“Now, more than ever,” the Church is called to be more in solidarity with the poor and marginalized sectors of society, a top Catholic official said.
Speaking during Mass at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino’s chapel in Rome, Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila admitted a “dark and wide gap” between the Church and the poor in the country.
“…Our local Church is far from being with the Church of the poor that we aspire to be. The Church does not know the poor and the poor do not know the Church,” Advincula said in his homily.
“Our poor and marginalized brethren feel that their views and values are disregarded in our Church communities and organizations,” he said.
The cardinal said the “disturbing realizations” came during the recent national synodal consultations held in Tagaytay City last July.
Saying that distributing dole out is not enough, he stressed the need for the Church to be “immersed deep enough in the lives of the poor so that we smell like the poor”.
“We must immerse ourselves in the life of the poor, be friends with them, journey with them, empower them for mission, include them in the life and activity of the Church and advocate for their dignity,” Advincula said.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel readings, he said that the faithful are pointed to the virtue of Christian humility, which not only entails docility and heavenly orientation, but also solidarity with the lowly.
Humility, according to him, is more than just the ascetic denial of worldly pleasures and prestige, or the willingness to suffer shame and dishonor.
“True humility must be expressed as solidarity with the last, the least, and the lost among us,” he added.
The Manila archbishop is currently in Rome after attending the consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Aug. 27.
He is also taking part in the two-day extraordinary consistory, which started on Aug. 29, called by Pope Francis.
Members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines earlier owned up to their shortcomings why the country is still “far from our dream of a Church of the poor.”
“We saw gaps and closed doors in our work of evangelization. We saw shadows,” read a statement released by the Church leaders following the National Synodal Consultation held in Tagaytay City in July.
The bishops vowed to “open doors for us all to go out and set forth once again for mission” and “to seek out those who are far, different, excluded.”