By Christina Hermoso
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) enjoins Filipinos to unite and observe the 40-day prayer campaign from September 23 until November 1 for the victims of drug-related violence and the on-going war in Marawi.
Everyone is encouraged to pray the Holy Rosary daily during the 40-day period, to receive Holy Communion, and to light candles in memory of the departed, particularly the victims of the extra-judicial killings, as church bells peal across the country at exactly 8 p.m.
In a pastoral letter, the bishops expressed concern over the rising number of drug-related deaths that include the young. The bishops said:
“We are appalled by the remorselessness by which even the young are executed. The relentless and bloody campaign against drugs that shows no sign of abating impels us your bishops to declare: In the name of God, stop the killings! May the justice of God come upon those responsible for the killings!”
“For the good of the country, stop the killings! The toll of ‘murders under investigation’ must stop now. For the sake of the children and the poor, stop their systematic murders and spreading reign of terror! In memory of those killed, let us start the healing of our bleeding nation,” the CBCP stressed.
The church leaders encourage the faithful to be more compassionate and concerned for the welfare of others. The Church, they added, must not just watch and stay on the side lines amid the killings.
“Malasakit must be restored. Pakikiramay must be active. Pakikipag kapwa tao must be gained back. The rule of law must prevail. Because Christians are heralds of a Gospel of Life, there is no way that one can be a faithful Christian, let alone a fervent Catholic, and yet stay safely quiet in the face of these shocking attacks against human life. The very Gospel that the Church was founded to teach is a Gospel of Life. The Church must either be at the forefront of the intense and fervent struggle against a culture of death or the Church betrays Christ,” the bishops emphasized.
“We stand firmly against drugs and the death drugs have caused, but killing is not the solution of the problem. The mercy of the Good Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine in search of the lost sheep is the only reason why we are still here—awa ng Diyos. The mandate to kill the lost sheep is poison for humanity. The wounded need healing, not more blows, and the fallen need our hands to be able to rise again, not our feet to trample on them,” they added.
The bishops are also calling for support and contribution for the schooling of the orphaned children of the victims of the killings, or of their siblings, or the support and sustenance of their families.
“We intend to offend none but the evil in our midst. We are angry at none but the indifference amongst us. We fight the darkness not with spark of bullets but with the light of Christ. We beg for prayers and we ask for a change of heart in all of us,” the CBCP said.
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