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Archbishop asks Filipinos to pray rosary to offset political scandal
Catholic News Service photo
A person holds a rosary as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 15.
Catholic News Service photo
A person holds a rosary as Pope Francis leads his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 15.
Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines  — The head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines implored Catholics to pray an "extra rosary" for a three-month period over a major political scandal that has rocked the country for almost a year.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas, conference president, said in a May 24 statement that many Filipinos have been bothered by the millions of tax dollars that went to people in "whom they have entrusted the care of governance of our country."

Several lawmakers were implicated in a $229 million "pork barrel scam," now under investigation by the executive and legislative branches of the Philippine government. State witnesses said Janet Lim Napoles, a Manila-area businesswoman, created bogus nongovernmental agricultural agencies that received lawmakers' special earmarks.

The money was allegedly channeled back to those lawmakers with a commission for Napoles. She was also implicated in another funding scandal related to the country's only natural gas drilling project.

Archbishop Villegas said all those being implicated in the scandal should allow an impartial investigation to take place and that people in public office who are being investigated "must not use the power of their office to obstruct the pursuit of truth."

"We are much saddened by the pork barrel scandal," he said. "We are shocked, together with our people, at the amount of money squandered when there are so many in great need. But we are grateful that in God's providence the scam is coming to light."

Archbishop Villegas requested that the Catholic faithful say the rosary from May 31 through Aug. 15, the feast of the Assumption. The prayers were for "conversion of the culprits ... courage of the witnesses ... and the healing of our country."

"Let us overcome evil by the power of good," said the archbishop.

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