MANILA, July 9, 2016— The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines urged its bishops to stand up against what is wrong and express the teachings of the Church even if turns to the ‘wilderness.’
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP President, was addressing the bishops at the start of their 113th Plenary Assembly on Saturday.
The prelate spoke the importance of critical collaboration and dialogue with the secular world, trying always to courageously express the Church’s teachings.
After all, he told the more than 100 bishops in attendance that “our call is not to be successful but to be faithful.”
“We will teach, even it seems like a voice in a hostile wilderness, till the day we die, that right is right and wrong and wrong and we will not withdraw from mission of the Lord,” Villegas said.
The CBCP head urged the bishops to take a more active stand in defending for what is right and resisting the moral wrong.
“We will stand and defend every person’s life and dignity. We will shield the weak from harm. We will protect the confused from error,” said Villegas.
“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teacher and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths,” he said.
Elsewhere in his address, the archbishop recalled the Church path of faith towards the path of justice especially during the Marcos dictatorship.
This path, he said, made yet another turn to towards the peace and development under the post 1986 people power revolution.
“We were consulted as bishops; we were heard and respected. Our recommendations were mostly heeded,” Villegas said.
But the turning to peace and development made yet another dramatic twist with the passage of the reproductive health law as a turning point, he lamented.
“It felt like we were voices in the wilderness proclaiming a teaching that our people could not identify with. Our pastoral letters were unheeded, mocked and ignored,” he said.
“We were speaking a language that our flock could not understand. When we appealed for morality, our people laughed at vulgarity. When we challenged indecency, we were despised and ridiculed as archaic.”
“When we preached about marriage and family life, we were dismissed as uninformed bachelors. We are called shameless hypocrite children of whores,” said Villegas.
He reminded his fellow bishops that the wilderness is also for purification and prayer, the returning to the basics without the trappings and icings.
“The wilderness beckons us to stay with the Lord and return to the essentials. The wilderness tests our readiness for martyrdom,” Villegas added.
While the Church may be a voice gone hoarse proclaiming Christ in the wilderness with only a handful listening, he also said it is in the wilderness that “the best in us shines forth.”
“I charge you proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching,” Villegas said. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)