By April Burcer
“You have to do something,” Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS said during a solidarity forum held at the Ateneo de Manila University last June 29, Friday.
“You can’t stay numb when there are massive human rights abuses, injustices and poverty,” the missionary said at the forum entitled D’yandi, about the breakdown of the peace talks, injustices and human rights abuses plaguing the country.
Fox said that the challenge for church members is the determination what the role of the Church is when there are injustices, poverty and human rights abuses.
Fox has been the subject of personal tirades by President Rodrigo Duterte who infamously said that the nun’s God is stupid.
“We do have a little difference with the President about who God is,” the nun said, adding she is being forced to confine herself to church activities.
“They said missionaries like me should only be in barangays, teaching church doctrines, not be involved with the issues of society,” Fox said.
But the nun said she will continue her missionary work with the poor sectors of Philippine society.
“I cannot not be involved with the people who are oppressed, who are victims of injustice or of war. My belief is (the poor people are) who God is,” she explained.
The missionary emphasized the need to be aware of the issues in the society, looking into the system and doing something about it.
“That’s what I thought I was doing. At this stage, the government doesn’t agree with this,” she said, referring to the attacks the government has been throwing at her.
Farmers and justice
Fox has been working with farmers and the poor for more than 27 years and she said she learned so much in the Philippines, especially the plight of the farmers.
“Why are industrious farmers still poor? Over the time I learned there were problems. There were people who said they own the land but farmers have been tilling that land for a long time so how can it be their land? The farm lands are far and the roads then are rough. How do you get your produce to the market? You have to sell to a trader at a loss,” she said.
She also worked with farmers of Hacienda Luisita and other missionaries on a fact-finding mission where some of her colleagues were arrested.
However, this did not stop Fox from continuing with her work.
“I believe that is part of our mission. How can we have peace, how can we have justice, if there’s no justice for the farmers?” she asked. #