Debris from ceiling fell after denying existence of hell

 

His Holiness Pope Francis

With the world concerned with fake news these days I do not know what to believe anymore.

Take for instance the recent news about Pope Francis being quoted proclaiming that “there is no hell”.

This negation of the existence of hell by no less than the pope himself reportedly came from an interview by known atheist Eugenio Scalfari, 93, an Italian journalist who is the founder of Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper, which carried the news item.

According to Scalfari’s article published three days before Easter, he asked the Pope where “bad souls” go and where they are punished and the following was allegedly the pope’s sensational reply:

“Souls are not punished,” the Pope was quoted as saying in the Repubblica piece. “Those who repent obtain God’s forgiveness and go among the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot be forgiven disappear. There is no hell – there is the disappearance of sinful souls.”

The Vatican, however, issued a statement after the comments spread like wildfire on social media, saying, the pope never granted the interview and the story was “the result of (the reporter’s) reconstruction,” not a “faithful transcription of the words of the Holy Father.”

Scalfari is known for not using tape recorders or taking notes during interviews.

But what makes this news intriguing is another sensational occurrence relative to it that has been reported, saying, that the Vatican has had to seal off part of St. Peter’s Basilica after chunks of plaster fell from the ceiling just hours after Pope Francis alleged to have proclaimed that ‘Hell’ does not exist.

The report said that bits of the ceiling rained down over worshippers near Michelangelo’s famed Pieta statue to the right of the main entrance, although no one was injured.

This is even harder to believe – I mean the matter of coincidence.

Although the Catholic Church doctrine affirms the existence of hell, one can’t really help sometimes asking ourselves if, indeed, there is truth about the existence of hell.

This is especially true in my case because when I was in my early teens I happened to know an old, religious lady, who, upon knowing that I speak Spanish, made it a point to converse with me in the Castilian language, a language she has been longing to speak, I presumed.

Anyway, among the many subjects we talked about in the many months that I knew her, we touched on the topic of heaven and hell.

I will never forget and will always treasure her wise interpretation of heaven and hell. She told me that if one lives a happy, fulfilling life on earth, that one is in heaven already, but if one lives a problematic, miserable life on earth, then you are in hell.

Life is how you make it.

Being endowed with free will, man has only to contend with this simple understanding.

 

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Duterte alluded to in Tagle’s sermon

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

I do not know how else to interpret it, but I think when Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle delivered his sermon on Palm Sunday, March 25th, about “arrogant and violent kings” he must have had in mind President Rodrigo Duterte.

“In our world today, we have many kings who are full of arrogance, bereft of humility. Today, many follow the kings who use violence, arms, and intimidation, so devoid of understanding and solidarity with the weak,” the archbishop stressed.

“Our king does not trust in violence, weapons, bullets and guns. Our king trust in God,” he added.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo may have just been acting civil towards Tagle when he said he believed the cardinal was not referring to Duterte, as one of those “arrogant and violent kings”, but to other world leaders.

What kings and why should we be talking about other world leaders when we have our very own, in the person of Duterte, who has been demonized by no less than the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the human rights advocates and the holier-than-thou members of the political opposition for his bloody war on drugs and the much ballyhooed extra-judicial killings, which allegedly has the president’s blessing?

We all have heard how Tagle speaks and when he makes his homilies, like that on Palm Sunday, he does it theatrically because he wants to create an impact so people would wonder what the allegory is all about and how it is affecting the nation.

But for those of us who have been following the political events in our country all these years, we also know that Duterte has been the overwhelming choice of majority of Filipinos to lead us and make a difference after years and years of ineffective and failed leadership.

As president, Duterte has not been acting arrogantly and violently, but his unconventional or non-traditional style of leadership, coupled with his intestinal fortitude to implement political will without fear and favor, not to mention his use of colorful language, has always been interpreted as his knack for arrogance and violence.

How wrong Tagle and his cohorts in the church hierarchy can be.

Duterte knows whereof he speaks about the problems of the country and the wherewithal of his actions and he continues to have the support and trust of the majority of the Filipino people.

Duterte is not acting like king and he very well knows his God.

