Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas has urged the Church to adapt to rapid social changes to avoid becoming a "shell institution".
"There are rapid changes happening in Philippine society and it is imperative for us churchmen to acknowledge them so that our pastoral praxis can better answer the needs of the Filipino nation," he said.
He said shifts in Philippine society called for shifts in pastoral approaches, noting that a "defensive Church will not inspire and ignite souls".
"We have our liturgical pageantry but are our rituals connected to the hopes and frustrations, the joys and grief of our people? We issue pastoral letters but are we still understood and relevant to the struggles and visions of our people? Can we listen to gutter language without judgment?" he asked.
Archbishop Villegas also explained that many institutions that symbolise stability and permanence have become "shell institutions" that are pretty on the outside but have nothing on the inside.
"Families and religion have become shell institutions but the inside has radically changed. The relationships have changed; the understood submission to authority has shifted, the presumptions with regard to decision making have evolved. We still carry the shell but the shell can be deceptive, illusory and fictitious," he said.
"Are we not becoming shell institutions lovely to see with nothing inside?" he added.
He also urged the clergy to ask themselves whether they have given themselves to the serious study of theology to answer the "the vexing problems in human hearts, the agnosticism of many of the young, and the indifference of those who think that the days of religion have given way to the age of science."
"There has to be openness in the Philippine Church that is confident, at the same time, in its rootedness to the indefectible Spirit of the Lord," he said.