MANILA, March 23, 2017–A Catholic archbishop reminded the faithful that genuine repentance is a necessary step to conversion.
In his Lenten message, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan said that repentance and conversion go together, both need for forgiveness and a desire for a new life.
“Everybody touched by God is changed. The start of change is repentance. When repentance is sustained, it leads to new life,” Villegas said.
The archbishop went further by citing the stories of supposed self-confessed killers “Edgar” and “Art” who confessed their sins and beg for mercy.
“Edgar and Art are true stories of conversion. They want to pay for the murders they got paid for,” he said.
He said that Edgar was an illiterate “who did not know God too” and had no guilt at his first murder and was only afraid to be caught.
“His fear of getting caught became less and less because a voice was always there to assure him ‘You will not be caught,’” said Villegas said.
“Killing was not a sin. It was not a crime. It was livelihood. He fed his family from killing people. He killed to earn a living,” he said.
But Edgar’s slow path to conversion began when he felt his former bosses wanted to get rid of him and make him a scapegoat.
“He escaped and fled for his life. At that moment, the God of mercies rescued him,” said Villegas.
On the other hand, the prelate said that Art was a policeman, who who had killed criminals in the hundreds believing that he was serving humanity by “removing” bad people from society.
“He was a fanatic follower of the vision of a peaceful and orderly society no matter what the price,” he said.
But the policeman was “disturbed” when he was already being used to kill even innocent people.
“Like a good Catholic in his childhood years, he asked for mercy confessing his sins. He knew his soul was clean and he was ready to die or get killed. He didn’t care. He was touched by mercy,” Villegas added.
“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance,” he also said. CBCPNews
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