PASTORAL INSTRUCTION ON THE MINISTRY IN THE WORLD

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” the Second Vatican Council says “Proceeding from the love of the eternal Father, the Church was founded by Christ in time and gathered into one by the Holy Spirit. . . .The Church, at once a visible organization and a spiritual community, travels the same journey as all mankind and shares the same earthly lot with same world . . . That the earthly and the heavenly city penetrate one another is a fact open only to the eyes of faith.”1

                The important question now is: what can the Church offer to individuals and society? More than: what can the Church receive from the world? If it is true that the Church is travelling the same journey as all mankind, this journey towards the heavenly city must be made enriching for both in all respects.2

                The Synod of Lucena will now outline the foundation of the ministry of the local Church in the world, some of the concrete social realities obtaining in the diocese, and finally some recommendations for the Church’s ministry in this portion of the Lord’s vineyard.

 

CHAPTER I

 

THE FOUNDATION OF MINISTRY IN THE WORLD

 

 

  1. 1.Service to others is an integral part of Christian life. We take as our model for services Christ Himself who came “not to be serve by others, but to serve” (Mt. 20/28). Thus, he clearly told the messenger sent to Him by John de Baptist: “Go and report John what have seen and heard: the blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, dead men raise to life and the poor have the Good News preached to them” (Lk. 7/22-23). To serve, that was what He was anointed and sent for: “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and released the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord” (Lk. 4/18-19; 61/1-2). Christ’s clearly was a mission preferentially directed to the poor, and sick, the afflicted, the marginals of society.
  1. 2.Every Christian, by virtue of baptism and confirmation, is likewise anointed and sent to serve. Service is the concretization of a Christian’s faith and worship God. This Synod wishes to recall the questions as well as the challenge poste by the apostle St. James: “My brothers, what good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and no food for the day and you say, to them, ‘Good-bye and good luck! Keep warm and well fed, but do not meet their bodily needs, what good is that?’ So it is with the faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly life less” (James 2/14-17).
  1. 3.Our Christian life celebration would likewise be meaningless without the fulfilment of the works of charity and justice. The synod again recalls the strong and emphatic utterance of the Lord disapproving worship which does not issue in acts of mercy. He said through the prophet Amos: “Yes, I know how many your crimes, how grievous are your sin: oppressing the just, accepting the bribes, repelling the needy at the gate . . . I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider you’re your stalled fed peace offering. Away with your noisy song. I will not listen to your melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me holocausts, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like unfailing stream” (Amos 5/12, 21-24).
  1. 4.Eternal salvation is what every Christian should aspire and work for. The Lord who desire the salvation of all has given us a hint how to attain it. It will be through caring for the people with whom He has identified Himself, such as hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the prisoner (Cf. Mt. 25/34-36). Since life is a continuum, salvation in the next life cannot be separated from the development and liberation of man in the present life.
  1. 5.Faithful to mission entrusted to her by Her Divine Spouse, the Church has always been at the service of the needy, the oppressed and the afflicted. The delegates of this present Synod of Lucena profess their oneness with the Universal Church in rendering reverence for the human person “bearing in mind above all his life and the means necessary for leaving in a dignified way”3.
  1. 6.With the Second Vatican Council, the present diocese Synod declares as criminal, debasing both perpetrators and victims as well as militating against the honor of God: a) all offers against life itself, such as murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and wilful suicide; c) all offenses against human dignity, such us subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation slavery, prostitution, the selling of woman and children, drgrading working conditions where are men are treated as mere tool for profit rather than free and responsible person.4 Indeed, how many of sins mentioned above are being committed right in our midst?
  1. 7.The Mission entrusted to the Church by Christ, it is true, is a religious one. However, the council says, “this religious mission can be the source of commitment, direction and vigor to established and consolidate the community of men according to the law of God. In fact, the Church is able, indeed it is obliged, if times and circumstances require it, to initiate action for the benefit of all man, especially of those in need, like works of mercy and similar undertakings”.5
  1. 8.Our Synod, therefore, declares that no undertaking will become alien to the mission entrusted to the Church by Christ if man’s salvation is to be rightly understood as a total salvation, that is, the liberation of the whole man from sin and consequence of sin. The late Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Populorum Progreeio, has drawn the attention of the whole world on the development particularly of those who are striving to escape from hunger, misery, endemic diseases and ignorance; of those who are looking for

a wider share in the benefits of the civilization and a more active improvement of their human qualities; of those who are aiming purposely at their complete fulfilment, such as to seek to do more, know more and have more. 6

                9. Our Synod further declares that such activity of the Church is not foreign to the task of evangelization. The Church “has the duty to proclaim the liberation of millions of human beings, many of whom are her own children, the duty of assisting the birth of this liberation, of giving witness to it, of ensuring that it is complete” 7

                10. According to the 1971 Synod of Bishops, “The Church has received from Christ the mission of preaching the Gospel message . . . This is the reason why the Church has the right, indeed duty, to proclaim justice on the social, national and international level, and to denounce instances of injustice, when the fundamental rights of man and his very salvation demand it”.

