Catholic World News

Islamic-Christian relations deteriorating in Philippines, missionary priest reports

August 11, 2016

Relations between Christians and Muslims have deteriorated badly in the Philippines, a veteran missionary priest told Aid to the Church in Need.

“Before, the Philippines was a dream place for interreligious dialogue; there was complete harmony. But now the situation has changed completely,” said Father Sebastiano D’Ambra, an Italian priest who has worked for 40 years in the Philippines.  He pointed to threats, kidnappings, and even murders, particularly in the south of the country.

Father D'Ambra founded the "Sislilah Forum" to foster inter-religious dialogue. He said that at first the exchanges with moderate Muslim leaders were productive, but recently "everything has changed: the violent tendencies are going stronger all the time." He said that he has pleaded with Muslim leaders to denounce jihadists, but they have remained silent out of fear of reprisals. 

In the province of Mindanao, where militant Islam is strong, the priest reported: "The Christians are not happy. They are living in fear." 


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