February 2007

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February 2007
Vol 41, No 2 • FEBRUARY 2007
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I MPACT
February 2007 / Vol 41 • No 2
CONTENTS
EDITORIAL
Glorious Rhetoric, Notorious Realities ................... 23
COVER STORY
Cover photo courtesy of Mia Kaindoy (mye0701.multiply.com)
© Perfecto Sabado
FEBRUARY is pro-life month. It is also a month that
observes the World Day of the Sick (February 11) and
the National Migrants Sunday (February 25).
Expectedly, these celebrations will not make a splash
in the streets or in the pages. What is shouting loud
is the ruckus of big political parties fielding senatorial
candidates with small or no sincere nationalist agenda
at all. Publicly known as gamblers, corrupt government officials, or simply good-for-nothing you would
now see the candidates hoisting to the hilt their
certificates of good moral character in hugely expensive political ads and rallies. This spectacle will pervade the horizons intensely as ever until the May
elections and, of course, thereafter.
This is a season of greed, once again couched in
well-painted faces, best packaged promises, and theatrics. “What kind of political system have we created
where base power and greed, not lofty principles of
self-sacrificing service, are all too often the operative
norms of conduct of public office?” asks the Pastoral
Exhortation on Politics of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued in September of 1997.
Today political candidates are polarized not because of principles or philosophy—as in old times
past—but according to the bankrolling of financial
resources. And presently, there are only two gigantic
sources that seem bottomless. The sad thing is, both
sources built their financial arsenal from gamblers,
corruption and dirty politics. Really, the choice is
between the devil and the deep blue sea. The only
other option is to curse the gods and die, or so grunted
the wife of Job.
“Philippine politics—the way it is practiced—has
been most hurtful of us as a people. It is possibly the
biggest bane in our life as a nation and the most
pernicious obstacle to our achieving of full human
development,” to quote further the above Exhortation.
This issue caries varied themes. We have a line-up
of pastoral statements from the bishops. Somehow,
they may be seen as social barometers or even pastoral
indicators of the real concerns of the day.
A Columban missionary priest, Fr. Sean
McDonagh writes about a very serious problem that
humanity is going to face in the near future in his
article “Climate Change: an Urgent Challenge to All”.
At the outset, the problem seems only scientific, technical or even economic and political. But ultimately
the issue is a moral one, because ultimately “the
actions which are taken now can determine the wellbeing of millions of people today and condemn further generations to live in an inhospitable planet.”
From the point of view of concern and apprehension, there are a lot of things to be written about the
plight of Filipino nurses. Ma. Juvy L. Sulse, a nurse
working in the U.S. for some years now, writes on the
challenges that await Filipino nurses in the United
States. Read on.
The Challenges of Filipino Nurses Working
in the U.S. ......................................................................... 16
ARTICLES
Climate Change: An Urgent Challenge to All ......... 4
Standardizing an Error in the Standard Days
Method ............................................................................... 6
Cardinal Martini and Euthanasia:
When it is Licit to Cut Life Short .............................. 8
Violent Fatwas Worry Muslim Governments ....... 24
Concern Begets Initiative ............................................ 26
An Appeal to President Arroyo ................................. 27
STATEMENTS
Message For National Bible Sunday ....................... 11
A Pastoral Statement on the Nation’s Housing
Problems .......................................................................... 12
The Search for Christian Unity: Where We Stand
Today ................................................................................ 13
The Dignity of the Rural Poor ................................... 15
DEPARTMENTS
Quote in the Act .............................................................. 2
From the Blogs ............................................................... 22
From the Inbox .............................................................. 28
Book Reviews ................................................................. 29
CINEMA Review ......................................................... 30
News Briefs ...................................................................... 31
Volume 41 • Number 2
3
Climate Change: An Urgent Challenge to All
T
HE twelfth Conference of the Parties
to the UN Framework Convention
on Climate Change and the Second
Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol opened at the United Nations Office in
Nairobi, Kenya last November 6. Both
events ran until November 17. In opening
the conference the Vice President of Kenya
Moody Awori told delegates that, we are
gathered this morning on behalf of humankind because we acknowledge that
climate change is rapidly emerging as
one of the most serious humanity will ever
face.
Climate change has been on the international agenda since the Earth Summit in Rio in June 2002. At the meeting
many Presidents and Prime Ministers
paid lip service to the need for the international community to address climate
change. In reality they didn’t take it
seriously because the same politicians
and their economic advisers felt that it
would take a hundred years or more
before the effects of climate change were
clearly discernible. It wouldn’t happen
on their watch.
Things have changed drastically in
the past few years. In 2004 Sir David
King, the chief scientific advisor to the
UK government stated that the problems arising from global warming are
the biggest challenges facing governments. Since that time more and more
scientists and scientific bodies around
the world have issued dire warning about
the effects that climate change will have
on weather patterns, ocean habitats and
flooding, biodiversity and access to potable water. Climate change will also disrupt the world’s thermohaline system
which distributes heat around the world
through ocean currents. Ironically, this
could mean much colder winters for Ireland, Britain and Northern Europe.
Sir Nicholas Stern’s Review of the
Economics of Climate Change constitutes the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle
in terms of making a cast iron case for
aggressively addressing global warming. His report was published at the end
of October 2006. It blows the economic
excuses which Bjorn Lomborg and his
Copenhagen offer for not tackling climate change out of the water. According
to Stern with a combination of political
leadership, the proper mix of carrot and
stick, in terms of carbon tax to reflect the
true cost of energy and support for new
technologies, we could avoid the worst
excesses of climate change. He estimates
that it would cost the equivalent of one
4
IMPACT • February 2007
percent of global GDP if action started
right now.
Furthermore, a low-carbon economy
will offer new possibilities for business
which could run to billions of dollars per
year, so battling climate change is not all
doom and gloom. On the other hand, he
warns that a “business-as-usual” approach to climate change would be disastrous. It would lead to extreme
weather conditions, melting ice-caps,
rising ocean levels and massive extinction of species. This would have an
appalling impact on every ecosystem on
earth, as many of the changes would be
irreversible. As a former chief economist
at the World Bank it will be interesting to
see whether political leaders, listen to
his hard-nose economic arguments. He
is absolutely clear that if we do not grasp
the present window of opportunity to
stabilize carbon dioxide emission addressing it in the future could cost between 5% and 20% of the world’s GDP.
The issues here at Nairobi go beyond national or global domestic product. Many speakers point to the fact that
climate change is already under way in
the Arctic, East Africa, the Pacific and
many other parts of the world and that
the many of the countries which contributed least in terms of greenhouse gas
emissions will suffer the worst consequences of climate change. These countries are demanding that mitigation
schemes to keep temperature increases
as low as possible be put in place immediately, especially in rich countries.
Much more serious carbon cuts are necessary in the post-Kyoto era which might
ARTICLE S
Climate Change:
An Urgent
Challenge to
All
© Paul Souders/Corbis
By Sean McDonagh
include a global tax on bunker and aviation fuel. Hand in hand with that adequate and predictable funds must now
be made available to the poor countries
affected by climate change. Practical
decisions like identifying an agency to
govern and manage this Adaptation Fund
and making sufficient funds available
must be taken immediately.
A second goal of this conference is
the call to make clean development
mechanism (CDM) available to poor
countries. This is crucial if all countries
are going to benefit from a level of
sustainable development which everyone needs to meet their basic needs for
food, clothing, shelter, education and
health care. Since the conference is taking place in Africa many are demanding
that the obstacles which countries on
this continent face in accessing these
new clean development technologies
must be addressed. African countries
need better technical and institutional
capacity. The same could be said of
many countries in South East Asia or
Central and South America. There are
huge possibilities for countries such as
Kenya, Brazil and the Philippines to use
carbon generated money to reforest denuded hills and mountains. The benefits from such schemes would not be
confined to carbon sequestration but
would also enhance biodiversity, soil
stabilization and make potable water
more available.
Since the Kyoto negotiations in 1997
it has been clear that developing countries cannot go down the same carbonintensive energy route that rich West-
ern countries followed for the past 200
years if serious disruption to the Earth’s
climate is to be avoided. This calls for
new thinking and action on the development and transfer of non-carbon technologies. Unfortunately, little has happened on this front since 1997. The forthcoming review of the mandate of the
Expert Group on Technology Transfers
(EGTT) should provide the stimulus for
sharing new, clean technologies which
enhance human well-being without damaging the planet.
The underlying theme in Nairobai is
one of urgency. Members of the official
delegations as well as the representatives from civic society and church
groups are convinced that there is no
time to loose in tackling climate change.
At both official and unofficial gatherings one hears sentiments of dismay and
often anger at the attitude of the Bush
administration in the US which, while
being a member of the Conference of the
Parties, has not signed the Kyoto Protocol. At a news conference Harlan
Watson, the US chief negotiator, indicated that there will be no change in the
attitude of the Bush administration towards Kyoto-style controls despite lobbying from the British Prime Minister,
Tony Blair. Delegates are heartened,
however, by the fact that a number of
States, especially California and 135 cities in the US are willing to join Kyoto-like
Protocol beyond 2012. Everyone would
like to see growing economies like China,
India and Brazil also sign up to limiting
greenhouse gas emissions after 2012.
Fair and equitable mechanisms to facilitate this should not beyond the bounds
of human possibilities.
Finally, while climate change is a
technical, scientific and economic issue,
ultimately, it is a moral one. The actions
which are taken now can undermine the
well-being of millions of people today
and condemn further generations to live
in an inhospitable planet. While the US
only constitutes about 5% of the World’s
population it is responsible for 25% of
greenhouse gas emissions. Religious
leaders in the US and on the global scene
should speak out clearly in support of
those countries which are willing to make
sacrifices now for the good of all and, at
the same time, challenge the immoral
stance of the current White House. I
(Sean McDonagh is a Columban Missionary priest.
He has published widely on Ecology and Religion.
His latest book is, “Climate Change: The Challenge
to Us All”)
Volume 41 • Number 2
5
© Denz Dayao / CBCP Media Office
ARTICLES
Standardizing an
Error in the
Standard Days
Method
By Ligaya B. Anacta-Acosta, D.M.
T
HE Standard Days Method (SDM),
is touted to be “the most modern
scientific method of natural family
planning,” Developed by the Institute of
Reproductive Health (IRH) of Georgetown
University with funding from the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID), the SDM is based on several
assumptions which are not in accord with
the actual physiological workings of a
woman’s reproductive cycle.
The SDM “Formula”
SDM developed “cycle beads” woven
into a “necklace” whose beads mark a fixed
number of 32 days of one menstrual cycle.
The brown beads correspond to days 1-7 of
the cycle as infertile, white beads correspond to days 8-19 as fertile days (12 in all).
Infertility according to this method, resumes
at day 20 up to day seven of the next cycle.
This was formulated through statistical estimates, rather than the natural physiological workings of the woman’s body. In
the words of the institute of Reproductive
health (IRH): “The developers of SDM used
a computer simulation that took into account this variation to determine how to
provide maximum protection from pregnancy, while minimizing the number of days
that users must avoid unprotected sex.
Their analysis concluded that the fertile
6
IMPACT • February 2007
period most likely occurs between days 8
and 19 of the menstrual cycle.”
The Department of Health Order No.
132 dated January 7, 2004, also states: “The
Standard Days Method (SDM), while regarded as an innovation, is nevertheless,
another calendar–based method, wherein,
through computer–modeling using menstrual cycle data from large groups of women,
a population–based fertile window is identified. These findings are translated into a
necklace where the population–based fertile window is colored differently. A rubber
is used to mark the days of the women’s
cycle.”
Flaws in the Formula
1. A woman’s pre-ovulatory phase can
vary significantly, even for the same woman.
Why is this? By the workings of many
factors such as stress due to pressures at
home or on the job, financial matters, family
discord, weight loss, even travel, and other
triggering factors; medication; illness; nutrition; menopause; breastfeeding; and
when the woman is coming off previous
hormonal contraception.
2. SDM sends wrong or misleading
signals. When a woman with previously
regular cycles has a delayed ovulation due
to other factors, she will still be fertile when
the SDM beads falsely indicate that she is
in the post–ovulatory or infertile phase. On
the other hand, if she has an unusually early
ovulation, the same beads will indicate
falsely that she is still in the pre–ovulatory
or infertile phase when she has actually
become fertile. In the case of pre–menopausal women, SDM is also bound to fail,
because cycle durations are bound to vary
markedly.
Verily, SDM brochures indicate that
the method may be used only by women
whose menstrual cycles are always between 26 and 32 days in length. Thus,
although it may be effective for a short term,
like the old calendar/rhythm method. SDM
is bound to fail sooner or later. Hence, its
significantly high failure and drop–out rate.
SDM documents in fact admit to a very high
user failure rate of 25%, and others at 12 %.5
3. Flaws in the estimated 12–day fertile
window present opportunities for using
artificial contraceptives. A woman is actually fertile only up to 24 hours in a cycle.
This is the maximum period of survival of an
ovum/egg. However, since the actual day
of ovulation cannot be identified with absolute certainty, scientific studies have determined potential fertility as only 100 hours in
one (1) cycle, or about five (5) days. Placing
the fertile period at 12 days will encourage
the use of “back–up” contraceptives. Thus,
in my days at DOH, SDM is normally taught
with the use of condoms during fertile days.
Standardizing an Error in the Standard Days Method
The government’s trainee’s manual
entitled, “Competency–Based FP Training for Volunteer Health Workers” (P. 86)
reads: “Emphasize to your client that if she
does not want to get pregnant, then she
should abstain from sexual intercourse when
the marker is on the white beads. Otherwise,
she should resort to a back–up method like
asking her husband to use a condom.”
From my personal experience at DOH,
condoms have always been part of SDM
trainings particularly when there are no
participants from Catholic Church. Abstinence in fact is not encouraged. SDM teachers would tell the women: “A woman’s
desire for sexual intercourse is heightened
during ovulation, and thus should not be
controlled.”
Thus, in the SDM Training Manual,
the Approach emphasizes: “Allow participation of the community by utilizing basic,
applied operations and contraceptive technology.”
4. “Protected sex” pervades in SDM
Technology. SDM Manuals consistently
contain the term “unprotected sex.”9 Its
opposite which is “protected sex” can only
mean condom use or other artificial contraceptive intervention. This accounts for research findings of significant increase in
contraceptives use among couples using
SDM, who do not want to become pregnant. It is also significant to note that
articles promoting SDM are found in contraceptive magazines and newsletters, like
“Contraceptive Advances,” and “Contraception,” among many others.
