DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/18 March) – Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla celebrated today the 50th year of his ministry after Pope Benedict XVI rejected his offer of retirement even if he is already 75 years old.
Capalla said the Pope stuck to his decision even after he had written the Pope that he had reached the mandatory retirement age of 75 set by Canon Law.
“I will still continue working as archbishop and head of the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC),” the archbishop said.
Monsignor Elmer Abacahin of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, a former spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said this is normal since the communication was “personal” between the Pope and Capalla.
Abacahin said that according to the Canon Law, only the Holy See can reject offers of retirement from bishops and priests.
Bishops led by Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu witnessed Capalla celebrating his 50th anniversary of his ministry at the san Pedro Cathedral in Davao City Friday morning.
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also arrived from Manila and was accompanied by Rep. Karlo Nograles (1st District, Davao City).
Also present were former Cabinet secretaries Norberto Gonzales, Jesus Dureza and former House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
Vidal said Capalla’s ministry is distinguished by his involvement in the BUC, which Capalla helped organize in 1995.
“It has borne fruit. There is now a greater understanding between Christian and Muslims although these two people have different ideas of who is God,” Vidal said.
The first BUC meeting took place in Cebu City in 1995 with Vidal’s approval.
“Blessed are the peace makers,” Vidal added.
Former security dviser Gonzales said Capalla’s work with the BUC has become the “hallmark” of all peace efforts in the country.
“His Eminence has become a symbol of that advocacy,” he said.
Arroyo also thanked Archbishop Capalla for his leadership of the BUC.
“Thank you for all of that,” she said.
For his part, Capalla said he will exert more time with the BUC and peace-building efforts.
“It is more important now. Peace talks between the government, the MILF and the NPA have yet to take off the ground. We need more dialogue,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)