Loading
Massacre of journalists may endanger Catholic-Muslim relations in Philippines
Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra
Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra

.- A Philippines massacre which killed at least 57 people may endanger interfaith relations between Catholics and Muslims in the country. The deterioration in relations is in part due to the spread of extremist Wahhabi Islam in recent decades, a priest involved in interfaith dialogue says.

A Nov. 23 massacre in the predominantly Muslim province of Maguindanao killed at least 30 journalists and their staff and 27 other civilians, the Associated Press says. It is believed to be the deadliest single attack on the media.

The journalists were in a convoy to cover a local politician’s filing of his intention to run for governor. Dozens of gunmen allegedly led by a political rival abducted the journalists, raked them with gunfire at close range and hacked their bodies.

Andal Ampatuan Jr., the son of a political warlord, is the main suspect in the case. The Associated Press reports that he has been detained in Manila and faces multiple murder charges.

Speaking to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), interfaith dialogue leader Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra said the attacks would exacerbate religious tensions.

Although the killings are widely seen as political, Fr. D’Ambra commented that they are part of a breakdown in interfaith relations on an island conscious of its unique status as a mainly Muslim region.

Fr. D’Ambra, the founder of the interfaith initiative called the Silsilah Movement, has worked on religious cooperation in the region for almost 30 years, ACN reports. The priest said that relations with Muslims have declined sharply since the 1960s.

“Religious dialogue today is becoming more and more complicated because of the influence of groups which do not encourage dialogue between Christians and Muslims,” he told ACN. “Before the 1970s, there was a traditional way of living Islam in this region. Relations between Christians and Muslims were quite good, but for many reasons there has been deterioration.”

The priest said that there has been an “infiltration” of extremists and a spread of Wahhabism, a form of Sunni Islam. He also noted the rise of Muslim insurgency groups such as Abu Sayyaf.

“The decline of Muslim-Christian relations is already serious and will get more serious unless the political situation improves, and, in the context of killings like those [on Nov. 23], I do not see that happening soon.”

Fr. D’Ambra insisted the Silsilah Movement and other efforts at improving Christian-Muslim relations could still succeed.

“The Silsilah movement is working very hard. We have to be convinced of our work for dialogue. If our efforts are to work, they have to be sustainable,” he told ACN.

The movement was begun 25 years ago to create opportunities for interfaith cooperation. It centers on the 14-acre Harmony Village in the city of Zamboanga. The village includes an institute for religious dialogue, a training center, activities for young people from different religious and both a chapel and a mosque.

Fr. D’Ambra wants to expand the movement’s work with a media center to prepare materials for television and radio and to promote religious peace initiatives.

He also is looking to launch interfaith advocacy initiatives to stop employers’ exploitation of workers and resources. One program involves lobbying to stop a mining company from working in an area that would risk cutting off a water supply crucial for villagers.

“We have to remember that there are many groups in Mindanao who work for dialogue. Indeed most groups have a peaceful approach,” Fr. D’Ambra commented.



Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
23

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Gospel
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »

Saint
Date
04/21/14
04/20/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Homily
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: