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Pope Francis Consoles Philippines After Bombing During Catholic Mass

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In a somber response to the devastating bombing that occurred during a Catholic Mass in the Philippines, Pope Francis conveyed his condolences to the victims and their families. At least four individuals lost their lives, while 54 others sustained injuries during the attack at a 7 a.m. Mass held in a gymnasium on the campus of Mindanao State University in Marawi.

Photo credit: laura limsenkhe

Photo credit: laura limsenkhe


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
12/4/2023 (7 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Pope Francis, Philippines bombing, Terrorism, Religious solidarity, Islamic State, Marawi attack, Interfaith support

On December 3, Pope Francis expressed his spiritual closeness through a condolence telegram, emphasizing his solidarity with all those affected by the tragic incident. The city of Marawi, situated on the predominantly Catholic Philippines' second-largest island, Mindanao, has a notable Muslim majority, setting the backdrop for this act of violence.

Philippine authorities revealed on Monday that they had identified two suspects linked to the terrorist attack. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing, a claim currently under verification by the country's military.

The victims, identified as four Catholic students who were leaders and volunteers in the university's Catholic community, were remembered by Bishop Edwin Angot de la Peña, head of the territorial prelature of Marawi. Out of the 54 injured, seven remain in critical condition, according to the bishop.

The attack targeted the heart of the Catholic faith during the Eucharist, prompting Bishop de la Peña to acknowledge the prevailing fear but underscore the sustaining power of faith. He commended the immediate and widespread solidarity from local Muslim communities, including first responders and medical professionals of the Muslim faith who offered crucial assistance.

The head of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Romeo Brawner, suspects that the bombing might be a retaliatory response to recent military operations against local extremist groups linked to the Islamic State.

In response to the tragedy, Bishop de la Peña urged local Catholics to stay home on the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. Despite this, a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary will still be carried through the streets, with Catholics encouraged to place candles in their windows and pray the rosary at home.

Pope Francis, through Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, implored divine healing and consolation for the injured and bereaved in the condolence telegram. The Pope also reiterated his prayers for the victims and their families during his Angelus message on Sunday.

Reflecting on the spiritual significance of the victims' deaths, Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops's  Conference of the Philippines, found solace in the idea that they participated in the passion of Christ. He emphasized the unity through faith and baptism, praying for the eternal repose of the departed and the healing of the injured.

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