On orders of Pope Benedict XVI, Filipino bishops led by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), will embark on ‘new evangelization’ in the country to try to win back anew Filipinos who have broken away and joined other churches.
“It’s possible that we failed somewhere in the sense that people are transferring to another sector because they are not happy,” Palma admitted.
Palma said the Church was willing to take up new ways and means to bring back people growing weak in their faith.
This new project by the Church, according to Palma, would actually form part of a nine-year preparation by the Church for the celebration of the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines.
Speaking at a news conference after the close of the CBCP’s biannual conference in Manila, Palma said the journey toward March 16, 2021—five centuries since the coming of Christianity to the Philippines—was an opportunity for the Church and its clergy to reflect on their shortcomings and how they could draw back people to the Catholic fold.
The new evangelization would also include “bringing the Good News to the poor,” reaching out to the Catholic flock whose faith-life has been “largely eroded” and lost due to confusion, moral relativism, doubt, agnosticism and those who have joined other churches and religious sects.
The CBCP could not have said it any better.
But, indifference to the Church would have been a better description of the kind of malady it is suffering for a long time, which has resulted in people staying out and apathetic towards the Church.
In reality, it is not the Church, per se, but rather the demeanor and arrogance of some of the Filipino Catholic Church leaders that is making a negative impression in our belief in the man of the cloth.
Our faith in God is stronger than ever and every time we enter the silence of the Church to be in communion with Him, we feel deeply the solace and come out relieved of our pains and worries.
But, do we feel the same in the presence of priests, among the congregation attending services?
No, we don’t and what we feel instead is repugnance and distrust, especially when they start pontificating and meddling in what is clearly an affair of the State.
I wouldn’t mind listening to homilies that deals with the spiritual and moral teachings of the Church, and how we could continuously uphold our faith in God so that at the end of the day we all can attain salvation.
But what turns parishioners off is when priests and high ranking Church officials start politicizing their homilies, criticizing government, posting or tying banners outside the church about its anti-RH bill stand, threatening politicians with anti-Catholic sentiments with its Catholic votes, etc.
Yes, priests can express their rights as citizens, but first and foremost their vital role is about spiritual and sacramental leadership. So leave the political leadership to the State.
Corruption and immorality are not solely the monopoly of the State. The Church has them, too.
Unless the dictum of, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s,” is strictly followed, this ‘new evangelization’ will not prosper.