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Lay groups explore role in Philippines' anti-narcotics war

Christian communities should serve as beacon of hope for people with drug problems

Lay groups explore role in Philippines' anti-narcotics war

Church workers look at a photo of a victim of summary execution during a gathering of Basic Ecclesial Communities in Malolos Diocese on Oct. 14. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

October 19, 2017

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Basic ecclesial communities in the Philippines are exploring ways to play a role in the government's anti-narcotics war.

In a gathering of at least a thousand church workers, Father Rolando de Leon said the spate of drug related killings in the country is an issue "not separate from our lives as Catholics."

The priest who heads the group Promotion of Church People's Response stressed that Christian communities must "confront" the consequences of the drug war in communities.

"Small lay communities are building blocks of our Church. Like the family, these communities must be responsive to the needs of the brethren affected by brutalities," said Father De Leon.

Father Teoderico Trinidad, vice director of the Basic Ecclesial Communities in Malolos Diocese, said it is crucial for the faithful to understand their role in putting an end to the killings.

The priest said communities that have been terrorized by the spate of killings are part of basic ecclesial communities.

Father Trinidad said Christian communities "should not just convene to pray" but must attend to "integral human development."

Nardy Sabino, convenor of the group Rise Up, said Christian communities can be "venues for values formation and rehabilitation programs."

The lay leader said Christian communities should serve as a "beacon of hope" and "place of refuge" for people with drug problems.

The result of a survey done by pollster Pulse Asia that was released last month noted that more half of the respondents believe the Church should help in the rehabilitation of drug users.

Father De Leon said the result of the survey is a call to the faithful to take part in "extending the roof" for people who have become victims of the drug menace.

The priest, however, said the Catholic Church "is not only the priests and the religious, but most especially the lay faithful."

"It means that it is not only the clergy who should respond to the call but especially the Catholic lay movement," said Father De Leon.

Close to 12,000 suspected drug users and peddlers have already been killed in the government's "all-out war" against illegal drugs.

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