‘DON’T JUDGE VIDAL’
Archdiocese says retired Cebu prelate backs dialogue, not resignation for P-Noy
by Ador Vincent Mayol
Don’t judge him too quickly and harshly.
The Cebu Archdiocese issued this appeal to the public in defense of Cebu Archbishop emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, who was harshly criticized by some Netizens for supporting calls for President Benigno Aquino III to step down.
Msgr. Jose Tan, media liaison officer of the Cebu Archdiocese, said he believes Vidal’s act of reading the National Transformation Council (NTC) joint statement at his retirement house last Friday was his way of starting a dialog.
“We know very well that the cardinal is a man of dialogue. I would suppose this is again an attempt on his part to facilitate dialogue rather than rallying the people to move for a person to resign from office,” said Tan.
Vidal was criticized online for being too “old” to be involved in politics.
Some Netizens also said Vidal should leave church positions on current issues to his successor, Archbishop Jose Palma.
Other bishops who backed the NTC statement calling for Aquino to resign were criticized as prelates who were disappointed for not being given Pajeros by the President.
It was the second time since October last year that Vidal, at the request of NTC convenors, read a statement of the group calling on President Aquino to resign.
Tan urged the public to refer to the cardinal’s track record in dealing with previous presidents, adding that it wasn’t Vidal’s style to announce in public a call to resign.
“Cardinal Vidal never openly called for the resignation of past presidents,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Vidal has played historic roles in the fates of three presidents.
In 1986, Vidal, as CBCP president, issued a pastoral letter that called that year’s snap presidential elections fraudulent.
The bishops’ stand contributed to the public outrage against President Ferdinand Marcos and led to the EDSA uprising in February 1986
“But remember, it was not Cardinal Vidal who openly called for People Power. It was (Jaime) Cardinal Sin,” Tan said.
“And as a gesture of reconciliation, Cardinal Vidal later went to Hawaii to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to Marcos who was dying of lupus,” he added.
Not his character
During the term of President Joseph Estrada, Vidal did not openly call for his resignation at the height of EDSA Dos.
“Instead, Cardinal Vidal quietly went to Malacañang and convinced President Estrada to step down for the good of the country. It was done on a one-on-one basis. And Estrada decided to leave peacefully without bloodshed,” said Tan.
In 2005, at the height of the Hello Garci electoral fraud controversy, Cardinal Vidal with three bishops and former president Corazon Aquino went to Malacañang to privately persuade former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign. Arroyo, however, didn’t heed them.
“Again, Cardinal Vidal did not publicly announce his plea for President Arroyo to step down because that is not his character,” Tan said.
So why, many quarters ask, has Vidal twice allowed himself to be the mouthpiece of the NTC, which want to replace top government officials with a caretaker council of leaders?
“The way I see it, Cardinal Vidal just wanted to make the voices of all be heard. At that point, I know, as a shepherd, he was listening to the clamor of the group (NTC) which expressed their sentiments for President Aquino to resign,” Tan said.
“It’s really the shepherd’s heart of the cardinal to listen to the group. He wants to facilitate a dialog on whatever discontent the group has with the present administration. It’s calling attention that something has to be done,” he added.
NTC has no set of officials but key movers include former senator Francisco “Kit” Tatad and Norberto Gonzales, former presidential security adviser of the Arroyo administration.
Both men said in an interview in Cebu that Aquino was unfit for the presidency due to his “incompetence and insensitivity.”
The group said it is also seeking the ouster of Vice President Jejomar Binay and other government officials.
They said a new government, which respects human values and protects the dignity of people, should be created.
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