THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 14 June 2014

THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL

By Fr Shay Cullen


Boy working in Gambia

June 12 is one day of the year set aside to remind us of the horribly painful truth that there are millions of children  around the world working in fields, factories, brick kilns, construction sites and sex clubs. The clothes we wear, if made in a poor developing nation, are likely to have been made with some form of child labor. The millions of single men on sex tours abuse working children to satisfy their perverted sexual fantasies; it’s a cruel world of exploitation of those declared to be the most important of all in God’s family and equal to Jesus of Nazareth. 

Preda Fair Trade organization has campaigned for years to free children from the worst forms of child labor like unpaid slaves in sex bars and clubs. They are in the most hazardous situations where they have to dress in bikinis, pole-dance, be groped, laughed at, molested and be exposed to life-threatening diseases and even physical assault. In many bars, they are sold to highest-paying sex tourist. 

Eight-year-old boy working on a train in India

Beth-Ann was given by her father to a distant relative when she was 12 and she was never sent to school. Instead, she was turned over to the mamasan of a sex hotel and
brought up there as a sex object for local and foreign men. When rescued at the age of 15 by Preda social workers, she had the mentality of a 9-year-old, illiterate and unable to relate to adults, having been a sex object for most of her life. There are thousands like her in many countries.

She is slowly recovering and trying to live a normal life outside of the sex bar and bravely learning to read and write and finding a new set of behaviors and values. There are thousands like her who are still slaves, working in sex bars with the connivance and licensing approval of local government officials who benefit from the sex industry themselves and frequently are hotel or bar owners. 

Young girl in Morocco

Child labor is, in most situations, the evidence of extreme poverty and exploitation of the poor and the marginalized people. The children are offered jobs as domestic helpers in the city, a down-payment is made to the parents in a remote village and the children are carried off to the sex bar or brothel. Another destructive form of so called sex-work for young teenagers is making pornography. Their images are sold live on the internet for pedophiles to view them. This is a billion dollar business and the children are the work force.

How is it that until 1989, child labor was generally accepted as necessary, desirable even, and it many years for the Convention on the Rights of the Child to be written and passed. I was a delegate to the drafting conference in Helsinki. Then Convention No 182 on the worst forms of child labor was written and passed by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and passed as international law by the United Nations in 1999.  I marched through Geneva to lobby the ILO to pass Convention 182. It bans the worst forms of child labor. However, it is still being violated around the world. Millions of children are unschooled and work in every kind of labor situation to help their families survive.

Girls making bricks in Nepal

How is it that children have been held in work bondage for thousands of years and forced to work and be sexually abused. What has been forgotten are the extraordinary statements and acts of Jesus of Nazareth in regard to children. When asked who is the most important in the Kingdom of God, Jesus placed a child in front of them and said a child is the most important of all. He gave them the inalienable right and place of greatest importance in God’s family.

The Little Children Being Brought to Jesus, Rembrandt, 1647-49

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam [Web Gallery of Art]

‘The most important in the Kingdom is this child’, he told his followers. ‘To accept one of them is to accept me’, he said. What an extraordinary declaration made at a time when children were considered the property of parents and as non-persons with no rights and only part of the work force. The Church did not oppose it or declare it as intrinsically wrong or have a dogma about it, despite the practice of child labor being a direct contradiction of the Gospel values and of Jesus himself.

Children engaged in diamond mining in Sierra Leone

Children were number one in Christianity at the beginning, until the institutionalization of Christianity that is. It took secular society in 1989 and 1999 to recognize the inalienable rights of the child. Sadly, it was not the Church that advocated and established in international law these rights of the child. Instead, it has a nasty history of child abuse, a contradiction of the teachings of its founder. It is now that Pope Francis and enlightened church leaders and child rights advocates are vigorously undoing that past and trying to make amends for that most unjust and abusive past.

We were all children once and may have memories (or suppressed memories), of childhood hardships, drudgery, hard work and even abuse. We can be happy that we have survived and we can understand more easily the suffering and plight of the millions of children who continue to suffer abuse, illiteracy and life of hard labor. They may not survive.  This we can prevent and undo.

We must draw on the spirit of truth and empowerment and be prophetic, missionary, active in speaking out and defending children and promoting their rights. They are the most important in God’s kingdom, (Matthew 18:1-5Mark 9:33-37Luke 9:46-48) and have a place of honor that must never be taken away from them.

[shaycullen@preda.org, www.preda.org]

Fr Shay Cullen’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and online.

Photos taken from Wikipedia entry on Child Labour.

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‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . .’ Sunday Reflections, Trinity Sunday, Year A

The Trinity with the Dead Christ

Lodovico Carracci, c.1590. Pinacoteca, Vatican [Web Gallery of Art]


Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa) 

Gospel John 3:16-18  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

The Two Trinities

Murillo 1675-82. National Gallery, London [Web Gallery of Art]

 

A few years ago we in Worldwide Marriage Encounter here in Bacolod City held a family day. One of the last activities was for the pre-teens where the children were asked to share with everyone what they most loved about their parents. One boy of about ten said, ‘What I most love about my parents is that they are always together’.
In my closing remarks I picked up on this and reminded the couples that this youngster had expressed the heart of marriage: that the primary vocation of a married couple is to be husband and wife, not father and mother. The latter is a consequence of the first. When children know that for their parents nobody is more important than each other they will be drawn into that relationship.
Marriage is a reflection of the Trinity, which we celebrate today. The perfect love that the Father and Son have for one another has generated the Holy Spirit from all eternity and will continue to do so for all eternity. The love of husband and wife have for each other constantly generates love, the source of which is the Most Holy Trinity, and in most cases that love results in new life.
In his Wednesday audience on 2 April this year Pope Francis said: Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God is communion too: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity. And this is precisely the mystery of Matrimony: God makes of the two spouses one single life. The Bible uses a powerful expression and says ‘one flesh’, so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: the love of God which is reflected in the couple that decides to live together. Therefore a man leaves his home, the home of his parents, and goes to live with his wife and unites himself so strongly to her that the two become — the Bible says — one flesh.
Murillo’s painting, The Two Trinities, captures something of this. The unity between Mary and Joseph as wife and husband reflects the love of the Father and Son for each other. And while Joseph is not the Father of Jesus he is his legal father, according to Jewish law, as he named him: Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:19-21). The love that Joseph and Mary had for each other as husband and wife generated the love that Jesus experienced in his humanity while growing up in Nazareth, just like the youngster at our family day in Bacolod.
More than that, St Joseph was a real father to Jesus, his ‘Dad’, ‘Papa’, ‘Tatay’, as Spouse of Mary, the primary title the Church gives to this great saint on his major feast day, 19 March, and now in all the Eucharistic Prayers.

Moses

Carlo Dolci, 1640-45. Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence [Web Gallery of Art]

And we find a wonderful example of a father-figure in Moses in the First Reading when he pleads with God: “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance” (Exodus 34:9).
We know that more than once Moses castigated his people and he acknowledges that they can be hard to deal with: This is a stiff-necked people. But in the same breath he acknowledges himself as one of them: Pardon our iniquity and oursin, and take us for your inheritance. He is a real father, pleading on behalf of his family for God’s mercy while fully aware of their and his own shortcomings.

Carracci’s The Trinity with the Dead Christ shows us the Trinity in the context of the death of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, who became Man and died for us on the Cross. This is a common theme in many paintings, the Suffering Trinity. Not only Jesus suffered. So did his Father and the Holy Spirit.


Return of the Prodigal Son (Detail)

Rembrandt, c.1669. The Hermitage, St Petersburg [Web Gallery of Art]

I know of no greater expression of the suffering of the Father than the face of the father in Rembrandt’s Return of the Prodigal Son. This doesn’t express the joy that we know was there but the suffering behind it. And in that parable Jesus was showing us the compassion, the ‘suffering with’, of the Father for each of us.
Carracci shows us the Father and the Holy Spirit to be as much involved in Calvary as Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, God who became Man, was. They suffered along with him, out of compassion for us.
This reality too is reflected in marriage as a couple gradually prepare their children to become independent while preparing themselves for the pain of letting their children go. To a lesser extent it is reflected in the lives of all who are responsible in some way for the education, formation and mentoring of others. A teacher may feel some sadness as the year ends and students move on but a few months later a new batch will be there. However, parents never cease to be parents and will always continue to share both the joys and sorrows of their adult children, who often enough are the cause of their parents’ inner suffering.

Likewise, the Persons of the Blessed Trinity never cease to be a loving God, a God who calls each of us to share in the intense and eternal Love that they are for all eternity. Every human relationship is meant to reflect that to some extent, most of all the relationship between husband and wife.

—God is my Father! If you meditate on it, you will never let go of this consoling consideration.
 —Jesus is my intimate Friend (another re-discovery) who loves me with all the divine madness of his Heart.
—The Holy Spirit is my Consoler, who guides my every step along the road.
Consider this often: you are God’s . . . and God is yours. (The Forge, No 2, St Josémaría Escrivá).

Firmly I believe and truly

 
Firmly I believe and truly
God is Three, and God is One;
and I next acknowledge duly
manhood taken by the Son.

And I trust and hope most fully
in that Manhood crucified;
and each thought and deed unruly
do to death, as he has died.

Simply to his grace and wholly
light and life and strength belong,
and I love supremely, solely,
him the holy, him the strong.

And I hold in veneration,
for the love of him alone,
holy Church as his creation,
and her teachings are his own.

And I take with joy whatever

Now besets me, pain or fear,

And with a strong will I sever

All the ties which bind me here.

Adoration aye be given,
with and through the angelic host,
to the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son and Holy Ghost.


Words by Blessed John Henry Newman. Tune: Shipston, arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The fourth and fifth stanzas above are not sung in the recording. You can read more about this hymn, which may be sung to a number of different tunes, here.



 

Antiphon ad introitum.  Entrance Antiphon


Benedictus sit Deus Pater, Blest be God the Father,

Unigenitusque Dei Filius,and the Only Begotten Son of God,

Sanctus quoque Spiritus, and also the Holy Spirit,

quia fecit nobiscum misericordiam suam. for he has shown us is merciful love.

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Obituary of Serafina R. Vuda, Columban Lay Missionary

Serafina Ranadi Vuda
(24 August 1962 – 31 May 2014)

Born to Esira Vuda and Makarita Dicakau, Serafina was baptized by Columban Fr Arthur Tierney, in Navala, Ba. After elementary school, she attended Xavier College in Ba and St John’s College in Levuka, Ovalau. In 1984 she graduated from Corpus Christi Primary Teachers’ College in Suva and taught in Navala, St Theresa, Ba and Stella Maris, Suva, during the following 12 years.

Navala [Wikipedia]

During these years Serafina was an avid netball player, and traveled to Europe as a member of the Fiji National Netball Team.

In 1996 Serafina joined Columban Lay Mission and did her orientation program in Suva. After studying Spanish in Bolivia, her first mission assignment was to Chile (1997 – 2000). There she lived and worked among the indigenous Mapuche people, promoting the formation of lay leaders. After a vacation back home she was assigned to Peru where she spent the following nine years (2001 – 2010). There she was engaged in parish ministry, the formation of lay leaders, and the accompaniment of others in their discernment regarding a lay mission vocation. From 2008 to 2011 she served as the Coordinator of the Central Leadership Team of Columban Lay Mission, while from 2011 to 2014 she continued as a member of that Leadership Team.

During those years that she was in leadership positions, Serafina lived in Dublin, Suva and Los Angeles. While living in Dublin she joined outreach endeavors to migrants and homeless people. After arriving in Los Angeles 20 months ago, she began to learn to drive, and succeeded in obtaining her license a year ago. She had also initiated outreach to parishes in that city as well as to the South Pacifican community across California, particularly in the San Francisco area.

Two weeks ago Serafina was unexpectedly hospitalized in LA and found to be suffering from a number of serious ailments. Since then it seemed that she had only fleeting moments of consciousness. Columban priests in LA, fellow Fijian lay missionaries, Monika Lewatikana and Sainiana Tamatawale, as well as several friends visited her daily. Then, on Saturday evening, 31 May, just after having been commended by them to God, she returned to her Creator,and joined her parents and brothers, Villame and Petero, who had gone ahead of her.


At Holy Family Home for Girls, Bacolod City, Philippines, 2009

 

As she had lived in several countries and visited several others as a Columban lay missionary leader, Serafina’s passing is grieved by Columban Missionaries and the various peoples to whom she ministered.

Serafina’s death is also a cause of great sadness to her sister, Udite, her brother Paulo Ramasima, another brother, Sipriano Ranuko, and his wife Sisilia, her sister-in-law, Mere, as well as nephews, nieces and extended family.

Before Requiem Mass for Serafina, St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Ireland

Messages of sympathy may be sent to: Mr Sipriano Ranuko, PO Box 1141, Ba, Fiji. Tel: + 679-667.8026

Please remember to pray for the eternal repose of Serafina, as well as consolation for her grieving family and friends.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace, Amen.

The above was issued by the US Region of the Columbans on 4 June. You may read more about Serafina and how she saw herself as a lay missionary here.

 

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SHOUTING INTO THE SILENCE. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 4 June 2014

SHOUTING INTO THE SILENCE

by Fr Shay Cullen

 

Street children, New York City, 1890 [Wikipedia]

One of most important things for a happy meaningful life is to have a goal, a positive purpose that does good for others and for ourselves. It can be helping in the community, volunteering in a Fair Trade shop, supporting a shelter for the homeless, or raising funds for a worthy cause.

Some people feel called to be involved with a campaign for peace and human rights and to make this a happier, more peaceful and forgiving world. Some set out to save the environment from destruction and degradation and to protect the planet and the people. Others are dedicated to protecting human rights and ending violence by non-violent means. That means doing all we can to bring about justice in the community.

That’s no easy task; there is so much injustice, inequality and unfairness that a situation can overwhelm us. That’s when we trust in the spirit of truth. When the powerful dominate the poor, it can be heartbreaking and depressing. In the Philippines, a mere 40 families account for 76 percent of the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP). Two such families had a combined wealth of $13.6 billion, equivalent to six percent of the Philippine economy. One percent of the population own or control 70 percent of the national wealth.

When we look at government figures, it shows that 25 million people struggle to survive in dire poverty and barely survive on about one US dollar ($1) a day. That is six percent of the Philippine population. Those in the next bracket are not much better off. This huge disparity in wealth is at the core of Philippine poverty and hardship. The ruling elite have arranged it all in their favor. So economic growth figures do not reflect any improvement in the lives of most Filipinos.

But with a strong belief that good can overcome evil, that truth can vanquish lies and deceit, that right can overcome wrong and that life can overcome death, many things are possible. That is the spirit of Pentecost, the power of the inner spirit of hope, compassion and integrity to change the world. This is the spirit that gives us the power to be prophetic. That means to have courage to speak out and denounce evil, wrongdoing, sexual exploitation of children and corruption. That spirit also gives hope and a belief that positive action can eventually bring about a more just society where people have enough for a life of dignity.

A modern prophetic voice that has inspired me over the years is that of Danny Smith who, with Lord David Alton, founded the Jubilee Campaign, a registered charity in the UK. Danny has been tirelessly working for human rights around the world since 1981 and almost single-handily campaigned with powerful effective results against many injustices.

His most successful campaigns saved children from the cruel abuse of sexual exploitation in the Philippines; he exposed and saved children left to die in cruel orphanages in China; he worked to release hundreds of children in prison in Brazil and Manila. In a powerful campaign in the UK, he exposed child sacrifices in Uganda (video below) and in the UK itself and got strong political action to stop it. He inspired and supported many more great causes. These great stories and many more are told in a inspiring new book Shouting into the Silence, published by Lion.

We need to read about people like Danny Smith and his wonderful wife Joan and their family and their life’s work. They are committed to uplifting the dignity of all people. The book also has an intriguing life history of Danny that is truly fascinating, a family journey spanning continents. He may be contacted at danny@jubileecampaign.co.uk

Of the many prophetic and spiritual figures with whom I have worked over the years, Danny has been one of the most dedicated and consistently effective in bringing about more justice and social change by political lobbying, media advocacy and public speaking and financially supporting the poor and needy people in the developing world. We need many more like Danny in this world; his book and story is inspiring.

However, the prophetic mission is fraught with difficulties and challenges. Enemies rise up filled with envy and jealousy and crush the good and the just. The book’s title Shouting into the Silence refers to the closed hearts and minds and ears of many people in power who do not want to listen to the message, or hear the cry of the people for justice. They are closed to the suffering of the oppressed who are being driven off their land by rich land grabbers.

Fr Rufus Halley and Fr Fausto Tentorio

There is a great silence that the prophetic voice tries to penetrate. Then there is the harsh opposition, the death threats, physical assaults and the assassination of the modern prophets. In the Philippines, the most recent has been Romeo Capalla, an advocate of justice for the farmers of Panay Island and a promoter of Fair Trade. Fr Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio PIME, an Italian missionary, was also gunned down for taking a stand for the rights of the indigenous people in Mindanao. Fr Rufus Halley, my classmate, an Irish missionary of the Columbans, brutally murdered for standing with the oppressed Muslim people in Mindanao and many more social workers and human rights advocates.

The mission for justice is the greatest challenge, the most prophetic and the most dangerous. We all need the spirit of truth to dwell within us to enable us to endure to the end and break through the great silence that ignores injustice and abuse and keeps the poor in bondage. This is what we can overcome with the spirit of hope and power to love others more than ourselves.

Fr Shay Cullen’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and online.

[shaycullen@preda.org, www.preda.org]

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‘I am with you always . . .’ Sunday Reflections. The Ascension; 7th Sunday of Easter

The Ascension of Christ, Rembrandt, 1638

 Alte Pinakotech, Munich [Web Gallery of Art]

 

Solemnity of the Ascension

 
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
                                  

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel Matthew 28:16-20  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The readings above are used whether the Solemnity is celebrated on Ascension Thursday or on the following Sunday. They are used both at the Vigil Mass and at the Mass during the Day. The two Masses have a different set of prayers. Both fulfill the obligation of participating at Mass on a holyday of obligation, as Ascension Thursday is where the solemnity is observed on that day, and as every Sunday is.

