With a service in Hildesheim Cathedral on Sunday, the aid agency missio opened its nationwide campaign for the Month of World Mission, the largest church solidarity campaign worldwide. This year's target country is the Philippines.
The international mission organizations missio Aachen and missio Munich are supporting the campaign under the motto "for they will find mercy".
Klaus Kramer, president of missio Aachen, thanked the guests from Asia's most Catholic country for their "living testimony of faith in their commitment to the families and poorest of the poor in the Philippines". Her example must also "encourage us here in Germany, as Christians, to always be there for the concerns and needs of people".
Criticism of Philippine President Duterte
Church representatives are very critical of the current policies of the new president Rodrigo Duterte: "As missio, we say very clearly that the indiscriminate killing of people suspected of drug use or drug trafficking is unacceptable," Kramer told the Catholic News Agency (KNA). Since Duterte took office at the end of June, according to police reports, more than 3.000 people killed.
missio's project partners in the Philippines are primarily committed to combating widespread poverty and social injustice. In addition, there is the work against sex tourism and child prostitution, projects for street children and homeless families, and aid for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
"Mission does not mean we go and bring something to others, but we are always also receivers," said Hildesheim Bishop Norbert Trelle. Together with Trelle and Kramer, Philippine Cardinals Luis Antonio Tagle and Orlando Quevedo celebrated the opening service.
Cardinal Tagle calls for solidarity
The Cardinal of Manila, Luis Antonio Tagle, called in his sermon for more solidarity with people in need around the world. At the same time, he thanked the German Christians "for their solidarity and solidarity that you have shown us for so many years".
Faith in God's justice and mercy leads many Christians to do "so much good in this broken world," the president of Caritas Internationalis stressed: "The empathy of pastoral and social workers triumphs over cynicism and hopelessness."
Tagle, speaking at the opening service in Hildesheim Cathedral, described his homeland as a country suffering from the "effects of dehumanizing poverty," despite economic growth: "We see manipulation and exploitation of the weak and the poor. We see violence tearing apart families and communities, even the entire nation. We see street children and an ever growing number of families living on the streets."
In a moving homily, Tagle told of fathers and mothers who have to abandon their children in order to ensure the survival of their families through a job abroad: "I have seen them at the airport with tears in their eyes and heard them say, 'Daddy loves you' or 'Mommy will never forget you'".
He also told of a visit to a home for former street children and prostitutes: "Thanks to the help and work of pastoral and social workers, these girls are no longer on the streets, have a home and are back in school."
Reflecting on World Mission Month, the Archbishop of Manila said mission today does not mean giving so much as "walking a path with people, being vulnerable as they are". He said it signifies solidarity, community and sincere affection. Mission today, he said, is "receiving some of that richness of the poor: deep faith, abiding hope, selfless love and pure joy.".
Nationwide events planned
More than 300 events are planned in churches, schools and community centers nationwide in the coming weeks. In the process, guests from the Philippines report on the problems on the ground and on aid projects run by the Catholic Church.
At the conclusion of the action on Sunday of the world mission on 23. October, all Catholic services will collect for aid projects in the poorest dioceses of the Catholic Church in Africa, Asia and Oceania. The collection raised about 87 million euros worldwide in 2015.