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Discern what is good and pleasing and perfect

Discern what is good and pleasing and perfect

Joint pastoral statement of the four dioceses of Negros Island on the current peace situation

“Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is good and pleasing and perfect.”  (Romans 12,2)

As your pastors, we sense the grief, the anguish, the fear, the confusion, even the outrage and the many troubling questions of family members, colleagues, classmates, friends and communities of those who were killed without due process, either as part of our government’s war on drugs or counter-insurgency measures or as plain civilian banditry.

We acknowledge the enormity and gravity of our drug problem as well as our peace and order situation. They reveal to us not only the political and criminal issues involved. They also and more importantly mirror to us the deeper social ills plaguing for so long our country – much more our island of Negros! These social problems are deeply felt in areas where there is defective governance and great socio-economic-political-cultural and ecological imbalances.

We write to you once more to re-affirm our earlier statement last October 7, 2016 – almost a year ago – of the following:

• the sanctity of every human life – both the innocent and the guilty, including the unborn and those needing reform;
• the defense of human dignity and human rights;
• the protection of everyone’s right to due process; hence,
• the rejection and condemnation of extrajudicial killing (EJK).

This statement has become even more necessary because of the unabated and appallingly increasing incidents of EJK as part of “One Time, Big Time” campaign, riding-in-tandem shooting, or anti-insurgency operations, as well as the ambushes perpetrated by the underground revolutionary forces. We are greatly alarmed, for example, by the spate of killings committed even in broad daylight that is still going on in the City of Guihulngan and the resulting climate of fear, demoralization, and unpeace.

We deplore the glaring selectiveness of handling the drug war where the poor are the main victims. Due process is strongly demanded in cases where rich and influential people are involved like children of top government officials while the poor who are merely suspected of the crime are summarily executed. We believe that this drug war as presently waged is based on a short-sighted and superficial understanding of the problem which needs a more comprehensive and integrated approach.

We are convinced as clearly expressed by Pope Francis that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to our present crisis “unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.” “For the body is not one member, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14). Our Good Shepherd himself promised: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). So if we come together – with God among us – we certainly can accomplish a lot.

As pastors of our flock, we challenge ourselves and our dioceses even more:

• To pray constantly that our country may be effectively rid of the drug menace, but in a manner that is just and lawful (e.g., insert petition for peace in all our masses, intensify nightly praying of Holy Rosary for peace in churches and chapels or in homes, ringing of bells, etc).
• To intensify our work of evangelization particularly in the area of forming consciences and promoting the culture of life, starting in our families (e.g., marriage preparation, early child and youth formation, family and life ministry, etc).
• To offer our cooperation and collaboration with government, civil society and other churches in the work of drug prevention and rehabilitation (e.g., community-based rehabilitation program, Fazenda da Esperanza Drug and Rehabilitation Center, skills training and livelihood program, etc).

May our Blessed Mother whose birthday we celebrate today lead us into the way of peace!

Bishop of San Carlos

Bishop of Bacolod

Bishop of Dumaguete

Administrator of Kabankalan

September 8, 2017
Nativity of Our Lady