For Mgr Valles, God’s love has healed the wounds of colonialism

For the archbishop, the colonial past is a "very painful" chapter, but Christians must praise the gift of faith. “Our celebration is about journeying, growing, and deepening our faith with Jesus,” he said. In 2021, the Filipino Church will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first Christian proclamation in the country.

Davao City (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Evangelisation is the "straight subtle line of God’s love" amid the crooked lines of colonialism, which represent “a very painful” chapter in Filipino history, said Archbishop of Davao Romulo Geolina Valles (picture 2) during a Mass celebrated in St Mary of the Perpetual Rosary Parish in Davao last Sunday.

In his address, the prelate, who is also president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), urged Christians to celebrate the “gift of faith” as the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.

His statement is very different from that of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte who, on 6 September, came out against celebrating the important anniversary. “Why would I give something for the celebration?” said the president, adding that “When Magellan came here, he brought the cannon and the cross”.

The next day, Mgr Pablo Virgilio Siongco David, Bishop of Kalookan and CBCP vice president, responded to Duterte by rejecting the association of Christianity with colonialism.

What the Filipino Church will celebrate in 2021 is not foreign occupation, but 500 years of the Christian faith. The natives of these islands welcomed it as gift “albeit from people who were not necessarily motivated by the purest of motives,” said Bishop David.

Four days ago, Archbishop Valles led the Mass for the 33rd parish festival in Davao. “Compared to the crooked lines . . . there’s the straight subtle line of God’s love for us,” he said.

In “order to appreciate that love of the Lord to us, we should be equipped with the eyes and gift of faith,” he said. “Our celebration is about journeying, growing, and deepening our faith with Jesus,” he added.

The CBCP has been preparing the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country since 2013. The main venue for the jubilee is Cebu Island, located in the Visayas archipelago (central Philippines).

The capital, Cebu City, is considered the cradle of Christianity in the country. Following the arrival of Spanish missionaries in 1521, the first baptism took place on the island and the native population received the icon of the Santo Niño or child Jesus.