Bishops in show of force at cathedral rite
Several bishops joined Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle in celebrating Mass at Manila Cathedral on Monday, in an apparent show of force after President Rodrigo Duterte urged Filipinos to kill “useless” prelates who criticize his brutal war on drugs.
The bishops, led by Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), concelebrated Mass with Tagle for the dedication of the altar of Manila Cathedral, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its restoration after its destruction during World War II.
During the Mass, Fr. Reginald Malicdem, Manila Cathedral rector, urged the congregation of about 2,000 to show their support for the prelates.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed,” Malicdem said quoting 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.
“Let us show our love and support for our bishops with a loud and sustained round of applause,” Malicdem added, and the congregation applauded.
The President has been badmouthing the Catholic clergy since he took office in 2016.
In a speech in Malacañang last week, he said the people should kill the bishops, whom he called “useless” because all they did was criticize him.
Also present during the Mass were Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, one of the President’s most vocal critics, and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, a former president of the CBCP.
Bishops from the dioceses of Baguio, Pampanga, Lucena, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato and Zamboanga also attended the Mass.
“Their presence tonight only shows that the Manila Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Philippines,” Malicdem said.
Some of the bishops have expressed dismay over the approval by the House of Representatives of a resolution for the amendment of the 1987 Constitution.
“There are provisions that are self-serving like the abolition of terms for Congress,” Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said in a statement.
A statement from the Archdiocese of Manila said the dedication of the altar of Manila Cathedral according to the Rites of the Second Vatican Council was “a great time for many of us to come together in our Mother Church, as we dedicate the table where, as one people of God, we offer our sacrifices and our prayers.”
A highlight of the celebration was the veneration at the altars of the eight side chapels of the cathedral, which were all consecrated in 1958 by bishops.
“It is interesting to note that two Filipino prelates who are on their way to sainthood were present during the consecration rites in 1958—Archbishop Teofilo Camomot and Bishop Alfredo Ma. Obviar who consecrated the altars of the Pius X Chapel and the Our Lady of the Pillar Chapel, respectively,” the archdiocese said.
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