On 68th birthday, Cebu archbishop wishes for drug killings to end
CEBU CITY — Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma had two wishes as he turned 68 on Monday – peace and end to the spate of killings in the country.
“Deep in our hearts is a prayer for peace,” he said in an interview after he presided over the Mass at the chapel fo the Archbishop’s Residence.
The prelate stressed his alarm over the series of killings, saying that people have to reminded about the sanctity of human life.
“It’s always sad to hear about the series of killings,” Palma said. “The Church has always been very critical of all types of killings which is not in accordance to God’s plan.”
“It is our prayer that we respect life. Any form of killing is certainly a source of sadness and sorrow,” he added.
Palma celebrated the 10 a.m. Mass on the occasion of his birthday, which falls on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of Mary and patron of the universal Church.
Concelebrating with him were Auxiliary Bishop-Emeritus Antonio Rañola, Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus of Korea Archbishop Osvaldo Padilla, and some priests and lay faithful.
Palma, who is on his eight year as archbishop of Cebu, was greeted by well-wishers that included Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, Councilor Margot Osmeña, former Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, SM Prime Holdings Inc. Vice President Marissa Fernan, Lt. Gen. Paul Atal, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Central Command.
There also other military personnel who attended.
Also present were Palma’s family and relatives from Iloilo and members of the different lay movements in the Archdiocese of Cebu.
In a speech he delivered after a simple lunch at the Filipiana Hall at the Archbishop’s Residence, Palma thanked Cebuanos who, he said, had been very cooperative and supportive especially in the different events of the Church.
“Even before I came, I knew you would all be part of my journey. As we journey further, I ask you to continue the same love and mission for the sake of Cebu,” Palma said.
Since he would not be able to return to his native town of Dingle in Iloilo following the appointment of new archbishop of Jaro, Palma said he was “happily stranded in Cebu” and might be serving in Cebu until his retirement.
Palma was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the archbishop of Cebu in 2010 to replace Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal whose retirement was approved by the Vatican.
Palma assumed as archbishop of Cebu on Jan. 13, 2011.
He became the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines before choosing to forego a reelection so he could focus on the preparations for the International Eucharistic Congress that was held in Cebu City in January 2016.
Palma is currently processing the possible beatification of the late Archbishop Toefilo Camomot, a native of Carcar City, south Cebu, who was known for his extreme generosity and love for the poor.
Cebu, he said, is also preparing for the 500th anniversary of the introduction of Christianity in the Philippines to be held in 2021. /atm