The new prelate of the restive southern Philippine island of Sulu vowed to work for peace amid all the challenges in his new assignment.
Bishop Charlie Inzon, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate congregation, noted that aside from a long-standing armed conflict, the island of Sulu is gripped with violent clan wars.
In April, Pope Francis appointed Father Inzon apostolic vicar of the Jolo Vicariate.
Before his appointment, Inzon had been serving as provincial superior of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate since 2018.
“(I would focus) on peace-making and peace-building to mitigate group-level violent encounters that affect other level of peace,” Bishop Inzon was quoted by The Mindanao Cross.
He that on the relational, personal and interpersonal aspects, things are not bad as people from outside Sulu would think.
He said people on the island “are very religious, friendly, affectionate and sincere.”
Christians are a minority in the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo, which also has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the nearby island-province of Tawi-Tawi, also a predominantly Muslim area.
Bishop Inzon is not a stranger to the island provinces.
He served for 15 years in the two provinces, including as president of Notre Dame of Jolo College and head of the OMI Batu-Batu mission station in Tawi-tawi.
The new prelate vowed “to build a communion of friends amongst Muslims, Christian and lumads or indigenous peoples for peace and harmony.”
Relationship between Muslims and Christians in Sulu was stained in January 2019 with the twin bombings of the Jolo cathedral that killed at least 20 people wounded over 100 others.
The 54-year old prelate, who was ordained priest in April 1993, said he is excited to go back to the Apostolic Vicariate of Sulu and get reacquainted with the realities on the ground.
He was out of the vicariate for six years, from 2014 to 2018, to serve as president of Notre Dame University in Cotabato province and OMI provincial superior.
Bishop Inzon is the sixth apostolic vicar of Jolo, which was previously headed by now Cotabato Archbishop Angelito Lampon.