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Church in the Philippines praying for peace between the army and Islamists

11Sept. 2013: The leadership of the Catholic Church in Zamboanga, southern Philippines, have launched appeals for peace and reconciliation after violent clashes between government forces and Islamist rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front ( MNLF.) Taking a cue from Pope Francis' words regarding a possible attack on Syria , Bishop Guillermo Afable of Digos called for prayer to help avert an escalation of the conflict. "As Pope Francis said - added the prelate - we continue to pray for peace in the world, because all these conflicts are connected together and are the work of evil". At least six people were killed in the clashes and 24 were injured, some of them seriously. The rebels have kidnapped dozens of civilians as hostages and have set conditions for their release, demanding first the independence of the region from the Philippine government.
An appeal for peace was also launched by Msgr.Crisologo Manongas apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga. He said dialogue and negotiations are the only way to put an end to the conflict. Schools and offices are closed because of the violence, the prelate said and added that the city and the entire province are on maximum alert. Even the cathedral risks being raided by extremist elements.
"This is not a conflict of a religious nature - the prelate said - but a clash of a political nature ," and the government should not give in to blackmail , but start negotiations. He said the churches of the archdiocese "are open both for Christians and for Muslims affected by the conflict.
Source: Asianews


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