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CBCP Statement on Marawi, Terrorism and Dialogue “Turn from Evil and Do Good, Seek Peace and Pursue It” (Ps. 34:14)


Greetings of peace in the Almighty and Most Merciful God.

We, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, wish to enjoin your assistance and collaboration. We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again!  War in Marawi, no more! We therefore call for the return to normalcy and peace in Marawi and its environs as soon as possible.  We wonder whether the continued state of Martial Law, much more its extension, will bring this about.

We believe that the war in Marawi is not religious. We have heard and read truly stunning stories of how Muslims have protected and helped Christians to escape from almost certain death. Even now Christians are assisting thousands of Muslims who have fled from Marawi for safety. These are indisputable signs that there is no religious war.

Condemnation of Terrorism and Violent Extremism

For this reason as Catholic religious leaders we condemn in the strongest terms possible, as did Islamic religious scholars in Mindanao, the violent extremist Maute group in Marawi. Its leaders and members have pledged allegiance to ISIS. They have contradicted the fundamental tenets of Islam by abducting and hostaging, maiming and killing the innocent.

Dialogue for Peace, the Common Word

Join us then, beloved people of good will, in conducting intra-faith dialogue among our respective co-religionists so that our various faiths may not be exploited and abused for the sake of terrorism or violent extremism. Let parents, schools, churches and mosques ensure that none may be lured by the recruitment efforts of terrorists. Let us teach the young and the old that our faiths are meant for peace. No religion teaches the killing of innocent people, simply because they belong to another religion.

Join us and let us continue the inter-religious dialogue called for by hundreds of Islamic leaders throughout the world. In 2007 they called for peace between Muslims and Christians when they wrote their famous open letter on “the Common Word” to Christian religious leaders. How true their words were! The Muslim leaders wrote:

The basis for peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God and love of neighbor.

This is the commandment of God in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.

Our Lord Jesus, who is also revered as prophet in the Qur’an, cited this scriptural text and elaborated on it in Mark 12:28-31.

One of the scribes … asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

He further commanded us: “Love one another as I love you” (John 15:12).

Praxis of Love and Gratitude

Loving our neighbor needs action. Let us together invest our resources to helping the thousands of people who have fled from the horrors of Marawi. Let us pray for the safety of trapped civilians and of those abducted and hostaged by the terrorists. Let us be vigilant and alert, helping our security forces thwart the threats of terrorism in other areas of Mindanao. Let us help the government rebuild the city of Marawi so that its citizens may return and restore their broken lives.

With profound gratitude we acknowledge the priceless generosity of kind donors from different faiths, both local and foreign, who promptly responded to  meet the needs of the people of Marawi who have fled to safer areas. We appeal for more help especially for those home-based displaced people who are not yet adequately served.

Maryam, the mother of Jesus, is praised and honored in the Qur’an and by many Christians. Catholics believe that 100 years ago she appeared to three children in the village of Fatima, which is the very name of the daughter of the prophet Muhammad. To the prayers of Maryam, we commend our efforts for peace and harmony between peoples of different faiths.

“Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to one another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual good will” (see the Common Word letter).

May the God of peace be with you!

On behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,

+ Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.

Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan

President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

July 10, 2017


Easter Message of Archbishop Soc: “Die with Me and Live Forever!”


Easter Message of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas on April 16, 2017 delivered at Saint John Cathedral Dagupan City

As I looked at our churches and chapels filled with devoted people during Holy Week, I asked myself “How many more of such Katoliko sarado and faithful parishioners do we really have now?”

How many of our Catholic countrymen fully believe in the Catholic teachings and live by the same Catholic moral principles? How many of our Catholics openly and blatantly declare “I am a Catholic but I agree that drug addicts must be killed; they are useless. I am a Catholic but I am pro death penalty. I am a Catholic but I favor gay marriages. I am a Catholic but I do not always obey my bishop who is too old fashioned. I am a priest but my bishop’s circulars are optional for obedience. I am a Catholic congressman but I when I vote on bills, the budget allocation for my projects are primary not my conscience. I am a Catholic but I do not mind if the Pope is called son of a prostitute. I am a Catholic and I bash the CBCP on social media. I am a Catholic but I share fake news. I am a Catholic but I am not against corruption in government as long as they help the poor.”

I am a Catholic but I disagree when bishops talk about social issues and ecology concerns. The Church should not interfere in politics. There is separation of Church and State after all. Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s and to God what is God’s. I am a Catholic but…I am a Catholic but…”

In Syria and Nigeria, in Egypt and Lebanon, in China and Myanmar, Christians suffer for the faith, endure persecution and embrace their fate of martyrdom until now.  They endure the traditional way of blood shedding by torture or by solitary isolation or by the bullet. Their tormentors do not share their beliefs. They live in a society that is angry at God and suspicious of churchmen.

In the Philippines we declare we are Christians. We are Catholics. The baptismal certificate is presented before weddings. We have fiestas and processions. We have Catholic schools and we make pilgrimages. We have priests at funerals and we go to Manaoag.

In the Philippines, we are Catholics. We do not kill bishops and priests in the Philippines. We bash bishops. We allow our idols to curse the Pope. We make fake news about one another. We remain safely anonymous in hidden Facebook and Twitter accounts. We earn our living by working as social media trolls. This is better than drugs and stealing, isn’t it?

We bishops have become martyrs in social media. We are killed a thousand times; our trolls are in the thousands. When we speak they want us muted. When we oppose they want us maimed. When we stand for life, they want us dead.

What has happened to us?

Some of my friends from other countries say they are worried about the government of the Philippines. I answered them I am not worried about government. I am more worried about my countrymen. How have we a Catholic nation become like this as a people?

We have become uncaring for one another. We are proud to be critical without rhyme or reason. We walk not forward but backwards becoming day by day an angry society.  I thank God that my parents did not live long enough to see these days when their bishop son is ridiculed and rebuked and his priests are ignored and suspected. Churchmen are called the worst hypocrites and if my mother heard such, I am sure she would cry in pain. Our parishioners seek the security of silence with no one willing to defend Christ’s anointed ones. “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:31)

Am I hurt? Yes. Am I angry? No. Am I aware of the calumnies they hurl against me? Yes and I read all of them. Shall I give up? No. How do I feel? Fully at peace!

Pope Benedict XVI told us bishops “Readiness to suffer belongs to the bishop’s job description. Precisely in this way the bishop is in communion with His Master. Precisely in this way, he knows himself to be a servant of joy.”

The Book of Sirach advises us, Stand up for what is right, even it costs your life; the Lord God will be fighting on your side (4:28)

We are indeed entering a new chapter in our history as a Catholic nation when it is so fashionable to make churchmen the punching bag of public officials to the glee of our own parishioners. We are humiliated and despised. We are calumniated as having many wives and the accuser is immune from legal suit. Bishops and priests are wronged and no one dares to set things right.

The Church is ridiculed and her churchmen are rebuked. Christ’s teachings are relentlessly challenged. Human life is cheaper than a gun. God’s mercy is disdained and scorned.

Like Saint Paul, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Cor 4:8-10)

If the fashion of rebuffing Church morals and doctrine does not cease, we will see less and less priests and bishops reaching old age and more and more priests and bishops dying as martyrs at the prime of their lives if not in this generation maybe, maybe in the next. Pray I am wrong.

If this should happen: Stand up and take courage. Go to jail for the sake of the Gospel. Be ready to be killed for the sake of our faith. The Church will not die when Christ’s believers are killed. The Catholic faith will bloom, grow and glow. What we cannot do in life as Catholics, we will be able to do when they kill us and make us martyrs. First they will kill our name. Then they will destroy our beliefs. Then they will kill our body. But no one can stop our hearts from beating only for God.

Another patriot in our midst challenged us:

“We should not wait until the ‘sea of ethics’ runs dry, nor should we allow the navy captain to altogether dismantle the ‘lighthouse’ that gets in his way.”

The Church is under persecution. The signs are clear. The teachings of God on life and family are under attack. Do not let evil intimidate you. Do not let their threats silence the priests and bishops. This is not the time for cowards. This is the ripe season for martyrs. This is a moment of glory.

