CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Kicking ’em while they’re down in name of religion

MANILA (UCAN): The kick ‘em while they’re down adage is used to describe a lack of sportsmanship or unfair play.
 
When the former bishop of Davao discovered that some Christian groups are sneaking a bible into relief packages intended for Muslim people who have been displaced from their homes because of the current siege of Marawi, he described it as taking an unfair advantage of the misery of others in the name of religion.
 
Archbishop Fernando Capalla joined his counterparts from the Muslim faith in expressing concern over reports that bibles are being distributed among the Muslim refugees, as copies in the Maranao language, which is widely spoken by the Muslim people of Lanao del Sur, have been found in relief packages.
 
Archbishop Capalla likened the religious backhander to kicking ‘em while they are down when he described it as taking advantage of their unfortunate circumstances with proselytising tactics.
 
He also warned that the distribution of copies of the bible could cause trouble between Christians and Muslims.
 
“If they do it deliberately, it is either an insult or ignorance of the needs of Muslims,” the bishop, who is a co-convener of the interfaith Bishops-Ulama Conference, said.
 
He added that proselytising in such circumstances shows a lack of respect and calls into question the sincerity of those who are giving aid to the needy.
 
“If you want to help, then give only the... basic needs, like clothing, food, water,” the archbishop said.
 
“We should be more sensitive,” he continued, adding that Muslim leaders in the area should be consulted before distributing aid, as some recipients said that they did not see the bibles immediately as they were stuffed in plastic bags in among other items.
 
Other packs had biblical stories printed in the Maranao language secreted inside food packs.
 
There were also reports that some aid organisations are giving out pork-flavoured noodles to the evacuees. No group has come forward to admit responsibility.
 
The non-government group, Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute, called the scandal of the bibles a transgression of cultural and religious sensibilities.
 
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front described it as “simply exploiting people in times of crisis.”
 
More than 18,300 displaced people are currently being sheltered in 78 evacuation centres in Mindanao, 34 of which are located in the provinces of Lanao del Norte, one in Misamis Occidental and 43 in Lanao del Sur.

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