SOURCE: The Splendor of the Church
Oppose ‘culture of death,’ Church prays for leaders
MANILA – Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle issued Saturday an “oratio imperata” or special prayer for the country’s leaders to reject a “culture of death” ahead of a leadership change at the end of the month.
The prayer did not name a specific politician, but President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to wage a “bloody” campaign against crime.
An “oratio imperata” is issued during difficult situations. Among the last such prayers were for rain to quell the El Nino dry spell and for a peaceful resolution to the country’s sea dispute with China.
“Bless our leaders with true reverence for human life and unyielding opposition to the culture of death,” according to the prayer,” which will be read in all masses in the Archdiocese of Manila from Tuesday until the eve of Duterte’s inauguration.
“Bless our leaders with a passion for truth that liberates and integrity that inspires,” read the prayer, which was posted on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ news website.
The special prayer also asked for “sincere generosity and courageous simplicity of lifestyle” and a spirit of “spirit of heroic sacrifice and unrelenting fortitude” for the country’s leaders.
While the Catholic Church does not endorse candidates during elections, it maintains significant influence since 80 percent of the country’s 100 million people subscribe to the faith.
The incoming Duterte administration has promised a bloodbath in the war on drugs and criminality – but not if the Catholic Church can help it.
Led by Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, the Church released yesterday an “oratio imperata” or mandatory prayer for incoming government officials. It is contained in a pastoral letter that will be read in all churches around the country, calling on the faithful to value human life and shun a “culture of death.”
It was released as seven more suspected drug dealers were gunned down by police yesterday, bringing the total body count since the election victory of Rodrigo Duterte to 42.
The prayer will be recited during masses from June 21 to 29 or for nine consecutive days before the country’s newly elected leaders assume their posts on June 30.
Apart from respect for life, the prayer also asks God to bless leaders with “true love for the poor and godly humility” and “passion for truth that liberates and integrity that inspires.”
It also prays for “sincere generosity and courageous simplicity of lifestyle” and “spirit of heroic sacrifice and unrelenting fortitude.”
“Loving God, look with favor on those who rule with authority over us. Through your loving hands, may prosperity and progress be achieved, may peace and harmony be assured, may freedom and justice be served and may this nation be healed and protected from harm through Christ your Son who is Lord ever and ever. Amen,” read the prayer.
The prayer was included in a circular distributed to the archdiocese’s priests, chaplains, superiors of religious communities and Catholic schools.
The prayer, available in English and Filipino, is also posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Prior to the May 9 polls, leaders of the Catholic church found themselves in conflict with Duterte.
The CBCP criticized Duterte over his plan to restore the death penalty in the country and his reputation as an alleged “punisher” or “killer” of criminals as a long-time mayor of Davao.
It also blasted his policies perceived to be anti-life that were aired during the campaign.
Days before the presidential poll, the CBCP even released a pastoral letter suggesting to its faithful not to vote for Duterte.
Without naming names, the bishops urged Filipinos not to vote for “a candidate whose speech and actions, whose plans and projects show scant regard for the rights of all, [and] who has openly declared indifference if not dislike and disregard for the Church, especially her moral teachings.”
Duterte, for his part, retaliated and branded the Catholic Church as the “most hypocritical” institution in the country.
Former CBCP president and retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas recently issued a statement in response to Duterte’s tirades.
“Mine is the silence of respect for those who consider us their enemies but whose good we truly pray for, and whose happiness we want to see unfold,” the prelate said.
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