As the Lord told his disciples in the Garden of Olives, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mt. 26:45-46)

I close this Easter meditation with the immortal lines of the Man from La Mancha:

I know if I’ll only be true To this glorious quest That my heart will lie peaceful and calm When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this That one man, scorned and covered with scars Still strove with his last ounce of courage To reach the unreachable star!

If you die with Christ, you will live forever. Do not be afraid. Christ has conquered death….! Alleluia He is risen!

Circular 2017-8: Community Organizer

April 5, 2017

Memorial of Saint Vincent Ferrer

Circular 2017-8

RE: Parish Community Organizer

Reverend Fathers:

In the spirit of the 2017 Year of the Parish, our pastoral attention is set on the formation and fostering of basic ecclesial communities in EVERY PARISH of Lingayen Dagupan. A good number of our parishes already have the structures and networks in place for parish BECs. Unfortunately, it cannot be said of all parishes. Our vision is by the end of the 2017 Year of the Parish, every parish would have at least the seminal structures of basic ecclesial communities.

I understand that due to your many pressing concerns in the parish, you are unable to foster the basic ecclesial communities. In consideration of this pastoral limitation, I invite you to select one member of the Catholic laity in the parish or pastoral station to become a FULL TIME COMMUNITY ORGANIZER. The stipend for the full time community organizer may be taken from the parish Pananabangan Fund.

The Archdiocesan BEC Desk will offer an orientation seminar for these parish full time community organizers on MAY 6, 2017 at the LAY FORMATION CENTER in Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City from8am until 5pm.

Please be very keen and ingenuous in selecting your parish community organizer. Much will depend on your parish CO in fostering the basic ecclesial communities in the parish.

I trust that you share the vision and appreciate the importance of employing such lay workers. Thank you.

Sincerely yours,


Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan


Circular 2017-7: Chrism Mass

March 25, 2017

Solemnity of the Annunciation

Circular 2017-7

RE: Chrism Mass

My dear people of God:

It is my pleasure to invite you to the celebration of our CHRISM MASS on Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017 at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist at 8:00 o’clock in the morning. There will be solemn Morning Prayers at 7:30am.

I invite the Catholic faithful to avail of this occasion to publicly express their prayerful appreciation for the priestly life and ministry of our priests who devoutly serve the Church.

On this same occasion, we shall give recognition to the most generous contributors for our mission fund and the Icthus pastoral fund.

In addition to these, the summons for the members of the Second Synod of Lingayen Dagupan will also be issued.

I am looking forward to your wholehearted and active participation at our Chrism Mass.

Sincerely yours,


Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan


Walk for Life 2017

Message of Archbishop Socrates B Villegas

February 18, 2017, 430am

Salamat sa Council of the Laity ng Pilipinas na siyang nanawagan para sa Walk for Life. Kaming mga pari at obispo ay kasama ninyong laykong lingkod sa bawat hakbang. Hindi kami mauuna baka hindi kayo makasunod. Hindi kami maglalakad sa likod baka maiwanan ninyo kami. Maglalakad kaming ng mga obispo at pari katabi ninyo. Kaagapay. Kaibigan. Kasama sa paglalakad. Sa Luneta pantay pantay tayo. Sabay sabay.

Narito tayo para sa Walk for Life alang alang sa mga hindi na makalakad dahil sa kasalanan natin sa kanila. Hindi sila makalakad dahil pinatay at tayo ay natakot makisangkot. Hindi sila makalakad dahil natatakot na baka sila ang isunod na barilin. Hindi makalakad dahil lulong sa droga. Hindi makalakad na pinatay ng mga addict nabulagan ng isip. Hindi makalakad dahil sa ating mga kasalanan dahil sa buhay.

Ang Walk for Life ay para sa kanila. Lalakad tayo at tatayo para sa kanila.

Ang Walk for Life ay hindi para ipagtanggol ang drug addict o ang mga mamamatay tao. Ang kriminal ay dapat arestuhin, kasuhan, hatulan at ikulong upang iwasto ang pagkakamali. Dapat patunayan ang pagkakasala sa korte ng batas hindi sa batas ng bala.

