THREE cardinals and 20 bishops confirmed that they will be attending the burial of the late Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal on Thursday, church officials said.
With the recent declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte that Oct. 26 will be a holiday, the Cebu City government will deploy additional personnel to anticipate the sudden influx of people who will be attending the burial rites.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, Cebu Archdiocesan spokesperson, told reporters in a press conference yesterday that Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, his predecessor, Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo have confirmed their attendance.
Members of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines led by newly elected president, Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles will also attend. Aside from high-ranking church officials, low-level clergymen from the dioceses of Lucena, Lipa, Malolos and Marinduque will also attend.
Since newly appointed Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia is out of the country, his secretary Msgr. Gabriel Viola will read his message.
With more clergymen attending and with members of Vidal’s household present during the burial ceremonies, church officials decided to reserve the two middle rows of pews at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral for churchgoers. Pews located at the side will be available for churchgoers on a “first come, first serve” basis.
The cathedral’s inner balconies will be open for public viewing, Tan said.
Due to the possibility that more people might attend the burial rites, the archdiocese plans to install TV screens outside the cathedral for those who cannot find seats inside.
Fr. Mhar Vincent Balili, one of those in charge of the liturgical aspect of the burial, urged those who will be attending the mass to remain in the cathedral until the end of the burial rites to avoid disruption.
Meanwhile, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, in a press statement, thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for heeding the call of Cebuanos to declare Oct. 26 a holiday in the province and in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.
“In declaring the (non-working) holiday, the President has given the Cebuanos the opportunity to pay homage to the late cardinal for his immeasurable contributions to the Archdiocese of Cebu and the nation as a whole,” Dino said.
Duterte visited Vidal’s wake at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral past midnight Monday.
Speaking before Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, church officials and Vidal’s relatives, Duterte said he was saddened by the late prelate’s death.
“Ang atong Eminence nga si Cardinal Vidal was a person of peace. Ang iyang language has always something of mura ga spread og gugma pirme. Dili mangasaba, dili tanan (His Eminence was a person of peace. It always seemed that he was spreading the language of love),” Duterte added.
Duterte last saw Vidal last year when the late prelate visited him in Malacañang, which coincided with the President’s tiff with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Vidal initially described Duterte as “simple, approachable and relaxed.”
In a related development, Nagiel Banacia, head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, told reporters that road closures will be implemented, particularly on Osmeña Blvd. and Plaridel St.
Banacia advised those going to the cathedral to witness the burial rites not to bring their cars.
The archdiocese will provide buses for those who plan to commute to the cathedral.
The City will also provide limited parking slots near City Hall and at the Compania Maritima, Banacia said.