Laity urged to lead transformation of country’s secular, temporal affairs

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MANILA, Feb. 4, 2014—Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Saturday called on the lay faithful to bring the lessons of the good news to the temporal affairs of the country, saying that it is an important responsibility of the laity in the “sanctification” of the world.

Tagle, in his talk for the first Manila Archdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly (MAGPAS) this 2014, noted that the distinctive characteristic possessed by the laity is their “secular quality” which allows them to transform the world “from within.”

“The lay faithful are the baptized members of the church who directly participate in the ‘present world.’ That is their distinctive quality,” Tagle said in the vernacular. “And what is their mission? They seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to the plan of God, not by distancing or escaping from them.”

Referencing his talk to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, Tagle noted the fields of politics, economics, science, communication, and technology as among the many societal straits needing dire conversion by the laity.

“This is a huge and heavy task because what the church hopes from the lay faithful is the sanctification of the world from within,” he said.

Transforming the system 

Stressing the role played by the lay faithful as stated by Vatican II, the senior prelate noted that “the Church through the lay people could provide remedies to institutions and conditions of the world customarily an inducement to sin.”

He then urged the laity to engage into specific temporal affairs where fraud and corruption are rampantly practiced.

“Where do we usually witness corruption, deception, and stealing? In the government? In the barangays (village)? In the church? Vatican II urges the laity to enter the institutions of the world where temptation is strong so they can transform them according to the presence of Jesus,” Tagle said in Filipino.

Instead of avoiding being engaged in corrupt-ridden institutions for fear of being negatively influenced, Tagle called on the laity to do otherwise and involve themselves more deeply and lead to goodness individuals who have been eaten by the system.

“What happens is that the faithful evades these temporal affairs. Why? They say it’s because of the bad system. But how can those institutions be cleansed if you won’t enter them? Vatican II says that you must enter from within to clean it. That is how a laity should be,” he said.

“Instead of being afraid that you will be influenced by the bad system, be the one to influence it to goodness,” he added.

Culture of integrity, honesty 

If the faithful would unite in this mission, the prelate said Filipinos “can see visions of a renewed society, a renewed culture, a renewed politics, and a renewed economy.”

“Through this, the laity can contribute in transforming the Filipino culture into a culture of integrity and honesty, a culture that prioritizes the common good and not just oneself.

Let us start in our families, at work, in the streets, and show that through the laity who bears the Kingdom of the Lord, all of these can change,” Tagle said.

The faithful should seek refuge to the Lord whenever they are confronted by fears of being negatively influenced by the worldly affairs, Tagle noted.

“What we have is faith…that even if temptation is present…we believe that Christ and the Holy Spirit are stronger than the sins of the world…If we believe this, why would we be afraid to engage in the temporal affairs of the world?” he said.

“This is humble faith, our strength to fight temptation does not come from ourselves, but from Christ,” he added.

‘Saving mission of the church’ 

Noting that the “lay apostolate is a participation in the saving mission of the Church,” Tagle called on the Filipino faithful to intensify their engagement to the affairs of the state.

“Considering the sheer number comprised by the laity, the pace of evangelization should be faster in the temporal affairs of the world than inside the church,” he said, noting that in certain parishes, only one parish priest is assigned to guide a flock of 30,000.

He added that it is also through the participation of the lay faithful to the affairs of the world that “the Church is made present and operative” in places and circumstances where it is only the laity who can bear witness to Christ.

“The mission of the laity is to truly take part in the mission of the church. The mission of the church is not solely intended for priests and the religious. The mission of the laity in the temporal affairs is a form of real and effective participation in the mission of the church,” Tagle said.

It is in this sense that the role of the laity in the mission of the church must not be downplayed, he said.

“The lay faithful are baptized individuals who heeded the Lord’s call for them to serve as lay members of the church. To be lay is a calling and you have to respond to that calling…We have to correct the notion that lay individuals are inferior because they are not ordained,” Tagle said.

“Every baptized person is one with Christ…And as baptized individuals, lay people are established among the people of God and incorporated to the Church,” he added. (Jennifer Orillaza)

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