Pakighinabi: On the “Document on Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.”

APTOPIX Emirates Pope

Pope Francis greets Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, after an Interreligious meeting at the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Pope Francis has asserted in the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula that religious leaders have a duty to reject all war and commit themselves to dialogue. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) ORG XMIT: FP127

[Fr. Joel Tabora, Lead Discussant
Ateneo de Davao University, 21 February 2019]

 

Salaam! The Peace of God be upon you all!

As members of the Ateneo de Davao University with its mission of the promotion of faith, the pursuit of justice, inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue and the protection of the environment as “our common home,” and as members, friends and collaborators of the Al-Qalam Institute for Muslim Identities and Dialogue in Southeast Asia, we gather today to acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the meeting recently of Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Just the fact that these two religious leaders, one coming from Rome, the other coming from Cairo, came together in the Arabian Peninsula is already historical.

The Catholic Church recognizes the Pope as its head who in communion with the other bishops governs and guides it.

Islam on the other hand, does not have a Pope. Its guiding norms are determined greatly by Muslim scholars. Among the most authoritative of these is Ahmad Al Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar – the foremost Islamic (Sunni) University in Egypt.

Between the Catholic Church and Islam there has been a long history of conflict, violence and war. Both believe in one God of Compassion. Both are religions of peace. Both respect human life as the work of God’s creation and so to be cherished and protected. Yet both bear responsibility for centuries of mutual “othering”, for misunderstanding, contempt, and hatred, that have allowed their religions to be used as battle cries of rulers and politicians driven not by submission to God’s holy will but by mundane power. We know: there is nothing that can make the exercise of political power more absolute and thereby more diabolical than the claim that it does “God’s will.”

That is why we must not overlook that fact that in Abu Dhabi the Pope and the Grand Imam came together. They crafted an extraordinary document, their “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” It was issued earlier this month on February 4th. It states:

“Al Azhar and the Catholic Church ask that this Document become the object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation, thus helping to educate new generations to bring goodness and peace to others, and to be defenders everywhere of the rights of the oppressed, and of the least of our brothers and sisters.”

For us in the Philippines it could not have been more timely.

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Jan15-BuluanBOLRally-1Just before its issuance, the Bangsamoro people of the Philippines ratified the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RA 11054). The ratification was a historic yes to peace in Mindanao and in the Philippines between Muslims and Christians who had been at enmity with each other for centuries. Because of issues of who had the right religion, who truly worshipped the one God, whose religious values and traditions were to shape the culture of the land, who was legitimately or fully “Filipino”, who had the real right to govern, an Islamic revolution had demanded independence from the Philippines. The bangsamoro-organic-law-manila-dec7-007Republic countered the revolution. Thousands were killed. Hundreds of thousands displaced. An arduous peace process determined that the historical injustice committed against the Bangsamoro could be righted in the creation of an autonomous homeland for Filipino Muslims who respected the diversity of religions and the mutual coexistence of Muslims, Christians and Lumad in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region within the Philippines.

Jolo Zambo BombingBefore the votes ratifying the Bangsamoro Organic Law could be counted, two bombs exploded in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Jolo. Foreign suicide bombers identified with the Abu Sayaff or with the ISIS killed twenty-two Catholic worshippers and wounded over a hundred others.

Two days later, a grenade blast in a mosque of the city of Zamboanga killed two Muslim worshippers.

Again, precious Filipino lives lost to political violence in the name of religion!

On the international level, the Document on Fraternity is issued in the context of the war in Yemen; there some sixty thousand have been killed in what is said to be a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. In Syria, in a war between Muslims and Muslims, which created the ISIS and involved superpowers like the United States and Russia, 560,000 people have been killed and 6,200,000 people displaced. The successful international campaign against the ISIS in Syria has forced them to search for new territorial footholds. One of these is the Philippines, supposedly through Marawi with its Maute sponsors. Its military defeat there has driven them underground. But they are still active and recruiting supporters. These do not accept the Bangsamoro “political entity” created under RA 11054. They do not accept the Philippine State. Their religious belief insists that God rules if and only if he rules through an Islamic State, meaning of course, through them.

In this context, the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar say:

In the name of God…
In the name of innocent life that God has forbidden to kill…
In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized…
In the name of orphans, widows, refugees
and those exiled from their homes and their countries…
In the name of peoples who have lost their security, peace, and the possibility of
living together, becoming victims of destruction, calamity and war…
In the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal…
In the name of this human fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women…
In the name of freedom…
In the name of justice and mercy…
In the name of all persons of good will…
In the name of God…

Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West together with the Catholic Church and Catholics of East and West declare the adoption of

a culture of dialogue as the path;
mutual cooperation as the code of conduct;
reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.

This Document declares that it upholds the following, some of them stunning.

First: “The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace, to defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious coexistence… to re-establish wisdom, justice and love; and to reawaken religious awareness among young people so that the future generations may be protected from the realm of materialistic thinking and from dangerous policies of unbridled greed and indifference that are based on the law of force and not on the force of law.”

I think this means it is not enough just to cite religious texts and teachings; they must be authentically interpreted. The Pope and the Grand Imam are of the “firm conviction” that religious texts and teachings are authentically interpreted when they invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace, mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious existence.

We are challenged to reawaken religious awareness among the youth. That is to be addressed to all our Catholic schools and madaris, as well as to our youth movements, like the Salaam, with which we are associated. Religion protects the youth, the Pope and the Imam are convinced, from materialism, unbridled greed and indifference to the suffering of humankind.

Stunningly the Document says such materialism, greed and numbness to suffering is rooted in the law of force rather than in the force of law. The law of force is coercion and power to subdue freedom, out of the barrel of a gun; the force of law is commitment to the common good, out of crafting and obeying laws that promote it. The law of force promotes conformity; the force of law unity.

Second, Freedom is the right of every person; each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which he created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept.

