Manila (AsiaNews) - In the Mass that preceded the start of the Black Nazarene procession in Quiapo, Card Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, railed against corruption, main cause of poverty and abuses against the weak.
Speaking before half a million faithful present at the dawn celebration, the prelate called on Catholics not to forget the victims of recent natural disasters nor the people affected by the insurgency in Mindanao.
The annual procession of the Nazarene of Quiapo (Manila) began at 6.30 am (local time) drawing almost six million people with thousands of police officers and volunteers monitoring the progression of the 17th century statue, which is said to be miraculous.
In his homily, Card Tagle focused on the role of Catholics in society, pointing out that it is not enough to simply proclaim one's devotion to God's love.
"I find it very puzzling on why acts that we should be ashamed of are being committed with pride. For instance, we are now unashamed to steal when we are supposed to be ashamed of it," he said.
By contrast, "My brothers and sisters, let us not be ashamed to proclaim to the world that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him," Tagle said in Filipino.
Treading the path of Christ does not simply mean following his footsteps, the prelate explained. It means instead letting his lessons and examples become the life standards followed by the faithful.
"We could not follow Christ if our minds are always filled with greed for money, more so, if we could swindle and abuse our brothers and sisters," he noted.
Recalling the value of prayer, which is deeply felt by Filipinos, Card Tagle talked about its significance, which was born above all to remember God and the suffering of the people.
"If we truly pray, if we are truly united with the Lord, we cannot forget our brothers and sisters," he said.
Instead, "we are slowly forgetting the people affected by the fighting in Zamboanga between government forces and rebels" from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Without prayers, the prelate explained, people are likely to forget the victims of the Bohol quake and other tragedies that are still fresh in the memory of the faithful. Indeed, "How long will we remember the victims of Typhoon Haiyan?"
In the end, "Those who do not forget the Lord will also not forget them."