PASTORAL LETTER OF THE PHILIPPINE HIERARCHY
On September 26 of this year our Holy Father Pope Paul VI will reach the venerable age of 80. The whole Catholic world (and we are sure many others) will greet him with filial affection, and will offer prayers of gratitude to God, that in this age of numerous, unprecedented problems, He has given us a wise, courageous, fatherly and saintly pastor. The people of the Philippines wish to add their greeting and prayers to those of the rest of the world and to salute the successor of St. Peter. The successor of Peter! Consider what the title implies.
The Primacy of Peter
Peter even in the time of Christ already enjoyed an undefined primacy among the twelve. He is mentioned more often than the other Apostles; all the evangelists agree in according him a certain de facto leadership, a special intimacy with Christ. This prominence, begun in the life of Christ and obviously intended by Him, became sharper after the Ascension when Peter appears as the acknowledged head of the infant Church.
Christ showed himself the author of this primacy especially in three remarkable incidents. Best known of these is the familiar scene recorded in the 16th chapter of St. Matthew. The passage is as follows:
Powerful though this statement is, more powerful even are the words of Jesus to Peter on the lake shore after the resurrection, because they were conveyed in the shepherd-image so familiar to the Jewish mind and so identified with authority. Three times our Lord drew from St. Peter a profession of love and three times our Lord answered: “Feed my lambs,” “Look after my sheep,” “Feed my sheep”.2 The rest of Christ’s followers, the apostles no less than those of humbler rank were placed in Peter’s charge. He was to lead them, guide them, nourish them.
This explicit mandate at the lake shore echoed a promise previously given at the Last Supper. At that most important moment, when Christ was making his final disposition for His Church, he addressed himself to Peter. “Simon, Simon, Satan has got his wish to shift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.”3 This prophecy is all the more remarkable because it was uttered in the context of the warning of Peter’s falls. Notwithstanding his lamentable manifestation of weakness, Peter would still remain the rock.
The Primary of the Pope
These gifts were obviously not intended only for Peter in his life time. They were for the Church and so would pass on to the successors of Peter, the Bishops of Rome. Not much is known about the early Roman Church but it is significant that whenever this Church appears, the role is a general superintendence over all Christians, an exercise in other words of the primacy. A striking indication of the well-established position of the Bishop of Rome was the authoritative intervention of Pope Clement in the Church of Corinth about the year 90. This is especially significant because John the Apostle was still alive, and his Church of Ephesus was nearer to the erring community.
The Second Vatican Council therefore voices the sense of Sacred Scripture, Catholic belief and history when it says:
One cannot escape the earnest intent of the Council to guard against any misunderstanding or any minimizing of this important truth. The Pope in his own right has authority that is supreme, over all the churches. It is full, over everything pertaining to them. It is immediate, directly touching all members including bishops. It is ordinary, by the very reason of his office and not delegated to him.
If our Lord’s impressive words, the tradition of the Church and the words of the Council tell us something very important about the Pastor, they also tell us something important about the sheep, the whole membership of the Church of which the Pope is the head, rock, key-bearer and shepherd. All without exception are called upon to render Peter’s successor the respect and obedience due to his high position as Supreme Head of the Church.
The Roman Curia — The Pope’s Instrument
Obviously the Pope is not able alone to transact the complex business of governing and instructing the Church. “In exercising supreme, full and immediate power over the universal Church, the Roman Pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia. These therefore perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the Church and in the service of the Sacred Pastors.”5 These departments should therefore be accorded the respect and obedience their position demands.
Pope Paul VI has been concerned to make these auxiliaries more efficient and more sensitive to the needs of the whole Church. Following suggestions of the Second Vatican Council he has internationalized the Curia6 and recruited for it an impressive number of men who have had pastoral experience in governing dioceses in various parts of the world.7
Synod of Bishops
A second instrument to help the Pope in his government is the Synod of Bishops which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wished to see created to help the Sovereign Pontiff. This desire was incorporated in the Decree on the Pastoral Office of the Bishops in the Church.8 Pope Paul responded quickly to the wishes of the Council Fathers and issued a directive setting up the body. The Synod is another indication of the increased influence of the Bishops in the Post-Vatican II Church. At the same time it exemplifies how this influence in the individual bishop is dependent for its realization upon communication with the whole body of bishops under the Holy Father. In other words the synod is an expression of what is called collegiality, by virtue of which every bishop even in the remotest diocese of the world is a bishop of the universal Church, and hence bound to concern for that Church and for all the Churches. Pope Paul’s quick response to the Council’s request for an Episcopal Synod is only one indication of his warm desire to work in great fraternal accord with his fellow bishops throughout the world. He has consistently promoted dialogue and consultation with them, and left to them wide powers to make decisions in problems of their local Churches. In a word he has moved sincerely in the direction of the enhanced episcopal image of the Post Vatican II Church. And all this without in the least sacrificing the prerogatives of his office.