 

 

CHAPTER II


CONCRETE SOCIAL REALITIES



                11. The local Church lives in the midst of social, political, economic and cultural changes which challenge accepter values, beget tensions, and create new relationships, 9. The reports submitted by the Parish Synodal Committees show certain concrete social realities obtaining in our local Church.

                12. In many parishes of the Diocese, studies show, human rights are in various ways being violated. The most serious appear to be the following: the neglect of the people’s right to government care, unfair labor practices, unjust wage scales, usury, profiteering, arbitrary eviction of people and land grabbing.

                13. With the 1971 Synod of Bishops, “we recognize both our responsibility and our inability to overcome (these problems) by our own strength.”10 They are known to many of our parishioners who are likewise members of civil society. The really active parishioners and citizen cannot do much other than refer them to agencies and persons concerned. Only a handful have dared to organize the people into a serving community, through various forms of cooperatives. (As in cooperatives and credit unions.)

                14. The first among the reasons for the insufficiency of action in behalf of justice is the fact that church-people, such as the priests, the religious and many lay Catholic leaders, are often allegedly identified with the rich and powerful who are regarded as violators of human rights. This is a very and sad and embarrassing situation. It should awaken the consciences.

                15. Furthermore, the many victims of injustice are kept in ignorance about their real situation; and even if they knew, they are driven to suffer silently because they are afraid to air their complaints. 11 On the other hand, some of those who dare to raise their voices in behalf of the voiceless victims of injustice, in behalf of the weak and the poor, do so not without some risk to their persons. The objective to lessen violence of every kind and to advance all together in brotherhood and love certainly demands no less than prophetic holiness and heroism.

16. Majority of the people in the diocese are poor. This is shown by the survey conducted before the Synod. Majority of the respondents declare that the government has the principal obligation and responsibility to develop and expand the business opportunities in order to raise the standard of living of the poor. Nevertheless, they also look up to the Church to perform her share in this task, especially through the exercise of their prophetic mission.

                17. Consequent to the poverty of many of our people are crimes and other acts of injustice. Poverty, too, creates conditions detrimental to the health of the people. The results of the survey show the inadequacy of health programs undertaken by both religious and government sectors. Many of the programs are merely palliative, occasional and short-lived. The health problems as well as the moral ills of society grow as poverty increases.

                18. Another sign that we read is the limitation and inadequacy of involvement of the local Church in the economic and social rehabilitation of groups with special needs. In the majority of our parishes only a few of these people are actually being reached and helped. Most of the assistance being extended are occasional, temporary, palliative and dole-out.

                19. This assembly, therefore, recognizes the great need for the local church, especially on the parochial level, to initiate activities on the behalf of the less fortunate groups, such as, the abandoned aged, the orphans and neglected children, the beggars and the vagrants, the prostitutes and prisoners, the victims of natural calamities. Involvement in the life of these groups, to improve the quality of their life, certainly requires the overcoming of narrow individualism and a real transformation of heart.

                20. We are grateful for the introduction of ALAY KAPWA Program in our Diocese and for its extension in every parish. We encourage that this be integrated into our apostolate order that greater and greater percentage of the population may be reached by its program of development and liberation. It must be made clear to everyone that Alay Kapwa is not a program of collecting aids for the dole-out, but a program leading from development to liberation, from social welfare to social justice, from community development to community organization. 12 The collection of fund which accompanies the program is an opportunity for every Christian to give a tangible expression to his desire to share his wealth and to participate in the realization of common objectives.

                21. Another social reality, of course, is the establishment in our Diocese of the Diocesan Social Action Center. Now in its twelfth year of existence, the Social Action Center merits to be recommended for the valuable projects that is as initiated and maintained through the years. This Synod expressly confirms the suggestion of the parish synodal committees that the same center give emphasis to two very relevant areas of apostolate, namely, the Family Life Apostates and the Youth Apostolate. Not to be neglected, of course, are community organizations and apostolate among the working classes. The education and information campaign should be maintained. Regarding problems of injustice and violations of human rights, the Center must find means to establish with help of Catholic lawyers a Free Legal Assistance Clinic.  

22. The Reflection on the concrete social realities obtaining in the Diocese must continue as these may open new avenues for action in the building up of the local Church. Reflection should extend also to the study of the Word of God and the teaching of the Church in so far as they are the sources of inspiration for all social action.

 

 

CHAPTER III



RESOLUTION OF THE SYNOD



                23. The Synod does not intend to give at this moment a concrete program for social action. The making of such a program will certainly require more time and resources than this Synod can presently afford to offer.

                24. Desirous to build a more dynamic local church committed to the advancement of everyman in the diocese towards the kingdom of God, we strongly recommend to all concerned that:

                RESOLUTION-1. Recognizing the necessity of Christian social action in our time, that bishop, priests, and Catholic lay leaders should support in every way possible the Diocesan Social Action Center.

                R-2. In order to be truly responsive to the call for the development and liberation of the needy and the oppressed, the Social Action Center should initiate programs that will realized the ideals of Christian relationship between the different sectors of society be they economic, politics, religious or cultural.

