Philippine Christian Churches have reaffirmed their common desire for unity in a statement released last week titled “One Ecumenical Family.”
The statement expresses the Churches’ commitment “to incarnate Christ in the world by becoming channels of reconciliation.”
The document, which was launched on Pentecost Sunday, acknowledges the “distrust and acrimony” that Churches had in the past.
It says the “distrust … ruptured relationships not only among ourselves but also with God and all of creation.”
“On this momentous occasion, we pledge to continue the healing process in the spirit of repentance and forgiveness,” reads the statement, referring to the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country.
“Through the mercy of God, we seek forgiveness from one another and all those whom we have offended,” it adds.
The unity statement was signed by Archbishop Romulo Valles of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; Bishop Rhee Timbang, head of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente; Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines; and Bishop Noel Pantoja, national president of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.
Archbishop Angelito Lampon of the CBCP’s Commission on Ecumenical Affairs; Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the CBCP’s Commission on Mutual Relations; Bishop Melzar Labuntog, general secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines; Bishop Vicente Salvador Ballesteros of IFI Diocese of Greater Manila Area; and Rev. Justice Raoul Victorino, chairperson of Iglesia Unida Ekyumenikal also signed the statement.
Archbishop Lampon said the “historic document” showed “a gesture of genuine dialogue and solidarity” among the Churches.
He described it as “a step towards healing not only among Christian brothers and sisters but also across the nation.”
The Churches reaffirmed their “preferential option for the poor” and their commitment to protect the exploited and the oppressed.
They also vowed to defend the sacredness of life and the fundamental rights of every human being, support gender equality in morally legitimate ways and promote efforts that advocate a more prominent role of women in the church and society.
The faith leaders also commited “to social justice and a simpler way of life; engage in peace-building and protect our sovereignty; and address consumerism and climate change.”
“We pledge to pursue all these common advocacies as expressions of faith in our respective traditions and in the spirit of ecumenism,” reads the statement.