Benedict’s legacy to PH: ‘Paternal care’ from afar | Inquirer News

Benedict’s legacy to PH: ‘Paternal care’ from afar

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 08:13 PM January 02, 2023

Benedict’s legacy to PH: ‘Paternal care’ from afar

MANILA, Philippines—Benedict XVI served the Church for eight years, but while he made 24 pastoral visits outside Italy in his entire pontificate, he was never able to reach the Philippines, which had been visited by Pope Paul VI in 1970, Pope John Paul II in 1981 and 1995 and Pope Francis following the devastation left by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

However, this was never a hindrance for him, who in 2013 became the second pope to resign in 600 years, to make his presence felt in the Philippines, where over 80 percent of the population—85 million people—are Catholics.


Looking back, one of the most valued moments that he gave the Philippines was the canonization of Pedro Calungsod in 2012—12 years since the second Filipino martyr was declared blessed by John Paul II, who is now himself a saint.


According to Benedict himself on Oct. 21, 2012, Calungsod, the second Filipino to become saint, had a love for Christ that inspired him to train as a catechist with Jesuit missionaries in the Philippines.


GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

While life became hard in Marianas Islands, where Calungsod went to evangelize the Chamorro people, Benedict said the young catechist “displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize […] giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel.”


“May the example and courageous witness of Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God,” said Benedict, who was already 85 years old then.

RELATED STORY: Pope Francis hails ‘beloved’ Benedict as Vatican releases photos of body

His love for the Filipino youth was prominent in the 23rd World Youth Day celebration that was held in Sydney, Australia in 2008, where the Vatican released a Filipino translation of his message to millions of young people all over the world.

Benedict XVI had said: “Never forget that the Church, in fact humanity itself, all the people around you now and those who await you in the future, expect much from you young people, because you have within you the supreme gift of the Father, the Spirit of Jesus.”

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) fight against the Reproductive Health Act of 2012 also received outright commendation from Benedict, who had always been described as “conservative.”

“I commend the Church in the Philippines for seeking to play its part in support of human life from conception until natural death, and in defense of the integrity of marriage and the family,” he told Filipino bishops at the Vatican in 2010.

Filipinos grieving

Benedict’s legacy to the Philippines was so remarkable that on the day that his death at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery was made public, Filipinos immediately went into mourning despite the fact that it was New Year’s Eve.

READ: Former Pope Benedict dies aged 95

Take the case of Cardinal Jose Advincula, who offered prayers for the pope emeritus at Manila Cathedral ahead of celebrating Mass for Mama Mary.

The Christ the King Chapel has been open since for Catholics who may want to say prayers, light candles and write in the Book of Condolences for Benedict, who died on Dec. 31 at 9:34 a.m. in Vatican City.

“Let us honor the memory of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI by learning from his preaching and following his example of Christian life. Let us pray for him that God may welcome him into his Kingdom,” Advincula said.

RELATED STORY: Pope leads New Year’s services with homage to ‘beloved’ Benedict

Likewise, Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David and the CBCP stressed that the pope emeritus “will be especially remembered as a great theologian, catechist, and musician,” saying that he spent his last years in solitude and contemplation, sincerely praying for the Church.

READ: Bongbong Marcos, bishops mourn death of Pope Benedict XVI

“I wish to thank all of you who accompanied him in prayer and offered special Mass intentions for his peaceful passage into eternal life,” said David, president of the CBCP, on Dec. 31, as he described Benedict as the “Pope of Charity.”

Legacy to PH

As narrated by Advincula, “we gratefully remember him for appointing my predecessor, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, as our archbishop [and] he also elevated Tagle and Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales to the College of Cardinals.”

“They were both excellent pastors who served well in our local Church. These pastoral appointments were signs of his paternal solicitude for us. On a personal note, I remember his appointment of me as Archbishop of Capiz in 2011.”

RELATED STORY: ‘A noble person, so kind,’ Pope Francis pays tribute to Benedict XVI

According to archives and data from the CBCP, Benedict, in his eight-year pontificate—April 19, 2005 to Feb. 28, 2013—designated eight archbishops and 22 bishops in the Philippines.



GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

It was on Feb. 23, 2006 when Rosales, who was installed as the 31st archbishop of Manila on Nov. 21, 2003, was appointed by Benedict as a cardinal, the sixth Filipino to be elevated to the position.

Then on Oct. 13, 2011, Benedict appointed Tagle as archbishop of Manila. It was also him who elevated Tagle to the College of Cardinals, which gave Tagle the privilege to vote for a new pope in case the current one dies or resigns.

Benedict’s first bishop appointee in the Philippines was Jose Rojas, who was designated as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Caceres on July 25, 2005. He was later named bishop of the Diocese of Libmanan.

CBCP said Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Ledesma of Cagayan de Oro, was the first Filipino archbishop to be appointed by Benedict. His last appointee was David William Antonio, who was then auxiliary bishop of Nueva Segovia.

It was also him who elevated David, Broderick Pabillo, Gilbert Garcera, Gerardo Alminaza, Joseph Nacua, OFM, Ricardo Baccay, Roberto Mallari, Marlo Peralta, Renato Mayugba, and Jacinto Jose to the episcopate.

PH closely observed

Back in 2010, when Filipino bishops met with Benedict for their Ad Limina visit, the then Pope said “your presence here in Rome strengthens the bonds of communion between the Catholic community in the Philippines and the See of Peter, a communion which stretches back over four centuries to the first offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice upon your shores.”

“As this communion of faith and sacrament has nourished your people for many generations, I pray that it may continue to serve as a leaven in the broader culture, so that current and future generations of Filipinos will continue to encounter the joyful message of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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GRAPHIC: Ed Lustan

Benedict likewise noted the “special interest [of the Church in the Philippines] in devoting herself more fully to care for the poor.”

“It is heartening to see that this undertaking has borne fruit, with Catholic charitable institutions actively engaged throughout the country. Many of your fellow citizens, however, remain without employment, adequate education or basic services, and so your prophetic statements and your charitable action on behalf of the poor continue to be greatly appreciated.”

“In addition to this effort, you are rightly concerned that there be an on-going commitment to the struggle against corruption, since the growth of a just and sustainable economy will only come about when there is a clear and consistent application of the rule of law throughout the land.”

RELATED STORY: Pope Francis to lead unique funeral for ex-pope Benedict

TAGS: Benedict XVI, CBCP, INQFocus, Vatican

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