This is a reaffirmation of religious freedom both by Islam and Catholicism. God created us diverse. One group is not blessed with a with a monopoly on truth, while all other groups damned because they have no truth. Together, we affirm religious freedom and the “freedom to be different,” aware that we have had our Inquisition, aware that we taken off people heads in the name of God, aware that we have burned people at the stake for not accepting our religious dogmas, aware that we have fought wars to force religion on whole peoples, aware that have considered peoples of other faiths condemned by God, imperfect in their humanity, second-class citizens, inferior human beings. The statement is a declaration we should never do this again, and certainly not in the name of God.

Third: Justice based on mercy is the path to follow in order to live a dignified life to which every human being has a right.

This is stated where we often believe: True Justice is merciless; it is unfeeling, cold. It is a blindfolded woman of stone. It is achieved by power and force. But justice based on mercy is the justice of a God of Compassion; it is divine.   Together, we must discern how to achieve this.

Fourth: Dialogue promotes a culture of tolerance, and reduces economic social, political and environmental problems

This is stated where we often believe: Tolerance is wishy-washy,

Listening to others’ convictions endangers one’s own. Intolerance and dogmatism are virtues, since we already possess the truth. Implementation of policies based on power, force and killing of dissenters is the most efficient way.

But here we are saying the culture of dialogue is the true path.

Fifth: Dialogue among believers means “coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and “transmitting the highest moral values that religions aim for.”

This is stated where we are afraid of the religious “other”, afraid we will lose our faith. But we are encouraged to dialogue. Dialogue among believers strengthens individuals in their beliefs, enriches religious communities and the world.           

Sixth: Places of worship are to be protected.

This is stated in the context of suicide bombers in cathedral of Jolo and lethal grenade blasts in the mosque of Zamboanga

Seventh: Terrorism is deplorable.

This is stated because many believe terrorism is a legitimate political means of oppressed people.

Eighth. Citizenship is based on equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. Full Citizenship. Reject term “minorities”

This is stated because many do not care about the responsibilities of citizens for the common good. They believe in private rights over others’ rights.

Ninth. Good relation between east and west: fundamental human rights

This is stated because some world leaders urge: Just the east!
Just the west! America first! Saudi Arabia has the true Islam
Iraq has the true Islam.

Tenth. The right of women to education and employment and to exercise their own political rights

Eleventh. The right of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition, education and support.

Twelfth. Elderly, weak, the disabled, the oppressed. Their protection is a serious obligation.

The Document concludes with a joint “aspiration” – a stated hope that:

  • this Declaration may constitute an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers and non-believers, among all people of good will
  • this Declaration be an appeal to every upright conscience that rejects deplorable violence and blind extremism; an appeal to all those who cherish the values of tolerance and fraternity that are promoted and encouraged by religions;
  • this Declaration be a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul;
  • this Declaration be a witness to the closeness between East and West, between North and South, and between all who believe that God has created us to understand one another, cooperate with one another and live as brothers and sisters who love one another. That is what we hope and wish to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace that all can enjoy in this life.

This Document on Fraternity of Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar begs for an appropriate response from ADDU, the Al Qalam, and the groups and organizations of men and women of good will with whom God brings us together in fraternity and mutual understanding.

I would suggest:

That this Document on Human Fraternity be read, meditated and reflected on, comprehended, and prayed over by all of us, that it may become part of our faith and part of our daily life in faith.

That this Document on Human Fraternity become material for reflection, prayer and mediation in recollections, silent retreats and during the holy season of Ramadan.

That we undertake measures to make the Document on Fraternity known understood and treasured by our Muslim and Christian individuals and organizations, and that we collect and publish the signatures of those who subscribe to this Document of Fraternity, beginning with our own.

That we request the Bishops-Ulama Conference of the Philippines to take the lead in the effort of spreading understanding of and subscription to this document, but that we voluntarily assist them in this effort as members of the ADDU and the Al Qalam.

That we request the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippine (CEAP) and the National Association of Bangsamoro Education, Inc. (NABEI) to spread appreciation of this Document of Human Fraternity in associated Catholic schools and Bangsamoro madaris. That our Catholic and Bangsamoro classrooms be incubation cells of peace through culturally-sensitive dialogue, peace and mutual understanding.

That we request the Catholic Bishops’ conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Mindanao Catholic Church Leaders for Peace (MCCLP), and the various Muslim Associations of Ulamas and Ustadzes to spread appreciation of this Document of Human Fraternity in our respective faith community/umah.

That we urge the Government of the Republic of the Philippines through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process adopt this Document as a guide to peace-building in the country.

That we urge the Bangsamoro Transition Authority to adopt this Document as a guide towards the successful implementation of the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (RA 11054).

That we urge the security forces in Mindanao, namely the military and police forces, to adopt this Document as a guide to waging peace and maintaining law and order in Mindanao, especially in urging not the law of force in suppressing freedom, but the force of law in promoting freedom responsible to the common good..

That our youth organizations, especially the Salaam, take the lead in spreading appreciation for this document among the youth especially in its challenge for a refreshed awareness of religion so that youth may be moved not by the rule of force but by the force of law, that is, the common good upon which all good laws are based, and that this challenge be the basis of their life-determining decisions.

That we promote research in Islamic and Christian theologies, philosophies, social sciences, arts and culture that would promote a deepened understanding of this Document of Fraternity.

That our instruction, formation and leadership development be culturally-sensitive instruction and promote dialogue, mutual cooperation and reciprocal understanding as our way of advancement.

That we promote face-to-face and life-to-life encounters between Christians, Muslims, Lumad throughout the Philippines in order in the Bangsamoro to spread our conviction that:

The culture of dialogue is the path;
Mutual cooperation is the code of conduct;
Reciprocal understanding is the method and standard.

 

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The Pope, the Grand Imam, and Ah Kwai

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[Address: MVP Teachers Training on Cultural Competence and Culturally Sensitive Classrooms, ADDU, Finster Hall, Feb 15, 2019.]

