Pope’s visit both blessing and challenge—bishop

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DAET, Camarines Norte, Dec. 27, 2014—Granting that the forthcoming visit of Pope Francis will bring blessings to the Philippines, an official of the Catholic Church believes the event will also pose great challenges to the Filipino faithful in the light of the Year of the Poor.

Pope Francis is set to visit the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19, 2015. (Photo: CNA)

Drawing from the pontiff’s apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (Joy of the Gospel) 187, Bishop Gilbert A. Garcera of the Diocese of Daet writes in a recent pastoral letter that all Christians, whether individuals or communities, are “called to be an instrument of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor, and for enabling them to be fully a part of society.”

“This demands that we be docile and attentive to the cry of the poor and to come to their aid,” he notes.

According to the prelate, the Holy Father “brings us the same message of Jesus’ love, mercy and compassion – for the least, the lost and the downtrodden. Indeed, our Lord Jesus in his earthly life has shown a certain predilection for the poor, the sinners and the marginalized”.

Garcera stresses that Pope Francis’ call takes on a more significant meaning in the celebration of the Year of the Poor.

Quoting His Holiness in paragraph 198 of the papal document, the Daet bishop shares, “The new evangelization is an invitation to acknowledge the saving power at work in the lives of the poor and to put them at the centre of the Church’s pilgrim way.”

“We are called to find Christ in them, to lend our voice to their causes, but also to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them,” he states.

“In a manner of speaking, listening and paying attention to the cries of the poor need to be accompanied by concrete actions,” adds Garcera whose diocese adopts the theme “Daloy ng Awa para sa Maralita (DAMá)” for the Year of the Poor, underscoring their desire to respond to the challenge of Evangelii Gaudium – to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to act on it. (rf. Psalm 34, EG no. 191). (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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