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The last of a Catholic nation in Asia?

HONG KONG (SE): “Some of my friends in other countries say that they are worried about the government in The Philippines,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the president of the Philippine bishops’ conference, says in his message for Easter, but while he admits he is not worried about the government, he confesses he is worried about the Filipino people.

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Defending self not the country

MANILA (SE): The bishops of The Philippines regret that there seems to be a language gap between them and their shoot-from-the-hip president, Rodrigo Duterte, as they say they both aspire to achieving the same benefits for the country, but cannot seem to agree on anything.

There certainly is a language gap, as the president of the bishops’ conference, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, admitted some months ago.

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The hero is the villain

MANILA (SE): “The hero is now the villain,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in lamenting what he termed the new spirit of a now splintered EDSA Remembrance Day.

“History books are rewritten. Historical memory is revised. The hero is the villain. The plunderers are now the heroes,” he said in pointing out that the real spirit of what was a bloodless coup just 31 years ago has evaporated into a relentless killing spree of the poor in the name of change.

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Manila walks for life

MANILA (SE): Before the sun peeped over the horizon on February 18, waves of white were rolling into the Quirino Grandstand in Manila to join a Walk for Life and send a message to the congress that if Filipinos want their nation to free from violence, no one can be a perpetrator of violence, irrespective of the legal or judicial trappings that may accompany it.

The president of the Council of the Laity, Zenaida Capistrano, told the rally, “Life is just borrowed from God, it must be cared for.”

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Catholic but not Christian?

MANILA (SE): The Philippines is widely hailed as the only Catholic country in Asia, but despite being Catholic, it is struggling to live out its Christian values.

In recent months, Archbishop Socrates Villegas has lamented the silence of his flock in the face of the mass killing of the poor instigated by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, saying that it is the complicity of silence from the pews that has enabled the massacre to prosper.

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Beware martial law

MANILA (SE): “Let us continue to maintain safeguards against dictatorial martial law that our present constitution contains,” the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of The Philippines, Archbishop Socrates Villegas, said at the completion of the bishops’ plenary meeting in January.

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The silence of the people is the big killer

MANILA (SE): The bishops of The Philippines issued their first joint statement condemning the war on the poor being waged by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, at the conclusion of their 112th Plenary Assembly held at Cebu City during January.

In a statement that was read at all Masses across the country on February 5 the bishops say, “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.”

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Religious persecution happens online

MANILA (UCAN): Despite the popular claim that The Philippines is a Catholic country, Archbishop Socrates Villegas insists that religious persecution is very much alive and well, even within the Church.

In a statement on November 14, the president of the bishops’ conference says, “Bashing in social media where truth is made to appear a lie and a lie the truth is another form of persecution.”

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Gratitude and repentance

ASSISI (SE): The Philippines can give thanks for its religious and cultural diversity, but must also beg forgiveness for its continual reliance on the violence of arms to settle its disputes.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas told the gathering at the Interreligious World Day of Prayer for Peace held in Assisi, Italy, on September 20, that his nation is highly blessed by God with a rich diversity of ethnicity, culture and religion, all contributing to the makeup of what it means to be Filipino.

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A million roses for the world

MANILA (SE): Running under the theme of A nation at prayer is a nation at peace, the bishops of The Philippines have launched a prayer crusade called A Million Roses for the World: Filipinos at prayer for the nation, in an attempt to heal what they describe as their wounded nation torn by socio-political issues.

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