Pope tells Bishop Dela Cruz: Dialogue with all other faiths PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 May 2014 11:58

Bishop Romulo dela Cruz officially assumed yesterday as the new archbishop of Zamboanga City and as such the Holy Father, Pope Francis, told him to promote the attitude of dialogue and friendship with all other faiths in this part of Mindanao.

“In the archdiocese of Zamboanga, you have to promote the attitude of dialogue and friendship with all other faiths, collaborate with civil authorities for the promotion of the common good…. You come to Zamboanga at a time of great challenges but with the help of the priests, religious leaders and the civil authorities you will be able to overcome them,” the Holy Father told dela Cruz said in a message read for him by the Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Giuseppe Pinto during installation rites at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

For his part, Orlando Beltran Cardinal Quevedo said the appointment of Archbishop Dela Cruz jibed with yesterday’s gospel. “The Lord has chosen him to grow and bear fruits. His academic competence is undoubted, but more than that he is a good shepherd.”

Cardinal Quevedo, the first and only cardinal from Mindanao, also passed on to Dela Cruz the pope’s message when he received his red cap in Vatican. He quoted Pope Francis as saying “I pray for peace in Mindanao. I pray for harmonious relationship between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao.”

“Not only to pray for peace but also work for it—a lasting peace. Build bridges of peace for all people of different faiths, not just Christians, Muslims and Lumads but there are a thousand more other faiths,” Quevedo said.

According to him, the pictures of Zamboanga before and after the siege, as shown in the video documentary during the welcome dinner the night earlier, were hard to describe. “They were heartbreaking.”

Meanwhile, former Archbishop of Zamboanga Romulo Valles, who gave the homily during the installation mass, said the people of Zamboanga have been eagerly waiting for the day after two long years of having no archbishop.

“It takes just an hour and a half to get to Zamboanga from Basilan, but it took Bishop Mulong, as fondly calls Bishop Romulo dela Cruz, 13 years to make the same trip from Basilan to Zamboanga,” he said in jest as dela Cruz was Bishop of the Prelature of Basilan.

“Why?” He asked. “Because three popes made him take the long road. First, St. John Paul II sent him from  Basilan to San Jose, Antique in 2001. From there, seven years later in 2008 then Pope Benedict XVI sent him to Kidapawan, North Cotabao. Finally, after another six years, this year Pope Francis has directed him to set foot in Zamboanga… This is where he belongs.”

He said the journey of Bishop dela Cruz to Zamboanga did not begin in Basilan, neither did it begin in Rome where Pope Francis signed his (del Cruz’s) appointment.

In the gospel, he said, “You did not choose me but I chose you and appointed you and that you should go forth and bear fruits and should abide and should last, should remain.”

“Bishop Mulong has been sent here to Zamboanga so that he may be able to undertake Christ’s role as teacher, shepherd and high priest to His people and act in His person,” Valles said.

Asked for her expectations of the new archbishop, Mayor Beng Climaco said she expects Archbishop dela Cruz to be able to unite the Christians, Muslims and Lumads, and “be able to guide us build better families and communities spiritually.”— Vic Larato