A letter of peace from the CBCP.
This is the second part of the pastoral letter by Most Rev. Romulo Valles, DD, Archbishop of Davao and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. Released on July 9, the letter is titled 'CBCP Pastoral Exhortation: Rejoice and be glad!'
On the occasion of the President's State of the Nation Address today, it would be good to consider the message of the CBCP alongside Duterte's address to all Filipinos.
The archbishop said all of us are not new to insults and persecution. What we are going through is familiar, in reference to Psalm 64. The Lord told His disciples who were being persecuted in His name: Rejoice and be glad. This is the same phrase that Pope Francis used in his apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate. These are words for those who are humiliated and persecuted in the name of their faith.
According to Pope Francis, the Lord does not want His people to get used to an ordinary life, that is why we are being called to live a life in holiness. According to Saint Paul, we have to bless those who insult us; and if we are being vilified, we should reply gently.
The letter also talked about members of the faith who are not themselves united, or how we are to face 'Christians' who don't see anything wrong with the killings, those who simply laugh when God is being disrespected, and those who help in spreading fake news.
Jesus said that we can always expect opposition when we are in the work of spreading peace. There will always be people who say that they believe in Christ but are easily swayed by the promises of Satan. Let us not forget him who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver because he allowed himself to be overcome by Satan. Saint Paul was right when he said that the differences are necessary to allow those who are genuine to come out.
The archbishop also talked about the suffering of the Church leaders, compared to the struggles of the poor. The struggle of the poor is indeed greater, he said.
He asked in his letter: Do we hear the cries of the poor residents of shanties who are jailed because of 'loitering'? He called on all of us not to forget that the small alleyways in poor communities also serve as their kitchen, restroom, living room and play area for their children. Let us not also forget that they live in houses that burn easily because firefighters can't get to them due to the narrow streets.
He asked: Do we not feel the suffering of drug addicts when they are labeled as criminals when their names land on the drug watch list?
We end here for now, but I wish to discuss the message further next week.