Catholic bishops and various faith-based groups have called for justice for the victims of a Catholic Mass bombing in the country’s sole Islamic city.
Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, retired archbishop of Cotabato, challenged authorities “to ferret out the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring to justice.”
The prelate said the “massacre” at the Mindanao State University (MSU) “is a crime that literally cries out to heaven.”
The blast, which occurred during the celebration of the Holy Mass on the First Sunday of Advent, killed at least four people and injured over 50 others at the Dimaporo Gymnasium in MSU in Marawi City.
Cardinal Quevedo said the terror attack, which coincided with the commencement of the Mindanao Week of Peace, “is the most terrible and most damnable terroristic crime against innocent worshippers on a Christian holy day.”
In a separate statement, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, condemned the violence, which he said “should not only be denounced” but “should also be renounced as a way of seeking redress by every peace-loving Filipino.”
“Surely, the killers who precipitated such a horrendous act of violence have their loved ones too. What would it take to get them to see in the families of their victims their own families?” said the prelate.
The prelate of Kalookan said the victims of the attacks “are now counted among” the persecuted Christians that the Catholic Church honored in the observance of Red Wednesday on November 29.
“We take comfort in the thought that they have participated in the passion of Christ, that their blood has been poured out as a libation like the blood of Christ,” he said.
“They professed their faith at that last Mass that they attended, especially in the ‘communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting’,” the prelate added.
Three of the four casualties in the explosion have been identified as Riza Ramos, June Ray Barbante, and Evangelin Aromin.
The Philippine Misereor Partnership Incorporated (PMPI), in a statement, said the terror attack “is much more gravely concerning” because it happened amidst the celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace.
The group called for “a thorough and impartial investigation” and urged the government “to ensure the safety and security of all educational institutions and to protect the rights and welfare of all learners, educators, and workers in the country.”
Living Laudato Si Philippines described the December 3 bombing as “an indisputable act of terrorism against the Catholic community in Marawi City”.
The group encouraged the public to “combat acts of hate and foster peace” while the country strives “to counteract the roots of extremism and actively promote a lasting and harmonious peace.”
“We insist on the swift and effective legal proceedings that are not only a moral imperative but also a vital step towards ensuring that justice prevails in the aftermath of such a grievous offense against humanity,” the group said.