Ang Walk for Life ay hindi protesta kundi paninindigan para sa kabanalan ng buhay ng bawat tao na galing sa Diyos. Ang Walk for Life ay Walk for God.

Bakit madaling araw? Sapagkat sa mga oras na ito natin natutuklasan ang bangkay sa bangketa o malapit sa basurahan. Ang madaling araw na sana ay oras ng bagong simula ay nagiging oras ng luha at takot dahil sa mga pinatay sa magdamag.

Sa mga ganitong oras noong Disyembre 30, 1896 nagsimula maglakad si Dr Jose Rizal simula Fort Santiago patungong Luneta para bitayin ng firing squad.  Ang parusang bitay ay saliwa sa kabanalan ng buhay ng tao. Sa halip na bitay, linisin natin ang kapulisan, ayusin ang husgado at higpitan palakad sa bilangguan. No to death penalty. Yes to the reform of the criminal justice. Nananawgan po kami sa Congress na hayaang bumoto ang Kongresista ayon sa konsensiya. Ang partido politika ay pansamantala. Ang konsensiya ang tinig ng Diyos na nakatanim sa ating kalooban. Igalang ang konsensiya.

Marami pa pong kasalanan sa buhay na dapat natin labanan. ABCDE…

Abortion ay kasalanan sa buhay ng sanggol. Ang sanggol ay taong anak natin. Ang mahinang sanggol ay biyaya ng Diyos. Ang bawat sanggol ipagtanggol! Kapag hindi natin nilabanan ang aborsyon, aabot tayo sa pagpatay sa mga yagit ng lipunan. Ang taong yagit sa tingin ng iba ay taong iniligtas at mahal ng Diyos. Mahal ng Diyos ang mga mahihina at mistulang yagit. Kapatid natin sila.

Blasphemy ay paglapastangan sa ngalan ng Diyos. Kung ang Diyos ay hindi na ginagalang susunod na hindi igagalang ang mga nilikha ng Diyos. Ang lahat ng kasalanan sa Diyos ay nagsisimula sa blasphemy o pagyurak sa karangalan ng Diyos. Kapag lapastangan sa Diyos, sigurado lapastangan din sa Inang Kalikasan, lapastangan sa magulang, lapastangan sa kapwa, lapastangan sa buhay.

Corruption ay nakakamatay ng tao. Ang corruption ay pagnanakaw lalo na sa mga mahihirap. Perang dapat ipampagamot, perang pambili ng bigas, perang pamasahe sa bus, perang pantapal sa bubong na tumutulo, kinukupit ng mandarambong! Ang luha ng mahihirap na pinagnanakawan ng corrupt ay alam ng Diyos. Hindi kayo pwedeng magnakaw habampanahon. Alam ng Diyos ang lahat.

Droga ay laban sa buhay. Pinapatay ng droga ang taong gumagamit pati na ang mga inosenteng biktima nila. Rape dahil sa droga. Nakaw dahil sa droga. Patayan dahil sa droga. Marami ng buhay na winasak ang droga. Ang Walk for Life ay kontra droga. Ang Walk for Life ay hindi pagtatanggol sa drug addict at drug pusher. Masama ang droga. Nakakamatay ang droga.

Execution ay pagpatay. Dating tawag ay bitay, naging salvaging, naging summary execution, naging EJK. Ang pagpatay, ito naman ay gawin ng kriminal o kaya ay ipataw ng gobyerno bilang death penalty, pagpatay pa rin yan. We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing those who kill. It also increases the number of killers.

Malapit ng sumikat ang araw. May pag asa tayo. Huwag matakot sa dilim. Huwag mamuhay sa takot. Kumakalat ang takot at pananakot. Tinatakot tayong papatayin. Tinatakot tayo at nagpapatakot tayo. Walang mananakot kung hindi tayo magpapatakot.

Harapin natin ang nananakot at ipakita natin ang ating lakas ng loob. Humarap tayo sa nagbabanta at ipakita na kasama natin ang Diyos na ating lakas. Hindi nila tayo maaaring takutin dahil mas malakas ang tiwala natin sa Diyos.

Bayang may tiwala sa Diyos. Huwag matakot. Lakad na para sa BUHAY! Walk for Life!​


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