Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila told priests to leave their “comfort zone” and reach out to the poor or risk becoming under a “maintenance mode.”
The prelate said priests should continue with their “missionary mode” especially to the “peripheries” as the Philippines starts the 500th anniversary celebration of the arrival of Christianity in the country.
“Being in a state of mission is not optional,” said Bishop Pabillo said in his homily during Mass at the Manila Cathedral on Saturday, February 7.
“It is the necessary condition if we want to be renewed as a living Church, and not just be a museum that is visited once in a while but could not change lives,” he said.
The celebration also marked the 442nd anniversary of the elevation of Manila as a diocese, the first in the Philippines, having under its jurisdiction the entire country.
In 1595, Manila was raised to an archdiocese with Nueva Segovia in Ilocandia, Nueva Caceres in Bicol and Cebu in the Visayas as its suffragan dioceses.
But even with deep historical roots, Bishop Pabillo warned of “the danger of becoming (a) monument.”
“We may have these, but let us not, as Church, be just antiques, museums, and artifacts whose main concern is preservation and conservation,” he said.
Reflecting on the Jubilee year’s theme, “Missio ad Gentes,” he urged parishes under his jurisdiction to continue the “expanding mission of Manila to which we are all heirs to.”
While acknowledging that leaving the “cozy and familiar situation” is difficult, Bishop Pabillo said that the coronavirus pandemic “has pushed us out of our comfort zones, whether we liked it or not.”
He said the health crisis pushed the archdiocese to poorer communities to distribute aid and at the same time formed solidarity among parishes.
“Now that we have the initial push to get out of our comfort zones and to reach out to the peripheries, let us continue on this missionary mode,” Bishop Pabillo said.
“Yes, let us be bold in striking out new grounds. There will be expenses. We will make mistakes. There will be criticisms but move on,” he said.