Religious leaders launch advocacy for faith, unity amid health crisis
MANILA, Philippines — Church leaders have urged the public to hold on to their faith and make it their primary guiding force in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
In a virtual interfaith gathering on National Heroes Day, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) led a new national campaign – dubbed “Yakapin and Bagong Bukas (Embrace the New Tomorrow)” – meant to give the faithful hope to survive the pandemic.
Monday’s launch was highlighted by the 6 p.m. simultaneous one-minute tolling of church bells nationwide to symbolize the call for faith and unity.
In his message, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, acting president of the CBCP and concurrently Bishop of the Diocese of Caloocan asked Filipinos to help turn this crisis into an opportunity by responding together heroically and to “rise above our personal interests and transcend our differences for the common good.”
“Needless to say, the sufferings anxieties and uncertainties that have been brought about by this crisis will have disastrous consequences on the lives of individuals, families, and communities, and societies all over the world,” Bishop David said.
“But we can also make this crisis into an opportunity that will bring out the best in us. If only we can respond together heroically, rise above our personal interests and transcend our differences for the common good,” he added.
An audio-visual production (AVP) of the advocacy was also presented by Bishop Marcelino Antonio Malabanan Maralit, Jr. from the Diocese of Boac, who also shared the concept behind the campaign during the online gathering.
CBCP collaborated with Filipino firms Unilab Inc. and RiteMed Philippines Inc. in producing the AVP, which will also be distributed to Catholic churches, schools, and civic organizations to help spread the advocacy’s message across the country.
The faith-based leaders who participated in the community prayer include Bishop Reuben Abante, Senior Pastor of the Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church; Elder Taniela Wakolo, of the Philippine Area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Timuey Lito S. Palma, Tribal Chieftain of the Langkat, IP Traditional Worship in Cotabato, Mindanao; Imam Ebra M. Moxsir, AL-HAJ, President of the Imam Council of the Philippines and Venerable Miao Jing Shih, Head of Abbess of the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple; prayed as one for the Filipinos’ physical and —more importantly— spiritual healing.
Also in the gathering were government officials from different agencies, leaders of civic organizations, including those representing the medical community, elderly, youth, education, family, and the marginalized sectors.
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