still remaining always faithful to the contents of God’s revelation as authoritatively taught by the Church.

We note with grave concern that parents, expressing their alarm over their children’s lack of doctrinal formation even after years of catechetical instruction, often hold Catholic schools responsible for this state of affairs.  This does not necessarily mean lack of content in our present catechesis; some other factors may also be considered as contributing to this apparent failure such as environment, methodology, catechists’ formation, the time element, etc.

In order to be effectively received and absorbed by the faithful in their Christian living the communication of the Divine Message avails itself of pertinent research in sociology, anthropology, history and culture.  All these, however, should serve and never obfuscate the “clear proclamation that in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became man, died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to every man as a gracious gift inspired by God’s mercy.”5

But in today’s world one needs more than mere teaching in words about Christ and His message.  One needs environs which live the message of reconciliation and sharing as brought to us by Christ.  He is the ever-new inspiration of each one personally in his daily actuations and the source of growth in their communal living. The community becomes Christ-Centered, not so much from an intellectual act of faith in Him by all members of that community, but much more by each one’s effort to attune his daily relationships with the others in his community after the example of Christ, living among people.”6

We call this the Orthopraxis of catechesis.  Its two pillars are reconciliation and sharing.  By this and through this the community will be totally different from the political or economic community which we see around us.  Its internal network of relationships is radically different:  instead of exploitation we have acceptance; instead of greed we have sharing; instead of authoritarian imposing on others we have listening to each other.

  1. It is our considered view that a serious effort must now be made  to  clarify  in  the  minds  of  all  those  engaged in the catechetical  apostolate  what  is   the  aim  and  purpose  of catechesis.

Catechetics is supposed to build upon the conversion in Christ which is achieved in evangelization through the proclamation of the message of salvation and proceeds to develop systematically the adherence to it.7 Its aim is not a detached and uncommitted imparting of knowledge, but rather the sharing of a knowledge that inspires those who shall receive it to keep alive, conscious and active the faith previously received and accepted and to properly nurture it.8 The knowledge imparted in catechetics must be considered as a means to facilitate man’s response to God’s call for closer union with Him, in such a way that God’s ideas, values and ways9 and “the eternal decisions of His will regarding the salvation of men,”10 fully revealed in Christ, may become the point of reference of their lives.  We feel that a more intimate understanding of the nature of catechesis is required even among ourselves.  Catechists, especially, should be equipped with a more profound understanding of their apostolate.

Thus, a clear and concise explanation of the objectives of the catechetical function in the Church (quite distinct from the catechism itself) as had been already concisely presented in the General Catechetical Directory11 should be stressed and developed, incorporating the Church’s own understanding over time for her own “supreme and absolutely necessary function.”  Pastoral letters and pertinent exhortations by the local Conference of Bishops may highlight the local Church’s own perception of the depth, extent and coverage of her mission, thus contributing to a localized presentation of catechesis.

  1. The  formation  of  the  right  attitude  of  faith should be stressed in our catechetical programs.

Catechesis presupposes an attitude of faith, a personal and loving acceptance by the catechized of the person of God and of everything He tells us.

We therefore believe that it is of vital concern to the Church to reintensify her efforts at evangelization, whose precise objective is the achievement of the attitude of loving acceptance, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We also deeply feel the need to provide catechists and those who shall take charge of evangelization with the necessary knowledge which could allow them to discern the existence of faith, the acceptance of Jesus Christ in those to whom they shall impart further, more specific knowledge.  But more important than just a knowledge or a technique of discernment of the true faith of the people, true discernment is to be acknowledged to be a gift which flows from the Holy Spirit to whom, therefore, we must ceaselessly address ourselves while performing our catechetical apostolate.

  1. The success of any catechetical program rests, among other things,  on  the  degree of  awareness  and  conviction  of the members of the Hierarchy whose principal role is to function as the official catechists of the People of God.

More important than that, pastoral letters and homilies, in insuring the success of our catechetical programs, is the living witness of the Bishops and the parish priests.  This can be shown by their initiative, understanding and persevering support–including financial–of the efforts of the lay catechists.

  1. The right  formation of our catechists should be given the required priority of consideration.

Availability and willingness to participate in the catechetical ministry are not sufficient ingredients of success.  “No one gives what he does not have” is a dictum as valid in philosophy as it is in the prophetic mission of the Church.  Therefore, sufficient attention should be given by those concerned to the proper and adequate formation of our lay catechists.

B.  Adult Catechesis

  1. We  propose  a  more  extensive (and intensive) catechesis for adults and of the youth in and out of school.

We feel very specially that this effort should be intensified with the purpose in mind of leaving no sector of our society ignorant of the message of salvation and that the proclamation of this message should be oriented towards the strengthening of family life and community building.

We observe that, because of this lack of orientation, not a few among the faithful have been deluded into endorsing those means of family limitation which are unnatural and artificial.  We also see certain groups of adults openly advocating state divorce apart from the legalization of the annulment of marriages, which could eventually contribute to the deterioration of the stability of the married state.

We also feel that a certain amount of permissiveness in sexual matters is evident among the youth, making it doubly difficult for them to reconcile their creative urges with the divine purpose for which they were intended.

We note the perpetuation of self-interest as a continuing guide in social and political life.  This self-interest derives from a basic lack of respect for the rights of others and the rights of a community over the individuals.

We feel that a solid emphasis on the communitarian aspects of life in the Church is called for, especially in the catechesis of adults and of the youth in and out of school.

  1. In the Philippine context, as in other developing countries two  powerful   influences  which  may  affect,  favorably  or unfavorably  the  effectiveness  of  catechesis  for  adults  are strongly felt;
    1. We take note that Filipino culture is in many ways a  “culture  of  mediation.”   Extensive  us  is   made  of   “go-betweens ” to  facilitate  access  by  ordinary  man  to people occupying positions of power, wealth, higher learning.  This phenomenon translates   itself into popular religious culture, one of whose most    striking  characteristics is the popularity of devotion to the Saints viewed as mediators and intercessors before the throne of God.

Devotion to Our Lady is of invaluable help to both the evangelization and catechetical effort of the Philippines.

It  is  necessary,  therefore,  to bridge  the growing gap between believers who  choose to profess only the essentials of faith and those who actively involve  themselves in popular religious fervor.  Frank and  sincere  interaction  can  become mutually enriching and could  only  redound to a deepening of the life of faith.

    1. Technological progress in developing countries is fast widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots, the rich and the poor, the technocrats and the unlearned, the urban center and the rural area.

In  the  Philippines–as  in  many developing societies–the Church is called  upon to preach within  the context  of these  divergent   sectors,  especially  within  the  context  of  both a progressive  urban  center  and  depressed  rural  area where progress  is  slow  and  the  hold  of traditional values is still strong.

Care must therefore be taken to see to it that the values and  examples invoked in catechetics take full cognizance of the  state  of  development of the catechized as well as of the values they hold and accept.

  1. People today, especially in a developing country like ours, go  by values  which  they  can see and touch:  money, prestige, power.  Catechetics  must  give  them values which they can equally see and touch, but which are just the opposite of what they  experience  in  daily life, namely, the values of sharing, respect for each person, reconciliation.  But how to make these values  “seen  and  touched?”   By  gathering people in small viable communities who are helped to live by these values of the Gospel.  Such communities are not just an exercise of the intellect, but rather an exercise in living.  This means that no genuine  catechetical  program  can  exist without a genuine liturgical  and  social program. The Liturgy must radiate life, not  just  routine  words and the social involvement must be based on the values of reconciliation, unity and sharing.
    1. Hence  it  is important to see the clear link existing between Catechetics  and Liturgy   so  beautifully expressed in   the  official  Introduction  to  all  the  new  Rites   for  the Sacraments.  We might well admit that much of this is not yet implemented to its fullest extent and may also be a factor in the  weakening  of  the  catechetical profile in our country.  A renewal  in  catechetics  will only be viable if it will be based on a renewal in the celebration of the Liturgy. So  far  the  liturgical renewal has been often restricted to the updating  of  the  rubrics.  Our country  lacks  enough liturgical  centers  for  study  and deepening the spirit of the Liturgy.   Efforts  to  make  the  Liturgy  more  relevant   and catechetically appealing seem to be frowned upon or at least not encouraged.  In the absence of proper liturgical centers of study and research, there is danger that we may end up, with two kinds of Liturgy:  one barren and dry based on no more than the rubrics, and the other full of all possible innovations based on mere emotions.  In both instances, the opportunity for genuine catechetical formation will be lost.
    2. Similarly,  there  is a link between Catechetics and Social  Awareness .    If   catechetics  remains   a   mere exercise  of   the  mind  without  any relevance to  actual life,  socially motivated Christians will “use” catechetics as a tool for their own ideological purposes.  The  answer  is  not  to  condemn such  Christians  but  to  give  them  better catechetical  tools which relate to life around us.  Proper catechetics must open the  minds  and the hearts of  the listeners by discovering together   the   deeper  motivation  of  God’s  plan   for  man.  Catechetics  must give us  the  tools  to  compare:   how  God  looks  at  man, and how man today looks at himself  and his neighbor.

