WHEN business concerns re-strategize, they invariably evaluate their past performance and assess their major strengths and weaknesses. They also do an environmental scan to know what present and future challenges might have to be faced and with what strategic moves.
I am bringing this up because Philippine Catholic Bishops and clergy are into the final stages of a re-evangelization program to prepare for the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the country, and I know they do not go much for scientific planning. They are known to rely more on the grace of God or the light of the Holy Spirit that they believe will more than make up for their illusions of reality.
Thus, if we are to assume that re-evangelization does not mean more of the same but more of new and effective ways of proclaiming Christ’s gospel of love of neighbor, Pope Francis’ ideas on the subject must take center stage. In an encyclical Francis stressed that the best way of proclaiming is by works of compassion and/or action for justice and peace. More recently he has asked priests to limit their sermons to 10 minutes.
So, is the Philippines to see more works of compassion, more action for justice and peace from Catholic clergy and faithful? Will the faithful finally get respite from long-winded, rambling and pointless sermons of the clergy?
But I am going ahead of myself. To go back, if re-evangelization means a new way of preaching the gospel, what have bishops assessed were the weaknesses of the old method that called for its revision? What exactly are bishops trying to correct in deciding that the country needs re-evangelizing?
What in the old way of proclaiming the gospel produced the corrupt, thieving and murderous society that we are after 500 years of Christianity? For sure we are not the dishonest, unjust and uncaring society by the grace of God or the light of the Holy Spirit. The answer has to be in the ineffective way Christ’s message is being preached.
Moreover, if bishops scan the environment, they should come across statistics that prove religion’s waning influence in the modern and prosperous West but thriving in poor Asia and poorer still Africa.
Shouldn’t bishops confirm with hard statistics if Christianity is declining or thriving in the Philippines? Should they also not want to figure out why the only Christian nation in Asia is the most corrupt and has the most number (as a percentage of the population) of very poor people?
The answers to the questions above should determine if in 2021 Catholics will celebrate the success or mourn the failure of Christianity in the country. These alone should guide bishops towards new and more effective ways of re-Christianizing Filipinos.