THE World Council of Churches (WCC) has called for the immediate release of a bishop in the Philippines, held in detention for six months accused of possessing explosives.
Bishop Carlos Morales, of the Philippine Independent Church (IFI), was arrested in May on the southern island of Mindanao, where there have been outbreaks of fighting by several Muslim rebel groups. Martial law has been extended across the whole of the island after clashes between the army and gunmen linked to Islamic State.
In a statement, the WCC said: “Bishop Morales is a respected church leader from the IFI, a member church of the World Council of Churches, and is well known for his activism for dialogue, justice, and peace in Mindanao. Believing strongly in his innocence of the charges laid against him, we call for the legal proceedings in Bishop Morales’ case to be concluded expeditiously, for his release on bail, and for his ultimate exoneration.”
The Churches — made up of 348 member churches — also called for the end of martial law on the island and the release of all political prisoners in the Philippines.
“We especially call for renewed initiatives for dialogue and negotiations, in order to bring a sustainable end to the violence and bloodshed which has so long prevented the realization of a just peace in the region. We pray for Bishop Morales, that he be strengthened, comforted, and supported through this ordeal, and that he be affirmed in his ministry for justice and peace,” the statement concluded.