Dec. 30 is Feast of the Holy Family and Rizal Day
December 30 is celebrated this year as Feast of the Holy Family, and in the Philippines Rizal Day. National Hero Jose Rizal was killed in Bagumbayan on December 30, 1896.
(In his prison cell, he wrote an untitled poem, now known as "Ultimo Adios" which is considered a masterpiece and a living document expressing not only the hero’s great love of country but also that of all Filipinos. After a mock trial, he was convicted of rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal association. In the cold morning of December 30, 1896, Rizal, a man whose 35 years of life had been packed with varied activities which proved that the Filipino has capacity to equal if not excel even those who treat him as a slave, was shot at Bagumbayan Field. )
We pray for all families worldwide.
On Christmas day, Pope Francis, in his homily said:
Today the Church once more experiences the wonder of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem, as they contemplate the newborn Child laid in a manger: Jesus, the Saviour.
On this day full of light, the prophetic proclamation resounds:
“For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given.
And the government will be upon his shoulder;
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6)
The power of this Child, Son of God and Son of Mary, is not the power of this world, based on might and wealth; it is the power of love. It is the power that created the heavens and the earth, and gives life to all creation: to minerals, plants and animals. It is the force that attracts man and woman, and makes them one flesh, one single existence. It is the power that gives new birth, forgives sin, reconciles enemies, and transforms evil into good. It is the power of God. This power of love led Jesus Christ to strip himself of his glory and become man; it led him to give his life on the cross and to rise from the dead. It is the power of service, which inaugurates in our world the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace. (Read Full Text)
He prayed for "all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace."
At his December 28 General Audience, the Holy Father also continued that the catechesis "on Christian hope leads us in these Christmas days to consider the example of Abraham, who, as Saint Paul tells us, “hoped against hope” in God’s promises. Trusting in the Lord’s word that a son would be born to him, Abraham left his home for a new land. Although the fulfilment of God’s promise was long delayed and seemed to be impossible, Abraham continued to hope. Even his discouragement and complaints were a sign of his continuing trust in God. Abraham, our father in faith, shows us that sure trust in God’s word does not mean that we will not have moments of uncertainty, disappointment and bewilderment. It was at such a moment that God appeared to Abraham, called him forth from his tent and showed him the night sky shining with countless stars, assuring him that such would be the number of his descendents. Hope is always directed to the future, to the fulfilment of God’s promises. May the example of Abraham teach us not be afraid to go out from our own tents, our limited outlooks, and to lift our eyes to the stars."
Today as we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, let us pray for all the families worldwide, especially in war torn areas, for those in the Philippines whose members grieve the loss of loved ones because of extrajudicial killings.
Associaton of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines
OFFICIAL STATEMENT OPPOSING DEATH PENALTY
We, the members of the ASSOCIATION OF MAJOR RELIGIOUS SUPERIORS IN THE PHILIPPINES, express our strong opposition to the reimposition of the death penalty in the Philippines.
We take this unequivocal stand in the light of recent events that have started the discussion on capital punishment as a solution to the problem of criminality in the country, particularly after President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his advocacy and support for it, and both chambers of Congress created new avenues for discussion and debate on it.
To this discussion, we add our voice, taking as our own the words spoken by Pope Francis only last June 21, 2016 during the Sixth World Congress against capital punishment, calling for “a world free of the death penalty”.
We take as our own this same stand, underscoring that the death penalty “is unacceptable, however grave the crime of the convicted person… Nor is it consonant with any just purpose of punishment. It does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance.”
We stand with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in its opposition to the restoration of the death penalty, a stand it had already expressed and defended in 1992, noting then that “the abolition of the death penalty by the 1987 Constitution was a very big step towards a practical recognition of the dignity of every human being created to the image and likeness of God, and of the value of human life from its conception to its natural end.”
The Philippine Bishops observed that while there were urgings then for the restoration of the death penalty, a move for which “there must be serious moral justification”, the arguments advanced then did not justify the reimposition of capital punishment.
Today, as we are once again presented with these same arguments, we reiterate that while we understand the need for punishment to atone crime or sin, we believe that in order for any punishment to be valid and beneficial, it has to address the issues or settle the questions of deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation, and protection of society.
Proponents of the death penalty argue that this form of punishment satisfies all these questions. However, the arguments that have perennially been brought into the discussion have just as consistently been countered by historical experience, contemporary developments and empirical data from extensive research and studies. And these support our stand against the re-imposition of capital punishment.
1. The death penalty has not proven to be an effective deterrent to crime. The reports of Amnesty International (the latest, in 2015) have been consistent through the years, showing that there is no correlation between capital punishment and the deterrence of crimes. Research has likewise been consistent, suggesting that criminals are mainly concerned about whether they'll be caught, not what might happen to them afterward.
2. The death penalty has no retributive value; it does not result in the restoration of justice that has been violated by the act of the offender. Capital punishment may satisfy the desire for vindication, but this is not the desired end for a humane and Christian approach to punishment.
3. The death penalty does not address the issue of rehabilitation of the offender. On the contrary, it renders impossible any type or form of rehabilitation. Rehabilitation, which aims at transforming convicts into productive members of society, should be one of the major purposes of punishment. Capital punishment, however, totally gives up on this rehabilitative purpose.
4. The death penalty is not the sole answer to the issue of protection of society by the state. Such protection can be addressed in alternative ways, like term or life imprisonment.
If the death penalty is once again imposed, what safeguards are there against the conviction and subsequent execution of the innocent? Past executions have seen that almost all of those convicted are poor, and statistics from all over the world reflect that poverty and administration of the death penalty are related. Will we see a repeat of this?
The problem may be more of a matter of reforming the justice system, of cleaning the ranks of those enforcing the law, or of improving our penal facilities.
We thus uphold the consistent teaching of the Church opposing the death penalty. Saint John Paul II beautifully puts our argument in a nutshell when in a homily he said:
A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary. (Homily at the Papal Mass in the Trans World Dome, St. Louis, Missouri, January 27, 1999
Fr. Cielito Almazan OFM and Sr. Regina Kuizon RGS
and the AMRSP Executive Board
FR. EDUARDO APUNGAN, CMF, SR. JULIE SAGUIBO, SFIC,FR. ANTHONY PAUL BICOMONG, SDB, SR. NICETA VARGAS, OSA, BR JOSE MARI JIMENEZ, FSC, SR. MARIFE LESLIE LUNA, LGC, FR. JOSEPH, MATITU, SSS, SR. SOFIA TAGUINOD, OP, FR. COPERNICUS PEREZ JR., CSSR, SR. JOSEPHINE MATA, FAS, F. ANTONIO MORENO, SJ, FR. RICARDO BASQUIÑES, MF