MANILA, March 3, 2014— In his first Lenten message, the head of the Catholic hierarchy focused on the beatitude of poverty, emphasizing that it teaches sensitivity and proper ways to respond to the poor.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said all are called to practice poverty from material, moral and spiritual aspects.
Material poverty that humanizes and sanctifies, he said, is experienced in simplicity of life and works of mercy and justice that attend to the poor and aim for an “economy of inclusion”.
Moral poverty, according to him, can be exercised by strengthening our resolve to practice solidarity with the neglected and denounce injustice and all forms of radical inequality.
Catholics, meanwhile, he said are to embrace spiritual poverty by “deepening our rootedness” in Christ, “whose poverty alone enriches us”.
The CBCP head also called on the faithful to oppose and confront “dehumanizing” poverty by taking practical steps to alleviate it.
Taking a cue from Pope Francis, he noted the various faces of “economic exclusion” besetting the country.
These faces, he said, include the exclusion from gainful livelihood, sufficient shelter, rural development, adequate health care, and quality education.
“This Lenten season, Christ invites all, but especially the laity, to oppose degrading and dehumanizing poverty and to embrace humanizing and sanctifying poverty,” Villegas said.
“In other words, he invites us to imitate his example. We fight poverty with poverty only because Christ has shown us the way,” he stressed.
The archbishop also deplored the “ever-growing influence” of consumerism.
“Poverty that degrades and dehumanizes is all around us. One can be disheartened by all this… However, the Christian believes that ‘the Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution,’” he said. (CBCPNews)