In a statement released Tuesday, the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines expressed its strong condemnation of the attack by Muslim extremists in Cotabato City outside the cathedral, which left 5 people dead and 34 injured.
The statement signed by conference president Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro sent condolences to the family and friends of the victims.
Father Edwin De Gracia, pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, said fear among Christians that more attacks will take place has increased in the archdiocese. At the same time, he said, there is a certain hope after the comments made about the attack by Pope Benedict XVI during the Angelus on July 5.
“The Pope asks us not to be overcome by fear, by violence or by the logic of death. We must toil against fear and restore an atmosphere of dialogue in order to build a future together,” the priest said, referring to the tense relationship between Christians and Muslims in the region of Mindanao.
At the same time, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, who was preaching in the cathedral at the time of the bombing, called on all the faithful to pray for the victims. “To place a bomb near a church where people are worshiping God would be doubly heinous and must be condemned by all people of good will,” he said.