Cardinal Tagle warns against a culture of accumulation

By chasing material success, a sense of blessedness may elude us, says the Manila prelate
Cardinal Tagle warns against a culture of accumulation

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila addresses delegates to the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City on Jan. 28. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has spoken out against what he called a "culture of accumulation" in a talk delivered at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City on Jan. 28.

"Who has something to throw away? Those who have accumulated, and they have accumulated what they do not need," said Cardinal Tagle, known for his involvement in projects that help poor communities in the Philippines.

The Manila prelate said the "culture of accumulation" leads to a "throwaway culture."

Pope Francis, in a statement delivered in 2015, condemned what he described as a "throwaway culture created by the powers that control the economic and financial policies of the globalized world."

Cardinal Tagle, who serves as president of Catholic relief agency Caritas Internationalis, noted that "a culture of achievement" drives people "to work hard for self-advancement and for the good of their families."

"The reality, however, is that human achievement is often fueled by materialism, the accumulation, the consumption of goods, even when they are not needed," said Cardinal Tagle.

He described as "a scandal" the reality that poor people live in the midst of trash discarded by others.

"In a culture of achievement for profit, a good life, and success, we lose the sense of having been graced, having been gifted, having been blessed," said Cardinal Tagle.

"But you do not dispose and throwaway a gift," he said.

Cardinal Tagle reminded delegates at the Eucharistic Congress — including priests, bishops, and members of religious congregations — to lead a simple life, saying that to "live by restraint, we can go against the throwaway culture."

"My dear reverend novice mistress, do you treat a rather unique novice as a problem to be thrown away or a gift of mystery?" Cardinal Tagle said.

The audience, an estimated 12,000 people from 72 countries, broke into laughter.

"Bishops, do you see our rather independent minded priests worthy or being thrown away, or as gifts providing collaboration?" said a smiling Cardinal Tagle.

"Priests, religious, and lay people, do you want to throw us bishops away too? Believe it or not, even bishops could be gifts," he added.

Cardinal Tagle said corrupt politicians are also part of the "throwaway culture."

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"Politicians, will you throw away people's taxes for your parties and shopping or guard them as gifts for social services?" he said.

Cardinal Tagle called for the development of "cultural intelligence" for the church "to exist as an effective witness to the Gospel."

He said only with a culture of gift-giving and sharing can the church fight "throwaway culture."

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