We, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, representing nearly 31 million Catholics, have heard the two fervent appeals made by the Holy Father urging aid to the six million East Bengali refugees driven out of their homes by violence and internecine conflict, who are presently being sheltered in India. We have also taken note of the appeal made by Archbishop L.T. Picachy, Archbishop of Calcutta, on behalf of these suffering Asian brothers and sisters. We, the Bishops, have also taken note of the appeal to the international community made by the Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and the fervent public statement and appeal made by His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos, President of the Republic of the Philippines, as well as the statements made by His Excellency U Thant, Secretary General of the United Nations, by His Excellency Prince Sadr-ud- Din Aga Khan, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and by His Excellency Willy Brandt, the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.
We are deeply moved by the terrible sufferings of the six million East Bengali refugees, many of them wounded, starving, without shelter during these torrential monsoons, and now ravaged by a raging cholera. We also note with deepest sorrow the tragic death of thousands in East Bengal, the victims including several priests. While expressing commiseration, We pray to Almighty God asking for eternal peace for these unfortunate victims.
It is clear that humanitarian aid to the refugees, although most welcome, is not a complete solution. It is also clear that a peaceful settlement between the opposing parties is essential and indispensable for the restoration of peaceful conditions, for security without fear of molestation, persecution and death.
This desideratum has been aptly and clearly expressed in the words of the Holy Father as follows:
• “We appeal for love and peace particularly to those who hold public power so that the refugees can return to their homes and live in peace in an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation without hostility and suspicion.”
In the name of humanity, in the name of democracy, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, We reiterate the appeal and prayer of His Holiness Pope Paul VI and urge upon the leaders of nations who have within their competence the power to avert further disaster, to restore peace and order in East Pakistan.
As a token of our fraternal concern and sympathy, we are asking our people of the Philippines to make voluntary contributions to help alleviate the miseries of their brothers in East Pakistan.
In fine, We the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines also call on all their brethren and on all men of good will in the international community to use all their influence and persuasion for the restoration of peace.
For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines:
(Sgd.)+TEOPISTO V. ALBERTO, D.D.
Archbishop of Caceres
July 8, 1971
Searsolin, Cagayan de Oro City