Beloved People of God:
We greet you with the peace and love of the Lord.
Gathered at our July 1985 General Assembly, we your pastors, the Bishops of the Philippines, prayerfully reflected on the situation of our people today. We are deeply saddened by certain developments.
In our Pastoral Letter of 1984 entitled “Let There Be Life ” we directed your attention specifically to the utter disregard of human life now apparently a part of our national reality. And now a new wave of criminality against life is attempting to crush our sense of human dignity and worth.
We forthrightly call this wave of inhumanity as terrorism . We refer to various acts inimical to persons and designed to terminate dissenting opinion, impose control, or subjugate the human will by overt or implied application of blatant power for one cause or another. By whatever name it is called, salvaging or liquidation, kidnapping or extortion, intimidation or harassment, the increasing use of force to dominate people is a frightening reality which we as pastors cannot ignore.
On the basis of moral teachings and guidelines we have already pointed out in our Pastoral Letter “Let There Be Life,” we therefore take the following stand:
- We denounce in no uncertain terms the murder, specifically of persons whose work is dedicated to the service of others: newspaper and radio people, labor leaders, doctors, lawyers, civil officials, church workers, Protestant ministers, and priests like Fr. Tullio Favali, PIME and Fr. Alberto Romero. For all of them, we plead for justice.
- We denounce the execution of civilians suspected as subversives by the Right, or as informers and “enemies of the people” by the Left, especially by the NPA. We believe that neither the cause of national security nor that of “national liberation” can justify such blatant violation of the right to life, so coldbloodedly terminated, oftentimes on the basis of mere suspicion.
- We denounce the use of cultists and members of fundamentalist sects in the counter-insurgency campaign. Not only is it counter-productive, it is likewise conducive of the worst forms of terrorism, fanned as it is by questionable beliefs and practices. We cannot close our eyes to the many victims already claimed by this unholy strategy.
- We urge the government to reorganize and properly screen, if not to dismantle, the CHDF’s and other armed groups particularly in those places where they have become instruments of terror rather than of peace.
Beloved People of God, we bring you these four points as the fruit of our pastoral reflection. It is our hope that in your own communities you, too, may reflect in the light of your faith upon the social realities that deeply affect the living of your Christian life.
As a collegial body, we realize with sorrow that we do not always respond as expeditiously and speedily as we would want to various historical events that quickly occur. Nevertheless we assure you that our position as your pastors will remain unalterably that of the Lord Jesus who suffers in His people.
With His love we commend you to Almighty God and remember you in our prayers before Him.
In the Lord,
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+ANTONIO Ll. MABUTAS, D.D.
Archbishop of Davao
July 8, 1985
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