Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato strongly condemned another attack, on November 10, of the Catholic chapel in Barangay Labu-Labu, Shariff Aguak, in Maguindanao. In a statement Tuesday, the cardinal lamented how unidenfitied men set ablaze the chapel and “maliciously” destroyed religious statues.
“This criminal act is an abhorrent desecration of a place of Catholic worship,” 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. The cardinal said the destruction of the statues is “gravely disrespectful” of Catholic beliefs.
“Such a crime is most disturbing and provocative,” Quevedo said, as he expressed hope that the incident won’t affect the “harmonious” relationship between Muslims and Christians in the area.
He 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. 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. The church leader also called on religious leaders to condemn such abuses and “prevent religious bigotry, hostility and conflict”. The cardinal then 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,” he said. CBCPNews