The 84-year-old St. Mary’s Cathedral in war-torn Marawi City in Lanao del Sur is beyond repair and reconstruction, and will need to be demolished.
Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña recently visited the severely damaged structure for the second time after the siege that began in May and ended in October last year. The bishop intended to offer a holy mass, but the military did not allow him to do so for security reasons.
Dela Pena was accompanied by Dipolog Bishop Severo Caermare, Jolo Bishop Jose Lampon, Ipil Bishop Julius Tonel, Pagadian Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar, Archbishops Marin Jumoad of Ozamiz and Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, and Fr. Jose Roel Casas, the administrator of the Prelature of Isabela.
The cathedral, which was built in 1934 and dedicated to Mary Help of Christians, is located right inside ground zero of the fighting between the government troops and the Maute-led militants.
“The cathedral and the bishop’s residence will be among the structures that will be demolished by the government because they are no longer structurally sound. The levelling of the damaged structures and clearing of debris is expected to start in June and is expected to last for about 10 months,” a Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) News post said.
“We will rebuild the cathedral but only after they have rebuilt the city and their Masjids. For the meantime, we focus our energies on rebuilding communities,”” Dela Peña said.
Dela Peña and the bishops prayed briefly inside the cathedral. Rey Barnido, executive director of Duyog Marawi said, the bishops also prayed for those who are working for peace in the region.
Duyog (which means in solidarity with) Marawi is a rehabilitation program of the prelature and the Redemptorist missionaries that focuses on healing and peace-building efforts. (Christina Hermoso and Leslie Ann Aquino)