The Seventh Sunday of Easter, where the Ascension is celebrated on Ascension Thursday

 
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA) 
                                 

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel John 17:1-11  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

The Ascension


Bicycles in Buenos Aires [Wikipedia]


Early in the summer of 1953 when I was ten my father taught me how to ride a bicycle. In August of that year, when we were on holiday in Bray, south of Dublin, he taught me how to swim. I borrowed cry cousin Deirdre’s bike, a small blue one and practised on Halliday Square, Dublin,, just below our street. It had a long enclosed garden in the centre where some local people grew vegetables, as I recall, and in my young mind was a kind of racing circuit.

However, in order to do any racing I had to learn first to keep on the bike while moving. My father held on to the saddle while I moved forward, wobbling quite a bit for about ten metres before we’d start again. I’m not sure how many times we repeated this or over how many evenings. But a moment arrived when I realized that I was moving forward steadily and surely – and Dad wan’t holding on to the saddle. I was on my own. A great thrill – with an awareness that I could’t ‘unlearn’ how to ride. From that moment I could only move forward, in more senses than one. And before long I found myself racing around the circuit that was Halliday Square, sometimes against others, sometimes just ‘against myself’.


Seafront and Bray Head, Bray, Ireland [Wikipedia]

Dad’s approach to teaching me how to swim was similar. He held his hand under my chest, in fairly shallow water, off the stony beach in the photo above. I was trying to do the breaststroke. As with the bike, he showed great patience and I had absolute trust in him knowing that he wouldn’t let me sink, just as he hadn’t let me fall off the bicycle.

Once again there was the magic moment when I realized that Dad’s hand was no longer touching my chest – I was swimming on my own. And as with cycling, this is an ability that you cannot ‘unlearn’.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, Jesus tells the Apostles in the First Reading (Acts 1:8).

My experience with my father – and with my mother too who often said to me in my childhood years When you’re 21 you’ll be responsible for yourself, giving me a goal to reach – helps me understand something of the meaning of today’s feast. If my Dad had kept holding on to the saddle of my cousin’s bike I would never have learned to go on my own. If he had kept holding me while teaching me to swim I would have remained dependent on him.

If Jesus, the Risen Lord, had stayed with the Apostles they would have remained in Jerusalem and never have gone to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.

For the next eight years after learning to ride a bike I cycled to school twice each day, unless it was raining, coming home for lunch, getting about an hour’s exercise in the process without calling it that. And in a very real way my Dad was always with me because he had enabled me to acquire a skill that in turn gave me a new freedom that brought with it new responsibilities and new possibilities. New possibilities and the responsibilities that go with them continue to arise in my life as a priest. 

And in the life of the Church, as in the life of each individual, new situations with their challenges are constantly arising. The one thing that we can be certain of as disciples of Jesus, carrying out the mission he has entrusted to the Church, whatever our particular part may be in that mission, is the truth of his final words before his Ascension, And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

He is with us always through his Holy spirit whose coming we will celebrate next Sunday


Ascension: Mass during the Day

 Antiphona ad Introitum  Entrance Antiphon Acts 1:11 

Viri Galilei, quid admiramini aspicientes in caelum?

 Men of Galilee, why gaze in wonder at the heavens?

Quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in caelun, ita veniet, alleluia.

 This Jesus whom you saw ascending into heaven will return as you saw him go, alleluia.

Hymn for the Ascension by Georgi Popov

Sung in Vienna by the Bulgarian choir Hosanna

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SAVED FROM THE DEATH SQUAD – BY STREET CHILDREN. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 28 May 2014

SAVED FROM THE DEATH SQUAD – BY STREET CHILDREN

by Fr Shay Cullen

SAVED FROM THE DEATH SQUAD – BY STREET CHILDREN
By Fr Shay Cullen
What should be a matter of outrage and great moral concern for every Filipino and decent human being is the very recent, well documented revelations by Human Rights Watch alleging the actions of a death squad in Tagum City, Mindanao, where hundreds have been murdered including street children as young as nine. The killings were allegedly carried out by hit men allegedly on orders of the former mayor. Each person was killed for a payment of only five thousands pesos (US$110)

What should be a matter of outrage and great moral concern for every Filipino and decent human being is the very recent, well documented revelations by Human Rights Watch alleging the actions of a death squad in Tagum City, Mindanao, where hundreds have been murdered including street children as young as nine. The killings were allegedly carried out by hit men allegedly on orders of the former mayor. Each person was killed for a payment of only five thousands pesos (US$110).

One Shot to the Head: Death Squad Killings in Tagum City, Philippines (seewww.preda.org) is a 71 page report released on 22 May with damning evidence and interviews with former hit men who allegedly said they were paid by former Mayor Rey ‘Chiong’ Uy to kill anyone they were told to. One text message allegedly set them in motion. They were paid US$110 for every killing and they divided it among themselves, one former hit man said in a taped interview posted on YouTube. The former mayor has denied the allegations.
Tagum City’s former mayor helped organize and finance a death squad linked to the murder of hundreds of residents, said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. Rey Uy called these citizens ‘weeds’. He and other city officials and police officers underwrote targeted killings as a perverse form of crime control.
Such revelations are not new in the Philippines. Other city officials throughout the Philippines have been accused of using death squads to kill street children and anyone considered a threat or critic of local government. As many as 298 victims have been documented in this Human Rights Watch Tagum report. The report said: Targeted killings have continued but with less frequency since Uy stepped down as mayor in June 2013.
The Human Rights Watch press release said that “On April 28, 2014, the media reported that the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation had recommended the prosecution of four security guards employed by the Tagum City government for their alleged role in the abduction, torture, and murder of two teenage boys in February 2014. The current Tagum City mayor, Allan Rellon, reportedly told the media that he was ‘bewildered’ by the allegations, saying  that, as a local chief executive, I abhor any form of summary killing.
This is not the first report documenting the dark side of Philippines where government officials, have been accused of using private assassination squads of hit-men that go around on motor bikes killing children, priests, missionaries, pastors, church and human rights workers. This column has documented many of these murders. The Sun Star of Davao has bravely documented many of the death squad murders over the years. Investigations by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights have failed to uncover the killers or those behind the murders.
A prominent columnist in The Philippine Daily Inquirer on 24 May defended the death squads and the actions of Mayor Uy and the Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City saying no one in the Philippines is complaining about them except Human Rights Watch. Citizens would have benefited too, he wrote, if the police in Manila had implemented a plan to organize a death squad to eliminate alleged corrupt judges and prosecutors.
The killings are done to drive away begging street kids, create fear and silence critics and defenders of human rights on the pretext of preserving law and order by killing people said to be suspected criminals. Anyone can denounce their neighbor as a drug pusher and it’s likely that person would be killed. This is how the tiny minority of wealthy Filipino elites use fear, force and murder to intimidate the people, eliminate rivals, cheat at elections and stay in power through family dynasties. Thus, the one percent can rule the nation as they have always done. The hit-men do it for money and the elites do it for political and economic advantage. They  act with total impunity.
The Human Rights Watch report gives credence to the many allegations made by Filipino human rights workers for many years including this writer who exposed a Davao death squad and was sued by former Davao City Mayor De Guzman in 1999, although no allegation was made against him personally. After a harrowing, dangerous year of legal defense, and a scary visit to Davao City where a group of street children formed a protective cordon around me at the airport lest the death squad would kill me. I was trying to save them, but they saved me.
Mayor De Guzman withdrew the allegation on the day when I was to be arraigned in the Davao City Regional Trial Court. The intervention of Archbishop Fernando Robles Capalla of Davao persuaded the Mayor to withdraw the charge. The Archbishop’s brother Romy Capalla, a human rights defender was assassinated with a bullet to the head last March in Iloilo for his work defending the rights of small farmers to organize independently of land owners and practice Fair Trade. The sugar mill they operated was burned down destroying their livelihood. No one has been caught for the brutal murder.
A Survey by Ateneo de Davao University says 98 percent of those polled support the mayor, government and 77 percent support the police. Perhaps they dare not say otherwise. Western embassies have warned their citizens not to visit Mindanao due to the crime rates. The death squads have not deterred lawlessness, only added to it.
The report is available on www.hrw.org/node/125247.
Email [shaycullen@preda.org visit www.preda.org]
Fr Shay Cullen’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and onlinSAVED FROM THE DEATH SQUAD – BY STREET CHILDREBy Fr Shay Cullen

 

Tagum City [Wikipedia]

One Shot to the Head: Death Squad Killings in Tagum City, Philippines is a 71-page report released on 22 May with damning evidence and interviews with former hit-men who allegedly said they were paid by former Mayor Rey ‘Chiong’ Uy to kill anyone they were told to. One text message allegedly set them in motion. They were paid US$110 for every killing and they divided it among themselves, one former hit-man said in a taped interview posted on YouTube (see video above). The former mayor has denied the allegations.

Tagum City National High School [Wikipedia]

Tagum City’s former mayor helped organize and finance a death squad linked to the murder of hundreds of residents, said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch. Rey Uy called these citizens ‘weeds’. He and other city officials and police officers underwrote targeted killings as a perverse form of crime control.

Such revelations are not new in the Philippines. Other city officials throughout the Philippines have been accused of using death squads to kill street children and anyone considered a threat or critic of local government. As many as 298 victims have been documented in this Human Rights Watch Tagum report. The report said: Targeted killings have continued but with less frequency since Uy stepped down as mayor in June 2013.

The Human Rights Watch press release said that ‘On April 28, 2014, the media reported that the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation had recommended the prosecution of four security guards employed by the Tagum City government for their alleged role in the abduction, torture, and murder of two teenage boys in February 2014’. The current Tagum City mayor, Allan Rellon, reportedly told the media that he was ‘bewildered’ by the allegations, saying  that, as a local chief executive, ‘I abhor any form of summary killing’.

This is not the first report documenting the dark side of Philippines where government officials, have been accused of using private assassination squads of hit-men that go around on motor bikes killing children, priests, missionaries, pastors, church and human rights workers. This column has documented many of these murders. The Sun Star of Davao has bravely documented many of the death squad murders over the years. Investigations by the Philippine Commission on Human Rights have failed to uncover the killers or those behind the murders.

A prominent columnist in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 24 May defended the death squads and the actions of Mayor Uy and the Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City saying no one in the Philippines is complaining about them except Human Rights Watch. Citizens would have benefited too, he wrote, if the police in Manila had implemented a plan to organize a death squad to eliminate alleged corrupt judges and prosecutors.

The killings are done to drive away begging street kids, create fear and silence critics and defenders of human rights on the pretext of preserving law and order by killing people said to be suspected criminals. Anyone can denounce their neighbor as a drug pusher and it’s likely that person would be killed. This is how the tiny minority of wealthy Filipino elites use fear, force and murder to intimidate the people, eliminate rivals, cheat at elections and stay in power through family dynasties. Thus, the one percent can rule the nation as they have always done. The hit men do it for money and the elites do it for political and economic advantage. They  act with total impunity.

The Human Rights Watch report gives credence to the many allegations made by Filipino human rights workers for many years including this writer who exposed a Davao death squad and was sued by former Davao City Mayor De Guzman in 1999, although no allegation was made against him personally. After a harrowing, dangerous year of legal defense, and a scary visit to Davao City where a group of street children formed a protective cordon around me at the airport lest the death squad would kill me. I was trying to save them, but they saved me.

Mayor De Guzman withdrew the allegation on the day when I was to be arraigned in the Davao City Regional Trial Court. The intervention of Archbishop Fernando Robles Capalla of Davao persuaded the Mayor to withdraw the charge. The Archbishop’s brother Romy Capalla, a human rights defender was assassinated with a bullet to the head last March in Iloilo for his work defending the rights of small farmers to organize independently of land owners and practice Fair Trade. The sugar mill they operated was burned down destroying their livelihood. No one has been caught for the brutal murder.

A Survey by Ateneo de Davao University says 98 percent of those polled support the mayor, government and 77 percent support the police. Perhaps they dare not say otherwise. Western embassies have warned their citizens not to visit Mindanao due to the crime rates. The death squads have not deterred lawlessness, only added to it.

The report is available here

 

Email [shaycullen@preda.org visit www.preda.org

Fr Shay Cullen’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and online.

