MANILA, Oct. 24, 2011— The Catholic hierarchy has challenged the Aquino administration to resolve the killing of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio in the soonest possible time. .
In a statement, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said the challenge now lies in the hands of the government and its law enforcers.
If the case of Tentorio will not be resolved soon, this,Mass for Justice and PeaceMass for Justice and Peace the prelates said, will be like any other cases of extrajudicial killings that will be reduced to statistics and embolden the perpetrators of violence.
“The government must act decisively and swiftly. It must investigate thoroughly every angle of the murder of Fr. Fausto. It cannot simply point at the usual scapegoats,” said Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, CBCP president.
“How long will evil men continue to plot against those who courageously protest against the sufferings of the poor and the degradation of God’s creation? How long shall they continue to snuff out the lives of those who dare to speak against injustices and imbalances in our society? How long will they continue to roam around freely without being brought to justice?” he added.
Odchimar said the CBCP condemns the killing of Tentorio, who was “deeply esteemed” by the indigenous people.
“We condemn and denounce in the strongest possible terms the heinous and monstrous crime against the life of Fr. Fausto,” he said.
“Simple and humble in life, Fr. Fausto was deeply esteemed by the indigenous peoples whose cultural and territorial rights he promoted and defended. He was deeply loved by the people whose spiritual welfare he looked after,” added Odchimar.
The CBCP also acknowledged the help and great sacrifice that Tentorio and all foreign missionaries gave to the country
“They are friends of our people. In great sacrifice they have strengthened our faith and assisted the poor and the needy. We pray for them today,” said Odchimar.
The statement was read on Monday by CBCP Assistant Secretary General Joselito Asis during a “Mass for Justice and Peace” at Quiapo Church in Manila.
From Arakan where he was murdered last October 17, Tentorio’s remain was brought to Kidapawan City today for his funeral. The funeral Mass would be held on October 25 at Our Lady Mediatrix of All Graces Cathedral.
The Mass will be followed by a procession to a cemetery in the city’s Balindog village, where Tentorio will be buried near the grave of his slain confrere, Fr. Tullio Favali.
Aside from the Mass, a candle lighting activity was also held at Plaza Miranda attended by the religious and civil society groups led by the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR)
Favali, also a member of the Pontificio Instituto Missioni Estere (PIME) or Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions was gunned down by paramilitary group on April 15, 1985. [CBCPNews]