Irish Missionary Killed in Philippines

MALABANG, Philippines, AUG. 30, 2001 ( Vatican Radio confirmed reports that an Irish missionary was killed Tuesday by four armed men in Malabang, on the island of Mindanao.

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According to police, Father Rufus Halley, of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, was going to his monastery after attending a religious meeting, when he was attacked by assailants who tried to kidnap him. The attack occurred around 5 p.m.

Police reports stated that the priest received blows to the head and died instantly.

On behalf of the Philippine bishops´ conference, Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato issued a strong condemnation of the crime. He said that the missionary´s death «is a great loss for all those committed to peace.»

Father Halley, who worked in the parish of Our Lady of Peace in the Marawi prelature, had lived in Malabang for 20 years. This coastal city has a
Muslim majority.

Church leaders in Ireland paid public tribute to the priest.

«All of us here in the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore were shocked and saddened by the tragic death of Father Rufus Halley, a native of Butlerstown,» Bishop William Lee said in a statement. «Father Halley had ministered in the Philippines since he was ordained in 1969. He had worked tirelessly for peace and saw his role as a catalyst for reconciliation between Muslim and Christian communities. He was deeply interested in Christian-Muslim dialogue.»

Armagh Archbishop Sean Brady, primate of Ireland, said in a statement: «His death is also a striking reminder of the extraordinary commitment, faith and generosity of our Irish missionaries throughout the world.»

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