Peace in Bukidnon town driven by inter-religious dialogue – priest

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 Sept) —  Focusing on the common things among different religions can help sustain inter-religious and inter-faith dialogues, Fr. Arturo Paraiso, former parish priest of Kalilangan,  Bukidnon told church-goers in the new sub-parish of Kalasungay Sunday.

He said the inter-religious dialogue helped cut the number of hostilities in the town.

In his homily in the village’s only mass for the day, Paraiso said the faithful has to continue respecting other religions as inter-faith and inter- religious dialogues is one of the Catholic Church’s characteristics.

He explained that to be “Catholic” is “to be welcoming.” Kalilangan is in Bukidnon’s border with Wao town in Lanao del Sur,
where a majority of residents are Maranaos.

He said that’s how they started the inter-religious dialogue in the town: they focused on the greatest commonality among different religions, which is faith in God.

Paraiso, now assigned at the Pope John 23rdPre-College Seminary in Impalambong, cited that another common factor among Christians, Muslims and other religions is the fight against a common enemy, the devil.

Paraiso was the priest who said mass in the San Vicente Ferrer parish church in Kalilangan when somebody lobbed two grenades in 2010. Others thought it was a conflict rooted in land but he clarified that police later found out that the one who lobbed the grenades were after a police officer for revenge.

Supt. Nerio Bermudo, then police director of the province Bukidnon, was quoted in reports as saying two suspects who lobbed the
fragmentation grenade during the mass were out to allegedly avenge the death of a Maranao boy after they failed to find the driver of the Rural Transit bus.

Paraiso said the grenades sent panic among the faithful and left three churchgoers slightly injured in the explosion. Only one of the two grenades thrown exploded.  The suspects fled aboard a motorcycle.

The priest continued the mass after policemen who rushed to the scene detonated the unexploded grenade.

Police dismissed reports then that religious motives were behind the attacks.

In his September 1, 2010 pastoral letter, Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan called the people to pray for peace after describing it as a first attack on a place of worship in the Diocese of Malaybalay.

Paraiso said that in the months following the incident, leaders of the different religions and faiths in the town formed the Kalilangan Religious Leaders Council (KRLC). He said since then they have forged and committed to inter-religious dialogue in the town and in the province. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)