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Philippine church body speaks out against killings

Statement marks first time bishops' conference has gone public in criticizing war on drugs

Philippine church body speaks out against killings

The growing number of people being killed in the Philippine government's anti-narcotics war worries the country's Catholic bishops. (Photo by Vincent Go)

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has expressed "grief and sorrow" over the growing number of deaths linked to the country's intensifying anti-narcotics war.

"Death by terror and violence, death by the hands of our fellow men is a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance," read the bishops' statement released on Sept. 15

It was the first time the bishops had criticized the killings as a group since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his all-out war against illegal drugs after taking office June 30.

As of Sept. 15, some 1,105 suspected drug pushers and users had been killed during police operations, while 2,035 had been classified as "deaths under investigation," according to the police.

"We mourn with you at the deaths that we have seen in our communities. Violent senseless deaths in the hands of our brother Cain," read the bishops' statement titled: "I will turn their mourning into joy."

The bishops said that aside from grieving over the "deaths because of police encounters, deaths from extra judicial killings," they also mourn the "unnecessary deaths" caused by sickness and accidents and the terror bombing in Davao City earlier this month.

The bishops urged the families of those who died to "seek justice but not revenge."

For "all enforces of the law," the bishops prayed for "divine fortitude and wisdom" for the respect of human rights.

 

Call for conversion

The bishops' conference said deaths in communities, addiction, criminality, and even the erosion of cherished Filipino values challenge everyone to search their souls again.

"If peace begins in the heart, so does violence and sin. We are all responsible for the quagmire we are in," they added in the statement released on the Catholic Church's observance of the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

The conference called on addicts "to turn to the Lord and receive new life."

At least 710,961 drug users and peddlers have surrendered to police since June 30.

"Drug addicts are children of God equal in dignity with the sober ones. Drug addicts are sick brethren in need of healing deserving of new life. They are patients begging for recovery," the bishops said.

 

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