In fact Duterte’s Holy Week message urging Filipinos to revitalize their faith and renew their relationship with God and fellow countrymen by rekindling their religious fervor and cherish their time-honored traditions as a pious people is something that the leaders of the country’s Catholic Church should reflect on at the man they think is the embodiment of evil.

 

Our future calls for a revolutionary government

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

By the word itself, revolutionary tends to connote a fearful meaning and consequence. It does because it refers to something that has a major, sudden impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavor.

But haven’t we Filipinos been participants of revolutions against oppression and despotism in the past that made us who we are today and led us to where we are now?

The People Power uprising in 1986 or what is better known as the EDSA Revolution ended the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and catapulted Corazon Aquino to the leadership of the country.

As soon as Aquino assumed the presidency she figured out the only way she could quell pockets of resistance/defiance from Marcos supporters and be able to govern peacefully and effectively  was to establish a revolutionary government.

To effect radical change she used her revolutionary powers to sacked all elected officials, abolished Congress and tore up the 1973 constitution in favor of a provisional charter.

She handpicked a commission to write a new constitution, which was ratified by plebiscite in 1987 and paved the way for elections.

Thus Aquino was revered and highly acclaimed by many Filipinos as a heroine of democracy.

While democracy continues to be vibrant in this country, our progress as a nation, however, has been stymied by poor and ineffective leadership that followed Aquino, from Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo and another Aquino.

Seeing the same traditional politicians at the helm doing the same traditional governance, the Filipino people finally made a revolutionary decision to elect in 2016 an unconventional, an out-of-the-box- politician who made a name as a stern, no-nonsense politician and mayor of Davao City by making an unsafe, corrupt and problematic place into an admirable and highly livable one.

The result was an overwhelming victory prized him by the Filipino people to do what he is capable of doing just so the country could move forward and the lives of the people uplifted.  His election was a revolution in itself. Who would have thought that in our present political and electoral system a candidate without an organization and money could triumphed over those having funds and a well oiled political machinery?

Sociologist Randy David, a professor at the University of the Philippines, could never have been more right when, reflecting on the results of the 2016 elections, he said: “When candidate Duterte declared in the presidential debates that he represented the nation’s last card (huling baraha), he instantly resonated with them. They did not have to ask what the game was for which he was their last card. It was enough that he offered them something to which they could cling for hope.”

Thus, despite the negative review Duterte has been getting from the political opposition, the Catholic Church and human rights advocates on his war on drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings resulting from it, the satisfaction and trust ratings of the president remains high. It only shows the encouragement and the confidence the people has on the president upon showing the political will not seen in other presidents before him in effecting the changes he promised the people during the campaign.

Senator Antonio Trillanes

It is not helping Duterte run the country that, while understanding the enormity of the problem the country is facing relative to drugs, corruption, criminality and narco-politics on one hand , and resolving the much dreaded Marawi crisis from spilling over in other parts of Mindanao on the other hand, still there are people the likes of Sen. Antonio Trillanes and his ilk who wants nothing but attention by spewing diatribes at Duterte and his family simply because their own political agenda cannot prosper under Duterte’s presidency.

From the very beginning Duterte has not been coy in his intention and willingness to establish a revolutionary government if he sees that there are groups of people, especially those led by politicians, opposed to his rule and who do not want him to succeed. This was a warning he wanted all and sundry to take seriously especially if their motivation was to destabilize his government.

Yet Trillanes has the stupidity and shortsightedness in saying: : “I firmly believe that Duterte’s latest threat … is not only meant to intimidate those opposing his administration, but also to divert the attention from the various controversies in which his family is involved. It is also his only way to escape accountability for his crimes by perpetuating himself in power.”

A revolutionary government is not about Duterte perpetuating himself in power. Clearly it is an assurance that with Duterte remaining in power, the country and the Filipino people will have the changes promised them for a better future ahead as he is seen to be the only one capable of making it happen.

 

Sad state of the Catholic Church in the country

 

I saw this article in SunStar Cebu, dated, April 20, 2017, under the New Sense opinion column of Atty. Pachico Seares and I found it a good and factual read worthy to be shared.

It practically explains why many, like myself opt to go to church any other day except Sundays to be in silence and in solitude with God.

Home could be my church, too, where I find my communion with God so peaceful, uplifting and fulfilling, sans dumb lectures by priests.

