By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has expressed its gratitude to the government and President Duterte for their vigorous efforts in reclaiming the Church’s priceless religious treasures, the Balangiga bells.
“We express our profound gratitude to the Philippine government for its years of vigorous efforts to reclaim these bells. We thank in particular our present government, with the leadership of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, for bringing a most successful and happy conclusion to all these efforts,” CBCP president Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said in a statement.
He also expressed their appreciation to the US government for their wise gesture.
“We also appreciate the very wise gesture of the US government in finally bringing back the Bells of Balangiga to where they should belong, thereby giving ourselves the experience of a deeper sense of justice and respect between our peoples and consequently letting our friendship grow stronger,” said Valles.
He said the return of the bells of Balangiga to their rightful place in the Parish of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, of the Diocese of Borongan, in the town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar after 117 years fill them with great joy and deepest gratitude.
“The return of these three Church bells, which, for the Catholic Church, are priceless religious treasures used for generations to call Her faithful to prayer and worship, affords us an opportunity to understand and appreciate history better with a more mature perspective,” Valles said.
“It also demonstrates that the path to healing and reconciliation may be arduous but is never impossible,” he added.
“We join Bishop Crispin Varquez and all our brothers and sisters in the Diocese of Borongan, especially those in the Parish of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, in thanking and glorifying God, for He has, once again, done marvelous deeds in our midst today,” said Valles.
It was on November 14 when the US started the process of returning the historic bells to the Philippines.
The bells finally arrived here in the country, Tuesday.