Archbishop Socrates Villegas of the Philippines, who is famous for his standing up for Catholic teaching even if it means going against the government, said that all priests and bishops must continue to speak out against the policies of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, saying that the message of Christ must be preached and that death will only make it stronger:
A Catholic archbishop in the Philippines has told clergy to continue preaching the Gospel even if they are threatened with death and ‘the government is hostile’.
Socrates Villegas, the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in Pangasinan said in a homily at Dagupan Cathedral: ‘We must teach even if our voices get hoarse. We must teach even if they threaten us.’
He continued: ‘We must teach even if they kill us and if they kill us, our message will echo even more because the best way to teach is through martyrdom!’
Lingayen-Dagupan is one of the most vocal archdioceses against the government, whose ruthless drugs ‘war’ has claimed thousands of lives in the country.
The archbishop said the times call on pastors not to be afraid and to ‘fill the dark world with the light of Christ’.
Villegas said: ‘In the lights and shadows of life, in the stormy and sunny days, in the persecutions we endure and the triumphs we bask in—the Lord speaks.’
The prelate, who has led the archdiocese since 2009, also stressed the need for the Church to reach out to what Pope Francis calls ‘the peripheries’.
He said: ‘We dream not of [a] status quo Church but an ever vibrant Church that is excited, not afraid to plunge into the deep.’
The comments came after a series of clashes between the Catholic Church and the government of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In March Catholic Bishops there said that they were ‘overcome with grief’ after the House of Representatives, the lower house in Congress, overwhelmingly voted in favour of reinstating capital punishment for serious drug offences.
According to the reports, more than 8,000 people have been killed by police and unknown suspects since Duterte took office last year, with many in incidents involving vigilantes. (source)
The controversy between the current government and the Church in the Philippines is regards to how President Duterte has handled the many problems in his nation. We have written about him before, as he famously stated that “human rights are bullsh*t, I will strip you of your rights and slaughter you all”. We commented on this, noting his hard stance on Islamic terrorists, and recognizing that sometimes evil people can be used by God for good means, but that evil is still evil:
Now it is important to keep this in perspective. President Duterte is *nominally* Catholic, and his views are very liberal and mixed. He is not a moral person, or even a good man, as he was involved with death squads and even earned himself the nickname “the Punisher.” He is a typical, corrupt Filipino politician in the true meaning of the word.
That said, again, it does not mean that God cannot use bad or evil men for good means. If anything, in spite of his many issues, it is good to hear him address the Muslim terrorist crisis that has been worsening in the Philippines. Perhaps instead of looking to an outside nation such as the USA, which has done little to address the problem (and given our support of ISIS, may have made it worse), he is a reminder of the fact that to stop Islam, we cannot just look to an external person or group to do the work on our behalf. If fighting Islam is one part of fighting against evil, then everybody has a role to play, not just the governments.
In this sense, he is similar to Syrian President Asad, who while also not a good man, understands Islamic terrorism and the threats, as terrorists do not play games but for keeps. They cannot be used as pawns, but must be taken and dealt with seriously and immediately. Perhaps it is that while Duterte may be an undesirable person, he may be somebody who can stop the Islamic assault on the Philippines.
However, just because a good outcome can occur from evil actions, it does not justify the committing of the evil in the first place because evil is still evil. In this particular case for the Philippines, it is the absolute brutality which Duterte uses to fight against those who oppose him.
Make no mistake, this is not to say that force cannot be used or that it is unnecessary. However, the fact is that one cannot stop evil by means of evil because they both lead to the same end, and that while fighting sometimes is necessary, there are clear limits of what is and is not acceptable. This is the reason why Ted wrote his book on Christian militarism, in order to outline how being that God is Love, and Love is mercy and justice, that the Faith has the perfect balance of the two that perfectly applies to all aspects of human life, including conflict between others.
President Duterte hates the Church because he has a personal grudge against it, and also because as is the case historically with many autocrats, the Church is often times the only moral voice which stands in opposition to either the government or the people attempting to usurp either for political gain at all cost with respect to none. It is the reason why the Protestant Revolution and the French Revolution were so destructive to Christendom. In the former case, it attempted to make the Church a vassal of the government, making religious piety synonymous with obedience to the government’s commands. In the case of the latter, it was simply and advanced form of Protestantism which just sought to get rid of the Church and replace it with government as the actual object of religious worship. In both cases the revolts were based on factual, real grievances to agitate the people, but the actual purpose behind those who funded and directed the movements was for them to attempt to seize absolute power and have nobody to oppose their dictates.
The same case is playing out in the Philippines. Yes, there is corruption in the Church in the Philippines. Yes, there is a tremendous crime problem in the Philippines, caused primarily by drug dealers and many times working with Muslim terrorists. Yes, military confrontation was likely unavoidable and will be for some time. However, it is not permissible to defeat one’s enemies by becoming just like them.
I leave this issue on one last note. For a long time, we at Shoebat.com noted how ISIS terrorists were engaging in cannibalism, and people were shocked, outraged, and horrified. However, we recently ran a story about a UK soldier who, while fighting against ISIS, also decided to treat his enemies the same way and partook in cannibalism of dead ISIS soldiers. While what ISIS did was evil, the way to fight ISIS is to defeat them, not to become like them.
That is what the Archbishop is fighting for. Yes, the drug dealers must be defeated and their brutality stopped, but not by becoming as bad or worse than them.