It is now the second violent week between the Philippine armed forces and ISIS fighters in the southern Philippines. Religious leaders in that country are now calling for an end to martial law that was declared in that region by the Philippine government.
Yesterday, a statement issued by the group, The Association of Major Religious Superiors, has called for an end to the martial law in Mindanao, saying that it’s not the proper response to terrorist attacks in just one city on a vast island. It is an extreme measure, and is a reaction disproportionate to the situation. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial across the southern part of the country after gunmen with links to the Islamic State, stormed the city of Marawi on May 23 burning churches, taking several hostages, including the Vicar of the Prelature of Marawi.
The religious leaders said they were "gravely concerned" by the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, explaining that they "reject the strategy of a war on terrorists in the manner that the government has been waging the war on drugs. In a war against terrorists, as in the current war on drugs, it is the poor who are the greatest victims, often dismissed as 'necessary collateral damage,'" the religious leaders said.
The Catholic bishops in Mindanao however, issued a statement supporting martial law last week saying that "at present we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration but we certainly agree that martial law must be temporary. Currently it is estimated that more than 200,000 people have been affected by the conflict with many of them displaced from their homes and seeking shelter outside of Marawi.
Vatican leaders are dismayed by the intent of the US to exit the Paris Climate Accord and expressed their dismay especially after Pope Francis personally handed the US President his writings urging care for the planet. “This for us, is something we hoped wouldn't happen,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who led a Vatican delegation that helped broker the Paris Accord in 2015.
Though neither the Vatican nor the White House would disclose what the Pope and Trump discussed in their private meeting on May 24th, it is believed that the environmentally minded pontiff pressed the president to stick to the Paris Agreement. “The Vatican will always respect the decision of a sovereign state,” Turkson said. “We will continue to still talk about climate change, and hope that some change can occur midstream.”
And finally, with the country still reeling from the terrorist attack in London, mourners gathered at London bridge yesterday to pay tribute to all the lost lives and those injured, to heal and to show unity against terrorism.
I leave you now with these moving images of a nation in mourning.
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