No.  885          Diocese of Marbel, Philippines                      14 July 2016

Dates and venue: 9 – 11 July 2016.  Pius XII Center, Manila.

Attendance:  83 of 93 (89%) active members.  9 retired.

1.1 Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto spoke on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”: “We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them” (n. 37).

1.2 CBCP’s President Socrates Villegas’ opening message: “The Church in the Wilderness.”

“We reached where we are right now owing to the many turnings of grace that our Church has seen for the past half century.”

“The first of the turnings was a turning to prayer and piety in the sixties.  The Cursillo Movement, the charismatic renewal seminars, the block rosaries’, the reform of liturgy, masses in the vernacular…”

“From the path of prayer and piety, we made a gentle turn to a street called faith that does justice.  We saw this in the seventies and early eighties under the cloud of a military dictatorship and repression.  Critical collaboration was the CBCP mode of relationship with the State.  Often it was more critical than collaboration… The basic ecclesial communities were responsive to the call for total human development and liberation.”

“The Church path of faith seeking justice made yet another turn to towards the path of peace and development under the post 1986 people power revolution.  Many of us saw ourselves more collaborative than critical and sadly in some instances, co-opted by our former comrades in rallies now occupying top government positions.  We were consulted as bishops; we were heard and respected.  Our commendations were mostly heeded.”

“The turning to peace and development made yet another dramatic twist with the passage of the reproductive health law as a turning point.”

“It was a turning to the wilderness.  It felt like we were voices in the wilderness proclaiming a teaching that our people could not identify with.  Our pastoral letters were unheeded, mocked and ignored.  We were speaking a language that our flock could not understand.  When we appealed for morality, our people laughed at vulgarity.  When we challenged indecency, we were despised and ridiculed as archaic.  When we preached about marriage and family life, we were dismissed as uninformed bachelors.  We are called shameless hypocrite children of whores. It felt like the Church was like Ysmael son of Abraham sent to the desert to die.”

“We are in the wilderness like the wilderness of the Lord’s forty days of prayer and fasting; like the wilderness of the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea.  The temptation to change stone to bread is almost irresistible; the temptation to be spectacular and jump from the dome of the cathedral unharmed is strong; the temptation to bow down to the tempter is great… One million Christians have been killed worldwide for the past sixteen years.  The violence against Christianity is not just physical but political, ideological and cultural as well said Cardinal Robert Sarah.

“But the wilderness is also for purification and prayer.  It is also for returning to the basics without the trappings and icings.  The wilderness beckons us to stay with the Lord and return to the essentials.  The wilderness tests our readiness for martyrdom.”

“Let this be our commitment.”

“We will stand up for the moral right.  We will resist the moral wrong.  We will stand and defend every person’s life and dignity… our call is not to be successful but to be faithful.”

1.3 Decisions made.

  1. The 114th Plenary Assembly for January 2017 will be on these dates:

January 24-26, 2017    –  Seminar for Bishops

January 27-29, 2017    –  114th Plenary Assembly

  1. It was decided by the Body that the Seminar in January 2017 will be regarding the implementation of Mitis Iudex.
  2. The Gray Book onthe Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ – Eternal Priest was voted upon by the Body with 66 in favor, 0 not favor and 2 abstained.
  3. In the election for the Assistant Judicial Vicar of the National Matrimonial Tribunal, Bp. Antonio R. Tobias was elected.
  4. The Body gave approval to the National agreement between the CBCP and the NCCA on the Cultural Heritage of the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
  5. The Body also decided to elevate the Permanent Committee of the Cultural Heritage of the Church into an Episcopal Commission.
  6. The proposal of Bp. Pablo Virgilio S. David to ask every diocese to contribute Php 5,000 to the Office of the Episcopal Commission on Cultural Heritage was turned down; instead the Body decided that the Finance Council make a study for the support of all other commission that do not have any funding.
  7. It was decided that the Trinity Sunday next year will be celebrated throughout the country as the Year of the Parish as Communion of Communities.
  8. The Body approved the 2017 budget. However, the Finance Council was tasked to make a supplemental budget which will incorporate the support for the different commissions especially those which do not have a funding of their own.
  9. It was decided that the CBCP write a letter of acknowledgement of thanks to Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales and Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle for the One Billion donation to the Pension Plan.
  10. It was decided that the draft guidelines regarding the Lipa Apparition prepared by Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo be changed into an advisory to be distributed only to the bishops for them tomake their own statements/letters regarding the matter in their arch/diocese.
  11. After the appeal of Bp. Broderick S. Pabillo and the presentation of the other members of the BBC, most of the bishops affirmed their intention to continue with the partnership in the Bishops-Businessmen Conference. At the motion of Bp. Angelito R. Lampon, it was suggested that the Permanent Council make a study of the possibility of putting the BBC Assembly within the seminar period of the bishops in January.
  12. The Body decided not to issue a statement regarding the 113th Plenary Assembly. The drafts prepared will be given to the bishops as possible material for bishops tomake their own Pastoral Statement.
  13. The material on the death penalty will be entrusted to ECCCE, Doctrine of the Faith, and Prison Apostolate for them to come out with a Catechesis/Statement regarding the death penalty.
  14. The Body decided that the CBCP Officers make a courtesy call on the President to establish links, and convey to him our support, congratulations and also to air our concerns.
  15. Upon the move of Bp. Broderick S. Pabillo, it was decided that the Finance Committee will make a study of the Agreement with the BPI regarding the Pension Fund and make a recommendation to the Assembly. After the meeting of the Finance Committee and Pension Plan, they recommended to create a different fund aside from the one invested at the BPI in view of generating more revenue for the Pension Plan.  The Body approved the plan.
  16. The Body decided to increase the monthly premium of the Pension Plan from Php 500.00 to Php 750.00 beginning January 2017.

Back to: COMMUNICATIONS from the Bishop (No. 885 July 14, 2016)

About bishopdinualdo

Bishop Dinualdo D. Gutierrez is the Bishop of the Diocese of Marbel
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