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Bishop speaks on spike in drug killings

MANILA (SE): Between August 15 and 18 headlines in daily newspapers told the stories of the previous night’s work of the dreaded drug squads in Manila, proclaiming, “21 deaths in nine hours,” then the following day the number went up and on the third day rose again.
While some papers glorified the bloodshed, others reported it in a bland and neutral way, leaving it to their op-ed pieces to condemn while others were outright hostile.
The sudden up in the bloodlust prompted the archbishop of Manila, Luis Cardinal Tagle, to write a pastoral letter to be read at all Masses in his archdiocese on August 20 saying, “All Filipinos agree that the menace of illegal drugs is real and destructive. We must face it together, as one people. Unfortunately, it has divided us.”
He goes on to say that no one group can have all the answers, but the challenge requires a combined effort from families, government agencies, people’s organisations, schools, faith-based communities, the medical profession and the law enforcement authorities, as well as recovering addicts.
He adds, “To understand the situation better, we need not only statistics, but also human stories. Families with members who have been destroyed by illegal drugs must tell their stories. Families with members who have been killed in the drug-war, especially the innocent ones, must be allowed to tell their stories.”
To his list he adds drug addicts who have recovered. “Let their stories be told, let their human faces be revealed,” he says.
“We knock on the consciences of those manufacturing and selling illegal drugs to stop this activity. We knock on the consciences of those who kill even the helpless, especially those who cover their faces with bonnets, to stop wasting human lives,” Cardinal Tagle specifies.
Cardinal Tagle then appealed to people to come to their parish priests if they need help to document their stories and promised the help of the Church in telling them publicly.
He called on his flock to recall the words God spoke to Cain. “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil” (Genesis 4:10).
He then asked all parishes in the archdiocese to dedicate the nine days from August 21, the feast of Pope Pius X, to August 29, the feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist, as a time of prayer for those who have died, for strength in families and courage for those in recovery.
He also called for parishes to commit again to the parish-based drug rehabilitation programme that is run in partnership with the local government and the police.
He ends his letter in an appeal to the whole archdiocese to care for their neighbourhoods.

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