Christians and Hindus: Going beyond tolerance

Message for the Feast of Deepavali 2017 From the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

Dear Hindu Friends,

On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, we offer cordial greetings to all of you as you celebrate Deepavali on 19 October 2017. May this festival of lights illumine your minds and lives, bring joy to your hearts and homes, and strengthen your families and communities!

We can rightfully acknowledge the many wonderful things that are happening throughout the world, for which we are very grateful. At the same time, we are also mindful of the difficulties which confront our communities and which deeply concern us. The growth of intolerance, spawning violence in many parts of the world, is one such challenge we face today. On this occasion, therefore, we wish to reflect on how Christians and Hindus can together foster mutual respect among people – and go beyond tolerance, in order to usher in a more peaceful and harmonious era for every society.

Tolerance certainly means being open and patient with others, recognizing their presence in our midst. If we are to work for lasting peace and true harmony, however, tolerance is not enough. What is also needed is genuine respect and appreciation for the diversity of cultures and customs within our communities, which in turn contribute to the health and unity of society as a whole. To see pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity leads tragically to intolerance and violence.

Respect for others is an important antidote to intolerance since it entails authentic appreciation for the human person, and his or her inherent dignity. In the light of our responsibility to society, fostering such respect demands showing esteem for different social, cultural and religious customs and practices. It likewise demands the recognition of inalienable rights, such as the right to life and the right to profess and practise the religion of one’s choice.

The path forward for diverse communities is thus one marked by respect. While tolerance merely protects the other, respect goes further: it favours peaceful coexistence and harmony for all. Respect creates space for every person, and nurtures within us a sense of “feeling at home” with others. Rather than dividing and isolating, respect allows us to see our differences as a sign of the diversity and richness of the one human family. In this way, as Pope Francis has pointed out, “diversity is no longer seen as a threat, but as a source of enrichment” (Address at the International Airport of Colombo, 13 January 2015). On yet another occasion, the Pope urged religious leaders and believers to have “the courage to accept differences, because those who are different, either culturally or religiously, should not be seen or treated as enemies, but rather welcomed as fellow-travellers, in the genuine conviction that the good of each resides in the good of all” (Address to the Participants in the International Peace Conference, Al-Azar Conference Centre, Cairo, Egypt, 28 April 2017).

We are challenged then to go beyond the confines of tolerance by showing respect to all individuals and communities, for everyone desires and deserves to be valued according to his or her innate dignity. This calls for the building of a true culture of respect, one capable of promoting conflict resolution, peace- making and harmonious living.

Grounded in our own spiritual traditions and in our shared concern for the unity and welfare of all people, may we Christians and Hindus, together with other believers and people of good will, encourage, in our families and communities, and through our religious teachings and communication media, respect for every person, especially for those in our midst whose cultures and beliefs are different from our own. In this way, we will move beyond tolerance to build a society that is harmonious and peaceful, where all are respected and encouraged to contribute to the unity of the human family by making their own unique contribution.

We wish you once again a joyful celebration of Deepavali!


Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran
President


Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ
Secretary

PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
00120 Vatican City

Tel: +39.06.6988 4321
Fax: +39.06.6988 4494

E-mail: dialogo@interrel.va
http://www.pcinterreligious.org/

Philippine rebel leader warns of extremism in southern region

Mohagher Iqbal expressed frustration over stalled law that will create a new autonomous region in Mindanao

Representatives of various sectors, including Moro rebels and the Catholic Church, pose for a photograph on the sideline of a forum on the prospects for peace in Mindanao in Manila on Oct. 5. (Photo by Inday Espina-Varona)

Failure by the Philippine government to pass a law for broader autonomy for Muslims in the southern part of the country will fuel Islamic extremism, a rebel leader has warned.

Mohagher Iqbal of the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), expressed hope that President Rodrigo Duterte’s control over Congress can hasten the passage of a law that will create a new autonomous region in Mindanao.

Iqbal said the failure of the previous administration to pass the promised legislation is partly behind the rise of groups claiming to have links with the so-called Islamic State.

“The reality is there is a lot of frustration, not just among the youth but even among older people,” said Iqbal in a forum in Manila on Oct. 5.

