January 26, 2016, 8:01p.m. – CEBU CITY – LOS ANGELES Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron on Tuesday slammed the rise of secularism around the world, particularly in the West, calling it a “spiritual disaster.”

“We are built for God and we know that,” Barron said during the press conference for the third day of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. “Because nothing in the world satisfies us. All the pleasure, all the power, all the honor that the world can give you, there’s still this restlessness in the heart, a restlessness for God.”

The 56-year-old Bishop Barron, preacher, theology professor, author and founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, noted that in the US and Europe, an overwhelming majority of Catholics choose to skip Mass.

“Seventy percent of Catholics [in the US] stay away from the Mass … If we get marginalized by a secular society that sees secularism as the default position, and religions as kind of a nice hobby that some people have, that’s doing deep damage to society,” he said. “Because we’re the ones who remind people of this longing of the heart, we’re the ones who remind people of what satisfies.”

Barron cited the role of Filipinos in the US Church, saying they vividly remind American society of the need for God. “The Filipino community is keeping our parishes going,” he said.

Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, president of the 51st IEC, for his part said that while secularism in the country was rising, the Philippine Church was influencing the country in more meaningful ways.

“That’s why the Holy Father has pointed out that he loves the Philippines because we have a strong and enthusiastic faith,” Palma, a UST alumnus, told the Varsitarian.

“While others may have fears regarding the influence of secularism and materialism, we [Filipinos] can become agents and make the world a better place, Palma added.

Palma admitted to a shortage in the priesthood but said lay people were very active in the work of evangelization and catechesis.

“We recognize that the work of evangelization does not only rely on the priests. That is why we are happy with many lay people who embark on many evangelization projects and in their own volition decide to be missionaries in other places,” Palma said.

Earlier, Papal Legate Charles Maung Cardinal Bo visited the IEC Pavilion to deliver a short message, and went on to visit the “dancing inmates” at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center.

Cardinal Bo is expected to speak at the fourth IEC press conference tomorrow. John Gabriel M. Agcaoili and Danielle Ann F. Gabriel


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