PRIESTS must listen to the young even when at times they criticize the clergy, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas said at the transition between the old and new years.
In a pastoral letter for the 2019 Year of the Youth in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, Villegas pointed out that the youth can also teach the elders the power of digital world and “be at the forefront of using the power of the Internet to “spread true information, promote sociopolitical engagement according to the Gospel values and be good citizens of the nation.”
“When the young criticize us priests, I encourage you, my brother priests, to listen to their young voices as the voice of Christ himself calling us to conversion and renewal.
All young people are in God’s heart even if some of them do not share our visions of life. An attitude of humility and willingness to listen will open new avenues of renewal for us,” said Villegas, the former head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
“Our youth need to teach us the power of the cyberspace digital world while we their elders in turn must accompany them in this daily reality of their young lives…In entering cyberspace with the young, we their elders can protect them from the dark web of isolation, manipulation, exploitation, cyberbullying and pornography,” he added.
The letter was issued as the Catholic Philippines observes 2019 as the Year of the Youth looking forward to the 500th anniversary of the first baptism and first mass in the Philippines and the 100th anniversary of the Diocese of Lingayen
In 2019, we dream of the Church in Lingayen-Dagupan as young Jesus among the young, Villegas said.
In walking together with the youth, he urged the priests to renew their appreciation for three very important interlinked institutions—the family, the school and the parish.
“The youth must be given avenues to participate in the mission of evangelization in the parish. It has been said that the face of God is mercy. Today, we say that at the forefront of the Church of mercy are the faces of the young. Let us give the Church a young face. Let us give the youth a space to be heard because true love listens. The first step to walking with the youth is listening to them,” he said.
The restlessness among the youth can inject greater dynamism to parishes which often favor the status quo more than the missionary passion.
“I encourage our priests and educators, parents and guardians to allow the youth to express this creative restlessness with an encouraging welcome and a respectful accompaniment. Oftentimes, we Church elders engender impatience among the youth because of our slow, domineering and dragging pastoral approaches,” he said.
“To the parents, teachers and priests: The young Jesus is among the young. Let the young teach us as we teach them. Let the young show us the face of Jesus as we keep on trying to love them like Jesus. To the young: Show us Jesus and be our guide to see Him more clearly, to love Him more dearly, to follow Him more nearly,” he added.