The head of the Philippine Bishops’ Conference expressed concern over what he perceived to be a growing trend “of rebuffing church morals and doctrine” in his country.
PUBLISHED ONJul 2017
“How many of our Catholics openly and blatantly declare, ‘I am a Catholic but I agree that drug addicts must be killed; they are useless. I am a Catholic but I am pro-death penalty. ... I am a Catholic, but I do not always obey my bishop, he is too old-fashioned. ... I am a priest but my bishop’s circulars are optional for obedience. ... I am a Catholic but ... I am a Catholic but ...,’” Archbishop Villegas trailed off in an Easter message.
Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016, more than 9,000 people, most of them impoverished, have died in either police anti-drug operations or in unexplained killings. And in early March, Duterte’s allies in the Philippine House helped pass a measure reinstating the death penalty, with the primary goal of executing drug offenders.
Archbishop Villegas’ criticism has grown more strident with the body count increasing and the latest steps toward restoring execution. The Prelate has led prayer marches and authored letters and official conference documents decrying the “war on drugs” and the death penalty. Other church officials have also expressed dismay through various statements.