Last February 20, 1983, we issued a Joint Pastoral Letter entitled “A Dialogue for Peace”. It was addressed to all the faithful in our country.
This present document is being addressed to you, our Priests and Religious, and to you, our Lay Workers. You are our closest co-workers in the ministry for social justice. While it is your duty to assist us in this sensitive sphere of human development, we accept that it is equally your right to know the minds of your Bishops on the same matter. For this reason, we give you the following as guidelines in this important ministry you are in.
1. Let your unity with your Bishop be maintained unreservedly as demanded by the sacramental bond existing between you and him. Thus, the Bishop should be kept adequately posted on the programs and activities of the social action office including the orthodoxy of persons and literature.
2. Let us keep always in mind that our engagement in the promotion of Social Justice should not result in the neglect or abandonment of what are properly and specifically the reasons for our priestly ordination.
3. Let us renounce, in theory and in practice, violence as part of our apostolate. To the people of Tondo, John Paul said: “The road towards your total liberation is not the way of violence, class struggle or hate; it is the way of love, brotherhood and peaceful solidarity.”
4. Avoiding the use of liturgical and para-liturgical celebrations in denouncing social ills should be our norms, and respecting the sacred character of the pulpit and refraining from using it for partisan political pronouncement and for anything that does not fit the sacredness of the place and offends the Christian sensitivity of people coming to church, our guide.
5. Let us obey the laws of the land in so far as they are truly just and conducive to the attainment of peace in the community. In the spirit of Gaudium et Spes . Let us not demand special privileges for ourselves. On the contrary, we should even be prepared to renounce any concession offered us for the sake of guaranteeing our freedom of pastoral action.
6. Let our efforts be exerted towards fostering a greater sense of responsibility and leadership among our lay people, both in the planning and implementing phases of our Social Action programs towards the renewal of the temporal order, in accordance with Lumen Gentium that says: “They (the laity) are called there by God so that by exercising their proper function and being led by the spirit of the gospel they can work for the sanctification of the world from within, in the manner of leaven.”
7. Let us be constantly on our guard against infiltrators, whether from the left or from the right, who do not share the Christian goals of the Church, denying them the use of Church facilities to vested groups who may hinder or divert the pastoral mission of the Church.
While deeply committed in giving effective expressions to the Church’s social teachings, we should also expect to be challenged by these same teachings in so far as our personal and institutional behavior is concerned. Our social commitment is an integral part of our following of Christ. Hence, the crucial need for a deep union with Christ. Then, too, the absolute need for an authentic prayer life.
We will always ask civil leaders to respect the right of the Church to work for human advancement and to work for the promotion of social justice. But it is also our manifest conviction that each apostolic endeavor should be in harmony with the teaching of the Church and in unity with the Bishops of the Church. It is to insure that harmony with us, your bishops, that these guidelines are being issued.
With our blessing and prayer.
(Sgd.)+ANTONIO Ll. MABUTAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
July 12, 1983
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