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Saturday, February 9, 2013


UNTIL Friday, we saw this Cebu “templete” plus church only on TV and newspaper photos. Creaking joints and grey hair didn’t permit us to join a million people who gave thanks there for 17-year old Pedro Calungsod’s canonization.

Martyred in Guam in April 1672, this joven bisayo, as 17th-century documents say, joined San Lorenzo Ruiz of Binondo. Does, a February request of Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines president Jose Palma hint who may be next?

Please oversee the beatification process for Cebu’s Bishop Teofilo Camomot and Bishop Alfredo Obviar of Lucena, Palma asked retired Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.

In March 2001, Vatican gave, the green light to begin beatification studies for Obviar. He handled ordinary duties, specially catechizing of children, with exemplary fidelity. He died in 1978, age 89.

A commission, led by Bishop Antonio Rañola, will submit, end of 2013, its report on Camomot to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Did Camomot-–who was bishop of Jaro (1955) and Cagayan de Oro (1958) bilocate as did Capuchin monk Padre Pio of Pietrelcina?

“Monsignor, you have to vote,” Vidal remembers telling Camomot at a Sept 27, 1985 meeting in Cebu City. But there is evidence Camomot, at the time, anointed a gravely-ill man in barangay Bolinawan, 40 kilometers away. "How is that possible?" his secretary asked. The bishop laughed: “Keep that to yourself.”

Camomot would hock his bishop’s ring or cross to help the hard up. “Msgr. Lolong’s ring is here again, pawnshops would call,” recalls a friend. All Camomot had was P20 when he was held up in Bukidnon. He had given his money to poor priests. He called back the frustrated gunmen and gave them his ring. A Cagayan de Oro pawnshop returned it.

Camomot died in a 1988 car accident. When his body was exhumed in 2009, it was intact. Nuns hurriedly procured a new coffin.

“Cardinal Vidal identified the remains,” Sun.Star Cebu reported. “And the grave was then resealed.”

How long does inquiry to canonization take? For Lorenzo Ruiz, 350 years and for Pedro Calungsod 342 years.

Two Filipinas are in the queue. Isabel Larrañaga Ramirez founded the Sisters of Charity of the Sacred Heart in early 17th century.

John Paul II named her “venerable” in 1999. Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo set up the Religious of Virgin Mary congregation in 1684. Benedict XVI named her “venerable” in 2007.

Add to that Spanish Augustinian nun Mo. Consuelo Barcelo, who formed an indigenous Filipino congregation, writes Jeremiah Opiniano of The Filipino Connection. Members of this Filipino Augustinian congregation serve in La Consolacion schools and clinics, plus missions for overseas Filipinos in eight countries. Did the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognize “the heroic virtues” of Barcelo?

Cynical power, in this country, is reflected in Imelda Marcos’s 1,060 pairs of shoes. She wails about getting back “my Roumeliotes gems” confiscated by government. A 37-carat diamond, crafted by Bulgari, is centerpiece. “They are mine.”

Ruiz, Calungsod, Mother Ignacia, Ramirez, Obviar, Barcelo had nothing of that sort. All Camomot had in his room, on his death, was an old razor plus half a tube of toothpaste. He had given away his other pair of shoes.

Richard Rich swapped appointment as an official of Wales for perjured testimony to secure execution of his teacher, now known as St. Thomas More. “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world,” More said. “But for Wales?”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 10, 2013.

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