Wednesday Aug, 05 2020 03:40:17 AM

Jolo church bombing showed fragility of peace in south

Mindanao Armed Conflict • 10:45 AM Thu Jan 30, 2020
John M. Unson
The provincial capitol of Sulu, located in Jolo town. (Contributed)

COTABATO CITY --- Christians in Sulu province prayed together for their safety amid the somber commemoration of the first anniversary of the Jolo cathedral bombing that killed 26 worshipers.

There has not been any closure yet to the January 27, 2019 attack that also injured 116 other churchgoers.

Monsignor Romeo Saniel, apostolic administrator of the Vicariate of Jolo, on Wednesday called on Catholics in Sulu to continue praying for the full recovery of surviving blast victims from injuries and trauma.

Jolo is the capital of Sulu, an island province that the police and military have been trying to clear from the Abu Sayyaf terror group that has a reputation for fomenting animosity among Muslims and Christians and for beheading local and foreign captives if ransom demands are not met.

The Abu Sayyaf operates in the fashion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

“One year is like yesterday for those who lost loved ones. No words we offer or deeds we do can ever truly remove the pain of their absence. The victims still demand for justice. Concerned Christians and Muslims cry out never again,” Saniel said in a statement.

Saniel, who belong to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation founded by French missionary Eugene De Mazenod and whose pontifical base is in Vatican City in Rome, said Pope Francis had instructed them to care for the people injured in the bombing and to prevent the incident from causing animosity among Sulu’s Muslim and Christian residents.

He said the Lady of Mt. Carmel church in downtown Jolo, damaged by a series of explosions on January 27 last year, had been restored with the help of benefactors.

“We assisted the victims in terms of cash assistance, hospitalization, initial trauma healing, scholarships, and housing,” Saniel said.

Saniel said Sulu’s Catholic religious sector is also extensively involved in continuing interfaith dialogues promoting Muslim-Christian solidarity.

The Jolo Vicariate’s peace-building program is focused on workshops on countering violent extremism and on respect and cooperation in observing the Islamic Ramadhan fasting period and the Yuletide Season among non-Muslims.


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