Indian Catholic News

Filipinos living near Guam pray amid N. Korean nuke threat

Philippine govt says it has contingency plan to evacuate thousands of citizens if tensions rise further.


Filipinos living in Guam and the nearby Northern Mariana Islands have held prayers amid ongoing threats from North Korea to fire missiles at the United States territory in the middle of the Pacific.

Bishop Ryan Jimenez of Chalan Kanoa Diocese on the island of Saipan issued a pastoral letter to his clergy urging them to include a "special intention for peace" in all liturgical activities.

Saipan is 218 kilometers from Guam and is the biggest and most populated island in the Northern Marianas where Filipinos comprise an estimated 29 percent of the 48,000 population.

"As you preside at liturgical celebrations, kindly emphasize our prayers for peace and understanding among nations," said Bishop Jimenez in his letter to the clergy.

The offering of "special intentions" for understanding between the leaders of the United States and Korea started during Sunday Masses on Aug. 13. An observance of a "Holy Hour" of prayers was also to be held on Aug. 18 at Mount Carmel Cathedral in Saipan.

Bishop Jimenez also urged Catholics on the neighboring islands of Tinian and Rota to hold similar activities. "Devote an hour of prayer at a time agreed upon by pastors and parishioners of parishes concerned," said the bishop.

The prelate made the call following reports that North Korea plans to launch missile attacks against the island of Guam in the middle of August.

The U.S. government responded sharply with President Donald Trump issuing a statement that the threat "will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

On Aug. 15, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un announced that he would watch the actions of America before making a decision to fire. He ordered his military to be ready to launch should he make the decision for military action.

In the Philippines, a bishop called on the public on Aug. 15 to unite and pray for the safety of Filipinos and the rest of the world amid North Korea's threats.

"At these perilous and uncertain times, we have to pray. Let us pray constantly, begging God to enlighten our leaders to work for peace and promotion of human life," said

Bishop Ruperto Santos, head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People.

"May they value life more than anything else, and renounce war which is total destruction and total disaster," said the prelate.

The Philippine government announced that it is ready to repatriate thousands of Filipinos in Guam and South Korea in case the security situation in both countries deteriorates.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said a contingency plan is already in place in case the safety of Filipinos in Guam and South Korea becomes at risk.

"So far the situation [in Guam and South Korea] remains normal," said Bello, adding that his office has not yet received any repatriation requests.

There are currently about 42,000 Filipinos in Guam while at least 60,000 Filipinos live in South Korea.

Source: UCAN

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