Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Statement of Great Concern

“You Shall Not Kill!”
(Ex 20:13; Dt 5:17)

A Statement of the Roman Catholic Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of Borongan
The Series of Killings in Borongan and Other Places in Eastern Samar
(February 15, 2006)

There is a state of chilling silence among the people of Borongan and other places of Eastern Samar. Easily one senses why. Several persons have been systematically singled out, mercilessly murdered or relentlessly pursued for assassination by groups of trained killers in the past few months. With their families we grieve. With them we denounce in the strongest terms all these acts of murder and travesty of human life. This raises within us the moral response that we share with the CBCP: “It is not right that people be killed simply because their political beliefs differ from ours” ("Let There Be Life;" Catechism for Filipino Catholics, no. 999).

Every human life is sacred because every human being is created by God himself and in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:26). Consequently every killing of the human person is a sacrilege of the highest degree. When Cain killed his brother Abel, the Lord God uttered the words we now repeat to the perpetrators: “What have you done? Listen: Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil” (Gen 4:10).

The Fifth Commandment, “You shall not kill,” (Ex 20:13; Dt 5:17) not only prohibits the crime of murder but also protects the life of every human person because God himself is the very Author and Master of that life. In Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, human life reaches its highest worth when he becomes a human being (Jn 1:14). As Pope Benedict XVI recently declared: “Man is not the owner of life, but the custodian and caretaker” (February 5, 2006 Homily to the faithful of St. Anne’s Church in Rome).

God alone gives life; God alone can take it away. When human beings act against this fundamental truth they not only blaspheme God; they also disfigure their identity as his “images and likenesses”, indeed as his “sons and daughters in the Son”.

We therefore entreat the perpetrators and mastermind(s) of the killings and attempted assassinations: Listen to the Lord in the voice of your conscience, be converted to him by upholding once more the sanctity of human life. Then humbly submit yourselves to the demands of justice. Or your own conscience will be your severest judge now and in the life to come.

To our political leaders as well as our police and military officers we issue this plea: Do everything mandated by law to truly solve these crimes against human life not simply to dispel doubts and suspicions, but because it is right. Uphold the laws of the land against any and all who violate them and truly be protectors of the people.

To our brothers and sisters in the left-leaning movements we likewise make this appeal: Respect, uphold, and promote the sanctity of human life. This is not only the obligation of those who profess belief in God but also of those who believe that the right to life is a fundamental human right.

To our fellow ordinary citizens we say: Let not our fears hinder us from helping solve these crimes against life. We cannot remain uninvolved. The death of a fellow Filipino, a fellow Eastern Samareño, a fellow human being diminishes us all because we are only one family with God as our common Father. If they killed one of us, they can kill any of us. To paraphrase a saying, “If we are not part of the solution, then we may be part of the problem.”

To all of us: Let us pray for our own continuing conversion and transformation into real sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters to one another in Christ Jesus, respecting and upholding one another ’ s right to life, loving one another as Jesus loves us (Jn 15:12) . And may Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of us all, join us in this prayer and intercede on our behalf!

Sincerely in the Lord,

(Sgd.) +Leonardo Y. Medroso, D.D.
Bishop of Borongan

Clergy, Diocese of Borongan