COMMENTARY: Martyr for Justice and Peace

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BANGKOK (MindaNews/17 October) — I have no hesitation to call Fr. Fausto Tentorio, PIME, as a martyr for justice and peace. He is a worthy member of that noble line of martyrs in the Church in Mindanao who in their lives advocated causes that would help create a more just, a more peaceful, a more loving society. Such causes are for the poor like the indigenous peoples as well as for the integrity of creation.

That line of martyrs includes Fr. Alingal, S.J., and Fr. Nerylito Satur (diocesan priest) in the Diocese of Malaybalay, Fr. Tullio Favali, PIME, in the Diocese of Kidapawan, Fr. Carzedda PIME in the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, Bishop Ben de Jesus, OMI, Fr. Benjie Inocencio, OMI, and Fr. Rey Roda, OMI, all three from the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo.

Fr. Fausto was a young missionary priest when he was assigned to the Diocese of Kidapawan which I led as its Bishop (from 1980 to 1986). He learned Ilonggo quickly and spoke it almost all the time. Like all the PIME in the Diocese of Kidapawan, he was very close to the people, and his convento in Arakan or in Columbio was open to the people. It was always a great joy for me to see him at the Bishop’s Residence in Kidapawan taking his day off and watching a VHS movie or two after a long week of trekking up the mountains of Arakan or visiting the villages of Columbio. Like Fr. Tullio, he had a soft easy smile and a voice that invited conversation. The only enemies he could make are those who wanted to silence his voice appealing for justice and peace for the indigenous peoples and for God’s creation.

I cannot fathom the minds of people who would be so evil as to plot the killing of a justice and peace loving missionary like Fr. Fausto. His assassination creates profound sadness and brings tears to the people who know of his kindness as well as his courage in the face of hazards to his life.

His death is pure murder. I totally condemn it as a crime that cries out to heaven. If the perpetrators think that his murder would silence priests, religious sisters and brothers, and bishops from proclaiming the justice of God’s kingdom, they are wrong. The blood of martyrs like Fr. Fausto fans the daring and courage of those who care about peace and justice enough to sacrifice themselves while travelling the road of active non-violence. I strongly appeal to the authorities to search for the perpetrators and bring to justice.

 

My prayers to the loving Lord for my friend, Fr. Fausto, PIME. (Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI, of the Archdiocese of Cotabato was Bishop of Kidapawan from 1980 to 1986. One of his priests then, Fr. Tullio Favali, was gunned down by a group of paramilitary elements on April 11, 1985 in Tulunan, North Cotabato.  Quevedo learned about Fr. Tentorio’s murder only when he opened his mobile phone upon arrival in Bangkok for a conference of Asian bishops Monday afternoon. “This sad news affected me greatly and my mind went back to my six years in Kidapawan (1980-86) and my experiences with the young Fausto.”)



 

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