CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 20 October 2018

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Duterte descends to slandering the dead

MANILA (UCAN): Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan, the Philippines condemned speculation by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, in which he attempted to insinuate that the murdered priest, Father Mark Anthony Ventura, was having an affair with eight women. 
 
The bishop lamented that Father Ventura had been murdered a “second time” by the comments. 
 
Father Ventura, who was 37-years-old, was shot and killed after celebrating Mass in the northern Philippine town of Gattaran in Cagayan province on April 29. Police said a lone gunman shot him twice while he was blessing children attending Mass (Sunday Examiner, May 6).
 
The country’s Catholic bishops have condemned what they described as “unfounded rumours and malicious insinuations” being circulated by no less than the president as to the motive behind the killing.
 
On May 20, Duterte presented a list of what he alleged were illicit the priest was supposedly involved in titled, Possible Motive (Love Triangle), with a picture of Father Ventura and eight women.
 
Duterte said the women were married to a vice mayor, a policeman, a soldier and a businessman. He suggested that one of the husbands could have been behind the killing.
 
“Why would you not die,” said Duterte while showing the pictures to a gathering in Cebu. “You have a relationship with the wife of a policeman, with the wife of a vice mayor, you will really die,” he said.
 
In a letter to the priests in his diocese, Bishop David said “it pains me to note that Father Ventura is being murdered a second time ... by the highest official in the land.”
 
He called for church bells to be rung starting May 23 until May 31 “to call people to prayer for (Father Ventura’s) second murder.” 
 
Bishop David also reminded priests and the faithful to support an earlier call by Luis Cardinal Antonio Tagle of Manila, to fight fake news.
 
In a pastoral statement, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, warned of “anti-Christian forces” that were shaking Catholic values to the core.
 
He said the spread of fake news, drug killings and vulgarity were “social ills slowly eating the national soul.”
 
The archbishop said Duterte’s vulgar language has disgraced the country’s women. 
 
“Anger can be righteous but in recent months, anger had lost its righteousness,” the archbishop noted.
 
He condemned the use of “vulgarity… to mock the memory of the murdered; to calumniate a faithful departed who cannot defend himself; to gossip about the dead; to add inconsiderate sorrow to the grief of those they have left behind.”
 
The archbishop said, “Is murder to be excused due to the unproven immorality of the killed? Enough!”
 
Archbishop Sergio Utleg of Tuguegarao, said he continued to hope and pray that the truth would emerge so that justice for Father Ventura would finally be served.
 
“We do not want to speculate on what the reasons are for his death,” said the archbishop, adding that he trusts that the authorities are “faithfully doing their job.” 
 
He added, “Neither do we want that the investigation muddled by the spreading of unfounded rumours and malicious insinuations.” 
 
He said, “We wish them success, to come up with solid evidence, to apprehend the killers and the mastermind.”
 
The archbishop stressed that Father Ventura was “an affectionate person, sympathetic and close to many people rich and poor, men and women, young and old.”

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