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ICC Note: Here is some really encouraging news and a great example that Muslims and Christians can coexist peacefully.

Maluku: Christians and Muslims rebuild church dedicated to John Paul II

AsiaNews (8/1/06) – The chapel will emerge from the ruins of a church destroyed during the inter-faith conflict in Ambon in 2001. Muslims and Christians, who at the time were at war on each other, attended the stone-laying ceremony.

The reconstruction of a Catholic Church has served to build bridges between religious communities in Maluku. Thousands of Christians and Muslims from several villages gathered in Waai for the laying of the first stone of a Catholic church that will emerge from the ruins of the former building, which was destroyed in the inter-faith conflict that rocked Poso in 2001. The new chapel will be dedicated to John Paul II.

On 30 July, residents of Waai came together with their one-time enemies of the villages of Tulehu and Liang to celebrate the launch of reconstruction works of a Catholic parish, on the same land where the former parish – destroyed in the 2001 clashes – used to stand. At the time, Waai, a mainly Christian village, was razed to the ground and more than 9,000 people fled in search of refuge in the neighbouring villages of Suli and Passo. Tulehu and Liang were Muslim-majority settlements that had declared war on Waai at the time of the inter-faith clashes.

People who witnessed the event talked about “a spirit of reconciliation”. Thirteen Tulehu youths performed a traditional dance to greet the guests. The Waai GPM band sang gospel songs, accompanied by dancing girls. A number of members of the church construction committee also attended the ceremony, including Muslims.

Mgr Mandagi said the building would be named “John Paul II chapel”. He expressed joy over an atmosphere, that was so “totally” different from the one that reigned during the not-too-distant conflict in which “not just Catholics suffered but also Muslims and Protestants”. He said: “I’m happy because Tulehu Muslims and Waai Protestants have warmly greeted us. Now is not the time for war, but for love and peace.” [Go To Full Story]