Bishop bucks drug users aren’t human claim

Bishop bucks drug users aren’t human claim

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan delivers his homily at a Mass during the Singles for Christ International Conference in Makati City, Feb. 17, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde
February 19, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan lashed out at Catholics who agree that drug users and pushers are not part of humanity.

Speaking emphatically at a gathering of young people over the weekend, he lamented the seeming apathy and indifference of the general public in the face of drug-related killings.

“I hope you understand why my heart bleeds when I hear about Catholics who agree that addicts are not human,” he said in his homily at a Mass during the Singles for Christ International Conference in Makati City.

“My heart bleeds when there are Catholics who agree that criminals cannot be reformed, that they deserved to die and be exterminated if we are to have a peaceful Philippine society,” David said.

The prelate told the more than 7,000 young people present at the event, which also marked the SFC’s 25th anniversary, about the needs for a different approach that sees the drug problem as a public health issue.

He emphasized that intimidation and killings will not stop the problem, as he again chided the government’s drug war that has led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos, mostly urban poor.

The Church, according to him, is not saying that the drug problem should not be fought. “But our question is how are you fighting this war?” David said.

“I know they have declared a war. But my question is war against who? Before declaring a war, are we not supposed to identify first who our enemies and allies are? That’s all we are asking,” he pointed out.

As bishop of a diocese that has become a “killing field”, David said he cannot remain silent on issues affecting his pastoral territory which has the biggest population of informal settlers in Metro Manila.

Slum dwellers, he added, experience environmental and psychological adversity that increases their vulnerability to depression “that’s why they need to cope but I’m not justifying it”.

“It’s a spiritual and a psychological disease. In their struggles with fear, with insecurities, with depression, and isolation many people resort to the negative way of coping and they become enslaved,” David added.

If only to stop the drug trade, he said the government must go after the manufacturers or syndicates rather merely prey on poor addicts and small-time pushers.

“It is those who victimize the sick whom this government should run after,” he said.

The prelate also said that drug addicts need help, not scorn and hateful revenge from the public, as Christians are called to follow the way of the Lord which “is not avoidance”.

“It’s not going to be easy. We took a stand and our advocacy is to stop the killing and start the healing and now we are in bad company because we are trying to save the addicts, the people you are told to avoid,” David said.

“But please do not forget that the Eucharist is not bread only for the righteous. It’s precisely because we are sinners that we need the Eucharist. The Eucharist is bread broken for broken people like you and me,” he said. CBCPNews