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Salesian priest who joined Tokhang to meet Palma

CEBU, Philippines - A religious priest is planning to meet Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma after he joined police authorities in renewed Tokhang operation despite the prelate’s announcement disallowing members of clergy.

Santo Niño Parish priest Fr. Lamberto "Jhun" Paradiang, Jr. told reporters that he joined the operation because he understood “tokhang” as a non-violent and friendly invitation to convince drug suspects to surrender.

The Salesian priest wanted to get involved because he wants the drug suspects to avail of the recovery programs, especially those spearheaded by faith-based organizations or charismatic groups. He believes that drug dependents need to seek professional intervention.

The Santo Niño Parish community covers two of Cebu's depressed barangays – Pasil and Suba – which are also tagged drug infested.

Paradiang said that his presence during the operation would prevent violent actions from the law enforcers or from the people concerned. He said he always incorporates in his homily the objectives and good intentions of the Catholic Church for them to voluntarily submit themselves for rehabilitation.

But he believes that drug dependents and those involved in the illegal drug trade do not attend Mass.

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When “tokhang” resumed, he admitted having joined the police twice already. He, however, clarified that it happened before Palma made a clear pronouncement disallowing priests from joining Tokhang.

Paradiang said he is willing to abide by Palma’s order even if he is not a diocesan priest.

Paradiang is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a religious institute founded in the late 19th century by Italian priest Saint John Bosco.

“Ako andam motuman sa iyaha,” he said, noting that he is very willing to listen to Palma.

The diocesan priests are those who are ordained for a particular diocese such as the Cebu Archdiocese and served ordinarily in parishes while the religious priests are those members of orders and congregations guided with specific religious devotion. (FREEMAN)

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