MANILA, Jan. 14, 2015— For the first time in recent memory, the plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) will be held in Cebu, considered the “cradle of Christianity” in the Philippines.
During the course of the three-day sessions next week, the bishops will be addressing a host of social issues, apart from internal and church matters.
CBCP Secretary General Fr. Marvin Mejia, however, did not elaborate the “social concerns” the plenary is going to tackle.
The upcoming general elections in May could also be raised during the meeting because it is among the most pressing issues at present.
This will be first time that the plenary assembly, the Church’s highest governing body, will be held outside Luzon since the CBCP was established in 1945.
Originally formed “to meet the war emergency,” the bishops’ collegial body was first known as the Catholic Welfare Organization (CWO) with the late Archbishop Gabriel Reyes of Cebu as its first chairman.
It was only in 1968 when the CWO became the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to coordinate more closely the Church apostolate in the country.
In the past, plenary assemblies were held in the cites of Baguio and Tagaytay until 2002 when the bishops opted to hold their biannual meeting—in January and July— in Manila.
This month’s meeting will start with a 10am Mass to be presided by Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Guiseppe Pinto, at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on January 22.
The meeting is expected to end at noontime of Jan. 24 before the opening of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC), also in Cebu.
The CBCP has 131 members, 37 of them retired, invited to attend the meeting that will be presided by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, who is now in his second and last term as president.
The CBCP usually issue a collective statement on pastoral and social issues after their plenary assembly. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)