Just my opinion
by Raïssa Robles
But a week after his departure, men and women who were probably in the same crowd that embraced the Pope’s words and promised to be good Catholics are now at the forefront crying out for blood and saying “crush” the Muslim rebels, and death to those who killed the police commandos.
Pope Francis hardly touched on the Muslim rebellion when he was in the Philippines.
But he did touch on a similar conflict before coming to Manila while he was in Sri Lanka. Because of this, I find the words he said in Sri Lanka very relevant to our situation. Sri Lanka’s Buddhist majority had to deal for 25 years with a rebellion by its Tamil Tiger minority. The United Nations estimated that up to 100,000 people were killed.
In the Philippines, no one has really done an estimate of how many people have been killed by the Mindanao conflict. But it could easily reach a similar number.
Pope Francis urged Sri Lankans to work for justice, truth and reconciliation. And he said:
“Only when we come to understand, in light of the cross, the evil we are capable of, and have even been a part of, can we experience true remorse and true repentance. Only then can we receive the grace to approach one another in true contrition, offering and seeking true forgiveness.”
He also said:
“Sri Lanka for many years knew the horrors of civil strife and is now seeking to consolidate peace and to heal the scars of those years.”
He advised that dialogue was necessary. However,
“For such dialogue and encounter to be effective, it must be grounded in a full and forthright presentation of our respective convictions. Certainly, such dialogue will accentuate how varied our beliefs, traditions and practices are. But if we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common…Men and women do not have to forsake their identity, whether ethnic or religious, in order to live in harmony.”
When Pope Francis was en route to Rome after flying from Manila he told reporters how he almost wept upon seeing the people of Leyte:
“The gestures! The gestures moved me. They are not protocol gestures, they are good gestures, felt gestures, gestures of the heart. Some almost make one weep. There’s everything there: faith, love, the family, the illusions, the future. That gesture of the fathers who think of their children so that the Pope will bless them. Not the gesture of one unique father. There were many who thought of their children when we passed by on the road. A gesture which in other places one does not see, as if they say ‘this is my treasure, this is my future, this is my love, for this one it’s worth working, for this one it’s worth suffering’. A gesture that is original, but born from the heart.”
And then he said,
“There’s a word that’s difficult for us to understand because it has been vulgarized too much, too badly used, too badly understood, but it’s a word that has substance: resignation. A people who knows how to suffer, and is capable of rising up.”
Perhaps what I’m trying to say is this: Think of the Mindanao conflict as a man-made disaster. Think of the courageous death of the police commandos as part of that conflict that has been going on for over a quarter of a century in Mindanao. Their deaths are crying out for justice. And so are the deaths before them.
The only way to make the police commandos’ deaths meaningful – and the death of thousands before them – is to dedicate lasting peace in their names.