A Pope Appeals

By Jose Ma. Montelibano
First Posted 02:32am (Mla time) 12/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines—Pope Benedict XVI gave his Christmas message -- which asked mankind in general and Catholics in particular to give more attention to God and the poor. In other words, the Pope appealed for compliance to the very foundation of the Christian faith -- to love God and to love neighbor.

The Pope's Christmas message was for everyone, but it seemed to have a special aim for Catholics in the Philippines -- long the historical pride of the Church as the only Christian country in Asia. What the Pope said seems to be a swipe at the failure of the Catholic Church in the Philippines to make Catholic teachings the anchor of religious belief and the criteria of Catholic behavior. After all, what Pope or Church hierarchy could miss the status of the Philippines as one of the most corrupt and impoverished?

Appealing for more attention to God and the poor cannot be a more pointed appeal to the Catholic Church in the Philippines and its converts. After all, the evil of corruption that dominates Philippine society reflects the absence of God, as evil is understood to be the absence of good. The massiveness of poverty among our people reflects as well the absence of love for neighbor. In Asia's original and primary Christian country, the absence of good and the absence of love for one's neighbor have become its greatest achievements. Truly, the Pope's appeal cannot be more meaningful and pointed than it is for Christianity in the Philippines.

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