Bishop tells religions to build peace
Bishop Victor Bendico (center) leads the faithful in the Eucharistic celebration during the Solemnity of Christ the King and the launching of the Year of Ecumenism, Inter-religious Dialogue, and Indigenous Peoples in Baguio City on Nov. 23, 2019. PHOTO FROM THE DIOCESE OF BAGUIO
By Fr. Mickey Cardenas
November 25, 2019
A Catholic bishop called on people of all faiths to help build a fraternal and peaceful society.
Echoing Pope Francis’ message in Thailand, Bishop Victor Bendico of Baguio said that people of different faiths “can live as good neighbors”.
“Religion fundamentally inspires us to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved,” he said.
According to him, religions play a key role in nurturing relationships in families, communities, and nations.
The prelate made the statement during the diocesan launching of the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples on Sunday.
The celebration also coincided with the local celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King held at the Baguio Athletic Bowl in Burnham Park.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, he pointed out that Jesus came as a king but not a king of this world.
“At the very moment, even while nailed to the cross, he was showing to somebody his kingdom. Jesus was rescuing a sinner, a person enveloped by darkness. And that was Jesus’ mission – to rescue his people from the power of darkness and to forgive their sins,” said Bendico.
He added, “Christ wishes to build a kingdom of peace, truth and love. The building of the kingdom of peace, truth, and love can be realized if people from different faiths view religion as a way ‘to foster an increase of fraternal relationships’.”
On the other hand, the bishop noted: “some religious people tend to be indifferent or unsympathetic towards others.”
“It is good that the Church in the Philippines, through the CBCP, gives value to ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue for the year 2020, he said.
The bishop invited the faithful to welcome the special year but he warned, “There’s a lot of work waiting for us in 2020”.
Recent city government records show that Baguio has 80.4% Roman Catholics, followed by the Episcopalian Church with 5.8% and 3.5%, from the Iglesia ni Cristo and other denominations.
There are also a significant number of Muslims, consisting of Filipino Muslims of different ethnicities and Muslims of other nationalities. The city also has smaller numbers of Buddhists and atheists, along with members of other faiths.
The United Nations Development Program records reveal an estimated 14 to 17 million Indigenous Peoples, mainly concentrated in Northern Luzon (Cordillera Administrative Region, 33% and Mindanao, 61%).
In the face of these challenges, the bishop assured his flock, “We have here the image of Christ the King before us and so we entrust our diocesan activities to Christ the King, the Compassionate Shepherd who never leaves his flock untended. Of course, we journey with Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement.”