A Statement of Unity and Solidarity

A Statement of Unity and Solidarity
“The thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as field hospital after a battle.”Pope Francis’ homily on the Mission of the Church, May 2015

We, 49 diocesan and religious clergy, 1 religious brother, 6 religious sisters, and 1 lay church worker, participated in the joint gathering that marked the 10th year of the National Clergy and Religious Discernment Groups (NCDG and RDG) on October 15-17, 2019 in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. The theme was “Peacebuilding in Time of Climate Emergency”.

Inspired by Pope Francis, we courageously began the journey by being “unafraid of going forth into the night that has fallen on our land and on our people.” The shared experience of deeply listening to the pains of the clergy in accompanying the suffering people in the Dioceses of San Carlos, Bacolod, Kabankalan, and Dumaguete disturbed us. Consequently, we were awakened to own our weaknesses and shortcomings in living out our prophetic vocation, especially in times of crisis. This gave us a glimpse of what it is to be a listening church.

We recognize the following as aspects of Climate Emergency which is the broadest context of mission today:

• The culture of poverty and corruption is deeply rooted in our history. Feudalism, abuse of power and entitlement are still embedded in our society.
• The culture of environmental degradation is caused by abuse of authority and greed that allow irresponsible mining, illegal logging, illegal fishing, operation of coal-fired power plant, and the loss of the rights and dignity of our indigenous peoples.
• The alarming killings, summary executions, and red-tagging create a culture of impunity, indifference, fear,
and moral degradation.
• The seeming lack of church leaders’ prophetic voice expected to speak and act on death-dealing issues tends to lose the Church’s credibility and relevance.

In the midst of this darkness, we see signs of hope. We have gained a deep sense of hope by accompanying people, celebrating sacraments as celebration of life with the people and giving meaning to the ministry of presence. Our experience of dialogue with the military & LGU’s made us realize that even in a corrupt system, dialogue is possible to push for real change. We want to build on the power of our cultural values to strengthen cooperation.

In support of the four dioceses in Negros…

1) We demand to stop red-tagging, warrantless arrests, extra-judicial killings, summary executions, and harassment of the innocent poor, moving to genuine peace in the island of Negros;
2) We strongly urge leaders of the different sectors of our society to come to healthy collaboration in upholding the rights and dignity of every person, and demanding accountability from the perpetrators;
3) We call for integral peace, one that addresses the roots of social injustice, by challenging the Department of Agrarian Reform to hasten the distribution of land with support mechanisms to uplift the lives of the farmers and agricultural workers;
4) We join them in saying NO TO COAL! YES TO RENEWAL ENERGY by integrating the campaign for renewable energy and against coal-fired power plants in ecological programs of our institutions and ministries;

We, the NCDG and RDG, humbly offer to collaborate with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines in discerning prophetic actions demanded by the signs of the times.

God of Life, You have said: “I have come so that you may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) Your people have suffered enough. We, whom You have called to be shepherds can no longer remain silent.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, awaken us now, so that in fear and in courage, we will walk together from the darkness of this time into the light of hope, from the emptiness of death to the fullness of new life. Amen.

October 18, 2019, Feast of St. Luke, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental