MANILA, Sept. 19, 2016—Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato told a gathering of the world’s religious leaders on Monday that the Abu Sayyaf bandits are “practical atheists.”
Saying that one cannot wage war in the name of God, he said the terroristic activities of the violent jihadist group in southern Philippines manifests a “denial of God.”
“Their behavior and actuations deny God,” said Cardinal Quevedo, a known peace advocate.
The first cardinal from Mindanao was speaking before hundreds of religious leaders from different faiths during a panel discussion at the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Italy.
He began his intervention by giving the participants a background about Abu Sayyaf group (ASG) and its political and religious objective which is to establish an independent Islamic State in Southern Philippines.
Through the years, he said the group has been on a rampage of killings, assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, extortion, and drug trafficking.
He said the ASG’s activities are done in the name of God and death during acts of terrorism is considered martyrdom.
According to him, one reason for this is an “inadequate knowledge of the Qur’an,” in the manner that many Christians “do not know the Bible very well.”
He also said that another reason is Abu Sayyaf’s “selective knowledge and understanding” of the Holy Book for Muslims that Islam is a religion of peace and not of external jihad against infidels.
“They profess belief in God and are devoted to their prayer but their terroristic and criminal activities in fact say that they reject God and his divine word. Their theistic beliefs are not followed through in practice,” he said.
“The same is true also for many Christians. While believing in Christ and his teachings, there is a stark dichotomy between belief and practice.”
“One can, therefore, understand why Muslim governments and scholars have denounced ASG atrocities as un-Islamic, a betrayal of true Islam, a distortion of the Qur’an,” Cardinal Quevedo added.
The cardinal then called on the religious leaders to learn from Pope Francis who refused to identify Islam and any religion with terrorism and his belief that dialogue is the only path to peace.
“Pope Francis has spoken of extremists in various religions. We should not identify extremism with religion itself,” said Cardinal Quevedo.
“For the churches and different religious faiths, the call is for both intra-religious and inter-religious dialogue so that religious beliefs are not distorted and God’s name is not invoked for the sake of violence,” he said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)