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Theologians commemorate Vatican II in the Philippines

by Emmanuel S. de Guzman 

           Last October 18 to 20, 2013, the DaKaTeo (Catholic Theological Society of the Philippines) held its annual conference on the theme, “Vatican II after Fifty Years: Philippine Experience” in Agusan del Sur, Mindanao. Twenty theologians, half of them “balding and grey-haired veterans of the aggiornamento” since the late 1960s, shared their experiences, including their joys and frustrations, of renewing the Philippine Church in the spirit of Vatican II Council. Among the many insights they drew from one another are two things. One of these is the reception of the Council in the Philippines during the first two decades which converged with the “crisis situations” the country was facing under the martial-law dictatorial regime. Massive poverty, political repression and militarization, drove the theological-pastoral agents, the bearers of Vatican II ideals at the diocesan and parish levels, closer to the struggles of the poor and marginalized sectors. The suffering communities pushed these pastoral agents to take sides with them, even to the extent of “staking out their necks” against political and ecclesiastical authorities, who suspected their efforts. The other insight is the continuing pursuit of the Vatican II ecclesiological vision at various fronts today: the basic ecclesial communities, seminary formation, theological institutes, pastoral centers, education of the young in schools, work with indigenous peoples, inter-faith relationships, popular religiosity, research and publications, and others. Tempered by time and experience (and age as well), there is the common sentiment that we need to “choose our battles” in the more complex realities of the Filipino nation. Notwithstanding the ambivalent or ambiguous stances of the hierarchical institution on social and ecclesial concerns and issues, the theologians of DaKaTeo affirmed one another of their commitment to Vatican II. In this conference also, they elected their new officers for the next two years: Dr. Emmanuel S. De Guzman as President (from the Institute of Religious Education/St. Vincent School of Theology-Adamson University, Manila); Dr. Randy Odchigue as Vice-President (from Fr. Saturnino Urios University, Butuan City, Mindanao); Dr. Reynaldo Raluto as Secretary (from St. John Vianney Seminary, Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao); and Dr. Rebecca Cacho as Treasurer (from St. Scholastica College, Manila).

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