United Methodists ask Bush to help stop Philippines killings

Calendar Community News & Features Round Up Sep 1, 2006 at 12:23 pm

The head of the United Methodist Council of Bishops has urged U.S. President George W. Bush (himself a Methodist by tradition) to press Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to take steps to reduce violence throughout the Southeast Asian country.

In a letter to Mr Bush on behalf of the council, bishops’ President Janice Riggle Huie of Houston cited the 3 August 2006 murder of Isaias Santa Rosa, a United Methodist local pastor. He was the twenty-first church worker killed in the Philippines since 2001.

“United Methodists in the Philippines and the United States are deeply troubled by the growing violence of the military under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Huie wrote in her letter on Aug. 22 to President Bush. “We ask you to communicate to President Macapagal-Arroyo our deepening concerns, concerns which we expect you in your office share.”

A high-level global delegation of United Methodists visited the Philippines on a fact-finding mission earlier this year and met with the Filipino president and urged her to take action then. The National Council of Churches in the Philippines also has called for an inquiry by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Council and other international courts of justice, Huie noted in her letter.

“Three of our United Methodist bishops in the Philippines are currently conducting further investigation into Sta. Rosa’s death,” Huie wrote.

Since the murder, the United Methodist Philippine Reunion – a group comprising primarily former missionaries and Filipino colleagues – as well as executives with the denomination’s Board of Global Ministries and Board of Church and Society have called on US and Philippine leaders to take action against the violence.

United Methodist bishops have often sought to call President George W. Bush to account. But in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, which the denomination criticised, he refused to see them — seeking only the counsel of the religious right.

(Aug. 23, 2006)