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CLIMATE CHANGE IS UPON US. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 20 May 2014

CLIMATE CHANGE IS UPON US

CLIMATE CHANGE IS UPON US
By Fr Shay Cullen
The sights, sounds, and smells that assailed me as I was walking through the devastated chaos and destruction of Tacloban City in the Philippines last year, soon after the most powerful storm ever to hit land, made me realize that this was the future. This utter devastation wrecked by a vengeful nature on her tormentors was going to be repeated across the globe. Climate change is upon us.
Extreme weather conditions will be what we can expect in the future. In the UK last year, massive unprecedented flooding cut off towns and villages. The economic cost was massive. We have to ask why and what can be done to prevent such destructive weather conditions getting worse and less frequent. The Philippines experienced 25 typhoons in 2013.
Humans are the custodians of the creation and guardians of the planet and yet we have sinned against it. Now it’s time to repent and make amends, but how?
As I write this, the Balkans are experiencing the worst flooding since records began 120 years ago. Vast areas of countryside, towns and villages are inundated and as many as 300 landslides have destroyed property and 35 people were killed. In three days rain that would normally fall over three months hit the region causing destruction, death and huge commercial loss. In Afghanistan a few weeks ago, an entire village with hundreds of people was buried alive when a rain-saturated hillside came roaring down to bury and smother them all.
Every news bulletin seems to carry reports of another huge ecological disaster; droughts and wild fires in the United States are consuming forests and fields, and even more destructive floods are to come in Europe we are told.
Last week, the United Nations Inter-Country Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made it’s latest report after seven years of exhaustive research and number crunching to inform and convince us that catastrophic climate change can be averted and even reversed if we act now. The report was made by 1,250 eminent scientists and experts and endorsed by 146 governments.
It’s for real: the planet has warmed up and we humans have caused it by burning fossil fuels non-stop for the last 150 years. That has to stop. We must turn to alternative sources of energy, the report strongly advises, or else..
The worst offenders are the oil- and coal-burning industries. Their power plants, factories, houses and cars warm the earth by releasing CO2 gas. The carbon dioxide and methane gases create a blanket around the earth causing this warming. This in turn has melted huge sections of the polar ice caps and removed nature’s big reflector of sun light. Antarctica is melting too. Soon the rise in ocean levels will be covering lo- lying islands and beach fronts.
The permafrost in Siberia and Canada is melting, releasing even more deadly methane gas from the once frozen bogs and releasing it into the atmosphere. The effect on food production and water resources will be massive and will lead to food shortages and the social impact will be great; migration and armed conflicts will erupt.
China, one of the worst climate polluters with its thousands of coal and oil power plants is in direct conflict with Vietnam after moving an oil drilling platform into waters claimed by Vietnam. Riots, property destruction and the evacuation of thousands of Chinese from Vietnam are the news this week.
The content of the reports of the IPCC are vehemently denied by powerful business interests in the gas, oil and coal industries. These thermal tycoons want the burning of fossil fuels to continue but the time is coming when fossil fuels have to be abandoned and left in the ground. Alternative renewable sources of electric power like solar, wind and geothermal electric generation have to power the future.
Huge investments have to be made in wind and solar power. Natural gas is a much cleaner source of energy, though with some limitations, but a better alternative to coal. The common people and their governments have to stand up to the polluters of the planet and bring closer that day when the demand for oil and coal will taper off. In the Philippines, crony capitalists are manipulating the national leadership and ‘capturing’ the regulators to persuade them to approve more coal plants.
We all have to be caretakers of our God-given world, the garden of Eden is sadly wilting and dying and we humans will be dying in body and spirit with it through disease, famine, and extreme weather events. Remember, more than 6,000 people were killed by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda on 8 November. There will be many more dying in future storms and floods of equal magnitude. We must preserve all life, especially the life of the planet itself.
[shaycullen@preda.org, www.preda.org]
Fr Shay Cullen’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and onlCLIMATE CHANGE IS UPON US

By Fr Shay Cullen

Tacloban City after Supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda 8 November 2013 [Wikipedia]

The sights, sounds, and smells that assailed me as I was walking through the devastated chaos and destruction of Tacloban City in the Philippines last year, soon after the most powerful storm ever to hit land, made me realize that this was the future. This utter devastation wrecked by a vengeful nature on her tormentors was going to be repeated across the globe. Climate change is upon us.

Extreme weather conditions will be what we can expect in the future. In the UK last year, massive unprecedented flooding cut off towns and villages. The economic cost was massive. We have to ask why and what can be done to prevent such destructive weather conditions getting worse and less frequent. The Philippines experienced 25 typhoons in 2013.

Humans are the custodians of the creation and guardians of the planet and yet we have sinned against it. Now it’s time to repent and make amends, but how?

Krupanj, Serbia, after May 2014 floods [Wikipedia]

As I write this, the Balkans are experiencing the worst flooding since records began 120 years ago. Vast areas of countryside, towns and villages are inundated and as many as 300 landslides have destroyed property and 35 people were killed. In three days rain that would normally fall over three months hit the region causing destruction, death and huge commercial loss. In Afghanistan a few weeks ago, an entire village with hundreds of people was buried alive when a rain-saturated hillside came roaring down to bury and smother them all.

Every news bulletin seems to carry reports of another huge ecological disaster; droughts and wild fires in the United States are consuming forests and fields, and even more destructive floods are to come in Europe we are told.

Last week, the United Nations‘ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made it’s latest report after seven years of exhaustive research and number crunching to inform and convince us that catastrophic climate change can be averted and even reversed if we act now. The report was made by 1,250 eminent scientists and experts and endorsed by 146 governments.

It’s for real: the planet has warmed up and we humans have caused it by burning fossil fuels non-stop for the last 150 years. That has to stop. We must turn to alternative sources of energy, the report strongly advises, or else..

The worst offenders are the oil- and coal-burning industries. Their power plants, factories, houses and cars warm the earth by releasing CO2 gas. The carbon dioxide and methane gases create a blanket around the earth causing this warming. This in turn has melted huge sections of the polar ice caps and removed nature’s big reflector of sun light. Antarctica is melting too. Soon the rise in ocean levels will be covering lo- lying islands and beach fronts.

The permafrost in Siberia and Canada is melting, releasing even more deadly methane gas from the once frozen bogs and releasing it into the atmosphere. The effect on food production and water resources will be massive and will lead to food shortages and the social impact will be great; migration and armed conflicts will erupt.

House in Tacloban City after Hayian/Yolanda 8 November 2013 [Wikipedia]

China, one of the worst climate polluters with its thousands of coal and oil power plants is in direct conflict with Vietnam after moving an oil drilling platform into waters claimed by Vietnam. Riots, property destruction and the evacuation of thousands of Chinese from Vietnam are the news this week.

