AMID the rising number of victims of extrajudicial killings, Manila Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle called on drug users and pushers who voluntarily surrendered to the authorities “not to waste” God’s blessing of hope.
As drug-related violence shows no sign of stopping, the Catholic hierarchy, the Catholic bishops, have spoken with one voice, saying deaths from summary killings were cause for mourning.
According to police records, more than 5,000 people have been killed since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office six momnths ago, and about 1,400 were drug suspects killed in police operations and the rest by unknown assailants.
The Manila Cardinal also urged drug addicts to reform and to look to Christ, for only He could bring lasting fulfillment.
“God wanted to accept us all. I hope that we will not waste the blessing He is giving us,” Cardinal Tagle said.
“Don’t be afraid. Come to Him. Don’t be indifferent,” Tagle said.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said drug addicts must be given a chance to reform because they too were “children of God equal in dignity with the sober ones.”
“Drug addicts are sick brethren in need of healing … deserving of new life not death,” according to CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said, adding “they are patients begging for recovery.”
“They may have behaved as scum and rubbish, but the saving love of Jesus Christ is first and foremost for them. No man or woman is ever so unworthy of God’s love,” he added.
The prelate also called on those caught in the chains of drug addiction “not to be afraid” and to reform themselves.
“Dead in their addictions, ‘living dead’ in the eyes of an unforgiving world, we bid our addicted brethren to rise up and live again,” he said.
Tagle said dozens of reformed drug addicts were provided help by the Fazenda da Esperanza (Farms of Hope), a Catholic drug rehabilitation farm, and other surrenderers who were still undergoing rehabilitation.
The Cardinal said the church launched the “Sanlakbay Para sa Pagbabagong Buhay” program, the Manila archdiocese’s response to the thousands of drug users who voluntary surrendered to the police authorities.
The cardinal added the Farms of Hope is a community-based approach to help drug dependents where they could slowly be integrated back into society.
“No person will be discarded by Jesus. Every person is welcome to follow the light and hope. Every life has hope,” he added.