Bishop urges Catholics to be creative in fight vs drug slays
STO. TOMAS, Batangas – A Catholic bishop has urged the church’s faithful to go beyond protest rallies in drumming up awareness of the evils of extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs and find new ways to strengthen public opinion for an end to the killings.
Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles believes other means could be employed by Catholics to express their objections to the spate of killings of drug suspects either during shootouts with cops in official operations or murders perpetrated by hired killers.
“I think the streets are not the only way to show our objection to such ungodly ways, but one can do so inside the home. That is more important,” he said on Wednesday.
He added: “Sometimes, those rallying in the streets are paid to do so. We Catholics, we don’t get paid but we will go out on our own.”
Arguelles made the comment in a press conference on the third day of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, which was held at the National Shrine and Parish of St. Padre Pio in Batangas.
The prelate was responding to a question if the Catholic Church would take to the streets to be more vocal about its objection to the killings, which have claimed almost 6,000 lives so far.
Some sectors have noted the seeming silence of the Catholic Church on the issue, with bishops only issuing individual statements criticizing the culture of death.
The Archdiocese of Manila, for example, launched its “Huwag Kang Papatay” (Thou Shall Not Kill) campaign in 2016 to condemn the killings in its parishes, while Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas has been equally vocal against the killings.
Arguelles said the Church has long been active in advocacies to uphold life and encourage community action against illegal drugs.
“It is an advocacy of the Church, not just in EDSA. EDSA is just a street. Ours is expressing what is right, in all avenues and all places,” he pointed out, in reference to EDSA as a popular protest venue.
The prelate reminded Filipinos not to give in to the blood lust and the desire for sensational protest actions that end up in violence, such as the chaotic rally near the United States Embassy in Manila in 2016.
“That is what we don’t like to happen. But sometimes, the world wants to see us kill one another. Let us not give way to the lust for blood. We should be giving in to the good news of God,” he said.
The prelate added that the intention of the WACOM 4 has been to work for change in society “in a way that nobody would be hurt, not even drug pushers or even the country’s President.”
“Nobody should be hurt in the kingdom of God. Everybody should be cured of their wounds. You wound a drug addict, you think you’ve solved the problem, but no. Sometimes those killed are only the small fish,” Arguelles said.
And for Catholics who approve of the extra-judicial killings despite their faith, the archbishop has this to say: “Killing criminals will only increase the problem.”
“If you are good children of Christ, we must not put any one to death. We must be willing to put ourselves in the line of fire, tell them that we care for them and we don’t abandon them,” he said. SFM
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