One cannot help it, but some situation and events happen in your daily life that simply assures you that what you are doing is the most sensible and compelling thing to do.

And the beauty of it all is that there is no feeling of regret and discomfort about what you are doing.

Hope you can relate to what I am saying and what the article is trying to say.

It is the truth and the reality of the sad state of the Catholic Church in the country today.

Thankfully, God is everywhere.

 

Sermons drive Catholics away?

CATHOLICS have the lowest church attendance in weekly mass or service among religious groups in the Philippines: only 41% Catholics, compared to 90% Iglesia ni Cristo, 81% Muslims, and 71% other Christians. Social Weather Stations, whose survey was conducted last March 25-28, found a 48% over-all attendance.

The 2017 record is still embarrassing for Catholics although four years ago SWS reported an even lower figure: 37%. Then, as now, the Catholic Church trailed other religious groups on attendance.

Preached, scolded

Fr. Joel Tabor, SJ, president of Ateneo de Davao, writing in a 2013 blog heaped a lot of blame on homilies: “corny homilies that ramble in inanities that begin and never end and they never end because they should’ve never been begun.”

Churchgoers, Fr. Tabor said, are tired of being “preached to as if they were younger than adolescents.” People are tired, he said, of arbitrary claims to absolute truth “when the thinking world would continue to seek the truth”–and of being scolded and dictated upon.

On brevity: the church has reportedly adopted a time limit to keep churchgoers awake and in focus as well as meet schedules of succeeding masses, more so in urban areas.

Content, tone

But obviously it’s not just length but content and tone. Many homilies keep hammering on faith and doctrine to which the listeners can’t relate, the sermon not being tied to a current subject to make it relevant and useful.

Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop emeritus Oscar Cruz, in a media interview, said there are now many causes of distraction. Msgr. Esteban Binghay, on “Frankahay Ta” (dyCM radio, with Atty. Frank Malilong), agreed, a diversion that Binghay said also afflicts priests (mentioning, for the clergy, “FaceBook, mahjong and “tigbakay”).

Those compete with church activities. But why the heavier toll on Catholics? Why do members of other church groups still, ah, religiously attend the required function?

‘Discipline’

Shorter, more enlightening and interesting homilies must help but a major factor is “discipline.”

Catholics are not punished by the church for not showing up at mass (no one checks attendance and threat of hell and damnation must not work anymore), or not paying tithes (no one records what each puts into the collection net). Parishioners are not compelled to attend mass just as they are not forced by their priest or bishop to vote for or against candidates in elections.

See you in church Sunday. If nothing else comes up.

Robredo’s satisfaction rating suffers

 

Vice President Leni Robredo

Results of the latest Social Weather Stations’ (SWS) survey released showed that Vice President Leni Robredo’s net satisfaction rating dropped by 11 points, from a “good” +37 to a “moderate” +26.

It was reported also that among top government officials Robredo registered the biggest decline which made Professor Ramon Casiple, a political analyst, opine that the 11-point dip in the vice president’s ratings was beyond the “normal range.”

Does Robredo have to worry that her satisfaction rating has suffered?

Of course she has to worry, and while she may not show it or does not want to comment about it, the fact is it could worsen and put her political life in jeopardy both as a politician and a leader.

I don’t really think that Robredo’s controversial video message to the United Nations (UN) about the government’s bloody war against illegal drugs (https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/obredo-un-message-slanders-the-philippines/) was a big factor in people being dissatisfied with her performance and neither are the black propaganda against her, as claimed by Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts, significant reasons enough for her satisfaction rating to decline.

But I would like to think that the main culprit for the downturn in her satisfaction rating is simply because of her being useless/inutile in her position as vice president with no responsibility whatsoever, ever since she resigned from the Cabinet as head of the Housing and Urban Development coordinating Council (HUDCC).

It is bad enough that Robredo does not have any achievement or accomplishment to crow about as vice president, but it is even worse that people sees her as a willing mouthpiece of the opposition and the Catholic Church, for that matter, to find fault and disparage at President Rodrigo Duterte who is trying his level best to make drastic and unorthodox changes in the way government is run.

Robredo may not agree in everything that Duterte does, but if majority of the Filipinos trust, believe and have high hopes in Duterte for the long awaited growth and development of the country and the lifting up of the lives of people, then who is she to be so critical of him?

