Manila (Agenzia Fides) - "My memory tells me that we have all walked together, we have walked with the Lord and with Our Lady for the past 500 years. My memory tells me that we have truly been blessed with gifts so that we can now give hope for our future": it is with these words that Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, Archbishop of Davao and outgoing President of the Philippine Bishops' Conference, says goodbye to the bishops gathered in the 122nd plenary assembly in progress in Manila. The Archbishop greeted the new president of the Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), who is Mgr. Pablo Virgilio David, Bishop of Kalookan, 62, currently vice-president of the Conference, where he also headed the Bishops' Commission on the biblical apostolate. A personality known for his social commitment and the defense of the poor and the last, David received the "Bukas Palad Prize" in 2019, conferred by the Jesuit-run University "Ateneo de Manila", "for his service to the poor and for his courage in speaking out against the evil of injustice and violence". In the concluding message of his mandate, sent to Fides, Archbishop Valles, remarked: "The years 2020 and 2021 will be strongly impressed in our memory as times of darkness, misery and suffering, of times of terrible disease and death. We were concerned to know that some bishops had been affected by Covid-19, and deeply saddened that some priests and religious had lost their lives. It is a great suffering for all, but especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. But we tell ourselves and our people that our memory is not just one of death and suffering. In faith, we prayed. In faith, we have not forgotten that we belong to the family of the Church. In faith, we have strived to do good deeds, especially for the most suffering among us. In faith we have realized how much God is present in our midst".
The Archbishop recalled that Pope Francis has invited all the faithful of the world to pray to the Virgin Mary to ask for an end to the pandemic. "In our liturgies, especially in the Eucharist, we believed in the constant presence and accompaniment of the Lord in these difficult times.
In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in the Sacrament of the Sick, however difficult it is to celebrate them, we let our people experience the mercy and forgiveness and the healing comfort of the Lord. We have kept his love alive".
In this difficult time, he continues, "we celebrated and recalled the beginning of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines" while in suffering, "the Holy Father gave us the consoling figure of St. Joseph, proclaiming the Year of St. Joseph". "We brought our people to make the act of consecration to our Blessed Mother on June 12, reminding ourselves that we are truly a people who love Mary, because in fact we believe that she is our Mother" , he recalled.
Looking at the past, Archbishop Valles concludes, "we are confident in the future. We can sing along with the psalmist who says: "Even if I walk in the valley of darkness, I would not fear any evil". (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 8/7/2021)