Davao archbishop Romulo Valles
In his first missive as the new leader of the country’s prelates, Davao archbishop Romulo Valles urged other men of the cloth to turn away from the “dismal shadows” that has hounded the clergy.
The new president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) pointed out that those misconducts of some men of the cloth call for repentance, reparation, and renewal.
Valles made the call in the CBCP’s pastoral exhortation for the opening of the 2018 Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.
The Catholic Church has declared 2018, the sixth year of the nine-year spiritual journey towards 2021, as the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.
The year 2021 will mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
Valles, who succeeded Lingayen-Dagupan archbishop Socrates Villegas, lamented how some members of the clergy fall victims to “frailty and scandals.”
“The bright lights undeniably go at times with some dismal shadows, brought about by some clergy and consecrated persons. There were occasions of frailty and scandals that sadden us,” he said.
Valles stressed the need for renewal and to make amends, so that priests and consecrated persons may continue to serve and guide fellow sinners to the Lord.
“Such misconducts call for sincere reflection and humble repentance and reparation. May these faults point us to new and vast possibilities of renewal and communion with those who are weak and broken,” he said.
A known friend of President Rodrigo Duterte, Valles would begin his two-year term as CBCP president this Friday, December 1, 2017.
Duterte has a strained relationship with the Church, accusing its bishops and priests of corruption, womanizing, sexual abuses, and other excesses.
In his pastoral exhortation, Valles pointed to some clergymen’s weakness for power and material possessions, which prevent them from following God’s will.
“Some get entangled in their concern for material possessions, in their need for pleasures and in their desire for power. Instead of becoming servant-leaders of communion, they may even lead us to confusion and disharmony,” he said.
The new CBCP president called on his fellow members of the clergy to return to their priestly vows so that they will be in constant communion with God and become disciples of evangelization.
“The clergy and consecrated persons, given their role of leadership in our communities, and who often enjoy privileges and entitlements, should stand up from a comfortable and privileged position to generously and humbly serve,” Valles added.
He also appealed to the faithful to pray for the Church’s priests, seminarians, and other consecrated persons especially during the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.
Valles further urged the faithful to continue supporting the clergy and consecrated persons in their journey as “servants to the servants of the Gospel.”
“Let us also pray for the young men and women in the seminaries and formation houses. As they prepare for a life of self-offering and service, may their communion with Jesus be the source of their inspiration, strength, and joy,” the prelate added.
Meanwhile, Manila archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged ordinary Catholics to make use of their God-given gifts by sharing these blessings and the Gospel with their fellow man.
“Priests and consecrated people like ourselves are not the only ones who are called to share the Gospel. You can also evangelize and share His Word,” he said on Thursday.
Tagle celebrated a Mass at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Malate, Manila to close the 2017 Year of the Parish as Communion of Communities.
He pointed out that priests and nuns are fruits of evangelization in the home, school, and community.
“This is why in gratitude they offer themselves to the community, akin to an ‘exchange gift.’ Let us ask ourselves what we received from the Holy Spirit that I can give to others in the spirit of mission and communion,” Tagle added. /kga