MANILA, Oct. 15, 2015 –A Catholic priest is convinced that Pope Francis’ persistent clamor for “Mercy and Compassion” is not just mere rhetoric meant to draw attention, but a concrete platform that enables the Church to reach out to as many people as possible.
“The Pope’s quest for just and peaceful solutions to the problems of the world may seem to be quixotic. In an era of pluralism and a world divided by individual ideologies and personal interests, his call may prove to be just a mere echo reverberating in the wilderness. But why would one dismiss such a vision of a unified, peaceful, and charitable abode for all?” asks Fr. Jerome R. Secillano, chief pastor of Nuestra Señora del Perpetuo Socorro in Sampaloc, Manila, in his recent CBCP News column “Collection Box .”
The priest maintains that unless greed and selfishness are curbed, there will always be people resisting a selfless and noble call for the common good like the Holy Father’s.
According to Secillano, what makes the Holy Father an effective communicator is his unassuming character, noting how he never calls attention to himself, but points only to issues that destroy human’s God-given dignity.
Commenting on the pontiff’s recent visit to the United States, Secillano believes Pope Francis succeeded in giving the country and the rest of the world a “clear and practical moral compass” that will help solve the world’s problems.
“Without even mentioning abortion, he expressed in no uncertain terms that respect for life is a moral obligation, and took a swipe at the death penalty and called for its abolition. He talked about migrants and refugees, and stressed the need to open international borders in a bid to accommodate people displaced by war and terrorism,” he explains.
The priest also appreciates how Pope Francis challenged America to take the lead in caring for the earth and the environment by ending the selling of arms and by halting the degradation of the environment.
“Indeed, when ‘America sneezes, the rest of the world catches the cold.’ We are not sure, of course, whether a powerful nation will bend to the plea of the Vicar of Christ on earth. But this is not just about America and her people. The Pope’s message is a call for a collective action to right our wrongs, to wake up from our apathy and slumber and to live by the golden rule. It is actually an appeal to all people of good will to make the world a truly better place to live in,” he adds.
Secillano notes that in the Philippines, which was graced by the pontiff’s presence months earlier, one has yet to see whether the government and the local Church have made strides in helping those in the margins acquire a more humane manner of living.
IPs, ‘ideological colonization’
“While the Pope speaks of welcoming refugees, it is troubling to learn that our very own ‘Lumads’ and Indigenous Peoples (IPs), especially those in the South, are being eased out of their ancestral lands by government forces, thereby making them “refugees’ in their own country,” he laments.
The priest also expresses alarm over a continuing “ideological colonization” and distortion of Biblical truths that may soon find its way into the halls of Congress, citing Sen. Bong-Bong Marcos’ controversial statement that “Marriage is defined not by gender but by love.”
“Such continuing ‘ideological colonization’ and distortion of Biblical truths through possible legislations is alarming, especially since they are being slowly adopted in a predominantly Catholic country such as ours,” Secillano adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)