Archbishop Tirona at the Launch of the Year of the Poor in Mindanao (Yen Ocampo)

MANILA, Feb. 26, 2015–Heeding his Lenten message, the Catholic Church in the Philippines has assured the faithful they are one with Pope Francis in the fight against what he described as the “globalization of indifference” through her humanitarian arm NASSA/Caritas Philippines.

Hear the cries of the poor

“By listening to the poor, and joining the fight against the destruction of the environment, especially in depressed areas, we can truly immerse ourselves in the call against the ‘globalization of indifference’. ” says Caceres Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, National Director of NASSA/Caritas Philippines in a statement.

According to him, Lent, indeed, is a time during which the Church, God’s people, are enjoined to reflect on the cries of the poor and the oppressed.

Faith, charity

Tirona adds members of the Church are privileged, but also have the duty to respond to the pontiff’s call.

“Faith and charity should go side by side if we want to overcome this indifference as a family bound by solidarity and a community of love,” the Carmelite prelate shares.

God never indifferent

In his Lenten message, Pope Francis stressed that God is not indifferent to the world, loving it so much that He gave His Son for man’s salvation.

“In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and Resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all,” the prelate said.

Rejected, crushed

The Argentine pontiff lamented, however, that the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut the door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to Him.

“The hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded,” he said.

Pope Francis had earlier laid down his challenge to Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization for Catholic charities around the world which works hand-in-hand with the Vatican, to be a “sign of God’s love for humanity.”

During his recent visit to the Philippines, Asia’s largest predominantly Catholic nation, the Holy Father underscored the need to help the poor, the children and those affected by the recent calamities that struck the country.

NASSA/Caritas Philippines has advocacies on agrarian reform and the protection of the environment, extending support to fishermen and farmers displaced by calamities such as those ravaged by typhoon “Yolanda” and victimized by the land-grabbing cases such as those in Sicogon Island in Iloilo.

Moreover, the Philippine Church’s humanitarian agency boasts a three-year program across nine dioceses directly affected by Yolanda, which aims to give survivors disaster resilient shelters, food security and livelihood assistance, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) facilities, ecosystems recovery, disaster risk reduction trainings, and community organizing.

General assembly

As the country’s representative to the worldwide Caritas Internationalis, NASSA/Caritas Philippines is scheduled to hold its General Assembly this coming May in Rome with a theme focused on Pope Francis’ plea to create a “Church for the Poor.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)