Cardinal Tagle on Christmas: Why no hope for those astray?

Paterno Esmaquel II
Cardinal Tagle on Christmas: Why no hope for those astray?
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle asks, 'Why is there room for destroying lives but minute space for saving them?'

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged Filipinos to make room for the poorest and the most neglected, including those “who have gone astray,” as a way of making room for Jesus on Christmas.

In his message for Christmas on Sunday, December 25, Tagle said: “As Filipinos and as members of the human family, we need to ask: why is there room for a new television set or the latest gadget but not for another child in the family? Why is ‘rugby’ for sniffing available but not affordable nutritious food?”

“Why are vices within reach of young people while education seems unattainable? Why are guns and other weapons more accessible than decent jobs? Why is there ample room for hatred and revenge but too little for compassion and forgiveness?

“Why is there no room for hope for those who have gone astray but much space for condemnation by the self-righteous? Why is there room for profit but little empathy for victims of human trafficking, unfair labor practices, abuse and violence, and for wonded creation? 

“Why is there room for hostile despair but little for tender hope? Why is there room for destroying lives but minute space for saving them? What has happened to hospitality? Without hospitality, how could humanity survive?”

Tagle on criminals: ‘May pag-asa ‘yan’

Tagle issued this message at a time when many Filipinos consider many criminals, including drug addicts, as hopeless.

More than 6,100 people have died in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, with more than 4,000 of them having been killed in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings.

Duterte considers drugs addicts as “beyond redemption” because “once you’re addicted to shabu, rehabilitation is no longer a viable option.” (READ: Inside the brain of a drug user)

Tagle, on the other hand, said he “intensely” hopes for people “who have been drawn into vices,” including illegal drugs. 

“Tao ‘yan, buhay ‘yan! May pag-asa ‘yan. At hindi ‘yan dapat ideklara na wala nang pag-asa,” Tagle said in an Advent recollection on December 11. (That’s a person, that’s a life! He has hope. And he shouldn’t be declared hopeless.)

The cardinal stressed this message of hope when he visited the New Bilibid Prison for a thanksgiving Mass for the birthday of Pope Francis on December 17.

Saying hospitality is “second nature” to Filipinos, the cardinal said in his Christmas message: “Christmas is a reminder of hospitality denied by people but reversed by the merciful hospitality offered by God. I pray that our Christmas may make us more hospitable or welcoming to others, especially the poor and needy. Will we make room for them?” 

Tagle added, “Will there be room for Jesus in our heart, homes, neighborhoods, and nations this Christmas?”

“Let us welcome Jesus in the hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick, naked, and prisoners so that one day we may enjoy the hospitality of God: ‘Come, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you,'” the cardinal said. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.