MANILA, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Filipino Catholic leaders on Thursday have vowed to counter the Islamic State's "defacement of religion."
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines issued a statement Thursday in response to the recent beheading of American journalist James Foley by IS, condemning such militant groups "who take it upon themselves to kill and to terrorize in the name of God."
"... those who kill and slaughter, wound and maim, destroy and burn in the name of God send the world the awful message that religion divides, that faith is oppressive, that belief can engender so much unkindness!"
"In the Philippines, we will do our part," writes Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the CBCP, "to counter the defacement of religion... with love for each other, bearing each other's burdens, ever forgiving and humbly asking to be forgiven, respecting the freedoms of all, particularly the right to religious belief."
Pope Francis sent a letter in early August to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon following persecution of religious minorities by IS militants in Iraq, urging "the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway. ... through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities."