Let’s begin in Rome where yesterday, the Pope addressed the crowds gathered at St.Peter’s square for his Sunday Angelus address. He focused his message on the Gospel passage of St. Matthew, where an enemy secretly plants weeds alongside the wheat in a master's field. The Pope invited us to recognize that we are all sinners and reminds us that: "the line between good and evil runs through the heart of every person”.
After the Angelus prayer, the Pope called upon the Muslims and Jews in the Holy-Land, to "Moderation and Dialogue" as tensions spike around a holy-site in Jerusalem . He asked the people gathered with him, to join him, in asking the Lord to inspire reconciliation and peace in the region.
Tensions are rising in the old city of Jerusalem, following the installation of metal detectors by the Israeli authorities, at the Temple Mount, after two Israeli policemen were killed by Arab gunmen in a terrorist attack near the holy-site, earlier this month.
The Israeli Police believe the attackers stashed the weapons, inside the holy site and therefore installed metal detectors. But these measures angered the Palestinians, who accuse Israel of trying to take control over the sacred place. As a result of this, Israel says, it is willing to consider alternatives to the controversial metal detectors and has called on Muslim leaders to put forward other suggestions. This recent killing of the police officers in Jerusalem sparked a wave of violence in the city where three Palestinians were killed in street-clashes and where a Palestinian killed three members of an Israeli family.
You may recall, last June, the Pope threatened the priests of the Nigerian diocese of Ahiara, with suspension unless they wrote to him a letter, apologizing for refusing to accept the bishop that was appointed to them in 2012.
Now days after the deadline, Crux is reporting that letters from back from the Pope, to each responding priest, has begun to arrive at the diocese.
“The pope promised he would write back, and he’s doing just that,” said Cardinal John Onayekan of Abuja, who is the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Ahiara. But, since the letters are not passing through me, he said, we won’t know the contents, “until the process of delivering the letters is over”. “I hope that my brothers will recognize the bishop,” he said. “I’m waiting, praying and hoping that this long crisis will come to an end.”
On June 8th the Pope issued an unprecedented threat, giving the priests of that diocese a 30-day deadline to either write to him promising “total obedience,” or face suspension. This after the priests of that diocese refused to accept their appointed bishop for the past 5 years, because he didn't belong to their Mbaise ethnic group.
So it seems that the Philippine President’s war on drugs is getting some attention on Capitol Hill as "policy of social-cleansing".
The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the US, was told by witnesses that “President Duterte and other high officials of the government, have effectively put in place a de facto social cleansing policy whereby police and vigilantes are not only encouraged, but rewarded to commit extrajudicial killings,” The hearing on “The Human Rights Consequences of the War on Drugs in the Philippines” featured witnesses from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. They testified on reports of the vicious extrajudicial killings in the Philippines as part of President’s the war on drugs that have killed over 7000 thousand people in the past year without due process or accountability.
A senior crisis adviser at Amnesty International, testified that high-ranking officials in the Philippine government are targeting poor people with the vast majority of victims of drug-related killings coming from the poorest segments of Philippine society”.
Rodrigo Duterte ran for presidential office on a platform of taking strong action against the drug trade, making shocking statements to underline his commitment to action. “Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor,” he said. Duterte was previously the mayor of the city of Davao, where he made a name for himself as the “death squad mayor.”
The Catholic Bishops of the Philippines have openly opposed the President's ruthless mandate urging rather, a policy of rehabilitation. Many catholic priests across the country have offered their churches as “sanctuaries” for those who believe they are on the police hit lists.
That's all for today. Join us again on tomorrow, when I bring you more news and stories from a Perspectives of a Catholic Lens.
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