CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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Philippine government accused of trying to silence the Church

QUEZON CITY (SE): Philippine religious leaders have warned that the Philippine government is trying to silence Church people who are critical of the administration the president, Rodrigo Duterte, according to a report from UCAN.
 
Speaking before a media briefing on April 26, Redemptorist Father Oliver Castor, said the government has been trying “to stop the Church’s work with the poor.”
 
CBCP News reported him as saying that the case of Sister Patricia Fox, a 71-year-old Australian superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, is a clear sign of the government’s “systematic intent to silence and stifle the Church” (Sunday Examiner, April 29).
 
The Bureau of Immigration forfeited Sister Fox’s missionary visa on April 23 alleging illegal engagement in political activities ordering her to leave the country in the next 30 days.
 
Father Castor, the spokesperson of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, was quoted as calling the government order for Sister Fox to leave the country “religious persecution.”
 
He said what the government did to her was similar to what the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos did during his reign.
 
UCAN reported Sister Fox as saying that what she went through “is an attack to the whole Church.”
 
She was surprised by the decision of the Bureau of Immigration and said, “I hope there is a due process so I can explain what is missionary work,” she told the media. 
 
However, the Inquirer quoted Antonette Mangrobang, spokeperson for the bureau, as saying there was no need to hear Sister Fox out and that it was the discretion of the bureau whether or not it would forfeit a foreigner’s visa.
 
Teddy Locsin Jr., the Philippines’ permanent representative to the United Nations, was reported by UCAN as deploring the decision of the Bureau of Immigration.
 
“This is wrong and brings shame to our country,” he said in a Twitter post.
 
“Now we are afraid of an old nun. What does that say about national stability? And a nun working with aborigines,” Locsin added.
 
He said the nun poses no threat to the country because she is only preaching Christianity, not “Marxism-Leninism with Chinese characteristics.”
 
Locsin tweeted, “If any alien comes here to preach the latter, I’ll (expletive) shoot him.” 
 
He said, “(The) nuns can do no wrong and without them at (the 1986 EDSA revolution) your daughters would be sex slaves of the drivers of Marcos generals.” 
 
The immigration bureau said that Sister Fox can return to the country anytime as a tourist, but Sister Fox said, “It’s difficult to continue the missionary work if you are a tourist. First, we are nuns and we are assigned here as tourists.”
 
In a statement, the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines expressed its solidarity with Sister Fox in her work of “proclaiming the good news of salvation and liberation.”
 
The statement read, “We demand that the rights of (Sister Fox) be respected. Let the government agencies ... not hamper the prophetic work of our foreign missionaries.” 
 
CBCP News reported Father Castor as saying, “My call to the Church’s leadership is that let us speak out! Let us not just take this sitting down. By all means, let us assert our rights!”
 
He added that the issue is “a violation not just against the right of Sister Pat, but of the whole Church in pursuing justice for the poor and marginalised.” 

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