MANILA, April 6, 2014 — Faithfulness to the teachings of the Catholic Church is not proven through one’s staunch opposition against changes in long-standing traditions, a high-ranking church official said on Saturday.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged lay leaders to observe “creative fidelity” in their parishes—that kind of faith which respects the same Catholic ideals, yet uniquely modified to match the specific needs of a particular spiritual community.
“Fidelity does not mean rigidity and narrowness of mind,” Tagle said in his talk during the monthly Manila Archdiocesan General Pastoral Assembly (MAGPAS) held at the Cardinal Sin Auditorium of the Paco Catholic School.
“That kind of faith, according to one author, is ‘creative fidelity.’ It is fidelity that is faithful to the gift, to the word of God, to the sacraments, to the Holy Spirit, and to the mission of Christ. But it is also that kind of fidelity that is creative. Why? Because different situations characterize every parish,” he said in Filipino.
Preserving the ideals of the Church, while knowing how to uniquely apply them to particular life situations is how the Church gains its strength to withstand challenges, Tagle said.
“We will not change the blessings of the Lord, but how are we going to accept and apply them in our life situation?…The Church springs where His blessing and our life situation meet,” he said.
Tagle noted that the unique situation confronting every spiritual community explains why unique pastoral governance is needed to meet the specific needs of the faithful.
“What you do to one parish could not be exactly done to another…Imitating just for the sake of copying is not part of creative fidelity. We could be faithful while looking at the situation. We should discern how we can keep (His blessings) the same, without being unfaithful to the gift,” he said.
The Filipino cardinal further stressed that the “crucial point in the ‘Year of the Laity’” is the participation of the faithful in the affairs of the church.
“The Lord calls us to bring His Church to where we are. Wherever we go in our earthly journey, that is where we are called to become a Church, to become the community and body and blood of Christ, and to become the temple of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“The real Church comes from the act of God. But this act happens among us—within humanity. This blessing for us to become a Church is accomplished in the concrete situations we have in life. We all belong to different communities with different history, language, culture, and state of life,” he added.
Tagle said, to practice creative fidelity, the lay faithful must know the characteristics possessed by their parish, so they would know which specific needs have to be addressed through this kind of adaptive faithfulness.
“We can only be truly creative if we know the situation of our parish and our neighbors. If we fail to gain this understanding, the creativity that we will give will really have no substance and will lack the deep reason (to support its cause),” he added.
“There is only one body of Christ. It has different parts, but each of them…is part of one another. May this be true, not only to individual Christians, but in every community that is also part of other communities,” he said.
“We are all interconnected in one body, in one temple of the Holy Spirit,” Tagle said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)