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Bishops exhort faithful to eradicate poverty

Pastoral letter urges fight against 'social scandal'

Bishops exhort faithful to eradicate poverty

Philippine bishops ends their bi-annual meeting on Monday in Manila (Photo by Roi Lagarde)

Joe Torres, Manila

January 28, 2014

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Philippine bishops called on the country's Catholics to fight the "economy of exclusion" and not to only blame the government for the endemic poverty that plagues the country.

"We need to understand our role in it, our personal responsibility for it in our individual lives and shared cultures," the bishops said in a pastoral letter issued on Monday at the end of their bi-annual meeting.

"This is a social scandal for which we cannot just blame government," the bishops said.

In the pastoral letter titled "To Bring Glad Tidings to the Poor," the prelates described poverty as a "social scandal" that must be dealt with "responsible action."

The prelates condemned what they described as an economy that "pampers the wealthy ... but excludes others, especially the poor."

They said that financial greed is one of the reasons behind the societal upheavals in the country.

The government's National Statistical Coordination Board, in its latest report issued in December, estimated that about one out of every five Filipino families is poor.

Government statistics show that the number of poor families has risen from 3.8 million in 2006 to 4.2 million in 2012.

A survey conducted by pollster Social Weather Stations in December reported that 55 percent of respondents, equivalent to 11.8 million families, said they were poor.

The figure was higher than the 50 percent of families who considered themselves poor earlier in the year.

The survey also showed 41 percent of respondents, equivalent to 8.8 million families, considered themselves food-poor.

In their statement, the bishops urged the faithful to see the poor not just as "curious ciphers on a statistical report" but as a manifestation of Christ who "makes himself one with the poor".

"An honest assessment of our ways of dealing with the poor whom God brings in our lives ... is called for, especially when these ways impact not just on individual lives but on the common good," the bishops said.

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