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Pope arrives in Philippines, calls for solidarity with the poor

January 16, 2015

Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines on the evening of January 15 and was welcomed at the presidential palace the following morning.

“My visit is above all pastoral,” the Pope said. “It comes as the Church in this country is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the first proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on these shores.”

Recalling the outpouring of solidarity that followed Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013, the Pope called for political leaders to “be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good” and to hearken to “the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity.”

“The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor,” he said. “It bids us break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities. Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart.”

Turning to the importance of the family, he added:

We know how difficult it is for our democracies today to preserve and defend such basic human values as respect for the inviolable dignity of each human person, respect for the rights of conscience and religious freedom, and respect for the inalienable right to life, beginning with that of the unborn and extending to that of the elderly and infirm.

 
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