Speak out on killings, bishop says in Mercy Congress

Paterno Esmaquel II
'Can we now keep our mouths shut when more than 6,000 of our poor people are being killed?' says Bishop Broderick Pabillo at an international congress on mercy

NO TO KILLINGS. Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo urges Catholics to speak out on recent killings in the Philippines 'if we are true to our call to be a Church of the Poor.' Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo urged Catholics to speak out on the recent drug-related killings in the Philippines, as he addressed an international congress on mercy Tuesday, January 17.

In a speech, Pabillo said, “Can we now keep our mouths shut when more than 6,000 of our poor people are being killed on the mere pretext of drug trafficking?”

Pabillo was referring to the death of more than 6,200 people in the war on drugs waged by the Philippine government under the watch of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The bishop said: “Six thousand killed. That means more than 30,000 people directly affected, orphaned of their father, their brother, their sons and daughters, their husbands. These thousands are deeply traumatized and even now made more poor.”

“It would be so easy for me to be silent and play the prudent role – that is, to be a ‘passivist,’ bishop, if there is such a term,” Pabillo said.

The bishop said, however, that “to speak out for the poor is not just a decision to open one’s mouth.” He said, “First of all, it is a decision to listen to the poor, to be available to them, to be with them and to understand them.”

Pabillo spoke at the second day of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) held at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila on Tuesday. (READ: Cardinal Tagle hits trafficking as Congress on Mercy begins) 

Hosted by the Philippines from January 16 to 20, WACOM is an international gathering of devotees of the Divine Mercy, held every 3 years.

At WACOM, Pabillo, one of the most politically outspoken Filipino bishops, addressed other issues such as corruption, the improper implementation of agrarian reform, political dynasties, contractualization, and the stigma against prisoners and drug addicts.

“If we are true to our call to be a Church of the Poor, we cannot as a Church keep silent on these issues,” Pabillo said.

Cardinal Quevedo: Can we be indifferent?

Before Pabillo delivered his speech, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo also spoke at WACOM on Tuesday. 

“Let us open our eyes to issues where there is lack of communion not only in our country, the Philippines, but also all over the world,” Quevedo said.

“We see various kinds of crimes, terrorism and kidnapping. There are signs of lack of communion between brothers and sisters of the human family. Think of drug wars, ethnic wars, wars between religions, the violation of human rights, of the right of the human person to life, to property, to freedom of religion, degradation of the environment,” he said.

“It is especially now that the Holy Spirit is urgently calling the whole church to be a communion in the Lord Jesus,” the cardinal added.

Quevedo said: “Can we be indifferent, for instance, to all those who are killed extrajudicially not only in our country but in other places in the world? Can we be indifferent to the plight of Christians leaving their homes, or their homes being whipped, churches being burned? Will we be indifferent to those being killed, Jews and Palestinians, Bangladeshi or Indians and Pakistani?”

The first cardinal from the southern Philippines added, “Can we be indifferent to foreigners kidnapped and being hostaged in southern Mindanao?”

“We are far from them. Sometimes they are forgotten,” Quevedo said. “But we cannot be indifferent to these. When one member of the body suffers, everyone in the body of Christ suffers.” – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.