Francis calls on Filipinos to be 'missionaries of the faith'

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Francis calls on Filipinos to be 'missionaries of the faith'

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POPE Francis yesterday hailed Filipinos as “outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia” and called on the faithful to eliminate “social structures” that create “poverty, ignorance and corruption.”

In his homily during the concluding Mass of his five-day apostolic visit at the Quirino Grandstand, Francis cited the importance of “protecting our families.”

“Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture,” he said.

“We need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets,” he added.

The Mass, which coincided with the Feast of the Sto. Niño, drew an estimated 6 to 7 million people, based on government estimates provided to the Vatican.

Francis said the Sto. Niño reminds Catholics of “our deepest identity, of what we are called to be as God’s family.”

He urged the faithful to turn away from sin, saying it “destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.”

“The Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie,” he said.

“The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being ‘modern,’ ‘like everyone else.’ He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes.”

For Francis, Filipinos had so much to offer in spreading the Gospel, especially with so many of them working around the world.

“At the end of my visit to the Philippines, I commend you to him, to Jesus who came among us as a child,” he said.

“May he enable all the beloved people of this country to work together, protecting one another, beginning with your families and communities, in building a world of justice, integrity and peace.” Jerome P. Villanueva