“The Philippines is truly a ‘light’ for the evangelization of the Asian continent,” said John Paul II on Monday morning during a meeting with the new ambassador of the Philippines, Leonida L. Vera.
The Pope recalled that the Philippines “has kept the Christian faith strong” despite obstacles, and that the experience of World Youth Day, celebrated in Manila in 1995, “was an example of your nation’s desire to exercise this responsibility” of preserving the values of its heritage and extending the ideals of Christian culture in the world.
Referring to the serious problem of poverty in the Philippines, and in Asia in general, the Pope said that in order “to deal with poverty effectively, every sector of society must work together in search of solutions.”
Speaking about capital punishment - a topic of national debate in the Philippines - the Holy Father said that “I would reiterate that the ends of justice in today’s world seem better served by not resorting to the death penalty.” “While civil societies have a duty to be just, they also have an obligation to be merciful,” he said.
In light of the spread of violence in the Philippines, the Pope made an appeal to all parties “to end the terrorism which continues to cause so much suffering to the civilian population, and to embrace the path of dialogue which alone will enable the people of the region to create a society that guarantees justice, peace and harmony for all.”