By Michael Aaron Gomez
The Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) hosted the 45th General Assembly of the Bishop-Ulama Conference (BUC) last 27 November 2018 at the Calungsod-San Vitores Jesuit-Lay Collaboration Center, 11th Floor of the Community Center of the First Companions, Jacinto campus. Also in attendance as a special guest was the Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, Most Rev. Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, DD. AdDU President Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J. welcomed the attendees and members of the conference, comprising 24 Catholic bishops, 26 ulama and ustadz (members of the Ulama League of the Philippines [ULP]), and 18 Protestant bishops and pastors (members of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines [NCCP]).
The Assembly began with a briefing on the 44th General Assembly as well as the theme for the 2018 Mindanao Week of Peace: “Peace Through Dialogue: Our Destiny.” Following this were the individual statements and reflections from the Catholic, Muslim, and Protestant perspectives toward the recently passed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), collectively dubbed “Bangsamoro Organic Law: Lights and Shadows.” For the Catholic view, former Archbishop of Cotabato Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI, DD delivered his responses to the BOL. Dr. Hamid A. Barra, former dean of the King Faisal Center for Islam, Asian and Arabic Studies (KFCIAS) of the Mindanao State University in Marawi City, issued his responses representing the Islamic viewpoint. Finally, Rev. Johnny Labasan represented the Protestant perspective in his statement on the BOL.
His Excellency Most Rev. Gabriele Caccia, DD, also delivered a special message to the assembly to help close out the meeting. The event finished with the presentation of three elected co-convenors and 12 members of the BUC board of directors. The members of the BUC then issued a joint statement on the BOL.
The Bishop-Ulama Conference, according to its homepage, “organized into a SEC-registered association whose mission is to support the on-going peace process in the region through the promotion of mutual knowledge and understanding, acquaintance and friendship as well as reconciliation through repentance and forgiveness as indispensable elements of the culture of justice and peace, of total development and authentic progress.”
This 45th General Assembly also forms part of the Ateneo de Davao University’s participation in the 21st Mindanao Week of Peace, along with other activities meant to foster interreligious and intrafaith dialogues to achieve a lasting peace and to promote social justice and the common good for all peoples in Mindanao.