MANILA Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the brutal murder of Fr. Mark Ventura has helped shed light on the social issues he advocated for, in a Mass last May 4 for the repose of the soul of the Thomasian priest who was gunned down in Cagayan.

In his homily, Pabillo said being true to following Jesus Christ entails persecution, which Ventura went through for being vocal against mining and the plight of the indigenous people in Cagayan.

“Akala nila tinapos na nila si Fr. Mark, but in fact, hindi. ‘Yung kaniyang mga issues mas nakilala. Mayroon palang problema sa pagmimina sa Cagayan, may mga pang-aapi [pala] sa mga katutubo roon…. ‘Yung pang-aapi, hindi naman nagwa-wagi [at] mas pinatitingkad pa ‘yung mga pinaninindigan natin,” Pabillo said in his homily at the Santisimo Rosario Parish.

The University marked a day of mourning and prayer on May 4 for Ventura, who finished his philosophical studies in UST in 2000. The 37-year-old priest was killed by unidentified men last April 30 just after celebrating Mass.

Pabillo urged the faithful to take a stand and called for collective action to ensure that Ventura’s murder would be the last.

“Kung nagdadasal tayo na palayain tayo sa kasamaan [dapat] kumikilos din tayo upang tayo ay mapalayo sa kasamaan. We do what we pray for. If we are serious enough, then we also engage in what we are praying for. Panahon na ito para manindigan. Hindi na tayo magtatago,” he said.

The prelate also warned against a growing culture of impunity among those in power, who, he said, were attempting to “take away the brakes so they can have the full control.”

“This is now the culture of impunity. Pati na ‘yung alagad ng batas kasama na sa paggawa ng krimen. In the long run hindi magwawagi ang kasinungalingan at dahas. While we pray, we also must do something. We all should speak out the truth [and] we should stand up. Alam po natin na hindi basta basta pinatay si Fr. Mark,” he added.

A candle-lighting ceremony at the Martyrs’ Monument followed the Mass. It was joined by Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox who was recently ordered to leave the country after participating in demonstrations against the government.

Ventura had served as director of the San Isidro Labrador Mission Station at Mabuno village in Gattaran, Cagayan. He was also rector of the St. Thomas Aquinas Major Seminary in Lyceum of Appari.

In a statement last April 29, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) condemned the murder and appealed to authorities to bring the priest’s killers to justice.

“We are totally shocked and in utter disbelief to hear about the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Ventura, Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao. [W]e condemn this evil act! We make our appeal to the authorities to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice,” CBCP President and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said.

In a separate statement, Tuguegarao prelate Sergio Utleg called the killing a “brutal and cowardly act.”

“We just lost a young priest, zealous and dedicated, one who smelled like his sheep, to an assassin’s bullet right after he said Mass and was baptizing children. We condemn in strongest terms this brutal and cowardly act. [T]here have been too many murders already done with impunity in our country by assassins riding in tandem. May this be the last,” he said.

Ventura was the second priest to be killed in the last four months. Fr. Marcelito Paez, 72, was slain in Jaen, Nueva Ecija also by unidentified gunmen last December 2017.

CBCP has declared Dec. 3, 2017 to Nov. 25, 2018 as the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons.


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