By Visayas Today
All four CatholIc bishops of Negros island have ordered “church bells in all parishes, chaplaincies, mission stations, and religious houses every evening at 8 o’clock” starting Sunday, July 28, to protest a wave of violence in Negros Oriental province that has left at least 21 persons dead in little over a week.
The ringing of bells was originally ordered by San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, in whose diocese many of the killings have happened.
But he was joined on Saturday, July 27, through a collegial pastoral statement by Bishops Julito Cortes of Dumaguete, Patricio Buzon of Bacolod and Louie Gabines of Kabankalan, who said the tolling of the bells, combined with an “Oratio Imperata,” a prayer for a special intention, in this case to end the killings, is intended “to remind us of the value of life.”
The prayer seeks to “embolden our government officials to speak out against the killings,” to “challenge our police and military personnel to fully embrace their mandate to serve and protect the people,” and to “empower our communities to stand for the sanctity and primacy of life.”
The bells are to be rung “until the killings stop.”
Aside from the recent killings, the prelates also cited the earlier deaths of nine people massacred at a farmers’ protest camp in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last October and of 20 men killed during two massive police operations on December 27 last year and March 30.
“And this is just to cite a few,” they added.
Human rights groups have counted at least 85 extrajudicial killings on Negros since President Rodrigo Duterte.began his term in mid-2016.
“The blood of those killed cries to be heard. It calls out to our basic humanity to be one with those who have been afflicted by this violence,” they said.
“How many more killings will it take for us to be able to hear these cries, and be moved to say, we are our ‘brother’s keeper’?” they added.
FOLLOWING ARE THE FULL TEXTS OF THE COLLEGIAL STATEMENT AND THE ORATIO IMPERATA
COLLEGIAL PASTORAL STATEMENT OF THE NEGROS BISHOPS TO END THE KILLINGS 27 July 2019
The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Gen 4:10)
With the recent spate of killings in Negros, so much blood has already been spilled in the island. The blood of those killed cries to be heard. It calls out to our basic humanity to be one with those who have been afflicted by this violence.
The figures are staggering. Nine (9) killed on 20 October 2018; six (6) on 27 December 2018 and 14 on 30 March 2019. Then, in a period of just over a week – starting July 18 up until today, 21 were killed.
And this is just to cite a few.
Nevertheless, these numbers fill us with deep sadness. This unfolding cycle of violence and vendetta is a matter of grave concern for us.
How many more killings will it take for us to be able to hear these cries, and be moved to say, we are our ‘brother’s keeper’?
As your pastors, we unequivocally denounce this total disregard for the primacy and sanctity of human life.
Therefore, to remind us of the value of life, we instruct the Dioceses of Bacolod, Dumaguete, Kabankalan, and San Carlos to toll the church bells in all parishes, chaplaincies, mission stations, and religious houses every evening at 8 o’clock.
In the stillness of night, the tolling of the bells signifies our communion as Church. We are to remember those who have gone before us – including those whose lives have been snuffed by these killings – they, who are our brothers and sisters.
To deliver us from this violence, we pray the Oratio Imperata to End the Killings in Negros Island. We ask God to disturb those who are responsible for this evil and have blood in their hands that they may have a change of heart and be renewed.
Let us say this Oratio after the post-communion prayer in all our masses.
The tolling of the church bells and the praying of the Oratio will start this Sunday, 28 July 2019 and until the killings stop.
MOST REV. GERARDO A. ALMINAZA, D.D., Bishop of San Carlos
MOST REV. JULITO B. CORTES, D.D., Bishop of Dumaguete .
MOST REV. PATRICIO A. BUZON, SDB, D.D., Bishop of Bacolod
MOST REV. LOUIE P. GALBINES, D.D, Bishop of Kabankalan
ORATIO IMPERATA TO END THE KILLINGS IN NEGROS ISLAND
O God, our Father, who hears the cries of Your children, look upon us in Your mercy.
We pray that we be delivered from the evil of the killings that stalks our island. It is a violence that has deprived our people of peace; a violence that has orphaned many families; and a violence that has traumatized and instilled paralyzing fear in our communities.
Stretch out your loving hands, O Father, and move us so that we may truly be our ‘ brother’s keeper’.
Embolden our government officials to speak out against the killings. Challenge our police and military personnel to fully embrace their mandate to serve and protect the people. Empower our communities to stand for the sanctity and primacy of life.
Disturb those responsible for this evil and have blood in their hands, especially the ones who are impelled by their ideological agenda. May they have a change of heart and be renewed.
Be with us, O Lord, so that, in these dark times, we may have the courage to be instruments of Your peace.
This we ask through Jesus Your Son, the Prince of Peace, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Mary, Queen of Peace and Mother of life, pray for us. St. Catherine of Alexandria, Patron Saint of the Diocese of Dumaguete, pray for us. St. Charles Borromeo, Patron Saint of the Diocese of San Carlos, pray for us. St. Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of the Diocese of Kabankalan, pray for us. St. Sebastian, Patron Saint of the Diocese of Bacolod, pray for us.
NEGROS ISLAND 27 July 2019