Archdiocese expands ‘mercy ministry’ to fight drug problem
Archbishop Socrates Villegas leads a prayer service for the victims of extrajudicial killings and others who were slain under the government’s crackdown against illegal drugs, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Dagupan City, Sept. 23, 2017. GLENN MUNOZ LOPEZ
By Roy Lagarde
March 16, 2018
From helping the families of victims of drug-related killings, the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan has widened its “Ministry of Mercy” to address the drug problem in Pangasinan province.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas said it is going to be a “wider and more focused” program on the pastoral aspects of drug dependence, sale, and abuse.
Three interrelated approaches namely, education and prevention, community-based rehabilitation, and pastoral, said the prelate, will help address the “socio-pastoral” problems of families of victims of extrajudicial killings.
“We have a duty from the Lord to take care of the least of our brethren and we will be judged at the sunset of life by what we did to the least of our brethren,” said Villegas.
To prepare the parishes for the program, the archdiocese will also hold a seminar workshop for the “ministers of mercy” on April 5 at the Lay Formation Center in Dagupan City.
It was last year when the archdiocese opened the ministry of mercy to respond pastorally to the drug problem and the alarming cases of summary executions in the past two years.
The ministry also offers sanctuary and protection to those willing to testify against cases of extrajudicial killings in the country.
In October 2017, Villegas said several members of the police, who expressed willingness to “expose all” that they know about EJKs, have sought the protection of the Church.
While not tolerating those involved in illegal drugs, he said the ministry of mercy also serves those who need the hospitality of the Church.