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Pinoy priest ‘horrified’ by Pakistani children’s massacre

MANDALUYONG City, Dec. 21, 2014—A Catholic priest expresses horror at the killing of least 148 people, most of whom students under age 16, at a school complex Tuesday by Pakistani Taliban.

“The whole world is deeply saddened and shocked at the insane violence that ‘doesn’t stop before children’ perpetrated in Pakistan. I am personally appalled at the viciousness of the attack,” says Fr. Carlos V. Reyes, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue (ECID) in a statement.

Pope Francis publicly called on the Church to pray for the victims of a recent massacre in Pakistan. (Photo: CNA)

‘Holy Innocents’

According to the priest, this carnage brings to mind the murder of the “holy innocents” masterminded by Idumean King Herod in Palestine over 2000 years ago.

“This martyrdom of innocents, which is not limited to the massacre in Pakistan, but includes human trafficking and millions of abortions continue in this day and age of iPhones and exponential advances in science and technology,” Reyes lamented.

The priest hopes that in the name of the Lord, He will restore all things and will wipe away the tears from people’s eyes.

“When we finally see God, we will no longer have any questions. It is this eschatological hope that gives us the strength to do the work of the Lord in this valley of tears,” he shares.

Papal condemnation

In his general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis denounced the “inhuman terrorist acts,” including in Yemen and Australia, asking pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square to join him in a moment of silent prayer for the victims, Rome-based Catholic news service Aleteia reported.

“May God welcome the dead into his peace, comfort the families and convert the hearts of the violent ones, who do not even stop before children,” the Holy Father was quoted as saying.

Aleteia says as many as 132 students and nine staff members, including Tahira Qazi , the principal, were killed in the Army Public School and College, located in Peshawar, on Tuesday. Others died from their injuries hours after.

The attack was carried out by heavily armed Taliban insurgents who entered the facility posing as army officers.

The school has over 1,000 students enrolled and predominantly serves children of army personnel.

‘Barbaric’

Describing the attack as “barbaric,” the Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ National Commission for Justice and Peace in a recent press statement called it “one of the most horrific and inhumane acts.”

“We grieve and stand with the families of the children affected and killed in this cowardly act,” it said.

“We plead to the governments, all political parties, religious leaders… and judiciary to set aside all their personal and political differences and join hands to end this menace of terrorism collectively,” urged Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, in the statement.

News reports said armed rebels belonging to the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it was “retaliation” for ongoing military operations against the insurgents in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

Street kids get educated on their rights

MANILA, Dec. 19, 2014 — Over 20 street children who sleep on scraps of karton (paperboard) and in kariton (carts) in a park in Manila received on Dec. 17, not just Christmas gift packs from child rights advocates, but also an orientation on their
rights.

“With their condition in the streets, they are extremely exposed to all possible abuse,” said Sr. Adel Abamo (SDS), Salvatorian Pastoral Care for Children (SPCC) executive director.

Sr. Adel Abamo (SDS), Salvatorian Pastoral Care for Children (SPCC) plays with street children in Plaza Lawton. (Photo: SPCC)

Kinds of abuse

The Salvatorians and volunteers, Elli and Franzi from Germany and Austria, taught the children, who wander aimlessly in Plaza Lawton near the city’s central terminal day and night, about their inviolable rights.

According to Abamo, all kinds of abuse committed against children were enumerated to them one by one. They were also warned to immediately flee the moment they sense danger.

The mothers were also made aware of the rights of their children, the sister said.

“We have reminded them to take good care of their kids and protect their rights and welfare from any violation, especially that they are too vulnerable with the situation in the streets,” Abamo said.

The children and their parents were informed about where they may seek assistance in case of abuse.

Relocating families

Some of the homeless families who stay in Lawton are Badjaos, Abamo noted.

As a more long-term solution, SPCC will facilitate relocation of the families of street children in Lawton through referrals if they are willing to return to their province.

SPCC will be tapping other non-government organizations, individuals, as well as government agencies.

“They can have a simple, but peaceful life in the province where they came from,” Abamo said.

The social welfare should pursue and strengthen the goal of zero street children in all areas, particularly Metro Manila, she said.

By addressing the roots of poverty, the government can reduce the number of street children and homeless families, Abamo said. (Oliver Samson/CBCPNews)