The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, including the four Negros Island bishops, condemned yesterday the twin bombings at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo during a Sunday Mass that left at least 20 dead and 81 injured.
The Catholic bishops, including three from Negros Island, gathered at a plenary assembly in Manila yesterday, received the sad news of the bombings from Fr. Romeo Saniel, Apostolic Administrator of Jolo, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said.
Saniel who hurriedly flew back to Jolo because of the incident, appealed for prayers, Alminaza said.
“We appeal for prayers not just for Jolo and Mindanao but for our whole country,” the San Carlos bishop said.
The three Negros bishops attending the plenary are Alminaza, Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes, and Kabankalan Bishop Louie Galbines.
Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon, who is in Panama for the World Youth Day presided over by Pope Francis, said “I am deeply saddened by the news of the Jolo church bombing which is absolutely abominable.”
“How ironical for the bombings to happen while the Holy Father is here presently preaching and promoting peace and love among the youth and peoples of all races and beliefs,” added Buzon, in a text message to the DAILY STAR.
CBCP President Romulo Valles, Archbishop of Davao, in the bishops’ statement, said “we condemn this act of terrorism that has taken place only a few days after the plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law”.
“As we begin a new phase in the peace process with the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARRM), we ask our Christian brethren to join hands with all peace-loving Muslim and Indigenous People communities in the advocacy against violent extremism,” the statement said.
The CBCP statement said the bishops condole with the families of the soldiers and civilians who were killed by the explosions.
“We also express our sympathies to those who were wounded and extend our solidarity to the rest of the church-goers inside the Cathedral and the church community in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo,” the statement said.
“May all our religions of peace guide us in our quest for a brighter future for the people of Mindanao,” it added.
The first blast occurred inside the Catholic church at about 8:15 a.m. as mass was being celebrated, and was followed by a second explosion near the front entrance, as troops responded, regional military spokesman Lt. Col. Gerry Besana said.
Police Regional Office 9 recorded 5 soldiers and 15 civilians killed, and 14 soldiers, 2 police officers and 65 civilians injured in the twin blasts.*
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