5. The tacit encouragement of sexual
contact during menstrual days. The reason
given is that menstrual days are “infertile”
days. On the other contrary, it has long
been established, that to avoid pregnancy,
intercourse and all genital contact should
be avoided during menstruation and days
of heavy bleeding.
The fact is, ovulation may actually
occur early, particularly in women with very
short cycles, where the menstrual blood
may even obscure the mucus secretions
which are nature’s signals of possible fertility. SDM further assumes that all bleeding is true menstruation. However, midcycle or annovulatory bleeding can be
caused by a number of factors. In such
cases, incorrectly identifying bleeding as
simple menstruation misleads the woman
about her cycle and, therefore, renders
SDM’s calculations incorrect.
On the other hand, abstinence during
menstruation has medical support. Studies
show a significantly higher incidence of
endometriosis, resulting to increased prob-
ability of infertility in women having intercourse during their menstrual period.
6. There are marks of the discredited
and ineffective calendar/rhythm method in
SDM. According to Reproductive Health
Online, SDM is: “A simple calendar-based
method in which users are counseled to
abstain from unprotected intercourse on
days 8-19 of any cycle to avoid pregnancy.”
Wikipedia calls it, “a recently developed
variant of the rhythm method…” which has
been rendered obsolete for at least 20 years
for being ineffective because it does not
account for the fact that every woman’s
cycle is different, even for one woman.
7. SDM adopts the objectionable WHO
concept of “reproductive health”. The SDM
Training Manual states that: “Management of Family Planning services involves
the over all activities performed by the
Service Provider in the delivery of other
Reproductive Health services in the community…”
For the World Health Organization
(WHO), reproductive health “…implies that
people are able to have satisfying sex life
and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide when and
how often to do so. Implicit in this last
condition are the rights of men and woman
to be informed and to have access to safe,
effective, and affordable and acceptable
methods of Family Planning of their choice
as well as other methods of their choice for
regulation of fertility…”
8. It may be slouching towards abortion through verbal engineering. “Fertility Regulation” as used above and also
called “Menstrual Regulation” is “The
process by which individuals and couples
regulate their fertility. Methods than can
be used for this purpose include, among
others: delaying childbearing, using contraception, seeking treatment for infertility, interrupting unwanted pregnancies,
and breastfeeding…”
The term “interrupting unwanted pregnancies” is an example of “verbal social
engineering”, a term used by Rev. Fr.
Ignacio Barriero (cf. Lexicon, pp. 930931) to signify “a conscious effort not
only to change reality by falsifying cognition” but also “ a tool for non-organic and
unnatural changes in society.” This is
done, according to Fr. Barriero, “through
a subtle manipulation of words” where the
idea is “that people will accept the new
meaning because they are accustomed to
the word therefore they cannot discern
that the old meaning serves as a Trojan
horse to introduce a new deleterious
meaning.”
The WHO Training Curriculum for
Health Programme Managers24 is more explicit. It reads: “The right to the benefits of
scientific progress: Traditionally understood to relate to technology transfers between countries of the North and South.
Now, could also include, for example, recognition that a woman’s right to control her
own reproduction would obviously be enhanced by access to microbicides, female
controlled methods of contraceptives, and
access to safe abortion.”
In light of the CAIRO Declaration, it is
indeed very disturbing that the DOH
Trainee’s Manual states the reproductive
health services: “…should cover reproductive health concerns, namely Family Planning; Maternal Care; Prenatal Care; Safe
delivery and postnatal care especially
breastfeeding, infant, and women’s health
care; infertility; Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIs); STD, HIV/AIDS, and other
reproductive disorders; abortion; and violence against men or women.”
9. There is mind conditioning in the
SDM MANUAL. On page 14 of the of the
SDM Manual, on the topic “Values Clarification”, three questions are emphasized
on a prospective couple. These are: “Can
you communicate about sexual matters?”
“Are you willing to observe, record, and
interpret fertility signs and symptoms?”
“Are you willing and able to abstain from
lovemaking during the woman’s fertile time?”
Any NO answer is referred to Appendix B”, a “Survey of Sexual Attitudes (Agree/
disagree).” This line of questioning in the
Manual 26 incorporates twenty statements,
among them are: “Religion is a strong
obstacle to acceptance of Family Planning
in the Philippines” (no 16); “Family Planning should be made available to everyone
including adolescences” (no. 19).
10. SDM is part of a “cafeteria” of
reproductive health services. Page 15 of the
same manual instructs the NFP provider to:
“Ask if the client is interested in learning
more about NFP, if not, refer for other health
services.” We hearken to the caveat from
the late Jaime Cardinal Sin who said: “When
it comes to fertility regulation services,
Church collaboration should not be a part
of a “cafeteria” system. That is, the other
party should not at the same time be promoting contraceptives. Otherwise, from a
broader perspective, the Church would be
collaborating in a morally unacceptable
activity.” I
(This article was originally delivered at the 94th CBCP
Plenary Assembly held at the Pius XII Catholic Center
in Manila on January 27, 2007; Ms. Ligaya Acosta was
one of the resource speakers on the issue of Standard
Days Method.)
Volume 41 • Number 2
7
Cardinal Martini and Euthanasia: When it is Licit to Cut Life Short
J
ust nine months after the bombshell
manifesto of opposition to the reign
ing pope published in the Italian weekly
“L’espresso”—on artificial insemination,
embryos, abortion, euthanasia—cardinal
Carlo Maria Martini has returned to the
last of these topics, euthanasia, with an
article that appeared on January 21 on the
front page of the Sunday edition of “Il Sole
24 Ore,” the leading economics and finance newspaper in Italy, and one of the
most important in all of Europe.
This time as well his statements have
been interpreted as a criticism of the papal
line of absolute opposition to intentionally caused “gentle death.”
And again this time—like nine months
ago—the official Catholic media have
shrouded cardinal Martini’s statements in
silence, while the secular
media have amplified them.
But a controversy that
pits the highest leaders of
the worldwide Church
against each other with
conflicting positions on
topics of such importance
cannot remain hidden
within the Church itself.
It is a controversy with
its own concrete proximate
cause, background, and
developments.
The Welby Case
ficient architect of his own destiny. It
seems that way, but it’s not. What can be
thought of someone who in choosing death
believes he is exalting life?”
But for a large part of the Catholic
world, the widespread sentiment was of
another sort. On January 10 “Avvenire,”
the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, published a portion of the many
letters it had received on the Welby affair.
They were all against the decision to deny
him a religious funeral. Only the note from
the director of “Avvenire,” Dino Boffo,
took up the defense of the diocese of
Rome.
This was the backdrop for the January
21 article by cardinal Martini in “Il Sole 24
Ore.”
“On a topic like this, politics
wants to make too many laws. It
seems to me that there is a
desire to strip the doctor’s role
and assign decision-making
instead to the will of the
person, who is then influenced
by very clear ideological
pressures.”
The
event
that
prompted cardinal Martini
to speak out again on the topic of euthanasia is that of Piergiorgio Welby, a seriously ill man who—as the cardinal himself
wrote—”lucidly asked for the suspension
of respiratory support therapies, which in
the past nine years have been constituted
by a tracheotomy and an automatic ventilator.”
Welby’s request to cut off his life
shook public opinion in Rome and Italy
during the last weeks of 2006, with an
intensity almost as great as that surrounding the Terry Schiavo case in America. It
drew in and divided the Catholic community, the scientific community, and the
political world, with the strong mobilization of supporters of legalized euthanasia.
Welby lay infirm, but still lucid and capable of expressing himself, in his home in
Rome. His wife, mother, and sister are
practicing Catholics. But his wife has said
of him: “I don’t know if he really thought
there is life after death, or if he believed in
God.” In any case, around him and in his
8
name, during the days before and after his
death, there was celebrated before the
eyes of all a secular liturgy made up of
nocturnal vigils, of solidarity given and
implored, of humanitarian campaigns, of
high emotion at Christmastime.
Welby died at the hands of a doctor
three days before Christmas. And when
his wife asked for a religious funeral, the
diocese of Rome—the bishop of which is
the pope, with cardinal Camillo Ruini as
vicar—refused the request, giving this
reason:
“Because, unlike the cases of suicide
in which it is presumed there was an absence of the conditions for full awareness
and deliberate consent, Mr. Welby repeatedly and publicly affirmed his desire to end
his life, something that is incompatible
IMPACT • February 2007
with Catholic doctrine.” The statement did
not alter in any way the duty of praying for
the man.
Welby’s relatives, friends, and supporters responded to the denial of a religious funeral by celebrating a secular rite
in the square in front of the nearby parish.
It was the morning of Sunday, December
24. At the midday Angelus, Benedict XVI
told the crowd packed into St. Peter’s
Square:
“In the God who became man for us we
all feel loved and welcomed, we discover
we are precious and unique in the eyes of
the Creator. The Nativity of Christ helps us
to become aware of how valuable human
life is, the life of every human being, from
its first moment to its natural end.”
And the following morning, in the
Christmas message “urbi et orbi,” to the
city and to the world, Benedict XVI again
said, speaking of man in our times:
“This man of the twenty-first century
presents himself as the sure and self-suf-
”Welby, death and
me”
The article gets to the
heart of the matter right from
the title: “Welby, Death, and
Me.”
“Such situations,” Martini writes, “will be increasingly more frequent, and the
Church itself will need to
give them more attentive
consideration, including
pastoral consideration.”
These few words would
be the ones most frequently
cited in the following days:
they would be universally
interpreted as a criticism of
the denial of a religious funeral for Welby,
and of the official Church’s “heart of
stone.”
In effect, in the following column of
the article the cardinal presents his position on euthanasia in a way that legitimizes
Welby’s decision—and that of others in
analogous situation—to cut off his life.
Euthanasia, Martini writes, is “an act
intended to cut life short, by directly causing death.” As such it is unacceptable.
But this is different from the case of
aggressive therapies, or “the use of disproportionate medical procedures without any reasonable hope for a positive
outcome.” By interrupting these—the cardinal writes, citing the Catechism—”one
does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted.”
And in deciding if a medical intervention should be interrupted, Martini continues, “the will of the sick person may not be
overlooked, in that it is up to him—even
from the legal point of view, with some
ARTICLES
Cardinal Martini and Euthanasia:
When it is Licit to
Cut Life Short
by Sandro Magister
For the former
archbishop of Milan,
the seriously ill person has at every
moment the right to
interrupt the care
that keeps him alive.
No, objects the
president of the
Pontifical Academy
for Life. But the real
clash is between
Martini and the
pope.
very well-defined exceptions—to evaluate whether the treatment proposed to
him, in such cases of exceptional gravity,
is actually proportionate.”
Further on, Martini calls for the elaboration in this area of “a set of norms that on
the one hand would permit the recognition
of the possibility to refuse treatment—
insofar as this is held by the patient to be
disproportionate—and on the other would
protect the doctor from eventual accusations like that of being an accessory to
murder or providing help in suicide.”
This set of norms—the cardinal clarifies—need not imply “in any way the legalization of euthanasia.” The objective is
“difficult, but not impossible: they tell me
that, for example, the recent French law in
this matter seems to have struck a balance
that, if not perfect, is at least able to realize
a sufficient consensus in a pluralistic society.”
This summarizes the position expressed by cardinal Martini in the January
21 article in “Il Sole 24 Ore.” But to understand this better, it is useful to look back
at what he said on the same subject in the
“Dialogue on life” that he published in
“L’espresso” in April of 2006.
© PIZZOLI ALBERTO/CORBIS
The Backdrop
In the piece that he wrote nine months
ago, Martini also maintained that euthanasia “can never be approved.” But he cautioned against condemning “those persons who carry out such an action at the
request of a person reduced to extreme
circumstances and out of a pure sentiment
of altruism.”
And again: “The pursuit of physical
human life is not, in itself, the first and
absolute principle. Above this stands the
principle of human dignity.”
Many questions concerning birth and
the end of life—the cardinal also wrote—
are “borderline zones or gray areas, where
it is not immediately evident what the true
good is.” Thus “a good rule is to avoid,
above all, deciding in haste and discussing at leisure, so as not to create needless
divisions.”
Nine months ago the leading Church
hierarchs avoided replying in public to
these theses from cardinal Martini. The
silence was so complete that the news
went around that Martini had agreed with
Benedict XVI in advance on the publication of his writings. This was nothing more
than a wild rumor, on a par with the one that
held that Martini was the “real” force behind the election of Joseph Ratzinger in
the 2005 conclave.
Volume 41 • Number 2
9
Cardinal Martini and Euthanasia: When it is Licit to Cut Life Short
But this time, the article in “Il Sole 24
Ore” immediately received three authoritative responses.
The Developments
The first reply came the day after the
article was published. On the afternoon of
Monday, January 22, with the opening in
Rome of the winter meeting of the permanent
council of the Italian bishops’ conference,
cardinal Ruini dedicated these three paragraphs of his address to the question of
euthanasia, to the Welby case, and to the
denial of a religious funeral for him:
“One issue that is rather delicate from
the human and ethical point of view, and
which the parliament has begun to
examine, is that of ‘prior statements
about treatment’. An essential point
on which there seems to be widespread consensus is the rejection of
euthanasia, whatever the reasons for
it or the methods employed, whatever
the acts or omissions adopted and
employed in order to carry it out. At
the same time, it is legitimate to refuse
excessively aggressive therapy, meaning the recourse to extraordinary procedures
that are shown to be too burdensome or
dangerous for the patient, and disproportionate with regard to the hoped-for results.
But the rejection of aggressive treatment
may not be allowed to reach the point of
legitimizing what are more or less disguised
forms of euthanasia, and in particular that of
the withholding of care that deprives the
patient of the necessary provision of food
and water, as expressed in 2003 by the National Bioethics Committee.
“The will of the sick person—whether
expressed personally or through a freely
chosen fiduciary—and that of his family
cannot, therefore, have as their object the
decision to take away the life of the sick
person himself. There must also be the safeguarding of the personal relationship - of
great practical importance - among the doctor, the patient, and his family, and also of
respect for the conscience of the doctor
called to carry out the patient’s wishes, and
more in general of medical norms. In this very
delicate matter it thus appears as a norm of
wisdom not to demand that everything be
taken into account and regulated by law. Just
as important and obligatory are the therapies
that alleviate suffering, and affectionate,
steadfast closeness to patients and their
families.
