Church leaders in the Philippines have urged the nation to “work together, honoring life and God’s creation” as the country approaches national elections this May. The ecumenical letter released on 18 January 2022 during the ecumenical week of Christian Unity by Protestant and Catholic leaders said the Philippines was at a Kairos moment in its history. The nation must “insist upon servant leadership” from its political leaders and stand firm for “Christ-like conduct and life-affirming principles”. On 9 May 2022 the country goes to the polls to elect successors to President Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo as well as 12 seats in the Senate, 316 seats in the House of Representatives, 81 governors, 146 mayors, and over 12,000 city and municipal councillors and provincial board members. On the national level the economy, COVID-19, crime and a response to Chinese expansion in the South China Sea are receiving the most press attention. “With elections only months away, we must all take courage to work together, honoring life and God’s creation,” read the statement signed by Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and Archbishop Angelito R. Lampon of the Episcopal Commission on Ecumenical Affairs of the Catholic bishops’ conference.
Unity statement of the NCCP & CBCP for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2022
“We have observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” (Matthew 2:2b, NRSV)
Christ’s light guides our journey. These are days of struggle, hardships, and despair. With Typhoon Odette and Omicron straining the capacities of local communities and families, Christians must unite in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us. The Filipino people are in need of accompaniment and aid in these difficult times.
As a nation, we are also challenged to rise against widespread killings and call for accountability for so-called ‘tokhang’ and ‘anti-insurgency’ operations. The very dignity of life has been violated, as many have been extra-judicially killed. Falsehoods and evil peddled through strong-arm governance have not only limited democratic space, but they have led to corruption, scandals and serious shortcomings in social, health, education and other government services.
Such realities must strengthen our resolve and unite our common concern for the people of this land. Like the Magi of old, we are on a journey towards a better way. The better way is to completely change our old ways and bad habits. Christ is the beacon that summons us to move towards hope. Jesus’ light rises as our guide in a common quest for God’s Shalom, which is Peace based on justice, love, righteousness, freedom, democracy and dignity of life.
With elections only months away, we must all take courage to work together, honoring life and God’s creation. This is a Kairos moment where we can encourage active citizenship among our people and insist upon servant leadership from those who desire our votes in the May 2022 national polls. In Christian unity, our prophetic voice and firm stand for Christ-like conduct and life-affirming principles will enable us to join with other Filipinos in discerning who should lead the country. In these trying times, we must also guard against the powers of darkness that will seek to defraud, deceive, and destroy God’s intended goodness for the Filipino people. Let us be like ‘city on hill’ that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14). As a community that evangelizes through active participation in the democratic process, we can lead by example, reflecting Christ’s love and joining in a journey toward our desired future, where justice, righteousness, and peace will take root and God’s Shalom will flourish among us.
As we respond to the challenges of our time, we offer ourselves in service to the poor, the marginalized, and to the toiling majority who are striving for more prosperous and peaceful futures. We commit to nurturing ecological integrity, both because this is a right thing to do and because such action can lessen the probability of extreme climate events and dangerous pandemics. Together, we celebrate our Christian unity and affirm our deepest desire to participate in a common journey while working and praying together that will bring us to a place where all creation will sing of God’s goodness and will live in harmony and peace.
Keep the faith! Follow the star!
Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Archbishop Angelito R. Lampon, OMI, Chairperson, CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Ecumenical Affairs