Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos delivers his homily on the opening Mass of Pacom. (Photo by Genielyn Rosario M. Soriano/The Varsitarian)

DELEGATES to the fourth Philippine Apostolic Congress on Mercy (Pacom) were told to abhor “reckless” civil leaders and uphold life amid cruelty and persecution last Jan. 24 to 26 at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Lashing out against dishonest politicians, Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said the faithful must stand up against “those who attack the Catholic faith” and respond with prayers and politeness.

“Even some of our civil leaders are cruel morally and physically corrupt. Yet, we will not be afraid…because of Jesus whom we turn to and we have to trust. They insulted our good God. God cannot be mocked,” he said in his homily.

Santos also stressed the need to defend life “when it becomes cheap and people suffer so much because of the irresponsible and dishonest civil authorities.”

In recent months, the Catholic Church has been the object of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades such as suggesting that “useless bishops should be killed” and declaring that “God is stupid.”

Caloocan Bishop Pablo David, vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, urged Catholics not turn a blind eye on the thousands killed under the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

“No one cares about strangers, you will only start caring once you give them a name, once they begin to have a face. [K]ilalanin ninyo ang mga pangalan nila, mababagabag ka,” David said during his talk, titled “Selfie Syndrome and the Image of Mercy.”

No one has the right to call someone “evil” because even those who had sinned were innately good yet were defeated in their spiritual battles, he said.

More than 20,000 people, mostly coming from poor families, have been killed under Duterte’s war on drugs campaign since 2016.

“When we learn to see the woundedness of other people, we are brought closer to Divine Mercy because you will never see the woundedness of other people if you are only obsessed with yourself, your concern and your own interest,” said David.

Strengthen morality with obedience

Antipolo Bishop Francisco de Leon said the faithful should combat the erosion of morality in society by their constant “yes to God” during the concluding Mass of Pacom.

“[In saying ‘no to God,] It will be easier to commit adultery [and] fornication. There will be less respect of women… [T]here will be abortion and increase of divorce,” he said in his homily, echoing Pope Paul VI in the encyclical Humanae Vitae.

Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, which promotes the wide use of contraception, was enacted in December 2012.

De Leon said following the commandments and Church teachings must come from the love of Jesus Christ.

Gawin mo ang tama. But you will be criticized for doing what is right… [Y]ou have to be prepared that when you say ‘yes’ to God, you will be tested, you will face confrontation,” he said.

Echoing de Leon, Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia, chief exorcist of the Archdiocese of Manila, pointed out that a healthy faith and relationship with Jesus Christ is key to fighting depression.

Kailangan natin tandaan na ang awa ng Diyos ay di nakapapasok [sa] kaluluwa ng tao dahil may obstacles na nakaharang,” he said.

Stressing that “mental health issues are caused by bad spirits,” Syquia said a life of sin and selfishness makes the devil stronger and increases one’s tendency to fall into confusion and depression.

“Put your self-love in the last place so that it does not [over] take your deeds. Para makilala ng tao na ang Diyos ay tunay, dapat lahat ng action ay love for God. Do not focus on your ego,” he said during his talk, “Immortal Combat: Divine Mercy and the battle for souls.”

An estimated 3,000 delegates from 56 dioceses participated this year’s Pacom, with the theme “The Divine Mercy in Communion with the Young.”

Pacom, which originated from the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, is a national congress to promote the devotion to the Divine Mercy. with reports from Vivienne Audrey P. Angeles and Joselle Czarina S. Dela Cruz


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