I just came back from Manila today after attending the meeting of the CBCP-BEC National Office held at the Pius XII Center. This office is an arm of the Catholic Bishops' Conference that promotes the Basic Ecclesial Communities in the Philippines. It is chaired by Archbishop Quevedo with 7 other bishops who head other commissions. The executive secretary is Msgr. Elmer Abacahin. I am one of the consultants, together with Msgr. Jomari Delgado, Msgr. Manny Gabriel and Estela Padilla.
We talked about the plans of the BEC office for the year which Archbishop Quevedo was to present to the bishops from all over the country who are in Manila this week for their plenary assembly. Two of the things we discussed were the BEC participation in the Second Rural Congress this July 2008 and the BEC national assembly this coming November 2008 whic will be held in Cagayan de Oro. We agreed that the theme of the national assembly should be based on the Rural Congress - the Role of the BECs in rural development.
During the previous BEC national assembly in 2005 held in Cebu, I gave a talk on the role of BECs in Social Transformation. It was just one of the three topics that were tackled. This coming assembly will focus on how BECs are addressing and can address the problems that rural communities face -especially poverty, underdevelopment, etc.
I am glad to note how the bishops in the Philippines are fully supportive of the effort to promote BECs in the Philippines as the pastoral thrust. As far as I know, this is the only Bishops' Conference that has a national office devoted to BECs. In 2002, when we first organized the BEC national assembly, there were two resolutions that we submitted to the CBCP: the formation of a BEC national office and the holding of a BEC national assembly participated by the various dioceses in the country. Both of these resolutions were adopted by the CBCP.
There is still much to be done to make our dream of a renewed Church become a reality in the BECs. But what I find hopeful is that the bishops are right behind us. I still remember that there was a time during the martial law era when only a handful of bishops were open to forming BECs in their dioceses while many were suspicious of BECs as leftists.