Calungsod existed and he was a Bisaya, says Vidal-A A +A
Thursday, March 29, 2012
1. You have been the spirit and energy in the beatification and, soon, the canonization of Pedro Calungsod. You must be overjoyed by the success of your efforts in producing the country’s second saint, 25 years after Lorenzo Ruiz was elevated to sainthood. Is it true it was by chance that you started the work for Pedro Calungsod’s beatification?
It was by accident that I came to know about Calungsod. I was at the World Synod of Bishops in Rome when Guam Archbishop (Felixberto) Flores told me that if I’d attend the beatification of his candidate he’d give me a note on my own candidate. His candidate was Diego Luis de Sanvitores, the Jesuit priest who was executed with Calungsod, Fr. Sanvitores’s “sacristan” in Guam in 1672. After the mass in Rome, Archbishop Flores gave me a pamphlet about Calungsod, my “candidate.”
Back here, I asked a Jesuit, Fr. Juan Ledesma, who did the research on Calungsod’s companion, “Can you help me research on the boy?” We visited several places, especially in Spain, to check Jesuits’ archives. He later wrote a thesis of sorts, which I brought to the Holy See. They allowed me to proceed with the study, which a commission or committee did. The result I submitted to the Holy See. The process took about four years, from 1996 to 2000.
2.There has been some public discussion over the origin of San Pedro. Why has he been considered “de Cebu,” of or from Cebu? Is the issue, raised principally by broadcaster Bobby Nalzaro, about his birthplace still relevant to Calungsod’s being a saint?
Admittedly, there’s no document that says where Calungsod was born, only when: 1655, in the 17th century. What we can be sure about is that he was a Bisaya and he worked with the diocese of Cebu, which then comprised the whole Visayas and Mindanao up to Marianas Island, including Guam where he and the Jesuit priest were killed. Before he was declared a “beato,” nobody claimed about his origin. They now say Iloilo, Borongan, in Mindanao, Bohol but only after his beatification.
But at least we know he existed and he was a Bisaya.
3. Some theologians believe devotees should pray “with” a saint or saints, not “to” a saint or saints. Do you agree with that? How does devotion to a saint like Pedro Calungsod benefit the Catholic Church’s flock spiritually?
When you say you “pray to,” it’s as if you’re worshipping. When you say “pray with,” you ask God’s help. The saint’s intercession gets you to Him. Just like when you wish to raise a problem to the president, you ask someone influential and close to him to help.
4. How does Calungsod’s becoming a saint benefit the Archdiocese of Cebu and its faithful? Tell us plans for the celebration: in Rome where he will be canonized and in Cebu.
Yes we benefit, the universal Church and the laity. Calungsod is now in the catalogue of saints. That means the Church is now offering to the faithful somebody who can be an example of holiness, courage, and love in defending the faith, an example that even a young man like him could give.
The Oct. 21 canonization will be in Rome but the thanksgiving in Cebu will be no less significant. There are commissions working on the preparations. The Cebu celebration, probably at SRP (South Road Properties) will be a national event, to which President Aquino has been invited.
We’re encouraging people to go to Rome. Aside from the “plete,” I know everthing is expensive there and nothing’s free, not even the mass pamphlets and use of the chairs.
Those who can’t go will still share the joy of the occasion at SRP. The beatification cost us P16 million but the estimate for the canonization activities in Rome and Cebu is $1 million.
5. Archbishop Teofilo Camomot (1914-1988) has reportedly been recommended by the Archdiocese of Cebu for beatification. Would we expect another 25 years before the “servant of God” from Carcar, Cebu could become a “beato,” maybe even a saint?
I took to Rome a pamphlet on the life and ministry of Archbishop Camomot and submitted it to the head of Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
There’s a process. It can take time but you know what? On Calungsod, I returned from a mission-appeal trip to the U.S., then they just told me to proceed, without waiting for the paper work. Maybe, it won’t take so many years anymore for one to be a “beato” and saint. Two “beatos” or even two saints for us in my lifetime? God has given me the task to do these things.
6. How have you spent, other than what we read in the papers, your retirement? It seems to me, you’ve been as active as when you were archbishop.
People come to me, morning and afternoon, and they talk about problems. I tell them never to tell me about administrative matters. I am already jobless. They come to me to ask for help, okay lang, but not about how to run the Archdiocese, “baka sabihin ng mga tao na over-staying na ako.”
7. What do you think are the most pressing problems of the Archdiocese today? How would you rank spiritual poverty of church members?
A radical thing to do is to look into the spiritual formation of would-be priests. If the priest is good, then the people (in his parish) will behave. The priest can help his flock cope with domestic violence. In Cebu, why do we have this kind of killings: with fathers, sons, mothers as murderers or victims? Maybe the priest is not reaching out to those in need of help and guidance. As to other problems, I don’t involve myself in government.
Village street named after a bird, not in Vidal’s honor
On Cardinal St. in Sto. Niño Village where his retirement house is located:
It’s named after a cardinal (a bird, bright red, with a red bill). “The street name was already there before I moved in.”
Will Cebu have a new cardinal?
Usually a diocese run by an archbishop has a cardinal as head. But as to how soon, “it depends on the Holy Father.”
What he has missed most as archbishop
“Meeting people” but he refrains from drawing the attention from Archbishop Jose Palma. “People should know him, not me anymore.”
A Cebuano, he sees himself
“I’ve been in Cebu for 30 years. You interviewed me shortly after I arrived (at the Metropolitan Cathedral convent while waiting for the succession). I’m grateful to the Cebuanos for having accepted me, a Tagalog who didn’t know Cebuano-Bisaya. Now I consider myself a Cebuano.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 29, 2012.