MANILA, Oct. 20, 2014–CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas said the recently-concluded Synod would only be a prelude to more conversations and studies about the family.
In a statement sent from Rome, Archbishop Villegas said he was privileged not only to listen to the debates and interventions, but also to have the opportunity to address the assembly on the role of the clergy in family renewal.
He said the Church must be able to extend to everyone the hospitality, care and mercy that Jesus ordained to be the foundation of his community, his Body, the Church.
“Nobody should be systematically excluded because of circumstances personal to the individual,” he explained. He added “everyone should be offered hope according to the Gospel and comforted by the love of brothers and sisters in the One Body of Christ”.
Villegas said Pope Francis warned the Synod participants of the temptation to simply be “do-gooders” based on “deceptive mercy” that “binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them.”
Taking note of “hurting families,” he said there are Filipinos in irregular relationships, those living in unions, de facto separations from spouses and partnerships with other persons. He said these persons “must be helped by pastors, particularly by the Sacrament of Penance, to follow the demands of true and unselfish love in the Spirit of the Gospel.”
“We cannot presume to judge and condemn,” he said. However, he added “the presumption should be that there is a genuine effort on their part to live according to the demands of our faith.”
The prelate said the fear of scandal should never stand in the way of genuine charity “and the Catholic faithful must be reminded that much of what Jesus did was scandalous to the ‘righteous’ of his time.”
Villegas said should bishops and priests opt to regard unqualified persons in irregular unions, pastoral care may be taken that it may not cause doubt and misunderstanding of the teaching of the Church. He recommended “some prudent arrangement” that need to be worked out which should be beneficial to all. (Melo Acuña)