MANILA - Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas on Monday assailed Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao's claim that death penalty is in line with Bible teachings.
Pacquiao, a champion boxer and born-again pastor, said last month that that while the 10 Commandments prohibit killings, God approves of capital punishment to pursue justice and that even Christ was sentenced to death.
Villegas, however, argued that Jesus was "innocent" and "sinless" when he was sentenced to die, just like national heroes Dr. Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio.
"All three people died innocent. Jesus Christ is sinless, Jose Rizal is now a hero, and Andres Bonifacio is now a hero. There's so many people who have been killed by death penalty who are innocent," he said during a forum organized by broadsheet Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The death penalty, he added, has no basis in the Scriptures.
"When Jesus Christ died on the cross, voluntarily accepting death, he accepted death so that there may be no more deaths like that. He made his death as the last one so that there would be no more deaths from injustice, from oppression after that," Villegas asserted, said.
He said killings remain rampant "not because the crucifixion [of Christ] was impotent, it is because we had not taken the lessons of Jesus Christ to heart."
Villegas also clarified that he respects Pacquiao's opinion as a member of a different church.
Any misinterpretation of the Bible on the senator's part must be corrected by his own spiritual counsel, the CBCP head said.