CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 September 2018

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Death without justice

Those who died in recent terrorist attacks in France have been mourned the world over and the execution of a French priest while celebrating Mass has brought widespread questioning and wonder from many quarters.

These murders were vicious in intent, designed to cause harm to as many innocent people as possible, but when a young Japanese man justified his action in killing some 19 disabled people in Sagamihara on July 26 on the grounds of saving them from suffering, a different questioning was demanded.

Bishop Isao Kikuchi reflected that the young man was greatly misguided in only looking at the physical condition of the people, saying disability needs to be recognised as a more inclusive concept embracing all kinds of weaknesses.

“It includes those people discriminated against as different, because they are facing economic difficulties, health problems, the obstacles of social systems, cultural barriers and more,” the Japanese bishop reflected.

Reacting both to the terrorist murders in France and the so-called mercy killings in Japan the world has expressed sympathy, condemning the perpetrators.

However, state terrorism in The Philippines has attracted little comment. The Philippine Church seems tongue-tied in the face of the almost 1,000 murders called for by the newly-elected president, Rodrigo Duterte, as do Churches in other parts of Asia and the world.

The international community, with the exception of a few human rights groups, has stood back in wonder, as western governments, ever keen to condemn the actions of Communist-inspired rulers or Islamic theocracies, seem stuck for words in the face of an evolving genocide presided over by a democratically elected president.

The Philippine Church limply speaks of cooperating in a campaign to eliminate drugs while condemning the means. But the means is the campaign and how to distinguish between the two beggars the imagination.

Although Church leaders continually hammer home that the end can never justify the means, this time a stunned Church stands back in wonder as hundreds are first killed and then accused, a violation of the most fundamental values of Christianity and democracy, capable of disturbing the sleep of even the most oppressive of dictators.

Bishop Kikuchi notes that it is not for us to measure the weight of human life. “It is only God, who created our human life and gave it to us, who has the right to do so.”

He also asks who has the right to decide who continues to live. And the answer is certainly not the president of The Philippines, who in his loud-mouthed arrogance may claim to know the names of the guilty, but in fact few, and in some cases no one knew the names of the martyrs to the state’s failure of care for its people.

Priests are also questioning Duterte’s claims about high profile people he has named, saying that if he has half the information about them wrong, where is the assurance that the other half is right.

 

His government is an immoral farce and no progress in any field of endeavour will ever wipe away the stain of the blood smeared across society. Like martial law before it, it will haunt dreams and deceive memories for generations, as Church and world stand back like curious onlookers. JiM