Catholics mark day of prayer for blasphemers, murderers
MANILA, Philippines – Catholics marked a day of prayer on Monday, July 16, for blasphemers, liars, and murderers, as President Rodrigo Duterte calls God stupid, and as nearly 27,800 Filipinos die in vigilante-style killings and police operations combined.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the day of prayer and penance aims at "invoking God's mercy and justice on those who have blasphemed God's Holy Name, those who slander and bear false witness, and those who commit murder or justify murder as a means for fighting criminality in our country."
On Monday, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said that "800 priests and bishops of northern Luzon have a joint spiritual retreat from July 16 to 20 at Baguio Cathedral." They will hold Masses at 5:30 pm on these days.
"They will offer prayers and penance for the sins of murder, blasphemy, and sacrilege," Villegas said.
At 6 pm also on Monday, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle is set to lead Mass at the San Sebastian Basilica in Manila for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said on Church-run Radyo Veritas that Catholics can observe this day of prayer and penance anywhere.
"Napakalakas ng panalangin kapag ito'y nagkabuklod-buklod," David said on Monday. (Prayers become really strong if they become one.)
David said the day of prayer and penance is also offered for "advocates of fake news." On peddling fake news, the bishop said, "Malaking pagkakasala 'yan." (That is a serious sin.)
The day of prayer and penance was made to coincide with the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on Monday, which is symbolic for Catholics.
Mount Carmel is where prophet Elijah is believed to have challenged false prophets of King Ahab to prove that Baal, not God, should be followed. The false prophets asked Baal to send fire from heaven, but failed. Elijah succeeded when he invoked God for the same.
Referring to Mount Carmel, David said on Monday, "We associate that with the great and bold prophet Elijah who stood in defense of God against King Ahab who was killing the prophets of Israel."
The day of prayer and penance comes at a time when Duterte challenges the faith of Catholics.
Once, Duterte even made a dare: "Kayong mga Katoliko, kung naniniwala kayo sa mga pari pati obispo, doon kayo. Kung gusto 'nyo mapunta ng langit, doon kayo. Ngayon, kung gusto 'nyong matapos ang droga pero magpunta ako sa impyerno, sumabay kayo sa akin."
(You Catholics, if you believe priests and bishops, go with them. If you want to go to heaven, go with them. Now if you want to eradicate drugs even if I will go to hell, then come with me.)
The day of prayer and penance on Monday is set to be followed by 3 days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as recommended by the CBCP. Led by Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, the CBCP earlier released one of its strongest statements against abuses under Duterte. – Rappler.com