MANILA, Philippines – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) urged the Indonesian government not to execute Mary Jane Veloso, a 30-year-old Filipino on Indonesia's death row.
The CBCP also appealed for prayers for Veloso, whom her lawyers said is wrongly accused of attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia. (READ: Mary Jane's sister to Jokowi: Blood will be on your hands)
"We storm heavens with prayers that she be saved from this tragic fate. We join the appeal to the Indonesian authorities to spare her the death penalty," said Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, in a statement on behalf of the CBCP.
"We pray for our government officials who are working hard to get her reprieve and to spare her from this worst punishment. At this time it is important for all of us to be one in prayer to save Mary Jane's life," Santos added in the statement Friday, April 10. (READ: PH to 'exhaust' all remedies to save Mary Jane)
Santos also said Catholics in the ministry for migrants "feel deep concern and sadness" for Veloso. (READ: 3 ways to help save Mary Jane from Indonesian death row)
'Life is precious'
The bishop pointed out, "Every life is precious as it comes from God."
Like Pope Francis, the CBCP has consistently rejected the death penalty.
In a statement in July 2014, CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the "imperfection" of the Philippines' judicial system could lead to injustice if the Philippines restores the death penalty.
Villegas said: “There is something terribly self-contradictory about the death penalty, for it is inflicted precisely in social retaliation to the violence unlawfully wielded by offenders. But in carrying out the death penalty, the state assumes the very posture of violence that it condemns!”
Taking his cue from Francis, Jakarta Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo, for his part, described the death penalty as "a failure of humanity."
In March, the Vatican said Francis denounced death penalty as "inadmissible, however serious the crime."
The Pope said capital punishment is "a failure" on the part of any state. He pointed out that an execution "does not bring justice to the victims, but rather encourages revenge." – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com.