Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
The Lord Jesus promised us at the Last Supper before he died: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27) In the past months there has been no peace in the minds and hearts of many of our people. Besides the many problems that our people are facing just to make ends meet, many are bothered at the news of millions and billions of the people’s hard earned money being squandered by people to whom they have entrusted the care of governance of our country. This has disturbed not a few. As the alleged net of corruption spread, all the more the people are disturbed and some are even losing hope. Where will all this lead us? Whom can we trust?
We cannot keep silent in the midst of this turmoil. Pope Francis wrote: The Church’s pastors… have the right to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being. (EG 182). In this issue of great import for our people we make the following call:
1. We invite all those implicated in the pork barrel scam to allow impartial investigation to take place. If they are in public office, they must NOT use the power
of their office to obstruct the pursuit of truth.
2. We plead with the media to be fair in protecting the good name of people. Let those who have been implicated be given proper forum and proper coverage
to explain their actions.
3. Let the Ombudsman do its task to investigate and prosecute those who are at fault. The judiciary is the proper venue to bring out justice. Justice delayed is
4. Let those who are at fault come out and admit their wrong doings rather than hurling denials and counteraccusations, thus muddling the issue to the confusion
of the people. What is stolen must be returned. The good name destroyed must be repaired.
5. Let the concern of all be the common good – that people do not lose trust on the institutions of governance and that there may be just restitution of the public money lost.
We are much saddened by the pork barrel scandal. We are shocked, together with our people, at the amount of money squandered when there are so many in great need. But we are grateful that in God’s Providence the scam is coming to light. Truth ultimately comes out. This should make public officials careful that they do not abuse the trust given to them. This also invites all of us to be vigilant over our public officials. There should be public accountability over public trust.
Let us not lose hope! As in all situations, we will see the light beyond this crisis. It will make us stronger and more mature. Let us not stop hoping, praying and being concerned and vigilant. Our government is what we make of it. Again, let us heed what Pope Francis said in a talk which he gave on Sept 16, 1013: “None of us can say, ‘I have nothing to do with this, how they govern.’ … No, no, I am responsible for their governance, and I have to do the best so that they govern well, and I have to do my best by participating in politics according to my ability.”
I request all our Catholic faithful to pray an extra rosary from May 31, Feast of the Visitation until August 15, Solemnity of the Assumption, and offer it for the conversion of the culprits in the pork barrel scam, for the courage of the witnesses and the healing of our country. I encourage our youth and children to receive Holy Communion frequently during these days of prayer and offer prayers for the culprits,
the witnesses and our government. Let us overcome evil by the power of good.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, May 24, 2014, Memorial of Mary Help of Christians
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan