Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas (CBCP News photo)
Former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Archbishop Socrates Villegas said he is “appalled by credible reports” of the “dishonesty, graft and malfeasance in scandalous proportions” while the country is being gripped by the Covid pandemic while encouraging Catholics to protest these acts “vocally and persistently” as possible.
“Nakakasuklam! We cannot but be appalled by credible reports about dishonesty, graft and malfeasance in scandalous proportions, particularly because these despicable acts exploited the fears of our people occasioned by the Covid pandemic,” Villegas said in his pastoral admonition released Friday.
He added that Catholics cannot be neutral and indifferent to good and evil, and that those who are “unwilling to condemn blatant injustice becomes its enabler.” “Whoever will not indict the thief becomes complicit with him,” he stressed.
Villegas admonishes those “who have profited from these scandalous deals” to seek the Lord’s forgiveness. He also calls on all Catholic priests and lay leaders to make the help the people become aware of “the wrongs done them and recognizing them as wrong”.
The archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan was alluding to the recent revelations in the ongoing investigation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee into the use of government pandemic funds.
Blue Ribbon Committee chair Senator Richard Gordon on Tuesday released his panel’s partial findings which included the recommendation of filing possible charges against Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. executives, former presidential economic adviser Michael Yang and former Department of Budget and Management procurement head Christopher Lloyd Lao.
The full text of the archbishop’s pastoral admonition is available below:
To the People of God in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan and all my countrymen:
If I say to the wicked, You shall surely die—and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade the wicked from their evil conduct in order to save their lives—then they shall die for their sin, but I will hold you responsible for their blood.(Ez 3, 18)
There is nothing that leads a people more towards the path of destruction than the loss of moral sensibility: the indifference to good and evil! The Church is the Body of Christ consecrated by the Spirit – the Spirit of Truth. It is a prophetic community and so must speak God’s Word, in season and out of season, whether it is pleasing to the rulers of the earth or unwelcome to them. The pastors of the Church are anointed not to please but to proclaim from the housetops what has been entrusted to them!
We cannot but be appalled by credible reports about dishonesty, graft and malfeasance in scandalous proportions, particularly because these despicable acts exploited the fears of our people occasioned by the Covid pandemic.
Held in the grip of dread for the disease that has claimed so many lives, our people, already laid low by the economic privation brought about by the pandemic, were hoodwinked by those who exploited the situation for their profit. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
In the name of God, I admonish all Catholics to protest these acts of perfidy as vocally and persistently as possible. There can be no room for neutrality. Between good and evil, there is no middle ground, and whoever is unwilling to condemn blatant injustice becomes its enabler. Whoever will not indict the thief becomes complicit with him!
Gawin ang tama!
In the name of God, I admonish all who serve in the prosecution service to see to the prosecution of those who are liable for these egregious offenses against our people, who have enriched themselves at a time of want and of suffering, without fear and favor. It has often been said – and it bears repetition – that there is nothing that deters crime and wrongdoing more than the certainty of prosecution and punishment!
In the name of God, I admonish all who sit in judgment in our courts of law to be truly instruments of the vindication of our people’s rights. God has granted you a participation in his power as judge over peoples. Do justice in his name and allow not the scales of justice to be tilted in favor of power, wealth and the enticements of prestige.
Isauli ang hindi sa inyo!
In the name of God, I admonish all who have profited from these scandalous deals and iniquitous transactions to return to the Lord who is rich in mercy and abounding in forgiveness. Restitute what is not yours and what belongs to the people. The Lord knows and He sees! Show mercy on those who are already impoverished by life’s trials, and the Lord will be merciful to you!
Bawal ang duwag!
I call on all priests and lay leaders to engage our people in the process of “conscientization”–bringing to their awareness the wrongs done them and recognizing them as wrong. For indeed, one of the saddest things that has befallen us, is a dreadful national familiarization with graft and corruption that they no longer shock and disturb us!
The call of synodality to engage civil society in the journey of the Church is exactly what this admonition is for: All call to all to be engaged in the re-birth of society, the conversion of all, and the heedfulness of the Church to the plight of her sons and daughters!
May Mary Help of Christians give us to courage to stand up for the Lord!
May Mary Health of the Sick move us to defend the poor and the sick who are our lords!
May Mary Mother of the Poor guide us in humility to repent and return to her Son our Lord!
From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, October 22, 2021, Memorial of Saint John Paul II
+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
– Rommel F. Lopez