Jesus of Nazareth spoke out and stood up for the poor and the suffering victims of abuse and oppression. He courageously challenged, upbraided and spoke harshly even to corrupt civil and religious authorities. He called them whitened tombs – nice outside, but rotten inside. He was arrested and branded a criminal and executed for His words, actions, claims and stand for human dignity. His followers give their lives too. Father Cecilio Lucero, and thousands of others like him who are working for justice and human dignity, died by an assassin’s bullet or knife. It is a risk the disciples take for following Jesus of Nazareth’s example and doing what it takes to be a real Christian in the world.
Columban Fr. Shay Cullen works at the Preda Center, Upper Kalaklan, Olongapo City, Philippines.
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Too many church-goers are failing Him by hiding in the shadows of church rituals, escaping from the call to be a witness, a prophet and dedicated to getting justice or supporting those who do. The true Christian is someone who, when possible, will be with the prisoners, the poor, the downtrodden, the hungry and the abused so as to lift them up, affirm them and empower them in body and spirit so they can campaign for their rights. We, who want to be Christians, are called to be “washers of feet,” to meet Jesus face to face in the poorest of our brothers and sisters, to walk with the farmers, to protect the environment and to be with the victims of human rights violations in order to be credible in our work and to be agents of change.
Today, some say it is political interference to challenge civil authorities. Let’s be clear—it is a moral intervention especially when issues of human rights, slavery, and child abuse are at stake and the dignity of the human person is involved. Nowadays, we are swamped by crimes against children. Sex tourism, child sex slavery and the prostitution of children are allowed to spread with impunity and even encouragement by the government. Mayors are issuing operating permits and licenses in six days to foreign investors who pay traffickers to bring the young girls and boys to sell to their local and foreign customers. In contrast, to get an accreditation renewal for a children’s home that saves and protects children, can take up to six month or a year.
Let’s rally for the protection and healing of victims of trafficking and sexual abuse. Prosecutors are facing huge temptations as the accused offer thousands of dollars to have charges dismissed. In addition, hundreds of cases of heinous sex crimes against children are languishing and ignored by prosecutors. For these hundreds of cases of hurting children, Mother Church is challenged to come running and heed the crying and screams of her suffering children. But we too have to act without delay.