Although the Catholic Church officially discourages clergy and religious from serving in public office, in many countries Catholic actors nevertheless play key roles in forging peace accords, guaranteeing access to safe water and other humanitarian aims, and lighting a fire under the international community to get involved.
That activism builds on a grand history, from popes defying emperors and kings in the Middle Ages, to modern examples such as clergy in Poland joining the Catholic population in rising up against the Communist system, as well as the vast Catholic mobilization in the Philippines to overthrow the corrupt regime of Ferdinand Marcos.
In recent days, examples from around the world suggest that this tradition of political engagement is alive and well.
The Philippines and the war on drugs
The Filipino House of Representatives on March 10 approved a bill which, if endorsed by the Senate, would reimpose the death penalty for drug-related crimes, among others. Reinstating the death penalty was one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s major campaign promises.
On Wednesday, several key Filipino lawmakers were expelled by the House leadership after voting against the restoration of the death penalty.
According to local reports, Duterte’s “war on drugs” and extra-judicial killings have generated thousand of casualties since last July, and he’s promised to execute “five or six” criminals per day once the death penalty is reintroduced.
If passed by the Senate and signed by the president, death will be carried out by hanging, firing squad or lethal injection for selling, trading and transporting drugs. Possessing drugs would lead to life imprisonment.
The Catholic bishops are having none of it, calling on the faithful to oppose the bill in any way possible. For instance, Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi called on the youth to take to social media.
“Use your capacity to post on social media against extra-judicial killings, the death penalty, and be online missionaries of God,” Baylon said addressing them during the 8th Diocesan Youth Way of the Cross at Kawa-Kawa Hill in Ligao City, Albay on Saturday. Continue reading
- Crux article by Inés San Martín, an Argentinean journalist who covers the Vatican in Rome for Crux.
- Image: Pinoy News Today
News category: Features.