The Joy of Integrity, A Pastoral Exhortation on Integrity, was issued by the CBCP in July 2014. The issue of integrity and honesty is fundamental to BCBP values, culture and advocacy so we are sharing excerpts from this document for your enlightenment and reflection. — Editor
“Blessed the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commands” (Ps. 112:1)
OUR beloved People of God:
The BEAUTY OF INTEGRITY of persons, of community, and of all creation manifests the glory and wisdom of God! It is an integrity that requires honesty and consistency, surely, as the word ordinarily means. But even honesty and consistency are not valuable in themselves; they point beyond to a truthful reality as reference and center; they are as attractive only as the beauty of the truth they refer to. When integrity attracts, it radiates not merely consistency but also cohesion, fittingness, a wholeness that shines forth identity and ultimately its source and creator, God.
We, your pastors humbly recognize our struggle to be integrable in our service to the Church as teachers of the faith, shepherds of the flock and stewards of the temporal goods entrusted to our care.
We are not blind and deaf to the corruption of Philippine society. We see corruption in public life, in personal lives, corruption of the environment and corruption of souls. As we continue to take a prophetic denunciation of this social cancer called corruption, we wish to invite you to give a long reflective gaze at the beauty of integrity believing that we can overcome evil by the power of good (Rom. 12:21).
As Vatican II concluded, Venerable Pope Paul VI asserted, “This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart, and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration.” More than ever, our world needs the beauty of integrity to “encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation.”
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, allow us, your bishops, to envision and to outline briefly the … spirituality of integrity and its multidimensional pastoral applications, in the hope of inspiring us all in this Year of the Laity to be radiant in the integrity of our holiness, of being God’s own.
As both gift and task, individual and collective integrity is a product of prayer and discernment. In 2010, in the midst of the political turmoil being experienced by the country, we your bishops called not for direct and immediate political action, but for “circles of discernment.” These circles of discernment were meant not only to assess the larger realities in our country but also to encourage all Filipinos of goodwill to reflect on how they too have been responsible for the situation. As we move from “circles of discernment” to “circles of integrity,” we also realize that integrity has both personal and communal components.
Circles of Integrity
PERSONAL INTEGRITY. The key to social transformation and the building of a more just society is the fostering of integrity in every individual. “Authentic social changes are effective and lasting only to the extent that they are based on resolute changes in personal conduct.” A life of personal integrity, a moral upright life attests to the beauty of our vocation as children of God. We are fortunate to have ordinary Filipino citizens manifesting this kind of personal integrity, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Last year’s Typhoon Yolanda saw countless Filipinos give their time and resources, no matter how meager, for the relief efforts. This kind of generosity and heroism, often unrecognized, clearly demonstrates inner integrity.
INTEGRITY IN THE FAMILY. A privileged arena in which Christian integrity is manifested is in family life. Integrity is first learned within the family. One cannot underestimate the influence of family attitudes, practices, and values on the formation of one’s character. When children see their parents keeping promises and being faithful to one another, they learn to become trustworthy and responsible in their relationships. Let Paul’s words guide us: “Show yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching” (cfr. Titus 2:7).
The Church in the Philippines has been buoyed by the efforts of family-oriented groups that strive to promote integrity in marriage and family, while promoting a wider societal commitment. Our numerous charismatic organizations, marriage encounter groups, parish renewal experience chapters, and similar movements have been at the forefront of the Church’s various efforts to promote the Kingdom. We recall the many family life groups that rallied to the defense of life in the recent Reproductive Health Bill debates. If the family is truly the basic institution in the country, our Church, most especially through its committed lay groups, should continue championing family integrity.
INTEGRITY IN WORK AND POLITICS. “Better to be poor and walk in integrity than rich and crooked in one’s ways” (Proverbs 28:6). From the private circles of self and family, our “circles of integrity” must widen to encompass the crucial areas of societal life, especially in the economy, politics, social communications, arts & sciences and technology. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has reminded us that the economy needs a “people-centered” ethics in order to function correctly. Fostering integrity in the workplace is important and necessary, not simply for reasons of efficiency or morale but because it transforms work itself from being mere physical labor to becoming an activity that contributes to full human development. The burgeoning movement for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is commendable for the promotion of a truly just business and economic environment in the Philippines.
