KEEP ON PRAYING
PALMA’S CALL TO END OF KILLINGS
Close to a month has passed since Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma issued a special prayer for an end to the killings in the island. But there seemed to be no end to the spate of murders.
In a span of 24 days since the Oratio Imperata or a mandatory prayer was used in all Masses in the archdiocese, at least 21 persons were gunned down in the different parts of Cebu.
In a tally made by Cebu Daily News, 16 persons were killed by unknown assailants while the rest perished in police operations within the period.
Although there seemed to be no answers yet, Palma called on the people not to lose hope and to continue praying.
“Bisan pa sa Oratio Imperata, daghan lang gihapon ang patay. Apan unsa man ang atong mahimo ini? Wala man tay gahum. We can only pray. Padayon lang gyud ta sa pag-ampo,” he said in an interview after presiding over the Mass to celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Saturday.
(Despite the Oratio Imperata, there are still many killings. But what can we do? We don’t have any power. We can only pray. Let us keep on praying)
“As always, we pray that the minds and hearts of the perpetrators will be touched. We know the sadness these murders bring,” he added.
Last August 16, the 68-year-old prelate issued an Oratio Imperata for an “end to the spate of killings in Cebu.”
An Oratio Imperata is a traditional catholic invocation where the bishop leads the community in prayer for a special intention.
In previous years, it was used in Cebu to seek divine protection for the peaceful elections, peace in the Middle East, safety from typhoons, and various ailments such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), bird flu virus, dengue, the influenza A (H1N1) virus as well as the success of the 2007 Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Summit hosted in Cebu.
Nobody deserves to be killed
Palma hoped that the assailants and all those behind the killings would soon realize the gravity of their actions, repent of the evil they did, and renew their lives.
“We can only remind and pray for the souls of the perpetrators. I hope they think of God and the devastating effects of these crimes, especially the families of the victims,” said the chief shepherd of the country’s biggest Catholic archdiocese with around 600 members of the clergy and close to 4,000 lay people.
No matter how bad or sinful a person is, Palma said nobody deserves to die in the hands of another human being.
“More than being considered criminals, for us they (criminals) are sick people. If they are sick, we will help cure them. We know it is a complex problem but we still believe every little thing we do can alleviate the situation,” he said, alluding to the different Church-based drug rehabilitation programs in Cebu.
In his Oratio Imperata, Palma called on God to intervene and touch people’s hearts for an end to the killings in Cebu and other parts of the country.
“Heavenly Father, the source of life and foundation of peace, we your children mourn, worry, and are anxious because of the successive murders of our brothers and sisters.”
“We beg you, awaken the minds of those who don’t even care, disturb the conscience of those who author the killings, touch the hearts of those who support the murders, and comfort those who mourn.”
“Give us the strength to fight evil with good, and to reject crooked ways. Protect us from the lies of the devil, and free our country from the power of Satan. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The special prayer has been prayed after the post-communion prayers in all Masses in the archdiocese.
The new death toll
Among those killed since the Oratio Imperata was issued were Japanese businesswoman Junto Hamada last August 24, Korean national Lee Young Ho (August 26), and Mayor Mariano Blanco III of Ronda town in southwestern Cebu (September 5).
Hamada was killed by assailants while she was driving her car; while Lee was gunned down inside a motel in Cebu City.
Blanco, on the other hand, was shot dead inside his office at the municipal hall of Ronda town by a group of armed men who barged into the building at around 1:30 a.m. last Wednesday.
These killings remain unsolved.
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