Fr. Mark Ventura, 37, was gunned down by armed assailants right after celebrating Sunday mass at a gymnasium in Brgy. Pena Weste, Gattaran in Cagayan province.
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Church lost ‘dedicated’ priest in death of Fr. Mark Ventura — Tuguegarao archbishop
Gaea Katreena Cabico (philstar.com) - April 30, 2018 - 4:05pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Archdiocese of Tuguegarao on Monday denounced in the strongest terms the killing of Fr. Mark Ventura, who was gunned down by unknown assailants Sunday morning.

In a statement, Tuguegarao Archbishop Sergio Utleg called the death of Ventura a “brutal and cowardly act.”

“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,” Utleg said.

The Tuguegarao archbishop called on the Philippine National Police to go after the assailants swiftly and bring them to justice.

“There have been too many murders already done with impunity in our country by assassins [in] riding in tandem. May this be the last,” he said.

Utleg also offered prayers for Ventura’s family and the lay faithful of Tuguegarao.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines on Sunday called the killing of the 37-year-old priest an “evil act.”

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay noted that there is a possibility that Ventura might have been targeted because of his stance as an anti-mining advocate and his work in indigenous communities.

“There is no doubt that there is a disturbing trend of church people being persecuted for their stance and involvement in human rights,” she said.

Ventura was the second priest who was killed in a gun attack in a span of four months. Last December 2017, activist priest was also shot dead in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.

The Cagayan Valley Police director has ordered an investigation into the killing of the missionary priest and a hot-pursuit operation against the suspects.

READKilling of Cagayan priest illustrates thriving climate of impunity in Philippines — Karapatan

MARK VENTURA
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