Christian  Social  Action  will only  be Christian  to the extent that it activates us to  implement God’s view  on  man while catechetics in our time will only be relevant to the extent that it gives us the correct view of man as seen by God.

  1. We believe  that the catechetical effort  in the Philippines must, at this point of history, seek to re-examine not only the culture and economic structure of  the  country,  but also  the political context within which the Church  is  called  upon  to unfold her message.

It is noted with grave concern that political issues are beginning to create divisions within the ranks of the clergy and the faithful.  There is even a tendency to approve of the system of authoritarianism, regardless of the adverse effects to human religious liberty which it may entail.  There is also a growing rift — a chasm of mutual indifference — between those who seek to assert, at least implicity, the primacy of liberation from material wants and those who rightly insist that the Church’s primary mission is the proclamation of the Good News to all men.”12

A proper understanding of the aims and objectives of adult catechesis, of the Church’s “supreme and absolute necessary function” will help heal the wounds which politicalization has inflicted upon the ranks of the faithful and the clergy.

C.  The Catechumenate

  1. The  essence  of  the catechumenate should be an intense pedagogy towards Evangelical conversion.

The process of conversion is a continuing process covering the whole range of our Christian life through the different stages and situations of life which require a knowledge of the practical demands of the Gospel.  It could be a catechesis of initiation in man’s first contact with the teaching of the faith; it could be an “ongoing catechesis” drawing out the implications of the Gospel in the various situations of life; it could be a perfective catechesis directed to those whom a special mission or vocation impels to a deeper penetration of faith.

Hence a series of models of catechumenate could be created to make the life of the faithful more meaningful in the light of the Gospel.

  1. Priority must be given in our catechetical efforts not only to the creation of as many models but to the enriching of such models  including  a  long-range process and programming, for  a  more  effective   pedagogy  and   movement   towards envangelical conversion.
  2. These  models  must  however  be  sufficiently flexible to adjust to the built-in limitations of  time  and local resources and to the needs of those catechized.

D.  The “Organized” and the “Organizing” Community

  1. Since, as stated above, the aim of catechetics is, “the sharing of a knowledge that inspires those who shall receive it to keep alive, conscious and active the faith previously received and accepted and to properly nurture it,” in practice, such an aim demands an environment which would promote its growth.  It  is  in  this  context  that  the  special  importance  of  small Christian communities, which are genuinely  ecclesial, should be seen and appreciated.13
  2. We  affirm  that  the  proclamation of Revelation is also a message  of  Salvation answering the aspirations our people.  This  proclamation   should   be   incarnated   in   the   social, economic,  political  and  cultural  situation  of  our  people, stressing  the  building  of  small communities of faith which will   promote    a   more   Christian   environment   through witnessing and worshipping.
  3. There  is a need for professionally trained catechists who, together with the priests and other pastoral agents, will lead our people in building small Christian communities.

But we believe that this goal will not be attained unless our people understand and accept their responsibilityas prophets to evangelize and catechize their own family and members of small Christian communities.

  1. Our  catechesis  should  make adults, youth and children aware of their mission as  Church, and where and how they may and  must accomplish it.  This  catechesis for adults, for youth  and  for children  cannot  be  independent  from  one another but must be coordinated towards the common  goal of building small Christian communities.

III.  On Specific Catechetical Problems

The following are reactions to specific catechetical problems mentioned in the Synod Schema.  They do not follow the sequence of the Schema, but are rather ranged according to the order of our General Observations:

1.  The Aims of Catechetics

There is probably general agreement — in the conceptual order — to the following objectives of catechetics,namely:

  1. To arrive at a Christian interpretation of life;
  2. To train oneself and others to see everything in the light of faith;
  3. To  take the necessary steps, based on a Christian view of life and history to intensify man’s personal union with Christ through   prayer,   apostolic   action   and   reception   of   the sacraments.

However, there is still a surprising degree of disagreement and variance with reference to the choice of means and the application of those means to achieve the above aims.

