By Leslie Ann Aquino
Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado said harmonious dialogue with other Christian groups will not be possible if one is filled with prejudices towards them.
“Entering into a harmonious dialogue with our other Christian brethren is not possible if our minds and hearts are filled with prejudices towards them,” he said in a pastoral letter dated December 2.
That’s why Mercado said there was a need to overcome past attitudes that block our relationship and foment hostility towards them.
Among these attitudes which he said we need to “purify” is the thinking that “Only Catholics will be saved in the next life so we need to convert others into our religion.”
“The fact is: Though we have ‘the all-embracing means of salvation,’ other Christian churches are not deprived of the mystery of salvation. Thus, we do not need to impose our faith on them. Conversion, in the end, is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our tasks are to proclaim our faith and to give witness to it,” said Mercado.
Arguing and debating about our respective beliefs which often characterize our interaction with other Christian groups, is another attitude cited by the prelate.
“The fact is: Ecumenism is not only about doctrines. Yet even in theological exchange, the way is listening to each other in the spirit of humility and love,” said Mercado.
Another, he said is the thinking that the Catholic Church has the “exclusivity” of all religious truths.
“The fact is: Many truths of our faith are also present in other Christian groups. The way they live out these truths can also enrich us,” Mercado said.
The prelate issued the pastoral letter for the new liturgical year in the diocese with the theme “Diocese in Mission: Ecumenism as a Path Towards Christian Unity”.
Bishop Mercado said they are focusing on Ecumenism as this refers to the Church’s endeavors to build unity with other Christian brothers and sisters.
To note, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines declared the year 2020 as the Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue, and Indigenous Peoples.”