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The Church in the Philippines: Reflecting on Its Commitment to the Poor

000_HKG10138875 – Pope Francis PHILIPPINES – meeting with families in Manila – AFP

©GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

PHILIPPINES-VATICAN-RELIGION-POPE Pope Francis greets the faithful as he arrives to a meeting with families in Manila on January 16, 2015. Pope Francis is on a five-day visit to the Philippines. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE

L'Osservatore Romano - published on 06/05/15

Evangelizing through sharing

VATICAN CITY — Pride and selfishness are the two sins that most commonly prevent Christians from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. They are also present-day evils in the Philippines, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, President of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), noted in his homily at the Mass celebrated on the occasion of the National Conference on the New Evangelization, which took place in recent days in Pasay City. 

The celebration was attended by around 6,000 faithful and many priests.The prelate reminded those in attendance of the fundamental importance of giving themselves: “The proud can never know God. There can be no true encounter between God and a man who is full of himself and sees himself as a god,” Archbishop Villegas boldly said in his homily. He also emphasized that it is “only through humility” that the faithful can intimately know the Lord.

Humility is closely linked to generosity, the President of the Filipino Bishops’ Conference said. He therefore urged clergy and faithful to give and to share their wealth. “You can only take to heaven what you have given here on earth,” he told them. “When you renounce everything on earth, you will reap its fruit in paradise.” He therefore called on clergy and faithful to imitate Christ, saying: “Do not be afraid to do what Jesus would do, because this is the only road to happiness.”

The archbishop’s call to generosity was also inspired by the central theme of the nation’s Conference on the New Evangelization, i.e., the Church’s commitment to the poor. The bishops of the Philippines have consecrated 2015 to evangelization as part of a “Nine Years of Evangelization” initiative, which began in 2013. The initiative is dedicated to proclaiming the Good News with new tools and objectives, and will culminate in 2022 with the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Gospel being brought to the Islands.

The conference initiative was launched during the Year of Faith called by Benedict XVI, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. 

This article originally appeared in the May 4th Italian edition of the Osservatore Romano.

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