It is my great pleasure in the name of the Ateneo de Davao University to welcome you, teachers and administrators from our partner madaris in the Madaris Volunteer Program (MVP), esp. those of you who are coming from new partner madaris in Davao Oriental and in Lanao del Sur, to this 3-day training on the theme: “The culturally competent teacher: promoting a culturally competent classroom.” I welcome especially our revered brother, friend and expert on cultures in Mindanao from St. Aloysius Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI), Bro. Karl Gaspar, CSsR.

I am not sure exactly what this training entails.

But I surmise it will have a component of making sure that your classrooms are vehicles of transmitting culture, the culture you have been brought up in, the manner in which you are able to share, cultivate and celebrate your cherished values in your communities, including the way in which you encounter and worship your God.

It will probably also have a component of making sure that your classrooms also are vehicles of appreciating the diversity of cultures that we encounter in our world today. The classroom is important for forming the attitude in our learners towards this diversity and for determining whether the diversity is considered a threat, an other’s way of living that is wrong because it is not my way of living, or a blessing, another’s way of living, that can actually enrich my own.

When I was a young boy, we had a Chinese lady in our home who helped my mother raise us. She was assigned to me. Her name was Ah Kuai. I knew she loved me very much, and I loved her as well. She taught me many important values in my life: how to be helpful in the house, how to wash dishes, how to clean and polish floors, how to keep my room tidy. But the most important thing she taught me was the importance of God, the importance of prayer, the importance of worship. She worshiped before the image of the Buddhist goddess of mercy, Kuan Yin. Every morning at about 4 am, she would light a fragrant jaw stick, and for something like two hours pray.

I went to a Catholic Grade School. Its name was St. Agnes Academy; it was run by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In our classroom, were we were taught about our Catholic faith. I was taught that only Catholics could get to heaven, only Catholics were loved and saved by God, and all others would be doomed to the fires of hell for not being Catholic. I took the teaching to heart. And so I genuinely feared for Ah Kuai, whom I loved dearly.

One day – I was then about nine years old – I summoned all the courage I could muster and talked to Ah Kui, almost with tears in my eyes. “Ah Kuai,” I said, “you must become a Catholic! I love you. I do not want you to go to hell. Please accept to become a Catholic!”

She looked at me, smiled, then said, “Joel, you my favorite. I love you too. But you have your God; I have my God. You pray, go Mass, pray Jesus. I pray Kuan Yin. You be good. I be good. In the end only one God….”

Because I loved her, I believed more in what she said, than in what the teacher said in my classroom.

You are gathered here to consider the importance of a culturally competent teacher and the challenge of a culturally sensitive classroom. I pray that you succeed. We have our own culture. We encounter the cultures of others. How do we remain happy in our cultures, yet allow ourselves to be enriched by others’ cultures? I pray that your classrooms help understand the great challenge of the meeting recently between Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al Tayyeb in Abu Dhabi when they issued their Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together. That is a very rich document, and in the context your training, I would hope all of you might read and pray over its challenge. I cannot read it all here. But Pope Francis and Imam Ahmad Al Tayyeb said together:

In the name of God…
In the name of innocent life that God has forbidden to kill…
In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized…
In the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and their countries…

In the name of peoples who have lost thei cecurity, peace, and the possibility of living together, becoming vistims of destruction, calamity and way…

In the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal…

In the name of this human fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profot or by hateful ideological tendencies that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women…

In the name of freedom…
In the name of justice and mercy…
In the name of all persons of good will…
In the name of God…
Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West
together with the Catholic Church and Catholics of East and West,

declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path;
mutual cooperation as the code of conduct;
reciprocal understanding as the method and standard. 

We call on all….

to work strenuously to spread the culture of peace….\

Moving words from Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar!

May this three-day training help you to be
teachers of a culture of dialogue as the path,
teachers of mutual cooperation as the code of conduct
teachers of reciprocal understanding as the method and conduct.

And may all our classrooms be dedicated towards sharing
the culture of peace!

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One, Holy, Catholic Apostolic – and Wounded

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[Welcome Address: Abdon Josol Lecture Series, “A Wounded Church.”
Finster Hall, Feb. 8, 2019.]

It is my privilege to welcome you to the Abdon Josol Lecture for this year co-sponsored by the St. Alfonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI) and ADDU.

I hope it is with great love for the Church that you come here this morning. And I hope at the end of this day, you walk away with even greater love. Many of us are identified with the Church. Some of us are old. Some of us are less old. Some of us are young. Many of you are young.

All of us are called to the profound mystery of the Church, that begins with the Father looking on a sinful world, and not turning his back on the world, not giving up on it.  Instead, we know, in his love, in his compassion, he speaks a Word of love. The Word becomes flesh. The Word is incarnated into this world. The Word is God with us, Emmanuel, Jesus. His is his Father’s Word in the world speaking to us of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of Love and Truth.

In our darkness, the Word was not understood; it was rejected, crucified and killed. But he was raised up by the Father. And all who believed in him were given the power to be children of God. These are his disciples, whom the Spirit forms into his Church which continues to speak the word of God’s love and compassion in our world today. These are we in the world today, responding to his love in faith, spreading his Good News to others in joy.

All of us, I presume, in reflecting on the mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of redemption, the mystery of the Church, identify with this Gospel, this God, this holiness, this compassion, this redemption, this Church.

We believe there is but one Church. It is God’s. It is holy. It is for all. It is Catholic. It is sent to sanctify and save. It is apostolic. We identify with this Church, and pray and work every day that we may serve it well. We identify with this Church. Through it, we have experienced the love of God. In it, we bring the love of God to others.

