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Speaking out against terrorism in all its forms

POPE Francis was moved to pray for an end to the “inhuman violence of terrorism” after five days of violence that killed a total of 34 people in Burkina Faso, Spain, and Finland last week.

Gunmen entered a restaurant in Quagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa, on August 14, and sprayed the patrons with bullets, killing 18, including nine foreigners. No group came forward to claim responsibility for the carnage, but there have been attacks by Islamist militants in recent years.

The killing on August 17 in Barcelona, Spain, drew wider world attention. A van was driven into a crowd in the popular Las Ramblas area of the northeastern Spanish city, killing 13 people. This was followed hours later by a second attack in the town of Cambrils, 130 kilometers to the south, in which a woman was killed. Spanish police said a 12-member terror cell linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was behind the operation.

Then on August 18, a stabbing spree by a Moroccan asylum seeker and five others left two people dead and eight wounded in Turku, Finland.

Pope Francis was specially saddened that the killings appeared to be religiously inspired. It is blasphemy to kill in the name of God, he said. He then led the crowd of 10,000 gathered at St. Peter’s Square in a moment of silence and a prayer to the Virgin Mother.

Despite the involvement of Islamist extremists in the series of violent incidents last week, the Pope reiterated his appeal to the nations of the world to help refugees and migrants seeking to escape persecution, war, natural disasters, and poverty in their homelands, mostly in Africa and the Middle East.

“Migration should be recognized as a natural human response to crisis and a testament to the innate desire of every human being for happiness and a better life,” he said. The Vatican is preparing an action plan to galvanize support for global compacts on refugees and migration to be taken up in the United Nations General Assembly in September, 2018.

The Philippines has had its own encounters with terrorists in recent months, although the latest ones are related to the internal problem of crime and drugs and abuses by those engaged in the operations to stop them.

Our own religious leaders have spoken up against these abuses, among them Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

They are one with Pope Francis in speaking out against terrorism in all its forms.