Filipino bishops voice concerns over drug trade bigwigs
Prelates issue statement outlining views on a slew of social, controversial topics
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila leads a candle-lighting ceremony to show the Catholic Church's condemnation of drug-related killings in the Philippines. (Photo by Vincent Go)
Catholic bishops in the Philippines described as "very disturbing" reports that top government officials are involved in the illegal drug trade.
In a statement titled "Our country and our faith" released on Nov. 22, the Catholic bishops' conference said the government's war against narcotics "must be thoroughgoing and must spare none."
Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic bishops' conference, issued the statement as the Philippine Senate opened an investigation into the killing of a town mayor inside a jail in Leyte province.
The mayor, who was among those linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to the illegal drugs trade, was killed after reportedly resisting arrest while detained inside the provincial jail.
The bishops also expressed distress over the killings of suspected drug users and traders by police for allegedly resisting arrest.
"There is no way that a government can credibly claim that it is waging a relentless war on drugs to preserve life while in the process abetting, encouraging or fomenting the destruction of life," read the bishops' letter.
The bishops said that while they support the government's war against drugs "we cannot be consistent in this resolve by denying some the right to their own well-being, fundamental to which is the right to life."
Bishops speak on gambling, death penalty
In the same letter, the Philippine bishops reiterated their stand against the proposed revival of the death penalty, illegal gambling, same-sex union, and the implementation of the country's reproductive health law.
"Pope Francis says the death penalty does not render justice to victims, but instead fosters vengeance," read the bishops' letter.
The bishops also denounced illegal gambling, "in all its forms," and expressed opposition to all forms of gambling including small town lotteries and casinos."
On same-sex union, the Filipino bishops said they recognize and appreciate "sincere and constructive relations" between persons of the same sex.
They, however, warned that treating same-sex unions as analogous or the same as marriages by law is a "threat to the institution of marriage and to the family as we have always known it."
Reproductive health and the family
The prelates also said the "disturbing incidences of teenage pregnancies, of substance-abuse, of school truancy, even of suicide by youngsters all point to dysfunctional families."
"The solution, we hold in faith, is to strengthen the family. We cannot support then any legislative measure that detracts from the protection, care and regard due the traditional family," read the bishops' letter.
On the implementation of the country's reproductive health law, the church leaders said they will continue to insist that parents make responsible choices both in respect to the number of children and to the spacing of births.
They urged Catholic families to avoid "mutual self-degradation by recourse to means that are inconsistent with the dignity of the human person, whether these be means of artificial contraception [and worse, abortion] or of artificial reproduction."
Archbishop Villegas said that while the country's Catholic bishops are aware that many Filipinos would prefer that bishops desist from making public statements on political issues, the church has to be "prophetic."
"Prophets are not anointed to keep their peace so that they can be quiet and live undisturbed. In our silence, we still proclaim. From prayerful silence, we teach," said the head of the bishops' conference.
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