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The tiny Christian minority in Jolo, Philippines – a majority-Muslim area in an overwhelmingly Catholic nation – has seen renewed energy in its churches now that its faith has been “tested by fire,” Monsignor Romeo S. Saniel, vicar administrator of the Vicariate of Jolo, told Breitbart News in an interview on Tuesday.
Jolo’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral was partially destroyed on January 27, when jihadists, later identified as a couple from Indonesia, detonated suicide bombs minutes apart inside, killing 22 people and wounding 111. It was the latest in years of violent attacks Saniel had witnessed or experienced while caring for the Christians of Jolo – including a failed assassination attempt he survived because the gun touching his head jammed when the assailant pulled the trigger.
Saniel - Breitbart - News - Support - Survivors
Saniel told Breitbart News he is now endeavoring to help rebuild the cathedral and bring spiritual and economic support to the survivors of the attack. The Catholic Church is also working to help improve educational and economic opportunities for all residents of Jolo, holding on to the belief that economic desperation can attract young Muslims to jihadist ideology.
Saniel spoke with Breitbart News in anticipation of several events to bring awareness to the dangers facing Philippine Christians in Muslims territories, and other Christians who live as minorities, in the United States this week. The first, “Listening to Survivors of Religious Persecution: The Call for Religious Freedom,” will take place Wednesday at the United Nations, hosted by Aid to the Church in Need, a papal charity of the Catholic Church that supports persecuted Christians globally.
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Aid to the Church in Need will also host a Night of Witness event – to pray, reflect, and listen to the victims of Christian persecution – at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, on...
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