In Pangasinan, church bells ring for slain clergyman
DAGUPAN CITY — For 15 minutes on Monday night, bells in 50 churches of the Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese rang simultaneously to commemorate the time when Fr. Richmond Nilo was shot dead in Nueva Ecija province on June 10.
The Santo Entierro, or image of the dead Christ, was also paraded on the streets around the churches to close the “Day of Reparation” that was declared by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas.
The churches offered all Masses on Monday as, an archdiocese statement said, “reparation for the sins of blasphemy against God, the sins of sacrilege and calumny hurled [at] our priests and bishops; the murders that continue without relent.”
It was also a day of fasting and abstinence for priests, the religious and the lay faithful.
Outside the churches, the processions included participants who held up placards that denounced the “blasphemy against God” and the spate of killings that now included priests.
Nilo, 43, who was about to celebrate Mass in Zaragoza town in Nueva Ecija province when he was shot, was the third priest killed in Luzon in the last six months.
On Dec. 4, 2017, Fr. Marcelito Paez, 72, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men while he was driving his vehicle in Jaen town, also in Nueva Ecija. On April 29, Fr. Mark Anthony Ventura, 37, was shot dead after saying Mass in Gattaran town, Cagayan province.
“I hope that people will realize that if there are issues involving a few people, we are all affected. We are all connected because we are all brothers and sisters,” said Fr. Alvin Gerald Platon, parish priest of the St. John the Evangelist Cathedral here.
“It’s a day of reparation, a day to pay for our sins. We also admit and acknowledge that we have become part of what is happening in our community,” Platon said, adding that by keeping silent, people might have contributed to the “menace of killings.”
In a statement last week, the archdiocese called on Catholics to “implore the grace of God to touch the heart of the President of the Philippines to stop the verbal persecution of the Catholic Church because such attacks can unwittingly embolden more crimes against priests.” —Gabriel Cardinoza
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