“A law on self-determination is not a cure all, but it can be an antidote to violent Islamism,” said the rebel leader, who is the MILF’s representative to the transition body that oversees the implementation of a 2014 peace deal with the government.

The landmark agreement requires the passage of law that will allow an expanded autonomous Muslim region in Mindanao under a parliamentary system of government.

The deal also sets down a mechanism for a transition body to craft policies on revenue generation and wealth sharing, power sharing with the central national government, end of hostilities and eventual demobilization of armed rebel units.

The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, led by the MILF, submitted a proposed basic law to Duterte on July 17. The proposed measure was sent to Congress in August but the president’s allies in the Lower House did not act on it until Sept. 20.

In an interview with ucanews.com, Iqbal said the current political set-up of Congress is a boon for efforts to pass a law on autonomy.
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Church official condemns strip search in Philippine prison

Visitors to the country’s jails undergo are stripped naked, subjected to an intimate search

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, raised concern on Oct. 10 over the ‘dehumanizing’ treatment of visitors to the country’s national prison. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

 The head of the prison ministry of the Philippine bishops complained of the “dehumanizing” treatment visitors to the country’s national penitentiary undergo.

Rodolfo Diamante, executive secretary of the Commission on Prison Pastoral Care, said visitors are forced to remove their clothes and subjected to an “intimate search.”

“There’s no exemption … even our volunteers and chaplains are stripped naked,” he said, adding that the policy has prevented visits to the maximum compound of the New Bilibid Prison.

Diamante said even some prison ministry workers who attend to the needs of the sick prisonersare now reluctant to come for a visit.

Church activities in the prison are also affected.

“We are holding our activities at the minimum compound because we want to keep our guests away from the dehumanizing way of entering the jail,” Diamante told ucanews.com.

He called on the Department of Justice to look into the issue. “Hopefully they will be able to act on it. There is something really wrong about this,” said Diamante.

He said there are “many other ways of searching for contraband” without “dehumanizing the visitors.”

Diamante raised his concern on Oct. 10 as the Catholic Church marked the observance of the World Day Against Death Penalty.

In a statement, Diamante said the move to restore capital punishment in the country is “unenlightened, counter-productive, and counter-progressive.”

He said the reimposition of capital punishment will be an “affront” to human dignity and called the government to avoid “quick fix solutions” to crimes.

Diamante said the death penalty is the “easy way out” of addressing the “complex and pervasive” problems of criminality.

CBCP Endorsement of the Philippine Participation in the 2018 Synod of Bishops

N.  17-152

ENDORSEMENT

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies:

Our beloved Pope Francis will convene XV General Synod of Bishops on Youth on October 2018 in Rome. The theme “Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment,” is an expression of the pastoral care of the Church for the young. This is in relation to the results of the recent Synod assemblies on the family and with the content of the post-Synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia.

Its aim is to accompany the young on their existential journey to maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they discover their plan for life and realize it with joy, opening up to the encounter with God and with human beings, and actively participating in the edification of the Church and of society.

It is on this regard that I would like to endorse to you the task given to the CBCP- Episcopal Commission on Youth to gather responses to the Questionnaire as a component of the Synod Preparatory Document. I highly encourage you to engage your youth commission and the other commissions (Family and Life, Vocation, Biblical Apostolate, Social Action) working with young people to a collective work of filling up the forms with valuable information. This will be our significant contribution to help the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in the preparation for this significant church event.

Let us manifest our being one with the Vicar of Christ and continue to champion the cause of our youth, by giving our full support to this step towards October 2018.

With fraternal gratitude and deep esteem to you, I remain

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, CBCP

Call for Action: Declaration Issued by Rome Congress to Protect Children From Digital World

PHOTO.VA – OSSERVATORE ROMANO

‘This global problem requires that we build awareness, and that we mobilize action from every government, every faith, every company and every institution’

October 6, 2017 Zenit Staff Pope and Holy See

Pope Francis stressed protecting children from dangers on the internet was top priority while addressing “Child Dignity in the Digital World,” this morning, Oct. 6, 2017.” The Congress was organized by Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University’s Center for the Protection of Minors, and held at the Gregorian, Oct. 3-6, 2017. Its objective was to highlight the dangers of the Internet and to foster action to protect children and young people.

