Cardinal Tagle hits murder of Cagayan’s Fr Mark Ventura

Paterno Esmaquel II
'Stop killing our prophets!' Carmelite priests say in a separate statement on the murder of 37-year-old Father Mark Ventura in Cagayan

EPISCOPAL ORDINATION. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle presides over the ordination of a new bishop, Monsignor Bartolome Santos, at the Malolos Cathedral. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

BULACAN, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle denounced the murder of Cagayan priest Father Mark Ventura, as more voices in the Catholic Church seek justice for the 37-year-old clergyman. 

Ventura was shot dead by riding-in-tandem killers on Sunday, April 29, after saying Mass and as he was in front of children in Gattaran, Cagayan.

Ventura was the second priest to be killed in the Philippines in a span of 4 months. (READ: CBCP condemns murder of Cagayan priest Mark Ventura

In a homily in Bulacan on Monday, April 30, Tagle said he is saddened by Ventura’s death.

“Hindi ba siya regalo ng Diyos? Gano’n na pala kadali na paslangin at itapon ang isang tao?” Tagle said in his homily at the ordination of a new bishop, Monsignor Bartolome Santos, at the Malolos Cathedral on Monday. 

(Isn’t he a gift from God? Is it that easy now to kill and throw a person away?)

Tagle spoke in the context of recognizing gifts, as he delivered the homily at Santos’ ordination.

Speaking in general terms, Tagle explained: “Marami tayong kapwa tao na hindi na natitingnan ng lipunan bilang regalo. Ang tingin sa kanila, perwisyo, object. At dahil wala ka nang value as a gift, puwede kang itapon. Nakakalungkot. Kapag ikaw ay naging hadlang sa aking plano, hindi ka na regalo; sagabal ka, humanda ka!”

(We have many neighbors whom society no longer views as gifts. They’re viewed as pests, objects. And because you no longer have value as a gift, you can be thrown away. It’s saddening. If you’re a hindrance to my plans, you’re no longer a gift; you’re an obstacle, watch out!)

Ventura’s archbishop, Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg, on Sunday condemned “in the strongest terms” this “brutal and cowardly act.”

Utleg pointed out that Ventura was shot “right after he said Mass and was baptizing children.”

PNP urged to ‘act swiftly’

Utleg then made an appeal to authorities, especially the Philippine National Police (PNP) task force assigned to investigate the killing of Ventura. 

“We make our appeal to the authorities specially to the PNP task force to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice,” Utleg said.

“There have been too many murders already done with impunity in our country by assassins riding in tandem. May this be the last,” the bishop added.

A commission of the Order of Carmelites in the Philippines also denounced Ventura’s murder.

In a statement, the Order of Carmelites’ Justice and Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission cited a “crackdown” on church people, including Father Marcelito Paez, who was killed in December 2017, and Sister Patricia Fox, whom the Bureau of Immigration recently ordered to leave the Philippines.  

The Carmelite priests said that “these dastardly acts of evil have no place” in the Philippines.

“We appeal to our government and to the authorities that the perpetrators of this dastardly act be brought to justice,” they said.

The Carmelite priests added, “Stop killing our prophets!” – Rappler.com

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.