                R-3. The Diocesan Social Action Center should keep the line of communication with the National Secretariat of Social Action (NASSA) and the Luzon Secretariat of Social Action (LUSSA) in order that its programs and operations may be coordinated with the national regional objectives.

                R-4. In order to develop self-confidence and self-reliance among the client systems, social action programs, whether in the diocesan or in the parochial level, should have the following characteristics:

  1. a)They must always have an educational component with Christian orientation. This Synod reaffirms the pastoral recommendations of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in Pastoral Letter “Educational for justice.” 13
  2. b)In Order to insure the continuity of the programs, they must be organizational in nature. The Christian community must be taught to identify and prioritize its needs and objectives and be able to take action in cooperative and collaborative fashion. The available models of community organization should be studied for eventual adaptation.
  3. c)The programs must be both developmental and liberating. The giving of dole-outs must be kept at a minimum and given only to the helpless and miserable.
  4. d)The programs must be made and implemented with the people’s participation, especially when they involve decisions affecting their lives.
  5. e)The programs of social action should take into account the surveys and studies made on the people’s situations and growing needs.

                R-5. The pastoral care of the family should be instituted in every parish through the establishment of the Family Life Apostolate (F.L.A.) under the supervision of the Diocesan Commission on Formation. Both the clinical and moral aspects of conjugal relationship must be taken into account.

                R-6. On account of the increasing number of our youths and the growing problems that affect and are posed by our youths, the Youth Apostolate must be strengthened and maintained in every parish. The Diocesan Service Commission shall work closely with other diocesan entities engaged also in this apostolate.

                R-7. In view of the growing problems of injustice and violation of human rights, the Diocese of Lucena through the Diocesan Service Commission should initiate programs that will help overcome such evils. This Synod recommends that initiatives be taken to form Community Organizations, Labor Apostolate and Free Legal Assistance Clinic for the poor. The teachings of the Church should be the basis of whatever stand of Diocese may take in any social issue or problem. Without sacrificing any moral principle, the Diocese should as much as possible be an agent of reconciliation of parties concerned.

                R8. On account of the shortage of doctors and inaccessibility of well-equipped hospitals, we propose the adoption of community base health programs which will tap the resources available in the locality. The people themselves should accept the responsibility to look after their own health by learning and teaching other the basic and simple means of preventing diseases and treating common illnesses.

                R-9. With the use of the Alay Kapwa fund and other financial aids from funding agencies, the Diocese should initiate programs which will help improve the economic condition and socially rehabilitate the groups of people who otherwise would remain in their state of poverty and oppression.

                R-10. The Bishop shall appoint a well-trained and competent priest as full-time director of the Diocesan Service Commission and of the Diocesan Social Action Center. Among his task shall be to help establish and coordinate the activities of the parochial committees. With the help of the other members of the commission her shall prepared are details of the different service program needed in the Diocese of Lucena.

                R-11. While deeply affirming the necessity of social action programs in the Diocese, we likewise recognize the essential place which prayer has in all our activities. Therefore, prayer should be given its place in the total human development as well as in the renewal of Christian life. 14

Conclusion

                This pastoral instruction is intended to give fresh impulse to the ministry of the local church in the world. What has been accomplished in the past must not be considered as a term, but as a part of the long process of analysis and synthesis towards the building up the local church.

                It is through loving service that we will reach man, our brother. In the evening of our life each will be examined how well he has served (cf. Mt. 25/31-46).

The Council has opened the process of dialogue between the Church and the World. This Synod of Lucena affirms its desire to continue this dialogue as it is vital in the process of growth. It likewise

Affirms the hope that in every parish of the diocese PRAYER shall become the soul of SOCIAL ACTION. In this way action will become Christ-led and Spirit-led.

                Borrowing the very words of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II. In his address to the Bishops of Latin America, we direct our supplication to God that He may give the Dioceses of Lucena laborers with the “boldness of the prophets, the evangelical prudence of pastors, the clear-sightedness of teachers, the reliability of guides and directors, the courage of witnesses, and calmness, patience and gentleness of fathers.” 15

 

Footnotes

Gaudium et Spes, Documents of Vatican II, Flannery edition, no. 40; cf. Lumen Gentium, op. cii., no. 8 (Henceforth, G.S.; L.G.).

G.S., no. 41-44.

G.S., no.27.

Ibid.

GS., 42.

Populorum Progressio, Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI on Development, Daughters of St. Paul Publication, n. 30.

Evangelii Nuntiandi, Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI on Evangelization, Daughters of St. Paul Publication, no. 30.

Justice in the world, Synod of Bishop 1971, Daughters of St. Paul Publication, p. 18 (Henceforth).

G.S., nos. 5-7.

J.I.W., p. 17.

L.L.W., p. 13.

Octogesima Adveniens, Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI on the Eightieth Year of Rerum Novarum, Daughters of St. Paul Publication., p. 46.

This Pastoral Letters of the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines was issued in September 14, 1978.

Cf. Final Statement and Recommendations of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Cnference held Calcutta in November 1978. Its Theme was “Prayer – the Life of The Church of Asia”. FABC Papers, no. 13.

Conclusion of the Adress of Pope John Paul II to the bishops of Latin America.

 
   
Tuesday, March 28, 2017

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