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International Eucharistic Congress: Widespread malnutrition and starvation “mass genocide”

Hungry children in Syria

Genocide: Internally displaced children eat inside a tent in Aleppo, Syria. Christians cannot follow Jesus while turning away from people who are hungry, Pope Francis’ representative to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress called the widespread malnutrition and starvation in the world a “mass genocide”. Photo: CNS

POPE Francis’ representative to the 51st International Eucharistic Congress called the widespread malnutrition and starvation in the world a “mass genocide”.

Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, was speaking last Sunday at the opening Mass of the event in Cebu, Philippines.

“This calls for a commitment to a world of justice,” Cardinal Bo said. 

“The Eucharist calls for a third world war, a third world war against poverty … a third world war against a world that produces more weapons while more than half a billion don’t have enough food.”

Cardinal Bo said the Eucharist was a “beacon of human dignity” for the poor.

“No other religion elevates the poor to this level,” he said.

Cardinal Bo also called abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty “enemies of the Eucharist”.

Pope Francis gave a Book of the Gospels as a gift for the International Eucharistic Congress. 

The week-long congress will be in Cebu, where Catholicism took root in the Philippines nearly 500 years ago.

Brisbane pilgrims at the Congress.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge and chaplain to the Catholic Filipino Community Fr Terry Nueva were also in Cebu for the congress with pilgrims from Brisbane.

Archbishop Coleridge said the host country organised the opening Mass to be “bigger than Ben Hur”.

“Just when we thought the Mass was over, out came a big chorus line of young people belting out the Congress song,” he said.

“They finished, and we really did think that was the end.  But no. Then came fireworks as loud as they were bright.  

“I thought the terrorists had struck and ducked for cover, clutching my mitre.”

He said the end of pilgrimage was still “unknown”.

“Like any pilgrimage, this is a combination of praying, partying and sheer hard work,” he said.

“The Filipinos do all three in their own particular way, which is why the Congress so far has been such good value.

“But we’ve only just begun. God knows where we’ll be by Congress end.

Who is at the Congress?

Congress organisers said half of the registrants were from countries outside of the Philippines, primarily in Asia. 

Congress spokesman Monsignor Joseph Tan said about 10,000 people had attended the series of talks on the Eucharist and various faith-based cultural events.

Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles gave two presentations, including one for young people, while Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle spoke on the “Eucharist and the Dialogue of Cultures”.

One cultural exchange included visits to 14 parishes in Cebu and a First Communion ceremony including scores of street children.

Msgr Tan said organisers expected to spend $630,000 on the congress excluding the building of structures for the gathering. 

The congress is attempting to raise $210,000 of the cost from small donations from regular Mass-goers throughout the country.

They also paid travel costs and registration for about 1000 delegates who otherwise could not afford to attend.

By Vatican Radio and CNS

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