Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle called on Catholics to give love and justice and to be more sensitive to the needs of the poor and less fortunate.
In his keynote speech for Caritas Manila’s Generosity Conference, Tagle said that corruption, a form of injustice, could be countered by acts of charity.
“At present, we witness in our society that cheating and corruption is a form of non-giving. Instead of giving what is due to others and to the country, resources are being denied from them. We do not only lack love for others, but we also lack a sense of justice,” Tagle said.
“This explains how cheating and injustice are considered forms of not giving what the people and the nation deserve,” he added.
The prelate issued the statement while the Senate is investigating the pork barrel scam that involves the release of billions of pesos of lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to fake non-governmental organizations, mostly controlled by Janet Lim Napoles.
Quoting verses from the Bible, Tagle stressed the need for people to give not just for the sake of charity, but for the sake of giving justice to those who are in need.
“If we are to base the concept of giving according to what is written in the Old Testament, it pertains to the concept of giving that is just, giving that is based on justice,” he said. “Some people think that the act of giving is only a form of charity, but what they fail to see is that there is also a need to fulfill the act of giving that is according to justice.”
He urged the faithful to practice a sense of justice that is rooted not merely in equality, but in compassion.
“This is a different sense of justice—not that if someone borrowed 30 from you, he will have to return the same amount. Instead, if someone borrowed 30, you have to see the greater need of that person and let him have even what he borrowed. See that his need is greater than what you could gain,” he said.
He warned those who take advantage of other people, saying that the Lord will hear the cry of those who seek His name and give justice to those who are marginalized and abused.
“When these poor people cry out and seek help from the Lord, be prepared for God will hear and listen to their call. These teachings are set in the time of Moses, but until now we still experience them. When will we ever learn?” Tagle said.
He criticized politicians who splash their names and faces on government projects funded by taxpayers’ money.
“It gives me the creeps to see government projects plastered with the names and faces of government officials who grab credit for the construction of various infrastructure projects,” the prelate said.
“These projects are funded by the taxes taken from the salaries of average workers and from the taxes imposed on every consumer good we buy…Do not say that these projects are built as an act of generosity on your part because that is a demand of justice that you should give as justice demands,” Tagle said.
He reminded traders to be fair to less fortunate individuals.
“Do not make a profit out of what is due of your workers. Do not withhold their salary and give it when it is due for they have needs to sustain . . . that is a right that they are entitled to since they rendered their services to sustain their needs,” Tagle said.