CALL TO PATRIOTISM: A Pastoral Exhortation
We have been informed that a segment of our Philippine Army had planned a “coup” on the occasion of rallies commemorating EDSA People Power I, a sign of withdrawing its support to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. As a result thereof the President has declared “a state of emergency”—among others prohibiting holding of rallies, and resulting in the arrest of some civilians. As the governance of President Arroyo continues to be haunted by questions of legitimacy and corruption, our life as a people is unavoidably affected.
In the meantime, as we discern the “signs of the times” we call upon all in civil society to exercise prudence, sobriety, patience and vigilance. Let us meet this event with calmness. We reject violence from whichever group that may come either in pursuance of its purpose or to take advantage of the crisis-situation. Remember “Tayo’y kapwa Pilipino, mahal ng Dios!”
To all parties concerned, we as Shepherds appeal to you to be open to reason and respect truth and the Rule of Law and to avoid creating the atmosphere of belligerency—because innocent people are likely to become involuntary victims of selfish interest. The situation is a challenge to magnanimously prove that your patriotism and concern for the poor and the suffering are of higher value than personal survival.
May the key players in this military and political unrest all listen to one another in a dialogue and come to agreement for the good of our country. May there be honesty, peace, freedom and justice in the pursuance of the democratic order. May the decision-makers and problem-solvers have the integrity and wisdom to put the total welfare of the suffering republic above party interest and ambition to power, and to soonest end our military and political crisis without bloodshed.
We invite all people of good will, especially the Church organizations and the contemplatives to have a chain of Holy Hours, where feasible, before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for our country.
We invoke the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary that they may help us in these trying times. Lord, deliver our country from further corruption and greater crisis.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
+ANGEL N. LAGDAMEO
Archbishop of Jaro
To our Muslim Brothers and Sisters
Assalamu alaikum. Peace be with you. In the recent cartoons controversy that has affected Muslim communities in Europe and other parts of the world, including the Philippines, we would like to express our sentiments of solidarity with your sense of indignation and outrage.
While we do not condone any acts of violence against persons or properties, we reiterate some of the common principles that both Muslim and Christian religious leaders have been espousing in our interreligious dialogue—whether through daily living or periodic exchanges in our bishops–ulama forum and other engagements.
- We value the spirit of dialogue, tolerance and respect for each other’s religious traditions in bridging cultural differences that have divided our communities in the past and at present. Religious freedom and the rights of minority communities to their own culture are key values to be promoted.
- Instead of viewing religion as a source of conflict, we have all asserted that Christianity and Islam are religions of peace, and that we have to build on our religious traditions to forge a culture of peace.
- We recognize that extremist groups on either side can easily destroy the peace. Hence, we have jointly issued statements condemning acts of violence, particularly against innocent third parties. Insulting words and caricatures may also be considered forms of violence.
- We have noted that people in mass media have often exaggerated conflict stories between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao and other parts of the country—giving rise to a culture of violence and war. Media should strive, instead, to present the truth in a balanced way and practice the tenets of peace journalism.
It is in the light of these common perspectives that we join you in a common effort to promote mutual understanding and respect for our religious traditions and beliefs.
Abp. Fernando R. Capalla, D.D.
Archdiocese of Davao
Bp. Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J.
Prelature of Ipil
Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue
Bp. Martin S. Jumoad, D.D.
Prelature of Isabela, Basilan
Bp. Edwin A. de la Peña, M.S.P., D.D.
Apostolic Vicariate of St. Mary’s of Marawi
21 February 2006