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A Private International Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right

Lay and Clergy: Building the Church of the Poor
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Members of the Clergy and the laity gathered at the PICC Forum Tent last June 18, 2014 for a half-day Lay and Clergy Congress to talk about Building the Church of the Poor, the second part of CFC's two-pronged mission.

His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, in his Keynote Address, clarified what the Church of the Poor is in the teachings of the Catholic Church and its history for the past 50 years.

Cardinal Tagle presented the Church of the Poor in a timeline, from St. John XXIII up to the present in order to see how the Church understood the Church of the Poor as truly a constitutive part of the proclamation of the Gospel.

On September 11, 1962, during the time of then Pope John XXIII, one month before the opening of Vatican II, he proclaimed in a radio announcement that in order for the Church to be a Church for ALL, it must include in particular the poor.

"Loving the poor, we learn to love everyone," Cardinal Tagle added.

Moving on to Vatican II, a group of Bishops and Cardinals formed a group and called themselves "Church of the Poor", proposing ideas like there is a seeming gap between the Church and the poor, and the need to close that gap; to review the lifestyle and honors given to the clergy; and to consider poverty as an essential aspect of the mystery of Christ and the Church.

Pope Paul VI, who was part of this group when he was still a Cardinal, simplified the Church, renouncing the coronation rites and setting up of Cor Unum, the charity arm of the Vatican.

Vatican II teachings also talk about Christ being present in the poor and serving Christ in them (Lumen Gentium) and the Church of the Poor being in communion with the poor's joys, sorrows, hopes and anxieties (Gaudium Et Spes).

During the Papacy of St. John Paul the Great (JP2), he declared that it is not the will of God that humans are subject to such destitution. They are victims of economic, political or social systems. But it is God's plan for the Church to be in solidarity with the poor as it is part of our fidelity to Christ.

"'Do I see Jesus in them? Serve Jesus in them? Am I being faithful to Jesus through them?' are some of the questions we should ask," Cardinal Chito emphasized.

In 1991, the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) enumerated characteristics of a renewed Church. And during the time of Pope Benedict XVI, he put emphasis on 3 pillars of the Church: the Word of God, sacraments, and charity to the poor (Deus Caritas Est).

Finally, Pope Francis, in Evalgelii Gaudium, says that the option for the poor is rooted in faith.

Since pre-Vatican II up to the present, the message about building the Church of the Poor is clear—it is not optional, but an essential in one's faith life and the renewal of the Church.

To end, Cardinal Tagle stated, "We need to become the Church of the Poor in order to follow Christ, see Christ, love and serve Christ. We learn from them, are evangelized by them, humbled and corrected by them, that we may renew the Church, individuals and the face of the earth." (A. Alvarez)


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