PHNO EDITORIALS & OPINIONS OF THE PAST WEEK
FROM THE MANILA TIMES

EDITORIAL: POPE SCOLDS HIS 'CABINET'
One wishes the President would also do the same to the members of his Cabinet and his presidential assistants. 

CARTOON COURTESY OF THE DAVE GRUNLAND Editorial cartoons & Illustrations ---Pope Francis gave warm blessings and messages of goodwill to his key officials and co-workers in administering the Vatican—or the Roman Curia (which is like President Aquino’s Cabinet and body of presidential assistants). But at this years annual meeting with the Curia, the Holy Father also issued what European media have called a blistering attack, warning them of catching “spiritual illnesses” if they continue the way they are and don’t struggle “to grow into becoming Christs.”
The Roman Curia is made up of the dicasteries, councils, offices, commissions and tribunals of the Vatican. He told them, “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ.” READ FULL EDITORIAL...

ALSO: Lumuha ka, aking Bayan (Weep, my people/my country, weep)

By Francisco Tatad ---For most of the year now ending, we grieved as a people over the loss of some of our most precious public goods and basic liberties. Our Constitution, customs and consciences were viciously violated, our treasury pillaged and plundered, and all by the powers and forces that were supposed to protect and promote those goods and liberties. Congress became a willing and eager captive and tool of the Palace. And for a while, Supreme Court Justices lay in mortal fear that they would follow the path of Chief Justice Renato Corona who was impeached and removed for applying the agrarian reform law on Hacienda Luisita, the Cojuangco family estate.
Yet in a rare act of courage, when the time came for them to declare what the law was, the Court unanimously struck down PNoy’s pork barrel system, also known as Priority Development Assistance Fund and Disbursement Acceleration Program, as unconstitutional and void. It was a blow to the jugular which sent PNoy writhing on the canvas. READ ENTIRE COLUMN BY FRANCISCO TATAD...

ALSO: Pope Francis and the Curia, the President and his Cabinet

by FRANCISCO S. TATAD ------From Gregory’s 1832 encyclical Mirari Vos, which condemned liberalism, to Blessed Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which condemned contraception, they have spoken consistently against errors from within and without the Church that sought to deny or subvert a doctrine or teaching of the Church. But no Pope has ever before delivered the kind of Christmas message Francis did to his collaborators.We have our fears, but we hope and pray that everything would turn out well; that the Church could use this moment as an auspicious starting point for significant reform, without allowing any of her enemies inside and outside her premises to exploit any suggested weakness and try to impose their own ideas of “reform.”  I also hope and pray that as the government prepares for the same visit, President B. S. Aquino 3rd and his Cabinet would look at those 15 “ailments,” which purportedly afflict the Curia, and see how many of them, and to what extent, afflict the Cabinet as well. The 15 points have a general application to all men and women in public life everywhere, and our officialdom, who are mostly baptized Catholics, would be doing something positive for a change if they “examined their consciences,” using those indications. EAD FULL COLUMN FROM THE BEGINNING...

ALSO EDITORIAL: The art of cyberwar

Cyberwarfare, as defined by techtarget.com, is “Internet-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks on information and information systems.” Cyberattacks can “disable official websites and networks, disrupt or disable essential services, steal or alter classified data, and cripple financial systems—among many other possibilities.”
From the realm of science fiction, cyberwarfare has jumped to the real world. What is frightening is that we are all potential victims.
Recent events give us a preview of the crippling effects of a full-scale cyberwar. It began early this month, when North Korea warned Sony Pictures Entertainment against releasing The Interview, a low-brow comedy about a plot to assassinate its supreme ruler, Kim Jong Un. Days later Sony’s computer system was hacked, and highly sensitive company information leaked out. The hacking forced Sony to cancel the movie’s release. US President Barack Obama admonished Sony for giving in to intimidation. “If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company’s distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that’s a problem,” Mr. Obama said, without making a direct reference to Kim or North Korea.READ FULL EDITORIAL

ALSO EDITORIAL: Pope’s address to Roman Curia was for examination of conscience 

NEWS reports and commentaries about the speech the Holy Father gave on the morning of December 23, during the traditional annual audience with the Cardinals and Superiors of the Roman Curia for the presentation of Christmas greetings, made it sound like the Pope was humiliating his Cabinet members. The talk he gave after he greeted the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, has been reported on and described often out of context. Some reporters and editors obviously wanted to project an image of the Pope as a stern boss at his wit’s end over the sinfulness, corruption and malfeasances of the members of the Roma Curia and the Vatican bureaucracy. A careful reading of the Pope’s speech, in which the media reported him to have  enumerated “15 ailments” of the Curia officials, will show that he was actually doing what a fatherly spiritual director does when inviting his charges to an examination of conscience. He did say this early on in his speech: “I would like our meeting and the reflections that I will share with you to become, for us all, a support and stimulus to a true examination of conscience to prepare our hearts for Holy Christmas.”CARTOON FROM  http://www.cagle.com/2013/03/popefrancislolor

