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Philippines

Philippine youths call for action over words this Lent

Ecumenical organization urges Christians to practice self-denial to benefit needy rather than as an act of piety

Philippine youths call for action over words this Lent

Students, including Prophet Project members, take part in a protest against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in this file photo. (Photo supplied) 

University students and young theologians have called on Christians in the Philippines to practice self-denial more than religious piety during Lent.

According to the Prophet Project, an organization composed of young Catholics and other Christians, religions must transcend books by putting faith into practice.

“We need modern-day prophets. We are a community seeking to integrate faith and justice, deep spirituality and radical praxis. We uphold Jesus as a savior and liberator offering us liberation from personal and social oppression,” the group said in a social media post to mark the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

Religious practices like fasting and abstinence can create positive impacts on Philippine society, the group said.

“There is so much power in a religion, as a social institution, to bring us together,” it added.

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Fasting, a form of self-sacrifice, could propel one to think about more than himself but about others who are poor and underprivileged, the group said.

“Jesus teaches us that self-denial is not passive, compliant religious piety. Rather, it is a disposition that feels and bears the weight of those who are hungry and are in need, and thus spurs the action of giving and deeper solidarity. It is a disposition grounded in justice and compassion,” the group said in their post.

In doing “acts of justice” this Lent, the group said it believed its members can fulfill a prophetic role.

“The call to be prophetic is more urgent than ever. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy,” the group said.

“Fasting is a duty required of the disciples of Christ, but it is not so much a duty itself, as a means to dispose us towards other duties … especially in helping the poor, those who do not have jobs, the hungry and the sick. Fasting should lead to giving.”

The Prophet Project has been active in various Catholic donation drives such as helping victims of super typhoons Goni and Vamco in 2020.

It also joined recent protests against a controversial new anti-terror law, which critics say attacks people’s civil liberties, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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