The Catholic Church, through its social action arm NASSA/Caritas Philippines appeals for reconciliation and compassion amid the lingering crisis in Marawi.

Following the launch of the Duyog Marawi program on August 30, 2017, Fr. Edwin Gariguez, national Caritas’ Executive Secretary, said that “we all can help lighten the situation in Marawi by exchanging kind and sincere words, instead of derogatory and hurtful remarks.”

Bishop Edwin dela Peña of the Prelature of Marawi also expressed the same sentiments while hateful and divisive remarks continue to flood especially in the media.

“I really felt offended. The Catholic Church’ mission on Marawi is to be a reconciling presence. Both Christians and Muslims are working hard to re-establish peace in the conflict-stricken city, and in Mindanao region as a whole. We respect each other’s culture and faith. Certainly, we are not and will never be happy when either side is put in danger.”

“We need to build bridges of reconciliation and compassion, not division and hate,” the prelate added.

Immediately after the May 23 siege, the Catholic Church started a 12.3 million pesos rapid response for more than 3,000 home-based affected families in Iligan City, majority of which are Maranaos.

In August 30, it launched the 4.8 million peso Duyog Marawi program, another church-based response to the Marawi crisis, this time in partnership with the Redemptorist Missionaries, and in cooperation with the Ranaw Muslim-Christian Dialogue for Peace.

All of the Catholic Church’ response are focused on institutional development, community building, and peace and conflict resolution, together with the provision of food and non-food relief, livelihoods, sanitation and hygiene promotion, and psychosocial support.

NASSA/Caritas Philippines is the humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.