For three straight years, the Philippines was privileged to host some of the most significant events in the Catholic Church. In 2015, Pope Francis visited the country. Last year, the 51st International Eucharistic Congress was held in Cebu. And this year, the Fourth World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (Wacom 4) took place, where thousands of international delegates gathered from January 16 to 20, 2017.
With a theme “Communion in Mercy, Mission for Mercy,” Wacom 4 reinforced the role and importance of mercy in uniting not just the Christian community but the world.
Mercy is love in action, and this unseen force binds the community together, especially families.
Perhaps, this congress on mercy is truly timely. In a country representing the bastion of Christianity in Asia, the culture of mercy among Filipinos is shaken with a lot of issues.
We take a look at the problems our country is currently facing; problems that requires an infinite amount of mercy in order to be solved.
On extrajudicial killings
In just six months, since Rodrigo Duterte assumed the highest position of the land as the president, more than 6,000 drug-related personalities were killed by the police force and some by unknown vigilante groups.
The Catholic Church is consistent in questioning the President’s war on drugs, saying that the end doesn’t justify the means.
With all the rampant killings, involving even innocent people, the government is still resolved to shun the legal procedures. On the other hand, families of the victims are left with pain, loss, anger and hunger for justice. The normality of violence and blood has become so usual. More frustrating is how Filipinos settle in accepting these merciless deaths.
This is a call for everyone to reconsider all wrongdoers, not only drug addicts, who are in need of mercy. If we are going to rob the chance to choose a different life, bodies will continue to pile up in the streets. Is this setting synonymous to peace?
On death penalty
Death penalty was suspended in our country on 2006, and the government was confident that reviving this will keep criminals in line.
In a stand against this Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani emphasized in his WACOM4 talk, the importance of giving another chance to anyone.
“Now they will not be condemned to jail, but to eternal fire,” he said. “There was more uproar on the alleged killing of the dog in the film ORO, than in the killing of 6,000 people,” Bishop Bacani also noted.
Come to think of it, the extrajudicial killings are a form of death penalty itself, although it is lacking the paperwork and decency. EJK is not the only alternative form of death penalty. Abortion, humiliation, rejection, and all kinds of deeds that degrades human life are also merciless ways to handle people and Bishop Bacani strongly rejects this.
Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop and CBCP President Socrates Villegas on the other hand said on his homily on the second day of WACOM, “There is no greater act of mercy than to die than to die for those who doesn’t even deserve mercy.”
On the communion of the Church
The Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium states that communion is the deepest vocation of the Church.
In the opening mass of WACOM, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said in his homily, “Jesus is the face, the voice, and the hands of the mercy of the Father.”
All Christians are expected to emulate Christ. That is our ultimate goal. If the humankind continues to deny mercy to their fellow humans, the world will eventually lose its sense of values and dignity.
Christ did not mingle with the holiest people. Instead, he ate and lived with sinners. If we are not going to do something about these issues, no one will ever will. Mercy is love in action.
If we are going to keep silent about the struggles of our brothers and sisters and deny them the chance to repent, then who are the ones who are really in need of mercy? (Luke Godoy)