MANILA - Those in power should not use their position to bully others, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said Sunday, as Catholics flocked to churches for the start of the 9-day Christmas novena Mass.
"Do not bully anyone. Huwag mong gagamitin ang iyong kapangyarihan para mambastos. Huwag mong gagamitin ang iyong kapangyarihan para piitin, coerce ang iba," Tagle said during his Simbang Gabi homily at the Manila Cathedral.
(Do not use your power to disrespect. Do not use your power to coerce others.)
The prelate did not mention any political leader during his message, which quoted Saint Paul's advice on how to achieve happiness.
The Catholic Church, however, has been the subject of President Rodrigo Duterte's repeated tirades, after some clergy members criticized his anti-narcotics crackdown and policies against criminality.
The President in separate instances this year called God "stupid", questioned the story of creation in the Bible, and suggested that people should no longer go to church.
"Panahon pa po ni Hesus itong binabasa ko, [pero] parang kasusulat lang kahapon. Pareho pa rin ang sikreto sa kaligayahan: huwag kang mang mamaliit," Tagle said during
(The message I'm reading was from the time of Jesus, but it seems that it was written just yesterday. The secret to happiness is still the same: do not belittle others.)
"Hindi por que mayroon kang posisyon, ikaw ay may karapatan na para mangyurak sa kapwa... Sa katunayan, ang bully, ang gumagamit ng kapangyarihan para maliitin ang kapwa, iyan ang pinakatakot at insecure na tao," he continued.
(You don't have the right tread on others just because you are in power. In truth, the bully, he who uses power to belittle his fellow man, he is the one who is most afraid and insecure.)
The faithful, he said, should also share their blessings and remain honest to be truly happy during the Christmas season.
Tagle earlier this month was urged by activist priest Robert Reyes to speak against Duterte after he said that bishops are better off dead.
"Itong mga obispo ninyo, patayin ninyo. Walang silbi iyang mga gagong iyan. (Kill your bishops. They have no use.) All they do is criticize," Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang.
SIMBANG GABI OFF TO A GOOD START
Before the Mass, Tagle briefly met with Metro Manila police chief Director Guillermo Eleazar, who inspected the security in several churches in the capital.
There was no report of any disturbance in the first day of the Simbang Gabi in Metro Manila, but police visibility will be heightened in churches and roads to maintain security ahead of Christmas, he told reporters.
It has been a Filipino tradition to complete the Simbang Gabi, also known as the "Misa de Aguinaldo," votive Masses celebrated in the early hours of the morning, 9 days before the Nativity.
"Normally, itong mga Pilipino, mayroon silang hinihingi sa Panginoong Diyos (Filipinos normally wish something from God). There is God who is merciful and forgiving. Before we ask Him anything, we should be sorry for what we have done," Bishop Victor Bendico said after leading the dawn Mass in Baguio City.
"God is a generous God, the more we give, the more God will be generous to us," he added.
With reports from Jekki Pascual and Justin Aguilar, ABS-CBN News