Church to show different attitude


CBCP president, Archbishop Socrates Villegas

CBCP president, Archbishop Socrates Villegas

With the three senators, namely, Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Esrada and Ramon Revilla Jr, now in custody for plunder charges in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, it has somehow given most Filipinos a sigh of relief and hope that change is coming to this country for the better. We just have to continue crossing our fingers.

Something to look forward, too, that would complement and sustain the country’s turn-around for the better is the recent encouragement, or preaching, if you may, coming from the head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Archbishop Socrates Villegas, calling the clergy to be more people oriented, feeling their pulse, as what the church is for, by confronting the real needs of people and the caring of their souls.

Thank goodness we now have a Jesuit pope from the Americas, Pope Francis, whose vision of remaking the church with his liberal thinking is initiating changes in attitude of priests and the church as an institution.

This bodes well for the country not seeing the church as, seemingly, the sole repository of ethics and morality that meddle in the affairs of the state, as if they know better.

“We are not required to make an opinion on everything. We are surely not experts in everything. We must be comfortable with admitting in public what we do not know and honestly say it without sounding evasive,” Villegas said.

What a humbling statement! Now they know where they stand.

It was Villegas himself who admitted that priests can be more convincing if they use the power of goodness and beauty rather than the brilliance of polemics and debates.

Villegas said as pastors we must always remain humble like Pope Francis, who has slowly moved the Church from being a dogmatic, self-engrossed and authoritative sick institution to being a gentle, outreaching, compassionate and persuasive Church through the power of love and mercy.

Obviously, Villegas was simply putting into context Pope Francis’ mission for the church, when the latter declared in one of his homilies, saying: “Our objective isn’t proselytism but listening to [people’s] needs, desires, disappointments, desperations and hopes. We must restore hope to the young, aid the old, open ourselves to the future, spread love. [We must be] the poor among the poor.”

This is the only way that the church can start attracting new members and bringing back old followers to the fold that were repulsed by the holier-than-thou, more popist than the pope attitude of priests and leaders of the church who fell puffed up because they think they belong to a powerful institution as the Catholic Church and, thus, can talk about politics in the pulpit and impose their will on others.

“Perhaps we can reconsider our approach to solving the problems of family and life by listening more to the wounded and the grieving broken homes rather than condemning divorce and abortion and contraception at every opportunity,” Villegas said.

“Perhaps we can reach out to more people by stretching our minds and lowering our fences and listening… without being judgemental or punitive.”

Now you are talking like the true servants of God that you are.

Finally, what your role is in our society has sunk in.


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