BISHOP Julito Cortes of the Diocese of Dumaguete has exhorted all Catholic lay faithful to support the Church’s stand rejecting the re-imposition of the death penalty.
Bishop Cortes said Tuesday, December 20, the diocese has released a statement that “emphasizes the stand of the Church that the death penalty is really not acceptable.”
He cited Pope Francis in his document Amoris Laetitia that the church rejects death penalty and quoted another Pope and now a Saint, John Paul II, who said the death penalty is “cruel and unnecessary.”
“As Catholics and Christians, we have to oppose this because life is sacred,” said Bishop Cortes.
As the Christian world celebrates Christmas, the Dumaguete prelate notes through the birth of Christ, “God has become man and by becoming man, God wants to save man and man has become sacred.”
“And it is for that reason that man has an inviolable right to live. It is a God-given right,” Cortes stressed.
On the part of the Church, Bishop Cortes said they continue to pray for the enlightenment of legislators, especially the congressmen, during the days of discussions and debates and further readings before the pending bill on the death penalty reaches the Senate.
“What we are worried about is the rumor that it might be railroaded and so with our prayers we hope that those Catholics and Christians that are concerned about the people and the country would talk to their congressmen to persuade them about this particular stand that is based on the teachings of the law of God against killing,” said Cortes.
According to him, God’s law, “Thou Shall Not Kill,” does not “give even the government the right to be able to take away life and even criminals have a right to that life,” he added.
Cortes said as early as September 14 this year, the diocese has already come out with a circular letter providing the priests with ethical guidelines on the proposal to restore the death penalty, as given by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
The guidelines help the priests in their catechesis on the Church’s stand against the death penalty but as a concrete implementation of this, the diocese has come up with a homily guide for all the priests during the Advent Season.
Starting in Advent, during the whole Misa Aguinaldo or the nine-day novena masses up to Christmas and on to the Epiphany, the homilies tailored against the death penalty is the diocese’s initiative at implementing the ethical guidelines, Bishop Cortes said.
“This will help to form our people about the issues at stake regarding extrajudicial killings and the death penalty,” he said.
Under the leadership of Father Carmelito Limbaga Jr., the Chancellor of the Diocese of Dumaguete, the deacons, pre-deacons and selected priests, the diocese has come up with this homily guide, entitled “Pierced Side.”
The cover of the homily guide has a picture of a manger with the crown of thorns on top and blood splattered all over, a photo provided by renowned local photographer Charlie Sindiong and with Father Limbaga collaborating on the concept, Cortes added.
During this Advent Season, Bishop Cortes said the Church talks about four elements that are woven in the homilies, to include the extrajudicial killings, the death penalty, the Year of the Parish and homage to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
As Christmas Day is fast approaching, Bishop Cortes, in his message to the people, says Advent is “a period of looking into one’s self and is an opportunity for conversion.”
“It is a time to renew one’s relationship with God and to stay away from sin, which alienates us from God and alienates us from each other.”
According to him, this is a season of grace to choose a life in God and that is the best way to prepare for Christmas.
“The inner conversion and renewal of one’s relationship with God in Jesus Christ is the best way to prepare for Christmas,” Cortes said.
“All the others are just peripheral and not as necessary,” he added. (PNA)