Msgr. Joseph Tan interprets the Pope’s homily (at last Sunday’s Mass commemorating 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines) as “acknowledgment of the special missionary role that migrant Filipino workers play in spreading the Christian faith in their places of work and wherever they find themselves in the globe today.”
I listened to the Pope but didn’t catch even a hint of an acknowledgement. Pope Francis was just happy Filipinos are all over the place and “practicing” their faith as this somehow rubs off on the host country.
In romanticizing the missionary role of migrant workers, Msgr. Tan overlooks the fact that their myriad presence abroad is a testament to their neglect by Christian business, government and religious leaders at home.
They do not go to these countries to spread their Christian faith. They are grudgingly working in strange places away from their families because their mostly Catholic leaders have unchristianly neglected to give them effective access to their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness at home.
The missionary role of even the most devout migrant workers is purely incidental. They spread the faith because they go to Church on Sundays where they are. But they are mainly telling the world their Catholic business, political and religious leaders have failed to provide them with jobs in the home country.
While Msgr. Tan romanticizes Filipino migrant workers and their incidental missionary role, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, in his address after the Mass, tells the Pope that “We take care of the children under our charge as our own children, and the elderly as our own parents.”
Where is the Cardinal coming from with this? Children that need taking care of include the commercially exploited, sexually abused and trafficked children. The fact, however, is that non-government organizations (NGO) helping these children are all funded by foreign charitable institutions. All local bishops do is affix their signature to the grant’s release papers.
I don’t see any programmatic help the Catholic Church is extending to children and the elderly who squirm in the dark and slimy underbelly of our society. All the Church seems to do is say a canned prayer for them, nothing more.
That brings up my proposal that the commemoration of the country’s 500 years of Christianity should primarily consist of an assessment of the local Catholic Church’s content and method of evangelization.
Christianity’s first 500 years produced a society where Church-going corrupt leaders and utterly dominated followers consider as God’s will the poverty of millions of Filipinos. This is nothing to be proud of. We cannot move on practicing this kind of Christianity.