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Philippine church groups launch network for poor

Anawim Mission Network is the result of a gathering to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Philippine church groups launch network for poor

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro speaks during the launch of the Anawim Mission Network in Manila on April 6. (Photo by Mark Saludes/ucanews.com)

Mark Saludes, Manila 
Philippines

April 9, 2018

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Catholic and Protestant church groups in the Philippines have launched an ecumenical solidarity network that aims to promote "political consciousness" among the poor.

The Anawim Mission Network, launched in Manila on April 6, is the result of a gathering of church groups to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

"We saw the need to transform the unity and harmony developed among Christian churches into a mission for the poor," said Carmelite priest Rico Ponce of the Institute of Spirituality in Asia.

The priest said that as "followers of Christ ... we take on the challenge of doing mission together, and together with the poor."

He said members have promised to share their social capital, organizational structures and material and financial resources with the poor.

The group, whose name is derived from the Hebrew word that means the poor, plans to organize "immersion activities" in urban poor communities and among victims of persecutions.

"Through integration with the basic masses, we will be able to learn their needs, and the things that we could do to liberate them," said Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of the Ecumenical Bishops' Forum.

The inter-faith group has partnered with tribal groups and organizations of farmers and workers.

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro said the formation of the new group is an opportunity for Filipino Christians "to confront, in unity, the causes of poverty."

"There is a need to raise the political awareness of the poor," said Father Dionito Cabillas of the Philippine Independent Church. "We must show them the connections of the present political situation to their lives." 

Reverend Rex Reyes, secretary-general of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, said it is time for the poor to be heard.

"Amid the falsehood, hypocrisy and tyranny of the present, people of faith need to amplify the voices of the victims and survivors of these maladies," he said.

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