A RESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE: A permanent challenge to renew the Church



Living the ecclesiology of Vatican II and PCP II

Prof. Amado L. Picardal CSsR

Claretian Publications, Foundation Inc., 2022

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/September 19) — Amid disturbing news that the esteemed Holy Father, Pope Francis’ health is deteriorating (most of his photos these days show him sitting in a wheelchair and having to be lifted ), there is all sorts of speculation as to the consequences if he decides to quit.

First, there is the question of who can then be elected in the papal conclave where cardinals from around the world gather in Rome to elect his successor. Luis Cardinal Tagle was named as a possibility along with a few others. Only time will tell, however, who the next pope will be and whether he will pursue the reforms that Pope Francis has sincerely pushed over the objections of the Roman curia. Or follow – the usual pendulum that takes place with social institutions – the movement will be to return to the conservative mentality of an institutional Church characterized by people like Saint John Paul II.

Since being elected on March 13, 2013 – almost a decade ago – to replace Pope Benedict XVI who resigned from the papacy, Pope Francis has opened the windows of the Vatican so that the Church can coexist with the complexities of post-modernity. world. He published some of the most important pastoral documents to come out of the Vatican from the Apostolic Exhortation of Evangelii Gaudium at Laudato Si! at Fratelli Tutti.

There was even a rumor earlier that he was about to convene Vatican III in the hope that all the recommendations that were approved by Vatican II could be taken more seriously by the local Churches, especially those that remained. indifferent to the concerns of Vatican II. As it turned out to be far too controversial to organize, Pope Francis decided two years ago to convene a synod on synodality.

In order to facilitate the active participation of lay people – including those who are not practicing Catholics or even those who may feel completely alienated from the institutional Church – all local Churches (BEC, parishes and dioceses) throughout the world have been responsible for holding local consultations. on the theme “Journey with the Church in contemporary times”. This synodality raises the question – what does God expect of the Church in the 21st century? A ten minute report was to be submitted by the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC)/parishes to their diocese and all dioceses worldwide were to submit their 10 minute summary report to the Vatican.

October 2021 to April 2022 was the period allocated for the diocesan phase. A second continental phase began in September 2022 until March 2023. And finally, the third or universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme “For the Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission” to be held in the Vatican in October 2023. An Apostolic Exhortation will then be issued by the Pope. The question remains: can Pope Francis keep his chair until then to preside over this Assembly?

Meanwhile, organizers of the 17th Mindanao Sulu Pastoral Conference (MSPC) themed – The Gift of Faith and New Evangelism as a Synodal Church – are gearing up for the conference to be held Nov. 7-11. 2022 at Chali Beach Resort & Conference Center, Cugman, Cagayan de Oro. Once again, delegates will reassess where local churches are in their quest for continued renewal. Once again, the focus will be on what is happening at the grassroots level, namely the hundreds of BECs spread across Mindanao.

Now comes Fr. Amado L. Picardal’s continuing effort to provide the Philippine Church with a manual on understanding its ecclesiology in contemporary times. As the author writes in the Prologue to the book: “Ecclesiology is the discipline which systematically reflects the self-understanding of the Church in the light of faith. It seeks to answer the question of the identity, nature and mission of the Church. It is a theological reflection on the mystery of the Church which is distinguished from the history of the Church. While it is possible to study church history even without faith, ecclesiology requires a faith perspective. It is the work of a believer for the good of the community of believers.

The author argues that this book does not promote new and radical ideas about the Church. What he intended to do was “explain the vision of a renewed Church espoused in Vatican II and received by PCP II and explore its meaning and implication in the Philippine context.” The writing of this book dates back to when the author was doing his thesis – An Ecclesiological Perspective – with the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1995. Much of what appears in this book is the product of his research and updating and revisions. he has done over the years.

There are 11 chapters in this book, covering 377 pages. Before presenting again his reflections on BEC, the first chapters include an explanation of the ecclesiological models of the Church (Church as Communion, Institution, Herald, Sacrament and Servant); the Church as the people of God (prophetic, priestly and royal people) and the Church of the poor. After the chapter on BEC, the remaining chapters include an explanation of the family as the domestic Church, of the Church in dialogue (with the world, interreligious dialogue, with the poor) and of a renewed clarity in a renewed Church.

Throughout the pages of this book are quotes from the decrees of Vatican II, various apostolic exhortations issued by the popes, and statements from the CBCP. At the end of each chapter there is a long list of quotations, testimony to the author’s perseverance in doing rigorous research before writing the manuscript. Concrete examples of pastoral practices span all corners of Mindanao and the rest of the world.

There are, however, church workers – particularly in Mindanao who witnessed the glory days of the Mindanao-Sulu Conference – who could not help but compare how local churches and BECs were in the 1970s-80s compared to how they operated in the 1970s-80s. contemporary period. Then most bishops, clergy and religious – and a growing number of lay leaders – actively collaborated to make their BECS truly royal and prophetic. As a result, a number of lay leaders, priests and religious were marked red by the army, hence a number of them were arrested, imprisoned and even killed.

Today, one can hardly hear a single story of a BEC or a lay leader being harassed by the military in the same way as indigenous communities opposed to mining and other development projects. development have been victims. What does this indicate? That the State has become more tolerant towards a militant Church or is the fact that the militant Church has disappeared to give way to a conservative model only interested in the spiritual accompaniment of the faithful? For the days when BECs were at the forefront of struggles for justice, peace and the integrity of creation are over!

Towards the end of this book, the author asserts that: “The pre-Vatican II model of the Church seems to linger in the minds of many… There is still a gap between vision and reality. There are still dioceses and parishes where the Vatican II and PCP II vision of the renewed Church has yet to be fully implemented. For the new generation, Vatican II seems like ancient history and documents sit unread, gathering dust in libraries.

The book offers some suggestions for moving forward with the project of a renewed Church, but it will require proactive engagement on the part of everyone – from bishops to BEC leaders – to break the impasse that seems to lock members of the Church. complacent and indifferent to social and ecological problems that are only getting worse. The economy is in shambles and poverty levels are on the rise again. Indigenous communities remain on the periphery with little help from the state.

Although there is peace in Mindanao at the moment, there are still conflicts that cause violence to erupt. Corruption remains entrenched in state agencies demanding good governance practices. Our place on the planet remains precarious as mining, logging, plantation expansion and inefficient waste management combine to worsen climate change.

For BEC to become fully alive again and contribute to the transformation of our society, we must redouble our efforts to renew the Church. Otherwise, the future may not be too bright for Roman Catholicism in this country if and when the general population thinks the Church is irrelevant to meet the challenges of a complex society today and for the days to come!

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar is a professor at St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute in Davao City and until recently, a professor of Anthropology at the Ateneo de Davao University. Gaspar is Mindanao’s most prolific book author. He writes two columns for MindaNews, one in English (A Sojourner’s Views) and the other in Binisaya (Panaw-Lantaw). He is a Datu Bago awardee, the highest honor the Davao City government bestows on its constituents.]

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