Pope To Act On Moro Group’s Appeal For Peace – CBCP

MANILA, Philippines - Despite Malacañang’s insistence it is not necessary, Pope Benedict XVI will act on an appeal by a Moro group to help bring peace to conflict-hit Mindanao.

The assurance came from Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, who said the Pope will do these things in a “confidential manner.”

“The Pope does things in a low-profile way about situations in one country. I’m sure it will be acted on but again certainly the Pope will not have that published,” he said in an article posted Thursday night on the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Web site (www.cbcpnews.com).

Earlier, the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy appealed to the Pope to urge the Arroyo administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to resume peace talks.

Amina Rasul, one of those who made the appeal, is the lone Philippine representative to the first Catholic-Muslim Forum in the Vatican last Nov. 4 to 6.

Rasul reportedly handed the letter to Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Catholic delegation. Tauran told Rasul he would give the letter to the Vatican Secretary of State “who would then consult for the appropriate action.”

Quevedo affirmed the letter was received by the Vatican “but of course they are not going to say anything what happened.”

“The Pope will help in a confidential manner,” he added.

Quevedo was one of the Filipino prelates who went to Rome for the “Biblical Synod on the Word of God,” a gathering of the world’s Catholic bishops.

The letter of appeal said “peace and justice have long been denied the minorities of the Philippines – both our Muslim brethren and our indigenous peoples’ communities. Their oppression has led to armed ethnic conflict between the Muslim minorities and government.”

It also cited the peace agreement with the MILF and the 11-year old peace process with the Moro rebels and what happened to the controversial memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain.

“Over the last two months, more than 100 have been killed and 600,000 have become refugees. Since the Supreme Court has issued a decision on October 14 that the MOA-AD is unconstitutional, we fear for the resurgence of a war of attrition between the MILF and government. We are also seriously concerned about the formation of armed militia units. The setting up of armed groups will not protect civilians as some local government officials believe. Rather, it will lead to more chaos, insecurity and will divide our local communities, where Muslims and Christians live side by side. The protection of civilians is the responsibility of the State and its security sector such as the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police,” the letter read.

“We hope that Your Holiness could help us bring peace and justice to our brothers and sisters in Mindanao by expressing concern about the unfolding humanitarian crisis and appeal for restraint for the protection of all civilians, as well as for the opening of access for the provision of speedy humanitarian assistance to the affected population,” it added. - GMANews.TV