While receiving 21 Filipino bishops in their Ad Limina visit, Pope John Paul highlighted the need for an “integral evangelization” aimed at permeating society with Christian values.
After noting that the Philippines “is home to the largest Catholic presence in Asia and is one of the most vibrant Catholic communities in the world,” the Pope said that “the pledge of the Church in the Philippines to engage in renewed integral evangelization demonstrates her desire to ensure that Christian faith and values permeate every aspect of society. ... Your Vision-Mission Statement ... clearly recognizes that an essential element of this process is witness”.
“Today's world is one that is constantly bombarded with words and information. For this reason and possibly more than at any time in recent history, the things Christians do speak louder than the things they say,” the Pontiff said. “Perhaps this is the reason that the life of Mother Teresa of Calcutta speaks to so many hearts. She put what she heard into action, spreading Christ's love to all those she encountered, always recognizing that 'it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do' that matters,” he added.
Obstacles to overcome
The Pope affirmed that notwithstanding notable achievements in evangelization, “there still remain various obstacles, such as the participation of some Catholics in sects which witness only to the superstitious; the lack of familiarity with the teachings of the Church; the endorsement by some of anti-life attitudes which include the active promotion of birth control, abortion and the death penalty.”
“As concerned Christians and citizens of the world,” he continued, “we can never ignore the evil of corruption which is undermining the social and political development of so many peoples. In this regard, it must be made clear that no office of public service can ever be treated as private property or as a personal privilege”.
“To eliminate corruption,” the Pope added, “calls for the committed support of all citizens, the resolute determination of the authorities and a firm moral conscience. The Church has a major role here inasmuch as she is the primary agent for properly forming people's conscience.”
Dealing with the youth
John Paul II pointed out that “one way to ensure that a society engages actively and faithfully in integral evangelization is to give young people a proper formation early on in their faith and life journeys.” He complimented the bishops on their pastoral care to youth though summer camps, retreats, frequent youth Masses and youth formation offices.
“At the same time,” the Pope continued, “obstacles still exist to evangelization among young people,” including “illiteracy, the desire for material goods, a casual attitude towards human sexuality and the temptation to abuse drugs and alcohol.”
“You have mentioned your distress over the numbers of youth who have left the Catholic Church in favor of fundamentalist sects, many of which accentuate material riches over spiritual ones,” he added.
The Holy Father closed his remarks asking the bishops “to continue to encourage the clergy and religious who spend so much of their time and energy trying to develop creative and effective ways of spreading Christ's saving message and to thank all who today and in the past have contributed to evangelizing the Philippines”.