A GROUP of Filipino Lay Catholics have written a letter to be addressed to the Catholic bishops, priests and religious of the Philippines. Ceres Doyo, a columnist of the Inquirer, is one of those who took the initiative to write the letter. She sent me a copy and I myself added my signature to the letter. As a layman I wholeheartedly subscribe to the content of the letter. I think the letter is very timely and to the point. The Philippine Church has to become more democratic in its dealing with the lay. Here is the full text of the letter:

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“Today, we are at the dawn of a new decade, a time for new beginnings. The National Priests’ Congress is being held and the new leaders of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) have been named.

We, the LAY FAITHFUL, who compose 99.06 percent of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, look forward to new directions and a new pastoral approach within the Church that will bring real change in ourselves, our communities and our nation.

We are living in crucial times and circumstances. Our nation is faced with problems of inequality and inequity, environmental degradation, fighting and strife and a crisis in leadership. The gravity of the situation gives us feelings of helplessness and confusion.

As Christians and Filipinos inspired by the Holy Spirit, we aspire to become true witnesses to our people. And so we hope to affirm our rightful place and dignity in the Church, to get involved and go over and above rituals and personal piety, to work actively for the just ordering of society and for the common good.

We need you, our bishops, priests and religious, to hold high the MORAL COMPASS that will light our way, and for you to provide the PROPHETIC PASTORAL ACCOMPANIMENT that will strengthen us in fulfilling our role and mission as sons and daughters of God.

We would like you to make a stand with us and walk with us. Together let us fulfill these urgent tasks:

1. Achieving a just peace that is not the mere absence of conflict but one that honors human dignity, protect human rights, and condemns institutional violence as well as all forms of cruelty.

2. Protecting the most vulnerable among us (the least, the last and the lost) by providing access to justice, livelihood, health, education and all other basic human needs, as well as promoting the livelihood of the poor instead of bailing out big business and granting corporations exemptions from wage increases.

3. Protesting the ill-effects of globalization, among them, loss of jobs, exploitation of land and labor, unfair trade practices, women being turned into commodities.

4. Promoting a culture of integrity and stewardship in society and in the Church. Denouncing corruption in all its forms and in all levels, in both the public and the private sectors, and demanding that the corrupt be held accountable.

5. Condemning abuse of power and the culture of impunity that allows crime to go unpunished.

6. Offsetting the breakdown of OFW families with parish support, counseling programs and projects.

7. Caring for the environment, conserving it for future generations and speaking against its abuse.

8. Calling on the citizenry to take an active role in ensuring that the coming elections are credible.

Today let us heed the call of the times, let us walk and work together to make our country a better place for our people.

“I myself will pasture my sheep, I myself will give them rest,’ says the Lord God. ‘The lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal… shepherding them rightly.’ – Ezekiel 34:15, 16.”

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