Catholic faithful group airs ‘frustration’ against diocese

Catholic faithful group airs ‘frustration’ against diocese

A GROUP of Catholic faithful in Lucena in Quezon Province has come forward to express their “dismay and frustration” over the response of the Diocese of Lucena to their prayer and procession activity organized outside the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila on June 18, 2024.

In their open letter, a copy of which was furnished to Sunstar Philippines, the Lay Initiative Team, Ordinary Catholics (L.O.) maintained that they “were formed out of love for the church during the year 2016-2017.”

“We are from the Diocese of Lucena, province of Quezon, consisting of professionals, religious organizations, ordinary church goers, laymen, workers, farmers, fisherfolks, OFWs, LGBTQ, more than willing to answer interviews,” the group said in an “Open Letter addressed to Pope Francis, to the Diocese of Lucena, Apostolic Nuncio, CBCP [Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines], Dicasteries of Rome, All the Bishops and Clergy, Fellow Catholic Christians all over the World” dated June 27, 2024.

Ann Talabong, a leader of the group, also dismissed the public statement of the Diocese of Lucena which pointed out that none of the participants appeared to be coming from the parishes under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the diocese.

“We did not organize at the diocese directly because we will be ignored there," Talabong said on Friday, June 28.

She added that they chose to organize the "prayer and petition” at the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila, some 133 kilometers away from Lucena, “to immediately get the attention of the Nuncio of our requests.”

“We are composed of ordinary catholics hailing from different backgrounds, upbringings, and families. Our individual experiences through our local churches proved to be caused by the same root,” said the group.

According to Talabong, they thought that they would be heard out by the Nuncio and the Church leaders in the Diocese after they first wrote and sent letters in January 2023 to the Apostolic Nuncio (Archbishop Charles Brown), then in December 2023 to the dicasteries for the bishops and clergy in Rome (Cardinal Robert Francis Prevost, Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik) so they can air their alleged grievances.

Talabong said that no priest is behind their June 18 actions and that they have no motive to destroy the Church.

“No priest is behind us. In our hopelessness we take counsel from some priests from other Dioceses. We aim for the truth, justice, transparency, and accountability. We act on our own volition and decision, faith and conviction out of love for the church," the group added.

The group supposedly has five demands if they were invited for a dialogue with the Nuncio, according to Talabong.

“We have taken the appropriate channels, we have directed concerns to you as direct as direct can be, for we do not wish to tarnish our beloved church…We are truly for the desired cleansing, purification and renewal of the Church. We believe and we are truly convinced that we are doing this for the good of the whole Church,” the group said in their letter.

In its June 18 statement signed by chancellor, Fr. Orson Ornedo, the Diocese of Lucena defended the diocese, saying the group’s purpose “is not to pray for but to malign the clergy and the bishop of the diocese with general and baseless accusations.”

Amid the group’s allegations, Ornedo said the diocese has decided “to consider this incident with pastoral charity and Christian optimism just as shepherds ought to listen to their flock, perceive their unvoiced questions, and understand more clearly their needs.”

“Be that as it may, we highly encourage the members of our ecclesial community to direct their grievances or concerns through appropriate channels so that the same can be adequately, properly, and promptly addressed,” the diocese said on June 18. (Ronald O. Reyes/SunStar Philippines)

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