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CBCP chief: Don’t call drug addicts ‘helpless’

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Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, the newly re-elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (Photo: CBCPNews)

DAGUPAN City, Pangasinan, July 23, 2015—The head of the Philippine episcopate would have none of the excuse that drug dependents are necessarily so because they simply cannot help it, lamenting this mentality does more harm than good to people with this problem as it allegedly downplays the role of individual freedom.

Mistaken belief

“When the person who has become addicted to drugs or the members of his family say of his dissolute ways talagang ganyan na ‘yan [there’s nothing he/she can do anymore], then the most powerful forces capable of breaking the destructive cycle of addiction are neutralized by this terribly mistaken belief!” notes Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, the newly re-elected president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in a recent pastoral letter.

As a common expression linked to the problem drug abuse, he shares that “talagang ganyan na ‘yan” forces people to see things as fated, about which they are helpless, or as a fact which they resign themselves to, making them give up on human freedom and lose the motivation to change.

Neither blameless nor helpless

Citing the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers’ charter on “Dependency and Drugs,” Villegas explains that while the drug-dependent cannot be blamed completely for the addiction, neither is it right to tag him or her as a blameless and helpless victim.

“Every individual is free to make decisions, and while we are faced with life’s frustrations, hardships, and loneliness, with communities that are no longer held together by faith, many do not turn to prohibited substances,” he says.

Free to choose good

“We, your bishops, thus seek to address this matter of individual freedom and discretion,” he adds, speaking on behalf of the country’s bishops.

Villegas reminds the faithful that it is a fundamental human experience that every person is free, that he or she can decide against destructive habits, and turn from sinful ways.

‘Senseless conversion’

“If the human person were not free, the call to conversion would be utterly senseless!” he exclaims.

For the full text of the pastoral letter, interested parties may visit: www.cbcpnews.com/cbcpnews/?p=59951 (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)


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