Cardinal-elect Orlando Quevedo, the archbishop of Cotabato, is distinguished by his involvement in peace building in Mindanao, a land plagued by decades-long insurgency that killed tens of thousands.
“I prayed that I can contribute to the good of the people here in Mindanao and to the peace and dialogue being undertaken by the people of various faith in Mindanao specially with the Bangsamoro,” Quevedo said over Catholic Church-run Radio Veritas.
Among the bishops, the cardinal-designate is one of the most exposed to the Bangsamoro peace process.
Isabela de Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad strongly believes that Quevedo can help strengthen the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“His voice can really guide the framers of the agreement, which would be acceptable to Muslims, Lumads and Christians,” Jumoad said.
Quevedo was the president of the Catholic bishops’ leadership when at least two major armed conflicts between the military and MILF occurred – in 2000 and 2003.
The Cotabato archbishop is the eighth cardinal from the Philippines, Asia’s largest predominantly Catholic nation.
However, the problem of corruption has remained so pervasive in a country where Catholicism is a dominant force— another challenge that Quevedo wished to address.
“I prayed that I can also contribute in promoting the formation of righteous political leaders in our country,” he said.
Quevedo said that the announcement that he had been named as cardinal came a ‘complete surprise’ to him.
According to him, he could not believe the news until Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, sent him message that he was elevated to the College of Cardinals.
“And I still did not believe it because I was not thinking all about it. God’s gift has always a surprise and makes one humble before God,” he said.
Pope Francis had made the formal announcement of the appointment of 19 new cardinals from different continents last Sunday at the Vatican.
Church of the poor
Quevedo is also praying that he will be able to help the pontiff’s vision for a “humble Church of the poor.”
“I pray that I can contribute a little to that vision of Church of the poor in the Philippines,” he said.
“I thank the Holy Father for recognizing the people in Mindanao specially the places where there are great problems of peace and to recognize also the poor people of the Philippines,” he added.
The consistory to create new cardinals will be held at the Vatican on February 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. (CBCPNews)