The Tragedy at a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Philippines: A Catholic Perspective on Suffering, Justice, and Hope


The heartbreaking news of the bombing at a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Philippines, where 20 innocent lives were lost and dozens more injured, shakes us to our core. In the face of such immense suffering and injustice, questions naturally arise: Why do bad things happen to good people? Where is God in all of this? How can we, as Catholics, make sense of this tragedy? As a Catholic scholar, I’ll attempt to approach these difficult questions within the framework of Catholic teaching and Scripture.

The Problem of Evil and Suffering

The existence of evil and suffering in the world is a challenge that religion, philosophy, and humanity at large have grappled with for millennia. The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges that “If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist?” (CCC 309).

A Fallen World

The Catholic Church teaches that we live in a fallen world, marred by sin. According to Genesis, the original sin committed by Adam and Eve ushered in a world where evil and suffering exist. “Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile,” the Catechism states (CCC 386).

God’s Omnipotence and Goodness

Many ask why a good and all-powerful God would allow evil. In the face of tragedy, it’s important to remember that God’s omnipotence is not about overpowering or ‘controlling’ human will. The Catechism explains that “God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it” (CCC 311).

Redemptive Suffering

Catholics believe that even in the face of immense suffering, something can be redeemed. The suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrate that good can ultimately triumph over evil. As Paul writes to the Romans, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The Call for Justice

Upholding the Dignity of Human Life

The act of terrorism that took place is a grave sin and an affront to the dignity of human life. The Catechism is clear on this: “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God” (CCC 2258). Every effort must be made to bring the perpetrators to justice, as an affirmation of the sacred value of human life.

Forgiveness and Justice Are Not Mutually Exclusive

It’s crucial to remember that in Catholic teaching, the call for justice is not opposed to the call for forgiveness. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Forgiveness, in the Catholic context, is not the absence of justice, but rather its fulfillment. Justice and peace should be sought after and are necessary for the communal well-being, but they are guided by the moral principles of love and compassion.

Hope and Healing: The Role of the Community and the Church

Solidarity and Support

In the wake of tragedy, solidarity and community support are essential for healing. The Church plays a significant role here, serving as a place of refuge, comfort, and spiritual guidance. “The Church is a ‘communion of saints’: this expression refers first to the ‘holy things,’ above all the Eucharist” (CCC 960). Through the sacraments, prayer, and acts of charity, the Church strives to embody Christ’s love in the world.

Embracing Hope

Though we are faced with inexplicable suffering, the Church teaches us to hold onto hope. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes, “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Love and hope guide us through the darkness, reminding us of God’s everlasting presence.

The Promise of Eternal Life

For those grieving the loss of loved ones, the Church offers the hope of eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). While this does not remove the pain of loss, it provides a glimmer of hope and consolation.


The bombing at a Roman Catholic Cathedral in the Philippines is a grim reminder of the evil and suffering that exist in our fallen world. However, Catholic teaching offers frameworks for understanding suffering, advocating for justice, and fostering hope and community support. While we mourn, let us also remember the words of Paul: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). In this way, we continue to witness to the resurrection hope and the transformative power of God’s love.

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Note: While content aims to align with Catholic teachings, any inconsistencies or errors are unintended. For precise understanding, always refer to authoritative sources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Always double-check any quotes for word-for-word accuracy with the Bible or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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