Governments should not hide the poor at international events or gatherings to highlight only the good and the beautiful, according to Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.
Authorities around the world have a tendency to hide the poor so that foreign visitors do not see them during state visits, said the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
“It is sad how the poor are usually buried … When we have international guests, one thing that governments do is hide the poor for they are a cause of shame and embarrassment,” the cardinal said in Rome.
His comments came in a homily as he celebrated Mass on Nov. 15 to mark the 4th World Day of the Poor, a Sunday dedicated to the poor instituted by Pope Francis since the start of his papacy.
This year’s theme — Stretch forth your hand to the poor — is based on the Parable of the Talents when a master distributed talents (a former unit of currency) to his servants to take care of his property.
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Cardinal Tagle reminded Filipinos of Pope Francis’ words during a Mass he celebrated at Manila Cathedral in 2015.
“Jesus’ preferential love for the poor … The poor are the center of the Gospel. They are at the heart of the Gospel. If we take away the poor from the Gospel, we can’t understand the whole message of Jesus Christ.”
Preferential love for the poor is central to Christianity as Jesus was poor, said the Filipino cardinal.
Meanwhile, a Catholic bishop in the Philippines urged churchgoers not to donate “spare” or extra resources in his World Day of the Poor message.
Manila apostolic administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo said churchgoers should be sincere and not self-serving in helping the poor.
“We help not only with what is extra for us but even with what we need because others are more in need,” the bishop said.
He also appealed to donors to help victims of recent natural disasters to hit the Philippines.
“The recent typhoon [Vamco] is a call for us to help one another. It is an opportunity for us to see that we have a neighbor who needs help,” Bishop Pabillo said.
“In all these [natural calamities], we Filipinos are being challenged to stand together, put our resources together and help.”
Typhoon victims must not lose hope, yet must be aware of the root cause of their suffering, according to the bishop.
“We are a resilient people. We are a people of faith, yet we must also see what caused the floods that damaged our lives and properties. These were man-made. We, therefore, need to re-examine our policies and environmental measures as a government and as a nation.”