NAVAL, Biliran, Oct. 23, 2011—Some 5,000 devotees of Sto. Niño and St. Therese of the Infant Jesus packed the town’s main road and later the Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary as they welcomed the pilgrim image of the Infant Jesus and St. Therese for the “Duaw Sto. Nino”, at the diocese.

Time literally and figuratively stood still as the Philippine Navy’s “Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas Emilio Aquinaldo” docked at the pier with the revered icon of the Sto. Nino de Cebu.

Naval Bishop Filomeno Bactol said the visit of the Sto. Niño to the diocese is a reminder to the faithful that God came to the world and was once a child to underscore the need to love children and life.

He said the Sto. Nino’s message is simple, that life is precious, that we should all learn to value.

Bactol mentioned in his homily the “Caravan for Life” led by Dr. Rene Bullecer with the image of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace, which the diocese hosted on Thursday.

“They left Cebu for Maasin and passed by several towns and Ormoc on the way to Naval,” the prelate said.

He underscored the importance of the “Caravan for Life” as certain sectors continue to push for the passage of the Reproductive Health bill at the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives.

“And now (Friday), the son of Mary, the Senor Sto. Nino accompanied by St. Therese, are now in our midst with the same purpose – evangelization,” the 71-year old prelate said.

He acknowledged the important role of the Augustinian friars led by Fr. Tito Sioquino, as they prepare for the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippines.

“How lucky we are, how fortunate we are that Sto. Nino, in his first visit outside of Cebu, he visited Biliran which was once part of Leyte where Magellan first landed,” the bishop further said.

Need for evangelization cited

Bactol said the human family is veering away from God, which made His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI prepare for a synod of bishops on evangelization.

He said bishops throughout the world will be invited to initiate programs to bring back more people to God, stressing that God created the world and ordered men to take care of His creation.

“Bantayi an kapalibutan because we are destroying the world as manifested in global warming with fewer but stronger typhoons in the country,” he added. He said he could not recall any super typhoon during his younger days.

He called on the faithful to mend their ways and take active part in preventing global warming. He said foreign substances and plastics have been thrown into the sea destroying the once-pristine marine environment.

He explained the Holy Father has called on everyone to do his share in taking care of the environment.

“Why is the Reproductive Health bill objectionable?” the prelate asked. He said though the bill mentions “health,” it simply introduces unhealthful measures “which puts life in danger.”

“How can contraceptives be considered essential drugs as mentioned in the reproductive health bill?” he further asked.

“Long before God came as a child, God gave us the Ten Commandments, the fifth of which says ‘Thou shalt not kill’,” he said.

He reminded the faithful not only to take care of plants and animals but most importantly, “to take care of human life.” (Melo Acuna)


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