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Cebu’s new archbishop plans extra dioceses

Added parishes will better serve the faithful, incoming prelate says

Archbishop Jose Palma (Photo courtesy of Archdiocese of Cebu) Archbishop Jose Palma (Photo courtesy of Archdiocese of Cebu)
  • ucanews.com reporter, Cebu City
  • Philippines
  • January 11, 2011
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The incoming Archbishop of Cebu in the central Philippines says he will "float the idea" of dividing the territory into several dioceses.

Archbishop Jose Palma, who will be installed Cebu archbishop on Thursday, said his proposal aims at serving the Catholic faithful in far-flung areas.

"Sooner or later it will happen, especially if there are recommendations from Rome," said the archbishop who is currently head of the Archdiocese of Palo in Leyte province until this week.

Outgoing Cebu archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal agreed that there was a need to divide the archdiocese and create new parishes.

He said aside from the four suffragan dioceses, two more dioceses may be added. "It will depend on the Holy See," Cardinal Vidal said.

"I see the need for this change. Through this, we will be able to attend more closely to the needs of our constituents," he said.

The Archdiocese of Cebu has two auxiliary bishops - Julito Cortes and Emilio "Boy" Bataclan - and four suffragan dioceses - Dumaguete, Talibon, Tagbilaran and Maasin.

The cardinal said at least three dioceses should be formed - North Cebu, Metro Cebu and South Cebu - that will each be headed by bishops appointed by the Pope.

Cardinal Vidal said the other changes will be up to his successor, Archbishop Palma, who earlier hinted of a plan to implement staff changes and to emphasize pastoral focus on lay empowerment.

The faithful in the 23 vicariates, seven ecclesiastical districts and 140 parishes are administered to by 365 diocesan priests, 382 religious men, about 1,100 religious women and 465 seminarians.

Archbishop Palma said the proposal to divide the archdiocese will be discussed by the Board of Consultors after his installation, adding that there are factors to be considered in the process including the implications for priests who will be affected.

Related reports
Philippine Congress honors Cardinal Vidal
Cebu cathedral busy preparing for new bishop
Cardinal Vidal prays pope will name replacement

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