BISHOP Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete exhorted more than 100 priests on Tuesday, April 16, to “fight fake news” and “proclaim the truth” instead, as the entire Christendom entered into the solemn observance of Holy Week.
Cortes gave the challenge in his homily during the yearly renewal of vows of the priests held during the Chrism Mass at the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral in Dumaguete City.
He likened the proliferation of fake news today to the situation during the time of Jesus Christ, who was a victim of false information spread against Him by those who wanted him dead.
“They brought charges against him (Jesus), saying they found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Christ, a king,” the prelate said as he quoted Sunday’s Gospel reading from the book of St. Luke.
Cortes pointed out that the charges against Jesus were not true, as he called on the priests, saying, “I pray then, my brother priests, that you continue to fight against fake news and misleading information that cloud the perception, as well as the vision of our people as regards the events in our communities and in our country.”
He cited the recent killings in the province, including that of the late Board Member Miguel Dungog, who was shot dead in broad daylight last month.
Regardless of the circumstances behind their deaths, the bishop said “there is all the more reason for us to proclaim that, indeed, Christ is alive. The death of Truth is certainly incompatible with our faith, in particular with our belief in the Lord Jesus who has identified himself as ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’.”
He told the priests that on their ordination, they have become “alter christus who shall now agit in persona Christi capitis ecclesiae, who shall now act in the person of Christ, head of the Church.”
It is then upon the priests to find ways to help the poor, proclaim liberty to captives, help families whose members may be suffering from drug addiction, and make the blind see, he said.
The prelate also highlighted the need for the people to seek the truth, especially as the country will once again be choosing their political leaders in the May 13 elections as he called on the priests to “find ways to challenge the people not to be blinded by the gold nor be intimidated by the guns of the candidates.”
“Help them to see more clearly what is at stake for our country in the coming elections,” he went on to say.
He likened choosing Jesus over Barabbas, the thief who was released instead in the Biblical accounts of Christ’s passion and death.
The prelate urged the people “to choose Jesus and what he stands for, that is, to choose candidates who value life, honesty, truth, and to dump Barabbas, who stands for violence, dishonesty, and corruption."
Cortes, in an interview following the Chrism Mass, explained that his homily centered on Pope Francis’ greeting in his latest pastoral exhortation, “Christus vivit”, or “Christ is Alive”.
He noted that amid all the “unfortunate and lamentable events in our communities and country today”, Jesus is alive, and “we, members of the Christian community of the Diocese of Dumaguete, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are alive, in faith, in love, in works of justice and charity."
Meanwhile, he urged the people to find time to pray through silence and contemplation as the entire Christendom enters into the solemn observance of Holy Week.
He pointed out that the Holy Week is also a time for rest and “not for lingaw-lingaw (fun)” with many spending time at the beach or going on vacation instead.
“This is an opportunity to be anchored once again on who we are, that we are children of God, and that we should journey towards Him because our hope is in Him,” Cortes said. (PNA)