Catholic Church

Embrace change or grow obsolete, Manila archbishop warns church

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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Embrace change or grow obsolete, Manila archbishop warns church

MANILA ARCHBISHOP. A pallium is bestowed to Cardinal Jose Advincula, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manila, by Archbishop Charles Brown, papal nuncio to the Philippines, during the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, at the Manila Cathedral on December 8, 2021.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

'Do we listen to each other?' asks Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula challenged church leaders to stay open to new ways, ideas, and kinds of leadership, as he said the Catholic Church will “easily grow old” if it refuses to change.

In a homily at the Manila Cathedral on Monday, February 6, Advincula warned parishes, communities, and institutions against keeping the same old activities and the same old leaders  – “sila-sila pa rin at sila-sila na lang” (still them and just them). 

“A church that is not open to renewal easily grows old, insignificant, and obsolete, but a church that is docile, responsive, and open to renewal remains ever young and vibrant,” the cardinal said at a Mass on the 444th anniversary of Manila as the first diocese of the Philippines.

Advincula made this call as Pope Francis advances his vision of a synodal church, or a church that walks with and listens to people. 

The Catholic Church is now in the middle of a three-year synodal process that involves consultations with members about a wide range of issues, including hot-button topics such as contraception, gay marriage, and ordination of female priests. 

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator-general of the Synod of Bishops, said in August 2022 that the process seeks not a change of doctrine, “but a change of attitude, that we are a church where everybody can feel at home.” Key to this, said Hollerich, is “to listen to everybody, to listen also to the suffering of people.”

‘I will listen’

In his homily on Monday, Advincula echoed the Pope’s call for a synodal church, which the cardinal described as “a church that listens to each other and journeys with one another.” 

Advincula, 71, a low-profile bishop compared to his predecessor, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, has long been known as a “listening” bishop. The archbishop of Capiz in central Philippines before the Pope moved him to the capital, Advincula has long taken the motto, “Audiam,” a Latin word that means “I will listen.”

“In my installation, I told you that I desire to be a shepherd who is willing to listen – Audiam – for only a shepherd who listens can serve the flock well. I still hold on to this commitment, and I invite you to make our archdiocese a listening church,” Advincula said. 

“Do we listen to each other?” the cardinal asked in Filipino. “Who are the people we listen to? Who are the people we don’t listen to? Whom do we refuse to listen to? Who are the ones always speaking? And who never gets the chance to speak? Whose voice is always heard?” –

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email