Children and adolescents make up over a quarter of the more than 3.2 billion Internet users worldwide, according to the Center.  This generation of over 800 million young users is in danger of becoming victims of sextortion, sexting, cyberbullying and harassment.

In his discourse, the Pope said he firmly supports the commitments the Congress participants have undertaken to help protect minors and reaffirmed the importance of the participants signing a declaration of commitment at the end of the conference.

Below is the Vatican-provided text of the Rome declaration:

The Declaration of Rome 

World Congress:  Child Dignity in the Digital World

6 October 2017

Pope Francis — “A society can be judged by the way it treats its children.”

Every child’s life is unique, meaningful and precious and every child has a right to dignity and safety.  Yet today, global society is failing its children.  Millions of children are being abused and exploited in tragic and unspeakable ways, and on an unprecedented scale all over the world.

Technology’s exponential advancement and integration into our everyday lives is not only changing what we do and how we do it, but who we are.  Much of the impact of these changes has been very positive.  However, we face the dark side of this new-found world, a world which is enabling a host of social ills that are harming the most vulnerable members of society.

While undoubtedly the Internet creates numerous benefits and opportunities in terms of social inclusion and educational attainment, today, content that is increasingly extreme and dehumanizing is available literally at children’s fingertips.  The proliferation of social media means insidious acts, such as cyberbullying, harassment and sextortion, are becoming commonplace.  Specifically, the range and scope of child sexual abuse and exploitation online is shocking.  Vast numbers of sexual abuse images of children and youth are available online and continue to grow unabated.

The detrimental impact of pornography on the malleable minds of young children is another significant online harm.  We embrace the vision of an internet accessible by all people.  However, we believe the constitution of this vision must recognize the unwavering value of protecting all children.

The challenges are enormous, but our response must not be gloom and dismay.  We must work together to seek positive, empowering solutions for all.  We must ensure that all children have safe access to the internet to enhance their education, communications and connections.

Technology companies and government have shown leadership in this fight and must continue to innovate to better protect children.  We must also awaken families, neighbours, communities around the world and children themselves to the reality of the internet’s impact upon children.

We already have potent global platforms in place and important global leaders making significant progress in fulfilling these aims.  The Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University conducts international safe-guarding work in 30 countries on four continents.  The WePROTECT Global Alliance, launched by the United Kingdom, in partnership with the European Union and the United States, unites 70 nations, 23 technology companies and many international organizations in this fight.   The United Nations is leading a global effort to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 to eradicate violence against children by 2030, particularly through the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

This is a problem that cannot be solved by one nation or one company or one faith acting alone, it is a global problem that requires global solutions. It requires that we build awareness, and that we mobilize action from every government, every faith, every company and every institution.

This Declaration of Rome issues a call to action:    

1 – To world leaders to undertake a global awareness campaign to educate and inform the people of the world about the severity and extent of the abuse and exploitation of the world’s children, and to urge them to demand action from national leaders.

2 – To leaders of the world’s great religions to inform and mobilize members of every faith to join in a global movement to protect the world’s children.

3 – To the parliaments of the world to improve their laws to better protect children and hold those accountable who abuse and exploit children.

4 – To leaders of technology companies to commit to the development and implementation of new tools and technologies to attack the proliferation of sex abuse images on the Internet, and to interdict the redistribution of the images of identified child victims.

5 – To world’s ministries of public health and the leaders of non-governmental organizations to expand the rescue of child victims and improve treatment programs for victims of abuse and sexual exploitation.

6 – To government agencies, civil society and law enforcement to work to improve the recognition and identification of child victims, and ensure help for the massive numbers of hidden victims of child abuse and sexual exploitation.

7 – To the world’s law enforcement organizations to expand regional and global cooperation in order to improve information sharing in investigations and increase collaborative efforts in addressing these crimes against children which cross national boundaries.

8 – To the world’s medical institutions to enhance training for medical professionals in recognizing the indicators of abuse and sexual exploitation, and improve the reporting and treatment of such abuse and sexual exploitation.

