Cathédrale détruite aux Philippines dans un silence total

Philippines : « Les fidèles sont terrorisés ».



« Je leur demande de rester calmes, de ne pas réagir à la violence, et de prier pour la paix ».

Tels sont les mots prononcés par Son Exc. Mgr Martin Jumoad, évêque de la prélature territoriale d’Isabela, dans l’extrême sud des Philippines, après les attentats du mardi 13 avril ayant fait au moins 15 morts (cinq des assaillants, un policier, trois soldats et six civils).

Selon ses propos, rapportés par l’agence Fides, « la bombe qui a explosé hier a détruit la cathédrale d’Isabela à 70% et l’édifice est inutilisable. [...] Ces actes terroristes cherchent à rendre difficile la vie des chrétiens et à les chasser de Basilan » (dont Isabela City est le chef-lieu).
La première bombe a touché le palais du gouvernement. La deuxième bombe visait la cathédrale catholique de la ville, et l’a gravement endommagée. « Notre espérance ne doit pas mourir » a affirmé Mgr Jumoad, exhortant ses fidèles à ne pas fuir la ville.

Ces actes pourraient avoir comme but de semer l’instabilité dans la région à la veille des élections nationales qui auront lieu le 10 mai prochain. Le groupe de rebelles islamistes Abu Sayyaf serait vraisemblablement en cause, selon l’armée. L’île de Basilan est une des bases terroristes de ce groupe qui perturbe la région depuis plusieurs années, en prônant une idéologie faite de nationalisme et d’extrémisme islamique radical.

Sur 87 000 habitants, Isabela City compte 61 000 catholiques. La prélature d’Isabela compte un peu plus de 90 000 catholiques, soit 28 % d’une population totale de 333 000 habitants, le reste de la population étant presque exclusivement musulmane, selon l’agence Eglise d’Asie.

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"The faithful are terrified. These terrorist acts seek to make life difficult for Christians and drive them out of Basilan."

"ASIA/PHILIPPINES – Bishop of Basilan issues appeal through Fides, says Cathedral is destroyed, people are terrified; asks for help from Universal Church," from Agenzia Fides, April 14 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

Isabela (Agenzia Fides) – "It is terrible. The bomb that exploded yesterday destroyed 70% of the Cathedral of Isabela and is now unsafe for use. Thank God, there were no casualties. Today we celebrated Mass at the Catechetical Center. The faithful are terrified. These terrorist acts seek to make life difficult for Christians and drive them out of Basilan." This is the dramatic testimony Fides has received from Bishop Martin Jumoad of the Prelature of Isabella, the capital of Basilan Island, in the southernmost part of the Philippines.

Yesterday, there were two terrorist attacks on the island: a bomb hit a government building and another hit the Catholic Cathedral in the city, leaving it severely damaged. Later, there were shots exchanged between terrorists and security forces, resulting in about 15 victims.

"It is the first time we are attacked so directly and with such force. In the past, I received several threatening letters and intimidation. There have been other smaller attacks, but now it is very different. This could be a tragedy. I seriously fear for my life and the lives of the faithful. However, today I went out to encourage the faithful. This is my mission," the Bishop told Fides.

"I have prepared a pastoral letter calling on Catholics to stay in Basilan, which is our home, and asking them to remain calm, not to react to violence, and to pray for peace. Today, a procession of people carrying candles as a sign of peace lit the city. Our hope must not die," he added, recalling that the population in Basilan is over 60%, compared to 40% Christian.

The bishop met with the civil authorities, "receiving support and solidarity." "One of the main problems – he said, telling Fides about the talks – is the proliferation of weapons in society. Throughout the southern Philippines, authorities are committed to fighting against this. Furthermore, they have assured us that the police will do their duty in tracking down the leaders, in combating terrorism, and in providing security to the people."…

The events that occurred yesterday, according to local sources of Fides, are signs of the "resurgence of terrorism in which several elements come together: the intention to sow instability on the eve of national elections (May 2010), intimidation towards Christians, and a feud between militias and Philippine Marines, present for years in the Southern Philippines."…

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Faycal Souteï 16/4/2010

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