Oct. 27, 2015 – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle invites priests and parishioners of the Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM) to take part in the festivities on Nov. 7, Saturday, at the La Concordia College, Pedro Gil St., Manila, set to wrap up the ongoing “Year of the Poor,” and to continue what has been done so far for the poor.
“This gathering will be an opportunity to send anew and make a commitment to living out our being Church of the Poor under the leadership of the Commission on Social Services and Development [CSSD],” says the prelate in a recent circular.
While the celebration of the Year of the Poor will come to a close, Tagle points out that the Filipino faithful’s “being Church of the Poor” goes beyond 2015.
“It is a lifetime mission of the Church in the Philippines,” he stresses.
According to the first Asian president of Caritas Internationalis, Pope Francis reminds Christians that “poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus, in that child who is hungry, and the one who is sick, in those unjust society structures.”
For Fr. Luke Moortgat, CICM, head of the RCAM’s Committee on the Year of the Poor, the year challenges the view most people have of the underprivileged, noting that in most cases, what they need more than food and shelter is respect.
“While food and shelter are important, the first thing that poor people need is respect. We know that Jesus has a special love and concern for the rejected, the ridiculed, the poorest of the poor. He asks us to do the same,” shared in an earlier interview.
Meanwhile, Fr. Enrico Martin F. Adoviso, RCAM-CSSD chief, as Church of the Poor, all Catholics are called to “renew their commitment to Christ’s mission,” always taking the side of the poor and the oppressed, especially when and where there is injustice and a denial of basic human rights.
“The farmers that till the land to bring us food, the fisher folks who navigate the seas for us and the workers who run the industries are still materially poor after decades and generations of work for living. Their dignity as co-creator of the Lord should be reclaimed,” he explains in his Year of the Poor manifesto.
12.1 million poor
“The handicapped, prisoners, indigenous people and even the victims of calamities are in dire need of our compassion to lift up their hope and spirits. They are all poor, and they are all sons and daughters of our Lord. Also, the world need to re-examine the use of our natural resources, for more often, the destruction of God’s gift make the poor poorer,” the priest adds.
Moortgat said it is important to focus on those at the bottom of society who make up the lowest 25 percent of the population.
The Belgian priest pointed out that although a family of five who make do with Php 350 or less per day (Php 70 each person per day) may be considered poor, in general, those who suffer most from poverty are people with disabilities (PWD), particularly the mentally challenged, among others.
He added that making opportunities for education, employment, and small-scale business available can do much in terms of raising the living standards of the poor.
Based on a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, as many as 12.1 million Filipinos identify themselves as poor.
Themed “Bumangon at Manindigan” (Rise and Stand up), Year of the Poor is a year-round event in line with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s declaration of 2015, urging the Filipino faithful to do their part in helping the poor, especially in pushing for the true alleviation, reduction, and eradication of poverty in the country.
The occasion, which comes third in the nine-year era of New Evangelization, prepares Filipinos ahead of the 500th anniversary of the coming of the Catholic Faith in the Philippines in 2021. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)