Today, in lieu of the usual homily, priests in Catholic Churches throughout the Philippines will be reading a letter signed by the country’s bishops denouncing President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs for creating a “reign of terror” among the poor.
Wow, I’ve never been so “terrorized” in the all years that I have lived in the Philippines! Damn this war on drugs! Damn these extra-judicial killings! Now I’m very afraid of stepping out into the streets in my neighborhood. I must now stop going to the malls and movie theaters. I must now refrain from taking a walk in the park. I should now self-impose a curfew from sunset to sunrise. Hell, maybe I should just stay home and not go to church today! Lest I will be part of more than “7,000 who have been killed since Mr. Duterte became president.”
But wait, I’ve never felt so safe being in the Philippines. I’ve never stepped on a dead body, or got caught in a crossfire between the police and criminal elements. In fact, I’ve seen these scenarios only in pages of The New York Times and Time Magazine, which doesn’t mean they don’t exist. But a “reign of terror?”
I am more terrorized by the collection basket that comes around during Sunday mass. It terrorizes me knowing that while the Catholic Church continues to grow its investments in the financial market, millions of poor Catholic Filipinos have yet to to receive a single centavo to help pay for their day’s meal or the medicines they need. The Church has yet to open its doors to the homeless, and its facilities for the rehabilitation of drug addicts.
I am terrorized by stories depicted in the Hollywood film,”Spotlight.”
So today, when I attend Sunday mass, I will put on my earphones to listen to “Amazing Grace” on my iPhone while the priest reads the bishops’ letter. And when the collection basket comes around, I will quickly pass it on to the next person because I will make sure to leave my wallet behind when I head to church.