By Michael Aaron Gomez

The Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) hosted the two-day “Summit on Catholic Intra-Faith Dialogue in the Context of the Bangsamoro Organic Law” with the Bishops of Mindanao along with other clergy, Catholic school administrators, seminary representatives, and representatives of various Mindanao-based peace centers, last 28-29 November 2018, at the Calungsod-San Vitores Jesuit-Lay Collaboration Center, 11th Floor of the Community Center of the First Companions, Jacinto campus. This Summit was intended to open a broad but involved conversation among the Catholic leadership in Mindanao and other stakeholders in the Mindanao peace process regarding the recently passed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) as well as the dual peace process operating in the region: the peace process with the Muslim communities and the peace process with the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

AdDU President Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J., welcomed the other delegates to the summit, which consisted of several Pakighinabi sessions and other group or individual activities and reflection sessions distributed over the two days. Opening the first Pakighinabi was the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Most Rev. Abp. Antonio Ledesma, S.J., DD. This conversation revolved around the subject “The Church in Mindanao: A Situationer.” 

Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Cotabato, Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI, DD was the lead discussant of the second Pakighinabi of the first day, in the afternoon, on the subject “Bangsamoro Organic Law: Overcoming Fear, Healing Wounds, Moving Forward.” In the morning of the Summit’s second day, the delegates discussed the second Mindanao peace process, in a Pakighinabi titled “Peace Process with the CPP-NPA-NDF: Prospects and Challenges.” 

After the Pakighinabi sessions came the action planning sessions among the delegates, where they weighed together the possible next courses of action as the next stages of the implementation of the BOL begin to proceed, beginning with the plebiscite in January of 2019. 

Helping close the Summit was the Holy Mass concelebrated by the Bishops of Mindanao at noon of 29 November, at the Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel, Jacinto campus. 

Part of the background for the Summit is the “active presence of Catholic dioceses, universities, and affiliated peace centers throughout Mindanao” that “can play a critical role in influencing the peace process.” This presence in the region entails a need for these Catholic groups to “come together to exchange current information and assessments, and to proactively work to address issues at the local level as well as at the Mindanao-wide and national levels.”

The “Summit on Catholic Intra-Faith Dialogue in the Context of the Bangsamoro Organic Law” was convened to evaluate past activities in the context of the present situation, comprising exchange of information and research, including teaching materials; to examine the present situation through the lenses of “Catholic social principles and the needs of local communities”; and finally, to take concrete steps in further collaboration, eventually forming a communications network among Catholic institutions where they could exchange information and keep themselves abreast of breaking developments.


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