“Love of God and Love of Neighbor” is this year’s Mindanao Week of Peace theme

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 Nov) – This year’s theme for the Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) on November 29  to December 5 is on love of God and love of neighbour.

“ Love of God and Love of Neighbor, A Challenge for Mindanao,” is this year’s MWOP theme; last year’s was “Common Word between us and you: Love of God, Love of Neighbor.”

In a three-paragraph joint statement, the Bishops-Ulama Conference said “the great majority of believers in Mindanao today are Christians, Muslims and Indigenous Peoples” who all believe and worship a Creator whom they call by different names – God, Allah, Magbabaya – and who express their beliefs and perform acts of worship “according to their respective cultures, traditions and environments.”

“Christians and Muslims base their religious beliefs and behaviour on the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur’an while the Indigenous Peoples base theirs on a direct experience of divinity in creation. As such they respect each other’s way of life,” the statement signed by  BUC convenors  Davao Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla, Prof. Salipada representing the Ulama League of the Philippines and United Church of Christ of the Philippines Bishop Emeritus Hilario Gomez, Jr., said.

“Basic to the Christian-Islamic-Indigenous beliefs is the divine mandate to love God/Allah/Magbabaya, the neighbour and nature which guides them into harmonious/peaceful living. It also assures their survival in the present globally violent and crisis-ridden society. Much of these racial, cultural and religious conflicts are due either to politics and economics under the guise of religion, or to misunderstanding of cultural expression of religious beliefs,” they said.

The BUC appealed to Mindanawons to make the MWOP celebrations this year “highlight correctly and clearly this basic mandate of loving God and neighbour and environment in all sincerity” and promote “formative and character-building projects whereby an interactive knowledge and understanding of faith, culture and dialogue is experienced in a way that brings about genuine harmony and peace in individuals and communities.”

The MWOP is a take-off from the annual Zamboanga Week of Peace introduced by the Peace Advocates Zamboanga. Mindanao’s Bishops-Ulama Forum (now Conference) opted to make the celebration Mindanao-wide beginning 1999.

Backed up by a Presidential directive, the MWOP begins every last Thursday of November.

Taking off from the BUC’s theme, the theme for this year’s MWOP in Zamboanga City is “Together for Sustainable Peace in Mindanao.”

The BUC, organized at the Sacred Heart Center in Cebu City on November 29, 1996, was an offshoot of the controversy over the Southern Philippines Council for Peace and Development that government and the Moro National Liberation Front had agreed upon in the peace negotiations.

That meeting was historic: for the first time, 19 Catholic Bishops and 19 Ulama met to discuss what they could do together for peace and development in Mindanao.

And they had so many plans contained in the list of seven major concerns, including  “How can we maintain the momentum of peace-building and promote the culture of peace? How do we change the deep-seated prejudices from both sides? How do we bring about the value formation and maximize the role of schools in this effort?”

The MWOP has tackled a wide range of  themes since 1999’s “Healing the Past, Building the Future.”

In 2000 the theme was Mindanaoans Journeying Together Towards a Culture of Peace; in 2001 it was “Peace: Sharing the Vision of Unity and Hope;” in 2002, “Peace through Reconciliation: Mindanaoans seeking a Common Ground;” in 2003, “Healing through Forgiveness: Key to Total Human Development;” in 2004, “A Reconciled Family, Agent of Reconciliation;” in 2005, “Millennium Development Goals: Women and Youth as Partners in Peace Building;” in 2006, “In the Name of the Almighty, God of Harmony, Care for the Earth;” in 2007, “Building Bridges of Peace with our Peace Officers;” in 2008, “Integrity of Mind and Heart a way to Reconciliation and Peace!;” in 2009, “Think Mindanao, Feel Mindanao, Bring Peace to Mindanao;” and in 2010, Responsive and Responsible Governance: Key to Peace, Development and Sustainability.” (MindaNews)