No second guessing Pope Francis

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok November 24,2014 - 01:04 AM

The news that Cebu City is not included in Pope Francis’ itinerary when he visits the Philippines in January next year has prompted Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama to ask the local population including the media to bombard Vatican with pleas to reconsider its decision and wiggle a room for Cebu in the papal schedule.

I’m inclined to believe our chances to get the Holy Father to drop by either from Manila or Palo, Leyte are rather remote. On the other hand, there is really no telling if Francis would stick to the official program and ignore the yearnings of a local government official in behalf of devout Cebuano Catholics.

Ever since the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires in March 2013 as supreme Roman Pontiff, he has many times broken protocol, not to mention Vatican tradition, in small and big matters. He regularly picks up the phone to call friends and answers people who write to him.  In August last year, he gladly had a selfie taken with a group of teenagers visiting the Vatican.

Last week, Pope Francis condemned priests and laity who turn their parishes into a “business enterprise” by charging fees for baptisms, blessings and Mass intentions – calling it “a scandal that’s hard to forgive”. I guess bishops everywhere cannot dispute when the Pope decried the business-mentality of some priests and lay people because he was exposed to the poor parishes of Argentina after he was ordained priest in 1969. How interesting that the price lists we see in many local churches also exist in Latin America. For the Roman Pontiff to decry what appears to be basically standard operating procedure in the Church is something that will not endear him to the traditionalists.

The announcement of the papal visit in Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January next year illustrates what Vatican experts have been saying, i.e., that this Pope is different. The announcement did not come from Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, but by the Pope himself during an inflight conference on his way home from a 3-day trip to the Holy Land. This was in November 13 when he told newsmen on board the papal plane that he will visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines from January 12 to 19. The following day, the Vatican announced the itinerary and theme of the papal visit, “Mercy and Compassion”.

If there is any sector more disappointed by the official itinerary, it is none other than the Augustinian community – the oldest Catholic Order in the Philippines. The Augustinians who tend the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño will mark the 450th year of the finding of the Santo Niño de Cebu in 2015, coinciding with the arrival of the first Catholic Order in the Philippines.

To underscore the significance of this milestone, I’d like to reprise some inputs from a previous column.

In 1565 or 44 years after the Christian faith was brought to the island, the Augustinian Order set foot in Cebu under the leadership of Fray Andres de Urdaneta. When the Spaniards arrived, a soldier of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi recovered the image of the Santo Niño, the same image given by the Portuguese expedition leader Ferdinand Magellan to Juana, wife of Rajah Humabon who converted with him to the Christian faith in 1521.

The image was found in a burned hut where the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu of the Augustinians stands today. Cebuanos mark this historic event with intense prayers in a celebration called “Kaplag” held every year, around last week of April.

From 1565 to 1898, the Augustinian Order organized some 300 towns all over the country, meaning the religious order succeeded in evangelizing a sizable length and breadth of the Philippines and to say that we owe the Augustinians a great debt of gratitude would be a gross understatement.

The importance of this celebration will certainly not be lost in the Vatican, and that is why I like to think that barring unforeseen circumstances, the Pope will be back for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress to be held in Cebu City from January 24 – 31. I’m tempted to say, ayaw na lang langas diha, Mayor Mike, because there is a purpose why Cebu was bumped off the pope’s official itinerary.

On the other hand, following the presumption that one cannot second-guess Pope Francis, he might just move true to form:  answer Mike via a video conference or if the Pope wants to keep a low profile, call the mayor’s mobile number and update him about local concerns.

This can be quite exciting but some politicians will have nightmares chewing over this scenario.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

TAGS: Catholic, Cebu, Christianity, Pope Francis

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.