Cardinal Tagle hits trafficking as Congress on Mercy begins

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle denounced human and organ trafficking, among other global evils, at the opening of a 5-day international congress on mercy hosted by the Philippines.

In his homily at the start of the 4th World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) on Monday, January 16, Tagle also urged Catholics to show mercy to the oppressed and neglected.

Tagle, in particular, cited "mothers and parents losing their children to violence, to vices, to human trafficking, to new forms of slavery; children who are being kidnapped, sold to prostitution, their body parts harvested in an international syndicate business of body parts."

"Whenever a mother cries, it's the hour of Jesus. It is the hour of mercy. And we are the disciples that Jesus wants to be with his mother," the cardinal said.

"We are the disciples of mercy, Jesus' mercy, so that those who are alone, those who have been victimized, those who have been abandoned and neglected, those whose cries and tears don’t touch the hearts of others, would know that they have a family, a family born at the hour of Jesus at the foot of his cross," he added at the opening of WACOM.

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

The congress was held in Italy in April 2008, Poland in October 2011, and Colombia in August 2014.

Mass presiders and speakers at WACOM include all of the Philippines' 4 cardinals – Tagle, Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo – as well as Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

While planned as early as July 2015, this congress on mercy comes at a time of merciless killings in the Philippines, with more than 6,200 people killed in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs as of January 16, 2017.

Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos earlier said that WACOM "will be a healing process" for Filipinos in the face of extrajudicial killings. –

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at