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Philippine bishops’ president: ‘wake up, Catholic laity’

Catholic World News - January 03, 2014

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines challenged laity to become less passive and make clear that the lay vocation and mission does not consist in liturgical ministry.

“There is a remarkable interest among our lay faithful to be ministers at the altar but there is a high degree of hesitation to speak about the Catholic faith as catechists or work among the poor members of the parish as social action ministers,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas in a letter at the beginning of the Philippine bishops’ year of the laity.

“There is a bit of glamour and prestige at being seen at the altar,” he added. “The lay faithful are primarily called for social engagement outside the church building. Our laity is staying too long inside the church doing work inside the church presuming that God is pleased. This must be corrected. There must be more laity working for God in society than at the altar.”

Archbishop Villegas also called for family prayer.

“It is not enough to pray in the parish church,” he said. “The rosary must be prayed in every home … The best contribution we can make for society is indeed prayer but prayer must be brought out of church premises and brought at home, at work, in the plaza, in the streets, in the market and grocery stores; indeed everywhere.”

The prelate also said that “room has not been made for [the laity] to speak and to act, due to an excessive clericalism which keeps them away from decision-making.”

“I hope the priests will be more trusting and open with the involvement of the laity,” he concluded. “We pray that our laity will wake up from passivity, be fired by the Spirit and dare to change the world for Christ.”

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  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jan. 03, 2014 10:20 AM ET USA

    The Archbishop is quite correct in what he says here, but can you imagine the headlines if Pope Francis said this? I can see them now in my mind's eye: "Pope tells Catholics to spend less time in church! Says this does not please God!"

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