Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Sunday revealed that Pope Francis had told him to ask all priests in the Philippines to undergo a drug testing program. The pope also ask him continue the Church’s drug rehabilitation program, Sanlakbay Para Sa Pagbabagong Buhay.
“Nagkaroon ho ako ng pagkakataon na makapagusap kay Pope Francis sa Rome. Naikwento ko sa kanya ang Sanlakbay. Ang kanyang mga mata ay parang mga bituin na nagningning. At sabi po niya, ‘That’s the way to go,’” Tagle said in a 24 Oras report.
“Sabi niya, ‘Continue… continue that, including STD testing,’” Tagle added.
Amid the government’s violent war against illegal drugs, the six-month Church program aims to provide counseling, spiritual and values formation and even livelihood support for drug dependents.
But Tagle said the Pope told him to prioritize the rehabilitation of priests (if any) who will be tested positive.
“Gusto talaga niyang makasiguro na malinis ang ating mga pari, at walang bahid ng illegal na droga habang naglilingkod sa diyos”, tagle added.
The Cardinal said he is not ruling out the possibility that there are priests who are involved in illegal drugs, and possibly infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
“Ang mga lingkod ng diyos ay tao rin, posible rin silang magkasala”, Tagle added.
Sanlakbay Para sa Pagbabagong buhay is a Catholic-sponsored rehabilitation program which aim to help drug addicts.
Organizations involved in the program are: Center for Family Ministry, UST Graduate School of Psycho-Trauma, Department of Interior and Local Government, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Tagle did not said how the Church will implement the drug testing, and who will conduct the testing, but reiterated that he will seek the assistance of the Department of Health. /Joy Valle/