CEBU CITY—THE REDEFINITION and destruction of the family is also the Church’s destruction, Papal Legate Cardinal Charles Maung Bo said during the concluding Mass of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) last Jan. 31.

In his homily, Cardinal Bo said that while terrorism and poverty are major concerns, the faithful are called to protect the institution of family which is the backbone of the Catholic Church.

“The greatest danger to humanity today is the destruction of the family. Understanding of the family is contested and redefinition of parents have gained strong appeal in rich countries,” Cardinal Bo said at the IEC Statio Orbis Mass in Cebu City’s South Road Properties reclamation area.

Calling the Philippines as “the favorite daughter of Church in the Asia,” Cardinal Bo urged the estimated one million attendees to go and “populate” countries where Christianity is becoming a minority. “Go and multiply your missionaries. Go back in hope as a ‘bread’ to be broken with the world,” Bo said. “Go to Europe and America, they have more cats and dogs than children.”

Cebu Archbishop and 51st IEC President Jose Palma expressed his gratitude to the pilgrims before the concluding rite of the so-called Mass of the World.

“I’m grateful for the manifold blessings our good Lord has given to us. Our hearts are filled with thanksgiving for the past eight days of Congress proper. Indeed they have become days of grace, goodness and mercy,” Palma said.

In a video message, Pope Francis said Budapest in Hungary would be the venue of the 52nd IEC. “I ask all of you to join me in praying for its spiritual fruitfulness and for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all engaged in its preparation,” Pope Francis said.

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Filipino faith and hospitality

In the press conference on Day 4 of the IEC, Cardinal Bo called for equal distribution of food in all countries, particularly in his homeland, Myanmar. Bo previously called for a “third world war” against poverty during the Opening Mass of the IEC at Plaza Independencia.

“All the [Burmese] generals and Yangones get 90 percent of the resources of the country while 80 or 85 percent of the [Burmese] people are poor,” Cardinal Bo told the media.

Like the Philippines, poverty in Myanmar is largely concentrated in the rural regions, where people rely on agriculture for their livelihood.

He said the Church, government and communities need to have a “system where resources and the riches are shared.”

The cardinal said the Burmese people were expecting a smooth transition of government from a military junta to a democratic one led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Cardinal Bo said he had a lot of things to report to Pope Francis, including Filipinos’ hospitality, good cuisine and smiles.

“This reception is the warmest welcome I have received,” Cardinal Bo said.

The Myanmar prelate, however, said the most important thing he would report to the Holy Father was the faith of the people.

“Despite all the natural disasters, the only thing that remained with the Filipinos is faith. Faith in the Church, faith in the Eucharist and faith in God,” Cardinal Bo said.

He praised the zeal of Filipinos, particularly those working overseas, in spreading the Catholic faith all over the world. John Gabriel M. Agcaoili, Krystel Nicole A. Sevilla And Lea Mat P. Vicencio


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