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Church offers refuge to hunted who are innocent.

THE CATHOLIC Church may give sanctuary to people whose lives are in danger such as witnesses in extrajudicial killings on the presumption that they are really innocent.

A retired archbishop noted that granting shelter to whistle-blowers and other people seeking protection has been a common practice of the Church for a very long time.

'It's along the principle of 'love your neighbor' as far as the Church is concerned. Those who seek [refuge] are being hunted by the mighty on the assumption that they are helpless,' former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz told reporters in an interview.

Cruz issued the statement in reaction to the revelation of Senate witness Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed killer, that he sought the protection of a Pangasinan priest while he was in hiding.

Matobato tagged President Duterte as having a hand in the extrajudicial killings in Davao City when he was its mayor.

Cruz explained that a bishop may instruct a priest to offer protection or a priest may seek the guidance of his bishop on whether to give sanctuary to someone seeking it.

'It's done up to now. I've been giving [sanctuary] to this and that person for such reasons,' he said.

'What I'm saying is that it's a common practice, it has a very long history of Church observance of trying to protect and take care of people whose lives are under threat,' he said.

The one seeking protection, however, must be innocent and presumed unjustly persecuted.

'If it's known that you are already guilty, then you will be harboring criminals, which is not only against Church law but also against civil law,' Cruz said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Sep 27, 2016
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