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Bible scholars voiced outrage over recent killings in the Philippines, including the murder of a mother and son in Tarlac, saying it is hypocrisy to celebrate the birth of Christ without condemning these deaths.
The Catholic Biblical Association of the Philippines (CBAP) released this statement days after Police Senior Master Sergeant Jonel Nuezca shot Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank on Sunday, December 20, over a neighborhood squabble in Paniqui, Tarlac.
The 26 signatories of the CBAP statement include Bishop Broderick Pabillo, temporary head of the Archdiocese of Manila; Father Cielito Almazan, head of the Franciscans in the Philippines; Father Francis Eugene Fadul, former chancellor of the Diocese of San Pablo; and leading theologians Father Randolf Flores, Sister Bernardita Dianzon, and Federico Villanueva.
The CBAP said in its statement: “If we are not angry with the killings, if we are not even disturbed with the recent, brutal murders of lawyers, doctors, human rights advocates, and poor people, including the senseless death of the Gregorio mother-and-son of Paniqui, Tarlac, at the hands of a police officer, then we do not really love Jesus in words and deeds. We worship God with our lips, but our hearts are far from Him. We are hypocrites!”
“Indeed, we are being hypocrites when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, while ignoring and not valuing His commands. Those who do not condemn the killings are like those who wanted to kill Jesus as a baby and as an adult,” the Bible scholars said in a statement posted on Thursday, December 24.
This culture of violence and impunity, added CBAP, “has fractured our national psyche and damaged our moral sense of right and wrong.”
Tarlac Bishop Enrique Macaraeg earlier condemned the killing of Sonya and Frank Gregorio, as it “makes us bow in shame, guilt, and shock” ahead of Christmas.
“Whether posted on social media or done hidden without a witness, killing is a sin. God sees all these killings. There is no escape from God’s punishment. Killing is wrong. Murder is evil,” Macaraeg said on Tuesday, December 22.
The Catholic Church is one of the strongest voices against the killings of thousands under the more than 4-year-old Duterte government. President Rodrigo Duterte, who boasts he himself has killed lawbreakers, has retaliated against the Catholic Church by insulting its beliefs, cursing at priests, and once even threatening to behead bishops if they are into illegal drugs. – Rappler.com