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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pope tells leaders to help poor


By Manolo B. Jara  
The Gulf Today
Pope-Francis-pope-mobileMANILA: Pope Francis on Friday called on politicians to shun corruption as he stressed that the money they have stolen could have been put to better use by improving the plight of the poor who comprise the majority of the 100 million Filipinos.
“It’s now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good,” the Pope said in the address he delivered in the English language following the formal ceremonies welcoming him to his five-day visit the Philippines led by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino at Malacanang Palace.
As such, he urged politicians to reject any form of corruption that diverts resources from the poor and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man, woman and child in the country.
“It behooves us,” the Pope said, “to break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring and, indeed, scandalous, social inequalities.”
In particular, he cited the urgent need to reform the social structures that perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor by first requiring a “conversion of minds and hearts.”
Vatican officials pointed out the Pope’s statement highlighted his strong advocacy for mercy and compassion as well as love, social justice and reconciliation which have been his central message since he became the supreme pontiff less than two years ago.
The Pope marked the first day of his official visit to the Philippines by travelling to Malacanang Palace from the Vatican nunciature (embassy) in a Volkswagen Touran in keeping with his simple and no-frills lifestyle.
As before, tens of thousands of Filipinos from all walks of life lined up along the route taken on the way to Malacanang Palace, similar to the huge crowds that accorded him a “rock star welcome when he arrived from Sri Lanka late on Thursday afternoon.
At the same time, the Pope urged the government to look after the interests and welfare of the estimated nine million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), saying their “contribution to diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live is often neglected.”
But the Pope also lauded the government for its determined efforts to bring just and lasting peace to restive Mindanao in the spirit of unity and reconciliation by signing in March 2014 the historic agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that called for the establishment of a new Bangsamoro political entity.
In an equally strong statement in his welcome address, Aquino criticised some members of the clergy in front of Pope Francis for remaining silent against the abuses and human rights violations during the strongman rule of the late president Ferdinand Marcos and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Aquino lauded those who spoke out against such violations like the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, the Manila archbishop, but lamented that the others chose to remain silent, citing as an example the abuses and sufferings his family had undergone during the Marcos dictatorship.
Aquino said: “In direct contrast to their previous silence, some members of the clergy now seem to think that the way to be true to the faith means finding something to criticise.”
He disclosed that a prelate he did not identify “admonished me to do something about my hair as if it was a mortal sin.”

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