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Selective indifference to human tragedy

ROME (SE): The selective indifference of sympathy was lamented by the bishop of Cotabato in the southern Philippines, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, in speaking to religious leaders at the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi on September 19.

He said that he wonders why the world proclaims such shock when a terrorist attack takes place in Europe or the United States of America, but mangled bodies of his own country people and those from what is often thought of as the Third World do not seem to be worthy of the same collective grief.

“There seems to be a tragic indifference when they happen in Thailand or Malaysia or Indonesia or The Philippines,” the Filipino bishop told the gathering.

He called on those gathered for the day of prayer to take their cue from Pope Francis, who has been calling for unity against terrorism, saying that the powers of the world have to act in concert in responding to the menace of terrorism in all places, not only wealthy societies.

“Active solidarity with victims of terrorism is a gift from the God of compassion and mercy. This is the call of the hour for humanity in the face of terrorism,” Cardinal Quevedo stressed.

Cardinal Quevedo also backed up the statement of Pope Francis on his flight back to Rome from Poland on July 27, when he said that the violence in the Middle East is not a religious war.

The cardinal said that to wage a war in the name of God is a contradiction in terms and the conflict in Mindanao is in fact a denial of God.

He said that one of the roots of the violence in the area is that Christians do not know much about the bible and Muslims do not know much about the Qu’ran. “We should not identify extremists with religion,” Cardinal Quevedo said.

He added that this is also why we should never doubt the sincerity of Muslims when they condemn Islamist extremism.

The three-day global gathering in Assisi under the theme Thirst for Peace, was part of a meeting of hundreds of religious leaders who come together to pray for peace and to discuss critical issues of interreligious dialogue.

It concluded on September 20, when Pope Francis visited Assisi to pray with the group.

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