But we come here this morning also because we know this is a wounded Church. Here, we are not speaking of the Church wounded by its enemies who have drawn out it its martyrs and saints. We are speaking of the Church deeply wounded by the scandal of sex abuse in the Church involving the abuse of children and youths by clergy and religious, many of them bishops and archbishops in almost all the countries where the Catholic Church has been present: Canada, the United States, Ireland, Austria, Germany, Australia, Chile, the Philippines, to mention only some. In the internet the list of countries affected is dishearteningly long; and the cases legion. But what is sickening about this truth is that it is not just those who through the most solemn rites of our Church have been consecrated to the service of God, that is, set apart to be holy in his service, that have sunk to this level of sin, but more so the number of children and youth who have been used, abused, terrified and traumatized for life by these persons of the Church.

When we hear of this, when we learn of it, from the newspapers, from the internet, and even, sadly, from the President of the Philippines, we can only cringe in shame.

It is not the Church I want to identify with. But it is the Church I am identified with. It is the Church I have identified myself with. Or have I? It is the incarnated Church, holy and wounded, saving and sinful, the Church through which I have experienced God’s love, but also the Church itself in need of forgiveness, redemption, and love. It is a wounded Church. In need of healing. Not the healing of a band-aide which cannot cover up the gaping wounds.

But the healing that needs deep recognition of our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our unaddressed loneliness, our dark desires, our blind compulsions, our uncontrolled power, our self-deceit, our intelligent rationalizations, our easy hypocrisy, and the willingness in humility to address the demons and evolve the culture that with God’s grace would keep ourselves and those whom we serve safe from all our culpable helplessness.

Ours is a wounded Church. And we are wounded in this Church. We identify with this Church, one, holy, Catholic, apostolic – and wounded. We come together today in Jesus’ name to understand the requirements of our hope.

We hope that our speakers today, Dr. Gabriel Dy-Liaco and Fr. Ramon Coronel, help us to hope, and to discipline ourselves in hope. For this is the wounded Church with which we identify, old or young. The Father did not turn his back on our world of sin, neither do we. He does not abandon his Church. He says, “I have called you by name. You are mine.” “I am with you always till the end of time.” “The gates of hell will not prevail against you.” “Go, and sin no more!” “Let the children come to me.” “As a mother can never forget her child, so shall I never forget you.”

 

 

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Pope’s Visit to UAE Relevant to Peacemakers in Mindanao

APTOPIX Emirates Pope

Pope Francis greets Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, after an Interreligious meeting at the Founder’s Memorial in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Monday, Feb. 4, 2019. Pope Francis has asserted in the first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula that religious leaders have a duty to reject all war and commit themselves to dialogue. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) ORG XMIT: FP127

As peoples who follow the lunar calendar celebrated the new year yesterday, the Pope ended his historic visit to the United Arab Emirates with a moving Mass that brought together some 130,000 worshippers, the great majority of whom were Filipinos. Francis’ homily on the Beatitudes was addressed to people living far from home. He thanked them for their fidelity to the Gospel in diversity:

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“I have also come to say thank you for the way in which you live the Gospel we heard.  People say that the difference between the written Gospel and the lived Gospel is the same difference between written music and performed music.  You who are here know the Gospel’s tune and you follow its rhythm with enthusiasm.  You are a choir composed of numerous nations, languages and rites; a diversity that the Holy Spirit loves and wants to harmonize ever more, in order to make a symphony.  This joyful polyphony of faith is a witness that you give everyone and that builds up the Church.”

Papal-visit-boosts-UAE-effort-to-redefine-concepts-of-tolerance-640x336But the Mass was not only a celebration of faith of diverse people living far away from home. It was also the closing Mass celebrating the historic meeting between the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb. Together they signed a shared mission statement, a “document of human fraternity”, a “joint declaration of good and heartfelt aspirations.”

The document pledges to uphold principles which may be considered foundational principles in the movement for peace in Mindanao. They are principles which should be taught, discussed and understood in every school in Mindanao. The document should be discussed in every pakighinabi or bitiala between Christians and Muslims.

  • Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action.
  • Justice based on mercy is the path to follow in order to achieve a dignified life to which every human being has a right.
  • Dialogue, understanding and the widespread promotion of a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of living together peacefully would contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems.
  • Dialogue among believers means coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and, from here, transmitting the highest moral virtues that religions aim for.
  • The protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements.
  • Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalise it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride.
  • The concept of citizenship is based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and reject the discriminatory use of the term minorities which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority.
  • Good relations between East and West are indisputably necessary for both. They must not be neglected, so that each can be enriched by the other’s culture through fruitful exchange and dialogue.
  • It is an essential requirement to recognise the right of women to education and employment, and to recognise their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity.
  • The protection of the fundamental rights of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition, education and support, are duties of the family and society. Such duties must be guaranteed and protected so that they are not overlooked or denied to any child in any part of the world.
  • The protection of the rights of the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed is a religious and social obligation that must be guaranteed and defended through strict legislation and the implementation of the relevant international agreements.

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For the full text visit the Human Fraternity Meeting website.

Cf. https://www.thenational.ae/uae/the-pope-in-the-uae/what-is-the-human-fraternity-document-signed-in-abu-dhabi-1.821882

 

 

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For the Sake of Our Youth

year if the youth 2019

Address to the Mid-year CEAP Superintendents Commission Meeting
Feb 4, 2019. Bacolod City.

Msgr. Mike Veneracion and the members of the Superintendents’ Commission:

Please excuse me for not being able to join your meeting in Bacolod.  I had actually made plans to be present for your whole meeting.  But I have had to undergo a medical procedure last January 26, and my doctor prohibited me from air travel for two weeks.

But I am happy to address you in this manner.

Renewed Appreciation of Our Mission

I think we must begin with renewed appreciation of our mission as Catholic educators, not only on an intellectual level but also on an emotional level.  This is the Year of the Youth – when we are trying to be more conscious of the needs and concerns of youth, and of how our schools might better respond to them.  We must appreciate what we do from its impact on our youth.  From Gravissum educationis, we respond to the right youth have to education simply because they are human beings.[1]  But we also respond to the right they have to Catholic education because they are Catholic.[2]   Through our schools our youth learn not only of God, of the human being and of nature as objects, but they learn of God’s saving action in their world and in their personal lives, and of how they may participate in companionship with Jesus in the Father’s work of reconciliation.  That is His reconciliation of ourselves with Himself, of ourselves with one another, and of ourselves with His creation.   Our schools form our students into citizens of the City of Man but also of the City of God.  They form them into humane human beings, but also into compassionate Christians.  This is a service which we must continue to give.

But because the service can be taxing, frustrating and exhausting, all of us do well every now and then to stand back from our daily problems and headaches in running our schools to appreciate and savor what it is that happens in them.  The light of the truth and of the Gospel breaks darkness in the lives of our youth.  We know our youth.  We know them personally.  We know of their individual circumstances.  We should pause to appreciate how our labors have triggered the moments of insight which were truly transformative in their lives, and through them, the lives of others.  We recall moments of light which broke their ignorance, or broke their poverty, or broke their complacency.  We know how for many of our students’ education has lifted them and their families away from abject poverty to sufficiency in life, if not to prosperity.  We also know of moments when God broke through to form a lost adolescent into a leader for the Church or a leader for civil society.   And of how they have grown in our society to be responsible, if not extraordinary, leaders of our Church, sometimes within the ranks of religious and priests, and other times as leaders in government or civil society.  Savoring these consoling experiences in providing Catholic education can help us weather the storms when the dark clouds gather.   They are our experiences of the grace and providence of God in doing His work.

Because of the importance of the work done by the Catholic school, it deserves the support both of the civil and of the ecclesiastical communities.

Gravissimum educationis “entreats all those who are in public authority or who are in charge of education to see to it that youth is never deprived of this sacred right” [to education] to which Catholic schools respond.   Likewise,  it “earnestly entreats pastors and all the faithful to spare no sacrifice in helping Catholic schools fulfill their function in a continually more perfect way, and especially for caring for the needs of those who are poor in the goods of this world or who are deprived in the assistance and affection of a family or who are strangers to the gift of the Faith”

In this context, we have much to discuss about how today the State might better support our private and Catholic schools.

Church Support for Catholic Schools

But before we talk about the role of the State, lest we be accused of hypocrisy, we might begin with the role of the Church in supporting our schools.  How do the leaders of our Church support our Catholic schools?

Where bishops, understanding the apostolic importance of Catholic schools, normally extend full support to schools in their jurisdictions, sometimes the support is not given, or it needs to be withdrawn.  It is for such situations that we need clarification.  Unto this end, CEAP may need to sit down to talk to the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE).  I have articulated some of these concerns in the past.[3]  But since we have not progressed in addressing them, I repeat them again.  There are five concerns:

First, the nature of the Catholic School as a public ecclesiastical juridic person, whether it be run by priests, religious or lay persons[4], subject to the recognition of the Bishop, needs to be clarified. What are its requirements for being a Catholic school?  What are its obligations?  What are its rights?  Do they have any rights?  In case of perceived error, does it have the right to due process.  When it is the object of unjust punitive action, how may it find relief?

Second, the nature of the recognition by the Bishop of a school as Catholic needs to be clarified.  When may it be given?  What is the “written document” of recognition required for recognition?  When may this recognition, once granted, be withdrawn?  What is the effect of the withdrawal of the recognition?  This clarification is especially necessary in the light of Canon 803 §3:  “Even if it is in fact Catholic, no school is to bear the name Catholic school without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.”   But when a school, in fact, engages in evangelization and Catholic education and formation as a condition of its engaging in secular education, what rights does its have relative to its recognition as Catholic?
Third, we must clarify the relationship between the bishop or the parish priest and the congregational school which responds to the invitation of the bishop to open a school.  The bishop often commits land or perpetual usufruct of land and his undying moral support, and the religious congregation commits facilities, religious manpower,  administration of the school, financial investment, etc. for the operation of a Catholic school.  In time however, the bishop or his successor, often with the urging of the diocesan priests, decides the land should not be donated or be used for another apostolic purpose.  What are the rights then of the school and the congregation running the school?  What are the rights of the diocesan priests to the apparently “lucrative” income coming from the operation of the school?  What are the school’s rights should the school operate in the red?  In general, what are the rights and responsibilities of bishops or of parish priests to the funds generated by the operation of a Catholic school in a diocesan jurisdiction?

Fourth, how is the supervisory role of the bishops over schools in fact exercised?  Today, where the diocesan superintendent oversees diocesan schools, and the congregational superintendents or the religious superiors themselves oversee congregational schools, who oversees the Catholic schools run by laypersons according to Can 216?  Could this be a function added to the diocesan superintendent?  Or might the CEAP play a role here in the service of both the Bishop and the school?   How is the supervision of the Bishops exercised over universities whose academic freedom is recognized both in civil law and in Ex Corde Ecclesiae?

Fifth, how can the Christian community and the public, including the pastors of the Church who are normally not directly involved in the running of Catholic schools, be assured that Catholic schools are good Catholic schools, i.e., competent in the delivery of human education and Christian formation?  How is quality assurance practiced among the Catholic schools, especially when the schools’ function of evangelization and Christian formation for the common good are concerned?  Here, it may not be enough to use the Philippine Catholic School Standards (PCSS) as an instrument of Internal Quality Assurance.  For greater objectivity, external bodies composed of competent peers in Catholic education using standards and procedures of assessment that build on the PCSS  may be necessary.

