Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Church must be free to make its voice heard, to proclaim the Gospel and also to raise awareness of her social doctrine that protects primarily the poorest and weakest. In this context, Benedict XVI praised the commitment of the Church of the Philippines in defence of life from its beginning to natural end and "appreciates" what it is doing in favour of abolishing the death penalty.
The Church's commitment in the social sphere, as well as in the fundamental mission of proclaiming the Gospel, was the focus of the pope’s address today to the bishops of the Philippines, for their five-yearly visit "ad Limina".
To be "leaven" of the culture of society, said Benedict XVI, the Church must always make its voice heard, first of all with the proclamation of the Gospel. " This voice expresses itself in the moral and spiritual witness of the lives of believers. It also expresses itself in the public witness offered by the Bishops, as the Church’s primary teachers, and by all who have a role in teaching the faith to others".
The task of proclaiming the Gospel touches " touches upon issues relevant to the political sphere. This is not surprising, since the political community and the Church, while rightly distinct, are nevertheless both at the service of the integral development of every human being and of society as a whole. For her part, the Church contributes most toward the building of a just and charitable social order".
"At the same time, the Church’s prophetic office demands that she be free “to preach the faith, to teach her social doctrine ... and also to pass moral judgments in those matters which regard public order whenever the fundamental human rights of a person or the salvation of souls requires it” (ibid.). In the light of this prophetic task, I commend the Church in the Philippines for seeking to play its part in support of human life from conception until natural death, and in defence of the integrity of marriage and the family. In these areas you are promoting truths about the human person and about society which arise not only from divine revelation but also from the natural law, an order which is accessible to human reason and thus provides a basis for dialogue and deeper discernment on the part of all people of good will. I also note with appreciation the Church’s work to abolish the death penalty in your country."
The Pope also highlighted some other aspects of life of the Church of the Philippines, starting from the commitment to be present in the field of social communications. " unified and positive voice needs to be presented to the public in forms of media both old and new, so that the Gospel message may have an ever more powerful impact on the people of the nation."
Another aspect of the mission of the Church in the Philippines highlighted by Benedict XVI is " in her commitment to economic and social concerns, in particular with respect to the poorest and the weakest in society. At the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, the Church in your nation took a special interest in devoting herself more fully to care for the poor." The Pope also pointed to the "just concern" of the bishops in the" on-going commitment to the struggle against corruption, since the growth of a just and sustainable economy will only come about when there is a clear and consistent application of the rule of law throughout the land. "