Pope Francis’s papacy ‘biggest challenge’ to PH church—Villegas

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MANILA, July 6, 2014–The papacy of Pope Francis is by far the “biggest challenge” faced by the Philippine Church, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said.

Lingayen-Dagupan Archishop Socrates Villegas on Saturday said that the pastoral approach of the Supreme Pontiff in leading Catholics all over the world has transformed the church from being a “self-engrossed” institution into an “outreaching” community.

“(Pope Francis) shakes up our old belief systems about spiritual shepherding. He jolts us from our complacency and status quo attitude. He humbles us with his simplicity. He disturbs us to make us better,” Villegas said in his speech opening the 109th CBCP Plenary Assembly at the Pius XII Catholic Center.

“He has slowly moved the Church from being a dogmatic, self engrossed and authoritative sick institution to being a gentle, outreaching, compassionate and persuasive Church through the power of love and mercy,” Villegas added.

He reminded the role of pastors as shepherds who will “go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant,” “being in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence” and “walking after them, helping those who lag behind.”

Villegas reminded the clergy to always be humble, noting that the loss of humility in Church ministry can pose “costly” consequences.

“When we lose humility, we lose perspective. When we lose perspective, we also become too reactive. When we become too reactive, we become less effective and less credible as pastors,” he said.

With Pope Francis set to visit the Philippines early next year, Villegas urged the members of the clergy to serve with humility and happiness, speak with honesty from the mind and to listen patiently with the heart, and see the goodness in everyone and live the mercy of the Gospel.

“This is the example of Pope Francis. Living by this example will make us good shepherds like the Good Shepherd,” he said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)

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