MANILA, Philippines – Pope Francis has allowed 5 Filipino bishops to join the Synod of Bishops on the Family, a historic meeting to craft a more caring approach toward modern issues, such as contraception, gay marriage, and divorce.
The Vatican on Wednesday, March 25, announced the names of the following Filipino representatives in the Synod scheduled from October 4 to 25:
The Pope ratified their appointments on March 17.
Father Marvin Mejia, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), told Rappler that the Vatican gave 3 slots to the CBCP for the Synod in October.
Valles, Palma, and Garcera, as members, “were elected by the bishops to represent the CBCP,” Mejia explained.
David and Ledesma, as substitutes, “were also chosen by the bishops” and can replace any of the 3 members who cannot join the Synod.
Landmark of Francis' papacy
The Synod of Bishops on the Family is a pet project of Francis.
The Pope on Wednesday urged Catholics to pray for the Synod in October. He sought prayers “especially for those people and families who, for various reasons, are 'harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.'”
“In this way, supported and inspired by the grace of God, the Church will be able to be even more committed, and even more united, in her witness of the truth of God's love and His mercy for the world's families, without exception, both inside and outside the fold,” he said.
Francis added: “All of us – the Pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, men and women religious – we must all pray for the Synod. We need this, not chatter! I encourage even those who feel distant to pray too, and those who are not used to doing so.”
The Synod isn't expected to change Catholic doctrine, but to address “pastoral challenges” involving the modern family. (READ: CBCP surveys Filipinos on contraception, gay unions)
The Catholic Church in October 2014 held another Synod to prepare for the upcoming meeting. Bishops considered the 2014 meeting so important that they “felt the spirit” of the Second Vatican Council, a historic gathering of bishops from 1962 to 1965 that reformed the Catholic Church.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle served as one of the 3 presidents-delegate during the Synod in 2014. This meant Tagle served as a deputy of the Pope, the Synod's president. (READ: In 2 years, Pope gives plum posts to Filipinos)
CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas also attended the Synod in 2014. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.