MANILA, July 31, 2014—Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs, appeals to President Benigno S. Aquino III (PNoy) not to remain silent on the many issues affecting Christians in the Middle East, many of whom are being killed for their faith.
In an interview over Radyo Veritas Friday, July 25, Pabillo said world leaders including PNoy must speak up in condemnation of the atrocities being perpetrated by Islamic extremists against Iraq’s minority Christian population.
“We need these world leaders, including our own, airing their side on this very important concern. It disappoints me how our government can still afford to keep mum when it comes to religion,” he said.
According to Pabillo, world leaders should remind these religious fanatics to respect the right of others to worship as they please without harassment.
The prelate reminded them that the right to choose one’s religion is one of the basic rights recognized by the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 18 of this UN document details, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
In spite of this, Christians—Assyrian, Catholics and Orthodox—in the predominantly Muslim city of Mosul and other parts of Iraq have been systematically robbed, evicted, tortured—and in the case of women, raped—and forced to convert to Islam by the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Al-Sham (ISIS).
Scholar Suha Hasham shared that Iraq’s minority Christian population is one of the oldest surviving Christian communities in the world dating back to the 1st century with the apostles Thomas and Jude.
According to a BBC report, ISIS claims religious authority over all Muslims and aspires to bring much of the Muslim-inhabited regions of the world under its direct political control.
Pabillo expresses support for Pope Francis’ call to end the violence. (Raymond A. Sebastián)