DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Labeling it a hate crime, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) denounced the deadly attack that killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
“While we may have reasons to disagree with sexual preferences, or reprove certain forms of sexual activity, this can never justify hatred, let alone, murder of another human being,” CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a statement Monday evening, June 13.
Villegas explained that this was a hate crime because this was “the murder of persons because of disgust for their sexual orientation.”
“Bearing in the depth of his or her soul the image of the Creator, no human person should ever be the object of disgust,” he said.
Villegas was echoing a Catholic teaching that while homosexual acts remain sinful, homosexual persons deserve respect like everyone else.
In his statement, Villegas added that “we can and should never reconcile ourselves with violence in society — whether this be the violence of lawless elements, the violence of the self-righteous, the violence of vigilante groups, or the violence of government.”
Violence ‘in the name of law and order’
“We cannot and should not accept a society that tolerates and perhaps even foments forms of violence, even if this should be in the name of restoring law and order,” the archbishop said.
He then urged school administrators and youth leaders “to be particularly vigilant about cases of bullying, ostracism, and harassment.”
“We urge government to educate the nation in the ways of the respect for all life,” Villegas added.
His appeal comes as the incoming administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte vows peace and order even through bloody means, such as killing drug pushers who resist arrest.
Villegas said the Orlando tragedy “makes clear how much the world needs mercy.”
Pope Francis earlier condemned the Orlando attack as “homicidal folly and senseless hatred.”
Sunday’s attack at the Pulse nightclub was the worst mass shooting in modern US history. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
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