Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle warned against anxiety, bullying and the abuse of power that he said were attitudes that prevent people from being happy.
He made the statement as he kicked off the traditional Simbang Gabi Dawn Masses in preparation for Christmas.
“As Saint John the Baptist said, do not be a bully. Do not bully anyone. Do not use your power to become rude. Don’t use your power to pressure or coerce others. Do not use your arms to make false accusations,” Tagle said in his homily at the Manila Cathedral on Sunday.
“Do not belittle others. Even if you have a position, your position doesn’t give you the right to destroy others. You will not be happy that way. In fact, the bullies who use power to humiliate others, they are the most afraid and insecure individuals.”
Tagle made his statement even as the National Capital Region Police Office said no crimes were reported on the first Simbang Gabi at dawn on Sunday.
READ: NCRPO cops on alert as ‘Simbang Gabi’ starts
“There was no untoward incident related to the first day of Simbang Gabi of Ligtas Paskuhan 2018,” NCRPO Director Guillermo Eleazar told the Philippine News Agency.
Tagle’s message about bullying came following President Rodrigo Duterte’s continuing badmouthing the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines.
Most recently, Duterte said bishops should be “killed” for supposedly doing nothing but criticizing the government.
He also suggested that Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, a critic of his drug war, was himself into drugs, a charge denied by David and denounced by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Tagle on Sunday said his reminder, while written during the time of Jesus Christ, was as if it had been written “just yesterday.”
He spoke against bullying in the context of the need for “joy in the Lord.”
“A person who is peaceful is happy, and will never be arrogant because he or she is joyful in the Lord. A person who is joyful in the Lord will boast of the Lord.
“Remove all worries, avoid losing hope, remove all anxiety. Why? Because there’s someone who will save you. It’s Jesus, and his coming is near. Because he will be the one to save you from all your fears, you can be happy.”
Aside from the Manila Cathedral where Tagle said Mass, other churches drew thousands of Filipino Catholics on Sunday, the first day of the Philippines’ traditional dawn Masses.
The Simbang Gabi is a nine-day series of dawn Masses, a novena that is observed from Dec. 16 until Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.
For those who cannot attend the dawn Masses, many parishes also hold evening Masses called the anticipated Simbang Gabi, from the evening of Dec. 15 to the evening of Dec. 23.
READ: Midnight mass tonight rings in Christmas gaiety
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