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Philippine Catholic Church opens first social action academy

The Catholic Church in the Philippines has opened a “social action academy” that aims to “professionalize” the church’s social action and humanitarian response in the country.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila led the inauguration of the Center for Resiliency, Empowerment, and Integral Development in Tagaytay City, south of Manila, on Dec. 13.

The center will offer courses for church workers to enhance their skills in social action, development, and humanitarian ministries.

Cardinal Tagle expressed hope that the center will fulfil the “strategic orientations” of Caritas Internationalis, which he heads.

He said the Church needs to train it workers to be able to serve the poor with “quality.”
He warned, however, that professional training “should be accompanied by the formation of the heart” because without it church workers might forget about “human interaction” and “dignity of the poor.”
“Pure heart without training … might also fail in rendering to the poor the quality service that they deserved,” said Cardinal Tagle.

He urged Caritas Philippines to lead in the research and training of the  various contexts of humanitarian service that are “shifting and very complex.”

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said the center is a “gift to the Catholic Church” in the country.

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“[It] is not only a building, but it is also the whole capacity strengthening program for the network dioceses,” said the priest.

Caritas Philippines is currently conducting a 14-month “transformational leadership program” for social action directors and lay pastoral workers across the country.

Father Gariguez said they will open more courses to meet the needs of diocesan workers, members of the civil society, and faith-based organizations.

“We need to harness the required qualifications to render maximum possible service to the people we serve,” he said.

The center aims to provide technical expertise to improve the competences of dioceses in doing “development-sector-based engagement, humanitarian response, climate change adaptation and environment sustainability-driven development works and advocacy actions.”

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