Nearly a year after it was trashed by rampaging jihadis, St Mary’s Cathedral in Marawi City is to be demolished.
Just weeks after Islamic State-affiliated terrorists took control of the city in May last year, a group of militants filmed themselves vandalising the cathedral. They toppled crucifixes, stamped on posters of Pope Francis and smashed statues before lighting fires.
Now, Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Pena has confirmed on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Twitter feed yesterday (Saturday, April 14) that it will be knocked down.
“We will rebuild the cathedral but only after they have rebuilt their city and their Masjids [mosques],” he said.
“For the meantime, we focus our energies on rebuilding communities.”
The timetable for the demolition of the 84-year-old Cathedral and related buildings will be decided by the bishop.
Bishop Dela Pena added that he had recently made his second visit to the devastated city centre. Other bishops who joined him during the inspection included Severo Caermare of Dipolog, Angelito Lampon of Jolo, Julius Tonel of Ipil, Emmanuel Cabajar of Pagadian, archbishops Martin Jumoad of Ozamiz and Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, and Fr. Jose Roel Casas, administrator of Isabela prelature.
The church is just one of many damaged building earmarked for destruction due to safety concerns.
The demolition of damaged structures and the clearing of debris is scheduled to begin in June. The process is expected take up to 10 months.
Church-based organisations including Duyog Marawi and the Aid to the Church in Need Philippines have launched campaigns to help rebuild the war-torn city.
The Marawi siege, which erupted on May 23, claimed more than a thousand lives and displaced about half a million people.
The government estimates that 51.6 billion pesos will be needed to rebuild the city and surrounding areas.