LOVING SERVICE FOR TOTAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION
1. The dignity of the human person rests on his being created in the image of God (Cf. Gen. 1:27-31). From the beginning, God has always upheld the dignity of the human person by endowing him with rights that emanate from human nature. With this comes the responsibility of partaking in God’s mission for the good of the rest of humanity.
2. God willed to call all men separated by sin and to gather them into one as his people and his family, the Church.1 Through the Church, it is hoped that God’s design for the total human development of every person as an individual and as a member of a community will be realized. Together, humankind will achieve the very end of their earthly existence, which is to share in the life of God in eternity. Thus the fulfillment of God’s plan that the Church, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, should become a community of disciples of Christ, a family of meek believers,2 will already be fulfilled.
3. The renewal of the Church requires her self-examination. Is she truly an instrument of promoting loving service for total human development and social transformation?3
4. This document has eight (8) chapters that deal with the different aspects of total human development and social transformation: (1) Social Justice, (2) Formation of Social Awareness, (3) Sectoral Groups for Human Rights, (4) Alay-Kapwa, (5) Eco-Feminism: Valuing Women’s Rights and Nature, (6) Housing and Land Projects, (7) Cooperative, and (8) Means of Raising Funds for the Apostolate of the Church. At the end of this document is a list of concrete recommendations for the action of the Church.
5. Although not all human beings are alike as regards physical, intellectual, and moral powers, the equality of their dignity as human persons behooves each and everyone to promote a just and humane social environment for the entire society.4 This understanding continuously invites us to create a social order that is founded in TRUTH, built on JUSTICE, and enlivened by LOVE.
6. The Philippine Constitution provides that social justice must be for everyone.6 The government has the responsibility to find ways and means to give its constituents equal opportunities to order their lives in society under the maxim that values above all their well-being as human persons.
7. The meaning and purport of social justice are broad in scope, and the people must understand this since the power to make social justice prevail rests upon them.
8. The Church can play a significant part in bringing the people towards an understanding of the meaning of the so-called “social justice.” The truth of this concept must be made manifest not only as a teaching but as a way of life of the Church, foremost in the community of priests and in their relation with the laity and the society, rich and poor alike, without any bias.
FORMATION OF SOCIAL AWARENESS
9. The book of Genesis states, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner (Gen. 2:18). Hence, a human person has a relation to his fellow human beings. He also has a relation to the world and everything in it. As God’s steward, he exercises dominion over the things on earth so that he can use them for God’s glory. Above all, a human being has a relation to God, who created him.7 The human person is in need of redemption. Humankind is in need of renewal in order that it may become an instrument of salvation. It is therefore important that a broad and deep knowledge of man in his entire being body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will be achieved.
10. A necessary accompaniment to this is the formation of social awareness on which depends a social order that is conducive to the salvation of people and the renewal of the entire humanity.9 It is thus a duty on the part of the Church to guide and form the human person in the acquisition of an adequate social awareness so that he can live in accordance with the message of the Gospel. This can be concretely realized if all come together to examine and evaluate the social issues, as well as to respond to the challenges of the present times with collective effort, aided by the social doctrines of the Catholic Church. This must be regarded as a mission of the Church.
11. In the consultation with the faithful conducted before this synod, those who claimed that they have adequate social awareness are almost as many as those who claimed that they do not. They were nonetheless one in recognizing the Church’s efforts in fostering social awareness among the people. They held the view that the bishops, priests, religious women, and the laity who possess adequate knowledge of this field, are the primary agents in this undertaking.10 This mindset indicates that they expect a lot from the Church. Following in the list of those expected to instill social awareness are the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), schools, and public officials.
SECTORAL GROUPS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
12. It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner (Gen. 2:18). A person needs his neighbor so that he can live, become fruitful, and attain the fullness of his dignity as a child of God. Although he needs other people, he also has the duty to love them just as he loves himself, to respect them as human beings created in the image of God, to serve them to the best of his abilities, and to help them achieve the fullness of life. If justice spurs a person to respect his fellowmen, charity gives justice its perfection.
