THE influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Sunday reiterated its call on the faithful to make their voices be heard against drug-related killings as the nation celebrated Christmas Day.
In a pastoral message entitled Feast of Beauty and Hope, which was read as homily in all Masses, CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the “beauty” of celebrating Christmas has turned into one of “ugliness” because of the unabated widespread killings in the country.
“How beautiful is the Christmas story. Christmas comes to us as a feast of beauty but we are not blind and numb to the ugliness that has come upon us. We have Christmas but there is blood spilling on our streets and sidewalks,” the prelate added.
There are more than 5,000 people who have been killed, either in legitimate police operations or extra-judicial process, in the war against illegal drugs, which, Villegas pointed out, also means that more than five thousands families mixing Christmas carols with their quiet tears because a loved one has been stricken down by a bullet.
“There are Christmas carols in the air but there is blood by the garbage dump and even inside jails. There is a Christmas parol [lantern]by the window at home but the unresolved murder at home outshines our Christmas lights. This blood spilling is ugly because it is not the plan of God for His people. Murder is ugly. Extrajudicial killing is ugly,” he said.
The archbishop added that the spate of violence and murder has turned Filipinos into an angry people that cry for revenge.
“Anger has become so common and ordinary that the culture of revenge is slowly chaining us. Anger pushes us to pursue the illusion that we must kill in order to defend life. Living in anger, we start to live in fear,” Villegas said.
“We fear for our lives and our family’s lives. We fear that the good name preserved for decades will be destroyed by calumny, malicious gossip and trumped-up charges. We fear and in fear, we allow ourselves to be silenced,” he added.
Villegas reminded the country’s leaders that the nation can only reach greatness under a mantle of hope and love, never in a blanket and fear and anger.
He said though that to do that, Filipinos must stand up to the challenge by fighting for what is legal and morally right.
“Do not let anger kill you. Do not let anger push you to nod in agreement with murder. Do not let fear intimidate you. There is no peace for the coward. There is no happiness for the lazy,” Villegas added.
“For the ugliness of anger and fright that we have brought to the world, we stand up in battle and bring hope to our brothers and sisters. For the hope that the country greatly needs, let us take the challenge. Let the rivers of hope flow. Let the lighthouses in the dark night shine out and guide. May we all be in that river! May we all be that lighthouse!” he said.