Cardinal Vidal hopes for harmony and understanding between the Church and Duterte
CEBU CITY–Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal has a birthday wish as he turned 86 on Monday: peace between the Catholic Church hierarchy and President Duterte.
“There should be understanding between the government and the Church. If there is no harmony, when will peace come?” said Vidal in an interview with reporters in his house in Sto. Niño Village, Barangay Banilad in Cebu City.
Catholic leaders in the country have criticized the President for his bloody war on drugs that resulted in the death of over 7,000 drug suspects nationwide.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines recently released a pastoral letter, expressing concern over the number of deaths and killings in the campaign against prohibited drugs.
While the problem on illegal drugs needs to addressed, the bishops’ collegial body said the solution does not lie in the killing of suspected drug users and pushers, saying the government is only God’s steward and does not own life.
The pastoral statement was read in all Masses in the country last Sunday.
Vidal urged the people to pray for President Duterte whom he said might have felt uneasy over the statements of some bishops on his campaign against illegal drugs.
“We in the Church, we are all oblige, as citizens, to pray for our President, whether we like him or not. Since he won in the elections, we have to accept that. Let us cooperate with him in whatever way we can,” he said.
Vidal visited President Duterte in Malacañang days after the latter assumed office, hoping to bridge the gap between Catholic Church bishops and the new administration.
They didn’t discuss controversial issues like extrajudicial killings and the possible revival of the death penalty that clashed with the Church’s doctrines.
While they wanted to establish a good rapport with the President, Vidal said the Catholic Church would continue to abide by what is right, in accordance to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
“We are pro-life. Therefore, we have to protect the life God has given us,” he said.
Vidal was born on Feb. 6, 1931 in Mogpog, Marinduque and was ordained as priest on March 17, 1956, a bishop on Nov. 30, 1971 and a cardinal on May 25, 1985.
He first came to Cebu in 1981 when he was coadjutor archbishop and was installed as Cebu archbishop on Sept. 18, 1982 after the death of Julio Cardinal Rosales.
Vidal retired in 2011 and was replaced by Archbishop Palma.
In celebration of his birthday, the country’s most senior cardinal presided over a Mass at his private chapel and had lunch with his visitors, mostly bishops, priests, and nuns.
Among those present were Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Villarojo, Palo Archbishop John Du, and retired Bishops Christian Vicente Noel and Emilio Bataclan—all of whom are Cebuanos.
Also present were former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. and some priests in the archdiocese.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who is attending an activity in Guam, wasn’t able to attend Vidal’s birthday celebration but had sent his greetings to his predecessor.
At the end of the Mass, the congregation led by the Society of the Angel of Peace sang a birthday song for Vidal whose spiritual guidance and advice are still sought by Church leaders in the country.
At 86 years old, Vidal said he only has gratitude to God for the blessings he received throughout his life.
“It sounds awkward to greet oneself. But when you get older, it makes sense. It is another way of saying that I am getting older but I am happy. I have less wishes (now). I am more of memories,” he said in his homily.
Vidal said he want to continue serving better the Catholic Church in any way possible despite his age. / With USJ-R Intern Jheysel Ann Tangaro
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