Manila Archdiocese Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Wednesday admonished “hypocrites” who pretend to observe piety during Lent to promote their personal interests.
At the homily of a Mass at the Arzobispado de Manila chapel to mark Ash Wednesday, the start of Holy Week, Tagle singled out politicians who take advantage of the Holy Week to organize religious activities that only advance their political careers.
“That is not holiness. That is definitely not a way to return to God. That is hypocrisy!” Tagle said.
He also rebuked people who fast as a way of losing weight.
The cardinal urged the Filipino Catholics to transform themselves by embracing the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Echoing the message of Pope Francis, he said Lent is a wonderful season to recognize how far the people have strayed from God.
The true meaning of Lent can be achieved through alms giving, prayer and fasting, he said.
“So these are not just exterior practices. Through these practices we hope that our hearts, our full hearts, will turn to God,” he said.
He urged the people to take part in the Church’s Fast2Feed program, which aims to feed hungry children in disaster-stricken areas in Bohol, Leyte and Cebu.
“We strive to be a little poorer so that somebody else could be enriched by our generosity and our love,” Tagle said.
As a way of observing the Holy Week, President Benigno Aquino 3rd will abstain from eating pork every Friday of Lent.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said on Wednesday a no-pork Friday has been a year-round practice by the President.
“The President abstains and sometimes he fasts on a Friday. I know that because he would always remind us, ‘Oh, it’s Friday now, walang karne [no meat].’ So every Friday, only fish is served,” Lacierda told reporters.
He said Aquino is “very aware” of the meaning of Lent.
“He’s very conscious of the sacrifices that are being encouraged during the Lenten season. Fasting is only required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It’s already optional during Fridays and abstinence is encouraged on Fridays but the President makes it a point [to observe it],” Lacierda said.
Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, was a devout Catholic, and so are his four sisters – Ballsy, Pinky, Viel and Kris.
Lacierda asked the people to take the Ash Wednesday observance as “an opportunity to undertake small sacrifices and to examine their conscience.”
“For those undertaking the Ash Wednesday rituals today,” the observance “reminds individuals that it is only through authentic service to our neighbors, and the commitment to truth and justice, that we can bring about meaningful change in our respective communities,” he said.
“It is by doing so that we grow in faith and humility, which [should]strengthen our common bond as a nation,” Lacierda added.