11/28/2008, 00.00
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“Mindanao Week of Peace” celebrations begin

Mindanao towns and cities will hold a week-long series of events from 27 November till the 3 December in order to end the conflict between the MILF and the government. “Integrity of Mind and Heart: A way to reconciliation and peace” is this year’s theme.
Manila (AsiaNews) – More than 30,000 people took part in the kick-off celebrations of the “Mindanao Week of Peace”, in Zamboanga City. The island’s residents are invited to participate from 27 November till 3 December to various initiatives whose goal is to put an end to the conflict between the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the government. This year’s theme is ‘Integrity of Mind and Heart: A way to reconciliation and peace.’

During the Week’s opening address in Zamboanga City, Fr Angel Calvo, who is behind the Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) movement, urged all sectors of society operating in the ‘City of Flowers’ to recognise that “each one of us has the capability to contribute towards the attainment of peace in Mindanao.”

“People must believe that we can put together our minds and hearts to obtain the dream of peace in our land,” Father Calvo exhorted.

“It is beautiful to see Muslim and Christians working together, it is a sign of hope and solidarity,” the Capuchin friar added.

Prof Ali T. Yacub, a Muslim and a member of the Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace, read a statement released by the Bishop-Ulama Conference (BUC) that urged everyone to strengthen the interfaith relationship.

Quoting from the statement, Mr Yacub urged religious leaders “to bring about durable and lasting peace through the integrity of mind and heart, humbly expressed in the reconciling process of repentance and forgiveness.”

Other ceremonies opening the week of activities took place elsewhere across the island.

Mgr Fernando Cappella, archbishop of Davao, wrote a letter ahead of the event in which he urged priests to “encourage your parish, the Gagmayng Kristohanong Katilingban (GKK), community, association and institution to get involved in any form of peace-making or peace-building activities.”

The archbishop of Davao called on Catholics to make reconciliation a priority during this peace week’s activities.

“For us Catholics the bottom line of this celebration, and one that would really transform us and our Church and society, is to make an individual and communal effort that true peace begin with our individual selves,” he said.

“This can happen if we heed St. Paul's admonition that Christ is our peace who will help us actualize the theme of the Mindanao Week of Peace by making ourselves like Him,” he added.

(Santosh Digal collaborated on this article)

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