What is the rationale behind these killings? Is there a pattern of intimidation and persecution against the shepherds of the Church? If so, which of their actions and words bother so much as to deserve their assassination?
PUBLISHED ONAug 2018
It is with alarm that three priests have been killed, one shot and wounded in the past six months in the Philippines.
The four clergymen were gunned down by unidentified gunmen who up to now have not been caught.
Is there a trend of targeting clergymen and the Catholic Church? What is the rationale behind these killings? Is there a pattern of intimidation and persecution aimed at silencing the shepherds of the people of God and the Church as a whole? If so, which of their actions and words bother so much as to deserve their assassination?
The Catholic Church has been at loggerheads with President Duterte over his so called “war on drugs.” Bishops, priests, religious and laity have been critical of the thousands of extrajudicial killings of drug addicts, calling for a different approach that delves into the root causes of the drug pandemic. For his part, the President has not minced his words against the Church firing back with slur and allegations of misbehavior of members of the clergy.
In a strongly worded statement against the latest killing of Fr. Richmond Nilo in the northern province of Nueva Ecija on June 10, Archbishop Socrates Villegas and other leaders of his archdiocese denounced the slaying spree of clergymen.
“They are killing our flock. They are killing us, the shepherds. They are killing our faith. They are cursing our Church. They are killing God again as they did in Calvary”, reads the statement.
It is ironic that this wave of recent assassination of priests occurs in the Year of the Clergy and the Religious in a majority Catholic country about to celebrate its 500 years of evangelization. This year’s theme highlights the vocation of the clergy and consecrated persons as “servant-leaders for the new evangelization.”
The Catholic faithful appreciate their shepherds as men of God. To end the lives of these servants in such a brutal manner deserves outright condemnation and calls for a full investigation to find out the culprits.
The Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines uttered their “rage against this culture of violence” following the recent killing of Fr. Richmond Nilo. “As prophets and mystics of our times, we want to remind everybody, stop this foolishness and to renounce violence as means to achieve one’s goals. We expect the police to conduct a thorough investigation to give justice to Fr. Nilo and to put to jail the criminals for their reformation.”