A NATION looking for love and leadership after a series of natural calamities and social problems sought comfort and compassion from the head of the Catholic Church. Verily Pope Francis fondly nicknamed Lolo Kiko by devotees did not disappoint/kissing and hugging people who had the good fortune to be within his reach. He offered words of comfort and hope. To everyone he had a message. To politicians he pleaded for the end of corruption which he said robbed the poor of much needed relief. To families he pleaded for solidarity and to parental role-modeling.
To the nation he left a message of hope and the wish that they would resist the onslaught of an imported sub-culture — the “ideological colonization” that wants to change a Catholic nation’s moral lifestyle; that offers ephemeral satisfactions and instant gratification of consumerism, materialism and sensuality.
To students he asked for the application of knowledge in the service of the community. To the clergy he asked for the return to their vow of poverty. To the victims in Tacloban he offered sympathy and hope and to the Filipino people he asked for renewal of their catholicity.
Observing the people’s humongous welcome of the Pope exceeding that given to rock stars – I was reminded by this account in the Gospel of St. Luke, “and as He rode along, they spread their garments on the road. As He was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying “blessed is the king who comes in the name of the lord.” As we know now the same crowd chanted “crucify him, crucify him” before Pilate not long after.
To be sure Pope Francis is not the Lord. He was only the donkey on which the Lord rode upon. Parenthetically, as the Lord chose a small donkey instead of a stallion as befits a king to enter Jerusalem, Pope Francis rode on a bantam car rather than a limousine as befits a head of state.
The question is how long will the euphoria – The Papal Mania – last? Will it last only as long as the effectivity of local anesthesia applied by my dentist as he was doing a root canal procedure on me? Will this be as long as the ningas cogon attitude of Filipinos?
Will the papal exhortation to end endemic corruption which has deprived the poor of much needed resources fall on deaf ears? Will his plea for parents to be role models for their families be heeded? Will his advice to the youth to apply their learning for the common good gain traction?
Poverty the pope explained is structural, meaning that it is the result of socio-economic conditions and political institutions that make it difficult for the public and private sectors to deliver essential services to the community in the service of the common good.
As long as government officials fail to consider themselves as servant-leaders and businessmen as only trustees of the wealth of God’s kingdom on earth, corruption and injustice will be inevitable.