MANILA— A Catholic bishop decried the seeming searing of the Christian conscience as some people try to justify the summary killing of suspected criminals.
Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan lamented that conscience is no longer seen as a consideration in societal matters.
“When I hear comments like these, I get stunned. I feel like I am witnessing a worse kind of death, the death of conscience,” David said.
“By repeating arguments like these over and over again, they begin to sound right, they begin to resemble a Gospel truth. They become part of the culture; they become the new normal,” he said.
The prelate made the in his homily during a Mass at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros on Thursday for the victims of drug-related killings and to mark the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.
The head of the diocese, which he described as the country’s “center” of extrajudicial killings, reiterated that the fight against criminality must be in a manner that is “lawful and humane”.
According to him, addiction to drugs is a disease, “a serious illness” that must be dealt not with bullets but with rehabilitation.
Echoing the call of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in its recent pastoral statement, David said: “Our desperate plea is only this: For God’s sake, stop the killings; start the healing!”
He also refuted claims that people who committed crimes or those who have gone wayward can no longer be reformed and cannot be given a second chance to change their ways.
“If we were to hold that as true, that will be as good as giving up one of the most important principles of our faith as Christians that we all live only by grace and mercy of a forgiving God,” said David.
“Who are we to condemn, if our own God refuses to condemn us? Who of us do not sometimes stray from the right paths? Who of us does not commit mistakes? Who of us does not get sick—not just physically but sometimes also mentally and spiritually?” he added.
The bishop also warned against “fighting evil with evil”, insisting that people are called “to be humane, to be refined in our ways”.
“Let us never give in to provocation, to the impulse to react with anger and retaliation, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, unless we want to finish off the human race,” David said. CBCPNews