MANILA - Archdioceses in Metro Manila have encouraged priests to read the recent statement of Filipino bishops during the celebration of Holy Mass from Saturday night to Sunday, July 15.
The Archdioceses of Manila and Cubao have urged priests under their respective jurisdictions to read the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' (CBCP) Pastoral Exhortation "Rejoice and Be Glad!"
“We are requested to read this letter at all Masses on the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, from the evening of Saturday (July 14) to Sunday (July 15). The reading of the letter may replace the homily,” Fr. Reginald Malicdem, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Manila, said in a circular.
A similar request was also posted on the Archdiocese of Cubao's Facebook page.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP public affairs committee, meanwhile said bishops in other dioceses have the discretion whether or not to require the reading of the pastoral letter in their areas.
"I guess the bishops are of the thought that Filipinos should know the stand of the Church on issues besetting the country," he told ABS-CBN News.
The bishops' statement, released following the 117th CBCP Plenary Assembly on July 9, calls upon the faithful to strive to be peacemakers during "these troubled times in our country."
It also emphasized that the Church respects the political authority of elected government officials "as long as they do not contradict the basic spiritual and moral principles we hold dear..."
Church leaders, in their pastoral letter, urged the faithful to observe a day of prayer and penance on July 16, the Feast of the Blessed Mother of Mt. Carmel.
“Let us spend a day of prayer and penance, invoking God’s mercy and justice on those who have blasphemed God’s Holy Name, those who slander and bear false witness, and those who commit murder or justify murder as a means for fighting criminality in our country,” the exhortation stated.
The bishops also called on the faithful to join them in three days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving from July 17 to 19, 2018.
The message of Philippine Catholic leaders came in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte's recent statements calling God "stupid," as he questioned the story of creation in the Bible.
Amid the President's comments, Church leaders called for calm.
On Monday, Duterte met with CBCP president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, during which the President asked the Church not to use the pulpit to criticize his administration.
Duterte was known to have then apologized for his remarks during a meeting with evangelical leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva later in the week.