• Bishop’s plea as Lent begins: Fight ‘economy of exclusion’

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    AS Catholics prepare for Lent that officially starts tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on the faithful to fight the “economy of exclusion” that degrades and dehumanizes.

    CBCP President Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said he was referring to exclusion from gainful livelihood, exclusion from sufficient shelter, exclusion from rural development, exclusion from adequate health care, the exclusion from quality education and other faces of poverty.

    “We encounter such opposing forms of poverty on three dimensions of human existence: material, moral, and spiritual,” he said.

    In his Lenten message, Villegas said poverty degrades and dehumanizes the people “and is continuously undermining and threatening our existence.”

    He urged the laity to fight poverty and at the same time live a simple life. “We are invited to practice material poverty by taking up a simple lifestyle and works of mercy and justice that attend to the poor and aim for an economy of inclusion.”

    “All are called to live lives that are marked by a consistent and liberating detachment from such worldly goods as material possessions, resources, power, and social status—a detachment that allows us to be sensitive and to respond to those with less possessions, less resources, less power, lower status,” Villegas said.

    Besides living simply, the faithful are also encouraged to exercise “moral poverty by strengthening our resolve to practice solidarity with the neglected and to denounce injustice and all forms of radical inequality.”

    Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle for his part has called on Filipinos to help children in disaster-stricken areas.

    Tagle said the Church will spearhead a Fast2Feed program to raise funds for the Pondo ng Pinoy’s Hapag-Asa feeding program for the poor children in Zamboanga, Bohol, Cebu, and other areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas.

    “To live charitably means carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us, to be in solidarity with them,” he said.

    Pondo ng Pinoy provides each child a food subsidy of P5 to P10 a day or P900 to P1,800 for six months.

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