Bishops issue prayer for PH, China
MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Monday, July 13, issued an oratio imperata or obligatory prayer to ease tensions between the Philippines and China in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
In a news conference, reelected CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the prayer is obligatory "for all Catholics in all dioceses." In the Philippines, 8 out of 10 nationals belong to the Catholic Church.
Referring to the Catholic Church, Villegas said: "We do not have the means to negotiate with superpowers, we cannot represent the Philippines in the international court, but we can certainly represent the Philippines before God and ask God, who is the sure source of peace, to take care of the Philippines."
Villegas also explained the Catholic Church's involvement in the sea dispute. "If the dispute escalates and it becomes a problem of peace, how can the Church not be involved? Peace is the mission of the Church."
The CBCP issued its oratio imperata as a powerhouse team defends the Philippines before an arbitral tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, in the country's case against China over the West Philippine Sea. (READ: PH lawyer vs China: 'Giant slayer' who defeated US)
The first two rounds of oral arguments at The Hague end on Monday.
On Monday, too, the CBCP concluded its biannual plenary assembly in Manila. In this event over the weekend, the bishops reelected Villegas as president.
In Monday's news conference, the reelected CBCP president added: "Hindi tayo lahat puwedeng pumunta sa The Hague, hindi tayo lahat puwedeng pumunta para mag-patrol sa West Philippine Sea, pero lahat tayo puwedeng lumuhod para magdasal sapagkat ang dasal, makakaabot sa Diyos at makakapakinabang sa tao."
(Not all of us can go to The Hague, not all of us can go and patrol the West Philippine Sea, but all of us can kneel and pray because prayers can reach God and benefit people.)
'No harm vs marine creatures'
Villegas ended the news conference by praying the oratio imperata.
The oratio imperata describes the disputed sea as "that part of our islands and waters."
The prayer seeks peace in the West Philippine Sea, and requests God "that questions over it may be resolved through justice and respect for people's rights."
It also begs God "that no harm may be done to our marine creatures and habitat," as China builds artificial islands in the disputed waters.
Below is the full text of the oratio imperata:
O Lord our God, Maker of heaven and earth, the sky and the seas, look kindly on us, Your children of the Philippine islands, our home, now beset with tensions over our West Philippine Sea.
We pray to you for peace over that part of our islands and waters.
We pray that questions over it may be resolved through justice and respect for people's rights.
We pray that no harm may be done to our marine creatures and habitat.
We pray that our fellow Filipinos, protecting our islands and seas, be kept safe from natural and manmade disasters.
Loving God, You are our wonderful Creator, our generous provider of good things. Send Your Holy Spirit of wisdom and understanding to our leaders, that they may resolve this crisis with courage and in the spirit of dialogue. Help us all to remain faithful to Your Word and obedient to Your will always.
This we ask through Christ, Our Lord.