All is not lost, however, for Robredo.

What could save her is her acceptance for dinner with Duterte after the Holy Week, where members of her family are also invited.

Hopefully, Robredo will know more Duterte better this time around and decide to be herself and not be used as pawn for the political advantage of her party mates in trying to destroy Duterte’s dream for the country and the Filipino people.

Reproductive health care finally unleashed

 

rh-lawI had been writing about the ‘tethered’ reproductive health (RH), even until it became a law, advocating its implementation sooner than later, for I believe in its practicality and benefits especially for the poor folks, but it was never fully carried out.

It seemed like it was leashed and had limited usefulness only. Worse is that benefits continued to be unreachable by the poor and to think that RH care was already a law. What an irony!

My last article about it can be read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/reproductive-health-law/.

With President Rodrigo Duterte signing on Jan. 9 Executive Order (EO) No. 12, mandating universal access to modern family planning tools, I feel like this particular welfare program that was just made to dangle for the reach of the favored few is now unleashed so it could drop and roll down to those needing it the most.

Duterte is said to have ordered government agencies, namely, the Department of Health (DOH), the Commission on Population (POPCOM) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to “intensify and accelerate the implementation of critical actions” to address the “unmet” family planning needs of up to six million Filipina women.

It will be noted that foreign and local authorities have long cited the need for improved birth control in the Philippines which has one of Asia’s highest birth rates as well as high maternal mortality rates.

With a galloping population of over 100 million now and with about 25 percent living in poverty Duterte’s order could not have come at a very propitious time.

Now we could not say anymore that the implementation of the RH law is inadequate because of its limited budget.

“The important part there is that all government agencies will start inputting funds for the program in their 2018 and 2019 budgets,” POPCOM’s executive director Juan Antonio Perez said.

The government’s annual family planning budget could now increase four-fold to the ideal level of two billion pesos, Perez said.

With the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), working on the truism that delivering a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled, and praising Duterte for his political will in providing free contraceptives to poor women, describing it as a ‘new momentum’ in the provision of family planning services in the Philippines, we can only hope and pray that the Catholic Church and its excessively pious followers will respect Duterte’s stand on this controversial issue and look at it as an act beneficial to the interest of the country and its people, for that is all there is to it.

Duterte continues to dominate news

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte

Being an unorthodox or an unconventional president when compared to past leaders, Rodrigo Duterte has been and will always be an extraordinary fodder for news.

And to think that Duterte is just in his seventh month of his four year presidential term!

Whether Duterte’s words or deeds project a good or bad image for the country really depends on who you are or where you find yourself in today.

For one who has made the war on illegal drugs, corruption and criminality as cornerstone of his presidency, Duterte has not only showed his unique style of leadership but has also served notice to the world that under his leadership the sovereign state, that is the Philippines, has to be respected.

This is what makes Duterte stand up head and shoulder over the past presidents – his humanity, his determination and his political will to apply unconventional ways if only to eliminate the scourges responsible for hindering the growth and development of the country, establish lasting peace all throughout the archipelago and once and for all improve the quality of lives of poor Filipinos.

Obviously, some sectors like the members of the Catholic Church and human rights advocates and some political adversaries are making so much noise and blaming Duterte for the killings and this is what is making news abroad, too, but fortunately or unfortunately this is apparently how it goes as Duterte has proven it in making Davao City a peaceful and progressive place.

But what really has the country and the whole world talking about Duterte are his overtures towards China and Russia while in the process of letting go the coattails of the U.S., which the Philippines has always been pictured to be hanging to.

Duterte’s promotion and upholding of his independent foreign policy stand is how he was able to earn the respect of the other leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) and with the Philippine strongman now fully committed to the organization, ASEAN could be a force to reckon with in years to come.

No wonder, therefore, that China’s magazine, the equivalent of America’s Time magazine, has named Duterte as the “Person of the Year”.

What seems to be a certainty in the future, too, is that the Philippines will no longer be conducting joint military exercises with the U.S., but rather with Russia and China, and in such a controversial place like the South China Sea, which no doubt is part of China’s domain now.

Indeed, it is interesting to see how this will be viewed by the incoming U.S. President Donald Trump.

Talking about unceasing news on Duterte’s presidency.