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Religious stress need to preserve life ahead of PH's hosting of World Apostolic Congress on Mercy

People look at the body of a tricycle driver shot dead in Manila. (AFP file)
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- Catholic leaders stressed the need to promote, preserve, and respect life, ahead of the Philippines' hosting of the fourth World Apostolic Congress on Mercy from January 16 to 20.

"Mercy is connected with life ... Life must be promoted, life will be preserved, life will be respected," said Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos at a press conference at the Arzobispado in Manila on Tuesday. 

WACOM 4 is expected to draw over 3,600 bishops, priests, and laity from 35 countries, and about 60 dioceses and archdioceses in the Philippines.

Santos believes that WACOM 4 will provide a lesson to the Filipino delegates to see what they can do in response to the spate of killings that have been associated with the administration's war on drugs and on crime.

A "pilgrimage of mercy," it will take delegates to different holy places in Manila, Batangas, Bulacan, and Bataan.

Santos also sees the pilgrimage as something that can provide healing and hope for the marginalized.

The event was introduced by the Vatican to coincide with the third death anniversary of then Pope John Paul II in 2008. It was first held in Rome, Italy; then in Krakow, Poland in 2011; and in Bogota, Colombia in 2014.

One of the highlights will occur on January 19, in Bulacan, where the delegates will visit different "places of mercy." These include homes for orphans, the elderly, the mentally ill, drug addicts, and indigenous people (the Dumagat).

According to Monsignor Bartolome Santos of Malolos, this will allow the delegates, after a few days of talks and reflection, to feel the grace and mercy of God, and in turn, to be ambassadors of God's grace and mercy as they visit the "least, the last, and the lost" as well.

Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto, whose nongovernmental organization has a Bulacan farm where social enterprises thrive, will also tell his story to the delegates on that day. There will also be a blessing of the world's tallest statue of the Divine Mercy -- 100 feet -- in honor of WACOM 4. It will be capped off by a "barrio fiesta"-type dinner, with song and dance.

Every day, the delegates will be attending Holy Mass, with Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto to preside over one on January 16 at the Manila Cathedral. Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle will deliver the homily.

January 18 will also give the delegates a chance to experience "metanoia," or a change of heart and mind, said WACOM 4 chief executive officer Fr. Prospero Tenorio. This is because they will be undergoing the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) to be conducted by 200 priests and bishops at the National Shrine and Parish of Padre Pio in Santo Tomas, Batangas. 

Themed "Communion in Mercy; Mission for Mercy", the event is intended to "accelerate the culture of mercy in the Church and in the world", according to a press release.

The public can tune in to the livestream at, and the coverage on TV Maria.