The Catholic Church in the northern Philippines has rung the country's oldest bell to echo a national call by bishops to protest extra-judicial killings. The Santa Maria bell, forged in 1595, tolled at exactly 8pm on Sept. 24 in the town of Camalaniugan, in Cagayan province. San Jacinto de Polonia Parish priest Ricardo Pagadu said ringing the oldest bell, along with other historic bells in Tuguegarao Archdiocese, is "an appeal for due process and a call to end all killings." Archbishop Sergio Utleg of Tuguegarao issued a pastoral letter the same day urging Catholics to participate in a 40-day period of prayer and reflection "in remembrance of the souls of those killed." "We also urge all Catholics, during this same 40-day period, to light candles in front of their homes, in cemeteries, in public places, and particularly; in spots where victims have been killed, while praying for them and their families," the prelate said.
The archbishop also encouraged the public to help support orphaned children of the victims. "Alms giving heals," he said. The prelate stressed the "need to promote and uphold due process" saying, "There are so many killings going on and some of them are questionable." "Some may be innocent bystanders or victims of mistaken identity. Nobody knows who orders to kill," he added. Earlier this month, the bishops' conference issued an appeal to Catholics "to pray, light candles, and ring church bells" for the victims of the drug war and attack on Marawi City in Mindanao. Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the conference said, "We are appalled by the remorselessness by which even the young are executed." "Killing is not the solution of the problem," Archbishop Villegas said. The tolling of church bells across Tuguegarao Archdiocese started on Sept. 24 and will end on Nov. 2 — All Souls' Day. The Santa Maria bell was brought to the Philippines in 1595 when Friars Ceria and Castellao arrived from Spain and converted the people of Camalaniugan to Catholicism. The parish church that houses the bell was established in 1596 and is administered by the Dominicans.
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