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Maintain the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace

Words of the Most Reverend Giuseppe Pinto, Papal Nuncio to the Philippines
at the Eucharistic Celebration on the occasion of the 50th Year of the See of Lingayen-Dagupan as a Metropolitan Archdiocese
Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
Dagupan City, 16 February 2013

Your Excellency Most Reverend Socrates Villegas, Metropolitan Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan; You Excellency Most Reverend Jose Palma Archbishop of Cebu and President of the CBCP; Your Excellencies my brother Archbishops and Bishops; Distinguished Government Officials, Monsignors, Fathers, Men and Women Religious, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Dear Friends.

Today, the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan celebrates its Golden Jubilee 1 day ago – as a Metropolitan See.

I am happy to be with you in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Dagupan City, with my collaborators from the Apostolic Nunciature, Monsignor Gabor Pinter and Monsignor Seamus Horgan.

In their name also, I cordially thank your Archbishop, His Excellency Most Reverend Socrates Villegas, for the kind invitation to this extraordinary occasion. And it is just that. Even if, in the light of the Second Vatican Council, the role of the Metropolitan Archbishop has been modified, he still has important functions to fulfill in his province. Those include guarding the faith and the ecclesiastical discipline in the suffragan dioceses.

The symbol of his dignity and duty is the pallium, given by the Pope to the metropolitan archbishops as a concrete sign of their pastoral service and of their communion with the Successor of Peter, who is the Head of the Apostolic College.

With this Jubilee, Archbishop Villegas, the clergy and the faithful of Lingayen-Dagupan renew their commitment to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3), professing, living, and manifesting the same faith by works of charity.

The last paragraphs of the First Letter of St. Peter, addressed to the exiles of the Diaspora in Asia, contain this interesting detail: “I write to you through Silvanus” (1Peter 5:12). This phrase makes us think that Silvanus may have helped in preparing the letter. Pope Benedict the Sixteenth (XVI) makes the same observation during his Lectio divina at the Roman Seminary a week ago: Peter did not write the Letter alone, but rather he gives expression to the belief of an entire Church, which is already journeying in faith (cfr. Benedict XVI, Lectio divina al Seminario Romano Maggiore, 9.02.2013).

The same istrue of each local Church. Listening to your Archbishop and reading his pastoral letters means listening to the voice of Christ and the voice of the Church; it means strengthening out unity in faith and action.

Lingayen-Dagupan was elevated as a Metropolitan See during the years of the Second Vatican Council and celebrates its Golden Jubilee during the Year of Faith. A happy coincidence, and because of this, a time of grace to profess the faith with a witness that must be seen in every sector of society.

A Christian must not think of faith as a private act. Pope Benedict the Sixteenth affirms that the verification of personal and communal faith is the consequence of a choice: to stand with the Lord so as to live with him (Cfr. Lettera Apostolica Porta Fidei, 10).

Today, the light of Christ and of the Gospel shines with great intensity in this particular Church and it shines in the streets and the squares of Dagupan, in the cities and villages, in schools and neighborhoods, and also over the splendid Lingayen Gulf.

In thanking the Lord for the many gifts He has lavished upon this ecclesial community, with the hope of abundant works of faith and of Christian charity, I am pleased to transmit the warm greetings and Apostolic Blessings of the Holy Father Benedict the Sixteenth (XVI) to each of you, to your families, and especially to the elderly and the sick.

Our Mother Mary, who goes before the Church on its pilgrimage of faith, will continue to point the way forward with her guidance and intercession.

Ad multos annos! Mabuhay!

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