“Let love be sincere” (Rom 12:9)
Fourth Pastoral Letter of the Bishop of Borongan After Yolanda
June 22, 2014
BELOVED People of God:
Grace and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ to you all!
It is almost eight months after Super Typhoon Yolanda hit most of Central Visayas and, particularly the Diocese of Borongan, especially its southern part. Although this is already my fourth pastoral letter after the fact, as Shepherd of the Diocese, I am pastorally and morally obliged to issue it. This is because of two observations I have made regarding the situation of the super typhoon’s survivors.
First, several religious sects and denominations have been proselytizing from among Yolanda’s victims, mostly Catholics, to recruit them into their groups through money or relief goods in the guise of compassionate response. Let me make this clear. They are taking advantage of the survivors’ vulnerability. Proselytizing from among the vulnerable calls into question the sincerity of one’s charity. To them I say: If you really desire to give help, do so without any preconditions. If the Word of God truly moves you, then heed the Apostle Paul’s advice: “Let no one go after his interest, but the interest of the other” (1 Cor 10:24). Lack of respect for the faith of others can never be Christ-like.
On the part of the survivors: Accept the assistance you are given, but never give up your Catholic Faith. Love and cherish this Catholic Faith because it gives you the fullness of the means of salvation: not only the Scriptures but also the Sacraments, not only the Bible but also Apostolic Tradition. Jesus Christ our Savior also gives us the wealth of his love in the devotions we have to his Mother, Mama Mary, and the saints. Never give up your devotion to her and to the saints. They have helped us obtain protection from the full wrath of super typhoon Yolanda through the motherly embrace of her prayers and the saints’ powerful intercessions. Mama Mary loves you so much. So do your patron saints.
Faithfulness is a mark of true faith. As members of the Roman Catholic Church, let us unite ourselves in living, preserving, defending and proclaiming our Catholic Faith.
Second, a number of INGOs, NGOs and other agencies, while laudably assisting Yolanda survivors towards recovery, unfortunately also abuse their vulnerability by including reproductive health devices as essential components of their assistance. This phenomenon is alarming. I urge our Catholic flock to make a moral stand with me and our clergy. To our brethren among the survivors I say: We understand you have to accept all the help being made available to you, including shelters, livelihood programs and others. But I appeal to you to resist all forms of reproductive health services. They violate Catholic norms of morality and many times adversely affect the health of persons, especially women.
In these trying times let us not fail to listen to the words of the Savior: “I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Be wise as snakes but gentle as doves” (Mt 10:16).
Truly in the Lord,
+CRISPIN B. VARQUEZ, DD
Bishop of Borongan