MANILA, Philippines – In his first speech in his Philippine visit, Pope Francis raised an issue that affects all Filipinos – the evils of corruption.
Addressing some 450 guests at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall in Malacañang Palace which included the highest leaders of the land, Francis made the call while mentioning that Philippine bishops have asked that 2015 be declared as the “Year of the Poor.”
“I hope that this prophetic summons will challenge everyone, at all levels of society, to reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community,” he said.
The Pope is apparently updated on current Philippine issues, as he said, “As many voices in your nation have pointed out, it is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good.”
He added, “Thus will they be able to marshall the moral resources needed to face the demands of the present, and to pass on to coming generations a society of authentic justice, solidarity and peace.”
Francis made the call as the Philippines continues to be hounded by corruption scandals, allegedly involving high public officials. Among those in the audience was Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has been plagued with plunder complaints for deeds he allegedly committed when he was still mayor of Makati City.
Francis also said it is “imperative to ensure social justice and human dignity,” adding such oppression “gives rise to scandalous inequalities,” adding the government must ensure the “inclusion of every man, woman and children” in its decisions.
Aside from corruption, the Pope emphasized the value of family and the importance of keeping it together, because it is how children learn “genuine concern for others.” He said values like “respect for rights, conscience, religious freedom and right to life” are crucial values that must be taught to children.
Francis also praised Filipinos after Typhoon Haiyan, saying the “strength, faith, and resilience demonstrated by so many Filipinos in the face of natural disaster” was admirable and inspiring, and an example of how society should work like a family.
He also hailed the efforts of the government to start dialogues among those with different religions, and expressed his hope that peace in Mindanao will prosper.
Francis’ speech came after his courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang, where a welcome ceremony was held in his honor.
Read the full text of the Pope’s speech here. – Rappler.com
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