AMID the continued tirades of President Duterte against the Church, former Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Thursday, April 18, called on his fellow priests and bishops to take on threats against them head-on.
In his homily at the St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Dagupan City, the Lingayen-Dagupan prelate said the clergy should not be cowed with the threats and insults thrown against them as this is already part of their missions as followers of Christ.
“There is nothing surprising with priests being threatened with death. We should not have accepted ordination if we were afraid to die or be killed for the Lord. It is destiny. It is fate,” said Villegas.
“Death is not a threat. It is our destiny. To be killed is not a defeat of our mission. Martyrdom is the crowning glory of our mission,” he added.
“Brother priests, make friends with death. Let death not threaten you. The call to the priesthood is a call to die. It is clear. There is no priesthood without victimhood. We would be fake priests if we separated the Upper Room from Calvary,” furthered Villegas.
In doing so, Villegas said priests and fellow bishops must accept being called many names, such as sex addicts, child predators, priest playboys, priest gamblers, and priest husbands.
He also said priests must accept being sent to a nation whose leader mocks God and calls Him stupid, and where there is a marching order to kill any bishop you see.
The prelate said his colleagues should also be ready to face a society, where honesty is optional and "delicadeza" is outdated.
To top it all, he said, priests must face the Catholic faithful that are clapping on such acts by the nation’s leader and are campaigning for his enablers to win the elections.
“We must be priests for all seasons, priests for sunny middays and dark midnights. We may have to go through these dreary times of darkness but behind the clouds the sun is still shining. Death is our mission and in our death the world receives life,” he said.
“We have been through better times when priests were revered, trusted and esteemed. Those days seem to be behind us but we are still here serving as priests in season and out of season,” added Villegas.
Instead of being cowed, the archbishop urged priests and prelates to be more determined to confront “with holy anger” the more than 30,000 senseless murders of the poor in the name of a false drug-free society.
He said they must also exorcise the “creeping culture” of vulgarity, obscenity, lewd jokes, and lack of good breeding, with the humble power of the Crucified Lord.
Villegas said they too must reject the “father of lies and prince of darkness” by the courage to stand up for the truth, and the bravery to shield it from deception and fake news.
“Bring the fight not just in the pulpit but on social media and in the plaza. Flood social media with the power of love. Make good manners fragrant and attractive. Make them see the mercy of God on Facebook,” said Villegas. (HDT/SunSatar Philippines)