Church leaders have become social media 'martyrs': Villegas

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 16 2017 04:11 PM

Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. File Photo

MANILA- Church leaders have become “martyrs in social media” whenever they speak on political issues, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said on Easter Sunday.

In his Easter message, Villegas lamented how bishops and priests are either ignored or confronted with online trolls whenever they speak on political issues.

“We bishops have become martyrs in social media. We are killed a thousand times; our trolls are in the thousands. When we speak they want us muted. When we oppose they want us maimed. When we stand for life, they want us dead,” he said.

Church leaders have repeatedly spoken out against alleged extrajudicial killings in the country since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his bloody war on drugs.

Duterte in response, has slammed priests and bishops over allegations of corruption and sexual abuse.

Villegas even went on to say that he thanks God for not allowing his parents to witness the ridicule that he is faced with.

“Churchmen are called the worst hypocrites and if my mother heard such, I am sure she would cry in pain. Our parishioners seek the security of silence with no one willing to defend Christ’s anointed ones,” he said.

'BETTER THAN DRUGS AND STEALING'

He also took a swipe against those spread fake news.

“In the Philippines, we are Catholics. We do not kill bishops and priests in the Philippines. We bash bishops. We allow our idols to curse the Pope. We make fake news about one another. We remain safely anonymous in hidden Facebook and Twitter accounts. We earn our living by working as social media trolls. This is better than drugs and stealing, isn’t it?”

Villegas urged Catholics to not be intimidated by threats.

“The Church is under persecution. The signs are clear. The teachings of God on life and family are under attack. Do not let evil intimidate you. Do not let their threats silence the priests and bishops. This is not the time for cowards. This is the ripe season for martyrs. This is a moment of glory,” he said.