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Bishops’ language doesn’t talk

MANILA (SE): The bishops of The Philippines began their 113th plenary meeting at the Pius XII Centre in Pasay City on July 9 comparing themselves with the biblical voice crying in the wilderness and Archbishop Socrates Villegas lamenting that bishops’ language no longer talks to the people, saying they find it archaic.

In his opening address, the president of the bishops’ conference said, “We will teach, even if it seems like a voice in a hostile wilderness, till the day we die, that right is right and we will not withdraw from the mission of the Lord.”

But Archbishop Villegas also reflected on the changing of the times, lamenting that people may not be so willing to listen to the voice of a bishops’ conference as they were in 1986, when the Church was instrumental in calling the people into the streets to oust the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

He reflected that in the 30 years since that time, things have changed a lot, as during the campaign against the Health Bill “our pastoral letters went unheeded, mocked and ignored.”

He used the example to remind his brother bishops that times indeed have changed at a much faster pace than the mentality of the bishops.

“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,” Archbishop Villegas reflected.

“When we preached about marriage and family life, we were dismissed as uninformed bachelors. We are called shameless hypocrite children of whores,” he continued.

He reminded the bishops that the wilderness is also a place for purification and prayer, for returning to the basics without the trappings and icing that gives the sweet taste to the cake.

Archbishop Villegas added that while the Church may be a voice gone hoarse proclaiming Christ in the wilderness with only a handful listening, it should be in the wilderness that the best in it shines forth.

“I charge you to proclaim the word; be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching,” he concluded.

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