The Teaching Office of the Pope
A very important way in which the Pope and the Bishops exercise their care for all the Churches is through the “magisterium” or teaching office of the Church. The Second Vatican Council says:
This was the foundation of the authentic teaching office in the Church whereby these twelve and their successors, the Bishops, taught and teach with authority the truth of Christ’s kingdom. This official teaching office continues to our day. The bishops as a body have succeeded to the college of Apostles set up by Christ. The Bishops are the divinely appointed teachers of the truths of Christ, but they can only exercise this function in union with the Pope.
The Pope however may act alone and requires neither the consent of the Bishops nor the approval of the faithful. This power is inherent in the primacy by which he is supreme shepherd over all members of the flock without distinction.
The Second Vatican Council says:
If the Pope is vested with this tremendous responsibility and commission from God, the faithful throughout the world will hold his teaching in the highest respect and will accept and implement it loyally. The Council says:
These words of Vatican II remind us that the Holy Father exercises his authentic teaching, namely his official communication of Catholic truth and practise, on two levels. There are the so-called ex cathedra pronouncements, “when in the discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of the supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith and morals to be used by the universal Church.”12 Obviously few of the Holy Father’s statements are meant to bear this solemn character. Nearly always he exercises a less solemn but still authentic, i.e. authoritative, form of teaching, which the Council tells us is to be received with religious assent of soul. An example of this was the Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae on the Regulation of Births.
The Pope — Principle of Unity
In that most solemn moment of Christ’s earthly sojourn, at the Last Supper, when he offered what has been described as his “priestly prayer,” he was very much preoccupied with unity among his followers: unity among those to whom he was then bidding farewell, unity among those who would later join them:
Our Lord’s earnestness is very striking. It would be impossible to express in warmer and more energetic terms the unity that Jesus asks for all the faithful. Nor did Jesus fail to provide a visible principle of unity.
The First Vatican Council had already told us what it was, and the Second Vatican Council repeated this teaching:
It need not be said that we live in times when this unity is greatly strained. There are several ways in which men may depart from unity. They can reject some truth proposed by the Church. Or they can refuse obedience to the Pope. In past centuries men have left the Church by open declarations of dissent. In our day unity is subject to a more subtle and a more pernicious threat. Men reject the teaching authority of the Church but meanwhile continue to hold ecclesiastical positions, to frequent the assemblies of the faithful and to preserve the outward forms of Catholic life. But in as much as they are in conflict with the Pope, they are dead branches. Inevitably this division within the Church occasions confusion to many souls. To these souls, we say what St. Ambrose said: The Pope is the principle of unity. Follow him. Ubi Petrus ibi ecclesia. Where Peter is, there is the Church.15
Catholics throughout the world love to address the Pope as Holy Father. In this title they blend that reverence and familiar, filial love so appropriate for Christians in their relations with him who stands to them in place of God, the Heavenly Father. The “world” does not love the Holy Father. Christ foretold of his followers that the “world” would hate them.16 It is not strange if this is verified in the case of the Pope.
But if there are some who find the Pope unacceptable, there are millions who love him for his unceasing efforts to be father and friend to all classes and all peoples. We in the Philippines remember with joy his presence among us in 1970, and we are only one of the nations to which, both as Cardinal and Pope, he has journeyed in order to show his warm interest and affection. During his Pontificate, and even before, he has manifested a special concern for the young churches of Asia and Africa. And finally he has engaged in tireless dialogue with the leaders of other religions in a sincere ecumenical exchange. This universal love reaching out to all men will be remembered as one of the marked characteristics of his Pontificate.
His eightieth birthday will be an occasion for us in the Philippines to examine and renew our own love, to rejoice with him and to express our thanks to God for giving him to us precisely in these days when the People of God need clear, firm, consistent, fatherly leadership.
Let us pray for our Holy Father, Paul VI: may the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+JULIO R. CARDINAL ROSALES
September 8, 1977
CBCP POSITION PAPER ON THE SYNOD THEME
“CATECHETICS IN OUR TIME”
With Special Reference to Catechetics for Children and Adults
The local Church of the Philippines views Catechetics as a vital and timely concern in our times. The theme of the forthcoming Roman Synod, “Catechetics in Our Time,” comes in as a logical sequence of the deliberations of the last Synod in 1974, and of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. The Bishops of the Philippines, in line with the renewed stress on Catechetics, faithful to the guidelines contained in the General Catechetical Directory as well as in the Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World, and reaffirming their solidarity with the Universal Church and with their own people, propose the following observations for serious study and consideration.
Underlying these observations is the desire to be of assistance in the deepening and strengthening of the Church’s “supreme and absolutely necessary function” of making more easily understood the “message of salvation” by men of all times “in order that they may be converted to God through Christ that they may interpret their whole life in the light of the faith,… and that they may lead a life of faith in keeping with the dignity which the message of salvation has brought them and that faith has revealed to them.”1
I. General Observations
Hence, in the light of these observations, we make the following proposals.
A. Orthodoxy and Orthopraxis in Catechesis
We note with grave concern that parents, expressing their alarm over their children’s lack of doctrinal formation even after years of catechetical instruction, often hold Catholic schools responsible for this state of affairs. This does not necessarily mean lack of content in our present catechesis; some other factors may also be considered as contributing to this apparent failure such as environment, methodology, catechists’ formation, the time element, etc.
In order to be effectively received and absorbed by the faithful in their Christian living the communication of the Divine Message avails itself of pertinent research in sociology, anthropology, history and culture. All these, however, should serve and never obfuscate the “clear proclamation that in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became man, died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to every man as a gracious gift inspired by God’s mercy.”5
But in today’s world one needs more than mere teaching in words about Christ and His message. One needs environs which live the message of reconciliation and sharing as brought to us by Christ. He is the ever-new inspiration of each one personally in his daily actuations and the source of growth in their communal living. The community becomes Christ-Centered, not so much from an intellectual act of faith in Him by all members of that community, but much more by each one’s effort to attune his daily relationships with the others in his community after the example of Christ, living among people.”6
We call this the Orthopraxis of catechesis. Its two pillars are reconciliation and sharing. By this and through this the community will be totally different from the political or economic community which we see around us. Its internal network of relationships is radically different: instead of exploitation we have acceptance; instead of greed we have sharing; instead of authoritarian imposing on others we have listening to each other.
Catechetics is supposed to build upon the conversion in Christ which is achieved in evangelization through the proclamation of the message of salvation and proceeds to develop systematically the adherence to it.7 Its aim is not a detached and uncommitted imparting of knowledge, but rather the sharing of a knowledge that inspires those who shall receive it to keep alive, conscious and active the faith previously received and accepted and to properly nurture it.8 The knowledge imparted in catechetics must be considered as a means to facilitate man’s response to God’s call for closer union with Him, in such a way that God’s ideas, values and ways9 and “the eternal decisions of His will regarding the salvation of men,”10 fully revealed in Christ, may become the point of reference of their lives. We feel that a more intimate understanding of the nature of catechesis is required even among ourselves. Catechists, especially, should be equipped with a more profound understanding of their apostolate.
Thus, a clear and concise explanation of the objectives of the catechetical function in the Church (quite distinct from the catechism itself) as had been already concisely presented in the General Catechetical Directory11 should be stressed and developed, incorporating the Church’s own understanding over time for her own “supreme and absolutely necessary function.” Pastoral letters and pertinent exhortations by the local Conference of Bishops may highlight the local Church’s own perception of the depth, extent and coverage of her mission, thus contributing to a localized presentation of catechesis.
Catechesis presupposes an attitude of faith, a personal and loving acceptance by the catechized of the person of God and of everything He tells us.
We therefore believe that it is of vital concern to the Church to reintensify her efforts at evangelization, whose precise objective is the achievement of the attitude of loving acceptance, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We also deeply feel the need to provide catechists and those who shall take charge of evangelization with the necessary knowledge which could allow them to discern the existence of faith, the acceptance of Jesus Christ in those to whom they shall impart further, more specific knowledge. But more important than just a knowledge or a technique of discernment of the true faith of the people, true discernment is to be acknowledged to be a gift which flows from the Holy Spirit to whom, therefore, we must ceaselessly address ourselves while performing our catechetical apostolate.
