Philippine churches set day of prayer, fasting for peace

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  • MANILA – In response to Pope Francis’s appeal concerning the bloody Israel-Hamas conflict, Catholic
    dioceses in the Philippines have set October 27, 2023, as a day of prayer, fasting, and penance for
    peace.

    Leading the charge is the Archdiocese of Manila, which released a circular on Monday mandating all
    clergies to organize prayer initiatives.

    Vice Chancellor Fr. Carmelo Arada Jr. urged his fellow priests to conduct liturgies, like Adoration of
    the Blessed Sacrament or Holy Hour as well as the praying of the rosary.

    Nearby dioceses in Luzon, like San Carlos in Pangasinan and Malolos in Bulacan, have also issued
    their respective circular regarding the day of prayer for peace.

    For his part, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, aside from rallying his priests to join the prayer
    brigade, also urged members of other religions to participate.

    “I am therefore urging all the clergy and lay faithful, members of various Christian denominations,
    individuals representing different religions, and all those who advocate for peace in the Diocese of
    San Carlos to take part in this special invitation,” the prelate said.

    “I implore all of you to participate in a manner that resonates with your beliefs and convictions. This
    is an opportunity for us to show our commitment for peace with a heart full of hope and faith in the
    power of prayer, unity, and penance.”

    In the Diocese of Malolos, Bishop Dennis Villarojo has published a prayer booklet containing the
    rites for the day of prayer.

    Meanwhile, in southern Philippines, Bishop Edwin Dela Pena of the Prelature of Marawi said on his
    Facebook account that they will also heed the pontiff’s appeal.
    “We also join with all pro-lifers and peace advocates in calling for a ceasefire and free access to
    Gaza of all humanitarian life support system and a plea for the release of hostages,” the bishop
    said.

    Speaking in front of the faithful in his October 18 general audience, Pope Francis appealed for a day
    of prayer and fasting for peace. He invited believers of various Christian denominations and other
    religious traditions to join the initiative.

    “Let us heed the cry for peace of populations, of the people, of the children,” the pope said.
    “War does not resolve any problem — it sows only death and destruction, foments hate, and
    proliferates revenge. War cancels our future. I urge believers to take just one side in this conflict —
    that of peace.”

    Tension between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas has been ongoing for years.
    Violence escalated into a full-blown war when Hamas launched its assault on Israel on October 7,
    killing over a thousand people.

    Israel responded immediately and has since launched both air and ground offensive in Gaza, which
    has been under the control of Hamas since 2007.

    On October 17, a massive blast hit al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza killing hundreds of Palestinians,
    many of whom are taking refuge amid Israel’s intensive attacks.

    Both Hamas and Palestinian officials have accused Israel of the carnage while the Israeli military
    alleged a misfired rocket from Palestinian militants.

    Since the war started, at least four Filipinos have died in the region. There are some 30,000 Filipinos
    in Israel, mostly working as caregivers, Filipino officials earlier said. Meanwhile, 131 Filipinos were
    in Hamas-run Gaza. (E.Tenedero, abs-cbn)

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