From Manila News Online
ARMM leaders accept apology of Pope Benedict XVI
Several prominent Filipino Muslim leaders have signed a joint manifesto expressing support for Pope Benedict XVI and accepting his personal apology for certain portions of his speech at the University of Regensberg in Germany which appeared to be offensive to some Muslim believers.
Among those who signed the statement were Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, regional governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM); Datu Andal S. Ampatuan Sr., governor of Maguindanao; Datu Bimbo Sinsuat, vice governor of Maguindanao, and Muslimin G. Sema, mayor of Cotabato City.
This was disclosed by their lawyer, Romulo B. Macalintal who, after consulting them on this issue, requested them to make public their position as a sign of peace and unity.
Macalintal quoted the Muslim leaders as saying that this is "one way of showing our sympathy and sincere concern for the
"It is our honest belief that it was never the intention of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, to hurt or offend the feelings of Muslims like us," the Muslim leaders said in their manifesto.
They said that they made their manifestation after consultation with their religious leaders and further "manifest our support for further inter-faith dialogue instead of recriminations so that we can attain peace that Islam and Christianity like to obtain all over the world."
"A man of peace like Pope Benedict XVI deserves the full support of all peace-loving people and communities and we assure His Holiness that the Filipino Muslims, like the rest of the Muslim people in the world, know how to forgive and give a chance to whoever might have offended us," they added.
Sema, in a separate statement said, "I want to assure my Catholic brothers and sisters that Muslims know how (and are obliged) to forgive and accept a sincere and heartfelt apology like the one now being offered by Pope Benedict XVI."
The ARMM region has a estimated population of 4 million, of which 82 percent are Muslims. Cotabato City has an estimated population of about 170,000, of which almost 60 percent are Muslims.