MANILA, May 15, 2015—Nearly five months after the Holy Father’s visit, a Catholic priest has voiced his frustration over what he believes is the failure of Philippine government officials to apply Pope Francis’ call for “Mercy and Compassion” despite the conditions that continue to make the country’s poor poorer.
“The first moment toward change is to see reality from the perspective of the poor otherwise, we will be hooked up with our own hidden agenda. We should no longer pre-judge the poor with arguments that simply blame
them for their situation,” says Fr. Pete Montallana, , chair of the Save Sierra Madre Network.
Being with the poor
Moreover, the priest goes on to encourage those who have more in life to experience being with the poor, listening to what happened to them in their provinces, and why they were not able to cope with life.
“Re-read our history from our perspective, those who are still conquered. For believers, this is a privileged moment to discover the wounded hands and feet of the Risen Lord among the poor. Such painful realities can become the source of courage to leave one’s comfort zone and embrace the dirty poor as truly kapatid,” the Franciscan prist adds.
Montallana further bemoans the unjust structures that are entrenched in the government, stressing nothing substantial is bound to change if Filipinos do not learn to rely on another.
“Let us act and respond with mercy and compassion to the sufferings of millions—not to dole out crumbs but reform unjust structures,” he exclaims.
Meanwhile, Montallana underscores the importance of feeling the joy the Argentine pontiff himself radiated.
According to him, that joy inspires all to be fearless and persevering doing wherever the Spirit leads.
“It could be doing research on the effects of the contractualization law, why so much land is in the hands of a few, corruption cases, unjust economic policies, etc. For others, it could be articulating in the media what the marginalized could not express. For Church people, it would mean ‘conscientisizing’ and empowering people,” he explains.
He notes that becoming a “compassionate presence” with informal settlers within one’s parish can help lessen the suffering of the urban poor.
“Solidarity among the farmers, the workers, the urban poor, the indigenous people, and networking with the civil society, especially with the democratized social media will create the groundswell needed to change,” he adds. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)