The Catholic Church has condemned the drug war of the Duterte administration, but a new story claimed that Pope Francis himself wanted Catholic priests to undergo drug and STD (sexually transmitted diseases) testing.
However, the source of the story, being okd2.com, is not really reliable.
Still, it did not stop the netizens from sharing the story after it was shared by the Facebook page “Philippine News Courier.” As of writing, it already has 135 shares.
The first thing we noticed when we clicked on the link was how the story was published under “Humor & Satire,” which says a lot about how people should not buy the story’s claims.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle allegedly revealed Pope Francis’ urging for priests to not only continue with the parish-based drug rehabilitation program Sanlakbay Para sa Pagbabagong Buhay but also to include STD testing.
Here are the quotes attributed to Tagle by okd2.com:
- “Nagkaroon ho ako ng pagkakataon na makapagusap kay Pope Francis sa Rome. Naikwento ko sa kanya ang Sanlakbay. Ang kanyang mga mata ay parang mga bituin na nagniningning. At sabi po niya, ‘That’s the way to go.’”
- “Sabi niya, ‘Continue… continue that, including STD testing.’”
- “Gusto talaga niyang makasiguro na malinis ang ating mga pari, at walang bahid ng illegal na droga habang naglilingkod sa diyos.”
- “Ang mga lingkod ng diyos at tao rin, possible rin silang magkasala.”
However, only statement 1 was correct among the four statements that were attributed to Cardinal Tagle by okd2.com. The other three were invented.
In an Inquirer report, Tagle was quoted saying: “[Pope Francis’] eyes twinkled and he said, ‘That’s the way to go. This is the path to take. Continue that.’”
Tagle said that Pope Francis’ encouragement should motivate the Sanlakbay volunteers and the drug users in rehab to ensure that the program succeed. He also appealed to the Philippine government to consider the potential for addicts to change.
Tagle told reformed drug addicts: “You are the symbol of hope. No one can ever say that you are a hopeless case.”
Statements 2 and 3 from okd2.com was only found on okd2’s site.
Pope Francis did not tell Cardinal Tagle to require Catholic priests to undergo drug and STD testing. The story was claimed to be “satirical” by okd2.com. What’s true, though, was that Pope Francis was happy with the developments with the parish-based rehab program Sanlakbay.
Sanlakbay was launched by Tagle on October 23 at the Manila Cathedral. It consists of 12 modules for the rehab participants, who will undergo spiritual formation, skills formation training, counselling, and livelihood projects and participate in sports activities and arts and cultural program.
In September, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) condemned the killings of drug suspects, especially minors.
CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas urged for an end to the killings.
“In the name of God, stop the killings! May the justice of God come upon those responsible for the killings! For the good of the country, stop the killings! The toll of ‘murders under investigation’ must stop now,” Villegas said.
But Villegas also clarified that the CBCP’s statement was not targeted at a particular person but at the indifference to the deaths.
He also hit silent Catholics.
“The Church must either be at the forefront of the intense and fervent struggle against a culture of death or the Church betrays Christ,” Villegas said.
On September 14, church bells rang in the Catholic churches across the country to oppose the “reign of terror” that killed thousands of people under the Duterte administration’s drug war.