1. Mid-Year Gathering

Diocesan priests gathered at Watergran Resort, Bawing, General Santos City, 1-3 June 2009 for bonding, updating and relaxation. There were 50.

Prinicpal activities: liturgical celebrations, lectures, sports, socialization and meeting.

Fr. Virgilio A. Ojoy, O.P. gave 3 lectures on “Current Trends and Issues”.

a) Church of the Poor.
Early Church was Church of the Poor. Christ was sent to proclaim Good News to the poor. He sought out the poor, the blind, the lame, lepers, deaf, etc. The apostles/disciples were poor seeking other poor people. Some rich were members.

From Church of the Poor to Church for the poor. Emperor Constantine recognized Christinaity. The Church became increasingly identified with the rich and powerful. The poor became marginalized, objects of the rich peoples’ generosity.

St. Francis of Assisi brought about a major shift. A shift that continues today. He recognized Jesus’ presence in the poor. Poor became subjects, not merely objects.

John XXIII wanted a Church constituted by the poor themselves. Architects of their own destiny.

Basic dispositions of a Church of the Poor. 1) poverty of spirit. Radical detachment from material possessions and profound trust in God. 2) special love for the poor, without excluding the rich. 3) Willingness to follow Jesus through poverty and oppression in fulfillment of one’s mission.

Actions manifesting these basic dispositions
1. Equal treatment of the poor in the Church. No special weddings, baptisms, etc., if possible.

2. Action to uplift the poors’ life-situation, such as non-formal education and livelihood projects.

3. Protection and defense of the poor – voiceless and powerless against the rich and powerful.

4. Simplicity of lifestyle.

5. Orienting and tilting the center of gravity of the community in favor of the needy. Plans and projects should give priority to the poor.

Participation of the poor in addressing their life-situation and in becoming evangelizers.

PCP II’s vision of the Church of the Poor is meant to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor in the Church. So that the Church would become a communion of Christ’s disciples.

b) Ecumenism.
John XXIII gave the signal to the Church to be involved in ecumenism. Vatican II was convoked by him. The Decree on Ecumenism “Unitatis Redintegrato” was the work of Catholics and non-Catholic Christians.

One of the 4 goals of Vatican II is on ecumenism: “nurture whatever can contribute to the unity of all believers in Christ” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n.1)

Basic doctrinal principles:
1. Only one God who revealed Himself to Israel.
2. God’s self-revelation led to Israel’s conversion to God. They became God’s people.
3. Paschal and Pentecostal events took place in the historic and unique midst of a witnessing group of faithful kept together by the Twelve Apostles. The apostles were sent to make disciples of all the nations (cf. Mt. 28: 30).
4. The Trinity communicate the Mystery of their unity to those who enter the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

New elements in the “U.R.”
1. Unity in the Church is the work of the Trinity.
2. The Church Mystery does not coincide with the historical and sociological reality of the Catholic Church. Elements of sanctification and truth are found outside the Church’s visible confines.
3. The Mystery of the Church is not perfectly nor completely realized in the Catholic Church which needs to be continuously reformed.
4. The Catholic Church is also responsible for the causes which led to separation.
5. Avoid juridical qualifications of “schismatic” and “heretics” and the word “return”.

Catholic practices of ecumenism.
1. Renewal of Church’s life.
2. Interior conversion
3. Prayer for unity of Christians
4. Interest in the teachings and practices of other Christian religions.
5. Polemics are avoided in the teaching of theology.
6. Catholic position is explained clearly.
7. Cooperation in many activities.

c) Inter-religious dialogue

Vatican II is open to non-Christian religions, such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. Lumen Gentium, n. 16, states: “These also can attain salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.

Members of other religions are also members of the universal Church. They are included in God’s plan of salvation and given saving grace by God. They also can share in the grace of Christ.

Non-Christian religions possess positive values (truth and grace) and perform a salvific mediation for their own adherents.

Because of the foregoing, we must approach non-Christian religions with deep respect and appreciation for what is true and good in their religious beliefs and traditions. There are commonalities; but there are also differences. We agree to disagree.

Cardinal Francis Arinze says: “Interreligious dialogue does not mean that the Christian should set aside some elements of Christian belief or practice…On the contrary, believers of other religions want to have clear idea of the person they are meeting”.

The Church and every Christian could very well be instruments by which the light of Christ can be brought to illumine the world.

Thank you, Fr. Ojo, for enlightening the Clergy of Marbel.

Source: Communication from the Bishop (No. 535, 10 June 2009)

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About bishopdinualdo

Bishop Dinualdo D. Gutierrez is the Bishop of the Diocese of Marbel
This entry was posted in 2009.06June, Church of the Poor, Current trends and Issues, Ecumenism, Mid-Year Gathering of Diocesan Priests and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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