9 – To governments and private institutions to enhance resources available to psychiatric and other treatment professionals for expanded treatment and rehabilitation services for children who have been abused or exploited.

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Cardinal Auza at UN:  More Inclusive Economy

Archbishop Bernardito Auza ©Holy See Mission

Developed Nations Must Lower Protective Tariffs

October 6, 2017  Zenit Staff

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, expressed concern on October 5, 2017, for the decline in international trade and called for a more inclusive world economy, encouraging developed countries to lower protective tariffs and increase trade with Least Developed Countries (LDCs.

His remarks came at the UN in New York during the Second Committee debates on Agenda Item 17, dedicated to Macroeconomic policy questions and on Agenda Item 18, dedicated to the follow-up and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development.

He also highlighted the importance of increasing official development assistance for LDCs, while expressing concern about debt sustainability for developing countries. He said that increasing debt relief, humanitarian aid, and donor commitments for the growing burden of global refugee costs will help make possible the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Here is Archbishop Auza’s Statement

Statement by H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See
Seventy-second Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Second Committee
Agenda Item 17: Macroeconomic policy questions
and Agenda Item 18: Follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development
New York, 5-6 October 2017

Mr. Chair,

My Delegation takes serious note of the Secretary-General’s recent reports on a number of different macroeconomic policy issues, including his report on progress made in implementing the outcomes of the international conference on Financing for Development, held in Addis Ababa in July 2015.

Macroeconomic policy issues have an important role to play in putting in place the stable financial and economic environment necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this regard, my delegation would like to highlight briefly a few observations made in these reports, particularly as they affect Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and prospects for the achievement of some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In regard to the Secretary General’s report on international trade,[1] we note with concern the steady decline in international trade that occurred in 2015 and 2016. Even though more recent World Trade Organization (WTO) forecasts indicate some recovery in the growth of international trade in the first half of 2017, they continue to acknowledge substantial risks to future growth in international trade, as protectionist rhetoric continues. While recognizing the dislocating effects that the expansion of international trade can have on developed societies, my Delegation shares the view expressed in this year’s report, that the solution should not be ‘less trade’ but, rather, ‘better trade’, guided by the principles of inclusivity and equity for all and consistent with the call of Pope Francis for an inclusive economics focused on the common good.[2] The implications of recent trends in international trade for the attainment of key SDG trade goals are of concern, in particular
with regard to SDG 17, which calls for facilitating the integration of poorer countries into the global economy, by doubling the LDCs’ share of global exports by 2020.

In this context, my Delegation also wishes to reiterate past concerns about the need to give special attention to the LDCs. Many of the LDCs are dependent on agricultural commodity exports alone. As a result, protective trade measures can be particularly punitive since they prevent these countries from generating scarce foreign exchange and can end up blocking the only avenues the world’s poorest farmers may have to additional income. Consequently, the Holy See would like to urge developed countries to remember that even a modest lowering of protective tariffs on certain agricultural products can provide significant and life-sustaining benefits for small farmers in these countries.

With regard to the external debt sustainability of developing countries, [3] my delegation shares the concern expressed in the Secretary-General’s report that the overall outlook is worsening. Of particular concern are the large variations among developing countries. This will require careful monitoring and additional capacity building efforts for those countries whose debt management capacity is weak, especially LDCs. It may also require recourse to further debt relief mechanisms, the need for which should be examined in consultation with the IMF and the World Bank, as proposed in the SG’s report.

The role of official development assistance (ODA) remains an important source of external finance for the LDCs. We are therefore encouraged to learn from the Secretary General’s report that ODA reached its highest level ever in 2016, increasing by almost 9 percent compared with 2015. The reasons underlying this increase are also important for the achievement of the SDGs: increases in debt relief, in humanitarian aid, and donor commitments for the growing burden of global refugee costs.

Finally, my Delegation welcomes the follow up activities to the 2015 Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa. The report from the most recent meeting in New York in May 2017[4] provides a comprehensive account of these discussions and roundtables. At that meeting, my Delegation stated that “we must now translate our declarations into actions, and our commitments into achievements.”[5] Such action is more pressing now than ever, and for no group of countries is this more needed than for the LDCs.

