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Becoming a Vatican II Church

The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) promoted a significant ecclesiological paradigm shift, entailing changes in theologies, values, and pastoral practices. The local Church in the Philippines actively received these changes.

Fifty persons from the Philippines attended the Council (49 bishops and one layman). Filipino bishops comprised two-thirds of the participants; with one-third composed of expatriate missionary bishops. 

Committed to Renewal. Received enthusiastically by the local Church of the Philippines, Vatican II prompted the Filipino bishops to launch a new evangelization on many levels; the social apostolate was among its strong emphases. Early efforts centered on the formation and support of unions and cooperatives for farmers, laborers, and fishermen.  

The bishops issued several pastoral letters on social action, justice and development. They sponsored a National Rural Development Congress in 1967, the slogan of which, “The Church Goes to the Barrios,” became axiomatic for the Church’s commitment to development and social justice. The bishops established the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA). A major local Church milestone was achieved in the 1991 month-long Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP-II) that helped concretize the aggiornamento renewal of Vatican II in the Philippine context.  

Continuing Transformation. Vatican II ecclesiology has truly taken root in the Philippine Church. Growth has often been difficult and uncertain; it has required deep faith to follow the Spirit’s promptings in the midst of challenging historical circumstances and social conditions.  Yet, this journey has resulted in a more mature, vibrant local Church.  The presence of strong Basic Christian Communities (BCCs) provides grass roots structures for spiritual, catechetical, ministerial, and social growth.  

Important strengths are present in this Vatican II Church: the inductive and experiential approach of theology; its inculturated social teaching; its spirituality of human development; its renewed ecclesiology/missiology; its concrete service to many Filipinos facing diverse dehumanizing social ills; its engagement in social issues in a nonpartisan but active manner; its efforts to promote and practice nonviolent approaches to socio-political crises; and its commitment to create structures of participation in Church and society.  

Radical Witnessing. The local Church also has its heroic witnesses—and martyrs (to mention only a few): Malaybalay diocesan priest Neri Satur (Oct 14, 1991); Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, OMI (Feb 4, 1997); Father Rhoel Gallardo, CMF (May 3, 2000); Father Benjamin Inocencio, OMI (Dec 28, 2000); and Scholastic “Richie” Fernando, SJ (Oct 17, 1996). Martyrs, as well as ordinary Christians, give clear witness to the authentic faith of the Philippine Church! 

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