Italian priest’s order praying for conversion of killer
“We pray for the conversion of the killer and those who commissioned him, so that they may open their hearts to the Lord, who desires not the damnation of the sinner, but that he repent and have eternal life,” Fr. Gian Battista Zanchi, Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) Superior General in Rome, said in a statement.
Zanchi also said the PIME was “grateful to all those who have expressed their closeness to us in this moment of sorrow.”
Unfazed by the murder of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, the Catholic Church on Wednesday vowed to pursue its campaign to preserve the environment and protect indigenous people against corporate exploitation.
“The killing itself would not [keep] our priests from the mission to serve our environment and to preserve the biodiversity program for the people,” Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso said over Church-run Radio Veritas.
He believed that Tentorio’s murder would also inspire many more priests and ordinary citizens to take up the Italian missionary’s cause.
“The thinking of environmentalists and us priests is that whether we get killed or are run down, we have to continue with what we are fighting for,” Medroso said.
“Even if Father Tentorio was killed, I believe that more people will surface to advocate and protect the environment,” said the prelate, also the chair of the Episcopal Commission on Canon Law of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
If one looks at the rich history of the Church, its mission has been fortified amid martyrs dying for their advocacy, Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, CBCP media director, told reporters.
“The moment we have incidents like this, the more we are emboldened to continue our mission,” he said. “That’s why we have martyrs.”
Quoting Fr. Giovanni Re, head in the Philippines of the PIME, said they will not pull out its missionaries in Mindanao. PIME has 22 missionaries in the country and Tentorio was one of 10 assigned in southern Philippines.
“Father Giovanni said what happened gives them more strength and gives them more reason to be in these areas and reinforce Father Tentorio’s advocacy championing the indigenous people,” Quitorio said.
Many Church and religious leaders believe that Tentorio’s antimining crusade was the motive behind his murder.
In a statement Wednesday, the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) criticized the government for its failure to curb the prevalence of extrajudicial killings in the country.
“Beyond the usual expressions of ‘condolences’ and ‘condemnation,’ government and state authorities have not really done anything that will reverse the trend of senseless killings in the country,” said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, chair of the CBCP-Nassa.
“But the victims, their families and friends don’t need these futile words,” Pabillo said, “rather we desire to see these killings stop than be consoled by the platitudes they give in exchange for our grief.”
Unless a total gun ban is imposed, the country will continue to be a “magnet of violence,” according to Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo.
But Bagaforo said the Aquino administration would have a hard time implementing this ban because its officials have an “armory mentality.”
Mr. Aquino himself is a gun enthusiast, the bishop pointed out. He also cited Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, who admitted owning a cache of firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, found in his car after a recent road accident.
“How will ordinary people obey the law when even government officials have armory mentality… they have to set an example,” Bagaforo said over Radio Veritas.
“In this affront to peace, we call on President Aquino to stop the political killings in this country, to cease the operation of Oplan Bayanihan and to put an end to impunity and bring to justice the countless victims of extrajudicial killings,” the Good Shepherd Sisters of Mindanao said in a statement.
Oplan Bayanihan is the military plan to end the communist insurgency before the end of the Aquino administration in 2016 with emphasis on rapid development in contrast to the previous Oplan Bantay Laya.
Call for protests
The Good Shepherd Sisters challenged the police, military and the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute the killers, and urged Filipinos to join the Justice for Father Fausto Tentorio Movement “to release the floodgates of justice and integrity.”
“Fill the streets with marches and songs, prayer vigils, candle lighting and beat the drum for truth to come out free and victorious,” it said.