Thursday, July 26, 2012

Archbishop Socrates Villegas issues decree on the Nicene Creed

In the Philippines, since the 1970's, the Apostles' Creed has been the usual or default Creed for Masses on Sundays and Solemnities, except in a few parishes and a few dioceses (such as the Diocese of Tagbilaran). This practice predates even the universal permission given in the 2002 edition of the Missal of Paul VI (also known as the "2002 Missal" or the "Missal of Bl. John Paul II") for the Apostles' Creed to be substituted for the Nicene (or Nicene-Constantinopolitan) Creed. The result? At least two generations of Filipino Catholics who are largely unfamiliar with the Nicene Creed and its strong and unavoidable affirmation of the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit. In a country beset by heresies relating specifically to Christology and the Trinity this is disastrous, to say the least. (It is true that the Apostles' Creed accurately proclaims the Catholic faith, but it does so with less detail and less explicitness particularly about the Divinity of Christ and of the Holy Spirit.)

The Nicene Creed in Latin
Now, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Ordinary of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, has issued a decree on familiarizing the faithful of his diocese with this glorious Creed, and mandating that it be returned to all Masses on Sundays and Solemnities in his Archdiocese.

I personally hope that more Filipino bishops will follow suit. The Year of the New Evangelization should, by its very title, be concerned above all with bringing the basics of the Gospel and therefore of the Catholic faith back to the minds and hearts of the faithful. The Gospel cannot be boiled down to a mere set of encouragements to moral and upright living, and the Catholic faith is not merely about being kind to everyone. The Gospel and the entire Catholic faith are centered upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and to preach Christ entails proclaiming the whole truth about Him, including His Divinity, His perfections, and His claims as the sole Way, Truth and Life. What better way to start (at least in the Philippines) than by reminding our people once more of the Nicene Creed?

I would like to point out as well that the re-introduction of the Nicene Creed to the Mass will not "endanger" the Apostles' Creed. In addition to being a catechetical mainstay, the Apostles' Creed will continue to be said at the beginning of the favorite devotion of numerous Filipinos: the Holy Rosary.

The original Greek text of the Nicene Creed

From the website of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan:

July 31, 2012

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Circular 2012-22

RE: Using the Nicene Creed

My dear brothers in the priesthood and religious sisters:

When the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI opens the Year of Faith on October 11 this year, culminating on the Solemnity of Christ the King next year on November 24, the focal point of all the programs for the year will be the profession of faith. The Holy See has expressed its earnest intention to make the profession of faith a daily prayer for all Catholics. The Holy Father himself wants all Catholics to become more familiar with the Nicene Creed which is the profession of faith prescribed in the Missal for Sundays and solemnities. Here is the translation of the Nicene Creed in the third edition of the Roman Missal that is now prescribed for public praying daily beginning October 11:

I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. And one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

In obedience to the Holy See, please observe the following directives:

1) The Nicene Creed must be taught in all the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan beginning August 1, 2012 in preparation for the opening of the Year of Faith; 
2) Parishes and schools must reproduce copies of the Nicene Creed in order to help our Catholic faithful pray the profession of faith daily beginning October 11. 
3) The Nicene Creed must be prayed by all pupils in our Catholic schools at the start of each class day either in the classroom or after the flag ceremony. 
4) Beginning October 14, 2012, the Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Nicene Creed will be the form of the profession of faith that we shall use in all Sunday Masses and solemnities.

Let us avail of the opportunity before us to renew among our Catholic faithful love for the Lord, loyalty to the Church and pride in our Catholic tradition during the Year of Faith and through the years ahead.

Sincerely yours,


Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Friday, July 13, 2012

For the record: CBCP Pastoral Letter on the New Evangelization

The Sto. Nino de Cebu, whose sweet countenance converted
the first Filipino Catholics to the faith

Looking Forward to Our Five Hundredth
Go and make disciples... (Mt. 28:19)

We look forward with gratitude and joy to March 16, 2021, the fifth centenary of the coming of Christianity to our beloved land. We remember with thanksgiving the first Mass celebrated in Limasawa Island on Easter Sunday March 31 that same blessed year. We remember the baptism of Rajah Humabon who was given his Christian name Carlos and his wife Hara Amihan who was baptized Juana in 1521. Our eyes gaze on the Santo Niño de Cebu, the oldest religious icon in the Philippines, gift of Ferdinand Magellan to the first Filipino Catholics that same year. Indeed the year 2021 will be a year of great jubilee for the Church in the Philippines.

We shall therefore embark on a nine-year spiritual journey that will culminate with the great jubilee of 2021. It is a grace-filled event of blessings for the Church starting October 21, 2012 until March 16, 2021.

How opportune indeed that on October 21 this year, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI will add another Filipino to the canon of saints of the Church, our very own Visayan proto-martyr Pedro Calungsod who gave his life for the faith on the morning of April 2, 1672 in Guam.

The canonization of Pedro Calungsod will take place under the brilliant light of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the twentieth year of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the declaration of the Year of Faith from October 11, 2012 until November 24, 2013 by the Holy Father. The XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops with the theme “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith” will take place in Rome from October 7 to 28 this year.


All these events happening this year are bound together by the themes of “faith” and “evangelization”. Evangelization indicates proclamation, transmission and witnessing to the Gospel given to humanity by our Lord Jesus Christ and the opening up of people’s lives, society, culture and history to the Person of Jesus Christ and to His living community, the Church.

This “New Evangelization” is primarily addressed to those who have drifted from the Faith and from the Church in traditionally Catholic countries, especially in the West.

What we are being called to do by this task of “New Evangelization” in Asia is to consider anew “the new methods and means for transmitting the Good News” more effectively to our people. We are challenged anew to foster in the Church in our country a renewed commitment and enthusiasm in living out the Gospel in all the diverse areas of our lives, in “real-life practice”, challenged anew to become more and more authentic witnesses of our faith, especially to our Asian neighbors as a fruit of our intensified intimacy with the Lord.

Pope John Paul II at the Baclaran Shrine, 1981


The task stands on four pillars:

First, fostering and fulfilling the “missio ad gentes”, as a special vocation of the Church in our country, effectively involving our laypeople, our “Christifideles” brothers and sisters; our priests and seminarians; men and women in consecrated life.

Secondly, “bringing Good News to the poor.” Again and again, Filipino Catholics coming together to discern priorities, have seen that the Church here must become genuinely “a Church for and with the poor.”

Thirdly, reaching out to those among us whose faith-life has been largely eroded and even lost due to the surrounding confusion, moral relativism, doubt, agnosticism; reaching out to those who have drifted from the Faith and the Church, and have joined other religious sects.

Lastly, awakening or reawakening in faith, forming and animating in Christian life our young people and youth sector groups, in both urban and rural settings;

A nine-year journey for the New Evangelization has already been charted climaxing with the Jubilee Year 2021: Integral Faith Formation (2013); the Laity (2014); the Poor (2015); the Eucharist and of the Family (2016); the Parish as a Communion of Communities (2017); the Clergy and Religious (2018); the Youth (2019); Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue (2020); Missio ad gentes (2021). These are the nine pastoral priorities of the Church in the Philippines.

In the time before us, we will focus on these dimensions of faith, evangelization and discipleship, one by one. And it is most propitious that as we received the faith 500 years ago, so with the Year 2021we envision to become a truly sending Church.

In the face of a secularism which in some parts of our present world has itself become a kind of a “dominant religion”, in the face of the reality of billions who live in our time and who have not truly encountered Jesus Christ nor heard of His Gospel, how challenged we are, how challenged we must be, to enter into the endeavor of the “New Evangelization”! We for whom Jesus has been and is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life, -- how can we not want and long and share Him with brothers and sisters around us who are yet to know and love Him, who are yet to receive the fullness of Life for which we have all been created, and without which their hearts will be ever restless – until they find Jesus and His heart which awaits them?

May our Lady, Mary Mother of Our Lord, lead us all in our longing and labors to bring her son Jesus Christ into our time and our world, our Emmanuel – our God who remains with us now and yet whose coming again in glory we await.

Maranatha, AMEN.