Thus, it would not be unusual for groups to appear to emphasize say, the simple transmission of doctrine, preparation for reception of the sacraments, or rote-memorization of the tenets of the faith while being in complete agreement with the above objectives.  Rather than begin to decry these emphases or directions, an attempt will have to be made to understand, first of all, why such directions have taken the forefront.  In other words, rather than force a uniform emphasis, a serious evaluation of specific circumstances must be undertaken.

What is said here about the efforts of groups within a diocese can also be said about different countries represented within the Church itself.

For example, Philippine Christianity may be criticized for the heavy emphasis on devotional practices to the seeming neglect of a concerted effort in the line of “liberating people from social, political, economic, and moral conditioning.”  This emphasis even appears to have the sanction of the Hierarchy, and for this it is possible that the official Church itself could be held blame-worthy.

Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that devotions and their ritualization have already become part of Philippine culture and tradition.  In this sense, they may be outside the pale of ecclesiastical authority and influence.  As in Latin America, where accion popular seems to be the by-word, it may even be pastorally inadvisable to exert anything but the most prudent effort to change this situation, since its acceptance by the People of God can be interpreted as the popular will.  The approach of catechetical agents can only be directed at integrating devotional/ritual practices within a broader framework which should clearly show that such practices make sense only if other matters are fullfilled or attended to.

If catechists were to follow the path of discrediting or relegating to a very secondary position such practices without offering alternatives, grave dangers would arise.  The first of these dangers is that, because of human attachment to such practices, a frontal discrediting of them might lead to complete rejection of the faith and the creation of a vacuum.  The second is also related to the first:  rituals are probably one of the few remaining links which can be used for the intensification of a life of faith.  Sever this link and the opportunity for a deepening of belief may also be lost.

Therefore, even if devotions and rituals may look like substitutes and surrogates for the neglect of more critical requirements of Christian life, understood in a fuller biblical sense, we cannot close our eyes to their significance in the lives of those who practice them.

2.  Content of Faith and Catechetics

We have in our country two main tendencies in the approach to the content of faith.  The first is the traditional –the doctrinal–oftentimes culture-bound in the sense that it is transmitted through the elders of the community and the family.  Hence, our old presentation of the faith has been colored or nuanced by folk-belief of the people transmitting it.

The second is the experiential .  This approach has emphasized social situations and their emotional impact to the extent that the fundamental message of salvation expressed in the doctrine of the Church has been placed too much in the background.  For the past few years, this approach has taken prominence in the Philippine catechetical movement.  Hence, when reversals of social situations occurred, catechesis began losing its force and vitality.

For the first trend we propose a proper reorientation by being faithful to the message of salvation as expressed by the Church in her doctrines.

For the second trend we propose that our area of human realities be widened.  We should take into account not merely ephemeral social situations, but also the popular devotions and common religious practices as integral components of our Philippine situation.

The values then derived from all these should be related to the message of salvation.14 This approach will therefore call for a revision in depth of our local catechesis — its approach, the ambits of its content.  All the while, in the process of this revision in depth we should strive to bring out the riches of the fundamental message of salvation, the very essence of Christian life.

3.  Catechetics and Modern Cultures

What can be considered an integral part of traditional Filipino culture in the strict sense, are the devotional practices to honor Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints.  There are always some quasi-religious or religious ritual for nearly all occasions from birth to burial, through marriage, baptisms, construction of residences, etc.  These should be viewed as apertura or openings to a deepening of faith.  Modernizing agents — principally oriented towards material prosperity, efficiency and scientific rationalism — are attempting to introduce new values in the system.

The difficulties arise from the inroads of modernization, and these are very similar to those which can be observed in the countries of Western Europe, among others.  However, there is a surprising degree of syncretism which makes easy for the host culture to assimilate foreign cultures.  In the process, neither culture survives in its original form although the devotional practices mentioned earlier have survived for a long time.  In fact, it is the ritualization of many of these devotions which could account for their resiliency over time.

What appears to be more interesting in the Philippine case is not the comparison between the existing culture and the culture of the young or of the West but rather that between the new prescribed culture and the traditional  culture.

Various seminars, in-service training programs and catechetical schools, together with organized efforts at parish, diocesan or national levels, have been directed towards renewal of catechetical language and methods.  The results have been good, when judged from the viewpoint of doctrines set forth by Vatican II.  But the question still remains:  Has catechesis become anymore relevant now than it was in the past?  In other words, reform should go beyond language and method.  It must cover content:  In this respect also the local application of the directives of Vatican II should take account of the existing traditional cultures.

