Silence on injustice is negligence, Manila archbishop tells priests

June 1, 2023 - 5:16 PM
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Cardinal Jose Advincula delivers his homily during the ordination Mass of Fr. Florencio Unida at the Sagrada Familia Parish in Sta. Ana, Manila on May 18, 2023. (RCAM-AOC via CBCP News)

The head of Manila’s Roman Catholic Church said that priests, as shepherds, have a duty to speak against violence and injustices.

At a priesthood ordination recently, Cardinal Jose Advincula warned the clergy against the “temptation” of silence to play safe because “the flock will be in danger of getting lost”.

“Do not be afraid to speak, especially in the face of oppression, injustice, violence, and evil,” Advincula said. “A silent shepherd when he is expected to speak is a form of negligence.”

“When the sheep do not hear the voice of their shepherd, they may easily follow false shepherds who will only do them harm,” he said.

Advincula made the statement in his homily during the priestly ordination of Fr. Florencio Unida at the Sagrada Familia Parish in Manila’s Sta. Ana district on May 18.

The cardinal, who is also a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, emphasized that priests must speak up, but that their words must be of God.

“The flock will recognize our voices as their shepherds only if we speak the words of God to them,” he added.

The Manila archbishop also reminded the clergy that their prophetic ministry goes beyond the voice that comes from their mouths.

The more powerful and credible proclamation of Jesus is made, according to him, “through the voice that comes from the witness of our lives”.

“Let your life be a living proclamation of God’s word. May people see you, and by simply looking at you, may they already hear God speaking to them,” he said.