MANILA Archbishop Cardinal Jose Advincula has admitted there is a "dark and wide gap" between the Church and the poor in the country.
Advincula said the "disturbing realizations" came during the national synodal consultations held in Tagaytay City last July.
"Our local Church is far from being the Church of the poor that we aspire to be.
The Church does not know the poor and the poor do not know the Church," Advincula said in his homily at the Pontificio Collegio Filippino's chapel in Rome.
"Our poor and marginalized brethren feel that their views and values are disregarded in our Church communities and organizations," he said.
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Advincula said distributing dole-outs is not enough, and the Church must be "immersed deep enough in the lives of the poor so that we smell like the poor."
"We must immerse ourselves in the life of the poor, be friends with them, journey with them, empower them for a mission, include them in the life and activity of the Church and advocate for their dignity," he said.
Advincula traveled to Rome to attend the consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on August 27.
He also took part in the two-day extraordinary consistory, which started on August 29, called by Pope Francis.
The cardinal said the faithful are pointed to the virtue of Christian humility, which not only entails docility and heavenly orientation, but also solidarity with the lowly.
Humility, according to him, is more than just the ascetic denial of worldly pleasures and prestige, or the willingness to suffer shame and dishonor.
"True humility must be expressed as solidarity with the last, the least, and the lost among us," Advincula said.
Members of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier admitted their shortcomings are why the country is still "far from our dream of a Church of the poor."
"We saw gaps and closed doors in our work of evangelization. We saw shadows," read a statement released by the Church leaders following the National Synodal Consultation in Tagaytay City.
The bishops vowed to "open doors for us all to go out and set forth once again for mission" and "to seek out those who are far, different, excluded."