4-Aug-2000 -- EWTN News Brief
MANILA (CWNews.com/Fides) - Mary, mother of Jesus of Nazareth, revered and honored by Muslims as well as Christians is being invoked in the Philippines to hasten the return of peace to war-torn Mindanao.
On August 5, in churches throughout the archipelago, the Philippines' bishops will lead the faithful in an Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  On that day, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Snows on the anniversary of the dedication of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, the first church in the world built to honor Mary, Mother of God, after the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.
"By this act of entrustment," Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, president of the bishops' conference, wrote in a July 14 letter to the bishops, "we wish to obtain for our nation through the intercession of Mary, whom both Muslims and Christians revere to obtain peace."  It comes in response to the suggestions from various lay groups and movements, particularly the Episcopal Laity Commission, the archbishop said.  "In Mindanao we are seeing the tragic reality of continuing war.  Violence begets violence, war begets war," he said.
Thousands of people have been killed or forced to abandon their homes in the ongoing war between Muslim separatists and the government of the mainly Catholic country in southern Mindanao island.  There have been numerous casualties on both sides, rebel and army, and more than 200,000 civilian persons evacuated as the victories by government forces over Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps become "more destructive, more terrifying, more uncertain protracted guerrilla warfare," the archbishop reports.
The displaced in Mindanao continue to suffer in cramped and inadequate evacuation centers, many children even dying due to the miserable conditions.  Resources for food, shelter, medicines and clothing from government, Church and aid groups have been dwindling because of the general economic crisis in the country.

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