SAFEGUARD THE DIGNITY OF EVERY HUMAN PERSON AND GOD’S CREATION,
STAND AGAINST STATE OPPRESSION AND BUREAUCRATIC CORRUPTION
“You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:13a, 14a)
1. We see too many people suffering from injustice in our society today. Common good is compromised and public interest has been placed at the heel of political opportunism. Poverty has become the fate of thousands and millions of families abandoned by a government that burgeons in corruption. Elitist politics has taken a strong grip on the country’s democratic institutions. Public office has degenerated into political dynasty. Despots thwarted the rule of law and turned the laws of the land into an instrument to suppress the people’s legitimate demands for reforms.
2. We respond to these realities in the light of our Christian faith and hope. Commitment to social justice is an essential characteristic of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ and we give concrete expression to this commitment when we work for the promotion of human dignity and the protection of human rights. Working for a just social and political order is a responsibility that flows from our duty as disciple of Christ. We understand that it is an imperative of faith for Christians to contribute towards the shaping of a nation where the requirements of social justice is realized, and in building a world where the dignity of every human person and the rest of God’s creation is respected.
3. We, therefore, offer you our reading of the signs of the times in this episcopal letter, inviting everyone to discernment and asking your commitment to stand with us, your brother bishops.
SUPPORT THE PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE,
MOBILIZE OUR PEOPLE AND OPEN OUR CHURCHES AS VENUES
FOR THE SIGNING OF THE PETITION OF THE PEOPLE’S INITIATIVE
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him
who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”
(1 Peter 2:9 RSV)
1. We, the Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB), of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), gathered on September 2-5, 2014 in Pandan, Antique for our Regular Meeting.
2. Conscious of our roles as church leaders, pastors and teachers, we strongly support the movement to abolish the pork barrel system and endorse the People’s Initiative. We are convinced that the People’s Initiative must be invoked as a mechanism provided for by the Constitution to pass legislation, in this instant case, to end and abolish all forms of lump sum and discretionary appropriations in the government. It is a concrete expression and direct exercise of the power of the people on whom sovereignty resides.
3. The pork barrel system in the Philippines was introduced in the Philippines by the Americans in 1922. It is anomalous and immoral because this is one massive source of graft and corruption; distorts budgetary needs and processes; its disbursement as public funds favour political allies promoting patronage politics and “legalizing” vote buying; and serves as means for Malacanang to control both Houses of Congress thus violating the constitutional principles of effective checks and balance.
Pastoral Statement of the Obispo Maximo Denouncing the Harassment and Grave Threat to Aglipay Central Theological Seminary
“The Iglesia Filipina Independiente is strongly alarmed over the harassment and grave threat to the life of our students and faculty at the Aglipay Central Theological Seminary in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan.
On 06 June 2013, at around 7:00 in the evening, two motorcycle-riding tandems were seen roving the vicinity of ACTS at Urdaneta, Pangasinan. Seminarians noticed that the unidentified men were apparently conducting surveillance on the seminary community. Seminary residents saw two of these men climbed over the seminary backyard fence. The two men hurriedly went out when they noticed that seminary residents have found them out.
On 15 June 2013, also in the evening, a seminarian noticed an unidentified man standing at the seminary gate. When the seminarian decided to check the person, he saw the man taking out a rifle from a sack he was carrying. The man, upon noticing the approaching seminarian, slung the rifle over his shoulder and hurriedly sped off in a motorcycle.
A Pastoral Letter on the May 2013 Elections
“He that walks righteously, and speaks uprightly; he that despises the gain of oppressions, that keeps his hands from the holding of bribes, that stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil; he shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the fortresses of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.” (Isaiah 33: 15-16)
The May 2013 elections presents to the Filipino people another occasion to exercise their democratic right. But elections are not just times to elect government officials, rather, a precious opportunity for our people to exercise their political power towards building a democratic government in the country that promotes and protects the best interest of those who have less in life.
We, the Bishops of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, gathered to continue our study on the House Bill No. 4244 known as the Reproductive Health Bill, reiterate our teachings in the Pastoral Statement “Sex, Marriage and Child-bearing” issued on January 12, 1993:
“The duty of government and of parents is to ensure the full physical, mental and emotional, and spiritual development of children to the realization of their potentials and a quality of life that reflects their dignity as created in God’s image."
“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.’ (John 1.5)
The Iglesia Filipina Independiente joins the Diocese of Kidapawan in prayers for justice for the killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio. Fr. Tentorio’s death has brought an irreplaceable loss not only to the Catholic Church but to family of Philippine Churches as well. We share the pain brought by his death and express our indignation over the injustice committed against a priest of God
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (Romans 14:19)
Peacemaking is at the core of the mission of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. We firmly believe that God’s call to peace is a call for justice. So, therefore, there can be no peace when there is no justice, and that there can never be justice if there is no peace.
‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at a proper time we will reap a harvest.” (Galatians 6.9)
Our historical heritage, Pro Deo et Patria, is our birthright as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. The wellspring from where we draw our spirituality and theology, it offers us the reason to come together and celebrate God’s presence and power in our journey in history. The past and present experience of living-out our birthright has strengthened our collective life, work and witness and sustained us in pursuing God’s mandate of mission to proclaim the Gospel of Christ among our people.
“The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” (Psalm 37.29)
Hacienda Luisita speaks about the problem of landlordism in the Philippines. It demonstrates the unresolved contradiction between private ownership of land and agrarian reform. It is an affront to social justice in its very essence for, on the one end, one family owns a monopoly of thousands of hectares of rich agricultural and industrial land while, on the other end, thousands of families of poor farm workers who till these land unjustly suffer in unimaginable poverty.
Justice for Brother Benjamin Bayles and All Victims of Extrajudicial Killings
and Enforced Disappearances
"The wicked watch for the righteous and seek to kill them,
but the Lord will not abandon them to their power.” (Psalm 37.32-33)
Today, as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente commemorates the first anniversary of the extrajudicial killing of Brother Benjamin Bayles, a lay minister of our Church who was slain a year ago, and in the spirit of the Executive Commission’s strong resolve to share its part in decisively addressing the ever-worsening human rights violations in the Philippines, we formally form the National Task Force Bayles.