Go out on the streets and serve, priests told

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MANILA, August 30, 2013— A Catholic archbishop told his clergy to reach out to the faithful and adopt a more missionary mindset.  

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said they cannot keep themselves stuck in churches and become “pastors of status quo” while people are waiting for the Gospel. 

“This cannot continue. We cannot be swivel chair pastors,” Villegas said in a statement issued Friday. 

“We must get out to the barangays and public schools, visit the charity wards of hospitals, teach catechism again, visit homes again—make a ‘mess’ in society,” he said. 

It was yet another admonishment from the incoming head of the Catholic bishops’ hierarchy, lamenting that many priests have slid down to just “maintaining” the Church. 

The archbishop also acknowledged the church’s failure to evangelize effectively and impose morality. 

“The problem is not priest shortage but zeal shortage,” he said. “We brother priests have failed to inspire our people to imitate Christ. We have failed to lead them to intimacy with him.” 

Villegas also urged priests to prepare and deliver their homilies well to make it more effective. 

According to him, one of the “serious” problems of the people who attend Masses is the “long and winding and dry homilies.” 

“Our youth complain about lifeless and uninspiring liturgies. How can we set their hearts on fire if we ourselves are not afire for God? We must prepare our homilies,” he said. 

Villegas also said that teaching Christian doctrines are not enough if priests failed to connect them to life. 

“We have taught the Christian doctrines but we have failed to connect them to life. We know the faith but we do not live it,” he added. 

Knowledge of the faith, he said, without living that faith is only an ego massage as it “makes us think that we are good Catholics although the reality is the opposite.”

“Our transmission of the faith must inspire our people to imitate Christ,” said Villegas. 

After all, he said, Christianity is not just a set of doctrines to profess but is more importantly about “living like Christ.” (RL/CBCPNews)

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