What struck me the most in this last day was a talk by a bishop from the south of the Philippines. In his diocese 98 percent of the population is Muslim. The previous bishop was assassinated by a terrorist on the steps of the Cathedral. Indeed, when the current bishop accepted his appointment, he knew he was accepting also the possibility of being a martyr. In the past years, three priests were brutally murdered, and very recently a Church was bombed during Christmas Mass.
Despite all this tension and suffering, the bishop was able with the grace of God to establish respectful dialogue with the Muslims. Periodically, the bishops and priests of the region gather together with the Muslim religious leaders. The most impressive thing though is the fact that whenever these meetings take place, the Muslims stay with Christian families, and the Catholics are hosted in Muslim homes. The Eucharist is the bishop’s source for forgiveness and openness to friendly dialogue.
In order to celebrate the end of the Symposium, we had a wonderful concelebration with the participation of more than a 100 priests. Afterwards the Archdiocesan Seminary of Cebu offered a dinner to all who collaborated in the event. The seminary’s choir performed a few songs for us, which reminded me of my own seminary in Rome. We had the opportunity to talk to them, and have very special moments of ecclesial communion. At the end, the Philippine priest who was the director of the Symposium spoke. He said that the two-year-long organization of the event was a “Journey of the Eucharist” for him. I took that as a confirmation from the Holy Spirit for the title of the blog. See you tomorrow as we continue this journey together!