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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Christmas and New Year Statements of Bishop Nereo Odchimar, President of the CBCP, versus the RH Bill and the ideology behind it

From the Christmas 2010 Message, Greetings in the Newly-Born Messiah:

Nevertheless, the events in human history can sometimes obscure our faith in Him who is the Prince of Peace, Lord of Consolation, and Incarnate Hope. The threat of war, political unrest, and armed conflicts put nations in constant fear. In our country, acquiring peace in Muslim Mindanao seems almost hopeless while insurgency, coup attempts, and crimes such as extrajudicial killing, terrorism and the like continue to interrupt the smooth progress of national affairs. And the most glaring among others is that unpeace in the mother’s womb. With the approval of RH Bill, a woman’s womb can be a ferocious threat to those who are yet to be born. In the face of difficult situations, we can only ask: How can we speak of good tidings where poverty is almost all around the place? What is left in the store for the marginalized, the unprivileged, the oppressed, and the poor? 

However ironic it may seem, everyone can still gladly sing: Joy to the world the Lord is come! We marvel at how the street children, the prisoners, the people in Payatas and Smokey Mountain, and the indigenous tribes could sing their heart out to the tune of Christmas Jingles. Armed Forces have their camps decorated with Christmas trees and lanterns; insurgents leave their guns in the fox hole. Conflicting parties seek reconciliation and most often, ceasefire and peace-talks befall on Christmas. Many a great wonderful thing happens in this most anticipated season of the year. Lonely men and women cheer up; Bad people turn good; Self-seeking ones become Santa Clauses.

Here, we are made to see the irresistible power of Christ to change the face of the world according to His own plan—“For I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow (Jer. 31:13).” If we look at the stable at Bethlehem in its utter ordinariness, it reflects the same indigence, misery, and confusion in the world; but, the very presence of the Holy Child laid in the manger signifies the overwhelming transformation of that empty place into a beautiful belen.

From the New Year Message, Peace and Prosperity to One and All:

There have been measures led by the government and by some other private institutions that fight poverty. The most conspicuous among others is the campaign against corruption. I would like to agree that corruption is the radical cause of the misery of Filipinos. Therefore, it is but only proper to reject what is base and dishonorable! Let us then intensify and sustain this righteous effort of eradicating graft and corruption.

However, there are other measures that apparently disagree to the very conscience of many Christian Filipinos. There are those who believe that poverty is often a consequence of demographic change. For this reason, there are international campaigns afoot to reduce birth-rates, sometimes using methods that often fail to respect even the right to life. The Holy Father Benedict XXVI, in his address on the occasion of the World Day of Peace, wrote: “The extermination of millions of unborn children in the name of the fight against poverty actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings. And yet it remains the case that in 1981, around 40% of the world’s population was below the threshold of absolute poverty, while today that percentage has been reduced by as much as half, and whole peoples have escaped from poverty despite experiencing substantial demographic growth.” This implies that we can combat poverty even without depopulation. 

“See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?... (Is. 43:19).” The word of the Lord spoken by the prophet Isaiah opens us to the reality of God who initiates the work of transformation. God is doing something new—perhaps something better than what we see around. This boldly expresses God’s loving concern with the plight of His people. Here, God assures us that social transformation can happen. Peace and prosperity is within our reach. And the certainty of its realization lies in the fact that we are not alone in this task. God is with us!

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