New Filipino cardinal

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Monday, January 13, 2014

SO Pope Francis has included Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, 74, in the list of 19 members of the clergy around the world that he appointed cardinal?

Pardon my ignorance, but I actually thought that the next cardinal-appointee would be our very own Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma. I based this conjecture on experience. Isn’t it that a priest’s appointment as head of the archdioceses of either Cebu or Manila has traditionally been thought of as the next step towards being elevated to the powerful College of Cardinals?

Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal was archbishop of Lipa when Pope John Paul II appointed him coadjutor archbishop of the Cebu archdiocese in 1981. He became Cebu archbishop the following year succeeding Julio Cardinal Rosales. Three years later he was appointed cardinal.


In 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed then Lipa archbishop Gaudencio Rosales as Manila archbishop to succeed the then retired Jaime Cardinal Sin. In 2006, he was elevated to the College of Cardinals. When Rosales himself retired, he was succeeded by thern Imus, Cavite bishop Luis Antonio Tagle, who became a cardinal the next year.

Palma became Cebu archbishop succeeding the retired Cardinal Vidal in 2010, or months
before Tagle became Manila archbishop. He has not been elevated cardinal yet.

No, this is not a criticism of Quevedo’s elevation as cardinal. I reckon he is a respected prelate even if his name was in the list of the seven so-called “Pajero bishops” who received vehicles from the then maligned administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. That scandal erupted in 2011 after it was exposed in the media.

In fairness to Quevedo, he, or more appropriately his diocese, did not receive a Pajero but a Toyota Grandia. He admitted, in a press statement, that he requested from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in 2008 a vehicle for his archdiocese’s social action program, especially for its community-based health plan.

“We also wanted to use the vehicle for our training team to give seminars for community organizing at the grassroots, capacity building, training of Indigenous peoples’ leaders, as well as to bring sick people to hospitals when necessary,” he said. Translation: it was not for personal use.

PCSO granted the request.

Of couse, it is not etched in stone that whoever is appointed head of either the archdioceses of Cebu or Manila should become a cardinal. But since cardinals are confidants of the Pope, then it follows that the heads of the biggest Catholic Church organizations in the Philippines are viewed for elevation to the post. Then again, Palma may yet become cardinal in the future.

By the way, here’s what the 1983 Code of Canon Law states:

“The Roman Pontiff freely selects men to be promoted as cardinals, who have been ordained at least into the order of the presbyterate (i.e., priest) and are especially outstanding in doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action; those who are not yet bishops must receive episcopal consecration (i.e., consecrated as a bishop).”

Interestingly, Quevedo is archbishop of Cotabato and will be the first cardinal from Mindanao. That says many things about Francis’s papacy, or at least its initial birection.

Note that among the 19 he appointed as cardinal, one is from Haiti and another one is from Burkina Faso. As Rev. Federico Lombardi, spokesman of the Vatican said, the selection reflects the Pope’s attention to the destitute as a core part of the church’s mission.

In a way, the elevation of Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo to the College of Cardinals is justified.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 14, 2014.


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