Bishop pushes 3 W’s to promote Christian unity

Bishop pushes 3 W’s to promote Christian unity

Bishop Jesse Mercado of Parañaque. MICHAEL DALOGDOG

By CBCP News

December 6, 2019

Manila, Philippines

A Catholic bishop has called for concrete action to advance the cause of Christian unity.

Bishop Jesse Mercado of Parañaque stressed that Christian unity can be realized by “walking, working and worshipping together”, or what he calls “three W’s”.

He, however, said the three actions of dialogue are not enough to bring about unity among Christians.

“It is not enough to find ourselves united in terms of evangelization and charitable activity if it were not accompanied by love,” Mercado wrote in a pastoral letter.

“The secret to unity is, in fact, putting on love. When we have love at the center, everything falls into its proper place,” he said.

The bishop also called for an end to “prejudice” if only to have a harmonious dialogue with other Christian groups.

He stressed the need “to overcome past attitudes that block our relationship with them, and may even foment hostility towards them”.

According to him, the attitudes that need purification are:

  • That the Catholic Church has the exclusivity of all religious truths. “The fact is many truths of our faith are also present in other Christian groups,” he said. “The way they live out these truths can also enrich us.”
  • That only Catholics will be saved in the next life there’s a need to convert others to Catholicism. “The fact is though we have ‘the all-embracing means of salvation,’ other Christian churches are not deprived of the mystery of salvation. Thus, we do not need to impose our faith on them,” said Mercado.
  • Arguing and debating about our respective beliefs often characterize our interaction with other Christian groups. “The fact is ecumenism is not only about doctrines. Yet even in theological exchange, the way is listening to each other in the spirit of humility and love,” he also said.

“But alongside these attitudes in need of purification, we also need to take into consideration the renewal of our firm confidence towards our Catholic faith accompanied by our humble respect of others’ beliefs,” he added.

The bishop issued the pastoral letter for the new liturgical year in the diocese with the theme, “ Diocese in Mission: Ecumenism as a Path Towards Christian Unity”.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has declared 2020 as the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples.

But the Parañaque diocese has trimmed down the CBCP theme by focusing only on ecumenism which is “more appropriate in our situation” and “more realistic to handle for the time given”.

“I thought of focusing only on Ecumenism because it refers to our Church’s endeavors to build unity with our other Christian brothers and sisters,” Mercado said.