MANILA - Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo has denounced terrorism as a "demonic ideology" threatening the friendship between Christians, Muslims and indigenous people in Mindanao.
The archbishop lamented how the "violence of terrorism" is creating fear among the people of Mindanao, especially in Marawi City.
"The specter of terrorism, of hatred and hostility, of prejudices and biases, the specter of darkness is taking our beloved land," Quevedo said.
"The friendship of Muslim and Christians and indigenous people in Mindanao, a friendship shown in the streets and markets, in offices and schools, is being destroyed by a terrorist ideology that asserts the morality and killing another in the name of God. This is a demonic ideology."
The prelate also criticized anti-Muslim prejudice. He said true believers of Islam condemn violence and terrorism.
"Hundreds die in Mindanao in the hands of rebel of different types, in the hands of terrorists, of drug lords and drug pushers, powerful people against the law of the land through corruption and dishonesty aggravating poverty and development," Quevedo added.
The cardinal said this during his homily for the canonical coronation of the revered image of Mary in San Mateo, Rizal known as the Our Lady of Aranzazu.
Quevedo, the first cardinal from Mindanao, spoke as the battled between members of the Maute group and government forces continue in Marawi City.
The Marawi attack prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in Mindanao.
A priest of the Prelature of Marawi remains one of the hostages of the bandits along with local parishioners and other civilians.
LOVE, SERVICE AMID DARKNESS
Quevedo admitted that the country is now inflicted with hatred and hostility. This, he said, should inspire people to be more loving and caring to others.
"See where the kind of loving service is needed. Service is needed in divided and broken family, in homeless street children, in evacuees of the Marawi, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Maguindanao, in children traumatize by violence, service is needed in the poor of your own neighborhood," the cardinal said.
Government institutions, along with the Church and private groups, are now gathering aid for residents of Marawi City who are displaced by the crisis.
Meanwhile, Quevedo also implored the faithful not to lose hope and continue praying for the end of violence and the beginning of peace.
"Return to Our Lady and her infant Son. Let us beg them to heal the brokenness and violence in our land. Let us beg them to bring peace, unity, and integrity to our country," the archbishop said.