MANILA, Philippines – In front of public officials led by the President, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle denounced modern-day idols like money as he reopened the iconic Manila Cathedral on Wednesday evening, April 9.
Tagle also slammed the “false gods” of power and lust during his Mass on Wednesday, the first public event in the Manila Cathedral two years after he closed it for repairs.
“Let us not exchange God for false gods and idols. Let us not waste the beauty of this house of worship and the significance of our celebration,” Tagle said in the mother church of his archdiocese.
Tagle, who is less politically outspoken than his predecessor, the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, delivered this message in general terms.
Examples of false gods
On Wednesday – while President Benigno Aquino III, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, and other Catholics listened – Tagle gave examples of false gods instead. (Watch scenes from the event in the video below)
He echoed Pope Francis, who has consistently denounced the “idolatry of money” and condemned human trafficking.
“'Yung iba, ang sinasamba, pera. Kapag pera ang diyos mo, ang dami mong isasakripisyo na mga tao para sa diyos na pera. Maraming manggagawa, hindi babayaran ng tamang suweldo, dahil sa diyos na pera,” he said. (There are those who worship money. If money is your god, you tend to sacrifice many people for the god of money. There are many workers who do not get paid the proper wages, because of the god of money.)
“Dahil sa diyos na poder, kapangyarihan, isasakripisyo ang prinsipyo, ang kapwa, pati kamag-anak, maalayan lang ng handog ang diyos na kapangyarihan.” (For the god of position, power, they sacrifice principles, their neighbors, even their relatives, just to make an offering to the god of power.)
“For the false god called lust, many women have been sacrificed. Many children have been prostituted. Persons are treated as commodities.”
Tagle said: “Jesus tells us in the Gospel, 'Remain in my word. If you remain in my word, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free' – free from idols, free from the enslavement of false gods. That's the fruit of true worship.”
Rebuilding church, rebuilding lives
The cardinal thought of all these, he said, as the renovation of the Manila Cathedral got his heart “stirred into reflection.
The current cathedral building, after all, is Manila's 8th in the 400-year history of his archdiocese. He said previous buildings “have gone down because of fire, earthquake, wars.... But the building does not remain down; it just refuses to be buried. It rises.”
He said: “How do we rise from rubble? How do we strengthen a building? How do we renew a church community? How do we rebuild lives?”
The repair of the Manila Cathedral that began on February 7, 2012, showed Tagle the importance of two elements in rebuilding: generosity and expertise.
He said the Philippines also needs these.
Tagle, as in his previous messages, recalled those hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda, the earthquake in Bohol, the Zamboanga siege, Tropical Storm Sendong, Typhoon Pablo, and other calamities.
He challenged his flock to share their resources with those in need.
“Naniniwala ako, kung papaanong ang Manila Cathedral, guguho, masisira, tatayo, at ngayon, napakaganda na naman – ang bayang Pilipino, kayang tumayo,” the cardinal said. (I believe that in the same way that the Manila Cathedral was once destroyed, rebuilt, and now looks very beautiful again – the Filipino nation can rise as well.) – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.