MANILA, NOVEMBER 24, 2003  (STAR) By Jose Aravilla - The new Archbishop of Manila called on the people to end the politics of patronage, which he said is divisive and undermines the values and culture of Filipinos.

In an interview over Metro Manilaís Catholic-run radio station Veritas, Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales said Filipinos should instead turn to their families, their clan and their community.

"I think this is much better than relying on the mercy of the powerful in politics, who are mercenaries in a sense," said the erstwhile Archbishop of Lipa, Batangas.

Rosales said Filipinos tend to run to their congressman for favors in time of need but in the end these favors have to returned. He said too much of this is dangerous.

"While gratitude is good, too much of it is bad because it results in a kind of loyalty that when something is bad is asked of you, you will follow. This is what I mean," he explained.

"Politics, the way it is handled by Filipinos, divide the nation. Once you talk about politics, immediately the first thing asked is what (political) party you belong? Which side do you belong? Who is your candidate? In other words, just mention politics and immediately we are divided. That is the worst thing Philippine politics has done," he added

Rosales formally assumed the prestigious position of Manila Archbishop in an elaborate ceremony last Friday at the Manila Cathedral, replacing the 75-year-old Jaime Cardinal Sin, who resigned after reaching his mandatory retirement age last Aug. 31. Unlike Sin, though, Rosales is perceived as less politically outspoken.

The new Archbishop, who formerly served as auxiliary bishop of Manila, bishop of Malaybalay, Bukidnon and Archbishop of Lipa, emphasized the value of simplicity and community life in promoting the word of God.

"Our value system has been destroyed by excessive politics. Gratitude? It is nothing. Loyalty? It is nothing. Truth? It is nothing as long as you get your bribe. In other words, it is not only causing political divisions but also eroding the inner values of our people," he added.

Rosales said that since he was named as Sinís successor last Sept. 15 he has been inundated with invitations from different sectors. In the past, Sinís anointment, whether imagined or real, has been sought after by politicians seeking to win in the elections.

Rosales, however, is better known, especially in Bukidnon, as the champion of environmental causes. He promised, though, "to continue what Sin has began." His predecessor is largely credited for the two peaceful revolutions that ousted two Presidents.

As part of his daily routine, Rosales visits his parishes and mingles with people. He said he is delighted to find the "Kingdom of God" among simple folks.

He called on the people to pray for him that he may be physically fit, with a clear vision, and a purity of heart to do Godís bidding.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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