+Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I.

Archbishop of Cotabato


Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines

Rome, October 11, 2001



1. Today, 30 days after the heinous terrorist attacks in the United States where more than 5000 innocent people of different religions from various nations died, Pope John Paul II will lead some 250 Bishops in the Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome in a day of prayer for peace. Yesterday in his general audience he said, “I invite you all to pray for peace and to be committed to building a world without violence, founded on respect for the dignity of every human being.


2. Following the teachings of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, the Pope and the Bishops of the world abhor violence, conflict, war and the use of military force as an ordinary means to resolve differences. We denounce terrorism in all its forms. We advocate the way of dialogue, peace, and reconciliation because this is the way of Christ.


3. Yet our world, already redeemed by Christ, is indeed a sinful world. In our own country, kidnapping, torturing, and killing innocent civilians continue even today. With full military force of the government has been pursuing murderous terrorists for several months. Terrorists have to be brought to justice, not because they belong to this or that religion, but simply because they are terrorists. We know that in the Philippines the war against terrorism is not a war against any cultural group or any religion.


4. The use of military force to bring terrorists to justice is always a means of last resort. When terrorists hurl threats of retaliatory action, the government still has the duty of bringing them to justice. Otherwise, terrorism would succeed in terrorizing and paralyzing the government and ordinary citizens into doing nothing. Terrorism would continue with impunity.


5. Even in the best-laid plans against terrorism, innocent civilians could be killed, as in Sulu and Basilan. This is most regrettable. We cannot bless this as desirable, because it is not. Justice has to be served but innocent civilians must not direct target of killings, for this would be gravely immoral. If we seek justice we must not ourselves become terrorists who directly target innocent civilians and directly intend heir deaths.


6. The same moral principles hold true at the international level. Terrorism is now global. Terrorist cells are in many countries in the world. They are mobile and can target any person, any group, any institution in the world. The members of the family of nations must mutually cooperate with one another to combat terrorism. Our own country cannot shirk its obligation to combat global terrorism.


7. But whatever cooperation the government might wish to give to the global struggle against terrorism has to be measured in the light of our peace and security requirements, our own capabilities and resources, and our unresolved problem of terrorism. Prudence and wisdom, the common good, both local and international, have to be sensibly considered. It is the task of the government to make wise and responsible decision for the common good, both local and international.


8. Extremist individuals or groups, ideological or religious, might wish to advance their own agenda by exploiting the present situation. Demagoguery and irresponsible rhetoric aggravate the situation and do not contribute to any solution. To follow the terrorist propaganda that the struggle against them is a struggle against Islam in general contradicts the objective truth. Necessary in our present situation are objectivity about the realities of terrorism and global solidarity against terrorism. We pray that religious leaders of different faiths would guide their faithful in the way of objectivity and harmony in these days of intense propaganda by both sides of the struggle.


9. Even as we state all the above, we call once again the family of nations to explore the root causes – political, social, cultural, ethnic, religious, or economic – of terrorist act so that an enduring solution to the fears and insecurities of our world may be forged. Among such root causes could be poverty and oppression, exploitation and exclusion, extremism, biases and prejudices, and the structures of international politics and alliances in the Middle East and elsewhere.


10. On this the 30th day of the senseless and unimaginable tragedy in the United States, we pray to the one God of all humanity for all innocent victims of terrorism, civilians caught in the crossfire of war, refugees and other displaced persons. All possible humanitarian help should be extended to them. We pray that the hearts of terrorists may turn away from evil and return to God. We pray for all leaders in the family of nations to make wise decisions so as to have a speedy resolution to the problem of global terrorism. We pray for a just and lasting peace in our country and in all the troubled areas of the world. We pray for the peoples of faith that we might all promote a life of harmony and peace with one another and with God. As members of the one human family under God, we have to be “committed to building a world without violence, founded on respect for the dignity of every human being.”


End of the Statement of the CBCP President.



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