Philippine Cathedral reopens six months after bomb attack

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Archbishop Gabrielle Caccia, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, leads the reconsecration of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the southern town of Jolo on July 16. (Photo courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need)

The Catholic cathedral in the violence-plagued southern Philippine town of Jolo reopened on July 16, nearly six months after a fatal bombing attack.

Hundreds of people gathered for the reconsecration of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on the day Christians in the predominantly Muslim town marked the feast of its patron.

Archbishop Gabrielle Caccia, apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, retired prelate of southern Cotabato, led bishops and priests in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Five soldiers were among those killed in the Jan. 27 twin explosions that rocked the cathedral. Supporters of the terrorist organization Islamic State claimed responsibility.

The explosions caused serious damage to the cathedral, which was later repaired with help from the pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need.

The bombing of the cathedral was one of the deadliest attacks in the southern Philippines and occurred despite an earlier declaration of martial law in the region.

The country’s Catholic bishops condemned the “act of terrorism” and called on Christians to join hands with all peace-loving Muslims to combat violent extremism.

Authorities said the attack was believed to be in retaliation for the death of a leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group last year.