To kill a priest is to kill Christ

To kill a priest is to kill Christ

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Catholic Church leaders on Monday gathered in this city in Nueva Ecija province to bury retired priest Marcelito Paez, who was gunned down by motorcycle-riding assassins in Jaen town on Dec. 4.

“Those tasked with implementing the laws of the land should see to it that the perpetrators of this deed be brought to justice,” said Balanga Bishop Ruperto Santos, who issued a pastoral statement as a representative of Central Luzon bishops to the 10-member Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines permanent council.

Papal Nuncio Gabriele Caccia and two bishops led the 11 a.m. funeral Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral for Paez here.

During the ceremony, San Jose Bishop Roberto Mallari said Paez was not just an activist, but was also a revolutionary who died to protect others.

Paez, 72, was attacked by two men on the night of Dec. 4 after driving a former political prisoner to safety.

The priest’s murder “has pointed to the existence of intolerance, cruelty and violence,” Santos said.

Killing Christ’

Santos said killing a priest was like crucifying Jesus Christ.

“To kill a priest is to kill Christ. To kill a priest is to crucify Christ. The priest is alter Christus (another Christ),” he said.

Policemen were seen at the cathedral grounds during the funeral Mass but they kept their distance.

After the hourlong Mass, friends and family brought out Paez’s casket while priests and activists sang the popular protest song, “Bayan Ko.”

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