A letter for the people of God from Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan, and currently, the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines
This message is to be read in IN FULL in place of the homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 7, 2016, in all the churches and oratories in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan. I want to address the People of God during these trying times.
LET HUMANITY IN US SPEAK!
I do not have to be a bishop to say this. I do not have to be a Catholic to be disturbed by the killings that jar us every time we hear or watch or read the news.
Lay aside the bishop’s robes and the CBCP position. I am only a human being. My humanity is in grief. I am in utter disbelief. If this is just a nightmare wake me up and assure me it is not true. This is too much to swallow.
I am a human being. That is all it takes for me to stand up and say ENOUGH. The humanity in me is hurting each time a fellow human is hurt. A portion of my humanity dies when a fellow human dies. Who can say the killed is innocent or guilty? Both the guilty and the innocent are humans. The humanity in me bleeds each time a fellow human is killed. The humanity in me cries each time I see a parent and a child grieve over loved ones killed on the sidewalk or thrown in grassy areas hogtied or masked with tape.
The humanity in me grieves for fellow humans who do not mind killing criminals in the belief that their murders will lessen evil in the world. For the killer and the killed I grieve. We become less human when we kill our brethren. Every human is my brother. Every human is my sister. Everything and everyone around me is brother and sister for me.
Have we become so few who are still disturbed by the killings? Is not humanity going down to the dregs when bloodthirsty humans encourage the killers and ask for more blood? When tears are replaced by wide smiles each time a human is killed, I shake my head and ask “What has happened to humanity?” Can we still cry with those who cry? Are we no more hurt and pained by the killings that has reached hundreds now for the past two months? In our dream to wipe out drug addiction are we not becoming a “killing fields” nation?
You will tell me “Let us give the anti-drug campaign a chance”? The youth need a safe and wholesome environment without the menace of drugs. We share the dream. Spare our children and youth from the evil of drug abuse. It is a great dream for young humanity.
If drugs indeed kill, will killing the suspects remove the menace? Are we providing our children a safe haven, by teaching them by our tolerance of murders, that killing suspected criminals without fair hearing is a morally acceptable way to eradicate crime? From a generation of drug addicts shall we become a generation of street murderers? Will the do-it-yourself justice system assure us of a safer and better future?
There is a little voice of humanity in us that I believe is disturbed by the killings; but that voice of disturbed humanity is drowned out by the louder voice of revenge or silenced by the sweet privileges of political clout.
I pray that humanity be restored. I pray that decent humanity rise up to defend those who now live in fear that they will be next to be killed.
I pray that humanity be regained so that the killers may listen to the voice of conscience–that conscience that has been dulled by the sight of too much blood everywhere.
Will you kill me again and again on the social media for saying this?
At this point. I do not care. I am ready to die. I have gotten used to be being bashed and “killed” on social media. A part of me has died a hundred times in every killing I have seen these past weeks. What is another death for me? In this valley of death, I grieve. In the life after, I will rejoice. Barbarism will not have the last laugh. Reason will prevail. Humanity will win in the end.
I believe. I refuse to be forsaken in this belief. I believe in humanity.
I am your brother.
SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS