As Pope Francis visits the Philippines, a number of people have expressed concern over the ways that his presence can/will further inequality in the country – with the rich having an upper hand and the poor remaining in the margins, and whether or not his visit can bring about more equitable, democratic structures.
I say stop.
Social and cultural change takes time. A country shaped by a history of colonization and the encomienda system, land ownership of a few, and an elite who control both politics and the economy and who are doing everything in their power to maintain their throne at the expense of everyone else, is not easy to change. A whole lot of structural overhauling needs to take place. I am sure the pope is aware of this and I am sure that he will continue to speak against inequalities regardless of where he is in the world.
But he is in the Philippines only for a few days to mainly check on the situation of the Yolanda survivors. His visit should not be examined in terms of changing long-standing structures in the interest of critique. Instead, why don’t we all just enjoy his presence in however way we can – whether in the comforts of home or on the streets – and be inspired by it?