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Bear Witness to Faith, Pope’s Envoy Tells Bishops

MANILA, Jan. 29, 2011— Philippine bishops began their meeting Saturday with a call from an envoy of Pope Benedict XVI to courageously bear witness to their faith.

Papal Legate Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski told the prelates who are gathered at the Pius XII Center in Manila that only by doing so could they become “credible and effective” evangelizers.

Such faith, he pointed out, can also inevitably be a source of Christian “dynamism” in the midst of secularism.

“Faith of itself if it does not have work is death,” Grocholewski said. “Faith can live and grow only by working and by sharing the faith to others,” Grocholewski told his brothers in the episcopate.

The Vatican official made the statement in his homily during a Mass to open the 102nd Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

While faith can grow through the church leaders, he said, it can also weaken and even disappear “because of our negligence.”

“Faith can grow in us but it can also diminish. Each of us is responsible for the growth or the diminishing of this faith,” said Grocholewski who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education.

“Do not spare any effort to grow constantly in the faith. Have the courage to think, to judge and act entirely within the logic of the faith.”

“Let us never forget that the faith is both a great treasure and well as a delicate plant which everyday must be nurtured with care,” he said.

To date, the CBCP has a total of 132 members—97 of them are active and 35 are retired.

CBCP Secretary General Msgr. Juanito Figura said about 101 bishops are present in the three-day meeting including the 3 diocesan administrators and 6 retired prelates to discuss and come up with a common stand on current issues.

Among those in attendance are Archbishops Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, Jose Palma of Cebu and current CBCP President Bishop Nereo Odchimar.

Cardinal Grocholewski only attended the morning session together with Papal nuncio Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams who also delivered a message to the CBCP.

The papal envoy arrived in Manila last Monday to grace the formal opening of the University of Sto. Tomas’ 400th year anniversary celebration held last Friday. He will be returning to Rome on Sunday.

The bishops’ plenary assemblies are bi-annual meetings traditionally held in the months of January and July. Both are preceded with a three-day seminar (January) and an annual retreat (July).

About half of the 36 CBCP Commissions and offices are also expected to render their reports about their programs and activities during the year past. (CBCPNews)