The Synod

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Monday, March 4, 2013


THE Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is celebrating its First Synod, a month long gathering of priests, women religious and lay people.

According to Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, the Synod will review the guidelines on pastoral policies in the archdiocese as a response to the needs of the present times. One of the topics discussed during the Synod is the liturgy of the Church.

I would like to make some suggestions speaking for the lay people. Fr. Boy Salvador said that to understand the liturgy may be a long process and entails many discussions. He probably is referring here to the new translations of the Missal. These are the English translations. I think we should not lose our time in discussing the correctness or incorrectness of these new translations. We can leave that to the English speaking countries; they have aired already enough criticism against them. English is a foreign language for us Filipinos. We should go back to what Vatican II has advised us: to worship in the vernacular. Our vernacular here in Mindanao is Bisaya. The mother-tongue reflects the culture of people. It will facilitate the correct understanding of the Liturgy and the Word of God. English won’t. If there is a need for an English Mass because of the presence of foreigners or Tagalog-speaking Filipinos, a special Mass can be arranged for them but the regular schedule in the parish church should not be changed. I have heard a lawyer saying that he doesn’t feel at home with a Bisayan Mass. Has his studying law alienated him so much from using his mother tongue?

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Another suggestion I would like to make is to review the program of the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC). Haven’t they become too spiritual in practice? Before, we had the BCC-CO (Basic Christian Community-Community Organizing) program. This was an alternative pastoral program which had an organizing component, organizing the basic sectors of farmers, workers, women and youth in the community. The effect of this program was that the sectors were made aware of the causes of their exploitation and oppression and it made them get involved in their own proper development. Would this not lead the Church to become more a Church of the Poor?

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) has envisioned the Philippine Church to be the Church of the Poor. The poverty incidence in the Philippines is at 27 percent – that is, slightly more than one out of every four Filipinos earn P40 or less a day, prompting some to say that perhaps the Church should devote less attention to rituals and rubrics, and more to relevant education and poverty alleviation.

The role of women – doesn’t there ought to be a shift in the perception of women’s role in society, but in the Church as well. Women are more than just servants. They could take a leading role in the management of the parish.

Another important issue is the widespread “popular” protest against some aspects of global capitalism, the concern for the long-term care of our planet and the unconvincing progress in ecumenical dialogue.

The Church is still far behind in attending to these complex challenges that Catholics think and care about. The laity in the Church should become more a prophetic people of God journeying together. This is what Vatican II had envisioned.

(For your comments, email nolvanvugt@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 05, 2013.

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