DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 January) – Pope Francis on Sunday named 16 new Cardinals, among them Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Beltran Quevedo of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the first Mindanawon Cardinal.
The Pope made the announcement after the Angelus on Sunday, according to the website of the Vatican.
The Pope said he will name the 16 cardinals from 12 countries on February 22 at the Feast of the Chair of Peter and on February 23, he will preside at a mass concelebrated with the new cardinals.
Quevedo could not be reached for comment. The 75-year-old Quevedo, former head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (1999 to 2003) and one of the organizers of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC), served as Bishop of Kidapawan during the Marcos regime, when paramilitary elements killed Italian priest Tullio Favali in Tulunan, North Cotabato in April 1985.
He was Bishop of the Prelatre of Kidapawan from 1980 to 1983 and the Bishop of the Diocese of Kidapawan from 1983 to 1986. From there he moved to the north, as Archbishop of Nueva Segovia from 1986 to 1998, and from 1998 to the present, has been serving as Archbishop of Cotabato.
At present, he is the fourth Cardinal in the Philippines, the first ever in Mindanao. The other Philippine Cardinals are Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila; Gaudencio Rosales, Archbishop-Emeritus of Manila and Ricardo Vidal, Archbishop-Emeritus of Cebu.
Mindanawons welcomed the news from the Vatican.
“Finally, Mindanao has its Cardinal, a wonderful news. Indeed. Mindanao should have a Cardinal and the best choice is Cardinal Quevedo! We thank God for this blessing on us and Pope Francis for his great wisdom in appointing the best Mindanawon for this office! Congratulations, Cardinal Quevedo,” Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar said.
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate noted that as a peacemaker, “Orlando Cardinal Quevedo may hopefully rekindle the active participation of the Church of the Poor in the quest for social justice and freedom, genuine peace and development, particularly in Mindanao. As a newly elected ‘Prince of the Church,’ may he be guided by the same inspiring and liberating spirit that Pope Francis is now spreading.”
Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, of the Ateneo de Zamboanga said, “Finally, Mindanao has a cardinal and Cardinal Quevedo is an inspired, very wise, though long overdue choice!”
“I have been hoping for a long time that the Pope would also declare a cardinal in Mindanao since Luzon and Visayas have already their own respective cardinal. Finally, this hope has become a reality…. I know Cardinal Quevedo has love for all Mindanawons,” said Fr. Bert Layson, parish priest of Datu Piang municipality in Maguindanao.
Bishop Felixberto Calang, of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, said that “it is my prayer that (Quevedo) emulates the character of the sitting pope showing great concerns for the poor, underprivileged and marginalized.”
Even Muslims welcomed Quevedo’s appointment. Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel, described it as a “welcome development.”
“How we wish someone like Quevedo will get that high position in the Church. It’s good for the peace efforts in Mindanao.”
Historian Datu Michael Mastura said Quevedo “deserves it.”
“We’re like siblings during college years…. Quevedo’s simple yet intellectual and practical statements on Mindanao are unparalleled among priests in the country.”
Mastura was referring to Quevedo’s pronouncements on the peace process with the Bangsamoro and his paper on injustice as the root of the conflict.
Among the Catholic bishops and archbishops in the Philippines, Quevedo is the most exposed to the Bangsamoro peace process and has written extensively about it.
He was caught in two wars while serving as president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines for two terms (1999 to 2001 and 2001 to 2003), within which two major wars between the GPH and MILF happened – the Estrada administration’s “all-out war” in 2000 and the Arroyo administration’s 2003 Buliok war.
On July 8, 2003, within the same year the Buliok war was waged by the Arroyo administration, Quevedo delivered a paper at the 27th General Assembly of the Bishops’ Businessmen’s Conference in Taguig, Metro Manila, titled “Injustice: the Root of Conflict in Mindanao.”
This is a paper heavily quoted by government, non-governmental organizations and international groups.
In it, Quevedo stated his “central conviction — that the root cause of insurgency in the South is injustice. This injustice has several sub-roots that are the major factors at the heart of the contemporary Moro movement for freedom. I refer to the movement’s historical, cultural, social, economic, political, and religious dimensions.”
He listed three main injustices: injustice to the Moro identity, injustice to Moro political sovereignty, and injustice to Moro integral development.
Mus Lidasan, executive director of Al Qalam Institute at the Ateneo de Davao University, said Quevedo’s appointment as cardinal is a “very good development in the Muslim-Christian relationship in Mindanao. This is a way of recognizing the peace efforts of Bishop Quevedo in Central Mindanao. May this strengthen the interfaith dialogue between and among Muslims and Christians.