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Philippine bishops under fire from one of their own

Bishop Broderick Pabillo accuses some prelates of 'losing their bark' by not speaking out against 'social evils'

Philippine bishops under fire from one of their own

Bishop Broderick Pabillo says some church people are too quiet when it comes to speaking out against 'evils' being inflicted on their flock. (Photo supplied)  

Church leaders are not doing enough to fight “obvious” social evils in Philippine society, according to Manila Archdiocese’s apostolic administrator.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo said fellow prelates like him must not act like watchdogs who have “lost their courage to bark.”

“In the Church, there are those that choose not to speak despite obvious evils existing in society … Sad to say, we, church leaders, take refuge in silence. We are like watchdogs who have lost the courage to at least bark,” the bishop said at a Mass on April 25.

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Church leaders must be reminded of the qualities of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, he said.

“We must not allow ourselves to be silenced and to be cowed in fear by the evils of society ... [Extrajudicial] killings, red-tagging and other issues are there to silence us amid the sufferings of our people,” Bishop Pabillo added.

The prelate said the pandemic was no excuse for shepherds not to be mindful of the sufferings of their sheep.

The Covid-19 pandemic should not be a reason to be distant from our flock

"Do we really protect ourselves from the virus, or do we protect ourselves from the people and our responsibility towards them? The ministry of the Catholic Church is very much connected in the application of social issues instead of only wrestling with intra-church matters,” he said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic should not be a reason to be distant from our flock, from the people under our care. We should speak out against injustice.”

Like Pope Francis, Bishop Pabillo urged his fellow prelates to go and find Christ in the peripheries.

“There are so many in the peripheries we have to reach out to, and not only the usual flock that we have … We are called not just to be shepherds but good shepherds,” he said.

The Philippines is lacking good shepherds and good leaders not only in the political arena but in the civic and business sectors as well, he said.

He also reiterated previous comments in which he said political leaders, especially President Rodrigo Duterte, have a responsibility to engage with their critics meaningfully.

In 2019, Bishop Pabillo challenged Duterte to prove his sincerity by engaging with his critics decently and responsibly.

“If the president is really sincere, his government should stop using legal means, threats and foul language against his critics but engage with them responsibly,” he told The Inquirer news daily.

The country needs a shepherd's voice, especially when darkness seems to overshadow the light

“A public official should not disdain critics but engage with them decently and responsibly.” 

One Manila churchgoer supported Bishop Pabillo’s call for bishops to speak out against social evils, saying it is part of the Catholic Church’s mission.

“The Church should not only address personal sins like lying, stealing ... It needs to address structural and social sin as well. Killings and corruption are examples of them,” Ernest Manceta told UCA News.

The country needs a shepherd's voice, especially when darkness seems to overshadow the light, he added.

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