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Meloto seeks clarification of Church policy on social action

By Jeannette Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:41:00 04/18/2008

Filed Under: Couples for Christ rift, Churches (organisations), Population, Poverty

MANILA, Philippines--Former Gawad Kalinga head Antonio Meloto on Friday sought "clarity and consistency" in the Catholic Church?s policy on funding for projects, declaring that GK?s work has always been pro-life.

Meloto told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net): "If saving the children from tuberculosis and malnutrition is a sin for me as a Catholic, then I am a sinner. I just need to be guided by a clear direction from our church leaders."

The GK founding member was responding to the March 11 Vatican "correction" sent to Couples? for Christ president Jose Tale in which the Pontifical Council for the Laity mentioned the Gawad Kalinga?s purported shift of focus from the spiritual to the social as well as its alleged openness to donations from companies that promote artificial family planning.

"Should all Catholics who work with pharmaceuticals resign? Shall we all stop buying medicine to be in faithful compliance? Is Ateneo less Catholic because they partnered with a pharmaceutical for their successful leaders for health? Why is it okay for many Catholic organizations to receive support from them and not okay for GK in caring for the poor. With all due respect, we just want clarity and consistency," Meloto said.

The GK has more than 350 partner-corporations that support its work with the poor.

He further lamented: "What can be more pro-life than feeding the hungry and saving children from malnutrition, TB, and other diseases? Or transforming slums and troubled communities and stopping people from killing one another?"

Meloto pointed out that Gawad Kalinga has been working in over 1,700 villages nationwide together with people of other faiths, including born-again Christians and Muslims "who love God and country."

"If loving this country, serving the poor and saving the children is anti-life then I need to be enlightened again as a Catholic because I only desire to be faithful," he said.

He said he was a devout Catholic and remained an active member of the CFC.

"My pain as a Catholic and as Filipino is seeing our people suffer from poverty and our country labeled as corrupt. We have not done enough for our poor countrymen. Poverty in the only Catholic country in Asia is a failure in discipleship and Christian stewardship. My dream is for the world to see that it is possible for a Catholic country (to) rise from poverty because we practice what we preach," he said.

On Thursday, Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes , chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines' Episcopal Commission on the Laity, said that the Vatican merely intended to guide and correct the GK?s overemphasis on social work when it sent a letter to the CFC.

GK was founded by CFC and has been credited for providing slum dwellers and other low-income groups with decent housing and livelihood.

The Antipolo bishop maintained that the guidance also covers the acceptance of funds from pharmaceutical companies purportedly supportive of artificial family planning.



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