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Saturday, January 18, 2014
BY AND LARGE foreign Catholic charities, like Caritas Switzerland, Misereor of Germany, Terres des Hommes of the Netherlands, etc., fund local non-government organizations (NGO) working with exploited children.
Yet, the local Catholic Church collects bonus millions during the Feast of Sto. Niño on top of its regular income from donations for masses and the sacraments, from sales of religious articles and from the proceeds of its investments.
Where all this money goes, however, is any layman’s guess as transparency and accountability are not among the virtues of the local clergy. We do know, however, that they do not seek out disadvantaged parishioners and their exploited children.
For the most part and allowing for a few exceptions, they invariably minister only to the “souls” of those who come to church for mass and the sacraments.
Meanwhile, the local Catholic Church earlier raised 50 million to spend for St. Pedro Calungsod’s welcome party. It is also now poised to raise locally P300 million to build a Eucharistic Center to be the main venue of the International Eucharistic Congress. I would expect that a second collection at masses will be one of the many ways to do this.
It consequently beats me why we are so sanguine about raising locally such a whopping amount to build stone-places of worship but must leave it to foreign Catholics to build God’s temples in the hearts of exploited (trafficked, prostituted, abused, etc.) children of whom we have so many?
If it’s too much of a sacrifice for the clergy to allocate some of the regular funds collected during the Sinulog to the care and rehabilitation of exploited children, why can’t they teach genuine religion by asking the Catholic faithful to help through a special collection during the Sinulog for the operation of rehabilitation centers for these children?
Something is terribly off-key here. Something is terribly wrong with our priorities when we can be raising a lot of money from local generous donors for a Eucharistic Center and collect so much during Sto. Niño’s feast yet leave it to foreign agencies to fund the building and operation of care and rehabilitation centers for exploited children.
How about making the feast of Sto. Niño meaningful to exploited children? How about teaching the laity to worship the Sto. Niño in the children’s traumatized psyches by funding (at least from donations during the feast of Sto. Niño if from nothing else) the restoration of their dignity as Jesus’ alter egos. We must give them a chance to go from horrifying nightmare to a life where, like normal children, they can dream beautiful dreams again.
Truly these children are Jesus. And this is maddeningly Jesus’s true version of Christianity.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 18, 2014.