The challenges the Church in the Philippines faces (Part III)
THE family remains a cause for concern. How to develop truly Christian families is a challenge for the Church when the family as an institution has been weakened due to migration, reduced size, and the influence of a globalized culture and technology. Family evangelization programs need to be developed as well as marriage-enrichment programs for couples. Pre-marriage/pre-Cana seminars needs to be updated.
In promoting communion and carrying out her mission – especially the prophetic evangelizing mission, the Church must make use of technology – whether in mass media and social media. The cyberspace or the internet is helpful in developing communion – connecting the members of the Church with one another and with their pastors no matter how distant they are physically. The Church needs to avail of technology to not just in imparting the teachings and doctrines of the Church but in the formation of conscience.
The participation of young people in liturgical celebrations and youth activities at the parish and diocesan levels remain high. But we cannot be complacent as the globalized secular and materialistic culture continue to influence young people. Formation/Evangelization programs for young people that will include formation of conscience and involvement in the prophetic and servant mission of the Church should be emphasized. The Church should not forget to address young people’s need for meaning and direction as well as appropriate spirituality. Hopefully, from among them will come the future priests and religious, as well as lay leaders.
Finally, the Church must address the issue of leadership in the Church which is a reflection of the crisis of leadership in society. The quality of leadership is very important if the Church is to survive and thrive and if society is to be transformed. So far, the models of leadership have been inadequate and so is the leadership-formation for clergy, seminarians, religious and lay people. Many of the clergy who are ordained are not prepared to exercise leadership roles in the parish and diocese although they may have adequate theological, spiritual and liturgical formation. Many continue to associate leadership primarily with power, privilege and status—influenced by the prevailing dominant cultural models. Thus, they turn out to be incompetent figureheads, or petty tyrants, or bureaucrats, or administrators operating in a maintenance mode. Worst of all, some become involved in sexual misconduct and corruption, lacking in conscience, failing to exercise with integrity ethical leadership.
This is the kind of leadership that will weaken the Church and block Church’s renewal. Thus, the model of leadership promoted by Vatican II and PCP II must be imbibed—leadership motivated by humble and loving service (servant-leadership), being a compassionate good shepherd with the smell of the sheep. This leadership style is more participative, consultative, collegial or collaborative and inspired by vision (the vision of a Church renewed)—hence, visionary leadership. This type of leadership demands scrutinizing the signs of the times—viewing reality from a broader perspective—looking at the big picture and the long view. This type of leadership is more concerned with building up the Church as a living community rather than in building expensive churches or cathedrals. To avoid maintenance mode, this requires planning and strict implementation yet characterized by flexibility. This kind of leadership requires courage—the courage to speak out, to confront the wolves that threaten or wound the flock and to accept suffering and martyrdom if required. Without this kind of leadership, the vision of a renewed Church of Vatican II and PCP II will remain an empty dream—forgotten beautiful documents relegated to the archives.
We should not expect that we can fully achieve the vision of a renewed Church in our own lifetime. It is a continuing effort, an ongoing journey. The Church, after all, is constantly reforming and renewing herself – ecclesia semper reformanda. Like the Kingdom of God, it is an “already-not-yet” reality. Hence, we must always be patient and do what we can. After all this is the work of the Spirit and we should rely on the guidance and the dynamism of the Holy Spirit. Vatican II was seen as a new Pentecost. It was just a new start. Those who started have already gone before us and it is our duty and obligation to continue what they started just as we hope the next generation will continue to do so. There is no turning back.