Catholic leaders in Cebu express hope

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Sunday, April 27, 2014


CEBU - The pope who made retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Vidal a cardinal is now a saint. So is the pope after whom a prestigious seminary in Mabolo, Cebu City was named.

In honor of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, Cardinal Vidal celebrated Sunday morning a thanksgiving mass at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

Vidal and other Catholic Church leaders in Cebu believe the double canonization may strengthen the faith of their flock. But Cardinal Vidal also lamented that had he been around for it, St. John Paul II would have been dismayed by the approval of the Reproductive Health Law.

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In a separate interview, Monsignor Esteban Binghay said that the canonization gives Catholics new models of how the faith should be practiced.

Binghay, one of the Cebu Archdiocese’s episcopal vicars, said that while younger Catholics are more familiar with St. John Paul II, who served a quarter-century as pope, St. John XXIII had also left a lasting legacy of updating a very traditional Church.

Non-Catholics, he said, may also see in St. John Paul II a “model of righteousness”, considering the well-travelled pope’s calls to ease the suffering caused by conflicts in various parts of the world.

“Like (Mahatma) Gandhi, Pope John Paul II will receive the same distinction because of his works of promoting peace around the world,” Binghay said.

While St. John XXIII’s papacy was short, the pope is remembered for introducing reforms such as the Second Vatican Council, he added.

Through Vatican II, the Catholic Church tried to free itself from some traditions, such as by allowing the Mass to be celebrated in local languages.

“He (St. John XXIII) left the past in order to face the future,” Binghay said.

In a separate interview, Fr. Jan Thomas Limchua said the canonization was “a festival of faith.” Limchua, who was in Rome to witness the canonization rites, told Sun.Star Cebu he saw a lot of young and old people singing, praying and sharing, while Pope Francis declared the sainthood of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII.

“The canonization reminds us of how universal our faith is, it penetrates the heart of every believer, opening in them the desire to be saints,” Limchua said.

He also added that the canonization should remind every Christian that everyone is called to a life of holiness, and that saints like John Paul II and John XXIII not only serve as intercessors in heaven, but also as models of saintly lives on earth.

Even as he celebrated the canonizations, Cardinal Vidal again expressed dismay at the passage of the Reproductive Health Law.

“If we were saddened by what happened, the more he would have been. Now that it has been declared constitutional, it will open up the way to other controversial bills,” Cardinal Vidal said. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court has declared most of the provisions in the RH Law as constitutional.

During his reign as Pope, John Paul II (previously named Karol Josef Wojtyla) was known for his views against contraception, abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment. Both he and his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, also shared conservative views on the sanctity of life.

As pope, John Paul II was also instrumental in elevating Vidal as a cardinal back in 1985.

The cardinal recalled that when he was appointed by the late pope as archbishop coadjutor of Cebu in 1981, he initially wanted to decline because he was not familiar with the Cebuano culture. Vidal hails from Mogpog in Marinduque.

But it was John Paul II who urged him to come to Cebu and serve here. Since then, Cardinal Vidal has served and lived in Cebu, even after his retirement in 2011. (Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 28, 2014.

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