‘Mercy’ meeting won’t ignore killings, bishop says
MANILA– The 4th World Apostolic Congress of Mercy (WACOM4) in the Philippines will be characterized, among others, by the respect to the basic rights of individuals and to the value of human life, a Catholic bishop said.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga said the WACOM will reflect not just on the Divine Mercy devotion but also on the reality that the host country is facing human rights crisis as the fatalities in the government’s war on drugs pile up.
“Mercy is connected with life and life is connected with environment,” he said in a press briefing in Manila on January 3. “In general, it is always to love life, to live life and to defend life. It’s always focused on life.”
“So there would be a message witnessing to focus on life. Life must be promoted, life must be preserved and life must be respected,” said Santos.
Around 4,000 local and foreign delegates are expected to attend the gathering on January 16 to 20.
Convened every three years, WACOM is a gathering of Divine Mercy devotees and promoters, among whom are bishops, priests, religious brothers and sisters, and laity from the around the world.
Asia’s biggest Catholic nation is presenting the event as a “pilgrimage of mercy” bringing the delegates to different holy places each day.
Introduced by the Vatican in 2008, the first ever WACOM in Rome coincided with the third death anniversary of St. John Paul II.
The Church official, who chairs the bishops’ migrants commission, also believe that the global event would be a “healing process” for the country.
“It will be a healing for us… an opening that there is still hope for those whom we consider the least, the lost and the last,” according to Santos.
“And we believe that it will be fruitful and there would be a blessing for all of us in spite of what we have experience and in spite of what we have seen,” he added.
Church can’t be silent
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo earlier said that Church cannot be silent as the body count in the government’s war on drugs reached more than 6,000 in five months.
He said the Church grieves with the families, especially the poor, who have lost loved ones without due process of law.
“We cannot afford to keep silent. This is another way of terrorizing the people. But now is really the time to speak,” said Pabillo, who chairs the bishops’ Commission on the Laity.
The bishop also called on the public to act now against human rights abuses and not wait for the death toll to increase.
“I hope we have learned from the EDSA experience. It is time to speak out now. Let us not wait again for 14 years before speaking out,” he said.
He was referring to the span of years between 1972, when then president Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, and 1986, before he was ousted in the historic EDSA People Power Revolution.
“Running priest” Fr. Robert Reyes, for his part, said the war on drugs has ended so many lives and actions are needed in order to bring peace and justice.
“We will unite against those picking on the poor as being drug addicts. We will unite against those that are addicted to power. We will unite for life,” Reyes said. (CBCPNews)