APRIL17, 2005 Lipa, Phillipines

Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, DD, STL

Their Eminences and Excellencies, the reverend Fathers, Religious and Concerned People of God:

While I was being considered to become the Archbishop of Lipa, I knew that my being SERVUS, ANCILLAE FILIUS (I and Your Servant, the son of Your handmaid, Wisdom 9:5; Ps ll6 :16 ) would be both asset and liability. Being an avowed devotee of the Blessed Virgin Mother, I would shepherd a deeply Marian Archdiocese. The same Archdiocese however is the site of a supposed apparition of Our Lady in the late forties and the early fifties, an event that has caused long-term pain to so many and yet faithfully endured without anyone in the least alienated from Holy Mother Church, an event the interest in which saw resurgence in the western part of the Archdiocese.

Some spread the word that the present archbishop of Lipa shows inclination to approve of the so-called apparitions. Others, mostly lay people would exert friendly pressure on the archbishop out of his attachment to the Blessed Mother to declare the apparitions authentic. Still others, however, would refrain joining organized prayer assembly with Mary, principally under the title MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACE, without any word from the Archbishop of Lipa. This is the WHY of this DECLARATION.

1. I will no longer keep it secret, whatever the consequences may be, that personally I never doubted the Lipa apparitions that took place in the early years of my childhood. As I grew up later as a seminarian, young priest and then bishop, even now as archbishop I would always find solace, peace and strength in spending time praying before the image of Our lady in the Carmel of Lipa. It is to her that I always I entrust my mission and seek solutions to my problems. But I will never question any decision made by the official church regarding the matter. Nor do I intend to create unnecessary controversy by reopening issues that should better remain quiet for no matter how long a time.

2. Many devotees come to Carmel and other places in the Archdiocese of Lipa. Bishops and priests are asked to join in their devotions and prayers . All of them sincerely care for our country and people and most of all for our church. I get invited at times too. I make myself available especially during the First Saturday Penitential Procession and Eucharist. I see no problem in joining or even initiating prayer assemblies for specific intentions like peace in our land and in the whole world, most of all I ask the faithful to pray for the sanctity of all bishops and priests. In fact, I encourage that prayer gatherings be held everywhere and anywhere in the Archdiocese to implore God through the intercession of Mary to strengthen the Church, sanctify her ministers and unite all peoples so that God’s Kingdom of Peace, Unity and Love may be realized starting in our "Pueblo Amante Maria."

3. Some devout people promote the devotion to Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace. I have no objection to this beautiful Marian title as well as the image and devotion that go with it. I encourage these devotees and they have my blessing. I will even join all organized prayers for the conversion of sinners, the sanctification of all priests, the accomplishment of the mission of the Philippines to be the launching pad of evangelization in Asia. I am convinced, like many of these Marian followers, that our country is chosen by God, particularly loved by Mary, because Christ trusts that the Catholic Church in the Philippines will bring about "the new springtime of faith" also in other nations and will become a "great evangelization factor in the Third Millennium." I am convinced about what many others have told me: You Filipinos are the Missionaries of the Third Millennium. That explains why with Mary caring for us we have become known as the most prayerful and cheerful people. Allow me therefore to tell all my brothers in the episcopate, all priests and religious, all the faithful that I DO STRONGLY ENCOURAGE ANYONE WHO DRAW OTHERS TO A MARIAN ATTACHMENT TO JESUS . I SUPPORT ANY INITIATIVE TO STRENGTHEN THE CHURCH BY A RENEWAL OF OUR FAITH AND PRAYER WITH MARY ALL FOR JESUS! (Underscoring mine -Deedee) Thank you for the attention you can give this declaration.

(Text provided courtesy of Mo Perez.)