“The painful human situation of
Piergiorgio Welby affected our people for a
long time. It also drew me in personally, when
10
IMPACT • February 2007
the request for a religious funeral came after
his death. The agonized decision not to grant
him one arose from the fact that the deceased, until the very end, persisted lucidly
and deliberately in the intention to put an end
to his life: under those conditions, a different
decision would have been impossible and
contradictory for the Church, because it
would have sanctioned a stance that is
contrary to the law of God. In this decision
there was not, unfortunately, the absence of
awareness that it would bring pain and distress to relatives and many other persons,
including believers, who were moved by
sentiments of human pity and solidarity
toward the suffering person, although they
were perhaps less conscious of the value of
every human life, of which not even the sick
person is free to dispose. What comforted us
above all was the trust that God, who is rich
in mercy, is not merely the only one who
understands fully the heart of every man, but
is also He who acts directly upon this heart
from within, and can change and convert it
even at the moment of death.”
In this last paragraph concering the
Welby case, there are at least two passages
in which Ruini’s words oppose the theses of
Martini. One is where the pope’s vicar defines as “contrary to the law of God” the
actions that Martini, instead, views as legitimate. And in the one where he asserts that
“not even the sick person can dispose” of his
own life.
But the most direct reply to Martini’s
theses came on Tuesday, January 23, with an
article by Elio Sgreccia in “Corriere della
Sera,” the major newspaper of Milan, the city
where Martini himself was archbishop from
1979 to 2002, before retiring to Jerusalem.
Sgreccia, titular bishop of Zama and
president of the Pontifical Academy for Life,
has been for a number of years the most
authoritative representative of the Church’s
official positions in the area of bioethics.
Sgreccia objects to Martini first of all—
citing the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” by
John Paul II—that euthanasia is still the
same thing even when it is “exclusionary,” or
when it omits “an effective and rightful
therapy, the withholding of which intention-
ally causes death.” And its moral
unacceptability is identical, both when euthanasia is actively set in motion and when
it is exclusionary.
Furthermore, Sgreccia asserts that “the
doctor, although he has the duty to listen to
the patient, cannot be held to be a simple
executor of his wishes: if he acknowledges
the grounds for the refusal [of treatment], he
must respect the patient’s will; but if there
arises a groundless refusal, he is bound to
advance his conscientious objection [...]
and eventually release the patient who was
entrusted to him as his responsibility.”
On the technical-scientific level, it is up
to the doctor to evaluate the “proportionality”—or lack of it—of the available therapies, which should be suspended whenever they are shown to be without reasonable hope for a positive outcome.
What rests with the patient is the
decision to interrupt therapies that are
indeed “proportionate” from a scientific
standpoint, but that he maintains are
unbearable in relation to the his concrete “physical, psychological, social,
and economic” conditions.
In consequence, the French law
brought in as an example by Martini is, for
Sgreccia, morally unacceptable:
“The automatism established by the
French law (art. 6) according to which any
sort of refusal of care on the part of the patient
must be accepted and followed by the doctor
(after he has explained to the patient the
consequences of the refusal) can constitute
exclusionary euthanasia, both on the part of
the patient and on that of the doctor.”
In short, Sgreccia’s reply spares almost
nothing in cardinal Martini’s theses.
Indirectly, Martini also received a reply
from the secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference, bishop Giuseppe Betori.
On Sunday, January 28, in an interview on
the main channel of Italian state television,
he said:
“On a topic like this, politics wants to
make too many laws. It seems to me that there
is a desire to strip the doctor’s role and
assign decision-making instead to the will of
the person, who is then influenced by very
clear ideological pressures.”
Returning to the Welby case, the paradox is that while cardinal Martini declines to
see this as an act of euthanasia, it has been
defined as such a number of times by Welby’s
relatives and by the supporters of the legalization of euthanasia in Italy. The most prominent of these, professor Umberto Veronesi,
an oncologist of worldwide fame, defined it
in a parliament hearing, without mincing
words, as “a suicide.” I
STATEMENTS
My dear brothers and sisters:
“Righteousness makes a
nation great; sin is a disgrace
to any nation.” (Proverbs
14:34).
The Book of the Proverbs,
many of whose sayings are
rightly attributed to King
Solomon, considered the wisest man of Israel, teaches that
righteousness or virtue makes a
nation great, while wickedness
is a cause of disgrace to any
nation. The righteous or wise
person is a source of advantage
not only to self but also to the
society of which one is a part. It
is very clear then that the wisdom teachers of the Old Testament emphasize in their teaching that a human being is a creature who lives in society and is
responsible for the welfare of
society. Thus the righteous
person must live in solidarity
with others, not only concerned
with a personal good or the interest of one’s family and dear
ones but also involved with the
situation of a town or city, province and the whole nation.
The same book describes
in glowing terms the reward of
the righteous men and women
already in this life both as individuals and as a nation. For the
wise men of the Old Testament
a nation that is righteous will
enjoy success, wealth and
honor. Virtuous people will
never be hungry but will enjoy
prosperity and peace. Aided by
prayer the righteous persons
gain the life they desire. Like the
trees in a well-watered garden
their root will never be moved,
their house stands, and their
light does not go out. The righteous will endure forever. They
are an influence for good that is
effective after their lifetime.
They are thoughtful of the poor
people and kind even to animals
and the whole creation. Their
speech is a source of life and
blessing. The righteous persons walk the way of life, while
the wicked walk the way of
death. By the grace of God the
righteous will rule over the
wicked. Their wisdom will pre-
MESSAGE FOR
NATIONAL BIBLE
SUNDAY
(January 28, 2007)
God’s Word: Standard of Justice and Right Living. (Proverbs
14:34 and 2 Timothy 3:16)
vail over the foolishness of evil
men and women. And because
of this the whole nation will
rejoice in their triumph.
What a beautiful picture of
a righteous and virtuous nation! It is an image of a nation
that enjoys a “civilization of life
and love”. It is a dream that our
beloved Philippines, the largest
Christian country in Asia today, has not yet achieved. Is
ours a civilization of life and
love, which should be a gift of
God to a Christian nation? Certainly not! For as a people and
church we are confronted daily
with an uncertain future. Most
of our folks still suffer crunching poverty. There is a lingering
political and economic instability on account of many issues
such as the change of the Constitution, alleged electoral
frauds and extra-judicial killings.
Corruption in private and public life has not stopped and insurgency has worsened because of the declaration of total
war against the rebels of the
government.
We celebrated The Second
Plenary Council of the Philippines fifteen years ago, where
we envisioned a Church renewed through a renewed integral evangelization and by announcing a message of liberation. However, our social situation has not substantially
changed. In some ways it has
even deteriorated. So the Church
in the Philippines has declared
the current year as the Year of
the Social Concerns to remind
us that the Church’s social doctrine is an integral part of her
evangelizing mission. And the
Word of God is the primary
source of the Church’s social
teaching.
Thus, now more than ever
we need to turn to God’s Word,
where we find guidance for our
life and faith as individuals, family and nation. As Christians we
believe that God’s Word should
be the standard of justice and
right living. It must become the
norm, the ideal, the benchmark,
the banner, the measure, the
pattern and the yardstick of our
life as a Christian nation.
St. Paul in his second letter
to Timothy stresses the social
value of Sacred Scripture, which
gives the wisdom bringing total
salvation. He says: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is
useful for teaching the truth,
rebuking error, correcting faults
and giving instruction for right
living.” (2 Tim 3:16)
Again and again Scripture
has opened for men and women
the way to God, for there is a
saving wisdom here that is in no
other book in the world. Among
all the books only the Bible is
God-inspired. For this reason
the Sacred Scriptures are of use
in teaching, are valuable for reproof, useful for correction and
are an excellent guide for right
living for persons both as individuals and as a nation.
The Bible is the best
catechetical book for basic
Christian formation. For instance, it illustrates Jesus’ meaning of conversion, which is essential for every human being
to enter the Kingdom of God.
After
repentance
Jesus
stresses “belief” in the gospel,
whose full meaning can only be
understood by examining the
biblical doctrine on faith. And
renewal of the nation starts from
the conversion of each and every citizen of the country.
It is beyond argument that
the Scriptures are valuable for
reproof. This does not mean
that the Bible is valuable for
finding fault but that it is valuable for convincing a man or a
woman of the error of his/her
ways and for pointing him/her
on the right path. When St. Paul
says that the Scriptures are of
use for correction, the meaning
of this is that all theoretical and
ethical teachings are to be tested
against the Bible. For example, if
a certain law, proposed by the
legislators, contradicts the
teaching of Scriptures and of
the Church, we Christians have
the duty to reject it and to fight
against its promulgation.
The final point of St. Paul’s
passage is very opportune for
us Filipinos today. The study of
Scriptures gives instruction for
right living. The Bible trains a
human person in righteousness
so that one is equipped for every good work. The essential
conclusion is that we Christians
study, meditate and pray with
the Word of God not only for
our own good but the good of
our fellow men and women. For
conversion has a social dimension. If we turn to God’s Word
as the standard of justice and
right living, there is great hope
that our beloved nation will taste
the dawning of God’s Kingdom,
a “Kingdom of truth and life, a
Kingdom of holiness and grace,
a Kingdom of justice, love and
peace.”
MOST REV. ARTURO M.
BASTES, SVD
Bishop of Sorsogon
Chairman, Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate
Volume 41 • Number 2
11
STATEMENTS
A
s we close our Year of
Social Concerns, we call
the attention of our
people to a grave problem that
many, especially among the
urban poor, suffer the lack of
adequate housing. The Church
teaches that “the principle of
the universal destination of
goods requires that the poor,
the marginalized and in all
cases those whose living conditions interfere with their
proper growth should be the
focus of particular concern.
To this end, the preferential
option for the poor should be
reaffirmed in all its force? This
love of preference for the poor,
and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes
of the hungry, the needy, the
homeless, those without
health care and above all,
those without hope for the
future.”(Compendium of the
Social Doctrine of the Church #
182).
Adequate and humane
dwelling is a basic right. (cf.
Compendium #166) Their inadequacy breeds other problems such as immoralities in the
home, the abuse of children,
the lack of education of many
young people, unhygienic conditions in the family, joblessness among the people, malnutrition of children, and criminality.
Our urban poor people, as
human beings and children of
God, have basic human rights
to clean and inexpensive water, decent house, communities free of stagnant diseaseridden water, and uncollected
garbage. They have a right to
security of tenure, to be free of
a constant threat of eviction
and fire, and very importantly,
they have the right to organize
themselves to seek solutions
to their problems in a democratic and a non-violent manner.
Despite their own efforts
and those of many groups, including government and the
Church, we cannot say our urban poor people enjoy these
12
A Pastoral Statement
on the Nation’s
Housing Problems
(Pontifical Commission on Justice and Peace on the
International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, 1988)
“Any person or family that, without
any direct fault on his or her own,
does not have suitable housing is
the victim of an injustice.”
rights today.
We are all compelled to do
everything possible to remedy
this situation. We must all work
that all may have their own
homes that are suitable for
God’s persons who are made in
God’s image and likeness. We
cannot achieve complete success in a short time—we lack
resources for one thing—but
we can do something.
A. We call on those concerned to stop uncaring evictions and demolitions. We have
laws in the land that tell us the
proper processes for eviction.
Let these laws be respected
and followed, especially by lawenforcing agencies. Among
other things, these laws provide us that relocation sites be
prepared to receive the evicted
families and that these sites
should have adequate provisions for basic human needs,
such as water, light, access
roads, schooling for the children and work for the people. If
plans and money are set aside
IMPACT • February 2007
for improvements of the cities
and towns that would necessitate people to be moved elsewhere, also proper plans and
money be set aside for the
places where they are to be
settled with painstaking consultations.
B. Government officials
have made promises and even
made official proclamations of
lands to provide security of
tenure to many poor families
sitting on government properties. Many of these proclamations are not followed; they
have remained empty words.
Let the officials not play on the
basic needs of the people, and
cuddle them in pursuit of election victory.
C. As we did in our 1997
Letter on Homelessness, we
again urge the immediate creation of a government-churchcivil society commission that
will provide guidelines for the
further development of our cities so that the urban poor will
have a decent place to live in
and development will combine
with sound environmental concern. The said commissions in
each city and town can immediately conduct consultations to
discuss and resolve the issues
on homelessness in a pro-active way. Planning of mass
housing for the poor is a concern of public officials for the
sake of the common good and
not only of property developers for their own profit.
D. We commend the initiatives of various groups who on
their own provide for housing
for our poor families. We encourage all people of goodwill,
especially people of faith to
support these groups or to create their own initiatives to help
the homeless to have houses
that they can call their own
someday. We encourage the
homeless to be partners in pursuing the endeavor.
We cannot afford to be
indifferent and complacent in
front of this grave injustice that
many of our brothers and sisters suffer day by day. We, as
a Church, are committed to put
the resources of the Church
towards this dream.
While Filipinos are getting
known all over the world as
good construction workers and
builders, we are not able to
provide houses for our homeless.
Let the dream of God for
his people be ours. “Look, I am
going to create new heavens
and new earth? They will build
houses and live in them; they
will plant vineyards and eat
their fruit? For the days of my
people will be like the days of a
tree and my chosen ones will
themselves use what they have
made.” (Is 65, 17-22).
Let us dream the dream of
God and work that this dream
may come true!
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
+Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
28 January 2007
STATEMENTS
T
he seminar, “The Search
for Christian Unity:
Where We Stand Today,” jointly sponsored by the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU),
the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), and
the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP),
was held on 7-11 February 2007,
in Manila, Philippines. The seminar brought together 133 participants and representatives of
the Episcopal conferences of
Kazakhstan, Japan, MalaysiaSingapore-Brunei, the Philippines, and Taiwan, and a representative of the Catholic Church
in Mongolia. The participants
included Cardinal Walter
Kasper, president of the PCPCU,
Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales of
Manila, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal
of Cebu, Archbishop Angel
Lagdameo, president of the
CBCP, and 33 other bishops.
The seminar was generously
hosted by the Archdiocese of
Manila and held at the
archdiocese’s Pius XII Catholic
Center.
The keynote address, entitled “Ut Unum Sint and Catholic Principles of Ecumenism:
Implications for Churches in
Asia,” was delivered by Cardinal Walter Kasper. Other speakers in the seminar included
Bishop Luis Antonio Tagle (diocese of Imus), Bishop
Deogracias I ñ iguez (diocese of
Kalookan), Msgr. Juan Usma
Gomez (PCPCU), Fr. Ramil
Marcos (diocese of Pasig) and
Fr. Thomas Michel (FABC). Fr.
Jose Salvador Mallari, Ms.
Amelita Herrera, and Ms. Norma
Valencia gave personal testimonies to the spiritual value
they experienced in their ecumenical encounters.
Theological Foundations of
Ecumenism
In Cardinal Kasper’s keynote address, he stated that in
ecumenical endeavor, three
things must be kept in mind: a)
an awareness that our goal is
nothing less than the fullness
of communion among Chris-
Cardinal Walter Casper with Bishops Antonio Tobias and Luis Tagle at a press conference during the seminar on ecumenism
that was jointly organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Federation of Asian Bishops'
Conferences and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines; on Feb. 7-11, 2007 at the Pope Pius XII Catholic
Center in Manila.
The Search for Christian Unity:
Where We Stand Today
A Bishops’ Seminar on Ecumenism
tians; b) a realization that the
other Churches and Ecclesial
Communities possess elements
of ecclesiality, sanctification
and grace, and therefore are already, even though only partially, in communion with the
Catholic Church; and c) an acceptance that communio is the
basic ecumenical principle. The
Catholic Church’s ecumenical
commitment is a journey towards a full sharing with all
Christians in the one faith, sacraments, and apostolic ministry, bearing in mind that unity
does not mean uniformity.
Spiritual Ecumenism
The ecumenical movement
is inspired by the Holy Spirit,
who moves people to pray fervently and work sincerely to
restore the unity intended by
Christ for his disciples. Spiritual
ecumenism involves prayer,
change of heart, and holiness of
life. By presenting Cardinal
Kasper’s A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism, the seminar
offered a renewed appreciation
of what is described by Unitatis
Redintegratio as “the soul of
ecumenism.” The handbook
provides insightful perspectives, practical suggestions and
concrete courses of action to be
taken in the pursuit of unity.
When applied to the real situations of the Churches in Asia,
the work promises to be a valuable companion for individuals
and communities who are committed to work to build Christian
unity. Participants recommended that our episcopal conferences will promote study and
reflection on this important aspect of ecumenism.
Ecumenical Formation
All Catholics are called to
work for Christian unity; hence
there is a pressing need for ecumenical formation, especially for
clergy and laity who have leadership roles in the Church. Such
ecumenical formation should
prepare and enable Catholics to
respond fully and personally to
the challenge of working to promote Christian unity. Comprehensive ecumenical formation
must shape attitudes by heightening an ecumenical awareness
and sensitivity in its human,
spiritual, intellectual and apostolic aspects. The goal of this
formation is to develop a true
ecumenical spirit among Catholics. To assist in the process of
ecumenical formation, the local
Churches must have welltrained ecumenists accompanying our people to understand
and respond positively to the
challenges of the search for
Christian unity.
The Pentecostal Challenge
Since the appearance of the
phenomenon of Pentecostalism
in Asia, profound changes, both
positive and negative, have
been taking place within the
Churches. Positive developments are the rediscovery of the
powerful activity of the Holy
Spirit and the Spirit’s charisms
and gifts, a stress on personal
prayer, and the experience of a
continuous and explicit personal conversion. Indeed, there
are very attractive elements in
Pentecostalism: their joyful and
spontaneous worship; the intimate, friendly nature of their
community life; and the opportunity for all believers to contribute their talents and charisms
for the spiritual benefit of all.
These are factors in drawing
Volume 41 • Number 2
13
STATEMENTS
Christians from other Churches
into the Pentecostal fold. However, there are also negative elements, such as the overemphasis on wealth and health that
often leads to a disregard for the
message of the cross, the stress
on feelings at the expense of
truth, worship perceived more
as a moment of entertainment
rather than an encounter with
Jesus, the misuse of mass media, and the unwillingness to
recognize the validity of other
Christians’ faith commitment
and spiritual experience. The
richness of Catholic sacramental life can be abandoned in favor of emotional experience and
the centrality of faith, hope, and
love in Christian life can be overshadowed by reliance on the
“lesser” charismatic gifts.
Changing Situation and New
Opportunities
The broad attractiveness
and
rapid
growth
of
Pentecostalism present the
Church in Asia with both a challenge and an opportunity. In its
response to this phenomenon,
(1) the Church’s ecumenical
engagement must begin from a
dialogue of love and life and
involve the Church more deeply
in the task of spiritual
ecumenism. (2) While keeping
in mind that ignorance of the
faith and the rootlessness
caused by rapid urbanization
are among the causes of departures from the Catholic Church,
we consider it urgent to educate
our faithful more deeply in the
beauty of the Catholic faith
through lively catechesis, sermons and Christian formation
of adults. (3) The Church must
help Catholics to rediscover a
sense of belonging and overcome their anonymity; in this
regard, the following are necessary: a warm, familial atmosphere
in churches; worship services
characterized by participation
and joyful prayer; an enhanced
openness to the contributions
of the laity; solidarity with the
poor, and others with physical
and spiritual needs; and the restructuring of parish life into
14
welcoming, neighborly basic
communities.
Pastoral Suggestions
Therefore, we suggest the
following concrete measures:
• We should support Basic
Christian Communities,
which will help our people
overcome the sense of feeling unknown and uncared
for by creating an affectionate
and
neighborly
communitarian life.
• We can learn from the insights of the Pentecostal
and Charismatic movements that worship should
be joyful and participatory,
without losing sight of the
august and solemn character of our liturgical tradition.
• Where they are not already
being held, our parishes,
BCCs, and ecclesial movements should inaugurate
weekly Bible study programs, whereby our people
can be guided by the Gospel message and enrich one
another with their own insights into the Word of God.
• The Church can help its
members to benefit from the
personal testimonies of
faith and salvation in Jesus
Christ by creating courses,
days of recollection, and
retreats which focus on testimonial approaches to
one’s personal experience
of Christ’s saving power.
• Reflection on the implications of the Ecumenical
Directory and the Handbook
of
Spiritual
Ecumenism is needed.
• Parish communities, religious congregations, contemplative orders, and
ecclesial movements must
be exhorted to pray for the
unity of Christians.
• Ecumenical formation of future priests and lay pastoral
workers must be a priority.
• The Bishops’ Conferences
should
invite
other
Churches to explore prayerfully the possibilities of new
ecumenical associations.
IMPACT • February 2007
Dear People of God in the
Philippines,
I
n response to the Pope
Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est
(God is love), we declared
2006 the Year of Social Concerns (CBCP Pastoral Exhortation, May 11, 2006).
For the God who is love bids
us to be love too. In our
Pastoral Exhortation naming
2006 the Year of Social Concerns, we expressed the
hope that we would be able
to educate ourselves more
intensively in what the social teaching of the Church is
all about. For that teaching
in the end comes to only one
thing: love of neighbor because of God’s love for us.
The over-riding social
concern of the Church of the
Philippines has been all these
years centered on the inequitable distribution of the
nation’s wealth and the endemic social injustices that
underpin that evil. We would
like in this statement to focus
our attention on the greatest
victim of our unjust economic
order, the rural poor, and the
diminishment of their dignity
as people and as citizens. We
cannot put it too strongly,
but this diminishment is a negation of Christian love—
and hence of the God who is
love. (Cf. Jubilee of the Agricultural World Address of
John Paul II, Nov. 11, 2001,
also, Land and Agrarian
Reform, Pastoral Exhortation on Philippine Economy,
no. 54, CBCP, 1998).
Our Situation
The greater number of
our poor is in the rural areas.
The poor abound in our cities too, and we must be as
concerned for them as for
our rural poor. But if the
urban poor are growing in
numbers, it is largely because of rural folk crowding
into our cities to escape the
debilitating poverty of the countryside. It seems obvious then
that to attend to the first problem (rural poverty) would be to
help lessen the second (urban
poverty).
The one big effort of the
government at alleviating rural
poverty has been its on-going
land reform program, the CARP
(the Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Program). The law instituting it was passed years ago
but its full implementation is
still far off in the future—if ever.
The law was defective in the
first place, emasculated in the
very beginning in a landlord
dominated Congress, further
watered down in its implementation. At this stage, a year before the scheduled end of the
program, there is much that has
not yet been done and the general situation of our farmers is
still as bleak as ever.
The lack of vigor and determination shown by the government in its poor implementation
of the law mirrors the still overpowering opposition of the
landed classes, the traditional
political and economic elite of
our country. What this means
simply is that selfish class interests outweigh concern for the
common good—the main target of the Church’s social teaching. And that selfish unconcern in turn translates into sheer
neglect of the poor, an utter
disregard of the dignity of a
whole class merely because of
their bad economic plight.
This disregard is horrendously displayed in the recent
extra-judicial killings, perpetrated by groups from both the
right and the left, of farmers
whose only “crime” is their continuing struggle for agrarian
reform or their inability to pay
the “revolutionary tax” demanded of them by the NPA.
As a religious people—and it
doesn’t matter whether we are
Christians, Muslims or adherents of other religions—we must
vehemently condemn the continuing murder of such rural folk.
The Dignity of the Rural Poor
The Dignity
of the
Rural Poor
—A Gospel Concern
We condemn too, just as
vehemently, the un-abated killing of unarmed men and women
on the mere charge or suspicion
that they support or belong to
leftist political groups.
Our Response
Condemning evil is not
enough. As we must have
learned from our consideration
of the Church’s social teaching
this past year, we must try bringing an end to evils that harm
people and their good.
As always, our first reaction to national problems is to
call on government to do what
it is supposed to do. We do so
here. We ask that the CARP,
defective as it is, be finally completed next year as it has been
targeted. And if it is not sufficiently implemented by then,
the program should be further
extended and funded more seriously and generously. But we
asked that the law itself must be
reviewed and improved.
The government and the
military’s response to the
shameful “extra-judicial” killings of unarmed crusaders for
justice and equality is most
unsatisfactory, their protestations of concern not too convincing. The greater and more
effective performance of their
duties as guardians and protec-
tors of our peace—this too we
must demand as strongly as we
can.
Putting the burden of action on people whose responsibility it is to act, however, is not
enough. We must ask ourselves: What do we do as individuals, as families, as communities? What must we do? The
responsibility to act is just as
much ours as those who have
the official responsibility.
For years now we have
been pushing the development
of BECs or BEC-type Church
communities and organizations.
And we do so because such
communities are, or should be,
fully participative communities.
Problems, national or local, big
or small, weighty or light—and
the problem of the rural poor we
are speaking of here now is probably our weightiest—all must
be looked at and become community concerns for the solving of which their participation
is needed. Involving themselves
in meeting those problems, they
must do so according to the
social teaching of the Church
which always looks to the
achieving of the common good.
This demands continuing discernment from all of us, both as
individuals and as communities. The answers will be varied,
but, we trust, all issuing from
genuine Christian charity.
On our part, and in view of
what we are asking you to do,
we make a very specific proposal.
A Rural Congress
The year 2007 is the fortieth anniversary of the National
Rural Congress of 1967. It was
at this Congress that the participants, most of them diocesan
and parish social action workers, came to the crucial conclusion that the Church must go to
the barrios. The reason was the
heavy realization that the rural
parts of the country were the
most neglected by both the
government’s development
programs and the Church’s pastoral care.
To commemorate that crucial event in our life as a Church—
and to make us meet in true
Gospel fidelity our present social concerns—we propose that
we revive the memory of that
Congress by holding one again
this year.
But this time our farmers
must do that speaking by themselves, the discerning, the proposing of their own ideas, the
planning of how we must as a
people come together to work
for the common good of the
country and of ourselves. Doing so, they will be effectively
asserting the dignity that for
so long has been denied
them. And the rest of us,
participating with them in
their reflections and deliberations, we will be honoring
their inborn dignity as children of the same Father in
Heaven.
Possibly a small thing.
But in the larger picture of
the country’s many ills, we
see that it is in not honoring
the dignity of the least of our
brothers and sisters among
the poor that we contribute
not a little to the injustices
and inequalities that have
become deeply ingrained in
our national life; and today
the murders and killings, the
corruption and thieving, the
crimes that are being committed daily with impunity
against our poor, these we
see too are all rooted in the
practical denial of the basic
human dignity and rights of
our very poor. Christ himself
acknowledged and honored
their dignity, identified himself with it: “If you did it for
one of my least brothers or
sisters, you did it for me”
(Mt. 25, 40). Because he did,
so must we.
Today we see only too
clearly the need for the reform not only of our national
institutions but of our very
moral fiber as a people. We
start meeting that need by
acknowledging the Godgiven dignity of the least of
Christ’s—and our—brothers and sisters. And not only
in word but in act. That in
itself is reform.
The Lord who loves the
poor be with us in this, our
common task.
For the Catholic Bishops’
Conference of the Philippines,
+Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D.
Archbishop of Jaro
President, CBCP
28 January 2007
Volume 41 • Number 2
15
© Liu Liqun/CORBIS
STATEMENTS
The Challenges of Filipino Nurses Working in the U.S.
T
he existing nursing shortage in the traditions in their home culture. Research portation, grocery shopping, banking, and
United States is predicted to con- indicates that orientation programs that attending church were common problems.
tinue and to worsen because of the are sensitive to the particular needs of Some nurses who lived in more urban
combination of cyclical nursing shortages foreign nurses result in increased job sat- areas found the lack of transportation in
the suburbs very stressful and isolating,
and aging of the current workforce. In isfaction and decreased turnover.
this aggravated their loneliness. One nurse
2010, it is estimated that one million new
described, the nearest train station is a
and replacement nurses will be needed Cultural and related barriers
ten minute walk from the apartment and
and 40% of RNs will be over 50 years old.
Foreign nurses come with distinct that for me is most stressful. We call for
In 2000, 126,200 nurses were needed to fill
vacancies in health care. Between 1996 values and life experiences that influence cabs so we could go to the store. We have
and 2000, the number of nurses under 40 their initial adaptation to the new culture. to wait for a long time and stand out in the
years of age decreased by 21.2%. In 2001, The attributes they bring from their cul- cold. In the Philippines, you can just walk
for the first time the number of nursing tures can either assist or hinder them dur- or take a public transport.
One common experience shared by
graduates taking the RN licensure exams ing this period of stress and adaptation.
All of the nurses that came from tropi- the nurses was the fear and anxiety of
(RN-NCLEX) decreased from 96,438 to
cal countries had great difficulty with the answering the telephone. They feared that
69,759 in 2001.
Active recruitment of foreign nurse cold weather and particularly winter and they may not be able to understand the
graduates occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. snow. They felt cold all the time and most person calling and the person on the other
In 2000, Philippine educated nurses com- preferred to stay indoors, watched televi- line will not be able to understand them.
prised 71% of applicants who took the sion and read books. Several nurses stated, They intentionally avoid speaking to a
Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nurs- it’s so cold here and there’s less fun. We doctor who is perceived as authority. They
ing Schools [CGFNS]. The CGFNS is a visa have to wait for a long time and stand out feared not being able to write and carry out
screen requirement for foreign nurses seek- in the cold. The one I hate most about the order properly and effectively. Nurses
were also embarrassed to ask the doctor to
ing employment in the US, which validates working here is the snow.
repeat the order because he/she
their English and nursing
may ask for a “white nurse who
knowledge and skills.
Nurses educated outside the United
speaks English.” One manager
More recently, a separate
States, generally require a period of
stated, Doctors are sometimes
English communication
annoyed because they have to
assessment is used indeacculturation
to
the
health
care
settings.
give orders and these foreign
pendent of the CGFNS
The greater the differences in culture, the nurses can’t get them right.
which is focused mainly
Some are afraid to talk on the
on nursing.
greater the difficulty experienced.
phone.
In contrast to the deDifficulty interacting with
creasing number of appliLoneliness was a major and common doctors, patients and co-workers was a
cants from the United Kingdom and Ireland, nurses educated in the Philippines, experience among many of them as a result common complaint about foreign nurse
India, and Nigeria remain the majority of of separation from their families, relatives graduates. Differences in intonation, acand friends. Most nurses echoed, I’m sad cent, and pronunciation make their comnurses taking the CGFNS.
because I don’t have my family with me; I munication unintelligible to others. LanChallenge of population diversity feel isolated, I feel very lonely. Many felt guage remains difficult because of the
they have to be strong to survive in a new slang language they use and their accent.
The challenge in health care is not environment while learning and adjusting The only thing different is their language,
only limited to workforce diversity but to the new job and culture without their adapting to their accent. Idiomatic exalso to diversity in the client population. valued support system. In the absence of pressions were especially difficult when
One in four Americans is a member of a their family and major support system, dealing with multicultural staff and paminority, racial, or ethnic group (U.S. Cen- prayers offered solace. One nurse cap- tients.
sus, 2000). By 2030, 40% of the total popu- tures this experience: When I first came
Nurses described the fast pace of
lation will be non-white (Gonzales, Gooden, here its like being a newborn baby, it’s American life and found Americans are
& Porter, 2000). When people from differ- like finding new friends and families in “always rushed and impatient.” In conent cultures interact with each other in the the place where I haven’t been before. She trast, one nurse noted, back home it is a
workplace, cultural differences play an was alone in her room and cried for most of slower pace. We take time to talk to people
important role and sometimes these differ- the first six months.
and spend time with them. Here you don’t
Many nurses continue to suffer from even have time to go to the bathroom
ences create misunderstandings, conflict
homesickness. A Filipino nurse poured especially when it is busy. People in the
and stress.
Nurses educated outside the United out: I am sad because I don’t have my U.S. move fast and talk fast. Difficulty
States, generally require a period of accul- family with me. You do everything by communicating directly with authority is a
turation to the health care settings. The yourself. “When I was in the Philippines problem for most foreign nurses espegreater the differences in culture, the I was really dependent on my parents. cially Filipinos. Most of them have diffiHere, you do everything by yourself like culty speaking up and being assertive
greater the difficulty experienced.
Foreign-trained nurses bring with working and taking care of your clothes especially with doctors and managers. One
them concepts of health and patterns of and everything at the same time.
of the foreign nurses stated: For me, I still
Basic needs such as housing, trans- see the doctor like a god. If he comes and
care that have been shaped by values and
16
IMPACT • February 2007
C O V E R
S T O R Y
Beyond the issues of cheating in the last
licensure exams that barred 2006 examinees
from taking the CGFNS, what are the Challenges that await Filipino Nurses in the U.S.?
Acculturation and Adaptation:
The Challenges of Filipino
Nurses Working in the U.S.
© deadlywhispers.multiply.com
By Ma. Juvy L. Sulse
Volume 41 • Number 2
17
C O V E R
S T O R Y
asks for the chart, I have to look and give
it to him.
Nurses mentioned difficulty adjusting
to American food. Food was a problem
because I could not get adjusted to the
bland diet as I am used to spicy food. There
are a lot of selections and you have to read
the labels to get what you need and want.
Many of them do not know how to cook as
they were used to having other family members and/or helpers preparing their food.
Valuable contribution of foreign
nurses
Foreign nurses mitigate the staffing
shortage and many of them work extra hours
and in shifts that American nurses would
not take. In units with rapid turnover of
nurses, foreign graduates take on leadership role as preceptors and charge nurses
sooner than expected.
Although managers pointed out differences in their characteristics and abilities, they were also cognizant of their positive contributions. They bring a lot of knowledge with a different way of doing things.
They are extremely good clinically with
good assessment skills. Managers also
noted these nurses’ ability to work with
staff and become part of the team. They are
conscientious and a good role model to the
staff who are lax about things; they have
good relationships with other staff; pleasant to work with; good team players and
willing to get involved.
Both nurses and doctors appreciate
them. They are described to be respectful,
compassionate and friendly. One educator
stated; I remember the first day; they all
stood up when I entered the room and
called me “Ma’am”. I was never called like
this in my whole life. Filipinos especially
were noted for their hospitality. Food! They
bring in their ethnic food to parties and
they are just delicious. Foreign nurses also
identified that because they are giving care
differently from Americans, patients appreciate them for their patience and kindness.
Most of the recent recruits accept assignments without much fuss or complaining.
Difficulty in adapting to the US
work norms
Foreign nurses are not accustomed to
the American time orientation. They experience enormous stress from heavy
workloads on the unit, due to their inability
to complete their planned care and documentation on time. Managers, preceptors
and educators interpret these problems as
18
IMPACT • February 2007
poor time management and lack of critical
thinking. The concept of primary nursing
where the individual is accountable for the
total care management of his/her assigned
number of patients is a new concept for
these nurses who were used to team nursing where groups of nurses provide for the
total care of the same patients. The head
nurse usually interacted with physicians,
families and other departments. Staff nurses
were engaged in direct patient care and
decision-making was the role of the head
nurse and the physician.
Differences in caring patterns
Foreign nurses have difficulty adapting to the expanded role of the RN with more
responsibilities for the patient but with little
support from the patient’s relatives. A Filipino nurse compared her experience at home
and in the US, Back home, each patient has
its own watchers from morning till night.
Patients here have no watchers so its hard
because you have to do everything by
yourself even those simple things like
changing the TV channel, turning the lights
off, rubbing their backs and emptying their
urinals. Even if family or watchers are
around, you still do everything. They are
just there for a visit and their presence is
enough.
Another recruit mentioned about her
expanded role: Sometimes you feel like
you’re functioning as a doctor. You even
need to tell the doctor what to order. The
doctor is relying on the nurse for a thorough assessment of the patient. Nurses
recognized the demand to obtain more
knowledge and training through continuing education to enhance their career as an
RN. They felt that it’s only here in the U.S.
that one could study while working. Another nurse mentioned: I have learned to
access advanced technology to improve
my skills and broaden my knowledge.
Recruits perceived caring differences
compared to the dominant culture. Filipino
nurses identified spending time with patients, being cognizant of their emotional
and psychological needs as more valuable
and important than task achievement. They
defined active provision of care rather than
documentation as caring. Taking the time to
be with patients, giving direct care as well
as talking to them were considered caring
actions.
Foreign nurse graduates viewed themselves as compassionate and gentle towards their patients. Inability to spend time
with patients was a source of stress for
them. They see their American counter-
parts as more task-oriented rather than patient oriented. This was evidenced by this
comment: We do our work seriously. After
the endorsement, we work right away; we
don’t drink coffee or talk on the phone. If
they see you stressed out it seems like they
are amused why you are so stressed. To
them, as long as their patients are alive,
everything’s ok. When at times you’re really serious about your work because you
want to finish what needs to be done for
your patients and it seems like you are the
only one working very hard. Foreign
nurses’ inability to complete their tasks
because they are with their patients longer
is perceived as lack of critical thinking and
time management skills.
Personal characteristics and
community support facilitate
adaptation
Some nurses who previously experienced independence from their family adjusted quicker to their new environment.
Nurses who worked in other countries prior
to coming to the US had an easier transition
than those who were dependent upon their
family most of their lives. Foreign nurses
viewed as important to their adaptation
organizational supports such as length of
time devoted to initial and follow-up orientation, acculturation classes and close
matching of job assignment with their skills.
Organizations with less staff turnover provided more positive environment for the
new nurses.
Support from family members, relatives,
friends, co-workers and community helped
new nurses adapt to their new environment.
Nurses were appreciative of the accommo-
© Dan Habib/The Concord Monitor/Corbis
The Challenges of Filipino Nurses Working in the U.S.
dations that their organization and community members provided; I was surprised
because in the Philippines if they don’t
know you, they don’t offer help. Here, we
were really helped with everything: food,
groceries, utensils, furniture, even hangers! We are also blessed because our preceptors and managers really cared for us
even though the concerns were not in terms
of work. They give us numbers to call, offer
rides. One American manager stated, Even
my husband is involved. He does think
about them (new nurses) all the time. Their
picture is on the refrigerator. One Saturday night he asked me if I want to rent a
movie and invite the Filipinos as well.
Presence of co-ethnics at work and in
the community greatly facilitated the initial
transition of these nurses. Friends helped
to take them to social gatherings and events
as well grocery shopping and church.
Friends took us to church, grocery and
mall. I love loud music and dancing. Friends
and co-ethnics were a great source of support that eased the loneliness experienced
by these nurses. My friends would take me
to New York. I had Indian people who were
here for 14-15 years already. They recounted their stories about their adjustment in the US. This kept me motivated and
strong.
Educators and managers noted that
other Filipinos extended themselves more
to the newly recruited nurses from their
country. Established Filipinos facilitated
networking and linking new nurses with the
Filipino community and organizations in
the area. Filipino recruits noted, we appreciate the Philippine Nurses Association
for mentoring us, supporting us and having us part of their Christmas party. The
Filipino doctors were there too. We met so
many friends. They invited us and picked
us up when they had parties. There were
even Filipino priests who helped us and
prayed for us.
Foreign nurses experienced positive
short and long term changes associated
with migration to the US. Many of them
commented that the people are respectful
and accommodating. They described the
U.S. as a country of many nationalities,
clean environment and high tech. They
experience more freedom and opportunity
to develop professionally. They see the RN
role in the US as more professional and
accorded greater respect by others. They
noted much growth in their knowledge and
ability to think independently.
This role has also enhanced their personal growth. We become more mature and
independent, able to make decisions and
choices for ourselves. I think another thing
that changed is your psychological growth.
Because of family absence, you become
your own decision maker and get very
independent. Foreign nurses also noted
that because they earn more they can support themselves independently and help
their families back home. They cherish their
ability to independently setup their own
apartment from their family back home.
The need for continuous support
Managers, educators, and preceptors
were unanimous in their belief that foreign
nurses need longer orientation with technology, documentation, medication and
expanded role of RN. They identified a
common weakness as technology (IV pump,
beds, computer systems, medication systems). They saw foreign nurses’ prolonged
dependence on others and co-ethnics as
barriers to developing oral communication
with others especially physicians.
Development of critical thinking and
communication were identified as continuing priorities as reflected in these statements: Their negative aspect is not being
critical thinkers like patient had to be
intubated or coded, when they could have
done something ahead of time. Documentation is a little shaky. They are not comfortable going in there assessing the patient and relaying information to the doctor. That’s because back home they say
that that’s more of a physician responsibility. Mostly language and medical terminology. Nurses can’t get them right. “Filipinos’ weakness is their inability to express themselves. They need to take
assertiveness training.
Other areas identified that need followup training included computer skills, documentation, need to understand patient satisfaction, assumption of collaborative leadership and professional role (delegation,
charge nursing). They also identified the
need for consistent and frequent meetings,
follow-up, and formal critical care course.
Both foreign nurses and their managers/
educators/preceptors recognized the need
for work and cultural orientation as important for foreign nurses’ acculturation. Many
of the lingering difficulties come from the
distinct influence of the foreign nurses’
culture.
Need for acculturation and
adaptation
Foreign nurses make a valuable contribution to the organization; managers,
preceptors, and educators affirmed their
contribution. Foreign nurses helped mitigate the staffing shortages; they worked
extra hours and took on shifts that others
refuse to work. Managers noted that the
foreign nurse comes with good clinical skills
and their knowledge is an asset to the
workplace. The nurses were seen as a positive role model to the other staff as they
were conscientious and never refused an
assignment.
Acculturation
programs
and
preceptorship were significant and important organizational supports. Although different organizations offered different types
of programs to the foreign nurses, acculturation classes helped nurses understand
the host and organizational culture make
initial contact with others and minimized the
stress of relocation.
Continuing problems included adapting to the language and communication
patterns, expanded professional role, time
management, autonomous decision making, advanced technology, and societal
and organizational cultures. The interplay
of demographic (age, ethnicity, language,
experience, and time in the US), social and
cultural factors (food preferences, relatives
and friends in the US, living arrangements,
and work and company preference) and
organizational supports (acculturation programs, orientation, preceptor ship, and practice setting) played a significant role in the
acculturation of foreign nurse graduates.
All these variables facilitated both their
initial and long-term adaptation to the host
and organizational cultures. I
(Ma. Juvy S. Sulse is a Filipino nurse who migrated
to the U.S. sometime in the 80’s. This article is lifted
from her research paper that will be submitted for
publication at the Journal of Transcultural Nursing.)
Volume 41 • Number 2
19
N E W S
FEATURES
Chinese Internet Censorship
Could Pose As Bad Model
For Others
B
eijing,China, February 4,
2007– China is introducing new and more sophisticated ways of censoring
the internet to prevent “unauthorized” use, a human rights
NGO, Reporters without Borders (RSF), claimed in its annual report on press freedom.
In China, 52 people are in
jail, convicted of internet activities deemed “inappropriate”. In the rest of the world
“only” 10 cyber-dissidents
have been imprisoned (four in
Vietnam, three in Syria and one
each in Tunisia, Libya and Iran.)
In its report published on
1 February, RSF said Beijing
was working hard to keep up to
date with all technological developments like those introduced by YouTube to allow
people to post and share videos online. The report said
“China and Iran are keen to
filter videos that appear - too
much ‘subversive’ content for
China and too much ‘immorality’ for Iran.”
At the end of January,
President Hu Jintao called on
the entire apparatus of the
Communist Party to “purify the
internet environment” saying
“whether we can cope with the
internet is a matter that affects
the development of socialist
culture, the security of information and the stability of the
state.”
