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Philippine priest forgives Muslims following bishop’s murder, works for peace

Catholic World News - November 01, 2010

Vatican Radio has profiled Father Roberto Laysan, a missionary in a predominantly Muslim area of the Philippines who worked closely with Bishop Benjamin D. de Jesus of Jolo before the bishop was murdered in front of his cathedral in 1997. While 81% of the nation’s 88.7 million people are Catholic, the Jolo area is heavily Muslim: fewer than 3% of the area’s 1 million residents are Catholic.

Father Laysan subsequently asked to be transferred because of the hatred he felt towards Muslims, according to the profile. He then worked in an evacuation center for persons fleeing the fighting on Mindanao between Philippine forces and Islamic separatist rebels. “When you hear the sounds of mothers and children weeping in the night, you no longer ask whether they are Muslim or Christian,” he recounts.

Father Laysan now works as a mediator between the government and Islamic rebels in the troubled region.

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