The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have spoken out against the increase in extra-judicial killings of drugs suspects and other criminals since the coming to power of President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a letter to law enforcers across the nation, the bishops appealed to “reason and humanity” in addressing their concerns at the rising number of killings.
“We are disturbed by an increasing number of reports that suspected drug-peddlers, pushers and others about whom reports of criminal activity have been received, have been shot, supposedly because they resist arrest,” the prelates write. “It is equally disturbing that vigilantism seems to be on the rise. Media has carried reports of bodies, apparently of homicide or murder victims, showing up on whom placards announcing their supposed crimes are writ large!
“To kill a suspect, no matter how much surveillance work may have antecedently been done on the suspect, is not morally justified. Suspicion is never the moral equivalent of certainty.”
German Church shows sharp decline
Germany’s Catholic Church is experiencing a dramatic and ongoing decline, according to newly-released figures. Issued by the German Bishops’ Conference, the figures reveal that in 2015, 181,925 people officially left the Church. This figure is set against 2,685 who became Catholic and a further 6,474 who returned to the Church.
In terms of baptisms to the Church, there has also been a marked decline, with the 167,000 babies baptised in 2015 being a third down on the 260,000 such baptisms in 1995. Marriage showed a steeper decline, down by half from 86,456 in 1995 to 44,298 in 2015, from a Catholic population of 23.7 million.
Recognising the seriousness of the figures for the future of the Church in Germany, the head of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, said: “We need a ‘sophisticated pastoral practice’ that does justice to the diverse life-worlds of people and convincingly passes on the hope of the Faith.”