THE J OY OF I NTEGRI TY

“Blessed the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commands” (Ps. 112:1)

Pastoral Exhortation on Integrity

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.”
i
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.”
ii


Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, allow us, your bishops, to envision and to outline
briefly the theology and 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.

THEOLOGY AND SPIRI TUALI TY OF I NTEGRI TY

Integrity is possible only when there is a centralizing or grounding reality, a principle that
serves as the foundation and measure of integrity. For us Christians, this grounding
principle is the fact that we are created by God in God‟s image, and that we are social
beings related to other humans in common humanity and dignity and we are stewards of
creation. We are also meant to “be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect”
(cfr. Mt 5:48). It is to be naturally drawn to the One who is eternal Life and Love, who is
infinite Truth and Beauty. “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because we
are created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw us to himself. Only in
God will we find the truth and happiness we never stop searching for.”
iii
However, the
entrance of sin caused “dis-integration” of our relationship with God, neighbor, creation,
and self. Alienation was the initial sign of wounded integrity.


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Hence, the truth of our creaturehood is most fully revealed by the Son of the Father, sent
by the Creator to be our Redeemer. Thus, the principle of our integration is a person,
Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is a person who is much more than a concept, doctrine, or
law, nurturing a friendship with Jesus becomes essential for Christian integrity. “Being
Christian,” Pope Benedict writes, “is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea,
but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive
direction.”
iv
Pope Francis repeatedly echoes this point, “If there is no Encounter with
Jesus, life becomes inconsistent, loses its meaning.”
v


This encounter, this friendship, this faith is a gift we receive from a benevolent and
merciful God. It is a gift that is also a task. With St. Augustine we affirm, “The deeper
our faith, the stronger our hope, the greater our desire, the larger will be our capacity to
receive the gift, which is very great indeed..... When the Apostle tells us: Pray without
ceasing (1 Thess 5:16), he means this: Desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is
nothing if not eternal, and ask it of him alone who is able to give it.”
vi


Christ founded the Church to nurture and to share this faith for our integrity. The Church
offers God‟s grace through the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation
precisely to initiate the believer in the ways of integrity. Through Baptism, we acquire
our identity, “become members of Christ… are incorporated into the Church and made
sharers in her mission.”
vii
Through Confirmation, we “are more perfectly bound to the
Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit.”
viii
Through the
Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life,”
ix
we receive “the efficacious
sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People
of God.”
x


I NTEGRI TY AND CONSCI ENCE

As we strive to live out our integrity, the radiant coherence of our faith and our life, we
are guided in our moral choices by our conscience, that sacred space within us where we
encounter God who urges us to do good and avoid evil.
xi
Obeying the double-duty of
forming and following our conscience, we use our freedom wisely and responsibly,
listening to and learning from God in prayer, through scripture, guided by Church
teaching, and supported by community. In exercising authentic freedom, we consider not
only what is good for ourselves but also what is for the greater good of others. God
created us not as solitary beings but as social beings. We realize the fullness of our
vocations as Christians only in relation with others.
xii
By our daily choices, by our lives
of integrity or lack of it, we can add to networks of mutual help and generosity or we can
sustain sinful structures in society.

MODELS OF I NTEGRITY

In desiring happiness, we are called to imitate our two Filipino saints, both laymen who
lived out the integrity of their Christian faith all the way to death: St. Lorenzo Ruiz who
died a martyr in Japan (29 September 1637) and St. Pedro Calungsod who died a martyr
in the Marianas Islands (2 April 1672). As martyrs, they are models for us of “the
supreme witness given to the truth of the faith…for the martyr bears witness to Christ
who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity.”
xiii
Saints Lorenzo Ruiz and Pedro
Calungsod trace for us a path to an integral life of holiness. “By canonizing some of the
faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in
fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within
her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and
intercessors. The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most
difficult moments in the Church’s history. Indeed, holiness is the hidden source and
infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal.”
xiv



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LIVING THE JOY OF INTEGRITY

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.”
xv
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.

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.”
xvi
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.
xvii
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.
xviii
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
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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.”
xix


As we previously emphasized for this 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.”
xx
When
we cultivate the integrity of our holiness, relying on the abundant grace of God, we give a
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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.”
xxi


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




+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan
CBCP President




i
Paul VI, 8 Dec 1965, quoted by Benedict XVI, Meeting with Artists at Sistine Chapel, 21 Nov
2009.
ii
Benedict XVI, Meeting with Artists at Sistine Chapel, 21 Nov 2009.
iii
Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) 27.
iv
Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (2005) 1.
v
Francis, Homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, 17 June 2006; see also Francis, Evangelii
Gaudium (2013) 264-267, 121, 88, 153.
vi
St. Augustine, Letter 130.
vii
CCC 1213.
viii
Vatican II, Lumen Gentium (1964) 11.
ix
Lumen Gentium 11.
x
CCC 1325.
xi
Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes (1965) 43.
xii
CDF, Libertatis Conscientia (1986) 32.
xiii
CCC 2473.
xiv
CCC 828.
xv
CBCP, “A Call for Vigilance and Involvement,” 24 January 2010.
xvi
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2004) 134.
xvii
Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (2009) 45.
xviii
PCP II (1991) 351; see also Compendium 565.
xix
Compendium 207.
xx
CBCP, “Filipino Catholic Laity: Called to be Saints…Sent Forth as Heroes!” 1 Dec 2013.
xxi
Francis, Homily at St. Martha‟s House, 1 Oct 2013; Evangelii Gaudium 15.

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