How to teach faith to those with empty stomachs?
A report showed that there are now 26 million people who are under the category of “poor” and half of them are living under “extreme poverty.” (Read: Earning less than $1 a day, that is equivalent to P30 per kilo of rice and one small can of sardines.)
In a “talipapa” (wet market) in Taguig City, I witnessed an 8-year-old girl haggling with a rice store owner if she could buy one-half-kilo of rice. I was luckier because my money was good for buying a kilo of rice for my six children. A day after, I saw that same girl riding a jeepney with her tambourine, singing a plaintive song and begging for money.
We are familiar with dramatic scenes of poverty in the Philippines. Our priests preaching in the holy altar have been pontificating the neglect and deprivation of people who are destitute, lacking the basic necessities of life and how our better-off brethren should share their blessings.
Pope Benedict XVI said: “There are clear signs of the profound division between those who lack daily sustenance and those who have huge resources for disposal. Given the dramatic nature of the problem, reflection, and analysis are not enough—action must be taken.”
Poverty causes the breakdown of life’s values. This is one situation where our Church hierarchy is having difficulty in imparting to indigents the “Catechism of the Catholic Church.” How can you explain succinctly our Catholic faith to people who have “empty stomachs”?
Instead of avoiding the issue, this is one of the challenges for our laypeople and Church authorities: How to motivate, reach out, and nurture the virtue of faith. Instead of discouragement, this is the best time to sow good faith because a lot of Catholics are moving out from our camp to join other sects.
A fast-growing sect employed a recruitment method by providing employment, job promotion, and feeding programs to these poverty-stricken Catholics. And instantly, many have forsaken their Catholic faith. The head of the family is under pressure for providing the needs of his family under a Catholic’s faith versus a new faith.
A solution to this economic crisis, according to Pope Benedict XVI, is to strengthen the family, the fabric of our society.
The government, Catholic Church, and business sector should work together to reduce the poverty gap in the Philippines.
ISIDRO C. VALENCIA, [email protected]
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