MANILA -- Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle on Monday said the twin bomb attacks on a Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu were "senseless" and "inhuman" joining the chorus of international and local leaders who condemned the latest violence in the south.
Tagle urged Filipinos "not to abandon our commitment to peace," as he condoled with the families of the 20 people who perished in the attack last Sunday that also left 100 others hurt.
"Shock, anger and sadness envelope our hearts. What has happened to humanity? Is there no more room for decency and conscience?" Tagle said in a statement.
"Instead of being discouraged, let us strengthen ourselves to work for peace based on justice, truth, love, and respect for human life and dignity," he said.
Pope Francis earlier expressed his "firm condemnation of this act of violence that causes more mourning in the Christian community."
"I pray for the dead and the injured. May the Lord, prince of peace, convert the hearts of the violent ones," the Pontiff said in a statement issued from Panama, where he led World Youth Day celebrations.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came a week after a regional plebiscite approved the creation of a new autonomous Muslim government in Mindanao with wider powers.
Tagle also urged perpetrators of the attack to seek atonement for the "brutal act."
"We urge those who planned and executed this brutal act to ask forgiveness of God and humanity, to leave behind their destructive ways and to start a new life of truthfulness, justice and love befitting true human beings," he said.
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier called on both Christians and Muslims to work together against violent extremism in Mindanao.