THE Catholic Church has deemed it necessary to seek divine intervention to address the shortage of priests in the country.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippnes (CBCP) president, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, has issued a circular calling on all clergy, superiors of religious communities and heads of secular institutes in the archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan to pray the Oratio Imperata for new and idealistic priests who will bravely spread the truth and the words of God amid a rash of unnecessary killings and alleged persecution of the Church.
“To be prayed after Communion before the Post-Communion Prayer in all Masses in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan from February 11, Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, until March 25, Solemnity of the Annunciation,” Villegas said of the Oratio Imperata.
“Hatred, violence and oppression have wounded us, send us courageous priests and seminarians to be heralds of truth, justice and grace. Misery, poverty and distress afflict so many, send us generous priests and seminarians to set your people free from the shackles of sin,” the prelate added.
Villegas called on the flock to pray for people who have the calling and vocation to become servants of God.
“Fear, discouragement and restlessness trouble multitudes, send us priests and seminarians who can show your face of hope for the world,” he said.
Villegas aired a similar call last year, from January 10, 2016 to March 23, 2016.
Church records show that there are more than 8,000 priests serving 74 million Catholic believers in the country or one priest for every 8,000 plus parishioners.
Oratio Imperata or Obligatory Prayer is commonly issued to seek divine intervention during times of natural calamities and also during times of war, plague and disruption of public peace in society.
A month after the May 9, 2016 elections, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle issued a special prayer for President Rodrigo Duterte and other incoming elected government officials to have the wisdom and courage to lead the country to prosperity and progress under a culture of peace, justice and respect for human life.
Earlier, Villegas also released a prayer for peace or the Oratio Imperata for Peace, which seeks divine intervention for a peaceful settlement of the problem in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
The CBCP and Duterte have not been seeing eye-to-eye on a number of issues, particularly on the President’s plan to reimpose death penalty and extrajudicial killings.
Aside from illegal drugs, the Church is apparently also among Duterte’s favorite whipping boys, even branding it as the “most hypocritical” institution.