Mindanao's first cardinal expressed solidarity with Filipino Muslims in time for the celebration of Eid al-Fitr which marked the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
In his message, Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo noted how this year's Ramadan was different from the previous years due to the raging battle for Marawi City between government forces and the Maute group and other rebels.
The prelate lamented how the on-going fight has displaced both Christians and Muslims, and the more than 300 people killed so far in the month-long battle. He also decried how worship places have been desecrated amid the spate of violence.
"Muslim scholars have condemned such acts as 'unIslamic'", Quevedo said. "Terroristic and irreligious acts would undoubtedly foment and reinforce hatred for others, rather than eradicate the sinful passions of heart and soul, truly a contradiction to the holy month of Ramadan."
The cardinal said he remains optimistic that the true spirit of Ramadan will prevail, and that reconciliation and charity will triumph despite differences in race, tribe, religion and culture.
"If all peoples of different religions would do this, what a truly wonderful world we would have. It would not be a world of terror, but one of peace and harmony; not a world of bias and prejudice, but a world of mutual respect and love," he added.
Muslims in Marawi and the rest of Mindanao observed Ramadan amid clashes in the Muslim City, over a month after clashes began.
On Monday, the Joint Task Force Marawi said at least 290 terrorists have been killed in the clashes that began on May 23, and 70 have been killed on the government side.
The military expressed confidence that the crisis was nearing its end, as the Maute group’s leader Omar was reportedly killed in one of the air strikes about two weeks ago.
Other Catholic bishops in Mindanao also extended their greetings to Filipino Muslims who celebrated the end of Ramadan.
In a report from Church-run Radio Veritas, Ozamiz Archbishop Martin Jumoad called for peace and unity among Filipinos.
"Sana po ang pagdiriwang na ito ay magdala sa atin sa kapayapaaan at sa buhay na walang hanggan. Sana po ang celebration ay maging tulay para tayo po ay magkaisa para wala nang digmaan, kasi tayo po ay magkakapatid," Jumoad said.
(I hope this celebration will bring us peace and eternal life. I hope this celebration will become a way towards unity, towards the end of conflict, because we are brothers and sisters.)
Meanwhile, Kidapawan Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo expressed hope that clashes in Marawi City will soon end, and that peace will once again reign in Mindanao.
"Nawa ang Ramadan ay naging makahulugan at nagbunga ng pagbabalik loob sa Diyos ng lahat ng ating kapatid sa Islam. Ako’y naniniwala na maabot natin ang inaasam na kapayapaan para sa lahat kung ang bawat isa sa atin ay magkakaroon ng pagbabalik loob sa Diyos," Bagaforo said.
(I hope that the holy month of Ramadan was meaningful and fruitful for all our brothers and sisters in Islam. I believe that we will attain the peace that we all desire if everyone will reconcile back to God.)