It has been reported recently and understandably – that a group Filipino lay Catholics have prepared a revealing open, ardent and urgent letter specifically addressed to the Bishops and Priests of the Philippines, inclusive of the Men and Women Religious. Its contents are not only distinctly significant but also quiet revealing about how the lay faithful concerned feel and what they basically lament about.
The same letter forwards eight (8) of their most pressing social and political lamentable preoccupations – in collective response to which they are expressly and formally asking the “prophetic pastoral accompaniment” of the Church leadership through a “moral compass” held high and clearly seen so that lay men and woman know where to go and what to do in their avid pursuit of what is true, right and just in this disturbing and worrisome Country.
Incidentally, it is worth noting that the Catholic Church in the universal level, has the following canonical provision that is worth knowing and remembering: “Flowing from their rebirth in Christ’s faithful. Because of this equality, they all contribute, each according to his or her own condition and office, to the building of the Body of Christ.” (Canon 208 CIC ). Taking notice that “Christ’s Faithful” is composed of the Laity, the Religious and the Clerical Hierarchy, the above cited universal law of the Church says a distinct mouthful for all those concerned, to duly ponder and accordingly observe - particularly to the word equality which is twice mentioned.
Going back to the January 2010 open letter of the group of Filipino lay Catholics, there is something intentionally and specifically written therein that cannot but be taken very seriously by the addressees themselves in particular. After saying that they aspire to become true witnesses to the people, they write what they want “to get involved and go over and above rituals and personal piety.” This expression is definitely neither against Church rituals, nor disdainful of personal piety. It however impliedly says:
That the Filipino Catholic have had more than enough not only of Church rituals ( words and gestures ) but also of personal piety ( thoughts and feelings ). These are the main contents of verticalist faith. These are basically and exclusively about “myself and my God” – with “my neighbor” absent therefrom. Practically, the all local and imported Sects are in this department as it is a comfortable zone, not to mention its very beneficial returns to most of their reknown founders.
The Social Doctrine of the Church adds the imperative horizontal dimension to the Catholic evangelizing work, and thereby completes the Cross of Christ. Its focus is the good of man. Its substance is the mandate of truth, justice and peace. This means trouble and spells harassment from powerful liars, big thieves and deadly goons – who are well pleased if Churchmen would stick to but holding rituals and preaching piety.
January 18, 2010