Indian Catholic News

Filipino priests told to work with poor for penance

Members of the clergy, religious join penitential walk to show solidarity with those who suffer.

 
Manila: 

Priests and nuns who joined a confessio peccati or "confession of sins" and "penitential walk" in the Philippine capital on March 21 were told to "accompany those who suffer" as part of their penance.

The activity, held just before the start of Holy Week, was part of the observance of the local church's "Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons."

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan reminded the clergy and the religious to "accompany those who suffer and thirst for justice."

He said the gesture of walking is "a motion of accompaniment" to show that church people "accompany those who have killed [and] those who have been killed."

The prelate has been a vocal critic of the government's "total war" against illegal drugs that has reportedly killed about 12,000 people.

Philippine authorities, however, said less than 3,000 suspected drug users and peddlers had died in police operations in the past 20 months.

The walk called "Way of the Cross, Way of Healing" was a response to the exhortation of bishops for the clergy to make a "sincere reflection and humble repentance and reparation."

Archbishop Villegas said even those who have caused suffering should be accompanied, saying that "to accompany is another way of loving."

The prelate, however, said that "to accompany is not to be blind to the shortcomings of those we accompany."

"To accompany means to be confrontational, to accompany means to challenge our brothers and sisters, ourselves that there is something wrong," said the archbishop.

In the spirit of the Lenten season, the prelate said "to hurt those who have to be hurt" should not come from self-righteousness but should be "an invitation to conversion."

He said to be able to accompany and work with the poor and victims of injustices, priests, nuns and the religious should "recognize our own need to be accompanied."

"We must not forget our own need to be accompanied ourselves," said the prelate. "Our gathering is intended to offer us a means for healing ourselves of our transgressions," he said.

The Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines led the activity to give a chance fort priests and the religious to "acknowledge and own up to their faults and mistakes."

Along the way of the penitential walk were "stations" that dramatized the contemporary crosses that should be carried by Filipino Christians, including disasters brought about by climate change and killings allegedly due to the government's anti-narcotics war.

The penitential rite is modeled on St. Pope John Paul II's act of repentance in 2000 for what was supposed to be the sins committed by the Catholic Church against Jews, heretics, women, Gypsies and native peoples.

Source: UCAN

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