Mindanao Cardinal Quevedo the bridge between Christians and Muslims
President Benigno Aquino was in Cotabato City yesterday to attend the Thanksgiving Mass celebrated in honour of His Eminence Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI, DD.
The president recognised Cardinal Quevedo’s campaign to push for peace in Mindanao, a region which has had a history of conflicts between Christians and Muslims. Aquino said ‘Hinihimok [niya tayong] ihayag ang mali, at labanan ang tiwali; inuudyok makilahok sa pagtukoy sa solusyon, kaysa maging bahagi lamang ng problema.’
Aquino also lauded the cardinal’s inner strength and courage in the face of persecution: during Martial Law, Quevedo founded the Basic Ecclesial Communities. Joining organisations, let alone creating one, during Martial Law was a punishable offence.
The president cited how the cardinal was fully behind the calls for reform for the benefit of greater public service. Quevedo believes the conflict in Mindanao stems from misinformation that Christians and Muslims harbour for the other.
To promote peace, the cardinal supports inter-religious dialogues in the region. He is also co-founder of the Bishop-Ulama Conference (BUC), a religious confederation whose members come from the Catholic church, Ulama (Muslim) league, Christian community and officers of the Lumad (indigenous peoples or IP) groups.
BUC works with communities in all levels, from schools to religious leaders. It hosts the annual, region-wide Mindanao Peace Week as well as a youth camp and a forum for leaders of all faiths. Talks are also extended to the Philippine government with the BUC-AFP-PNP Forum for Peace. Quevedo is particularly active in Theological discussions, showing the connections between the Muslim holy book Koran and the Bible.
Quevedo’s elevation as Cardinal will make him a valuable bridge among the different religious groups in Mindanao. His sympathy towards IPs, Christians and Muslims may pave way for greater understanding in Mindanao and awakening among Catholics which dominate the rest of the country.