Cardinal John Tong, our Apostolic Administrator, made public a Pastoral Letter, entitled In Communion with the Church, on 21 September.
In the Pastoral Letter, the Cardinal encourages the faithful to hold firm to their faith in these times of trials and hardships, recognizing that God, the Lord of human history, will ultimately turn their sufferings into a blessing.
The Cardinal acknowledges that the social unrest last year and the Covid-19 pandemic this year will pose new challenges to our evangelizing mission, and for this reason the faithful should entrust themselves to God and be well prepared.
The Cardinal considers the protesters last year as justified in demanding the government to address some key issues related to justice, democracy and the quality of life. Regrettably, the protests later gave rise to mutual hatred, smearing and animosity among opposing camps.
The Cardinal exhorts the faithful to follow the social teaching of the Church attaining the reforms and well-being of society. Treating others as “enemies” to be fought against is inconsistent with the Christian faith. The faithful can have different stances on social and political issues, but they must avoid causing a division in the Church because of those differences. Even in exercising their rights, the faithful are to take into account the communion and common good of the Church.
The Cardinal reiterates the support of the Church for democracy as a form of governance, but he emphasizes that the attainment of democracy is an “ongoing process” which calls for perseverance and sustained efforts.
As for priests, they should enlighten the faithful with the social teaching of the Church and form their consciences, refraining, however, from exerting their influence in the social concern activities of the faithful.
The Church treasures the supernatural “sense of faith” on the part of the faithful. Accordingly, priests should be ready to listen to the faithful. Nevertheless, when the faithful challenge the Church or even slander Church leaders, they are setting a bad example and causing a division in the Church.
Lastly, the Cardinal calls on the faithful “to put an unwavering hope in Jesus Christ” and to turn to God for His unfailing help. While there is room for a “diversity” in Church life, the faithful must maintain the communion of the Church.