Cardinal Tagle appeals for more 'missionaries of mercy'

Philippine prelate calls on Catholics not to discard world's refugees at end of three-day evangelization meet
Cardinal Tagle appeals for more 'missionaries of mercy'

Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila leads a solemn procession at the end of the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization in Manila on July 17. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

A teary-eyed Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila appealed for more missionaries of mercy who will "proclaim through word and deed that Jesus is Lord" at the end of a three-day conference on new evangelization in the Philippines.

"As missionaries of mercy like Jesus, we are being called and being sent to people that the world considers as not worthy of God," said the Manila prelate at the "mission sending rite" on July 17.

Cardinal Tagle told the crowd of some 5,000 people about his meeting with a young Syrian refugee in Greece.

"Where are you from?" the cardinal asked the boy who said he was from Syria and he was alone because his parents wanted him to leave for a safe place.

"They wanted to save him," said Cardinal Tagle. "Sometimes when I think of that boy, I ask myself where he is now? If he will ever see his parents again. I hope they are still alive."

"These are people who are thrown away by situations that they did not create, they did not intend, but they are victims," Cardinal Tagle said.

He said being missionaries of mercy is "finding gift in people who are often discarded by society."

Cardinal Tagle also shared an encounter with a Muslim child in a refugee camp.

"Are you a Muslim?" the child asked the archbishop. "He kept on looking at me as if asking who we are. They are not one of us, why are they feeding us. Why do they care?"

"We just hope that those memories will strengthen them. Memories that in the endless light of betrayal, they experience love, they experience acceptance, that they mattered … and the night will not be as dark anymore," Cardinal Tagle said.

A teary-eyed Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila urges the faithful to be missionaries of mercy especially for persons "discarded by society" like refugees. (Photo by MarkSaludes)


He said the estimated 65 million refugees around the world "who were discarded and thrown away" are also the same "people sent by God."

"The person we want to discard might be a gift of God. And you do not throw away gifts," the prelate said, adding that "Jesus didn't come to discard even sinners."

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Taking off from Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment Laudato si', Cardinal Tagle reminded Catholics to shun the prevailing "throwaway culture" that not only discard material things but also "values and people."

"We throw away persons by abusing them, by not respecting them," said the prelate. He said refugees, indigenous people, women, and children are not getting respect and care. 

"The victims of human trafficking, the victims of unfair labor practices, the victims of violence, these are the people who are thrown away, discarded," Cardinal Tagle added.

"What we need as an act of mercy in our culture right now is to restore the sense of gift, to see in others the gift," adding that "in a culture of betrayal, betrayal can be healed when we restore the sense of gift."

He urged those who attended the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization to lead a simple life and "give creation a rest."

The conference was first organized by Cardinal Tagle in 2013 to mark the church's Year of Faith. This year's meeting is part of the church's observance of the Year of Mercy.

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