Pope Francis encyclical welcomed; Filipino elected to Franciscan curia in Rome

POPE Francis’ new encyclical, “Laudato Si,” has generally been welcomed by the Philippine Church.

“While the social encyclicals from ‘Rerum Novarum’ till ‘Caritas in Veritate’ analyzed the socioeconomic structures that breed inequality and cause a large number of people to live lives that are hardly in accord with their dignity as God’s children, ‘Laudato Si’ shifts the focus to the care of creation,” noted Fr. Gerard “Gert” Francisco P. Timoner III, OP, provincial of the Philippine Dominican Province and member of the International Theological Commission, which advises the Pope.

Although previous social encyclicals such as Pope Benedict XVI’s “Caritas in Veritate” and St. John Paul II’s “Centisimus Annus” discussed environmental protection, “Laudato Si” is “the first one that has made a clear ‘ecological turn’ in the social teaching tradition,” Fr. Timoner added.

“Such turn is not entirely new because religious and ecclesial communities have long acknowledged the nexus between the advocacy for justice and peace with the concern for care of creation,” the Dominican friar explained. “This is clearly indicated in renaming the promotion of ‘justice and peace’ (JP) to “justice, peace and integrity of creation (JPIC) or ‘justice, peace and care of creation’ (JPCC).

“In a sense, the encyclical is a papal affirmation of such shift: ‘I will point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected’ (LS, 16).”

Father Timoner said the Bible, particularly Genesis, points to creation as God’s handiwork and that creatures, including man, are “connected in God.” He added that the Pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, “celebrates such connectedness with a song of praise to God for Brother Sun and Sister Moon, for Brother Wind and Sister Water, and for Brother Water.”

How might Filipinos understand such hymn?

“Filipinos are family-oriented,” Timoner said. “The Filipino term for brother or sister is ‘kapatid’ (synonym, ‘utol’ from ‘kaputol’), which points to ‘shared life’ because our umbilical cords were cut i.e., ‘pinatid’ or ‘pinutol’ from the same womb. Thus, to sing St. Francis’ song of praise to God for ‘brother sun’ and ‘sister moon’ is to acknowledge a shared origin in God’s Fatherhood.”

From this theological starting point, the encyclical proceeds to outline the “moral imperative” to care for our “common home,” Timoner said.

Six-year term

After more than 400 years since the Order of Friars Minors (OFM), or Franciscans, arrived from Spain in 1578, a Filipino friar, Fr. Lino Gregorio Redoblado, OFM, provincial of San Pedro Bautista Province in the Philippines, was elected in the recent general chapter of the Order in Assisi, Italy, for a six-year-term to the General Council in Rome, to represent Asia-Oceania.

Elected as well as new Philippine provincial and vice-provincial were Fr. Cielo Almazan, OFM, and Fr. Rheu Galoy, OFM.

Prior to his election, Redoblado was president of the Franciscan Conference of East Asia and chair of the Inter-Franciscan Ministers’ Conference in the Philippines, which includes more than 30 Franciscan groups in the country.

Born in Tacloban City, Leyte, to Franco and Lourdes Velasquez on May 25, 1966, Redoblado studied at Our Lady of the Angels Seminary (Olas), in Quezon City.

He made his religious profession on May 31, 1988, was ordained priest on Oct. 22, 1994, and got his degree in philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Antonianum in Rome in 1997.

On June 22, a Mass was offered in Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati, followed by a simple dinner with friars, members of other Franciscan groups, Fr. Greg’s family, as well as parishioners of Santuario. Bro. Jumil Alcasoda. OFM, and Fr. Tony Rosales, OFM, represented the Custody of St. Anthony of Padua, the Franciscan entity for the Visayas and Mindanao.

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