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:

Archbishop of Cebu
July 9, 2012

(Photos courtesy of Mr. Dennis Raymond Maturan)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A truly Catholic statesman

Hilario G. Davide Jr., Chief Justice of the Philippines from November 30, 1998 to December 20, 2005, is an example of that once-common but now dying breed of Filipino statesmen for whom Catholicism is the defining source of guidance not just for private life, but also for life in the public square. He represents a tradition now seriously threatened by the militant secularism that is increasingly pervading the Philippine political and social establishment. 

He was second to the last in the line of openly and proudly Catholic Chief Justices who headed the Philippine judiciary from the time of Pres. Corazon Aquino until the retirement of Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban in 2006. 

Whatever one might think of his actions regarding the "Edsa People Power II" revolution in 2001, there is no denying his fidelity to his Catholic convictions. One of my fondest memories of him, is of him leading the Philippine Senate in singing the Catholic Church in the Philippines' "Jubilee Song" (for the Great Jubilee of 2000) at the end of the last day of the Senate impeachment trial of then-President Joseph Estrada for the month of December, in the year 2000. 

The following passage is taken from an interview with him published yesterday by the American Catholic magazine, the National Catholic Register: Philippines' Constitutional Framer: More People, More Glory to God.

Talk about the People Power revolution of 1986.

These were turbulent times for the Philippines, times of oppression and injustice for the people due to the dictatorial regime of Marcos.

The leader of the opposition was Ninoy Aquino, who was exiled by Marcos and lived in America. When he returned in August 1983, he was shot and killed right on the tarmac of the airport. Many others were victims of persecution, many died, but we were empowered by the death of our icon, Ninoy Aquino, which galvanized opposition to Marcos. …

Then, in 1986, Marcos called a snap election, and there were so many irregularities, and we knew that Marcos won because of cheating and fraudulent reports. We believed that our opposition candidate, Cory Aquino, the wife of our slain leader, had actually won. This led to massive street demonstrations and the ouster of Marcos, and she was proclaimed president.

I was no longer in government at the time; my term had ended in 1984, and I was back home in Cebu. But when she called the constitutional commission of 1986, I was one of the 50 selected to draft the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines. I was chairman of the legislative committee that formulated the power of the legislative body, and I was a member of other committees. We did our best.

You have said that you are proud that the word “love” is in the preamble.

Yes, our preamble is, I think, the best of any preamble of all the countries in the world because it mentions the word “love.” We ask for “the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace.” The preamble is a prayer, asking the Almighty to help the sovereign Filipino people to establish a just and humane society and a government that embodies our ideals, hopes and aspirations.

A scene from the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

Do you think that the bloodless People Power revolution paved the way for Eastern Europe to throw off communism three years later?

Yes, definitely; it became, really, the light of the succeeding events of our country and the guide for many of our people — and for many other people of the world in the years to come.

The Philippines stands out as the only nation, besides the Vatican, to prohibit divorce.

Our constitution prohibits divorce and abortion. We are anti-divorce, anti-abortion; we are pro-life, pro-family and pro-marriage under the constitution. The right to life of the unborn from the moment of conception is in the Bill of Rights. But, unfortunately, at one time, the Philippine legislature enacted a bill providing for the implementation of the death penalty for some heinous crimes; but it was repealed much later because it reflected badly on the Philippines, especially among the Catholics.

Has your Catholic faith guided your public service?

I would attribute what I have accomplished to my Catholic faith. I have full confidence in the providence of God. We are told by Jesus how to love our neighbors, and we have to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. It is only by the grace of God that you can say that your life has been fulfilled. Even in our family, our children and our grandchildren are brought up being taught how to pursue this life of faith and service to others.

What do you see as the future of the Philippines, which is often called poor and overpopulated?

I am very hopeful for the Philippines and her people. In a recent survey by the University of Chicago, it was demonstrated that, of all the peoples of the world, the Philippines has the greatest level of belief in God. The people’s faith in divine Providence has sustained them, in time of calamity, in time of adversity. So you can see the Filipino people as the most “smiling” in the world. … Even with rising population, this is no problem in my view. We will have more workers, more people and families to work for the greater glory of God.