Catholics to mark 500th year of Christianization sans Duterte
TACLOBAN CITY—“We are praying for him.”
This was the response of the spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte to the pronouncements of President Duterte that he would not support the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Christianization of the Philippines in 2021.
Fr. Chris Arthur Militante downplayed the pronouncements, saying the Church still believed that the President was one of them.
“We have heard several statements of President Duterte, not only against the Church but also against other sectors as well. But in the end, we still believe that he supports the Church and he has the faith and believes in God,” Militante said.
The main venue for the celebration has yet to be decided by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Limasawa or Cebu?
Militante said the CBCP was choosing either Limasawa in Southern Leyte where the first Mass was held or Cebu where Rajah Humabon, his wife, and the natives became the first converts to Catholicism in the Philippines.
Mr. Duterte earlier said he did not see any reason to support the celebration of the introduction of Christianity in the country, noting that it also marked the arrival of the Spaniards who conquered the country for three centuries.
But with or without the support of the President, the Catholic Church will mark the “big event” in 2021, Militante said.
“We should celebrate it because it’s a way of our thanksgiving. That is the deeper meaning of our celebration. It’s a way of thanking the Lord,” he said.
He said that the Diocese of Maasin, where Limasawa belongs, has been busy preparing for the celebration.
P200 M allocated
Earlier, Southern Leyte Gov. Damian Mercado said P200 million had been allocated for the historical event. Of the amount, P30 million would come from the provincial government while the rest would be given by the Department of Tourism.
The amount would be used for the construction of a 30-foot cross overlooking Limasawa Island where a shrine and a new port would also be built.
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