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ICC Note: St. Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi city was desecrated and burned by terrorists during the siege last May. With the consent of Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña, the 84-year-old cathedral and his residence will be among the structures that will be demolished by the Philippine government, in preparation for the rebuilding of the war-ravaged city.

04/16/2018 Philippines (UCA News) – The Philippine government is to demolish the 84-year-old Catholic cathedral in Marawi to pave the way for the rebuilding of the war-torn southern city.

Terrorist gunmen desecrated and burned the church when they attacked the country’s so-called Islamic capital in May last year, kicking off a five-month conflict.

Authorities said the cathedral and the bishop’s residence are no longer structurally sound because of bomb explosions, air strikes, and exchanges of gunfire during the conflict.

Terrorist gunmen set the cathedral on fire on May 23 and took Father Teresito Suganob, the prelature’s vicar, and several church workers and worshipers hostage.

They also stormed the bishop’s residence and several other buildings.

The demolition of the structures and the clearance of debris was expected to start in June.

“We will rebuild the cathedral but only after [the Muslims] have rebuilt their city and their Masjids,” said Bishop Edwin dela Pena of the Prelature of Marawi.

He said Catholic Church groups would focus efforts on “rebuilding communities.”

Bishop Dela Pena said that a “simple church” would be built on the site of the cathedral to symbolize the church’s mission of a “reconciling presence” in Marawi.

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