WITH just a few days left before the apostolic visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) challenged Filipinos to live lives of “mercy and compassion.”

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas pointed to different levels of the Christian way of helping—prayers, charity, development, and liberation.

“The Church should not be satisfied with almsgiving. To help, [we] must move on to development and liberation. The goal of evangelization is not just proclamation,” Villegas said Monday during a forum in UST organized by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Villegas said the best Filipino translation of the papal visit’s theme was “Awa ng Diyos,” an expression that Filipino Catholics should continue reflecting upon.

“Hindi lamang sa kaibuturan ng puso nagsisimula ang ‘awa ng Diyos.’ Kapag sumaatin ang awa ng Diyos, mararamdaman natin na ito ay nanggaling sa bituka, hindi dahil nasusuka tayo sa kalagayan ng ating kapwa. Kung hindi, dahil hindi natin matanggap na ganoon ang nangyayari sa kanila,” Villegas said.

Filipinos should also strive for “constant renewal” even beyond the papal visit, through a personal encounter with God’s grace, he said.

“The key to renewal is not a surge of popular ratings; it should be individually accepting the challenge of simplicity. An individual personal encounter will lead us to a personal conversion and will keep the ‘Pope Francis fever’ in fervor,” Villegas said.

The CBCP president called on Filipino Catholics to continue preparing spiritually for the Pope’s visit, especially for the final Mass of the apostolic visit on Jan. 18 at Luneta Park in Manila.

The forum at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex Auditorium, dubbed a “A people of compassion,” served as the Inquirer’s contribution to preparations for the Pope’s visit on Jan. 15 to 19. Angeli Mae S. Cantillana


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