Pedro Calungsod seen to spark holiness, faith revivalBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines — It may take decades for the Philippines to produce another saint. but some Filipino Catholic bishops are hopeful that the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod would spark an awareness of the call to holiness and “the age of saints” in the country.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz said on Sunday Calungsod’s canonization, marked by an elaborate ceremony in Rome along with six other “Blesseds” from other countries, would not make the path to sainthood easier for other Filipino candidates.
The key to Calungsod’s sainthood, after 30 years in the making, was his martyrdom for the Catholic faith, said Cruz, a canon law expert.
“Calungsod, like San Lorenzo Ruiz, had a very big advantage because of his martyrdom,” said Cruz in an interview Sunday as far as the Church is concerned.”
The 17th-century Filipino martyr was born in the Visayas in 1654. He was persecuted and eventually murdered for his missionary work in Guam. He died a martyr at the age of 17.
Calungsod became the second Filipino to be canonized after San Lorenzo Ruiz, who was killed in Japan in 1673 while also doing missionary work. Ruiz was declared a saint in 1987.
“There’s nothing more precious than faith and life. So, if you give up your life for your faith, the Church counts that very much [in] your favor,” Cruz said.
But the retired archbishop said ordinary Filipinos could become saints in their own simple ways by leading a good life and observing the Christian faith.
“Those whose life is not known and whatever they did in life was not recorded can also be considered saints,” Cruz said. “Understand that anybody who has led a good life and has observed his Christian faith, when she or he passes away, they also become a saint,” he added.
Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Mercedes Arrastia-Tuason said Calungsod’s canonization would create a “multiplier effect” not only in Rome but also in the Philippines.
Quoted by CBCPNews, the official news service of the Philippine Church hierarchy, Tuason said “it should follow that Catholicism in the Philippines, especially the laity, would receive a great encouragement” from such a significant event.
George Cardinal Pell of Sydney, Australia, who spoke at a press briefing in Rome, was also quoted by the CBCPNews as saying that canonizations in general helped in advancing “faith-building” and “faith-sharing,” with “the hope that the saints being canonized would inspire and encourage local people to follow [in their] footsteps.”
Basilan Bishop Martin Jumoad said following Calungsod’s canonization, it would take “a very long time” for the Vatican to declare another Filipino saint.
The prelate noted that Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal started to work on the beatification of Calungsod in the 1980s. Pope John Paul II beatified Calungsod in 2000.
“After 30 years of laborious follow up, we now have St. Pedro Calungsod,” Jumoad told reporters.
Some of these religious figures being pushed for sainthood by some members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines include former Lucena Bishop Alfredo Obviar, who was declared as a “Servant of God” in 2001; and Cecilia and Dionisia Talangpaz, founders of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters.
The Talangpaz sisters were also given the titles of “Servants of God” after the causes of their beautification were opened in September 1999, according to Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros.
The Church hierarchy is also pushing for the beatification of Venerable Mother Ignacia Del Espiritu Santo, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.
Oliveros said on Sunday he hoped that Calungsod’s sainthood would push forward the causes of these other Filipino candidates, which have already been forwarded to the Vatican Congregation on the Cause of Saints.
“We hope and pray that this will be the unfolding of the awareness of the call to holiness and the age of saints for our country,” he said.
Proclaiming one a saint is no easy task for the Church, according to Cruz. “It will make us proud if we have another saint, but it doesn’t mean that we just produce saints left and right,” he said. “The Church is also careful in identifying who should be declared a saint or not.”