From the official news website of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines:
Pope Francis’s papacy ‘biggest challenge’ to PH church—Villegas
MANILA, July 6, 2014–The papcy (sic) of Pope Francis is by far the “biggest challenge” faced by the Philippine Church, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archishop Socrates Villegas on Saturday said that the pastoral approach of the Supreme Pontiff in leading Catholics all over the world has transformed the church from being a “self-engrossed” institution into an “outreaching” community.
“(Pope Francis) shakes up our old belief systems about spiritual shepherding. He jolts us from our complacency and status quo attitude. He humbles us with his simplicity. He disturbs us to make us better,” Villegas said in his speech opening the 109th CBCP Plenary Assembly at the Pius XII Catholic Center.
“He has slowly moved the Church from being a dogmatic, self engrossed and authoritative [sic] sick institution to being a gentle, outreaching, compassionate and persuasive Church through the power of love and mercy,” Villegas added.
He reminded the role of pastors as shepherds who will “go before his people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant,” “being in their midst with his unassuming and merciful presence” and “walking after them, helping those who lag behind.”
Villegas reminded the clergy to always be humble, noting that the loss of humility in Church ministry can pose “costly” consequences.
“When we lose humility, we lose perspective. When we lose perspective, we also become too reactive. When we become too reactive, we become less effective and less credible as pastors,” he said.
With Pope Francis set to visit the Philippines early next year, Villegas urged the members of the clergy to serve with humility and happiness, speak with honesty from the mind and to listen patiently with the heart, and see the goodness in everyone and live the mercy of the Gospel.
“This is the example of Pope Francis. Living by this example will make us good shepherds like the Good Shepherd,” he said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)
The statement comes only three months after the Philippine Supreme Court had upheld the "Reproductive Health Law" of their country as "not unconstitutional" after its constitutionality was challenged by various pro-life and Catholic groups. The law had stipulated massive funding for contraception and "reproductive health" promotion and the integration of "sex education" into the Philippine curriculum from primary school onwards. When the Supreme Court decision came out Archbishop Villegas issued a statement that among other things called on Catholics to respect the decision and to "move on from being an RH-law-reactionary-group to a truly Spirit empowered disciples of the Gospel of life and love." Rorate is told that the irony was not lost on Filipino Catholics who recalled that a little more than a year and a pontificate ago, the same prelate had issued on behalf of the Philippine hierarchy a firm condemnation (including a reference to "divine wrath") versus that same law.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas (b. 1960), formerly the secretary of the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, was a Monsignor shortly before turning 31, a Vicar General of the then-enormous Archdiocese of Manila at 33, and appointed a bishop at the age of 40 by John Paul II in 2001. President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines since 2013. Fervently Wojtylian in the time of John Paul II, fervently Ratzingerian during the time of Benedict XVI, and now a true "Bergoglian".