4.  Catechesis and Social Situations

As it can be ascertained the experiments cover areas like language — the problem of translation into the vernacular methods — away from the school-church situation towards something more personal (though less efficient); cultural adaptation — suiting the message to the local cultural mould.  It has been voiced by some people/groups, however, that because of these changes in catechesis children never really get the “fundamentals” of the faith (meaning:  as contained in the post-Tridentine catechism).  The problem may even be more basic:  the parents (Tridentine-trained) may no longer be able to help in catechizing the young, who are presumably trained in whatever is said to have resulted from Vatican II.

Furthermore, what has been said above regarding the risks of an exclusively or excessively predominant experiential approach to catechetics, too dependent on social situations, is particularly applicable here.15

5.  Catechetics and the School

As already mentioned, catechesis seems to be concentrated mostly in the schools.  Out-of-schools children and youth receive minimal attention.  Moreover, in many places they are completely neglected, acquiring their religious ideas from the general culture of  the people.

There are formal theology classes at the university level in Catholic institutions.  In other instances, seminars and activities such as workshops, field work, renewal sessions, Bible classes and charismatic sessions are valid vehicles for catechesis.

6.  Catechesis for Children, Young People and Adults

Catechesis for children is emphasized with little active support from the home.  It is mostly done in the atmosphere of the school or the parish church — seldom in the home, though some efforts to involve the parents are made by school and pastors.  The community acts, like the parents, through surrogates:  the teachers, the volunteers, the priest and religious.  There is little reinforcement which can be had from the community or the home.  What might perhaps create some worry is the fear that even the home and the community impart “religious ideas” which, upon closer look, are heterodox or unorthodox, to say the least.

Young people and adults seldom get a systematic development of the message since as one grows older his attention is increasingly focussed upon social involvement and family life — a remark which is valid even for religious groups and organizations.  The only message which filters through at these later stages is the vague feeling that the Church is pro-justice, freedom, peace, love, etc., the “why” however, is seldom clear.  One could easily get as a result a “humane type of morality”:  goodness for the sake of smoother social interaction.

Some proposals are therefore in order for a more effective catechesis of these different age groups.

a)  Catechesis for Children

    1. Fuller use of liturgical and paraliturgical practices would help the children imbibe the Message.
    2. Popular religious culture, properly explained, could be of great aid to the catechist.
    3. The participation of children in classroom activities should be encouraged, if only to open their eyes and to lead  them  to  ask questions — the  answers  to  which shall be their initiation to catechetics.
    4. Apostolic   organizations   at   the   parochial  and diocesan  level  should  take  it  upon   themselves   to organize  religion  classes  whenever no  provision for these has been made along with organized activities of play and worship.  This latter concept serves to instill early in life a sense of community.

b)  Catechesis for Adolescents and Young Adults

    1. Special emphasis on the preparation  for family  life should be made at this level  or even  earlier if,  in  the judgment of the local pastors, communications media have  already  implanted  ideas  which  in  time  could prove harmful.
    2. The  passion of Christ as an expression of His love for  men  deserves  special  mention.  The image of the Church  as  an  assembly  or  community of  love  and service should also be fostered.
    3. Apostolic  organizations  among  adolescents and young adults — working with the poor or their elders, or  within  their  own  age group — would develop the youth’s   creative   drive,   whose   manifestations   are strongest  at  this  level,  a  drive  which  needs  to find fulfillment and selfless expression.

c)  Catechesis for Adults

    1. This  is  a kind of catechumenate as the adult goes into  diverse  interests  and  occupations  and  various strata of society.  What has been said of the catechumenate in general applies particularly to this group.
    2. Special  mention  must  be  made,  however, of the development of the gift of discernment of the signs of the times since upon the shoulders of  adults  rests  the important responsibly  of  executing  or  even  making social decisions.  These decisions must be such that they do not delay or create barriers against  the  coming  of the Kingdom.


As a conclusion, we would like to take cognizance of the great and noble work which the vast numbers of catechists throughout the whole world have done in communicating the Divine Message through catechesis.  The whole Church turns to them in gratitude and appreciation; the Schema is a great tribute to them and to the importance of their work.

