Letter of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle to the Clergy
June 27, 2018
My Dear Priests in the Archdiocese of Manila,
Greetings of joy and peace! I am now in Geneva for the UN Conference on Migrants and Refugees sponsored by the Holy See, Caritas Internationalis, the World Council of Churches, International Detention Coalition and other groups. Msgr. Clem Ignacio has requested for my thoughts on the recent issues in our country. I admit that I do not have a complete picture of the context, but I would like to share some random thoughts with you.
1. Be at peace. Be calm. Don’t let things disturb your inner peace. Let us read the situation with the eyes of faith.
2. Vatican II stressed that we Catholics should respect non-Catholics and their religions. We also respect those who do not believe in God. All people should strive to respect those who differ from their beliefs. Religions are not to be used for conflicts but for mutual understanding and peace.
3. Questioning God and God’s ways is not new. It is as old as humanity and religions. In the history of the church they have become moments for study, reflection and clarification of doctrine. Creation and evolution, God’s goodness and evil, God’s grace and human freedom, God’s mercy and eternal punishment – these topics have been raised at various moments of the Church’s history. In my visits to colleges and universities, I have been asked similar questions by young people. Their scientific and technological education calls for a review of the relationship between Faith, science and reason. Remember Glyzelle, the young girl who asked Pope Francis at UST, “Why does God allow children to suffer?”These questions are always raised and will continue to be raised. As a constructive step, perhaps, we can invite our philosophers, scientists, theologians, bible scholars, catechists and social workers to revisit these concerns and present responses appropriate to our contemporary sensibilities. Maybe a renewed apologetics is needed for those who are sincerely searching for the truth.
4. While these questions are extremely important for the dialogue between faith and current concerns, let us not be distracted from addressing other pressing concerns with the fervor of faith and love: for example, the increasing prices of goods, job security, exploitation of women and children, violence in homes and neighborhoods, different types of addictions, crimes, vulnerabilities of OFWs, the daily paralyzing traffic in big cities, flooding, reconstruction of destroyed cities, combatting terrorism, corruption and others. We need to come together and contribute to positive responses according to each one’s capability. We cannot address these problems by just blaming someone. Those who believe in God must work faithfully and joyfully for the Lord. Those who do not believe in God must serve out of human decency, generosity and concern for neighbors.
5. Some biblical texts might help restore a faith perspective and interior peace when people get disturbed by questions about God and God’s ways. Here are some:
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
“We preach Christ crucified: a scandal to Jews and absurdity to Gentiles. But to those who are called, Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God. For God’s folly is wiser than men and his weakness, more powerful than men.” (I Corinthians 1:23-25)
“Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
To sum up, please remind our Christian faithful to rejoice always, as Pope Francis in his latest exhortation Gaudete et Exultate tells us. Celebrate the faith! Fill up the churches! Sing loudly at mass. Pray fervently. Serve joyfully. Tell the world of God’s love for you. Be fools for Christ. Be at peace. God is the Savior. We do not need to save God. It is God who will save us.
I hope these “scattered” ideas could help. Please pray for our meeting here at Geneva. God bless us and our country!
+ Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle
Archbishop of Manila