MANILA - The bishop of the war-torn city of Marawi is hoping to get a chance to meet Pope Francis in Vatican City.
Bishop Edwin Dela Peña along with other bishops of Mindanao, led by Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, are set to attend an interfaith dialogue in Rome from September 14 to 16. Several Muslim leaders are also expected to attend the event.
Dela Peña is hoping to tell the pontiff the situation of the people of Marawi who are suffering from clashes between Maute terrorists and government forces.
"It is very important to us to hear the message of the Holy Father para mabigyan kami ng lakas to go on. Also the hope to strive to rebuild our church, kasi talagang lugmok ang simbahan," the prelate said in an interview with Churh-run Radio Veritas.
The pope is now back in the Vatican after his 5-day apostolic visit to Colombia.
Last July, Pope Francis, through Ozamiz Archbishop Martin Jumoad, expressed his solidarity for the people of Mindanao and assured Filipinos of his continuing prayer.
The bishops from Mindanao are also set to meet with the Filipino community in Rome.
"Inform them what is happening in Mindanao. To bring us all together to Rome for them to be able to get enough knowledge in Mindanao in the Philippines," Dela Peña added. "We want the world to know what is happening to us here."
Fr. Teresito Suganob, vicar general of the Prelature of Marawi, is still held hostage by Islamic State-linked Maute terrorists, who mounted a series of attacks in the city in May.
Nearly 800 people, mostly terror suspects, have died since clashes erupted on May 23. The conflict has destroyed much of the once bustling urban center, with over 430,000 people fleeing Marawi.