Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the synod.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the synod.

November 17, 2014

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The impact of poverty on families, especially in Asia, was a major concern of participants at the recent world Synod of Bishops, says Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila.

"Poverty is really affecting the Filipino family in a dramatic way," Tagle told reporters at an Oct. 30 news conference.

Despite heavy emphasis on divorce and gay unions in media coverage of the event, the synod was more than a series of discussions on those issues, the cardinal said.

The prelate explained that while he was in Italy he was part of a forum on families and afterward a number of contract workers from the Philippines approached him in tears.

Tagle said one worker told him, "If it weren't for hardship, I would never have left my wife and children behind."

The Philippines is among the world's top countries that sends workers overseas. More than nine million Filipinos, about 10 per cent of the Philippines population, live overseas and about half of them migrated for work, the government has reported.

Tagle said migration was a major concern in synod discussions.

"Couples separate not because they're mad at each other," the cardinal said. "They separate because they love their family and they bear the pain of separation just to find jobs elsewhere.

"So we ask, 'What kind of pastoral care can we give for the (contract) workers to remain faithful to their families . . . and what can we do for those left behind?'"


Tagle pointed to financial insecurity as a hindrance to marriage and a burden on family life.

Young people are delaying marriage because of a lack of jobs in the Philippines and elsewhere and thoughts that they could not support a family, he said. For those who have work, the breadwinner is focused on hanging on to the job and "putting the family second."

The bishops also credited grandparents and extended family members for their roles in raising children because of the economic stresses placed on nuclear families.