13. Aside from what the Sacred Scriptures assert with regard to human rights, the Philippine Constitution11 also provides for these rights. Nevertheless, insufficient knowledge and understanding of these things often deter people from exercising them. Furthermore, ignorance on how to use these rights leads people to violate them.
14. More often than not, a human person is incapable of defending his dignity against systematic denigration. Hence, people need to unite their strength and action in order to form a group or sector that will promote their dignity. The Constitution allows such measure, as seen in the formation of labor unions and other sectors representing various collective interests and welfare like the sectoral representatives in the Congress. The Church also favors this, provided that all their actions do not in any way violate the rights of others and that they remain in accord with the teachings of the Church and the Gospel.
15. Since almost all people, particularly the unborn babies, the youth, women, laborers, the poor, the elderly, the uneducated, and those who languish in prison, in one way or another experience a sort of violation of their rights in the different aspects of life, the Church and the community of the faithful must be at the forefront in promoting the welfare of the aforementioned sectors.
16. The people, on whose power depends the realization of human rights, must therefore acquire awareness and understanding of their rights so that they can use and protect them, so that they can respect the rights of others, and so that all can achieve justice and fraternal charity, which will result in peace.
17. The government, the Church, and the society at large need to unite their efforts in fostering awareness of human rights and the duties that they entail.12
18. The Church to which we belong and which we serve as a community of persons offers a new vision. This is stated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and based on the Sacred Scriptures. The Lord clearly said, You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Mt. 22:37-39). In fact, the only way to love God is by loving one’s neighbor. Jesus said to his disciples, I give you a new commandment: love one another (Jn. 13:34-35). In the First Letter of John we read, If anyone says: “I love God” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 Jn. 4:20).
19. Everyone, therefore, has a duty towards his neighbor. This is a luminous measure of our love for God. Nobody lives for his own self; nobody dies for his own self. We are all responsible for one another; God has gathered us all unto himself.13 Hence, it is the responsibility of each and everyone to promote the good of his fellowmen.
20. The document Gaudium et Spes asserts, In the face of modern developments, there is a growing body of men who are asking the most fundamental of all questions or are glimpsing them with a keener insight: What is man? What is the meaning of suffering, evil, death, which have not been eliminated by all this progress?…What can man contribute to society? What can he expect from it?14
21. It is lamentable that today, with what we have achieved in terms of economic development and industrialization, the number of those who suffer from destitution is enormous. Many of our people are homeless, sick, and starving.15 Performing acts of charity and helping those in such miserable conditions with their total human development in view refer to what is called ALAY-KAPWA: the sharing of time, talent, and treasure with our neighbor.
22. Many years have gone by since the program ALAY-KAPWA was launched in the diocese. The Diocese of Lucena was among those that first responded to the call of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to entrust the implementation of this program to the Social Action Center, the arm of the works of service. Since then, the dissemination of information on this program has been intensified in all parishes; it has been particularly pointed out that the said program is the sharing of time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of our neighbors, especially those who are in need. The implementation of this program has continued until now, and the giving of aid through the Alay-Kapwa envelopes is done from the start of the Lenten season until Easter Sunday. The First Synod of Lucena asserts, It must be made clear to everyone that Alay-Kapwa is not a program of collecting funds for dole-out but a program leading from development to liberation, from social welfare to social justice, from community development to community organization.16
23. As this program has been in practice long before, the result of the survey recently conducted in the parishes reflects the present status of the Alay-Kapwa Program in the diocese. Many parishes admitted their lack of sufficient knowledge of this program, and the majority of parishes claimed only little knowledge of it. How was this knowledge acquired? It was basically through the explication of priests and religious organizations in seminars, lectures, and promotions with Alay-Kapwa envelopes. The act of sharing or the spirit of Alay-Kapwa is then largely seen in the giving of financial aid or sharing of treasure. Although this is just one aspect of the program, this continues to be the primary source of aid given to those in need not only in the diocese but in the greater part of the Church in the Philippines. Ignorance of this program and poverty often hinder people from sharing with others.
ECO-FEMINISM: VALUING WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND NATURE
24. Compared with all other creatures, the human person is unique, of importance, and possesses dignity beyond compare. It is only man who is created in God’s image: Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness (Gen. 1:26). All men have the same nature and origin and, being redeemed by Christ, they enjoy the same divine calling and destiny…Forms of social or cultural discrimination in basic personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language or religion, must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.17
25. The dignity of the human person, who is created in the image of God, entails various duties: towards his life, his neighbor, and the world in which he lives.
26. Since human beings are temples of God, the life they have received from him must be safeguarded and totally offered back to him. The Sacred Scriptures say, May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes. 5:23).
27. People’s misunderstanding of the patriarchal context of the Bible with respect to the governance of the world can lead them to treat women as inferior creatures. In the view of a patriarchal society, women are inferior to men, a notion from which often spring injustice and violation of women’s rights.
28. The Church of the Poor offers a new culture in order to replace the oppressive patriarchal culture with one that nurtures and cares.18 In our present society, however, women and nature are so utilized that instead of giving and caring for life these acts characterize them they are abused and disrespected. This leads to a relationship marked by disdain.
29. Poverty and lack of proper education draw many women to a wretched condition. They are deprived of opportunities to find decent means of livelihood.
30. When God created the earth, he made it whole and beautiful, filled with all things that humankind need in order that they may live with dignity. Hence, they are duty-bound to protect and nurture the earth. The human person is created over all earthly creatures that he might rule them, and make use of them, while glorifying God.19 Men and women both share in this responsibility. Though they are different from one another, they have equality and both possess the capacity to make up for each other’s limitations. God has put all other creatures under their collaborative stewardship. Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth (Gen. 1:28).
31. As stewards of God, human beings are free to make use of and cultivate the earth in order to further elevate their dignity as persons and enrich the gifts that God has bestowed upon them. Every individual person has the right to the fullness of life made possible by the things of this earth.
32. Humankind should not ravage the earth given to them by God. Every pillage committed by human beings against the earth shows the abuse of the resources with which God has endowed them. It is therefore the duty of all human beings, as stewards of God, to use the earth properly and cultivate it so that every human person can lead an orderly, peaceful, and dignified life.
HOUSING AND LAND PROJECTS
33. The mission of the Church includes the giving of aid and doing acts of charity. This truth is clearly stated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Wherever men are to be found who are in want of food and drink, of clothing, housing… Christian charity should go in search of them…comfort them with devoted care and give them the helps that will relieve their needs.20
34. In like manner, the catechism of the Church teaches that respecting one’s neighbor means respecting the rights emanating from his dignity as a person.21 One of the fundamental rights that human dignity entails is the right to a decent shelter.
35. It is reported that in Lucena City alone, there are 24,500 poor families that are homeless. This figure was determined at the end of the year 2003, and it is assumed that the actual number of homeless families exceeds this figure. It is reasonable to assume that in other parts of the Diocese of Lucena, there are great numbers of people who are in the same condition. It therefore behooves the particular Church in Lucena to give particular attention to housing and land projects.
36. The attention accorded by the Church to the issue of housing and her insistence on calling for decent shelter touch three considerations: (1) A simple home is indeed important if a human being can realize in it the fullness of his dignity as a person and as a member of a family; (2) The Church’s effort in finding solutions to the problem of poverty is a sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God; and (3) The mission of the Church includes giving aid and performing charitable acts so that society can become more just and humane. In the light of the foregoing, the act of providing shelter for the homeless is a concrete expression not only of mere support but of the very message of the Gospel; hence it is a reflection of Christian faith.22
37. Each person no matter how poor and uneducated is endowed with an inalienable dignity as an image of God, a child of God, redeemed by God and entrusted with an eternal destiny. Each person has to be respected as equal member of the human family, actively participating towards the common good in solidarity with others.23 A cooperative responds to this objective by improving the livelihood and promoting the financial freedom of each person.
38. To date, a cooperative directly managed by the Church is yet to be established in the diocese. This matter is important since it is one way of achieving the Church’s objective of promoting the development of the people not only in their spiritual dimension but in their temporal state as well.
39. Establishing a cooperative will help in responding to the Church’s aim of giving an alternative source of revenue and social system wherein wealth is equally shared among many rather than placed at the hands of the wealthy few. It is a system that will make use of local sources for the people’s development instead of allowing these sources to be misused by others. It is a system that will enable people to partake in making decisions on matters affecting their lives instead of obstructing their freedom.
MEANS OF RAISING FUNDS FOR THE APOSTOLATE OF THE CHURCH
40. The parishioners as well as the lay leaders should join hands with their priests in building their parish into a worshipping, learning and serving community.24 By sharing their time, talent, and treasure, they are able to fulfill their mission of building not only a decent, orderly, serene, and beautiful place of worship but also a community of Christians which is regarded as the true Churchthe faithful called by God to be his people.
41. There are various ways of supporting the Church. It can be through either tithingthe sharing of ten percent of each product or property as a token of gratitude to Godor the Arancel system. Although there are other means of raising funds such as the Alay-Kapwa, donations, and other fund-raising projects, the tithing and Arancel systems are the most commonly used in various dioceses. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines asserts, however, that thing, after a good pastoral catechesis, shall be introduced with the end view of the gradual abolition of the Arancel system.
42. In the Old Testament, the practice of tithing began when people remembered Yahweh’s command that all tithes must be given to the temple and the poor. God so ordered this in order that not only the poor may be properly taken care of, but also the foreigners in the land, the widows and orphans, and most especially the Levites, who were not given a share in the inherited land (Cf. Lev. 27:30-32; Dt. 14:22, 28-29). Even surpassing this was the practice recorded in the New Testament: All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need (Acts 2:44-45). Today this practice has taken different forms. It is called “stewardship” since it shows that every person carries a responsibility to his neighbor and that aside from treasure, talent and time can also be shared. It is also called Kusang-Loob na Paghahandog sa Diyos (KLPD) since it reflects the openness of people to voluntarily supporting the Church according to their capacity.
43. Another system is called Arancel. This is a means of showing the unity and the support that every Christian accords his religion and in which every service rendered by the minister has a corresponding amount of donation. This is donation and not payment, for one cannot pay in any amount the graces conferred through the sacraments. That is why any person should not be deprived of the sacraments, especially if he is poor and if administering the sacraments free from any form of financial burden is urgently called for (gratis).26 The Arancel is used to fund the pastoral projects of the diocese and parishes as well as to address the right of priests to a decent life. When clerics dedicated themselves to the ecclesiastical ministry, they deserve a remuneration which is consistent with their condition in accord with the nature of the office itself and with the conditions of time and place. By this remuneration, they should be able to provide for the necessities of their own life and for the equitable payment of those whose services they need.27
MARY, THE HUMBLE SERVANT OF THE LORD
44. The very life of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an embodiment of a loving service of God and neighbor. Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word (Lk. 1:38), Mary said in response to the announcement of the angel Gabriel. She clearly considers herself as a doulē a Greek word used to refer to a “female slave.” She committed her whole life to an unconditional obedience to God’s will and loving service to his people in the spirit of submission as a humble servant.
45. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Like Mary, blessed are they who offer themselves in loving service of God and others for now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life (Rom. 6:22).
CALL TO ACTION
From the discussions and consultations conducted in the parishes and institutions, the recommendations (Call to Action) calling for the concrete action of the Church in her response to the call of genuine service are enumerated below.
I. SOCIAL JUSTICE
CTA-1. The topic of social justice must be expounded through homilies and publications.
CTA-2. Priests must see to it that they spend time outside their rectories in order to live and mingle with the poor and not confine themselves to the company of the rich.
CTA-3. An open relationship between the Church and the government is of extreme necessity if the latter is to truly understand the position of the Church.
CTA-4. Priests and lay leaders of the Church must respect and hold in high esteem the dignity of the poor in the parish.
CTA-5. The Church must conscientiously listen to and establish connection with the victims of abuses and injustices. They must be supported legally and financially.
CTA-6. The Church must openly assist in promoting livelihood programs and actively campaigning against drugs and illegal gambling.
CTA-7. The Church must properly address issues related to social justice in her own jurisdiction and give attention to the welfare of Church workers by seeing to it that they are justly compensated.
CTA-8. A group of Catholic lawyers who are willing to provide free legal assistance to the poor shall be organized.
II. FORMATION OF SOCIAL AWARENESS
CTA-10. Reading materials on the formation of social awareness must be regularly published and distributed for free or sold at a reasonable price.
CTA-11. The Church and the government must collaborate in organizing programs for the purpose of promoting social awareness.
CTA-12. A wide variety of means of propagating social awareness such as songs, drama, and others, must be employed.
CTA-13. People with adequate knowledge shall hold regular meetings so as to develop social awareness.
CTA-14. Seminars, fora, discussions, study groups, regular information drives, and others must be conducted in order to promote social awareness.
CTA-15. Pastoral letters regarding the formation of social awareness must be continuously published.
CTA-16. The radio, newspaper, magazines, and even religious organizations must be used as instruments of instilling an informed social awareness among the faithful.
CTA-17. Home visitations must also be conducted if the Church is to truly see the concrete circumstance of life of the faithful and preach the Word of God to them.
CTA-18. The issues concerning social awareness must be brought to the attention of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).
CTA-19. A People’s Day, where social issues can be publicly discussed, must be observed twice a year.
CTA-20. Formation on politics must be conducted in the parishes not only during election periods. The Church shall spearhead the formation of an inter-sectoral and inter-faith council for the people’s continuing formation on politics.
III. SECTORAL GROUPS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
CTA-21. Since the poor are commonly the victims of violation of human rights, it must be ensured that poverty, which is often caused by corruption in the different sectors of society, particularly the government, is to a certain degree lessened, if not totally eradicated. In this regard, coordination between the Church and the government as well as Non-Government Organizations is of extreme importance.
CTA-22. The people must be led towards an informed awareness of their inherent rights and the need to act collectively in order to promote these rights.
CTA-23. Education must be improved and people must be trained in critical thinking and communal discernment.
CTA-24. Organizations that will promote equality of rights and oversee the application of the laws to all people must be established.
CTA-25. In order to ensure the growth and dissemination of the Alay-Kapwa program, a holistic approach must be adopted in order to respond to both the spiritual and physical dimensions of people.
CTA-26. Steps shall be taken in order to continue the dissemination of information about the Alay-Kapwa program. A massive campaign in this regard is of importance.
CTA-27. Transparency is a necessity. The successful projects as well as the list of beneficiaries of the Alay-Kapwa program must be published in the Boletin Lucentino.
CTA-28. The Alay-Kapwa envelopes must be distributed at the earliest time possible.
CTA-29. The sharing of talent and time of those who are in no position to offer material resources must be duly recognized.
CTA-30. Guidelines on where the proceeds of the Alay-Kapwa collection should go must be clarified and implemented in all the parishes of the diocese.
V. ECO-FEMINISM: VALUING WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND NATURE
CTA-31. An organization that will take charge of promoting awareness of and protecting and defending the rights and welfare of women must be established. Creating a special desk in the diocese for this purpose will be of inestimable value.
CTA-32. An institution that will house women who are victims of abuse, maltreatment, and cruelty must be established.
CTA-33. The campaign against prostitution and forced labor among women must be firmly supported.
CTA-34. Religious organizations exclusively for women must also be promoted.
CTA-35. Women must be given the opportunity to assume higher offices suited to their particular situations both in the Church and in the government.
CTA-36. All people must be led towards an informed awareness of responsible and proper use of natural resources.
CTA-37. Any project of the government that is by no means friendly to the environment must be openly opposed.
CTA-38. The “plant a tree” project must be promoted and propagated in the entire diocese.
CTA-39. The Church must intensify her involvement in environmental issues.
CTA-40. Adequate support must be given to the Tanggol-Kalikasan movement.
VI. HOUSING AND LAND PROJECTS
CTA-41. The Church shall coordinate with the government and NGOs regarding housing and land projects.
CTA-42. Information on these projects must be properly disseminated among the members of religious organizations so as to obtain their commitment to the realization of the said projects.
CTA-43. An intensive evaluation of all the angles of the implementation of the said projects must be undertaken.
CTA-44. Land donations from the government, NGOs, and well-off private citizens shall be sought. The Church shall also collaborate with organizations and agencies that spearhead housing projects like Couples for Christ (CFC), Habitat for Humanity, Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-ibig), and others.
CTA-45. Funds must be raised and used to assist the poor in starting their own businesses that can help them eventually acquire their own houses.
CTA-46. Prospective beneficiaries of housing projects must be carefully screened and examined to ensure that they are truly in need.
CTA-47. The establishment of too many cooperatives must be discouraged so as to avoid the occurrence of unhealthy competition.
CTA-48. There should be only one cooperative in each community. This cooperative will provide for basic services such as savings and loans, educ-consumer goods, insurance, housing, agricultural technology and products, medical and legal services, and others.
CTA-49. Expertise in the management of a cooperative shall be strictly required of would-be officers, directors, and officials.
CTA-50. The supervision of the day-to-day operations of the cooperative shall be entrusted to laypeople. The Church shall, however, throw her full support in this project, and the bishop and priests shall provide spiritual direction to its lay officials in order to keep aflame the spirit of apostolate in this kind of work.
CTA-51. Since this is a work of apostolate of the Church, a reasonably low interest rate must be adopted.
VIII. MEANS OF RAISING FUNDS FOR THE APOSTOLATE OF THE CHURCH
CTA-52. The faithful shall be enjoined to acquire an adequate understanding of the Christian Stewardship program or Kusang-Loob na Paghahandog sa Diyos (KLPD), which must be enthusiastically promoted as a diocesan program.
CTA-53. The priests must set an example of a simple lifestyle so that everyone can be enjoined to come to the help of those in need as a means of reinvigorating the apostolate of the Church.
CTA-54. Income-generating projects, except solicitations, shall be organized.
CTA-55. Livelihood projects and a cooperative shall henceforth be established.
CTA-56. Income derived from diocesan and parochial assets as well as from diocesan and parochial-controlled entities must be used wisely.
CTA-57. The Alay-Kapwa program, including its envelopes, must be properly supported.
CTA-58. While the tithing system is not yet completely implemented in the entire diocese, the Arancel system must still be used.
CTA-59. The state of the Church’s finances shall be made public through transparency. In this manner, the people shall all the more become generously open to extending assistance in support of the projects and apostolate of the Church.
CTA-60. The lay leaders shall take charge of directly addressing the issue on funding and the priests shall serve as advisers and spiritual guides.
CTA-61. It is strongly recommended that a moratorium (of 3-5 years) on all constructions and solicitations be implemented. Once all the constructions in the parishes, initiated before the effectivity of this moratorium, have been completed, all attention must be directed to the allocation of funds for the apostolate of the Church, particularly the completion of the college seminary.