Manila, Philippines, Feb 8, 2017 / 17:02 pm
Though the Philippines president has professed a willingness to go “to hell” to win his deadly war on drugs, the country’s bishops have said Catholics must speak out against its evils.
“This traffic in illegal drugs needs to be stopped and overcome. But the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers,” they said.
“The life of every person comes from God. It is he who gives it, and it is he alone who can take it back. Not even the government has a right to kill life because it is only God's steward and not the owner of life.”
Silence in the face of evil means becoming an accomplice to it, they warned.
“If we neglect the drug addicts and pushers we have become part of the drug problem, if we consent or allow the killing of suspected drug addicts, we shall also be responsible for their deaths.”
The pastoral letter, dated Jan. 30, bears the signature of Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. It was read at all Sunday Masses Feb. 5. The letter comes soon after the bishops’ biannual plenary assembly held in Manila. It took its title from Ezekiel 32, in which God says “For I find no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies.”
President Rodrigo Duterte's violent crackdown on drug use has claimed more than 6,000 lives in the six months since he took office. At least 2,250 drug suspects have been reported killed by police, while at least 3,700 others were murdered by unknown suspects who sometimes accused their victims of being drug dealers or addicts, according to Agence France Presse.
Many priests and bishops have been afraid to speak out against the killings, Jerome Secillano, public affairs chief for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, said in January.