IS threats give Philippine bishops the jitters

(UCAN) Worried Philippine Catholic bishops on Friday called on the government to provide comprehensive security to ensure the safety of Pope Francis when he visits the country in January next year.

The bishops’ call comes amid reports that supporters of the group Islamic State (IS) are threatening to assassinate the pontiff during an overseas visit.

Habeeb Al Sadr, Iraq’s ambassador to the Vatican, last week warned that IS is planning to kill the pope during one of his overseas trips.

“What has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear — they want to kill the pope. The threats against the pope are credible,” Al Sadr was quoted by the Italian newspaper La Nazione as saying.

“This [report] should not be taken lightly. It’s extremely alarming,” Bishop Martin Jumoad of Basilan said in a Philippine bishops’ conference statement issued on Friday.

Its essential that precautionary measures for the safety of Pope Francis are implemented the bishops said.

President Benigno Aquino announced during a trip to the United Nations General Assembly this week that Philippine security forces will “double their efforts” to protect the pope. [More]