Catholic bishops condemned the twin explosions that rocked a cathedral in a southern Philippine city on Sunday which claimed several lives, according to CBCP News.
At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured in what the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines described as an “act of terrorism”.
Expressing his “firmest reproach” for a terrorist attack perpetrated on the Cathedral of Jolo in the Philippines while the Eucharist was being celebrated, Pope Francis prayed the Lord to “convert the hearts of the violent and grant the inhabitants of that region a peaceful coexistence,” said Vatican News.
The Pope, who was speaking in Panama on the last day of World Youth Day 2019, said he entrusts the 20 victims of the attack to Christ and to the Virgin, and he noted that it brings “new mourning to this Christian community.”
The bishops were on the second day of their regular plenary assembly in Manila when they prayed for the victims and their relatives and asked God to bring an end to violence.
“We condole with the families of the several soldiers and civilians who were killed by the explosions,” said Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP President.
A bomb exploded inside the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu at about 8:30 AM as worshippers were gathered for mass.
A few seconds later, another explosion hit the parking lot of the cathedral.
The attacks took place few days after voters in a plebiscite backed the creation of a new Muslim autonomous region, which has been deemed ratified by the Commission on Elections.
The poll body said 1.5 million people voted in favor of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Majority of the people in Sulu, however, voted against the Bangsamoro law.
As the region begins a new phase in the peace process, the bishops asked the Christians to “join hands with all peace-loving Muslim and indigenous people communities in the advocacy against violent extremism”.
“May all our religions of peace guide us in our quest for a brighter future for the peoples of Mindanao,” they said.