In their open letter this January 2010 addressed to the Bishops, Priests and religious in the Philippines by a group of Filipino Lay Catholics – which is some kind of a first venture in recent local Church history – the writers forwarded their three primary concerns to the said Church personnel: First, they are looking forward to new directions as well as new pastoral approaches within the Church that will bring real change in themselves, in their communities and the nation as a whole. Second, they are asking the prophetic pastoral accompaniment of the same Bishops, Priests and Religious in order to fulfill their mission as sons and daughters of God. Third, they finally committed into writing their main seven social concerns and one political preoccupation.
Needless to say, the letter is manifestly endowed with good will and genuine sincerity. It is in the same spirit wherefore that the addressees should receive and understand it. A letter of such signal reflections and pursuant highly relevant contents, cannot but come from Laymen and Laywomen who are not only much knowledgeable about the disturbing signs of the times in the Country, but are also well acquainted with the workings of the Church in the Philippines – the Bishops, Priests and Religious in particular.
The fourth urgent task therein pointed out by the Laity concerned thus reads in part: “Promoting a culture of integrity and stewardship in society and in the Church.” This specific opted agenda of the promotion of the culture of integrity and stewardship in society, is not only imperative but also crucial. Reason: The otherwise dear and endearing Filipino society has been extraordinarily violated in its ethical values and severely undermined in its moral anchorage – specially in the course of the already too long amoral governance of the present administration.
On the other hand, the other subject-party mentioned by the same letter in terms of also promoting the “culture of integrity and stewardship”, rests “ in the Church”. This, truth to say, is not only markedly significant but also quite challenging. As “integrity” means honesty, probity or uprightness, “stewardship” on the other hand says and implies asset management without ownership, financial administration with trust and detachment. This fourth task pointed out by the members of the Laity concerned, in effect proffers the following questions in sincerity and truth – to the Bishops, Priests and Religious in the Philippines:
Are they suspect in their personal value system, official actions and/or reactions pattern? Are they living in luxury, spending lavishly and/or having costly taste? Are there certain manifestations of avarice or greed in the way they speak, act and/or behave? Are they wherefore prudently and amiably invited to examine their conscience in favor of integrity and stewardship?
Theirs are the answers. Theirs is the invitation. Theirs is the responsibility.
January 20, 2010