ALSO OPINION: See Salvation 

by FR. JAMES McTAVISH, FMDV. M.D.--The Holy Family, Year B, December 28, 2014, Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3 / Ps 105:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9 / Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19 / Luke 2:22-40] Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family. The Scriptural readings present to us a childless couple, Abram and his wife Sarah. God gives him a new name Abraham – the Father of a host of nations. “No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations. I will render you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you.” Abraham believed the promises of God. His wife conceived because she too “believed that he who made the promise would be faithful.” The second reading of today is taken from the letter to the Hebrews. The author of this letter praises the faith of Abraham and Sarah. What we have is a family that is listening to God and believing in his promises. The family starts to walk towards becoming a holier family. Many families today give importance to the Word of God. Listening to it, meditating it and trying to apply it to their lives. One title of the family is the “Domestic church.” In the Church the Word of God is listened to and meditated. So too in the Domestic Church. St John Chrysostom commented that if not all the family are able to go to Church then the one who goes must go home and share the Word he has listened to with all the family and all the people of the house. In this way the faith of the whole family is strengthened. READ FULL COLUMN...

ALSO: Family-oriented values for the 21st century 

by Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD The values of young Filipinos A giant of a man, bearded and wearing a mask of death, wildly played a spiff on his guitar. The bassist swung his head round and round, his long hair making fractals in the air. The drummer, as if in a trance, gripped by fever and delirium, beat on the drums as if Armageddon had arrived. The soloist roared into the microphone, sounding like a wounded rhinoceros. Back-up singers wailed like banshees as they assaulted the eardrums of everyone within a half-kilometer distance. Some who were dressed like robots or samurai warriors danced with spastic, jerky movements, shouting, waving, jumping up and down. The kids all joined in a synchronous rhythmic movement that invited corresponding movements in others. The audience, hundreds of them, were crammed into an auditorium in an atmosphere of collective enthusiasm and uninhibited expression of emotions. They exhibited an effervescence that generated a sense of communal solidarity. They were all very young, hair of garish colors that can short-circuit the optic nerves. They were clad in anime and cosplay costumes, webs of glittery fabric crafted with so much creativity and forethought. Many were armed with gigantic weapons made of styrofoam and paper mache. They then paraded on the stage for the best costume contest. READ FULL COLUMN...


READ FULL MEDIA EDITORIALS & OPINIONS  HERE:

EDITORIAL: Pope scolds his ‘Cabinet’


COURTESY OF DAVE GRANLUND EDITORIAL CARTOONS & ILLUSTRATIONS

MANILA, DECEMBER 29, 2014 (MANILA TIMES)  Pope Francis gave warm blessings and messages of goodwill to his key officials and co-workers in administering the Vatican—or the Roman Curia (which is like President Aquino’s Cabinet and body of presidential assistants).

But at this years annual meeting with the Curia, the Holy Father also issued what European media have called a blistering attack, warning them of catching “spiritual illnesses” if they continue the way they are and don’t struggle “to grow into becoming Christs.”

The Roman Curia is made up of the dicasteries, councils, offices, commissions and tribunals of the Vatican.

He told them, “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ.”

“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord,” Pope Francis continued.

Inviting the Vatican officials present in this annual meeting to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, the Pope enumerated some “common Curial ailments.”

First of this is “the sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body,” he said.

Next he cited his officials’ “ ‘Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting ‘the better part’ of sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought his or her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that ‘there is a time for everything.’”

He also cited “ “the sickness of mental and spiritual hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than men of God . . . It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ.”

He decried “The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant . . . One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Church shows herself to be faithful to the Holy Spirit to the extent that she does not seek to regulate or domesticate it. The Spirit is freshness, imagination and innovation.”

He cited in total 15 Curial illnesses.

One wishes the President would also do the same to the members of his Cabinet and his presidential assistants.


Lumuha ka, aking Bayan (Weep, my people/my country, weep) December 23, 2014 10:10 pm by Francisco Tatad


FRANCISCO S. TATAD

For most of the year now ending, we grieved as a people over the loss of some of our most precious public goods and basic liberties.

Our Constitution, customs and consciences were viciously violated, our treasury pillaged and plundered, and all by the powers and forces that were supposed to protect and promote those goods and liberties.

Congress became a willing and eager captive and tool of the Palace. And for a while, Supreme Court Justices lay in mortal fear that they would follow the path of Chief Justice Renato Corona who was impeached and removed for applying the agrarian reform law on Hacienda Luisita, the Cojuangco family estate.

Yet in a rare act of courage, when the time came for them to declare what the law was, the Court unanimously struck down PNoy’s pork barrel system, also known as Priority Development Assistance Fund and Disbursement Acceleration Program, as unconstitutional and void. It was a blow to the jugular which sent PNoy writhing on the canvas.

The PDAF involved some P25 billion, which in the last few years the members of the two Houses of Congress had been appropriating for their respective “projects:” P200 million a year for each of the 24 senators, and P70 million for each of the close to 300 members of the House of Representatives.

The hitherto unreported DAP could run into hundreds of billions of pesos, but the documents submitted to the High Court by the Department of Budget and Management stopped at P150 billion. From this was taken the ungodly amount of P50 million to P100 million which Budget Secretary Florencio Abad admitted having given to each of the 19 senator-judges who had voted to convict Corona at his 2012 Senate impeachment trial.

This was the only officially acknowledged payoff; it is not unsafe to assume it was not the only money those involved in the Corona case received.

The Court declared the DAP unconstitutional because it involved the transfer of funds from projects authorized by Congress to projects created by PNoy without the authority of Congress–in violation of an express constitutional prohibition of such transfer–simply by describing the funds as “savings” before they could ever be legally classified as such.

The Court also directed the speedy prosecution of all those involved in the manipulation and misuse of the DAP.

So unprepared was Aquino for the Court’s rebuke that, in public statements, he literally threatened to have the Justices impeached, beginning with those he had recently appointed.

He still threatens to do so, according to our best sources, should the Court dismiss with finality the government’s “Motion for Reconsideration,” which was filed by the Solicitor General, who previously argued the case before he was appointed to the 15-member Court.

Now, before Congress adjourned for Christmas, it passed without debate PNoy’s P2.6 trillion 2015 budget–the biggest in our history–and a P22.3 billion “supplemental budget” for 2014, which ends in a few days.

In complete defiance of the Court, the P2.6 trillion spending bill resurrects all the discretionary lump sums which the Court had declared unconstitutional—-amounting to P1.3 trillion or half of the entire budget–and redefines “savings” to allow PNoy to play around “legally” with any appropriation by reclassifying it as “savings” at any time he wants to do so.

The P2.6 trillion spending bill will take effect after New Year’s Day, when both the calendar and fiscal year begins.

But many have the distinct impression–and hopefully they are wrong–that the P22.3 billion will have to be spent by Dec. 31, 2014, just over a week from today. \

Even for an utterly profligate and corrupt government, the question has to be asked: unless they literally burn it, how will they ever get to spend this kind of money in just a few days?

Do we unduly exaggerate when we say the money will probably be treated as loot, and carved out among Aquino’s favored partisans in Congress?

Is this not the latest version of the so-called “pabaon” (“going-away present”) which once became famous among retiring top brass of the police and military establishment? We pray not.

But don’t forget that after the Court struck down the P70 million PDAF per congressman, two Malacañang emissaries —Health Undersecretary Janet Garin and Commission on Higher Education chair Patricia Licuanan—came to the Batasan to assure the congressmen that they would get not just P70 million per, but P108 million instead.

Apparently, that promise will now be fulfilled. And they may not even have to wait for 2015 to roll in. Perhaps, all in the name of Christmas.

So while the country’s poor and calamity victims look to the skies and the visiting Pope for relief, our congressmen and senators would be having the time of their lives at our expense.

We are being robbed blind by a regime that has lost all sense of public morality and decency, and acts solely on the basis of its sense of power and what it believes it can get away with.

Totally untethered to any moral or constitutional principle of accountability or respect for the public, its response to any question about any official wrongdoing is simply to ignore it.

“Okay, so you think we’ve done wrong? We are in power, and you are not, what can you do about it?” This is what they say, even without the use of words.

It could push–perhaps it is already pushing–the nation to the brink. Yet PNoy’s immediate reaction was to party with the members of Congress, in grateful appreciation for their support.

We have been spared the details of the political perversity. But it is not unreasonable to look at it as PNoy’s ultimate feast–the most outrageous bacchanalia in recent Malacañang history, not unlike (symbolically at least) that of Caligula’s orgiastic banquets, where the “Emperor of Excess” drank himself to a stupor and gorged himself to the point of vomiting and had imperial sex with whores from the two sexes.

The very idea of feasting to celebrate a crime while millions starve is utterly craven and depraved. It is revolting and repulsive. It makes a fully grown adult cry out in rage. What have we done to deserve this, Mr. President?

In one recent small gathering of friends, where everyone was supposed to spread Christmas cheer, we could not help but sing “Ang Bayan Ko,” and recite Gat AmadoV. Hernandez”s“Kung tuyo na ang luha mo, aking Bayan”—(When your tears have dried, my people, my country).

Nobody sang like the rising tenor Dresden Roxas Ramos, whose pre-Christmas appearance with the Ateneo de Manila College Glee Club at Greenhills’ Teatrino Promenade was a big hit, or recited Ka Amado’s lines like any poet laureate.

But the experience was wholly purgative. I would ask you to try it.

For those who need it, I essay an unauthorized free translation of Ka Amado’s poem.

But it is so much richer and far more powerful in its original. I think it is one of the truly great patriotic poems in the world. And here it is.

Lumuha ka, aking Bayan, buong lungkot mong iluha
Ang kawawang kapalaran ng lupain mong kawawa;
Ang bandilang sagisag mo’y lukob ng dayong bandila,
Pati wikang minana mo’y busabos ng ibang wika.

