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Philippine churches call for release of Protestant bishop

Ecumenical Bishops Forum says its time churches unite in fight against human rights abuses
Philippine churches call for release of Protestant bishop
Church leaders in the Philippines hold a protest march in Manila on June 12 to call for the release of Protestant Bishop Carlo Morales of the Philippine Independent Church who was arrested in Mindanao on May 11. (Photo by Mark Saludes)
Published: June 14, 2017 04:13 AM GMT
Updated: June 14, 2017 04:16 AM GMT

An ecumenical organization of prelates in the Philippines has launched a campaign calling for the release of a detained Protestant bishop in Mindanao.

"We are calling for the release of Bishop Carlos Morales and all political prisoners in the country," said Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, one of the leaders of the Ecumenical Bishops Forum.

The Catholic bishop said it is time for all churches "to stand together" for a "just peace" and human rights.

Bishop Morales, a prelate of the Philippine Independent Church in Mindanao, was arrested on May 11 by security forces for allegedly aiding a communist rebel leader.

He was charged with "illegal possession of explosives."

Bishop Joel Porlares, general secretary of the Philippine Independent Church, said the campaign gives voice to our "cry against violence and militarization as a desecration of the human person."

"We come not only to call for the release of our bishop but to remind ourselves of our role as peacemakers amidst armed conflict in the country."

Bishop Ephraim Fajutagana, also of the Philippine Independent Church, said the arrest of his fellow prelate "is a test of courage for our church."

The Christian Conference of Asia earlier condemned the "maltreatment" of Bishop Morales, adding that they are "saddened" to hear the prelate was handcuffed and detained.

The World Council of Churches also appealed to the Philippine government for "urgent attention and response" for the release of Morales.

Peter Prove, director of the council's commission on international affairs, said the bishop's arrest and interrogation "is improper and unjustified."

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