21 February 2006
To our Muslim brothers and sisters,
Assalamu alaikum. Peace be with you.
In the recent cartoons controversy that has affected Muslim communities in Europe and other parts of the world, including the Philippines, we would like to express our sentiments of solidarity with your sense of indignation and outrage.
While we do not condone any acts of violence against persons or properties, we reiterate some of the common principles that both Muslim and Christian religious leaders have been espousing in our interreligious dialogue – whether through daily living or periodic exchanges in our bishops–ulama forum and other engagements.
1) We value the spirit of dialogue, tolerance and respect for each other’s religious traditions in bridging cultural differences that have divided our communities in the past and at present. Religious freedom and the rights of minority communities to their own culture are key values to be promoted.
2) Instead of viewing religion as a source of conflict, we have all asserted that Christianity and Islam are religions of peace, and that we have to build on our religious traditions to forge a culture of peace.
3) We recognize that extremist groups on either side can easily destroy the peace. Hence, we have jointly issued statements condemning acts of violence, particularly against innocent third parties. Insulting words and caricatures may also be considered forms of violence.
4) We have noted that people in mass media have often exaggerated conflict stories between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao and other parts of the country – giving rise to a culture of violence and war. Media should strive, instead, to present the truth in a balanced way and practice the tenets of peace journalism.
It is in the light of these common perspectives that we join you in a common effort to promote mutual understanding and respect for our religious traditions and beliefs.
Abp. Fernando R. Capalla, D.D.
Archdiocese of Davao
Vice Chairman, ECID
Bp. Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J.
Prelature of Ipil
Chairman, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue
Bp. Martin S. Jumoad, D.D.
Prelature of Isabela, Basilan
Bp. Edwin A. de la Peña, M.S.P., D.D.
Apostolic Vicariate of St. Mary’s of Marawi