A Unity Statement of the Christian Churches on the Occasion of the 500th Year of Christianity in the Philippines
On Pentecost Sunday, May 23rd 2021, the Christian churches of the Philippines issues a document that states their unity titled “One Ecumenical Family“. They did this to celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.
The statement was signed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop, the head of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, the Bishop of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the national president of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches as well as many others.
This is an ‘historic document’ that highlights the desire Christian churches in the Philippines have for unity.
A Unity Statement of the Christian Churches
on the Occasion of the 500th Year of Christianity in the Philippines
As we commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christianity in the Philippines, we, the Christian Churches, give thanks and praise to our loving Triune God for the grace that sustained the faith. We are thankful for the countless men and women who offered their lives in fulfilling the mission “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19-20).
We believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, our Savior, expressed in the Nicene Creed. We declare that we are one Ecumenical Family committed to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in words and way of life.
We acknowledge that Christianity came along with colonialism under Spain and the United States of America. Such colonization brought about unprecedented violence and suffering to our people, including abuses committed against our indigenous people, and exploitation of our resources, to which some missionary activities contributed. Despite this sad reality, we commend the unrelenting missionary work, such as defending the rights of the natives against the aggression of colonizers and the sowing and cultivation of the Gospel across the archipelago. In these events, we have witnessed God constantly intervene in our history transforming our personal and collective sins towards conversion and renewal.
In the course of our history, we, the Christian Churches, admit that we have developed distrust and acrimony, which have ruptured relationships not only among ourselves but also with God and all of creation.
On this momentous occasion, we pledge to continue the healing process in the spirit of repentance and forgiveness. We commit to incarnate Christ in the world by becoming channels of reconciliation. Through the mercy of God, we seek forgiveness from one another and all those whom we have offended. We earnestly desire “to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8) in order to credibly witness to the faith in the world today.
In the spirit of renewal, we reaffirm our preferential option for the poor, and our commitment to the protection of the exploited and oppressed, and the promotion of the rights of our indigenous brothers and sisters. We minister anew to those who suffer physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We commit 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. We furthermore commit to social justice and a simpler way of life; engage in peacebuilding 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.
Finally, we commend to God our deepest desire and longing for an authentic reconciliation and fraternity among all Christians, believers, non-believers, and among all peoples of goodwill, as desired by our Lord Jesus “That they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:21).
May this message be a witness to the greatness of God whose Spirit unites hearts and uplifts human souls through His Son, Jesus Christ.
ARCHBISHOP ROMULO G. VALLES, D.D.
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
ARCHBISHOP ANGELITO R. LAMPON, OMI, D.D.
Chairman, CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Ecumenical Affairs
ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, SJ, D.D.
Chairman, CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Mutual Relations
OM RHEE M. TIMBANG
Obispo Maximo, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI)
BISHOP REUEL NORMAN O. MARIGZA
General Secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines
BISHOP NOEL A. PANTOJA
National President, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches
BISHOP MELZAR D. LABUNTOG
General Secretary, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
THE RIGHT REVD VICENTE SALVADOR R. BALLESTEROS
Bishop of Greater Manila
REV. JUSTICE RAOUL V. VICTORINO
Chairperson, Iglesia Unida Ekyumenikal
This article was originally published in the Sword of the Spirit website.
Top photo credit: image of Christians standing together holding crosses, photo © Rawpixel.com, from Bigstock.com, stock photo ID: 149189999
Don Schwager is the editor of Living Bulwark and author of the Daily Scripture Reading and Meditation website. He is a lay religious brother and life-time member of the Servants of the Word.