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Filipino Catholics pray for Iraqis, Syrians

/ 05:59 AM September 15, 2014

Responding to the call of Pope Francis, Filipino Catholics on Sunday prayed for the persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq during Masses nationwide in observance of the National Day of Prayer for Peace, as well as the Day for Charity for thousands of victims of atrocities committed by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis). PHOTO BY RICK ALBERTO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–Responding to the call of Pope Francis, Filipino Catholics on Sunday prayed for the persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq during Masses nationwide in observance of the National Day of Prayer for Peace, as well as the Day for Charity for thousands of victims of atrocities committed by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had enjoined priests to offer Masses “for the special intention of the persecuted Christians” in the two strife-torn countries.

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CBCP president and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, in a statement, said: “In all our Masses on the Feast of the Holy Cross, let us unite ourselves with our suffering brothers and sisters, commending to God who is our hope their pains, their shattered lives and dreams, their bereavement and their loss.”

He noted that “helpless and defenseless persons are victims of a brutal imposition of a rigid and unforgiving version of faith.”

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“Religion is as much a victim of those who kill and slaughter, wound and maim, destroy and burn in the name of God, send the world the awful message that religion divides, that faith is oppressive, and that belief can engender so much unkindness,” he said.

According to Villegas, the “Gospel of peace, love and brotherhood is under siege in many parts of the world, especially in Iraq and Syria.”

Aside from prayers for peace, he also urged believers to hold charity collections for victims of Isis hostilities.

Mass goers also gave money to a second collection, which will be sent to dioceses in Iraq and Syria for persecuted Christians.

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