04/18/2009, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Crisis of vocations in the Philippines

by Santosh Digal
The bishops invite young people to consecrated life, and ask parents to give their children full freedom of choice. Many families ask their children to find a job to guarantee them economic support in their old age. In the capital, there is one priest for every 20,000 faithful.

Manila (AsiaNews) - The Philippines, the Asian country with the largest number of Catholics, is facing a vocational crisis. The bishops' conference is issuing an appeal to the young people, asking them to enter the seminary and dedicate themselves to consecrated life, and calling on parents to leave their children "full freedom of choice."

Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of Manila and president of the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, stresses that the time has come for young people to decide what university they will attend, and invites them to consider the choice of "serving God."

"They should think carefully," Bishop Pabillo says, "about their decision, and follow the will of God" without allowing themselves to be influenced "by the kind of work that they would like to do after the university." A document from the bishops' conference indicates that at least 25,000 priests are needed to serve the 68 million faithful spread throughout the country. According to the bishop, every priest should serve 2,000 parishioners. In Manila alone, the ratio is one priest to every 20,000 faithful.

The auxiliary bishop of Minogue also invites parents to leave their children free to decide; many, in fact, set up obstacles because they are afraid that they will not be able to take care of them in their old age. "I don't think this is a correct way of thinking," the bishop says. "A child should live his own life, follow his own vocation. Parents must not use their children for personal gain." Finally, he launches an appeal for young people to visit parishes and seminaries in order to get more information about consecrated life.

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