CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 November 2017

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No dialogue with extremists bishop says

DAGUPAN (UCAN): Bishop Edwin de la Peña, from Marawi on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, said that there is no way the Church can dialogue with extremists at a conference in the northern province of Pagasinan on June 29.
 
At a gathering running under the theme of Solidarity Congress for Persecuted Christians sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop de la Peña dismissed as ridiculous proposals to negotiate for the release of Father Teresito Soganub, the vicar general of Marawi, who is being held captive by terrorist gunmen.
 
Earlier on June 23, after several rescued hostages said Father Soganub was still alive, Bishop dela Peña had said, “It is the government’s call to decide to enter to negotiations or not,” adding, “Let us all just wait for the government’s next move,” he said, adding that, “the ball is in (the government’s) court.”
 
At the June 29 talk, the bishop pointed out that over the past four decades, the Church’s response to war and conflicts in Mindanao has been dialogue, but noted, “We can only dialogue with like-minded people.” 
 
Bishop de la Peña said the Church should “choose the kind of people that we will have a dialogue with.”
 
He said people who have fallen victim to extremism, those who “experienced so much pain ... are all the people who are open to have a dialogue with us.” In a statement, Aid to the Church in Need called the gathering timely because of the ongoing conflict in Marawi. 
 
It said, “Awareness of the situation of persecuted Christians” in Mindanao is necessary before Filipinos can express solidarity with “suffering fellow Christians.”
 
Bishop dela Peña said he appreciated the efforts of some Muslim leaders to save Father Soganub and the other hostages.
 
On June 28, at least 17 civilian bodies were recovered by the military from the besieged city and the  government said that the terrorists are still holding about 100 hostages who are being used as human shields.
 
To date, the conflict has resulted in the deaths of at least 299 terrorists, as well as 71 soldiers and police.
 
Some 2,700 civilians have been rescued from the battle zone while about 300,000 individuals remain in evacuation centres in nearby areas.

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