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EJKs mar the beauty of Christmas, says bishop

Two girls pray before a belen, or Nativity scene, in Cainta, Rizal. A popular Christmas symbol and decoration in Filipino homes, the belen depicts the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. WALTER BOLLOZOS

MANILA, Philippines – The ugliness of extrajudicial killings nowadays mars the beauty of Christmas, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in his homily on Christmas Day.

“Christmas comes to us as a feast of beauty, but we are not blind and numb to the ugliness that has come upon us,” said Villegas, in his pastoral message titled “Feast of Beauty and Hope,” to be read in all masses in the archdiocese today. “We have Christmas, but there is blood spilling on our streets and sidewalks.”

Quoting Bible passages that say, “Our land must flow with milk and honey (Ex.33:3), not with blood from violence and murder crying from the earth for justice (Gen. 4:10),” Villegas stressed: “This blood spilling is ugly because it is not the plan of God for His people. Murder is ugly. Extra judicial killing is ugly.”

Villegas’ pastoral letter was written as his own, as archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan and not as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). The CBCP needs to get the consensus of its members or at the least its permanent council before it could issue a statement.

“We have Christmas and we party, but there are now more than 5,000 families mixing Christmas carols with their quiet tears because a loved one has been stricken down by a bullet,” the prelate continued. “Their noche buena is bland and tasteless because the bitter taste of death is too strong to forget. There are Christmas carols in the air, but there is blood by the garbage dump and even inside jails. There is a Christmas parol by the window at home but the unresolved murder at home outshines our Christmas lights.”

He asked if this is a sign that the country, or the world, is becoming a more angry society.

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“Like many other parts of the world, we vote our leaders not with diligent prudent reflection but from anger,” Villegas noted. “Anger has become so common and ordinary that the culture of revenge is slowly enchaining us. Anger pushes us to pursue the illusion that we must kill in order to defend life.”

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