Two presidents and a cardinal
He brokered peace between two presidents after one was ousted by the other in a people power revolt.
Within hours from each other, former Philippine presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo visited the wake of Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, both grateful to the prelate for his inspiration as a “man of peace.”
Arroyo, now Pampanga representative, arrived at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral at around 11:50 a.m. yesterday, just minutes before a Holy Mass presided by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma.
Palma welcomed her with a handshake followed by a brief conversation in front of Vidal’s casket.
“My deepest condolences to the people of Cebu, Archdiocese of Cebu and to the entire Catholic faithful of the Philippines because he is a prince of the church. We love him very much,” Arroyo told reporters after the Mass.
“He was always a man of peace. He always wanted to reconcile everyone,” said Arroyo.
“He was the one who advised me to visit president Estrada when president Estrada was in detention. So he was always a man of reconciliation,” she further recounted.
Estrada was ousted by “People Power 2” in 2001 amid rampant allegations of corruption. Arroyo, who was then vice president, was installed to take over the the country’s presidency.
During political tensions that year, it was Vidal who urged Estrada to step down.
But it was also the cardinal who asked Arroyo to grant Estrada pardon after the ousted president was convicted of plunder in 2007.
Arriving at Vidal’s wake at past 7 p.m. last night, Estrada, now Manila City mayor, said Vidal inspired him.
“He was the cardinal that gave me inspiration and told me not to give up in life,” said Estrada, who described Vidal as a “remarkable church leader.”
“We must continue to pray for his soul,” Estrada added.
Archdiocesan officials thanked the two former presidents and the multitude of people who continued to visit the cathedral to pay Vidal their last respects.
“I see that the lines forming to view the body continue even if the weather sometimes is not very favorable. This is a show of love of the Cebuano community which we would like to acknowledge,” said Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Cebu.
“We usually say that we are poorer by the death or by the loss of a person, but with the outpouring of gratitude, manifestation of appreciation before His Eminence, I would like to say that today, we feel we are richer by his (Vidal) presence in Cebu for almost 30 years as he administered the Catholic Church,” said Palma in his homily at noon.
Vidal is credited for his great role not only in the Catholic Church but also in guiding the country’s leaders, having served during the incumbencies of presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Corazon Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III and Rodrigo Duterte.
“In moments like this, silence is the better homily. Silence is not just the absence of noise; but in silence, there is openness of our hearts to listen to the spirit of the cardinal,” said Palma.
Palma also echoed what Vidal had once told them.
“My faith in God results to something better in men. My faith in people results to something better in them,” said Palma, quoting Vidal. /with Silliman University Intern Alven Marie Timtim
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