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World Interfaith Harmony Week in Mindanao

by digital last modified Dec 14, 2017 01:49 AM

By Fr Paul Glynn... The author is a Columban priest from Ireland, ordained in 1994. He is the Intercultural Coordinator and also the Coordinator for Interreligious Dialogue in the Columban Region of the Philippines.

By Fr Paul Glynn 

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The author is a Columban priest from Ireland, ordained in 1994. He is the Intercultural Coordinator and also the Coordinator for Interreligious Dialogue in the Columban Region of the Philippines.


Over the years Columbans have been at the forefront of promoting peace and understanding between Christians, Muslims and Lumads in Mindanao. One of the activities that we have been promoting in recent years is the World Interfaith Harmony Week, which is celebrated each year, throughout the world from 1 to 7 February. During this annual celebration people of different faiths get together to show their solidarity and unity as they pray for peace and harmony between all the peoples of the world.


Our first celebration this year in Cagayan de Oro was an Ecumenical Christian Prayer Service for peace and harmony that took place on Wednesday 3 February 2016 at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, in the city center. Priests, bishops and pastors from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the Philippine Independent Church, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the United Methodists, and the Reformed Christian Church prayed for peace, understanding and solidarity among all the peoples of Mindanao and for an end to misunderstanding and conflict. The Muslim leaders of the city attended and the president of the city’s Central Mosque, Hadji Mohamad Gondarangin, gave a very beautiful message at the end of the service, reminding us that we are all sisters and brothers under One God, who has created each of us to respect and care for one another as one big family.


On Friday 5 February, the Muslim community’s Friday Prayer at Cagayan de Oro City’s Central Mosque had the theme of Interfaith Harmony. Bishops, priests and pastors from the various Christian churches attended, including the Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, the Most Reverend Antonio Ledesma SJ. DD. Imam Aliasa Alinog explained to the large congregation of Muslims gathered that if they do not love and respect Christians in the same way that they love and respect their fellow Muslims, then they are not true Muslims at all, since a true Muslim is called to love and respect all people equally. At the end of the prayers the Christian leaders offered words of friendship and solidarity. Archbishop Ledesma explained that it is the role of every Catholic to reach out in friendship to their Muslim neighbors, because Christ expects us to share his peace with everyone, without making any exceptions.

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On the following day, Saturday 6 February, we organised an Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, at which Datu Hapitan Nacalaban, a Higaonon Lumad leader, Professor Allan Bana, a Muslim scholar and Fr Reynaldo Raluto, a Catholic theologian all spoke about the drastic effects of Climate Change on Mindanao and how each of our faiths challenges us to urgently do something to protect our planet. We invited 200 people but 230 people came along, with equal numbers of Christians and Muslims. We certainly didn’t complain about the large numbers! At the end of the discussion, each faith-group drew up their plan of action, which included a plan by our Catholic catechists to teach public school students about caring for the earth, Evangelical ministers planning to teach about proper waste disposal in their Sunday schools and churches and a commitment from the Muslim imams to preach about respecting the local environment during Friday prayers, each week, in the city mosques.  

 
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