Tagle celebrates Christmas Mass with prisoners
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila said illegal drugs "squander life" in the Philippines, but added that killing also does not offer hope to those who make mistakes.
In an early morning Mass at the national prison on Dec. 17, the Manila prelate urged prisoners not to lose hope.
"Life should be shared," Cardinal Tagle told hundreds of prisoners who attended the second-day of the traditional nine-day early morning Masses before Christmas.
"Life that is not shared will die," said Cardinal Tagle, adding that it is "sad that sometimes life is prevented from flowing."
"With illegal drugs, life is squandered. Instead of flowing freely, it is destroyed," he said.
Cardinal Tagle, however, added that killing prevents those who committed mistakes from starting a new life.
"Mistakes should be an occasion to start a new life, and with a new life one can also offer life to others," he said.
Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines have been vocal in their criticism against a campaign of killings of suspected drug users and dealers.
An average of 30 people have been killed daily over the past 167 days after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an "all-out war" against the illegal drug trade.
No justification to killings
Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas Philippines, said while he supports the government's campaign against narcotics, the method being used is "unjustifiable."
"Killing of drug traffickers without due process, even in the name of a just cause, is morally unacceptable," said the priest.
Father Gariguez made the statement during a protest against the government's all-out war against illegal drugs in Jaro Archdiocese in the central Philippines.
Churches in 97 parishes in Iloilo province posted banners calling for respect for life and a stop to the killings.
Monsignor Meliton Oso, social action director of Jaro Archdiocese said the local church is in the process of forming a council that will oversee a rehabilitation program for drug addicts who have surrendered to authorities.
"We are looking at a therapeutic community-based rehabilitation program in coordination with local government units," said Monsignor Oso.
Give sinners a chance
Cardinal Tagle urged Catholics to always give sinners a chance.
"Faith never gives up on the present, even in the face of threatening and uncertain situations," said the prelate.
"There is always hope for the poor, hope for the sinners. Do not give up on them. Do not give up on their lives. Every life has hope," he said.
Cardinal Tagle said a good Christian gives hope to the hopeless, those who have been forgotten by society, those who were abandoned by their parents, those who are addicted to vices, the poor, and criminals.
"Hope springs eternal. There is always that opportunity to change for the better because the center of our lives is Jesus," the cardinal said.
"I will not give up even on criminals. We continue to hope for people especially the youth who had been addicted to vices like drugs," he said.
A statement from the Bureau of Corrections, said the cardinal spoke to the inmates about compassion, repentance and forgiveness in his homily.
The early morning Mass with the prisoners was Cardinal Tagle's "birthday gift" to Pope Francis, who celebrated his 80th birthday on Dec. 17.