Zamboanga City (Agenzia Fides) - "There are already many precious experiences in Mindanao that show the spirit of dialogue and peace. We saw them during the period of siege in Zamboanga in 2013 and also in Marawi this year. The great gathering of young Catholics underway (the "National Youth Day", from 6 to 10 November in Zamboanga) aims to strengthen this spirit of coexistence and harmony. In the meantime, we invite all to watch over and encourage everyone to gather and share positive stories and good news that instill hope. We need a more visible presence in the media to counter a fundamentalist mentality and the propaganda of death in the Islamic State", says to Agenzia Fides Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, missionary of PIME, founder of the Silsilah ("Chain") movement in Zamboanga City, on the island of Mindanao, where he lives in the "Village of Harmony", a place of peaceful coexistence among Christian and Muslim families.
"If some groups use violence, it is our task to live and spread respect and love for everyone, in the variety of different religions.
The work of awareness and the example given with life is essential. Until this spirit is not shared by the majority, we will always have conflicts and divisions in our society", notes the missionary.
Fr. D'Ambra continues: "This is a special moment for Mindanao. On the one hand there is the fear of growing terrorism and the spreading of the ideology of the Islamic State (Isis); on the other hand, the initiatives of Christian-Muslim dialogue are even more visible among Muslim religious leaders who condemn terrorism and the use of Islam to justify violence. This is a positive development that Silsilah highlights as a sign of hope. From here a new beginning of reconciliation can start".
The missionary remembers what happened eight centuries ago at the time of the Crusades when Francis of Assisi went to Egypt to meet the Muslim Sultan Melek Al-Kamel, in Damietta. "This meeting can still be paradigmatic and symbolic today for our communities", he also notes, citing the recent meeting of the head of El-Azhar University, Imam Ahamad al-Tayyeb with Pope Francis first in Rome and, after a few months, in Egypt.
"Although the war in Marawi is over", concludes Fr. D'Ambra - the ideology of violence continues to move in many ways, in particular motivated by fear, money, power, and misunderstanding. Today is the time for religious leaders to act with more courage to bring the mission of dialogue and peace to all sectors of society, with the same spirit that animated the encounter between Francis and the Sultan. This is the time to tell our people: we are different by faith but we respect each other's faith. We are united by the same humanity, we are created by God himself, and we are brothers and sisters. This is what Silsilah has continued to share with everyone since 1984". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 7/11/2017)