Pope on PH Church drug rehab programs: ‘Way to go’

Pope on PH Church drug rehab programs: ‘Way to go’
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle delivers his homily during a Mass to launch the “Sanlakbay” program at the St. John the Baptist Church in San Juan City, March 17, 2017. CBCPNews

MANILA— A Church-based drug rehabilitation program got a pat on the back from no other than Pope Francis.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said the pope wants parish-based drug rehabilitation centers to continue in the Philippines.

Recalling his recent meeting with the pontiff at the Vatican, the cardinal said he shared with Francis his archdiocese’s Sanlakbay program for drug surrenders and recovering addicts.

“And when he heard about it, with eyes twinkled, he said, ‘that’s the way to go,” Cardinal Tagle said in his homily during Mass to mark the program’s first anniversary at the San Sebastian Church on Oct. 21.

Amid the government’s violent crackdown on illegal drugs, the initiative has been providing counseling, spiritual and values formation and even livelihood opportunities for former drug addicts.

It is also a faith-based approach geared towards the healing and restoration of drug dependents. Earlier, on January 8, Tagle partnered with an international drug rehabilitation farm to boost the archdiocese’s program.

The program, which also includes arts and sports activities, is present in various Manila parishes to reach out to more people.

The same program has also been ongoing in other dioceses across the country in coordination with local government units, the police and other concerned government agencies.

At the Galilee Home in Doña Remedios Trinidad town in Bulacan province, the Diocese of Malolos has been running a center to rehabilitate former drug users since 1990.

“He said, this is the path to take. Continue that,” the cardinal added, quoting the Pope.

At least 132 former drug dependents from at least 12 parishes in the Archdiocese of Manila had so far completed the six-month program.

More than 12,000 suspected drug pushers and users have reportedly been killed as a result of the government’s bloody on war drugs.

Authorities, however, claimed that around 3,800 of those who died were killed in “legitimate police operations”. The number triples if those drug-related killings by vigilantes are counted.

Cardinal Tagle earlier appealed for an end to drug-related violence, emphasizing that the country “cannot be governed by killing”.

His recent appeal is for the government to never lose hope on drug addicts, adding that there is no such thing as a hopeless case.

“We try to give life to the dead. I hope that the living will not be killed off,” Tagle said. CBCPNews