Zamboanga (Agenzia Fides) - "In some parts of the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, some Muslim leaders have discouraged their followers to join the Christians for the Christmas celebrations. This is an alarming sign. At the same time, the good Muslims and good Christians suffer for this radical approach of the relationship between Muslims and Christians. It changes the traditional way of celebrating together the most important religious holidays and share the joy of a specific religious group": the alarm is sent to Agenzia Fides by the "Silsilah" Islamic-Christian dialogue movement, active in Zamboanga del Sur (Mindanao), in the southern Philippines, and initiated 30 years ago by PIME missionary Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra.
The movement, in a note sent to Fides, recalls the long tradition of inter-religious dialogue through which "Christians send a message to Muslims for Ramadan and the latter send a message to Christians during Advent and Christmas". This is why Silsilah invites all the faithful "to continue to celebrate Christmas and Ramadan", reaffirming that "these are opportunities to show respect and share the same joy of friendship, while everyone is encouraged to be faithful to their faith" .
The message of Silsilah also states "the news of new attacks on Christian churches in some places and areas in the Philippines", stressing how important it is "to be united as Christians and Muslims to show everyone that the real relationship between Christians and Muslims is a relationship of sincere friendship. We are brothers and sisters in humanity, although different due to our religion, and we are called to show solidarity in times of joy and in times of suffering".
The presence of radical groups like the Islamic State (IS), which today has followers in Muslim areas of the southern Philippines, "is an opportunity for all of us to make an examination of conscience and understand that perhaps we are in this situation because we have not been able to present the authentic Christian and Islamic faith: these have common points and values that can be the starting point for building a peaceful and harmonious society", the text concludes. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 16/12/2016)