Jesuits united world-wide against death penalty

A mission of reconciliation and justice: the message from GC36
A mission of reconciliation and justice: the message from GC36

The Jesuits in the Philippines are intensifying their opposition to the reinstatement of the death penalty in the country and have appealed for prayers from Jesuit Missions supporters in Britain and around the world. Tomorrow (Tuesday), they will be joining a rally in Manila, as the Bill goes for its third reading before Congress.

The Jesuit Provincial in the Philippines last month issued a statement regarding the death penalty and the killings happening in the country. Recalling that at last year's General Congregation (GC36), the Society of Jesus renewed its vocation towards a mission of reconciliation and justice, Fr Antonio Moreno SJ wrote: "We stand united with partners in mission who have expressed their dedication to the cause of life." While commending the government for its efforts to rid the Philippines of lawlessness and criminality, he said that might must not be equated with right. "Just as we respect the rights of the unborn and the innocent," he wrote, "we too should consistently protect the lives of every individual person, not excluding those rejected and marginalized by society.

Campaigns and lobbying

Writing from Manila, the province's spokesman, Karlo Abadines (who wrote in the Winter 2016 edition of Jesuits and Friends about the challenges facing the Jesuits in the Philippines) said that prayers and continued support from Jesuit communities world-wide would greatly be appreciated. "There will be mobilizations on Tuesday from 1.30pm onward (Philippines time) to protest against the death penalty on the day the congress plans to pass it on third reading,"” he said. "Hopefully we'll get enough people to go, so that our congress representatives feel the pressure. We'll probably lose in congress so it looks like the battle will be in the senate and hopefully we can intensify campaigns and lobbying efforts in the months to come."

The debate over capital punishment is the latest in a series of challenges that the Jesuits in the Philippines have faced since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power last year. The measure seeking to reinstate the death penalty 'for heinous crimes' in the Philippines is supported by the president; but it has been strongly criticised by the Philippines' Bishops' Conference as well as by the Jesuits in the country.