Government control is
20
implemented not only through
technology but also through
the extensive commitment of a
special police corps and thanks
to the collaboration of firms
that manage websites. China
“has the political weight to force
companies in the sector - such
as Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft
and Cisco Systems - to do what
it wants them to.” In 2006, US
firms came in for harsh criticism
and were even subject to questions in the US Congress for
revealing the identity of cyberdissidents to the Chinese police, as Yahoo did in February
2005,
to
avoid being
banned in
the country.
The dissidents were
s u b s e quently
jailed.
A c cording to
the Chinese
Internet Information Centre, last year the
number of internet users grew
by 23.4% (26 million people),
bringing the total number of
users up to more than 137 million. The vast majority do not
have access to those sites that
offer uncensored opinions and
criticism of the Party and the
local government. And yet,
despite the iron control over
information from and of the
country, some dissidents still
manage to send unfiltered information abroad.
Chinese censorship is held
to be a danger and a problem
not only for the country but for
the entire global community.
The report said that the danger
is that “China’s internet model,
based on censorship and surveillance, may one day be imposed on the rest of the world”.
RSF said that so far, internet
IMPACT • February 2007
China Resorts to Public
Shaming to Enforce Onechild Policy
B
eijing, February 8,
2007–-An official in
Zhejiang said that his
province plans to name and
shame rich families who ignore the country’s strict
one-child policy and simply
pay the fine for having a
second or third baby. Zhang
Wenbiao, head of the family planning commission in
Zhejiang province, announced on Wednesday
that his agency was going
to expose a few such cases
in the near future.
The government recently revealed that its onechild policy is respected by
only 35.9 per cent of the
population. Taking into account the exceptions that
the law allows—farmers and
ethnic minorities—violators of the law are subject to
hefty fines, often based on
family incomes but averaging 50,000 yuan (US$ 6,200),
an amount that has not put
off rich couples.
In fact the policy has
had an impact only on poor
families and this has lead to
a great deal of social resentment, said Zhang.
In a survey published
in January by the Communist Party daily China Youth
Daily, 68 per cent of the
respondents said that this
privilege for the rich was
“unfair”.
For this reason the provincial government in
users have always managed to
find ways and means of getting
around censorship and filters
but now governments and
companies from around the
world must intervene to support freedom of expression.
“It has become vital to
examine new technology from
Zhejiang raised fines and
decided that it will out some
families. Yet some families
paid up to a million yuan to
have another child.
China’s family planning policy—implemented
in the late 1970s—limits urban couples to one child
and rural families to two to
control the population and
conserve natural resources.
The government last
month said that although a
recent survey showed that
about 60 per cent of Chinese people would prefer to
have two children, there
were no plans to relax the
policy.
The policy has however
created a skewed male-tofemale ratio because many
couples resort to selective
abortion to have a boy.
The latest data indicate
that in 2005 there were 117
males for 100 females. In
some provinces this ratio
was 130 to 100. (AsiaNews/
Agencies)
a moral standpoint and understand the secondary effects of
it. If firms and democratic countries continue to duck the issue
and pass off ethical responsibility on others, we shall soon
be in a world where all our communications are spied on.”
(AsiaNews/Agencies)
N E W S
FEATURES
Hindu Extremists Beat up
Christian Missionary
Women
by Nirmala Carvalho
M
Ordination of Three
Chaldean Deacons “Real
Sign of Hope” for Iraq
Christians
A
nkawa, Iraq, February 5,
2007—”A sign of hope
amid so much violence
and despair”. This is how Mgr
Louis Sako, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, described the
ordination of three new deacons that took place on 2 February in Ankawa in Kurdistan.
The ceremony took place in the
Church of St Joseph and was
celebrated by the bishop of
Amadhyia and Erbil, Mgr
Rabban al Qas. Also present
were Mgr Mikha Maqdassi,
bishop of Al Qosh, and Mgr
Sako himself who as lecturer at
the local faculty of theology
wanted to express his “support” for the seminarians.
Courses offered by the
Chaldean Major Seminary of St
Peter and Babel College, the
only Christian theological faculty in Iraq, resumed officially
last month in Ankawa, after the
forced relocation of both institutions from Baghdad, which
had become too dangerous.
The ordained deacons are
Salar Soulayman Bodagh of the
diocese of Al Qosh, Raymond
Hamid Sargis of Baghdad and
Louya’ Gilyana Dinkha from
Mosul. Already last month, on
27 January, Wassim Sabih
Youssif was ordained in
Baghdad. In the coming days,
four Syro-Catholic deacons will
be ordained: Raid Adil Fatohi
and Mazin Isho’ Mattoccha in
Mosul on 9 February; Ammar
Abdullahad Ayub and Nuhad
Sabih Alcas Moussa on 16
February.
Speaking about the new
ordinations, Mgr Sako described them as “real signs of
hope amid so much violence.”
And he talked about the latest
threats to the Christian community and the umpteenth kidnapping. “A Catholic from
Karaqosh, Abdul Khaliq Bakos,
the brother of a Dominican Sister, was kidnapped a few days
ago in Baghdad; an hour after
the kidnapping, his relatives
paid the ransom demanded only
to find him dead two days later.”
The man had three children. The
bishop continued: “In Kirkuk,
some Christian doctors left the
city after receiving a letter asking for an enormous sum of
money to be delivered on pain
of death.”
Mgr Sako said the insecurity that threatened the daily
life of all Iraq’s communities
had created “a real vacuum at
pastoral level” in the church.
umbai, India, February 8, 2007– Four
Christian missionary women were badly
beaten by Hindu extremists
in the northern Indian state
of Haryana. Two clergymen
were also hurt in the February 4 attack by Sangh
Parivar activists. All the victims belonged to Gospel for
Asia, which reported the
incident.
Open attacks like this
one against women are quite
rare. K.P. Yohannan,
founder and president of
Gospel for Asia, told Assist
News Service, that “Hindu
religious fundamentalists
have been making every
possible attempt to stop all
Christian work in this state
for some time, these fundamentalists routinely target
Christians, and now they are
even attacking women.”
The four missionary
women—Vanmala, Lata,
Udaya and Ramita—were
working in the area for about
a year. Four days ago Hindu
fundamentalists met them
and told them to vacate immediately the house in
which they were staying and
call their supervising pastors, who came right away
to the home.
The women and the
pastors were still inside the
building when hundreds of
people surrounded the
Meanwhile evangelical groups
that arrived with the American
army are multiplying. The
bishop said: “They are conducting
aggressive
house.
A group of the fundamentalists broke into the
house and attacked the
women and the two pastors
who had come to their assistance.
One of the attackers, a
policeman, used his police
stick against the women;
others slapped and kicked
them.
When the attackers left,
the women sought refuge at
a nearby Gospel for Asiaaffiliated church.
Gospel for Asia officials
have not filed any formal
complaint for the time being,
but they did inform the local
Superintendent of Police.
The Sangh Parîvâr is a
network of Hindu organizations that share the same
Hindutva or Hindu nationalist ideology whose raison
d’être is the protection of
India’s Hindu identity.
(AsiaNews)
proselytism even among
Catholics and Orthodox and
they already have 36 new
churches in Baghdad alone.”
(AsiaNews)
Volume 41 • Number 2
21
FROM THE
B L O G S
© Dennis Dayao / CBCP Media Office
Contradictions Par Excellence
© Playboy Archive/Corbis
Jueteng and Elections
T
he attempt to reverse the
Anti-death penalty law
by some members of the
lower house and the recent
death sentence imposed on a
known dictator, brings to mind
the ridiculous as well as gross
contradictions of death penalty—even on account of so
called “Heinous Crimes”. Irrespective of whatever real motivation drove the present administration to recently do away
with death penalty in the country, the existing Pro-Life Law in
the land is objectively good,
right and wherefore just. Otherwise:
Contradiction One: Prior
to killing someone, state issues
sees to it that the condemned
person is healthy! If sick, the
execution will have to wait. This
is not to mention the practice
that before his or her death, the
convicted individual is even
encouraged to have a great meal.
Contradiction Two: Everything and anything are done to
see to it that the person to be
killed is comfortable during the
killing. This includes the way
the person is killed, with what
he is killed, including the position he is killed. And this is
strangely called “Humane”
Killing!
22
Contradiction Three: the
individual to be killed for one or
more Heinous Crimes is given
all the means and provided with
all the opportunity to assure is
or her eternal salvation, his
everlasting reward, his joy and
peace forever and ever!
Specifically in the case of
the internationally publicized
killing of a two-decade dictator
with hundreds if not thousands
of victims, it is good to ask
some questions.
Question One: How can
the killing of but one life be
equal to the waste of many
other lives? Can one person be
really equal to hundreds of
other persons?
Question Two: is it right to
say that one person with many
medals and recognitions, with
an exalted office and much
wealth should be considered
equivalent to more than two,
one hundred, several hundreds
of other lowly individuals?
Question Three: if the
objective truth is that one person is equal to but also one
person, how will the many other
dead persons get their justice—
if not vengeance and revenge?
Death Penalty? Think
again while you are alive!
www.ovc.blogspot.com
IMPACT • February 2007
I
t is an open secret that elections in this country are
anything but altogether honest, orderly and peaceful.
The truth is that event months before the May 2007
elections, there have been already some downright assassinations. This is not to mention the recorded big increase
of gun sales plus the reported reactivation of many private
armies.
In fact, considering the election history of the country,
it is both vacuous and vain to still ask the many selfproclaimed prophets of doom, all of whom are practically
saying that a good amount of fears and pains shall accompany the midterm political exercise. They tell their listeners
to prepare themselves for the sound of guns, the flow of
blood, the sprawl of bodies.
It seems however that the local divinizers still have to
be heard on the customary lying, cheating and stealing that
accompany the election process from the local to the
national levels. More concretely speaking, they seem to
miss pointing out three distinct factors that has a big
contribution in running the elections in this country.
Jueteng operators. Jueteng payolas. Jueteng beneficiaries. This infamous triad contributes much in impacting
the election process and in impairing the elections results.
Jueteng operators are worshipped by many politicians.
Jueteng payolas make certain political candidates salivate.
Jueteng beneficiaries have a big in winning the elections.
Jueteng money bribe some election officials, pay for
campaign expenses, buy votes for sale. Jueteng money
takes away votes from honest and upright candidates, and
credits votes in favor of corrupt and corrupting pretenders
for public office. Jueteng money thus throws good and
worthy candidates out of the possibility of holding public
offices as a public trusts.
The Krusadang Bayan Laban sa jueteng has no
option but to join its little voice and small man-power in the
loud clamor for the election of honest and able candidates.
Whereas jueteng has been long used to favor pro-jueteng
candidates, it is about time that the jueteng issue be also
used precisely against them. It is not enough that these
individuals are already well known by the general public.
It is necessary for the anti-jueteng crusade to have them
well marked—identifying at the same time those who are
anti-jueteng and who are fit for the tenure of public offices.
www.ovc.blogspot.com
EDITORIAL
Glorious Rhetoric,
Notorious Realities
I
t has been no less than six long years with
anticipation of three more years ahead if not
more. Since then, the incumbent national leadership has been honing well its expertise in glorious rhetoric while at the same time ably ignoring
the notorious realities in the land. It happily basks
in sunny positivism while pitifully ignoring the
down to earth truth of the gloomy present and
bleak future in this once land of the morning.
It is enough to recall the memorable super
vision of the administration. Originating from a
super ego, it eventually went to super maids and
culminated with super regions. On the other hand,
there are millions of exploited women and children, millions of hungry and sick Filipinos. And
there are millions of jobless individuals, not to
mention the millions who leave the country in
search of a chance of earning abroad, lonely and
dangerous though this venture be.
There are the unending proud and loud claim of
economic growth and development well in place.
Yet, the poor become poorer and their living becomes harder. There are the repeated exclamations that the country is now even awash with too
much surplus cash. But where is the money? How
come people continue to have empty pockets?
There is no question though who are those wallowing in abundance, luxury and vanity. These are
the few blessed ones in tenure of power, in command of the wealth of the country.
There can only be one understandable and
acceptable explanation to such gross and striking
discrepancy between fact and fiction. The administration is looking at the nation and its people
through a glass colored to its liking. This phenomenon is beyond redemption and cure. With this
systematic falsity, even rotting garbage is seen as
healthy pink.
In addition to its integrity problem, it has also
become a moral impossibility for the administration to claim credibility. It can happily continue
indulging in imaginations and in claiming visions.
Meantime, the country becomes more much divided and deeply wounded with socio-political
discontent and upheavals.
It is not enough that nature has begun hitting
back at people after its continuing maltreatment
through the irresponsible exploitation of its wealth.
There is still an administration that is so mindful of
its interests and concerns. The people will have to
care for themselves—as the administration is primarily looking after itself.
Volume 41 • Number 2
23
© David Trilling/Corbis
ARTICLES
R
ulers in Muslim countries are coming to terms with the fact that their
religion is in a deep crisis. One sign
is the growing number of fatwas or legal
pronouncement ordering the murder of
atheists, apostates, Israeli civilians . . . . But
their calls for reform are just cosmetic. For
Muslim governments the "violent and terrorist" Islam is a figment of the Western
imagination, except for a few liberal Muslims who are ready for self-criticism.
ISLAM’S crisis is of interest to governments also. On December 7 and 8,
2005, a conference was held at Mecca
which sought ways to stem the spreading
crisis. Muslim politicians and intellectuals from all over the world attended the
conference, which was called by the Organization of Islamic States. Here, I shall
seek to examine it.
To start with, the document affirms
and explicitly recognizes the crisis being
experienced by the Muslim world. To
strive to save Islam from the abyss, government leaders listed various causes of
the crisis. The first is the flood of fatwas,
which have become an affliction of Islamic
societies.
24
IMPACT • February 2007
Violent Fatwas Worry
Muslim Governments
by Samir Khalil Samir, SJ
The fatwa flood
Fatwas are judgments by more or
less learned figures who seek to indicate
the Islamic way to be followed in the
various concerns of life. At the outset of
Islam, fatwas were exceptional pronouncements, made by personnel with specific
qualifications and accreditation: being
political decisions, they were not at the
discretion of every imam (prayer leader)
nor of every faqi-h (Islamic jurist). Later,
the number of fatwa suppliers grew disproportionately, as they invaded every
aspect of believers' lives. These fatwas
are often so awkward that Arab newspapers make fun of them.
