Ranking Catholic Church leaders in the Archdiocese of Cotabato and Diocese of Kidapawan expressed condemnation of the Christmas Eve bombing outside a Catholic Church.
His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI,DD, archbishop of Cotabato and His Eminence Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, DCC, DD, bishop of Kidapawan issued the statement following the bombing that left 17 persons injured, including a police officer who was leading a team of security personnel outside the Senior Sto. Nino Archdiocesan Shrine on Dec. 24.
Cardinal Quevedo described the bombing as "a crime that cries out of heaven".
"(The) bombing was a crime every religion of love and peace must condemn," Cardinal Quevedo said.
"As chief shepherd of the flock my heart reaches out with love and compassion to our wounded parishioners," he said.
The cardinal, in a statement, prayed that the heartless perpetrators be quickly identified and brought to justice.
"I condemn this violent terroristic act against the innocent as a crime that cries out to heaven, a crime that every religion of love and peace must condemn," the cardinal said.
"What was a sacred celebration of joy and thanksgiving ended in tragedy and sorrow," he added.
"May the heartless perpetrators be quickly identified and brought to justice. May the victims and their families find strength and comfort in the Christ Child and in the Blessed Virgin Mary his mother as well as ours," said Cardinal Quevedo, the country's second serving cardinal.
The Diocese of Kidapawan, according to Bishop Bagaforo, sympathize with blast victims, their relatives and the entire archdiocese of Cotabato.
"We strongly condemned this violent act of terrorism! Hustisya po ang sigaw ng sambayanan! Panawagan po sa ating pamahalaan na puksain ang karahasan at maging tunay na halimbawa ng principles of non-violence," Bishop Bagaforo said.
"(Ang) paggalang sa pangtaong karapatan ng mamayan ay ang simulang ugat ng kapayapaan," Bagaforo added.
"We stand with Cardinal Quevedo in prayers as we demand for justice and appeal for peace," the Kidapawan bishop said.
At least 17 persons, including a police officer tasked to secure the perimeter of Senior Sto. Nino Archdiocesan Shrine, when two men riding on a motorbike tossed a hand grenade under a parked police car along Roosevelt Street at about 9:30 p.m.
The blast occurred while the Christmas Eve mass was ongoing. The blast site is about 40 to 50 meters from the Church's main gate.
Police believed the attack was not meant for the Church but for the police in retaliation to its series of anti-drug operations that dismantled big time drug syndicates the past two months.
Showing his compassion for victims of violence, President Duterte visited the blast victims on Christmas Day. He told officials that his visit was "to comfort and boost the morale" of blast victims.
The blast outside the Church in Midsayap was the second since Nov. 27 when two men detonated an improvised explosive device in front of Our Lady of Hope parish church in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat province.
That bombing was timed when churchgoers were leaving the Church compound after the First Sunday of Advent Mass. It left three persons injured.
Source: Philippines News Agency