STATEMENT OF CONDEMNATION ON THE BRUTAL KILLING OF ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST REV. FR. MARK VENTURA, OF THE DIOCESE OF TUGUEGARAO

MAY THE BLOOD OF ANOTHER SLAIN SERVANT OF THE CHURCH AND PROPHET OF GOD AWAKEN OUR SENSES

STATEMENT OF CONDEMNATION ON THE BRUTAL KILLING OF ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST REV. FR. MARK VENTURA, OF THE DIOCESE OF TUGUEGARAO

 

I speak as the head and spiritual leader of the Iglesia Filipina Independente (IFI) to strongly condemn the brutal killing of Fr. Mark Ventura, a Roman Catholic priest of the Diocese of Tuguegarao, right after officiating the Holy Eucharist at Pene Weste, Gattaran, Cagayan Province on April 29, 2018.

He was shot to death by unidentified assailant in front of his congregation who are mostly children and young people. It was an act that reminds us of the impunity that has been occurring in our society. It so continued to rampage simply because the Duterte administration did not concretely address this issue of impunity. In fact, extra-judicial killings and human rights violations are ignored by this present government.

There are reasons to silence a prophet whose advocacy against mining, support on the struggle of the indigenous people, work as head of the migrant desk of the Diocese of Tuguegarao and help for the poor people of Cagayan province may have probably offended the selfish interest and agenda of influential people in his area. These forms of advocacies and ministries would certainly at present time endanger a life of a servant of God but these are part of the calling of all church peoples in exercising their ordination. This may be a risky, a less-travelled road, yet a noble, honorable and praise-worthy cause which the martyred Fr. Mark Ventura opted to follow in faithfulness to his calling. He could have chosen to look the other way and enjoyed his comfort zone in a well-privileged church. But he did not: the priest, pastor and prophet in him prevailed because in his ordination God made him a witness for truth, for peace and for justice among the people placed under his charge.

In behalf of the IFI, I express our condolences and prayers to the bereaved families, congregation, followers and friends of Fr. Mark Ventura. I pray that his martyrdom would move the people who love and work for justice, lasting peace and abundant life. The blood of the prophet which was being offered in the name of justice and righteousness should not be covered with tears and fears. Our sadness and dismay must be transformed into a struggling spirit so that a just and lasting peace will come to reality.

I extend the IFI’s solidarity to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tuguegarao, to its beloved bishop and clergy in its effort to find justice on the death of Fr. Mark Ventura and other victims of extra-judicial killings and human rights violations in the province.

I urge our bishop, clergy and faithful in the IFI Diocese of Tuguegarao to cooperate and closely work with all church people, especially with the Roman Catholic, to gain more strength to face this church persecution and repression. Our unity must be a strong force to reckon with in this time of faith-shaking brutal murder of Fr. Mark Ventura.

I join with other quarters of our society in calling the Duterte regime to end impunity, respect human rights and stop the extra-judicial killings in the country. Together with other national leaders, I also ask the government to show its seriousness of bringing the perpetrators into court and execute penalty in fairness and in justice, with dispatch. The cries for justice for Fr. Mark Ventura are also the cries of thousands who are victims of extra-judicial killings.

I call on our people to be more vigilant and conscious of safety. The death of Fr. Mark Ventura, the earlier killing of Fr. Tito Paez of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, the impending deportation of an Australian missionary, Sr. Patricia Fox, the incarceration of our own IFI Bishop Carlo Morales of Ozamiz City and the intimidations and harassments of many church people who supported the poor, deprived and oppressed people are but the acts of the powers-that-be intended to silence the servants of the church and prophets of God.

Let us indeed be wary that we live in a very dangerous times and our vocation places ourselves on the firing line. Borrowing the words from one IFI priest: “If they could kill a priest, showed no mercy to an elderly nun, and unjustly imprisoned a bishop, then what will prevent them from killing the innocents and oppressing the poor and the weak.”

Yet these times also call us to follow the way of the Lord and the examples of the prophets, for their blood waters the courageous faith of church people. Let us not waver to pray and work for truth, peace and justice until they flow out like living streams in our midst.

 

+ RHEE 
Obispo Maximo
30 April 2018

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