Friday, September 29, 2023

Philippine bishops are calling for the creation of a personal prelature to care for the country’s 13 million emigrants

The idea of ​​creating a personal prelature for Filipino expatriates will enable the Church to carry out its pastoral and missionary work effectively. This was stated by Bishop Narciso Abellana, President of the Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, in a message released on the occasion of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, celebrated on September 24. and that has a very special resonance and meaning in the Philippines.

As a matter of fact, The Philippines holds the world record with more than 13 million emigrants, the so-called Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who make up more than 10% of the country’s population living abroad. The migration phenomenon has been promoted by the government since the 1970s, primarily as support for the national economy: OFWs, with their remittances, are a crucial support for the gross domestic product and for thousands of families.

Faced with such a huge reality composed mostly of Filipino citizens of the Catholic faith, Establishing a prelature could be particularly useful in reaching Filipino workers abroad or especially for those who live in areas without Catholic chaplains, such as Saudi Arabia. The task and responsibility of the prelature will be to provide spiritual and pastoral assistance to these emigrants, emphasizes Abellana, emphasizing the possible benefits.

The discussion and debate within the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on the proposal to create a personal prelature for Filipino expatriates has been ongoing for at least three years. The CBCP has set up a special commission to carry out new studies and assessments of the proposal before presenting the matter to the Holy See and sending it a formal request. Consultations are currently underway with the Episcopal Conferences of the countries where Filipino expatriates are staying to understand and assess all legal and pastoral implications; identify possible logistical modalities; prepare a special training course for priests; pay attention to the protection of migrants and assistance in cases of abuse in order to protect their personal, human, social and spiritual well-being; Pay special attention to the vision and consciousness of Filipino Catholic expatriates as missionaries.

In many contexts, especially in Western countries where there is secularization and decline of religious practice, Filipino Christian expatriates form passionate faith communities who keep hope alive. Among the many examples, the Netherlands stands out, where Catholic churches are filled with Filipino expatriates and their families on Saturdays and Sundays. There are also some Filipino missionary priests with them who went to Europe to help the immigrant and European communities.

In the same way, in Australia the Filipino Jesuit missionary Father Nono Alfonso, sj who carries out his ministry in Melbourne, testifies to the importance of Filipinos in the cultivation of faith in the context of Australian society and points to the importance of their role as authentic missionaries. He calls them emigrants of the Gospel, people who, animated by the missionary spirit rooted in the Catholic faith, courageously face the needs, difficulties and sacrifices that their deep faith gives the strength to overcome.

On the occasion of the 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, celebrated on Sunday, September 24, 2023, Pope Francis released a message entitled “Free choice between emigrating or staying.”

The legal personality of personal prelature was envisaged at the Second Vatican Council. The conciliar decree Presbyterorum Ordinis (1965) stipulated that special dioceses and prelatures could be created in the future, alongside other institutions, in order to implement special pastoral initiatives for the benefit of various social groups in certain regions or countries or even throughout the world. personal. Personal prelatures are institutions headed by a priest appointed by the Pope.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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