CBCP president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David (2nd from left) was among the panelists at a press briefing on the ongoing Synod of Bishops in the Vatican on Oct. 18, 2023.  SCREENSHOT FROM VATICAN NEWS VIDEO

By Roy Lagarde

October 19, 2023

ROME—  Having attended a synod of bishops for the first time 15 years ago, a top Philippine churchman admitted that the ongoing Vatican summit is something that surprised him.

“It’s totally different,” said Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), at the synod’s daily press briefing on Wednesday.

Consistent with its theme of “synodality,” he noted that the current synod emphasizes equality among baptized Christians.

Our equality and dignity, no matter if you’re cardinal or archbishop or whoever, we are basically a community of disciples equal in baptism,” the bishop said.

As then head of the Episcopal Commission on Biblical Apostolate, David was among the CBCP delegates to the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in 2008.

Recalling the “super formal” meeting, he remembered, “There was a presidential table for the Holy Father, the relators and the synod general secretariat.”

“Then you have the cardinals, the archbishops, and the bishops. And since I was an auxiliary bishop back then, I was way, way at the back,” he added.

“When I came to this synod, I was pleasantly surprised to find round tables where we are all equal, and I think this particular synod is insistent on that,” the CBCP head said.

Besides David, other synod members include Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila and Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara of Pasig, who also serves as the CBCP vice president.

As they are now well beyond the halfway point of the synod, Vergara said that they have reached the fourth module, focusing on “participation, governance, and authority,” which is crucial to their reflections and discussions

“We, again, listened to varied inputs and testimonies to prepare us for our conversation in the Spirit,” he said.

“Please pray for me and pray with us so we can best discern how to better implement the process of synodality in our local churches,” Vergara added.

For his part, Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo described the synod as “a wonderful experience to be with many people from all over the world”.

“This is a wonderful occasion for the Catholic Church, for the future,” said Kikuchi, who is also the secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC).

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization, asked for continued prayers for the synod.

“Please pray for us. You are not just spectators; you are part of this synod. This is the synod of the whole church, where everyone walks together with one another,” Tagle said.


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