The Catholic prelate of Manila reminded the Filipino faithful to be the “voice of the poor and the oppressed” as the Catholic Church marked World Mission Sunday on October 18.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said the role of the Church and of Christian believers is not to be neutral or impartial in the face of injustice.
“There is no neutral ground in front of injustice, oppression and lies,” said Bishop Pabillo in his homily during the celebration of the Holy Mass at Santa Cruz Church.
The bishop warned that silence will only mean allowing oppression to continue and lies to spread.
He reminded the faithful that while loyalty to God is paramount, due respect is also owed to civil leaders.
“But if this authority is no longer according to and contrary to the way of God, we must obey God rather than man,” said the bishop who is known for being a vocal critic of some government policies.
Bishop Pabillo called on the police and military to give their loyalty to God and “not to any political or military leaders.”
“When what they do or are asked to do is against God’s law, what they should serve and fear is God,” he said.
“They should not gamble their soul to any leader who is but human. These leaders shall pass. Only God will remain and all of us will be answerable to Him,” he said.
In his homily, he cited the principle of the separation of Church and State, which the bishop said is being invoked by some people to prevent the Church from speaking out against injustices.
“Let us not believe in the manipulation being used whenever the Church speaks out against anomalies and abuses that we should be silent because of the separation of Church and State,” he said.
“There is no such prohibition,” said Bishop Pabillo. “We will not be silenced because it is the duty of the Church to speak and act for truth, justice, peace and love,” he added.
The prelate said a Christian should speak out against any oppression, saying not doing so means they are siding with the oppressor.
“If you also know that something is untrue and you didn’t say anything, you allow that lie to spread,” he said.
He appealed to everyone to pray and support missionaries, especially those who continue to serve in poor communities amid the pandemic.
“While it’s true that life is also hard for us, but life is more difficult for our missionaries,” said the prelate.
“Let us support them with prayers and materially. Let us also ask our Blessed Mother to guide (them) especially (in) the spreading of Good News,” said Bishop Pabillo.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, also called on the faithful “to take part in this missionary endeavor.”
In a video message, Cardinal Tagle called for prayer and financial support through the worldwide collection for the missions.
“With all the human family we are experiencing a moment marked by great challenges that can make us focus on ourselves alone, let us not forget that mission continues,” said Cardinal Tagle.
“And where the most vulnerable are, there are also the missionaries who need our support,” he added.
World Mission Sunday was started by Pope Pius XII in 1926 as a day of prayer for missions.