HAGATNA, GUAM: The Catholic faithful in Guam led prayers for peace Sunday in the shadow of North Korean missile threat, with the western Pacific islandвЂ™s archbishop appealing for вЂњprudenceвЂќ amid an escalating war of words between the US and Pyongyang.
The largely Catholic territory should pray for a вЂњjust resolution of differences, and prudence in both speech and action,вЂќ said Archbishop Michael Byrnes, echoing a flurry of international calls for US President Donald Trump to show greater rhetorical restraint.
A вЂњprayers for peaceвЂќ lunchtime rally in the capital Hagatna drew around 100 people. But despite Guam having become the center of a threatened showdown between the US and nuclear-armed North Korea, many said they were unfazed.
вЂњI am really not scared because if itвЂ™s our time to die it is our time to die,вЂќ added Sita Manjaras, 62, a retired teacher from Tamuning.
Father Mike Crisostomo said their response to the threat was to have faith and pray.
вЂњThis goes to show to the other worlds, to the other nations and the countries, that Guam maybe small, our faith and our trust is big,вЂќ he said.
Dora Salazar, 82, who made the 14 kilometer (nine mile) journey from the village of Mangilao for the peace rally, said she was praying for the NorthвЂ™s leader Kim Jong-Un.
вЂњWe pray that God will touch his heart,вЂќ she said.
In response to TrumpвЂ™s threat of вЂњfire and fury,вЂќ North Korea has pledged to have plans ready in a matter of days to launch an вЂњenveloping fireвЂќ of missiles toward Guam.
At the islandвЂ™s main church, the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica, Father Paul Gofigan told the congregation to be prepared in case North Korea does launch its missiles.
вЂњWhat would you do if you have only 14 minutes left? The thing to do is pray and reflect,вЂќ he said
вЂњPrioritise your life. This is a wake-up call, no matter what happens.вЂќ
Trump has been engaged all week in verbal sparring with the North over its weapons and missile programs, declaring Friday that the US military is вЂњlocked and loaded.вЂќ
He has told Guam Governor Eddie Calvo that US military was prepared to вЂњensure the safety and security of the people of Guam.вЂќ
While 85 percent of GuamвЂ™s 162,000 residents are Catholic, with temperatures hovering around 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit) many locals and tourists preferred to head to the beach rather than church.
вЂњNo one feels threatened. Should we? Definitely not,вЂќ said Australian tourist Kirstie Bridgement.
вЂњGuam is the most protected island. We feel safer than ever.вЂќ
The island houses two large US military bases and is home to more than 6,000 US military personnel.
American tourist Bryan Sanchez said it was difficult to understand the threat вЂњespecially with the way culture is like with memes, anything is going to be turned into a joke.
вЂњPeople just arenвЂ™t, I guess, as aggressive or too worried about that kind of stuff in our day and age.вЂќ
Meanwhile, two community groups opposed to the presence of the US military in Guam, Independent Guahan and Prutehi Litekyan, have organized a вЂњPeople for PeaceвЂќ rally in Hagatna on Monday.
вЂњWhatвЂ™s happening in Guam is a global issue, because if our island is attacked, it could be the catalyst for a global catastrophe,вЂќ Kenneth Gofigan Kuper of the Independent Guahan movement said.
The rally organizers said in a statement that вЂњGuam has been forced in the middle of other nationsвЂ™ conflicts, particularly as an unincorporated territory of the United States.
вЂњAs a result, many of GuamвЂ™s people know the painful and horrific effects of war as World II survivors and as veterans.
вЂњThus, the members of Independent Guahan and Prutehi Litekyan, both organizations dedicated to the decolonization and demilitarization of Guam, feel it is imperative for the community to stand together in a call for peace.вЂќ