Let us therefore continue to work together to achieve the goals already agreed upon, making mid-course corrections as needed, and thus helping to realize the commitments made collectively in Addis Ababa to achieve a sustainable, equitable, and integral development that leaves no country behind.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

  1. A/72/274.
    2. Cfr. Pope Francis, Address at the conclusion of luncheon with the participants in the international seminar on the Pope’s proposal “Towards a more inclusive economy”, from the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 12 July 2014.
    3. A/72/253.
    4. A/72/114–E/2017/75.
    5. Statement of the Holy See, 23 May 2017.

Copyright © 2017 Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, All rights reserved.

National Barangay Assembly on October 8, 2017

Click here to download complete text of DILG Memo Circular-2017-123

GISING BARANGAY MOVEMENT
Office of the President and National Convenor
Questions on the Barangay Assembly

Question: Can we demand an explanation for the postponement of the Barangay Assembly?

Definitely. Article XI, Section 1 of the Constitution: “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives.”

Section 4(a) of RA 6713, the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees: “Public officials and employees shall always uphold the public interest over and above personal interest”.

Section 4 (e) of RA 6713 provides: “Public officials and employees shall extend prompt, courteous, and adequate service to the public. Unless otherwise provided by law or when required by the public interest, public officials and employees shall provide information of their policies and procedures in clear and understandable language, ensure openness of information, public consultations and hearings whenever appropriate, encourage suggestions, simplify and systematize policy, rules and procedures, avoid red tape and develop an understanding and appreciation of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country, especially in the depressed rural and urban areas.”

Memorandum Circular 2017-123, issued by DILG Officer-in-Charge Catalino Cuy on September 20, 2017, enjoined all Punong Barangays to undertake specific activities on October 8, 2017, in accordance with Section 397(b) of RA 7160, The Local Government Code, and Proclamation 260 of the President, issued on September 11, 2011, which declares the last Saturday of March and the second Sunday of October as Barangay Assembly Days.

In that Memorandum Circular, barangay officials were also directed to “….undertake appropriate activities to create public awareness on, and generate participation in, the Barangay Assembly, such as but not limited to medical or dental mission, cultural presentations, etc.”

The same Memorandum Circular specified:

“Corresponding administrative complaints against barangay officials who fail to conduct a barangay assembly may be filed by any resident of the barangay, concerned citizen, governmental or

non-governmental entity before the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan concerned pursuant to Section 61 of the Local Government Code or to the Office of the Ombudsman pursuant to Administrative Order No. 07 or the “Rules of Procedures of the Office of the Ombudsman”, dated April 10, 1990

All these have been reiterated in previous Memorandum Circulars from the Secretary of the DILG on the subject of the Barangay Assembly, since 2007.

If the Punong Barangay is unable to attend on that day, that should not be a hindrance, with 7 Kagawads of the Sangguniang Barangay who can preside on behalf of the Punong Barangay (see also discussion below on Question No. 2, Who can preside over the Barangay Assembly) .

Question: Who can convene the Barangay Assembly?

Section 397 (b) of RA 7160, The Local Government Code, prescribes:

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Catholic Institutions Announce Largest-Ever Joint Divestment from Fossil Fuels

40 institutions include home of St. Francis and Catholic bank

A coalition of Catholic institutions has today announced its divestment from fossil fuels.  The coalition of 40 is the largest joint announcement of divestment by Catholic organizations to date.  The institutions are located on five continents, and represent fields ranging from a holy site to finance to church hierarchical entities.

Catholic institutions’ decision to remove their support for fossil fuels is based on both their shared value of environmental protection and the financial wisdom of preparing for a carbon-neutral economy.

In Assisi, Italy, the home of St. Francis and a deeply significant place for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, three institutions and a municipal government have divested.  The Assisi group includes the Sacro Convento, a monastery complex and holy site that houses the remains of St. Francis, from whom Pope Francis took his name. The Sacro Convento is considered the spiritual home of the world’s Franciscan brothers.

Along with the Sacro Convento, the diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino has divested.  The diocese, which includes more than 80,000 people and the town of Assisi, is the site of several important pilgrimages each year. Assisi’s Seraphic Institute, a religious medical center that provides care for disabled children, has also joined the divestment announcement.