The fatwas targeted at Mecca were
above all those in favor of violence. These
are the ones that give Islam the image of
being tied to terrorism. Representatives
of Islamic governments said "Enough
with imams who assume the right to say:
Kill this group, or who legitimate jiha-d
(holy war), to use the term used by the
Islamic Conference. It should be said
that, in Islam, the problem of violence is
tied to war. And war, in order to be
justified, must be preceded by a declaration of jiha-d.
Violent Fatwas Worry Muslim Governments
Fatwas of violence and terror
When an imam declares a situation of
jiha-d, it means that every Muslim, according to the means at his disposal, has the
duty to fight the aggressor to defend and
spread Islam. Such battles can be with
arms and with physical violence, giving
rise to warriors, the muja-hidi-n. Those
who are not able to fight directly can do
their part by paying those who go to war.
Another way of fighting—especially
against atheists—is to defend Islam
through writings. Even women, by having
more children, contribute in their specific
way to jiha-d. In any case, all Muslims
without exception are called to jiha-d.
There has been, in recent years, a
multiplication of the numbers of imams
who order the killing of Israelis. The most
famous imam in the Muslim world today,
Yussef al Qarada-wi launched a fatwa that
justifies Palestinian terrorist attacks
against civilian Israelis. Al-Qaradawi is an
Egyptian living in the Emirates, but he also
travels a lot to Europe, London and Ireland, were the European Fatwa Institute is
located. This institute has a very important role in Europe, at times positive, at
times negative. Years ago, Al-Qaradawi
made public a fatwa in which he explained
that a kamikaze, a muja-hid, who blows
himself up in a café, on a street or in a bus
of Tel Aviv or elsewhere in Israel is a true
martyr.
To understand the value of this fatwa,
it must be said that Muslim tradition does
not allow the killing of an unarmed person.
Jiha-d can be carried out only against an
armed opponent. Al-Qarada-wi found the
way to justify the killing of civilians. He
explains that, at this point, all of Israel is
like an army, an aggressor against Islam,
because all Israelis support the occupation of Palestine, of Islamic territory.
Iraq and Iran, each of the two countries
had first to demonstrate that the other was
ka-fir in order to be able to attack!
The Mecca document asks that such
reciprocal ostracism be curbed, as it weakens the unity of the Umma, the Islamic
community. Plus, this situation gives Islam an image of violence that misrepresents Islam which, by its nature, is—according to the document—a religion of
tolerance (di-n al-sama-h). And Muslim
governments are very worried about the
image, negative and violent, that the rest
of the world has of Islam. Fundamentalists
instead are not worried about this image:
in their opinion, this shows even more how
corrupt the West is: i.e., to the point of not
understanding that violence against Evil
comes from the Good.
The document's third point deals with
efforts to save Muslim identity which is
"under attack from all sides." With some
flattery of radical tendencies, the document slides into the "victimization" of Islam, saying that the crisis depends on the
fact that the entire world is targeting and
criticizing the Muslim religion. The document dwells on the fact that the West and
the world have a deformed image of Islam.
Thus, to save Islamic identity and correct
the incorrect clichés of the international
community, it was decided at Mecca to
"give a positive image of Islam, of the
authentic Umma."
The document claims the fact that
Islam created an Islamic civilization and,
what is more, contributed to building a
universal civilization. To attain a more
positive image, the governments at Mecca
have decided to "give priority to reforms
and progress, in accordance with human
civilization, taking inspiration however
from sharia, justice and equality." The
document does not however go beyond
these generic declarations of principle,
and indicates in its conclusion the need for
"a 10-year plan for reforming society."
And to change the deformed image
that the West has of the Muslim world, the
governments have decided to spread a
true understanding of Islam in the West.
For these governments, which are influenced by radical ideas, the image that the
West has of Islam is incorrect. The Mecca
document risks being superficial in its
analysis and solutions. What is at stake
for them, in the end, is just "How to change
Islam's image?" correcting certain aspects
here and there.
Only the liberal Islamic world has the
courage to say: "This is the image that we
Muslims give, it is not something invented
by Westerners. If it does not correspond
to true Islam, then that is because we are
not presenting true Islam."
The most radical question is being
asked by liberal intellectuals: how to
change our interpretation of Islam? The
problem, in fact, is not just the violence of
fatwas, or the way in which the West sees
Islam, but a way to put Islamic religion into
effect in daily life.
Furthermore, fatwas reflect the confusion experienced by a large section of religious Muslims. They are not able to reconcile Islam with modernity and are afraid to
make mistakes that might distance them
from "true Islam." So they ask for fatwas
and the mufti (the suppliers of fatwa) come
up with them on everything and on nothing,
responding to the thousands of requests
that they receive! That fatwas are being
requested attests to confusion and religious ignorance; a fatwa is reassuring and
dictates the conduct to follow in even the
smallest details of daily life. I
Correcting Islam's image
© Corbis
After having criticized fatwas on violence, the Mecca document tackled the
question of takfi-r, the declaration that a
person is ka-fir, that is, a misbeliever, an
atheist. Due to the crisis of Islam, the
tendency has grown in the Muslim world
for reciprocal accusations of "misbelief."
The Pakistani girl killed by her father in
Brescia (Italy) in August 2006 was considered a "bad Muslim." Many Islamic governments are accused of having betrayed
the Muslim cause and of being "misbelievers": this is the accusation that Al Qaeda
makes against Saudi Arabia, but also
Egypt, Jordan, etc.... In the war between
Volume 41 • Number 2
25
© Roy Lagarde / IMPACT
ARTICLES
Concern Begets
Initiative
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
I
used to see him walk some mornings
towards the school where we both work,
he as a foreign IT consultant and I as
chaplain. I always felt obliged to give him
a ride, because the approach to the school
is a 200-meter steep and, to me, hard climb.
It took me some time to realize that he
did not need a lift. An inveterate athlete, he
wants to walk, climb and do many physical
things, if not always, then often. His body
just craves for these exertions.
The other day I was told that he biked
from Cebu up to Bogo then down to
Balamban at the other side and crossed the
island back to Cebu through the
transcentral. That’s easily about 180 kilometers of rough terrain, treacherous climbs,
and he did it all in one day!
Of course, biking is his main sport.
And he has been to many places in the
26
IMPACT • February 2007
country biking, accumulating enough
knowledge of the places to produce an
excellent guidebook for bikers in the different parts of the archipelago.
A few months ago, he with a friend
also made a more-than-a-thousand-kilometer biking expedition from Pakistan to
China. And he continues to make plans of
ambitious biking excursions like this. He
might manage to make a world guidebook
for bikers too.
His name is Jens (pronounced Yens)
Funk, fortyish, blond, pale blue eyes, and
German all over, with no hint of fat in his
bodily frame. But you’d be amazed at how
well he blends with the local folks, and with
everyone in the school.
The rural setting and rural living are
no problem to him. His capacity to adapt is
tremendous. In fact, given the economic
level of most of our students, I’ve never
seen him in formal or semi-formal attire. He
dresses and behaves almost like any of
them. No first-world airs about him.
The students and staff, of course,
love him, and I could see that the distance
of deference students normally give to
teachers, let alone, a foreigner, is practically non-existent. Respect accorded him
is done in true friendship, indeed a beautiful sight to see!
This set-up has produced something
wonderful. The other day, I was asked to
bless more than 100 bikes together with
their new owners, the smiling, obviously
happy students.
It turned out that Jens, by his own
initiative, arranged for these bikes—slightly
used—to be shipped to Cebu from Germany.
As I tried to piece things together,
Jens had been concerned with many of the
students’ conditions. That concern made
him see opportunities, crackled him to
action, assumed some responsibilities, etc.
He believes a bike is a right, not just a
privilege.
He asked some people in Germany to
donate bikes. He organized some foundation, established a network of contacts,
raised some money just to make these
bikes arrive here.
These bikes mean a lot to the students. These save them a lot of fare money.
And of course, these enable them to be
more mobile, a necessity these days. And
there are many other advantages too subtle
to enumerate and describe here.
Somehow, I feel in a very special way
the great impact this gesture of generosity
has made on the students. As chaplain, I
am acquainted with the living conditions
of the students.
My conversations with them often
end up with tears in my eyes. Because of
poverty, ordinary problems become crises
of epic proportions to many of them. It has
become very challenging for me to give
them reasons to hope, to be patient, to
persevere in their studies.
This is not to mention the other aspects of formation that they also have to
tackle. They may be good in one aspect, but
terrible in another, and so any help to relieve
some of their difficulties is always welcome.
If only we make personal initiatives,
no matter how little, I’m sure we can make
a difference, if not big then at least something, if not now then later. Nothing is
wasted in personal initiatives.
Let’s thank God for kind hearts like
Jens! I
ARTICLES
Madam President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo:
S
An Appeal to President Arroyo
Stop peasant killings and
agrarian violence! Implement
pro-peasant agrarian reform in
contentious landholdings!
You have set up the Melo Commission to probe into the extra-judicial killings, including those involving peasants
as victims. However, the public has not yet
been informed of the report that was submitted to you as early as December 2006.
As a community of civil society organizations and human rights advocates
concerned with the plight of farmers struggling for agrarian reform, we appeal to you,
Madam President, that:
1. The Melo Commission promptly disclose to the public the results of its
investigations on agrarian reform-related killings and violence;
2. Those, whether State or Non-State
Actors (NSA), found to be involved in
perpetrating agrarian-related human
rights violations be brought to justice; and,
3. Agrarian reform be speedily implemented in contentious landholdings
taking into consideration the interests
of the legitimate agrarian reform beneficiaries.
• Partnership for Agrarian Reform and
Rural Development Services, Inc.,
(PARRDS)
• Ugnayan ng mga Nagsasariling Lokal
na Organisasyon sa Kanayunan
(UNORKA-Pilipinas)
• Philippine Ecumenical Action for Community Empowerment Foundation
(PEACE) I
Volume 41 • Number 2
27
© Dennis Dayao / CBCP Media Office
ince you assumed power in 2001 until
end of 2006, a total of 38 farmerleaders died in the cold-blooded
hands of their respective perpetrators. Two
more were befallen just for the first month
of this year—Pepito Santillan (January 25,
TFM, Negros Occidental) and Joseph
Matunding (January 30, UNORKA, Iloilo).
Another one could have been killed
had farmer-leader Heliolito Abrenica not
survived the bolo-hacking of a goon identified with a big landowner in San Francisco,
Quezon. He, however, lost his left arm.
More limbs and lives are likely to be
sacrificed, given the trend in peasant killings and agrarian violence nationwide.
From PARRDS’ records, there is now a
total of 2,342 leaders and organizers whose
lives are in great danger before the perpetrators—private goons and security
guards of big landowners and plantations,
PNP forces, barangay tanods, and revolutionary forces—as the former continuously
pursue agrarian reform.
In the form of frustrated murder, arson, physical assault, grave threat, forced
evacuation, filing of harassment cases,
destruction of properties, and house-directed strafing, the violence has characterized 10 provinces as agrarian reform
hotspots: Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Iloilo, Davao del Norte, Compostela
Valley, Sarangani, Mindoro Occidental,
Batangas, Quezon, and Masbate.
No less than the Catholic Bishops
Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has
attributed the killings and violence to your
government’s apparent disregard for meaningful implementation of agrarian reform.
For sure, the Catholic Church’s leaders
condemn the fact that extra-judicial killings occur right in their respective dioceses.
Apparently in response to the CBCP
and concerns already raised in public, you
were quoted last February 6 by a national
newspaper as saying: “There is a new
paradigm that is being proposed to open
new lands for agriculture so that we can
give farmers a chance to have their own
land and, yet, avoid all this bloodshed that
is happening (in the implementation of
land reform).”
As we wonder what that paradigm
really is, we believe that two things must
be promptly done: Identify and bring the
perpetrators of agrarian violence to justice
and implement a speedy and pro-farmer
agrarian reform.
FROM THE
I N B O X
Roses for Rose
A Piece of My Heart
O
ne day a young man
was standing in the
middle of the town
proclaiming that he had the
most beautiful heart in the
whole valley. A large crowd
gathered and they all admired
his heart for it was perfect.
There was not a mark or a
flaw in it. Yes, they all agreed
it truly was the most beautiful heart they had ever seen.
The young man was very
proud and boasted more
loudly about his beautiful
heart.
Suddenly, an old man
appeared at the front of the
crowd and said "Why, your
heart is not nearly as beautiful as mine." The crowd and
the young man looked at the
old man's heart. It was beating strongly, but it was full of
scars. It had places where
pieces had been removed and
other pieces put in, but they
didn't fit quite right and there
were several jagged edges.
In fact, in some places there
were deep gouges where
whole pieces were missing.
The people stared—
how can he say his heart is
more beautiful, they
thought? The young man
looked at the old man's heart
and saw its state and
laughed. "You must be joking," he said. "Compare your
heart with mine. Mine is perfect and yours is a mess of
scars and tears."
"Yes," said the old man,
"yours is perfect looking but
I would never trade with you.
You see, every scar represents a person to whom I
28
28
have given my love - I tear
out a piece of my heart and
give it to them, and often
they give me a piece of their
heart which fits into the
empty place in my heart, but
because the pieces aren't exact, I have some rough
edges, which I cherish, because they remind me of the
love we shared."
"Sometimes I have given
pieces of my heart away, and
the other person hasn't returned a piece of his heart to
me. These are the empty
gouges—giving love, is taking a chance. Although
these gouges are painful,
they stay open, reminding
me of the love I have for
these people too, and I hope
someday they may return
and fill the space I have waiting. So now do you see what
true beauty is?"
The young man stood
silently with tears running
down his cheeks. He walked
up to the old man, reached
into his perfect young and
beautiful heart and ripped a
piece out. He offered it to the
old man with trembling
hands. The old man took his
offering, placed it in his heart
and then took a piece from
his old scarred heart and
placed it in the wound in the
young man's heart. It fit, but
not perfectly, as there were
some jagged edges. The
young man looked at his
heart, not perfect anymore
but more beautiful than ever,
since love from the old man's
heart flowed into his.
[email protected]
IMPACT • February 2007
© Playboy Archive/Corbis
R
ed roses were her favor
ites, her name was also
Rose. And every year her
husband sent them, tied with
pretty bows. The year he died,
the roses were delivered to her
door. The card said, "Be my Valentine," like all the years before.
Each year he sent her roses,
and the note would always say,
"I love you even more this year,
than last year on this day." "My
love for you will always grow,
with every passing year." She
knew this was the last time that
the roses would appear.
She thought, he ordered
roses in advance before this day.
Her loving husband did not
know, that he would pass away.
He always liked to do things
early, way before the time.
Then, if he got too busy,
everything would work out fine.
