MANILA, Jan. 13, 2014— Jubilant Filipinos, especially from Mindanao, celebrate the surprise announcement that one of their own – Archbishop Orlando Quevedo – was among Pope Francis’ cardinals, and many hoped he’d bring more change in the poor region.
The Catholic hierarchy lauded Quevedo’s elevation to the College of Cardinals and people throughout the country flood the social media with comments of jubilation.
Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that the Church in the Philippines and Asia “has been greatly blessed these past decades by the service and leadership” of Quevedo.
“Now this blessing extends to the whole Church,” Tagle said. “I thank Pope Francis for associating Archbishop Quevedo and the church in Mindanao to his Petrine ministry and solicitude for all the churches.”
“I am extremely happy to have him as a confrere in the College of Cardinals where our collaboration and friendship nurtured these past 30 years will continue on another level,” he said.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is also elated over Quevedo’s elevation as cardinal.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said the cardinal-elect is known in the conference “for his mental clarity and intellectual brilliance”.
“He is an intellectual giant with a very simple lifestyle and very warm fraternal manners. He is a blessing for the Church,” he said.
According to him, Quevedo is also an archbishop who is truly passionate for the formation of basic ecclesial communities.
He added that as member of the College of Cardinals, Quevedo will be able to assist the Pope in reaching out to the marginalized in Mindanao.
“A Cardinal from Mindanao is a papal tribute to the strength of the Catholic faith in that region of our country. It is a proof that the Catholic faith in Mindanao is now bearing rich fruits; Cardinal Quevedo is its living testimony,” said Villegas.
Quevedo is a former CBCP president and served for several years as secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
Mindanao’s first cardinal
At 74, Quevedo is the first cardinal from the south, a land that has been home to conflict since 1960s when the Muslim minority launched an armed struggle for their ancestral homeland.
Pope Francis yesterday announced his first appointee as cardinals since taking office last year. Quevedo is the eighth cardinal from the Philippines.
Sixteen, including Quevedo, of the 19 appointees are under 80, meaning that they are to become “cardinal electors” if the pontiff pass away or opt to resign, as his predecessor did.
The distribution of electors is well spread among different continents: two from Europe, three from North and Central America, three from South America, two from Africa, and two from Asia.
Observers said that the choice of cardinals from developing nations of Haiti and Burkina Faso shows concern for people struck by poverty.
Two prelates were also chosen from places not traditionally considered Cardinalatial Sees like Cotabato and Perugia in Italy.
Quevedo’s appointment broke the tradition that only those assigned in the archdioceses of Manila and Cebu would become cardinal.
Retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan clarified that cardinals don’t represent regions.
“They are not regional in scope,” he said. “It’s not in canon law and it’s neither a practice that a cardinal will cover a regional proportion of the country. There’s nothing like that.”
Cruz also hinted that the Pope would not accept Quevedo’s resignation yet once he reached 75, the mandatory retirement age for bishops, in March.
But even if the cardinal-elect retire as Cotabato archbishop, he could still function as cardinal until he reached the age of 80 in which he can no longer vote for a new pope.
Cruz added that Quevedo’s nomination for cardinalate is long overdue.
“Archbishop Quevedo is well-known for his intelligence as well as being visionary minded. Therefore, nomination for cardinalate is long expected,” he said. (CBCPNews)