CBCP Head: Poverty can be overcome by acts of justice, honesty, charity

MANILA, December 30, 2008─While the Church helps the poor live decent lives through its social action programs funded from charitable contributions, government agencies must do likewise with funds allotted for poverty alleviation, as directed by acts of justice, honesty, compassion and charity, the head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said.

In his New Year’s message Jaro Archbishop and CBCP president Angel Lagdameo made a stinging rebuke on the government’s failure to address the plight of the poor saying that the their miserable condition is not natural but man-made.

“The extreme poverty of the poorest of the poor is neither natural nor normal: it is man-made and can be overcome or eradicated by acts of justice, honesty, compassion and charity,” said Lagdameo.

He said it is unfortunate that although God’s blessings are unlimited and countless, they become limited through selfishness, injustice and corruption.

“God’s countless blessings have been and are obstructed or hindered from reaching their respective targets,” Lagdameo lamented

The CBCP president cited studies done showing how graft and corruption had defrauded the poor of basic services.

“The realities: according to one study, for every 100 pesos of our national budget, 40 pesos go to debt servicing, 15 pesos for education, 1 peso and 40 centavos for health services, and only 18 centavos for housing. For every 100 pesos, sadly 43 pesos and 42 centavos become the object of greed, fraud, plunder and corruption. Recently it was said that the 23 million “poorest of the poor” have increased to 27 million, most of whom are victims of their neighbors’ greed,” Lagdameo said.

The prelate reiterated what Pope Benedict XVI said on Christmas Day, that “it is GREED that destroys the world and its peace, unbridled and criminal greed of individuals and institutions. The evil effects of greed are worse and more widespread than the evils of war.”

But Lagdameo conceded that even amidst human negativities, accidents, dehumanizing poverty and broken promises, still people have many countless blessings to be happy and thankful about.

“With God hope springs eternal,” he said.

A better year for the poor?

The prelate said only the future can tell if 2009 will be a better year for the “poorest of the poor” while issuing a challenge on what everyone can do to become agents of hope for them.

“Will the New Year 2009 be a better year for the “poorest of the poor” because they are better looked after by Society, the Church and Government? In 2009, will someone be less poor, less hungry, better educated, because of what I shall have done?” asked the prelate.

Lagdameo explained the reason for rejoicing at any time especially during Christmas season is not due to what has been done for or received from others.

“The fundamental reason for our rejoicing always is that in Jesus Christ, God and Man, God has become “God with us-Emmanuel,” in the midst of many human negativities…and broken promises,” he said. (Pinky Barrientos, FSP)


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