‘Pray more for the Pres­i­dent,’ says bishop amid Duterte’s at­tack anew

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY ER­WIN P. NICAVERA

“WE are ‘no strangers to ridicule and per­se­cu­tion’ and ours is noth­ing com­pared to the suf­fer­ings and or­deals of the poor in our coun­try. How­ever, if such at­ti­tude of the Pres­i­dent con­tin­ues, it is the poor he vowed to help that will con­tinue to suf­fer all the more. Hence, we re­ally have to dou­ble our pray­ers for him.”

This is the state­ment of Dio­cese of San Car­los Bishop Ger­ardo Almi­naza fol­low­ing the lat­est at­tack of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte against the Catholic Church.

In his speech at the Palace’s He­roes Hall on Wed­nes­day, Duterte said it would be bet­ter to kill bish­ops who are “use­less” and do­ing noth­ing but to

crit­i­cize the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

For Almi­naza, it is ob­vi­ous that the Pres­i­dent has a deep hurt which from his per­spec­tive is caused by the Catholic Church.

The wound which may have come from sev­eral fac­tors is far from be­ing healed. This ad­ver­sar­ial re­la­tion­ship is far from over, he said.

“I pray all the more for our Pres­i­dent,” the Ne­grense bishop said, adding that “I con­tinue do­ing what I am sup­posed to do such as reach­ing out, di­a­logu­ing, and col­lab­o­rat­ing with var­i­ous gov­ern­ment agen­cies and groups on the ground to re­al­ize our shared mis­sion and goals for the sake of the com­mon good es­pe­cially for our poor­est sec­tors.”

The lo­cal church leader said among these en­deav­ors in­cluded strength­en­ing mar­riages and fam­ily ties, mak­ing ed­u­ca­tion ac­ces­si­ble to those in the pe­riph­eries par­tic­u­larly the indige­nous peo­ple, help­ing agrar­ian re­form ben­e­fi­cia­ries, of­fer­ing a com­mu­nity-based re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram for drug ad­dicts, as­sist­ing in the dis­as­ter and risk re­duc­tion man­age­ment, and ad­vo­cat­ing for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, among oth­ers.

Almi­naza, though, ex­pressed wor­ries on the ef­fects of “this re­peated con­di­tion­ing of minds” that ac­cord­ing to him un­der­mines the sanc­tity of hu­man life and hu­man dig­nity.

It also cre­ates a cul­ture of death, a cli­mate of ut­ter dis­re­gard for hu­man rights, non-ob­ser­vance of due process, and ad­her­ence to the prag­matic prin­ci­ple that the end jus­ti­fies the means, he added.

Mean­while, Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Sal­vador Panelo clar­i­fied that Duterte was not threat­en­ing the Catholic bish­ops when he de­clared that they were bet­ter off dead, but was merely be­ing “dra­matic” in his state­ments.

“I think that’s only a hy­per­bole on the part of the Pres­i­dent. We should be get­ting used to this Pres­i­dent. He makes cer­tain state­ments for dra­matic ef­fect. But he ac­tu­ally means, ‘Stop crit­i­ciz­ing and do some good for this coun­try. Help us,’”

Panelo said the Pres­i­dent was merely “upset” that the Church lead­ers are crit­i­cal of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies.*

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