Finally, we strongly suggest that catechists should accentuate the movement towards total conversion of the whole man, the dynamism towards personal union with God which the Holy Spirit sustains in all those who accept that Jesus is Christ, the eternal Son of God made man, and an outpouring of the effects of this union through Christian witness.

Baguio City
13 July, 1977

1  General Catechetical Directory (GCD) 37.
2  This is explained with greater detail below in section II, first Proposal and especially in section III, 1.  “The Aims of Catechetics”, under a somewhat different aspect.  Although the emphasis is also different these aspects are complementary.
3  On this see infra under section II, C.  “The Catechumenate”.
4  Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN) 58.
5  EN 27.
6  Growing-up Towards a New Community.  Practical Guide for Building Christian Communities.  Ed. by Mensa Domini Catechetical Institute, San Jose, Antique, p. 11.
7  Cf. GCD 17-18.
8  See footnote 2 supra.
9  Cf. Is 55:8.
10  Dei Verbum 6.
11  GCD 21.
12  See the pastoral letter of the Philippine Bishops issued in Cebu, January 1977, on “The Bond of Love Proclaiming the Good News”.  See also EN 32-35.
13  Besides the already mentioned letter of the Philippine Bishops, see also nn.  41-50 of the Conclusions of the Asian Colloquium on Ministries in the Church published by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (Hongkong-Manila, 1977).  The Colloquium was held 27 February-5 March 1977 in Hongkong.  On “base communities” cf. also EN 58.
14  Gaudium et Spes 11.
15  See supra under n. 2 “Content of Faith and Catechesis”.

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On September 26 of this year our Holy Father Pope Paul VI will reach the venerable age of 80.  The whole Catholic world (and we are sure many others) will greet him with filial affection, and will offer prayers of gratitude to God, that in this age of numerous, unprecedented problems, He has given us a wise, courageous, fatherly and saintly pastor.  The people of the Philippines wish to add their greeting and prayers to those of the rest of the world and to salute the successor of St. Peter.  The successor of Peter!  Consider what the title implies.

The Primacy of Peter

Peter even in the time of Christ already enjoyed an undefined primacy among the twelve.  He is mentioned more often than the other Apostles; all the evangelists agree in according him a certain de facto leadership, a special intimacy with Christ.  This prominence, begun in the life of Christ and obviously intended by Him, became sharper after the Ascension when Peter appears as the acknowledged head of the infant Church.

Christ showed himself the author of this primacy especially in three remarkable incidents.  Best known of these is the familiar scene recorded in the 16th chapter of St. Matthew.  The passage is as follows:

Jesus put this question to his disciples:  “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”  And they said:  “Some say He is John the  Baptist,  some  Elijah,  and  other  Jeremiah  or  one  of  the prophets.”  “But you,” he said, “who do you say I am?” Simon Peter  spoke  up, “You  are  the Christ,” he said, “the Son of the living  God.”  Jesus  replied,  “Simon,  son of  Jonah,  you are a happy  man!  Because  it  was not flesh and blood that revealed this  to  you  but  my  Father  in  heaven.  So  I now say to you.  You  are  Peter,  and on this rock  I will build my Church.  And the  gates  of  the  underworld  can never  hold out against it.  I will   give  you  the  keys  of  the Kingdom  of heaven; whatever you  bind  on  earth,  shall   be  considered  bound   in   heaven; whatever  you loose  on  earth   shall  be   considered  loosed  in heaven.”1

Powerful though this statement is, more powerful even are the words of Jesus to Peter on the lake shore after the resurrection, because they were conveyed in the shepherd-image so familiar to the Jewish mind and so identified with authority.  Three times our Lord drew from St. Peter a profession of love and three times our Lord answered:  “Feed my lambs,” “Look after my sheep,”  “Feed my sheep”.2 The rest of Christ’s followers, the apostles no less than those of humbler rank were placed in Peter’s charge.  He was to lead them, guide them, nourish them.

This explicit mandate at the lake shore echoed a promise previously given at the Last Supper.  At that most important moment, when Christ was making his final disposition for His Church, he addressed himself to Peter.  “Simon, Simon, Satan has got his wish to shift you all like wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.”3 This prophecy is all the more remarkable because it was uttered in the context of the warning of Peter’s falls.  Notwithstanding his lamentable manifestation of weakness, Peter would still remain the rock.

