In what could be a ‘historic’ document, the Christian churches in the Philippines issued a statement this week highlighting their common desire for unity, reported CBCP News.
Titled “One Ecumenical Family”, the statement expressed their commitment “to incarnate Christ in the world by becoming channels of reconciliation”.
The document started by acknowledging the “distrust and acrimony” that they had in the past, “which ruptured relationships not only among ourselves but also with God and all of creation”.
The statement was launched on May 23, Pentecost Sunday, as they also commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines.
“On this momentous occasion, we pledge to continue the healing process in the spirit of repentance and forgiveness,” part of the statement read.
“Through the mercy of God, we seek forgiveness from one another and all those whom we have offended,” it stated.
The signatories of the statement include Archbishop Romulo Valles of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; Bishop Rhee Timbang, head of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente; Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, National Council of Churches in the Philippines; and Bishop Noel Pantoja, national president of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.
Archbishop Angelito Lampon of the CBCP’s Commission on Ecumenical Affairs; Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the CBCP’s Commission on Mutual Relations; Bishop Melzar Labuntog, general secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines; Bishop Vicente Salvador Ballesteros of IFI Diocese of Greater Manila Area; and Rev. Justice Raoul Victorino, chairperson of Iglesia Unida Ekyumenikal.
Over the past two years of interfaith meetings, Lampon said the “historic document” showed “a gesture of genuine dialogue and solidarity”.
It is also “a step towards healing not only among Christian brothers and sisters but also across the nation,” he said.
The churches then reaffirmed their “preferential option for the poor” and their commitment to protect the exploited and the oppressed.
They also vowed to defend the sacredness of life and the fundamental rights of every human being, support gender equality in morally legitimate ways, and promote efforts that advocate a more prominent role of women in the church and society.
The faith leaders furthermore commit “to social justice and a simpler way of life; engage in peace-building and protect our sovereignty, and address consumerism and climate change”.
“We pledge to pursue all these common advocacies as expressions of faith in our respective traditions and in the spirit of ecumenism,” they said.