07/11/2016, 15.12
PHILIPPINES
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Filipino bishops to hold fast to the truth even in the wilderness

“We will teach, even it seems like a voice in a hostile wilderness, till the day we die, that right is right and wrong is wrong and we will not withdraw from mission of the Lord,” said CBCP president at the start of the bishops’ plenary assembly. The latter’s “call is not to be successful but to be faithful”. As the new administration and the Church set out their relationship, the bishops’ task is to “shield the weak”.

Manila (AsiaNews/CBCP) – The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is urging its members to stand up against what is wrong and uphold the Church’s teachings even if they if it means going into the ‘wilderness.’

“We will teach, even it seems like a voice in a hostile wilderness, till the day we die, that right is right and wrong is wrong and that we will not withdraw from the mission of the Lord,” said CBCP President Archbishop Socrates Villegas at the start if the bishops’ 113th plenary assembly on Saturday in Manila.

More than a hundred prelates are in the capital to lay down the guidelines for the next two years. “Our call is not to be successful but to be faithful,” Villegas said.

The meeting comes at a particular moment for the Church and the Philippines. On 30 June Rodrigo Duterte took office as president of the Philippines.

During the election campaign and after, he criticised the Catholic hierarchy, calling them "corrupt and hypocritical", and made some provocative statements, like a bounty for drug traffickers, imposing family planning, and hitting hard at corruption by playing dirty if need be.

Instead of replying to the president, the bishops opted for prayers and meditation. “We will stand and defend every person’s life and dignity. We will shield the weak from harm. We will protect the confused from error,” Villegas said.

“For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but [. . .] and will be diverted to myths,” he added.

The archbishop reminded his fellow bishops that the wilderness offers an opportunity for purification and prayer, a return to the basics without trappings and icings.

“The wilderness beckons us to stay with the Lord and return to the essentials. The wilderness tests our readiness for martyrdom,” Villegas added.

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