By Leslie Ann Aquino
Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo has expressed hope that the the attack on a Catholic chapel in Barangay Labu-Labu, Shariff Aguak, in Maguindanao won’t affect the “harmonious” relationship between Muslims and Christians in the area.
He described the incident as a crime that is most disturbing and provocative.
In a CBCP News post, Quevedo lamented how unidentified men set ablaze the chapel and “maliciously” destroyed religious statues.
“This criminal act is an abhorrent desecration of a place of Catholic worship,” he said.
The cardinal added that the destruction of the statues is “gravely disrespectful” of Catholic beliefs.
Quevedo urged the public, government officials, and the archdiocese’s partners in the Bangsamoro peace process to help the security forces in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The church leader also called on religious leaders to condemn such abuses and “prevent religious bigotry, hostility and conflict”.
The cardinal enjoined the clergy, the religious, and the lay faithful “to be always alert to the ongoing threats of violent extremism”.
“Be calm. Despite provocation, follow the Lord’s injunction of peace and not revenge,” Quevedo said.
Investigations are ongoing into the religious vandalism of an old chapel that took place on the evening of November 9..
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the chapel located along the national highway.
Last June 23, suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked a chapel in Pigcawayan town, North Cotabato, and destroyed not only religious icons but also desecrated the Sacred Hosts.
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