Poor is focus of my trip, says Pope
MANILA - In his first message to the Filipino people, Pope Francis urged them to shun corruption since it diverts resources away from the poor.
In his message following a courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacanang on Friday, he told government officials, the diplomatic corps, and others present: “I hope that prophetic summons encourage everyone at all levels of society to reject all forms of corruption which diverts the resources from the poor.”
Pope Francis told “political leaders to be outstanding and [stand up] for honesty, integrity, and commitment to common good.”
While his 5-day trip is also a state visit, Francis said it is “above all” a pastoral visit as the Philippines prepares to celebrate the fifth centenary of the coming of Christianity in its shores.
He said he will also "express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who endured suffering, loss, and devastation caused by [super typhoon] Yolanda.”
Francis said he admires the strength, faith, and resilience that Filipinos have demonstrated “in the face of natural disasters, and so many others.”
IMPORTANCE OF FAMILIES
He highlighted the importance of families, where values first take shape and later on make or break individuals.
He said the family is the microcosm of society, which draws from its resources in times of challenges.
“Today, the Philippines together with other nations, face a challenge of building on solid foundation a modern society that is respectful to authentic human values, ready to confront new and complex political and ethical questions,” he said.
He said a community built on values is essential to attaining the goals of social justice and respect for human dignity.
"May the deepest spiritual values of the Filipino people continue to find expression in your efforts to provide your fellow citizens with an integral human development. In this way, each person will be able to fulfill his or her potential, and thus contribute wisely and well to the future of this country."
Pope Francis’ speech comes at a time when the Philippines has made some advances in the fight against corruption, with 3 incumbent senators behind bars for anomalies involving their pork barrel funds and a Supreme Court chief justice found guilty by an impeachment court for misdeclaring his wealth.
PNOY HITS CLERGY
In his message, Aquino complained to the pope about members of clergy who were silent on wrongdoing by the Arroyo administration.
He told the pope about the sufferings of his family and of millions of Filipinos during Martial Law, despite social justice being one of the aims of the Marcos dictatorship.
He said “the true test of faith was when many members of the church, the advocate for the poor, was silent in the face of previous administration’s abuses.”
Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, still under hospital arrest, is on trial for various offenses such as plunder and electoral sabotage.
Aquino also said his administration is one with the teachings of Vatican II, which overturned some Catholic church dogmas.
However, “some now seem to think that the way to be true to faith is finding something to criticize even to the extent that one prelate even admonished me to do something about my hair, as it was a mortal sin.”
In being frank, Aquino said his goal is not to criticize, “but to speak the truth” similar to what the current pope has been doing.