More important than that, pastoral letters and homilies, in insuring the success of our catechetical programs, is the living witness of the Bishops and the parish priests. This can be shown by their initiative, understanding and persevering support–including financial–of the efforts of the lay catechists.
Availability and willingness to participate in the catechetical ministry are not sufficient ingredients of success. “No one gives what he does not have” is a dictum as valid in philosophy as it is in the prophetic mission of the Church. Therefore, sufficient attention should be given by those concerned to the proper and adequate formation of our lay catechists.
B. Adult Catechesis
We feel very specially that this effort should be intensified with the purpose in mind of leaving no sector of our society ignorant of the message of salvation and that the proclamation of this message should be oriented towards the strengthening of family life and community building.
We observe that, because of this lack of orientation, not a few among the faithful have been deluded into endorsing those means of family limitation which are unnatural and artificial. We also see certain groups of adults openly advocating state divorce apart from the legalization of the annulment of marriages, which could eventually contribute to the deterioration of the stability of the married state.
We also feel that a certain amount of permissiveness in sexual matters is evident among the youth, making it doubly difficult for them to reconcile their creative urges with the divine purpose for which they were intended.
We note the perpetuation of self-interest as a continuing guide in social and political life. This self-interest derives from a basic lack of respect for the rights of others and the rights of a community over the individuals.
We feel that a solid emphasis on the communitarian aspects of life in the Church is called for, especially in the catechesis of adults and of the youth in and out of school.
Devotion to Our Lady is of invaluable help to both the evangelization and catechetical effort of the Philippines.
It is necessary, therefore, to bridge the growing gap between believers who choose to profess only the essentials of faith and those who actively involve themselves in popular religious fervor. Frank and sincere interaction can become mutually enriching and could only redound to a deepening of the life of faith.
In the Philippines–as in many developing societies–the Church is called upon to preach within the context of these divergent sectors, especially within the context of both a progressive urban center and depressed rural area where progress is slow and the hold of traditional values is still strong.
Care must therefore be taken to see to it that the values and examples invoked in catechetics take full cognizance of the state of development of the catechized as well as of the values they hold and accept.
Christian Social Action will only be Christian to the extent that it activates us to implement God’s view on man while catechetics in our time will only be relevant to the extent that it gives us the correct view of man as seen by God.
It is noted with grave concern that political issues are beginning to create divisions within the ranks of the clergy and the faithful. There is even a tendency to approve of the system of authoritarianism, regardless of the adverse effects to human religious liberty which it may entail. There is also a growing rift — a chasm of mutual indifference — between those who seek to assert, at least implicity, the primacy of liberation from material wants and those who rightly insist that the Church’s primary mission is the proclamation of the Good News to all men.”12
A proper understanding of the aims and objectives of adult catechesis, of the Church’s “supreme and absolute necessary function” will help heal the wounds which politicalization has inflicted upon the ranks of the faithful and the clergy.
C. The Catechumenate
The process of conversion is a continuing process covering the whole range of our Christian life through the different stages and situations of life which require a knowledge of the practical demands of the Gospel. It could be a catechesis of initiation in man’s first contact with the teaching of the faith; it could be an “ongoing catechesis” drawing out the implications of the Gospel in the various situations of life; it could be a perfective catechesis directed to those whom a special mission or vocation impels to a deeper penetration of faith.
Hence a series of models of catechumenate could be created to make the life of the faithful more meaningful in the light of the Gospel.
D. The “Organized” and the “Organizing” Community
But we believe that this goal will not be attained unless our people understand and accept their responsibilityas prophets to evangelize and catechize their own family and members of small Christian communities.
III. On Specific Catechetical Problems
The following are reactions to specific catechetical problems mentioned in the Synod Schema. They do not follow the sequence of the Schema, but are rather ranged according to the order of our General Observations:
1. The Aims of Catechetics
There is probably general agreement — in the conceptual order — to the following objectives of catechetics,namely:
However, there is still a surprising degree of disagreement and variance with reference to the choice of means and the application of those means to achieve the above aims.
Thus, it would not be unusual for groups to appear to emphasize say, the simple transmission of doctrine, preparation for reception of the sacraments, or rote-memorization of the tenets of the faith while being in complete agreement with the above objectives. Rather than begin to decry these emphases or directions, an attempt will have to be made to understand, first of all, why such directions have taken the forefront. In other words, rather than force a uniform emphasis, a serious evaluation of specific circumstances must be undertaken.
What is said here about the efforts of groups within a diocese can also be said about different countries represented within the Church itself.
For example, Philippine Christianity may be criticized for the heavy emphasis on devotional practices to the seeming neglect of a concerted effort in the line of “liberating people from social, political, economic, and moral conditioning.” This emphasis even appears to have the sanction of the Hierarchy, and for this it is possible that the official Church itself could be held blame-worthy.
Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that devotions and their ritualization have already become part of Philippine culture and tradition. In this sense, they may be outside the pale of ecclesiastical authority and influence. As in Latin America, where accion popular seems to be the by-word, it may even be pastorally inadvisable to exert anything but the most prudent effort to change this situation, since its acceptance by the People of God can be interpreted as the popular will. The approach of catechetical agents can only be directed at integrating devotional/ritual practices within a broader framework which should clearly show that such practices make sense only if other matters are fullfilled or attended to.
If catechists were to follow the path of discrediting or relegating to a very secondary position such practices without offering alternatives, grave dangers would arise. The first of these dangers is that, because of human attachment to such practices, a frontal discrediting of them might lead to complete rejection of the faith and the creation of a vacuum. The second is also related to the first: rituals are probably one of the few remaining links which can be used for the intensification of a life of faith. Sever this link and the opportunity for a deepening of belief may also be lost.
Therefore, even if devotions and rituals may look like substitutes and surrogates for the neglect of more critical requirements of Christian life, understood in a fuller biblical sense, we cannot close our eyes to their significance in the lives of those who practice them.
2. Content of Faith and Catechetics
We have in our country two main tendencies in the approach to the content of faith. The first is the traditional –the doctrinal–oftentimes culture-bound in the sense that it is transmitted through the elders of the community and the family. Hence, our old presentation of the faith has been colored or nuanced by folk-belief of the people transmitting it.
The second is the experiential . This approach has emphasized social situations and their emotional impact to the extent that the fundamental message of salvation expressed in the doctrine of the Church has been placed too much in the background. For the past few years, this approach has taken prominence in the Philippine catechetical movement. Hence, when reversals of social situations occurred, catechesis began losing its force and vitality.
For the first trend we propose a proper reorientation by being faithful to the message of salvation as expressed by the Church in her doctrines.
For the second trend we propose that our area of human realities be widened. We should take into account not merely ephemeral social situations, but also the popular devotions and common religious practices as integral components of our Philippine situation.
The values then derived from all these should be related to the message of salvation.14 This approach will therefore call for a revision in depth of our local catechesis — its approach, the ambits of its content. All the while, in the process of this revision in depth we should strive to bring out the riches of the fundamental message of salvation, the very essence of Christian life.
3. Catechetics and Modern Cultures
What can be considered an integral part of traditional Filipino culture in the strict sense, are the devotional practices to honor Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. There are always some quasi-religious or religious ritual for nearly all occasions from birth to burial, through marriage, baptisms, construction of residences, etc. These should be viewed as apertura or openings to a deepening of faith. Modernizing agents — principally oriented towards material prosperity, efficiency and scientific rationalism — are attempting to introduce new values in the system.
The difficulties arise from the inroads of modernization, and these are very similar to those which can be observed in the countries of Western Europe, among others. However, there is a surprising degree of syncretism which makes easy for the host culture to assimilate foreign cultures. In the process, neither culture survives in its original form although the devotional practices mentioned earlier have survived for a long time. In fact, it is the ritualization of many of these devotions which could account for their resiliency over time.
What appears to be more interesting in the Philippine case is not the comparison between the existing culture and the culture of the young or of the West but rather that between the new prescribed culture and the traditional culture.
Various seminars, in-service training programs and catechetical schools, together with organized efforts at parish, diocesan or national levels, have been directed towards renewal of catechetical language and methods. The results have been good, when judged from the viewpoint of doctrines set forth by Vatican II. But the question still remains: Has catechesis become anymore relevant now than it was in the past? In other words, reform should go beyond language and method. It must cover content: In this respect also the local application of the directives of Vatican II should take account of the existing traditional cultures.
4. Catechesis and Social Situations
As it can be ascertained the experiments cover areas like language — the problem of translation into the vernacular methods — away from the school-church situation towards something more personal (though less efficient); cultural adaptation — suiting the message to the local cultural mould. It has been voiced by some people/groups, however, that because of these changes in catechesis children never really get the “fundamentals” of the faith (meaning: as contained in the post-Tridentine catechism). The problem may even be more basic: the parents (Tridentine-trained) may no longer be able to help in catechizing the young, who are presumably trained in whatever is said to have resulted from Vatican II.
Furthermore, what has been said above regarding the risks of an exclusively or excessively predominant experiential approach to catechetics, too dependent on social situations, is particularly applicable here.15
5. Catechetics and the School
As already mentioned, catechesis seems to be concentrated mostly in the schools. Out-of-schools children and youth receive minimal attention. Moreover, in many places they are completely neglected, acquiring their religious ideas from the general culture of the people.
There are formal theology classes at the university level in Catholic institutions. In other instances, seminars and activities such as workshops, field work, renewal sessions, Bible classes and charismatic sessions are valid vehicles for catechesis.
6. Catechesis for Children, Young People and Adults
Catechesis for children is emphasized with little active support from the home. It is mostly done in the atmosphere of the school or the parish church — seldom in the home, though some efforts to involve the parents are made by school and pastors. The community acts, like the parents, through surrogates: the teachers, the volunteers, the priest and religious. There is little reinforcement which can be had from the community or the home. What might perhaps create some worry is the fear that even the home and the community impart “religious ideas” which, upon closer look, are heterodox or unorthodox, to say the least.
Young people and adults seldom get a systematic development of the message since as one grows older his attention is increasingly focussed upon social involvement and family life — a remark which is valid even for religious groups and organizations. The only message which filters through at these later stages is the vague feeling that the Church is pro-justice, freedom, peace, love, etc., the “why” however, is seldom clear. One could easily get as a result a “humane type of morality”: goodness for the sake of smoother social interaction.
Some proposals are therefore in order for a more effective catechesis of these different age groups.
a) Catechesis for Children
b) Catechesis for Adolescents and Young Adults
c) Catechesis for Adults
As a conclusion, we would like to take cognizance of the great and noble work which the vast numbers of catechists throughout the whole world have done in communicating the Divine Message through catechesis. The whole Church turns to them in gratitude and appreciation; the Schema is a great tribute to them and to the importance of their work.
Finally, we strongly suggest that catechists should accentuate the movement towards total conversion of the whole man, the dynamism towards personal union with God which the Holy Spirit sustains in all those who accept that Jesus is Christ, the eternal Son of God made man, and an outpouring of the effects of this union through Christian witness.
13 July, 1977
1 General Catechetical Directory (GCD) 37.
2 This is explained with greater detail below in section II, first Proposal and especially in section III, 1. “The Aims of Catechetics”, under a somewhat different aspect. Although the emphasis is also different these aspects are complementary.
3 On this see infra under section II, C. “The Catechumenate”.
4 Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN) 58.
5 EN 27.
6 Growing-up Towards a New Community. Practical Guide for Building Christian Communities. Ed. by Mensa Domini Catechetical Institute, San Jose, Antique, p. 11.
7 Cf. GCD 17-18.
8 See footnote 2 supra.
9 Cf. Is 55:8.
10 Dei Verbum 6.
11 GCD 21.
12 See the pastoral letter of the Philippine Bishops issued in Cebu, January 1977, on “The Bond of Love Proclaiming the Good News”. See also EN 32-35.
13 Besides the already mentioned letter of the Philippine Bishops, see also nn. 41-50 of the Conclusions of the Asian Colloquium on Ministries in the Church published by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (Hongkong-Manila, 1977). The Colloquium was held 27 February-5 March 1977 in Hongkong. On “base communities” cf. also EN 58.
14 Gaudium et Spes 11.
15 See supra under n. 2 “Content of Faith and Catechesis”.
THE BOND OF LOVE IN PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS
A Joint Pastoral Letter to Our People
Our dearly beloved People of God:
“It is a duty that has been laid on me (preaching the Gospel); I should be punished if I did not preach it.” (I Cor 9:16)
“The task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.” (Synod 1974, n. 36)
This is Evangelization: the proclamation, above all, of salvation from sin; the liberation from everything oppressive to man; the development of man in all his dimensions, personal and communitarian; and, ultimately, the renewal of society in all its strata through the interplay of the Gospel truths and man’s concrete total life (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 9, 29).
This is Our Task. This is Our Mission.
With the help of the Holy Spirit and in communion with one another, we undertake to analyze with sincere objectivity our present Philippine situation in the light of the Gospel, and therefrom draw principles for reflection, norms of discernment and guidelines for action (Octogesima Adveniens, n. 4).
While we are well aware of the vastness and complexity of the situation particularly in matters involving basic human rights and obligations, at the moment we consider the following as more urgent and deserving of our pastoral concern.
B. Philippine Situation
Family Life : We readily appreciate the efforts of the Government to improve the quality of family life. However, we detect a marked tendency to implement this endeavor at the expense of God-given rights. Parents are at least indirectly denied the right to determine by themselves the size of their family through socio-economic legislations. Anti-natalist programs are openly promoted with the concerted use of Government resources: employing coercive measures, violating consciences and even destroying the innocence of children under the guise of sexual education. In fact, abortion is fast becoming a practice, gradually losing its criminal character.
National Minorities : People have a right to the integrity and enrichment of their cultures. In this context, we praise the intent of the Government in behalf of the National Minorities. Nevertheless, the otherwise laudable program is defeated by the way it is implemented. We regret in particular the prevention of their growth and development through a false notion of cultural authenticity.
We refer here specifically to the Presidential Arm on Cultural Minorities (PANAMIN). It has been given the special task of protecting and uplifting the various non-Muslim minorities of the nation. But, as we have indicated in a letter of protest to the President, the actual implementation of its programs destroy rather than preserve the cultures of the people PANAMIN works with. And men and women working for the rights and development of cultural minorities precisely as cultural communities have been harassed and intimidated, arrested and jailed. This we strongly deplore and condemn.
Mindanao Situation : We recognize the delicate situation obtaining in the Government’s effort to solve the centuries-old problem in Mindanao. This compelling desire to have peace in that area has led the present Administration to enter into dialogue with Muslim groups. We pray and hope that these negotiations lead to a happy and just solution.
In our prophetic role, we voice our people’s apprehension lest basic human rights be ignored in the attempt to resolve the problems. We stand solidly for the protection of equal rights for all.
Workers for Evangelization : The final stage in the process of Evangelization is reached when an Evangelized Community becomes an Evangelizing Community. The implantation of a Local Church that is self-reliant, is a sign of that maturing process. In this spirit, Local Churches have consistently prepared their members, both the Clergy and the Laity, precisely to participate actively in the work of Evangelization. The establishment of Basic Christian Communities, whose members are united in one Faith and Hope, and bound together by Love and Service, springs from the mandate of Evangelization. And our lay workers are essential in the implementation of this mission. We thank them and give them our pledge of support.
It is most unfortunate that in many cases, this evangelizing work of forming and strengthening Basic Christian Communities has been misunderstood, and led to the arrests of priests, religious and lay workers, and even the deportation of foreign missionaries.
Throughout her whole history, the Church has always upheld the right of the State to protect itself any threat to its existence. This we have never doubted. The Church has likewise upheld the unalterable validity of the Lord’s solemn command to preach the Gospel to all men at all times. This right deriving from that Divine Command has been generally respected by all Nations. Our own Nation bears that salient distinction. But like other God-given rights, this right should not be denied in the name of National Security.
Due Process : Times of crisis such as the present one produce tensions that disturb the otherwise harmonious relationship between the Workers of Evangelization and the Guardians of Peace. The missionary work of building Basic Christian Communities is now not infrequently suspected of subversion. Sometimes this suspicion may be the work of insidious instigators. At times it may be conjured by exaggerated fears.
Sobriety, goodwill and openness of mind can minimize, if not totally prevent this lamentable situation. Our missionaries, specially the foreign ones who came to our shores at the impulse of the Holy Spirit, are caught in the dilemma of obeying God in serving man and being suspected of subversion with its untoward consequences, or avoiding such suspicion by giving up altogether their missioanry task.
We are searching for that happy understanding where the Workers of Evangelization and the Protectors of National Security can understand and consider one another as promoters of the common welfare. The least we ask therefore, is that at all times due process be observed in all cases of arrests and deportations of Workers of Evangelization, be they priests, religious or lay workers.
We plead that we all raise our minds and hearts to Him who has called us to be His People so that we may resolve our misunderstandings particularly between the Workers of Evangelization and the Guardians of National Security, and start anew the common task of uniting our People for progress and peace. Let us remove the painful irony that while we share common aspirations, we have nevertheless looked at each other with suspicion and mistrust.
To our Co-Workers for Evangelization, we say this: Our evangelizing zeal must spring from true holiness of life, and, as the Second Vatican Council suggests, preaching must in its turn make the preacher grow in holiness.
The Church embraces all men as brothers under the Fatherhood of God. She is not partial to any group. She has a motherly sympathy for the poor and voiceless. She has love for all, no malice towards any one.
Finally, we express our profound gratitude to you, the countless men and women and children who kept praying and offering sacrifices for us during our Meeting. The many communications we received assuring us of your prayers that the Spirit of light and truth would enlighten our deliberations expressed not just our solidarity but that vital truth that without Him we can do nothing, and that when we are gathered in His Name, the God of Truth and Justice will abide in us. These expressed your unity with us. These manifested your deepest concern for our unity. You inspired us. You strengthened us. We sincerely thank you. We put in God our trust. We ask for no greater blessing than that the unity signified in these prayers remain a permanent reality.
Your concerned Pastors,
(Sgd.)+JULIO R. CARDINAL ROSALES (Sgd.)+JAIME L. CARDINAL SIN
(Sgd.)+PATRICK H. CRONIN (Sgd.)+ANTONIO Ll. MABUTAS
(Sgd.)+ARTEMIO G. CASAS (Sgd.)+ANTONIO FRONDOSA
(Sgd.)+FRANCISCO R. CRUCES (Sgd.)+RICARDO J. VIDAL
(Sgd.)+TEOPISTO V. ALBERTO (Sgd.)+TEODULFO S. DOMINGO
(Sgd.)+FEDERICO G. LIMON, SVD (Sgd.)+MANUEL S. SALVADOR
(Sgd.)+JOSE T. SANCHEZ (Sgd.)+CIRILO R. ALMARIO, JR
(Sgd.)+CIRPRIANO V. URGEL (Sgd.)+VICENTE T. ATAVIADO
(Sgd.)+RAFAEL M. LIM (Sgd.)+GERARD MONGEAU, OMI
(Sgd.)+PEDRO N. BANTIGUE (Sgd.)+ANTONIO Y. FORTICH
(Sgd.)+TEOTIMO C. PACIS (Sgd.)+MIGUEL C. CINCHES, SVD
(Sgd.)+JUAN N. NILMAR (Sgd.)+VICENTE P. REYES
(Sgd.)+JOSE C. SORRA (Sgd.)+ANGEL T. HOBAYAN
(Sgd.)+EPIFANIO B. SURBAN (Sgd.)+MIGUEL PURUGGANAN
(Sgd.)+CELESTINO R. ENVERGA (Sgd.)+RICARDO TANCINCO
(Sgd.)+FELIX Z. ZAFRA (Sgd.)+FELIX PEREZ
(Sgd.)+CELSO N. GUEVARRA (Sgd.)+JESUS B. TUQUIB
(Sgd.)+NICOLAS M. MONDEJAR (Sgd.)+ONESIMO C. GORDONCILLO
(Sgd.)+PORFIRIO R. ILIGAN (Sgd.)+JESUS Y. VARELA
(Sgd.)+VICTORINO C. LIGOT (Sgd.)+CARMELO D.F. MORELOS
(Sgd.)+JOSEPH W. REGAN (Sgd.)+HENRY BYRNE
(Sgd.)+ODILO ETSPUELER, SVD (Sgd.)+JOSE MA. QUEREXETA, CMF
(Sgd.)+ALBERT VAN OVERBEKE, CICM (Sgd.)+CORNELIUS DE WIT, MHM
(Sgd.)+REGINALD ARLISS, CP (Sgd.)+FEDERICO O. ESCALER, SJ
(Sgd.)+FRANCISCO F. CLAVER, SJ (Sgd.)+BIENVENIDO S. TUDTUD
(Sgd.)+JULIO X. LABAYEN, OCD (Sgd.)+PHILIP F. SMITH, OMI
(Sgd.)+GREGORIO I. ESPIGA, OAR (Sgd.)+WILLIAM BRASSEUR
(Sgd.)+SIMEON O. VALERIO, SVD (Sgd.)+JUAN B. VELASCO, OP
(Sgd.)+FERNANDO R. CAPALLA (Sgd.)+EMILIANO MADANGENG
(Sgd.)+LEOPOLDO A. ARCAIRA (Sgd.)+IRENEO A. AMANTILLO, CSsR
(Sgd.)+CONCORDEO SARTE (Sgd.)+SALVADOR L. LAZO
(Sgd.)+GAUDENCIO B. ROSALES (Sgd.)+OSCAR V. CRUZ
(Sgd.)+ANTONINO F. NEPOMUCENO, OMI (Sgd.)+ALBERTO J. PIAMONTE
(Sgd.)+MARIANO G. GAVIOLA
Bishops’ Annual Meeting