Yesterday, during the Wednesday evening mass, I led the people in praying the "Oratio Imperata" which Archbishop Capalla had ordered to be recited during the masses this Lent. This is the response of the archdiocese to the unabated killings perpetrated by the Davao Death Squads (DDS). There have been over 800 victims of the DDS. This "mass murder" continues with impunity and the local authorities are not doing anything to stop these. In fact, many believe that these killings are being tolerated or supported by the powers-that-be, although this cannot be proven as there are no witnesses who are willing to come out because of fear. What is alarming is that many people support these killings since the victims are suspected criminals and they keep the city safe - even if these killings are against the law of God and society. The rule of law is disregarded and there is lack of respect for the value of life. Meanwhile, the big time criminals remain free and many even occupy high offices in government.
The local newspapers reported yesterday that the mayor is displeased that the "oratio imperata" is being read. He said that the prayer was incomplete since it did not include those who were killed by the victims of the DDS and bombings. He reportedly suggested that people who do not like the prayer can walk out or transfer to other religions. He said that he will pray for the priests whose sins have weakened the Catholic faith.
I am wondering why the mayor is reacting this way. I am concerned that in the coming days, he will continue his attack against clergy and the Catholic Church in Davao. This is the price the Church has to pay for its prophetic stance and for its defense of the sacredness of life.
This is the "Oratio Imperata":
“Heavenly Father, our city is wounded in its soul. Our people’s wounds are deep and wide. These wounds are the hatred and dislike of drug addicts and drug pushers, the senseless disregard of due process of law, the violent killing of mere suspects, the crash taking of the law into one’s hands, the lustful greed in the hooded killers on motor bike, the baseless claim that there are no witnesses, the inhuman disrespect for life of the unborn from womb to tomb, and the unjust socio-political system that tolerates all these to happen.
“Lord, on bended knees, we too confess that our souls and spirit are wounded by our anger and desire for revenge. Yes, we are angry because our loud protests and public outcry have fallen on deaf ears. Our souls are nourishing irresponsible suspicions and rash judgments on the real perpetrators of the crimes. We are wounded by our disunity and hopelessness which imprison our hearts and weaken our willpower. Most of all, Heavenly Father, our souls are wounded by our stark ignorance that we too are responsible for the existence and perpetuation of the systems that promote, condone and abet these social wounds in the soul and spirit of our people. For all these, Lord, we are deeply sorry and beg your mercy and forgiveness.
“God of power and mercy, since our collective efforts at peaceful protests have proven fruitless, we come to you for help. Yes, Lord, we come to ask for healing. Heal our souls and spirits of all the violent animosities that weaken our society and life. Give us light, give us strength, give us courage to believe and to trust in you. Make us realize that in each of us from every walk of life there is an inherent and inborn goodness. You planted this goodness and it is not and cannot be erased by our sin and crime. This is our reason for hope.
“For this reason, Heavenly Father, we beg you to give us your healing touch. Touch the hardened hearts of criminals, drug addicts, drug pushers, drug lords, law enforcers, and the hearts of us all. Open them to the healing power of your love and compassion. Give the grace of courage to the eyewitnesses of crimes. Awaken in us all a collective consciousness and support which are urgently needed by the witnesses and the grieving families of victims. Convert us to you and to one another. Reconcile us to you and to one another through sincere repentance and mutual forgiveness. For without forgiveness, there is no future for our city.
“In this penitential season of Lent – and even beyond – give us courage and strength to make reparation for all our sins and crimes by means of voluntary acts of penance and self-sacrifice symbolized by your cross. We believe that when these are offered together with your own sacrifice on the cross, they can save us, heal us, and restore us to your friendship (“by his wounds we have been healed” 1 Peter 2:24). Make us overcome the evil in the system by the power of goodness in us all who are within the system, the goodness that is rooted in you alone.
“We make this humble prayer together with the Blessed Virgin, our Mother, so that as one united family in the bond of love, we may all experience the soothing joy of your presence and the healing balm of your love, you who live and reign with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”
We will continue to recite this prayer in the church during this lenten season. I just hope that this can awaken the conscience of those who have been possessed by the Evil One. I also pray that God's justice will visit those responsible for this mass murder.
We are not afraid. We are ready to face the consequences of our prophetic stance.
Here's a link to the latest documentary on the DDS aired on TV by the Al-Jazeera the other day.