By Roy Lagarde

A Catholic bishop said that priestly holiness demands working to change social structures that oppress people, reported CBCP News.

Celebrating an unusual Chrism Mass in a nearly empty Manila Cathedral on Friday, June 19, 2020, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the apostolic administrator of the Manila archdiocese, implored priests to confront a wide range of injustices.

“It is negligence and plain cowardice on my part to be silent in front of injustices suffered by others,” Pabillo said in his homily.

The Chrism Mass that each bishop celebrates with his clergy during Holy Week was postponed because of the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Traditionally, the Mass, during which holy oils used in sacraments are blessed, is held on Maundy Thursday, the day on which Christ instituted the Eucharist and the priesthood.

Today’s service at the cathedral, which also falls on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was only limited to around 20 priests who are members of the archdiocesan curia, vicars forane, and seminary rectors.

Metro Manila remains under general community quarantine status, which prohibits mass gatherings.

In other areas, many dioceses already held Chrism Mass after restrictions on religious gatherings were eased.

Reflecting on today’s feast, Pabillo said that holiness is for everyone, not just priests and the religious.

According to him, the devotion to the sacred heart calls for repentance and reparation of sins not just by prayer and penance, but also by works of justice and charity.

“We have to rejuvenate this devotion,” he said. “Also part of the devotion to the sacred heart is to work for justice because there cannot be true love if there is injustice.”

The bishop also exhorted the faithful to pray not just for the protection of their priests during the pandemic, but also that “they may be true to their duties”.

“As priests, may our hearts be reformed according to the heart of Jesus, always burning for love even when we are hurt, discouraged, and rejected,” Pabillo said.

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