Killing Catholic Priests in Mexico and the Philippines: Father Mark Anthony Ventura murdered
Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
If you close your eyes and think about parts of the world where Roman Catholic priests could be killed, then immediately you think about nations like Nigeria and Pakistan. Of course, Christian clergy from other sects are killed in the two nations mentioned, but in recent times Roman Catholic priests are more likely to be killed within the mainly Catholic world. Hence, the two murders of Roman Catholic priests in the Philippines, following on from the horrendous situation in Mexico where 21 men of the cloth have been killed since 2012, highlights the internal threat that this faith faces.
In the past during the heightened tensions of various civil wars in nations throughout South America, then Roman Catholic priests and nuns faced the excesses of violence and greed. Therefore, Roman Catholic priests and nuns were targeted in nations including Brazil and El Salvador – with the brutal murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the rape of nuns in El Salvador remaining etched in the memory despite the passing years.
Of course, the reasons vary between Mexico and the Philippines on why Roman Catholic priests are being killed. In the Philippines, it is true to say that Roman Catholic priests and Protestants face Islamist militancy in parts of the country. However, this isn’t the reason in the latest two murders of priests in the Philippines because it appears that issues related to wealth and praying for the marginalized are the main factors. Meanwhile, in Mexico, it is a combination of drug cartels, the high murder rate in this nation, the failure of the rule of law, corruption, the ineptitude of the government of Mexico, and other factors that are at play. Whatever the reasons, it seems that killing Roman Catholic priests is becoming a sad reality in parts of the mainly Catholic world.
Father Mark Anthony Ventura is the latest Christian martyr in the Philippines. This sad fact became known after it emerged that he became the second priest to be killed in the last five months in the environs of Luzon. Equally disturbing, the gunman killed the priest while he was still concluding mass and talking to children.
Archbishop Sergio Utleg from Tuguegarao stated, “We just lost a young priest, zealous and dedicated, one who smelled like his sheep, to an assassin’s bullet right after he said Mass and was baptizing children”
According to the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines the priest was known to care deeply about the poor and the indigenous. Hence, he probably made enemies by default for merely caring about the marginalized. In other words, his outreach work in rebuking mining companies and trying to help marginalized indigenous people meant that he made many enemies.
Pointedly, a local Christian missionary uttered, “These killings, coupled with cases like the expulsion of Sister Patricia Fox, are fuelling fear… We are under pressure. It seems to be back in the days of President Marcos’s dictatorship.”
In Mexico, the situation is out of control because far too many Roman Catholic priests have been killed in this nation since 2012. Modern Tokyo Times alluded to this by recently stating, “Hence, since late 2012, it is reported that 21 Roman Catholic priests have been murdered in Mexico. In other words, Mexico resembles a failed state where religious preachers from several faiths are butchered by ISIS (Islamic State – IS) and other Sunni Takfiri groups in Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria. Yet, Mexico isn’t a failed state to the extent of Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and others, despite lawlessness and drug cartels hinting that Mexico isn’t fully functioning.”
The Catholic Herald reports, “The Catholic Multimedia Centre counts 21 priests murdered since December 2012, with the cases overwhelmingly remaining unpunished. In Guerrero state alone, at least six priests have been killed since 2009, including Comboni Fr John Ssenyondo, a Ugandan missionary, whose body was pulled from a clandestine grave.”
Indeed, another shocking reality in these two mainly Roman Catholic nations is the utter hatred being witnessed by the spate of murders. For example, in the Philippines, a priest was gunned down while still saying mass, meanwhile in Mexico individuals even pulled the body of one dead priest from his grave.
Overall, the blood of Roman Catholic priests is flowing in Mexico and the Philippines. Despite this, many cases remain unsolved based on the failure of the rule of law in both these nations. Equally, the strings being played by drug cartels in Mexico and wealthy business people in the Philippines who are opposed to priests helping the marginalized is playing a role. In other words, money is buying silence and is helping the killers escape justice in Mexico and the Philippines.
Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group
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