Ganito ring araw noon nang agawan ka ng laya,
Labin tatlong Agosto nang saklutin ang Maynila.
Lumuha ka, habang sila ay palalong nagdiriwang,
Sa libingan ng maliit, ang malaki’y may libangan,

Katulad mo ay si Huli, na aliping bayad-utang,
Katulad mo ay si Sisa, binaliw ng kahirapan;
Walang lakas na magtanggol, walang tapang na lumaban,
Tumataghoy kung paslangin; tumatangis kung nakawan!
Iluhamo ang sambuntong kasawiang nagtalakop

Na sa iyo sa pampahirap, sa banyaga’y pampalusog;
Ang lahat mong kaya ma’y kamal-kamal na naubos,
Anglahat mong kalayaa’y sabay-sabay na natapos;
Masdan mo ang iyong lupa, dayong hukbo’y nakatanod,
Masdan mo ang iyong dagat, dayong bapor nasa laot!

Lumuha ka kung sa puso ay nagmaliw na ang layon,
Kung ang araw salangit mo ay lagi nang dapithapon,
Kung ang alon sa dagat mo ay ayaw nang magdaluyong,
Kung ang bulkan sa dibdib mo ay hindi man umuungol,
Kung wala nang maglalamay sa gabi ng pagbabangon,
Lumuha ka nang lumuha’t ang laya mo’y nakaburol.

May araw ding ang luha mo’y masasaid, matutuyo,
May araw ding di na luha sa mata mong namumugto
Ang dadaloy, kundi apoy, at apoy na kulay dugo,
Samantalang ang dugo mo ay aserong kumukulo,
Sinigaw kang buong giting sa liyab ng libong sulo
At ang lumang tanikala’y lalagutin mong punglo!

Weep, my people/my country, weep,
Weep with all your grief for the sad fate of your sad land,
Your flag now flies beneath a foreign flag,
Your own tongue ruled by an alien tongue.

It was a day like this when they took away your freedom,
On 13 August, Manila fell under arms.
Weep, while they feast to such excess,
Upon the graveyard of the poor, the rich have fun and games.

Like Huli, you were sold for an old debt,
Like Sisa, poverty has made you insane.
Too weak to parry, unwilling to thrust,
You whine when mugged, you moan when robbed.

Weep away all your woes,
Which made you frail, the stranger strong;
Gone is all your wealth,
And all your liberties,
Upon your shores, the alien boots,
Upon your seas, the foreign ships!

Weep, if in your heart desire has fled,
If under your sky dusk never ends,
If in your sea waves no longer break,
If in your breast fire no longer speaks,
If for the dawn one no longer waits,
Weep and weep once more, your liberty is dead.

The day will come when all your tears will dry,
When from your swollen eyes no longer tears but fire,
And fire like blood will run, while your blood turns to burning steel.
You’ll cry with the fury of a thousand flames
And with one shot snap the tyrant’s chain.


Pope Francis and the Curia, the President and his Cabinet by FRANCISCO S. TATAD
December 28, 2014 10:20 pm


FRANCISCO S. TATAD

The last few days have brought me so many cheerful Christmas messages from friends, and also some troubled questions about our nation and the world. The questions are a mix of the political and the theological. They become more difficult as they move from one category to the next.

Could I address them here? I have neither the stamina nor the space, but there is one question, which I don’t believe a serious Catholic could or should avoid.

It has to do with Pope Francis’s Christmas message to the Roman Curia. The Curia is equivalent of a president’s Cabinet. It is composed of dicasteries, or “congregations,”such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, through which the Pope administers the affairs of the universal Church. Each one of these is headed by a cardinal-prefect, who is supported by a bishop-secretary, and a staff usually made up of priests.

As reported by the secular world press, the Pope’s traditional Christmas message turned into a “blistering attack”on many of the Curia’s “ailments.” He publicly faulted the members of the Curia for these.

Among them:
---the sickness of feeling immortal, immune or indispensable;
---working too hard without allowing for sanctifying rest;
---becoming spiritually and mentally hardened;
---planning too much instead of letting the Holy Spirit in; working without coordinating with one another;
---having spiritual Alzheimer’s, forgetting one’s encounter with the Lord and focusing merely on the here and now;
---sowing rivalry, being boastful and overly concerned with titles;
---suffering from existential schizophrenia and living a “double life”;
---committing the terrorism of gossip and backstabbing;
---glorifying one’s bosses in order to court honors and favors; being indifferent to others; ---------having a “funereal face” instead of being a vessel of serenity and joy;
--- wanting more of materials things as a source of personal security;
---forming “closed circles” that seek to be stronger than the whole;
---seeking worldly profit and showing off.

These, if true, and they cannot not be true, are not “sins” of members of the Curia alone.

They are common to men and women in public and in private life everywhere. Priests, bishops, cardinals and even popes are not free from them because although the Church is holy, she is full of sinners.

The greatest before God are the saints, and not every priest, bishop, cardinal or pope is a saint. Yet, were the members of the Curia guilty as charged, and their “sins” the gravest anyone could ever imagine, was the Holy Father’s public reprimand, as the world press reported it, the best way of dealing with them?

For those who truly love the Pope and the Church, this seems to be the most troubling question.

As one friend puts it: How should we, Catholics, think of that speech, as reported in the secular press?

Was it (is it) good for the Pope or for the Church?

Assuming everything the Pope said is correct, and woe to us if and when it were otherwise, did that speech (does that speech) ensure the best possible results?

Can the Pope hope to correct all those “sins”, just by exposing them in that speech, and would he able to tell the world anytime soon that he has purged the Church, or at least the Curia, of those impurities?

Or will the Curia, and the Church for that matter, not remain “condemned,” “branded,” “stigmatized,” not by the faithful who love the Church, but by all her enemies, who would be quoting the sensational press reports on the Pope’s speech?

In other words, did not the Vatican unwittingly give the enemies of the Church a blunt weapon to use against her?

In the most famous Gospel scene about the woman caught in the act of adultery, the scribes and the Pharisees ask our Lord what to do with her, whom the old Mosaic law has condemned to be stoned to death.

Our Lord begins to write on the ground with his finger, but when they persist in asking him, he straightens up and says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And they go away, one by one, leaving the woman alone standing before him.

And he says to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one,” she replies. Then he says to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (cf Jn 8:11).

The Pope’s speech began as an invitation to the Curia to engage in a collective “examination of conscience,” a kind of spiritual stock-taking in preparation for the birth of Christ.

The “examination” is a spiritual “norm,” which many Christians perform regularly each day before retiring in the evening. But this was quickly lost on the media as soon as they heard the “15 problems that ail the Curia.”

It was not extremely helpful that the Holy Father boldly defined the problems in his catchy prose, instead of simply allowing his collaborators, as normally happens in an ordinary examination of conscience, to ask themselves the questions——Did I fail to remember my encounter with God in favor of the baubles of this world?

Did I allow myself to be consumed by my sense of importance or power?

Did I gossip against my brethren and commit an act of detraction, etc.?——or to accuse themselves of having sinned, as one does in confession.

The cardinals, bishops and priests could not have debated with the Pope, but they must have felt they had to protect themselves somehow from public opprobrium in the face of that.

Thus they sat there “stone-faced,” as the reports put it. This allowed the media to portray the intended collegial exercise in self-criticism as a public dressing down.

Reacting to the press accounts, one Catholic friend said he thought he was listening not to the Pope at all, but rather to someone like Oliver Cromwell chastising the corrupt members of the English Parliament before disbanding it.

He doubted that what the Pope had said to the Curia was limited to what the media said he had said; my friend thought the secular media was now shaping the world’s perception of the Pope so much that we no longer see him through our own eyes only but mainly through the lens of the secular propagandists. Many share this misgiving.

Was it not possible, my friend asked, for the Pope to have simply intimated his disappointment with the human failings of the Curia and admonished its members to make better and more frequent use of confession, or “spiritual direction,” without publicly expatiating on their specific failings?

It would have passed for a great act of fraternal correction, my friend pointed out. In confession, they would have had the opportunity to accuse themselves and be forgiven their sins; none of them would have had to feel the need to defend themselves from any “unfair attack.” That is now moot and academic.

No one saw it coming, and no one was prepared for it. The Italian Church historian Alberto Melloni, who writes for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, has called it “a speech without historic precedent.”

And indeed it was (it is). From the very beginning, popes and ecumenical councils have denounced and repudiated heresies such as Arianism, Trinitarianism, Pelagianism, Docetism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, etc. And at least from Pope Gregory XVI onwards, they have continuously condemned errors, which were not necessarily heresies.

From Gregory’s 1832 encyclical Mirari Vos, which condemned liberalism, to Blessed Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which condemned contraception, they have spoken consistently against errors from within and without the Church that sought to deny or subvert a doctrine or teaching of the Church.

But no Pope has ever before delivered the kind of Christmas message Francis did to his collaborators.

Because it is unprecedented, its consequences could be unprecedented as well. We have our fears, but we hope and pray that everything would turn out well; that the Church could use this moment as an auspicious starting point for significant reform, without allowing any of her enemies inside and outside her premises to exploit any suggested weakness and try to impose their own ideas of “reform.”

I personally hope that even as we prepare for the Pope’s apostolic visit to the Philippines in January, our own ecclesiastical authorities would respond to this challenge with great care and competence.

I also hope and pray that as the government prepares for the same visit, President B. S. Aquino 3rd and his Cabinet would look at those 15 “ailments,” which purportedly afflict the Curia, and see how many of them, and to what extent, afflict the Cabinet as well.

