MANILA — The Catholic Church through its social action arm NASSA/Caritas Philippines has renewed its pledge to serve the poor and those affected by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) following Pope Francis’ message that was primarily centered on the poor during his five-day visit in the country which culminated on Monday, Jan. 19.
According to NASSA/Caritas Philippines National Director Archbishop Rolando J. Tria Tirona, O.C.D., the Pope’s call to listen to the cries of the poor and those belonging to the vulnerable sector should serve as a constant reminder for everyone to put faith into action.
“We are one with the Pope in helping our less fortunate brothers and sisters, especially those who were affected by recent calamities. May the Holy Father’s message of mercy and compassion rooted in God’s love be an inspiration for all of us. Now, indeed, is the right time to put Christian words into action,” Archbishop Tirona said.
The Archbishop of Nueva Caceres added that the Pope’s message is a challenge for everyone, especially as it coincides with this year’s celebration of the “Year of the Poor.”
Pope Francis earlier denounced all forms of corruption which he said “diverts resources from the poor.” He also emphasized the importance of protecting one’s family from “ideological colonization” that tries to destroy it.
The Pope did not also miss to comfort survivors of typhoon ‘Yolanda’ and the Bohol earthquake despite the dangers posed by Typhoon Amang in his visit to the province of Leyte, which was on the storm’s track.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines, which is headed by Archbishop Tirona, has committed on a three-year program to help ‘Yolanda’ survivors across nine provinces/dioceses through the provision of disaster resilient shelters, food security and livelihood assistance, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) facilities, ecosystems recovery, disaster risk reduction trainings, and community organizing.
The beneficiaries are selected from typhoon-battered areas that were least served by the government and other non-government organizations, and belonged to the poorest of the poor.
As of last month, it has already built 2,534 disaster-resilient shelters, installed 3,529 water systems and provided various livelihood programs to 9,834 families.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines representing the country to Caritas Internationalis—the umbrella organization for Catholic charities around the world that works hand-in-hand with the Pope.
The budget on the ‘Yolanda’ rehabilitation program for the first year alone stands at EUR 9.7 million (P563 million).
“The budget for the ‘Yolanda’ reconstruction efforts came from all the Catholics around the world who are from the 43 Caritas Internationalis member countries. This is the reason why we put emphasis on transparent spending, which is implemented at all levels through regular financial monitoring and auditing by international companies,” Tirona stressed.