One does not really have to wonder why Pope Francis visited the Philippines carrying in his heart the goodwill messages of mercy and compassion that he wanted to pass on to everybody, but most especially to the leaders and officials of both the state and the church, for them to show in words and deeds these feelings to the poor, the unfortunate and the disadvantaged.
As we have all seen now, from his homilies and to the ways he himself has shown mercy and compassion upon meeting the needy, the handicapped and the depressed, there is no doubt that he does not only truly demonstrate these feelings, but he personifies them.
What the tenderhearted pope seems to be saying and conveying in his actions is that if he, as a foreigner, can show concern and that much caring, why can’t Filipinos do it for their own compatriots?
One need not be elected as Pope and leader of the over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world to be able to show mercy and compassion for Filipinos. In fact, one need not even be a catholic for that matter to have kind heart and understanding and to show love to his fellowmen.
Apparently, Pope Francis knows the country better and what makes us pitiful especially in times of calamities – those occurring naturally, which we don’t have control, like, typhoons and earthquakes, and those created by man, especially the unscrupulous politicians disguised as public servants, whose only concern is their interest and not the welfare of the greater number of Filipinos, especially the poor amongst us.
The pope saw this in the many Filipinos working abroad, not least at the Vatican, leaving their families behind with all the uncertainties just so they could sustain supporting them financially for the education of their children and other needs.
Even as Filipinos continue venturing abroad for work, still many remain jobless and struggling to make ends meet because there just isn’t enough job that the country can offer. This makes a good recipe for producing dysfunctional families, thus, resulting to children living on the streets and learning all kinds of vices at an early age.
What makes the whole scenario even worse is that the country has an electorate that has the propensity of electing, if not incompetent, corrupt officials in government.
It was, therefore, pleasing to the ears of many concerned citizens that Pope Francis denounced corruption that has plagued the Philippines for decades now and challenged officials at all levels to end its “scandalous” poverty and social inequalities.
The Catholic Church is not without sin when it comes to corruption because this is also an issue that bedeviled its hierarchy.
Pope Francis believes that by showing the kind of mercy and compassion that he is espousing, poverty in the country can be lessened, if not eradicated, because then the attention and concern of officials from the State and the Church will totally be focused on helping the poor.
It is like sensitizing the consciences of those in the position of power that honest governance and stumping corruption are duties and obligations of good Christians so that the country can progress and be able to provide jobs to the majority of its citizens and improve the quality of life without the families being separated for long periods of time anymore.
Hopefully, the way we understand mercy and compassion as exemplified by Pope Francis will not end when his visit to the country is over, but will rather be the Filipino people’s sense of awareness and obligation as we move forward, even in the face of unforeseen calamities ahead, notwithstanding.