CBCP urges dioceses to mark ‘Day of Conscience’

May 16, 2024 - 9:50 AM
Aristides de Sousa Mendes. (Public Domain via CNA)

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has encouraged dioceses to join in the global observance of the “International Day of Conscience” on June 16.

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, CBCP president, said that Pope Francis has officially recognized the day, aligning it with the courageous actions of Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes.

Nearly 84 years ago, on June 17, 1940, Mendes provided thousands of Jews and other persecuted individuals in Nazi-occupied France with visas, enabling them to flee the country.

Mendes’s act of conscience, rooted in his Catholic faith, compelled him to disobey his government’s orders and aid those in need. These actions brought him severe reprisals during his lifetime.

“Let us unite in shifting the global conscience towards peace and sustainability. We look forward to your support in making this day a significant moment in our moral and spiritual journey,” David said in a circular released Monday.

The United Nations observes the International Day of Conscience on April 5.

David said that to align these observances, starting next year, it is proposed that the Church celebrate the Day of Conscience on the Sunday nearest to April 3 and 5, connecting the memory of Mendes’ passing with the U.N. day.

“For this year, we stick to the original date, June 16, and our focus is on the grave threat of nuclear weapons, emphasized by Pope Francis and global leaders,” he added.

“We aim to engage our youth in advocating for a world free from the risks of nuclear proliferation,” he also said.