Stop blame game–Archbishop Soc Villegas
MANILA, Philippines—The incoming president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Thursday appealed for a stop to the finger-pointing following the devastation left behind by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.”
“Finger-pointing, name-calling and blame-passing will just increase the damage and add to the confusion— this is the least we need,” said Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas in a statement.
Villegas issued the statement after President Aquino was criticized for appearing to toss the blame to Tacloban City officials for not being well-prepared for the calamity. Other government officials—local and national— had also been criticized for the apparently slow response to the disaster.
The prelate said there was no better way to handle the problem other than by helping, instead of blaming, one another.
“The government cannot do the relief and rehabilitation alone. The NGOs and communications companies cannot do this alone. The engineers and social workers cannot do this by themselves. We need to help one another. Those who want to help must help together,” he said.
“Let us celebrate what is right. Let us do what is right—the right that we can do no matter how small. Let us not allow the magnitude to overwhelm us. Feed one by one. Help one at a time,” he said.
Villegas suggested that church groups and religious organizations adopt one parish each in the Diocese of Borongan, Samar, which has 32 parishes, and the Archdiocese of Palo, Leyte, which has 64.
“We can adopt one parish and directly help them with relief now and rehabilitation later,” he said.
“Hunger and sickness cannot wait. Do not wait for the government. We must open all possibilities rather than get stuck at deadends or roadblocks or broken bridges. We must be aggressive and creative in sending charity,” he said.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, meanwhile, also urged the faithful to help the victims of the supertyphoon.
“A time of disaster is a time to help others. It is not a time to think only of self and forget others. It is a time to console and embrace our neighbors,” he said.
“It is a time to show a love that is stronger than an earthquake or a typhoon. With this love, human lives will be restored and our nation rebuilt,” he said.
Tagle sympathized with the victims of the calamity, saying, “We are one with our suffering brothers and sisters. You are not alone and will never be alone.”
Villegas urged the faithful all over the country to join in the three minutes of silence to be observed at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23.
“Let us pause. Pray for the dead. Pray for the living. Atone for our sins. Commit to give. Promise before God to help Samar and Leyte rise up,” he said.
“Let us pause from our concerns and ask God for His blessing. It has been so long since we last prayed as a nation. Let this calamity wake us up to the truth that the city of man is weak and passing. We must set our hearts on the city of God,” he said.
“Prayer works. We cannot rebuild our nation without God. We cannot rebuild without prayer,” Villegas added.
“This is the time for charity, urgent charity. This is the time for lighting our little candles together to fight the darkness and gloom. This is the time to spread inspiration, to dig for more hope and to send off more positive vibes in the air.”
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