THE CHURCH and other religious groups are not excluded from experiencing different forms of persecution such as cyber-bullying and cursing, an official said.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Committee on Public Affairs, said multiple kinds of harassment have been inflicted on the clergy, the Church and other faith groups for their positions on moral issues and national concerns.
“Threatening, cursing or cyberbullying our Church’s leaders are certainly forms of persecution that are clearly hindering them from exercising their pastoral duty and from teaching their flock more effectively,” Secillano said.
“In a sense, there is this type of persecution in the country that aims to silence the Church from educating and forming people in the context of the gospel and from lending her voice in politics, culture, business and the public sphere,” he added.
Secillano urged the Catholic Church to “stand firm and be [uncompromising] in teaching and living the gospel values” amid religious persecution.
“[The Church] needs to be the voice and pillar of strength to those she seeks to serve. She should engage in dialogue with perceived ‘enemies’ of the Church with a view to asserting one’s constitutional right to practice the faith without any fear or pressure,” he said.
Church organizations against religious persecutions
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic aid organization for the religiously persecuted and oppressed, opened its 23rd national office last Nov.12 at the CBCP building in Intramuros, Manila to help in the fight.
Founded in 1947 by a Dutch priest, the international organization seeks to raise awareness to the situations that persecuted religious are facing.
“Currently there are 200 million people worldwide who are experiencing religious intolerance. So they are persecuted and because of that we have this mission to help, to extend support to projects that would help Christians who are persecuted,” ACN National Director Jonathan Lucero said.
ACN relies on over 600,000 beneficiaries all over the world as an independent organization, to extend humanitarian help.
“We don’t receive money from the government or from churches. We only receive money from individual donors,” he said.
The organization also extends help in the evangelization of Christians and rehabilitation of devastated areas, he said. In 2013, ACN was among the organizations that gave help to victims of Typhoon “Yolanda.”
The organization has helped build churches, seminaries and schools in devastated areas. It also produces materials for evangelization such as bibles and religious resource materials for young people, including catechism programs such as YouCat and DoCat.
“They do not only offer material and financial assistance but they also have the capacity to bring the issue of persecution in the global sphere and ask governments, whether directly or indirectly, to put a stop to it,” he said.
In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI elevated the Catholic organization to a Pontifical foundation.