In a complementary move, the mayor of the town of Assisi has announced its divestment from fossil fuels.

In addition to divestment in the highly significant home of St. Francis, church entities around the world are stepping away from fossil fuels. The Episcopal Conference of Belgium, which is the Catholic Church’s policy arm in Belgium, has divested. This is the first Catholic episcopal conference in the world to divest.   In South Africa, the Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town has invested in social and ethical funds. Within the Church hierarchy, a total of one episcopal conference, one archdiocese, three dioceses, and a vicariate have divested.

These spiritual leaders are joined by business leaders.  Two financial institutions have announced their divestment. Germany’s Bank für Kirche und Caritas eG (Bank for the Church and Caritas) is one of the first Catholic banks in the world to divest from fossil fuels.  The bank, which has a balance sheet of €4.5 billion, is breaking from coal, tar sands oil, and oil shale because it is both morally imperative and fiscally responsible.

The bank is joined in its divestment by Oikocredit Belgium, an ecumenical financial institution and one of the world’s largest sources of private funding for microfinance. Oikocredit is joined by 12 other Belgian institutions.

These institutions are among the 40 that have divested in total. The joint commitment by 40 Catholic institutions more than quadruples the size of an announcement made in May, when nine Catholic organizations divested.  Worldwide to date, the total value of those institutions that have committed to divest surpasses $5 trillion.

This divestment announcement comes amid united Christian action to protect the environment during the Season of Creation.  The Season of Creation is a monthlong celebration of prayer and action for the environment, and it is embraced by a broad ecumenical community.

For further information, please contact:

  • Belgium: : Karel Malfliet, Ecokerk, +32(0)478.65.12.93, karel@ecokerk.be
  • Germany: Kate Cahoon, 350.org, kate@350.org
  • Italy: Giulia Pigliucci, Press Officer FOCSIV +39 3356157253 ufficio.stampa@focsiv.it
  • Latin America and Spain: Fabián Campos, Movimiento Católico Mundial por el Clima, fabian@catholicclimatemovement.global
  • South Africa: Kevin Roussel, Executive Director, Catholic Welfare and Development +27606855749 kevin.roussel@cwd.org.za
  • USA: Rebecca Elliott, Global Catholic Climate Movement 202.717.7228, reba@catholicclimatemovement.global

Global Catholic Climate Movement is a community of hundreds of thousands of Catholics and a global network of member organizations responding to Pope Francis’ call to action in the Laudato Si’ encyclical.

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To be Angels of Compassion

Law enforcers have come forward confidentially to us, their spiritual leaders, to seek sanctuary, succor and protection. They have expressed their desire to come out in the open about their participation in extrajudicial killings and summary executions. Their consciences are troubling them.

We will look prudently into the sincerity of their motives and the veracity of their stories. Within the bounds of Church and civil laws, we express our willingness to grant them accommodation, shelter and protection (including their families if necessary). The hospitality, comfort and acceptance that they seek from the Church will be attended to. Whatever we do to the least of our brethren we do to Christ. (cfr. Mt. 25:40)

If such law-enforcers wish to testify, then the Catholic Church will see to it that they are in no way induced to speak, to disclose nor to make allegations by any member of the clergy or the hierarchy. Statements, especially in the form of affidavits and depositions, must be made with the assistance of competent independent counsel. If their preference is to stay with us in the Church, they will not be turned over to the State under its own witness-protection program.

My brother priests in Lingayen Dagupan are requested, in the name of the Lord, to open their hearts and their rectories, the convents of religious communities and seminaries as well as other secure buildings and to be responsible for the security of the gallant men and women in uniform who may have something important to tell the nation or to testify on before the proper forum.

But our priests are admonished to refrain from discussing with “asylum-seekers” the contents of their testimonies and depositions. It is furthermore recommended that volunteer lawyers, preferably those who belong to alternative law groups, assist the witness and also readily affirm that no member of the clergy instructed, directed, and couched the testimonies they give.

But when they so decide or opt to identify themselves and to testify, every means must be provided for a fair, accurate and unconstrained or unrestrained testimony that may be used in evidence.

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