These are issues which I believe we must address in open dialogue with our bishops.  There was a time when schools were administered and their classes were taught mainly by priests and religious;  laypersons in schools were considered mere auxiliaries.   Those times are gone.  Catholic laypersons populate if not dominate our faculties and support staffs; often there are non-Catholics as well.  They condition the de facto Catholic operation of the school.  In certain cases, laypersons head the administration of schools previously reserved for religious or priests;  in other cases, whole Catholic schools are lead by lay persons;  it is they who bring to the school its material resources and moral leadership.  We have learned, in many cases laypersons with their specialized training and experience are better teachers or administrators for Catholic schools than the available religious or priests.  I am sure we can think of real examples of what I am referring to.  These are Catholic schools.  For the sake of evangelization and Christian Catholic formation they need to be known as such.  Do we welcome them, or merely tolerate them?  Do we work with them, or undermine them?  Do we discern in them God’s provident grace, or do we fear in them sinister forces of the world?  I believe these must all be clarified with our bishops if we are to say that the Catholic Church supports its  Catholic schools.

State Support for Catholic Schools

As the Catholic Church supports its Catholic schools, so are we of the conviction that the State should also support our Catholic Schools.  These schools, big and small, congregational and diocesan, urban and rural, contribute to the “one Philippine system of quality education for all” where, according to our Constitution,  public and private schools are to work in complementarity for the good of our Philippine youth.

In this context, in my view, we need today to address the following six urgent concerns:

First:  That in any possible revision of the Philippine Constitution the provision for complementarity between public and private schools be preserved.  As Federalism has been proposed for the Philippines, there have meanwhile been many proposed drafts of the new Constitution.  The one draft that has been approved by the House of Representatives (RBH 15), certainly without consultation with representatives of the education community, does not contain this provision.  The whole Article 14 of our 1987 Constitution, which provides the framework for the one system of Philippine education as we know it today has been eliminated!

Second:  That we continue to insist on an implementation of complementarity between public and private schools that guarantees mutually equitable growth and thriving, and does not advantage one side at the expense of the other.  We consider it against complementarity if using taxpayers’ money, the teachers of one side are advantaged over the teachers of the other side.  With the K-12 reform, the salaries of the teachers of one side were raised through legislative fiat in such a way that the salaries, dependent on the limited ability of parents of students to pay tuition, could not be raised in complementarity.  This caused a migration of many of our teachers into the ranks of the public schools.  It was a serious blow to private schools.  Last January 12, President Rodrigo Duterte, having had doubled the salaries of our soldiers and teachers, promised a group of public school teachers in Bulacan that they were next.  The promise was made without consideration of the effects of the legislated hike in salary on private schools.  If this happens in the way Sen. Sonny Angara has proposed it to happen in the Senate last year, the starting salary of teachers would be of salary grade 19 – around P40,000.

If the justification for the increases in the salaries of teachers of public schools is because their salaries are just too low at P20,000 a month, causing many of them to live in constant indebtedness despite their hard labors in teaching the youth of the land, we must insist that the argument is all the more true for private school teachers whose salaries are much lower than that. It is unconscionable that their salaries remain at P12,000 or even at P8,000 because that is all that the parents of poor students can afford, while public school teachers of similarly situated students are getting P20,000 or P30,000 or P40,000 monthly.  In the one Philippine system of education where teachers in public and private education serve the same Philippine youth, the salaries of the teachers, be they public or private, must be similar, if not the same.  Should legislation fix the salaries of public school teachers above what the market can afford, it sets the standard for teacher compensation for the entire system.  Based on this standard, should the market not allow the private school teachers to raise their tuition to keep up with the legislated salary scale of the public school teachers, the legislation which compensates public school teachers above market rates should in complementarity compensate private school teachers at the same rate.  The TSS should not be a consuelo de bobo at a small fraction of the increase granted the public school teacher but at the same rate of the public school teacher.

This is a matter of social justice.  Should this not be met by legislators, then private schools should have the courage to begin the process of closing their schools because they cannot pay what government in its wage system considers socially just wages for teachers.  The alternative is to be condemned to paying compensations that are unjust, beneath what even the Church might consider a family wage,  and working with teachers only to the point where they must abandon the desire of staying with a Catholic school for the realism of supporting a family by migrating to a public school.  When this happens, the schools would not be able to provide the students the quality education that they have a right to as human being and as Catholics.

Therefore, the complementarity between public and private schools must not remain a mere word especially in the crucial matter of teacher compensation.  In this context, we must all study and support the “Teachers Compensation and Support Act of 2018” proposed by our legal counsel, Atty. Joseph “Erap” Estrada.  This would compel the government to compensate private school teachers teaching government approved programs of education at the same rate of compensation given public school teachers.  Atty Joseph’s proposal has won the support of Sens. Ralph Recto and Sonny Angara.  It has been appropriated by Sen. Bam Aquino and has been filed as SB 2057 on Oct 9, 2018.  It deserves our support.

Third:  But the way of legislation is a long and difficult process which demands that we come together and lobby tenaciously for the passage of this bill.  Meanwhile, we must do all we can to improve the sustainability of our schools and the compensations of our teachers by rallying our Catholic communities through our parishes and dioceses to the support of our schools.  We must ask them to enroll their children in our schools, support poor students with scholarships, create funds that would better compensate our teachers, and generously support the improvement of our facilities.  CEAP must help in this general campaign.  At the same time, we must ask them to support the legislation through which our teachers might be compensated at the same level as public school teachers.

Fourth:  Meanwhile, I strongly suggest our schools create new revenue streams that could support our teachers through creative programs in adult education.

Fifth:   To get the support of our Church and civil communities, our schools must work hard on quality assurance first by setting up systems of internal quality assurance.   Quality assurance must begin with the school and the personal desire of teachers and administrators to deliver quality education, that is, education that meets government minimum standards, yet goes beyond them, that implements the school’s mission and vision, and satisfies stakeholders.  Good quality assurance demands confirmation of quality through an external quality assurance agency, like PEACs certification process or PAASCUs accreditation process.  Meanwhile, we are working through COCOPEA with CHED to simplify the Quality and Quality Assurance mechanisms for higher education through a revision of CMO 46 s. 2012.

Sixth:  It is the quality assured schools that will be positioned to receive subsidies and support from government.  The first round of 300,000 beneficiaries from the Tertiary Education Subsidy und RA 10931 considered only soco-economic need and not quality.  This year our representatives in the Unifast are resolved to insist that quality must also be a key consideration in the algorithm of distribution.  For this, the quality of your schools shall have to be evidenced through such as PEAC’s certification or PAASCU’s accreditation.   We must help each other to be quality assured.

For the Sake of our Youth

For the sake of our youth in the Year of the Youth, our Catholic schools must not only survive; they must thrive with creative programs that convince our youth of the meaning of human life and of the joy of Christian life.  “Let the children come to me” (Mt 19:14), the Lord commands.  Let the children approach the Lord who comes “to bring life, life to the full” (Jn 10:10).  Our schools must help our youth join Jesus in bringing the fullness of life not only to individuals but to whole societies.  In Mindanao, that also means now offering to share more generously the benefits of our Catholic education with the Bangsamoro youth, Muslim and Lumad, in ongoing inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue.  In the Lord’s Kingdom established in these societies, no one is excluded from the full joy of human living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] cf. Gravissimum Educationis, 1.

 

[2] cf. Gravissimum Educationis, 2

 

[3] cf. https://taborasj.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/dispute-between-the-bishop-of-bacolod-and-st-johns-institute-huaming-and-its-implications-for-ceap-and-ecce/

 

[4]  cf. Canons 208, 215, 216

 

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God speaks to us in dialogue in Mindanao

Jolo Zambo Bombing

[Homily based on Luke 4:18-30]

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 12.46.29 PMWhen this chapel was designed, we hoped it would, first, be a chapel for prayer.  We hoped it would provide those who come here a venue for conversation with God, in which, gazing at the crucified Lord, we might ask with St. Ignatius, “Lord, if you have done this for me in love, what have I done for you?  What am I doing for you? What ought I do for you?”

The second thing we hoped for this chapel was that it would be a stimulus for dialogue between ourselves and the Mindinao world in which we live, between ourselves and the worlds of the Lumad, between ourselves and the worlds of the Muslims.  This had a profoundly religious reason.  When we think of our faith, we cannot help but think of dialogue.  God the Father, gazing on our world of sin, comes into dialogue with us.  He speaks a word of compassion, a word of love.  The Word is his Son.  His Son enters our world in human flesh, and speaks to us.  He speaks to us as in the Gospel.  His word of love does not just remain a word.  It becomes flesh.  Through the Spirit he speaks to us in the events of our lives.  Through the Spirit he incarnates himself today in our world of Mindanao.  In the Spirit we respond to his word.  Dialogue:  God speaks.  We respond.

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 12.46.05 PMThis great mystery of God coming into dialogue with us by incarnating himself in our world is depicted in the large murals in the back of this chapel.  God speaks to us in Mindanao.  His word does not just remain a word – distant from our lives.  He incarnates himself into the cultures of Mindanao.  What the mural at the back to my right represents is the scene in today’s Gospel.  Jesus in the synagogue is presenting the program of his ministry, of his being anointed to bring God’s Good News to the poor, liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed, in the Tausug cultural context (Jn 4:18-19).  Jesus is fulfilling an old Isaiahan  prophecy  in the midst of his listeners (Jn 4:20-21).  But the mural asserts that Jesus’ Word is not just spoken and incarnated in Galillee.  It is spoken and incarnated in Mindanao.  It is spoken and incarnated in the culture and context of the Tausugs.

Now, God’s Word is incarnated in dialogue through us in his Church with the world:   In the Spirit, from our world we listen to God’s Word.  From God’s Word, in our world we speak.  And the world responds.  We continue the dialogue of God incarnating himself in our world.

Last week, in the Tausug world, violence exploded first in the Cathedral of Jolo,  then in a mosque of Zamboanga.  In God’s Spirit, as part of God’s dialogue with our world, we have tried to respond to this violence.  We responded with the following  statement which appears today in our newspapers.  I will read this statement, hoping that we all respond to this unhappy situation in Muslim Mindanao with God’s Word of Love, God’s Word of Peace.

[Statement of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, Muslim Organizations, Catholic Church Leaders, and the CEAP to the Violence in Muslim Mindanao]

It is with profound sadness that we mourn
the loss of precious Filipino lives
due to bombs exploded at the
Cathedral of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Jolo.
Two detonated bombs:
one inside the church during Mass killing worshippers,
one outside the church killing first responders.
Twenty dead; 112 injured.

More recently, two precious Filipino lives
killed after night prayers by a grenade blast in a Zamboanga mosque.

This is, we believe, lethal violence directed not only at
Christians and Muslims, soldiers and civilians,
but at the very dream of the Bangsamoro
for a homeland in the Philippines
where through autonomy and self-determination
their religion of peace, their worship of Allah,
their traditions and customs are preserved and revered,
even as within their homeland and beyond,
they respect and honor peoples of other faiths
all enriching each other as Filipinos under one Philippine flag.

The lethal violence is meant
to sow enmity not only between Christians and Muslims
but more so and especially between Muslims and Muslims
and, misusing the name of the God of compassion and peace,
to force people anew
to anger, revenge, hatred, violence and killing.
The violence intends to empower though bloodshed and death
factions who arrogate Islam to themselves
and substitute their weak human will
for the Will of the Almighty and All-Powerful.

We mourn the death of those killed; we suffer with those injured;
we grieve with their families and friends.
But we refuse to let this lethal violence
kill the dream of the Bangsamoro
for a homeland in Mindanao of peace and prosperity.
We refuse to let the will of a few naysayers
overwhelm the powerful majority
that voted yes to the dream of the Bangsamoro for lasting peace,
yes to a bright future for the empowered Bangsamoro youth,
yes to a prosperous and educated Bangsamoro
where democratic discussion and debate
replace the despotic tyranny of guns and violence,
yes to a future where the preserved identities of tribes
strengthen and not weaken, enrich and not emaciate
the integrating Bangsamoro,
and yes to a Bangsamoro that is respected and embraced in the Philippine Republic
as it respects and embraces all Filipinos.

