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It is war at the congress

CEBU (SE): It is time to declare war on poverty and cruelty, the papal envoy to the International Eucharistic Congress being held in Cebu, The Philippines, Charles Maung Cardinal Bo, told an enthusiastic gathering at the opening Mass on January 24.

In a call for what he termed a Third World War, the archbishop of Yangon in the Union of Myanmar described the widespread malnutrition and starvation in the world as mass genocide.

He then laid down his challenge to the congress saying that the imperative is to take the values of the Eucharist outside the four walls of the congress and work to uplift the poor.

“This calls for a commitment to a world of justice. The Eucharist calls for a Third World War, a third world war against poverty… a third world war against a world that produces more weapons, while more than half a billion don’t have enough food,” he said.

“The Eucharist and poverty are inseparable,” he explained. “The Eucharist is a beacon of human dignity for the poor. No other religion elevates the poor to this level.”

He said that while we may only spend one hour at Mass, in fact, the Mass should be an unending reality in the life of a Christian, as it carries the challenge to take the gospel out into the streets in the manner that Christ did, and give a warning to the world about the damage that abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia pose to the culture of life.

Cardinal Bo stressed that while adoration may be something holy, it is also something easy and in itself it is not enough. “We also have to carry the cross,” he said.

Drawing cheers from the mass of humanity gathered for the opening Eucharist, the Myanmese cardinal occasionally slipped from English into the Tagalog and Cebuano tongues, as he praised the Filipino people for their missionary presence around the world, especially in Hong Kong, Cairo and Dubai.

“The Filipino is in the wind. The Filipino is in the water. The blood of the Filipino is in every corner of the world. In some parts of the world, Catholicism means Filipino presence,” he said in Tagalog to the delight of the crowd.

He continued in his newly-learned Tagalog saying, “Praise God!” Then slipping back into his more familiar English, he continued, “Indeed, this day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it… I welcome you to Cebu, the cradle of Christianity in Asia and the land of San Pedro Calungsod (the second Filipino saint).”

The Mass had its moments of solemnity and like any major public function its moments of razzamatazz, with a reenactment of the coming of faith to the shores of The Philippines in the famed Sinulog Dance and the martyrdom of St. Pedro Calungsod.

A shower of fireworks then light up the horizon of the skies and splashed colour across the gathering as the cardinal offered his final blessing.


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