WHILE YouthPinoy, an aggrupation of young people that calls themselves “online missionaries,” made a big splash over the weekend at the launching of its portal with the Apostolic Nuncio, some bishops, priests and about two thousand young people in attendance, a group of lay people unceremoniously uploaded an urgent letter to an online global petition hosting site.
Titled “Urgent Letter from the Filipino Lay Faithful to the Bishops, Priests and Religious,” the online petition has already gathered 193 signatures, to date, and counting—and has merited a column at a national daily and 3 blogs from no less than an archbishop.
The online letter from “concerned and involved Filipino lay Catholics” calls on the bishops, priests, and religious “to hold high the moral compass that will light our way, and for you to provide the prophetic pastoral accompaniment that will strengthen us in fulfilling our role and mission as sons and daughters of God.”
It enumerates the following “urgent tasks” and calls the clergy “to stand and walk” with the lay faithful in fulfilling them:
1. Achieving a just peace that is not the mere absence of conflict but one that honors human dignity, protects human rights, and condemns institutional violence as well as all forms of cruelty.
2. Protecting the most vulnerable among us (the least, the last and the lost) by providing access to justice, livelihood, health, education and all other basic human needs, as well as promoting the livelihood of the poor instead of bailing out big business and granting corporations exemptions from wage increases.
3. Protesting the ill-effects of globalization, among them, loss of jobs, exploitation of land and labor, unfair trade practices, women being turned into commodities.
4. Promoting a culture of integrity and stewardship in society and in the Church. Denouncing corruption in all its forms and in all levels, in both the public and the private sectors, and demanding that the corrupt be held accountable.
5. Condemning abuse of power and the culture of impunity that allows crime to go unpunished.
6. Offsetting the breakdown of OFW families with parish support, counseling programs and projects.
7. Caring for the environment, conserving it for future generations and speaking against its abuse.
8. Calling on the citizenry to take an active role in ensuring that the coming elections are credible.
This call is a tall order, indeed—which is actually what the Second Plenary Council of the Philippine has been talking about, albeit uneventfully, for 19 years now. But perhaps equally a taller order is the reemergence of the laity which has been painted, not for a single time, taking cover at the helms of a bishop’s cassock when critically confronted with the socio-political demands of the faith.