After more than three months, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi City has finally been cleared and retaken.

The Cathedral was desecrated and destroyed by ISIS-inspired terrorists on May 23rd, 2017. The Philippine Security Forces had to empty the church of improvised explosive devices. Photographs taken at the site reveal bullet-ridden walls of the Cathedral and fragments of destroyed icons and church adornments scattered on the floor. The altar of the Cathedral was completely ravaged, and a beheaded figure is the only statue left standing inside the building.

Along with the Cathedral, the Philippine security personnel were also able to clear the Grand Mosque, the largest place of worship for Muslims living in Marawi City. Although the destruction was not as bad as that of the Catholic cathedral, the government forces disclosed that the terrorists had dug holes and tunnels beneath the site and made holes on the mosque’s walls to engage in firefight.

For the past three months, the military has conducted extensive bomb raids on the city of Marawi, but it has deliberately refrained from bombing mosques as a sign of respect to the Maranaos, the Muslim ethnic group that called Marawi City its home for centuries. This move, however, was exploited by the terrorists who used the mosques as fortresses against the Philippine security.

Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong, spokesman of the provincial crisis management committee of Marawi, recounts how Christian police officers and soldiers helped clean the worship site and secure its surroundings.

“That again was a tacit indication that the conflict here is not a conflict among Muslims and Christians. It is these two groups that are working together to restore law and order in Marawi City,” Adiong said.

In an interview with ACN in August, Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña disclosed that there were plans for reconstruction, rehabilitation, and rebuilding of the Cathedral. He added “what is more important is to restore the Christian community and its good relations with Muslims living in Marawi.”

On August 8th, 2017, Aid to the Church in Need donated $30,000 which was used to distribute sanitary kits to 1,500 Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) coming from Marawi City.

Bishop dela Peña thanked ACN for the donation and continued to plead for help from all Christians to help the Prelature of Marawi and the Diocese of Iligan in assisting the IDPs of Marawi City. The Bishop also urged Christians to realize that Christ is also present in the suffering of non-Christians.

“When we are on a mission, we do not distinguish whether the people we are helping are Christians or not. We help because the Lord is telling us there is the need to help your brother and sister. We help because there is a need and where there is a need, that is where God is calling us,” said Bishop dela Peña.

By ACN with reports from The Philippine Star and GMA News

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Love One Another

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

 

Romans 13: 8-10

Second Reading Sunday 10 September, 2017