Integrity is especially needed in political leadership and participation. Corruption in politics distorts the role of political leaders and their relationship with constituents. The Second Plenary Council challenges the laity to participate in politics for “the pursuit of the common good” and “the promotion of justice,” paying particular attention to the service of the poor. It cannot be excluded that there are and there should be outstanding Catholic politicians who prove that it is possible to be unassailable public servants. In their own quiet ways, cooperatives, social entrepreneurs, individual and communal “whistleblowers,” election watchdog groups, and countless other individuals and organizations all strive to enhance integrity in political and economic life.
INTEGRITY IN THE CHURCH. Priestly formation has been geared towards producing ordained servant-leaders configured to Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. Though the Church, then and now, has been tainted by the scandals of a few clergy, we are inspired by bishops, priests, and religious who have authentically witnessed a life of integrity in preaching the gospel as lived truth in their lives breaking bread in the Eucharist as they share in the sacrifice of those who suffer, and stewarding the resources of the Church as they reach out to the poor in their communities. We realize that formation to integrity is an ongoing process. And it is our hope that we learn from lay people who have been shining examples of integrity.
INTEGRITY OF CREATION. Finally, in the widest circle of our natural environment, we are called to be stewards of integrity caring for God’s creation. God created the natural world in an integral way. Every being is connected and dependent on other beings in an ordered system established by God. When this integrity of creation is violated, all life is threatened. Pollution affects our supply of clean air and drinking water. Over-fishing and improper land use diminish our capacity to catch and grow our food. Indiscriminate logging and mining lead to deadly flash floods and landslides. We need to recover our place in the integral system of creation as responsible users and stewards. Only in this way can all enjoy the beauty and bounty of God’s creation today and tomorrow.
The work of preserving creation’s integrity should be shared by all, and is perhaps the most all-encompassing “CIRCLES OF INTEGRITY” we are called to participate in.
Building a culture of integrity
To build a Culture of Integrity and to radiate its beauty, we need to foster values, build structures, and present role models that can teach, support, and exemplify integrity lived out in the real world.
1) We need to honor persons who have shown honesty, selflessness, courage, and fairness for the sake of others, even when seriously tempted to act selfishly: the taxi driver who returns money left behind, strangers who risk their lives to help others during natural disasters, government workers who refuse to be bribed, the election volunteer who vigilantly guards the ballot box. Their stories can inspire and teach others that a life of integrity is neither impossible nor foolish but is our true calling as citizens and as members of one human family.
2) We need to foster a spirit of solidarity among our people to replace the clannish, exclusive mentality, and “kanya-kanya” attitudes that prevent the formation of true communities of mutual help. We need to be responsible for one another, particularly for the welfare of the least of our brothers and sisters, not only during natural disasters but also each day of our journey as a pilgrim people.
3) We need to ground all our efforts at building a culture of integrity on Love. “No legislation, no system of rules or negotiation will ever succeed in persuading peoples to live in unity and peace; no line of reasoning will ever be able to surpass the appeal of love.” Love is “a force capable of inspiring new ways of approaching the problems of today’s world, of profoundly renewing structures, social organizations, legal systems from within.”
As we previously emphasized for the Year of the Laity, “The renewal of our country thus demands of us all, and especially of you, our lay faithful, a return to truthfulness and the fostering of the sense of the common good…. We must seek the truth, speak the truth, do the truth… and to do so ‘in love,’ that is, in solidarity with and service of others.” When we cultivate the integrity of our holiness, relying on the abundant grace of God, we give a powerful testimony to the Author of Integrity, whose joy is to lead all humanity and creation to the fullness and wholeness of God. We join Pope Francis in observing that, “the Church…does not grow through proselytism; it grows through attraction, through witness.”
May the humble and radiant witness of our Mother Mary, along with the prayerful support of Saints Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro Calungsod, keep us united to each other and committed to our life of integrity in love!
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, July 8, 2014
(SGD)+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan