The Philippine Apostolic Congress on Mercy (PACOM 4) wrapped up its three-day run from January 24 to 26 at Filoil Flying V Center, San Juan.

The congress was attended by at least 40 dioceses in the country including Diocese of Cebu, Laoag, Virac, Zamboanga, Naval, Maasin, Pagadian, Palo, Daet, Tuguegarao, Davao, Mati, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro and Puerto Princesa.

With the theme “Divine Mercy in Communion with the Young,” His Excellency, Bishop Ruperto C. Santos of the Diocese of Balanga and the national spiritual director of Divine Mercy Philippines, appealed to the youth to live meaningful lives centered on Christ during the homily of the opening mass.

“With this congress and the Church’s observance of the Year of the Youth, I call on the young generation to remain hopeful always. Never be afraid, and trust Jesus.”

Bishop Santos also urged the youth not to waste their God-given life, not to give in to temptations of fame and easy money, and to denounce illegal drugs and gambling.

He  emphasized,

“Don’t lose your Catholic faith. Even if there are those who attack and undermine our teachings and beliefs, even if our God is mocked and we are threatened with death, stand firm and don’t lose your faith. Hold on to God, and remember His mercy endures forever.”

Cardinal Tagle, in a video message, said he was disturbed that there were young people used to violence. He felt ashamed that some children are being sold to prostitution by their own parents and people who they trust, and that society is not safer, kinder, and more loving abode for young people.

Nevertheless, he encouraged everyone to let the youth speak for themselves, to the whole church, and to listen to them.

“Let us listen to their experiences of mercy, how were they shaped and filled by mercy and compassion through God and from the church. Let us also listen to them on how they have been broken, how they have been wounded by the lack of mercy. Again, begin with the family, friends and in a one whole society.”

Another highlight of this year’s 4th PACOM is the talk of Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David titled “IMG (I am God): Selfie Syndrome and the Image of Mercy.”

Bishop David said,

“Selfie syndrome is a possible manifestation of a narcissistic personality disorder.”

However, he clarified that not because one is taking selfie pictures, he or she already has syndrome or disorder.

The bishop described narcissist having traits of bullying people with low self-esteem, shamelessness, arrogance, envy, entitlement, and self-centeredness.

According to him, the antidote to the toxic “selfie syndrome” is to find another kind of bread which is the word of God.

“We must enlighten the young people about the ill-effect of ‘selfie culture.’ Offer to them instead the image of Mercy to fight against the narcissism of modern life to rediscover their relationship to God.”

Bishop David reminded the attendees that people cannot see the wounds of their fellow if they only look after themselves, and encouraged them to approach even the poor.

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