08/26/2014, 00.00
PHILIPPINES - IRAQ
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Filipino Church calls for an end to violence and silent guilt, urges Manila to help fellow Christians in Iraq

Catholic leaders criticise government for its weak and uncommitted attitude. "The time to use religion in the name of religious hegemony is long past;" now it is time for "dialogue in the name of peace," said Card Quevedo, who also slammed "the Iraq situation as created by this fundamentalist radical group".

Manila (AsiaNews) - "The time to use religion in the name of religious hegemony is long past;" now it is time for "dialogue in the name of peace," said Mgr Orlando Quevedo, archbishop of Cotabato and Southern Philippines' first cardinal.

"I join the worldwide condemnation of the events in Iraq that have caused the persecution of Christians and minorities there. [. . .] "I think I would neglect my duty as a religious leader not to condemn the Iraq situation as created by this [Islamic State] fundamentalist radical group," he added.

Known for his relentless advocacy for peace in Mindanao, scene of clashes between the Muslim community and the central government, the cardinal said that the use of force and violence to gain religious dominance is unjustifiable before both God and humankind. Hence, "I join the worldwide condemnation of the events in Iraq that have caused the persecution of Christians and minorities," he said.

Two weeks ago, dioceses across the country (like hundreds around the world) held a day of prayer in response to Pope Francis' call for Catholics to raise a voice of ceaseless prayer for peace in the Middle East. However, for the auxiliary bishop of Manila, the Filipino government "is not doing enough."

"We need [these] world leaders, including our own, airing their side on this very important concern. It disappoints me how our government can still afford to keep mum when it comes to religion," said Mgr Broderick S Pabillo.

"Manila needs to do more and take action to improve the situation. I expect that it will not limit itself only to words. Filipinos, led by their politicians, must distinguish themselves in providing humanitarian aid to people who are suffering."

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