01/21/2015, 00.00
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Pope: Poverty is not caused by many children, but throw-away culture

Acts of “brutality” in Niger against “children, against churches", "war can never be waged in the name of God". The trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. St. Joseph Vaz "a model for all Christians, called today to propose the saving truth of the Gospel in a multi-religious context". "Care for the poor is an essential element of our Christian life and witness; it involves the rejection of all forms of corruption, because corruption steals from the poor, it demands a culture of honesty."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The main cause of poverty is an economic system that has removed the person from the center and replaced it with the god of money".  Moreover, it is cause by the "culture of waste" and not, as some simplistically claim, from having too many children. This was the focus of Pope Francis' address to eight thousand people present in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican for a general audience dedicated to a reflection on his recently concluded trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

The audience was also the occasion for the Pope to return to repeat that "war can never be waged in God's name". The reference is to what has taken place this week in Niger. Speaking at the end of the audience the Pope said: " Let us pray together for the victims of the events of recent days in beloved Niger. Brutalities were perpetrated against children, against churches. Let us ask the Lord for the gift that religious sentiment never give rise to violence, oppression and destruction. War can never be waged in the name of God. I hope that a climate of mutual respect and peaceful coexistence can be re-established for the good of all. Let us pray to Our Lady for the people of Niger. "

Speaking about his latest trip to Asia, before the appeal for Niger,  he described "the continent's rich cultural and spiritual traditions", but said the visit "was above all a joyful meeting with the ecclesial communities which, in those countries, bear witness to Christ: I confirmed them in the faith and mission. I will keep the memory of the festive welcome by the crowds - in some cases even the ocean - that accompanied the highlights of the trip forever in my heart. I also encouraged interfaith dialogue for peace, as well as the path of those peoples towards unity and social development, especially with the prominence of families and young people. "

"The highlight of my stay in Sri Lanka was the canonization of the great missionary Joseph Vaz. This holy priest administered the Sacraments, often in secret, to the faithful, but helped all the needy without distinction, of every religion and social status. His example of holiness and love of neighbor continues to inspire the Church in Sri Lanka in his apostolate of charity and education. I mentioned St. Joseph Vaz as a model for all Christians, called today to propose the saving truth of the Gospel in a multi-religious context, with respect for others, with perseverance and humility".

"Sri Lanka is a country of great natural beauty, whose people are trying to rebuild unity after a long and dramatic civil conflict. In my meeting with the governing authorities I stressed the importance of dialogue, respect for human dignity in an effort to involve everyone in finding appropriate solutions to facilitate reconciliation and the common good. The different religions have a significant role to play in this. My meeting with religious leaders was a confirmation of the good relations that already exist between the various communities. In this context, I wanted to encourage the cooperation already undertaken between the followers of different religious traditions, in order to be able to heal with the balm of forgiveness those who still are plagued with sufferings of recent years. The theme of reconciliation also characterized my visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, venerated by both Tamil and Sinhalese populations and a place of pilgrimage for members of other religions. In that holy place we asked our Mother Mary to obtain the gift of unity and peace for all the people of Sri Lanka".

"I left Sri Lanka bound for the Philippines, where the Church is preparing to celebrate the fifth centenary of the arrival of the Gospel. It is the largest Catholic country in Asia, and the Filipino people are well known for their deep faith, piety and enthusiasm, even in the Diaspora. In my meeting with the national authorities, as well as in times of prayer and during the crowded closing Mass, I have emphasized the constant fruitfulness of the Gospel and its ability to inspire a society worthy of  humanity, where there is room for the dignity of each individual and aspirations of the Filipino people".

"The main purpose of the visit, and why I decided to go to the Philippines was able to express my closeness to our brothers and sisters who have suffered the devastation of Typhoon Yolanda. I went to Tacloban, the most severely affected region, where I paid tribute to faith and resilience of the local population. Unfortunately in Tacloban, the adverse weather conditions caused another innocent victim: the young volunteer Kristel, who was knocked down and killed by a scaffolding blown down by the high winds. I then thanked all those, from all over the world, who have responded to the needs of the people with a generous profusion of aid. The power of the love of God, revealed in the mystery of the Cross, was made evident in the spirit of solidarity shown by the many acts of charity and sacrifice that have marked those dark days".

"The meetings with families and young people, in Manila, were significant moments of the visit to the Philippines. Healthy families are essential to the life of society. It gives comfort and hope to see many families that welcome children as a true gift of God. They know that every child is a blessing. I've heard - some people say - that families with many children and the birth of so many children are among the causes of poverty. I think this is a rather simplistic opinion. I can say, all we can say, that the main cause of poverty is an economic system that has removed the person from its center, replacing him with the god of money, an economic system that excludes, always excludes: That excludes children, the elderly, the young, the jobless ... - and that creates the throw-away culture in which we live. We have grown used to seeing people being discarded. This is the main cause of poverty, not families. Evoking the figure of St Joseph, who protected the life of the "Santo Niño", so revered in that country, I mentioned that we need to protect families, which face various threats, so that they can witness the beauty of the family in God's plan. Families need to be defended from new ideological colonization, that seek to threaten their identity and mission".

"And it was a joy for me to be with the young people of the Philippines, to listen to their hopes and their concerns. I wanted to offer them my encouragement for their efforts in contributing to the renewal of society, especially through service to the poor and protection of the natural environment".

"Care of the poor is an essential element of our Christian life and witness - I mentioned that even in the visit; This involves the rejection of all forms of corruption, because corruption steals from the poor and it demands a culture of honesty."


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