Church scholars have condemned “attacks” on Benedictine nun Mary John Mananzan who has been tagged as having links with the underground communist movement in the Philippines.
“The attack on Sister Mary John … is an attack on all of us, all who defend human rights and serve the people,” read a statement signed by at least 160 theologians from around the world.
“We condemn this labeling as an attack on one of the prophets of our time,” added the statement.
The scholars noted that the nun “has been unwavering in her commitment to justice and peace, which are concrete expressions of love.”
“Her life and work have never caused terror, but have only inspired faith, nationalism, and a critical consciousness among the people,” they said.
“In this time of great vulnerability, we stand with her and the Filipino people in our common pursuit for peace with justice,” added the statement.
The said Sister Mary John is “a woman worthy not of vilification, but of honor and emulation.”
Filipino theologian Dr. Lizette Tapia-Raquel of the Union Theological Seminary said the attack on Sister Mary John “is an attack on all of us, who commit to defend human rights and work for justice and peace.”
Dr. Kathryn Poethig, professor of Global Studies in California State University, said the accusation against the Benedictine nun is “malicious and false.”
“Tell us, who is the terrorist in these conditions of state impunity?” said Poethig.
Earlier, Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office accused Sister Mary John of being a supporter of communist rebels.
Badoy posted on her social media account that the nun “is given a place of honor in a communist terrorist organization.”
This week, newspaper columnist Rigoberto Tiglao also accused the nun of being “a ranking official” of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“If she’s not a party cadre, her achievements in furthering the advance of the communist insurgency are more important than an official membership,” wrote Tiglao.
Sister Mary John founded and headed the country’s largest women’s rights group, Gabriela, which Tiglao claimed is an “above ground” communist organization.
The accusations against the nun came after she expressed her opinion on the conviction of journalist Maria Ressa over a cyber libel case.
Sister Mary John Mananzan, a missionary Benedictine sister, obtained her doctorate degree in Philosophy major in Linguistic Philosophy, summa cum laude, at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
She also has a degree in Missiology, magna cum laude, at the Wilhelmsuniversitaet in Munster, Germany.
In the Philippines, she established the Institute of Women’s Studies, Women Ecology and Wholeness Farm, and the Women Crisis Center.
She was the national chairperson of Gabriela, a broad alliance of women’s organization for 18 years and later served two terms as president of St. Scholastica’s College in Manila.
Sister Mary John has been involved in developing a distinct Third World theology and was executive secretary and treasurer of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians.