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Statement of Solidarity from the People of Faith in Australia and Aotearoa

October 23, 2011 ·  By CAFCA

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We, leaders and members of the clergy and church-based justice and peace advocacy programmes in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, are greatly shocked and saddened over the news that Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (PIME) was brutally shot dead on 17th October in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato, Philippines.

We echo the cries for justice. We call for fast, full and fair investigation of this terrible crime. According to his co-workers, Fr. Tentorio’s killing could have been related to his staunch opposition to large-scale mining in the province. He was gunned down just a week after the Philippine president reportedly approved a military proposal to allow mining firms to organise and fund militias to beef up their security.

We are further disturbed by other reported incidents of anti-mining indigenous community leaders and church workers, including Rabenio Sungit, indigenous leader of the Pelaw’an tribe and active lay leader of the Taguao Outreach Congregation of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) who was gunned down on 5th September. We therefore support the Filipino people’s appeals for President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to:

1. Dismantle the militias that have threatened the life of Fr. Tenorio since 2003 and claimed lives of several anti-mining indigenous peoples and human rights advocates since the Marcos dictatorship.
2. Scrap the Mining Act of 1995 and immediately cancel mining permits for big foreign mining firms that have been encroaching on indigenous people’s ancestral domain, destroying the environment and livelihood sources, displacing hundreds of families and disregarding their basic human rights.

In his 30 years of mission among indigenous people, poor peasants and other disadvantaged sectors in Mindanao, Fr. Tentorio lived out true Christian discipleship. Witnessing injustice, poverty and rampant government neglect, he joined them in their fight to defend ancestral domain while setting up education and health programmes for the poor.

We fervently pray for courage and blessings for our sisters and brothers in the Philippine churches who commit to carry on Fr. Tentorio’s advocacy against destructive mining and his various ministries for the poor despite the threats of persecution.

Most Rev. Patrick Dunn
Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand

Rev. Desmond Cooper
President, Methodist Church of NZ

Most Rev. Peter J Cullinane
Bishop of Palmerston North, New Zealand

Rev. John H Roberts
President Elect, Methodist Church of NZ

Fr. Claude Mostowik, MSC
Director, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre (Australian Province)
President, Pax Christi Australia

Rev. Stuart Vogel
Asian Ministries Committee, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ)

Marion Harper
Honorauble Secretary, Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church, Australia

Fr. Chris Sullivan
Coordinator, St Marks / Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Justice & Peace Group, NZ

Gillian Southey
Campaigns Coordinator, Christian World Service, New Zealand

Rev. Brian Turner
Methodist Church of New Zealand

Mr. Michael Yore
Director Mission and Justice, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (GSANZ)

Sister Pamela Molony RGS

Sister Caroline Price RGS

Sister Anne Manning RGS

Sister Jan Ryan RGS

Sister Joan Murphy RGS

Ms. Rhonda Cumberland
CEO, GSANZ

Ms. Emma Davey
Community Engagement Manager, GSANZ

Ms. Michaela Guthridge
Justice Development Manager, GSANZ

Mr. Michael Kane
Finance Manager GSANZ

Mr. Wayne Gorst
Business Manager, GSANZ

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