Cotabato Cardinal Orlando Quevedo condemned the attack on a Catholic chapel by unidentified armed men in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.
The cardinal said armed men set ablaze the chapel in Barangay Labu-Labu in Maguindanao and destroyed religious statues.
“This criminal act is an abhorrent desecration of a place of Catholic worship,” Quevedo said.
Police are now investigating the desecration of the chapel that took place on the evening of Nov. 9. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The cardinal said the destruction of the religious statues is “gravely disrespectful” of Catholic beliefs.
“Such a crime is most disturbing and provocative,” Quevedo said, as he expressed hope that the incident will not affect the “harmonious” relationship between Muslims and Christians in the area.
He urged the public, government officials, and the archdiocese’s partners in the Bangsamoro peace process to help security forces in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Only recently, suspected members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters attacked a chapel in Pigcawayan town, North Cotabato, and destroyed not only religious icons but also desecrated the Sacred Host.
The church leader also called on religious leaders to condemn such abuses while “prevent[ing] religious bigotry, hostility and conflict.”
He enjoined the clergy, the religious, and the lay faithful “to be always alert to the ongoing threats of violent extremism.”