TAGUM CITY—As thousands of Filipino Catholic priests across the country renew their priestly vows, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has one but clear message to all of them: stop homily abuse.
Villegas, who heads the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said “it is an abuse of the kindness of the people who are forced to listen to long, winding, repetitious, boring, unorganized, unprepared, mumbled homilies.”
“In jest but certainly with some truth, the people say our homilies are one of the obligatory scourges that they must go through every Sunday,” he said.
“Today, I invite you to turn your hearts to another very rampant and widespread abuse among priests: homily abuse,” Villegas said on April 2 in the observance of Maundy Thursday.
He claimed that “homily abuse can harm souls”, because the priests tend “to introduction, and do not know how to go direct to the point and do not know how to end.”
“If you listen more carefully to what our people say about our homilies, they are not complaining about depth of message or scholarly exegesis.”
Taking his cue from Pope Francis, Villegas issued the statement in an attempt to introduce reforms on how seminarians undergo formation at various seminary schools in Dioceses and Archdioceses across the country.
“We were all abused by the homilies of our elder priests when we were seminarians. When our turn came to deliver homilies, the abused became the abuser,” noted Villegas.
“If a seminarian lacks chastity, we cannot recommend him for ordination. If a seminarian is stubborn and hard headed, we cannot endorse his ordination. If a seminarian cannot speak in public with clarity and effectiveness, we should not ordain him. He will be a dangerous homily abuser.”
Aside from the so-called “homily abuse”, Villegas also said that there are other abuses which Filipino priests were involved with such as alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, gambling abuse, money abuse, travelling abuse, and vacation abuse.
Rendon Guzman, 32, a parish worker here said that “it is high time that priests should change the way they deliver their homilies”
“Their boring homilies are unattractive to the young people. The youth could not go along with their orthodox style,” said Guzman.
For Villegas, “homilies will improve if we diminish our love for talking and increase our love for listening. When our homily is simply a talk, we only repeat what we know, get tired and feel empty.”
“When you listen and pray before you talk, you learn something new and your homily will be crisp and fresh. We will be better homilists if we dare to smell again like the sheep.” said Villegas. (davaotoday.com)