The content of the reports of the IPCC are vehemently denied by powerful business interests in the gas, oil and coal industries. These thermal tycoons want the burning of fossil fuels to continue but the time is coming when fossil fuels have to be abandoned and left in the ground. Alternative renewable sources of electric power like solar, wind and geothermal electric generation have to power the future.

Huge investments have to be made in wind and solar power. Natural gas is a much cleaner source of energy, though with some limitations, but a better alternative to coal. The common people and their governments have to stand up to the polluters of the planet and bring closer that day when the demand for oil and coal will taper off. In the Philippines, crony capitalists are manipulating the national leadership and ‘capturing’ the regulators to persuade them to approve more coal plants.

We all have to be caretakers of our God-given world, the garden of Eden is sadly wilting and dying and we humans will be dying in body and spirit with it through disease, famine, and extreme weather events. Remember, more than 6,000 people were killed by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda on 8 November. There will be many more dying in future storms and floods of equal magnitude. We must preserve all life, especially the life of the planet itself. 

[shaycullen@preda.org, www.preda.org]

Fr Shay Cullen’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and online.

 

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‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?’ Sunday Reflections, 5th Sunday of Easter Year A

 


Apostle St Thomas

El Greco, 1610-14, Museo de El Greco, Toledo [Web Gallery of Art]

 
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
                                  

Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

Gospel John 14:1-12  (New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition, Canada) 

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.  And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

Apostle St Philip

El Greco, 1610-14, Museo de El Greco, Toledo [Web Gallery of Art]

 
About forty years ago I gave a live-in weekend retreat to students graduating from a high school for girls in the Philippines run by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. Most of the girls were around 16. I noticed one girl  – I’ll call her Lucy -who was small in stature behaving rather immaturely, though not misbehaving, as the weekend went on. At times she would be running around like a child in kindergarten. The retreatants had an opportunity, insofar as time allowed, to meet me individually in the home economics building. As is usual on such occasions tears would be shed. When Lucy noticed tear-stains on some of her classmates she’d laugh at them.

But then she came to see me. There was aa life-size inflatable doll in the room. She clung on to it and cried her heart out for five or ten minutes before I could get her to calm down. Then she said to me, Father, my parents give me everything I want. But they never ask me ‘How did you do in school today?’ And they never even scold me.

Lucy could see clearly, because of its absence in her life, what perhaps most of her companions at their age didn’t: the daily reality of the love of their parents, sometimes expressed in scolding.

Nobody likes a scolding but most of us, when we reflect on it, see it as a sign of care, of love. I’ve told the story of Lucy to many groups of young people over the years and always get nods of recognition.
When Philip asked him, Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied, I wonder if Jesus felt some mild exasperation? This incident reminds me of what the father in the story of the Prodigal Son said to the elder son, Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours (Luke 15:31). The well behaved son had failed to see this, as he failed to see the wonder of this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found (Luke 15:32).

After the sudden death of Fr Patrick Sheehy at the age of 80 in St Columban’s, Ireland, in December 1999 his fellow Columbans living there, many of them retired and/or infirm, began to notice that certain little things weren’t being done anymore, such as letters and newspapers being delivered to priests unable to get around easily. When Father Pat retired he took it upon himself to do such little things for others, without being asked and without being noticed too much’

It was only in its absence that many saw clearly the quiet, loving thoughtfulness of Father Pat, just as Lucy saw clearly in its absence what she longed for. Father Pat, who had experienced being expelled from China five years after going there, followed by many years of service as a priest in Japan, interrupted for a couple of years because of poor health, was able to choose to show us the Father to his brother priests, without fanfare. Lucy through her immature behaviour was crying out, without being aware of it, to be ‘shown the Father’.

We are in the middle of the Easter Season when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, celebrating that fact that, in the words of St Peter in the second reading today, that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). God’s mighty acts are perhaps most often seen in the ‘little acts’ of those around us.

The readings invite us to see the Father’s presence in the daily realities of our lives, the many blessings that come to us through others and that we often don’t see clearly as blessings. And the readings invite us to be aware of the many ‘Lucys’ around us who in one way or another are crying out, Show us the Father.
‘Lucy’ would be in her mid-50s now. I’ve no idea what became of her but perhaps each of us might offer a prayer for her.



 

 

Antiphonaad Communionem  Cf Jn 15:1, 5

Ego sum vitis vera et vos palmites, dicit Dominus;

 qui manet in me et ego in eo, hic fecit fructum multum, alleluia.

 
Communion Antiphon  Cf John 15:1, 5

I am the true vine and you are the branches, says the Lord.

Whoever remains in me, and I in him, bears fruit in plenty, alleluia.

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SILENCE ABOUT CHILD ABUSE IS A CRIME. Fr Shay Cullen’s Reflections, 15 May 2014

Christ as the Man of Sorrows, Albrecht Dürer, c.1493

Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe [Web Gallery of Art]

 

SILENCE ABOUT CHILD ABUSE IS A CRIME

By Fr Shay Cullen

There is growing international clamor for the filtering and blocking of child pornography and cyber-sex on the internet. The Philippine National Telecommunications Commission NTC) is under national and international spotlight for not implementing the anti-child porn law law since 2009. They have promised to do it by June, five years late. Why?

It was the death of a 17-year-old boy in Scotland that led to the international outcry and investigation into a criminal syndicate in the Philippines that uses the internet and cybersex chat rooms to extort money from youngsters but drives them to suicide.

They use young women on computers connected to the internet to contact and cajole young teenagers and older men to expose themselves and perform some sex act in the privacy of their room before an internet-connected camera, thinking they are in a relationship over the internet.

Unknown to them, the act is recorded in a distant country by the perpetrators as in the Philippines, and the criminals then say they recorded it and threaten the victim to make it public to his or her family and friends unless they pay big money to the extortionist.

As many as 470 such cases of ‘sextortion’ (as it is called) was reported to police in Hong Kong in 2013 and 160 were exploited through this cybersex trap this year alone. But thousands more are ashamed to go to the police and they just pay.

Detective Chief Inspector Gary Cunningham of Police Scotland told the media that he was acting on the request of the boy’s family to catch the criminals. With many more such crimes being reported, an international investigation was launched with the help of US Homeland Security, Interpol and Philippine National Police and it succeeded in arresting 58 Filipino suspects.

If the NTC makes good on its promise to enforce the 2009 Anti-child Pornography law, the foreign- and Philippine-owned Internet Service Providers (ISPs) would have to obey the law and block such disgusting images of trafficking and cut down the cybersex abuse. Children are used in this kind of internet abuse too and they are traumatized and damaged for life.

The criminals and many in government and industry laugh at the law and say the images are just child’s play; but it is criminal paedophile play. But they have never seen these horrific images; if they did they would be committing a crime just bypossessing and viewing them. So they have to believe the investigating police, the therapists and socials workers who rescue and treat the victims. What the common person and ISP money-taking tycoons must come to know is that the illegal content passing through their servers, computers,and cellphone towers is child rape and horrific acts of sexual abuse of children, some as young as three.

Every such photograph and video of child sexual abuse is a cruel criminal act of abuse. The fact that the ISPs and cellphone companies do not block the abusive images, where there are so many software methods to do so, is presumed to be for money. Their inaction and failure to follow, respect and implement the law is in fact an act of silence. Doing nothing is a grave sin of omission and complicity in crime.

Their silence is tacit approval. Correct me if I am wrong please. I and the nation would love to hear the side of the corporate tycoons and their shareholders that allow and enable this abuse to happen.

How can it happen when government are so strict and punitive to vulnerable and helpless street children and beats and jails them in filthy, infested prison cells? Are the good and honest executives of the NTC going to really implement the law?

They have stated that they will in June 2014. We are waiting to applaud and praise them. The ISPs and all internet service providers have to comply. It should have happened in 2010. Hundreds of thousands of children have since suffered abuse when they could have been saved.

Church, government and civil society groups have been shamefully silent for too long. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has made some lame statement but it falls far short of a loud, non-stop campaign, like that which some bishops and priests and lay-people mounted against the reproductive health act. They have sinned grievously against children by not speaking out and advocating the respect and implementation of the law to block child pornography and cybersex online. The law, if implemented, will greatly reduce  child abuse. Pope Francis has called for such action. Will the Filipino Bishops obey?

It is good to hear that in Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Bishop Pedro D. Arigo has spoken out, just a lone voice in the great wilderness of child abuse, calling for an end to ‘sex tourism’ and cybersex online. He needs many more to join his call and shout from the house tops as Jesus of Nazareth told us to do. Faith without action is dead, says St James in The New Testament. Our faith should drive us with courage to fight this evil and never let it grow and swallow our children.

Each one of us must answer for this. Blame others, yes, if there is clear evidence of abuse and exploitation but blame ourselves if we have done nothing to save the children and end the suicides.

[shaycullen@preda.org; www.preda.org]

Fr Shay Cullen’s columns are published in The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and online.

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Columban Fr Peter Doyle RIP

Fr Peter Doyle (died 21 March 2014)

The Good News Priest

by Fr Gary Walker 

 

Columban Fr Peter Doyle was farewelled from St Francis Xavier Church in West Mackay, Queensland by Bishop Emeritus, Rev Brian Heenan and a large contingent of priests and people who filled the Church on 2 April.

The homilist for the Requiem Mass was Fr Gary Walker, the Regional Director of the Columban Fathers in Australia and New Zealand.

Lima, Peru, where Fr Doyle worked for many years.

Since Fr Peter stipulated that he did not want flowers or a eulogy at his funeral service, Columban Fr Walker used readings to reflect the kind of priest that Fr Peter was. He was a Good News priest, like Jesus the High priest. He was compassionate and generous to the people whom he served and finally he was ‘a man of God’; a man and priest with a well-developed sense of humor who was nevertheless serious about the ‘things of God’.

Columbans in Lima, Peru, remember him with cash stuffed into his shirt pocket and clearly visible to anyone ‘on the make’. He was one of the easiest ‘touches’ in town and people came from far and wide to try their luck with Peter. He would give the shirt off his back to those in need and that of any Columban who left a shirt hanging from a chair in the priest’s house.

He was deeply appreciated by the parishioners because of his capacity to listen and empathize. His sense of humor was a great asset in his work and in the final analysis, he was a very humble man. He knew his limitations and still did whatever was requested of him.

Pioneer Valley, west of Mackay, Queensland

Peter John Doyle was a local from Marian, just outside Mackay, where his father was a cane farmer. After primary school with the Sisters of Mercy at Marian, and secondary school with the Christian Brothers at Yeppoon, Peter completed his teacher training in Brisbane and taught in Queensland State Schools for three years during 1959-1961.

He entered Pius X seminary in Brisbane in 1962 and was ordained a priest for the Rockhampton diocese in 1968 by Bishop Francis Rush at St Patrick’s Church, Mackay. His first appointment was as assistant priest in Bundaberg, 1969-1973, where he became friends with the Kinne family, (their son, Warren is now a Columban missionary priest in Shanghai, China).

Cane workers, Bundaberg, where Fr Peter served. His father was a cane farmer.

Bishop Francis Rush had a scheme of sending priests from the Diocese of Rockhampton to New Guinea. Peter spent three years at the Catholic Mission, Burlei, in Wewak Diocese. On his return, he was appointed to St Joseph’s parish in North Mackay, but after three years he asked for permission to become a Priest Associate with the Columban Fathers and was assigned to Lima, Peru. Six years later, Peter applied to become a permanent member of the Missionary Society of St Columban in 1987 and remained in parishes in Lima until 1998 when he returned to Australia.

Near Wewak, Papua New Guinea

Ill health became an issue for Fr Peter and in 2008 he retired to St Francis of Assisi Nursing Home in Mackay under the splendid care of the Franciscan Sisters. The nursing home became his ‘parish’ and each morning after Mass he would do the rounds greeting the people, staff and carers.

He celebrated his last Mass with some assistance on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March, and insisted on saying a few words in honor of St Patrick.

He died quietly on Friday afternoon 21 March in contrast to his sometimes boisterous life. He was buried in the family plot at Walkerston
outside of Mackay.

May he rest in peace.

Stained glass window of St Patrick

All photos, except that of Fr Doyle, are from Wikipedia.

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