[#AwaNgDiyosPH] Combating poverty is where ‘combative’ gov’t, Church can ‘work together’



MANILA (The Filipino Connection and Philstar.com)–In recent years, the Philippine government has been at odds with the local Catholic Church, owing to divergent views on relevant social issues that affect Filipino families.

Despite the said differences, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, D.D. still believes that both influential entities of Philippine society must work together to help the poor

The Filipino poor comprises 24.9 percent of the country’s population, based on government’s latest statistics (July 2013).

Nenita Pardo, 68, went straight to picking up mineral water bottles after Pope Francis' visit to UST (photo by MIA ROSIENNA MALLARI / The Filipino Connection)

Nenita Pardo, 68, went straight to picking up mineral water bottles after Pope Francis’ visit to UST (photo by MIA ROSIENNA MALLARI / The Filipino Connection)

In doing so, Quevedo said that the state “is in the right position” to alleviate poverty because it has the authority to implement programs and policies addressing the said problems.

The Church on the other hand could act as “spiritual mentor” to the poor, for whom the Philippine Catholic Church declared this entire 2015 as their year in a nine-year countdown to the 500th anniversary of Philippine Christianity.

Quevedo said that while they recognize the government’s efforts to reduce poverty through various programs he believes there should be “consistency” in terms of implementation.

The Cotabato Cardinal also thinks there’s a need to remove discriminatory laws in the country to successfully fight poverty.  He did not elaborate during his speech at the PCNE.

No less than President Benigno Aquino III admitted in past media interviews that he’s had a rocky relationship with the Church long after he approved the controversial Reproductive Health Law in December 21, 2012, which leaders of the dominant religion had opposed as it promotes abortion by means of artificial contraception.

Last year, some bishops particularly Lipa archbishop Ramon Arguelles and Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal –both members of a group called the National Transformation Council– had recently asked Aquino to resign for having lost the “moral ascendancy to govern”. This is in the light of the issue on Reproductive Health Law and several other corruption issues being hurled against the president and his allies.

And with the Pope around, Aquino took a swipe at bishops who criticized him.

But Quevedo believes the two sectors must collaborate to combat poverty. “it’s not just simply the work of a church. There’s a lot of responsibility given to government with regards to alleviating the plight of the poor and promoting social justice,” Quevedo told a crowd of thousands at the Second Philippine Conference on the New Evangelization (PCNE) held at the University of Santo Tomas a day before Pope Francis visited the pontifical university.

While past media reports said that the country’s economy is on an upsurge, with a 6.4 percent gross domestic product growth in 2014’s second quarter, statistics would show otherwise that there’s still great divide between the rich and the poor class and the income gap has gone higher.

This gap is called inequality in economics. Last year’s report from global financial services firm Credit Suisse Group said there remains “very high inequality” in terms of wealth distribution among Filipinos.

Meanwhile, the share of the 10-percent richest Filipinos was 76 percent of the country’s wealth, rising by some 6.8 percent from 2007 data, according to Credit Suisse.

“We get reports from evaluators on economy say ‘very good’ but that is macro level beneath the level of rosy reports is the reality of people (living in poverty),” Quevedo said.

And thus, said San Fernando (Pampanga) Auxiliary Bishop Pablo David, D.D., government officials should submit themselves to their vocation as public servants.

“They must remember that governance is really for the promotion of the common good and the public welfare —not for their personal good.”

Pope Francis has always advocated that the Catholic Church should be the “church for the poor, likening it to a “field hospital” caring for the wounded.

As for government’s role, Francis told the higher echelons of the Philippine government, including President Aquino, to “reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community.”—The Filipino Connection and Philstar.com.


The Filipino Connection covers the visit of Pope Francis in partnership with Philstar.com.



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