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Priest alarmed by growing number of homeless people

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QUEZON City, May 14, 2014 – The number of homeless, hungry, and sick people in the streets of Metro Manila and other cities in the country has grown to an unsettling number in the past several decades, says a priest.

Fr. Dari Dioquino, priest-in-charge of Kanlungan ni Maria – Home for the Aged, shared the same observation with a fellow clergy that in the 1970s, the number of street vagrants could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Fr. Dari Dioquino's in white poses with some of the resident elderly at Kanlungan ni Maria, friends and donors. (Photo: Kanlungan ni Maria – Home for the Aged)

“Today, there are so many of their kind wandering to uncertainty in the streets,” he said. “Some of them are even naked. It seems that nobody cares about them.”

The institutions as well as the individuals who have the moral and social obligation to help the street vagrants to rebuild their lives and become better have become uncomfortable with their responsibility, Fr. Dioquino said.

“We have come to not wanting to be involved with their lives,” he said.

The priest expressed sadness over mere rhetoric, non-action, and excuses perpetuated in the culture of such institutions and among people who are supposed to help these poor people improve their lives.

Despite this indifference to human sufferings, Christians still describe themselves as believers, he said. Confronting unchristian behavior becomes boring and scandalous, Fr. Dioquino said, while turning away and apathy towards the needy become acceptable and convenient.

“We are guilty of the sin of omission,” Fr. Dioquino said.

Christ exhorted the faithful to care for the hungry, the sick, the prisoner, and be good for the stranger, he pointed out.

Fr. Dioquino encourages the people to read and follow the Gospels written by the Apostles, hoping that through them the faithful and the Church founded by Christ Himself would not get lost.

“Please read the Acts of the Apostles,” he said. “Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in the Gospel how we should live [in the] here and now.”

Aside from street vagrants, Fr. Dioquino observed that the number of less fortunate and abandoned elderly is growing as well.

Fr. Dioquino has been in charge of the home for the aged in Antipolo in the last 12 years. He lives under the same roof with them. (Oliver Samson)


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