Bishop: Theology and pastoral care are not opposed

Bishop: Theology and pastoral care are not opposed

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan speaks during this year’s International Theological Forum at the Ateneo de Manila University, March 15, 2018.  PHOTO COURTESY OF EUGENE PARAYAOAN

By Roel Joe Abonal

March 15, 2018

MANILA, Philippines

Theological reflection must always be done in the context of pastoral care, a Catholic bishop said Thursday.

Speaking to theology professors and students, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan said that the church’s teaching and her pastoral ministry are inseparable.

“The doing is what really matters,” he said during the International Theological Forum hosted by the Loyola School of Theology (LST) at the Leong Hall of the Ateneo de Manila University on March 15.

To stress his point, the vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) stressed, “I became a real theologian when I became a pastor.”

According to him, it is with the people where theology becomes alive and where God’s word is allowed “to address the people, my community, effectively.”

“It is in that pastoral care setting that I learned to do theology after years of studying and teaching theology,” David said.

‘Selfie church’

He then reminded the participants that there is a gap between those people who always go to Church and those who do not. Even the church, he added, has poor people in her margins.

“The poor are not just in the fringes, they are also in the church,” said David.

“The gaps that we have so efficiently established in the world is the chasm of apathy and indifference

The gaps that prevent us from seeing the needy prevents us from seeing the Lord,” he said.

Problems within the Church, the bishop said, are caused by self-centeredness or what he called the “selfie church” that is “living within herself, of herself, for herself”.

He said that there’s a “serious disease of parochialism in our churches. We maintain them but we don’t realize that sometimes they get afflicted by self-preferentiality and theological and pastoral narcissism.”

Instrument of reconciliation

Meanwhile, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, emphasized the need for priests to become more open to others.

“One of the main mission of the priest is to be an instrument of reconciliation and forgiveness,” the papal nuncio said.

In a world where division and abuse of power is prevalent, he noted that it is the Christian’s mission to remember whom Christ engaged in the world.

“Recognition, collaboration and humility,” he said.

Acknowledging that sometimes church people become obstacles to the mission of Christ in the world, he reminded everyone of those who tirelessly work and endure persecutions just “to keep up the faith.”

“God is always at work. Let us be ready not to hinder this work of God. Let us build a kingdom of justice, of love, of hope,” Caccia said.

The International Theological Forum is a two-day event organized by LST since 2015. This year’s theme is “Formation for Ministry in 21st Century Asian Contexts” on the occasion of the CBCP Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Life.