The 15 points have a general application to all men and women in public life everywhere, and our officialdom, who are mostly baptized Catholics, would be doing something positive for a change if they “examined their consciences,” using those indications.
* * *
Personal: All thanks to God for the gift of a long and fruitful life to Dona Rizalina Bello vda.de Cardenas, who completes 100 years of service to the Lord and to others today. Thanksgiving mass at Mary the Queen Parish, Greenhills, 4 pm.

And heartiest congratulations and best wishes to my friends Dingdong Dantes and Marian Gracia on their wedding day tomorrow, 30 December 2014, at The Arena in Pasay City. May they have a long, happy and blessed life together!


EDITORIAL: The art of cyberwar December 27, 2014 10:47 pm


Cyberwarfare, as defined by techtarget.com, is “Internet-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks on information and information systems.”

Cyberattacks can “disable official websites and networks, disrupt or disable essential services, steal or alter classified data, and cripple financial systems—among many other possibilities.”

From the realm of science fiction, cyberwarfare has jumped to the real world. What is frightening is that we are all potential victims.

Recent events give us a preview of the crippling effects of a full-scale cyberwar. It began early this month, when North Korea warned Sony Pictures Entertainment against releasing the satirical movie 'The Interview', a low-brow comedy about a plot to assassinate its supreme ruler, Kim Jong Un. Days later Sony’s computer system was hacked, and highly sensitive company information leaked out. The hacking forced Sony to cancel the movie’s release.

US President Barack Obama admonished Sony for giving in to intimidation. “If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt through cyber, a company’s distribution chain or its products, and as a consequence we start censoring ourselves, that’s a problem,” Mr. Obama said, without making a direct reference to Kim or North Korea.

He made it clear, however, that the US will retaliate. “They caused a lot of damage. And we will respond,” Mr. Obama said. “We will respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

Last Tuesday, North Korea’s Internet went offline. The outage lasted for nine hours and 31 minutes. Pyongyang never fully explained the cyberblackout or blamed anyone for it.

The skirmishes didn’t end there. On Christmas Day, Playstation and Xbox players found themselves unable to go online for their favorite games. Playstation is Sony’s game console, and Xbox is Microsoft’s. A group of hackers calling themselves the Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the attack.

Still, some gamers see a connection between the Playstation and Xbox hack and the furor over The Interview.

One gamer writing on a PlayStation community forum message board blamed “that darn movie.” Another likened the attack to “a semi (truck) driver intentionally jackknifing his rig on a busy interstate and shutting down traffic for a few hours.”

On Saturday, Pyongyang let loose a barrage against Mr. Obama, saying he “always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.” It also issued a stern threat: “If the US persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite (North Korea’s) repeated warnings, the US should bear in mind that its failed political affairs will face inescapable deadly blows.”

The US no doubt is not taking the threat lightly. An American computer expert believes North Korea has either raised an army of homegrown computer hackers or maintains a corps of cybermercenaries. This gives it the capability to play the aggressor in cyberspace.

techtarget.com says the most effective protection against cyberattacks “is securing information and networks. Security updates should be applied to all systems —including those that are not considered critical— because any vulnerable system can be co-opted and used to carry out attacks.”

That’s easier said than done. The cyberattacker has the advantage of choosing how and when to strike. The target could be anything from a military installation to a research facility to a financial institution. And the damage in terms of destroyed or compromised information could be massive enough to immobilize an entire state.

Ignoring Pyongyang’s threat, Sony over the weekend decided to let The Interview screen in several US theaters and make it available online.

Expect the cyberwar to escalate soon.


Pope’s address to Roman Curia was for examination of conscience
December 25, 2014 9:58 pm


Source: http://www.cagle.com/2013/03/popefrancislolor

NEWS reports and commentaries about the speech the Holy Father gave on the morning of December 23, during the traditional annual audience with the Cardinals and Superiors of the Roman Curia for the presentation of Christmas greetings, made it sound like the Pope was humiliating his Cabinet members.

The talk he gave after he greeted the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, has been reported on and described often out of context. Some reporters and editors obviously wanted to project an image of the Pope as a stern boss at his wit’s end over the sinfulness, corruption and malfeasances of the members of the Roma Curia and the Vatican bureaucracy.

A careful reading of the Pope’s speech, in which the media reported him to have enumerated “15 ailments” of the Curia officials, will show that he was actually doing what a fatherly spiritual director does when inviting his charges to an examination of conscience.

He did say this early on in his speech: “I would like our meeting and the reflections that I will share with you to become, for us all, a support and stimulus to a true examination of conscience to prepare our hearts for Holy Christmas.”

He began his speech with an introduction which recalls that the gathering was a traditional event.

“At the end of Advent we meet for the traditional greetings. In a few days we will have the joy of celebrating the Lord’s birth; the event of God who makes himself man to save men; the manifestation of the love of God who does not limit himself to give us something or to send us some message or some messengers, but gives himself to us; the mystery of God that takes our human condition and our sins on himself to reveal his divine life to us, his immense grace and his gratuitous forgiveness.

It is the meeting with God who is born in the poverty of the cave of Bethlehem to teach us the power of humility. In fact, Christmas is also the feast of light that was not received by the ‘Chosen People’ but by the ‘poor and simple people,’ who awaited the Lord’s salvation.

“First of all, I would like to wish you all – collaborators, brothers and sisters, papal representatives scattered throughout the world – and all your dear ones, a Holy Christmas and a happy New Year. I want to thank you cordially for your daily commitment at the service of the Holy See, of the Catholic Church, of the particular Churches and of the Successor of Peter.

“We being persons and not numbers or just denominations, I remember in a special way those that, during this year, finished their service having reached the age limit or having taken on other roles or because they were called to the House of the Father. To all of them also, and to their families, go my thoughts and gratitude.

“Together with you I wish to elevate to the Lord a heartfelt and profound gratitude for the year we are leaving behind, for the events lived and for all the good that He willed generously to fulfill through the service of the Holy See, asking Him humbly for forgiveness for the faults committed ‘in thoughts, words, deeds and omissions.’

Here he invited those in the gathering to an examination of conscience:

“And, in fact, beginning from this request for forgiveness, I would like our meeting and the reflections that I will share with you to become, for us all, a support and stimulus to a true examination of conscience to prepare our hearts for Holy Christmas.”

From these words one can see that while the Holy Father indeed wishes to see reforms in the way the Vatican offices are run, he wishes these to happen through the growth of Christ in each of the Curia members.

From us the editors of The Manila Times a Blessed Merry Christmas season to all.


See Salvation December 27, 2014 10:41 pm by FR. JAMES McTAVISH, FMDV. M.D.


Fr. James Mctavish Fmvd

[The Holy Family, Year B, December 28, 2014, Gen 15:1-6; 21:1-3 / Ps 105:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9 / Heb 11:8, 11-12, 17-19 / Luke 2:22-40]

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family. The Scriptural readings present to us a childless couple, Abram and his wife Sarah. God gives him a new name Abraham – the Father of a host of nations.

“No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations. I will render you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you.”

Abraham believed the promises of God. His wife conceived because she too “believed that he who made the promise would be faithful.”

The second reading of today is taken from the letter to the Hebrews. The author of this letter praises the faith of Abraham and Sarah. What we have is a family that is listening to God and believing in his promises. The family starts to walk towards becoming a holier family.

Many families today give importance to the Word of God. Listening to it, meditating it and trying to apply it to their lives. One title of the family is the “Domestic church.” In the Church the Word of God is listened to and meditated.

So too in the Domestic Church. St John Chrysostom commented that if not all the family are able to go to Church then the one who goes must go home and share the Word he has listened to with all the family and all the people of the house. In this way the faith of the whole family is strengthened.

The gospel of today focuses on the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple. In the Mosaic Law it was proscribed that for 40 days after the birth of the child the mother could not enter the temple for reasons of impurity. Quite harsh really as Mother Mary was the Immaculate one. But Mary in her simplicity and obedience to the Law obliges.

When she and Joseph are in the temple they present their offering – either a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. What a small offering! Seemingly so insignificant. Probably not many would have noticed them. It would need eyes of faith to see the significance of such a small sacrifice. But God had prepared everything.

There was a man called Simeon there, who was led to the temple that day by the Holy Spirit. Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God saying that now God’s word to him was fulfilled and that his eyes had seen the salvation. When we listen to God’s Word everything changes. What is apparently an ordinary event becomes extraordinary.

Simeon sees a family offering their first born to the Lord and recognizes this grace filled moment of salvation history. Mary and Joseph were amazed at what was said about their son Jesus. It makes me wonder too. Is there space in my life to be amazed at God? Can the “simple” things still inspire me? Can I see God’s presence in small details? Or am I only moved by the “big” things?

Lord, in this Octave of Christmas, we have been given a privileged time to contemplate what we have received. Teach us how to contemplate and to have faith. If not, we look at the world of today, we see the challenges to the family and we become prophets of gloom and doom. Yet you are working. The Savior has already been born. Will we recognize his coming?

Will we recognize his powerful yet often hidden presence? Open our eyes teach us how to see the “reality” as you see it. As St Paul reminds us “The reality is Christ.” As the Spanish song goes “I can’t give you a new world, but I can give you new eyes.”

Grant us new eyes to see your power and your glory, to see you working in the family. Grant us more faith in your promises. Teach us how to listen to your Word. And we pray for all families that amid all the challenges they can still strive to be holy. Amen.


Family-oriented values for the 21st century by FR. BENIGNO P. BELTRAN, SVD December 27, 2014 10:46 pm


Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD

The values of young Filipinos

A giant of a man, bearded and wearing a mask of death, wildly played a spiff on his guitar.

The bassist swung his head round and round, his long hair making fractals in the air. The drummer, as if in a trance, gripped by fever and delirium, beat on the drums as if Armageddon had arrived.

The soloist roared into the microphone, sounding like a wounded rhinoceros. Back-up singers wailed like banshees as they assaulted the eardrums of everyone within a half-kilometer distance.

