PALO, Leyte, Aug. 9, 2015 -– Assailing the government’s inability to fully address the needs of the poor and less fortunate in the country, the Secular Franciscan Order (Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis) clergy and prelate members call on the Aquino administration to aid the poor faster by getting rid of excessive bureacracy.
In an interview, newly appointed Bishop-elect Oscar Florencio of the Archdiocese of Palo, who is an active member of the OFS, blasted how government procedures and protocols delay and at times, deprive the poor of government help due them.
According to Florencio, this prodded the OFS, who gathered recently for the 4th National OFS Clergy Gathering in Cebu, to include in their collective stand a call for the government’s prompt response to the needs of the poor, doing away with “red tape” and misconceptions about the separation of church and state that often become reasons for the delayed release of aid, especially to calamity survivors, such as super typhoon Yolanda victims.
Voice of the poor
At the same event, member-priests of the congregation passed a resolution intensifying their advocacy to care more for the poor and to live the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi in the Church of the Poor.
They likewise decided to “discuss more thoroughly ways to help and give voice to the poor, deprived and oppressed of our society and look at the possibilities of making an open letter about the peoples’ concerns to the government agencies to be published in the news paper.”
In this OFS convention statement, the congregation likewise urged all clergy, especially the OFS members in the country to commit themselves to “the process of transformation into becoming God’s gift to the church, especially the poor and to live a joyful life of simplicity, focusing on our complementariness than desiring for equality thereby achieving oneness as the living body of Christ (Eucharistic).”
According to Florencio, the passage of the resolution was “inspired by the Holy Spirit and the life of St. Francis,” as the clergy reflected on the inputs given to them during the gathering and on their exposure to the poor and the sick in the care of the Missionaries of the Poor.
Messages on the poor’s rights
The OFS clergy likewise resolved to make themselves “holy and worthy of [their] responsibilities and ministries by consciously trying to attach [their] motivations and actions to the one that is Holy; live a life of gratitude, realizing that everything is a gift of God; strive to reap the fruits of our Franciscan Spirituality: Peace, Joy and Love that are truly the pillars of [their] life of witnessing; be like the Samaritan woman with empty bucket but with hope of finding fullness and fulfillment of life and to bring others to Jesus Christ, the well-spring of life.”
“We make these resolutions so as to allow experiences of the grace and the sacramental presence of the church concretely accessible by multiplying wells of goodness where the thirsty are invited to drink of the love and mercy of Jesus. Accompanied by Mary, we need to go forth with a new sense of mission; bearers of light and capable of healing division and weaknesses. We have to become the face of the Poor, the face of Christ,” the OFS convention resolution further stated.
Florencio, who will soon be installed as Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu after his episcopal ordination this September, said the convention statement was likewise inspired by the Pope Francis’ messages on poverty and protection of rights of the poor during his visit to South America in July this year.
St. Francis, though born in a rich merchant’s family, opted to live a pauper’s life, finding fulfillment in serving the poor, emulating Christ’s ways with special fondness for animals, nature, and the sick. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News)