by Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz
President
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

We, of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, condemn the slaying of our esteemed colleague, Bishop Benjamin D. de Jesus, OMI, Apostolic Vicar of Jolo.  We mourn deeply his death while finding comfort in our faith in God who gives us the promise of eternal life.

Bishop de Jesus was a man of God, a man of peace.  He embraced his vocation with zealousness and dedication, devoting himself to a place of diverse beliefs fired up with a desire to bring about peace and harmony.  He ardently promoted dialogue not only of minds and hearts, but also of lives, weaving his own life in profound understanding of the life, not only of the Catholics, but most importantly, of our Muslim brothers and sisters in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The tragedy is that death should come to this beloved man of the cloth through the hands of the ungodly, men with obvious evil in their hearts.  What is the message behind this?  When will such acts of inexplicable and deliberate violence stop?

This sacrifice of life by this man of peace should open our eyes, should rouse our society and our country to the bitter, dark hatred residing in men which threatens to erupt into senseless violence.  It must move us to exert greater effort at bringing about peace, at making alive the witness of love and compassion that Jesus Christ taught us by his life.  It must make us realize that the work of peace is not the task of one man, but of all men of good will and love for God and country.

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