Some who were dressed like robots or samurai warriors danced with spastic, jerky movements, shouting, waving, jumping up and down. The kids all joined in a synchronous rhythmic movement that invited corresponding movements in others.

The audience, hundreds of them, were crammed into an auditorium in an atmosphere of collective enthusiasm and uninhibited expression of emotions. They exhibited an effervescence that generated a sense of communal solidarity.

They were all very young, hair of garish colors that can short-circuit the optic nerves. They were clad in anime and cosplay costumes, webs of glittery fabric crafted with so much creativity and forethought. Many were armed with gigantic weapons made of styrofoam and paper mache. They then paraded on the stage for the best costume contest.

It was another cosplay exhibition, which I often attend. And as I stood there stunned, ear-drums ringing, I asked myself (the only white-haired guy in an ocean of teen-agers) what will happen to these “aliens” when they grow up. What values will they espouse? What kind of values should parents, priests and teachers propose to these millennials?

This is a generation who pride themselves on their ability to distinguish right from wrong, develop their own distinctive moral framework and have a strong commitment to justice, according to a 2011 McCann World Group survey of 7,000 young people from different countries all over the world.

The survey showed that only 6.3 percent of the respondents wanted to be famous. Their top wishes for the future were to maintain good health (40 percent), be successful in their chosen career (40 percent), meet their soul mate (36 percent) and look after their family (34 percent)

Their values are connectivity, truth and justice.

The generation gap

If all you see are the rings in young people’s noses, their tattoos and orange-colored hair, if all you hear are teenagers screaming at gyrating pop idols, associate them at once with drugs and free sex, you might not associate them with the results of the McCann World Group survey.

Apart from anime and cosplay exhibitions, I often attend concerts of pop stars with hysterical teenage fans of Korean singing groups like Girls Generation and Shinee. I prefer to listen to Gustav Mahler, but I endure the singing of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande just to know what are the top 10 hits on MYX.

I chase after gaming contests that feature online role-playing games like Dota2, League of Legends and Clash of Clans. I chase after launchings of books published from Wattpad novels like Ang Diary ng Panget.

All these forms of mortification I do so that I can talk to teen-agers in their language. I can talk to the boys for hours about the score of Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors in their game against Le Bron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I can also talk to the girls about Taylor Swift and Candy Crush. Most of them are worried about privacy and bullying on Facebook.

Many of them have transferred to Instagram, Twitter and other social networks, because they say their grandparents already have Facebook accounts.

Believe me, if you get them to talk to you for more than a few minutes, Filipino teen-agers are closer to the results of the McCann survey than you can ever imagine. I predict that there will be several hundred thousand of them going in January to meet their greatest idol – Pope Francis.

These young people are now fundamentally shaped by their relationship with technology. Technology has become so intrinsic and fundamental to them that many would sooner give up one of their human senses than give up the connectivity of their apps, cellphones and laptops. Most of them would have these digital devices near their bodies at all times of the day.

It is technology that shapes the attitudes of these digital natives towards community and truth and allows them to re-conceive justice in a global context. They are smarter than their predecessors, more tolerant of diversity, and value freedom of choice. They want to have fun, even at work and school. Speed is normal and innovation is part of their lives.

And so, parents have to bridge the generation gap and try to understand how technology is shaping the values of their kids, for better or for worse, so that the family can stay together.

The primacy of values

As we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family and face another new year, we have to ask what values young people should prefer to enhance satisfying ways to live, values that enrich their experiences so that they can live the more abundant life (Jn. 10:10) in a rapidly changing world. What can parents do to help them examine and clarify their values?

Pope Francis has repeatedly said that the world is going through not just an economic crisis but a crisis of values. What values can young people choose that can help thrive and build sustainable and prosperous societies for the 21st century?

In the young people’s dizzying chase for material things and the good life, their senses might become numbed, their instincts dimmed, and their thinking corroded with hectic activity in the drive to have more and more. There is a great danger that young people will come to espouse values that do not lead to their wellbeing.

Parents have to guide young people to come face to face with the dark side of their frailty and their aloneness to discern the spiritual dimension of contemporary world events and enter new realms of awareness about what life is all about and what their place is in an evolving universe.

Parents have to discuss with teen-agers the dark side of human nature, our selfishness and greed, our refusal to face insight. It is in the realm of values that parents should help their teen-agers search for the values that can provide answers to the problems of Filipino society— poverty, drugs, crime, teen-age pregnancies, alcoholism, depression and suicide.
If young people do not dare to journey into their inner world and confront their transitoriness and frailty, they will never find out who they really are.

Young people’s values guide the activities that decide what kind of world they want. They have to make decisions about what a human being should become, what kind of values will promote this becoming, what kind of world they want to live in, and what legacy they would like to leave behind.

As thinking creatures endowed with freedom, we can imagine the consequences of values that we espouse; as moral creatures, we must act on that knowledge.

And so parents must educate their children to espouse values that can help build a world that can promote the wellbeing and happiness of every human being in this evolving universe.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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