We call on our fellow Filipinos therefore to recognize, cherish
and defend the yes that has been clearly spoken
and implement what has been legislated by Congress
and ratified by the People
in the Bangsamoro Organic Law for Muslim Mindanao.

We call on our President to lose no time in appointing persons to the
Bangsamoro Transition Authority
that would help realize the Bangsamoro dream for lasting peace.
Let these be persons of vision and integrity
free from the self-interest of party politicians
who can liberate Mindanao from tribalism and factionalism
and prepare the Bangsamoro for self-governance under the law.

Meanwhile, even as we pray that the perpetrators
of the violence in Jolo and in Zamboanga find remorse and peace
in conversion from their violent ways,
we pray for peace inspired by St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace;
where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

Humbly, we pray to you, God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful,
that you will  lasting peace in Mindanao.
Bless us.  Strengthen us.  Empower us.
Make us instruments of your peace.

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Statement of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, Muslim Organizations, Catholic Church Leaders, and the CEAP to the Violence in Muslim Mindanao

Jolo Zambo Bombing

Even as We Mourn, Yes to Bangsamoro and God’s Peace

It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of precious Filipino lives
due to bombs exploded at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Jolo.
Two detonated bombs: one inside the church during Mass killing worshippers,
one outside the church killing first responders. Twenty dead; 112 injured.

More recently, two precious Filipino lives
killed after night prayers by a grenade blast in a Zamboanga mosque.

This is, we believe, lethal violence directed not only at
Christians and Muslims, soldiers and civilians,
but at the very dream of the Bangsamoro
for a homeland in the Philippines where through autonomy and self-determination
their religion of peace, their worship of Allah, their traditions and customs are preserved and revered, even as within their homeland and beyond,
they respect and honor peoples of other faiths
all enriching each other as Filipinos under one Philippine flag.

The lethal violence is meant
to sow enmity not only between Christians and Muslims
but more so and especially between Muslims and Muslims
and, misusing the name of the God of compassion and peace, to force people anew
to anger, revenge, hatred, violence and killing.

The violence intends to empower through bloodshed and death
factions who arrogate Islam to themselves
and substitute their weak human will for the Will of the Almighty and All-Powerful.

We mourn the death of those killed; we suffer with those injured;
we grieve with their families and friends.
But we refuse to let this lethal violence kill the dream of the Bangsamoro
for a homeland in Mindanao of peace and prosperity.
We refuse to let the will of a few naysayers overwhelm the powerful majority that voted yes to the dream of the Bangsamoro for lasting peace,
yes to a bright future for the empowered Bangsamoro youth,
yes to a prosperous and educated Bangsamoro where
democratic discussion and debate
replace the despotic tyranny of guns and violence,
yes to a future where the preserved identities of tribes
strengthen and not weaken, enrich and not emaciate the integrating Bangsamoro, and yes to a Bangsamoro that is respected and embraced in the Philippine Republic as it respects and embraces all Filipinos.

We call on our fellow Filipinos, therefore, to recognize, cherish and defend
the yes that has been clearly spoken
and implement what has been legislated by Congress and ratified by the People in the Bangsamoro Organic Law for Muslim Mindanao.

We call on our President to lose no time in appointing persons to the
Bangsamoro Transition Authority that would help realize the Bangsamoro dream for lasting peace. Let these be persons of vision and integrity
free from the self-interest of party politicians
who can liberate Mindanao from tribalism and factionalism
and prepare the Bangsamoro for self-governance under the law.

Meanwhile, even as we pray that the perpetrators
of the violence in Jolo and in Zamboanga find remorse and peace
in conversion from their violent ways,
we pray for peace inspired by St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace;
where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

Humbly, we pray to you, God, the Almighty, the All-Powerful,
that you will lasting peace in Mindanao.
Bless us. Strengthen us. Empower us.
Make us instruments of your peace.

Signed:

BISHOPS-ULAMA CONFERENCE

MOST REV. FERNANDO R. CAPALLA, D.D.
Archbishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Davao
Co-Convenor

MOST REV. HILARIO M. GOMEZ, JR.
Bishop Emeritus, United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Co-Convenor

ALEEM ABU ALI CALI, OLP
National Ulama League
Co-Convenor

ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS

MR. MUHAMMAD R. ABAS
Executive Director, Tasbikka Inc.

MR. SAMSUDIN S. MUHAMAD
Executive Director, Dymamin Inc.

USTADS EISA JAVIER
Director, Mercy Islamic Centre Foundation

SALAAM MOVEMENT

DATU MUSSOLINI S. LIDASAN
Director, Al Qalam Institute, Ateneo de Davao University

QAMAR G. GUIANI
Board Member, Action for Advancement and Development of Mindanao Inc.

USTADS ESMAEL M. LUCAS
President, Kutawato City Arabic Student Association Inc.

MR. JAAFAR BASAL KIMPA
Chairman, Amores Interfaith Council

PROF. ABDULBASIT SILONGAN
Executive Director, Basedmin Inc.

ENGR. FAISAL B. ALON
Executive Director, ABPSD Inc.

CATHOLIC LEADERS

HIS EMINENCE ORLANDO B. CARDINAL QUEVEDO OMI, D.D.
Archbishop Emeritus, Archdiocese of Cotabato

MOST REV. ANTONIO J. LEDESMA, SJ, D.D.
Archbishop, Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

MOST REV. MARTIN S. JUMOAD, C.M., D.D.
Archbishop, Archdiocese of Ozamis

MOST REV. GEORGE RIMANDO, D.D.
Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Davao

VERY REV. FR. PRIMITIVO VIRAY, JR., S.J.
Provincial Superior, Society of Jesus

CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES
REV. FR. JOEL E. TABORA, S.J.
President

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