Austrian bishops voice concern over Philippine killings
Prelates declare support for Philippine church's call for justice, appeal to Europe's leaders to apply more pressure
A Filipino priest celebrates Mass during the wake for victim of a drug-related killing in the poor district of Tondo in Manila on March 17. (Photo by Vincent Go)
Austrian Catholic bishops have expressed concern over the spate of drug-related killings in the Philippines, saying that they support their Filipino counterparts "firm advocacy for justice."
"The bishops of Austria call upon political decision-makers in Austria to commit themselves to the respect of human rights in the Philippines," read a letter received by the Philippine bishops' conference on March 17.
The General Assembly of the Austrian Catholic Bishops' Conference said the "share the fundamental concerns" of the Philippine church over the human rights situation in the country.
"The Austrian government and European institutions are asked to use all political power and diplomatic channels to bring public attention to these human rights violations and help mitigate them," added the Austrian bishops' letter.The letter cited the killings of some 8,000 suspected drug users and dealers in the Philippines and the rising threat to the lives of human rights activists, tribal people and journalists.
"The lack of condemnation of these human rights violations leads to a culture of impunity," added the Austrian bishops.
They also took note of the proposals in Congress to revive the death penalty and the reduction of the age of criminal liability for children.
In response, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Philippine bishops' conference, assured them that Filipino church leaders would continue "the exercise of our prophetic role to teach the Gospel of Life."
"Indeed, the face of God is mercy and this teaching is becoming harder and harder to proclaim in a creeping culture of death," said Archbishop Villegas.
"Please continue to remember us in your prayers as we share with you the humble merits of our sacrifices during this reign of terror in our country," he added.
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