HomeCommentaryA concrete synodal response: Stewardship of financial resources

A concrete synodal response: Stewardship of financial resources

I humbly bring my experiences as a bishop from a small diocese in Eastern Samar – the Diocese of Borongan.

I believe part of our synodal journey is to listen to small voices from the peripheries, voices that may in one way or another point us to where God wants to lead us, not only as individual dioceses, but as one local Church here in the Philippines.

So allow me to bring with me to this sharing the deep faith and devotion of more than 400 thousand lay faithful from my diocese.

Last January 28, 2021, the CBCP released a Pastoral Statement on Stewardship through our then President, Archbishop Romulo Valles. In that statement, we have affirmed the truth that after 500 years of the arrival of Christianity to the Philippines, we must heighten our consciousness of our identity as stewards.

In the same statement, we have declared in unison: “We are certainly blessed not only when we receive, but especially when we give.” (Mas nakikita natin kung paano tayo biniyayaan ng Diyos hindi lang kung tayo ay nakakatanggap, pero higit sa lahat kung tayo ay nagbibigay.)

This is how we, Bishops, defined the Spirituality of Stewardship: “Every gift is a responsibility. We recognize every gift, nurture it, generously share it with others, and gratefully return it with an increase to the Lord.”

I would like to continue by quoting very strong and relevant points from the same statement: “We envision local churches… sustained by a generous sharing of resources, where those who have none are not left out of spiritual and material care, where stewardship is a way of life. This is a true image of the Church.”

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(Gusto natin walang maiiwan. Panaginip natin na ang lokal na Simbahan natin sa Pilipinas ay masayang nagbibigayan at masaganang nagbabahaginan ng espirituwal at materyal na pangangailangan para sa ikauunlad hindi lang ng iilan, kundi ng lahat.)

We, Bishops, aptly expressed it in our statement: “Brothers and sisters, we are all part of this endeavor for we all belong to the Church, the one family of God. We all share responsibility for the Church.”

(Iisa tayong pamilya na pinagbuklod ng iisang Diyos, iisang binyag at iisang pananampalataya. Dahil dito, responsibilidad natin ang bawat isa.)

Fellow Bishops, your Excellencies, your Graces, your Eminences, it is from this premise that I would like to make this proposal. So that our synodal journey will not stop on lengthy discussions, and extensive report writing, let us express the fruits of our synodal journey in CONCRETE SHARING, particularly, SHARING OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES. Let the fruit of our listening with each other be manifested in our concrete expression of helping each other.

We will surely bless each other: big dioceses helping the small ones, and the small dioceses also are given the chance to contribute the little that they have in the name of stewardship.

As successors of the apostles, we, Bishops, draw forth our inspiration from how the apostles testified to the Risen Lord: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power, the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need’ (Acts 4: 32-35).”

Excerpts from the intervention of Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan at the 126th plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, July 10, 2023.

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