Church Call: June 27- August 15 Rosary Campaign

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Ballescas - The Freeman

Below are highlights of the Pastoral Letter of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates “Soc” Villegas read June 15-16, 2024 titled “China is a Threat”.

“The threat is no longer imagined, no longer mere conjecture. There is evidence of insidious attempts by a foreign power that governs by an ideology that recognizes no God, keeps all religion and the practice of faith under the heavy heel of its totalitarian boot to “trample our sacred shores”.

“The network of agents it maintains and is capable of deploying, including those involved in espionage and even subversive activity, will not be denied by anyone who makes it his business to keep himself abreast of disturbing news reports.

“The People’s Republic of China shows neither fear nor does it exhibit hesitation in inching menacingly close to the Philippines. Lately, its provocative actions against the Philippine Coast Guard vessels at the Escoda Shoal place it well within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone. Not only are our maritime zones usurped and our fishermen evicted from their fishing grounds. Our marine environment is relentlessly wrecked as China endeavors to convert features into islands and militarized platforms.

“Even closer to home, the possibility that the government has been infiltrated by persons on Beijing’s payroll or fellow Filipinos who have received favors in various forms from it puts the very sovereignty/independence of our country on the line.

“The investigations conducted both by the House of Representatives/the Senate have made clear that due to the lackadaisical, if not criminal, conduct of many government personnel, it is not impossible for foreigners with malicious intent to acquire documentation allowing them not only entry but residence in the Philippines, perhaps even to pass themselves off as natural-born Filipino citizens and thus qualify for public office.

“Grave Moral Concerns"

“First: the moral issue of the interests of Filipinos in securing themselves/ their future through the resources that the Creator has made available to them and that the laws of humankind recognize to be theirs.

“Many fisherfolk have been deprived of the abundance that once allowed them at least a decent existence, and that has now forced them to rummage through the leftovers of Chinese poachers/encroachers.

“Second: the moral issue of safeguarding a way of life that upholds the right of persons to believe and to practice their faith without any interference from the State, and the right of the Filipino nation to be shielded from the onslaught of agents of an atheistic ideology.

“Third: the moral issue underscored by Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, that calls the attention of all Catholics, in fact, of all humanity, to our responsibility for “our common home” and to defend nature against destructive forces – greed/ arrogance.”

“Our Faith Moves Us to Respond.

“The Church must respond and must respond as Church. (Let us) find the confidence to take a firm stand because of our conviction that if God is with us, no power can ever prevail against us!”

“By Prayer.

“As our Lady of Fatima assured us, armed with the Rosary, Russia was converted. Even at the 1986 EDSA people power.

“Let us do it again! The rosary is simple/small/powerful like the Gospel’s mustard seed.

“Join our Rosary Campaign from June 27 to August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption.

“Fast, do penance.”

“Perform faith-inspired action.”

“(Special call to) lawmakers/prosecutors/judges, heroic/brave/uniformed men/women who patrol our waters/escort our fishermen/assert our claims and defend our territory/its waters.

“May you receive all the support that the government can give you and that our people are able to.

“Take courage. Defend our seas and our people. Be the heroes we need now!

“I call on every Filipino, particularly those in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan to stand proud and tall, not to cower in fear lest our sacred rights be trampled on.”

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