MANILA Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Friday denounced the normalization of killings under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, in his strongest statement yet on the bloody drug war.
In a pastoral letter released on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Tagle said rampant extrajudicial killings cultivate an inhumane culture.
“We cannot allow the destruction of lives to become normal. We cannot govern the nation by killing. We cannot foster a humane and decent Filipino culture by killing,” he said.
Tagle called on parishes in the archdiocese to ring church bells for five minutes every 8 p.m. starting Sept. 14 to remember the victims of extrajudicial killings and call for the repentance of criminals.
“We call on those who harm or kill others to listen to their conscience, the voice of God that summons is to do good and avoid evil. Heartless violence can be conquered only by a change of heart and by discovering in the depth of our being the inclination to do good and to love our neighbor,” Tagle said.
The ringing of bells, or the De Profundis bell, is an ancient Christian custom to remind the faithful to recite Psalm 130 and pray for the dead.
Pope Urban II promoted the tradition to pray for Christian armies during the Holy Crusade.
Tagle, who had personally met the families victimized by the recent killings, urged priests, lay leaders and Filipino faithful to visit the wakes of those killed in the drug war.
“We are invited to intensify solidarity with those who have been killed to extend empathy and spiritual support to their families,” he said.