MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is set to host the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) from January 16 to 20, in the face of a rising body count in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
While it was planned at least a year before Duterte took office, this congress is expected teach Filipinos about mercy at a time of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. (READ: Impunity: The Church of the Resistance)
“We know that every event, every experience, has a learning lesson that we can reflect on and we can do. And we believe that this WACOM, to be held here in the Philippines, will be a healing process for us,” Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos said in a news conference on Tuesday, January 3.
Santos was answering a question on what WACOM can teach Filipinos about mercy in the face of “merciless” extrajudicial killings.
Santos added, “It will be a healing for us, and an opening that there’s still hope for those whom we consider the least, the lost, and the last.”
“We believe that it will be fruitful, and it will be a blessing for all of us inspite of what we have experienced and inspite of what we have seen,” the bishop said.
WACOM is an international gathering of devotees of the Divine Mercy, and is coming to the Philippines after being held in Italy in April 2008, Poland in October 2011, and Colombia in August 2014.
Hundreds of international delegates
This year’s WACOM has attracted at least 3,610 delegates as of Monday, according to Father Prospero Tenorio, secretary general of WACOM Asia.
More than 700 of them come from outside the Philippines, Tenorio said.
The event is set to bring delegates to at least 4 different locations – Manila, Batangas, Bulacan, and Bataan – to feature a wide range of speakers and to also show different “places of mercy” such as hospices in the country.
Mass presiders and speakers during WACOM include all of the Philippines’ 4 cardinals – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, is also scheduled to say Mass alongside Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, France.
A primer on WACOM said preparations for the Philippine event began as early as July 18, 2015, when Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros asked his fellow bishops to assign spiritual directors for WACOM participants.
When the event takes place, however, at least 6,221 people will have already died in Duterte’s war on drugs since July 1, 2016.
More than 4,000 of them have been slain in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings that have drawn the eyes of the whole world. – Rappler.com