• The Pope denounces ‘scandalous inequalities’

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    With the wind blowing around the Pope and rain falling as a tropical typhoon again approached Tacloban, Pope Francis is speaking without a written speech in a homily from the heart and reminding all of us that Jesus of Nazareth has endured all the human trials and tribulations and suffered as we do. He became as one of us so God would be among us understanding and in union with all our hardships.

    Jesus of Nazareth was executed on the cross for his compassion and oneness with the poor teaching, equality, justice and non-violence.

    He gave us value and dignity in doing this and every person is therefore precious, he said. Many thousands of the faithful covered with yellow raincoats, bravely endured the rain as another tropical storm approached. It was a reminder of the terrible, most powerful super-typhoon to hit land in living memory. The people of Samar and Leyte suffered and endured great pain and loss.

    In all the tragedies, Jesus is as a great brother, with his Mother, Mary, they are with us and we are not alone who in this time of tragedy like what happened here we are feeling that we are all brothers and sisters because we help each other. “When I saw this tragedy 14 months ago I felt I had to be here with you,” he said. “Now I am here, a bit late, but here.” He echoed the words of Jesus when he calmed the storm and told his followers “Do not be afraid.”

    “This is coming from my heart and sorry if I have no other words to express this, Jesus will never let you down and the care of Mother Mary will not let you down. We will always walk together as brothers and sisters united in the Lord,” Pope Francis said.

    With his message of love and compassion for the poor and the outcasts, Pope Francis has made a powerful impression of light and goodness in the dark world of irresponsible rich, government corruption and the shocking poverty it has created.

    In a previous speech, he called on government to end corruption and poverty and denounced the “scandalous social inequalities.” In his speech to politicians he called on them to “hear the cries of the poor, and break the bonds and oppression that give rise to glaring and indeed scandalous social inequalities.”

    Those chains of oppression and inequality and brutal cruel torture were clearly seen in the photographs that were on many a newspaper and social media across the world showing a little girl handcuffed to a post in a Manila government child detention center known as Reception Action Center (RAC), just a short distance from City Hall.

    Her eyes filled with tears and crying her heart out. It caused outrage and anger. Other photographs released by Mail On-line on the same day the Pope arrived in Manila show Francisco, his namesake, lying naked and starving in the same center. Secretary Corazon Soliman said she will close it down.

    The same Mail On-line story showed an 8-year-old held behind bars with older boys. Sexual abuse is rampant in the cells and the younger ones are forced to preform sex acts on the older. Even girls held in the same facilities have sexual encounters with the inmates.

    A government social worker told Mail Online that the children were rounded up and held in detention centers in advance of the Papal visit to stop them begging from the Pope. Catherine Scerri of Bahay Tuluyan, a street child center in Manila, said Social workers were doing it as they had done before many times.

    This is outrageous child abuse and illegal detention in sub-human conditions. These truths are supported by extensive photographic evidence. The plight of the children in prison have been published frequently in this column in The Sunday Times and available on www.preda.org and Preda Foundation Facebook.

    Government officials countered by saying some of the pictures were from past months confirming that the child abuse exposed in the government centers was not an isolated incident as others tried to claim. No one has been held responsible or called to answer before the law for the outrageous abuse of our children. These are the little brothers and sisters that Pope Francis says he is in solidarity with as one family.

    During his speech on the family he repeated to the people in the Mall of Asia complex, where a Preda representative was present, “protect your children”.

    The immediate motive of the Pope’s visit is his concern for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) fourteen months ago. He is expected to publish an encyclical on climate soon. Why such great climate disruption? What is happening? The hundred years of burning coal, oil, wood, creates a shroud of CO2 and methane gas, around the planet. The sun is beating down and heats the earth, the hot air cannot escape trapped beneath the shroud of gases. The ice sheets are melting fast, the sun’s rays cannot be now reflected back into space and instead they heat the oceans and waters rise up to flood millions of homes.

    With a warmer world the more ocean water will evaporate to fill the skies, the cold and hot air streams collide and gigantic rain and wind storms and typhoons come raging in destroying everything and everybody in their deadly paths.

    As I write this the rain is pouring down in Tacloban and Pope Francis has referred to this terrible dangerous situation of climate change and global warming which created the greatest storm that hit Tacloban.

    He comes to heal the wounded, comfort the bereaved, call for justice for the most vulnerable of all —the poor and the jobless, the hovel dwellers and the downtrodden. We all need to put our faith into action and be fully alert, aware and alive, to save the planet, the poor and ourselves.

    shaycullen@preda.org

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