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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Tell it to SunStar: Like the fall of a giant tree

(These are excerpts from a testimony delivered by Cebu City north district Rep. Raul del Mar during the wake for Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral on Oct. 23, 2017)

A FUNERAL eulogy, a writer once said, is a belated plea for the defense delivered after all the evidence is in. Whoever wrote that must be a lawyer who had just lost a big case. That cannot be said about His Eminence Cardinal Ricardo Vidal.

The evidence submitted speaks exceedingly well of his work and his piety in the service of God. Besides, he himself would not wish anyone arguing for him when he was made to account before the Lord. Pray for him, yes, he would accept that. and as quickly as he would say, without being asked, to a member of his flock, “I’ll pray for you. He deeply believed in prayer as currency.

Many people talk about his humility. I was witness to that. Yes, as someone who admired him from afar, being a member of the Catholic Church, and up close, in the church social initiatives where I was given the chance to help in his work.

He was not self-absorbed. He knew, or tried to know and understand, “why people are hurting.” And he didn’t look around for the person or persons to find fault with or pin the blame on. He would even take “responsibility for his part in the grief.”

That was why he succeeded many times at mediating in conflict and brokering peace: a coup stand-off, a labor dispute, or a political verbal brawl. It was his humility--and his empathy with those who fight for their respective causes--that calmed their anger and opened the arena of battle to reason.

And Cardinal Vidal was known for his sense of humor.

The story is told of someone defending him against a comment in a public forum, which criticized him in a boorish manner. Why was it rude, the cardinal asked. “He called you Ricardo, no ‘archbishop’ no ‘cardinal’ before your name.” The cardinal said, “But I am Ricardo, I call myself Ricardo, that’s my Christian name--although I wouldn’t mind being called ‘San Ricardo.’”

The story is probably apocryphal but it tells he could poke fun at himself.

However others call him, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal was a gift to Cebu and the Cebuanos. And what a wonderful, heartwarming and fulsome gift. For 35 years, or more than three decades, he was with us, serving Cebu as our spiritual leader and moral compass.

In my first reaction to the news of his death, I said his fall was like that of a giant tree. The sound is thunderous. the huge shelter is gone. Only the aching void remains.
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