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Duterte told: The Church you despise helps you

Duterte told: The Church you despise helps you

Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias during a Holy Mass Eucharistic Action (HEMA) held for victims of extra judicial killings and their families at the Sto. Niño Parish, Bagong Silang, April 2, 2017. PHOTO BY MINNIE AGDEPPA

By Minnie Agdeppa

April 5, 2017

Caloocan City

Contrary to what some believe, the Catholic Church is not an enemy of the Duterte administration but an ally, a helper of the state.

This is what Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias said during a Holy Mass Eucharistic Action (HEMA) held for victims of extra-judicial killings (EJK) and their families at the Sto. Niño Parish, Bagong Silang on April 2.

“Mr. President, the Church and the bishosp you curse, together with the priests – they are the ones who help the victims of your fight against drugs,” said the prelate in Filipino.

Heavier burden

“We’re not even done yet helping the addicts – different kinds of addicts – when more are more being added. Those they have left behind are knocking on our doors…Those they depend on died and were killed. And now that they are gone, the work and burden felt by the Church, which you curse often, are getting heavier.”

Tobias noted the rising number of widows and orphans created by the 7,000 body count from President Duterte’s all-out war on illegal drugs.

Citing the Gospel narrative that Sunday on Lazarus being raised from the dead, Tobias called on the government to focus on liberating those enslaved by addictions through healing and rehabilitation instead of reinstating capital punishment.

“This is probably the Lord’s message to the government and the lawmakers, ‘You need to set them free!'” he said.

‘Another chance’

According to the bishop, everyone is actually dead because of sin and addictions yet God continuously gives the faithful “another chance”. Tobias then emphasized that the Gospel is a timely reminder about country’s realities with regard to the reinstatement of the death penalty. The Gospel highlights God’s example of setting captives–often the worst sinners–free and giving them new life.

“People like you, like me, who have done so much stupidity in our life, are brought back to life by Jesus,” he stressed, verbalizing Jesus’ message in the Gospel by saying: “Whatever it is that you have done, I can bring [you] back to life!”

The Bishop criticized the thinking that drug dependents are good-for-nothings. He said every Filipino is accountable for the high incidence of drug dependence in society due to divisive acts such as being judgemental and the lack of acceptance of others. Tobias called on the faithful to become more loving and understanding of one’s fellowman, which he said would actually pave the way for healing and the prevention of drug addiction.

HEMA initiative

During the Eucharistic celebration, the bishop also blessed EJK victims’ photos that were placed near the altar, as well as their widows and orphans. More than 20 family members of EJK victims from various parishes of the diocese were present during the Mass, of which three gave a short sharing before the final blessing. According to Fr. Jose Sarabia, CM who lead the organization of HEMA 3, 400 of the 7,000 death toll came from areas under the jurisdiction of Sto. Niño Parish alone.

The HEMA held in Sto Niño Parish was actually the third in a series held simultaneously this year in different dioceses locally and abroad, beginning on Feb. 2 The second HEMA was held on March 2 at Parañaque City’s National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Ironically, four persons were killed without due process near the Sto. Niño Parish the morning of the HEMA according to the Vincentian Seminarians who attended the said Eucharistic celebration.


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