She trimmed the stems, and
placed them in a very special
vase. Then, sat the vase beside
the portrait of his smiling face.
She would sit for hours, in her
husband's favorite chair. While
staring at his picture, and the
roses sitting there.
A year went by, and it was
hard to live without her mate.
With loneliness and solitude,
that had become her fate.
Then, the very hour, as on
Valentines before, the doorbell
rang, and there were roses, sitting by her door. She brought
the roses in, and then just looked
at them in shock. Then, went to
get the telephone, to call the
florist shop.
The owner answered, and
she asked him, if he would explain, why would someone do
this to her, causing her such
pain? "I know your husband
passed away, more than a year
ago," The owner said, "I knew
you'd call, and you would want
to know."
"The flowers you received
today were paid for in advance.
Your husband always planned
ahead, he left nothing to chance.
There is a standing order that I
have on file down here. And he
has paid, well in advance. You'll
get them every year. There also
is another thing, that I think you
should know, He wrote a special
little card...he did this years ago.
Then, should ever, I find out that
he's no longer here. That's the
card...that should be sent, to you
the following year."
She thanked him and hung
up the phone, her tears now flowing hard. Her fingers shaking, as
she slowly reached to get the
card. Inside the card, she saw
that he had written her a note.
Then, as she stared in total silence, this is what he wrote...
"Hello my love, I know it's
been a year since I've been gone,
I hope it hasn't been too hard for
you to overcome. I know it must
be lonely, and the pain is very
real. For if it was the other way,
I know how I would feel. The
love we shared made everything
so beautiful in life. I loved you
more than words can say, you
were the perfect wife. You were
my friend and lover, you fulfilled
my every need. I know it's only
been a year, but please try not to
grieve.
“I want you to be happy,
even when you shed your tears.
That is why the roses will be sent
to you for years. When you get
these roses, think of all the happiness that we had together, and
how both of us were blessed. I
have always loved you and I
know I always will. But, my love,
you must go on, you have some
living still. Please...try to find
happiness, while living out your
days.
“I know it is not easy, but I
hope you find some ways. The
roses will come every year, and
they will only stop, when your
door's not answered, when the
florist stops to knock. He will
come five times that day, in case
you have gone out. But after his
last visit, he will know without a
doubt, to take the roses to the
place, where I've instructed him
and place the roses where we
are, together once again."
[email protected]
B O O K
REVIEWS
The Rise of
Filipino Theology
“This is My Body”
Dindo Rei M. Tesoro and Joselito
Alviar Jose
ARCHBISHOP Angel N. Lagdameo,
President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, wrote the
prologue of this book. “He is the theological master chef of indigenous Filipino theology and he gives us here a
sampling of the thinking...reflection and
theologizing that is specifically Filipino
and uniquely ours,” says the Archbishop about the authors. This book
tries to find answers to these questions: Does a Filipino theology really
exists? Or is it in order to speak specifically of a theology that finds its locus in the Philippine cultural horizons?
The authors themselves affirm that this
publication “relates the genesis and
development of theologians’ dialogue
with the local culture…and provides
bio-bibliographical information on the
protagonists involved in the enterprise
of doing an inculturated theology. Published by the Paulines Publishing
House, this book is a good reading for
those pursuing indigenous theological
studies.
Board of
Conciliation and
Arbitration
Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, JCD
To date Archbishop Cruz has already
published 23 books—and more are
coming. He is prolific not only in writing books but, recently, also in uploading blogs (www.ovc.blogspot.com)
which earns him the credit as the first
bishop in this part of the world to use
web logs or blog in evangelization or
advocacy. Since the last 7 or 8 years
he published at least 3 books a year;
and a total of 429 blogs to date. That
said, it is rather his mastery of the subject that makes this work a must-read
for canon lawyers and those interested with how contentious and penal
cases are judicially handled in Ecclesiastical Tribunals of the Catholic Church.
“While seemingly complicated and challenging when committed into writing as
probably this little book may unintentionally do, the truth is that the Board
of Conciliation and Arbitration is really
simple in nature, plain in finality and
facile in its procedural operation,” forewords the author. Admittedly, the
whole book is couched in highly canonical concepts and terms. But that
is what makes this book even more
interesting.
Raniero Cantalamessa
FATHER Raniero Cantalamessa is a
preacher to the Papal Household for
many years now. This volume contains the last series of meditations
preached to the late Pope John Paul II.
Strangely it seems, he makes the ancient hymns, Adoro Te Devote and Ave
Verum as his entry point to a very profound meditative journey to the Holy
Eucharist. In his introduction, Fr.
Cantalamessa says, “They are the last
meditations that I had the honor and
grace to be able to hold in the presence of the Holy Father John Paul II.
During the sermons preached in Lent
2005, he was repeatedly hospitalized
in conditions of health that the whole
world followed with trepidation, and
that ended with his holy death.” At the
end of the meditations, the Holy Father
wrote Fr. Cantalamessa, “From my
heart I thank you for the Abundance of
points you put forward for meditation,
and for the spirit-filled way in which
you presented them.” Admittedly, the
Adore Te Devote and Ave Verum exude some of the most beautiful expressions ever said about the Eucharist.
Stories for all
Seasons
Gerard Fuller, O.M.I.
The First Asian Mission Congress
held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, held in
October 2006, has focused on a particular method of evangelization:
story-telling. “The stories of Asian’s
poor today must be read within Jesus’
story and his Paschal Mystery,” says
the concluding statement of the Congress that explored story-telling as a
unique method of evangelization.
This book of Fr. Gerard Fuller is exactly that: evangelization through
story-telling. He has retold the Gospel in stories of people immersed in
the unfolding of the World of God in
their daily events. A columnist of The
Priest drops this comment about this
book: “Some of the stories contain a
clever turn; like modern parables, they
confront us in our presuppositions
and make us question the way we
have always though. Other stories
combine old themes with new plots;
they explode as we read them and
cause us to look again at our world
and ourselves.”
Volume 41 • Number 2
29
ENTERTAINMENT
CATHOLIC INITIATIVE
FOR E NLIGHTENED
MOVIE APPRECIATION
½
zz
I
n the late 9th century of the Tang
Dynasty the Emperor (Chow YunFat) discovers the infidelity of the
Empress (Gong Li) who has been carrying on an affair with her stepson
Crown Prince Wan (Liu Ye). He surreptitiously engages the service of the
royal physician (Ni Dahong) to mix a
dose of black fungus in the medicine
the ailing Empress takes daily so she
could be made insane. The Emperor's
second son, Prince Jai (Jay Chou) who
is fond of his mother, the Empress
becomes anxious over her failing health
and her obsessive embroidery of chrysanthemums. Meanwhile, Prince Wan
and the Imperial Doctor's daughter,
Chan (Li Man) have fallen in love.
Whether it be from fear of or because
of his loyalty to the Emperor, he decides to sever his illicit relationship
with the Empress. From the Imperial
Doctor's wife, Jiang Shi (Chen Jin), the
Empress learns about the poisonous,
black fungus and of the Emperor's evil
scheme. She takes her personal vendetta: first, by inviting Jiang Shi and
Chan before the Emperor and Prince
Wan to reveal a dark secret regarding
the first wife of the Emperor; and second, by planning a bloody coup with
the support of her loyal son, Prince
Jai. Prince Wan learns about the plot
and informs the Emperor immediately.
On the night of the Chong Yang Festival two armies challenge each other,
a contrast of gold (loyalists of the
Empress) and black (loyalists of the
Emperor). Who would triumph in this
warfare? How would the personal conflicts of the royalties be resolved?
30
IMPACT • February 2007
Title: CURSE OF THE GOLDEN
FLOWER
Running Time: 114 mins
Lead Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li, Jay
Chou, Liu Ye, Chen Jin, Ni Dahong,
Li Man, Qin Junjie
Director: Zhang Yimou
Producers: Bill Kong and Zhang
Weiping
Screenwriters: Zhang Yimou, Wu Nan,
and Bian Zhihong (adapted from a
play, "Thunderstorm" by Cao Yu)
Music: Shigeru Umebayashi
Editor: Cheng Long
Genre: Action, Drama
Cinematography: Zhao Xiading
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Location: China
Technical Assessment: ½
Moral Assessment: zz
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18
and above
The film is an extravaganza of wellchoreographed scenes enhanced by
computer generated imageries demonstrating a culture of opulence when
royalties held subjects in servitude
and rulers are expected to be masters
of the sword; thus, a pompous display
of martial arts and fencing skills, The
elaborate, colorful costumes are visual feasts and the music composed
by Shigeru Umebayashi create the atmosphere for drama, suspense, and
pathos. From long shots to pan magnificent landscapes, to medium shots
to introduce the royal court, and close-
ups to catch the emotions of the characters, particularly Gong Li who gave
an exemplary performance, the cinematography is highly commendable.
However, the common problem with a
film written in Mandarin with English
subtitles is that you sometimes miss
out on a film footage and there are
words against a light background that
cannot be read.
The story deals with the trappings
and perils of power and the tragic repercussions of its abuse. But even in
tragic plays dealing with flawed characters, one expects a certain catharsis.
It is this aspect that is woefully lacking in the Curse of the Golden Flower
which portrays death, doom, and despair, truly a cursed family life, and
leaves the viewer drained and depressed at the end of the film. In gory
detail are adultery, incest, murder,
suicide, betrayal, revenge, fraternal
rivalry, cruelty, and deceit. Injustice
is met with corresponding injustice,
Women are portrayed in a bad light:
the Empress is both a victim and a
vindictive woman, the Imperial doctor's
wife is a wronged, embittered person
who wishes to destroy her oppressor;
the doctor's daughter is a willing accomplice in serving poisonous medication to the Empress, and a wanton
lover. The Emperor is ruthless, liquidating his wife or sons who displease
him, even his faithful royal physician.
The three sons are hapless creatures
one a weakling, another with poor
judgment and misplaced loyalty, and
the last a jealous and disfavored son.
Personal conflicts among the royalties result in a national disaster. In
spite of the spectacle offered, can
anyone enjoy a film that does not offer
a message of hope?
N E W S
BRIEFS
EAST TIMOR
INDONESIA
NEPAL
PHILIPPINES
Peace building in E Church provides relief Pope appoints first Progress
towards
Timor in progress?
to Indonesia flood vic- bishop in Nepal
ecumenism growing
tims
Despite criticism, the
Truth and Friendship Commission for East Timor is
“making
progress,”
Kupang Archbishop Peter
Turang said. The group is
composed of legal experts
and human rights figures
coming from Indonesia
and East Timor that agreed
to work together to investigate the events of 1999
when East Timor voted for
independence and was
marred by widespread violence claiming 1,400 lives.
The group, however, is
widely seen as inadequate
and the need for an international tribunal is said to
be necessary to ensure
justice is done.
MYANMAR
Military junta and
Karen rebels reach
agreement
The biggest rebel group
in Burma has secured
ceasefire agreements with
the military government.
The agreement, the Military Junta said, confirms
a “cease-fire treaty”
reached several months
ago with the Karen rebels
fighting for over fifty
years for more autonomy
in their territory. The two
groups have long been
meeting together, amid
growing expectations of
an imminent agreement to
end a half-century of insurgency. The fight for
autonomy began after national independence in
1948 and became radical
when the military took
power in 1989 adopting
“harsh” policy against ethnic minorities.
The local Catholic community in Jakarta is taking
action to provide emergency relief assistance to
thousands of Indonesians
following flash floods
caused by torrential rains
in the last few weeks. At
least 30 people are reported
dead and over 350, 000
people homeless. Volunteers are helping to evacuate victims, especially the
sick and the elderly people
and giving them food supplies and other basic needs
to people temporarily assembled in shelters organized by the government
and Islamic and Christian
organizations. Caritas Indonesia has also appealed
for help to Caritas
Internationalis and to other
relief organizations.
Pope Benedict XVI has
elevated the Apostolic Prefecture of Nepal to the
rank of apostolic vicariate, which means that the
country now has a bishop.
Vatican announced recently the appointment of
Fr Anthony Sharma, 69,
as the first apostolic vicar
of Nepal. When the Nepal
“sui iuris” mission was elevated to the rank of apostolic prefecture, Sharma
became its first apostolic
prefect. The apostolic vicariate of Nepal counts 6,
600 Catholics in a population of 23.7 million. It has
five parishes, two parishes, six mission stations
and 22 substations, served
by 11 diocesan priests and
40 religions priests.
SRI LANKA
Tears of blood appear
on Virgin Mary statue
PAKISTAN
KOREA
Groups
oppose
Bishops holds 1 Korean Musharraf ’s anti-terrorism measures
Youth Day
st
The Catholic Bishops’
Commission for Youth
Pastoral will hold the First
Korean Youth Day in the
diocese of Cheju on
Aug.18-21 to bring together young faithful from
different parishes of Korea. With the theme “I pray
that they may be one”, the
occasion will also serve
as a great opportunity to
make Christ known to
non-Korean youth attending the event. The World
Youth Day Cross will land
in the country on Feb.18
and will be brought to different parishes in the dioceses of Chehu, Uijeingbu
and Seoul.
Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity
chair Cardinal Walter
Kasper said that the current state of ecumenism is
positively increasing good
relations with other Christian
denominations.
Speaking at the Asian bishops seminar on ecumenism
held in Manila on February 7-11, the Vatican official also reiterated to the
prelates Church’s role in
ecumenism, adding that
Church’s unity is not an
accidental reality but at the
very center of God’s will
and the Catholic faith.
Conversely, he asserted,
division in the Church is
against God’s will and
Christ’s intention.
An increasing number
of radical groups oppose
the anti-terrorism measures proposed by the
Musharraf’s administration because they see it
as “pro-west.” A news
report said the recent
bombing in Pakistan
could be a “counter-offensive” by militant
groups and Taliban sympathizers that are against
the policies adopted by
Musharraf. The recent
attack in Islamabad airport, the Fides said, “is
another sign of the attempt to foment social
chaos and hatred towards
government.”
People of Jaffna, an
area hit by the ethnic conflict between the Tamil
rebels and the government
forces, are flocking to a
Catholic Church where
tears are reported to be
seen on a statue of the
Virgin Mary. The statue
of Our Lady of Lourdes
was in a private home and
now has been brought to
an adjacent church. At
press time, no official comment has been made local
Church authorities as yet.
People of Jaffna have long
been suffering due to lack
of food aid caused by the
government’s order to
close the only road linking
the town to the rest of
country. Church officials
have been urging both parties to allow aid delivery.
Volume 41 • Number 2
31