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The “treasures” of the Church

From a Christian perspective, the strategy to tackle the drugs scourge should address the root causes, namely, poverty, unemployment and destitution. It is time that the drug plague be dealt with as a health and social problem, and not only as a criminal one.

One of the most revered martyrs of early Christianity is Saint Lawrence, deacon and administrator of the Church of Rome in the mid-third century. He was condemned to death and ordered to surrender the treasures of the Church that he administered. He turned himself in on the day of his execution, having brought along with him not material possessions but people - the sick, the abandoned and the poor of the city of Rome. 

“These are the true treasures of the Church,” Lawrence declared. The deacon’s defiance prompted the ire and vengeance of the authorities who ordered that he be burnt alive.  

The statement that the poor and the sick are the real assets of the Church smacks of a contradiction. However, the Christian mystery is an amazing paradox built upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

Since President Rodrigo Roa Duterte of the Philippines unleashed his “war on drugs” more than a year ago, Filipino society has been enveloped in an intense controversy as to the legality and morality of such campaign. With the majority of the population agreeing with it, according to the latest census, the Catholic Church, however, has been in the forefront of the criticism and opposition to it. 

The method of summary executions of suspected drug users and pushers is illegal as no due legal process is followed. Rather controversial and critical is also the fact that those being targeted are mostly originating from low social strata whereas the so called drug lords continue to operate freely. 

The existence of vigilantes who get away with their killings and the performance of police who kill mercilessly and with impunity are morally reprehensible actions. 

From a Christian perspective, the strategy to tackle the drugs scourge should address the root causes, namely, poverty, unemployment and destitution that affect the youth. It is time that the drug plague be dealt with as a multifaceted problem that considers it as health and social issues, and not only criminal.  

The Church has been critical of the current administration’s approach but also proactive in setting up drug rehabilitation centers for those who want to change their way of life and be reintegrated in society as productive citizens. 

Are they not the “treasures” of the Church of today, like in the time of the martyr Lawrence? 


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