Tagle: In Philippines, love can separate families

Paterno Esmaquel II
During a historic meeting of bishops in the Vatican, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle wants to discuss the effect of poverty: migration, which forces families to separate because of love
HISTORIC MEETING. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle (2nd from the right) is one of the 3 presidents-delegate of the Synod of Bishop on the Family that was convened by Pope Francis (center). Photo by AFP/Andreas Solaro

MANILA, Philippines – Less than 100 days before he visits the Philippines, Pope Francis in Vatican City is expected to learn about the plight of millions of Filipino families, particularly those with members overseas.

During a historic meeting of bishops there, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle wants to discuss a “dramatic” effect of poverty: migration, which forces families to separate because of love.

“De facto, there is separation of couples and separation of parents from their children. But not because they could not stand each other, not because there is a breakdown in communication, not because of conflicts. They get separated because they love each other,” Tagle said in an interview with the Catholic News Service (CNS) that was posted on Youtube on Monday, October 6.

Tagle continued: “And the best way for some of them to show concern and love and support is to leave, to leave the family and find employment elsewhere. It’s a separation that definitely creates a wound and leaves a wound, especially on the children.”

Tagle is one of the 3 presidents-delegate of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Pastoral Challenges of the Family, seen as a hallmark of Francis’ papacy. (READ: Catholic Church should scrap phrase ‘living in sin’ – cardinal)

In his homily on Sunday, October 5, Francis said the synod is crucial in the mission “to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people.”

He added, “In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.”

‘Traumatic’ Philippine airports

Tagle has always stressed that, for Filipino families, migration due to poverty remains a major challenge that could bring “long-term danger.”

Up to 2.56 million Filipino families have at least a member working overseas. (READ/WATCH: Para kay Mama: A Rappler Documentary)

Speaking to CNS, Tagle said he wants programs for migrant Filipinos “so that they could remain faithful to their spouses and remain faithful to their families back home.”

He said, “What type of emotional first aid, if you want to put it that way, do we offer to incoming migrants, most of them confused, lost, lonely?”

Becoming teary-eyed at one point, Tagle pointed out that the airport “has become a traumatic place” for him. This is because he sees and hears, “especially mothers, talking to their children in the airport, bidding them goodbye, and you can see how their hearts are broken.”

“And then you wonder, what type of strength do they need? Then you just pray, ‘Lord, give them strength.’ And we hope these realities could be brought to the synod – not only from Asia, not only from the Philippines, but many of the poor countries that have been witnessing an exodus of many people,” he said. – Rappler.com

Join Rappler in a 100-day countdown to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines: a journey from the Vatican to Tacloban. Tweet us your thoughts using the hashtag #PopeFrancisPH!

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.