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Prelate's scathing attack on Philippine priests

New bishops' conference chief accuses clergy of lacking passion

<p>Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan</p>

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • August 30, 2013
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The incoming head of the country's Catholic bishops’ conference issued a stinging rebuke to the country's priests on Friday, accusing them of becoming the "pastors of the status quo."

Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said the Catholic Church in the Philippines does not face a problem of shortage of priests but a “zeal shortage."

In a letter addressed to priests, Villegas said members of the clergy have descended into just "maintaining the Church, keeping the schedule, continuing the order of the day."

"This cannot continue," said the prelate, who will start his term as head of the bishops' conference in December.

"We must get out to the [villages] and public schools, visit the charity wards of hospitals, teach catechism again, visit homes again, make a ‘mess’ in society," he said.

He said one of the serious problems the faithful are subjected to is "long-winded and dry homilies" of priests.

"Our youth complain about lifeless and uninspiring liturgies. How can we set their hearts on fire if we ourselves are not afire for God?" he said in his letter to the clergy.

He said teaching Christian doctrines is not enough if priests failed to connect them to life.

"We know the faith but we do not live it," he wrote

"What does it matter if we know the dogma of the Trinity but we cannot live the love of the Trinity among us? What does it matter if the Ten Commandments can be recited backwards and forwards and yet people continue stealing and killing, cheating and coveting?” Villegas asked.

He described knowledge of the faith without living it as "an ego massage" that makes priests "think that we are good Catholics although the reality is the opposite."

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