Ending poverty must be gov’t priority—priest

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MANILA, Nov. 22, 2014—A Catholic priest pointed out eradicating the structural causes of poverty to enable poor Filipinos to enjoy better living conditions will only be possible if the government will make it a top priority.

For Fr. Luke Moortgat, a CICM priest, it is high time solutions that will end poverty in the country should be found, describing the plight of millions of Filipinos as a “chronic situation”.

The number of those who are “food poor” has risen by two percent, roughly translating to 9.3 million people.

“It’s already a chronic situation … Many people in society have been living in poverty for years. What can we do for them?” Moortgat, who heads the Commission for the Year of the Poor, told Church-run Radyo Veritas in an interview.

Long-term solutions

According to him, the problem calls for solutions that are long-term as well as permanent.

He stressed giving the underprivileged opportunities for education, employment, or small-scale business can do much in terms of improving their quality of life.

The recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey reveals that as many as 12.1 million Filipinos consider themselves poor.

The number of those who are “food poor” has risen by two percent, roughly translating to 9.3 million people.

In his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis shares addressing structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed.

“…(N)ot only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good order of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises,” he said.

The pontiff asserts welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses.

“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills,” he added.

Papal visit itinerary

The 255th Vicar of Christ is scheduled to visit the Philippines on Jan. 15 to 19, 2015 to express solidarity with the destitute and the survivors of calamities.

Themed “Mercy and Compassion”, the upcoming apostolic trip to Asia’s largest Catholic nation is an event local Church officials predict will give Filipino Catholics a much-needed spiritual transformation.

Pope Francis’ official Philippine itinerary is as follows:

• Jan. 15, 2015

Arrival from Sri Lanka – Villamor Air Base; Motorcade to the Apostolic Nunciature – Taft Avenue, Manila

• Jan. 16, 2015

Welcome Ceremony – Malacañan Palace; Manila Motorcade to the Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral); Mass with Bishops, Priests, and Religious – Cathedral-Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Manila Cathedral); Motorcade to the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay; Encounter with Families – Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay

• Jan. 17, 2015

Departure for Archdiocese of Palo – Villamor Air Base; Arrival at Tacloban Airport; Holy Mass – Tacloban Airport; Lunch with the Poor and Survivors of Calamities at Gonzagahaus (Residence of the Archbishop of Palo) – Palo, Leyte; Blessing of the Pope Francis Center for the Poor – Palo, Leyte; Meeting with the Priests and Religious at Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration (Palo Cathedral) – Palo, Leyte; Departure for Manila; Arrival at Manila – Villamor Air Base

• Jan. 18, 2015

Brief Meeting with the Religious Leaders and Encounter with the Youth – Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, España, Manila; Motorcade to Rizal Park, Manila; Concluding Mass, Rizal Park, Manila

• Jan. 19, 2015

Motorcade from the Apostolic Nunciature Departure for Rome – Villamor Air Base

(Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCPNews)

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