500 years of Christianity: Faithful urged to ‘share the gift’ of religion

As the Catholic Church marks half a millennium of Christianity in the Philippines, the faithful are urged to “share the gift” of the Christian faith and to spread the word of God.

Pope Francis would offer Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday (5 p.m. in Manila) to mark 500 years of the Catholic faith in the Philippines.

Livestreamed from the Vatican, the Mass would be attended by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and a former archbishop of Manila, as well as Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Pope’s vicar of Rome.

The Mass would be aired on social media, as well as the cable channels such as Sky Cable Channel 210 (TV Maria), SatLite Channel 102, Destiny Cable Channel 96, Cablelink Channel 18, CIGNAL Channel 188, ABS CBN TV Plus Channel 29, and GMA Affordabox Channel 21.

After the Mass, the Pope would also lead the traditional recitation of the Angelus prayer at St. Peter’s Square in front of the basilica.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said this year’s celebration is a “call to mission” for Filipino Catholics to share the Christian faith with others, especially in other Asian countries.

“We have been chosen and truly gifted with the faith. This carries a great responsibility. We gratefully accept the gift, we develop it, and now it is our turn to pass it on to the others,” Pabillo said in a message through CBCP News.

“By ‘others,’ I mean to the coming generations of Filipinos and also to the other peoples in Asia and in the world,” he added.

The prelate said the quinquennial event would be marked with “great thanksgiving to Almighty God for the great gift of the Christian faith.”

“Year 2021 is also a celebration of thanksgiving to all the missionaries and the Christian lay leaders, among them our great, great grandparents, who passed on the faith from one generation to the other,” he said.

“We owe who we are and what we have to so many people down through the centuries, with their defects and with their virtues — Filipinos and foreigners, priests, religious and lay people,” Pabillo added.

Philippine dioceses are to kick off celebrations on April 4, Easter Sunday, with a limited number of people allowed inside churches due to pandemic restrictions.

The celebration comes after a nine-year preparation, with each year carrying a specific theme that reflects the pastoral priorities of the church in the country.

The bishops have chosen “Missio ad Gentes” as the theme of the pastoral year 2021.
Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan brought Christianity to the country in 1521, after he landed and planted a cross in Cebu.

Since then, over 80 million or roughly four out of five Filipinos have remained Roman Catholics, according to government data.

DBP

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