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Vandals carry out ‘provocative’ desecration of Philippines chapel

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, Philippines, pictured in 2014, has condemned the attack (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A Filipino cardinal has condemned an attack on a Catholic chapel in Maguindanao, a southern province in the region.

Vandals set fire to an 80-year-old chapel in Barangay Labu-Labu, Shariff Aguak, on November 9, according to CBCP News. Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato called the incident “abhorrent”.

“This criminal act is an abhorrent desecration of a place of Catholic worship,” Cardinal Quevedo said in a statement released today.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the chapel located along the national highway and investigations are continuing.

“Such a crime is most disturbing and provocative,” the cardinal said.

The cardinal said the destruction of the statues is “gravely disrespectful” of Catholic beliefs. The cardinal asked the clergy, the religious, and the lay faithful “to be always alert to the ongoing threats of violent extremism”.

He added: “Be calm. Despite provocation, follow the Lord’s injunction of peace and not revenge”.

The cardinal added that he hoped it wouldn’t affect the “harmonious” relationship between by Muslims and Christians in the region.

Responding to the attack, chairman of the municipal peace and order council told the Philippine Star: “We cannot allow terrorists to wedge the religious solidarity of Muslims, Christians and Lumads in our municipality”.

In June this year, religious iconography in Marawi, 200km away, was destroyed by Islamic terrorists in what Bishop Edwin de la Peña called a “demonic” attack.