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Some Filipino Catholics called to task for their failure to fight corruption

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 9th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

According to Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, the new head of the Catholic bishops' conference in the Philippines, church leaders have failed to evangelize the faithful in spite of the large numbers of Filipino Catholics. He has also called the church for its inaction in standing up to governmental corruption there.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Many of our people do not even know the fundamentals of our faith," Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a pastoral letter on the Year of the Laity.

"It is certainly shameful proof of our failure to evangelize our country that our churches are filled with people, our religious festivities are fervent, our Catholic schools are many, but our country is mired in poverty and corruption," he said.

"Many, perhaps the majority of corrupt people in politics and in business, are graduates of our own Catholic schools and are 'practicing' Catholics," Villegas said. He also noted that most of those who cheat in elections, as well as those who sell their votes are baptized Catholics.

"This is also true of the bribe takers in public offices and the looters of our public coffers," he said.

Taking over as head of the bishops' conference this past weekend, Villegas also said Catholics have become "very vulnerable to the seductions of other religious groups who find [Filipinos] easy targets."

Recent corrupt political activity there includes the "blatant misuse of political patronage," he noted.

"It is now clear that our people are poor because our leaders have kept them poor by their greed for money and power," he said. He cited as an example of several senators and congressmen implicated in a $228.8 million pork barrel fund scam.

The pork barrel is a lump sum given through the national budget to legislators supposedly to finance priority development programs and projects.

Bishops say that Filipino politics, as it is practiced today is the single biggest obstacle to development of the country.

"What are you doing, our dear lay faithful to rid our country of graft and corruption? Do you perhaps participate in corrupt practices by selling your votes, by buying votes, by bribery and acceptance of kickbacks?" Villegas asked.

Villegas urged the faithful to "take courage" and stand up for their faith. "Speak for Jesus and His Church in public discussions. Do not be afraid to be identified as Catholic Christians," he said.

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