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Bishops seek hope 
amidst the current chaos

MANILA (Agencies) : Under dark clouds and in the midst of poverty and suffering in a nation marked by calamities, social problems and political chaos, the Church must remember that it is called to bring hope to people, the newly-elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ conference of The Philippines, Archbishop José Palma, said at the opening of the 104th plenary assembly of the bishops at the Pope Pius XII Centre in Pasay City on January 28.

“As bishops, we are to give people a reason for living and hoping,” the archbishop of Cebu said in his opening speech, as he urged his fellow bishops to own and declare that there is hope.

“It is not wishful thinking, but a well-grounded hope when we expect blessings and good things to come,” he said, reminding the assembly of the thousands of people who died and the hundreds of houses that were swept away in Iligan, Cagaya de Oro and Dumaguete by Typhoon Sendong on December 19 last year.

CBCP News reported him as saying that aside from these calamities, there are also a lot of other factors that cause untold pain and suffering to the Filipino people. He cited the reality of graft and corruption, unemployment and unabated devastation of forests and seas which lead to poverty and related problems.

Archbishop Palma added, “There are obvious confrontations among the main branches of our government, (which) make us wish we were not stuck in pinning down the guilty,” in an apparent sideswipe at the president, Noynoy Aquino, and his sometimes criticised campaign to nail his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in the Supreme Court.

He said that rather, we should be marching and collaborating with each other in implementing laws and programmes that would bring about growth and development.

“Certainly we can say there are dark clouds in the sky,” Archbishop Palma continued. “Given the above agenda, we know we are given hope, trustworthy hope. Hence we can face our present even if it is arduous; our present can be lived and accepted because it leads to a goal.”

This is the first time that the plenary assembly has been presided over by Archbishop Palma and the vice president of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop Socrates Villegas.

A senator, Gringo Honasan, had previously called on the bishops to give guidance on the impeachment of the chief justice, Renato Corona. “The bishops should get involved by giving the right perspective on the issue,” Honasan said.

The plenary assembly was preceded by a four-day seminar ending on January 27, to look at the possibility of organising a National Summit for Good Governance. 

It also included a Critique on the Sex Education Programme by Judith Reisman, a visiting professor from the University of Virginia in the United States of America.