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  • » 04/02/2010, 00.00


    Mindanao, Easter calls Christians and Muslims to strive for peace

    Santosh Digal

    During Holy Week and Easter, Mgr. Romulo Tolentino de la Cruz, Bishop of Kidapawan and member of the Forum of bishops and Ulema, tells AsiaNews about the situation and future expectations of the population of Mindanao. For 40 years, the Muslim majority region has been the scene of war between the Philippine army and Islamic rebels.

    Manila (AsiaNews) - In the predominantly Muslim region of Mindanao, for over 40 years a theater of war between the Philippine army and Islamic rebels, "the message in this celebration of Holy Week and Easter calls on all peoples to commit to peace , justice and development of this land".  This is the message of Mgr. Tolentino de la Cruz, bishop of Kidapawan (Mindanao). The prelate is one of 24 bishops of the Forum of Bishops and Muslim Scholars, an organization composed of Catholics,  Protestants and Muslims, active since 1996 in promoting peace in the region through dialogue. Since September 2009 the MILF and the government have resumed peace talks and on 4 March in Kuala Lumpur drew up a new draft agreement supported by the international community.  

    How important are Holy Week and Easter in a context such as that of Mindanao?

    The mystery of Jesus' Passover is the basis for all circumstances of our lives, the existence of the Church and its pastoral and missionary activity in the country and around the world. This important event pushes us all to work for peace, justice and development of our region.

    How do Christians live their faith in a Muslim majority region?

    The message of Christ is open to all. Every Christian should live their faith in every aspect of their daily life and be a witness for those who live with him. Christ's light should shine for all. The Gospel of Jesus calls all Christians, who have the opportunity to be promoters of the good news.  

    What are your concerns for peace and development in Mindanao?


    People are tired of living under military control. Everyone hopes that sooner or later it will all end and for the beginning of dialogue between people. Peace can not be found at the end of the tunnel. It is a process that must begin first in the hearts of people, in order to spread to the villages and cities in the region. For this reason the Church and Islamic leaders continue to pursue interreligious dialogue through the Forum of bishops and Ulema. We have recommended dialogue with Muslims as a priority to all our priests and religious in their pastoral activities. Despite these openings, however, is difficult to promote peace in the region. It is only possible if the government and the people really want it and we Christians continue to pray and work for it. To do this, the politicians should take to heart the continuation of dialogue, but also ordinary people must do their part.

    What future for Mindanao and provides what the Church's role in the region?

    Mindanao is rich in natural resources, but poverty is widespread as is corruption in public and private sectors and the incorrect use of funds granted by the State. What we ask is proper and transparent policies that truly serve people. The region should have the opportunity to recover and peoples living conditions should be improved. The Church does its best among the population and spreads the Gospel values such as truth, peace and justice and it does so through its missionaries and their activities. But there is still much to do. We need to be guided by God to the bring people of Mindanao to the path of peace and prosperity.  

    Have efforts been made to extend the values of Christianity to the rebels of the MILF and Abu Sayyaf?

    The Church welcomes all, including Islamist insurgents. They too need God.  Through Buc, We are doing everything to achieve this. We have to try to inspire in them the need to abandon violence and return to the path of dialogue with the government. For years the Church has been trying to bring MILF and Abu Sayyaf to the negotiation table to resolve together the problems of Mindanao. We act as a bridge between them and the government. This is the mission of the Church, and MILF and Abu Sayyaf are aware of this.  

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    See also

    29/05/2010 PHILIPPINES
    Incoming President Aquino faces task of achieving peace with the MILF
    After six years, Arroyo will not take part in dialogues with the Islamic rebels. But continue to support the policy dialogue by Congress. Arroyo's mandate expires June 30. Then will Benigno Aquino to seek a ceasefire in Mindanao, scene from 40 years of war between the army and separatists.

    28/02/2014 PHILIPPINES
    Philippines, Card. Quevedo: "Peace in Mindanao, chief commitment for local Church"
    The newly appointed cardinal assures that he will continue its work for dialogue between Christians and Muslims and the cease- fire between the army and the MILF. "Not on the front line" he states, but "behind the scenes". He hopes for an end to the atmosphere of “distrust” that has generated "too many misconceptions, misunderstandings and misinterpretations". The role of base ecclesial communities in the life of the Church.

    24/09/2010 PHILIPPINES
    Mindanao dialogue between Christians and Muslims begins in schools
    At the Talon-Talon National High School in Zamboanga, 50 Christian and Muslim students learn and share the values of peace and dialogue through the development of essays, slogans and songs. The kids all come from a community torn apart by fighting between rival clans. Organized by a group of volunteers of the movement of Silsilah, the initiative gathered students together on September 18 and 19.

    13/09/2014 PHILIPPINES
    PIME missionary: MILF political party, a "positive" step in the interests of peace in the Philippines
    Fr. D'Ambra says that the project was rumored in the past and it is "too early" to understand how it will evolve. President Aquino presents the basic text of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region to Parliament and strongly supports the transformation of the rebel group into a political party. Now agreement must be reached between the various groups, to avoid extremist off shoots.

    11/11/2008 PHILIPPINES - VATICAN
    Pope prays for Mindanao's Muslims
    The Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy had asked for help in bringing an end to the humanitarian crisis in Mindanao, and in reviving talks between pro-independence Muslims and the government of Manila. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, the only Muslim woman to participate in the Christian-Islamic forum at the beginning of November, has written an account on her meeting with the pope: "He told me that he will pray for us."

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