The Primary of the Pope

These gifts were obviously not intended only for Peter in his life time.  They were for the Church and so would pass on to the successors of Peter, the Bishops of Rome.  Not much is known about the early Roman Church but it is significant that whenever this Church appears, the role is a general superintendence over all Christians, an exercise in other  words of the primacy.  A striking indication of the well-established position of the Bishop of Rome was the authoritative intervention of Pope Clement in the Church of Corinth about the year 90.  This is especially significant because John the Apostle was still alive, and his Church of Ephesus was nearer to the erring community.

The Second Vatican Council therefore voices the sense of Sacred Scripture, Catholic belief and history when it says:

In  this  Church  of  Christ  the  Roman   Pontiff  is  the successor of Peter, to whom Christ entrusted the feeding of his sheep   and  lambs.  Hence   by  divine   institution  he   enjoys supreme,  full, immediate  and  universal  authority  over   the care  of souls.  Since he is pastor of all the faithful, his mission is to provide for the common good of the universal church and for the  good of the inidividual churches.  He holds therefore a primacy of ordinary power over all the churches.4

One cannot escape the earnest intent of the Council to guard against any misunderstanding or any minimizing of this important truth.  The Pope in his own right has authority that is supreme, over all the churches.  It is full, over everything pertaining to them.  It is immediate, directly touching all members including bishops.  It is ordinary, by the very reason of his office and not delegated to him.

If our Lord’s impressive words, the tradition of the Church and the words of the Council tell us something very important about the Pastor, they also tell us something important about the sheep, the whole membership of the Church of which the Pope is the head, rock, key-bearer and shepherd.  All without exception are called upon to render Peter’s successor the respect and obedience due to his high position as Supreme Head of the Church.

The Roman Curia — The Pope’s Instrument

Obviously the Pope is not able alone to transact the complex business of governing and instructing the Church.  “In exercising supreme, full and immediate power over the universal Church, the Roman Pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia.  These therefore perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the Church and in the service of the Sacred Pastors.”5 These departments should therefore be accorded the respect and obedience their position demands.

Pope Paul VI has been concerned to make these auxiliaries more efficient and more sensitive to the needs of the whole Church.  Following suggestions of the Second Vatican Council he has internationalized the Curia6 and recruited for it an impressive number of men who have had pastoral experience in governing dioceses in various parts of the world.7

Synod of Bishops

A second instrument to help the Pope in his government is the Synod of Bishops which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wished to see created to help the Sovereign Pontiff.  This desire was incorporated in the Decree on the Pastoral Office of the Bishops in the Church.8 Pope Paul responded quickly to the wishes of the Council Fathers and issued a directive setting up the body.  The Synod is another indication of the increased influence of the Bishops in the Post-Vatican II Church.  At the same time it exemplifies how this influence in the individual bishop is dependent for its realization upon communication with the whole body of bishops under the Holy Father.  In other words the synod is an expression of what is called collegiality, by virtue of which every bishop even in the remotest diocese of the world is a bishop of the universal Church, and hence bound to concern for that Church and for all the Churches.  Pope Paul’s quick response to the Council’s request for an Episcopal Synod is only one indication of his warm desire to work in great fraternal accord with his fellow bishops throughout the world.  He has consistently promoted dialogue and consultation with them, and left to them wide powers to make decisions in problems of their local Churches.  In a word he has moved sincerely in the direction of the enhanced episcopal image of the Post Vatican II Church.  And all this without in the least sacrificing the prerogatives of his office.

The Teaching Office of the Pope

A very important way in which the Pope and the Bishops exercise their care for all the Churches is through the “magisterium” or teaching office of the Church.  The Second Vatican Council says:

The  Lord  Jesus  after  praying to the Father and  calling to Himself those whom he desired, appointed twelve who would stay  in  His  company  and whom he would send to preach  the Kingdom of God.9

This was the foundation of the authentic teaching office in the Church whereby these twelve and their successors, the Bishops, taught and teach with authority the truth of Christ’s kingdom.  This official teaching office continues to our day.   The bishops as a body have succeeded to the college of Apostles set up by Christ.  The Bishops are the divinely appointed teachers of the truths of Christ, but they can only exercise this function in union with the Pope.

The Pope however may act alone and requires neither the consent of the Bishops nor the approval of the faithful.  This power is inherent in the primacy by which he is supreme shepherd over all members of the flock without distinction.

The Second Vatican Council says:

In  virtue  of  his  office, that  is as Vicar of Christ and Pastor  of  the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has supreme and  universal  power  over  the  Church,  and  he can always exercise this power freely.10

If the Pope is vested with this tremendous responsibility and commission from God, the faithful throughout the world will hold his teaching in the highest respect and will accept and implement it loyally.  The Council says:

The faithful are to accept his teaching and adhere to it with  a religious assent of soul, even when he is not teaching ex-cathedra.11

These words of Vatican II remind us that the Holy Father exercises his authentic teaching, namely his official communication of Catholic truth and practise, on two levels.  There are the so-called ex cathedra pronouncements, “when in the discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of the supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith and morals to be used by the universal Church.”12 Obviously few of the Holy Father’s statements are meant to bear this solemn character.  Nearly always he exercises a less solemn but still authentic, i.e. authoritative, form of teaching, which the Council tells us is to be received with religious assent of soul.  An example of this was the Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae on the Regulation of Births.

The Pope — Principle of Unity

In that most solemn moment of Christ’s earthly sojourn, at the Last Supper, when he offered what has been described as his “priestly prayer,” he was very much preoccupied with unity among his followers:  unity among those to whom he was then bidding farewell, unity among those who would later join them:

Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name,  so  that  they  may  be  one  like  us…   I  pray  not only for these,  but for  those  also  who  through  their  words  will believe  in  me.  May they  all  be one.  Father, may they be one in  us,  as you  are  in me and I am in you…  That they may be one as we are one.13

Our Lord’s earnestness is very striking.  It would be impossible to express in warmer and more energetic terms the unity that Jesus asks for all the faithful.  Nor did Jesus fail to provide a visible principle of unity.

The First Vatican Council had already told us what it was, and the Second Vatican Council repeated this teaching:

The  Roman  Pontiff  as  the  successor  of  Peter  is  the perpetual  and  visible  source of  the  unity of the bishops and of the multitude of the faithful.14

It need not be said that we live in times when this unity is greatly strained.  There are several ways in which men may depart from unity.  They can reject some truth proposed by the Church.  Or they can refuse obedience to the Pope.  In past centuries men have left the Church by open declarations of dissent. In our day unity is subject to a more subtle and a more pernicious threat.  Men reject the teaching authority of the Church but meanwhile continue to hold ecclesiastical positions, to frequent the assemblies of the faithful and to preserve the outward forms of Catholic life.  But in as much as they are in conflict with the Pope, they are dead branches.  Inevitably this division within the Church occasions confusion to many souls.  To these souls, we say what St. Ambrose said:  The Pope is the principle of unity.  Follow him.  Ubi Petrus ibi ecclesia.  Where Peter is, there is the Church.15


Catholics throughout the world love to address the Pope as Holy Father.  In this title they blend that reverence and familiar, filial love so appropriate for Christians in their relations with him who stands to them in place of God, the Heavenly Father.  The “world” does not love the Holy Father.  Christ foretold of his followers that the “world” would hate them.16 It is not strange if this is verified in the case of the Pope.

But if there are some who find the Pope unacceptable, there are millions who love him for his unceasing efforts to be father and friend to all classes and all peoples.  We in the Philippines remember with joy his presence among us in  1970, and we are only one of the nations to which, both as Cardinal and Pope, he has journeyed in order to show his warm interest and affection.  During his Pontificate, and even before, he has manifested a special concern for the young churches of Asia and Africa.  And finally he has engaged in tireless dialogue with the leaders of other religions in a sincere ecumenical exchange.  This universal love reaching out to all men will be remembered as one of the marked characteristics of his Pontificate.

His eightieth birthday will be an occasion for us in the Philippines to examine and renew our own love, to rejoice with him and to express our thanks to God for giving him to us precisely in these days when the People of God need clear, firm, consistent, fatherly leadership.

Let us pray for our Holy Father, Paul VI:  may the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Cebu

September 8, 1977
Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady

1  Matt. 16, 13-19.
2  John 21, 15-17.
3  Luke 22, 31-32.
4  Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Pastoral Office of the Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus) no. 2.
5 Ibid., no. 9.
6  Ibid., no. 10.
7 Ibid., no. 10.
8 Ibid., no. 5.
9  Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) no. 22.
10 Ibid., no. 19.
11 Ibid., no. 25.
12  First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution:  Pastor Aeternus D. 3074.
13  John 17.
14  Pastor Aeternus D. 3051:  Lumen Gentium, no. 23.
15  Enarrationes in 12 Psalmos.  Rouet de Journel Enchiridion Patristicum 1261.
16  John 15, 18.

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