In his Apostolic Exhortation, Petrum et Paulum Apostolos , His Holiness Pope Paul VI announces the coming celebration of the nineteen hundredth year since the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul were slain for the Faith.  The celebration will begin this year on June 29 and will close next year on the same date.  Prompted by this anniversary and by the Holy Father’s  words, We the Shepherds of Christ’s flock are happy to address these pastoral words to you the faithful, the People of God in the Philippines.  For this is in keeping with our role “as successors of the Apostles, who together with the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ, namely, the Roman Pontiff, govern the house of the living God.”1

In his excellent words the Supreme Pontiff lays before our eyes the many reasons which should impel all the faithful to celebrate this anniversary in a way worthy of its greatness.

First, the Holy Father speaks of St. Peter, one of the two  “principal pillars of the universal Church”.  He reminds us some events that highlighted Peter’s supremacy, like the following.  The heavenly Father revealed to Peter who Jesus of Nazareth was, and so He laid the foundation of our holy Church.2 Peter Himself, in the name of all the Apostles, proclaimed his faith in Christ as Son of the living God when many were abandoning their Savior. 3 Christ later guaranteed that Peter’s faith would not fail, and He even entrusted to Peter — in spite of this Apostle’s human weakness — the duty of strengthening others in faith.4 Finally, it was the testimony of Peter’s faith that ushered in the beginning of the living Church, after the Holy Spirit had come down on the day of Pentecost.5

The Holy Father then turns to St. Paul, spokesman for the Faith.  He points out that the Church owes to Paul the teaching that faith is the beginning of our salvation .  To Paul also is the Church in debt for other favors.  He first phrased the Christian mystery in theological terms.  He first analyzed the act of faith.  He proclaimed that the firmness of the visible Church, with her community and hierarchy, is bound up with a unique and unmistakable faith.6

Many more things can be said about these two great Apostles, who are “the glory of Christ”.7 For, in their words, example and death they have heroically obeyed the divine command:  “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature.”8 But We trust that what has been said is enough to stir the hearts of all Our Catholic sons and Christian brothers so that their faith will be strengthened.  We can then firmly hope that all will rally to the appeal of the Holy Father to profess their faith as they proclaim the Creed of the early Church.  This proclamation Pope Paul wishes to be a true and sincere profession of the faith, that same faith which was received by the Church founded by the Apostles themselves.  He desires that in this Creed our profession of faith be at  once personal and collective, free and dutiful, internal and external, humble and frank; it is to rise from the hearts of all believers and to resound everywhere as a single cry full of divine love. 9

This simple profession of faith will not, however necessarily produce the reunion of all Christians in the unity of the same faith.10 To do this it would have to include a firm recognition of, and filial devotion to, the Supreme Pontiff and the college of bishops, with and under the same Pontiff.  For, as the Second Vatican Council states, “By the Lord’s will, St. Peter and other Apostles constituted one apostolic college; so in a similar way the Roman Pontiff, as the successor  of Peter, and the bishops as the successor of the Apostles are joined together.”11 Again the Council says that the church, the People of God, must be united “by the bonds of professed faith, of the sacraments, of Church government, and of communion.”12

But it is providential that the Holy Father now calls for a personal and collective profession of faith as expressed in the ancient Creeds.  For, today there is a weakening of that religious sense which is the natural foundation of faith.  In our times too, as Christ’s Vicar explains to us, some men introduce into Catholic doctrine opinions that call in question or distort the real meaning of truths taught authoritatively by the Church.  These men ignore the guidance of the teaching power of the Church.  They try to spread among the faithful a so-called “post-conciliar” mentality which neglects both the heritage of the Church and also the magnificent developments resulting from the Council.13

So speaks our Supreme Shepherd, the Vicar of Christ.  For our part, We Pastors  of the faithful in this land are at once grateful and solicitous.  We thank God for the simple and genuine faith of our people.  But We also feel impelled to echo the paternal warning of His Holiness since We share with him  a deep concern for the faith of the whole Mystical Body of Christ, and since our own faithful must “watch and pray that they may not enter into temptation.”14

Turning now to some positive and practical points, may We exhort all to make this centennial year a noteworthy occasion.  It is an opportunity to strengthen our Christian faith and to study the teachings of the Ecumenical Council.  This year is also an opportune time to lend support to the efforts of Catholic thought as it searches for fresh and original expression, as long as it is not unfaithful to the Church’s “deposit” of doctrine in its true meaning.15 These goals can be achieved only if all the faithful join in this year-long effort: and so, professors and other scholars will , We trust, better formulate their thought through research, reflection and dialogue; parents and teachers will help form the minds of the young and unlettered; priest will lead and join the faithful in a liturgy that teaches and strengthens them; all the faithful together will bear witness to their Christian faith in their personal lives and selfless service.

To inaugurate this commemorative year, We invite you, dearly beloved in Christ, to a solemn liturgical gathering of priests, religious, seminarians, and as many as possible of the laity.  This assembly will be held on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, in the Cathedral of each diocese, and it will be presided over by the bishop of the diocese.  On that day, during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, our Christian people will renew their profession of faith using the words of the Creed in the Mass.  In this solemn way will  be ushered in the “year of faith” proclaimed by His Holiness.

We also earnestly desire, together with the Holy Father, that on that same day the faithful everywhere profess their faith through the Creed.  It is fitting that this prayer be proclaimed by all in a humble yet exalting manner, in every parish church and religious house.16

Furthermore, We urge all of you to continue during this nineteenth centennial year to profess your Christian beliefs through one of the ancient Creed.  We earnestly hope that you will say or sing this prayer with others, or by yourself, each Friday throughout the year.  In this way the Creed will resound “in every Christian household, in every Catholic school  and hospital, and in every place of worship and every group and gathering where the voice of faith can sincerely reaffirm belief in our common Christian calling. 17

We wish now to conclude Our Exhortation with these closing words of the Holy Father:

This announcement, venerable brothers and dear sons, is  full of spiritual meaning,  of encouragement and hope.  In making the announcement to you,  We are sure of finding all of  you  in  full  agreement  and communion with Us.  In the name and  with  power  of the Blessed Apostles and  martyrs Peter  and  Paul,  on  whose  tombs  this  Church  of Rome is established  and   prospers,  We  cordially  salute  and   bless you.”18

For the Catholic Hierarchy of the Philippines:

(Sgd.)+LINO R. GONZAGA, D.D.
Archbishop of Zamboanga
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Manila, Philippines
June 2, 1967

1  Lumen Gentium, n. 18
2  Mat. 16 : 13-19
3  John 6 : 68-69
4  Luke 22 : 32
5  Acts 2 : 32, 40
6Apostolic Exhortation, Petrum et Paulum Apostolos [par. 12, L’Osservatore Romano text, 3 March 1967]
7  II Cor. 8 : 23
8  Mark 16 : 16
9  Apostolic Exhortation, … [par. 9]
10  idem [par. 15]
11  Lumen Gentium, n. 22
12  idem, n. 14
13  Apostolic Exhortation, … [par.14]
14  Mat. 26 : 41
15  Apostolic Exhortation, … [par. 15]
16  idem [par. 17]
17  ibid.
18  idem [par. 19]

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