Catholic bishops seek prayers to calm West Philippine Sea tension

Catholic bishops seek prayers to calm West Philippine Sea tensions

/ 10:42 AM July 10, 2024

Catholic bishops seek prayers to calm West Philippine Sea tensions

Kalookan Bishop and CBCP president Pablo Virgilio David (center) shares to journalists the resolutions reached by the plenary assembly of bishops in Cagayan de Oro City. With him are Boac Bishop Marcelino Antonio Maralit Jr., chairman of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Social Communications (right), and San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Bishop of San Carlos, member of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace (left). Photo by Ryan Rosauro, Inquirer Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Amid tensions due to Chinese incursions in the West Philippine Sea, Catholic leaders are calling on the faithful to pray that the situation would be resolved peacefully.

Kalookan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said they were coming up with an obligatory prayer or Oratio Imperata for Peace to be prayed in all churches throughout the country.


The prayer will be said starting July 25, the feast of St. James, until Jan. 1, which is celebrated in the Catholic Church as the World Day of Peace, when the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God is also observed.


David said they were coming up with the prayer “in the context of the growing geopolitical tensions in our part of the world.”

READ: West PH Sea: CCG, militia vessels intercept 2 PCG boats near Ayungin

Of late, there has been an increased presence of Chinese coast guard, navy, and maritime militias inside the country’s territorial waters as part of its assertion of sovereignty over much of the South China Sea, even as its nine-dash line claims had been invalidated by an international tribunal in 2016.

Amid these, President Marcos had strengthened defense alliances with the United States and its Asia-Pacific allies, raising concerns about the country being dragged into its heated rivalry with China.

READ: PH to ‘do more’ vs Chinese ‘illegal actions’ – Marcos

These were among the major issues discussed by the 83 prelates, who attended the CBCP’s 128th plenary assembly in this city, which ended on Monday.


“Instead of a stand, we are coming up with a prayer. We are not political leaders, we are spiritual and moral leaders, and we know that our compatriots, our people in the country are getting tense. We do not want to add further fuel to the tension,” David said.

“Nobody wants a war. Our parents were part of a generation who were traumatized by the Second World War. We really have, not just to work for peace, but to pray for peace. That is our disposition as bishops,” David added.

“On our own, we are trying to seriously understand what is happening to our country in the context of the geopolitical tensions,” he further said.

Last week, the Holy See’s top diplomat, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, urged countries to abide by international law and pursue dialogue to settle their differences.

READ: DFA chief, Vatican diplomat agree on peaceful conflict resolution

Gallagher met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo in Manila to discuss the tensions in the West Philippine Sea and the Taiwan Strait, among others, before speaking before the bishops in their retreat in Bukidnon, in the run-up to the plenary assembly.

“The Vatican is always in favor of the rule of order and they do recognize the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), and so they are sympathetic with the rights of our country as laid out in the UNCLOS,” David noted.

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“But the Vatican is an advocate of peace. As much as possible, we make it a point to deescalate tensions, to get people to talk reasonably, to dialogue, because that is the approach always of the church. Nobody wins in a violent war,” he added.

For comprehensive coverage, in-depth analysis, and the latest updates on the West Philippine Sea issue, visit our special site here. Stay informed with articles, videos, and expert opinions.

TAGS: Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, West Philippine Sea

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